Frances Elliot's Roman Gossip (1894)

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Frances Elliot's Roman Gossip (1894)


Intimacy--As Source


Elliot's account of Rome displays his experiences and descriptions of the city. The preface defends gossip as a valid source of information for "domestic" and "familiar" stories that add to those widely known.


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[preface] The day of heroes is past in Rome, but it is well to have some further record of it. History has touched it, but there is still much to tell the English public of the familiar lives of such men as Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel, and Pio Nono. My gossip has gone beyond these names and connects itself with the romantic epoch of the formation of a new Italy either by friends or foes. It has associated itself with the great masters of art and literature, such as Alfieri, Eossini, and Canova, and the Princes of the land, as well as that great family of Buonaparte so inherent in the very soil of modern Eome. Small gossip, it is true; familiar —domestic —but for that not to be despised ; and to this I have added some of my own experiences extending back to the days of Papal tyranny in the occupation of Rome by a French army.
[285-287] [...] Then there was the English set, exclusive, dull, pretentious, keeping much aloof, as a numerous colony, and appropriating an entire quarter of the city about the Piazza di Spagna, with their own shops, prices, books, and servants. They formed in those days a powerful faction, which has now entirely disappeared, almost as unapproachable as the Roman Princesses, specially towards Americans, whom they held in the light of Pariahs, and were always ready to explain to the Romans that, although speaking the same tongue, they (the Americans) were sprung from the dregs of the British nation. The American set, on the other hand, some four thousand strong, despising the English, formed quite a world in itself, with its own manners, customs, and drawl, to which outsiders, specially English, were rarely admitted. I remember being invited by the then American Minister, Mr. Cass, who lived in the Piazza del Popolo, to a most charming dance of young American girls, almost without a chaperone, myself the only foreigner present. There was a great deal of laughing, and romping, and fun, all of a most harmless kind, but which would have been deemed excessive elsewhere. I was never asked again. When I inquired the reason, I was told that my being admitted at all was considered as too great a favour to repeat. [...] Now some of the first Princes of Rome have married American ladies, and they are certainly much more appreciated in society here than the English.


London, UK

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“Frances Elliot's Roman Gossip (1894),” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed February 21, 2024,

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