March 25th. 
On Tuesday we went to breakfast at William Story's in the Palazzo Barberini. We had a very pleasant time. He is one of the most agreeable men I know in society. He showed us a note from Thackeray, an invitation to dinner, written in hieroglyphics, with great fun and pictorial merit. He spoke of an expansion of the story of Blue Beard, which he himself had either written or thought of writing, in which the contents of the several chambers which Fatima opened, before arriving at the fatal one, were to be described. This idea has haunted my mind ever since, and if it had but been my own I am pretty sure that it would develop itself into something very rich. I mean to press William Story to work it out. The chamber of Blue Beard, too (and this was a part of his suggestion), might be so handled as to become powerfully interesting. Were I to take up the story I would create an interest by suggesting a secret in the first chamber, which would develop itself more and more in every successive hall of the great palace, and lead the wife irresistibly to the chamber of horrors.
After breakfast, we went to the Barberini Library, passing through the vast hall, which occupies the central part of the palace. It is the most splendid domestic hall I have seen, eighty feet in length at least, and of proportionate breadth and height; and the vaulted ceiling is entirely covered, to its utmost edge and remotest corners, with a brilliant painting in fresco, looking like a whole heaven of angelic people descending towards the floor. The effect is indescribably gorgeous. On one side stands a Baldacchino, or canopy of state, draped with scarlet cloth, and fringed with gold embroidery; the scarlet indicating that the palace is inhabited by a cardinal. Green would be appropriate to a prince. In point of fact, the Palazzo Barberini is inhabited by a cardinal, a prince, and a duke, all belonging to the Barberini family, and each having his separate portion of the palace, while their servants have a common territory and meeting-ground in this noble hall.
After admiring it for a few minutes, we made our exit by a door on the opposite side, and went up the spiral staircase of marble to the library, where we were received by an ecclesiastic, who belongs to the Barberini household, and I believe was born in it. He is a gentle, refined, quiet-looking man, as well he may be, having spent all his life among these books, where few people intrude, and few cares can come. He showed us a very old Bible in parchment, a specimen of the earliest printing, beautifully ornamented with pictures, and some monkish illuminations of indescribable delicacy and elaboration. No artist could afford to produce such work, if the life that he thus lavished on one sheet of parchment had any value to him, either for what could be done or enjoyed in it. There are about eight thousand volumes in this library, and judging by their outward aspect, the collection must be curious and valuable; but having another engagement, we could spend only a little time here. We had a hasty glance, however, of some poems of Tasso, in his own autograph.
We then went to the Palazzo Galitzin, where dwell the Misses Weston, with whom we lunched, and where we met a French abbe, an agreeable man, and an antiquarian, under whose auspices two of the ladies and ourselves took carriage for the Castle of St. Angelo. Being admitted within the external gateway, we found ourselves in the court of guard, as I presume it is called, where the French soldiers were playing with very dirty cards, or lounging about in military idleness. They were well-behaved and courteous, and when we had intimated our wish to see the interior of the castle, a soldier soon appeared, with a large unlighted torch in his hand, ready to guide us. There is an outer wall surrounding the solid structure of Hadrian's tomb, to which there is access by one or two drawbridges; the entrance to the tomb, or castle, not being at the base, but near its central height. The ancient entrance, by which Hadrian's ashes and those of other imperial per sonages were probably brought into this tomb, has been walled up perhaps ever since the last emperor was buried here. We were now in a vaulted passage, both lofty and broad, which circles round the whole interior of the tomb, from the base to the summit. During many hundred years the passage was filled with earth and rubbish, and forgotten, and it is but partly excavated even now, although we found it a long, long, and gloomy descent by torch-light to the base of the vast mausoleum. The passage was once lined and vaulted with precious marbles (which are now entirely gone), and paved with fine mosaics, portions of which still remain; and our guide lowered his flaming torch to show them to us, here and there, amid the earthy dampness over which we trod. It is strange to think what splendour and costly adornment were here wasted on the dead.
After we had descended to the bottom of this passage, and again retraced our steps to the highest part, the guide took a large cannon-ball, and sent it, with his whole force, rolling down the hollow, arched way, rumbling and reverberating and bellowing forth long thunderous echoes, and winding up with a loud, distant crash, that seemed to come from the very bowels of the earth.
We saw the place, near the centre of the mausoleum, and lighted from above, through an immense thickness of stone and brick, where the ashes of the emperor and his fellow-slumberers were found. It is as much as twelve centuries, very likely, since they were scattered to the winds, for the tomb has been nearly or quite that space of time, a fortress. The tomb itself is merely the base and foundation of the castle, and being so massively built, it serves just as well for the purpose as if it were a solid granite rock. The mediaeval fortress, with its antiquity of more than a thousand years, and having dark and deep dungeons of its own, is but a modern excrescence on the top of Hadrian's tomb.
We now ascended towards the upper region, and were led into the vaults which used to serve as a prison, but which, if I mistake not, are situated above the ancient structure, although they seem as damp and subterranean as if they were fifty feet under the earth. We crept down to them through narrow and ugly passages, which the torch-light would not illuminate, and stooping under a low, square entrance, we followed the guide into a small, vaulted room not a room, but an artificial cavern, remote from light or air, where Beatrice Cenci was confined before her execution. According to the abbe, she spent a whole year in this dreadful pit, her trial having dragged on through that length of time. How ghost like she must have looked when she came forth! Guido never painted that beautiful picture from her blanched face, as it appeared after this confinement. And how rejoiced she must have been to die at last, having already been in a sepulchre so long!
Adjacent to Beatrice's prison, but not communicating with it, was that of her stepmother; and next to the latter was one that interested me almost as much as Beatrice's that of Benvenuto Cellini, who was confined here, I believe, for an assassination. All these prison vaults are more horrible than can be imagined without seeing them; but there are worse places here, for the guide lifted a trap-door in one of the passages, and held his torch down into an in scrutable pit beneath our feet. It was an oubliette, a dungeon where the prisoner might be buried alive, and never come forth again, alive or dead. Groping about among these sad precincts, we saw various other things that looked very dismal; but at last emerged into the sunshine, and ascended from one platform and battlement to another, till we found ourselves right at the feet of the Archangel Michael. He has stood there in bronze for I know not how many hundred years, in the act of sheathing a (now) rusty sword, such being the attitude in which he appeared to one of the popes in a vision, in token that a pestilence which was then desolating Rome was to be stayed.
There is a fine view from the lofty station, over Rome and the whole adjacent country, and the abbe pointed out the site of Ardea, of Corioli, of Veii, and other places renowned in story. We were ushered, too, into the French commandant's quarters in the castle. There is a large hall, ornamented with frescoes, and accessible from this a drawing-room, comfortably fitted up, and where we saw modern furniture and a chess-board, and a fire burning clear, and other symptoms that the place had perhaps just been vacated by civilised and kindly people. But in one corner of the ceiling the abbe pointed out a ring, by which, in the times of mediaeval, anarchy, when popes, cardinals, and barons were all by the ears together, a cardinal was hanged. It was not an assassination, but a legal punishment, and he was executed in the best apartment of the castle as an act of grace.
The fortress is a straight-lined structure on the summit of the immense round tower of Hadrian's tomb; and to make out the idea of it we must throw in drawbridges, esplanades, piles of ancient marble balls for cannon; battlements and embrasures, lying high in the breeze and sunshine, and opening views round the whole horizon; accommodation for the soldiers; and many small beds in a large room.
How much mistaken was the emperor in his expectation of a stately, solemn repose for his ashes through all the coming centuries, as long as the world should endure ! Perhaps his ghost glides up and down, disconsolate, in that spiral passage which goes from top to bottom of the tomb, while the barbarous Gauls plant themselves in his very mausoleum to keep the imperial city in awe.
Leaving the Castle of St. Angelo, we drove, still on the same side of the Tiber, to the Villa Pamfila, which lies a short distance beyond the walls. As we passed through one of the gates (I think it was that of San Pancrazio), the abbe pointed out the spot where the Constable de Bourbon was killed while attempting to scale the walls. If we are to believe Benvenuto Cellini, it was he who shot the Constable. The road to the villa is not very interesting, lying (as the roads in the vicinity of Rome often do) between very high walls, admitting not a glimpse of the surrounding country; the road itself white and dusty, with no verdant margin of grass or border of shrubbery. At the portal of the villa we found many carriages in waiting, for the Prince Doria throws open the grounds to all comers, and on a pleasant day like this they are probably sure to be thronged. We left our carriage just within the entrance, and rambled among these beautiful groves, admiring the live oak trees, and the stone pines, which latter are truly a majestic tree, with tall columnar stems, supporting a cloud-like density of boughs far aloft, and not a straggling branch between them and the ground. They stand in straight rows, but are now so ancient and venerable as to have lost the formal look of a plantation, and seem like a wood that might have arranged itself almost of its own will. Beneath them is a flower-strewn turf, quite free of underbrush. We found open fields and lawns, more over, all a-bloom with anemones, white and rosecoloured, and purple and golden, and far larger than could be found out of Italy, except in hothouses. Violets, too, were abundant and exceedingly fragrant. When we consider that all this floral exuberance occurs in the midst of March, there does not appear much ground for complaining of the Roman climate; and so long ago as the first week of February I found daisies among the grass, on the sunny side of the basilica of St. John Lateran. At this very moment I suppose the country within twenty miles of Boston may be two feet deep with snow, and the streams solid with ice.
We wandered about the grounds, and found them very beautiful indeed, nature having done much for them by an undulating variety of surface, and art having added a good many charms, which have all the better effect now that decay and neglect have thrown a natural grace over them likewise. There is an artificial ruin, so picturesque that it betrays itself; weather-beaten statues, and pieces of sculpture, scattered here and there; an artificial lake, with upgushing fountains; cascades, and broad-bosomed coves, and long, canal-like reaches, with swans taking their delight upon them. I never saw such a glorious and resplendent lustre of white as shone between the wings of two of these swans. It was really a sight to see, and not to be imagined before hand. Angels, no doubt, have just such lustrous wings as those. English swans partake of the dinginess of the atmosphere, and their plumage has nothing at all to be compared to this; in fact, there is nothing like it in the world, unless it be the illuminated portion of a fleecy, summer-cloud.
While we were sauntering along beside this piece of water, we were surprised to see U---- on the other side. She had come hither with E---- S---- and her two little brothers, and with our R----, the whole under the charge of Mrs. Story's nursery-maids. U---- and E---- crossed, not over, but beneath the water, through a grotto, and exchanged greetings with us. Then, as it was getting towards sunset and cool, we took our departure, the abbe, as we left the grounds, taking me aside to give me a glimpse of a Columbarium, which descends into the earth to about the depth to which an ordinary house might rise above it. These grounds, it is said, formed the country residence of the Emperor Galba, and he was buried here after his assassination. It is a sad thought that so much natural beauty and long refinement of picturesque culture is thrown away, the villa being uninhabitable during all the most delightful season of the year on account of malaria. There is truly a curse on Rome and all its neighbourhood.
On our way home we passed by the great Paolina fountain, and were assailed by many beggars during the short time we stopped to look at it. It is a very copious fountain, but not so beautiful as the Trevi, taking into view merely the water-gush of the latter.