March 11th. - Yesterday we went to the Catacomb of St. Calixtus, the entrance to which is alongside of the Appian Way, within sight of the tomb of Cecilia Metella. We descended not a very great way under ground, by a broad flight of stone steps, and, lighting some wax tapers, with which we had provided ourselves, we followed the guide through a great many intricate passages, which mostly were just wide enough for me to touch the wall on each side, while keeping my elbows close to my body; and as to height, they were from seven to ten feet, and sometimes a good deal higher It was rather picturesque, when we saw the long line of our tapers, for another large party had joined us, twinkling along the dark passage, and it was interesting to think of the former inhabitants of these caverns. . . . . In one or two places there was the round mark in the stone or plaster, where a bottle had been deposited. This was said to have been the token of a martyr's burial-place, and to have contained his blood. After leaving the Catacomb, we drove onward to Cecilia Metella's tomb, which we entered and inspected. Within the immensely massive circular substance of the tomb was a round, vacant space, and this interior vacancy was open at the top, and had nothing but some fallen stones and a heap of earth at the bottom.
On our way home we entered the Church of "Domine, quo vadis," and looked at the old fragment of the Appian Way, where our Saviour met St. Peter, and left the impression of his feet in one of the Roman paving-stones. The stone has been removed, and there is now only a fac-simile engraved in a block of marble, occupying the place where Jesus stood. It is a great pity they had not left the original stone; for then all its brother-stones in the pavement would have seemed to confirm the truth of the legend.
While we were at dinner, a gentleman called and was shown into the parlor. We supposed it to be Mr. May; but soon his voice grew familiar, and my wife was sure it was General Pierce, so I left the table, and found it to be really he. I was rejoiced to see him, though a little saddened to see the marks of care and coming age, in many a whitening hair, and many a furrow, and, still more, in something that seemed to have passed away out of him, without leaving any trace. His voice, sometimes, sounded strange and old, though generally it was what it used to be. He was evidently glad to see me, glad to see my wife, glad to see the children, though there was something melancholy in his tone, when he remarked what a stout boy J - - -had grown. Poor fellow! he has neither son nor daughter to keep his heart warm. This morning I have been with him to St. Peter's, and elsewhere about the city, and find him less changed than he seemed to be last night; not at all changed in heart and affections. We talked freely about all matters that came up; among the rest, about the project - recognizable by many tokens - for bringing him again forward as a candidate for the Presidency next year. He appears to be firmly resolved not again to present himself to the country, and is content to let his one administration stand, and to be judged by the public and posterity on the merits of that. No doubt he is perfectly sincere; no doubt, too, he would again be a candidate, if a pretty unanimous voice of the party should demand it. I retain all my faith in his administrative faculty, and should be glad, for his sake, to have it fully rccognized; but the probabilities, as far as I can see, do not indicate for him another Presidential term.
March 15th. - This morning I went with my wife and Miss Hoar to Miss Hosmer's studio, to see her statue of Zenobia. We found her in her premises, springing about with a bird-like action. She has a lofty room, with a skylight window; it was pretty well warmed with a stove, and there was a small orange-tree in a pot, with the oranges growing on it, and two or three flower-shrubs in bloom. She herself looked prettily, with her jaunty little velvet cap on the side of her head, whence came clustering out, her short brown curls; her face full of pleasant life and quick expression; and though somewhat worn with thought and struggle, handsome and spirited. She told us that "her wig was growing as gray as a rat."