DR. CLARK had taken lodgings for them at No. 26, Piazza di Spagna, a house opposite to his own and beside the steps leading up to the church of the Trinità on the Pincian Hill.
The Piazza di Spagna was in the heart of the English quarter of Rome. There were at this time so many English in the city that to the poorer Roman the word 'traveller' was almost synonymous with 'Englishman.' There were many Scotch and English innkeepers and some of the Italian albergatori took British names. All the English in Rome were regarded as 'milords' by the people of the tradesmen class and thought to be fabulously rich. Prices were regulated accordingly. The wealthy would enter Rome through the Porto del Popolo and drive through the Via del Babuino into the Piazza di Spagna. Here their high and bulky travelling-carriages, too large to be driven into mews or stables, would stand, much to the inconvenience of both foot- passengers and vehicles.
In the centre of the square is an old fountain called della Barcaccia and made in the form of a galley. This commemorates the legend that here the Emperor Domitian had an arena in which he staged mimic sea-fights. The square, called in an old Italian Itinerary 'one of the most beautiful and magnificent in Rome,' was a highway from the fashionable walk on the Pincian Hill to the Corso, the main street of the city, and a lively position for an invalid. Round the fountain brightly coloured chattering groups of peasants would gather, and on the steps leading to the Trinità professional artists' models gathered for hire, a motley collection of Virgins, Josephs and banditti.
Dr. James Clark, a Scotsman of thirty-two, was a physician and surgeon who had made a special study of phthisis. Later, becoming Queen Victoria's physician-in-ordinary, he was twice an object of public censure, once with a faulty and scandalous diagnosis in the case of Lady Flora Hastings, a lady-in-waiting, and more seriously when, refusing consultation, he failed to discover until too late that the Prince Consort was suffering from typhus fever. The Queen, however, retained confidence in him: he was created a baronet, became a member of the Senate for the University of London, and ended his days at Bagshot Park, a house lent to him by Queen Victoria. To the end of his long and eminent life (he died in 1870) Sir James Clark