+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

crown of a bonnet, the stupendous poke of
which is one of the most ingeniously portentous
ever fashioned in Leghorn. You are
delicately cinctured with a girdle immediately
under your arms, the skirts of your
dress hanging down below,close and "skimpy"
the spectral phantom of a garment shivering
midway between the byegone hoop and
the coming crinoline.

Attired thus according to the charming
style in vogue during these early days of the
new century, you pick your way across the
miry road skirting the Place du Carrousel
under the swinging oil-lamp (for gas is not
yet dreamed of), guttering and dribbling overhead,
just as the whim, or the wind, takes it.
The ponderous diligence, freshor rather
stalefrom the provinces, has but this
moment rumbled and jingled past you, with
its immemorial postilion cracking his huge
whip, like discharges of musketry: not a
thought yet of railroads; although Watt has
long since worked out the problem of the
kettle-lid, and though young George Stephenson
has already thriftily drudged his way up
to the post of engine-wright down at the High
Pit Colliery at Killingworth. These are not by
any means, at the present instant, the themes
of your speculation. On the contrary, your
every thought, as becomes a genuine detenû
from Verdun, happens to be pleasantly
absorbed in a little holiday scheme of sightseeing,
with all its agreeable anticipations.
The Louvrethe Louvre Impérial—with its
contents, the Musée de Napoléon! Thither
your footsteps have been all this while tending.
There, you pause for a moment on the
threshold, you enter the porch, you ascend
the staircase, you advance up the first of
those resplendent galleries.

A roll of drums from the courtyard of the
adjacent palace greets your ear as you open
your catalogue and begin to look about you
more in detail, while sauntering slowly down
that long perspective, half-pictorial,
half-statuesque. It is Cæsar, in the little grey-coat
and the three-cornered hat, yonder, mounting
his horse for an afternoon ride among his
lieges, through street and boulevard. And
THESE are among the spoils won for the capital
of his vast empire by his many victories
these marvellous works of art that, another
glance informs you, require no syllable of explanation
from either guide-book or catalogue.

Masterpieces, for the most part, so familiar
to the mind's eye, through the aid of countless
engravings and  descriptive criticisms,
that at a single look they are at once recognised,
and that, moreover, in many instances,
with a sense of instant admiration. Several
among these world-famous trophies of war
are scattered, it is true, elsewhere, about the
imperial city; as, for example, those renowned
bronze-horses from St. Mark's, at Venice,—
rearing and plunging, in animated metal,
over the triumphal-arch hard by the old
Bourbon Palace of the Tuileries. But here
under the sheltering roof-beams of the Louvre
itselfthe majority of these wonderful prizes
of military rapine have been in one gorgeous
aggregate accumulated.

Suppose, therefore, without more ado, we
pocket our catalogue, as something wholly
superfluous, and lounge amicably together,
down the extended array of inimitable
and inestimable masterpieces. Beginning,
let us say, with those marble wonders in.
the foreground, aptly to be termed
hereafter by Shelley "the despair of modern
art! " And, subsequently, directing our gaze
in due sequence to all that glowing canvas
on the wallsmirrors one might say (without
being either fantastic or affected), within
whose radiant depths so many glorious and
angelic forms have been conjured eternally to
view by the magic of genius.

Startling us into delight upon the very
threshold, here struggles and writhes in
everlasting horror, the wondrous group of the
Laocöon, designated by Michael Angelo, that
artistic miracle, revealing to us, in one
astonishing cluster, the gigantic form of the
Priest of Apollo, with a stripling son on
either hand, tangled and twined about by
those awful serpent-folds,—slimy, ponderous,
and clinging. Here, close beside it, ravished
by the mandate of the Victor from its accustomed
pedestal in the Tribune of Florence,
stands shrinking by the celestial form of the
Venus de Medici, captive herself for once:
"Chained to the chariot of triumphant War."
as securely now, for awhile, at least, as her
votaries have ever been chained to that of
art, according to the rapturous phrase through
which Childe Harold avows himself to be
"dazzled and drunk " with this divine glimpse
of the Beautiful. Here, again, not far
removed from each otherstarting forward as
if in life, both eagerly gazing into the
distanceare the wonderful Discobolus or
Quoit Player, and the yet more wonderful
Apollo Belvidere. How accurately the attitude,
the look, the indefinable bearing of
each, inform one that the latter has but just
discharged his arrow at the Python, while
the former is watching the effect of his
flying discus. Instantaneously, intuitively
you recognise, as Reynolds has done (in his
Tenth Discourse), "the graceful, negligent,
though animated air of the one, and the
vulgar eagerness of the other: both equally
true to nature and equally admirable." Now
we pause before the half-recumbent figure of
the Dying Gladiator, with the drops of the
last agony on his brow and the life-blood oozing
forth in gouts upon the dust of the
amphitheatre. Now we tarry awhile before the
high-shouldered Egyptian Antinöus of the Capitol,
or glance at the other (colossal) Autinöus—a
trophy of the conquests of the grand army in
eighteen hundred and six and sevenits
symmetrical form toweling up towards the
roof at the extremity of the lofty gallery, its