It is not every undeserving American who can have the erudition and divination of the Genius Loci in answer to his unuttered prayer during a visit to even a small part of the Roman Forum. But failing the company of the Commendatore Boni, which is without price, there are to be had for a very little money the guidance and philosophy, and, for all I know, the friendship of several peripatetic historians who lead people about the ruins in Rome, and instruct them in the fable, and doubtless in the moral, of the things they see. If I had profited by their learning, so much greater, or at least securer, than any the average American has about him, I should now be tiring the reader with knowledge which I am so willingly leaving him to imagine in me. If he is like the average American, he has really once had some nodding acquaintance with the facts, but history is apt to forsake you on the scene of it, and to come lagging back when it is too late. In this psychological experience you feel the need of help which the peripatetic historian supplies to the groups of perhaps rather oblivious than ignorant tourists of all nations in all languages, but preferably English. We Anglo-Saxons seem to be the most oblivious or most ignorant; but I would not slight our occasionally available culture any more than I would imply that those peripatetic historians are at all like the cicerones whom they have so largely replaced. I believe they are instructed and scholarly men; I offer them my respect; and I wish now that I had been one of their daily disciples, for it is full sixty years since I read Goldsmith's History of Rome. As I saw them, somewhat beyond earshot, they and their disciples formed a spectacle which was always interesting, and, so far as the human desire for information is affecting, was also affecting. The listeners to the lecturers would carry back to their respective villages and towns, or the yet simpler circles of our ordinary city lift, vastly more association with the storied scene than I had brought to it or should bring away. In fact, there is nothing more impressive in the floating foreign society of Rome than its zeal for self-improvement. No one classes himself with his fellow-tourists, though if he happens to be a traveller he is really one of them; and it is with difficulty I keep myself from the appearance of patronizing them in these praises, which are for the most part reverently meant. Their zeal never seemed to be without knowledge, whatever their age or sex; the intensity of their application reached to all the historical and actual interests, to the religious as well as the social, the political as well as the financial; but, fitly in Rome, it seemed specially turned to the study of antiquity, in the remoter or the nearer past. There was given last winter a series of lectures at the American School of Archaeology by the head of it, which were followed with eager attention by hearers who packed the room. But these lectures, which were so admirably first in. the means of intelligent study, seemed only one of the means by which my fellow-tourists were climbing the different branches of knowledge. All round my apathy I felt, where I did not see, the energy of the others; with my mind's ear I heard a rustle as of the turning leaves of Baedekers, of Murrays, of Hares, and of the many general histories and monographs of which these intelligent authorities advised the supplementary reading.

If I am not so mistaken as I might very well be, however, the local language is less studied than it was in former times, when far fewer Italians spoke English. My own Italian was of that date; but, though I began by using it, I found myself so often helped for a forgotten meaning that I became subtly demoralized and fell luxuriously into the habit of speaking English like a native of Rome. Yet tacitly, secretly perhaps, there may have been many people who were taking up Italian as zealously as many more were taking up antiquity. One day in the Piazza di Spagna, in a modest little violet of a tea-room, which was venturing to open in the face of the old-established and densely thronged parterre opposite, I noted from my Roman version of a buttered muffin a tall, young Scandinavian girl, clad in complete corduroy, gray in color to the very cap surmounting her bandeaux of dark-red hair. She looked like some of those athletic-minded young women of Ibsen's plays, and the pile of books on the table beside her tea suggested a student character. When she had finished her tea she put these books back into a leather bag, which they filled to a rigid repletion, and, after a few laconic phrases with the tea-girl, she went out like going off the stage. Her powerful demeanor somehow implied severe studies; but the tea-girl - a massive, confident, confiding Roman - said, No, she was studying Italian, and all those books related to the language, for which she had a passion. She was a Swede; and here the student being exhausted as a topic, and my own nationality being ascertained, What steps, the tea-girl asked, should one take if one wished to go to New York in order to secure a place as cashier in a restaurant?

My facts were not equal to the demand upon them, nor are they equal to anything like exact knowledge of the intellectual pursuits of the many studious foreign youth of all ages and sexes whom one meets in Rome. As I say, our acquaintance with Italian is far less useful, however ornamental, than it used to be. The Romans are so quick that they understand you when they speak no English, and take your meaning before you can formulate it in their own tongue. A classically languaged friend of mine, who was hard bested in bargaining for rooms, tried his potential landlord in Latin, and was promptly answered in Latin. It was a charming proof that in the home of the Church her mother-speech had never ceased to be spoken by some of her children, but I never heard of any Americans, except my friend, recurring to their college courses in order to meet the modern Latins in their ancient parlance. In spite of this instance, and that of the Swedish votary of Italian, I decided that the studies of most strangers were archaeological rather than philological, historical rather than literary, topographical rather than critical. I do not say that I had due confirmation of my theory from the talk of the fellow-sojourners whom one is always meeting at teas and lunches and dinners in Rome. Generally the talk did not get beyond an exchange of enthusiasms for the place, and of experiences of the morning, in the respective researches of the talkers.

Such of us as were staying the winter, of course held aloof from the hurried passers-through, or looked with kindly tolerance on their struggles to get more out of Rome in a given moment than she perhaps yielded with perfect acquiescence. We fancied that she kept something back; she is very subtle, and has her reserves even with people who pass a whole winter within her gates. The fact is, there are a great many of her, though we knew her afar as one mighty personality. There is the antique Rome, the mediaeval Rome, the modern Rome; but that is only the beginning. There is the Rome of the State and the Rome of the Church, which divide between them the Rome of politics and the Rome of fashion; but here is a field so vast that Ave may not enter it without danger of being promptly lost in it. There is the Rome of the visiting nationalities, severally and collectively; there is especially the Anglo-American Rome, which if not so populous as the German, for instance, is more important to the Anglo-Saxons. It sees a great deal of itself socially, but not to the exclusion of the sympathetic Southern temperaments which seem to have a strange but not unnatural affinity with it. So far as we might guess, it was a little more Clerical than Liberal in its local politics; if you were very Liberal, it was well to be careful, for Conversion lurked under many exteriors which gave no outward sign of it; if the White of the monarchy and the Black of the papacy divide the best Roman families, of course foreigners are more intensely one or the other than the natives. But Anglo-Saxon life was easy for one not self-obliged to be of either opinion or party; and it was pleasant in most of its conditions. In Rome our internationali-ties seemed to have certain quarters largely to themselves. In spite of our abhorrence of the destruction and construction which have made modern Rome so wholesome and delightful, most of us had our habitations in the new quarters; but certain pleasanter of the older streets, like the Via Sistina, Via del Babuino, Via Capo le Case, Via Gregoriana, were our sojourn or our resort. Especially in the two first our language filled the outer air to the exclusion of other conversation, and within doors the shopmen spoke it at least as well as the English think the Americans speak it. It was pleasant to meet the honest English faces, to recognize the English fashions, to note the English walk; and if these were oftener present than their American counterparts, it was not from our habitual minority, but from our occasional sparsity through the panic that had frightened us into a homekeeping foreign to our natures.

In like manner our hyphenated nationalities have the Piazza di Spagna for their own. There are the two English book-stores and the circulating libraries, in each of which the books are so torn and dirty that you think they cannot be quite so bad in the other till you try it; there seems nothing for it, then, but to wash and iron the different Tauchnitz authors, and afterward darn and mend them. The books on sale are, of course, not so bad; they are even quite clean; and except for giving out on the points of interest where you could most wish them to abound, there is nothing in them to complain of. There is less than nothing to complain of in the tea-room which enjoys our international favor except that at the most psychological moment of the afternoon you cannot get a table, in spite of the teas going on in the fashionable hotels and the friendly houses everywhere. The toast is exceptional; the muffins so far from home are at least reminiscent of their native island; the tea and butter are alike blameless. The company, to the eye of the friend of man, is still more acceptable, for, if the Americans have dwindled, the English have increased; and there is nothing more endearing than the sight of a roomful of English people at their afternoon tea in a strange land. No type seems to predominate; there are bohemians as obvious as clerics; there are old ladies and young, alike freshly fair; there are the white beards of age and the clean-shaven cheeks of youth among the men; some are fashionable and some outrageously not; peculiarities of all kinds abound without conflicting. Some talk, frankly audible, and others are frankly silent, but a deep, wide purr, tacit or explicit, close upon a muted hymn of thanksgiving, in that assemblage of mutually repellent personalities, for the nonce united, would best denote the universal content.

Hard by this tea-room there is a public elevator by which the reader will no doubt rather ascend with me than, climb the Spanish Steps without me; after the first time, I never climbed them. The elevator costs but ten centimes, and I will pay for both; there is sometimes drama thrown in that is worth twice the money; for there is war, more or less roaring, set between the old man who works the elevator and the young man who sells the tickets to it. The law is that the elevator will hold only eight persons, but one memorable afternoon the ticket-seller insisted upon giving a ticket to a tall, young English girl who formed an unlawful ninth. The elevator-man, a precisian of the old school, expelled her; the ticket-seller came forward and reinstated her; again the elder stood upon the letter of the law; again the younger demanded its violation. The Tuscan tongue in their Roman mouths flew into unintelligibility, while the poor girl was put into the elevator and out of it; and the respective parties to the quarrel were enjoying it so much that it might never have ended if she had not taken the affair into her own hands. She finally followed the ticket-seller back to his desk, to which he retired after each act of the melodrama, and threw her ticket violently down. "Here is your ticket!" she said in English so severe that he could not help understanding and cowering before it. "Give me back my money!" He was too much stupefied by her decision of character to speak; and he returned her centimes in silence while we got into our cage and mounted to the top, and the elevator-man furiously repeated to himself his side of the recent argument all the way up. This did not prevent his touching his hat to each of us in parting, and assuring us that he revered us; a thing that only old-fashioned Romans seem to do nowadays, in the supposed decay of manners which the comfortable classes everywhere like to note in the uncomfortable. Then some ladies of our number went off on a platform across the house-tops to which the elevator had brought us, as if they expected to go down the chimneys to their apartments; and the rest of us expanded into the Piazza Trinita de' Monti; and I stopped to lounge against the uppermost balustrade of the Spanish Steps.

It is notable, but not surprising, how soon one forms the habit of this, for, seen from above, the Spanish Steps are only less enchanting than the Spanish Steps seen from below, whence they are absolutely the most charming sight in the world. The reader, if he has nothing better than a post-card (which I could have bought him on the spot for fifty a franc), knows how the successive stairways part and flow downward to right and left, like the parted waters of a cascade, and lose themselves at the bottom in banks of flowers. No lovelier architectural effect was ever realized from a happy fancy; but, of course, the pictorial effect is richer from below, especially from the Via dei Condotti, where it opens into the Piazza di Spagna. I suppose there must be hours of the day, and certainly there are hours of the night, when in this prospect the Steps have not the sunset on them. But most of the time they have the sunset on them, warm, tender; a sunset that begins with the banks of daffodils and lilies and anemones and carnations and roses and almond blossoms, keeping the downpour of the marble cascades from flooding the piazza, and mounts, mellowing and yellowing, up their gray stone, until it reaches the Church of Trinita de' Monti at the top.

There it lingers, I should say, till dawn, bathing the golden-brown facade in an effulgence that lifelong absence cannot eclipse when once it has blessed your sight. It is beauty that rather makes the heart ache, and the charm of the Steps from above is something that you can bear better if you are very, very worthy, or have the conceit of feeling yourself so. It is a charm that imparts itself more in detail and is less exclusively the effect of perpetual sunset. From the parapet against which you lean you have a perfecter conception of the architectural form than you get from below, and you are never tired of seeing the successive falls of the Steps dividing themselves and then coming together on the broad landings and again parting and coming together.

If there were once many models, male, female, and infant, brigands, peasants, sages, and martyrs, lounging on the Spanish Steps, as it seems to me there used to be, and as every one has heard say, waiting there for the artists to come and carry them off to their studios and transfer them to their canvases, they are now no longer there in noticeable number. I saw some small boys in steeple-crowned soft hats and short jackets, with their little legs wound round with the favorite bandaging of brigands; and some mothers suitable for Madonnas, perhaps, with babes at the breast; there was a patriarchal old man or two, ready no doubt to pose for the prophets, or, at a pinch, for yet more celestial persons; but for the rest the Steps were rather given up to flower-girls, fruit-peddlers, and beggars pure and simple, on levels distinctly below those infested by the post-card peddlers. The whole neighborhood abounds in opportunities for charity, and at the corner of the Via Sistina there is a one-legged beggar who professes to black shoes in the intervals of alms-taking, and who early made me his prey. If sometimes I fancied escaping by him to my lounge against the parapet of the steps, he joyously overtook me with a swiftness of which few two-legged men are capable; he wore a soldier's cap, and I hoped, for the credit of our species, that he had lost his leg in battle, but I do not know.

On a Sunday evening I once hung there a long time, watching with one eye the people who were coining back from their promenade on the Pincian Hill, and with the other the groups descending and ascending the Steps. On the first landing below me there was a boy who gratified me, I dare say unconsciously, by trying to stand on his hands; and a little dramatic spectacle added itself to this feat of the circus. Two pretty girls, smartly dressed in hats and gowns exactly alike, and doubtless sisters, if not twins, passed down to the same level. One was with a handsome young officer, and walked staidly beside him, as if content with her quality of captive or captor. The other was with a civilian, of whom she was apparently not sure. Suddenly she ran away from him to the verge of the next fall of steps, possibly to show him how charmingly she was dressed, possibly to tempt him by her grace in flight to follow her madly. But he followed sanely and slowly, and she waited for him to come up, in a capricious quiet, as if she had not done anything or meant anything. That was all; but I am not hard to suit; and it was richly enough for me.

Her little comedy came to its denouement just under the shoulder of the rose-roofed terrace jutting from a lowish, plainish house on the left, beyond certain palms and eucalyptus-trees. It is one of the most sacred shrines in Rome, for it was in this house that the "young English poet whose name was writ in water" died to deathless fame three or fourscore years ago. It is the Keats house, which when he lived in it was the house of Severn the painter, his host and friend. I had visited it for the kind sake of the one and the dear sake of the others when I first visited Rome in 1864; and it was one of the earliest stations of my second pilgrimage. It is now in form for any and all visitors, but the day I went it had not yet been put in its present simple and tasteful keeping. A somewhat shrill and scraping-voiced matron inquired my pleasure when she followed me into the ground-floor entrance from somewhere without, and then, understanding, called hor young daughter, who led me up to the room where Keats mused his last verse and breathed his last sigh. It is a very little room, looking down over the Spanish Steps, with their dike of bloom, across the piazza to the narrow stretch of the Via del Babuino. I must have stood in it with Severn and heard him talk of Keats and his ultimate days and hours; for I remember some such talk, but not the details of it. He was a very gentle old man and fondly proud of his goodness to the poor dying poet, as he well might be, and I was glad to be one of the many Americans who, he said, came to grieve with him for the dead poet.

Now, on my later visit, it was a cold, rainy day, and it was chill within the house and without, and I imputed my weather to the time of Keats's sojourn, and thought of him sitting by his table there in that bare, narrow, stony room and coughing at the dismal outlook. Afterward I saw the whole place put in order and warmed by a generous stove, for people who came to see the Keats and Shelley collections of books and pictures; but still the sense of that day remains. The young girl sympathized with my sympathy, and wished to find a rose for me in the trellis through which the rain dripped. She could not, and I suggested that there would be roses in the spring. "No," she persisted, "sometimes it makes them in the winter," but I had to come away through the reeking streets without one.

When it rains, it rains easily in Rome. But the weather was divine the evening I looked one of my latest looks down on the Spanish Steps. The sun had sunk rather wanly beyond the city, but a cheerful light of electrics shone up at me from the Via dei Condotti. I stood and thought of as much as I could summon from the past, and I was strongest, I do not know why, with the persecutions of the early Christians. Presently a smell of dinner came from the hotels around and the houses below, and I was reminded to go home to my own table d'hote. My one-legged beggar seemed to have gone to his, and I escaped him; but I was intercepted by the sight of an old woman asleep over her store of matches. She was not wakened by the fall of my ten-centime piece in her tray, but the boy drowsing beside her roused himself, and roused her to the dreamy expression of a gratitude quite out of scale with my alms.