Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I.
me stunned.  Nor are the gardens unbecoming or inadequate to the house, where on the outside appear such bas-reliefs as would be treasured up by the sovereigns of France or England, and shewn as valuable rarities.  The rape of Europa first; it is a beautiful antique.  Up stairs you see the rooms constantly inhabited; in the princess’s apartment, her chimney-piece is one elegant but solid amethyst:  over the prince’s bed, which changes with the seasons, hangs a Ganymede painted by Titian, to which the connoisseurs tell you no rival has yet been found.  The furniture is suitably magnificent in every part of the house, and our English friends assured me, that they met the lady of it last night, when one gentleman observing how pretty she was, another replied he could not see her face for the dazzling lustre of her innumerable diamonds, that actually by their sparkling confounded his sight, and surrounded her countenance so that he could not find it.

Among all the curiosities however belonging to this wealthy and illustrious family, the single one most prized is a well-known statue, called in Catalogues by the name of the Fighting Gladiator, but considered here at Rome as deserving of a higher appellation.  They now dispute only what hero it can be, as every limb and feature is expressive of a loftier character than the ancients ever bestowed in sculpture upon those degraded mortals whom Pliny contemptuously calls Hordiarij, and says they were kept on barley bread, with ashes given in their drink to strengthen them.  Indeed the statue of the expiring Gladiator at the Capitol, his rope about his neck, and his unpitied fate, marked strongly in his vulgar features, exhibits quite a separate class in the variety of human beings; and though Faustina’s favourite found in the same collection was probably the showiest fellow then among them, we see no marks of intelligent beauty or heroic courage in his form or face, where an undaunted steadiness and rustic strength make up the little merit of the figure.

This charming statue of the prince Borghese is on the other hand the first in Rome perhaps, for the distinguished excellencies of animated grace and active manliness:  his head raised, the body’s attitude, not studied surely, but the apparent and seemingly sudden effect of patriotic daring.  Such one’s fancy forms young Isadas the Spartan; who, hearing the enemy’s approach while at the baths, starts off unmindful of his own defenceless state, snatches a spear and shield from one he meets, flies at the foe, performs prodigies of valour, is looked on by both armies as a descended God, and returns home at last unhurt, to be fined by the Ephori for breach of discipline, at the same time that a statue was ordered to commemorate his exploits, and erected at the state’s expence.  Monsignor Ennio Visconti, who saw that the figure reminded me of this story, half persuaded himself for a moment that this was the very Isadas; and that Jason, for whom he had long thought it intended, was not young enough, and less likely to fight undefended by armour against bulls, of whose fury he had been well apprised.  Mr. Jenkins recollected an antique ring which confirmed our new hypothesis, and I remained flattered, whether they were convinced or no.

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Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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