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A A VISIT TO

ITALY.

LETTER I.

The House of Michael Angelo, and its Fine Collection of Memorials.

-Anecdote of the Origin of his Picture of the “Fates.”—Deficiency of Church Music.—Legend of Santa Filomena. — Anecdote of a Roman Catholic Preacher. Hiram Powers and Thorwaldsen. – Rosini.—Orioli.—Giorgini.-Superiority of Italian Intellect.-Lamentable Influence of Rome. - Enormous Quantity of Bad Pictures in the Private Dwellings of Florence.—Private Communication between the Medicean and Pitti Palaces.—Pergola.The Creation of Haydn performed by Amateurs. - Conclusion of the Congress. — Presents given by the Grand Duke to the Members.

Florence, Sept. 1841. IF I wished to impress an élève with a feeling of veneration for the right of majorat, and a strong idea of the universal utility of holding heir-looms sacred, I would take him to the house of the Cavaliere Cosimo Buonarroti, in the Vio Ghibellina. This house, the abode of his immortal ancestor, Michael Angelo, is full of all manner of precious relics and records of this highly-gifted and most extraordinary man; and its descent from father to son, is

VOL. II.

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:tbe:cauge:why. every minute memorial of him has beeh" 88 preserved as to render a familiar knowledge of his habits and character more attainable than in any other instance, of date equally remote. In this house Michael Angelo lived, and died; here he modelled, painted, wrote, and thought .... and the family museum is preserved here, with all the proud affection natural to such consanguinity, and with the patriarchal reverence of a gentleman, who feels that he has in his keeping the most precious treasures belonging to his race and name..... Few men can show an escutcheon of such interest as the Cavaliere Buonarroti. It bears on its chief the fleurs-de-lis, as a memorial of honours achieved in Palestine .... and below, the field bears a Medicean ball, won from the great patron prince, by Michael Angelo himself.

A large collection of autograph manuscripts, nearly all of them still unpublished, form the most precious part of the relics thus preserved, because they are likely to bring us into the closest acquaintance with the heart and mind of their immortal author. Signore Buonarroti very kindly read to us several of the letters. The turn of thought in all was lively, and sometimes even playful ; and in more than one instance, showed the power of saying strong things gracefully. and thereby reminded one of works in tougher character, but issuing from the same spirit.

One little note amused me greatly, from the

ITS FINE COLLECTION OF MEMORIALS.

3

contrast between its lightness, and the grandiose impressions which the very name of Michael Angelo always seems to produce. It was addressed to a lady, and written upon a scrap of blue paper .... not, however, of the dainty tint by which the petites maîtresses of our day choose to variegate their portfolios .... Michael Angelo's blue paper was evidently seized upon faute de mieux, and might likely enough have formed the envelope of a parcel of stout hose ; .... but the great Immortal contrived to give a charm to the metamorphosis by saying, that the celestial hue of his paper must be taken by his fair correspondent as emblematical of the heavenly region to which he conceived her to belong.

Some of the letters were deeply interesting ; and the tone of one to his nephew, in which he gives him much important, and even solemn advice, and then redeems what he might fear was stern in it by something almost playful at the conclusion, was charming. These precious papers, amounting to several volumes, and containing matter of interest in as many various ways as the versatile genius, and versatile life, of their author promise, are ultimately intended for publication. But the Cavaliere Cosimo Buonarroti wishes very naturally to be himself their editor, and it is to be feared that his occupations, as an active magistrate, and holding the distinguished position of President in the supreme court, may long prevent his

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