The galleries and museums of the palace are the richest in the world, in Roman and Christian antiquities. Here are the paintings which have rendered Raphael and Angelo immortal to fame. They are almost innumerable. These masters translated the Bible into pictures, and here are the originals of many of the cuts that adorn our finely illustrated family Bibles. Michael Angelo painted 22 months (1508-11) at the ceiling of the Sixtine Chapel. In the Loggie, Raphael represents God in the person of an old man wearing a long gray beard and attired in the oriental costume.
The principal museums in Rome are the Christian and the Gregorianum Lateranense in the Lateran; the Etruscan, the Egyptian and the Museum of Christian Antiquities in the Vatican; and the Capitoline Museum, on Capitoline Hill. The vast stores of ancient art contained in these, brings the beholder back again to the strange scenes of the distant past, as do perhaps no other museums in the world. To do justice to these collections would require many weeks, and a mere catalogue of their contents would cover many pages. Among the most interesting apartments of the Capitoline Museum, are the Room of the Dying Gladiator, the Room of the Philosophers, the Room of the Busts of the Emperors, the Room of Venus, &c. Baedeker guides the tourist through Rome by means of 312 pages of description in fine print. It may be proper to observe here, that Murray leads the visitor in the same way through London by means of a guide-book of 316 pages, and Galignani has 438 pages on Paris, exclusive of the tables of contents.
In regard to the brilliant and magnificent churches of Italy, which, for beauty, throw those of the rest of the world into the shade, I will here add that their overawing grandeur assisted materially in making man a humble and submissive being; and possibly taught him to take the first steps from ancient barbarity toward civilization and refinement.
Several square miles of ancient Rome lying in ruins, is now unoccupied, and many of the roads which intersect this desolate area are lined on both sides by walls from 7 to 10 or 12 feet in height. They are plastered white and overgrown by the ivy; and as one walks along in these, he may well occupy his time in watching a species of little reptiles that are very nimble but shy, running up the high smooth walls as easily as along the ground. They are harmless, no doubt, but I dreaded them quite as much as if I had been in a similar danger of treading upon snakes! They dart like arrows across the streets, and in their reckless haste of attempting to cross the street to avoid me, they frequently came near losing their lives under my feet! They are about 3 to 6 inches long, we will say; have four legs as near as I could count, and are very slim, resembling the snake in form and the frog in features. Good-by, Old Rome!