THOUGHTS OF THE ITALIAN RACE, THE SEASONS, AND ROME.—CHANGES.—THE
DEATH OF THE MINISTER ROSSI.—THE CHURCH OF SAN LUIGI DEL
FRANCESI.—ST. CECILIA AND THE DOMENICHINO CHAPEL.—THE PIAZZA DEL
POPOLO.—THE TROOPS: PREPARATORY MOVEMENTS TOWARD THE QUIRINAL.—THE
DEMONSTRATION ON THE PALACE.—THE CHURCH: ITS POSITION AND AIMS.—THE
POPE’S FLIGHT, &C.—SOCIAL LIFE.—DON TIRLONE.—THE NEW YEAR.
Rome, December 2, 1848.
Not till I saw the snow on the mountains grow rosy in the autumn sunset did I turn my steps again toward Rome. I was very ready to return. After three or four years of constant excitement, this six months of seclusion had been welcome; but now I felt the need of meeting other eyes beside those, so bright and so shallow, of the Italian peasant. Indeed, I left what was most precious, but which I could not take with me;[A] still it was a compensation that I was again to see Rome,—Rome, that almost killed me with her cold breath of last winter, yet still with that cold breath whispered a tale of import so divine. Rome so beautiful, so great! her presence stupefies, and one has to withdraw to prize the treasures she has given. City of the soul! yes, it is that; the very dust magnetizes you, and thousand spells have been chaining you in every careless, every murmuring moment. Yes! Rome, however seen, thou must be still adored; and every hour of absence or presence must deepen love with one who has known what it is to repose in thy arms.
[Footnote A: Her child, who was born in Rieti, September 5, 1848, and was necessarily left in that town during the difficulties and siege of Rome.—ED.]
Repose! for whatever be the revolutions, tumults, panics, hopes, of the present day, still the temper of life here is repose. The great past enfolds us, and the emotions of the moment cannot here greatly disturb that impression. From the wild shout and throng of the streets the setting sun recalls us as it rests on a hundred domes and temples,—rests on the Campagna, whose grass is rooted in departed human greatness. Burial-place so full of spirit that death itself seems no longer cold! O let me rest here, too! Hest here seems possible; meseems myriad lives still linger here, awaiting some one great summons.
The rivers had burst their bounds, and beneath the moon the fields round Rome lay one sheet of silver. Entering the gate while the baggage was under examination, I walked to the entrance of a villa. Far stretched its overarching shrubberies, its deep green bowers; two statues, with foot advanced and uplifted finger, seemed to greet me; it was near the scene of great revels, great splendors in the old time; there lay the gardens of Sallust, where were combined palace, theatre, library, bath, and villa. Strange things have happened since, the most attractive part of which—the secret heart—lies buried or has fled to animate other forms; for of that part historians have rarely given a hint more than they do now of the truest life of our day, which refuses to be embodied, by the pen, craving forms more mutable, more eloquent than the pen can give.