To-day, and for some days past, we have been in quest of lodgings for next winter; a weary search, up interminable staircases, which seduce us upward to no successful result. It is very disheartening not to be able to place the slightest reliance on the integrity of the people we are to deal with; not to believe in any connection between their words and their purposes; to know that they are certainly telling you falsehoods, while you are not in a position to catch hold of the lie, and hold it up in their faces.
This afternoon we called on Mr. and Mrs. - - - at the Hotel de l'Europe, but found only the former at home. We had a pleasant visit, but I made no observations of his character save such as I have already sufficiently recorded; and when we had been with him a little while, Mrs. Chapman, the artist's wife, Mr. Terry, and my friend, Mr. Thompson, came in. - - - received them all with the same good degree of cordiality that he did ourselves, not cold, not very warm, not annoyed, not ecstatically delighted; a man, I should suppose, not likely to have ardent individual preferences, though perhaps capable of stern individual dislikes. But I take him, at all events, to be a very upright man, and pursuing a narrow track of integrity; he is a man whom I would never forgive (as I would a thousand other men) for the slightest moral delinquency. I would not be bound to say, however, that he has not the little sin of a fretful and peevish habit; and yet perhaps I am a sinner myself for thinking so.
May 23d. - This morning I breakfasted at William Story's, and met there Mr. Bryant, Mr. T - - - (an English gentleman), Mr. and Mrs. Apthorp, Miss Hosmer, and one or two other ladies. Bryant was very quiet, and made no conversation audible to the general table. Mr. T - - - talked of English politics and public men; the "Times" and other newspapers, English clubs and social habits generally; topics in which I could well enough bear my part of the discussion. After breakfast, and aside from the ladies, he mentioned an illustration of Lord Ellenborough's lack of administrative ability, - a proposal seriously made by his lordship in reference to the refractory Sepoys. . . . .
We had a very pleasant breakfast, and certainly a breakfast is much preferable to a dinner, not merely in the enjoyment, while it is passing, but afterwards. I made a good suggestion to Miss Hosmer for the design of a fountain, - a lady bursting into tears, water gushing from a thousand pores, in literal translation of the phrase; and to call the statue "Niobe, all Tears." I doubt whether she adopts the idea; but Bernini would have been delighted with it. I should think the gush of water might be so arranged as to form a beautiful drapery about the figure, swaying and fluttering with every breath of wind, and rearranging itself in the calm; in which case, the lady might be said to have "a habit of weeping." . . . . Apart, with William Story, he and I talked of the unluckiness of Friday, etc. I like him particularly well. . . . .
We have been plagued to-day with our preparations for leaving Rome to-morrow, and especially with verifying the inventory of furniture, before giving up the house to our landlord. He and his daughter have been examining every separate article, down even to the kitchen skewers, I believe, and charging us to the amount of several scudi for cracks and breakages, which very probably existed when we came into possession. It is very uncomfortable to have dealings with such a mean people (though our landlord is German), - mean in their business transactions; mean even in their beggary; for the beggars seldom ask for more than a mezzo baioccho, though they sometimes grumble when you suit your gratuity exactly to their petition. It is pleasant to record that the Italians have great faith in the honor of the English and Americans, and never hesitate to trust entire strangers, to any reasonable extent, on the strength of their being of the honest Anglo-Saxon race.
This evening, U - - and I took a farewell walk in the Pincian Gardens to see the sunset; and found them crowded with people, promenading and listening to the music of the French baud. It was the feast of Whitsunday, which probably brought a greater throng than usual abroad.
When the sun went down, we descended into the Piazza del Popolo, and thence into the Via Ripetta, and emerged through a gate to the shore of the Tiber, along which there is a pleasant walk beneath a grove of trees. We traversed it once and back again, looking at the rapid river, which still kept its mud-puddly aspect even in the clear twilight, and beneath the brightening moon. The great bell of St. Peter's tolled with a deep boom, a grand and solemn sound; the moon gleamed through the branches of the trees above us; and U - - spoke with somewhat alarming fervor of her love for Rome, and regret at leaving it. We shall have done the child no good office in bringing her here, if the rest of her life is to be a dream of this "city of the soul," and an unsatisfied yearning to come back to it. On the other hand, nothing elevating and refining can be really injurious, and so I hope she will always be the better for Rome, even if her life should be spent where there are no pictures, no statues, nothing but the dryness and meagreness of a New England village.