[Boston—Friday, 23 October 1863]

October 23. Mr Stillman, artist and American Consul to Rome, came in unexpectedly to breakfast. One of the intelligent Castellani brothers is yet in Rome and has of late made new and highly interesting discoveries at Palestrina about 22 miles from Rome. Large pits like the Latin Columbasia have been discovered but they are of anti-Etruscan date belonging to the Osci and earlier tribes: (if such existed) the important fact seems to be that these are early Latin and not Greek. Very beautiful many of them are and all of great interest. Large caskets filled with paraphernalia are found in different stages of decomposition or preservation. A divining rod as it is supposed of some ancient priest or priestess has been found lately among the Etruscan discoveries. It is a slender tube of gold covered with exquisite gold tracery, laid on the top surmounted with a Corinthian capital of leaves perfectly imitated in beaten gold. The leaves are upturned and enclose a gem like chrysoprase, now somewhat decayed.

This seems like living poetry to draw such wonders from the sodden earth.

Mr Stillman said he knew well Dante and Christina Rossetti. Their mother was an Italian lady, their father an Englishman. Hence Italian is a second mother tongue to them. He read a portion from a letter he carried in his pocket from Dante G. Rossetti in which he spoke nobly of his sympathy with America and of the utter folly of Ruskin and Carlyle, the former of whom, he says, has proved himself a base imitator of the latter.

He says Rossetti thinks little of his own poems compared with his other life work. His sister’s success is a real pleasure to the brothers.

Went to Quincy to dine with Josiah Quincy Jr. and the family. Where is there a more interesting group from the aged great-grand-parent of upwards of 90 years, hale and strong as his son to the infant of a few weeks old, the youngest child of Josiah P. Quincy. There was a touch of romance added to all this which surely needs nothing. As we approached the door we found the family playing “croquet” on the lawn in front of the house. In addition to the familiar faces was a bright sweet-looking young girl. We discovered her to be Miss Dehon, the lady who was overturned in the water this summer while sailing with her brother and was rescued by Coll Quincy and her own presence of mind. She is passing the season with her family in a cottage near by. It was not difficult to see that the romantic beginning was about to ripen into permanent romance. After the coquetters had left the field the coquetters still occupied it talking together in a free way which was delightful to see. I shall be disappointed if the Colonel did not rescue his bride from that gulf of waves.


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