Women Writers and Italy: Two Englishwomen in Rome, Garibaldi And Rheumatism

Anne ( 1841-1928) and Matilda Lucas (1849-1943) were the daughters of  Samuel Lucas, a brewer with land and influence in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. The Lucas family were Quakers. Their mother had died when they were young and after their father’s death in 1870 the sisters continued to live for a short time with their step-mother. But then, in mid-1871, they left England for Rome, where,  for the next 29 years, they were to spend much of the year. Ten years after her sister’s death, Matilda Lucas published excerpts from the letters sent over the years by the sisters to friends and relations back in England. Two Englishwomen in Rome, 1871-1900 (Methuen, 1938)  makes very entertaining reading.

Garibaldi and family c 1875

Garibaldi and family c 1875

Rome. Hotel Milano. February 27, 1875.

We have not seen Garibaldi yet. He is quite a cripple and goes about on crutches. He seems quite taken up with his scheme of draining the Campagna and turning the Tiber. I think it very well that he should be harmlessly busy; it keeps him quiet. I have not heard of his baptizing any one here. It seems to be one of his ideas to think he can do those sort of things instead of a priest.

Rome. March 14, 1875.

This morning I paid a call of sympathy on Miss Pagan. She spent yesterday in bed with rheumatism and was rather feverish. Tomorrow she is going with some others to call on Garibaldi. The poor General’s hands are quite drawn with rheumatism and he often cannot sleep at night; so I tell her she had better take some of her pills with her. I am thinking of calling on him with a small bottle of colchicum and a little laudanum for outward application.

Rome. March 21, 1875.

As it was Garibaldi’s Saint’s day, Villa Casalini was crowded with people. Just as the Irvings came by the General threw up a window and appeared in his red shirt, waving his rheumatic hand.

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