previous next
[369] go to Rome. “For what?” “To study the masters.” Well, all the masters have been in their graves several hundred years. We are all pupils. You tell the poet, “Sir, that line of yours would remind one of Homer,” and he is crazy. Stand in front of a painting, in the hearing of the artist, and compare its coloring to that of Titian or Raphael, and he remembers you forever. I remember once standing in front of a bit of marble carved by Powers, a Vermonter who had a matchless, instinctive love of art, and perception of beauty. I said to an Italian standing with me, “Well, now, that seems to me to be perfection.” “Perfection!” --was his answer, shrugging his shoulders,--“Why, sir, that reminds you of Phidias!” as if to remind you of that Greek was a greater compliment than to be perfection.

Well, now the very choice of phrases betrays a confession of inferiority, and you see it again creeps out in the amount we borrow. Take the whole range of imaginative literature, and we are all wholesale borrowers. In every matter that relates to invention, to use, or beauty, or form, we are borrowers.

You may glance around the furniture of the palaces in Europe, and you may gather all these utensils of art or use; and when you have fixed the shape and forms in your mind, I will take you into the museum of Naples, which gathers all remains of the domestic life of the Romans, and you shall not find a single one of these modern forms of art or beauty or use that-was not anticipated there. We have hardly added one single line or sweep of beauty to the antique.

Take the stories of Shakspeare, who has perhaps written his forty-odd plays. Some are historical. The rest, two thirds of them, he did not stop to invent, but he found them. These he clutched, ready made to his hand, from the Italian novelists, who had taken them

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Europe (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Shakspeare (1)
Homer (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: