go to Rome
“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