Rollo in Rome by Jacob Abbott
Rollo in Rome by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879
I.- -THE DILIGENCE OFFICE,
II.- -THE JOURNEY,
III.- -THE ARRIVAL AT ROME,
IV.- -A RAMBLE,
V.- -GETTING LOST,
VI.- -THE COLISEUM,
VII.- -THE GLADIATOR,
VIII.- -THE TARPEIAN ROCK,
IX.- -GOING TO OSTIA,
X.- -THE VATICAN,
ROLLO IN ROME.
THE DILIGENCE OFFICE.
Rollo went to Rome in company with his uncle George, from Naples. They
went by the diligence, which is a species of stage coach. There are
different kinds of public coaches that ply on the great thoroughfares in
Italy, to take passengers for hire; but the most common kind is the
The diligences in France are very large, and are divided into different
compartments, with a different price for each. There are usually three
compartments below and one above. In the Italian diligences, however, or
at least in the one in which Mr. George and Rollo travelled to Rome,
there were only three. First there was the _interior_, or the body of
the coach proper. Directly before this was a compartment, with a glass
front, containing one seat only, which looked forward; there were, of
course, places for three persons on this seat. This front compartment is
called the _coupe_. It is considered the best in the diligence.
[Footnote 1: Pronounced _coupay_.]
There is also a seat up above the _coupe_, in a sort of second story, as
it were; and this was the seat which Mr. George and Rollo usually
preferred, because it was up high, where they could see better. But for
the present journey Mr. George thought the high seat, which is called
the _banquette_, would not be quite safe; for though it was covered
above with a sort of chaise top, still it was open in front, and thus
more exposed to the night air. In ordinary cases he would not have been
at all afraid of the night air, but the country between Naples and Rome,
and indeed the country all about Rome, in every direction, is very
unhealthy. So unhealthy is it, in fact, that in certain seasons of the
year it is almost uninhabitable; and it is in all seasons considered
unsafe for strangers to pass through in the night, unless they are well
There is, in particular, one tract, called the _Pontine Marshes_, where
the road, with a sluggish canal by the side of it, runs in a straight
line and on a dead level for about twenty miles. It so happened that in
going to Rome by the diligence, it would be necessary to cross these
marshes in the night, and this was an additional reason why Mr. George
thought it better that he and Rollo should take seats inside.
The whole business of travelling by diligence in Europe is managed in a
very different way from stage coach travelling in America. You must
engage your place several days beforehand; and when you engage it you
have a printed receipt given you, specifying the particular seats which
you have taken, and also containing, on the back of it, all the rules
and regulations of the service. The different seats in the several
compartments of the coach are numbered, and the prices of them are
different. Rollo went so early to engage the passage for himself and Mr.
George that he had his choice of all the seats. He took Nos. 1 and 2 of
the _coupe_. He paid the money and took the receipt. When he got home,
he sat down by the window, while Mr. George was finishing his breakfast,
and amused himself by studying out the rules and regulations printed on
the back of his ticket. Of course they were in Italian; but Rollo found
that he could understand them very well.
"If we are not there at the time when the diligence starts, we lose our
money, uncle George," said he. "It says here that they won't pay it
"That is reasonable," said Mr. George. "It will be our fault if we are
"Or our misfortune," said Rollo; "something might happen to us."
"True," said Mr. George; "but the happening, whatever it might be, would
be _our_ misfortune, and not theirs, and so we ought to bear the loss of
"If the baggage weighs more than thirty _rotolos_, we must pay extra for
it," continued Rollo. "How much is a _rotolo_, uncle George?"
"I don't know," said Mr. George, "but we have so little baggage that I
am sure we cannot exceed the allowance."
"The baggage must be at the office two hours before the time for the
diligence to set out," continued Rollo, passing to the next regulation
on his paper.
"What is that for?" asked Mr. George.
"So that they may have time to load it on the carriage, they say," said
"Very well," said Mr. George, "you can take it to the office the night
"They don't take the risk of the baggage," said Rollo, "or at least they
don't guarantee it, they say, against unavoidable accidents or superior
force. What does that mean?"
"Why, in case the diligence is struck by lightning, and our trunk is
burned up," replied Mr. George, "or in case it is attacked by robbers,
and carried away, they don't undertake to pay the damage."
"And in case of _smarrimento_," continued Rollo, "they say they won't
pay damages to the amount of more than nine dollars, and so forth; what
is a _smarrimento_, uncle George?"
"I don't know," said Mr. George.
"It may mean a smash-up," said Rollo.
"Very likely," said Mr. George.
"Every traveller," continued Rollo, looking again at his paper, "is
responsible, personally, for all violations of the custom-house
regulations, or those of the police."
"That's all right," said Mr. George.
"And the last regulation is," said Rollo, "that the travellers cannot
smoke in the diligence, nor take any dogs in."
"Very well," said Mr. George, "we have no dogs, and we don't wish to
smoke, either in the diligence or any where else."
"They are very good regulations," said Rollo; and so saying, he folded
up the paper, and put it back into his wallet.
On the evening before the day appointed for the journey, Rollo took the
valise which contained the principal portion of his own and his uncle's
clothes, and went with it in a carriage to the office. Mr. George
offered to accompany him, but Rollo said it was not necessary, and so he
took with him a boy named Cyrus, whom he had become acquainted with at
The carriage, when it arrived at the diligence station, drove in under
an archway, and entered a spacious court surrounded by lofty buildings.
There was a piazza, with columns, all around the court. Along this
piazza, on the four sides of the building, were the various offices of
the different lines of diligences, with the diligences themselves
standing before the doors.
"Now, Cyrus," said Rollo, "we have got to find out which is our office."
But Rollo was saved any trouble on this score, for the coachman drove
the carriage directly to the door of the office for Rome. Rollo had told
him that that was his destination, before leaving the hotel.
There was a man in a sort of uniform at the door of the office. Rollo
pointed to his valise, and said, in Italian, "For Rome to-morrow
morning." The man said, "Very well," and taking the valise out of the
carriage, he put it in the office. Then Rollo and Cyrus got into the
carriage again, and rode away.
The next morning Mr. George and Rollo went down to breakfast before six
o'clock. While they were eating their breakfast, the waite