"Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?" the traveller asks rather anxiously than defiantly when he finds himself a stranger in a strange place, and he is apt to add, if he has not written or wired ahead to some specific hotel, "Which of mine inns shall I take mine ease in?" He is the more puzzled to choose the more inns there are to choose from, and his difficulty is enhanced if he has not considered that some of his inns may be full or may be too dear, and yet others undesirable.

The run from Naples in four hours and a half had been so flattering fair an experience to people who had last made it in eight that they arrived in Rome on a sunny afternoon of January preoccupied with expectations of an instant ease in their inn which seemed the measure of their merit. They indeed found their inn, and it was with a painful surprise that they did not find the rooms in it which they wanted. There were neither rooms full south, nor over the garden, nor off the tram, and in these circumstances there was nothing for it but to drive to some one else's inn and try for better quarters there. They, in fact, drove to half a dozen such, their demands rising for more rooms and sunnier and quieter and cheaper, the fewer and darker and noisier and dearer were those they found.

The trouble was that they found in the very first alien hotel where they applied an apartment so exactly what they wanted, with its four rooms and bath, all more or less full south, though mostly veering west and north, that they carried the fatal norm in their consciousness and tested all other apartments by it, the earlier notion of single rooms being promptly rejected after the sight of it. The reader will therefore not be so much, astonished as these travellers were to learn that there was nothing else in Rome (where there must be about five hundred hotels, hotels garnis, and pensions) that one could comparatively stay even overnight in, and that they settled in that alluring apartment provisionally, the next day being Sunday, and the crystalline Saturday of their arrival being well worn away toward its topaz and ruby sunset. Of course, they continued their search for several days afterward, zealously but hopelessly, yet not fruitlessly, for it resulted in an acquaintance with Roman hotels which they might otherwise never have made, and for one of them in literary material of interest to every one hoping to come to Rome or despairing of it. The psychology of the matter was very curious, and involved the sort of pleasing self-illusion by which people so often get themselves over questionable passes in life and come out with a good conscience, or a dead one, which is practically the same thing. These particular people had come to Rome with reminiscences of in-expensiveness and had intended to recoup themselves for the cost of several previous winters in New York hotels by the saving they would make in their Roman sojourn. When it appeared, after all the negotiation and consequent abatement, that their Roman hotel apartment would cost them hardly a fifth less than they had last paid in New York, they took a guilty refuge in the fact that they were getting for less money something which no money could buy in New York. Gradually all sense of guilt wore off, and they boldly, or even impudently, said to themselves that they ought to have what they could pay for, and that there were reasons, which they were not obliged to render in their frankest soliloquies, why they should do just what they chose in the matter.

The truth is that the modern Roman hotel is far better in every way than the hotel of far higher class, or of the highest class, in New York. In the first place, the managers are in the precious secret, which our managers have lost, of making you believe that they want you; and, having you, they know how to look after your pleasure and welfare. The table is always of more real variety, though vastly less stupid profusion than ours. The materials are wholesomer and fresher and are without the proofs, always present in our hotel viands, of a probationary period in cold storage. As for the cooking, there is no comparison, whether the things are simply or complexly treated; and the service is of that neatness and promptness which ours is so ignorant of.

Your agreement is usually for meals as well as rooms; the European plan is preferably ignored in Europe; and the table d'hote luncheon and dinner are served at small, separate tables; your breakfast is brought to your room. Being old-fashioned, myself, I am rather sorry for the small, separate tables. I liked the one large, long table, where you made talk with your neighbors; but it is gone, and much facile friendliness with it, on either hand and across the board. The rooms are tastefully furnished, and the beds are unquestionable; the carpets warmly cover tho floor if stone, or amply rug it if of wood. The steam-heating is generous and performs its office of "roasting you out of the house" without the sizzling and crackling which accompany its efforts at home. The electricity really illuminates, and there is always an electric lamp at your bed-head for those long hours when your remorse or your digestion will not let you sleep, and you must substitute some other's waking dreams for those of your own slumbers. Above all, there is a lift, or elevator, not enthusiastically active or convulsively swift, but entirely practicable and efficient. It will hold from four to eight persons, and will take up at least six without reluctance.

It must be clearly understood that the ideal of American comfort is fully and faithfully realized, and if the English have reformed the Italian hotels in respect of cleanliness, it is we who have brought them quite to our domestic level in regard to heat and light. But if we want these things in Rome, we must pay for them as we do at home, though still we do not pay so much as we pay at home. The tips are about half our average, but whether they are given currently or ultimately I do not know. Who, indeed, knows about others' tips anywhere in the world? I asked an experienced fellow-citizen what the custom was, and he said that he believed the English gave in going away, but he thought the spirits of the helpers drooped under the strain of hope deferred, and he preferred to give every week. The donations, I understood, were pooled by the dining-room waiters and then equally divided; but gifts bestowed above stairs were for the sole behoof of him or her who took them. Germans are said to give less than Anglo-Saxons, and it is said that Italians in some cases do not give at all. But, again, who knows? The Italians are said never to give drink money to the cabmen, but to pay only the letter of the tariff. If I had done that in driving about to look up worse hotels than the one I chose first and last, I should now be a richer man, but I doubt if a happier. Two cents seems to satisfy a Roman cabman; five cents has for him the witchery of money found in the road; but I must not leave the subject of hotels for that of cabs, however alluringly it beckons.

The reader who knows Italy only from the past should clear his mind of his old impressions of the hotels. There is no longer that rivalry between the coming guest and the manager to see how few or many candles can be lighted in his room and charged in the bill; there are no longer candles, but only electricity. There is no longer an extortion for hearth-fires which send all the heat up the chimney; there are steam radiators in every room. There is no longer a tedious bargaining for rooms; the price is fixed and cannot be abated except for a sojourn of weeks or months. But the price is much greater than it used to be - twice as great almost; for the taxes are heavy and provisions are dear, and coal and electricity are costly, and you must share the expense with the landlord. He is not there for his health, and, if for your comfort, you are not his invited guest. As I have intimated, an apartment of four rooms with a bath will cost almost as much, with board, as the same quarters in New York, but you will get far more for your money in Rome. If you take a single room, even to the south, in many first-class Roman hotels it will cost you for room and board only two dollars or two and a half a day, which is what you pay for a far meaner and smaller room alone in New York; and the Roman board is such, as you can get at none but our most expensive houses for twice the money. Generally you cannot get a single room and bath, but at present a very exclusive hotel is going up in a good quarter which promises, with huge English signs, a bath with every room and every room full south. One does not see just how the universal sunny exposure is to be managed, but there can be no question of the baths; and, with the steam radiators everywhere, the northernmost room might well imagine itself full south.

Nearly all the hotels have a pleasant tea-room, which is called a winter garden, because of a pair of palm-trees set under the centre of its glass roof and the painted bamboo chairs and tables set about. This sort of garden is found even in the hotels which are almost of the grade of pensions and of their prices; but generally the pensions proper are without it. Their rates are much lower, but quite as good people frequent them, and they are often found in good streets and sometimes open into or overlook charming gardens; the English especially seem to like the pensions, which are managed like hotels. They are commonly without steam-heat, which might account for their being less frequented by Americans.

There are two supreme hotels in Rome - one in the Ludovisi quarter, as it is called, and the other near the Baths of Diocletian, which Americans frequent to their cost, for the rates approach a New York or London magnificence. The first is rather the more spectacular of the two and is the resort of all the finer sort of afternoon tea-drinkers, who find themselves the observed of observers of all nationalities; there is music and dress, and there are titles of every degree, with as much informality as people choose, if they go to look, or as much state if they go to be looked at; these things are much less cumbrously contrived than with us. The other hotel, I have the somewhat unauthorized fancy, is rather more addicted to very elect dinner-parties and suppers. Below these two are an endless variety of first-rate and second-rate houses, both in the newer quarter of the city, where the villa paths have been turned into streets, and in the old town on all the pleasant squares and avenues. There is a tradition of unhealth concerning the old town which the modern death-rate of Rome shows to be unjust; at the worst these places have more dark and damp, and the hotels are not steam-heated.

It has seemed to me that there are not so many hotels garnis in Rome as there used to be in Italian cities, but they, too, abound in pleasant streets, and the stranger who has a fancy for lodgings with breakfast in his rooms, and likes to browse about for his luncheon and dinner, will easily suit himself. If it comes to taking a furnished apartment for the season, there is much range in price and much choice in place. The agents who have them to let will begin, rather dismayingly, "Oh, apartments in Rome are very dear." But you learn on inquiry that a furnished flat in the Ludovisi region, in a house with a lift and full sun, may be had for two hundred dollars a month. From this height the rents of palatial apartments soar to such lonely peaks as eight hundred and sink to such levels as a hundred and twenty or a hundred; and for this you have linen and silver and all the movables and utensils you want, as well as several vast rooms opening wastefully from one to another till you reach the salon. The rents of the like flats, if vacant, would be a quarter or a third less, though again the agents begin by telling you that there is very little difference between the rents of furnished and unfurnished flats. The flats are in every part of the old town and the new; and some are in noble sixteenth and seventeenth century palaces, such as we are accustomed to at home only in the theatre. My own experience is that everybody, especially in houses where there are no lifts, lives on the top floor. You pass many other floors in going up, but you are left to believe that nobody lives on them. When you reach the inhabited levels, you find them charming inside for their state and beauty, and outside for their magnificent view, which may be pretty confidently relied upon to command the dome of St. Peter's. That magnificent stone bubble seems to blow all round the horizon.

When you have taken your furnished flat, the same agency will provide you a cook at ten or twelve dollars a month, a maid at seven dollars, a lady's maid at eight or nine dollars, and so on; the cook will prefer to sleep out of the house. Then will come the question of provisions, and these seem really to be dear in Rome. Meats and vegetables both are dear, and game and poultry. Beef will be forty cents a pound, and veal and mutton in proportion; a chicken which has been banting for the table from its birth will be forty cents; eggs which have not yet taken active shape are twenty-five and thirty cents throughout winters so bland that a hen of any heart can hardly keep from laying every day. I am afraid I am no authority on butter and milk, and groceries I do not know the prices of; but coffee ought to be cheap, for nobody drinks anything but substitutes more or less unabashed.

For the passing stranger, or even the protracted so-journer, whose time and money are not too much at odds, a hotel is best, and a hotel in the new quarter is pleasanter than one in the old quarters. Ours, at any rate, was in a wide, sunny, and (if I must own it) dusty street, laid out in a line of beauty on the borders of the former Villa Ludovisi, where the aging or middle-aging reader used to come to see Guercino's "Aurora" in the roof of the casino. Now all trace of the garden is hidden under vast and vaster hotels and great blond apartment-houses, and ironed down with trolley-rails; but the Guercino has been spared, though it is no longer so accessible to the public. Still, there is a garden left, and our hotel, with others, looks across the sun and dust of its street into the useful vegetation of the famous old Capuchin convent, with the church, to which I came so eagerly so long ago to revere Guido's "St. Michael and the Dragon" and the decorative bones of the good brothers braided on the walls and roofs of the crypt in the indissoluble community of floral and geometric designs.

All through the months of February and March I woke to the bell that woke the brothers to their prayers before daybreak and burst the beauty-sleep of the hotel-dwellers, who have so far outnumbered the monks since the obliteration of the once neighboring villa. This was, of course, a hardship, and one thought things of that bell which the monks were too good to say; but being awake, and while one was reading one's self to sleep again, one could hear the beginning of the bird singing in the modern garden in the rear which followed upon the bell-ringing. I do not know what make or manner of bird it was that mostly sang among the palms and laurels and statues, but it had a note of liquid gold, which it poured till a certain flageo-lettist, whom I never saw, came to the corner under the villa wall and blew his soul into one end of his instrument and out of the other in the despondent breathings of most melancholy music. Then, having attuned the spirits of his involuntary listeners to a pensive sympathy, he closed with that international hymn which does not rightly know whether it is "My Country, 'tis of Thee," or "God Save the King," but serves equally for the patriotism of any English or Americans in hearing. I do not know why this harmless hymn, which the flageolettist gave extremely well, should always have seemed to provoke the derision of the donkey which apparently dwelt in harmony with the birds in that garden, but the flageolettist had no sooner ended than the donkey burst into a bray, loud, long, and full of mockery, with a close of ironical whistling and most insolent hissing; you would think that some arch-enemy of the Anglo-Saxon race was laughing the new-felt unity of the English and Americans to scorn. Later, but still before daylight, came the wild cry of a boy, somewhere out of perdition, following the deep bass invitation of his father's lost spirit to buy his wares, whatever they were. We never knew, but we liked that boy's despairing wail, and would not have missed it for ever so much extra slumber. When all hope of more sleep was past there was no question of the desirability of the boy who visibly arranged his store of oranges on the curbstone under the villa wall, and seemed to think that they had a peculiar attraction from being offered for sale in pairs. His cry filled the rest of the forenoon.

The Italian spring comes on slowly everywhere, with successive snubs in its early ardor from the snows on the mountains, which regulate the climate from north to south. We could not see that it made more speed behind the sheltering walls of the Capuchin convent garden than in other places. The old gardener whom we saw pottering about in it seemed to potter no more actively at the end of March than at the beginning of February; on the first days of April a heap of old leaves and stalks was sending up the ruddy flame and pleasant smell that the like burning heaps do with us at the like hour of spring - in fact, vegetation had much more reason to be cheerful throughout February than at any time in March. Those February days were really incomparable. They had not the melting heat of the warm spells that sometimes come in our Februaries; but their suns were golden, and their skies unutterably blue, and their airs mild, yet fresh. You always wanted a heavy coat for driving or for the shade in walking; otherwise the temperature was that of a New England April which was resolved to begin as it could carry out. But March came with cold rains of whole days, and with suns that might overheat but could not be trusted to warm you. The last Sunday of January I found ice in the Colosseum; but that was the only time I saw ice anywhere in Rome. In March, however, in a moment of great exasperation from the mountains, it almost snowed. Yet that month would in our climate have been remembered for its beauty and for a prevailing kindness of temperature. The worst you could say of it was that it left the spring in the Capuchin garden where it found it. But possibly, since the temporal power was overthrown, the seasons are neglected and indifferent. Certainly man seems so in the case of the Capuchin convent. Great stretches of the poor old plain edifice look vacant, and the high wall which encloses it is plastered and painted with huge advertisements of clothiers and hotels and druggists, and announcements of races and other events out of keeping with its character and tradition.

The sentimentalists who overrun Rome from all the Northern lands will tell you that this is of a piece with all the Newer Rome which has sprung into existence since the Italian occupation. Their griefs with the thing that is are loud and they are long; but I, who am a sentimentalist too, though of another make, do not share them. No doubt the Newer Rome has made mistakes, but, without defending her indiscriminately, I am a Newer-Roman to the core, perhaps because I knew the Older Rome and what it was like; and not all my brother and sister sentimentalists can say as much.