Things and Thoughts in Europe . . . XXIX.

Things and Thoughts in Europe

Special Correspondence of The Tribune[No. XXIX.

The Roman Republic . . . . Charles Albert a Traitor . . . . Fall of Gioberti . . . . Mazzini . . . . His Character . . . . His Address To The People . . . . His Gravity . . . . American Artists . . . . Brown, Terry and Freeman . . . . Hicks and his Pictures . . . . Cropsey and Cranch Contrasted . . . . American Landscape Painting . . . . Sculptors . . . . Story’s “Fisher of Goethe” . . . . Mozier’s “Pocahontas” . . . . Greenough’s Group . . . .Powers’s “Madonnas” . . . . The Equestrian Statue of Washington . . . . Crawford’s Design . . . . Trials of the Artist . . . . American Patrons of Art . . . . Expenses of Artist Life . . . . A Generous Sculptor . . . . Overbeck and his Paintings . . . . Festival of Fried Rice . . . . An Ave Maria.
ROME, March 20, 1849.

  The Roman Republic moves on better than could have been expected. There are great difficulties about money, necessarily, as the Government, so beset with difficulties and dangers, cannot command confidence in that respect. The solid coin has crept out of the country or lies hid, and in the use of paper there are the corresponding difficulties. But the poor, always the chief sufferers from such a state of things, are wonderfully patient, and I doubt not that the new form, if Italy could be left to itself, would be settled for the advantage of all. Tuscany would soon be united with Rome, and to the Republic of Central Italy, no longer broken asunder by petty restrictions and sacrificed to the interests of a few persons, would come that prosperity natural to a region so favored by Nature.

  Could Italy be left alone! but treacherous, selfish men at home strive to betray, and foes threaten her from without on every side. Even France, her natural ally, promises to prove foolishly and basely faithless. The dereliction from principle of her Government seems certain, and thus far the nation, despite the remonstrance of a few worthy men, gives no signs of effective protest. There would be little hope for Italy, were not the thrones of her foes in a tottering state, their action liable at every moment to be distracted by domestic difficulties. The Austrian Government seems as destitute of support from the nation as is possible for a Government to be, and the army is no longer what it was, being made up so largely of new recruits. The Croats are uncertain in their adhesion, the war in Hungary likely to give them much to do, and if the Russian is called in, the rest of Europe becomes hostile. All these circumstances give Italy a chance she otherwise could not have: she is in great measure disfurnished of arms and money; her King in the South is a bloody, angry, well-armed foe; her King in the North, a proved traitor. Charles Albert has now declared was because he could not do otherwise, but his sympathies are in fact all against Liberty; the splendid lore that he might become King of Italy glitters no more; the Republicans are in the ascendant, and he may well doubt, should the stranger be driven out, whether Piedmont could escape the contagion. Now, his people insisting on war, he has the air of making it with good grace, but should he be worsted, probably he will know some loop-hole by which to steal out. The rat will steal out and leave the lions in the trap.

  The “illustrious Gioberti” has fallen—fallen forever from his high scaffold of words. His demerits were too unmistakable for rhetoric to hide. That he sympathized with the Pope rather than the Roman people, and could not endure to see him stripped of his temporal power, no one could blame him in the author of the “Primata.” That he refused the Italian General Assembly, if it was to be based on the so-called Montanelli system instead of his own, might be the conviction or it might be littleness and vanity. But that he privily planned, without even adherence of the council of Ministers, an armed intervention of the Piedmontese troops in Tuscany, this willing to cause civil war, and, at this great moment, to see Italian blood shed by Italian hands, was treachery. I think, indeed, he has been probably made the scape-goat in that affair; that Charles Albert planned the measure, and finding himself unable to carry it out, in consequence of the vigilance and indignant opposition of the Chamber of Deputies, was somewhat consoled by making it an occasion to victimize the “Illustrious,” whom four weeks before the people had forced him to accept as his Minister.

  Now the name of Gioberti is erased from the corners of the streets to which it was affixed a year ago; he is stripped of all his honorary degrees, and proclaimed an unworthy son of the country. Mazzini is the idol of the people. “Soon to be hunted out,” sneered the skeptical American. Possibly yes! for no man is secure of his palm till the fight is over. The civic wreath may be knocked from his head a hundred times in the ardor of the contest. No matter, if he can always keep the forehead pure and lofty, as will Mazzini.

  In thinking Mazzini, I always remember Petrarch’s invocation to Rienzi. Mazzini comes at a riper period in the world’s history, with the same energy of soul, but of purer temper and more enlarged views to answer them.

  I do not know whether I mentioned a kind of poetical correspondence about Mazzini and Rossi. Rossi was also an exile for liberal principles, but he did not value his birthright; he alienated it and as a French citizen became Peer of France and Representative of Louis Philippe in Italy. When, with the fatuity of those whom the gods have doomed to perish, Pius IX, took the representative of the fallen Guizot policy for his Minister, he made him a Roman citizen. He was proclaimed such the 14th of November. On the 15th he perished before he could enter the parliament he had called. He fell at the door of the Cancelleria when it was sitting.

  Mazzini, in his exile, remained absolutely devoted to his native country. Because, though feeling as few can, that the interests of humanity in all nations are identical, he felt also that, born of a race so suffering, so much needing devotion and energy, his first duty was to that. The only powers he acknowledged were God and the People, the special scope of his acts the unity and independence of Italy. Rome was the theme of his thoughts, but, very early exiled, he had never seen that home to which all the orphans of the son so naturally turn. Now he entered it as a Roman citizen, elected representative of the people by universal suffrage. His motto, Dio e Popolo, is put upon the coin with the Roman eagle; unhappily this first-issued coin is of brass, or else of silver, with much alloy. Dii, avertite omen, and may peaceful days turn it all to pure gold!

  On his first entrance to the house Mazzini, received with fervent applause and summoned to take his place beside the President, spoke as follows:

  “It is from me, colleagues, that should come these tokens of applause, these tokens of affection, because the little good I have not done, but tried to do, has come to me from Rome. Rome was always a sort of talisman for me; a youth, I studied the history of Italy, and found while all the other nations were born, grew up, played her part in the world, then fell to reappear no more in the same power, a single city was privileged by God to die only to rise again greater than before, to fulfill a mission greater than the first. I saw the Rome of the Empire extend her conquests from the confines of Africa to the confines of Asia. I saw Rome perish, crashed by the barbarians, by these whom even yet the world calls barbarians. I saw her rise again after having chased away these same barbarians, reviving in its sepulcher the germ of Civilization. I saw her rise more great for conquest, not with arms, but with words—rise in the name of the Popes to repeat her grand mission. I said in my heart, the city which, alone in the world, has had two grand lives, one greater than the other, will have a third. After the Rome which wrought by conquest of arms, the Rome which wrought by conquest of words must come a third which shall work by virtue of example. After the Rome of the Emperors—after the Rome of the Popes, will come Rome of the People. The Rome of the People is arisen; do not salute with applause, but let us rejoice together! I cannot promise anything for myself, except concurrence in all you shall do for the good of Rome, of Italy, of Mankind. Perhaps we shall have to pass through great crises, perhaps we shall have to fight a sacred battle against the only enemy that threatens us, Austria. We will fight it, and we will conquer. I hope, please God, that foreigners may not be able to say any more that which so many of them repeat to-day, speaking of our affairs, that the light which comes from Rome is only an ignis fatuus wandering among the tombs; the world shall see that it is a starry light, eternal, pure and resplendent as those we look up to in the Heavens!”

  On a later day he spoke more fully of the difficulties that threaten at home the young Republic, and said:

  “Let us not hear of right, of left, of center; these terms express the three powers in a constitutional monarchy; for us they have no meaning; the only divisions for us are of Republicans or non-Republicans – or of sincere men and temporizing men. Let us not hear so much of the Republicans of today and of yesterday. I am a Republican of twenty years’ standing. Entertaining such hopes for Italy, when many excellent, many sincere men held them as Utopian, shall I denounce these men because they are now convinced of their practicability.”

  This last I quote from memory. In hearing the gentle tone of remonstrance with those of more petty mind, or influenced by the passions of the partisan, I was forcibly reminded of the parable by Jesus of the Vineyard and the discontent of the laborers that those who came at the eleventh hour “received also a penny.” Mazzini also is content that all should fare alike as brethren, if only they will come into the vineyard. He is not an orator, but the simple conversational tone of his address is in refreshing contrast with the boyish rhetoric and academic swell common to Italian speakers in the present unfledged state. As they have freer use of the power of debate they will become more simple and manly. The speech of Mazzini is laden with mind – it goes straight to the mark by the shortest path and moves without effort from the irresistible impression of deep conviction and fidelity in the speaker. Mazzini is a man of genius, an elevated thinker, but the more powerful and first impression from his presence must always be of the religion of his soul, of his virtue, both in the modern and antique sense of that word.

  If clearness of right, if energy, if indefatigable perseverance, can steer the ship through this dangerous pass, it will be done. He said, “we will conquer,” whether Rome will this time is not to me certain, but such men as Mazzini conquer always—conquer in defeat. Yet Heaven grant that no more blood, no more corruption of priestly government, be for Italy. It could only be for once more, for the strength of her present impulse would not fail to triumph at last, but even one more trial seems too intolerably much when I think of the holocaust of broken hearts, baffled lives that must attend it.

  But enough of politics for the present, this letter goes by private hand, and as news, will be superseded before it can arrive.

  Let me take the opportunity to say some things that I have let lie by, while writing of political events. Especially of our Artists I wish to say something. I know many of them, if not all, and see with pleasure our young country so fairly represented.

  Among the painters I saw of Brown only two or three pictures at the exhibition in Florence; they were coarse, flashy things. I was told he could do better, but a man who indulges himself with such coarse sale work, cannot surely do well at any time.

  The merits of Terry and Freeman are not my merits; they are beside both favorites in our country, and have a sufficient number of pictures there for everyone to judge. I am no connoisseur as regards the technical merits of paintings; it is only poetic invention, or a tender feeling of nature which captivates me.

  Terry loves grace, and consciously works from the model. The result is a pleasing transposition of the hues of this clime. But the design of the picture is never original, nor is it laden with any message from the heart. Of Freeman I know less; as the two or three pictures of his that I have seen never interested me. I have not visited his studio.

  Of Hicks I think very highly. He is a man of ideas, an original observer, and with a poetic heart. His system of coloring is derived from a thoughtful study, not a mere imitation of nature, and shows the fineness of his organization. Struggling unaided to pursue the expensive studies of his art, he has had only a small studio, and received only orders for little cabinet pictures.—Could he carry out adequately his ideas, in him would be found the treasure of genius. He has made the drawings for a large picture of many figures; the design is original and noble, the grouping highly effective. Could he paint this picture I believe it would be a real boon to the lovers of Art, the lovers of Truth. I hope very much that when he returns to the United States, some competent patron of art – one of the few who has mind as well as purse, will see the drawings and order the picture. Otherwise he cannot paint it, as the expenses attendant on models for so many figures, &c. are great, and the time demanded could not otherwise be taken from the claims of the day.

  Among landscape painters Cropsey and Cranch have the true artist spirit. In faculties, each has what the other wants. Cropsey is a reverent and careful student of nature in detail, it is no pedantry, but a true love he has, and his pictures are full of little gentle signs of intimacy. They please and touch, but yet, in poetic feeling of the heart of nature, he is not equal to Cranch, who produces fine effects by means more superficial, and, on examination, less satisfactory. Each might somewhat from the other to advantage, could he do it without diminishing his own original dower. Both are artists of high promise, and deserve to be loved and cherished by a country which may, without presumption, hope to carry landscape painting to a pitch of excellence unreached before. For the historical painter, the position with us is, for many reasons, not favorable, but there is no bar in the way of the landscape painter, and fate, bestowing such a prodigality of subject, seems to give us a hint not to be mistaken. I think the love of landscape painting is genuine in our nation, and as it is a branch of art where achievement has been comparatively low, we may not unreasonably suppose it has been left for us. I trust it will be undertaken in the highest spirit.—Nature, it seems to me, reveals herself more freely in our land; she is true, virgin and confiding—she smiles upon the vision of a true Endymion. I hope to see not only copies upon canvas of our magnificent scenes, but a transfusion of the spirit which is their divinity.

  Then why should the American landscape-painter come to Italy?—cry many. I think, myself, he ought not to stay here very long. Yet a few years’ study is precious, for here Nature herself has worked with Man, as if she wanted to help him in the composition of pictures. The ruins of Italy, in their varied relations with vegetation and the heavens, make speeches from every stone for the instruction of the artist; the greatest variety here is found with the greatest harmony; to know how this union may be accomplished is a plain secret of art, and though the coloring is not the same, yet he who has the key to its mysteries of beauty is the more initiated to the same in other climates, and will easily attune afresh his more instructed eye and mind to the contemplation of that which molded his childhood.

  I may observe of the two artists I have named, that Cranch has entered more into the spirit of Italian landscape, while Cropsey is still more distinguished on subjects as he first loved. He seemed to find the Scotch lake and mountain scenery very congenial; his sketches and pictures taken from a short residence there are impressive. Perhaps a melancholy or tender subject suits him best; something rich, bold and mellow is more adapted to call out the genius of Cranch.

  Among the Sculptors new names rise up to show that this is decidedly a province for hope in America. I look upon this as the natural talent of an American, and have no doubt that glories will be displayed by our sculptors unknown to classic art. The facts of our history, ideal and social, will be grand and of new import; it is perfectly natural to the American to mold in clay and carve in stone. The permanence of material and solid relief in the forms correspond to the positiveness of his nature better than the mere ephemeral and even tricky methods of the painter—to his need of motion and action, better than the chambered scribbling of the poet. He will this record his best experiences, and these records will adorn the noble structures that must naturally arise for the public uses of our society.

  It is particularly gratifying to see men that might amass far more money and attain more temporary power in other parts, despise those lower lures too powerful in our country, and aim only at excellence in the expression of thought. Among those I may mention Story and Mozier. Story has made in Florence the model for a statue of his father. This I have not seen, but two statuettes that he modeled from the “Fisher” of Goethe pleased me extremely. The languid, meditative revery of the boy, the morbid tenderness of his nature, is most happily expressed in the first, as is the fascinated surrender to the syren murmur of the flood in the second. He has taken the moment

“Half drew she him; half sank he is,” &c.

  I hope some one will give him an order to make them in marble. Mosier seemed to have an immediate success. The fidelity and spirit of his portrait busts could be appreciated by every one; for an ideal head of Pocahontas too, he had at once orders for many copies. It was not an Indian head, but in the union of sweetness and strength with a princelike, childlike dignity, very happily expressive of his idea of her character. I think he has modeled a Rebecca at the Well, but this I did not see.

  These have already a firm hold on the affections of our people, every American who comes to Italy visits their studios, an speaks of them with pride, as indeed they well may, in comparing them with artists of other nations. It will not be long before you see Greenough’s group; it is in spirit a pendent to Cooper’s novels. I confess I wish he had availed himself of the opportunity to immortalize the real noble Indian in marble. This is only the man of the woods—no Metamora, no Uncas. But the group should be very instructive to our people.

  You seem as crazy about Powers’s Greek Slave as the Florentines were about Cimabue’s Madonnas, in which we still see the spark of genius, but not fanned to its full flame. If your enthusiasm be as genuine as that of the lively Florentines, we will not quarrel with it; but I am afraid a great part is drawing room raptures and newspaper echoes. Genuine enthusiasm, however crude the state of mind from which it springs, always elevates, always educates, but in the same proportion talking and writing for effect stultifies and debases. I shall not judge the adorers of the Greek Slave, but only observe that they have not kept in reserve any higher admiration for works even now extant, which are, in comparison with that statue, what that statue is compared with any weeping marble on a common monument.

  I consider the Slave as a form of simple and sweet beauty, but that neither as an ideal expression or a specimen of plastic power is it transcendent. Powers stands far higher in his busts than in any ideal statue. His conception of what is individual in character is clear and just; his power of execution almost unrivaled; but he has had a lifetime of discipline for the bust, while his studies on the human body are comparatively limited; nor is his treatment of it free and masterly. To me, his conception of subject is not striking; I do not consider him rich in artistic thought.

  He, no less than Greenough and Crawford, would feel it a rich reward for many labors, and a happy climax to their honors to make an equestrian statue of Washington for our country. I wish they might all do it, as each would show a different kind of excellence. To present the man on horseback, the wise centaur, the tamer of horses, may well be deemed a highest achievement of modern as it was of ancient art. The study of the anatomy and action of the horse, so rich in suggestions, is naturally the most desirable to the artist; happy he who, obliged by the brevity of life and the limitations of fortune, to make his studies conform to his “orders,” finds himself justified by a national behest in entering on this department.

  At home one gets callous about the character of Washington, from a long experience of 4th of July bombast in his raise. But seeing the struggles of other nations, and the deficiencies of the leaders who try to sustain them, the heart is again stimulated and puts forth buds of praise. One appreciates the wonderful combination of events and influences that gave our independence so healthy a birth, and the almost miraculous merits of the men who tended its first motions. In the combination of excellences needed at such a period with the purity and modesty which dignify the private man in the humblest station, Washington as yet stands alone. No country has ever had such a good future; no other is so happy as to have a pattern of spotless worth which will remain in her latest day venerable as now.

  Surely then that form should be immortalized in material solid as its fame, and, happily for the artist, that form was of natural beauty and dignity, and he who places him on horseback simply re presents his habitual existence. Everything concurs to make an equestrian statue of Washington desirable.

  The dignified way to manage that affair would be to have a Committee chosen of impartial judges, men who would look only to the merits of the work and the interests of the country, unbiased by any personal interest in favor of some one artist. It is said it is impossible to find such a one, but I cannot believe it. Let there be put aside the mean squabbles and jealousies, the vulgar pushing of unworthy friends, with which, unhappily, the artist’s career seems more rife than any other, and a air concurrence established; let each artist offer his design for an equestrian statue of Washington, and let the best have the preference.

  Mr. Crawford has made a design which he takes with him to America, and which, I hope, will be generally seen. He has represented Washington in his actual dress; a figure of Fame, winged, presents the laurel and civic wreath; his gesture declines them; he seems to say, “For me the deed is enough—I need no badge, no outward token in reward.”

  This group has no insipid allegorical air, as might be supposed, and its composition is very graceful, simple, and harmonious. The costume is very happily managed. The angel figure is draped, and with the Liberty cap, which as a badge both f ancient and modern times, seems to connect the two figures, and in an artistic point of view balances well the cocked hat; there is a similar harmony between the angel’s wings and the extremities of the horse. The action of the winged figure induces a natural and spirited action of the horse and rider. I thought of Goethe’s remark, that a fine work of art will always have, at a distance, where its details cannot be discerned, a beautiful effect, as of architectural ornament, and that this excellence the groups of Raphael share with the antique. He would have been pleased with the beautiful balance of forms in this group, with the freedom with which light and air play in and out, the management of the whole being clear and satisfactory at the first glance. But one should go into a great numbers of studies, as you can in Rome or Florence, and see the abundance of heavy and inharmonious designs to appreciate the merits of this; anything really good seems so simple and so a matter of course to the unpracticed observer.

  Some say the Americans will not want a group, but just the fact; the portrait of Washington riding straight onward like Marcus Aurelius, or making an address, or lifting his sword. I do not know about that—it is a matter of feeling. This winged figure not only gives a poetic sense to the group, but a natural support and occasion for action to the horse and rider. Uncle Sam must send Major Downing to look at it, and then, if he wants other designs, let him establish a concurrence, as I have said, and choose what is best. I am not particularly attached to Mr. Greenough, Mr. Powers or Mr. Crawford. I admire various excellencies in the works of each, and should be glad if each received an order for an equestrian statue. Nor is there any reason why they should not. There is money enough in the country, and the more good things there are for the people to see freely in open daylight the better. That makes artists germinate.

  I love the artists, though I cannot speak of their works in a way to content their friends or even themselves, often. Who can, that has a standard of excellence in the mind and a delicate conscience in the use of words? My highest tribute is meager of superlatives in comparison with the hackneyed puffs with which artists submit to be besmeared. Submit, alas often they court them, rather. I do not expect any kindness from my contemporaries. I know what is to me justice and honor is to them only a hateful coldness. Still I love them, I wish for their good, I feel deeply for their sufferings, annoyances, privations, and would lessen them if I could. I have thought it might perhaps be of use to publish some account of the expenses of the artist. There is a general impression that the artist lives very cheaply in Italy. This is a mistake. Italy, compared with America, is not so very cheap, except for those who have iron constitutions to endure bad food, eaten in bad air, damp and dirty lodgings. The expenses, even in Florence, of a simple but clean and wholesome life, are little less than in New York. The great difference is for people that are rich. An Englishman of rank and fortune does not need the same amount of luxury as at home to be on a footing with the nobles of Italy. The Broadway merchant would find his display of mahogany and carpets thrown away in a country where a higher kind of ornament is the only one available. But poor people who can, at any rate, buy only the necessities of life, will find them in the Italian cities, where all sellers live by cheating foreigners, very little cheaper than in America.

  The patrons of Art in American, ignorant of these facts, and not knowing the great expenses which attend the study of Art and the production of its wonders, are often guilty of most undersigned cruelty, and do things which it would grieve their hearts to have done, if they only knew the facts. They have read essays on the uses of adversity in developing genius, and they are not sufficiently afraid to administer a dose of adversity beyond what the forces of the patient can bear. Laudanum in drops is useful as a medicine, but a cup-full kills downright.

  Beside this romantic idea about letting artists suffer to develop their genius, the American Mæcenas is not sufficiently aware of the expenses attendant on producing the work he wants. He does not consider that the painter, the sculptor, must be paid for the time he spends in designing and molding, no less than in painting and carving; that he must have his bread and sleeping-house, his workhorse or studio, his marbles and colors; the sculptor his workmen; so that if the price he paid he asks, a modest and delicate man very commonly receives no guerdon for his thought—the real essence of the work—except the luxury of seeing it embodied which he could not otherwise have afforded. The American Mæcenas often pushes the price down, not from want of generosity, but from a habit of making what are called good bargains—i.e. bargains for one’s own advantage at the expense of a poorer brother. Those who call these good do not believe that

“Mankind is one,
And beats with one great heart.”

They have not read the life of Jesus Christ.

  Then the American Mæcenas sometimes, after ordering a work, has been known to change his mind when the statue is already modeled. It is the American who does these things, because an American, who either from taste or vanity buys a picture, is often quite uneducated as to the arts and cannot understand why a little picture or figure costs so much money. The Englishman or Frenchman, of a suitable position to seek these adornments for his house, usually understands better than the visiter of Powers who, on hearing the price of the Proserpine, wonderingly asked, “Is’nt statuary riz lately?” Queen Victoria of England, and her Albert, it is said, use their royal privilege to get works of art at a price below their value, but their subjects would be ashamed to do so.

  To supply means of judging to the American merchant, (full of kindness and honorable sympathy as beneath the crust he so often is) who wants pictures and statues not merely from ostentation, but as means of delight and improvement to himself and his friends, who has a soul to respect the genius and desire the happiness of the artist, and who, if he errs, does so from ignorance of the circumstances, I give the following memorandum, made at my desire by an artist, my neighbor:

  The rent of a suitable studio for modeling in clay and executing statues in marble may be estimated at $200 a year.

  The best journeyman carver in marble at Rome receives as much as $60 a month. Models are paid $1 a day.

  The cost of marble varies according to the size of the blocks, being generally sold by the cubic palm, a square of 9 inches in English. As a general guide regarding the prices established among the higher sculptors of Rome I may mention tha for a statue of life-size the demand is from $1,000 to $5,000, varying according to the composition of the figure and the number of accessories.

  It is a common belief in the United States that a student of art can live in Italy and pursue his studies on an income of $300 or $400 a year. This is a lamentable error; the Russian Government allows its pensioners $700, which is scarcely sufficient. $1,000 per annum should be placed at the disposal of every young artist leaving our country for Europe.

  Let it be remembered, in addition to considerations inevitable from this memorandum, that you may, in your work of art, for years and months of uncheered and difficult waiting on the part of the artist, after he has gone through the earlier stages of an education, too largely based and of aim too high to finish in this world.

  The Prussian artist here on my left hand, learned not only his art, but reading and writing, after he was thirty. A farmer’s son, he was allowed no freedom to learn anything till the death of the head of the house left him a beggar, but set him free; on foot he walked hundreds of miles to Berlin, attracted by his first works some attention, and received some assistance in money, earned more by invention of a plowshare, walked to Rome, struggled through every privation, and has now a reputation which has secured him the means of putting his thoughts into marble. True, at 49 years of age he is still severely poor; he cannot marry because he cannot maintain a family; but he is cheerful, because he can work in his own way, trusts with childlike reliance in God, and is still sustained by the vigorous health he won laboring in his father’s fields. Not every man could continue to work, circumstanced as he is, at the end of the half century. For him the only sad thing in my mind is that his works are not worth working, though of merit in composition and execution, yet ideally a product of the galvanized piety of the German school, more mutton-like than lamb-like to my unchurched eyes.

  You are likely to have a work by the great master of that school, Overbeck, to look at in the United States, Mr. Perkins of Boston, who knows how to spend his money with equal generosity and discretion, having bought his Wise and Foolish Virgius. It will be precious to the country from great artistic merits. As to the spirit, “blessed are the poor in spirit.” That kind of severity is, perhaps has become, the nature of Overbeck. He seems like a monk, but a really pious and pure one.—This spirit is not what I seek; I deem it too narrow for our day, but being deeply sincere to him, its expression is at times also deeply touching.—Barrabbas borne in triumph, and the child Jesus who, playing with his father’s tools, has made himself a cross, are subjects best adapted for expression of this spirit.

  I have written too carelessly—much writing hath made me mad of late. Forgive if the “style be not neat, terse, and sparkling,” if there be nought of the “thrilling,” if the sentences seem not “written with a diamond pen,” like all else that is published in America. Sometime I must try to do better. For this time

“Forgive my faults, forgive my virtues too.”

  21st.—Day before yesterday was the feast of St. Joseph. He is supposed to have acquired a fondness for fried rice cakes, during his residence in Egypt. Many are eaten in the open street, in arbors made for the occasion. One was made beneath my window, on Piazza Barberini. All day and the evening men cleanly dressed in white aprons and liberty caps, quite new, of fine, red cloth, were trying them for crowds of laughing, gesticulating customers. It rained a little, and they held an umbrella over the frying pan, but not over themselves. The arbor is still there, and little children are playing in and out of it; one still lesser runs in its leading strings, followed by the bold, gay nurse, to the brink of the fountain after its orange which has rolled before it. Tenenani’s workmen are coming out of his studio, the priests are coming home from Ponto Pio, the contadini beginning to play at more, for the setting sun has just lit up the magnificent range of windows in Palazzo Barberini, and then faded tenderly, sadly away, and the mellow bells have chimed the Ave Maria. Rome looks as Roman, that is to say, as tranquil as ever, despite the trouble that tugs at her heart strings. There is a report that Mazzini is to be made Dictator, as Manin is in Venice, for a short time, so as to provide hastily and energetically for the war. Ave Maria Santissims’ when thou didst gaze on thy babe with such infinite hope, thou didst not dream that so may ages after blood would be shed and curses uttered in his name, Madonna Addolorata! hadst thou not hoped peace and good will would spring from his bloody woes, couldst thou have borne these hours at the foot of the cross. O Stella! woman’s heart of love, send yet a ray of pure light on this troubled deep!    *

“Things and Thoughts in Europe.” New-York Daily Tribune, 16 May 1849, p. 1.