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the most vigorous conceptions of any mind. All the elevation of the apostolic character, the firmness of the martyr, the fortitude, the resignation of the Christian, blended with a portion of that manly grief, which such a moment might be supposed to call forth, are thrown into every feature of his face.
Among the other gems in this collection may be reckoned the Nuptials of the Virgin, by Raphael; the Woman taken in Adultery, by Lodovico Caracci; Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, by Guercino; together with some of the very best, by Titian, Paul Veronese, Tintoretto, Leonardo da Vinci, Domenichino, and the Bolognese School. I was much pleased with a beautiful oval picture by Albano, representing a circle of Cupids, dancing hand in hand round a tree, while three of the party are seated in the branches, amidst the foliage, playing upon tiny musical instruments, as the orchestra of the rural fete. The minikin gods have thrown aside their armour, and piled up their bows and quivers upon the green turf, that they may frolick in the fairy ring with more alertness, and print the sod with lighter footsteps. It is an original idea, happily expressed.
Such were the attractions of the Brera, as to induce us to pay it a second visit, on the eve of our departure from Milan, and to linger several hours in the saloons, with the melancholy reflection, that it was the last great gallery, which would be seen in Italy. The love of pictures and statues, like all our other passions and habits, grows with what it feeds on; and so far from palling upon the senses, the last assemblage of the master-pieces of art afforded a much higher relish than the first. If the taste is not improved, a sort of companionship and intimacy is contracted with artists, whose works the traveller surveys daily, and to whom he bids a reluctant farewell.
The halls appropriated to the School of the Fine Arts afforded us scarcely less pleasure than the Gallery, furnishing evidence that great efforts are still making, to cherish genius and promote taste in designs, architecture, sculpture, painting, and engraving; in all which departments, premiums are annually distributed, and every inducement offered to awaken a laudable emulation. On one side of the door, prize subjects are posted up; on the other, the awards of committees. In addition to this, the works of the successful competitors are hung round the walls, labelled with the names of the young aspirants, and the dates of their triumphs at the annual exhibitions. Such a regulation furnishes a strong stimulant to new candidates.
The prize articles of the current year were crowned with wreaths of imitation laurel and oak, the foliage of which is not likely soon to fade, as it is of substantial metal, painted green. Many of the pro
ductions of juvenile artists evince much talent, and give promise of future eminence. Among the finest, are several pieces of sculpture, by a Milanese of the name of Godolfi. The rooms contain two monuments in honour of the distinguished patrons of the school; one by Canova, and the other by Thorwaldsen: also the head of a Vestal, by the former of these great artists, which is one of his most finished works. The face and drapery appeared to me inimitable. An extensive library is attached to the institution, to which students have free access. On the whole, the Academy is highly creditable to the genius, talent, and public spirit of the Milanese, who seem determined to render their city one of the foremost in modern Italy, in keeping alive a taste for the fine arts.
In our second visit to the Brera, we witnessed the annual exhibition of manufactures, for Milan and its vicinity, similar in design to that of the Louvre. Three or four rooms in the basement were well filled with commodities of all descriptions, except cutlery, embracing models of new inventions; rural implements; mills of various kinds; machines for making wine; a variety of household utensils; vessels for cooking with steam; an extensive assortment of domestic fabrics, such as cloths, silk stuffs, linens, woollens, tapestry, gloves and hosiery; together with an infinite number of fancy articles, embroidery, needlework, and artificial flowers, done by young ladies in their schools of industry. The specimens of plated ware would have done credit to the shops of Sheffield, and the clocks and time-pieces were scarcely surpassed by those of Paris. Among the curiosities, was a museum of natural history, in which beasts, birds and reptiles were made of straw, so closely imitated in form and complexion, that the eye could hardly distinguish them from real animals.
The premium articles were entwined with wreaths of laurel, A numerous concourse of both sexes appeared to take a lively interest in a show, which reflected so much credit upon the mechanical ingenuity and skill of their countrymen. There is a much greater degree of activity and energy in the Milanese character, than in the inhabitants of the softer and more voluptuous regions of the south; and the resemblance between the capitals of France and Lombardy is much stronger, than between the latter city and Rome or Naples. It appeared to me, that vestiges of Cisalpine Gaul could be traced in all the country north of the Po. The peasantry are distinguishable from the rest of Italy, in language, features, costumes, manners, and habits.
MILAN CONCLUDED--CHURCHES-CHAPEL OF THE DEAD-FESTIVAL OF ST. THOMAS-JESUITS-OPERA-MINOR THEATRES-ENVIRONS-VILLA OF NAPOLEON-EXCURSION TO MONZA-IMPERIAL GARDENS-PALACE-CATHEDRAL-IRON CROWN OF LOMBARDY.
We went the usual rounds of the churches, without finding much to admire or amuse. With the exception of the Cathedral, they will sustain no comparison with those of Rome or Venice. St. Lorenzo's is an octagon, the sides of which are concave. It is capped by a lofty dome. In front is a colonnade of sixteen antique Corinthian columns, connected by a frieze. It is supposed to have belonged to a temple of Hercules, or more properly to a Bath. These are the only remains of antiquity we saw at Milan. St. Mary's has rich altars, and some good paintings. The front of St. Paul's is a noble specimen of Grecian architecture. It bears aloft an image of the Virgin and her child, whose faces are of a glossy black, to show that their auspices extend to the shores of Africa, according to the exposition of our valet; but it is more likely the sculpture is rude Gothic, in which jetty complexions were once fashionable. In the Brera are paintings upon wood in the same style.
The octagonal walls of the Chapel of the Dead are lined with human bones and an array of skulls, piled to the very ceiling, and kept in place by iron net-work. It is a dark, dreary charnel-house, dimly lighted by the glimmer of a solitary taper at the altar. Some years since, a skull was seen to move without hands, and soon after to fall from its place to the pavement. All the priests were called in to witness the miracle, and pray for the rest of the unquiet bone, which kept dancing about the floor. At length a peasant ventured to take it up, when lo, a rat leaped out of the socket of the eye! He had built him a home in the seat of intellect, and was comfortably lodged, till his house fell. Had he secretly escaped, while the monks were counting their beads, the miracle would doubtless have been recorded for the benefit of posterity.
We attended the festival of St. Thomas, at the church which bears his name. Crowds of females left no room for the other sex. Incense was burned in such profusion, that the smoke dimmed the lights at the altar. Two orchestras of vocal and instrumental music united in the chants of the priesthood; and prayers to the patron saint rose amidst
the animating symphonies of Rossini, such as are heard every night at the Opera. Here, as in other parts of Italy, religion seems to be an amusement and a gratification of the senses, rather than a serious solemn duty. The street leading to the church was tastefully hung with festoons of crimson, yellow, and blue curtains, extending across from window to window. This custom seems to have descended from the triumphal processions of the old Romans.
The church of the Jesuits is one of the most splendid in the city. These holy brethren always contrive to feather their own nests. They are the Jews of the ecclesiastical orders in Europe; always rich, active in their pursuits, untiring in zeal, and striving for the ascendency in every thing. They have done much good, as well as much harm, making the influence of learning in many cases subservient to the worst purposes. The aisles of their chapel were so crowded at vespers, as to afford little opportunity for examining its decorations. The popular shrine of St. Ambrose was also thronged with votaries. It was visited on the festival of its great patron. In some of the Milanese churches, we observed representations of the Madonna, which are extremely gross and indecent. To save the trouble of making the mother and child separate, artists have united them in the same person; and the former appears in public, when she ought to be confined to her bed-chamber. At other times she suckles her babe upon the canvass, displaying a luxuriance of charms, which would make a pretty picture for the nursery. This indecorum in the arts, was probably borrowed from real life; for females, in some parts of Italy, expose themselves to the eye of the world, at seasons and in a manner, which would be deemed indelicate in our country.
Most of our evenings were passed at the theatres. Of these the Scala or Opera is by far the most celebrated. In scenery, dresses, and stage effect, it is superior to San Carlo at Naples, and probably the first in the world. The edifice itself did not fully equal my expectations. It appeared to me inferior to its rival in the south, in architecture and the splendour of its decorations. The boxes have rather a tawdry appearance, the alternate ranges, to the height of six tiers, being trimmed with strata of blue and yellow silk. One colour would have been in much better taste; and yellow is the meanest of all, especially in the night. Notwithstanding the brilliant chandelier, suspended from the centre of the ceiling, and of enormous size, the house is badly lighted; and the Milanese beauties have an opportunity of displaying few of their captivating charms. They, however, enjoy the privilege of seeing without being seen; for when the curtain rises, a flood of glory bursts from the stage, and the scene becomes all enchant
ment. Goddesses, nymphs, winged loves, and aerial spirits descend from heaven in clouds, course the air, and tread the earth with fairy feet, singing their sorrows as well as their joys all the while. The orchestra is equalled only in strength by that of the Royal Academy of Music at Paris, and surpassed by none in skill and taste. Its swells sometimes come with such power, as almost to lift the auditor involuntarily from his seat.
The opera was "Elisa e Claudio," the heroine of which is a peasant girl of Tuscany, in whose dress we had another opportunity of witnessing the gay costume of the Valdarno. Its scene, too, is laid near Florence, reviving some agreeable reminiscences. The ballet was the Corsair, founded on the poem of Lord Byron. It was a most brilliant spectacle, particularly the scene in which the pirate's bark is introduced, nearly as large as life, and manned to the topmast with sailors. Nothing can exceed the splendor of the decorations, all of a rich quality, and in excellent taste.
The style of dancing is carried to still greater extremes than at San Carlo. So closely is the flesh-coloured garment fitted to the leg, as to resemble exactly the epidermis; and the actresses might just as well appear in a state of nudity. Yet the more indelicate were their gesticulations, the louder rang the shouts of applause. This part of the show seemed to be the most attractive to the audience. Many persons left the theatre, as soon as the pirouettes were finished. That the opera is sometimes a stupid place to the Italians as well as to others, I had demonstrable evidence before me. Eight persons were counted fast asleep, within a circle of as many paces from my seat, lulled by angelic voices, and dreaming over the adventures of Elisa and Claudio. Yet these same persons deem it a kind of duty to attend at the Scala every evening, though the piece be repeated for the hundredth time. They go from habit, as certain merchants visit the Exchange, for the sake of appearing in public and mingling with the world.
One evening each to the minor theatres was amply sufficient. The Teatro Re is near the Viceroy's Palace, and from its name it is probably under his special patronage. It is a small but neat building. The comedy was amusing, and the ballet surpassed that of the Scala in indelicacy. A child five or six years old, that sat next to me, clapped its little hands in ecstacy, and raised its infantile voice in plaudits, as some tall Milanese actress whirled round upon one leg, with the other raised to a right angle, like the arm of a turnpike gate.
At another minor theatre, we witnessed a perfect burlesque upon the Italian stage. The players were marionettes, made of wood,