The thrill of wonder that Julia
felt at the first sight of St. Peter
's dome across the Campagna was one of the abiding impressions of her life; Rome
was to be one of the cities of her heart; the charm was cast upon her in that first moment.
Yet she says of that Rome
of 1843, “A great gloom and silence hung over it.”
The houses were cold, and there were few conveniences; but Christmas
found the Howes established in the Via San Niccolo
da Tolentino, as comfortably as might be. Here they were joined by Louisa Ward
, and here they soon gathered round them a delightful circle of friends.
Most of the forestieri
in those days were artists; among those who came often to the house were Thomas Crawford
, Luther Terry
, Freeman the painter and his wife, and Ttirmer, who painted a portrait of Julia
The winter passed like a dream.
There were balls as gorgeous as those of London
, with the beautiful Princess Torlonia in place of the Duchess
; musical parties, at which Diva
sang to the admiration of all. There were visits to the galleries, where George Combe
was of the party, and where he and the Chevalier studied the heads of statues and busts from the point of view of phrenology, a theory in which both were deeply interested.
They were presented to the Pope
, Gregory XVI, who wished to hear about Laura Bridgman
visited all the “public institutions, misnamed charitable,” 1
and the schools, whose masters were amazed to find that he was an American, and asked how in that case it happened that he was not black!