Rome, 13. December. 1858.

I have just got your letter ― 2nd & 4th. If you knew how often I have worried myself about the letter I wrote to you, you would not have added coals to my head by writing so kindly. The very fact of my opinions having weight sufficient to draw forth an answer should make me more careful of the ways & manner in which I put them into words or on paper. There are times when I turn into bile and blackness, body & soul, ― & in those phases of life I hate myself & through myself hate everybody, even those I like best. The general accusation of forgetfulness may have had some foundation as regards you, but I am sure I ought not to have written disgustingly ― as I know I did, and, as I set out by saying, I have been thoroughly vexed by having done so ever since. Pray forget this ugly little parenthesis in our friend-life: ― and believe that the irritation of an artist’s life produces much which works its possessor bitterness, when that individual’s brain has been so little guided in youth as mine was. ―

I was at Margate with my old sister on the 25th. Novr. & Clowes joined me on the 26th. at Folkestone {122} ― whence we crossed to Paris & remained there the 27th. & 28th. ― What a splendid city that has become! I never saw anything like the Rue de Rivoli: ― On Monday the 29th. we reached Marseilles, & that evening left for Italy, reaching Rome at midnight on Wednesday the 1st, and glad to get to bed in the Europa. ―

The 12 days since then have been to me the most weary and sadly depressing I have passed for long years. ― And so dismal has been the return here, that only the friendlyness of ancient acquaintances, & the even temper and kindness of Clowes could have kept me above water: ― 2 or 3 times I have nearly resolved on going off straight to America. Day after day I have gone up & down stairs, but could find nothing to live in under any circumstances: ― Every place of any sort I could paint in, furnished, & at Grosvenor-Square prices, fancy, for 3 stuffy pokey rooms, foul, & vile, & up 4 floors, ― 15£ a month! At last, having resolved that I must finish the pictures here ― (which as yet are not heard of even as far as Leghorn) I determined on taking (& I could only get it for 2 years) a set of apartments in the New Palazzo Albertazzi; I have got the 4th floor (half of it) & am furnishing it as fast as I can ―: it is to cost 20£ per quarter, a sum I ought not to pay, & yet cannot avoid nailing myself to: ― As yet I have only got carpets cut, besides a portable bed-stead, six chairs, a pair of bellows, & a pepper-box. Clowes has got a lodging at 31 P. di Spagna & we see much of each other. {123}

But how can I tell you of the curious feelings which an absence of 11 years has occasioned on revisiting this place? It is impossible to do so. Moreover, I wish to send this off to-morrow, Robt. Hay,1 the Knights,2 the Bertie Mathews, Williams, & Gibson,3 are here of old friends.

Dec. 14th. Here is a go! Poor Clowes riding with C. Knight yesterday ― had a fall ― (his horse stepped in a hole) & he has broken his collar bone. So there is enough for me to think of just now. Meanwhile, I can’t get into my rooms yet at all, and am really nearly mad.

  1. Robert Hay was the leading member of an archaeological expedition to Egypt, 1826-32, and forty-nine volumes of his drawings were afterwards purchased by the British Museum. []
  2. The family of John Knight of Wolverley. The eldest daughter married the Duke of Sermoneta; the second daughter, Isabella, was a hopeless invalid. []
  3. John Gibson, the sculptor, who died in Rome 1866. He revived the use of colour in statuary. []