Indeed it would have been very difficult for any one to live in the same house with her without loving her. She was so bright, her sympathies so ready, her intelligence so large and varied, that day after day her presence and her conversation were a continual delight; and she was withal diffident of herself, gentle and unassuming to a fault. My mother had already learned to love her truly as a daughter, before there was any apparent probability of her becoming one.
We did not succeed in bearing down all the opposition that in the name of ordinary prudence was made to our marriage, till the spring of forty-eight. We were finally married on the 3rd of April in that year, in the British Minister’s chapel in Florence, in the quiet, comfortable way in which we used to do such things in those days.
I told my good friend Mr. Plunkett (he had then become the English representative at the Court of Tuscany), that I wanted to be married the next day. “All right!” said he; “will ten o’clock do?” “Could not be better!” “Very good! Tell Robbins [the then English clergyman] I’ll be sure to be there.” So at ten the next morning we looked in at the Palazzo Ximenes, and in about ten minutes the business was done!
Of Mr. Robbins, who was as kind and good a little man as could be, I may note, since I have been led to speak of him, the following rather singular circumstance. He was, as I have been told, the son of a Devonshire farmer, and his two sisters were the wives of two of the principal Florentine nobles, one having married the Marchese Inghirami and the other the Marchese Bartolomei. What circumstances led to the accomplishment of a destiny apparently so strange for the family of a Devonshire farmer, I never heard. The clergyman and his sisters were all much my seniors.
After the expeditious ceremony we all—about half a score of us—went off to breakfast at the house of Mr. Garrow in the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, and before noon my wife and I were off on a ramble among the Tuscan cities.
My very old friend, Colonel Grant—General Grant many years before he died—used to say that if he wished without changing his place himself, to see the greatest possible number of his friends and acquaintances, he should stand perpetually at the foot of the column in the Place Vendome. But it seems to me that at least as advantageous a post of observation for the purpose would be the foot of Giotto’s tower in Florence! Who in these days lives and dies without going to Florence; and who goes to Florence without going to gaze on the most perfectly beautiful tower that human hands ever raised?