Indeed, it was to be remarked that this creature, whose externals were so deserted by the Graces, particularly delighted in designs aspiring to majesty and grandeur. Though his colouring was hard and shallow, as was that generally of the French school at the time, his drawings were admirable for symmetry, simple elegance, and classic vigour; at the same time they unquestionably wanted ideal grace. He was fond of selecting subjects from Roman history, rather than from the copious world of Grecian beauty, or those still more sublime stories of scriptural record from which Raphael and Michael Angelo borrowed their inspirations. His grandeur was that not of gods and saints, but mortals. His delineation of beauty was that which the eye cannot blame and the soul does not acknowledge. In a word, as it was said of Dionysius, he was an Anthropographos, or Painter of Men. It was also a notable contradiction in this person, who was addicted to the most extravagant excesses in every passion, whether of hate or love, implacable in revenge, and insatiable in debauch, that he was in the habit of uttering the most beautiful sentiments of exalted purity and genial philanthropy. The world was not good enough for him; he was, to use the expressive German phrase, A world-BETTERER! Nevertheless, his sarcastic lip often seemed to mock the sentiments he uttered, as if it sought to insinuate that he was above even the world he would construct.
Finally, this painter was in close correspondence with the Republicans of Paris, and was held to be one of those missionaries whom, from the earliest period of the Revolution, the regenerators of mankind were pleased to despatch to the various states yet shackled, whether by actual tyranny or wholesome laws. Certainly, as the historian of Italy (Botta.) has observed, there was no city in Italy where these new doctrines would be received with greater favour than Naples, partly from the lively temper of the people, principally because the most hateful feudal privileges, however partially curtailed some years before by the great minister, Tanuccini, still presented so many daily and practical evils as to make change wear a more substantial charm than the mere and meretricious bloom on the cheek of the harlot, Novelty. This man, whom I will call Jean Nicot, was, therefore, an oracle among the younger and bolder spirits of Naples; and before Glyndon had met Zanoni, the former had not been among the least dazzled by the eloquent aspirations of the hideous philanthropist.
“It is so long since we have met, cher confrere,” said Nicot, drawing his seat nearer to Glyndon’s, “that you cannot be surprised that I see you with delight, and even take the liberty to intrude on your meditations.
“They were of no agreeable nature,” said Glyndon; “and never was intrusion more welcome.”