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[1242]
To-day, on reading over some of the sonnets of Michel Angelo, I felt them more than usual. I know not why I have not read them thus before, except that the beauty was pointed out to me at first by another, instead of my coming unexpectedly upon it of myself. All the great writers, all the persons who have been dear to me, I have found and chosen; they have not been proposed to me. My intimacy with them came upon me 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 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 appears in

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