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Chapter 17:


To William H. Prescott.

Rome, November 24, 1856.
Dear William,—. . . . We have had delicious journeyings, fine weather without interruption. . . . . The consequence is that we have enjoyed ourselves very much. Indeed, I doubt whether a gayer party has crossed the Alps this year; and now we have been four days settled at Rome, at the Hotel des Iles Britannique. . . . . . We have had a little touch of cold weather, but the roses are still in full blow, and so are the cactuses, and other southern plants, in great numbers on the Pincio.

We had a week of full moon at Venice,—including the eclipse, and enjoyed our open gondola on the Grand Canal, which was filled with Bacarole choruses till after midnight nearly every night we were there, a thing to be had nowhere else in the world. At Verona I stopped a day, chiefly in order to see Count Frederic Thun, the civil ‘Viceroy’ of Lombardy and Venice, as Radetzky is the military; neither having the title, but all the power. . . . .

In Milan I found friends old and new, and occupation enough for the five days we stopped there. And then such a journey as we had for seven days to Florence; not a cloud in the sky, so to speak; no wind, no heat, no cold, no dust; the carriage always open, and breathing and living a pleasure in such an atmosphere. We paused at Piacenza, Pavia, Modena, and Bologna, so that the ladies could see everything they wanted to see, and drove down into Florence on the 2d of November through hedge-rows of myrtle and roses. There we stopped thirteen days. I had a good deal to do for the Library, in establishing a permanent agency, and ordering the purchase of books. But I went to see the old things that most interested me, in my three previous visits, and look forward to my fifth next spring, with added pleasure and interest.


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