‘lliat spring, the Revolution of 1848 broke out all over Europern—Paris, Berlin, and finally Milan, wliose citizens drovernPrincc Radetzky’s troops out of the citv’ and, for a while, out ofrnI,onihard. Ossoli and Margaret were overjovcd by thesernevents; as Fuller wrote, “I ha’e seen the Austrian arms draggedrnthrough tlie streets of Rome and burned in the Piazza del Popolo.”rnShe sent a letter to Greeley resigning as eorrespondent forrnthe paper “just,” he moaned, “as Italy and Europe were in thernthroes of a great Revolution.” Of course, she didn’t give him diernreason: She was pregnant bv Ossoli.rnAfter the f;ill of die short-lived Roman Republic ui 1849,rnMargaret and Ossoli went into hiding. A year later, they set sailrnfor New York on the Elizabeth, which was wrecked seera]rnweeks later off die coa.st of Fire Island. Margaret Fuller, Marc[rnucsa de Ossoli, her husband, and infant child were lost, alongrnwidi the manuscript of Margarcfs work in progress, die Histon>rn()[ the Roman Repuhhc.rnI’wo odier members of the William Wetmore Storv circle inrnRome were Nadianiel Hawihorne and his wife Sophia, who, asrna girl, had known Margaret Fuller in Massachusetts. ForrnHawdiome, Rome was a case of hate at first sight. “I hate thernRoman atmosphere,” he wrote. “[Wjliat impresses me is thernlanguor of Rome, its weary pavements, its little lite, pressedrndown b- die weight of death.” After hvo weeks in the cit-, hernfelt no i)etter about the place. “We have been in Rome . . . arnfortnight,” he wrote in liis Italian Notebooks,”… and I have seldomrnor never spent so wretched a time anywhere. . . . jOIldrnRome docs seem to lie here like a dead and mosdv decayedrncorpse, retaining here and there a trace of die noble shape itrn\ as, but with a sort of fungus growfti upon it, and no life but thernworms diat creep in and out.”rnGradualK, however, his mood softened as he investigatedrnRome furdicr. On a second visit to St. Peter’s, which he had initialKrnfound “a terrible disappointment,” he found its beautyrnand magnitude growing upon him. Fven on his first visit, thisrnroekribbcd New England Puritan had been touched by diernliundrcds of men and vonien kneeling at die numerous confessionals,rnconfessing ftiemsclves in as many languages: “Thisrnpopish religion certainl- docs appK itself most clearl and comfortabh’rnto human occasions,” he wrote at the time. On departingrnRome, his final reflections had to do with his daughter,rnw hoin he feared he and his wife had done no good by bringingrnlier to see the “cih of the soul,” if the result were to be an “unsatisfiedrnearning” to return. He need not have worried: I’liern oung lad, perhaps agreeing widi her father’s conclusion diatrn”Protestantism needs a new apostle to connect it into somethingrnpositie.” entered die Roman Caftiolic Church not many yearsrnlater.rnUnlike Hawthorne, Mark Twain found nothing in the citv torninspire hate, but pleiih to provoke yawns and bad jokes. That,rnainliow, became his literary conceit. “What is ftiere in Romernfor me to see that others hae not seen before me?” he asked inrnThe Innoeents Abroad. “What is there for me to touch ftiat othersrnhae not touched? Wdiat is diere for me to feel, to learn, tornhear, to know, tliat shall thrill me before it pass to ofticrs? Whatrncan I discoxer? Nodiing. Nothing wdiatsocver. One charm ofrntrac] dies here.” In writing The Innocents Abroad, Twain, likerniiiam a satirist before and since, employed excess to counter excessrn—in diis case, using Western knownothingism as a meansrnof deflating die worshipful view of Eiuopcan culture entertainedrnb the American Northeastern elite who were die realrntargets of such episodes in the book as tlie trip to tlie Colosseum,rnwhere he imagines American circus-stle posters adverti.singrnthe gladiatorial combats, or liis put-on of the Roman museumrnguide to whom he and his friends feign an ignorance ofrnselioolbo’ culture. It is possible, in short, to take Mark Twain’srnput-down of the Old World generally, and Rome in particular,rna little more seriously flian he intended it to be taken.rnAt the same time, after the War Between die States, Americanrnisitors to Rome arrived witii a different attitude fromrnwhat their predecessors had displaxed. William Dean Howells,rnthe formally uneducated, small-town Ohio novelist who firstrnsaw the cih’ as a oung man in 1864, arrived ftiere from Venice,rnwhere he was serving as U.S. consul, in a consciously anti-romanticrnframe of mind. His first impressions make evenrnHawthorne’s seem pohte by comparison. In Rome, Howellsrnfound “a dirh’ cowfield . . . filled wifti mere fragments and rubbishrn. . . obscenely defiled by wild beasts of men.” The Forumrnhe thought a morass of “incoherent columns overdirown andrnmixed widi dilapidated walls —doubly representing die past,rnout of which all vocal glor’ had departed.”rnFor Americans in the preceding hundred ears, Rome and itsrnsymbolic Colosseum had been a font of inspiration and the ancientrnRepublic die historic seat of libeiW, defended valiaudy b’rnCineiuuatus, Cicero, and Cato the Younger—American heroesrnall. From uov’ on, however, Howells’ attitude was to becomerntvpical. When Howells saw Rome again in 1908, he wasrnan old man, inteniationalK famous, and America had becomernan empire more powerful tiiau the Modier of Empires. Afterrnbeing escorted round die cih by die mayor, Howells, still unimpressed,rnwent home and wrote an essa’ called “An Effort to bernHonest With Anticjuit}-.” “Rome,” he concluded, “either republicanrnor imperial, was a state for which we can have no genuinernreserence.’rnThe change, of course, did not occur overnight. And dierernwere still well-educated Americans, knowledgeable in classicalrnlearning, who appreciated die Eternal Cih’ for all tiie old reasons.rnHenry Adams in 1860 —die ‘ear before war broke out atrnhome —described a “medieval Rome” he found to be a kind ofrn”sorcer,” while even the modern one he thought “the worstrnspot on earth to teach nineteendi-centurv’ youtii what to do withrna hentieth-centurii’ world”—which, for Adams, wa.s a compliment.rnSitting on the steps of the Ara Coeli—which, with itsrnSanto Bambino, had been for generations die supreme butt ofrnanticlerical Americans—Adams had an intuition: “Rome is goingrnto be America.” Adams understood that, for his fellowrnAmericans, the “Italian troubles,” as he called them, were simplyrna process b which “one more of the ci ilized races” wasrndedicating itself to principles Americans had already decidedrnwere the “lieart and soul of modem civilization.”rnWdieu Henr-James arrixed in 1869, he almost immediatelyrnhad to step aside to aoid being run down by Pio Nino riding inrnhis black coach drawn b- black horses. “At last—for die firstrntime I lie! Ff)r die first time I know what the picturesc|ue is.”rnHis enriiusiasm for die picturesque did not, as it turned out, extendrnto “brutish-looking monks,” “the nncleanness of monarchism,”rnold churches, and so forth. But James loed the Cauipagna,rnwhere he rode horseback regularly, delighting in diernopen couutr}-, American-like in its wildness, and tiie walled citrncontaining a cozy urban world of shops, cafes, theaters, balls,rnand parties; the hvo made, he wrote in his essay “Roman Rides,”rna “double life.” Widiiu the “great gates,” he, like so manyrnAmerican —and German, French, and English —writers.rnMAY 2001/15rnrnrn