Rome in 1859: ‘plenty of distraction, and no Men and Women’

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Robert caught cold two or three days ago; in spite of which he chose to get up at six every morning as usual and go out to walk with Mr Eckley.1 Only by miracle and nux2 is he much better to-day. I thought he was going to have a furious grippe, as last year and the year before. I must admit, however, that he is extremely well just now, to speak generally, and that this habit of regular exercise (with occasional homoeopathy) has thrown him into a striking course of prosperity, as to looks, spirits and appetite. He eats ‘vulpinely’ he says — which means that a lark or two is no longer enough for dinner. At breakfast the loaf perishes by Gargantuan slices. He is plunged into gaieties of all sorts, caught from one hand to another like a ball, has gone out every night for a fortnight together, and sometimes two or three times deep in a one night’s engagements. So plenty of distraction, and no Men and Women.3 Men and women from without instead! I am shut up in the house of course, and go to bed when he goes out — and the worst is, that there’s a difficulty in getting books. Still, I get what I can, and stop up the chinks with Swedenborg;4 and in health am very well, for me, and in tranquillity excellently well. Not that there are not people more than enough who come to see me, but that there is nothing vexatious just now; life goes smoothly, I thank God, and I like Rome better than I did last time.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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