- Residence in Rome. -- presentation to the Pope. -- visit to Naples. -- society in Naples. -- Archbishop of Tarentum. -- Sir William Gell. -- society in Rome. -- Bunsen. -- Niebuhr. -- French, Russians, and Portuguese in Rome. -- Duchess of Devonshire. -- Bonaparte family. -- Florence. -- Countess of Albany.
Mr. Ticknor arrived in Rome on the 2d of November, 1817, and left it for the North the 22d of March, 1818. Of these five months, one was passed in Naples and four in Rome, the latter devoted to the study of Italian and the ancient and modern treasures of that wonderful city. To do this systematically and profitably he engaged Professor Nibby, a well-known archaeologist, to visit with him the different portions of ancient Rome and their ruins, and he gives nearly one volume of his Journal to the results of these walks and studies, availing himself of materials he collected in Germany the year before and the many books he carried with him. The following passage shows the thoroughness of his plan, which he fully carried out:—
On coming to Rome, the first questions that occurred to me, after the earliest reveries of wonder and delight were over, were, how the city gradually came to occupy the ground it does now, and how this ground has been covered with the ruins, palaces, and churches we now admire. The first question relates essentially to the history of its walls from the time of Romulus to that of Pius VII.; and the second to the history of architecture and its luxuries in ancient Rome, with some notices of the circumstances that have reduced them to such ruins, and of the modern palaces and churches that have risen up around them. The whole is a sort of introduction, without which it does not seem possible easily to form a clear idea of the present situation of Rome, and which I now make to serve as a kind of thread to which I can attach the miscellaneous researches and inquiries I may make hereafter.  He therefore records the facts and conclusions that he gathered, in the order he proposed, in a very clear and interesting manner; but in the many succeeding years Rome has been so studied and developed by the best minds and the finest art, that we refrain from giving even what was very curious at the time it was written, and the proof of most faithful and scholarly research.
Rome, January 1, 1818.Once more, dearest father and mother, my New Year's festival is passed away from you. It makes it sad, but I do not complain. It is a great deal that God has so kindly favored and promoted all the objects for which I came to Europe, has spared my life and increased my health, and, by bringing me nearer to the period when I shall finish the pursuits that separated me from you, [has] made it more probable that we shall meet again in the happiness we once so gladly enjoyed together. . . . . With Rome, I find every day more reason to be contented; and if I were condemned to live in Europe, I am sure this is the place I should choose for my exile beyond any other I have yet seen. Nature here is so beautiful, as soon as you leave the immediate environs and go a little way among the hills, that it seems as if the works of man were hardly necessary for his happiness,—and yet where has man done so much? Antiquity has left such traces of splendor and magnificence that Rome might be well content with ruins alone,—and yet the modern city has more fine buildings than all the rest of the world beside . . . . But these are not all the attractions of Rome, for they bring here a deputation from the elegant and refined class from every nation in Europe, who, when united, form a society such as no other capital can boast. . . . . My chief occupation now is Italian literature, in which I have nearly finished all I proposed to myself. . . . . The only difficulty I find is in speaking, and this I really know not how I can get over. With my servant and such persons I speak nothing else, of course, but there the thing ends; for, though I go every evening into society somewhere, I never hear a word of Italian any more than I should in Kamtchatka, unless it be at Canova's, and sometimes at the Portuguese Ambassador's. It is not, in fact, the language of conversation and intercourse anywhere, and therefore I can never acquire the facility and fluency I have in German and  French. My only consolation is, that what I lose in Italian I gain in French. However, I do not give up yet. I have actually engaged a man to come to me six hours a week. . . . . But, as to engage a man to talk with me would be the surest way to stop all conversation, I have taken a professor of architecture, on condition he should explain to me the principles, theory, and history of his art in Italian. This will do something for me. . . . . I should be sorry to go out of Italy without being able to speak the language well. . . . . I shall probably go from Leghorn to Barcelona about May first, and from Portugal to England, uncertain whether by water or by Paris, about the middle of October. More of this hereafter.
To Elisha Ticknor.
January 15, 1818.. . . . Rome continues to be all to me that my imagination ever represented it, and all that it was when I first arrived here. This is saying a great deal after a residence of above two months; but in truth I find the resources of this wonderful city continually increasing upon me the longer I remain in it, and I am sure I shall leave it with more regret than I have yet left any spot in Europe. I went out of Paris without once recollecting that it was for the last time; but it will not be so with Rome.
To Elisha Ticknor.
Rome, February 1, 1818.. . . . Cogswell and myself have been presented to the Pope this morning. He is the only sovereign in Europe I have ever felt any curiosity to see, and I desired to see him very much, on account of the firmness and dignity with which he always behaved in the most difficult and distressing circumstances, when kings and governments, of force incomparably greater, shrunk and yielded. We were presented by Abbe Taylor, an Irish Catholic, who is appointed by the Pope to present the English; but as we were Americans we had a kind of national privilege to have a private audience at a time when it is not commonly given, and no one went with us except Prof. Bell of Edinburgh, the famous anatomist. There was very little ceremony or parade about it, and in all respects it pleased me extremely. On entering, we knelt and kissed his hand. He is, you know, very old, but he received us standing, and was dressed with characteristic simplicity and humility as a friar, without  the slightest ornament to distinguish his rank. Bell spoke no Italian, and therefore the conversation was chiefly with us, and, as we were Americans, entirely on America. The Pope talked a good deal about our universal toleration, and praised it as much as if it were a doctrine of his own religion, adding that he thanked God continually for having at last driven all thoughts of persecution from the world, since persuasion was the only possible means of promoting piety, though violence might promote hypocrisy. He inquired respecting the prodigious increase of our population in a manner that showed he had more definite notions about it than we commonly find in Europe; and when I explained a little its progress to him, he added that the time would soon come when we should be able to dictate to the Old World. He had heard, too, of the superiority of our merchant vessels over those of all other nations, and spoke of our successes in the last war against the English with so much freedom that I suspect he had forgotten two British subjects stood at his elbow. The Abbe, however, reminded him of it by saying, as a half joke, that we had done very well, to be sure, but it was because we had always had the English for masters. ‘Yes,’ said the Pope, not willing to lose either his argument or his jest,—‘yes, M. Abbe, that is very true; but I would advise you to take care that the scholars do not learn too much for the masters.’ In the whole conversation he showed great good-nature and kindness, and a gayety of temper very remarkable in one so old and infirm. When it was over we left him with the same ceremonies with which we had entered. . . . .
Journal.The society of Naples, or at least the society into which I happened to be cast, interested me much. I do not speak of that which consists of foreigners, but of the strictly Neapolitan, which I met but in two houses, the Duke di San Teodoro's and the Archbishop of Tarentum's. At the first I dined, whenever it was possible for me to finish my excursions as early as three o'clock, and kept Lent there in a style of luxury which would not have disgraced Naples in the times of Hannibal or Horace, and yet which never offended against the letter of the injunctions of the Church. The Duke has been minister in half the courts of Europe, and his wife, besides being one of the best women in the world, is full of culture. With Benci, a Florentine of some literary name, the Chevalier  Tocca (the brother of the Duchess), and two or three other persons who, like myself, were invited to dine whenever they chose, the party was as pleasant as it needed to be; and if I could not find time to dine there, I commonly went from four or five o'clock till six, and dined with Mr. Smith afterwards. My Platonic visits, however, were at the venerable Archbishop's, where I dined on Thursday with Sir William Gell, Mr. Craven, Lord Guilford, the Marquis of Ubaldo, and three or four others, Italians. The old Archbishop is a venerable patriarch and an interesting man, and is of one of the oldest and richest noble families of Naples; has been Minister of State; and, having gone through all the honors the Church could give him, up to the archbishopric, and refused to go higher, lives, at the age of seventy-six, in a kind of literary retirement, with a simplicity and dignity which show that he has preserved the purity of his character. He received his friends every evening in a style which I have not yet seen, and which pleased me. About a dozen of the most cultivated Italians met in his little salon at six or seven o'clock, and one of them read aloud from some classical book that would interest all. Once it was a tragedy of Alfieri, once the Stanze of Poliziano, at another time a new pamphlet on Pompeii. If any one preferred conversation, or other amusements, other rooms were open to them. In short, it was a literary society. Without pedantry or formality, every one found himself at ease, and sought to return as often as he could. I have seldom seen a man at the Archbishop's age who has preserved so lively an interest in everything about him; who felt so quickly and simply; who had so much knowledge and made so little pretensions; who had so much to boast on the score of rank, fortune, and past power, and yet was so truly humble, so unostentatiously kind. I shall always remember him with the most grateful respect, and think of the Attic evenings I passed in his palace as among the happiest I have known in Europe. Of the society of foreigners, which forms itself more or less every winter in all the cities of Italy, I saw as much as I desired or chose, and among them were certainly some interesting men: such as Sir William Gell, to whom I had letters, and who is a man of learning and taste, but a consummate fop in person and in letters; Lord Guilford (Frederick North), a man of more learning, and whose active benevolence will do more for Greece than Gell's pretensions and showy books; Randohr, the Prussian Minister; the Marquis de Sommariva, a Milanese and a kind of Maecenas of the arts now; and Mr. Benjamin Smith, son of the member from Norwich, who is here  with his sister for his health. I always had a plate at their table, and generally met somebody that interested or instructed me: such as Sir William Cumming, a Scotchman of talent; the famous Azzelini, who was with Bonaparte in Egypt, and gave me once a curious account of the shooting the prisoners and poisoning the sick at Jaffa; Miss Lydia White, the fashionable blue-stocking; and many others of the same sort, so that the two or three days in the week I dined there were very pleasantly passed.
On the 28th of February Mr. Ticknor left Naples and returned to Rome.
To Elisha Ticknor.
Rome, March 3, 1818.. . . . My visit at Naples, on which I was absent from this city just a month, was every way pleasant and interesting. The weather in particular — which is of great importance in a place like Naples, where almost everything you desire to see is outside of the city—was, with the exception of one or two days, only delightful. It was what the Italians call their first spring, and the almond-trees were in blossom, the orange-trees burdened with fruit. . . . . . ‘Hic felix illa Campania,’ said Pliny, and the form of the expression is no vain vaunt, for a more beautiful country I have never yet seen. As I stood at sunset, one evening, on the height of Camaldoli, and saw the whole of the beautiful Gulf of Naples, with all its harbors and islands stretched out beneath me like a chart, while the solemn bareness of Vesuvius and the snow-clad tops of the distant Apennines closed in the prospect behind and on my left like a panorama, the thought involuntarily rose that this must be a spot singularly chosen and favored of Heaven: so various is the scenery, so luxuriant the soil, so gay and graceful the landscape. But these, when you go into Naples itself, seem to be the very seals of Heaven's displeasure.
Journal.Society in Rome is certainly a remarkable thing, different from society in every other part of the world. Among the Romans themselves the elegant and cultivated class is really so small, the genuine character, civilization, and refinement of the country are so worn out and degraded, that, even in their own capital, they are not able, and do not pretend to give a tone to society and intercourse. The strangers, however, that throng here every winter from all the ends of Christendom, more than supply this want of domestic cultivation and talent;  for those who come here are rarely the empty and idle travellers who lounge through Europe to lose time that hangs heavy on their hands at home, since Rome is not a common city, but one whose attractions require at least a moderate share of knowledge to understand and enjoy . . . . These cultivated strangers settle down into coteries of their own, generally determined by their nationality. Thus the Germans, the English, and French have their separate societies,—preserving in the forms of their intercourse and in their general tone the national character that marks them at home; except when, perhaps, two or three times in the week all the strangers in Rome, with a few of the best of the Italians, a quantity of cardinals, bishops, and ecclesiastics of all names and ranks, are brought together at a kind of grand rout, called a conversazione, or accademia . . . . . Nothing can be more amusing than one of these farrago societies which I have seen at the Duchess of Devonshire's and Count Funchal's, the Portuguese Ambassador,—the east and west, the north and the south, . . . . all brought together to be pushed about a couple of hours or more in an endless suite of enormous rooms, and then wait for their carriages in a comfortless antechamber,—all national distinctions half broken down by the universal use of French, even among persons of the same country, and more than half preserved by the bad accent with which it is spoken,—the confusion of the Tower of Babel produced without a miracle or an object. . . . . Rome is still as much the capital as it was in the times of Hadrian or Leo X. . . . . Among the Germans there is the family of Bunsen, who has married an English woman, and is himself full of good learning and talent; the family of Mad. de Humboldt (in conversation called the Mad. de Stael of Germany), who collects about her every evening the best of her nation, especially the artists Thorwaldsen, Lund, Schadow, etc., and to whose society I owe some of the pleasantest hours I have passed in Rome; Niebuhr, the Prussian Minister, who, after all I have heard in Germany of his immense learning and memory, has filled me with admiration and astonishment every time I have seen him; . . . . Baron Eckhardtstein, who has travelled all over Europe with profit, and was distinguished as an officer in the last war; Baron Ziegenhorn, now in the midst of a course of travels appalling for their length and objects to any but a German. But the person who has excited the most attention among the Germans, and who really deserves it, is the Crown Prince of Bavaria, a young man of about thirty, who has been living here in a very simple, unostentatious  manner, and enjoying Rome like a cultivated gentleman with much taste and considerable talent. . . . . He talks English pretty well, and knows a good deal about general history, and something about America, which he liked well to let me see. . . . .
Mr. Ticknor in later years gave the following account of an interesting scene he witnessed in Rome at this time. It was written down immediately by one of those who heard it.
The first time I ever saw Bunsen he was introduced to me at Gottingen, in 1816, by one of the professors, and I was told that he had been two years private tutor to one of my countrymen, Mr. William B. Astor. He was then on his way to Rome to be private secretary to Niebuhr. A year and a half afterwards, when I went to Rome, I found him there, a married man. I witnessed a very extraordinary scene there,—the celebration of the three-hundredth anniversary of Luther's burning the Papal bull, got up right under the nose of the Pope! It was very curious. It was in October, 1818. I had just arrived in Rome, coming from Germany, and was very much among the Germans,—with Niebuhr and Bunsen, Brandes and Mad. de Humboldt. Niebuhr thought of getting up the celebration, and at first intended to have it in his own palazzo; but he changed the plan, and arranged that it should be held in a large room at Brandes's lodgings, he being connected with the legation. There was nobody present but twenty or thirty Germans, except Thorwaldsen, who, being a Dane, was all one as a German, and myself, who was invited as a kind of German. Bunsen read something between a speech and a sermon; and there were prayers, that he had translated from the English Prayer-Book. Brandes read them, and there was a great sensation produced in the room. What Bunsen said was fine and touching. At the end, Niebuhr—who always reminded me of the Rev. Dr. Channing, a small man, with a great deal of soul in his face—went up to Bunsen, meaning to say some words of thanks. He held out both hands to him, and then he was completely overcome; he fell on his neck and wept loud, and I assure you there were not many dry eyes in the room.
Journal.Of Frenchmen there are very few here now, and really the solemn grandeur of Roman greatness does not well suit them. Winckelmann says, in one of his curious letters to Berendis, ‘A Frenchman is not  to be improved here. Antiquity and he contradict one another’; and since I have been here I have seen and felt a thousand proofs of the justness of the remark. . . . . Simond himself, though I think him in general a cool, impartial man, stands up a mere Frenchman as soon as you get him upon the subject of antiquities, of which he seems to have about as just notions as divines have of the world before the flood. Mazois, who is preparing a work on Pompeii, which will at least have splendor and accuracy to recommend it, if not taste or learning, is, I think, the best of his nation here, though certainly Simond is the most cultivated and interesting. Of the Russians there are a good many that circulate in general society, and talk French and English fluently; but, really, wherever I have seen this people, I have found them so abdicating their nationality and taking the hue of the society they are among, that I have lost much of my respect for them. Two, however, whom I have known here are men to be respected anywhere. . . . . One of them is Admiral Tchitchagof, who made so much noise in the war of 1812, and who is simple and respectable, though I should not have imagined that he was distinguished for his talents. The other is Italinski, the Russian Ambassador, whom I know more, because I am in the habit of going frequently to see him. He is the author of the Explanations to the three volumes of Tischbein's Etruscan Vases, and a man of Eastern learning, particularly in the modern languages of Asia. . . . . He is now infirm, though not very old; gentle and kind in his manners; living rather retired for a public minister, though with a kind of hospitality that in his hands takes the form of Eastern luxury. At his dinners, when I was there, there was either fashion or splendor, which he did not seem much to enjoy, . . . . .or else a simply learned meeting of a few friends he knew well, . . . .such as Fea, the head of the Roman antiquaries, Ackerbladt the Swede, Wiegel from Dresden, etc., which was more pleasant than any society of the sort in Rome. The Portuguese had, the greater part of the winter, a splendid representation here . . . . . Count Funchal . . . . is now, at the age of sixty, a dignified representative of his government. As he is ambassador, and therefore the very sovereign present, besides being rich, there is a state and magnificence in his house such as I have not seen anywhere else. . . . . Where it is not necessary for him to play the king, he is simple and unaffected; and his literary dinners, if not so pleasant as those of the Russian minister, because he has not the personal means to make them so, are still much sought after,. . . . and it is thought  no small distinction to be invited to them. . . . . The Marquis de Marialva is, I suppose, the most considerable Portuguese by his talents, and the most important by his influence, that has remained in Europe since the Court went to the Brazils; certainly he is one of the most elegant and accomplished gentlemen I have met. He is the only man I have seen in Europe who has come up to my ideas of a consummate courtier,—taken in the good sense of the word; for though in all companies he was the first man, from his position, yet the elegance of his manners and the kindness of his disposition prevented embarrassment and ceremony. The English everywhere, and in all great collections, formed a substantial part of society in Rome during the whole winter. The greatest gayety was among them, and the greatest show, except that made by the diplomatic part of the beau monde. . . . . I went to the Duchess of Devonshire's conversaziones, as to a great exchange, to see who was in Rome, and to meet what is called the world. . . . . The Duchess is a good, respectable woman in her way. She attempts to play the Maecenas a little too much, it is true; but, after all, she does a good deal that should be praised, and will not, I hope, be forgotten. Her excavations in the Forum, if neither so judicious nor so fortunate as Count Funchal's, are satisfactory, and a fair beginning. . . . . ` . Her ‘Horace's Journey to Brundusium’. . . . is a beautiful book, and her ‘Virgil,’ with the best plates she can get of the present condition of Latium, will be a monument of her taste and generosity . . . . . The most important and interesting man who went there [to her receptions] was undoubtedly Cardinal Consalvi, the Pope's Prime Minister, and certainly a thorough gentleman and a man of elegant conversation . . . . He has talent and efficiency in business, and deserves, I am persuaded, the character of a liberal and faithful minister. . . . . Lady Douglass's societies, which I have known only since my return from Naples,—for before she was too ill to receive company,—are small and pleasant. She has been here two years for her health, and is certainly one of the sweetest of women, with two children who are mere little cherubs, to whom she devotes herself with uncommon tenderness and affection. Twice in the week, generally, . . . . she collects a few of her friends, and by the variety of her talents and the sweetness of her manner gives a charm to her societies which none others in Rome have. Besides these, I used to go to Sir Thomas Trowbridge's; sometimes to Mrs. Drew's, sister of Lady Mackintosh; to John Bell's, the famous surgeon; etc., etc. I have reserved the Bonapartes to the last, because I really do not  know where to class them; for they belong, now at least, to no nation, and live at home as among strangers. Their acquaintance, however, is more sought than that of any persons in Rome; and as for myself, I found no societies so pleasant, though I found others more cultivated and more fashionable. To begin, then, with Mad. Mere, as she is still called. She lives in the same palace with her brother, Cardinal Fesch,—the Cardinal in the upper part, and Madame in the principal story, but both with princely state, in a magnificent suite of apartments. The Cardinal has the finest private gallery of pictures I have seen, and shows them with great liberality and kindness; generally receiving in person those who come to see it. In the evening he goes down to ‘Madame,’ and they form their coterie together, to which I sometimes went; but it was rather dull, though everything wealth could do to make it splendid was done . . . . Louis, the former king of Holland, who now passes under the title of the Count de St. Leu, lives more simply than any of the family, and preserves the character for good-nature and honesty which he did not lose even in Holland when acting under the orders of a cruel despotism. He has one son, a promising boy of fourteen, to whom he is devoted, and occupies himself with his education. The rest of the time, it is said, he passes in reading Latin and in writing poetry. In the evening he has his coterie, which is pleasanter than his mother's, because his own conversation is more amusing; and, on the whole, from the nature of his pursuits, the simplicity of his manners, and the kindness of his disposition, I think he lives more happily than any of his family. The Princess Borghese is the most consummate coquette I ever saw. At the age of forty-two she has an uncommonly beautiful form, and a face still striking, if not beautiful. When to this is added the preservation of youthful gayety, uncommon talent, and a practical address, it will be apparent she is, if not a Ninon de l'enclos, a most uncommon woman. At Lucien's, where a grave tone prevails, she is as demure as a nun; but in her own palace, where she lives in great luxury, she comes out in her true character, and plays herself off in a manner that makes her as great a curiosity as a raree-show. On her birthnight she gave a supper to seventy people, and the whole service was in gilt silver. But, notwithstanding the Eastern splendor of everything, united to European taste and refinement, I am persuaded the strangers there, like myself, were more struck with her manoeuvres, seated between the old Cardinal Albani and the Cardinal  Vicar, than by all the magnificence and luxury about them. On another evening she showed her jewels to four young men of us who happened to call on her, and I am sure I shall never forget the tricks and manoeuvres she played off. It is, after all, but coquetry, and it is possible to have but one opinion of her character; but it is not a vulgar coquetry, and it is the talent and skill about it which redeem it from ridicule, and make her a curiosity,—like Napoleon himself, —not respectable to be sure, but perfect in its kind. At Lucien's, now Prince of Canino, all is different, and I have been there so much, and so familiarly, that I know his family better than any other in Europe. In all respects it is an interesting one, and in many it is amiable and attracting. He has been married twice; and besides the two children by his first wife, and seven by the second, his second wife herself has a daughter by a first husband; and all three sets live happily together, and the present Princess is a kind and good mother to them all. They live retired, and since I have been in Rome have not made a single visit, except to their daughter, the Princess Prossedi. They are at home in the evening to a few persons, who, finding no house in Rome so pleasant, generally avail themselves every evening of the privilege. The Prince is about fifty, of a most immovable character,—always the same, always untouched by changes. If this has produced no other good effect, it has certainly given him the entire confidence of his family; who thus always know where to find him. In conversation he is barren, partly from diffidence, but more from secretness and reserve of character. During the day he employs himself with mathematics, and particularly astronomy; and, except a little while after dinner, is not with his family until eight in the evening, when he comes from his study and remains with them till midnight. The pleasure I have often seen kindle in their countenances as he entered at this hour is a proof how he is beloved by them; and the kiss he always gave the Princess Prossedi, when she came and went, proved, too, how dear his children are to him. The Princess is about forty, with a good deal of talent, uncommon beauty, and considerable culture and accomplishment. . . . . The Princess Prossedi, Lucien's oldest daughter by his first wife, is not beautiful, though not ugly,—a simple, kind, and affectionate woman, looking up to her father as to a superior being, loving her husband with unreserved confidence, and doting on her child to extravagance. She is pious and actively benevolent, and in talents, manners, and character such a person as would be loved and respected in any country. Christine, the next oldest, and now about eighteen, is a very  different character. She has more talent than her sister, an unquenchable gaiete de coeur, sings, plays, and dances well, says a thousand witty things, and laughs without ceasing at everything and everybody. Loving admiration to a fault, she is something of a coquette, though her better qualities, her talents, her good-nature and wit, keep both under some restraint. She always sits in a corner of the salon, and keeps her little court to herself, for she chooses to have an exclusive empire; but this is soon to be over, for she is to be married directly to Count Posse, a Swede.1 . . . . The daughter of Madame by her first husband, Anna, is a most beautiful creature, about seventeen; just going to be married to Prince Hercolani of Bologna,—a love-match which promises much happiness. She has not much talent, and no showy accomplishments, but has a sweet disposition and affectionate ways. This is all the family I meet. Two other daughters are at the convent, and a son at college. This is a fair account of the society at Rome for this winter. It never interferes with other occupations, for nobody dines until dark, and nobody visits in the daytime . . . . . In the evening a stranger feels very desolate; and I have always gone somewhere, and generally passed part of every evening at Lucien's.
Leghorn, April 7, 1818.. . . . At Florence I spent ten days very pleasantly, for Florence is one of the few cities in the world—perhaps the only one—that may be seen with pleasure, as a city, after Rome. There is a fine society there too,—not so various as the Roman, but still one that is not a little interesting to a stranger. The Countess of Albany is at the head of it; and you come so near to being an English Jacobite, that I think you will like to hear a little about the wife of the last Pretender, and  to know something of the wife whom Alfieri loved with the most devoted passion to the last moment of his life. I need not tell you she is old, since Dupaty's book is filled with admiration of her, nearly forty years ago; but she has preserved all the vivacity of youth, and takes as strong an interest in the world as she ever did. Every evening at eight o'clock she receives her friends and the strangers introduced to her, and on Saturday night holds a kind of levee, composed of all the first society in Florence, which comes there to pay her its court; but at ten it is understood that her society finishes, and everybody goes away. I went to see her nearly every evening while I was in Florence, and enjoyed my visits very much, especially when few people were there. I talked with her a great deal of Alfieri, and she showed me his library, in which there are a great many curious notes, made by himself, generally severe, and often cruelly personal. From him she probably acquired a bold style of talking,—which is very rare in women on the Continent, and therefore struck me the more,—and a direct, independent way of inquiring for your opinion and judgment which would have struck me anywhere. One evening she asked me whether I did not think England had gained, as a nation, by the exile of the Stuarts. She knew what I must think beforehand; and, though it certainly would, as a general rule, wound her feelings to be answered as decidedly in the affirmative as I did, yet she evidently showed a greater regard for me, finding I did not shrink from the proof to which she put me. Now, I say, this is an extraordinary woman; for, if she were not, she would not risk such a question or respect such a reply. On all subjects she talks very well, and has a wide and judicious circumspection in literature, very rare in women on the Continent; so that, on the whole, I think her one of the best [specimens] I have seen.