My Dearest Maude,

You know that the Randoms have just returned from their Ions residence on the Continent, and I am longing to tell you that I spent a day last week with Imogen Random, who kindly showed me her jewel casket. O, Maude! how I wish, for you to share my excitement! I have not yet recovered it, and the only comfort I have, is that, last night, after dinner, I coaxed Papa into a promise that we shall spend next winter in Rome ourselves! Imogen says, of course there is a great deal to see in Rome that everybody must see, but then you know, dear, we read about all those things when we were at school, and we can buy plenty of photographs of the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Temples, &c, to show our friends in England where we have been, so that we need not waste much time upon them. My great obJect in Rome is to go, the very first thing, to that dear, delightful, interesting shop, Castellani's, in the Via Poli, where, Imogen says, you have nothing to do hut to lay down scudi enough, in order to be made perftectly classical in appearance and style. Only think of that! Every thing there is taken exactly from the antique, so that you are quite safe in choosing whatever you like, and cannot go wrong.

By the way, however, Imogen says, it is just as well to take a look at the Etruscan room in the Carnpana Museum when you have a spare hour, that you may satisfactorily judge for yourself what perfect copies Castellani's ornaments are. Imogen’s jewel-casket contains two or three handsome Bullas, one set with stones of lapis lazuli, one with rubies, and all with those charming devices in raised gold letters A E I, PAX LUX, VIS, &c, &c. Also an immensely thick and massive gold circlet for the throat, in exact imitation of the cord round the neck of the dying gladiator — Etruscan armlets and fibula; of every possible pattern and device, rings for every day in the week with the name of the appropriate god engraved on each (as Saturn for Saturday, &c), and as for Greek daggers and Roman pius for the hair, they are innumerable!

Left: A Pair of Earrings in the Etruscan Style. Middle: "Taranto" pyramid earrings. Right: Classical Revival Snake Brooch. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Imogen, however, confided to me (and I am sure I am committing no breach of trust in imparting it all to you, dear), that the only drawback to her classical arrangements is her very small and diminutive stature. You know she has hitherto always rather piqued herself upon her ‘fairy-like proportions,’ but on this occasion she has found them very inadequate to the massive and heavy, not to say ponderous style of ornament, which, it seems, a classical costume requires. Between ourselves, she confessed to me, that the weight of her Bullas, and her gladiator's necklace is positively distressing to the collar-bones; that her hair is visibly diminished since she took to wearing Greek daggers and Roman pins, both of which are so pretty and so antique that she is unable to give a preference to either, and thus is obliged to wear both at once; and even now (although it is some months since she underwent the operation of being bored), her poor little ears suffer martyrdom with the weight of her favourite ear-rings— exquisite flying figures of Victory which are supposed to be constantly whispering joyful tidings of new conquests. For my part, love, I am determined to have my ears bored forthwith, that they may he all right by the time we reach Rome, where, Imogen says, ear-rings so light as those required for wear immediately after the operation, are scarcely to be met with. However, Imogen has a good spirit, and declares that from the first she resolutely determined to bear everything and wear everything that, could contribute to make her fashionably classical — and very classical, to my ideas, she looks when she is dressed, as you will admit, I think, when you see the sketch I enclose. It's true that her nose is not strictly classical, indeed it has the least in the world of a turn-up, and her hair cannot be induced by any artifice to grow low on her forehead, as one sees it in antique busts of Pompeian beauties, but surely that does not matter when the brow is surmounted by a ‘Victor's chaplet’ in thin beaten gold!

Left: Brooch with cameo of medusa. Middle right: Brooch with cameo of a Roman emperor. Middle right: Brooch with cameo of Leda and the Swan. Right: Bacchus pendant with Granulation in the Etruscan Style [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Now that you know some of the most delightful anticipations of a winter in Rome, I trust, dearest girl, that you will emplovy every art, with your Papa to induce him to bring you and Flora to the Eternal City when we go, that we may have the inexpressible happiness of shopping at Castellani's together. Papa says that should Italy then be still unfortunately in a disturbed, state, he will not go; but, I trust that both the Emperor of France and the King of Sardinia are too gallant to interpose any obstacles to the wishes of young ladies like you and me, and that consequently all traces of war will be cleared away before winter

Ever affectionately your friend.


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Last modified 30 May 2020