29 Piazza di Spagna
March 9. 1879.
My dear Prince
I missed you dreadfully when you were gone, and thought it quite too melancholy to pass the closed windows of the Palazzo Rocca-Giovina. But I was delighted to hear of all your doings through the long kind letter of M. de Printzsköld, and was so glad that the glorious weather we have had here extended to Naples. I only hope you may see Amalfi, which I think as much more beautiful than Sorrento, as Sorrento is than ?Helsingfors - and I shall also be very sorry if you go away without looking upon the sublime grandeur of Pćstum, all notions of brigands being quite ridiculous at this season - when so many people are on the road.
I have been much taken up by chaperoning my betrothed couple - Lord Hylton and Lady ?Dunnaven. We went first to Frascati, taking many other people with us. After seeing the villas, and an excellent dinner at the inn, I sent all the others up to ?Juvenlum, but suggested that the interesting pair would like best to go with me quietly to Villa ?Mondragone. On the way of course I suggested that I was in a hurry, but that they would like to linger by themselves in the sun at Villa Borghese, whence I need hardly say they did not emerge all afternoon!. Then we went to Ostia, where little Agatha Joliffe and I left them to meander about the ruins, while we picked up as many as we could carry of the beautiful marbles with which the hills are covered : and then, after luncheoun at Castel ?Fusano, while I drew, they walked down through the forest to the sea. Most beautiful was that forest, filled with Meditteranean heath, rosemary, and ?laurestium in full bloom, and ??????empatted???? with sweet cyclamen. The wedding is to be at the Embassy on Easter Monday, and I am much pressed to stay for it, but cannot. I do however for various reasons stay till the 22! (shall I see my Prince as he passes through Rome?) and then go for two or three days visit to the Duke of Sermoneta at Palazzo ?Mozzi at Florence, and perhaps for a few days to Princess Rospigliosi near Pistoia, whence I hasten to be in England at the end of the month. Your royal Mother and the Princess of Wied have most kindly wished that I should go to Segenhaus before returning to England, but this is now quite impossible.
Another subject which has occupied me since you left, has been a mournful one - the deathbed and funeral of the well known English author William Howitt. He was only slightly known to me, but, by the wish of his family, I attended the funeral and walked immediately after his children, with Baron Hoffman, Mrs. ?Jerry, and Prince George of ?Solms. There was a very long procession, and the service was a very touching one. As he was a Quaker, hymns were beautifully sing in the open air, and the coffin quite invisible from the wreaths of camelias, lilies, and violets sent from all parts.
Just after you left, at Princess Bandini's, I saw the proud Duke & Dss of Weimar. The Lady in Waiting, on hearing my name, most cleverly recollected all about me, and an old family connection of ours with the Weimar Count, so that I was kindly & cordially received. The Grand Duke went at once on arriving to the blind Duke of ?Sermoneta & took an autograph letter of introduction from his Father, so the Duke gave a regular dinner-party for him, an event which has never occurred before since his blindness! It was however a small party - only the Kendalls and ?Minghetti's and myself besides the family - but crowds of people in the evening. I was glad to have much conversation with Madame de Kendall for the first time, and thought her most pleasing and good. It was arranged that I should shew the Palace of the ?Cavan to the Grand Ducal pair, but it has been given up since for fear of offending all the German archeologists! -
The Paget riding parties have been unfortunate lately. Buchanans horse reared as he was mounting at the door & fell backwards and Buchanan was much hurt, and another man, Colonel Bridgeman, got a bad fall the same day.
I am sorry to fear from my last letters from Sweden that I may not be able to be of as much use as I hoped to my Prince when he comes to London, as it appears that all his acquaintances must come through Count Piper, which I fear will involve their being very little extended beyond the court and diplomatic circles - as foreign ministers have seldom much acquaintance with other society in England. Doubtless there are wise and good reasons for this change of plans, but I am sorry, as I wished you so much to see something of the happy English family-life, and I think you would have enjoyed the large merry Englinsh country-houses. The king and Queen only make a decided exception in the case of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, whom the King remembers as the most beautiful woman in Europe, and who is still one of the best and most charming. Lady Waterford has lived in quiet retirement since her widowhood. Still, if my Prince were able to go to her in the autumn at her great castle in Northumberland, he would have a truly royal reception. If the visit is paid earlier - only to her beautiful villa on the Hampshire sea-coast, it could only be quite private (as to an old friend of your royal Father) with a single gentleman, and only meeting one or two people, besides General and Mrs. Stewart & myself.
I hope my Prince is not forgetting English and that the reading of the English books goes on. All your friends here ask after you very cordially, including Lady Paget, who receives today - no Uncle or Aunt having died this week! Princess Gabinelli & Countess ?Runioli were glad to hear of you. I have seen them both twice. I met Pss Altieri at the Hoffmanns, but had no courage to talk to her, as she was the central figure in such a horribly stiff row of princesses!
With best remembrances to your companions & many thanks for M. de Printzskölds letter, I am, with all respect & devotion,
Augustus J C Hare