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Chapter 26

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.

Mark Twain