Two men were sitting side by side on a stone bench in the forgotten garden of the Arcadian Society, in Rome; and it was in early spring, not long ago. Few people, Romans or strangers, ever find their way to that lonely and beautiful spot beyond the Tiber, niched in a hollow of the Janiculum below San Pietro in Montorio, where Beatrice Cenci sleeps. The Arcadians were men and women who loved poetry in an artificial time, took names of shepherds and shepherdesses, rhymed as best they could, met in pleasant places to recite their verses, and played that the world was young, and gentle, and sweet, and unpoisoned, just when it had declined to one of its recurring periods of vicious old age. The Society did not die with its times, and it still exists, less sprightly, less ready to mask in pastorals, but rhyming, meeting, and reciting verses now and then, in the old manner, though rarely in the old haunts. Even now fresh inscriptions in honour of the Arcadians are set into the stuccoed walls of the little terraced garden under the hill.
It is very peaceful there. Above, the concave wall of the small house of meeting looks down upon circular tiers of brick seats, and beyond these there are bushes and a little fountain.