[Rome—Sunday, 12 February 1860]

Sunday 12th In Rome. The day was mild and somewhat rainy. Just my idea of Rome days. The very atmosphere shadowed by the past. We went at once to St. Peters and passed several hours. It did not seem large to me, wonderful in its inexhausible detail but without a largeness in itself which I had hoped to find. The Cathedrals of Florence and Pisa are more impressive and the whole seemed to me as much a failure as the Tower of Babel, with the difference that this is finished and perfect but as if to prove the folly of man’s success, a total failure from its very perfection. We lingered about an hour longer than we intended in order to hear the Vespers. The music was certainly very beautiful but the sight of men singing with the voices of women was something so revolting we could not stay. Drove to the Coliseum. What beauty what repose dwells here! A consecration more solemn than that of the church is performed here afresh before the mind of each new comer. The spirit of beauty and of love look out upon us from the ruined arches. How much more beautiful in their ruin than in their strength. Shelley and Byron seem to live for me among the lovely ruins of old Rome.

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