ROME, March 26.

Rome once more! What a change! A miniature Paris has been added to old Rome since we first saw it, and even old Rome itself is modernized completely. Much of the picturesque is lost, but well lost, since it brings us clean streets, improved dwellings, and all the accompaniments of progress; but, notwithstanding its now greater likeness to modern cities, it is not with these Rome vies. Her empire is not of to-day, but over the mighty past she alone holds undisputed sway, and the spirit of ages gone still infuses itself into everything in Rome. I thought even modern structures were unlike their fellows elsewhere, as if the mere fact that they stood in Rome invested them with a peculiar halo of classic dignity and importance. Then Rome still has to boast of so many of the best things which the world has to show. No other cathedral is so grand as St. Peter's nor so beautiful as St. Paul's; no other "bit of color" is equal to the Transfiguration; no other heroic statue is to be compared with the Augustus; nowhere else is so sweet a girl-face as the Cenci; no other group is to be named with the Laocoon, no other fresco with the Aurora; and where is there another Moses, or Apollo Belvedere, or Antinous, or where is there vocal music so heavenly as that of the Pope's choir? Nowhere. And so it comes that the world still flocks to Rome, and must continue its pilgrimage hither to this Mecca for a thousand years to come; and artists by the score, day after day, multiply copies of these wonders of art, the recognized "best" in their various classes which man has yet brought forth. All these works, and others unmentioned, I returned to with enhanced pleasure. They all seemed greater and finer to me than when I saw them before. I had not forgotten them, while the mass of mediocre works had left no trace.

It is thus that the true fire of genius vindicates its right to immortality. Generations may come and go, fashions and tastes may change, but "a thing of beauty" remains "a joy forever." While the statues and pictures of Rome, therefore, gave me far greater pleasure than before, I have to confess that the historical associations gave me much less. When in Rome before I was overflowing with Shakespeare, Byron and Macaulay, and would wander away alone and recite to myself on the appropriate sites the passages connected with them. This time I fear our friends proved too congenial. We dwelt too much in the happy present to give ourselves up to the historical past; but I do not think one gets the sweetest juices out of Rome unless he gives way to the melancholy vein now and then, and "stalks apart in joyless reverie."

Another reason for the difference suggests itself. One fresh from Egypt, where he has been digging among the five thousand years B.C., and lost in amazement at what the race was even then producing, must experience some difficulty in getting up a respectable amount of enthusiasm for structures so recent as the time of Christ; the "rascally comparative" intrudes to chill it with its cold breath.

There is a third reason, perhaps - and reasons do seem as plenty as blackberries, now that I begin to write them down - we are so near home the echoes of business affairs begin to sound in our ears. We snuff the battle as it were afar off. It is impossible to become so entirely absorbed in the story of the Cenci as to prevent the morning's telegram from home intruding, and so it came about that this time we did less moralizing than before. We were fortunate in being in Rome during Easter Week, which gave us an opportunity to hear the best music; and certainly there is no choir for vocal music which can rank with that of the Pope. It is the only choir I ever heard which I felt the finest organ would spoil. It produces a strange and powerful effect, the music itself seeming to be of a peculiar order unlike any other. One of our young ladies, describing her feelings to a friend, said that at one time she felt she was really in heaven; but when the "Miserere" broke forth, she knew she was only a poor sinner struggling to get there.

We visited, with our friends, the various studios. In painting there does not appear to be a high standard of excellence. The Roman school does not stand well, but in statuary it is better. A young American artist, Mr. Harnisch, seemed to me to be doing the most creditable work. His busts have already given him reputation, and he has a figure now in plaster, "Antigone," which I rate as the best classical statue in process of completion which we saw. This young artist is not probably as good a manager as some of his more pretentious countrymen, and, I fear, we are to wait some time before a Congressional committee can be induced to give him a commission; but in the opinion of real Italian sculptors he is an artist. There are those who have "adorned" our public edifices with huge works to whom certainly no one outside of America would apply the name. We shall hear of Mr. Harnisch by-and-by; he is young, and can wait. I was highly gratified at making the acquaintance of Dr. Smiles, author of "Self-Help," and that favorite of mine, "The Scotch Naturalist," and other valued works. He is a most delightful companion and a true Scotchman, and hadn't we "a canny day thegether" at Tivoli! Through him I met Mr. William Black, who is a small, young man, with a face that lights up, and eyes that sparkle through his spectacles. Mr. Petty, R.A., and he were doing Italy together, and no doubt we are to see traces of their travels in their respective lines ere long.

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