Rough Scan
March 190-
DEAR CHRISTINA, - I got a fright to-day with Miss Celandine tellin' me that she was sure my tendency to ombongpong was increasing. Mercy me ! I was feared I had got a hidden disease in my inside that I bad never notticed ! but she said that she only meant that I was getting fatter.
Rome is a healthy locality, but there is a deal of a queer disease they call tonsures going about; it generally attacks the head - men's heads parteeclarly - it must be a sore trouble. It's queer that none of the folk in Scotland has it. Castor oil is a grand thing for the hair. When I was a bairn at Carldoddie, my mother used to put castor oil on our heads every Sabbath morning (there were seven of us); it was a general custom in the village, and the grand folks that used to bide with the Laird for the shooting said they were kept away from public worship on the Sabbath-Day because they could not abide the smell of it. "What various hindrances we meet, in coming to the mercy-seat."
We have been to see St Peter's, which is the principal Established Church in the place: but it is a Catholic Church, mind you; fair rideeclous! Miss Jean says it is not very old, any way they've not got the pews putten in yet. It is a goodish-sized place, bigger than St Giles's, I will say that; but there's no' much comfort about it. They were singing in what they call the Gregorium chapel, and no' a few of the priests were as ombongpongy as me. Miss Jean told me that they were singing the Psalms in Latin - such a carry-on! When I thought on the folk in Carldoddie Church singing "O send Thy light forth and Thy truth" (Psalm 43, verse 3) on a Sacrament Sunday, to the tune of "Invocation"; the men first- "My harp," and then the women- "My harp," and then all the folk together loud- "My harp I will employ, I will employ," I wondered that Italians would put off their time singing Psalms that nobody could understan'; but "ye mun hing as ye grow."
I will not attempt to enumerate the tombs we saw. Although not so plentiful as in Westminster Abbey, still there's a good few of them, all the choicest saints being, appearingly, in their graves. The last of the Stuarts lies cold and dead in a strange land, and John Knox is buried somewhere too - I canna mind where.
After we came out of St Peter's, Miss Celandine was set to go and get her new gown tried on, and nothing would serve her but that Miss Jean would go with her. After Miss Celandine was tried on, Miss Jean was tired, and wanted away home, so I went with her in a carotska. Miss Celandine bade me come for her to a Church near hand that she wished to see; (I'll wager there's a Church in very near every street in Rome!) she said I was to come to the West door, and she would meet me there. Well, away I went my lea-lane, after I saw Miss Jean settled for a rest, but, by the time I had got to the appointed Church, I couldna mind which was North, South, East, nor West, and there was doors round and round. First I stood a whilie at the front door. Then up came a grand gentleman in a cocked hat and a sword danglin' at his side, and says he in some foreign language, (I suppose) for I didna ken the words, "You're no' allowed to stand here more than one hour at a time." "Mercy!" says I: "You're welcome," says he, and away I went to the back-door. I hadna stood there long before anither gentleman came by and looked at me: back he came again, and says he, "Ye better either gang in or come out." "I'm waitin' on a lady," says I to him, but he lifted the curtain at the door, and waved his hand, and bade me go in to the body of the Kirk. I went in a wee bittie, but when I saw the smoking insecks, I fled like a brand snatched from the burning. Once I was safe out, I thought I would try another door, and no sooner was I settled than Miss Celandine came fleeing round the corner like an antelope, real glad to see me. She said she had stooden hours at the West door, like the boy on the burning deck, and she gave me his whole history on the road home. Puir young gentleman; if he had fled like me when he felt the smell of the burning he would mebbe have been drowned.
See and screw down the gas tight when you go to your beds; the wastry of gas that I see going on in some folk's houses is lamentable. - Believe me, yours truly,