A fes- d;is after his arrival, he wrote to his father in F.ngland;rnI am now Dear Sir at Rome. If it was diffieult before torngi’e ‘ou or Mrs. Gibbon anv aeeount of what I saw it isrnimpo,ssil)le liere. I have ahead) found sueli a fund of entertainmentrnfor a mind somewhat prepared for it bv anrnaequaintance widi the Romans, diat I am realk almost inrna dream. Whatever ideas books ma hae given us of therngreatness of Hiat people. Their aceounts of the most flourishingrnstate of Rome fall infinitely short of the pietnre ofrnits ruins. I am eonvineed fliere never ne’er existed suehrna nahon and I hope for the happiness of mankind fliatrnthere never will again.rnIn expressing hope that, for mankind’s sake, no new Romernwould ever arise, Edward Gibbon expressed his and:)ivaleneernon the subjeet that beeame his life’s work. Onl days or weeksrnlater, presumablv, he had his memorable expcrienee, memorabl)’rnexpressed, of sitting by the Gampodoglio listening to diernmonks ehant espers when the idea for The Decline and Fall ofrnthe Roman Empire oeeurred to him.rnFor most Americans visiting Romernin the 19th century, up to andrnafter the War Between the States,rnthe gap between Roman religiosit)’rnand Roman behavior was,rnquite simply, scandalous.rnB}’ the beginning of the 19th centur-, Rome had beeome, forrnEnglish writers, less an aneient model and fons et origo flianrnwhat we w ordd eall today an interaetive artwork, offering a sensuousrneontemporar’ experienee as mueh as a reereatie intel-rnIcetual one. At the same time, Italv as a w hole, in the earlyrnRisorgimento, was, like Grecee, a symbol of nationalistie freedomrnand seeulav progress!vism. Lord Bvron’s appveeiation ofrnRome, whieh he saw for the first time in 1817, is tvpieal of thernEnglish poehe response of the period —less eerebral than emo-rnHonal.rnBron had been living in V’eniee, enjoving Carnixal and anotherrnman’s wife when he —relnetand —ielded to his friendrnJohn Hobhouse’s urging to join him in Rome. “Rome the wonderfirnl,” he called it, when he finallv saw the eih. Before, diernpoet had found perfeetion onI’ in nature. Now, he drought herneould fulK eomprehend the passion for art he had prexionskrndismissed as “eant.” “As a whole,” he wrote, “ancient and ;;joc/-rnem, it beats Greeee, Gonstantinople, cver diing.” Onee setfledrnin, he had a look at die town: “I hae diis morning seen a liernpope and a dead eardinal.” On the saddle horses he broughtrnw idi him. he rode “all about die eountr,” had his bvist done byrnBertel Thorswaldeu, and witnessed a publie exeeution at whiehrnthree eriminals were guillotined. The dav after the execution,rnhe was off to Eombardv.rnByron’s friend Perc’ Bysshe Shelle, arriing in Rome seeralrnears later, found “that the storv of die Cenei was a subjeetrnnot to be mentioned in Italian .soeieh without awaking a deejjrnand breadiless interest.” This stor’ (of events in Rome at diernend of die 16di eenhm) concerned Beatrice, a beautilul oungrnnoblewoman who, after submitting to her father’s incestuous attack,rnkilled him with the help of her mother and brother; all ofrndiem were later put to deadi by order of the pope himself Thernstor’ haunted Shelley for many reasons, especially because hernperceived the pope to be responsible for die tragedy, underscoringrndie contrast between die nature of Catholic and Protestantrnpiet}’.rnSlielle’ found the ultimate meaning of the tragcd’ of diernCenei to be what he called Catholicism’s “combination of anrnundoubting persuasion of the trudi of die popular religion widirna cool and determined perseverance in enormous guilt.” Forrnhim, riiis was die deepest liorror.rnFor most Americans isiting Rome in the 19tli eentur-, up tornand after die War Between die States, the gap between Romanrnreligiosity’ and Roman behaior was, quite siniplv, scandalous.rnIt did not help that, as Erik Amfitheatrof has said, they approachedrnthe ‘atican pretts’ much the wa Aniericans in thern1950’s and 60’s approached die Kremlin. Henry WadswordirnLongfellow, paving the eit a visit as a yoimg man in 1828,rnwrote, “Whenever I go to the principal street of die cit’ at thernhour for promenade, I see a ladv of die highest tone, who has arnrich ‘Oung banker as her cicisheo, driving in her carriage, withrnher daughter, her husband and her lover!” Yet Longfellow experiencedrnwhat he described as “the awe and sublime ornwhich eer’ student must feel when looking his first upon thern”lone mother of dead empires,'” whose effect, he admitted, wasrnto render him “almost delirious.” And Herman MeKille, stoppingrnoer in Rome on his wav home from the Holy Land,rnthough at first he found the eih’ “oppressiveh’ flat,” carcfidK exploredrnits galleries and museums.rnWintering in Rome became an American fashion in diern1840’s and 50’s for sueh people as Francis Parkman,rnCharles Eliot Norton, Theodore Parker, Julia Ward Howe, andrnJames Russell Lowell. Mrs. Howe, predictably, was appalled byrnthe Roman Church’s failure —indeed, its luiwillingness — tornlive up to the sentiments expressed in flic Declaration of Independencernand the practices of a Boston political ward. Lowellrnagreed with his friend Norton that the Roman Church wasrnmoribund and made it a point to avoid St. Peter on Easter Sundavrnso as not Lo be tempted bv “the mockerv of Pio Nono’s ble.s.smg.”rnMargaret Fuller, the transcendentalist poet, author, journalist,rnand editor, was in Rome in 1848 as a roing correspondentrnfor Horace Creele s New York irilmne when she met WilliamrnWetmore Storv, a Massachusetts attorne’ and son of SupremernCourt Justice Joseph Stor’ w ho had come to ItaK’ to sculpt hisrnfiidicr’s bust on a commission from the Commonwealth. Notrnlong after their meeting, Margaret Fuller anislied, onl’ to reappearrnless dian a mondi later and confide mvsteriouslv, “I am notrnthe same person, but in nian- respects another.” The cause forrnfliis trausforniafion, flic Stors soon learned, was die MarehesernAngelo Ossoli della Torre, the voungest son of a noble famiK’rnthat owned a palazzo in Rome as well as a fortress in die Sabinerncountr’, whom she had met at dusk at St. Peter’s. Though arnmarehese, Ossoli was a partisan of Maz/iiii and a member ofrnthe newK formed Roman militia known as flie Civil Guard.rn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn