A PRAISE OF NEW ROME
Beyond the tenements the generous breadth of the new streets has been bordered by pleasant stucco houses of the pretty Italian type, fleetingly touched but not spoiled by the taste of the art nouveau,standing in their own grounds, and not so high-fenced but one could look over their garden-walls into the shrubs and flowers about them. Like suburban effects are characteristic of the new wide residential streets on the hither side of the Tiber, and on both shores the streets expand from time to time into squares, with more or less tolerable new monuments - say, of the Boston average - in them. The business streets where they bear the lines of the frequently recurrent trams are spacious and straight, and though they are not the Corso, the Corso itself, it must be remembered, is only a street of shops by no means impressive, and is mostly dim under the overtowering walls of palaces which have no space to be dignified in. Now and then their open portals betray a glimpse of a fountained or foliaged court, but whether these palaces are outwardly beautiful or not no one can tell from what sight one can get of them; no, not even the most besotted sentimentalist of those who bewail the loss of mediaeval Rome when they mean Rome of the Renaissance. How much of that Rome has been erased by modern Rome I do not know, but I think not so much as people pretend. Some of the ugly baroque churches have been pulled down to allow the excavation of imperial Rome, but there are plenty of ugly baroque churches left. It is said the princely proprietors of the old palaces which are let in apartments along the different Corsos (for the Corso is several) are going to pull them down and put up modern houses, with the hope of modern rents, but again I do not know. More than once the fortuities of hospitality found one the guest of dwellers in such stately domiciles, and I could honestly share the anxiety with which they spoke of these rumors; but there are a great many vast edifices of the sort, and I should not be surprised if I went back to Rome after another forty-three years to find most of them standing in 1951 where they now stand in 1908. Rome was not built in a day, and it will not be unbuilt or rebuilt within the brief period that will make me one hundred and fourteen years old. By that time I shall have outlived most of the medievalists, and I can say to the few survivors: "There, you see that new Rome never went half so far as you expected."
But no doubt it will go further than it has yet gone, in the way that is for the good and comfort of mankind. In one of the newer quarters, of which the Baths of Diocletian form the imperial centre, my just American pride was flattered by tho sign on a handsome apartment-house going up in gardened grounds, which advertised that it was to be finished with a lift and steam-heating. Many of the newer houses are already supplied with lifts, but central heating is as yet only beginning to spread from the hotels, where steam has been installed in compliance with the impassioned American demand to be warm all round when one is in-doors. New Rome is not going so fast and so far but that it will keep, to whatever end it reaches, one of the characteristic charms of the old and older Rome. I shall expect to see when I come back in 1951 the same or the like corners of garden walls, with the tops of shining foliage peering over them, that now enchant the passer in the street; from the windows of my electric-ele-vatored, steam-heated apartment I shall look down into the seclusion of gardens, with the golden globes of orange espaliers mellowing against the walls, and the fountain in the midst of oleanders and of laurels
"Shaking its loosened silver in the sun."
Slim cypresses will then as now blacken through the delicate air against the blue sky, and a stone-pine will spread its umbrella over some sequestered nook. By that time the craze for the eucalyptus which now possesses all Italy will be over, and every palm-tree will be cut down, while the ilex will darken in its place and help the eternal youth of the marbles to a greener old age of moss and mould in the gloom of its spreading shade. All these things beautifully abound in Rome now, as they always have abounded, and there is no reason to fear that they will cease to abound.
Rome grows, and as Italy prospers it will grow more and more, for there must forever be a great and famous capital where there has always been one. The place is so perfectly the seat of an eternal city that it might well seem to have been divinely chosen because of the earth and heaven which are more in sympathy there than anywhere else in the world. The climate is beyond praise for a winter which is mild without being weak; there is a summer of tolerable noonday heat, and of nights deliciously cool; the spring is scarcely earlier than in our latitudes, but the fall is a long, slow decline from the temperature of October to the lowest level of January without the vicissitudes of other autumns. The embrowning or reddening or yellowing leaves turn sere, but drop or cling to their parent boughs as they choose, for there is seldom a frost to loosen their hold, and seldom a storm to tear them away.