37 Palazzo Larazani, Via Porta Pinciana, January 24th. - We left Marseilles in the Neapolitan steamer Calabrese, as noticed above, a week ago this morning. There was no fault to be found with the steamer, which was very clean and comfortable, contrary to what we had understood beforehand; except for the coolness of the air (and I know not that this was greater than that of the Atlantic in July), our voyage would have been very pleasant; but for myself, I enjoyed nothing, having a cold upon me, or a low fever, or something else that took the light and warmth out of everything.
I went to bed immediately after my last record, and was rocked to sleep pleasantly enough by the billows of the Mediterranean; and, coming on deck about sunrise next morning, found the steamer approaching Genoa. We saw the city, lying at the foot of a range of hills, and stretching a little way up their slopes, the hills sweeping round it in the segment of a circle, and looking like an island rising abruptly out of the sea; for no connection with the mainland was visible on either side. There was snow scattered on their summits and streaking their sides a good way down. They looked bold, and barren, and brown, except where the snow whitened them. The city did not impress me with much expectation of size or splendor. Shortly after coming into the port our whole party landed, and we found ourselves at once in the midst of a crowd of cab-drivers, hotel-runnets, and coin missionaires, who assaulted us with a volley of French, Italian, and broken English, which beat pitilessly about our ears; for really it seemed as if all the dictionaries in the world had been torn to pieces, and blown around us by a hurricane. Such a pother! We took a commissionaire, a respectable-looking man, in a cloak, who said his name was Salvator Rosa; and he engaged to show us whatever was interesting in Genoa.
In the first place, he took us through narrow streets to an old church, the name of which I have forgotten, and, indeed, its peculiar features; but I know that I found it pre-eminently magnificent, - its whole interior being incased in polished marble, of various kinds and colors, its ceiling painted, and its chapels adorned with pictures. However, this church was dazzled out of sight by the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, to which we were afterwards conducted, whose exterior front is covered with alternate slabs of black and white marble, which were brought, either in whole or in part, from Jerusalem. Within, there was a prodigious richness of precious marbles, and a pillar, if I mistake not, from Solomon's Temple; and a picture of the Virgin by St. Luke; and others (rather more intrinsically valuable, I imagine), by old masters, set in superb marble frames, within the arches of the chapels. I used to try to imagine how the English cathedrals must have looked in their primeval glory, before the Reformation, and before the whitewash of Cromwell's time had overlaid their marble pillars; but I never imagined anything at all approaching what my eyes now beheld: this sheen of polished and variegated marble covering every inch of its walls; this glow of brilliant frescos all over the roof, and up within the domes; these beautiful pictures by great masters, painted for the places which they now occupied, and making an actual portion of the edifice; this wealth of silver, gold, and gems, that adorned the shrines of the saints, before which wax candles burned, and were kept burning, I suppose, from year's end to year's end; in short, there is no imagining nor remembering a hundredth part of the rich details. And even the cathedral (though I give it up as indescribable) was nothing at all in comparison with a church to which the commissionaire afterwards led us; a church that had been built four or five hundred years ago, by a pirate, in expiation of his sins, and out of the profit of his rapine. This last edifice, in its interior, absolutely shone with burnished gold, and glowed with pictures; its walls were a quarry of precious stones, so valuable were the marbles out of which they were wrought; its columns and pillars were of inconceivable costliness; its pavement was a mosaic of wonderful beauty, and there were four twisted pillars made out of stalactites. Perhaps the best way to form some dim conception of it is to fancy a little casket, inlaid inside with precious stones, so that there shall not a hair's-breadth be left unprecious-stoned, and then to conceive this little bit of a casket iucreased to the magnitude of a great church, without losing anything of the excessive glory that was compressed into its original small compass, but all its pretty lustre made sublime by the consequent immensity. At any rate, nobody who has not seen a church like this can imagine what a gorgeous religion it was that reared it.
In the cathedral, and in all the churches, we saw priests and many persons kneeling at their devotions; and our Salvator Rosa, whenever we passed a chapel or shrine, failed not to touch the pavement with one knee, crossing himself the while; and once, when a priest was going through some form of devotion, he stopped a few moments to share in it.