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mained so lively in his mind, that even Bonaparte in his gestures seemed to him, in later days, a plagiarist. At the military school, “the drum stifled the voices of our masters, and the mysterious voices of books seemed to us cold and pedantic. Tropes and logarithms seemed to us only steps to mount to the star of the Legion of Honor,—the fairest star of heaven to us children. No meditation could keep long in chains heads made constantly giddy by the noise of cannon and bells for the Te Deum. When one of our former comrades returned to pay us a visit in uniform, and his arm in a scarf, we blushed at our books, and threw them at the heads of our teachers. Our teachers were always reading us bulletins from the grande armee, and our cries of Vive l'empereur interrupted Tacitus and Plato. Our preceptors resembled heralds of arms, our study halls barracks, and our examinations reviews. Thus was he led into the army; and, he says, It was only very late, that I perceived that my
Michel Angelo (search for this): chapter 4
mined, leaf by leaf, the designs of Raphael, of Michel Angelo, of Da Vinci, of Guercino, the architecture of t To-day, on reading over some of the sonnets of Michel Angelo, I felt them more than usual. I know not why I s I have appreciated, but not been able to feel, Michel Angelo as a poet. It is a singular fact in my mentaold water. No Sibyls have existed like those of Michel Angelo; those of Raphael are the true brides of a God, last, by Horatio Greenough, the Night and Day of Michel Angelo. Here was old Greece and old Italy brought bodied for them, she read everything that related to Michel Angelo and Raphael. She read, pen in hand, Quatremere I have said she was never weary of studying Michel Angelo and Raphael; and here are some manuscript notes,carry her:— On seeing such works as these of Michel Angelo, we feel the need of a genius scarcely inferior nature must not be dominant. The prophets of Michel Angelo excite all my admiration at the man capable of g
is brows are tense and damp with the dews of thought. In that head you see the great future, careless of the black and white stones; and even when you turn to the voluptuous beauty of the mouth, the impression remains so strong, that Russia's snows, and mountains of the slain, seem the tragedy that must naturally follow the appearance of such an actor. You turn from him, feeling that he is a product not of the day, but of the ages, and that the ages must judge him. Near him is a head of Ennius, very intellectual; selfcentred and self-fed; but wrung and gnawed by unceasing thoughts. Yet, even near the Ennius and Napoleon, our American men look worthy to be perpetuated in marble or bronze, if it were only for their air of calm, unpretending sagacity. If the young American were to walk up an avenue lined with such effigies, 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 himsel
Conseils Lise (search for this): chapter 4
es interpretations is equally witty, though there the form seems to be as much in the saying, as in the comic melody of sound. In Adieux à la Campagne, Souvenirs du Peuple, La Deesse de la Liberte, La Convoi de David, a melancholy pathos breathes, which touches the heart the more that it is so unpretending. Ce n'est plus Lisette, Mon Habit, L'Independant, Vous vieillirez, O ma belle Maitresse, a gentle graceful sadness wins us. In Le Dieu des Bonnes Gens, Les Etoiles qui filent, Les Conseils de Lise, Treize à Table, a noble dignity is admired, while such as La Fortune and La Metempsycose are inimitable in their childlike playfulness. Ma Vocation I have had and admired for many years. He is of the pure ore, a darling fairy changling of great mother Nature; the poet of the people, and, therefore, of all in the upper classes sufficiently intelligent and refined to appreciate the wit and sentiment of the people. But his wit is so truly French in its lightness and sparkling, feather
Mary Bacon (search for this): chapter 4
n, 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, and petted h
Nevers? I do not think this is a respectable way of passing my summer, but I cannot help it. I never read any life of Moliere. Are the acts very interesting? You see clearly in his writing what he was: a man not high, not poetic; but firm, wide, genuine, whose clearsightedness only made him more noble. love him well that he could see without showing those myriad mean faults of the social man, and yet make no nearer approach to misanthropy than his Alceste. These witty Frenchmen, Rabelais, Montaigne, Moliere, are great as were their marshals and preux chevaliers; when the Frenchman tries to be poetical, he becomes theatrical, but he can be romantic, and also dignified, maugre shrugs and snuff-boxes. Thursday Evening.—Although I have been much engaged these two days, I have read Spiridion twice. I could have wished to go through it the second time more at leisure, but as I am going away, I thought I would send it back, lest it should be wanted before my return. The de
ison people. Halte la! ou la systeme des interpretations is equally witty, though there the form seems to be as much in the saying, as in the comic melody of sound. In Adieux à la Campagne, Souvenirs du Peuple, La Deesse de la Liberte, La Convoi de David, a melancholy pathos breathes, which touches the heart the more that it is so unpretending. Ce n'est plus Lisette, Mon Habit, L'Independant, Vous vieillirez, O ma belle Maitresse, a gentle graceful sadness wins us. In Le Dieu des Bonnes Gens, Les Etoiles qui filent, Les Conseils de Lise, Treize à Table, a noble dignity is admired, while such as La Fortune and La Metempsycose are inimitable in their childlike playfulness. Ma Vocation I have had and admired for many years. He is of the pure ore, a darling fairy changling of great mother Nature; the poet of the people, and, therefore, of all in the upper classes sufficiently intelligent and refined to appreciate the wit and sentiment of the people. But his wit is so truly French
g, nor large; but he seems more healthy and gay. We have had bad weather here, bitterly cold. The place is what I expected: it is too great and beautiful to agitate or surprise: it satisfies: it does not excite thought, but fully occupies. All is calm; even the rapids do not hurry, as we see them in smaller streams. The sound, the sight, fill the senses and the mind. At Buffalo, some ladies called on us, who extremely regretted they could not witness our emotions, on first seeing Niagara. Many, they said, burst into tears; but with those of most sensibility, the hands become cold as ice, and they would not mind if buckets of cold water were thrown over them! Nature. Margaret's love of beauty made her, of course, a votary of nature, but rather for pleasurable excitement than with a deep poetic feeling. Her imperfect vision and her bad health were serious impediments to intimacy with woods and rivers. She had never paid,—and it is a little remarkable,—any attention t
Shakspeare (search for this): chapter 4
h 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 Sithy crystal sphere. Thou hast all of them, and that ample surge of life besides, that great winged being which they only dreamed of. There is none greater than Shakspeare; he, too, is a god; but his creations are successive; thy fiat comprehends them all. Last summer, I met thy mood in nature, on those wide impassioned plainsre is a kind of undulation in the popularity of the great writers, even of the first rank. We have seen a recent importance given to Behmen and Swedenborg; and Shakspeare has unquestionably gained with the present generation. It is distinctive, too, of the taste of the period,—the new vogue given to the genius of Dante. An edit
as natural eras, unexpected and thrice dear. Thus I have appreciated, but not been able to feel, Michel Angelo as a poet. It is a singular fact in my mental history, that, while I understand the principles and construction of language much better 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 piv
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