I was myself part of the antiquity with which I have been trying to be honest; and, though my date was no earlier than the seventh decade of the nineteenth century, still so many and such cataclysmal changes had passed over Rome since my time that I was, as far as concerned my own consciousness, practically of the period of the Pantheon, say. The Pantheon, in fact, was among my first associations with Rome. I lodged very near it, in the next piazza, so that, if we were not contemporaries, we were companions, and I could not go out of my hotel to look up a more permanent sojourn without passing by it. Perhaps I wished to pass by it, and might really have found my way to the Corso without the Pantheon's help.

I have no longer a definite idea why I should have made my sojourn in the very simple and modest little street called Via del Gambero, which runs along behind the Corso apparently till it gets tired and then stops. But very possibly it was because the Via del Gambero was so simple and modest that I chose it as the measure of my means; or possibly I may have heard of the apartment I took in it from wayfarers passing through Venice, where I then lived, and able to commend it from their own experience of it; people in that kind day used to do such things. However it was, I took the apartment, and found it, though small, apt for me, as Ariosto said of his house, and I dwelt in it with my family a month or more in great comfort and content. In fact, it seemed to us the pleasantest apartment in Rome, where the apartments of passing strangers were not so proud under Pius IX. as they are under Victor Emmanuel III. I do not know why it should have been called the Street of the Lobster, but it may have been in an obscure play of the fancy with the notion of a backward gait in it that I came to believe that, in the many improvements which had befallen Rome, Via del Gambero had disappeared. Destroyed, some traveller from antique lands had told me, I dare say; obliterated, wiped out by the march of municipal progress. At any rate, I had so long resigned the hope of revisiting the quiet scene that when I revisited Rome last winter, after the flight of ages, and one day found myself in a shop on the Corso, it was from something like a hardy irony that I asked the shopman if a street called Via del Gambero still existed in that neighborhood. I said that I had once lodged in it forty-odd years before; but I believed it had been demolished. Not at all, the shopman said; it was just behind his place; and what was the number of the house? I told him, and he laughed for joy in being able to do me a pleasure; me, a stranger from the strange land of sky-scratchers (grattacieli), as the Italians not inadequately translate sky-scrapers. If I would favor him through his back shop he would show me how close I was upon it; and from his threshold he pointed to the corner twenty yards off, which, when I had turned it, left me almost at my own door.

In that transmuted Rome Via del Gambero, at least, was wholly unchanged, and there was not a wrinkle in the front of the house where we had sojourned so comfortably, so contentedly, in our incredible youth. I had not quite the courage to ring and ask if we were at home; but, standing across the way and looking up at the window, it seemed to me that I might have seen my own young face peering out in a somewhat suspicious question of the old eyes staring up so fixedly at it. Who was I, and what was I doing there? Was I waiting, hanging idly about, to see the Armenian archbishop coming to carry my other self in his red coach to the Sistine Chapel, where we were to hear Pius IX. say mass? There was no harm in my hanging about, but the street was narrow and there was a chance of my being ground up by some passing cart against the wall there behind me if I was not careful. I could not tell my proud young double that we were one, and that I was going in the archbishop's red coach as well; he would never have believed it of my gray hairs and sunken figure. I could not even ask him what had become of the grocer near by, whom I used to get some homely supplies of, perhaps eggs or oranges, or the like, when I came out in the December mornings, and who, when I said that it was very cold, would own that it was un poco rigidetto, or a little bit stiffish. The ice on the pavement, not clean-swept as now, but slopped and frozen, had been witness of that; the ice was gone and the grocer with it; and where really was I? At the window up there, or leaning against the apse of the church opposite? What church was it, anyway? I never knew; I never asked. Why should I insist upon a common identity with a man of twenty-seven to whom my threescore and ten could only bring perplexity, to say the least, and very likely vexation? I went away from Via del Gambero, where the piety of the reader will seek either of myselves in vain. In my earlier date one used to see the red legs of the French soldiers about the Roman streets, and the fierce faces of the French officers, fierce as if they felt themselves wrongfully there and were braving it out against their consciences. Very likely they had no conscience about it; they had come there over the dead body of the Roman Republic at the will of their rascal president, and they were staying there by the will of their rascal emperor, to keep on his throne the pope from whom the Italians had hoped for unity and liberty. No one is very much to blame for anything, I suppose, and very likely Pius IX. had not voluntarily disappointed his countrymen, who may have expected too much. But then the French had been there fifteen years, and were to be there another fifteen years yet. Now they are gone, with the archbishop's red coach, and the complaisant grocer, and the young man of twenty-seven in Via del Gambero, and the rest of the things that the sun looked on and will look on the like of again, no doubt, in our monotonous round of him.

To-day, instead of the red legs of the French soldiers, you see the blue legs of the Italian soldiers, and instead of the fierce faces of their officers, the serious, intelligent, mostly spectacled faces of the Italian officers, in sweeping cloaks of tender blue verging on lavender. They are soldierly men none the less for their gentler aspect, and perhaps something the more; and a better thing yet is that there are comparatively few of them. There are few of the privates also, far fewer than the priests and the students of the ecclesiastical schools, who dress like priests and go dashing through the streets in files and troops.

I have an impression that one sees about the proportion of Italian soldiers in Rome that one sees of American soldiers in Washington, or, at least, not many more. The barracks are apparently outside the walls; there you meet cavalry going and coming, and detachments of bersaglieri; or riflemen, pushing on at their quick trot, or plainer infantry trudging wearily. Certainly, in a capital where the Church holds itself prisoner, there is no show of force on the part of its captors; and this is pleasant to the friend of man and the lover of Italy for other reasons. In the absence of the military you can imagine that not only does the state not wish to boast its political supremacy in the ancient capital of the Church, but it does not desire to show the potentiality of holding its own against the republic which is instinct there. The monarchy is the consensus of all the differing wills in Italy, which naturally would not for the most part have chosen a monarchy. But never was a monarchy so mild-mannered or seated so firmly, for the present at least, in the affection and reason of its people.

This is not the place (as writers say who have not prepared themselves with the requisite ideas at a given point) to speak of the situation in Rome; and I meant only to note that there are more ecclesiastics than conscripts to be seen there. Of all the varying costumes of the varying schools, none is so pleasing, so vivid, as that of the German students as they rush swiftly by in their flying robes of scarlet. The red matches the ruddy health in their cheeks, and there is a sort of gladness in their fling that wins the liking as well as the looking; so that almost one would not mind being a German student of theology one's self. There are other-costumes running in color from violet, and blue with orange sashes, to unrelieved black and black trimmed with red; but I cannot remember which nationality wears which.

I am not sure but one sees as many priests in Rome now as in the times when they ruled it; and I am no such Protestant that I will pretend I do not like a monsignore when I meet him, either in the street or at afternoon tea, as one sometimes may. I have no grudge against priests of any rank; but I did not seek to see them at the functions, as I used in the old days to do. Shall I say that I now rather tolerated than welcomed myself there through the hospitality which so freely opens the churches of the Church to all comers of whatever creed? What right had I, a heretic and recusant, to come staring and standing round where the faithful were kneeling and praying? If we could conceive of our fast-locked conventicles being thrown as freely open, could we conceive of Catholics wandering up and down their naves and aisles while the hymning or preaching went on? After being so high-minded in the matter, shall I confess that I was a good deal kept out of the churches by the cold in them? It was a sort of stored cold, much greater than that outside, though there was something warming to the fancy, at least, in the smoke and smell of the incense.

Even with the Church of the Capuchins, which we lived opposite, I was dilatory, though in my mediaeval days it had been one of the first places to which I hurried. In those days everybody said you must be sure and go to the Capuchins', because Guide's "St. Michael and the Enemy" was there, and still more because the wonderful bone mosaics in the cemetery under the church were not on any account to be missed. I suspect that in both these matters I had then a very crude taste, but it was not from my greater refinement that I now let the Capuchin church go on long un-revisited. It was, for one thing, too instantly and constantly accessible across the street there; and it is well known human nature is such that it will not seek the line of the least resistance as long as it can help. Besides, I could hardly believe that it was really the Capuchin church which I had once so hastened to see, and I neglected it almost two months, contenting myself with the display of those hand-bills on the convent walls, spreading largely and glaringly incongruous over it. When I did go I found the Guido ridiculous, of course, in the painter's imagination of the archangel as a sort of dancing figure in a tableau vivant, and yet of a sublime authority in the execution. To be more honest, I had little feeling about it and less knowledge.

It was not so cold in the church as I had expected; and in the succession of side chapels, beginning with the St. Michael's and opening into one another, we found a kind of domesticity close upon cosiness, which we were enjoying for its own sake, when we were aware of a pale, gentle young girl who seemed to be alone there. She asked, in our unmistakable native accents, if we were going to see the Capuchin mosaics in their place below; and one of us said, promptly, No, indeed; but relented at the shadow of disappointment that came over the girl's face, and asked, Was she going? The girl said, Oh, she guessed she could see them some other time; and then she who had spoken ordered him who had not spoken to go with her. I do not know what question of propriety engaged them with reference to her going alone with the handsome young monk waiting to accompany her; but he was certainly too handsome for a monk of any age. We followed him, however, and I had my usual nausea on viewing the decoration of the ceilings and walls of the place below; it always makes me sick to go into that place; between realizing that I am of the same make as the brothers composing those mosaics, and trying to imagine what the intricate patterns will do at the Resurrection Day, I cannot command myself. Neither am I supported by the sight of some skeletons, the raw material of that grewsome artistry, deposited whole in their coffins in the niches next the ground, though their skulls smile so reassuringly from their cowls; their cheeriness cannot make me like them. But my companion seemed to be merely interested; and I fancied her deciding that it all quite came up to her expectations, while I translated for her from the monk that the dead used to be left in the hallowed earth from Jerusalem covering the ground before they were taken up and decoratively employed, but that since the Italian occupation of Rome the art had fallen into abeyance. She said nothing, but when we came out she stood a moment on the pavement beside our cab and confessed herself a New England girl, from an inland town, who was travelling with relatives. She had been sick, and she had come alone, as soon as she could get out, to see the wonders of the Capuchin church, because she had heard so much of them. We said we hoped she had been pleased, and she said, "Oh yes, indeed," and then she said, "Well, good-bye," and gently tilted away, leaving us glad that there could still be in an old, spoiled world such sweetness and innocence and easily gratified love of the beautiful.

Taking Rome so easily, so provisionally, while waiting the eventualities of the colds which mild climates are sure to give their frequenters from the winterlands, I became aware of a latent anxiety respecting St. Peter's. I did not feel that the church would really get away without our meeting, but I felt that it was somehow culpably hazardous in me to be taking chances with it. As a family, we might never collectively visit it, and, in fact, we never did; but one day I drove boldly (if secretly) off alone and renewed my acquaintance with this contemporary of mine; for, if you have been in Rome a generation and a half ago, you find that you are coeval not only with the regal, the republican, and the imperial Rome, but with each Rome of the successive popes, down, at least, to that of Pius IX. St. Peter's will not be, by any means, your oldest friend, but it will be an acquaintance of such long standing that you may not wish to use it with all the frankness which its faults invite. If you say, when you drive into its piazza between the sublime colonnades which stretch forth their mighty embrace as if to take the whole world to the church's heart, that here is the best of St. Peter's, you will not be wrong. If you say that here is grandeur, and that there where the temple fronts you grandiosity begins, you will be rhetorical, but, again, you will not be wrong. The day of my furtive visit was sober and already waning, with a breeze in which the fountains streamed flaglike, and with a gentle sky on which the population of statues above the colonnades defined themselves in leisure attitudes, so recognizable all that I am sure if they had come down and taken me by the hand we could have called one another by name without a moment's hesitation. Every detail of a prospect which is without its peer on earth, but may very possibly be matched in Paradise, had been so deeply stamped in my remembrance that I smiled for pleasure in finding myself in an environment far more familiar than any other I could think of at the time. It was measurably the same within the church, but it was not quite the same in the reserves I was obliged to make, the reefs I was obliged to take in my rapture. The fact is, that unless you delight in a hugeness whose bareness no ornamentation can, or does at least, conceal, you do not find the interior of St. Peter's adequate to the exterior. In the mere article of hugeness, even, it fails through the interposition of the baldachin midway of the vast nave, and each detail seems to fail of the office of beauty more lamentably than another.

I had known, I had never forgotten, that St. Peter's was very, very baroque, but I had not known, I had not remembered how baroque it was. It is not so badly baroque as the Church of the Jesuits either in Rome or in Venice, or as the Cathedral at Wuerzburg; but still it is badly baroque, though, again, not so baroque in the architecture as in the sculpture. In the statues of most of the saints and popes it could not be more baroque; they swagger in their niches or over their tombs in an excess of decadent taste for which the most bigoted agnostic, however Protestant he may be, must generously grieve. It is not conceivably the taste of the church or the faith; it is the taste of the wicked world, now withered and wasted to powerlessness, which overruled both for evil in art from its evil life. The saints and the popes are, assthetically, lamentable enough; but the allegories in bronze or marble, which are mostly the sixteenth-century notions of the Virtues, are inexpressible - some of these creatures ought really to be put out of the place; but I suppose their friends would say they ought to be left as typical of the period. In the case of that merciless miscreant, Queen Christina of Sweden, who has her monument in St. Peter's, there would be people to say she must have her monument in some place; but, all the same, remembering Monaldeschi - how he was stabbed to death by her command, the kinder assassins staying their hands from time to time, while his confessor went vainly to implore her pardon - it is shocking to find her tomb in the prime church in Christendom. At first it offends one to see certain pontiffs with mustaches and imperials and goatees; but, if one reflects that so they wore them in life, one perceives right in it; only when one comes to earlier or later popes, bearded in medieval majority or shaven in the decent modern fashion, one can endure those others only as part of the prevailing baroque of the church. Canova was not so Greek or even so classic as one used to think him, but one hardly has a moment of repose in St. Peter's till one comes to a monument by him and rests in its quiet. It is tame, it is even weak, if you like; but compared with the frantic agglomeration of gilt clouds and sunbursts, and marble and bronze figures in the high-altar, it is heavenly serene and lovely.

There were not many people in St. Peter's that afternoon, so that I could give undisturbed attention to the workman repairing the pavement at one point and grinding the marble smooth with a slow, secular movement, as if he were part of its age-Ions: waste and repair. Another day, the last day I came, there were companies of the personally conducted, following their leaders about and listening to the lectures in several languages, which no more stirred the immense tranquillity than they themselves qualified the spacious vacancy of the temple: you were vaguely sensible of the one and of the other like things heard and seen in a drowse. It was a pleasant vagueness in which all angularities of feeling were lost, and you were disposed to a tolerance of the things that had hurt or offended you before. As a contemporary of the edifice, throughout its growth, you could account for them more and more as of their periods. Perhaps through your genial reconciliation there came, however dimly, a suggestion of something unnatural and alien in your presence there as a mere sightseer, or, at best, a connoisseur much or little instructed. If you had been there, say, as a worshipper, would you have been afflicted by the incongruities of the sculptures or by the whole baroque keeping? Possibly this consideration made you go away much modester than you came. "After all," you may have said, "it is not a gallery; it is not a museum. It is a house of prayer," and you emerged, let us hope, humbled, and in so far fitted for renewed joy in the beauty, the glory of the sublime colonnades.