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congratulate you on vindicating with eminent success, through your knowledge of all his writings, the memory of a most good and most wise man; and at the same time, as far as in you lay, on having secured that amongst your people, especially the English, those who have been accustomed to misuse that name already cease to deceive the unlearned. And would that they truly followed Newman as a teacher, not in the fashion of those who, given up to preconceived opinions, search his volumes, and with deliberate dishonesty extract from them something from which they contend that their views receive support, but that they might gather his principles pure and unimpaired, and his example and his lofty spirit. From so great a master they may learn many noble things; in the first place, to hold the magisterium of the Church sacred, to preserve inviolate the doctrine handed down by the Fathers, and, what is the chief thing for the preservation of Catholic truth, to honour and obey with the utmost fidelity the successor of the Blessed Peter.
This surely should be decisive of the point at issue. 'Petrus locutus est : causa finita est.'
W. S. LILLY.
VOL. LXXI-No. 421
LA CITTA ETERNA
A REMINISCENCE OF THE SEVENTIES
It was one evening at Copenhagen during the winter of 1861-2, when, talking to some diplomats of the posts they would prefer to go to, I exclaimed 'The ideal post would be Rome as an Embassy. I mean to go there!' Everybody laughed, for all thought that such a thing would be impossible. Since the days of James the Second no English Ambassador had been accredited to the Pope, and who could foresee in 1862 a combination of circumstances which would make Rome the Capital of United Italy !
This was the time of peace before the German-Danish war, which eventually led to the Austro-Prussian one, which in its turn caused the Franco-Prussian war by the transference of the centre of weight to Berlin. The Pope was well protected by Napoleon the Third, it seemed certain that his successor would continue the same policy, and the boldest imagination could not then forge a chain of events which would lead to Victor Emmanuel being proclaimed King of United Italy, in the space of less than nine years from the evening when I expressed my fantastic desire.
When on the early morning of Christmas Day, 1871, I saw the dome of St. Peter's float transparent and unreal in the icy crystalline air, as the train wound leisurely round the low green hills of the Campagna, I asked myself what would be our lives in this new Capital, where everything was still chaotic, and where there could be no precedents or traditions which would particularly affect us?
We had come straight from England, with only one day in frozen Paris, where the ghastly destruction of the Commune stared one in the face wherever one went. The winter was a particularly severe one, and as we drove from the station to our hotel, I noticed all the beautiful fountains, one of Rome's chief charms, were ice-bound and covered with long stalactites, a sight I only once saw repeated there, during our twelve years' residence.
The new state of things in Rome seemed to have attracted the whole world, and every hotel was full to overflowing. A great number of Royalties had congregated together. The Prince and Princess of Wales were to be seen every day in the churches and
galleries with the King and Queen of Denmark and all their family, and the Queen of Hanover with her children. Indeed, it was there that the marriage of Princess Thyra, the Princess of Wales's youngest sister, to the Duke of Cumberland (the King of Hanover's only son) was arranged.
I cannot now enumerate the many crowned heads that came to Rome that winter, and all the interesting men and women I caught glimpses of, for, being in very deep mourning, we did not go into society, and only met people casually on the Pincio, or at some church festival, or in a gallery.
The chaos of a new Capital cannot be described. Nobody seemed to know anything for certain, or where anybody lived. Everybody was house-hunting, and nobody could find a shelter. Prince Doria, whom I knew well from former visits to Rome, offered us the beautiful little Palace in the Villa Pamphyli, but there were no fireplaces, and none could be put in, on account of the decorations, and at last we rented from him his Villa of Albano, until we should find something suitable in Rome.
The Villa had lovely gardens, and was in an ideal situation; and among my most cherished memories are the drives along the Via Appia Antica, on returning from Rome after a busy day, when I watched the sun sinking into the Tyrrhenean sea, and gilding with its last rays the long line of tombs which border the ancient way, the most mysterious, solemn, silent and pathetic companions, to those who understand.
King Victor Emmanuel, who disliked Rome even more than he did Florence, and was in the habit of saying that it would prove fatal to him, only came from time to time when important business had to be transacted; but the Prince and Princess of Piedmont lived in the Quirinal, and represented him socially. Masses of foreigners, especially English, wished to be presented at Court. The Princess very graciously received the English ladies in audience, and one of her own ladies, half English by birth, had undertaken to present her semi-countrywomen, when a good number of demands for presentations had accumulated. I need not say that as under the circumstances there was nobody to refer to, it was impossible to select, and the numbers grew every day.
Shortly after my arrival I wrote to ask when I might pay my respects to Princess Margaret, at whose marriage I had assisted, and whom I had frequently seen in Florence. When I went at the appointed time, I was received by one of her ladies, who knew me quite well, but who, staring me in the face with frightened eyes, said 'Oh, but it is much too early. Duchess X, who presents the English ladies, is not here, and the others have not yet arrived."
* Chère Princesse,' I responded, I am not an English tourist, but Lady Paget, and I have come to my private audience.' Recognition then dawned in her face, and I only give this little incident to show the state of bewilderment everybody was in. I should like to mention one curious remark made to me by Mr. Marsh, the learned and widely respected American Minister, after he had been in Rome a few years, which was to the effect that among all the Americans who had come there during that time, he had not been able to persuade more than two to go to Court. Considering that Rome is at present entirely under the American sway, and that numbers of great Roman families are composed almost entirely, as far as the ladies go, of Americans, this is remarkable, and shows how entirely social conditions have changed in the United States, as well as at Rome.
The Court of Turin had always been one where a severe and antiquated etiquette had obtained, and now this was all changed and upset by the advent of young and democratic Italy, with no traditions at all, and one had to be a genius of intuition and adaptiveness to steer one's way clear of all social reefs and shoals.
Everybody who remembers Rome in the Papal times would have been struck by the unique and picturesque solemnity of the social functions, the great bare, ill-lit, and unwarmed palatial rooms, the Cardinals in scarlet, the thrones in the princely houses, and the flock of retainers in gaudy, ill-fitting liveries. All this was suddenly swept away by a busy, clamouring, lively, dancing and dining crowd, by calorifères and gas; and all the hateful trash and frippery so dear to semi-artistic minds of the 'seventies adorned the walls. Poor Mr. Swinton, the once so sought-after painter of delicate portraits of the English beauties of the 'forties and 'fifties, but very feeble then, remarked to me after paying a visit to the high priestess of this new departure, that he had felt like standing on his head at a bric-à-brac, gone mad.
The description was accurate.
The Roman aristocracy had for so long looked upon themselves as a kind of power to whom the Ambassadors were accredited, and the foreigners who came to Rome had to make all the advances to be admitted to their houses, that the sudden change of scenery caused numbers of difficulties. The diplomats took their cue from the Court only, and modelled themselves upon the rules laid down by it, and they caused a good deal of friction. Then there was the diplomatic corps accredited to the Pope, which was not supposed to “frayer' with us, but amongst them were often old friends, and then the rules were broken. The younger members of Papal Embassies, especially of the French one, were to be seen daily at our house, and even went so far as to come to some of our balls given in the spring
during race meetings, when the Italian Royalties were absent; but I believe they were severely rebuked for these transgressions. Roman society
society was sharply divided between whites and blacks at first, but even during the twelve years that we were in Rome most of the younger generation had gone over to the whites, not on account of any particular convictions, but simply because it was more amusing, and there was more to do.
Looking back upon my life in Rome, it appears to me like a brilliant kaleidoscope, without any very salient points.
After the tremendous events and changes induced by the Franco-Prussian war, France had, for the first time after many years, ceased to be a menace to the peace of Europe, but the Emperor Napoleon was still living. On the 9th of January 1873 we were dining at the Austrian Legation, together with several members of the French Legation, when a telegram was brought to my husband, announcing the Emperor's death at Chislehurst. The French diplomats were absolutely indifferent, and I was particularly shocked by the frivolous remarks of one of the secretaries who had been an 'intime' at the Tuileries, where he led all the cotillons, and had been loaded with benefits by his Imperial master.
As regards external affairs, the feeling of peace and relaxation in those days was very profound. Italy bad, however, much to occupy her concerning internal affairs, and was especially barried by the brigand question in Sicily, which was a continual sore. I remember two young Englishmen imploring me to intercede with my husband to get them a permit 'to pick the brigands off about Mount Etna, it would be such fun!'
Rome and the Campagna were also very unsafe. Minghetti, then Prime Minister, was knocked about and deprived of his watch and purse, one evening in the Foro Trajano, as he was leaving the Palazzo Roccagiovine. Duke Grazioli, riding in his own park with his son and daughter, was attacked by brigands. I was never allowed to go out riding during our stay at the Villa Doria at Albano unless accompanied by a man with a revolver in the holster of his saddle.
Much to the discomfort of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who hated captures of foreigners by brigands more than anything else, I evolved the idea of driving from Albano to Siena via Capraruola , the Ciminian forest, Viterbo, and the lake of Bolsena, the very worst district for 'malviventi.' My brother and Lord X were my companions, and we had four fleet horses to our light carriage. Along the whole road were relays of Carabinieri, and in the most ill-famed parts two of them accompanied us on horseback. We never saw a brigand, but our hotel bills were very much increased by these signs of our importance.