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must find another Cicerone, for I shall certainly not un. dertake the office. I do not pretend to be a competent judge of painting or architecture ; I have no new remarks to make on those subjects, and I wish to avoid a lackneyed repetition of what has been said by others.
Some people seem affected by paintings to a degree which I never could feel, and can scarcely conceive. I admire the works of Guido and Raphael, but there are amateurs who fall downright in love with every man, woman, or angel, produced by those painters.
When the subject is pathetic, I am often struck with the genius and execution of the artist, and touched with the scene represented, but without feeling those violent emotions of grief which some others display. I have seen a man so affected with the grief of Venus, for the death of Adonis, that he has wiped his eyes as if he had been shedding tears; and have heard another express as much horror at the martyrdon of a saint, as he could have done had he been present at the real execution. Horace's observation is perfectly just, as he applies it,
Segniùs irritant animos demissa per aurem,
Quàm quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus He is treating of dramatic pieces,
Aut agitur res in scenis, aut acta refertur, is the preceding line. On the stage, what is actually represented, makes a stronger impression than what is only related; and in real life, no doubt, we should be more shocked by seeing a murder committed, than by hearing an account of it. But whether seeing a pathetic story expressed in painting, or hearing it related, has the most powerful effect, is a different question. I only say for myself, that, on contemplating a painted tragedy, I can never help recollecting that it is acted upon canvass. This never fails to dart such a ray of comfort into my heart, as cheers it up, in spite of all the blood and carnage I see before my eyes. With a mind so vulgarly fabricated, you will not be surprised when I acknowledge, that I have felt more compassion at the sight of a single highwayman
going to Tyburn, that at the massacre of two thousand innocents, though executed by Nicholas Poussin himself. This convinces me that I am not endued with the organs of a connoisseur.
But if you are violently bent upon being thought a man of very refined taste, there are books in abundance to be had, which will put you in possession of all the terms of technical applause, or censure, and furnish you with suitable expressions for the whole climax of sensibility. As for myself, I was long ago taught a lesson, which made a deep impression on my mind, and will effectually prevent me from every affectation of that kind. Very early in life, I resided above a year at Paris, and happened one day to accompany five or six of our countrymen, to view the pictures in the Palais Royal. A gentleman who affected an enthusiastic passion for the fine arts, particularly that of painting, and who had the greatest desire to be thought a connoisseur, was of the party He had read the lives of the painters, and had the Voyage Pittoresque de Paris by heart. From the moment we entered the rooms he began to display all the refinements of his taste; he instructed us what to admire, and drew us away with every sign of disgust when we stopped a moment at an uncelebrated picture. We were afraid of appearing pleased with any thing we saw, till he informed us whether or not it was worth looking at. He shook his head at some, tossed up his nose at others; commended a few, and pronounced sentence on every piece, as he passed along, with the most imposing tone of sagacity.- Bad, that Caravaggio is too bad indeed, devoid of all grace ;-but here is a Caracci that makes amends: how charming the grief of that Magdalen! The Virgin, you'll observe, gentlemen, is only fainting, but the Christ is quite dead. Look at the arm, did
you ever see any thing so dead ?--Aye, here's a Madona, which they tell you is an original, by Guido ; but any body may see that it is only a tolerable copy.--Pray, gentlemen, observe this St. Sebastian, how delightfully he expires : Don't you all feel the arrow in your hearts ? I'm
sure I feel it in mine. - Do let us move on; I should die with agony if I looked any longer.'
We at length came to the St. John, by Raphael, and here this man of taste stopped short in an ecstasy of admiration. One of the company had already passed it, with, out minding it, and was looking at another picture ; .on which the connoisseur bawled out Good God, sir ! 6 what are you about ?' The honest gentleman started, and stared around to know what crime he had been guilty of, • Have you eyes in your head, sir ?' continued the con
? noisseur: • Don't you know St. John when you see him ?'
• St. John !' replied the other, in amazement. • Aye, sir, St. John the Baptist in propria persona,
I don't know what you mean, sir,' said the gentleman, peevishly
• Don't you ? rejoined the connoisseur ;' then I'll en deavour to explain myself. I mean St. John in the wil, derness, by the divine Raffaelle Sanzio da Urbino, and there he stands by your side.-Pray, my dear sir, will you be so obliging as to bestow a little of your attention on that foot ? Does it not start from the wall? Is it not perfectly out of the frame? Did you ever see such co. louring ? They talk of Titian. Can Titian's colouring excel that? What truth, what nature in the head! To the eloquence of the antique, here is joined the simplicity of nature.'
We stood listening in silent admiration, and began to imagine we perceived all the perfections he enumerated; when a person
in the duke of Orleans' service came and informed us, that the original, which he presumed was the picture we wished to sce, was in another room ; the duke having allowed a painter to copy it. That which we had been looking at was a very wretched daubing, done from the original by some obscure painter, ånd had been thrown, with other rubbish, into a corner ; where the Swiss had accidentally discovered it, and had hung it up merely by way of covering the vacant space on the wall, till the other should be replaced.
How the connoisseur looked on this trying occasion, I cannot say. It would have been barbarous to have turned an eye upon him. I stepped into the next room, fully determined to be cautious in deciding on the merit of painting ; perceiving that it was not safe, in this science, to speak even from the book.
E acquire an early partiality for Rome, by reading the classics, and the history of the ancient republic. Other parts of Italy also interest us more on account of their having been the residence of the old Romans, than from the regard we pay to what has been transacted there during the last fourteen or fifteen centuries.
Venice claims no importance from ancient history, and boasts no connection with the Roman republic; it sprung from the ruins of that empire ; and whatever its annals of. fer worthy of the attention of mankind, is independent of the prejudice we feel in favour of the Roman name.
The independence of Venice was not built on usurpation, nor cemented with blood; it was founded on the first law of human nature, and the undoubted rights of man.
About the middle of the fifth century, when Europe formed one continued scene of violence and bloodshed ; a hatred of tyranny, a love of liberty, and a dread of the cruelty of barbarians, prompted the Veneti, a people inhabiting a small district of Italy, a few of the inhabitants of Padua,and some peasants who lived on the fertile banks of the Po, to seek an asylum from the fury of Attila, amongst the little islands and marshes at the bottom of the Adriatic Gulf.
Before this time some fishermen had built small houses, or huts, on one of these islands, called Rialto. The city of Padua, with a view to draw commercial advantages from this establishment, encouraged some of her inhabitants to settle there, and sent every year three or four ci. çizens to act as magistrates. When Attila had taken and
destroyed Aquileia, great numbers from all the neighbouring countries fled to Rialto; whose size being augmented by new houses, took the name of Venice, from the district from which the greater number of the earliest ret fugees had fled. On the death of Attila, many returned
, to their former habitations; but those who preferred freedom and security to all other advantages, remained at Ve. nice. Such was the beginning of this celebrated republica Some nice distinguishers pretend, that this was the beginning of their freedom, but not of their independency ; for they assert, that the Venetians were dependent on Padua, as their mother city. It is certain that the Paduans elaimed such a prerogative over this infant state, and attempted to subject her to some commercial restrictions : these were rejected by the Venetians, as arbitrary and vex.. atious. Disputes arose very dangerous to both : but they ended in Venice entirely throwing off the jurisdiction of Padua. It is curious, and not unworthy of serious attention in the present age, to see the parent now totally subjected to the child whom she wished to retain in too ri. gorous a dependence.
The irruption of the Lombards into Italy, while it spread havoc and destruction over the adjacent country, was the cause of a great accession of strength to Venice, by the numbers of new refugees who fled to it with all the wealth they could carry, and became subjeets of this state,
The Lombards themselves, while they established their kingdom in the northern parts of Italy, and subdued all the ancient district of the Veneti, thought proper to leave this little state unmolested, imagining that an attempt a. gainst it would be attended with more trouble than profit ; and while they carried on more important conquests, they found it convenient to be on a good footing with Venice, whose numerous squadrons of small vessels could render the most essential serviees to their armies. Ac. cordingly leagues and treaties were formed occasionally between the two states; the Lombards in all probability