Part 4 out of 6
intelligent and humanly fair.
_Paris, Dec, 1846._--Accustomed to the infinite wit and exuberant
richness of his writings, his talk is still an amazement and
a splendor scarcely to be faced with steady eyes. He does not
converse;--only harangues. It is the usual misfortune of such marked
men,--happily not one invariable or inevitable,--that they cannot
allow other minds room to breathe, and show themselves in their
atmosphere, and thus miss the refreshment and instruction which the
greatest never cease to need from the experience of the humblest.
Carlyle allows no one a chance, but bears down all opposition, not
only by his wit and onset of words, resistless in their sharpness as
so many bayonets, but by actual physical superiority,--raising his
voice, and rushing on his opponent with a torrent of sound. This is
not in the least from unwillingness to allow freedom to others. On the
contrary, no man would more enjoy a manly resistance to his thought.
But it is the habit of a mind accustomed to follow out its own
impulse, as the hawk its prey, and which knows not how to stop in
the chase. Carlyle, indeed, is arrogant and overbearing; but in his
arrogance there is no littleness,--no self-love. It is the heroic
arrogance of some old Scandinavian conqueror;--it is his nature, and
the untamable energy that has given him power to crush the dragons.
You do not love him, perhaps, nor revere; and perhaps, also, he would
only laugh at you if you did; but you like him heartily, and like to
see him the powerful smith, the Siegfried, melting all the old iron
in his furnace till it glows to a sunset red, and burns you, if you
senselessly go too near. He seems, to me, quite isolated,--lonely as
the desert,--yet never was a man more fitted to prize a man, could he
find one to match his mood. He finds them, but only in the past.
He sings, rather than talks. He pours upon you a kind of satirical,
heroical, critical poem, with regular cadences, and generally, near
the beginning, hits upon some singular epithet, which serves as a
_refrain_ when his song is full, or with which, as with a knitting
needle, he catches up the stitches, if he has chanced, now and then,
to let fall a row. For the higher kinds of poetry he has no sense,
and his talk on that subject is delightfully and gorgeously absurd. He
sometimes stops a minute to laugh at it himself, then begins anew with
fresh vigor; for all the spirits he is driving before him seem to him
as Fata Morgana, ugly masks, in fact, if he can but make them turn
about; but he laughs that they seem to others such dainty Ariels.
His talk, like his books, is full of pictures; his critical strokes
masterly. Allow for his point of view, and his survey is admirable.
He is a large subject. I cannot speak more or wiselier of him now, nor
needs it;--his works are true, to blame and praise him,--the Siegfried
of England,--great and powerful, if not quite invulnerable, and of a
might rather to destroy evil, than legislate for good.
Of Dr. Wilkinson I saw a good deal, and found him a substantial
person,--a sane, strong, and well-exercised mind,--but in the last
degree unpoetical in its structure. He is very simple, natural, and
good; excellent to see, though one cannot go far with him; and he
would be worth more in writing, if he could get time to write, than in
personal intercourse. He may yet find time;--he is scarcely more than
thirty. Dr. W. wished to introduce me to Mr. Clissold, but I had not
time; shall find it, if in London again. Tennyson was not in town.
Browning has just married Miss Barrett, and gone to Italy. I may meet
them there. Bailey is helping his father with a newspaper! His wife
and child (Philip Festus by name) came to see me. I am to make them a
visit on my return. Marston I saw several times, and found him full
of talent. That is all I want to say at present;--he is a delicate
nature, that can only be known in its own way and time. I went to see
his "Patrician's Daughter." It is an admirable play for the stage. At
the house of W.J. Fox, I saw first himself, an eloquent man, of great
practical ability, then Cooper, (of the "Purgatory of Suicides,") and
My poor selection of miscellanies has been courteously greeted in
the London journals. Openings were made for me to write, had I but
leisure; it is for that I look to a second stay in London, since
several topics came before me on which I wished to write and publish
* * * * *
I became acquainted with a gentleman who is intimate with all the
English artists, especially Stanfield and Turner, but was only able to
go to his house once, at this time. Pictures I found but little time
for, yet enough to feel what they are now to be to me. I was only at
the Dulwich and National Galleries and Hampton Court. Also, have seen
the Vandykes, at Warwick; but all the precious private collections
I was obliged to leave untouched, except one of Turner's, to which I
gave a day. For the British Museum, I had only one day, which I spent
in the Greek and Egyptian Rooms, unable even to look at the vast
collections of drawings, &c. But if I live there a few months, I shall
go often. O, were life but longer, and my strength greater! Ever I am
bewildered by the riches of existence, had I but more time to open
the oysters, and get out the pearls. Yet some are mine, if only for a
necklace or rosary.
TO HER MOTHER.
_Paris, Dec. 26, 1846._--In Paris I have been obliged to give a
great deal of time to French, in order to gain the power of speaking,
without which I might as usefully be in a well as here. That has
prevented my doing nearly as much as I would. Could I remain six
months in this great focus of civilized life, the time would be all
too short for my desires and needs.
My Essay on American Literature has been translated into French, and
published in "La Revue Independante," one of the leading journals of
Paris; only, with that delight at manufacturing names for which the
French are proverbial, they put, instead of _Margaret_, _Elizabeth_.
Write to ----, that aunt Elizabeth has appeared unexpectedly before
the French public! She will not enjoy her honors long, as a future
number, which is to contain a notice of "Woman in the Nineteenth
Century," will rectify the mistake.
I have been asked, also, to remain in correspondence with La Revue
Independante, after my return to the United States, which will be very
pleasant and advantageous to me.
I have some French acquaintance, and begin to take pleasure in them,
now that we can hold intercourse more easily. Among others, a Madame
Pauline Roland I find an interesting woman. She is an intimate friend
of Beranger and of Pierre Leroux.
We occupy a charming suite of apartments, Hotel Rougement, Boulevard
Poissoniere. It is a new hotel, and has not the arched gateways and
gloomy court-yard of the old mansions. My room, though small, is very
pretty, with the thick, flowered carpet and marble slabs; the French
clock, with Cupid, of course, over the fireplace, in which burns a
bright little wood fire; the canopy bedstead, and inevitable large
mirror; the curtains, too, are thick and rich, the closet, &c.,
excellent, the attendance good. But for all this, one pays dear. We do
not find that one can live _pleasantly_ at Paris for little money; and
we prefer to economize by a briefer stay, if at all.
_Paris, Jan. 18, 1847,_ and _Naples, March 17, 1847._--You wished to
hear of George Sand, or, as they say in Paris, "Madame Sand." I find
that all we had heard of her was true in the outline; I had supposed
it might be exaggerated. She had every reason to leave her husband,--a
stupid, brutal man, who insulted and neglected her. He afterwards gave
up their child to her for a sum of money. But the love for which she
left him lasted not well, and she has had a series of lovers, and I
am told has one now, with whom she lives on the footing of combined
means, independent friendship! But she takes rank in society like a
man, for the weight of her thoughts, and has just given her daughter
in marriage. Her son is a grown-up young man, an artist. Many women
visit her, and esteem it an honor. Even an American here, and with
the feelings of our country on such subjects, Mrs. ----, thinks of her
with high esteem. She has broken with La Mennais, of whom she was once
I observed to Dr. Francois, who is an intimate of hers, and loves and
admires her, that it did not seem a good sign that she breaks with her
friends. He said it was not so with her early friends; that she has
chosen to buy a chateau in the region where she passed her childhood,
and that the people there love and have always loved her dearly. She
is now at the chateau, and, I begin to fear, will not come to town
before I go. Since I came, I have read two charming stories recently
written by her. Another longer one she has just sold to _La Presse_
for fifteen thousand francs. She does not receive nearly as much
for her writings as Balzac, Dumas, or Sue. She has a much greater
influence than they, but a less circulation.
She stays at the chateau, because the poor people there were suffering
so much, and she could help them. She has subscribed _twenty thousand
francs_ for their relief, in the scarcity of the winter. It is a great
deal to earn by one's pen: a novel of several volumes sold for only
fifteen thousand francs, as I mentioned before. * * *
At last, however, she came; and I went to see her at her house,
Place d'Orleans. I found it a handsome modern residence. She had not
answered my letter, written about a week before, and I felt a little
anxious lest she should not receive me; for she is too much the mark
of impertinent curiosity, as well as too busy, to be easily accessible
to strangers. I am by no means timid, but I have suffered, for the
first time in France, some of the torments of _mauvaise honte_, enough
to see what they must be to many.
It is the custom to go and call on those to whom you bring letters,
and push yourself upon their notice; thus you must go quite ignorant
whether they are disposed to be cordial. My name is always murdered
by the foreign servants who announce me. I speak very bad French;
only lately have I had sufficient command of it to infuse some of my
natural spirit in my discourse. This has been a great trial to me,
who am eloquent and free in my own tongue, to be forced to feel my
thoughts struggling in vain for utterance.
The servant who admitted me was in the picturesque costume of a
peasant, and, as Madame Sand afterward told me, her god-daughter,
whom she had brought from her province. She announced me as "_Madame
Salere,_" and returned into the ante-room to tell me. "_Madame says
she does not know you_" I began to think I was doomed to a rebuff,
among the crowd who deserve it. However, to make assurance sure, I
said, "Ask if she has not received a letter from me." As I spoke,
Madame S. opened the door, and stood looking at me an instant. Our
eyes met. I never shall forget her look at that moment. The doorway
made a frame for her figure; she is large, but well-formed. She was
dressed in a robe of dark violet silk, with a black mantle on her
shoulders, her beautiful hair dressed with the greatest taste, her
whole appearance and attitude, in its simple and lady-like dignity,
presenting an almost ludicrous contrast to the vulgar caricature idea
of George Sand. Her face is a very little like the portraits, but
much finer; the upper part of the forehead and eyes are beautiful,
the lower, strong and masculine, expressive of a hardy temperament and
strong passions, but not in the least coarse; the complexion olive,
and the air of the whole head Spanish, (as, indeed, she was born at
Madrid, and is only on one side of French blood.) All these details
I saw at a glance; but what fixed my attention was the expression of
_goodness_, nobleness, and power, that pervaded the whole,--the truly
human heart and nature that shone in the eyes. As our eyes met, she
said, "_C'est vous_" and held out her hand. I took it, and went into
her little study; we sat down a moment, then I said, "_Il me fait de
bien de vous voir_" and I am sure I said it with my whole heart, for
it made me very happy to see such a woman, so large and so developed
a character, and everything that _is_ good in it so _really_ good. I
loved, shall always love her.
She looked away, and said, "_Ah! vous m'avez ecrit une lettre
charmante_" This was all the preliminary of our talk, which then went
on as if we had always known one another. She told me, before I went
away, that she was going that very day to write to me; that when
the servant announced me she did not recognize the name, but after
a minute it struck her that it might be _La dame Americaine,_ as
the foreigners very commonly call me, for they find my name hard
to remember. She was very much pressed for time, as she was then
preparing copy for the printer, and, having just returned, there were
many applications to see her, but she wanted me to stay then, saying,
"It is better to throw things aside, and seize the present moment." I
staid a good part of the day, and was very glad afterwards, for I did
not see her again uninterrupted. Another day I was there, and saw
her in her circle. Her daughter and another lady were present, and a
number of gentlemen. Her position there was of an intellectual woman
and good friend,--the same as my own in the circle of my acquaintance
as distinguished from my intimates. Her daughter is just about to
be married. It is said, there is no congeniality between her and her
mother; but for her son she seems to have much love, and he loves and
admires her extremely. I understand he has a good and free character,
without conspicuous talent.
Her way of talking is just like her writing,--lively, picturesque,
with an undertone of deep feeling, and the same skill in striking the
nail on the head every now and then with a blow.
We did not talk at all of personal or private matters. I saw, as one
sees in her writings, the want of an independent, interior life, but
I did not feel it as a fault, there is so much in her of her kind.
I heartily enjoyed the sense of so rich, so prolific, so ardent a
genius. I liked the woman in her, too, very much; I never liked a
For the rest I do not care to write about it much, for I cannot, in
the room and time I have to spend, express my thoughts as I would; but
as near as I can express the sum total, it is this. S---- and others
who admire her, are anxious to make a fancy picture of her, and
represent her as a Helena (in the Seven Chords of the Lyre); all whose
mistakes are the fault of the present state of society. But to me the
truth seems to be this. She has that purity in her soul, for she
knows well how to love and prize its beauty; but she herself is
quite another sort of person. She needs no defence, but only to be
understood, for she has bravely acted out her nature, and always with
good intentions. She might have loved one man permanently, if she
could have found one contemporary with her who could interest and
command her throughout her range; but there was hardly a possibility
of that, for such a person. Thus she has naturally changed the
objects of her affection, and several times. Also, there may have been
something of the Bacchante in her life, and of the love of night and
storm, and the free raptures amid which roamed on the mountain-tops
the followers of Cybele, the great goddess, the great mother. But she
was never coarse, never gross, and I am sure her generous heart has
not failed to draw some rich drops from every kind of wine-press. When
she has done with an intimacy, she likes to break it off suddenly, and
this has happened often, both with men and women. Many calumnies upon
her are traceable to this cause.
I forgot to mention, that, while talking, she _does_ smoke all the
time her little cigarette. This is now a common practice among ladies
abroad, but I believe originated with her.
For the rest, she holds her place in the literary and social world
of France like a man, and seems full of energy and courage in it. I
suppose she has suffered much, but she has also enjoyed and done much,
and her expression is one of calmness and happiness. I was sorry to
see her _exploitant_ her talent so carelessly. She does too much, and
this cannot last forever; but "Teverino" and the "Mare au Diable,"
which she has lately published, are as original, as masterly in truth,
and as free in invention, as anything she has done.
Afterwards I saw Chopin, not with her, although he lives with her, and
has for the last twelve years. I went to see him in his room with one
of his friends. He is always ill, and as frail as a snow-drop, but an
exquisite genius. He played to me, and I liked his talking scarcely
less. Madame S. loved Liszt before him; she has thus been intimate
with the two opposite sides of the musical world. Mickiewicz says,
"Chopin talks with spirit, and gives us the Ariel view of the
universe. Liszt is the eloquent _tribune_ to the world of men, a
little vulgar and showy certainly, but I like the tribune best." It is
said here, that Madame S. has long had only a friendship for Chopin,
who, perhaps, on his side prefers to be a lover, and a jealous lover;
but she does not leave him, because he needs her care so much, when
sick and suffering. About all this, I do not know; you cannot know
much about anything in France, except what you see with your two eyes.
Lying is ingrained in "_la grande nation_" as they so plainly show no
less in literature than life.
In France the theatre is living; you see something really good, and
good throughout. Not one touch of that stage-strut and vulgar bombast
of tone, which the English actor fancies indispensable to scenic
illusion, is tolerated here. For the first time in my life, I saw
something represented in a style uniformly good, and should have found
sufficient proof, if I had needed any, that all men will prefer what
is good to what is bad, if only a fair opportunity for choice
be allowed. When I came here, my first thought was to go and see
Mademoiselle Rachel. I was sure that in her I should find a true
genius. I went to see her seven or eight times, always in parts that
required great force of soul, and purity of taste, even to conceive
them, and only once had reason to find fault with her. On one single
occasion, I saw her violate the harmony of the character, to produce
effect at a particular moment; but, almost invariably, I found her
a true artist, worthy Greece, and worthy at many moments to have her
conceptions immortalized in marble.
Her range even in high tragedy is limited. She can only express the
darker passions, and grief in its most desolate aspects. Nature has
not gifted her with those softer and more flowery attributes, that
lend to pathos its utmost tenderness. She does not melt to tears, or
calm or elevate the heart by the presence of that tragic beauty that
needs all the assaults of fate to make it show its immortal sweetness.
Her noblest aspect is when sometimes she expresses truth in some
severe shape, and rises, simple and austere, above the mixed elements
around her. On the dark side, she is very great in hatred and revenge.
I admired her more in Phedre than in any other part in which I
saw her; the guilty love inspired by the hatred of a goddess was
expressed, in all its symptoms, with a force and terrible naturalness,
that almost suffocated the beholder. After she had taken the poison,
the exhaustion and paralysis of the system,--the sad, cold, calm
submission to Fate,--were still more grand.
I had heard so much about the power of her eye in one fixed look, and
the expression she could concentrate in a single word, that the utmost
results could only satisfy my expectations. It is, indeed, something
magnificent to see the dark cloud give out such sparks, each one fit
to deal a separate death; but it was not that I admired most in her.
It was the grandeur, truth, and depth of her conception of each part,
and the sustained purity with which she represented it.
The French language from her lips is a divine dialect; it is stripped
of its national and personal peculiarities, and becomes what any
language must, moulded by such a genius, the pure music of the heart
and soul. I never could remember her tone in speaking any word; it
was too perfect; you had received the thought quite direct. Yet, had
I never heard her speak a word, my mind would be filled by her
attitudes. Nothing more graceful can be conceived, nor could the
genius of sculpture surpass her management of the antique drapery.
She has no beauty, except in the intellectual severity of her outline,
and she bears marks of race, that will grow stronger every year,
and make her ugly at last. Still it will be a _grandiose_, gypsy,
or rather Sibylline ugliness, well adapted to the expression of some
tragic parts. Only it seems as if she could not live long; she expends
force enough upon a part to furnish out a dozen common lives.
_Paris, Jan_. 18, 1847.--I can hardly tell you what a fever consumes
me, from sense of the brevity of my time and opportunity. Here I
cannot sleep at night, because I have been able to do so little in
the day. Constantly I try to calm my mind into content with small
achievements, but it is difficult. You will say, it is not so mightily
worth knowing, after all, this picture and natural history of Europe.
Very true; but I am so constituted that it pains me to come away,
having touched only the glass over the picture.
I am assiduous daily at the Academy lectures, picture galleries,
Chamber of Deputies,--last week, at the court and court ball. So far
as my previous preparation enabled me, I get something from all these
brilliant shows,--thoughts, images, fresh impulse. But I need,
to initiate me into various little secrets of the place and
time,--necessary for me to look at things to my satisfaction,--some
friend, such as I do not find here. My steps have not been fortunate
in Paris, as they were in England. No doubt, the person exists here,
whose aid I want; indeed, I feel that it is so; but we do not meet,
and the time draws near for me to depart.
French people I find slippery, as they do not know exactly what to
make of me, the rather as I have not the command of their language.
_I_ see _them_, their brilliancy, grace, and variety, the thousand
slight refinements of their speech and manner, but cannot meet them
in their way. My French teacher says, I speak and act like an Italian,
and I hope, in Italy, I shall find myself more at home.
I had, the other day, the luck to be introduced to Beranger, who is
the only person beside George Sand I cared very particularly to see
here. I went to call on La Mennais, to whom I had a letter. I found
him in a little study; his secretary was writing in a large room
through which I passed. With him was a somewhat citizen-looking, but
vivacious elderly man, whom I was, at first, sorry to see, having
wished for half an hour's undisturbed visit to the Apostle of
Democracy. But those feelings were quickly displaced by joy, when he
named to me the great national lyrist of France, the great Beranger.
I had not expected to see him at all, for he is not to be seen in any
show place; he lives in the hearts of the people, and needs no homage
from their eyes. I was very happy, in that little study, in the
presence of these two men, whose influence has been so real and
so great. Beranger has been much to me,--his wit, his pathos, and
exquisite lyric grace. I have not received influence from La Mennais,
but I see well what he has been, and is, to Europe.
TO LA MENNAIS.
As my visit to you was cut short before I was quite satisfied, it
was my intention to seek you again immediately; although I felt some
scruples at occupying your valuable time, when I express myself so
imperfectly in your language. But I have been almost constantly ill
since, and now am not sure of finding time to pay you my respects
before leaving Paris for Italy. In case this should be impossible, I
take the liberty to write, and to present you two little volumes of
mine. It is only as a tribute of respect. I regret that they do not
contain some pieces of mine which might be more interesting to you,
as illustrative of the state of affairs in our country. Some such will
find their place in subsequent numbers. These, I hope, you will,
if you do not read them, accept kindly as a salutation from our
hemisphere. Many there delight to know you as a great apostle of
the ideas which are to be our life, if Heaven intends us a great
and permanent life. I count myself happy in having seen you, and
in finding with you Beranger, the genuine poet, the genuine man of
France. I have felt all the enchantment of the lyre of Beranger;
have paid my warmest homage to the truth and wisdom adorned with such
charms, such wit and pathos. It was a great pleasure to see himself.
If your leisure permits, Monsieur, I will ask a few lines in reply.
I should like to keep some words from your hand, in case I should not
look upon you more here below; and am always, with gratitude for the
light you have shed on so many darkened spirits,
Yours, most respectfully,
* * * * *
_Paris, Jan_., 1847.--I missed hearing M. Guizot, (I am sorry for it,)
in his speech on the Montpensier marriage. I saw the little Duchess,
the innocent or ignorant topic of all this disturbance, when presented
at court. She went round the circle on the arm of the queen. Though
only fourteen, she looks twenty, but has something fresh, engaging,
and girlish about her.
I attended not only at the presentation, but at the ball given at
the Tuileries directly after. These are fine shows, as the suite of
apartments is very handsome, brilliantly lighted,--the French ladies
surpassing all others in the art of dress; indeed, it gave me much
pleasure to see them. Certainly there are many ugly ones; but they are
so well dressed, and have such an air of graceful vivacity, that
the general effect was of a flower-garden. As often happens, several
American women were among the most distinguished for positive beauty;
one from Philadelphia, who is by many persons considered the prettiest
ornament of the dress circle at the Italian opera, was especially
marked by the attention of the king. However, these ladies, even if
here a long time, do not attain the air and manner of French
women. The magnetic fluid that envelops them is less brilliant and
exhilarating in its attractions.
Among the crowd wandered Leverrier, in the costume of Academician,
looking as if he had lost, not found, his planet. French _savants_ are
more generally men of the world, and even men of fashion, than those
of other climates; but, in his case, he seemed not to find it easy to
exchange the music of the spheres for the music of fiddles.
Speaking of Leverrier leads to another of my disappointments. I
went to the Sorbonne to hear him lecture, not dreaming that the old
pedantic and theological character of those halls was strictly kept up
in these days of light. An old guardian of the inner temple seeing me
approach, had his speech all ready, and, manning the entrance, said,
with a disdainful air, before we had time to utter a word, "Monsieur
may enter if he pleases, but madame must remain here" (_i.e._, in
the court-yard). After some exclamations of surprise, I found an
alternative in the Hotel de Clugny, where I passed an hour very
delightfully, while waiting for my companion.
I was more fortunate in hearing Arago, and he justified all my
expectations. Clear, rapid, full, and equal, his discourse is worthy
its celebrity, and I felt repaid for the four hours one is obliged to
spend in going, in waiting, and in hearing, for the lecture begins at
half past one, and you must be there before twelve to get a seat, so
constant and animated is his popularity.
I was present on one good occasion, at the Academy,--the day that M.
Remusat was received there, in the place of Royer Collard. I looked
down, from one of the tribunes, upon the flower of the celebrities of
France; that is to say, of the celebrities which are authentic, _comme
il faut_. Among them were many marked faces, many fine heads; but,
in reading the works of poets, we always fancy them about the age of
Apollo himself, and I found with pain some of my favorites quite old,
and very unlike the company on Parnassus, as represented by Raphael.
Some, however, were venerable, even noble to behold.
The poorer classes have suffered from hunger this winter. All signs of
this are kept out of sight in Paris. A pamphlet called "The Voice of
Famine," stating facts, though in a tone of vulgar and exaggerated
declamation, was suppressed as soon as published. While Louis Philippe
lives, the gases may not burst up to flame, but the need of radical
measures of reform is strongly felt in France; and the time will come,
before long, when such will be imperatively demanded.
The doctrines of Fourier are making progress, and wherever they
spread, the necessity of some practical application of the precepts of
Christ, in lieu of the mummeries of a worn-out ritual, cannot fail
to be felt. The more I see of the terrible ills which infest the body
politic of Europe, the more indignation I feel at the selfishness
or stupidity of those in my own country who oppose an examination
of these subjects,--such as is animated by the hope of prevention.
Educated in an age of gross materialism, Fourier is tainted by its
faults; in attempts to reorganize society, he commits the error of
making soul the result of health of body, instead of body the clothing
of soul; but his heart was that of a genuine lover of his kind, of a
philanthropist in the sense of Jesus; his views are large and noble;
his life was one of devout study on these subjects, and I should pity
the person who, after the briefest sojourn in Manchester and Lyons,
the most superficial acquaintance with the population of London and
Paris, could seek to hinder a study of his thoughts, or be wanting in
reverence for his purposes.
To the actually so-called Chamber of Deputies, I was indebted for a
sight of the manuscripts of Rousseau treasured in their library. I saw
them and touched them,--those manuscripts just as he has celebrated
them, written on the fine white paper, tied with ribbon. Yellow and
faded age has made them, yet at their touch I seemed to feel the fire
of youth, immortally glowing, more and more expansive, with which his
soul has pervaded this century. He was the precursor of all we most
prize. True, his blood was mixed with madness, and the course of his
actual life made some _detours_ through villanous places; but his
spirit was intimate with the fundamental truths of human nature, and
fraught with prophecy. There is none who has given birth to more life
for this age; his gifts are yet untold; they are too present with us;
but he who thinks really must often think with Rousseau, and learn him
ever more and more. Such is the method of genius,--to ripen fruit for
the crowd by those rays of whose heat they complain.
_Naples, March_ 15, 1847.--Mickiewicz, the Polish poet, first
introduced the Essays to acquaintance in Paris. I did not meet him
anywhere, and, as I heard a great deal of him which charmed me, I sent
him your poems, and asked him to come and see me. He came, and I
found in him the man I had long wished to see, with the intellect and
passions in due proportion for a full and healthy human being, with a
soul constantly inspiring. Unhappily, it was a very short time before
I came away. How much time had I wasted on others which I might have
given to this real and important relation.
After hearing music from Chopin and Neukomm, I quitted Paris on the
25th February, and came, _via_ Chalons, Lyons, Avignon, (where I waded
through melting snow to Laura's tomb,) Arles, to Marseilles; thence,
by steamer, to Genoa, Leghorn, and Pisa. Seen through a cutting wind,
the marble palaces, the gardens, the magnificent water-view of Genoa,
failed to charm. Only at Naples have I found _my_ Italy. Between
Leghorn and Naples, our boat was run into by another, and we only just
escaped being drowned.
_Rome, May_, 1847.--Of the fragments of the great time, I have now
seen nearly all that are treasured up here. I have as yet nothing of
consequence to say of them. Others have often given good hints as
to how they _look_. As to what they _are_, it can only be known by
approximating to the state of soul out of which they grew. They are
many and precious; yet is there not so much of high excellence as
I looked for. They will not float the heart on a boundless sea of
feeling, like the starry night on our Western Prairies. Yet I love
much to see the galleries of marbles, even where there are not many
separately admirable, amid the cypresses and ilexes of Roman villas;
and a picture that is good at all, looks best in one of these old
palaces. I have heard owls hoot in the Colosseum by moonlight, and
they spoke more to the purpose than I ever heard any other voice on
that subject. I have seen all the pomps of Holy Week in St. Peter's,
and found them less imposing than an habitual acquaintance with the
church itself, with processions of monks and nuns stealing in, now and
then, or the swell of vespers from some side chapel. The ceremonies of
the church have been numerous and splendid, during our stay, and they
borrow unusual interest from the love and expectation inspired by the
present pontiff. He is a man of noble and good aspect, who has set his
heart on doing something solid for the benefit of man. A week or
two ago, the Cardinal Secretary published a circular, inviting
the departments to measures which would give the people a sort of
representative council. Nothing could seem more limited than this
improvement, but it was a great measure for Rome. At night, the
Corso was illuminated, and many thousands passed through it in a
torch-bearing procession, on their way to the Quirinal, to thank the
Pope, upbearing a banner on which the edict was printed.
_Rome, May_ 7, 1847.--I write not to you about these countries, of the
famous people I see, of magnificent shows and places. All these things
are only to me an illuminated margin on the text of my inward life.
Earlier, they would have been more. Art is not important to me now.
I like only what little I find that is transcendently good, and even
with that feel very familiar and calm. I take interest in the state
of the people, their manners, the state of the race in them. I see
the future dawning; it is in important aspects Fourier's future. But
I like no Fourierites; they are terribly wearisome here in Europe; the
tide of things does not wash through them as violently as with us, and
they have time to run in the tread-mill of system. Still, they serve
this great future which I shall not live to see. I must be born again.
_Florence, June_ 20, 1847.--I have just come hither from Rome. Every
minute, day and night, there is something to be seen or done at Rome,
which we cannot bear to lose. We lived on the Corso, and all night
long, after the weather became fine, there was conversation or music
before my window. I never seemed really to sleep while there, and now,
at Florence, where there is less to excite, and I live in a more quiet
quarter, I feel as if I needed to sleep all the time, and cannot rest
as I ought, there is so much to do.
I now speak French fluently, though not correctly, yet well enough
to make my thoughts avail in the cultivated society here, where it
is much spoken. But to know the common people, and to feel truly in
Italy, I ought to speak and understand the spoken Italian well, and
I am now cultivating this sedulously. If I remain, I shall have, for
many reasons, advantages for observation and enjoyment, such as are
seldom permitted to a foreigner.
I forgot to mention one little thing rather interesting. At the
_Miserere_ of the Sistine chapel, I sat beside Goethe's favorite
daughter-in-law, Ottilia, to whom I was introduced by Mrs. Jameson.
_Florence, July_ 1, 1847.--I do not wish to go through Germany in
a hurried way, and am equally unsatisfied to fly through Italy; and
shall, therefore, leaving my companions in Switzerland, take a servant
to accompany me, and return hither, and hence to Rome for the autumn,
perhaps the winter. I should always suffer the pain of Tantalus
thinking of Rome, if I could not see it more thoroughly than I have
as yet even begun to; for it was all _outside_ the two months, just
finding out where objects were. I had only just begun to know them,
when I was obliged to leave. The prospect of returning presents many
charms, but it leaves me alone in the midst of a strange land.
I find myself happily situated here, in many respects. The Marchioness
Arconati Visconti, to whom I brought a letter from a friend of hers
in France, has been good to me as a sister, and introduced me to many
interesting acquaintance. The sculptors, Powers and Greenough, I have
seen much and well. Other acquaintance I possess, less known to fame,
but not less attractive.
Florence is not like Rome. At first, I could not bear the change; yet,
for the study of the fine arts, it is a still richer place. Worlds of
thought have risen in my mind; some time you will have light from all.
* * * * *
_Milan, Aug_. 9, 1847.--Passing from Florence, I came to Bologna. A
woman should love Bologna, for there has the intellect of woman been
cherished. In their Certosa, they proudly show the monument to Matilda
Tambreni, late Greek professor there. In their anatomical hall, is the
bust of a woman, professor of anatomy. In art, they have had Properzia
di Rossi, Elisabetta Sirani, Lavinia Fontana, and delight to give
their works a conspicuous place. In other cities, the men alone have
their Casino dei Nobili, where they give balls and conversazioni.
Here, women have one, and are the soul of society. In Milan, also, I
see, in the Ambrosian Library, the bust of a female mathematician.
TO HER MOTHER.
_Lago di Garda, Aug_. 1, 1847.--Do not let what I have written disturb
you as to my health. I have rested now, and am as well as usual. This
advantage I derive from being alone, that, if I feel the need of it, I
I left Venice four days ago; have seen well Vicenza, Verona, Mantua,
and am reposing, for two nights and a day, in this tranquil room which
overlooks the beautiful Lake of Garda. The air is sweet and pure, and
I hear no noise except the waves breaking on the shore.
I think of you a great deal, especially when there are flowers.
Florence was all flowers. I have many magnolias and jasmines. I always
wish you could see them. The other day, on the island of San Lazaro,
at the Armenian Convent, where Lord Byron used to go, I thought of
you, seeing the garden full of immense oleanders in full bloom. One
sees them everywhere at Venice.
TO HER TRAVELLING COMPANIONS AFTER PARTING.
_Milan, Aug_. 9, 1847.--I remained at Venice near a week after your
departure, to get strong and tranquil again. Saw all the pictures,
if not enough, yet pretty well. My journey here was very profitable.
Vicenza, Verona, Mantua, I saw really well, and much there is to see.
Certainly I had learned more than ever in any previous ten days of my
existence, and have formed an idea of what is needed for the study of
art in these regions. But, at Brescia, I was taken ill with fever.
I cannot tell you how much I was alarmed when it seemed to me it
was affecting my head. I had no medicine; nothing could I do except
abstain entirely from food, and drink cold water. The second day, I
had a bed made in a carriage, and came on here. I am now pretty well,
only very weak.
_Milan, Aug. 10, 1847._--Since writing you from Florence, I have
passed the mountains; two full, rich days at Bologna; one at Ravenna;
more than a fortnight at Venice, intoxicated with the place, and with
Venetian art, only to be really felt and known in its birth-place.
I have passed some hours at Vicenza, seeing mainly the Palladian
structures; a day at Verona,--a week had been better; seen Mantua,
with great delight; several days in Lago di Garda,--truly happy
days there; then, to Brescia, where I saw the Titians, the exquisite
Raphael, the Scavi, and the Brescian Hills. I could charm you by
pictures, had I time.
To-day, for the first time, I have seen Manzoni. Manzoni has spiritual
efficacy in his looks; his eyes glow still with delicate tenderness,
as when he first saw Lucia, or felt them fill at the image of Father
Cristoforo. His manners are very engaging, frank, expansive; every
word betokens the habitual elevation of his thoughts; and (what you
care for so much) he says distinct, good things; but you must not
expect me to note them down. He lives in the house of his fathers, in
the simplest manner. He has taken the liberty to marry a new wife for
his own pleasure and companionship, and the people around him do not
like it, because she does not, to their fancy, make a good pendant to
him. But I liked her very well, and saw why he married her. They asked
me to return often, if I pleased, and I mean to go once or twice, for
Manzoni seems to like to talk with me.
* * * * *
_Rome, Oct., 1847._--Leaving Milan, I went on the Lago Maggiore, and
afterward into Switzerland. Of this tour I shall not speak here; it
was a little romance by itself.
Returning from Switzerland, I passed a fortnight on the Lake of
Como, and afterward visited Lugano. There is no exaggeration in the
enthusiastic feeling with which artists and poets have viewed these
Italian lakes. The _"Titan"_ of Richter, the _"Wanderjahre"_ of
Goethe, the Elena of Taylor, the pictures of Turner, had not prepared
me for the visions of beauty that daily entranced the eyes and heart
in those regions. To our country, Nature has been most bounteous, but
we have nothing in the same class that can compare with these lakes,
as seen under the Italian heaven. As to those persons who have
pretended to discover that the effects of light and atmosphere were
no finer than they found in our own lake scenery, I can only say
that they must be exceedingly obtuse in organization,--a defect not
uncommon among Americans.
Nature seems to have labored to express her full heart in as many ways
as possible, when she made these lakes, moulded and planted their
shores. Lago Maggiore is grandiose, resplendent in its beauty; the
view of the Alps gives a sort of lyric exaltation to the scene. Lago
di Garda is so soft and fair on one side,--the ruins of ancient
palaces rise softly with the beauties of that shore; but at the other
end, amid the Tyrol, it is so sublime, so calm, so concentrated in its
meaning! Como cannot be better described in generals than in the words
"Softly sublime, profusely fair"
Lugano is more savage, more free in its beauty. I was on it in a high
gale; there was little danger, just enough to exhilarate; its waters
wild, and clouds blowing across its peaks. I like the boatmen on these
lakes; they have strong and prompt character; of simple features,
they are more honest and manly than Italian men are found in the
thoroughfares; their talk is not so witty as that of the Venetian
gondoliers, but picturesque, and what the French call _incisive._ Very
touching were some of their histories, as they told them to me, while
pausing sometimes on the lake. Grossi gives a true picture of such
a man in his family relations; the story may be found in "Marco
On this lake, I met Lady Franklin, wife of the celebrated navigator.
She has been in the United States, and showed equal penetration and
candor in remarks on what she had seen there. She gave me interesting
particulars as to the state of things in Van Diemen's Land, where she
passed seven years, when her husband was in authority there.
_Lake of Como, Aug_. 22, 1847.--Rome was much poisoned to me. But,
after a time, its genius triumphed, and I became absorbed in its
proper life. Again I suffered from parting, and have since resolved to
return, and pass at least a part of the winter there. People may write
and prate as they please of Rome, they cannot convey thus a portion of
its spirit. The whole heart must be yielded up to it. It is something
really transcendent, both spirit and body. Those last glorious nights,
in which I wandered about amid the old walls and columns, or sat by
the fountains in the Piazza del Popolo, or by the river, were worth an
age of pain,--only one hates pain in Italy.
Tuscany I did not like as well. It is a great place to study the
history of character and art. Indeed, there I did really begin to
study, as well as gaze and feel. But I did not like it. Florence is
more in its spirit like Boston, than like an Italian city. I knew
a good many Italians, but they were busy and intellectual, not like
those I had known before. But Florence is full of really good, great
pictures. There first I saw some of the great masters. Andrea del
Sarto, in particular, one sees only there, and he is worth much. His
wife, whom he always paints, and for whom he was so infatuated, has
some bad qualities, and in what is good a certain wild nature or
Bologna is truly an Italian city, one in which I should like to live;
full of hidden things, and its wonders of art are very grand. The
Caracci and their friends had vast force; not much depth, but enough
force to occupy one a good while,--and Domenichino, when good at all,
is very great.
Venice was a dream of enchantment; _there_ was no disappointment.
Art and life are one. There is one glow of joy, one deep shade of
passionate melancholy; Giorgione, as a man, I care more for now than
any of the artists, though he had no ideas.
In the first week, floating about in a gondola, I seemed to find
I was not always alone in Venice, but have come through the fertile
plains of Lombardy, seen the lakes Garda and Maggiore, and a part of
Switzerland, alone, except for occasional episodes of companionship,
sometimes romantic enough.
In Milan I stayed a while, and knew some radicals, young, and
interested in ideas. Here, on the lake, I have fallen into contact
with some of the higher society,--duchesses, marquises, and the like.
My friend here is Madame Arconati, Marchioness Visconti. I have
formed connection with a fair and brilliant Polish lady, born Princess
Radzivill. It is rather pleasant to come a little on the traces of
these famous histories; also, both these ladies take pleasure in
telling me of spheres so unlike mine, and do it well.
The life here on the lake is precisely what we once imagined as being
so pleasant. These people have charming villas and gardens on the
lake, adorned with fine works of art. They go to see one another in
boats. You can be all the time in a boat, if you like; if you want
more excitement, or wild flowers, you climb the mountains. I have been
here for some time, and shall stay a week longer. I have found soft
repose here. Now, I am to return to Rome, seeing many things by the
_Florence, Sept_. 25, 1847.--I hope not to want a further remittance
for a long time. I shall not, if I can settle myself at Rome so as
to avoid spoliation. That is very difficult in this country. I have
suffered from it already. The haste, the fatigue, the frequent illness
in travelling, have tormented me. At Rome I shall settle myself for
five months, and make arrangements to the best of my judgment, and
with counsel of experienced friends, and have some hope of economy
while there; but am not sure, as much more vigilance than I can
promise is needed against the treachery of servants and the cunning of
You are disappointed by my letter from Rome. But I did not feel equal
then to speaking of the things of Rome, and shall not, till better
acquaintance has steadied my mind. It is a matter of conscience with
me not to make use of crude impressions, and what they call here
"coffee-house intelligence," as travellers generally do. I prefer
skimming over the surface of things, till I feel solidly ready to
Milan I left with great regret, and hope to return. I knew there a
circle of the aspiring youth, such as I have not in any other city.
I formed many friendships, and learned a great deal. One of the young
men, Guerrieri by name, (and of the famous Gonzaga family,) I really
love. He has a noble soul, the quietest sensibility, and a brilliant
and ardent, though not a great, mind. He is eight-and-twenty. After
studying medicine for the culture, he has taken law as his profession.
His mind and that of Hicks, an artist of our country now here, a
little younger, are two that would interest you greatly. Guerrieri
speaks no English; I speak French now as fluently as English, but
incorrectly. To make use of it, I ought to have learned it earlier.
Arriving here, Mr. Mozier, an American, who from a prosperous merchant
has turned sculptor, come hither to live, and promises much excellence
in his profession, urged me so much to his house, that I came. At
first, I was ill from fatigue, and staid several days in bed; but his
wife took tender care of me, and the quiet of their house and regular
simple diet have restored me. As soon as I have seen a few things
here, I shall go to Rome. On my way, I stopped at Parma,--saw the
works of Correggio and Parmegiano. I have now seen what Italy contains
most important of the great past; I begin to hope for her also a
great future,--the signs have improved so much since I came. I am most
fortunate to be here at this time.
Interrupted, as always. How happy I should be if my abode at Rome
would allow some chance for tranquil and continuous effort. But I dare
not hope much, from the difficulty of making any domestic arrangements
that can be relied on. The fruit of the moment is so precious, that I
must not complain. I learn much; but to do anything with what I learn
is, under such circumstances, impossible. Besides, I am in great need
of repose; I am almost inert from fatigue of body and spirit.
_Florence, Sept.,_ 1847.--I cannot even begin to speak of the
magnificent scenes of nature, nor the works of art, that have raised
and filled my mind since I wrote from Naples. Now I begin to be in
Italy! but I wish to drink deep of this cup before I speak my enamored
words. Enough to say, Italy receives me as a long-lost child, and I
feel myself at home here, and if I ever tell anything about it, you
will hear something real and domestic. Among strangers I wish most to
speak to you of my friend the Marchioness A. Visconti, a Milanese. She
is a specimen of the really high-bred lady, such as I have not known.
Without any physical beauty, the grace and harmony of her manners
produce all the impression of beauty. She has also a mind strong,
clear, precise, and much cultivated. She has a modest nobleness that
you would dearly love. She is intimate with many of the first men. She
seems to love me much, and to wish I should have whatever is hers. I
take great pleasure in her friendship.
_Rome, Oct_. 28, 1847.--I am happily settled for the winter, quite by
myself, in a neat, tranquil apartment in the Corso, where I see all
the motions of Rome,--in a house of loving Italians, who treat me
well, and do not interrupt me, except for service. I live alone, eat
alone, walk alone, and enjoy unspeakably the stillness, after all the
rush and excitement of the past year.
I shall make no acquaintance from whom I do not hope a good deal,
as my time will be like pure gold to me this winter; and, just for
happiness, Rome itself is sufficient.
To-day is the last of the October feasts of the Trasteverini. I have
been, this afternoon, to see them dancing. This morning I was out,
with half Rome, to see the Civic Guard manoeuvring in that great field
near the tomb of Cecilia Metella, which is full of ruins. The effect
was noble, as the band played the Bolognese march, and six thousand
Romans passed in battle array amid these fragments of the great time.
_Rome, Oct_. 29, 1847.--I am trying to economize,--anxious to keep
the Roman expenses for six months within the limits of four hundred
dollars. Rome is not as cheap a place as Florence, but then I would
not give a pin to live in Florence.
We have just had glorious times with the October feasts, when all the
Roman people were out. I am now truly happy here, quiet and familiar;
no longer a staring, sight-seeing stranger, riding about finely
dressed in a coach to see muses and sibyls. I see these forms now in
the natural manner, and am contented.
Keep free from false ties; they are the curse of life. I find myself
so happy here, alone and free.
_Rome, Oct_. 1847.--I arrived in Rome again nearly a fortnight ago,
and all mean things were forgotten in the joy that rushed over me like
a flood. Now I saw the true Rome. I came with no false expectations,
and I came to live in tranquil companionship, not in the restless
impertinence of sight-seeing, so much more painful here than anywhere
I had made a good visit to Vicenza; a truly Italian town, with much to
see and study. But all other places faded away, now that I again saw
St. Peter's, and heard the music of the fountains.
The Italian autumn is not as beautiful as I expected, neither in the
vintage of Tuscany nor here. The country is really sere and brown; but
the weather is fine, and these October feasts are charming. Two days I
have been at the Villa Borghese. There are races, balloons, and, above
all, the private gardens open, and good music on the little lake.
_Rome, morning of the 17th Nov_., 1847.--It seems great folly to send
the enclosed letter. I have written it in my nightly fever. All day
I dissipate my thoughts on outward beauty. I have many thoughts,
happiest moments, but as yet I do not have even this part in a
congenial way. I go about in a coach with several people; but English
and Americans are not at home here. Since I have experienced the
different atmosphere of the European mind, and been allied with it,
nay, mingled in the bonds of love, I suffer more than ever from that
which is peculiarly American or English. I should like to cease from
hearing the language for a time. Perhaps I should return to it; but
at present I am in a state of unnatural divorce from what I was most
There is a Polish countess here, who likes me much. She has been very
handsome, still is, in the style of the full-blown rose. She is a
widow, very rich, one of the emancipated women, naturally vivacious,
and with talent. This woman _envies me_; she says, "How happy you are;
so free, so serene, so attractive, so self-possessed!" I say not a
word, but I do not look on myself as particularly enviable. A little
money would have made me much more so; a little money would have
enabled me to come here long ago, and find those that belong to me, or
at least try my experiments; then my health would never have sunk, nor
the best years of my life been wasted in useless friction. Had I money
now,--could I only remain, take a faithful servant, and live alone,
and still see those I love when it is best, that would suit me. It
seems to me, very soon I shall be calmed, and begin to enjoy.
TO HER MOTHER.
_Rome, Dec_. 16, 1847.--My life at Rome is thus far all I hoped.
I have not been so well since I was a child, nor so happy ever, as
during the last six weeks. I wrote you about my home; it continues
good, perfectly clean, food wholesome, service exact. For all this I
pay, but not immoderately. I think the sum total of my expenses here,
for six months, will not exceed four hundred and fifty dollars.
My _marchesa_, of whom I rent my rooms, is the greatest liar I ever
knew, and the most interested, heartless creature. But she thinks it
for her interest to please me, as she sees I have a good many persons
who value me; and I have been able, without offending her, to make it
understood that I do not wish her society. Thus I remain undisturbed.
Every Monday evening, I receive my acquaintance. I give no
refreshment, but only light the saloon, and decorate it with fresh
flowers, of which I have plenty still. How I wish _you_ could see
Among the frequent guests are known to you Mr. and Mrs. Cranch, Mr.
and Mrs. Story. Mr. S. has finally given up law, for the artist's
life. His plans are not matured, but he passes the winter at Rome.
On other evenings, I do not receive company, unless by appointment. I
spend them chiefly in writing or study. I have now around me the books
I need to know Italy and Rome. I study with delight, now that I can
verify everything. The days are invariably fine, and each day I am out
from eleven till five, exploring some new object of interest, often at
a great distance.
_Rome, Dec_. 20, 1847.--Nothing less than two or three years, free
from care and forced labor, would heal all my hurts, and renew my
life-blood at its source. Since Destiny will not grant me that, I hope
she will not leave me long in the world, for I am tired of keeping
myself up in the water without corks, and without strength to swim.
I should like to go to sleep, and be born again into a state where my
young life should not be prematurely taxed.
Italy has been glorious to me, and there have been hours in which I
received the full benefit of the vision. In Rome, I have known some
blessed, quiet days, when I could yield myself to be soothed and
instructed by the great thoughts and memories of the place. But those
days are swiftly passing. Soon I must begin to exert myself, for
there is this incubus of the future, and none to help me, if I am not
prudent to face it. So ridiculous, too, this mortal coil,--such small
I find how true was the lure that always drew me towards Europe. It
was no false instinct that said I might here find an atmosphere to
develop me in ways I need. Had I only come ten years earlier! Now
my life must be a failure, so much strength has been wasted on
abstractions, which only came because I grew not in the right soil.
However, it is a less failure than with most others, and not worth
thinking twice about. Heaven has room enough, and good chances in
store, and I can live a great deal in the years that remain.
_Rome, Dec_. 20, 1847.--I don't know whether you take an interest in
the present state of things in Italy, but you would if you were
here. It is a fine time to see the people. As to the Pope, it is as
difficult here as elsewhere to put new wine into old bottles, and
there is something false as well as ludicrous in the spectacle of the
people first driving their princes to do a little justice, and then
_evviva-ing_ them at such a rate. This does not apply to the Pope; he
is a real great heart, a generous man. The love for him is genuine,
and I like to be within its influence. It was his heart that gave the
impulse, and this people has shown, to the shame of English and other
prejudice, how unspoiled they were at the core, how open, nay, how
wondrous swift to answer a generous appeal!
They are also gaining some education by the present freedom of the
press and of discussion. I should like to write a letter for England,
giving my view of the present position of things here.
* * * * *
_Rome, October_ 18, 1847.--In the spring, when I came to Rome, the
people were in the intoxication of joy at the first serious measures
of reform taken by the Pope. I saw with pleasure their childlike joy
and trust. Still doubts were always present whether this joy was not
premature. From the people themselves the help must come, and not
from the princes. Rome, to resume her glory, must cease to be an
ecclesiastical capital. Whilst I sympathized with the warm love of the
people, the adulation of leading writers, who were willing to take
all from the prince of the Church as a gift and a bounty, instead
of steadily implying that it was the right of the people, was very
repulsive to me. Passing into Tuscany, I found the liberty of the
press just established. The Grand Duke, a well-intentioned, though
dull, man, had dared to declare himself an Italian prince. I arrived
in Florence too late for the great fete of the 12th September,
in honor of the grant of the National Guard, but the day was made
memorable by the most generous feeling on all sides. Some days before
were passed by reconciling all strifes, composing all differences
between cities, districts, and individuals. On that day they all
embraced in sign of this; exchanged banners as a token that they would
fight for one another.
AMERICANS IN ITALY.
The Americans took their share in this occasion, and Greenough,--one
of the few Americans who, living in Italy, takes the pains to know
whether it is alive or dead, who penetrates beyond the cheats of
tradesmen, and the cunning of a mob corrupted by centuries of slavery,
to know the real mind, the vital blood of Italy,--took a leading part.
I am sorry to say that a large portion of my countrymen here take
the same slothful and prejudiced view as the English, and, after many
years' sojourn, betray entire ignorance of Italian literature and
Italian life beyond what is attainable in a month's passage through
the thoroughfares. However, they did show, this time, a becoming
spirit, and erected the American Eagle where its cry ought to be heard
from afar. Crawford, here in Rome, has had the just feeling to join
the Guard, and it is a real sacrifice for an artist to spend time
on the exercises; but it well becomes the sculptor of Orpheus. In
reference to what I have said of many Americans in Italy, I will only
add that they talk about the corrupt and degenerate state of Italy as
they do about that of our slaves at home. They come ready trained to
that mode of reasoning which affirms, that, because men are degraded
by bad institutions, they are not fit for better. I will only add
some words upon the happy augury I draw from the wise docility of
the people. With what readiness they listened to wise counsel and the
hopes of the Pope that they would give no advantage to his enemies at
a time when they were so fevered by the knowledge that conspiracy
was at work in their midst! That was a time of trial. On all these
occasions of popular excitement their conduct is like music, in such
order, and with such union of the melody of feeling with discretion
where to stop; but what is wonderful is that they acted in the same
manner on that difficult occasion. The influence of the Pope here is
without bounds; he can always calm the crowd at once. But in Tuscany,
where they have no such one idol, they listened in the same way on a
very trying occasion. The first announcement of the regulation for the
Tuscan National Guard terribly disappointed the people. They felt that
the Grand Duke, after suffering them to demonstrate such trust and joy
on this feast of the 12th, did not really trust, on his side; that he
meant to limit them all he could; they felt baffled, cheated; hence
young men in anger tore down at once the symbols of satisfaction and
respect; but the leading men went among the people, begged them to be
calm, and wait till a deputation had seen the Grand Duke. The people
listened at once to men who, they were sure, had at heart their best
good--waited; the Grand Duke became convinced, and all ended without
disturbance. If the people continue to act thus, their hopes cannot be
The American in Europe would fain encourage the hearts of these
long-oppressed nations, now daring to hope for a new era, by reciting
triumphant testimony from the experience of his own country. But we
must stammer and blush when we speak of many things. I take pride
here, that I may really say the liberty of the press works well, and
that checks and balances naturally evolve from it, which suffice to
its government. I may say, that the minds of our people are alert,
and that talent has a free chance to rise. It is much. But dare I
say, that political ambition is not as darkly sullied as in other
countries? Dare I say, that men of most influence in political life
are those who represent most virtue, or even intellectual power? Can
I say, our social laws are generally better, or show a nobler insight
into the wants of man and woman? I do indeed say what I believe, that
voluntary association for improvement in these particulars will be the
grand means for my nation to grow, and give a nobler harmony to the
coming age. Then there is this cancer of slavery, and this wicked war
that has grown out of it. How dare I speak of these things here? I
listen to the same arguments against the emancipation of Italy, that
are used against the emancipation of our blacks; the same arguments in
favor of the spoliation of Poland, as for the conquest of Mexico.
How it pleases me here to think of the Abolitionists! I could never
endure to be with them at home; they were so tedious, often so narrow,
always so rabid and exaggerated in their tone. But, after all, they
had a high motive, something eternal in their desire and life; and, if
it was not the only thing worth thinking of, it was really something
worth living and dying for, to free a great nation from such a blot,
such a plague. God strengthen them, and make them wise to achieve
I please myself, too, with remembering some ardent souls among the
American youth, who, I trust, will yet expand and help to give soul to
the huge, over-fed, too-hastily-grown-up body. May they be constant!
"Were man but constant, he were perfect." It is to the youth that Hope
addresses itself. But I dare not expect too much of them. I am not
very old; yet of those who, in life's morning, I saw touched by
the light of a high hope, many have seceded. Some have become
voluptuaries; some mere family men, who think it is quite life enough
to win bread for half a dozen people, and treat them decently; others
are lost through indolence and vacillation. Yet some remain constant.
"I have witnessed many a shipwreck, yet still beat noble hearts."
* * * * *
_Rome, January, 1848_.--As one becomes domesticated here, ancient and
modern Rome, at first so jumbled together, begin to separate. You see
where objects and limits anciently were. When this happens, one feels
first truly at ease in Rome. Then the old kings, the consuls, the
tribunes, the emperors, the warriors of eagle sight and remorseless
beak, return for us, and the toga-clad procession finds room to sweep
across the scene; the seven hills tower, the innumerable temples
glitter, and the Via Sacra swarms with triumphal life once more.
* * * * *
_Rome, Jan. 12, 1848._--In Rome, here, the new Council is inaugurated,
and the elections have given tolerable satisfaction. Twenty-four
carriages had been lent by the princes and nobles, at the request of
the city, to convey the councillors. Each deputy was followed by
his target and banner. In the evening, there was a ball given at the
Argentine. Lord Minto was there, Prince Corsini, now senator, the
Torlonias, in uniform of the Civic Guard, Princess Torlonia, in a
sash of their colors given her by the Civic Guard, which she waved in
answer to their greetings. But the beautiful show of the evening was
the _Trasteverini_ dancing the _Saltarello_ in their most beautiful
costume. I saw them thus to much greater advantage than ever before.
Several were nobly handsome, and danced admirably. The _saltarello_
enchants me; in this is really the Italian wine, the Italian sun.
The Pope, in receiving the councillors, made a speech, intimating that
he meant only to improve, not to _reform_ and should keep things safe
locked with the keys of St. Peter.
I was happy the first two months of my stay here, seeing all the great
things at my leisure. But now, after a month of continuous rain, Rome
is no more Rome. The atmosphere is far worse than that of Paris. It
is impossible to walk in the thick mud. The ruins, and other great
objects, always solemn, appear terribly gloomy, steeped in black rain
and cloud; and my apartment, in a street of high houses, is dark all
day. The bad weather may continue all this month and all next. If I
could use the time for work, I should not care; but this climate makes
me so ill, I can do but little.
_Rome, Jan_. 12, 1848.--My time in Lombardy and Switzerland was a
series of beautiful pictures, dramatic episodes, not without some
original life in myself. When I wrote to you from Como, I had a
peaceful season. I floated on the lake with my graceful Polish
countess, hearing her stories of heroic sorrow; or I walked in the
delicious gardens of the villas, with many another summer friend. Red
banners floated, children sang and shouted, the lakes of Venus and
Diana glittered in the sun. The pretty girls of Bellaggio, with their
coral necklaces, brought flowers to the "American countess," and
"hoped she would be as happy as she deserved." Whether this cautious
wish is fulfilled, I know not, but certainly I left all the glitter of
life behind at Como.
My days at Milan were not unmarked. I have known some happy hours, but
they all lead to sorrow; and not only the cups of wine, but of milk,
seem drugged with poison for me. It does not _seem_ to be my fault,
this Destiny; I do not court these things,--they come. I am a poor
magnet, with power to be wounded by the bodies I attract.
Leaving Milan, I had a brilliant day in Parma. I had not known
Correggio before; he deserves all his fame. I stood in the parlor
of the Abbess, the person for whom all was done, and Paradise seemed
opened by the nymph, upon her car of light, and the divine children
peeping through the vines. Sweet soul of love! I should weary of you,
too; but it was glorious that day.
I had another good day, too, crossing the Apennines. The young
crescent moon rose in orange twilight, just as I reached the highest
peak. I was alone on foot; I heard no sound; I prayed.
At Florence, I was very ill. For three weeks, my life hung upon
a thread. The effect of the Italian climate on my health is not
favorable. I feel as if I had received a great injury. I am tired
and woe-worn; often, in the bed, I wish I could weep my life away.
However, they brought me gruel, I took it, and after a while rose up
again. In the time of the vintage, I went alone to Sienna. This is a
real untouched Italian place. This excursion, and the grapes, restored
me at that time.
When I arrived in Rome, I was at first intoxicated to be here. The
weather was beautiful, and many circumstances combined to place me in
a kind of passive, childlike well-being. That is all over now, and,
with this year, I enter upon a sphere of my destiny so difficult, that
I, at present, see no way out, except through the gate of death. It
is useless to write of it; you are at a distance and cannot help
me;--whether accident or angel will, I have no intimation. I have no
reason to hope I shall not reap what I have sown, and do not. Yet how
I shall endure it I cannot guess; it is all a dark, sad enigma. The
beautiful forms of art charm no more, and a love, in which there is
all fondness, but no help, flatters in vain. I am all alone; nobody
around me sees any of this. My numerous friendly acquaintances are
troubled if they see me ill, and who so affectionate and kind as Mr.
and Mrs. S.?
TO MADAME ARCONATI.
_Rome, Jan_. 14, 1848.--What black and foolish calumnies are these
on Mazzini! It is as much for his interest as his honor to let things
take their course, at present. To expect anything else, is to suppose
him base. And on what act of his life dares any one found such an
insinuation? I do not wonder that you were annoyed at his manner
of addressing the Pope; but to me it seems that he speaks as he
should,--near God and beyond the tomb; not from power to power, but
from soul to soul, without regard to temporal dignities. It must be
admitted that the etiquette, Most Holy Father, &c., jars with this.
_Rome, March_ 14, 1848.--Mickiewicz is with me here, and will remain
some time; it was he I wanted to see, more than any other person, in
going back to Paris, and I have him much better here. France itself
I should like to see, but remain undecided, on account of my health,
which has suffered so much, this winter, that I must make it the
first object in moving for the summer. One physician thinks it will of
itself revive, when once the rains have passed, which have now lasted
from 16th December to this day. At present, I am not able to leave the
fire, or exert myself at all.
* * * * *
In all the descriptions of the Roman Carnival, the fact has been
omitted of daily rain. I felt, indeed, ashamed to perceive it, when no
one else seemed to, whilst the open windows caused me convulsive cough
and headache. The carriages, with their cargoes of happy women dressed
in their ball dresses and costumes, drove up and down, even in the
pouring rain. The two handsome _contadine_, who serve me, took off
their woollen gowns, and sat five hours at a time, in the street, in
white cambric dresses, and straw hats turned up with roses. I never
saw anything like the merry good-humor of these people. I should
always be ashamed to complain of anything here. But I had always
looked forward to the Roman Carnival as a time when I could play too;
and it even surpassed my expectations, with its exuberant gayety and
innocent frolic, but I was unable to take much part. The others threw
flowers all day, and went to masked balls all night; but I went out
only once, in a carriage, and was more exhausted with the storm of
flowers and sweet looks than I could be by a storm of hail. I went
to the German Artists' ball, where were some pretty costumes, and
beautiful music; and to the Italian masked ball, where interest lies
I have scarcely gone to the galleries, damp and cold as tombs; or to
the mouldy old splendor of churches, where, by the way, they are
just wailing over the theft of St. Andrew's head, for the sake of
the jewels. It is quite a new era for this population to plunder the
churches; but they are suffering terribly, and Pio's municipality
does, as yet, nothing.
_Rome, March 29, 1848._--I have been engrossed, stunned almost, by the
public events that have succeeded one another with such rapidity
and grandeur. It is a time such as I always dreamed of, and for long
secretly hoped to see. I rejoice to be in Europe at this time, and
shall return possessed of a great history. Perhaps I shall be called
to act. At present, I know not where to go, what to do. War is
everywhere. I cannot leave Rome, and the men of Rome are marching out
every day into Lombardy. The citadel of Milan is in the hands of my
friends, Guerriere, &c., but there may be need to spill much blood yet
in Italy. France and Germany are riot in such a state that I can go
there now. A glorious flame burns higher and higher in the heart of
* * * * *
The rain was constant through the Roman winter, falling in torrents
from 16th December to 19th March. Now the Italian heavens wear again
their deep blue, the sun is glorious, the melancholy lustres are
stealing again over the Campagna, and hundreds of larks sing unwearied
above its ruins. Nature seems in sympathy with the great events that
are transpiring. How much has happened since I wrote!--the resistance
of Sicily, and the revolution of Naples; now the fall of Louis
Philippe; and Metternich is crushed in Austria. I saw the Austrian
arms dragged through the streets here, and burned in the Piazza del
Popolo. The Italians embraced one another, and cried, _miracolo,
Providenza!_ the Tribune Ciccronachio fed the flame with fagots; Adam
Mickiewicz, the great poet of Poland, long exiled from his country,
looked on; while Polish women brought little pieces that had
been scattered in the street, and threw into the flames. When the
double-headed eagle was pulled down from the lofty portal of the
Palazzo di Venezia, the people placed there, in its stead, one of
white and gold, inscribed with the name, ALTA ITALIA; and instantly
the news followed, that Milan, Venice, Modena, and Parma, were driving
out their tyrants. These news were received in Rome with indescribable
rapture. Men danced, and women wept with joy along the street. The
youths rushed to enrol themselves in regiments to go to the frontier.
In the Colosseum, their names were received.
* * * * *
_Rome, April 1, 1848._-Yesterday, on returning from Ostia, I find the
official news, that the Viceroy Ranieri has capitulated at Verona;
that Italy is free, independent, and one. I trust this will prove no
April foolery. It seems too good, too speedy a realization of hope.
* * * * *
_Rome, April 30, 1848._--It is a time such as I always dreamed of; and
that fire burns in the hearts of men around me which can keep me warm.
Have I something to do here? or am I only to cheer on the warriors,
and after write the history of their deeds? The first is all I have
done yet, but many have blessed me for my sympathy, and blest me by
the action it impelled.
My private fortunes are dark and tangled; my strength to govern them
(perhaps that I am enervated by this climate) much diminished. I have
thrown myself on God, and perhaps he will make my temporal state very
tragical. I am more of a child than ever, and hate suffering more than
ever, but suppose I shall live with it, if it must come.
I did not get your letter, about having the rosary blessed for ----,
before I left Rome, and now, I suppose, she would not wish it, as none
can now attach any value to the blessing of Pius IX. Those who loved
him can no longer defend him. It has become obvious, that those
first acts of his in the papacy were merely the result of a kindly,
good-natured temperament; that he had not thought to understand their
bearing, nor force to abide by it. He seems quite destitute of moral
courage. He is not resolute either on the wrong or right side. First,
he abandoned the liberal party; then, yielding to the will of the
people, and uniting, in appearance, with a liberal ministry, he let
the cardinals betray it, and defeat the hopes of Italy. He cried
peace, peace! but had not a word of blame for the sanguinary acts of
the King of Naples, a word of sympathy for the victims of Lombardy.
Seizing the moment of dejection in the nation, he put in this
retrograde ministry; sanctioned their acts, daily more impudent: let
them neutralize the constitution he himself had given; and when the
people slew his minister, and assaulted him in his own palace, he
yielded anew; he dared not die, or even run the slight risk,--for
only by accident could he have perished. His person as a Pope is still
respected, though his character as a man is despised. All the people
compare him with Pius VII. saying to the French, "Slay me if you will;
I _cannot_ yield," and feel the difference.
I was on Monte Cavallo yesterday. The common people were staring at
the broken windows and burnt door of the palace where they have so
often gone to receive a blessing, the children playing, "_Sedia
Papale. Morte ai Cardinali, e morte al Papa!_"
The men of straw are going down in Italy everywhere; the real men
rising into power. Montanelli, Guerazzi, Mazzini, are real men; their
influence is of character. Had we only been born a little later!
Mazzini has returned from his seventeen years' exile, "to see what he
foresaw." He has a mind far in advance of his times, and yet Mazzini
sees not all.
* * * * *
_Rome, May_ 7, 1848.--Good and loving hearts will be unprepared, and
for a time must suffer much from the final dereliction of Pius IX.
to the cause of freedom. After the revolution opened in Lombardy,
the troops of the line were sent thither; the volunteers rushed to
accompany them, the priests preached the war as a crusade, the Pope
blessed the banners. The report that the Austrians had taken and
hung as a brigand one of the Roman Civic Guard,--a well-known artist
engaged in the war of Lombardy,--roused the people; and they went to
the Pope, to demand that he should declare war against the Austrians.
The Pope summoned a consistory, and then declared in his speech that
he had only intended local reforms; that he regretted the misuse
that had been made of his name; and wound up by lamenting the war
as offensive to the spirit of religion. A momentary stupefaction,
followed by a passion of indignation, in which the words _traitor_ and
_imbecile_ were heard, received this astounding speech. The Pope was
besieged with deputations, and, after two days' struggle, was obliged
to place the power in the hands of persons most opposed to him, and
nominally acquiesce in their proceedings.
TO R.W.E. (_in London_).
_Rome, May 19, 1848._--I should like to return with you, but I have
much to do and learn in Europe yet. I am deeply interested in this
public drama, and wish to see it _played out_. Methinks I have _my
part_ therein, either as actor or historian.
I cannot marvel at your readiness to close the book of European
society. The shifting scenes entertain poorly. The flux of thought and
feeling leaves some fertilizing soil; but for me, few indeed are the
persons I should wish to see again; nor do I care to push the inquiry
further. The simplest and most retired life would now please me, only
I would not like to be confined to it, in case I grew weary, and
now and then craved variety, for exhilaration. I want some scenes
of natural beauty, and, imperfect as love is, I want human beings to
love, as I suffocate without. For intellectual stimulus, books would
mainly supply it, when wanted.
Why did you not try to be in Paris at the opening of the Assembly?
There were elements worth scanning.
_Rome, May 20, 1848._--My health is much revived by the spring here,
as gloriously beautiful as the winter was dreary. We know nothing
of spring in our country. Here the soft and brilliant weather is
unbroken, except now and then by a copious shower, which keeps
everything fresh. The trees, the flowers, the bird-songs are in
perfection. I have enjoyed greatly my walks in the villas, where the
grounds are of three or four miles in extent, and like free nature in
the wood-glades and still paths; while they have an added charm in the
music of their many fountains, and the soft gleam, here and there, of
sarcophagus or pillar.
I have been a few days at Albano, and explored its beautiful environs
alone, to much greater advantage than I could last year, in the
carriage with my friends.
I went, also, to Frascati and Ostia, with an English family, who had
a good carriage, and were kindly, intelligent people, who could not
disturb the Roman landscape.
Now I am going into the country, where I can live very cheaply, even
keeping a servant of my own, without which guard I should not venture
alone into the unknown and wilder regions.
I have been so disconcerted by my Roman winter, that I dare not plan
decisively again. The enervating breath of Rome paralyzes my body, but
I know and love her. The expression, "City of the Soul," designates
her, and her alone.
TO MADAME ARCONATI.
_Rome, May 27, 1848._--This is my last day at Rome. I have been
passing several days at Subiaco and Tivoli, and return again to the
country to-morrow. These scenes of natural beauty have filled my
heart, and increased, if possible, my desire that the people who have
this rich inheritance may no longer be deprived of its benefits by bad
The people of Subiaco are poor, though very industrious, and
cultivating every inch of ground, with even English care and
neatness;--so ignorant and uncultivated, while so finely and strongly
made by Nature. May God grant now, to this people, what they need!
An illumination took place last night, in honor of the "Illustrious
Gioberti." He is received here with great triumph, his carriage
followed with shouts of "_Viva Gioberti, morte ai Jesuiti!_" which
must be pain to the many Jesuits, who, it is said, still linger
here in disguise. His triumphs are shared by Mamiani and Orioli,
self-trumpeted celebrities, self-constituted rulers of the Roman
states,--men of straw, to my mind, whom the fire already kindled will
burn into a handful of ashes.
I sit in my obscure corner, and watch the progress of events. It is
the position that pleases me best, and, I believe, the most favorable
one. Everything confirms me in my radicalism; and, without any desire
to hasten matters, indeed with surprise to see them rush so like a
torrent, I seem to see them all tending to realize my own hopes.
My health and spirits now much restored, I am beginning to set down
some of my impressions. I am going into the mountains, hoping there to
find pure, strengthening air, and tranquillity for so many days as to
allow me to do something.
TO R.F. F----.
_Rieti, July 1, 1848._--Italy is as beautiful as even I hoped, and
I should wish to stay here several years, if I had a moderate fixed
income. One wants but little money here, and can have with it many
of the noblest enjoyments. I should have been very glad if fate would
allow me a few years of congenial life, at the end of not a few of
struggle and suffering. But I do not hope it; my fate will be the same
to the close,--beautiful gifts shown, and then withdrawn, or offered
on conditions that make acceptance impossible.
TO MADAME ARCONATI.
_Corpus Domini, June_ 22, 1848.--I write such a great number of
letters, having not less than a hundred correspondents, that it seems,
every day, as if I had just written to each. There is no one, surely,
this side of the salt sea, with whom I wish more to keep up the
interchange of thought than with you.
I believe, if you could know my heart as God knows it, and see
the causes that regulate my conduct, you would always love me. But
already, in absence, I have lost, for the present, some of those
who were dear to me, by failure of letters, or false report. After
sorrowing much about a falsehood told me of a dearest friend, I found
his letter at Torlonia's, which had been there ten months, and, duly
received, would have made all right. There is something fatal in my
destiny about correspondence.
But I will say no more of this; only the loss of that letter to you,
at such an unfortunate time,--just when I most wished to seem the
loving and grateful friend I was,--made me fear it might be my destiny
to lose you too. But if any cross event shall do me this ill turn on
earth, we shall meet again in that clear state of intelligence which
men call heaven.
I see by the journals that you have not lost Montanelli. That noble
mind is still spared to Italy. The Pope's heart is incapable of
treason; but he has fallen short of the office fate assigned him.
I am no bigoted Republican, yet I think that form of government will
eventually pervade the civilized world. Italy may not be ripe for it
yet, but I doubt if she finds peace earlier; and this hasty annexation
of Lombardy to the crown of Sardinia seems, to me, as well as I can
judge, an act unworthy and unwise. Base, indeed, the monarch, if it
was needed, and weak no less than base; for he was already too far
engaged in the Italian cause to retire with honor or wisdom.
I am here, in a lonely mountain home, writing the narrative of my
European experience. To this I devote great part of the day. Three or
four hours I pass in the open air, on donkey or on foot. When I have
exhausted this spot, perhaps I shall try another. Apply as I may, it
will take three months, at least, to finish my book. It grows upon me.
_Rieti, July_ 11, 1848.--Once I had resolution to face my difficulties
myself, and try to give only what was pleasant to others; but now that
my courage has fairly given way, and the fatigue of life is beyond my
strength, I do not prize myself, or expect others to prize me.
Some years ago, I thought you very unjust, because you did not lend
full faith to my spiritual experiences; but I see you were quite
right. I thought I had tasted of the true elixir, and that the want
of daily bread, or the pangs of imprisonment, would never make me a
complaining beggar. A widow, I expected still to have the cruse full
for others. Those were glorious hours, and angels certainly visited
me; but there must have been too much earth,--too much taint of
weakness and folly, so that baptism did not suffice. I know now those
same things, but at present they are words, not living spells.
I hear, at this moment, the clock of the Church del Purgatorio
telling noon in this mountain solitude. Snow yet lingers on these
mountain-tops, after forty days of hottest sunshine, last night broken
by a few clouds, prefatory to a thunder storm this morning. It has
been so hot here, that even the peasant in the field says, "_Non porro
piu resistere_," and slumbers in the shade, rather than the sun. I
love to see their patriarchal ways of guarding the sheep and tilling
the fields. They are a simple race. Remote from the corruptions of
foreign travel, they do not ask for money, but smile upon and bless me
as I pass,--for the Italians love me; they say I am so "_simpatica._"
I never see any English or Americans, and now think wholly in Italian:
only the surgeon who bled me, the other day, was proud to speak a
little French, which he had learned at Tunis! The ignorance of this
people is amusing. I am to them a divine visitant,--an instructive
Ceres,--telling them wonderful tales of foreign customs, and even
legends of the lives of their own saints. They are people whom I could
love and live with. Bread and grapes among them would suffice me.
TO HER MOTHER.
_Rome, Nov_. 16, 1848.--* * * Of other circumstances which complicate
my position I cannot write. Were you here, I would confide in you
fully, and have more than once, in the silence of the night, recited
to you those most strange and romantic chapters in the story of my sad
life. At one time when I thought I might die, I empowered a person,
who has given me, as far as possible to him, the aid and sympathy of
a brother, to communicate them to you, on his return to the United
States. But now I think we shall meet again, and I am sure you will
always love your daughter, and will know gladly that in all events she
has tried to aid and striven never to injure her fellows. In earlier
days, I dreamed of doing and being much, but now am content with the
Magdalen to rest my plea hereon, "_She has loved much_."
You, loved mother, keep me informed, as you have, of important facts,
_especially_ the _worst_. The thought of you, the knowledge of your
angelic nature, is always one of my greatest supports. Happy those who
have such a mother! Myriad instances of selfishness and corruption of
heart cannot destroy the confidence in human nature.
I am again in Rome, situated for the first time entirely to my mind.
I have but one room, but large; and everything about the bed so
gracefully and adroitly disposed that it makes a beautiful parlor, and
of course I pay much less. I have the sun all day, and an excellent
chimney. It is very high and has pure air, and the most beautiful view
all around imaginable. Add, that I am with the dearest, delightful
old couple one can imagine, quick, prompt, and kind, sensible and
contented. Having no children, they like to regard me and the Prussian
sculptor, my neighbor, as such; yet are too delicate and too busy ever
to intrude. In the attic, dwells a priest, who insists on making
my fire when Antonia is away. To be sure, he pays himself for his
trouble, by asking a great many questions. The stories below are
occupied by a frightful Russian princess with moustaches, and a
footman who ties her bonnet for her; and a fat English lady, with a
fine carriage, who gives all her money to the church, and has made for
the house a terrace of flowers that would delight you. Antonia has
her flowers in a humble balcony, her birds, and an immense black
cat; always addressed by both husband and wife as "Amoretto," (little
The house looks out on the Piazza Barberini, and I see both that
palace and the Pope's. The scene to-day has been one of terrible
interest. The poor, weak Pope has fallen more and more under the
dominion of the cardinals, till at last all truth was hidden from his
eyes. He had suffered the minister, Rossi, to go on, tightening the
reins, and, because the people preserved a sullen silence, he thought
they would bear it. Yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies, illegally
prorogued, was opened anew. Rossi, after two or three most unpopular
measures, had the imprudence to call the troops of the line to defend
him, instead of the National Guard. On the 14th, the Pope had invested
him with the privileges of a Roman citizen: (he had renounced his
country when an exile, and returned to it as ambassador of Louis
Philippe.) This position he enjoyed but one day. Yesterday, as he
descended from his carriage, to enter the Chamber, the crowd
howled and hissed; then pushed him, and, as he turned his head in
consequence, a sure hand stabbed him in the back. He said no word,
but died almost instantly in the arms of a cardinal. The act was
undoubtedly the result of the combination of many, from the dexterity
with which it was accomplished, and the silence which ensued. Those
who had not abetted beforehand seemed entirely to approve when done.
The troops of the line, on whom he had relied, remained at their
posts, and looked coolly on. In the evening, they walked the streets
with the people, singing, "Happy the hand which rids the world of a
tyrant!" Had Rossi lived to enter the Chamber, he would have seen the
most terrible and imposing mark of denunciation known in the history
of nations,--the whole house, without a single exception, seated on
the benches of opposition. The news of his death was received by the
deputies with the same cold silence as by the people. For me, I never
thought to have heard of a violent death with satisfaction, but this
act affected me as one of terrible justice.
To-day, all the troops and the people united and went to the Quirinal
to demand a change of measures. They found the Swiss Guard drawn out,
and the Pope dared not show himself. They attempted to force the door
of his palace, to enter his presence, and the guard fired. I saw a man
borne by wounded. The drum beat to call out the National Guard. The
carriage of Prince Barberini has returned with its frightened inmates
and liveried retinue, and they have suddenly barred up the court-yard
gate. Antonia, seeing it, observes, "Thank Heaven, we are poor, we
have nothing to fear!" This is the echo of a sentiment which will soon
be universal in Europe.
Never feel any apprehensions for my safety from such causes. There
are those who will protect me, if necessary, and, besides, I am on the
conquering side. These events have, to me, the deepest interest. These
days are what I always longed for,--were I only free from private
care! But, when the best and noblest want bread to give to the cause
of liberty, I can just not demand _that_ of them; their blood they
would give me.
You cannot conceive the enchantment of this place. So much I suffered
here last January and February, I thought myself a little weaned; but,
returning, my heart swelled even to tears with the cry of the poet:--
"O, Rome, _my_ country, city of the soul!"
Those have not lived who have not seen Rome. Warned, however, by the
last winter, I dared not rent my lodgings for the year. I hope I am
acclimated. I have been through what is called the grape-cure, much
more charming, certainly, than the water-cure. At present I am very
well; but, alas! because I have gone to bed early, and done very
little. I do not know if I can maintain any labor. As to my life, I
think that it is not the will of Heaven it should terminate very
soon. I have had another strange escape. I had taken passage in the
diligence to come to Rome; two rivers were to be passed,--the Turano
and the Tiber,--but passed by good bridges, and a road excellent when
not broken unexpectedly by torrents from the mountains. The diligence
sets out between three and four in the morning, long before light.
The director sent me word that the Marchioness Crispoldi had taken for
herself and family a coach extraordinary, which would start two
hours later, and that I could have a place in that, if I liked; so I
accepted. The weather had been beautiful, but, on the eve of the day
fixed for my departure, the wind rose, and the rain fell in torrents.
I observed that the river which passed my window was much swollen,
and rushed with great violence. In the night, I heard its voice still
stronger, and felt glad I had not to set out in the dark. I rose with
twilight, and was expecting my carriage, and wondering at its delay,
when I heard, that the great diligence, several miles below, had
been seized by a torrent; the horses were up to their necks in water,
before any one dreamed of the danger. The postilion called on all the
saints, and threw himself into the water. The door of the diligence
could not be opened, and the passengers forced themselves, one after
another, into the cold water,--dark too. Had I been there I had fared
ill; a pair of strong men were ill after it, though all escaped with
For several days, there was no going to Rome; but, at last, we set
forth in two great diligences, with all the horses of the route. For
many miles, the mountains and ravines were covered with snow; I seemed
to have returned to my own country and climate. Few miles passed,
before the conductor injured his leg under the wheel, and I had the
pain of seeing him suffer all the way, while "Blood of Jesus," "Souls
of Purgatory," was the mildest beginning of an answer to the jeers of
the postilions upon his paleness. We stopped at a miserable
osteria, in whose cellar we found a magnificent remain of Cyclopean
architecture,--as indeed in Italy one is paid at every step, for
discomfort or danger, by some precious subject of thought. We
proceeded very slowly, and reached just at night a solitary little
inn, which marks the site of the ancient home of the Sabine virgins,
snatched away to become the mothers of Rome. We were there saluted
with the news that the Tiber, also, had overflowed its banks, and it
was very doubtful if we could pass. But what else to do? There were no
accommodations in the house for thirty people, or even for three, and
to sleep in the carriages, in that wet air of the marshes, was a more
certain danger than to attempt the passage. So we set forth; the moon,
almost at the full, smiling sadly on the ancient grandeurs, then half
draped in mist, then drawing over her face a thin white veil. As we
approached the Tiber, the towers and domes of Rome could be seen,
like a cloud lying low on the horizon. The road and the meadows, alike
under water, lay between us and it, one sheet of silver. The horses
entered; they behaved nobly; we proceeded, every moment uncertain if
the water would not become deep; but the scene was beautiful, and I
enjoyed it highly. I have never yet felt afraid when really in the
presence of danger, though sometimes in its apprehension.
At last we entered the gate; the diligence stopping to be examined, I
walked to the gate of Villa Ludovisi, and saw its rich shrubberies of
myrtle, and its statues so pale and eloquent in the moonlight.
Is it not cruel that I cannot earn six hundred dollars a year, living
here? I could live on that well, now I know Italy. Where I have been,
this summer, a great basket of grapes sells for one cent!--delicious
salad, enough for three or four persons, one cent,--a pair of
chickens, fifteen cents. Foreigners cannot live so, but I could, now
that I speak the language fluently, and know the price of everything.
Everybody loves, and wants to serve me, and I cannot earn this pitiful
sum to learn and do what I want.
Of course, I wish to see America again; but in my own time, when I am
ready, and not to weep over hopes destroyed and projects unfulfilled.
My dear friend, Madame Arconati, has shown me generous love;--a
_contadina_, whom I have known this summer, hardly less. Every Sunday,
she came in her holiday dress,--beautiful corset of red silk richly
embroidered, rich petticoat, nice shoes and stockings, and handsome
coral necklace, on one arm an immense basket of grapes, in the other
a pair of live chickens, to be eaten by me for her sake, ("_per amore
mio_,") and wanted no present, no reward; it was, as she said, "for
the honor and pleasure of her acquaintance." The old father of the
family never met me but he took off his hat and said, "Madame, it
is to me a _consolation_ to see you." Are there not sweet flowers of
affection in life, glorious moments, great thoughts?--why must they be
so dearly paid for?
Many Americans have shown me great and thoughtful kindness, and none
more so than W. S---- and his wife. They are now in Florence, but
may return. I do not know whether I shall stay here or not; shall be
guided much by the state of my health.
All is quieted now in Rome. Late at night the Pope had to yield, but
not till the door of his palace was half burnt, and his confessor
killed. This man, Parma, provoked his fate by firing on the people
from a window. It seems the Pope never gave order to fire; his guard
acted from a sudden impulse of their own. The new ministry chosen are
little inclined to accept. It is almost impossible for any one to act,
unless the Pope is stripped of his temporal power, and the hour
for that is not yet quite ripe; though they talk more and more of
proclaiming the Republic, and even of calling my friend Mazzini.
If I came home at this moment, I should feel as if forced to leave my
own house, my own people, and the hour which I had always longed for.
If I do come in this way, all I can promise is to plague other people
as little as possible. My own plans and desires will be postponed to
Do not feel anxious about me. Some higher power leads me through
strange, dark, thorny paths, broken at times by glades opening down
into prospects of sunny beauty, into which I am not permitted to
enter. If God disposes for us, it is not for nothing. This I can say,
my heart is in some respects better, it is kinder and more humble.
Also, my mental acquisitions have certainly been great, however
inadequate to my desires.