Returning within the walls, I walked along their inner base, to the Church of St. John Lateran, into which I went, and sat down to rest myself, being languid and weary, and hot with the sun, though afraid to trust the coolness of the shade. I hate the Roman atmosphere; indeed, all my pleasure in getting back - all my home-feeling - has already evaporated, and what now impresses me, as before, is the languor of Rome, - its weary pavements, its little life, pressed down by a weight of death.
Quitting St. John Lateran, I went astray, as I do nine times out of ten in these Roman intricacies, and at last, seeing the Coliseum in the vista of a street, I betook myself thither to get a fresh start. Its round of stones looked vast and dreary, but not particularly impressive. The interior was quite deserted; except that a Roman, of respectable appearance, was making a pilgrimage at the altars, kneeling and saying a prayer at each one.
Outside of the Coliseum, a neat-looking little boy came and begged of me; and I gave him a baiocco, rather because he seemed to need it so little than for any other reason. I observed that he immediately afterwards went and spoke to a well-dressed man, and supposed that the child was likewise begging of him. I watched the little boy, however, and saw that, in two or three other instances, after begging of other individuals, he still returned to this well-dressed man; the fact being, no doubt, that the latter was fishing for baiocci through the medium of his child, - throwing the poor little fellow out as a bait, while he himself retained his independent respectability. He had probably come out for a whole day's sport; for, by and by, he went between the arches of the Coliseum, followed by the child, and taking with him what looked like a bottle of wine, wrapped in a handkerchief.
November 2d. - The weather lately would have suited one's ideal of an English November, except that there have been no fogs; but of ugly, hopeless clouds, chill, shivering winds, drizzle, and now and then pouring rain, much more than enough. An English coal-fire, if we could see its honest face within doors, would compensate for all the unamiableness of the outside atmosphere; but we might ask for the sunshine of the New Jerusalem, with as much hope of getting it. It is extremely spirit-crushing, this remorseless gray, with its icy heart; and the more to depress the whole family, U - - has taken what seems to be the Roman fever, by sitting down in the Palace of the Caesars, while Mrs. S - - -sketched the ruins. . . . .
[During four months of the illness of his daughter, Mr. Hawthorne wrote no word of Journal. - ED.]
February 27th, 1859. - For many days past, there have been tokens of the coming Carnival in the Corso and the adjacent streets; for example, in the shops, by the display of masks of wire, pasteboard, silk, or cloth, some of beautiful features, others hideous, fantastic, currish, asinine, huge-nosed, or otherwise monstrous; some intended to cover the whole face, others concealing only the upper part, also white dominos, or robes bedizened with gold-lace and theatric splendors, displayed at the windows of mercers or flaunting before the doors. Yesterday, U - - and I came along the Corso, between one and two o'clock, after a walk, and found all these symptoms of impending merriment multiplied and intensified; . . . . rows of chairs, set out along the sidewalks, elevated a foot or two by means of planks; great baskets, full of confetti, for sale in the nooks and recesses of the streets; bouquets of all qualities and prices. The Corso was becoming pretty well thronged with people; but, until two o'clock, nobody dared to fling as much as a rosebud or a handful of sugar-plums. There was a sort of holiday expression, however, on almost everybody's face, such as I have not hitherto seen in Rome, or in any part of Italy; a smile gleaming out, an aurora of mirth, which probably will not be very exuberant in its noontide. The day was so sunny and bright that it made this opening scene far more cheerful than any day of the last year's carnival. As we threaded our way through the Corso, U - - kept wishing she could plunge into the fun and uproar as J - - - would, and for my own part, though I pretended to take no interest in the matter, I could have bandied confetti and nosegays as readily and as riotously as any urchin there. But my black hat and grave talma would have been too good a mark for the combatants, . . . . so we went home before a shot was fired. . . . .
March 7th. - I, as well as the rest of the family, have followed up the Carnival pretty faithfully, and enjoyed it as well, or rather better than could have been expected; principally in the street, as a more looker-on, - which does not let one into the mystery of the fun, - and twice from a balcony, where I threw confetti, and partly understood why the young people like it so much. Certainly, there cannot well be a more picturesque spectacle in human life, than that stately, palatial avenue of the Corso, the more picturesque because so narrow, all hung with carpets and Gobelin tapestry, and the whole palace-heights alive with faces; and all the capacity of the street thronged with the most fantastic figures that either the fancies of folks alive at this day are able to contrive, or that live traditionally from year to year. . . . . The Prince of Wales has fought manfully through the Carnival with confetti and bouquets, and U - - received several bouquets from him, on Saturday, as her carriage moved along.