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Thou know'st the seed, how it should lic
Within the mind to make it spring,
And works of worthy offering.
None of themselves thy paths can see-
In thy just steps to heaven and thee,-
may praise, And sing thy glory through eternal days. Mr. Biagioli's commentary is so minute, so pedantic, and at the same time so affectedly enthusiastic, as to excite our fears that he may obtain a result precisely the reverse of that which he has proposed to himself. His purpose is nothing less than to establish a poetical triumvirate, consisting of Dante, Petrarch, and Michel Angelo, to be placed on a triple throne, whilst Ariosto, Tasso, and the other poets of Italy—nay of the whole world, both ancient and modern-are to be seated on the steps below, as their pages. To judge of Michel Angelo's verses as the productions of a professional poet
, would be manifestly unjust—as it always must be, when a measure of excellence is exacted, to which the author himself never thought of laying claim. But, on the other hand, whoever is over-anxious to regard as extraordinary all that may proceed from the pen of a distinguished man, pushes his admiration to an extent of superstition, which, while it adds nothing to the glory of the author, greatly diminishes our respect for the judgment of the critic.
If there ever existed a mortal fully confident in his own faculties, it was Michel Angelo; but, likewise, if there ever existed a mortal, who knew the difficulties inherent in every art, and who employed the meditation, the time, and the unremitted exertions which it requires to surmount them, it was Michel Angelo. He was aware that genius consists not only in the power of producing, but also in the energy and perseverance which are necessary to give to its productions the excellence to which alone they owe their durability. Bold, enterprising, and indefatigable as he was--having felt and put to the proof from his earliest youth, his talent for sculpture, he reproached himself to the last day of his life for not having devoted enough of study and time to the chisel and marble. We are told that the Cardinal Farnese one day found him, when an old man, walking alone in the Colosseum, and expressed his surprise at finding him solitary amid the ruins; to which he replied, “I go to school that I may continue to learn something." There is still remaining one of his designs-an old man with a long beard, in a child's go-cart, and an hour-glass, with the scroll over his head ANCHORE IMPARO—still I learn." But as to the art of writing, he with equal magnanimity confessed “ that he had never acquired it." Never did he foresee that the verses which he composed as a relaxation and outpouring of his feelings, would one day be compared with those to which Dante and Petrarch had consecrated their toil, their life, and all the rare faculties of their intellect. Michel Angelo was evidently endowed with a disposition to poetry; and in his youth his evenings were spent in reading Dante and Petrarch to his friends; and his Lettere Pittoriche.
f Life of Michel Angelo.
attempts to catch their spirit shew that he had profited by the study. Yet these same attempts are sufficient to convince us, that had he even devoted to poetry the whole power of his talent, he would nevertheless have remained inferior to his great models ; and that, at all events, he would have approached nearer Petrarch than Dante. It is impossible to account for the works of Nature ; but it is often useful, and always interesting, to observe them. Nature had gifted Michel Angelo, in a supreme degree, with the imitative imagination necessary to form a painter, sculptor, and architect;—but she had sparingly accorded to him the creative imagination of a poet. The poet invents, and the artist copies: the poet breathes a soul into all creation, and the artist embellishes it;—and the fact that all the chefs-d'æuvres of the fine arts have been in all ages, and in all countries, preceded by the chefsd'autres of poetry, amply confirms our opinion, that it is the poets who furnish conceptions to the artist. As Phidias acknowledged having found the original of his Jupiter Olympius in the first book of the Iliad, so Michel Angelo professed to have designed his figures, arranged his groups, given the attitude to their limbs, and the expression to their physiognomy, out of the poem of Dante. He translated (if we may use the term) this poem in a series of designs, forming a large volume, which he unfortunately lost by a shipwreck. His admiration for Dante was accompanied with a sympathy which almost amounted to filial respect; and he spoke of him as though he had been the companion of his misfortunes, and had passed with him a portion of his life. The following sonnet is the 73d of Mr. Duppa's collection, and the 23d of the edition of Biagioli.
Che troppo agli orbi il suo splendor s'accese :
Ch'al minor pregio suo lingua salire.
Per noi insegnare, e poscia a Dio n'ascese :
Cui la patria le sue negò d'aprire.
Å suo danno nutrice; e n'è ben segno
Ch'a i più perfetti abbonda di più guai.
Ch'egual non hebbe il suo esilio indegno,
Com' huom maggior di lui quì non fu mai.
Are all unequal to his dazzling rays?
Than for the tongue to tell his lightest praise.
And at his coming did high Heaven expand
Her lofty gates, to whom his native land
That thou hast foster'd best thy Dante's fame:
And brighter therefore shall his glory be,
Suffering, of all mankind, most wrongfully,
But the more successful Michel Angelo was in adopting, and even improving on the conceptions of Dante, as an artist, the less did he succeed-nor, in truth, did he attempt it-in equalling him as a poet. The poetry of Dante consists chiefly in images; that of Michel Angelo, like Petrarch's, is a compound of thought and sentiment, which always excites to meditation, and sometimes touches the heart; but neither describes, nor paints, nor works powerfully on the imagination. The thoughts of Michel Angelo are always just, often profound, and sometimes novel ; but although he generally writes with that precision of words, and compression of ideas, which characterize a deep thinker, he does not express himself, at all times, with that perspicuity which can only be attained from the constant habitude of writing, nor with that poetical diction which imparts warmth and brilliancy even to the coldest reasonings. The versification betrays the same want of exercise in composition: there is in it more of ear than of skill. The me.. lody is rarely imperfect in any of his lines; but we scarcely ever meet with a succession of verses in which the sound of the words, and the variety of the numbers and position of the accents, are so combined as to produce a sustained and general harmony. Nevertheless, several of the pieces of Michel Angelo have the merit of conveying thoughts long and deeply meditated, and sentiments really felt; which create an interest not always to be found in the otherwise admirable verses of many professed poets. The double apprehension of quitting this world whilst it is inhabited by the object of our love, or of remaining here after her departure, is expressed in a manner at once elegant and impassioned, in the following stanza.
Occhi miei, siate certi
Mentre la mia divina
Ma se I ciel si disserra
Del mio terreno sole,
Allor ben, sì, che chiuder vi potete.
at the moment when she mounts to Heaven,
Then, nor till then, close ye mine eyes for ever! To fall into affectation and coldness is the inevitable penalty of all imitation. Michel Angelo is neither affected nor cold, except when he superstitiously follows the sentiments and phraseology of Petrarch. He had not, however, the same right to be an innovator in literature as he had in the fine arts; and in his age every writer, in proportion as he deviated from the example of Petrarch, was stigmatized as barbarous. The manners of the time also contributed to this imitation, for although, in every age, men feel love in the same manner, it must be made differently; and in those times it was necessary to profess Platonism. But the Platonism which is derived from the conception of ideal beauty was always real in Michel Angelo. Thus he declares, “ that the admiration and love of beauty which made him a sculptor and a painter, led him likewise to aim at being a poet :"
Ma non potea se non somma bellezza
To give to thee my love! Almost all his verses are love-verses, and they do not seem to have been inspired by the same person ; which is not very surprising :-but it is remarkable, that, often in the same piece, he sometimes laments and sometimes rejoices that the pains and visions of love haunt him even in his old age.
lo son colui che ne' primi anni tuoi
Even in life to Heaven. The largest and most animated portion of his verses was inspired by Vittoria Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara. This lady, illustrious for her rank, her beauty, and her poetry, numbered as many forlorn lovers as there were men of letters at the court of Leo X. and in the rest of Italy. She was celebrated as the heroine of conjugal love, for though left a widow at an early age, no temptations could induce her to wed again—and to the last she continued to address verses to her husband's shade. The preference which Michel Angelo obtained in her regard was apparently due as much to his genius as to his ad
vanced age. The character of his love for her is visible from his frequent conversation as related by one of his pupils, afterwards his biographer. He never ceased to recal the memory of Vittoria Colonna, and to expatiate on all the perfections of her mind and shape. Often he exclaimed, that, while she was expiring, he stood motionless and sorrowful at her bedside ; and, to the last, lamented that he had not impressed one kiss on those lips through which so pure a spirit passed to heaven.
SPECTRAL ETIQUETTE. PERHAPS there is no community, individually or collectively, which is more tenacious of its honour than that of ghosts. Little is said of them now ; but the race still exists, if it ever did, and without the degeneracy common to most classes of beings, labouring under the consciousness of increasing unpopularity and inevitable decay. 'T'is true, that even fashion now conspires against them: the spectre who, in “ My Master's Secrets,” sports a suit of nankins, and a straw-hat with green ribbands,” must have felt the gravity of his calling sadly outraged. Indeed, till something can be done for them in the way of costume, it is no wonder that they keep so much at home. Why cannot they have a Repository of Arts” embellished for their instruction? A work so spirituel would overcome their aversion to society, and render such traits as the following mere every-day occurrences.
To this hour is living a lady who long boasted of inviting and receiving them by day and night, with no purpose but mutual satisfaction. The Highland Seers, who fancied they inherited the fate of such converse, and the astrologers who wilfully sought the power, were weak enough to grow haggard and emaciated in the service; not so the lady in question. I allow that her tête-à-tétes were the least frequent of her interviews, with her own set. Neither they nor herself liked performing to empty benches; the more numerous the circle to which she introduced them, the better. Her friends might, indeed, have remained unconscious of the honour done them, (by visitors who came so far, and put themselves so out of their way,) but for the would-bé significance of eyes fixed on congenial vacancy, with which their hostess announced the frequent and familiar droppers-in ; some one or other of whom would be for ever “ coming in and going out, like a pet lamb.” What a pity that she could not give her friends any farther advantage from this unearthly acquaintance, as they would, if visible, have proved a perpetual supply of all eclipsing embellishments for her parties !
If “ Lions" from the extremity of this world be so enviable, she might defy competition, who had' interest enough to summon a display of eccentricities from the other--we won't decide which.
This hecatising converse lasted some years, lending its professor a mystic influence over the minds of fools (pardon the paradox), of servants, and of children.
At last she found one acquaintance who so caricatured the peculiar etiquette of the first reception she was called on to witness, and cast such reflections (not personal I own) on the whole fraternity, that there