The palace has some handsome old furniture, and gilded chairs, covered with leather cases, possibly relics of Queen Christina's time, who died here. I know not but the most curious object was a curule chair of marble, sculptured all out of one piece, and adorned with bas-reliefs. It is supposed to be Etruscan. It has a circular back, sweeping round, so as to afford sufficient rests for the elbows; and, sitting down in it, I discovered that modern ingenuity has not made much real improvement on this chair of three or four thousand years ago. But some chairs are easier for the moment, yet soon betray you, and grow the more irksome.
We strolled along Longara, and found the piazza of St. Peter's full of French soldiers at their drill. . . . . We went quite round the interior of the church, and perceiving the pavement loose and broken near the altar where Guido's Archangel is placed, we picked up some bits of rosso antico and gray marble, to be set in brooches, as relics.
We have the snuggest little set of apartments in Rome, seven rooms, including an antechamber; and though the stairs are exceedingly narrow, there is really a carpet on them, - a civilized comfort, of which the proudest palaces in the Eternal City cannot boast. The stairs are very steep, however, and I should not wonder if some of us broke our noses down them. Narrowness of space within doors strikes us all rather ludicrously, yet not unpleasantly, after being accustomed to the wastes and deserts of the Montanto Villa. It is well thus to be put in training for the over-snugness of our cottage in Concord. Our windows here look out on a small and rather quiet piazza, with an immense palace on the left hand, and a smaller yet statelier one on the right, and just round the corner of the street, leading out of our piazza, is the Fountain of Trevi, of which I can hear the plash in the evening, when other sounds are hushed.
Looking over what I have said of Sodoma's "Christ Bound," at Sierra, I see that I have omitted to notice what seems to me one of its most striking characteristics, - its loneliness. You feel as if the Saviour were deserted, both in heaven and earth; the despair is in him which made him say, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Even in this extremity, however, he is still Divine, and Sodoma almost seems to have reconciled the impossibilities of combining an omnipresent divinity with a suffering and outraged humanity. But this is one of the cases in which the spectator's imagination completes what the artist merely hints at.
Mr. - - - , the sculptor, called to see us, the other evening, and quite paid Powers off for all his trenchant criticisms on his brother artists. He will not allow Powers to be an artist at all, or to know anything of the laws of art, although acknowledging him to be a great bust-maker, and to have put together the Greek Slave and the Fisher-Boy very ingeniously. The latter, however (he says), is copied from the Apollino in the Tribune of the Uzi; and the former is made up of beauties that had no reference to one another; and he affirms that Powers is ready to sell, and has actually sold, the Greek Slave, limb by limb, dismembering it by reversing the process of putting it together, - a head to one purchaser, an arm or a foot to another, a hand to a third. Powers knows nothing scientifically of the human frame, and only succeeds in representing it as a natural bone-doctor succeeds in setting a dislocated limb by a happy accident or special providence. (The illustration was my own, and adopted by Mr. - - - .) Yet Mr. - - - seems to acknowledge that he did succeed. I repeat these things only as another instance how invariably every sculptor uses his chisel and mallet to smash and deface the marble-work of every other. I never heard Powers speak of Mr. - - - , but can partly imagine what he would have said.
Mr. - - - spoke of Powers's disappointment about the twenty-five-thousand-dollar appropriation from Congress, and said that he was altogether to blame, inasmuch as he attempted to sell to the nation for that sum a statue which, to Mr. - - - 's certain knowledge, he had already offered to private persons for a fifth part of it. I have not implicit faith in Mr. - - - 's veracity, and doubt not Powers acted fairly in his own eyes.
October 23d. - I am afraid I have caught one of the colds which the Roman air continually affected me with last winter; at any rate, a sirocco has taken the life out of me, and I have no spirit to do anything. This morning I took a walk, however, out of the Porta Maggiore, and looked at the tomb of the baker Eurysaces, just outside of the gate, - a very singular ruin covered with symbols of the man's trade in stone-work, and with bas-reliefs along the cornice, representing people at work, making bread. An inscription states that the ashes of his wife are likewise reposited there, in a bread-basket. The mausoleum is perhaps twenty feet long, in its largest extent, and of equal height; and if good bakers were as scarce in ancient Rome as in the modern city, I do not wonder that they were thought worthy of stately monuments. None of the modern ones deserve any better tomb than a pile of their own sour loaves.
I walked onward a good distance beyond the gate alongside of the arches of the Claudian aqueduct, which, in this portion of it, seems to have had little repair, and to have needed little, since it was built. It looks like a long procession, striding across the Campagna towards the city, and entering the gate, over one of its arches, within the gate, I saw two or three slender jets of water spurting from the crevices; this aqueduct being still in use to bring the Acqua Felice into Rome.