How to See the Vatican/Preface

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The word Vatican is familiar to travellers in the signification of a place with museums of matchless sculpture, and a gallery of paintings, and a chapel whose paintings are yet more famous. This does not help them to understand the first signification. The number of English people who have visited the Vatican Collections without giving any thought to the Vatican beyond them is very great. This is excusable because there is no guide-book in English, and no adequate guide-book in any language, to the Vatican as a Palace.

The reason is not hard to discover. In the days before the cataclysm of 1870, when Pius ix. was on the Papal Throne reigning like an Augustus, the insatiable curiosity which characterizes readers pampered by the gossip-loving periodicals of the twentieth century had not demanded what we call books of travel, meaning books of sight-seeing, which are so popular now. And since 1870 the Vatican has been in mourning.

For reasons pointed out in the Publishers' Note, How to See the Vatican excludes those parts of the Palace with which every visitor is familiar, viz. the Sculpture Galleries, the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze and Loggie of Raffaelle, and the Pinacoteca. They are merely catalogued in the opening chapter, in which I give the category of the various chapels, chambers, courtyards, and gardens which make up the Vatican. I take it for granted that everyone is familiar with them, and devote my space to introducing the British and American publics to the neglected or usually closed parts of the Palace, with the necessary historical allusions.

I open with the story of the Vatican and the Quintian Meadows from the days when the curly-haired Cincinnatus left his plough to head the armies of the Republic as Dictator. Then I tell the story of the building of the world's most famous palace from the time of Pope Saint Symmachus to the times of the three Popes of exile who bore the devoted name of Pius—Pius vi., Pius vii., and Pius ix.; and give two chapters to the reconstruction of Old St. Peter's, built by Constantine the Great, which lasted for more than a dozen centuries; and three chapters to that wonderful charnel-house of Gothic art; in Rome, the Crypt of St. Peter's, whose pavement is the actual floor of the Church of Constantine, and whose vaults are strewn with the shattered tombs of eighty-six Mediæval Popes.

It is into these chapters and the chapters on Nicholas v., the Father of the Vatican Library, the Mæcenas of the Papacy, the Apostle of Learning, that history enters so much.

After these I deal with the Vatican Libraries,—old and new,—the glowing hall and marvellous manuscripts and antiques of the Library of Sixtus v., and the Leonine Library, below it, by which Leo xiii. fulfilled Nicholas v.'s ambition of making the Vatican enlighten the world. I give a glimpse of Montaigne in the Vatican Library. I say what I know about the Archives from the time of Pope Saint Damasus; and dwell on the beauty and romance of the Vatican Gardens—the Pope's kingdom of this world. That is followed by a number of shorter chapters on the byways of the Vatican trodden by few feet—the Paoline and Leonine Chapels, the Treasury of the Sistine Chapel, the Pope's private tapestry rooms and personal apartments, the Sala Regia, the Sala Ducale, the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine, the Pope's Coach-house, the Gallery of Raffaelle's tapestries, the Gallery of the Candelabri, the Gallery of the Maps, the mysteries of the Sacristy and the Dome of St. Peter's; and I wind up with the little-known Etruscan Museum and the Borgia Apartments. The few who have crossed the threshold of the Etruscan Museum may be glad to cross it again with one who has visited most of the Etruscan cities, half-buried in flowers and turf, on hills in hidden valleys, which are the delight and despair of the antiquarian. The Borgia Rooms, now not so difficult to visit, are included, not to give a detailed criticism of their pictures, already so superbly treated by Ehrle and Stevenson, and Ricci, but partly to convey their effect as the most typically palatial part of the royal Palace of the Popes, and partly to give a number of interesting facts about them which have never before appeared in English.

From the above it will be seen that I have aimed at giving the traveller who goes to Rome for sight-seeing, and the stay-at-home who has to do his sight-seeing in books of travel, some idea of the parts of the Vatican which are not generally seen; either because the visitor does not know where to look for them, or because they are only shown as a special favour. I am myself a Protestant, a member of the Church of England. My idea of patriotism makes it impossible that I should ever leave the Church of my forefathers. But it is only upon the Rights and the Independence of the Church that I have strong feelings; the differences of dogma which have grown up since it parted from the Church of Rome do not concern me. I feel towards the Church of Rome as an Anglophile American feels towards England: I feel that I sprang from it. I do not forget that I belonged to it,until the Middle Ages, which are my special study and delight, were ended. Its history and antiquities occupy a great part of my thoughts, for I spend half my life in Italy, and the days I have passed in Italy have mostly been devoted to Church antiquities. I regard the venerable Church, which has been going like a clock since the days of the Apostles, with the utmost affection and interest. Not having been brought up in the Church of Rome, and having a feeling of repulsion to all dogma, I cannot hope to penetrate deeper than the outer shell of that ancient and glorious institution. But I hope that those who are members of the Church of Rome will recognize the pleasure and enthusiasm with which I study their antiquities and monuments; and accept my assurance that, if I have written anything which hurts their feelings, I have not written it with any outspokenness or levity that I might not have used in writing of England. And England is my religion.

Before closing this foreword I have to make various acknowledgments. There are many books to which I have to acknowledge my indebtedness. First among these comes Gregorovius's great History of Rome in the Middle Ages, translated by Mrs. Gustavus W. Hamilton, and published by George Bell & Sons (8 vols. in 13, £3 3s. nett). This book is a fountain of inspiration to anyone who essays to write about Rome in the Middle Ages. Not only are its springs inexhaustible: the fountain itself is so clear and beautiful that to take draughts from it is a perpetual delight. The smaller volume of Gregorovius, from which I have made several quotations—the Tombs of the Popes, translated by Mr. R. W. Seton Watson, and published by Archibald Constable & Co. (with whose permission these quotations have been made) I should not have used so much but for the admirable English of the translation. Other books of Messrs. Bell, to which I have referred a few times, are Miss Mary Knight Potter's The Art of the Vatican, and Roscoe's Life of Leo X.

Mr. John Murray has published several books which I have constantly before me. Besides Murray's Handbook to Rome, which has always been recognized as one of the best in any language, there are Sir A. H. Layard's Handbook to the Italian Schools of Painting, based on Kugler's handbook, sixth edition (2 vols., 24s. nett); Dennis's Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (2 vols., 36s. nett); Nielsen's History of the Papacy in the Nineteenth Century, 1907 (2 vols., 24s. nett); and Mr. W. G. Waters's Translation of the Journal of Montaigne's Travels, which contains some interesting passages about the Vatican Library. Dean Milman's History of Latin Christianity, published by the same firm, I have found of very little use; it is too concentrated.

Messrs. Macmillan & Co. have brought out valuable books on the subject. Lanciani's four earlier volumes, Pagan and Christian Rome, Ancient Rome, the Destruction of Ancient Rome, and Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome, all of them published by this firm, are never off my writing-table. Macmillan's Handbook to Italy and Sicily has a special value because in it the towns are arranged alphabetically in gazetteer fashion. Other books of this firm to which I have occasionally to refer are Mr. Walter Lowrie's Christian Art and Archaeology, Professor Bryce's phenomenal book, The Holy Roman Empire, and those delightful books, Mrs. Oliphant's Makers of Modern Rome, and Mr. Marion Crawford's Ave Roma Immortalis. The essay entitled A Survey of the Thirteenth Century, in Mr. Frederic Harrison's volume of essays, The Meaning of History, which I keep on a shelf beside my volumes of John Addington Symonds, I have found very suggestive.

There are few publishers to whom I am more indebted in the preparation of this work than Messrs. A. & C. Black, who publish the admirable Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome, by Misses Tuker and Malleson, which I have used throughout for checking the information given in French and Italian works. I have also referred a few times to the large book on Rome by the same ladies, which is one of the best illustrated volumes in Messrs. Black's colour series; and Professor Middleton's classic Remains of Ancient Rome. Messrs. Black have also a two-and-sixpenny guide-book to Rome, with coloured illustrations, written by Mr. E. A. Reynolds-Ball in 1906.

Mr. T. Fisher Unwin has four volumes in his Story of the Nations series (price 5s. nett per vol.): Rome, by Mr. Arthur Gilman, M.A. (6th imp., 3rd ed.); The Papal Monarchy, by Dr. William Barry; Mediæval Rome, by Mr. William Miller; and Modern Rome, by Professor Pietro Orsi all of them useful for facts.

I have had constant occasion to refer to that valuable book, Hare's Walks in Rome, brought up to date like Hare's Days round Rome, by Mr. St. Clair Baddeley, who has the responsible position of representing the English subscribers interested in the Excavation of the Forum. Both these books are published by Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co. One of the best books dealing incidentally with the Vatican is Klaczko's Rome and the Renaissance, translated by Mr. John Dennie, very beautifully brought out by G. P. Putnam's Sons, For one period of the Vatican Messrs. Duckworth & Co.'s beautifully produced edition of Mrs. Ady's Raffaelle is useful.

There is a little about the Vatican Library in Helbig's Guide to the Public Collections of Classical Antiquities in Rome, published by Baedeker. Baedeker's Central Italy is indispensable; it is so extremely well arranged, so sure to mention salient facts, like dates and measurements, which one has occasion to check. For the purpose of this volume I have not had occasion to use much that very picturesque book, Father Chandlery's Pilgrim Walks in Rome, published by the Manresa Press, though I have found it most useful in the larger work I am preparing about Rome. I understand that much information about Old St. Peter's is scattered through Father Barnes's large work on St. Peter in Rome, which I have not seen.

One of the best accounts of the Pope's apartments to be found anywhere is in Zola's Rome, of which the English edition is published by Messrs. Chatto & Windus, who are likewise the publishers of the cheap editions of Charles Reade's The Cloister and the Hearth, into which Nicholas v. comes; and Wilkie Collins's Antonina.

Far the most interesting volume of gossip about the Popes is Silvagni's La Corte e la Società Romana nei XVIII. e XIX. secoli, of which a most spirited translation has been published by Mrs. Frances Maclaughlin (Elliot Stock).

A rather similar book is the late W. W. Story's famous Roba di Roma, sixth edition, published by Messrs. Chapman & Hall, who are also the publishers of Mr. Frederic Harrison's novel, Theophano, which has a great deal about Rome and the Popes in the age of the Ottos. As interesting as Roba di Roma, if not as Silvagni, but, of course, written from a very different standpoint, is Cardinal Wiseman's Recollections of the Last Four Popes and of Rome in their Times, published by Messrs. Hurst & Blackett.

Last in the list of English books I may mention the translation of Dr. Ludwig Pastor's History of the Popes, published by Mr. John Hodges, in the Catholic Standard Library, a book as picturesque and packed with learning as Gregorovius's, if less succinct.

Finally, I may say that for all recent special information on my subject I have had to go to French and Italian books.

First, I must naturally mention the superb works written by Messrs. Ehrle and Stevenson on the Borgia Rooms, and Corrado Ricci on Pinturicchio, in which much space is devoted to the Borgia Rooms. Both of these noble works, which cost five or six guineas apiece, were written in Italian, but of the latter Mr. Heinemann has brought out a superbly illustrated translation with glorious coloured plates.

The house of Firmin-Didot et Cie have brought out, at 3 frs. 50 centimes each, two most valuable volumes containing contributions by M. Georges Goyau, M. Paul Fabre, M. Pératé, and the Vicomte Melchior de Vogüé, under the titles of La Gouvernement de l'Eglise, and La Papauté et la Civilization. The former is indispensable to anyone who wishes to form a succinct idea of the personnel of the Vatican; it is most lucidly and attractively written; and it and the Vie Intime de Pie X., by the Abbé Cigala, who is by birth a noble of Turin, are the two most interesting books on the Vatican which I have read.

The Vie Intime is even more up to date than the Gouvernement de l'Eglise; it is published by Lethielleux et Cie, who also are the publishers of M. Lector's Le Conclave.

For the information about the Vatican and St. Peter's Crypt, which form a pièce de résistance in my book, I am most indebted to the Élements d'Archeologie Chrétienne of Professor Marucchi, the Pope's archæologist, the de Rossi of the day, and the Cryptes Vaticanes of Père Dufresne, which was, until I brought out Old St. Peter's and St. Peter's Crypt, the only book on the subject, and is a mine of information.

I have left to the end Pistolesi's magnificent work, II Vaticano, published eighty years ago in eight huge folios, at the expense, I believe, of a former Earl of Shrewsbury. Half my illustrations are reproductions of the hundreds of superb plans and plates in this book. Pistolesi is what Americans would call the bed-rock, upon which many of the later books about the Vatican are founded, and its value is much enhanced by the fact that, unlike most large Italian works, it is well indexed.

I hope that I have not omitted any of the works which have been valuable to me in the prolonged studies which preceded the writing of my book. If I have, I tender my most sincere apologies to their authors and publishers. I must conclude with a word of thanks to Miss Heath Wilson, of the English Library in the Piazza di Spagna at Rome, a valued friend, who has given me much help by procuring for me various materials not procurable in England.