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poor tribute

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when applied to the ancient. Now, for my own part, I plainly perceive in that man's countenance, and after you have studied those matters as profoundly as I have done you will see the same, that it is the conspiracy for the restoration of Tarquin, and no other plot whatever, which he listens to; as for Catiline's conspiracy, it is not possible he could know any thing about it; for, good God! people ought to reflect, that the man must have been dead four hundred years before Catiline was born.'

As we are now in the famous octagonal room, called Tribuna, I ought, if I had any thing new to say, to descant a little on the distinguished excellences of the Dancing Faun, the Wrestlers, the Venus Urania, the Venus Victrix; and I would most willingly pay

the my praise to that charming figure known by the name of Venus de Medicis. Yet, in the midst of all my admiration, I confess I do not think her equal to her brother Apollo in the Vatican. In that sublime figure, to the most perfect features and proportions, is joined an air which seems more than human. The Medicean Venus is unquestionably a perfect model of female beauty ; but while Apollo appears more than a man, the Venus seems precisely a beautiful woman.

In the same room are many valuable curiosities, besides a collection of admirable pictures by the best masters. I do not know whether any are more excellent of their kind, but I am convinced none are more attentively considered than the two Venuses of Titian ; one is said to be a portrait of his wife, the other of his mistress. The first is the finest portrait I ever saw, except the second ; of this you have seen many copies: though none of them equals the beauty of the original, yet they will give a juster idea of it than any description of mine could. On the background, two women seem searching for something in a trunk. This episode is found much fault with ; for my part, I see no great harm the two poor women do: none but those critics who search more eagerly after deformity than beauty, will take any notice of them.

VOL. 11.

2 B

Besides the Gallery and Tribuna, the hundredth part of whose treasures I have not particularized, there are other rooms, whose contents are indicated by the names they bear; as, the Cabinet of Arts, of Astronomy, of Natural History, of Medals, of Porcelain, of Antiquities, and the Saloon of the Hermaphrodite, so called from a statue which divides the admiration of the amateurs with that in the Borghese village at Rome. The excellence of the execution is disgraced by the vileness of the subject. We are surprised how the Greeks and Romans could take pleasure in such unnatural figures ; in this particular their taste seems to have been as depraved, as in general it was elegant and refined. In this room there is a collection of drawings by some of the greatest masters, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, and others. There is, in particular, a sketch of the Last Judgment by the firstnamed of these painters, different, and, in the opinion of some, designed with more judgment, than his famous picture on the same subject in Sixtus IV's chapel in the Vatican.

The large room, called the Gallery of Portraits, is not the least curious in this vast museum. It contains the portraits, all executed by themselves, of the most eminent painters who have flourished in Europe during the three last centuries. They amount to above two hundred; those of Rubens, Vandyke, Rembrandt, and Guido, were formerly the most esteemed; two have been added lately, which vie with the finest in this collection—those of Mengs and Sir Joshua Reynolds. The portrait of Raphael seems to have been done when he was young; it is not equal to any of the above. The electress dowager of Saxony has made a valuable addition to this collection, by sending her own portrait painted by herself; she is at full length, with the palette and pencils in her hand. Co reggio, after hearing the picture of St. Cecilia at Bologna cried up as a prodigy, and the ne plus ultra of art, went to see it; and conscious that there was nothing in it that required the exertion of greater powers than he felt within himself, he was overheard to say, · Anch' io sono pittore.' This illustrious princess was also conscious of her powers when she painted this portrait, which seems to pronounce to the spectators, Anch' io sono pittrice. *

LETTER LXXIII.

Florence.

Having now crossed from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean, and travelled through a considerable part of Italy, I acknowledge I have been agreeably disappointed in finding the state of the poorer part of the inhabitants less wretched than, from the accounts of some travellers, I imagined it was; and I may with equal truth add, that although I have not seen so much poverty as I was taught to expect, yet I have seen far more poverty than misery. Even the extremity of indigence is accompanied with less wretchedness here than in many other countries. This is partly owing to the mildness of the climate and fertility of the soil, and partly to the peaceable, religious, and contented disposition of the people. The miseries which the poorer part of mankind suffer from cold, are, perhaps, greater than those derived from any other source whatever. But in Italy, the gentleness of the climate protects them from this calamity nine months of the year. If they can gather as much wood as to keep a moderate fire during the remaining three, and procure a coarse cloak, they have little to fear from that quarter. Those who cannot get employment, which is often the case in this country, and even those who do not choose to work, which is the case with numbers all the world over, receive a regular maintenance from some convent: with this, and what lit. tle they can pick up otherwise, in a country where provisions are plentiful and cheap, they pass through life, in their own opinion, with more satisfaction than if they had a greater number of conveniences procured by much bo

. I also am a painter.

dily labour. Whereas in Great Britain, Germany, and other northern countries, the poor have no choice but to work; for if they remain idle, they are exposed to miseries more intolerable than the hardest labour can occasion to the laziest of mankind; they are invaded at once by the accumulated agonies of hunger and cold; and if they have ever had sufficient credit to contract a little debt, they are continually in danger of being thrown into a jail among pickpockets and felons. With respect to the lowest of the tradespeople and the day-labourers in this country, their wages are certainly not high; nor are they willing, by great efforts of industry, to gain all they might; but what they do gain is never wasted in intemperance, but fairly spent in their families on the real necessaries and comforts of life.

The Italians are the greatest loungers in the world, and while walking in the fields, or stretched in the shade,

seem to enjoy the serenity and genial warmth of their · climate with a degree of luxurious indulgence peculiar to

themselves. Without ever running into the daring excesses of the English, or displaying the frisky vivacity of the French, or the invincible phlegm of the Germans, the Italian populace discover a species of sedate sensibility to every source of enjoyment, from which, perhaps, they derive a greater degree of happiness than any of the other. The frequent processions and religious ceremonies, besides amusing and comforting them, serve to fill up their time, and prevent that ennui and those immoral practices which are apt to accompany poverty and idleness. It is necessary, for the quiet and happiness of every community, that the populace be employed. Some politicians imagine, that their whole time should be spent in gainful industry. Others think, that though the riches of the state will not be augmented, yet the general happiness, which is a more important object, will be promoted by blending the occupations of industry with a considerable proportion of such superstitious ceremonies as awaken the future hopes, without lulling the present benevolence, of the multitude: but nobody can doubt, that in countries where, from whatever cause, industry does not prevail, processions and other rites of the same nature will tend to restrain the populace from the vices, and of consequence prevent some of the miseries of idleness.

The peasantry of this country are unquestionably in a more comfortless state than a benevolent mind could wish them. But, England and Switzerland excepted, is not this the case all over Europe? In all the countries I have seen, or had an account of, the husbandmen, probably the most virtuous, but certainly the most useful part of the community, whose labour' and industry maintain all the rest, and in whom the real strength of the state resides, are, by a most unjust dispensation, generally the poorest and most oppressed. But although the Italian peasantry are by no means in the affluent, independent situation of the peasantry of Switzerland, and the tenantry of England, yet they are not subjected to the same oppressions with those of Germany, nor are they so poor as those of France.

Great part of the lands in Italy belong to convents; and I have observed, and have been assured by those who have the best opportunities of knowing, that the tenants of these communities are happier, and live more at their ease, than those of a great part of the nobility. The revenues of convents are usually well managed, and never allowed to be squandered away by the folly or extravagance of any of its members ; consequently the community is not drive en by craving and threatening creditors, as individuals frequently are, to squeeze out of their vassals the means of supplying the waste occasioned by their own vanity and expense. A convent can have no incitement to severe and oppressive exactions from the peasants, except sheer avarice; a passion which never rises to such a height in a society where the revenue is in common, as in the breast of an individual, who is solely to reap the fruits of his own oppression.

The stories which circulate in Protestant countries, concerning the scandalous debauchery of monks, and the lus.

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