68 Piazza Poli, October 17th. - We left Viterbo on the 15th, and proceeded, through Monterosi, to Sette Verse. There was nothing interesting at Sette Verse, except an old Roman bridge, of a single arch, which had kept its sweep, composed of one row of stones, unbroken for two or more thousand years, and looked just as strong as ever, though gray with age, and fringed with plants that found it hard to fix themselves in its close crevices.
The next day we drove along the Cassian Way towards Rome. It was a most delightful morning, a genial atmosphere; the more so, I suppose, because this was the Campagna, the region of pestilence and death. I had a quiet, gentle, comfortable pleasure, as if, after many wanderings, I was drawing near Rome, for, now that I have known it once, Rome certainly does draw into itself my heart, as I think even London, or even little Concord itself, or old sleepy Salem, never did and never will. Besides, we are to stay here six months, and we had now a house all prepared to receive us; so that this present approach, in the noontide of a genial day, was most unlike our first one, when we crept towards Rome through the wintry midnight, benumbed with cold, ill, weary, and not knowing whither to betake ourselves. Ah! that was a dismal tine! One thing, however, that disturbed even my present equanimity a little was the necessity of meeting the custom-house at the Porta del Popolo; but my past experience warranted me in believing that even these ogres might be mollified by the magic touch of a scudo; and so it proved. We should have escaped any examination at all, the officer whispered me, if his superior had not happened to be present; but, as the case stood, they took down only one trunk from the top of the vettura, just lifted the lid, closed it again, and gave us permission to proceed. So we came to 68 Piazza Poli, and found ourselves at once at home, in such a comfortable, cosey little house, as I did not think existed in Rome.
I ought to say a word about our vetturino, Constantino Bacci, an excellent and most favorable specimen of his class; for his magnificent conduct, his liberality, and all the good qualities that ought to be imperial, S - - -called him the Emperor. He took us to good hotels, and feasted us with the best; he was kind to us all, and especially to little Rosebud, who used to run by his side, with her small white hand in his great brown one; he was cheerful in his deportment, and expressed his good spirits by the smack of his whip, which is the barometer of a vetturino's inward weather; he drove admirably, and would rumble up to the door of an albergo, and stop to a hair's-breadth just where it was most convenient for us to alight; he would hire postilions and horses, where other vetturini would take nothing better than sluggish oxen, to help us up the hilly roads, so that sometimes we had a team of seven; he did all that we could possibly require of him, and was content and more, with a buon mono of five scudi, in addition to the stipulated price. Finally, I think the tears had risen almost to his eyelids when we parted with him.
Our friends, the Thompsons, through whose kindness we procured this house, called to see us soon after our arrival. In the afternoon, I walked with Rosebud to the Medici Gardens, and on our way thither, we espied our former servant, Lalla, who flung so many and such bitter curses after us, on our departure from Rome, sitting at her father's fruit-stall. Thank God, they have not taken effect. After going to the Medici, we went to the Pincian Gardens, and looked over into the Borghese grounds, which, methought, were more beautiful than ever. The same was true of the sky, and of every object beneath it; and as we came homeward along the Corso, I wondered at the stateliness and palatial magnificence of that noble street. Once, I remember, I thought it narrow, and far unworthy of its fame.
In the way of costume, the men in goat-skin breeches, whom we met on the Campagna, were very striking, and looked like Satyrs.
October 21st. - . . . . I have been twice to St. Peter's, and was impressed more than at any former visit by a sense of breadth and loftiness, and, as it were, a visionary splendor and magnificence. I also went to the Museum of the Capitol; and the statues seemed to me more beautiful than formerly, and I was not sensible of the cold despondency with which I have so often viewed them. Yesterday we went to the Corsini Palace, which we had not visited before. It stands in the Trastevere, in the Longara, and is a stately palace, with a grand staircase, leading to the first floor, where is situated the range of picture-rooms. There were a good many fine pictures, but none of them have made a memorable impression on my mind, except a portrait by Vandyke, of a man in point-lace, very grand and very real. The room in which this picture hung had many other portraits by Holbein, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, and other famous painters, and was wonderfully rich in this department. In another, there was a portrait of Pope Julius II., by Raphael, somewhat differing from those at the Pitti and the Uffizi galleries in Florence, and those I have seen in England and Paris; thinner, paler, perhaps older, more severely intellectual, but at least, as high a work of art as those.