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From A Roman Note-Book

December 28, 1872.--In Rome again for the last three days--that
second visit which, when the first isn't followed by a fatal
illness in Florence, the story goes that one is doomed to pay. I
didn't drink of the Fountain of Trevi on the eve of departure the
other time; but I feel as if I had drunk of the Tiber itself.
Nevertheless as I drove from the station in the evening I
wondered what I should think of it at this first glimpse hadn't I
already known it. All manner of evil perhaps. Paris, as I passed
along the Boulevards three evenings before to take the train, was
swarming and glittering as befits a great capital. Here, in the
black, narrow, crooked, empty streets, I saw nothing I would fain
regard as eternal. But there were new gas-lamps round the
spouting Triton in Piazza Barberini and a newspaper stall on the
corner of the Condotti and the Corso--salient signs of the
emancipated state. An hour later I walked up to Via Gregoriana by
Piazza di Spagna. It was all silent and deserted, and the great
flight of steps looked surprisingly small. Everything seemed
meagre, dusky, provincial. Could Rome after all really be
a world-city? That queer old rococo garden gateway at the top of
the Gregoriana stirred a dormant memory; it awoke into a
consciousness of the delicious mildness of the air, and very
soon, in a little crimson drawing-room, I was reconciled and re-
initiated.... Everything is dear (in the way of lodgings), but it
hardly matters, as everything is taken and some one else paying
for it. I must make up my mind to a bare perch. But it seems
poorly perverse here to aspire to an "interior" or to be
conscious of the economic side of life. The æesthetic is so
intense that you feel you should live on the taste of it, should
extract the nutritive essence of the atmosphere. For positively
it's such an atmosphere! The weather is perfect, the sky
as blue as the most exploded tradition fames it, the whole air
glowing and throbbing with lovely colour.... The glitter of Paris
is now all gaslight. And oh the monotonous miles of rain-washed
asphalte!

December 30th.--I have had nothing to do with the
"ceremonies." In fact I believe there have hardly been any--no
midnight mass at the Sistine chapel, no silver trumpets at St.
Peter's. Everything is remorselessly clipped and curtailed--the
Vatican in deepest mourning. But I saw it in its superbest
scarlet in '69.... I went yesterday with L. to the Colonna
gardens--an adventure that would have reconverted me to Rome if
the thing weren't already done. It's a rare old place--rising in
mouldy bosky terraces and mossy stairways and winding walks from
the back of the palace to the top of the Quirinal. It's the grand
style of gardening, and resembles the present natural manner as a
chapter of Johnsonian rhetoric resembles a piece of clever
contemporary journalism. But it's a better style in horticulture
than in literature; I prefer one of the long-drawn blue-green
Colonna vistas, with a maimed and mossy-coated garden goddess at
the end, to the finest possible quotation from a last-century
classic. Perhaps the best thing there is the old orangery with
its trees in fantastic terra-cotta tubs. The late afternoon light
was gilding the monstrous jars and suspending golden chequers
among the golden-fruited leaves. Or perhaps the best thing is the
broad terrace with its mossy balustrade and its benches; also its
view of the great naked Torre di Nerone (I think), which might
look stupid if the rosy brickwork didn't take such a colour in
the blue air. Delightful, at any rate, to stroll and talk there
in the afternoon sunshine.

January 2nd, 1873. --Two or three drives with A.--one to
St. Paul's without the Walls and back by a couple of old churches
on the Aventine. I was freshly struck with the rare distinction
of the little Protestant cemetery at the Gate, lying in the
shadow of the black sepulchral Pyramid and the thick-growing
black cypresses. Bathed in the clear Roman light the place is
heartbreaking for what it asks you--in such a world as
this--to renounce. If it should "make one in love with
death to lie there," that's only if death should be conscious. As
the case stands, the weight of a tremendous past presses upon the
flowery sod, and the sleeper's mortality feels the contact of all
the mortality with which the brilliant air is tainted.... The
restored Basilica is incredibly splendid. It seems a last pompous
effort of formal Catholicism, and there are few more striking
emblems of later Rome--the Rome foredoomed to see Victor
Emmanuel in the Quirinal, the Rome of abortive councils and
unheeded anathemas. It rises there, gorgeous and useless, on its
miasmatic site, with an air of conscious bravado--a florid
advertisement of the superabundance of faith. Within it's
magnificent, and its magnificence has no shabby spots--a rare
thing in Rome. Marble and mosaic, alabaster and malachite, lapis
and porphyry, incrust it from pavement to cornice and flash back
their polished lights at each other with such a splendour of
effect that you seem to stand at the heart of some immense
prismatic crystal. One has to come to Italy to know marbles and
love them. I remember the fascination of the first great show of
them I met in Venice--at the Scalzi and Gesuiti. Colour has in no
other form so cool and unfading a purity and lustre. Softness of
tone and hardness of substance--isn't that the sum of the
artist's desire? G., with his beautiful caressing, open-lipped
Roman utterance, so easy to understand and, to my ear, so finely
suggestive of genuine Latin, not our horrible Anglo-Saxon and
Protestant kind, urged upon us the charms of a return by the
Aventine and the sight of a couple of old churches. The best is
Santa Sabina, a very fine old structure of the fifth century,
mouldering in its dusky solitude and consuming its own antiquity.
What a massive heritage Christianity and Catholicism are leaving
here! What a substantial fact, in all its decay, this memorial
Christian temple outliving its uses among the sunny gardens and
vineyards! It has a noble nave, filled with a stale smell which
(like that of the onion) brought tears to my eyes, and bordered
with twenty-four fluted marble columns of Pagan origin. The
crudely primitive little mosaics along the entablature are
extremely curious. A Dominican monk, still young, who showed us
the church, seemed a creature generated from its musty shadows I
odours. His physiognomy was wonderfully de l'emploi, and
his voice, most agreeable, had the strangest jaded humility. His
lugubrious salute and sanctimonious impersonal appropriation of
my departing franc would have been a master-touch on the stage.
While we were still in the church a bell rang that he had to go
and answer, and as he came back and approached us along the nave
he made with his white gown and hood and his cadaverous face,
against the dark church background, one of those pictures which,
thank the Muses, have not yet been reformed out of Italy. It was
the exact illustration, for insertion in a text, of heaven knows
how many old romantic and conventional literary Italianisms--
plays, poems, mysteries of Udolpho. We got back into the carriage
and talked of profane things and went home to dinner--drifting
recklessly, it seemed to me, from aesthetic luxury to social.

On the 31st we went to the musical vesper-service at the Gesu--
hitherto done so splendidly before the Pope and the cardinals.
The manner of it was eloquent of change--no Pope, no cardinals,
and indifferent music; but a great mise-en-scène
nevertheless. The church is gorgeous; late Renaissance, of great
proportions, and full, like so many others, but in a pre-eminent
degree, of seventeenth and eighteenth century Romanism. It
doesn't impress the imagination, but richly feeds the curiosity,
by which I mean one's sense of the curious; suggests no legends,
but innumerable anecdotes à la Stendhal. There is a vast dome,
filled with a florid concave fresco of tumbling foreshortened
angels, and all over the ceilings and cornices a wonderful outlay
of dusky gildings and mouldings. There are various Bernini saints
and seraphs in stucco-sculpture, astride of the tablets and door-
tops, backing against their rusty machinery of coppery
nimbi and egg-shaped cloudlets. Marble, damask and tapers
in gorgeous profusion. The high altar a great screen of twinkling
chandeliers. The choir perched in a little loft high up in the
right transept, like a balcony in a side-scene at the opera, and
indulging in surprising roulades and flourishes.... Near me sat a
handsome, opulent-looking nun--possibly an abbess or prioress of
noble lineage. Can a holy woman of such a complexion listen to a
fine operatic barytone in a sumptuous temple and receive none but
ascetic impressions? What a cross-fire of influences does
Catholicism provide!

January 4th.--A drive with A. out of Porta San Giovanni
and along Via Appia Nuova. More and more beautiful as you get
well away from the walls and the great view opens out before you-
-the rolling green-brown dells and flats of the Campagna, the
long, disjointed arcade of the aqueducts, the deep-shadowed blue
of the Alban Hills, touched into pale lights by their scattered
towns. We stopped at the ruined basilica of San Stefano, an
affair of the fifth century, rather meaningless without a learned
companion. But the perfect little sepulchral chambers of the
Pancratii, disinterred beneath the church, tell their own tale--
in their hardly dimmed frescoes, their beautiful sculptured
coffin and great sepulchral slab. Better still the tomb of the
Valerii adjoining it--a single chamber with an arched roof,
covered with stucco mouldings perfectly intact, exquisite figures
and arabesques as sharp and delicate as if the plasterer's
scaffold had just been taken from under them. Strange enough to
think of these things--so many of them as there are--surviving
their immemorial eclipse in this perfect shape and coming up like
long-lost divers on the sea of time.

January 16th.--A delightful walk last Sunday with F. to
Monte Mario. We drove to Porta Angelica, the little gate hidden
behind the right wing of Bernini's colonnade, and strolled thence
up the winding road to the Villa Mellini, where one of the greasy
peasants huddled under the wall in the sun admits you for half
franc into the finest old ilex-walk in Italy. It is all vaulted
grey-green shade with blue Campagna stretches in the interstices.
The day was perfect; the still sunshine, as we sat at the twisted
base of the old trees, seemed to have the drowsy hum of mid-
summer --with that charm of Italian vegetation that comes to us
as its confession of having scenically served, to weariness at
last, for some pastoral these many centuries a classic. In a
certain cheapness and thinness of substance--as compared with the
English stoutness, never left athirst--it reminds me of our own,
and it is relatively dry enough and pale enough to explain the
contempt of many unimaginative Britons. But it has an idle
abundance and wantonness, a romantic shabbiness and
dishevelment. At the Villa Mellini is the famous lonely pine
which "tells" so in the landscape from other points, bought off
from the axe by (I believe) Sir George Beaumont, commemorated in
a like connection in Wordsworth's great sonnet. He at least was
not an unimaginative Briton. As you stand under it, its far-away
shallow dome, supported on a single column almost white enough to
be marble, seems to dwell in the dizziest depths of the blue. Its
pale grey-blue boughs and its silvery stem make a wonderful
harmony with the ambient air. The Villa Mellini is full of the
elder Italy of one's imagination--the Italy of Boccaccio and
Ariosto. There are twenty places where the Florentine story-
tellers might have sat round on the grass. Outside the villa
walls, beneath the over-crowding orange-boughs, straggled old
Italy as well--but not in Boccaccio's velvet: a row of ragged and
livid contadini, some simply stupid in their squalor, but some
downright brigands of romance, or of reality, with matted locks
and terribly sullen eyes.

A couple of days later I walked for old acquaintance' sake over
to San Onofrio on the Janiculan. The approach is one of the
dirtiest adventures in Rome, and though the view is fine from the
little terrace, the church and convent are of a meagre and musty
pattern. Yet here--almost like pearls in a dunghill--are hidden
mementos of two of the most exquisite of Italian minds. Torquato
Tasso spent the last months of his life here, and you may visit
his room and various warped and faded relics. The most
interesting is a cast of his face taken after death--looking,
like all such casts, almost more than mortally gallant and
distinguished. But who should look all ideally so if not he? In a
little shabby, chilly corridor adjoining is a fresco of Leonardo,
a Virgin and Child with the donatorio. It is very small,
simple and faded, but it has all the artist's magic, that
mocking, illusive refinement and hint of a vague arriere-
pensee
which mark every stroke of Leonardo's brush. Is it the
perfection of irony or the perfection of tenderness? What does he
mean, what does he affirm, what does he deny? Magic wouldn't be
magic, nor the author of such things stand so absolutely alone,
if we were ready with an explanation. As I glanced from the
picture to the poor stupid little red-faced brother at my side I
wondered if the thing mightn't pass for an elegant epigram on
monasticism. Certainly, at any rate, there is more intellect in
it than under all the monkish tonsures it has seen coming and
going these three hundred years.

January 21st.--The last three or four days I have
regularly spent a couple of hours from noon baking myself in the
sun of the Pincio to get rid of a cold. The weather perfect and
the crowd (especially to-day) amazing. Such a staring, lounging,
dandified, amiable crowd! Who does the vulgar stay-at-home work
of Rome? All the grandees and half the foreigners are there in
their carriages, the bourgeoisie on foot staring at them
and the beggars lining all the approaches. The great difference
between public places in America and Europe is in the number of
unoccupied people of every age and condition sitting about early
and late on benches and gazing at you, from your hat to your
boots, as you pass. Europe is certainly the continent of the
practised stare. The ladies on the Pincio have to run the
gauntlet; but they seem to do so complacently enough. The
European woman is brought up to the sense of having a definite
part in the way of manners or manner to play in public. To lie
back in a barouche alone, balancing a parasol and seeming to
ignore the extremely immediate gaze of two serried ranks of male
creatures on each side of her path, save here and there to
recognise one of them with an imperceptible nod, is one of her
daily duties. The number of young men here who, like the
coenobites of old, lead the purely contemplative life is
enormous. They muster in especial force on the Pincio, but the
Corso all day is thronged with them. They are well-dressed, good-
humoured, good-looking, polite; but they seem never to do a
harder stroke of work than to stroll from the Piazza Colonna to
the Hotel de Rome or vice versa. Some of them don't even
stroll, but stand leaning by the hour against the doorways,
sucking the knobs of their canes, feeling their back hair and
settling their shirt-cuffs. At my cafe in the morning several
stroll in already (at nine o'clock) in light, in "evening"
gloves. But they order nothing, turn on their heels, glance at
the mirrors and stroll out again. When it rains they herd under
the portes-cochères and in the smaller cafes.... Yesterday
Prince Humbert's little primogenito was on the Pincio in
an open landau with his governess. He's a sturdy blond little man
and the image of the King. They had stopped to listen to the
music, and the crowd was planted about the carriage-wheels,
staring and criticising under the child's snub little nose. It
appeared bold cynical curiosity, without the slightest
manifestation of "loyalty," and it gave me a singular sense of
the vulgarisation of Rome under the new regime. When the Pope
drove abroad it was a solemn spectacle; even if you neither
kneeled nor uncovered you were irresistibly impressed. But the
Pope never stopped to listen to opera tunes, and he had no little
popelings, under the charge of superior nurse-maids, whom you
might take liberties with. The family at the Quirinal make
something of a merit, I believe, of their modest and inexpensive
way of life. The merit is great; yet, representationally, what a
change for the worse from an order which proclaimed stateliness a
part of its essence! The divinity that doth hedge a king must be
pretty well on the wane. But how many more fine old traditions
will the extremely sentimental traveller miss in the Italians
over whom that little jostled prince in the landau will have come
into his kinghood? ... The Pincio continues to beguile; it's a
great resource. I am for ever being reminded of the "aesthetic
luxury," as I called it above, of living in Rome. To be able to
choose of an afternoon for a lounge (respectfully speaking)
between St. Peter's and the high precinct you approach by the
gate just beyond Villa Medici--counting nothing else--is a proof
that if in Rome you may suffer from ennui, at least your ennui
has a throbbing soul in it. It is something to say for the
Pincio that you don't always choose St. Peter's. Sometimes I lose
patience with its parade of eternal idleness, but at others this
very idleness is balm to one's conscience. Life on just these
terms seems so easy, so monotonously sweet, that you feel it
would be unwise, would be really unsafe, to change. The Roman air
is charged with an elixir, the Roman cup seasoned with some
insidious drop, of which the action is fatally, yet none the less
agreeably, "lowering."

January 26th.--With S. to the Villa Medici--perhaps on the
whole the most enchanting place in Rome. The part of the garden
called the Boschetto has an incredible, impossible charm; an
upper terrace, behind locked gates, covered with a little dusky
forest of evergreen oaks. Such a dim light as of a fabled,
haunted place, such a soft suffusion of tender grey-green tones,
such a company of gnarled and twisted little miniature trunks--
dwarfs playing with each other at being giants--and such a
shower of golden sparkles drifting in from the vivid west! At the
end of the wood is a steep, circular mound, up which the short
trees scramble amain, with a long mossy staircase climbing up to
a belvedere. This staircase, rising suddenly out of the leafy
dusk to you don't see where, is delightfully fantastic. You
expect to see an old woman in a crimson petticoat and with a
distaff come hobbling down and turn into a fairy and offer you
three wishes. I should name for my own first wish that one didn't
have to be a Frenchman to come and live and dream and work at the
Académie de France. Can there be for a while a happier destiny
than that of a young artist conscious of talent and of no errand
but to educate, polish and perfect it, transplanted to these
sacred shades? One has fancied Plato's Academy--his gleaming
colonnades, his blooming gardens and Athenian sky; but was it as
good as this one, where Monsieur Hebert does the Platonic? The
blessing in Rome is not that this or that or the other isolated
object is so very unsurpassable; but that the general air so
contributes to interest, to impressions that are not as any other
impressions anywhere in the world. And from this general air the
Villa Medici has distilled an essence of its own--walled it in
and made it delightfully private. The great façade on the gardens
is like an enormous rococo clock-face all incrusted with images
and arabesques and tablets. What mornings and afternoons one
might spend there, brush in hand, unpreoccupied, untormented,
pensioned, satisfied--either persuading one's self that one would
be "doing something" in consequence or not caring if one
shouldn't be.

At a later date--middle of March.--A ride with S. W. out
of the Porta Pia to the meadows beyond the Ponte Nomentana--
close to the site of Phaon's villa where Nero in hiding had
himself stabbed. It all spoke as things here only speak, touching
more chords than one can now really know or say. For these
are predestined memories and the stuff that regrets are made of;
the mild divine efflorescence of spring, the wonderful landscape,
the talk suspended for another gallop.... Returning, we
dismounted at the gate of the Villa Medici and walked through the
twilight of the vaguely perfumed, bird-haunted alleys to H.'s
studio, hidden in the wood like a cottage in a fairy tale. I
spent there a charming half-hour in the fading light, looking at
the pictures while my companion discoursed of her errand. The
studio is small and more like a little salon; the painting
refined, imaginative, somewhat morbid, full of consummate French
ability. A portrait, idealised and etherealised, but a likeness
of Mme. de---(from last year's Salon) in white satin, quantities
of lace, a coronet, diamonds and pearls; a striking combination
of brilliant silvery tones. A "Femme Sauvage," a naked dusky girl
in a wood, with a wonderfully clever pair of shy, passionate
eyes. The author is different enough from any of the numerous
American artists. They may be producers, but he's a product as
well--a product of influences of a sort of which we have as yet
no general command. One of them is his charmed lapse of life in
that unprofessional-looking little studio, with his enchanted
wood on one side and the plunging wall of Rome on the other.

January 30th.--A drive the other day with a friend to
Villa Madama, on the side of Monte Mario; a place like a page out
of one of Browning's richest evocations of this clime and
civilisation. Wondrous in its haunting melancholy, it might have
inspired half "The Ring and the Book" at a stroke. What a grim
commentary on history such a scene--what an irony of the past!
The road up to it through the outer enclosure is almost
impassable with mud and stones. At the end, on a terrace, rises
the once elegant Casino, with hardly a whole pane of glass in its
façade, reduced to its sallow stucco and degraded ornaments. The
front away from Rome has in the basement a great loggia, now
walled in from the weather, preceded by a grassy be littered
platform with an immense sweeping view of the Campagna; the sad-
looking, more than sad-looking, evil-looking, Tiber beneath (the
colour of gold, the sentimentalists say, the colour of mustard,
the realists); a great vague stretch beyond, of various
complexions and uses; and on the horizon the ever-iridescent
mountains. The place has become the shabbiest farm-house, with
muddy water in the old pièces d'eau and dunghills on the
old parterres. The "feature" is the contents of the loggia: a
vaulted roof and walls decorated by Giulio Romano; exquisite
stucco-work and still brilliant frescoes; arabesques and
figurini, nymphs and fauns, animals and flowers--gracefully
lavish designs of every sort. Much of the colour--especially the
blues--still almost vivid, and all the work wonderfully
ingenious, elegant and charming. Apartments so decorated can have
been meant only for the recreation of people greater than any we
know, people for whom life was impudent ease and success.
Margaret Farnese was the lady of the house, but where she trailed
her cloth of gold the chickens now scamper between your legs over
rotten straw. It is all inexpressibly dreary. A stupid peasant
scratching his head, a couple of critical Americans picking their
steps, the walls tattered and befouled breast-high, dampness and
decay striking in on your heart, and the scene overbowed by these
heavenly frescoes, moulering there in their airy artistry! It's
poignant; it provokes tears; it tells so of the waste of effort.
Something human seems to pant beneath the grey pall of time and
to implore you to rescue it, to pity it, to stand by it somehow.
But you leave it to its lingering death without compunction,
almost with pleasure; for the place seems vaguely crime-haunted--
paying at least the penalty of some hard immorality. The end of
a Renaissance pleasure-house. Endless for the didactic observer
the moral, abysmal for the storyseeker the tale.

February 12th.--Yesterday to the Villa Albani. Over-formal
and (as my companion says) too much like a tea-garden; but with
beautiful stairs and splendid geometrical lines of immense box-
hedge, intersected with high pedestals supporting little antique
busts. The light to-day magnificent; the Alban Hills of an
intenser broken purple than I had yet seen them--their white
towns blooming upon it like vague projected lights. It was like a
piece of very modern painting, and a good example of how Nature
has at times a sort of mannerism which ought to make us careful
how we condemn out of hand the more refined and affected artists.
The collection of marbles in the Casino (Winckelmann's) admirable
and to be seen again. The famous Antinous crowned with lotus a
strangely beautiful and impressive thing. The "Greek manner," on
the showing of something now and again encountered here, moves
one to feel that even for purely romantic and imaginative effects
it surpasses any since invented. If there be not imagination,
even in our comparatively modern sense of the word, in the
baleful beauty of that perfect young profile there is none in
"Hamlet" or in "Lycidas." There is five hundred times as much as
in "The Transfiguration." With this at any rate to point to it's
not for sculpture not professedly to produce any emotion
producible by painting. There are numbers of small and delicate
fragments of bas-reliefs of exquisite grace, and a huge piece
(two combatants--one, on horseback, beating down another--murder
made eternal and beautiful) attributed to the Parthenon and
certainly as grandly impressive as anything in the Elgin marbles.
S. W. suggested again the Roman villas as a "subject." Excellent
if one could find a feast of facts à la Stendhal. A lot of vague
ecstatic descriptions and anecdotes wouldn't at all pay. There
have been too many already. Enough facts are recorded, I suppose;
one should discover them and soak in them for a twelvemonth. And
yet a Roman villa, in spite of statues, ideas and atmosphere,
affects me as of a scanter human and social portee, a
shorter, thinner reverberation, than an old English country-
house, round which experience seems piled so thick. But this
perhaps is either hair-splitting or "racial" prejudice.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE VATICAN, ROME]

March 9th. --The Vatican is still deadly cold; a couple of
hours there yesterday with R. W. E. Yet he, illustrious and
enviable man, fresh from the East, had no overcoat and wanted
none. Perfect bliss, I think, would be to live in Rome without
thinking of overcoats. The Vatican seems very familiar, but
strangely smaller than of old. I never lost the sense before of
confusing vastness. Sancta simplicitas! All my old friends
however stand there in undimmed radiance, keeping most of them
their old pledges. I am perhaps more struck now with the enormous
amount of padding--the number of third-rate, fourth-rate things
that weary the eye desirous to approach freshly the twenty and
thirty best. In spite of the padding there are dozens of
treasures that one passes regretfully; but the impression of the
whole place is the great thing--the feeling that through these
solemn vistas flows the source of an incalculable part of our
present conception of Beauty.

April 10th. --Last night, in the rain, to the Teatro Valle
to see a comedy of Goldoni in Venetian dialect--"I Quattro
Rustighi." I could but half follow it; enough, however, to be
sure that, for all its humanity of irony, it wasn't so good as
Molière. The acting was capital--broad, free and natural; the
play of talk easier even than life itself; but, like all the
Italian acting I have seen, it was wanting in finesse,
that shade of the shade by which, and by which alone, one really
knows art. I contrasted the affair with the evening in December
last that I walked over (also in the rain) to the Odeon and saw
the "Plaideurs" and the "Malade lmaginaire." There, too, was
hardly more than a handful of spectators; but what rich, ripe,
fully representational and above all intellectual comedy, and
what polished, educated playing! These Venetians in particular,
however, have a marvellous entrain of their own; they seem
even less than the French to recite. In some of the women--ugly,
with red hands and shabby dresses--an extraordinary gift of
natural utterance, of seeming to invent joyously as they go.

Later.--Last evening in H.'s box at the Apollo to hear
Ernesto Rossi in "Othello." He shares supremacy with Salvini in
Italian tragedy. Beautiful great theatre with boxes you can walk
about in; brilliant audience. The Princess Margaret was there--I
have never been to the theatre that she was not--and a number of
other princesses in neighbouring boxes. G. G. came in and
instructed us that they were the M., the L., the P., &c. Rossi is
both very bad and very fine; bad where anything like taste and
discretion is required, but "all there," and more than there, in
violent passion. The last act reduced too much, however, to mere
exhibitional sensibility. The interesting thing to me was to
observe the Italian conception of the part--to see how crude it
was, how little it expressed the hero's moral side, his depth,
his dignity--anything more than his being a creature terrible in
mere tantrums. The great point was his seizing Iago's head and
whacking it half-a-dozen times on the floor, and then flinging
him twenty yards away. It was wonderfully done, but in the doing
of it and in the evident relish for it in the house there was I
scarce knew what force of easy and thereby rather cheap
expression.

April 27th.--A morning with L. B. at Villa Ludovisi, which
we agreed that we shouldn't soon forget. The villa now belongs to
the King, who has lodged his morganatic wife there. There is
nothing so blissfully right in Rome, nothing more
consummately consecrated to style. The grounds and gardens are
immense, and the great rusty-red city wall stretches away behind
them and makes the burden of the seven hills seem vast without
making them seem small. There is everything--dusky avenues
trimmed by the clippings of centuries, groves and dells and
glades and glowing pastures and reedy fountains and great
flowering meadows studded with enormous slanting pines. The day
was delicious, the trees all one melody, the whole place a
revelation of what Italy and hereditary pomp can do together.
Nothing could be more in the grand manner than this garden view
of the city ramparts, lifting their fantastic battlements above
the trees and flowers. They are all tapestried with vines and
made to serve as sunny fruit-walls--grim old defence as they once
were; now giving nothing but a splendid buttressed privacy. The
sculptures in the little Casino are few, but there are two great
ones--the beautiful sitting Mars and the head of the great Juno,
the latter thrust into a corner behind a shutter. These things
it's almost impossible to praise; we can only mark them well and
keep them clear, as we insist on silence to hear great music....
If I don't praise Guercino's Aurora in the greater Casino, it's
for another reason; this is certainly a very muddy masterpiece.
It figures on the ceiling of a small low hall; the painting is
coarse and the ceiling too near. Besides, it's unfair to pass
straight from the Greek mythology to the Bolognese. We were left
to roam at will through the house; the custode shut us in and
went to walk in the park. The apartments were all open, and I had
an opportunity to reconstruct, from its milieu at least,
the character of a morganatic queen. I saw nothing to indicate
that it was not amiable; but I should have thought more highly of
the lady's discrimination if she had had the Juno removed from
behind her shutter. In such a house, girdled about with such a
park, me thinks I could be amiable--and perhaps discriminating
too. The Ludovisi Casino is small, but the perfection of the life
of ease might surely be led there. There are English houses
enough in wondrous parks, but they expose you to too many small
needs and observances--to say nothing of a red-faced butler
dropping his h's. You are oppressed with the detail of
accommodation. Here the billiard-table is old-fashioned, perhaps
a trifle crooked; but you have Guercino above your head, and
Guercino, after all, is almost as good as Guido. The rooms, I
noticed, all pleased by their shape, by a lovely proportion, by a
mass of delicate ornamentation on the high concave ceilings. One
might live over again in them some deliciously benighted life of
a forgotten type--with graceful old sale, and immensely
thick walls, and a winding stone staircase, and a view from the
loggia at the top; a view of twisted parasol-pines balanced, high
above a wooden horizon, against a sky of faded sapphire.

May 17th.--It was wonderful yesterday at St. John Lateran.
The spring now has turned to perfect summer; there are cascades
of verdure over all the walls; the early flowers are a fading
memory, and the new grass knee-deep in the Villa Borghese. The
winter aspect of the region about the Lateran is one of the best
things in Rome; the sunshine is nowhere so golden and the lean
shadows nowhere so purple as on the long grassy walk to Santa
Croce. But yesterday I seemed to see nothing but green and blue.
The expanse before Santa Croce was vivid green; the Campagna
rolled away in great green billows, which seemed to break high
about the gaunt aqueducts; and the Alban Hills, which in January
and February keep shifting and melting along the whole scale of
azure, were almost monotonously fresh, and had lost some of their
finer modelling. But the sky was ultramarine and everything
radiant with light and warmth--warmth which a soft steady breeze
kept from excess. I strolled some time about the church, which
has a grand air enough, though I don't seize the point of view of
Miss----, who told me the other day how vastly finer she thought
it than St. Peter's. But on Miss----'s lips this seemed a very
pretty paradox. The choir and transepts have a sombre splendour,
and I like the old vaulted passage with its slabs and monuments
behind the choir. The charm of charms at St. John Lateran is the
admirable twelfth-century cloister, which was never more charming
than yesterday. The shrubs and flowers about the ancient well
were blooming away in the intense light, and the twisted pillars
and chiselled capitals of the perfect little colonnade seemed to
enclose them like the sculptured rim of a precious vase. Standing
out among the flowers you may look up and see a section of the
summit of the great façade of the church. The robed and mitred
apostles, bleached and rain-washed by the ages, rose into the
blue air like huge snow figures. I spent at the incorporated
museum a subsequent hour of fond vague attention, having it quite
to myself. It is rather scantily stocked, but the great cool
halls open out impressively one after the other, and the wide
spaces between the statues seem to suggest at first that each is
a masterpiece. I was in the loving mood of one's last days in
Rome, and when I had nothing else to admire I admired the
magnificent thickness of the embrasures of the doors and windows.
If there were no objects of interest at all in the Lateran the
palace would be worth walking through every now and then, to keep
up one's idea of solid architecture. I went over to the Scala
Santa, where was no one but a very shabby priest sitting like a
ticket-taker at the door. But he let me pass, and I ascended one
of the profane lateral stairways and treated myself to a glimpse
of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Its threshold is crossed but once or
twice a year, I believe, by three or four of the most exalted
divines, but you may look into it freely enough through a couple
of gilded lattices. It is very sombre and splendid, and conveys
the impression of a very holy place. And yet somehow it suggested
irreverent thoughts; it had to my fancy--perhaps on account of
the lattice--an Oriental, a Mahometan note. I expected every
moment to see a sultana appear in a silver veil and silken
trousers and sit down on the crimson carpet.

Farewell, packing, the sharp pang of going. One would like to be
able after five months in Rome to sum up for tribute and homage,
one's experience, one's gains, the whole adventure of one's
sensibility. But one has really vibrated too much--the addition
of so many items isn't easy. What is simply clear is the sense of
an acquired passion for the place and of an incalculable number
of gathered impressions. Many of these have been intense and
momentous, but one has trodden on the other--there are always the
big fish that swallow up the little--and one can hardly say what
has become of them. They store themselves noiselessly away, I
suppose, in the dim but safe places of memory and "taste," and we
live in a quiet faith that they will emerge into vivid relief if
life or art should demand them. As for the passion we needn't
perhaps trouble ourselves about that. Fifty swallowed palmfuls of
the Fountain of Trevi couldn't make us more ardently sure that we
shall at any cost come back.

1873.

Henry James