April 17? 1833Emerson is still on his first trip to Europe. He travelled alone and his companions here in Rome are temporary acquaintences. His appreciation for Rome's beauty contrasts with his report of Naples a month earlier. There, he found it difficult to see things with his own eyes, neither distracted by "trumpery considerations" such as "staring at a few dozen idlers on the street" nor overwhelmed by expectations of magnificence -- "overawed by names." Though Emerson had studied Italian, he is not at this time and never became completely comfortable in any foreign language.
What pleasant fountains all over Rome in every villa, garden, & piazza. An eye for beauty is nature's gift to this people; they delight in bright colours & in all ornaments. As we sat in the Caffé, we agreed that it was decorated & furnished with a beauty & good taste which could not be rivaled in America.
No man should travel until he has learned the language of the country he visits. Otherwise he voluntarily makes himself a great baby -- so helpless & so ridiculous.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
From the Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson.