Fellowe and his Wife
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
MY DEAR ODO:
I had the most delightful evening. The informal gathering at our
Ambassador's was really a family affair. I did not know that Lotta Heideloff was his
cousin; as for Herwegh, though no relation, he had a right there as an old and intimate
friend. For myself, I felt de trop. To my delight, I managed to slip away after a
little, unobserved of my friend. I took a vettura and drove to the Pincio. Oh, the sweet
autumnal air! I stood for some time watching Rome in its afternoon glow. Trastevere
gleamed like an onyx. Along the broad avenue below me, leading circuitously down to the
Piazza del Popolo, a score of the young priests of the German College, clad in their
brilliant scarlet robes, went by. Above a house in or near the Via Ripetta a tall, gilt
mercury rose, blazing with sunfire, out of a mass of velvety-looking shadow. But I cannot
tell you all I noticed, all that impressed me. Besides, descriptions are even more
uninteresting than haphazard daubings on a palette. Then I walked along the west walk by
the huge walls overlooking the Borghese's grounds from the gardens of the Pincio. What a
place for a tragic encounter, that gloomy Via dell Mura, which, like a ravine, divides
Prince Borghese's park from the gardens of the Pincio. There was a rustle among the pines
that made my northern heart suddenly ache. A red-breast, whom some poet has aptly called
"the yellow autumn's nightingale," sang a poignantly sweet snatch of song from
the heart of a spurge-laurel. A silent thrush stirred restlessly in the heart of a dense
mass of ilex. The silence was that creative peace wherein the soul takes courage and
inhales new life. I was half unconsciously brooding over my Emilia Viviani, when of a
sudden a clamorous fanfare of trumpets aroused me unpleasantly. I did not wish to be
entertained in that fashion at the moment, so I walked swiftly across the gardens. As I
left the gate, and stood for a few seconds (as I do every time I pass) at the beautiful
wide fountain under the ilexes opposite the French Academy, I was accosted by Friedrich
Herwegh. He walked home with me, and just as we reached my Palazzo (observe my calm
possessive case!), we met Lilien Röhrich. She said she had been hunting for me, and made
me promise to come in during the evening. I had to agree that I would sing also. "I
am depending upon you and Herr Herwegh," she added, wickedly. I did not know he sang.
It appears he is well known socially for his fine voice. He told me he would sing a little
English song that he felt sure I would like.
And it was in truth, as I have said, a delightful evening. I met
some pleasant people, and I was gratified by the wife of the Austrian Ambassador, who has
bought the palace of the ruined Prince Annibale Vescovi, telling me that her husband was
so delighted with my little ivory Diver, that he would not be content till he had one or
two rivals from my chisel. There, you see, Herwegh was right.
I sang two German songs, and then a French one, which I have
never sung to you at least, I think not. The w ords are by De Musset, and begin----
"Quand on perd
Par triste occurrence
Et sa gaieté,
C'est la musique
Et la beauté."
I was paid such a charming compliment apro-pos to the two
Then Herwegh sang. Both his voice and the song itself affected me
strangely. I understand it is by a young Jewess. He sings well; not, perhaps, so
masterfully as I had expected, but with a certain thrilling lilt which is irresistible. I
can remember only the first stanza; perhaps, indeed, it is the whole poem. Now that I
think of it, I fancy it is---
"What does youth know of love ?
Little enough, I trow !
He plucks the myrtle for his brow,
For his forehead the rose.
Nay, but of love
It is not youth who knows."
Is that not fine ? but you should hear it wedded to apt
music, and then sung by Friedrich Herwegh. I was introduced to two Italians. Herwegh
seems to know them intimately. Lucrezia Mallerini is a beautiful woman. She is a
Southerner of Southerners in type. Herwegh called her a Gracco-Romano-Etrurian type, of
which is somewhat too complex for me. She gave me quite an unpleasant sensation; and why?
Do not laugh; 't was her resemblance to my imaginary Emilia Viviani! She was very
courteous in her chill Roman way. Yet I fancy --- nay, I am sure --- she does not take to
me. She is, I think, a little too conscious of her beauty. Still less did I like her
husband, Cesaro. He is tall, dark, with a forebidding smile continually on his lips. She
would do for a Delilah, he for a --- for a --- well, I don't know whom. It does not
matter. I dare say they will improve upon acquaintanceship, for I am to see something of
them, I suppose. They know the Röhrichs fairly well, and Herwegh almost
intimately. I cannot imagine him being so enthusiastic as he professes about la
bella Lucrezia. I was at his studio today; and I looked to see if he had utilized her
type in his sculptures. He had not. This puzzles me. Alas! if I do not stop, the German
post will go without my letter. Addio, dear Odo.
P.S. Tell me