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And to the fond idolaters of old [fail; Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mould: L
We gaze and turn away, and know not where,
Blood — pulse—and breast, confirm the Dardan
(1) See “Historical Notes,” at the end of this canto, No. XIV.
(2) In 1817, the poet visited Florence, on his way to Rome. “I re. mained,” he says, “but a day : however, I went to the two galleries, from which one returns drunk with beauty. The Venus is more for admiration than love; but there are sculpture and painting, which, for the first time, at all gave me an idea of what people mean by their cant about those two most artificial of the arts. What struck me most were, the mistress of Raphael, a portrait; the mistress of Titian, a portrait; a Venus of Titian in the Medici Gallery; the Venus; Canova's Venus, also, in the other gallery: Titian's mistress is also in the other gallery (that is, in the Pitti ! Palace gallery); the Parcae of Michael Angelo, a picture; and the Antinous, the Alexander, and one or two not very decent groups in marble; the Genius of Death, a sleeping figure, &c. &c. I also went to the Medici chapel. Fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcasses. It is unfinished, and
LI. Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise Or to more deeply blest Anchises? or, In all thy perfect goddess-ship, when lies Before thee thy own vanquish'd Lord of War? And gazing in thy face as toward a star, Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn, Feeding on thy sweet cheek! (!) while thy lips are, With lava kisses melting while they burn,
Shower'd on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn 1 (*)
will remain so.” We find the following note of a second visit to the galleries in 1821, accompanied by the author of “The Pleasures of Memory:” – My former impressions were confirmed; but there were too many visitors to allow me to feel anything properly. When we were (about thirty or forty) all stuffed into the cabinet of gems and knick-knackeries, in a corner of one of the galleries, I told Rogers that ‘it felt like being in the watch-house.” I heard one bold Briton declare to the woman on his arm, looking at the Venus of Titian, “Well, now, that is really very fine indeed!’- an observation which, like that of the landlord in Joseph Andrews, on “the certainty of death,” was (as the landlord's wife observed) “extremely true.” In the Pitti Palace, I did not omit Goldsmith's prescription for a connoisseur, viz. “ that the pictures would have been better if the painter had taken more pains, and to praise the works of Peter Perugino.”-El
(1) 'Opsaxuoix irray.
* Atque oculos pascat uterque suos.”— OvID. Amor. lib. ii.
(2) [The delight with which the pilgrim contemplates the ancient Greek statues at Florence, and afterwards at Rome, is such as might have been expected from any great poet, whose youthful mind had, ike his, been imbued with those classical ideas and associations which afford so many sources of pleasure, through every period of life. He has gazed upon these masterpieces of art with a more susceptible, and, in spite of his disavowal, with a more learned eye, than can be traced in the effusions of any poet who had previously expressed, in any formal \ manner, his admiration of their beauty. It may appear fanciful to say so; —but we think the genius of Byron is, more than that of any other modern poet, akin to that peculiar genius which seems to have been diffused among all the poets and artists of ancient Greece; and in whose spirit,
above all its other wonders, the great specimens of sculpture seem to have been conceived and executed. His creations, whether of beauty or of strength, are all single creations. He requires no grouping to give effect to his favourites, or to tell his story. His heroines are solitary symbols of loveliness, which require no foil; his heroes stand alone as upon marble pedestals, displaying the naked power of passion, or the wrapped up and reposing energy of grief. The artist who would illustrate, as it is called, the works of any of our other poets, must borrow the mimic splendours of the pencil. He who would transfer into another vehicle the spirit of Byron, must pour the liquid metal, or hew the stubborn rock. What he loses in ease, he will gain in power. He might draw from Medora, Gulnare, Lara, or Manfred, subjects for relievos, worthy of enthusiasm almost as great as Harold has himself displayed on the contemplation of the loveliest and the sternest relics of the inimitable genius of the Greeks.-PROFEssor Wilson.]
(1) [Only a week before the poet visited the Florence gallery, he wrote
LIV. In Santa Croce's holy precints lie (') Ashes which make it holier, dust which is Even in itself an immortality, [this, Though there were nothing save the past, and The particle of those sublimities Which have relapsed to chaos: — here repose Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his, (2)
The starry Galileo, with his woes; [rose.(?) Here Machiavelli's earth return'd to whence it LV.
These are four minds, which, like the elements, Might furnish forth creation:-Italy | [rents Time, which hath wrong'd thee with ten thousand Of thine imperial garment, shall deny, And hath denied, to every other sky, Spirits which soar from ruin:—thy decay Is still impregnate with divinity, , Which gilds it with revivifying ray; Such as the great of yore, Canova is to-day.
thus to a friend:—“I know nothing of painting. Depend upon it, of all the arts, it is the most artificial and unnatural, and that by which the nonsense of mankind is most imposed upon. I never yet saw the picture or the statue which came a league within my conception or expectation; but I have seen many mountains, and seas, and rivers, and views, and two or three women, who went as far beyond it.”—B. Letters.]
(1, 2, 3) See “Historical Notes,” at the end of this canto, Nos. XV. XVI. XVII. —[“The church of Santa Croce contains much illustrious nothing. The tombs of Machiavelli, Michael Angelo, Galileo, and Alfieri, make it the Westminster Abbey of Italy. I did not admire any of these tombs—beyond their contents. That of Alfieri is heavy; and all of them seem to me overloaded. What is necessary but a bust and name? and perhaps a date? the last for the unchronological, of whom I am one. But all your allegory and eulogy is infernal, and worse than the long wigs of English numskulls upon Roman bodies, in the statuary of the reigns of Charles the Second, William, and Anne.”—B. Letters, 1817.]
Did they not to her breast their filial earth intrust?
His dust,-and lies it not her Great among,
* Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom?
(1,2,3,4) See “Historical Notes,” at the end of this canto, Nos. XVIII.