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[65]

December 25.—A rainy, windy, and stormy Christmas, but the first really disagreeable day we have had since we crossed the Alps, above three months ago. . . . . We went comfortably enough to St. Peter's, and having good places there by the kindness of Mr. Kestner, saw the grand mass performed by the Pope, to great advantage . . . .

December 26.—. . . . I dined in a gentlemen's party, at Mr. Jones the Bankers, with Mr. Harper,1 Dr. Bowring,2 and a Mr. Greg,3 whom I found a very intelligent Englishman of fortune, who means, as Dr. Bowring says, to stand for the next Parliament, for Lancaster. There were two or three other persons present, but the conversation was in the hands of those I have mentioned, and was very spirited. It turned on English reform and American slavery, and such exciting topics as necessarily produced lively talk. We sat long at table, and then I carried Dr. Bowring to Mr. Trevelyan's,4 where there was a small party of English, but none so interesting as himself and his wife.

January 2, 1837.—. . . . In the evening we went for a short time to the Princess Massimo's. We brought letters to her, but did not deliver them until lately, because they have been in great affliction, on account of the dangerous illness of one of the family. She is a Princess of Saxony, own cousin to the unfortunate Louis XVI., and married to the head of that ancient house which has sometimes claimed to be descended from Fabius Maximus. When she is well, and her family happy, she receives the world one or two evenings every week, but now her doors are shut. She is old enough to have a good many grandchildren, and we found her living quite in the Roman style.

We passed up the grand, cold, stone staircases, always found in their palaces, through a long suite of ill-lighted, cheerless apartments, and at last found the Princess, with two rather fine-looking daughters, sitting round a table, the old Prince playing cards with some friends at another, with Italian perseverance, while one of her sons, attached to the personal service of the Pope, was standing with two or three other ecclesiastics near a moderate fire, whose little heat was carefully cut off from the company by screens; for the Italians look upon a direct radiation of warmth from the fireplace as something quite disagreeable. The whole appearance of the room was certainly not princely; still less did it speak of the grandeur of ancient Rome.


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