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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 brillianty 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
Che 'l tempo passa, e l' ora s'avvicina
Mentre la mia divina
Donna si degna d'abitare in terra.
Per le bellezze accorre uniche e sole
S'ei torna in ciel fra l' alme dive e liete,
O eyes, for certain, Time fleets swift
Which, while it makes you tearless, shall forbid
Be careful of your vision-be open
While on the earth, a bright inhabitant,
Lingers the form divine of her I love :
But at the moment when she mounts to Heaven,
There to rejoin the pure and blessed souls,
And decorate its region with her beauties
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 imitationfor 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
Per fido esempio alla mia vocazione,
Forse ad amendue noi dar lunga vita
Si veggia, e come a amarti io non fui stolto.
We both, perchance, may gain immortal life
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
Now I am old, Love tells me in my youth
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 fre quent 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. F.
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. 'Tis true, that even fashion now conspires against them: the spectre who, in My Master's Secrets," sports 66 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-têtes 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-be 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
was from that moment an obvious coolness between the lady and her guests; their enlivening society being far less frequently afforded her; for she still hinted the continuance of their occasional visits in private.
Bolder grown, the sceptic, knowing how many will boast high connexions they never possessed, now began to imply doubts of so friendly a footing ever having existed at all, and, lamentable to add for the credit of ghostly courage, though doubtless within hearing, they might have risen to confront their asperser, they not only omitted the opportunity at the instant, but never came again! It was not long, however, before their motive became evident; for, one morning, their former friend found on her dressing-table a note, which had not been seen there when she retired at night; it was written on fancy paper, with a crow's quill, or perhaps, more appropriately, with a raven's. Its perfume was exotic, but not suspiciously so, and on the whole, it may be regarded as the latest criterion of the state of letters in the sphere from which it came; it ran thus:
"Knowing that you have permitted us to be abused as No bodies, low company, and up-starts, we must inform you of a rule amongst us, the enforcement of which in the present case we owe to ancient usage and our own dignity; namely, never to enter a house, where one individual has the temerity to treat us with irreverence or mistrust."
"Certain Appearances, and Sounds of
This conduct at least was spirited. After this, neither friend nor foe saw more of these inestimable visitors: and if really existing intruders would as quickly take a hint, and act with as much pride and delicacy, it would do even more good than thus freeing a weak head from the fatigue of inventing, or its tongue from that of uttering, such useless and inexcusable falsehoods.
AH! chide me not, that o'er my cheek
Nor deen the ardent passion weak,
I wear the semblance of repose,
"I have done penance for contemning love;
Love hath chased sleep from my enthralled eyes,
I HAVE been all my days hovering on the very verge of the Kingdom of Love, without having ever once penetrated fairly into it. My whole "May of life" has been lost in wandering alone among the Alps which overlook that beautiful region, and form the barrier between it and the dull, flat, wintry plains which lie on this side. I have reached their highest accessible points, and have dwelt there for years and years; with rocks and ice-crags standing silently all about me, with clouds rolling beneath my feet, and the perpetual murmur of mountain torrents in my ears. I have dwelt there as if spell-bound,-not content to remain, and yet disdaining to descend into the Italy that lay smiling and bask ing in the sunshine below me. Fool that I was! I prided myself on this; forgetting that the earth is a globe, and that if I could have gone away from it in a balloon, till "Epping forest appeared no bigger than a gooseberry bush," I should still have been beneath the feet of nine-tenths of its inhabitants. It seldom happens that what we pride ourselves upon does not, at one time or another, become our torment and our shame. Thus it is with me: I have dwelt among the rocks and ice-crags of the world, till I have become as hard and cold and senseless as they.
That my sojourn in that dreary country may not be without its use, at least to others, I intend to disclose a few of the observations and discoveries I have made there; leaving the application of them to those whom it may concern. But if, in doing this, I should see occasion to adopt a style not consonant to the taste and habits of the general reader, I bespeak either his forbearance or his neglect; but I protest against his censure. He may pass over what I write, as something in which he feels no interest; but he will have no right to complain either of the matter or the manner, provided the one be true to nature, and the other intelligible. We may very fairly refuse to attend to a man who talks of nothing but himself, on the ground that his talk is either uninstructive or uninteresting to us; but to accuse him of not being able to talk of himself, without being at the time an egotist, is more than idle. Besides, to accuse a man of egotism, who is nameless and unknown, and who is likely for ever to remain so, will be neither philosophical nor good-natured; and it will savour not a little of egotism in the accuser.
"The fool hath said in his heart," there is no love!* On this belief
* "Oh love, no habitant of earth thou art !