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Manuscript Journal of a month in Rome
Roma 1860 - Written in very fine ink, circa 600/800 words per page. 8vo. The loose leaves bear no name, but it opens with Stocking reporting rounds to various offices for papers required to enter Rome, then under French control. Stocking's thoroughness here allowed his identification, as a check of U.S. Consular reports from Naples show just one visa application of any sort on February 14th - that of DeLafayette Stocking, for Rome.DeLafayette Stocking (1816 - 1872) was the second child of the Rev. Solon Stocking of Binghampton, New York. Despite the apparent level of seriousness displayed in the diary, DeLafayette came from a family prone to light-heartedness, at least in the choice of names; his father was one of eleven children with names each starting with the letter "S". In DeLafayette's generation, all nine children had names starting with "D". The family is perhaps more notable for including Captain Abner Stocking, a sea captain who fought at Bunker Hill and later sailed a Revolutionary privateer. He was DeLafayette's great grandfather. (See C. Stocking - "THE STOCKING ANCESTRY", 1903).Stocking is not unhappy to leave Naples, fed up in particular with over-eager carriage drivers, but he does look back from the deck of the steamer at the Neapolitan panorama with some pleasant memories. With gentle irony he describes the petty fees, the jostling of porters, the complexities of baggage clearance at Civita Vecchia, the passengers with ten small bundles each, suggesting the hassles of travel with good nature.Stocking's style throughout is candid. As he approaches Rome, the Tiber looks like "a good-sized muddy brook". Although the road from the rail terminal is "remarkably clean", the view it affords of the Imperial city is greatly disappointing.His chambers secured, Stocking first sets out to the Corso, where he finds a "magnificent" carnival scene - costumes, carriages, "battles" with comfits and bouquets, a riderless horse race, etc. He spends his first evening at an oil-lit theatre full of revellers.The diary includes comment on everyday things as well as monuments and works of art. Rome is lit with gas, he notes, though the shops and dwellings generally use oil and candles. Letters home may be prepaid or not, and so on. His colourful account of the market at the Piazza Navona, where he finds everything from gems to shoe strings on sale , is, typically, followed by a respectful, even awestruck, description of the Pantheon.In one entry, after a long walk up the Tiber, Stocking describes much that has disappeared; leather spread out on the banks by riverside tanners, the steamer dock, two grist mills ("the whole establishment being on boats anchored in the centre of the Tiber"), a rope-drawn ferry, and, farther down, "a frail suspension bridge".He has earlier described the thousands of French troops in the city, but Sunday, February 19th, intending to visit St. Peters he is distracted by a military display in the Piazza del Popolo; the French 4th Regiment, assembled for a ceremony of promotion. They stood ".two deep untill the arena was lined with troops in neat trim with their bleu coats, scarlet unmentionables and glittering bayonets.", followed by heavy artillery with "fine draft horses", the commandants escorted by fifty horsemen, "an imposing sight".Monday February 20th, he discovers the "principle shops" and speaks of their style of trading, "which involves the system of beating down to an enormous extent as every shopkeeper asks just half as much again as he expects to receive and if one is fool enough to give what is asked he has the satisfaction of laughing at your modesty and ignorance". He is very dismissive of the range and quality of goods on offer, "I have not seen a native indulge in the luxury of butter". After some wandering he takes dinner, for which he reserves some special scorn, "Restaurants are villainously poor in Rome.the only thing that can be got in perfection are the fried potatoes".Tuesday 21st, after a visit [Attributes: Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: James Cummins Bookseller, ABAA]
Last Found On: 2016-11-25           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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