Thursday, August 27, 2009

22Dec1867, An Audience with Pope Pius IX

ROME, December 22nd, 1867.
—The Pope gave us the honour of a private interview, but was so unkind as to fix the hour so as ingeniously to cut us off from both our own afternoon Services, and Benediction at the Trinità, which we wished to hear. He is a nice old man, with snowy hair, ruddy face, twinkling keen dark eyes, an amiable smile and a most pleasing, kind manner, but not dignified. He is short and rather fat, speaks good French and was wonderfully lively and cheerful. He said, "Dieu vous benit. Dio vi benedica," as we came up the room, and gave us his hand which we kissed with our best bow and curtsey ; but kneel we did not. He began almost at once upon politics, said as briskly as possible à propos of the risk and crisis his affairs had passed thro', "Mais néanmoins—cela marche!" and gave one the notion of great fearlessness, and confidence in the justice of his cause. He launched out upon the inefficiency of the King's government and the absence of any distinguished politicians—a lucky line for him to take, as we were able to agree with him unfortunately ! He spoke of Uncle W., and I made a terrible slip, saying, "Il aime beaucoup l'Italie et l'Italien," forgetting that "Italy" now means the kingdom ; but he didn't seem hurt, thank goodness. He spoke very warmly of Lord Clarendon, whom he seems to think he may convert ! but whether he meant politically or religiously, I don't know. He said, "Lord Gladstone est . . . Pooseyite, n'est-ce pas ?" to which I said, "Oui, S. Pere, et moi aussi !" at which he was much amused, saying, "Nous nous rapprochons done un peu plus . . . it faut que vous poussiez un peu plus loin !" ; whereat I felt a little insulted. Apparently he liked Lord Clarendon best of the big-wigs he saw last year, and said he hoped to see him again this year, and see what he thought of his friends (the King's people) ; perhaps he (the Pope) might convert him ! All this he came out with very chattily and with plenty of gesticulation and humour. He dismissed us very gracefully, saying to F., "Eh bien, Monsieur, je vous recommande cette Pooseyite," and we bowed out, much pleased with him.

18Dec1867, Justify the French Occupation

ROME, December 18th, 1867.
—Afterwards went to see Monsignor Talbot, a civil old gentleman in a long violet frock, distressingly like a prize-pig, who produced with great pomp a stage-property-looking pike and halberd and a little revolver, which he declared Garibaldi had hidden in thousands about Rome to kill priests, Pope, and all with. It isn't quite true, but they make out all the danger they can to justify the French occupation, and the fortifications which are still kept up.

08Dec1867, Terrible Worship

NAPLES, December 8th, 1867.
—Walked about, peeping into churches (Feast of the Imm. Conc. ; terrible worship was going on at the feet of smart dolls in a blaze of tapers).

02Dec1867, French Troops All Cleared Out

ROME, December 2nd, 1867.
—The French troops all cleared out of the town to-day. According to the Contessa, they are a good deal stung by this state of things. One of the old officers said to her, "On nous envoie combattre pour cette prétraille, leur gagner les batailles ; ensuite, quand ils n'ont plus besoin de nous, ils nous disent : fichez votre camp !—c'est un joli role que nous avons joué là." There is some talk of disturbances now they are gone, but it doesn't seem likely that this degraded, unarmed people should be able to do anything against the large papal army ; and as for outsiders, the town walls and gates are regularly fortified.

27Nov1867, News from Home

ROME, November 27th, 1867.
—We have taken to omit luncheon, as we can't spare the middle of the day ; letters and Murray, etc., keep us in till about 12. The wretched Fenians who attacked a prisoners' van at Manchester and let out a fellow-Fenian, shooting the policeman in charge dead, have been condemned to death ; and out of the 5, 3 have been executed. It is very sad and terrible, as they are the 1st who have been executed for a political offence ; but it seemed inevitable. There have been deputations and demonstrations against the sentence in London. Foreigners think England must be in danger ; somehow one can't feel that a bit. Never did I take in better the immense strength we have in our fearless freedom of press, opinion and discussion, than now, when there are anxieties and disturbances and an impending revolution in national power. Parliament has met about the Abyssinian war.

26Nov1867, Rome: Death-in-Life

ROME, November 26th, 1867.
—Spent the fragment of the day left before sunset in a delightful drive and tie to the Villa Mellini. We were longing for a good view over the city and the Campagna, and it was perfect in the lovely serene light ; the endless plain, the many-shadowed mountains, the many-domed town, and St. Peter's like a mighty king above it all. How beautiful and peaceful it all looked ! but it is terrible to think of the last state of degradation and the hopeless bondage underneath. There seems to be a mysterious death-in-life in which Rome exists ; all earnest striving after truth crushed remorselessly out of her, political and religious freedom alike poisoned, and the terrible results crying to Heaven. And yet there is life too ; because (as I can't help believing) the true Eternal Catholic Faith still is stirring beneath all the fearful accumulated corruptions. But one fears that the Papacy, with its tyranny of ages, will drive out all that is true at last, and that a crash will come.

22Nov1867, A Foot's Pace From Leghorn

ROME, November 22nd, 1867.
—To prevent arrival at Rome being too intoxicating we came at a foot's pace from Leghorn, the incapable engine getting more incapable after we had passed the Papal frontier. We took 14 hours over what one does in 6 in England. Two young Italian men (not papal) expressed themselves hotly at the strict fumbling their bags were put through at Civita Vecchia (ours being quickly passed) ; they would not be allowed to stay in Rome without some tedious and elaborate passporting. How any nation can stand it I can't think. Several poor young Garibaldini prisoners were picked up at Civ. V., and sang patriotic songs. Our Italians indulged in much mocking of priests and papal dominion, but in a slip-sloppy dialect that I could hardly make anything of. The station arrangements forlorn and unkempt beyond anything ; we got away ourselves in a rickety little "trap," but the luggage, in spite of its "lascia passare," didn't turn up for an hour afterwards.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

14Nov1867, A Good Stare at Famous Statues

FLORENCE, November 14th, 1867.
—Rainy, but pleasant in the afternoon. We did the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo del Podestà. In spite of the arrangements being evidently very hasty and temporary, it is astonishing how much more conveniently the members are accommodated in the Pal. Vecchio (which is now the Salle des Députés) than ours are in either House of Parliament. But I think they might have managed it better in the great (not too great) Hall of the Podestà which would not have wanted the horrid partition they have had to put up in the Pal. Vecchio. We then had a good stare at the famous statues of the Piazza della Signoria and the Loggia ; N.B. remarkable likeness of Neptune to Mr. (Inspector) Bellairs. I can't appreciate Michaelangelo's David, whose head really is much too big. At the Podestà is the lovely little bronze Mercury springing up from the puff of a wind, by John of Bologna, of which there is a copy at Chatsworth, nothing like as spirited. Uffizi, pleasant drive with Mr. Trev [FN: I.e. Trevelyan, now Sir George Trevelyan. Sir George writes to me : "In the November of that year we dined together, we three and no one else, at Doney's restaurant every evening for at least a fortnight, and then my great friendship with them was cemented and consolidated."], to Bello Sguardo, dinner with him at Doney's. Opera (Hernani) with Grosvenors ; very pretty.

09Nov1867, Finished "Jane Eyre"

FLORENCE, November 9th, 1867.
—We finished "Jane Eyre," which is, I think, the most powerful novel I ever read : the authoress turns oneself and one's opinions round her thumb. I thought my principles were pretty well established with regard to bigamy, but I might have been heard at one moment fervently wishing that circumstances had kept Jane ignorant of the 1st wife's existence ! ! N.B.—I repented afterwards !

29Oct1867, Sight-seeing in Venice

VENICE, October 29th, 1867.
—Another glorious, perfect day, spent in wonderful enjoyment. The Doge's Palace took us all the morning, and fully came up to anything I ever dreamed of ; afterwards delightful gondola expeditions to S. Giorgio Maggiore, Redentore, and Madonna di Salute ; all very grand and stately, though I am only just beginning to appreciate any style but Gothic, and still think these styles fitter for Polytheism than Christianity. Ended our doings with going up the campanile of S. Mark's at sunset ; the view very curious and interesting of the crowded town with its many towers, and the lovely light ! I dined at the table d'hôte, more lively than usual, with Yankees discussing their politics, the nomination of General Grant to succeed President Johnson, etc. Afterwards to the scrubby little theatre Malibran, all boxes and pit ; very funny to see the most unassuming shirt-sleeves occupying the boxes opposite ! The pit full of all sorts of people, who all roared between the acts. But one charm of Italy is that one hardly ever hears a harsh voice. The melodrama turned out to be dull, incomprehensible and improper, which was distressing. We walked home through the crazy little labyrinthian paved ways and across innumerable hunchbacked bridges ; had an ice at a cafe ; snug read of "Jane Eyre," in the midst of which I was overtaken by sleep ; sight-seeing has that effect, I find.

12Oct1867, Dined in Great Luxury

PARIS, October 12th, 1867.
—We dined in great luxury and enjoyment with the Lascelles' [FN: No doubt the Frank Lascelles ; he was brother of Lady Edward Cavendish, and cousin of Lord Frederick ; afterwards Ambassador at Berlin.] at the Café Durand, and then went together to the Théâtre Français, where "Hernani" is being played, and enchanted us.

09Oct1867, Female Heathens

LONDON, October 9th, 1867.
—I paid a flying visit to the workhouse, went for an hour to a Female Heathen Educational Association meeting (it looks like Mrs. Pardiggle in "Bleak House" !) ; we wrote letters and scrambled through odd jobs, bade farewell to peggies and Head, and set off on our travels. Our charming honeymoon courier Hoffman is with us, as convinced as ever that we are about 5 years old and not to be trusted to take our own tickets. Crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne ; a good deal of rain and wind, but somehow F. did not succumb, and I am all right in anything short of a violent, prolonged gale. All is fun to me ; the little wizzy mob-capped neat-as-a-pin peggy, the jabbering voices on the landing.

08Oct1867, Comments on New Vestments

LONDON, October 8th, 1867.
—I went to see poor Joshua Dutch in the All Saints' Home : he won't die after all. Went into the church to have a few quiet minutes, and found the Holy Communion being administered. The priest was consecrating the elements. It was my first sight of "the vestments," and it is honest truth that at first sight of the figure in green cope and long surplice I took it for a woman in a shawl, in the dim light. The "raiment clean and white" will, I think, always look more solemn and priestlike to me ; and the Bible and first ages give us no thought in primitive times of the narrow stole. It was a quiet, solemn thing, those few minutes in the near Presence of our Lord in the midst of the busy day.

28Sep1867, An Earl of Oxford Bull

HOLKER, September 29th, 1867.
—I walked to see an Earl of Oxford bull with the gentlemen.