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it. Art. There are persons to whom a gallery is everywhere a home. In this country, the antique is known only by plaster casts, and by drawings. The Boston ATHENAeUM, —on whose sunny roof and beautiful chambers may the benediction of centuries of students rest with mine! —added to its library, in 1823, a small, but excellent museum of the antique sculpture, in plaster;—the selection being dictated, it is said, by no less an adviser than Canova. The Apollo, the Laocoon, the Venuses, Diana, the head of the Phidian Jove, Bacchus, Antinous, the Torso Hercules, the Discobolus, the Gladiator Borghese, the Apollino,—all these, and more, the sumptuous gift of Augustus Thorndike. It is much that one man should have power to confer on so many, who never saw him, a benefit so pure and enduring. To these were soon added a heroic line of antique busts, and, at last, by Horatio Greenough, the Night and Day of Michel Angelo. Here was old Greece and old Italy brought bodily to New En
Longfellow (search for this): chapter 4
en I first mentioned it to you, it was only as a piece of Sunday work, which I thought of doing for you alone; and because it has never seemed to me you entered enough into the genius of the Italian to apprehend the mind, which has seemed so great to me, and a star unlike, if not higher than all the others in our sky. Else, I should have given you the original, rather than any version of mine. I intended to translate the poems, with which it is interspersed, into plain prose. Milnes and Longfellow have tried each their power at doing it in verse, and have done better, probably, than I could, yet not well. But this would not satisfy me for the public. Besides, the translating Dante is a piece of literary presumption, and challenges a criticism to which I am not sure that I am, as the Germans say, gewachsen. Italian, as well as German, I learned by myself, unassisted, except as to the pronunciation. I have never been brought into connection with minds trained to any severity in the
etter than formerly, I cannot read so well les langues meridionales. I suppose it is that I am less meridionale myself. I understand the genius of the north better than I did. Dante, Petrarca, Tasso, were her friends among the old poets,—for to Ariosto she assigned a far lower place, —Alfieri and Manzoni, among the new. But what was of still more import to her education, she had read German books, and, for the three years before I knew her almost exclusively,—Lessing, Schiller, Richter, Tieck, Novalis, and, above all, Goethe. It was very obvious, at the first intercourse with her, though her rich and busy mind never reproduced undigested reading, that the last writer,—food or poison,—the most powerful of all mental reagents,—the pivotal mind in modern literature, —for all before him are ancients, and all who have read him are moderns,—that this mind had been her teacher, and, of course, the place was filled, nor was there room for any other. She had that symptom which
ver may be the vulgar view of my character, I can truly say, I know not the hour in which I ever looked for the ridiculous. It has always been forced upon me, and is the accident of my existence. I would not want the sense of it when it comes, for that would show an obtuseness of mental organization; but, on peril of my soul, I would not move an eyelash to look for it. When she came to Concord, she was already rich in friends, rich in experiences, rich in culture. She was well read in French, Italian, and German literature. She had learned Latin and a little Greek. But her English reading was incomplete; and, while she knew Moliere, and Rousseau, and any quantity of French letters, memoirs, and novels, and was a dear student of Dante and Petrarca, and knew German books more cordially than any other person, she was little read in Shakspeare; and I believe I had the pleasure of making her acquainted with Chaucer, with Ben Jonson, with Herbert, Chapman, Ford, Beaumont and Fletche
Richelieu (search for this): chapter 4
e fails, he has too much tact and modesty to be despised; and we cannot enough admire the absence of faults in a man whose ambition soared so much beyond his powers, and in an age and a country so full of false taste. He is never seduced into sentimentality, paradox, violent contrast, and, above all, never makes the mistake of confounding the horrible with the sublime. Above all, he never falls into the error, common to merely elegant minds, of painting leading minds en gigantesque. His Richelieu and his Bonaparte are treated with great calmness, and with dignified ease, almost as beautiful as majestic superiority. In this volume is contained all that is on record of the inner life of a man of forty years. How many suns, how many rains and dews, to produce a few buds and flowers, some sweet, but not rich fruit! We cannot help demanding of the man of talent that he should be like the orange tree, that busy plant. But, as Landor says, He who has any thoughts of any worth can, a
Prometheus (search for this): chapter 4
her, and that for years she dwelt upon the idea, until she believed that she was not her parents' child, but an European princess confided to their care. She remembered, that, when a little girl, she was walking one day under the apple trees with such an air and step, that her father pointed her out to her sister, saying, Incedit regina. And her letters sometimes convey these exultations, as the following, which was written to a lady, and which contained Margaret's translation of Goethe's Prometheus. to—— 1838.—Which of us has not felt the questionings expressed in this bold fragment? Does it not seem, were we gods, or could steal their fire, we would make men not only happier, but free,—glorious? Yes, my life is strange; thine is strange. We are, we shall be, in this life, mutilated beings, but there is in my bosom a faith, that I shall see the reason; a glory, that I can endure to be so imperfect; and a feeling, ever elastic, that fate and time shall have the shame and
character when living; for after I had settled it once for all that she wanted this or that perception, at our next interview she would say with emphasis the very word. I think, in her case, there was something abnormal in those obscure habits and necessities which we denote by the word Temperament. In the first days of our acquaintance, I felt her to be a foreigner,—that, with her, one would always be sensible of some barrier, as if in making up a friendship with a cultivated Spaniard or Turk. She had a strong constitution, and of course its reactions were strong; and this is the reason why in all her life she has so much to say of her fate. She was in jubilant spirits in the morning, and ended the day with nervous headache, whose spasms, my wife told me, produced total prostration. She had great energy of speech and action, and seemed formed for high emergencies. Her life concentrated itself on certain happy days, happy hours, happy moments. The rest was a void She had rea
tten a drama called Chatterton, inferior to the story here. The marvellous boy seems to have captivated his imagination marvellously. In thought, these productions are worthless; for taste, beauty of sentiment, and power of description, remarkable. His advocacy of the poets' cause is about as effective and well-planned as Don Quixote's tourney with the wind-mill. How would you provide for the poet bon homme De Vigny?—from a joint-stock company Poet's Fund, or how? His translation of Othello, which I glanced at, is good for a Frenchman. Among his poems, La Fregate, La Serieuse, Madame de Soubise, and Dolorida, please me especially. The last has an elegiac sweetness and finish, which are rare. It also makes a perfect gem of a cabinet picture. Some have a fine strain of natural melody, and give you at once the key-note of the situation, as this:— J'aime le son du cor le soir, au fond des bois, Soit qu'il chante, &c. And Qu'il est doux, qu'il est doux d'ecouter les
Richard Fletcher (search for this): chapter 4
French, Italian, and German literature. She had learned Latin and a little Greek. But her English reading was incomplete; and, while she knew Moliere, and Rousseau, and any quantity of French letters, memoirs, and novels, and was a dear student of Dante and Petrarca, and knew German books more cordially than any other person, she was little read in Shakspeare; and I believe I had the pleasure of making her acquainted with Chaucer, with Ben Jonson, with Herbert, Chapman, Ford, Beaumont and Fletcher, with Bacon, and Sir Thomas Browne. I was seven years her senior, and had the habit of idle reading in old English books, and, though not much versed, yet quite enough to give me the right to lead her. She fancied that her sympathy and taste had led her to an exclusive culture of southern European books. She had large experiences. She had been a precocious scholar at Dr. Park's school; good in mathematics and in languages. Her father, whom she had recently lost, had been proud of her,
y will be ever deeper, and glow more intensely; her cheek will be smooth, but marble pale; her gestures nobly free, but few. Another was a lady who was devoted to landscape-painting, and who enjoyed the distinction of being the only pupil of Allston, and who, in her alliance with Margaret, gave as much honor as she received, by the security of her spirit, and by the heroism of her devotion to her friend. Her friends called her the perpetual peace-offering, and Margaret says of her,— She, he might not feel called to such greatness as the strong Roman wrinkles tell of, but he must feel that he could not live an idle life, and should nerve himself to lift an Atlas weight without repining or shrinking. The busts of Everett and Allston, though admirable as every-day likenesses, deserved a genius of a different order from Clevenger. Clevenger gives the man as he is at the moment, but does not show the possibilities of his existence. Even thus seen, the head of Mr. Everett bri
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