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Quarters; ” and though Florence, in less degree no doubt than “ Universal Rome,” is a theme that seems never to be exhausted and never to pall, Lamia advances no request that it should be struck twice for a stream that has already flowed so abundantly. “But tell me,” she says, as we sit outside the Villa which once housed the neoplatonist, Marsilio Ficino, and gaze down on Florence, that must have looked in Medicean days pretty much as it looks now, “ of your first Winter in Florence, in the way you have recalled something of your first Winter in Rome. It followed the latter, within a twelvemonth, did it not ? " “Yes,” I said. “When, a year before that again, I saw Florence for the first time, but remained for only ten days, naturally I resolved to form better acquaintance with it before much more water had flowed under the Ponte Vecchio. I had never forgotten sitting on the Sasso di Dante, not then yet, as now, let into the wall, and peeling fig after fig from a wellstored basket, while gazing at Giotto's Tower and Brunelleschi's Dome ; and the all-embracing walls, the rough stony ascent to San Miniato, and the outline of the Carrara hills, when the sun set beyond the Cascine, had equally retained their hold on my memory. But, in the brief interval, Florence had been selected as the Capital of Italy, in order, in vain as it turned out, to counteract the cry of “Roma Capitale !” The contractors were already at work, pulling down the old walls, substituting for them Viali or Boulevards, and committing other enormities of a like sort. As everybody who knows Florence is aware, worse has happened since then ; but it would need much renovating Vandalism to destroy the beauty of the City of Dante; and, of all the most famous towns of Italy, Florence has suffered least from merciless restoration. In the winter I speak of, little of the kind had yet been done ; and, as I could not well live in a villa all by myself, I had to be satisfied with renting a bachelor apartment at No. 14, Lung' Arno Acciaioli, and dining every day at the Club de' Nobili, as it was called, in the adjacent Via Tornabuoni. I had brought but one letter of introduction with me, but in the Florence of those days one soon knew everybody, if it were one's desire to do so. It was for a maiden lady whose name was then a household word in Florence, and, as that of an English authoress both in prose and verse, was not unknow in England likewise. But it is an oblivious world, this we live in ; which caused Tennyson once to say that, in the course of time, all that would survive of him would be an entry in some biographical encyclopaedia to this effect: “Tennyson (Alfred), a poet of the nineteenth century, who invented a new metre.” I think one may safely say that will prove, centuries hence, an unfulfilled prediction. But when I name Isa Blagden, most persons will ask, Who was Isa Blagden f Externally she was not, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, exceptionally favoured; but she had a beautiful soul, a quickly vibrating and richly stored mind, and an attaching personality—one, in short, whom to know was to love. Quick sympathy, especially when allied with exceptional intelligence, often confers on its possessor a kind of second sight; and one example of this in Isa Blagden comes, as the phrase is, very close home to me. Once when I had walked up to the Villa Giglione, and found her occupied in writing a note that had to be taken at once to Florence, I opened a small book of photographic portraits lying on the table, and when she was free to attend to me, asked, “Who is that ?” “The person you ought to marry, if you can,” she answered. I did not know she meant seriously what she had said, and, to tell the truth, I gave it no further thought. But when, some months later, I took leave of her before returning to England she handed me a note and said : “This will afford you the opportunity of making the acquaintance of the original of the photograph that, on your seeing it, betrayed you into an unusual exhibition of curiosity.” Not sharing her second sight, I put the note in my pocketbook, and there it remained, scarce remembered, for some time. But, one day in London, seeing I could not catch the train by which I had intended to return to the country, and, finding myself in the neighbourhood of the address on Isa's note, I presented it. [“May I ask,” I said to the Poet, on reading the preceding reminiscence, “if the photograph was of some one who has just driven into Florence on a corporal work of mercy, viz., to bring out certain fancy bread from the English baker to which you are much addicted 7” “Your talent for guessing, Lamia,” he answered, “is almost equal to dear Isa’s.”—Lamia.] I can remember no gradual growth of friendship with Thoma Adolphus Trollope, the author of the well-known History of the Commonwealth of Florence. Though he was my senior by a quarter of a century, we seemed to be close friends from the very moment we first grasped each other's hands. Unlike his brother Anthony, who, though likewise a delightful companion, and brimming over with active intelligence, was in no accurate sense of the word intellectual, and as unhelpful and impatient an arguer as I ever met, Thomas Adolphus Trollope rejoiced in threshing out afresh the old metaphysical and theological problems, handling them with a rare dialectical skill; and many a duologue had we on those unendingly interesting themes. But such were far from being our only joint diversion. He was known to all the English residents in Florence as “dear old Tom Trollope,” not because of his age, for he was then but little past the meridian of life, but of the affection he inspired, and most of all in the younger and more attractive members of that community ; and many a delightful evening did we sally forth together to pass among folk of very moderate means, but fair looks, merry ways, and congenial hospitality. I had not known him long before he took me one evening to one of the most agreeable houses I ever visited, that of Franz Pulzsky, the Hungarian patriot and scholar, whom the events of 1848–9 had driven into exile. His wife, the daughter of a Viennese banker, was as charming a hostess as he was a genial host; and, assisted by her young children, she entertained the most heterogeneous body of guests I ever saw gathered together, all equally at home in his spacious Italian Villa on the Southern side of the Arno. On the occasion of my first visit there, not very long after my arrival, he quitted for a moment his valuable collection of coins he was showing to some other guests, and, coming over to where I was, said in the stentorian tones he seemed incapable of modifying : “Ha! there you are. I see you have already made the acquaintance of this beautiful lady. But she must surrender you for a little, for I want to make you acquainted with her husband.” Petitioning to be allowed to return, I rose, and soon found myself in the presence of the famous Nihilist, Bakounin, a huge mountain of a man who was sipping a tumbler of tea made in Russian fashion, and propounding to a circle of attentive listeners the most destructive of social doctrines in the most cheerful manner imaginable. The little group around him made way for us. “Here, Bakounin, I want to make known to you an English Conservative who will listen to your revolutionary theories with amicable toleration, but whom you must not detain too long, for he has only just made the acquaintance of your wife, to whom I have no doubt he is longing to return.” Such were the easy ways of that varied and polyglot society, where musicians, painters, patriotic versifiers, political

fugitives with a price placed on their heads, erudite professors, and fair gracious women, gave one abundant choice of social diversion. Of Bakounin and his wife, a Polish lady some years younger than her eloquent husband, and endowed with the proverbial attractiveness of her race, I saw much during that Florentine winter and spring, cultivating with them an acquaintance singularly agreeable since so fresh and original. But in the course of it an incident equally unique, but less pleasant, and in sooth most absurd, arose out of the over-hasty temper of two young people, of whom I am sorry to say I was one. There was a promising Italian violinist, whose name I do not remember, whom certain musical enthusiasts wished to buy off from the leva, Anglicè the Conscription, in order that he might pursue uninterruptedly his professional career. For this purpose a series of Tableaux Vivans were to be given in the Sala Dante, and some of the most attractive persons in Florence were pressed into the service. I really do not know why, but I was named honorary Secretary, having no duties to discharge, save to occupy, to cite a famous historic phrase, a position of absolute freedom and no responsibility, which entitled me to be present at the rehearsals of the projected performance. Madame Bakounin had to represent Lucrezia Buti in a Tableau in which a Polish artist, a cousin of hers, was to be Fră Lippo Lippi. At one of the rehearsals I offered to escort her home. It was a drive of only some five or six minutes, but, as it was a wet evening, I thought the same conveyance would serve for both. I cannot help smiling as I recall what ensued. On reaching the foot of the steps of the Sala, Fra Lippo Lippi was at our side, and a difference of opinion arose between us as to whose was the carriage that had been hailed. He failed somewhat in courtesy, and being then, like him, in my hot youth, I am afraid I had not my temper duly in hand. The result was that, after Continental fashion, he said, “Vous me rendereg raison,” the English of which is, “You will give me satisfaction.” I as promptly replied, “I shall be found to-morrow between three and four at the Club de' Nobili,” and carried off the Nun from the exasperated Friar. Early on the morrow I acquainted Pulzsky with what had occurred, and gave him to understand that, annoying as it was, I should, of course, as the phrase is, stick to my guns. I went to the club in the afternoon at three o'clock and remained there till four, but no one asked for me. Oddly enough, Bakounin was to spend the evening with me in my little apartment on the Arno, and he, ignorant then and always, I dare say, of the ridiculous incident, consigned to perdition governments and society in the most genial and entertaining manner. I went to the Pergola theatre the following evening, and, on the point of leaving after the fall of the curtain, I was accosted by Fi a Lippo Lippi, now clothed like an ordinary citizen and in his right mind. He held out his hand, saying, “Am I right in believing you had no wish to insult me the other evening f" I answered, “Certainly; and let us forget all about it"; which we both did, and I walked homeward exhilarated, I will confess, by the reflection that I had escaped what one's own countrymen, without farther inquiry, would have regarded as little to one's credit. I asked no questions, but do not doubt that Madame Bakounin had intimated her disapproval of a proceeding into which Florence, then as now justly charged with having a double dose of the mauvaise langue, might without the faintest foundation have dragged her own irreproachable name. After Sadowa and the introduction into Austro-Hungary of the Déak Constitution, Pulzsky was free to return to Buda-Pesth. Within three months of doing so he lost his wife and eldest daughter, victims to the malady that was then prevailing there. Many years later, when I visited him in the Hungarian capital on returning from an excursion to Greece, Constantinople, and Roumania, he narrated to me how he had met Bakounin in the streets of Geneva, how the famous Nihilist had said to him that, despairing of the success of all projects for the amelioration of Society and Mankind, he was starving himself to death, which he calculated would occur in about three days' time. “What was Lucrezia Buti like f" asks Lamia. Falling in with her manifestly mischievous humour, I answer: “Her complexion was, shall I say, white as the summit of Etna tinged with the rosy-pink of sunrise, and her eyes were blue as the scillas that peer through the snow in Spring over Siberian steppes.” “Just so,” says Lamia in her most audacious manner. “I quite understand. Still, I cannot help regretting, for the interest of the Diary, that Fra Lippo Lippi's challenge had so lame a conclusion.” My sojourn in Florence did not end till there had taken place, in the middle of May, the celebration of the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Dante, when not only the palaces and bridges, but the outlying Villas for miles round the city, were illuminated with oil-fed lamps and cressets, when the Piazza of the Uffizi was covered in and its pavement boarded over for a Peasants' Ball, and when at the Pagliano Theatre were represented the most picturesque scenes from the Divina Commedia ; Ristori, Salvini, and Rossi reciting the corresponding

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