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[59]

December 9.—To-day there was a great fete and dinner in honor of the birthday of Winckelmann, held at the Villa Albani, under the auspices and presidency of Bunsen. He had invited me to it, when I was still in Florence, and he called to-day and took me out in his carriage. The villa is neglected, but its palazzo, a fine building, is well preserved; the collection of antiques—stolen, literally stolen by the French—has been replaced, and the whole is much in the state in which it was when Winckelmann lived there, under the patronage of the well-known Cardinal Albani.

Between three and four o'clock about ninety persons were collected, chiefly Germans, with a few English and Italian, and among them were the Russian Charge d'affaires; Kestner, the Hanoverian Minister; Thorwaldsen; Visconti; Dr. Carlyle, brother to the obscure writer for the Reviews; Wolff; Plattner; all the principal German artists, etc. Gerhard went round with all of us, and lectured on the Gallery and its most interesting monuments very agreeably; after which we went up stairs, and at five o'clock sat down to an excellent dinner in a truly magnificent hall, all built of brilliant marbles.

Bunsen presided; Thorwaldsen was vice-president, at the other end of the table; toasts were drank, speeches were made, both in German and Italian, by the president, by Gerhard, Visconti, etc.; and there was a delightful choir of young Germans, who sang with effect several ancient Latin hymns and choruses, a part of the Carmen Seculare of Horace, and some national German airs. There was a good deal of the German enthusiasm about it, and this enthusiasm rose to its height when Bunsen—at nearly the end of the feast— went round to the neighborhood of Thorwaldsen, and making a speech, and a very happy one, took a wreath of laurel, which was supposed by chance to be near, as one of the ornaments of the occasion, and placed it on Thorwaldsen's head. It was a fine scene. The venerable artist resisted the honor just so far as was graceful, and no further, though taken by surprise entirely, for the speech was so shrewdly adjusted that its full purport was not intelligible till the wreath was on his temples. But everybody felt it was well placed, and a burst of applause followed which must have gratified him.

He is a noble, gentle-looking old man, with an abundance of white hair flowing upon his shoulders in a very striking manner. I talked with him a good deal to-day, both before dinner and after, and found him as full of simplicity as he is of genius. He has a great deal of feeling, too, and was much moved when I spoke of meeting him twenty years ago at Mad. de Humboldt's; for she was not only one


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