A trip to the summit of Vesuvius is one of the principal attractions for strangers who are visiting Naples. There is a fascination about that awful slayer of cities which few can resist, and no less attractive is the city of Pompeii, now largely laid bare after being buried for eighteen centuries. We are indebted to Henry Haynie for the following interesting description: “Once seen, it will never be forgotten. It is full of suggestions. It kindles emotions that are worth the kindling, and brings on dreams that are worth the dreaming. Of the three places overwhelmed, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae, the last scarcely repays excavation in one sense, and the first in another; but to watch the diggers at Pompeii is fascinating, even when there is no reasonable expectation of a find. Herculaneum was buried with lava, or rather with tufa, and it is so very hard that the expense of uncovering of only a small part of that city has been very great.
HOW POMPEII IMPRESSES ITS VISITORS
“Pompeii was smothered in ashes, however, and most of it is uncovered now. But while there is much that is fascinating, and all of it is instructive, there is nothing grand or awe-inspiring in the ruins of Pompeii. No visitor stands breathless as in the great hall of Karnak or in the once dreadful Coliseum at Rome, or dreams with sensuous delight as before the Jasmine Court at Agra.
“The weirdness of the scene possesses us as a haunted chamber might. We have before us the narrow lanes, paved with tufa, in which Roman wagon wheels have worn deep ruts. We cross streets on stepping-stones which sandaled feet ages ago polished. We see the wine shops with empty jars, counters stained with liquor, stone mills where the wheat was ground, and the very ovens in which bread was baked more than eighteen centuries ago. ‘Welcome’ is offered us at one silent, broken doorway; at another we are warned to ‘Beware of the dog!’ The painted figures,—some of them so artistic and rich in colors that pictures of them are disbelieved,—the mosaic pavements, the empty fountains, the altars and household gods, the marble pillars and the small gardens are there just as the owners left them. Some of the walls are scribbled over by the small boys of Pompeii in strange characters which mock modern erudition. In places we read the advertisements of gladiatorial shows, never to come off, the names of candidates for legislative office who were never to sit. There is nothing like this elsewhere.
“The value of Pompeii to those classic students who would understand, not the speech only, but the life and the every-day habits, of the ancient world, is too high for reckoning. Its inestimable evidence may be seen in the fact that any high-school boy can draw the plan of a Roman house, while ripest scholars hesitate on the very threshold of a Greek dwelling. This is because no Hellenic Pompeii has yet been discovered, but thanks to the silent city close to the beautiful Bay of Naples, the Latin house is known from ostium to porticus, from the front door to the back garden wall.