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    Chapter 26

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    Chapter 27
    Previous Chapter
    What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a
    man's breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring
    to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have
    walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before; that
    you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea--to
    discover a great thought--an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of
    a field that many a brain--plow had gone over before. To find a new
    planet, to invent a new hinge, to find the way to make the lightnings
    carry your messages. To be the first--that is the idea. To do
    something, say something, see something, before any body else--these are
    the things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are
    tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial. Morse, with his
    first message, brought by his servant, the lightning; Fulton, in that
    long-drawn century of suspense, when he placed his hand upon the
    throttle-valve and lo, the steamboat moved; Jenner, when his patient with
    the cow's virus in his blood, walked through the smallpox hospitals
    unscathed; Howe, when the idea shot through his brain that for a hundred
    and twenty generations the eye had been bored through the wrong end of
    the needle; the nameless lord of art who laid down his chisel in some old
    age that is forgotten, now, and gloated upon the finished Laocoon;
    Daguerre, when he commanded the sun, riding in the zenith, to print the
    landscape upon his insignificant silvered plate, and he obeyed; Columbus,
    in the Pinta's shrouds, when he swung his hat above a fabled sea and
    gazed abroad upon an unknown world! These are the men who have really
    lived--who have actually comprehended what pleasure is--who have crowded
    long lifetimes of ecstasy into a single moment.

    What is there in Rome for me to see that others have not seen before me?
    What is there for me to touch that others have not touched? What is
    there for me to feel, to learn, to hear, to know, that shall thrill me
    before it pass to others? What can I discover?--Nothing. Nothing
    whatsoever. One charm of travel dies here. But if I were only a Roman!
    --If, added to my own I could be gifted with modern Roman sloth, modern
    Roman superstition, and modern Roman boundlessness of ignorance, what
    bewildering worlds of unsuspected wonders I would discover! Ah, if I
    were only a habitant of the Campagna five and twenty miles from Rome!
    Then I would travel.

    I would go to America, and see, and learn, and return to the Campagna and
    stand before my countrymen an illustrious discoverer. I would say:

    "I saw there a country which has no overshadowing Mother Church, and yet
    the people survive. I saw a government which never was protected by
    foreign soldiers at a cost greater than that required to carry on the
    government itself. I saw common men and common women who could read;
    I even saw small children of common country people reading from books;
    if I dared think you would believe it, I would say they could write,
    also.

    "In the cities I saw people drinking a delicious beverage made of chalk
    and water, but never once saw goats driven through their Broadway or
    their Pennsylvania Avenue or their Montgomery street and milked at the
    doors of the houses. I saw real glass windows in the houses of even the
    commonest people. Some of the houses are not of stone, nor yet of
    bricks; I solemnly swear they are made of wood. Houses there will take
    fire and burn, sometimes--actually burn entirely down, and not leave a
    single vestige behind. I could state that for a truth, upon my
    death-bed. And as a proof that the circumstance is not rare, I aver
    that they have a thing which they call a fire-engine, which vomits forth
    great streams of water, and is kept always in readiness, by night and by
    day, to rush to houses that are burning. You would think one engine
    would be sufficient, but some great cities have a hundred; they keep men
    hired, and pay them by the month to do nothing but put out fires. For a
    certain sum of money other men will insure that your house shall not
    burn down; and if it burns they will pay you for it. There are hundreds
    and thousands of schools, and any body may go and learn to be wise, like
    a priest. In that singular country if a rich man dies a sinner, he is
    damned; he can not buy salvation with money for masses. There is really
    not much use in being rich, there. Not much use as far as the other
    world is concerned, but much, very much use, as concerns this; because
    there, if a man be rich, he is very greatly honored, and can become a
    legislator, a governor, a general, a senator, no matter how ignorant an
    ass he is--just as in our beloved Italy the nobles hold all the great
    places, even though sometimes they are born noble idiots. There, if a
    man be rich, they give him costly presents, they ask him to feasts, they
    invite him to drink complicated beverages; but if he be poor and in
    debt, they require him to do that which they term to 'settle.' The
    women put on a different dress almost every day; the dress is usually
    fine, but absurd in shape; the very shape and fashion of it changes
    twice in a hundred years; and did I but covet to be called an
    extravagant falsifier, I would say it changed even oftener. Hair does
    not grow upon the American women's heads; it is made for them by cunning
    workmen in the shops, and is curled and frizzled into scandalous and
    ungodly forms. Some persons wear eyes of glass which they see through
    with facility perhaps, else they would not use them; and in the mouths
    of some are teeth made by the sacrilegious hand of man. The dress of
    the men is laughably grotesque. They carry no musket in ordinary life,
    nor no long-pointed pole; they wear no wide green-lined cloak; they wear
    no peaked black felt hat, no leathern gaiters reaching to the knee, no
    goat-skin breeches with the hair side out, no hob-nailed shoes, no
    prodigious spurs. They wear a conical hat termed a 'nail-keg;' a coat
    of saddest black; a shirt which shows dirt so easily that it has to be
    changed every month, and is very troublesome; things called pantaloons,
    which are held up by shoulder straps, and on their feet they wear boots
    which are ridiculous in pattern and can stand no wear. Yet dressed in
    this fantastic garb, these people laughed at my costume. In that
    country, books are so common that it is really no curiosity to see one.
    Newspapers also. They have a great machine which prints such things by
    thousands every hour.

    "I saw common men, there--men who were neither priests nor princes--who
    yet absolutely owned the land they tilled. It was not rented from the
    church, nor from the nobles. I am ready to take my oath of this. In
    that country you might fall from a third story window three several
    times, and not mash either a soldier or a priest.--The scarcity of such
    people is astonishing. In the cities you will see a dozen civilians for
    every soldier, and as many for every priest or preacher. Jews, there,
    are treated just like human beings, instead of dogs. They can work at
    any business they please; they can sell brand new goods if they want to;
    they can keep drug-stores; they can practice medicine among Christians;
    they can even shake hands with Christians if they choose; they can
    associate with them, just the same as one human being does with another
    human being; they don't have to stay shut up in one corner of the towns;
    they can live in any part of a town they like best; it is said they even
    have the privilege of buying land and houses, and owning them themselves,
    though I doubt that, myself; they never have had to run races naked
    through the public streets, against jackasses, to please the people in
    carnival time; there they never have been driven by the soldiers into a
    church every Sunday for hundreds of years to hear themselves and their
    religion especially and particularly cursed; at this very day, in that
    curious country, a Jew is allowed to vote, hold office, yea, get up on a
    rostrum in the public street and express his opinion of the government if
    the government don't suit him! Ah, it is wonderful. The common people
    there know a great deal; they even have the effrontery to complain if
    they are not properly governed, and to take hold and help conduct the
    government themselves; if they had laws like ours, which give one dollar
    of every three a crop produces to the government for taxes, they would
    have that law altered: instead of paying thirty-three dollars in taxes,
    out of every one hundred they receive, they complain if they have to pay
    seven. They are curious people. They do not know when they are well
    off. Mendicant priests do not prowl among them with baskets begging for
    the church and eating up their substance. One hardly ever sees a
    minister of the gospel going around there in his bare feet, with a
    basket, begging for subsistence. In that country the preachers are not
    like our mendicant orders of friars--they have two or three suits of
    clothing, and they wash sometimes. In that land are mountains far higher
    than the Alban mountains; the vast Roman Campagna, a hundred miles long
    and full forty broad, is really small compared to the United States of
    America; the Tiber, that celebrated river of ours, which stretches its
    mighty course almost two hundred miles, and which a lad can scarcely
    throw a stone across at Rome, is not so long, nor yet so wide, as the
    American Mississippi--nor yet the Ohio, nor even the Hudson. In America
    the people are absolutely wiser and know much more than their
    grandfathers did. They do not plow with a sharpened stick, nor yet with
    a three-cornered block of wood that merely scratches the top of the
    ground. We do that because our fathers did, three thousand years ago, I
    suppose. But those people have no holy reverence for their ancestors.
    They plow with a plow that is a sharp, curved blade of iron, and it cuts
    into the earth full five inches. And this is not all. They cut their
    grain with a horrid machine that mows down whole fields in a day. If I
    dared, I would say that sometimes they use a blasphemous plow that works
    by fire and vapor and tears up an acre of ground in a single hour--but
    --but--I see by your looks that you do not believe the things I am telling
    you. Alas, my character is ruined, and I am a branded speaker of
    untruths!"

    Of course we have been to the monster Church of St. Peter, frequently.
    I knew its dimensions. I knew it was a prodigious structure. I knew it
    was just about the length of the capitol at Washington--say seven hundred
    and thirty feet. I knew it was three hundred and sixty-four feet wide,
    and consequently wider than the capitol. I knew that the cross on the
    top of the dome of the church was four hundred and thirty-eight feet
    above the ground, and therefore about a hundred or may be a hundred and
    twenty-five feet higher than the dome of the capitol.--Thus I had one
    gauge. I wished to come as near forming a correct idea of how it was
    going to look, as possible; I had a curiosity to see how much I would
    err. I erred considerably. St. Peter's did not look nearly so large as
    the capitol, and certainly not a twentieth part as beautiful, from the
    outside.

    When we reached the door, and stood fairly within the church, it was
    impossible to comprehend that it was a very large building. I had to
    cipher a comprehension of it. I had to ransack my memory for some more
    similes. St. Peter's is bulky. Its height and size would represent two
    of the Washington capitol set one on top of the other--if the capitol
    were wider; or two blocks or two blocks and a half of ordinary buildings
    set one on top of the other. St. Peter's was that large, but it could
    and would not look so. The trouble was that every thing in it and about
    it was on such a scale of uniform vastness that there were no contrasts
    to judge by--none but the people, and I had not noticed them. They were
    insects. The statues of children holding vases of holy water were
    immense, according to the tables of figures, but so was every thing else
    around them. The mosaic pictures in the dome were huge, and were made of
    thousands and thousands of cubes of glass as large as the end of my
    little finger, but those pictures looked smooth, and gaudy of color, and
    in good proportion to the dome. Evidently they would not answer to
    measure by. Away down toward the far end of the church (I thought it was
    really clear at the far end, but discovered afterward that it was in the
    centre, under the dome,) stood the thing they call the baldacchino--a
    great bronze pyramidal frame-work like that which upholds a mosquito bar.
    It only looked like a considerably magnified bedstead--nothing more. Yet
    I knew it was a good deal more than half as high as Niagara Falls. It
    was overshadowed by a dome so mighty that its own height was snubbed.
    The four great square piers or pillars that stand equidistant from each
    other in the church, and support the roof, I could not work up to their
    real dimensions by any method of comparison. I knew that the faces of
    each were about the width of a very large dwelling-house front, (fifty or
    sixty feet,) and that they were twice as high as an ordinary three-story
    dwelling, but still they looked small. I tried all the different ways I
    could think of to compel myself to understand how large St. Peter's was,
    but with small success. The mosaic portrait of an Apostle who was
    writing with a pen six feet long seemed only an ordinary Apostle.

    But the people attracted my attention after a while. To stand in the
    door of St. Peter's and look at men down toward its further extremity,
    two blocks away, has a diminishing effect on them; surrounded by the
    prodigious pictures and statues, and lost in the vast spaces, they look
    very much smaller than they would if they stood two blocks away in the
    open air. I "averaged" a man as he passed me and watched him as he
    drifted far down by the baldacchino and beyond--watched him dwindle to an
    insignificant school-boy, and then, in the midst of the silent throng of
    human pigmies gliding about him, I lost him. The church had lately been
    decorated, on the occasion of a great ceremony in honor of St. Peter, and
    men were engaged, now, in removing the flowers and gilt paper from the
    walls and pillars. As no ladders could reach the great heights, the men
    swung themselves down from balustrades and the capitals of pilasters by
    ropes, to do this work. The upper gallery which encircles the inner
    sweep of the dome is two hundred and forty feet above the floor of the
    church--very few steeples in America could reach up to it. Visitors
    always go up there to look down into the church because one gets the best
    idea of some of the heights and distances from that point. While we
    stood on the floor one of the workmen swung loose from that gallery at
    the end of a long rope. I had not supposed, before, that a man could
    look so much like a spider. He was insignificant in size, and his rope
    seemed only a thread. Seeing that he took up so little space, I could
    believe the story, then, that ten thousand troops went to St. Peter's,
    once, to hear mass, and their commanding officer came afterward, and not
    finding them, supposed they had not yet arrived. But they were in the
    church, nevertheless--they were in one of the transepts. Nearly fifty
    thousand persons assembled in St. Peter's to hear the publishing of the
    dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is estimated that the floor of
    the church affords standing room for--for a large number of people; I
    have forgotten the exact figures. But it is no matter--it is near
    enough.

    They have twelve small pillars, in St. Peter's, which came from Solomon's
    Temple. They have, also--which was far more interesting to me--a piece
    of the true cross, and some nails, and a part of the crown of thorns.

    Of course we ascended to the summit of the dome, and of course we also
    went up into the gilt copper ball which is above it.--There was room
    there for a dozen persons, with a little crowding, and it was as close
    and hot as an oven. Some of those people who are so fond of writing
    their names in prominent places had been there before us--a million or
    two, I should think. From the dome of St. Peter's one can see every
    notable object in Rome, from the Castle of St. Angelo to the Coliseum.
    He can discern the seven hills upon which Rome is built. He can see the
    Tiber, and the locality of the bridge which Horatius kept "in the brave
    days of old" when Lars Porsena attempted to cross it with his invading
    host. He can see the spot where the Horatii and the Curatii fought their
    famous battle. He can see the broad green Campagna, stretching away
    toward the mountains, with its scattered arches and broken aqueducts of
    the olden time, so picturesque in their gray ruin, and so daintily
    festooned with vines. He can see the Alban Mountains, the Appenines, the
    Sabine Hills, and the blue Mediterranean. He can see a panorama that is
    varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history
    than any other in Europe.--About his feet is spread the remnant of a
    city that once had a population of four million souls; and among its
    massed edifices stand the ruins of temples, columns, and triumphal arches
    that knew the Caesars, and the noonday of Roman splendor; and close by
    them, in unimpaired strength, is a drain of arched and heavy masonry that
    belonged to that older city which stood here before Romulus and Remus
    were born or Rome thought of. The Appian Way is here yet, and looking
    much as it did, perhaps, when the triumphal processions of the Emperors
    moved over it in other days bringing fettered princes from the confines
    of the earth. We can not see the long array of chariots and mail-clad
    men laden with the spoils of conquest, but we can imagine the pageant,
    after a fashion. We look out upon many objects of interest from the dome
    of St. Peter's; and last of all, almost at our feet, our eyes rest upon
    the building which was once the Inquisition. How times changed, between
    the older ages and the new! Some seventeen or eighteen centuries ago,
    the ignorant men of Rome were wont to put Christians in the arena of the
    Coliseum yonder, and turn the wild beasts in upon them for a show. It
    was for a lesson as well. It was to teach the people to abhor and fear
    the new doctrine the followers of Christ were teaching. The beasts tore
    the victims limb from limb and made poor mangled corpses of them in the
    twinkling of an eye. But when the Christians came into power, when the
    holy Mother Church became mistress of the barbarians, she taught them the
    error of their ways by no such means. No, she put them in this pleasant
    Inquisition and pointed to the Blessed Redeemer, who was so gentle and so
    merciful toward all men, and they urged the barbarians to love him; and
    they did all they could to persuade them to love and honor him--first by
    twisting their thumbs out of joint with a screw; then by nipping their
    flesh with pincers--red-hot ones, because they are the most comfortable
    in cold weather; then by skinning them alive a little, and finally by
    roasting them in public. They always convinced those barbarians. The
    true religion, properly administered, as the good Mother Church used to
    administer it, is very, very soothing. It is wonderfully persuasive,
    also. There is a great difference between feeding parties to wild beasts
    and stirring up their finer feelings in an Inquisition. One is the
    system of degraded barbarians, the other of enlightened, civilized
    people. It is a great pity the playful Inquisition is no more.

    I prefer not to describe St. Peter's. It has been done before. The
    ashes of Peter, the disciple of the Saviour, repose in a crypt under the
    baldacchino. We stood reverently in that place; so did we also in the
    Mamertine Prison, where he was confined, where he converted the soldiers,
    and where tradition says he caused a spring of water to flow in order
    that he might baptize them. But when they showed us the print of Peter's
    face in the hard stone of the prison wall and said he made that by
    falling up against it, we doubted. And when, also, the monk at the
    church of San Sebastian showed us a paving-stone with two great
    footprints in it and said that Peter's feet made those, we lacked
    confidence again. Such things do not impress one. The monk said that
    angels came and liberated Peter from prison by night, and he started away
    from Rome by the Appian Way. The Saviour met him and told him to go
    back, which he did. Peter left those footprints in the stone upon which
    he stood at the time. It was not stated how it was ever discovered whose
    footprints they were, seeing the interview occurred secretly and at
    night. The print of the face in the prison was that of a man of common
    size; the footprints were those of a man ten or twelve feet high. The
    discrepancy confirmed our unbelief.

    We necessarily visited the Forum, where Caesar was assassinated, and also
    the Tarpeian Rock. We saw the Dying Gladiator at the Capitol, and I
    think that even we appreciated that wonder of art; as much, perhaps, as
    we did that fearful story wrought in marble, in the Vatican--the Laocoon.
    And then the Coliseum.

    Every body knows the picture of the Coliseum; every body recognizes at
    once that "looped and windowed" band-box with a side bitten out. Being
    rather isolated, it shows to better advantage than any other of the
    monuments of ancient Rome. Even the beautiful Pantheon, whose pagan
    altars uphold the cross, now, and whose Venus, tricked out in consecrated
    gimcracks, does reluctant duty as a Virgin Mary to-day, is built about
    with shabby houses and its stateliness sadly marred. But the monarch of
    all European ruins, the Coliseum, maintains that reserve and that royal
    seclusion which is proper to majesty. Weeds and flowers spring from its
    massy arches and its circling seats, and vines hang their fringes from
    its lofty walls. An impressive silence broods over the monstrous
    structure where such multitudes of men and women were wont to assemble in
    other days. The butterflies have taken the places of the queens of
    fashion and beauty of eighteen centuries ago, and the lizards sun
    themselves in the sacred seat of the Emperor. More vividly than all the
    written histories, the Coliseum tells the story of Rome's grandeur and
    Rome's decay. It is the worthiest type of both that exists. Moving
    about the Rome of to-day, we might find it hard to believe in her old
    magnificence and her millions of population; but with this stubborn
    evidence before us that she was obliged to have a theatre with sitting
    room for eighty thousand persons and standing room for twenty thousand
    more, to accommodate such of her citizens as required amusement, we find
    belief less difficult. The Coliseum is over one thousand six hundred
    feet long, seven hundred and fifty wide, and one hundred and sixty-five
    high. Its shape is oval.

    In America we make convicts useful at the same time that we punish them
    for their crimes. We farm them out and compel them to earn money for the
    State by making barrels and building roads. Thus we combine business
    with retribution, and all things are lovely. But in ancient Rome they
    combined religious duty with pleasure. Since it was necessary that the
    new sect called Christians should be exterminated, the people judged it
    wise to make this work profitable to the State at the same time, and
    entertaining to the public. In addition to the gladiatorial combats and
    other shows, they sometimes threw members of the hated sect into the
    arena of the Coliseum and turned wild beasts in upon them. It is
    estimated that seventy thousand Christians suffered martyrdom in this
    place. This has made the Coliseum holy ground, in the eyes of the
    followers of the Saviour. And well it might; for if the chain that bound
    a saint, and the footprints a saint has left upon a stone he chanced to
    stand upon, be holy, surely the spot where a man gave up his life for his
    faith is holy.

    Seventeen or eighteen centuries ago this Coliseum was the theatre of
    Rome, and Rome was mistress of the world. Splendid pageants were
    exhibited here, in presence of the Emperor, the great ministers of State,
    the nobles, and vast audiences of citizens of smaller consequence.
    Gladiators fought with gladiators and at times with warrior prisoners
    from many a distant land. It was the theatre of Rome--of the world--and
    the man of fashion who could not let fall in a casual and unintentional
    manner something about "my private box at the Coliseum" could not move in
    the first circles. When the clothing-store merchant wished to consume
    the corner grocery man with envy, he bought secured seats in the front
    row and let the thing be known. When the irresistible dry goods clerk
    wished to blight and destroy, according to his native instinct, he got
    himself up regardless of expense and took some other fellow's young lady
    to the Coliseum, and then accented the affront by cramming her with ice
    cream between the acts, or by approaching the cage and stirring up the
    martyrs with his whalebone cane for her edification. The Roman swell was
    in his true element only when he stood up against a pillar and fingered
    his moustache unconscious of the ladies; when he viewed the bloody
    combats through an opera-glass two inches long; when he excited the envy
    of provincials by criticisms which showed that he had been to the
    Coliseum many and many a time and was long ago over the novelty of it;
    when he turned away with a yawn at last and said,

    "He a star! handles his sword like an apprentice brigand! he'll do for
    the country, may be, but he don't answer for the metropolis!"

    Glad was the contraband that had a seat in the pit at the Saturday
    matinee, and happy the Roman street-boy who ate his peanuts and guyed the
    gladiators from the dizzy gallery.

    For me was reserved the high honor of discovering among the rubbish of
    the ruined Coliseum the only playbill of that establishment now extant.
    There was a suggestive smell of mint-drops about it still, a corner of it
    had evidently been chewed, and on the margin, in choice Latin, these
    words were written in a delicate female hand:

    "Meet me on the Tarpeian Rock tomorrow evening, dear, at sharp
    seven. Mother will be absent on a visit to her friends in the
    Sabine Hills. CLAUDIA."

    Ah, where is that lucky youth to-day, and where the little hand that
    wrote those dainty lines? Dust and ashes these seventeen hundred years!

    Thus reads the bill:

    ROMAN COLISEUM.
    UNPARALLELED ATTRACTION!
    NEW PROPERTIES! NEW LIONS! NEW GLADIATORS!
    Engagement of the renowned
    MARCUS MARCELLUS VALERIAN!
    FOR SIX NIGHTS ONLY!

    The management beg leave to offer to the public an entertainment
    surpassing in magnificence any thing that has heretofore been attempted
    on any stage. No expense has been spared to make the opening season one
    which shall be worthy the generous patronage which the management feel
    sure will crown their efforts. The management beg leave to state that
    they have succeeded in securing the services of a

    GALAXY OF TALENT!
    such as has not been beheld in Rome before.

    The performance will commence this evening with a

    GRAND BROADSWORD COMBAT!
    between two young and promising amateurs and a celebrated Parthian
    gladiator who has just arrived a prisoner from the Camp of Verus.

    This will be followed by a grand moral

    BATTLE-AX ENGAGEMENT!
    between the renowned Valerian (with one hand tied behind him,) and two
    gigantic savages from Britain.

    After which the renowned Valerian (if he survive,) will fight with the
    broad-sword,

    LEFT HANDED!
    against six Sophomores and a Freshman from the Gladiatorial College!

    A long series of brilliant engagements will follow, in which the finest
    talent of the Empire will take part

    After which the celebrated Infant Prodigy known as

    "THE YOUNG ACHILLES,"
    will engage four tiger whelps in combat, armed with no other weapon than
    his little spear!

    The whole to conclude with a chaste and elegant

    GENERAL SLAUGHTER!
    In which thirteen African Lions and twenty-two Barbarian Prisoners will
    war with each other until all are exterminated.

    BOX OFFICE NOW OPEN.

    Dress Circle One Dollar; Children and Servants half price.

    An efficient police force will be on hand to preserve order and keep the
    wild beasts from leaping the railings and discommoding the audience.

    Doors open at 7; performance begins at 8.

    POSITIVELY NO FREE LIST.

    Diodorus Job Press.

    It was as singular as it was gratifying that I was also so fortunate as
    to find among the rubbish of the arena, a stained and mutilated copy of
    the Roman Daily Battle-Ax, containing a critique upon this very
    performance. It comes to hand too late by many centuries to rank as
    news, and therefore I translate and publish it simply to show how very
    little the general style and phraseology of dramatic criticism has
    altered in the ages that have dragged their slow length along since the
    carriers laid this one damp and fresh before their Roman patrons:

    "THE OPENING SEASON.--COLISEUM.--Notwithstanding the inclemency of
    the weather, quite a respectable number of the rank and fashion of
    the city assembled last night to witness the debut upon metropolitan
    boards of the young tragedian who has of late been winning such
    golden opinions in the amphitheatres of the provinces. Some sixty
    thousand persons were present, and but for the fact that the streets
    were almost impassable, it is fair to presume that the house would
    have been full. His august Majesty, the Emperor Aurelius, occupied
    the imperial box, and was the cynosure of all eyes. Many
    illustrious nobles and generals of the Empire graced the occasion
    with their presence, and not the least among them was the young
    patrician lieutenant whose laurels, won in the ranks of the
    "Thundering Legion," are still so green upon his brow. The cheer
    which greeted his entrance was heard beyond the Tiber!

    "The late repairs and decorations add both to the comeliness and the
    comfort of the Coliseum. The new cushions are a great improvement
    upon the hard marble seats we have been so long accustomed to. The
    present management deserve well of the public. They have restored
    to the Coliseum the gilding, the rich upholstery and the uniform
    magnificence which old Coliseum frequenters tell us Rome was so
    proud of fifty years ago.

    "The opening scene last night--the broadsword combat between two
    young amateurs and a famous Parthian gladiator who was sent here a
    prisoner--was very fine. The elder of the two young gentlemen
    handled his weapon with a grace that marked the possession of
    extraordinary talent. His feint of thrusting, followed instantly by
    a happily delivered blow which unhelmeted the Parthian, was received
    with hearty applause. He was not thoroughly up in the backhanded
    stroke, but it was very gratifying to his numerous friends to know
    that, in time, practice would have overcome this defect. However,
    he was killed. His sisters, who were present, expressed
    considerable regret. His mother left the Coliseum. The other youth
    maintained the contest with such spirit as to call forth
    enthusiastic bursts of applause. When at last he fell a corpse, his
    aged mother ran screaming, with hair disheveled and tears streaming
    from her eyes, and swooned away just as her hands were clutching at
    the railings of the arena. She was promptly removed by the police.
    Under the circumstances the woman's conduct was pardonable, perhaps,
    but we suggest that such exhibitions interfere with the decorum
    which should be preserved during the performances, and are highly
    improper in the presence of the Emperor. The Parthian prisoner
    fought bravely and well; and well he might, for he was fighting for
    both life and liberty. His wife and children were there to nerve
    his arm with their love, and to remind him of the old home he should
    see again if he conquered. When his second assailant fell, the
    woman clasped her children to her breast and wept for joy. But it
    was only a transient happiness. The captive staggered toward her
    and she saw that the liberty he had earned was earned too late. He
    was wounded unto death. Thus the first act closed in a manner which
    was entirely satisfactory. The manager was called before the
    curtain and returned his thanks for the honor done him, in a speech
    which was replete with wit and humor, and closed by hoping that his
    humble efforts to afford cheerful and instructive entertainment
    would continue to meet with the approbation of the Roman public

    "The star now appeared, and was received with vociferous applause
    and the simultaneous waving of sixty thousand handkerchiefs. Marcus
    Marcellus Valerian (stage name--his real name is Smith,) is a
    splendid specimen of physical development, and an artist of rare
    merit. His management of the battle-ax is wonderful. His gayety
    and his playfulness are irresistible, in his comic parts, and yet
    they are inferior to his sublime conceptions in the grave realm of
    tragedy. When his ax was describing fiery circles about the heads
    of the bewildered barbarians, in exact time with his springing body
    and his prancing legs, the audience gave way to uncontrollable
    bursts of laughter; but when the back of his weapon broke the skull
    of one and almost in the same instant its edge clove the other's
    body in twain, the howl of enthusiastic applause that shook the
    building, was the acknowledgment of a critical assemblage that he
    was a master of the noblest department of his profession. If he has
    a fault, (and we are sorry to even intimate that he has,) it is that
    of glancing at the audience, in the midst of the most exciting
    moments of the performance, as if seeking admiration. The pausing
    in a fight to bow when bouquets are thrown to him is also in bad
    taste. In the great left-handed combat he appeared to be looking at
    the audience half the time, instead of carving his adversaries; and
    when he had slain all the sophomores and was dallying with the
    freshman, he stooped and snatched a bouquet as it fell, and offered
    it to his adversary at a time when a blow was descending which
    promised favorably to be his death-warrant. Such levity is proper
    enough in the provinces, we make no doubt, but it ill suits the
    dignity of the metropolis. We trust our young friend will take
    these remarks in good part, for we mean them solely for his benefit.
    All who know us are aware that although we are at times justly
    severe upon tigers and martyrs, we never intentionally offend
    gladiators.

    "The Infant Prodigy performed wonders. He overcame his four tiger
    whelps with ease, and with no other hurt than the loss of a portion
    of his scalp. The General Slaughter was rendered with a
    faithfulness to details which reflects the highest credit upon the
    late participants in it.

    "Upon the whole, last night's performances shed honor not only upon
    the management but upon the city that encourages and sustains such
    wholesome and instructive entertainments. We would simply suggest
    that the practice of vulgar young boys in the gallery of shying
    peanuts and paper pellets at the tigers, and saying "Hi-yi!" and
    manifesting approbation or dissatisfaction by such observations as
    "Bully for the lion!" "Go it, Gladdy!" "Boots!" "Speech!" "Take
    a walk round the block!" and so on, are extremely reprehensible,
    when the Emperor is present, and ought to be stopped by the police.
    Several times last night, when the supernumeraries entered the arena
    to drag out the bodies, the young ruffians in the gallery shouted,
    "Supe! supe!" and also, "Oh, what a coat!" and "Why don't you pad
    them shanks?" and made use of various other remarks expressive of
    derision. These things are very annoying to the audience.

    "A matinee for the little folks is promised for this afternoon, on
    which occasion several martyrs will be eaten by the tigers. The
    regular performance will continue every night till further notice.
    Material change of programme every evening. Benefit of Valerian,
    Tuesday, 29th, if he lives."

    I have been a dramatic critic myself, in my time, and I was often
    surprised to notice how much more I knew about Hamlet than Forrest did;
    and it gratifies me to observe, now, how much better my brethren of
    ancient times knew how a broad sword battle ought to be fought than the
    gladiators.
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