December 19.—It is with a heavy heart, that I sit down tonight to make my closing note in this lovely city and in the journal which has recorded my thoughts and impressions since leaving America. I should find it difficult to analyze my emotions, but I know that they oppress me painfully. So much rushes at once over the mind and heart—memories of what has passed through both, since I made the first note in its pages—alternations of hope and anxiety and aspiration, but never despondency—that it resembles in a manner, the closing of a life. I seem almost to have lived through the common term of a life in this short period. Much spiritual and mental experience has crowded into a short time the sensations of years. Painful though some of it has been, it was still welcome. Difficulty and toil give the soul strength to crush, in a loftier region, the passions which draw strength only from the earth. So long as we listen to the purer promptings within us, there is a Power invisible, though not unfelt, who protects us—amid the toil and tumult and soiling struggle, there is ever an eye that watches, ever a heart that overflows with Infinite and Almighty Love! Let us trust then in that Eternal Spirit, who pours out on us his warm and boundless blessings, through the channels of so many kindred human hearts!
WINTER TRAVELING AMONG THE APPENINES.
Valley of the Arno, Dec 22.—It is a glorious morning after our two days’ walk, through rain and mud, among these stormy Appenines. The range of high peaks, among which is the celebrated monastery of Camaldoli, lie just before us, their summits dazzling with the new fallen snow. The clouds are breaking away, and a few rosy flushes announce the approach of the sun. It has rained during the night, and the fields are as green and fresh as on a morning in spring.
We left Florence on the 20th, while citizens and strangers were vainly striving to catch a glimpse of the Emperor of Russia. He is, from some cause, very shy of being seen, in his journeys from place to place, using the greatest art and diligence to prevent the time of his departure and arrival from being known. On taking leave of Powers, I found him expecting the Autocrat, as he had signified his intention of visiting his studio; it was a cause of patriotic pride to find that crowned heads know and appreciate the genius of our sculptor. The sky did not promise much, as we set out; when we had entered the Appenines and taken a last look of the lovely valley behind us, and the great dome of the city where we had spent four delightful months, it began to rain heavily. Determined to conquer the weather at the beginning, we kept on, although before many miles were passed, it became too penetrating to be agreeable. The mountains grew nearly black under the shadow of the clouds, and the storms swept drearily down their passes and defiles, till the scenery looked more like the Hartz than Italy. We were obliged to stop at Ponte Sieve and dry our saturated garments: when, as the rain slackened somewhat, we rounded the foot of the mountain of Vallombrosa, above the swollen and noisy Arno, to the little village of Cucina.