Idyllic Hours In Florentine Saunterings
( Originally Published 1906 )
" So on our soul the visions rise
To the " spirit-gifted eyes " of painter and poet the vision of St. John at Patmos is ever being revealed. It assumes varied forms and offers many phases of significance ; and if these spirit-gifted eyes" open upon Florence, where the beauty of the past continually mingles with the present, the vision can hardly fail to catch an added glory whose " imprisoned splendor " remains through life, exalting and ennobling it. The exceptional spiritual sensitiveness which characterizes men of genius makes them more susceptible to the permanent, the eternal, than are other men," says Dr. Hiram Corson, and this group that stood in such near relations to Landor during the last years of his life was composed of persons all peculiarly responsive to the unwritten charm of Florence. No one expressed this appreciation more vividly than Mrs. Browning, who wrote :
" What Florence is, the tongue of man or poet may easily fail to describe ; the most beautiful of cities, with the golden Arno shot through the heart of her like an arrow, — exquisitely beautiful in its garden-ground of vineyards and olive trees." This dream-life in the glorious city, with old tapestries and pre-Giotto pictures on the walls ; with strains of wandering music ever haunting the air, with the masterpieces of the world lining the galleries, might well fascinate the imagination of these gifted spirits, — the Brownings with their infinite depth and power of great genius and great thought, and Mr. Story with his versatile talent and exquisite sensitiveness to impressions. The distinguishing characteristic of William Wetmore Story was a devotion to beauty. Ile was endowed with a temperament singularly sensitive to art influences in all her varied forms. Well known as author and sculptor, he was, besides, a painter, a musician, a critic, and his authorship included poetry, romance, biography, and criticism in the attractive form of conversations. It is an interesting speculation as to why a man so widely gifted, so singularly versatile, and one, too, who added to his scholarship a fine culture and the familiarity with the best society of all cities, who had travelled extensively, and who had in all ways partaken of the best results of life, was not able to leave a deeper and a more permanent impress. What-ever is the gift which makes for greatness, Mr. Story did not possess. His art was aesthetic rather than spiritual. This was true in whatever form it manifested itself, whether poetry, painting, music, or sculpture. A courteous gentleman of polished manner, great refinement and elegance in ceremonial grace, delightful in conversation, he will live in the memory of all who knew him as a charming personality ; but he has left to the future the legacy, chiefly, of an unfaltering devotion to beauty. To her he builded his altar. She was the goddess of his life, his aim and inspiration. That instinct of form that made him the sculptor is seen in all his work. His writing is all polished and symmetrical, in its literary structure. There is in it nothing of any abiding intellectual or spiritual significance, but in his own way Mr. Story contributed much of signal value to progress ; for the culture of beauty, carried to the high degree of perfection to which he wrought it out, radiates an influence for the refinement and uplifting of life that cannot be calculated.
Judge Story, his father, was a celebrated jurist, and a graduate of Harvard. The younger Story showed in early youth more inclination to music than to any other art. He was graduated from Harvard in 1838, took a law course, and was admitted to the bar. He wrote, he modelled, he found it difficult to concentrate his attention on legal problems, and, finally, in 1847, betook him-self to Italy, where he and the young wife he had married in 1843 (Miss Eldridge, of Cambridge), set up their household gods in the old Barberini palace in Rome, whence they enjoyed frequent interludes in Florence ; and they also passed many summers in Siena with the Brownings for near neighbors and inseparable companions. " The Storys are at the top of the hill," wrote Mrs. Browning one summer day from Siena ; " she and I go backward and forward on donkey-back to tea-drinking and gossiping at one another's houses and our husbands hold the reins." All this pleasantly informal al fresco intimacy pervaded their Siena summers. Mr. Story, as has been said, seems to have been endowed with facility rather than with great original power, but a facility so finely trained and cultured that it was not of that fatal order which too often ends in mediocrity. Going abroad, he had sufficient re-sources on which to draw, so that he never knew the artist's traditional struggle with poverty. He was free to loiter on the terraces of the Frascata villa, to watch the panorama of light over the mysterious Campagna, to enter into the enchantment and the splendor of Italy. Mr. Story became a resident of Rome before its old, picturesque customs had disappeared. The Villa Ludovisi, embowered in ilexes, was then a haunt of beauty ; the Colonna gardens, with their broad slopes and shadowy glens, and the Forum and the palace of the Caesars were there with all their atmosphere of romance and of archaeological interest. Thus he entered upon a life lived in ideal regions.
The Story apartment in the famous old Barberini palace, above the Piazza del Tritone, included forty rooms. The Barberini is the most splendid private palace of Rome. It em-bodies the magnificence as well as the ambition of Urban VIII, by whom it was built in 1660. On the grand staircase is the lion, in high relief, found at Palestrina — the lion before which Canova used to lie studying for his design for the tomb of Clement XIII in St. Peter's. The library in the Barberini palace contains many rare treasures. It has a collection of seven thousand manuscripts, brought together by Cardinal Francesco Barberini, a nephew of Urban VIII, and it contains letters of Galileo, of Bembo, manuscripts' of Dante's, illuminated missals from Ghirlandajo sketches of the old Roman houses in the fifteenth century, made by Sangallo ; a Hebrew Bible, one of the twelve copies of thé Sancino edition, and other world-renowned treasures.
At the very top of this old palace of the Barberinis is a small room decorated with bees, which are the emblem of the Barberini coat of arms, and in this room is a portrait of Urban VIII, and his will is also preserved there in a glass case. Cardinal Barberini was the last one of the papal nephews to hold an independent principality. It is said that Urban VIII complained of his three nephews and characterized the Cardinal as a saint who never worked a miracle, Antonio as a monk who had no patience, and the General as a soldier without a sword.
For more than half a century the Storys lived in the old Palazzo Barberini, their apartment being a treasure-house of art. The views from every window were beautiful enough to repay a journey to Rome to gaze upon these alone. Looking across the Eternal City to the Janiculum, the dome of St. Peter's was silhouetted against the blue Italian sky, and the grandeur of the colossal Castle San Angelo, seen near, added an impressive feature to the landscape. Near the Barberini palace is the Fountain of Trevi, into whose waters every traveller casts his penny, that he may, according to tradition, insure his return to the city of his love and dreams.
From the first Mr. Story had the special advantages of fine and intelligent sympathy with his work and aims and the encouragement of recognition. Hawthorne, Lowell, and Longfellow were among his nearest friends. Hawthorne, in " The Marble Faun," made the studio of Mr. Story one of the prominent features of that wonderful romance of Rome. His statue of Cleopatra (now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York) was invested with world-wide fame for all the ages by Hawthorne's exquisite interpretation of its significance. It was in Rome that the Storys first met the Brownings, and the friendship formed between them continued for life.
To turn back to the pages of " The Marble Faun " and 'read them, seeing Mr. Story presented under the guise of the young sculptor, Kenyon, is to gain a magic view of his early life in Rome, in such a paragraph of Hawthorne's, for instance,' as this : —
Kenyon's studio was in a cross street, or, rather, an ugly and dirty little lane " (Mr. Hawthorne writes), " between the Corso and the Via della Ripetta, and though chill, narrow, gloomy, and burdened with tall and shabby structures, the lane was not a whit more disagreeable than nine-tenths of the Roman streets. Over the door of one of the houses was a marble tablet, bearing an inscription to the purport that the sculptor's rooms within had formerly been occupied by the illustrious artist, Canova. In these precincts (which Canova's genius was not quite a character to render sacred, though it certainly made them interesting) the young American sculptor had now established himself."
And of Mr. Story's personal appearance we find Hawthorne saying : —
" The sculptor had a face which, when time should have done a little more for it, would offer a worthy subject for as good an artist as himself, features finely cut, as if already marble ; an ideal forehead, deeply set eyes, and a mouth much hidden in a light-brown beard, but apparently sensitive and delicate."
Hawthorne's description of the statue of Cleopatra is an exquisite bit of artistic interpretation, which is, as a rule, much truer than mere art criticism.
Mr. Story made himself an important factor in all the European social and artistic life. His home became the resort of the noted poets, artists, statesmen, and cultivated travellers. Mrs. Story's receptions were famous in Rome for the brilliant circle she drew around her. Not a man of powerful original genius, Mr. Story will continue to hold a unique place among American artists. He had the temperament that absorbs and assimilates that to which it is attracted. His gifts did not equal Vedder's in creative force and in that wonderful insight which characterizes Mr. Vedder, and which is more than insight and becomes divination ; yet it was the part of Story to amass wealth and a wide reputation that could easily be mistaken for a wide fame, and to draw to himself a world of emoluments in general that the genius of Vedder has never compassed. Mr. Story's genius was of the assimilative order ; Mr. Vedder's is of the creative. Mr. Story's imagination could fix itself on Cleopatra and cause her to live again in a wonderful embodiment in marble ; but Mr. Vedder could see the " Dance of the Pleiades " and " The Fates Gathering in the Stars " and interpret the spiritual mysteries of life. Nothing in the profoundest depths of life ever revealed itself to Mr. Story, yet his very fine order of talent was so constantly fed from high sources, so polished and cultivated on all of its many-faceted sides, and sustained by such exquisite quality of taste that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish it from genius. He was born into a certain environment of refinement and culture that always remained with him through life. His first literary work was to write the biography of his father, Judge Story, an eminent jurist of the old Bay State, a work that included the editing of a large number of important letters from distinguished people ; and one of his earliest commissions in art was that of a statue of Judge Story, which is one of the four statues of great men placed in the beautiful Chapel of Mt. Auburn cemetery near Boston ; and another of the early commissions of Mr. Story was for a statue of George Peabody, who, although a native of Vermont, became a London banker. He is also the sculptor of the statue of Edward Everett, in the Public Garden in Boston. Among his imaginative works, besides the " Cleopatra," are a " Sibyl," " Saul," " Sappho, the " Infant Bacchus," a "Medea," and one work especially fine in its ideal conception -- " Jerusalem in Her Desolation," personified by a noble female figure in flowing draperies.
Mr. Story's literary work, although graceful and full of charm, is still the literature of response and assimilation, rather than of strictly original creation ; but his " Roba di Roma " and a few of his poems can hardly fail to hold an abiding-place in letters. The " Roba di Roma " seems to be written out of the overflow of artistic impression and suggestion. Mr. Story adopted Landor's favorite form, the dialogue, for the expression of this series of running comment, and the " Roba di Roma " remains a store-house of no little artistic and literary treasure. It is a book which is little known and less read, save among specialists, but it well repays a careful reading, and is worthy of a permanent place in every library. In the little story, " Fiammetta," is an airily touched bit of Italian romance, and in " He and She, a Poet's Port-folio," is another dialogue work devoted to literary comment. Although Mr. Story's writings have recognizable claim as reflecting a refined and thoughtful culture, it is in his art as a sculptor and in the variety and choice associations of his social life, that his best expression may be found, and even claim, because of refinement and poetic feeling, a certain immortality, even though the art of sculpture, under the powerful influence of Rodin, has leaped into a new period with new ideals and new standards which have fairly transformed its basis of estimate.
In Mr. Story's prose there is, perhaps, little that will endure ; but among his poems there are two, " Cleopatra " and " Estrangement," which are by way of being remarkable.
The former is one of the most intense, yet subtle, expressions of passionate love to be found, perhaps, in English lyrics ; the latter embodies a feeling that all have experienced — of the unexplained and indefinable change that comes some-times between friends.
"How is it ? It seems so strange ;
Only a month ago
And we were such friends ; now there's a change ;
Why, I scarcely know. It is not that I express
Less, but a little more,
A little more accent, a little more stress,
Which was not needed before."
In his " Roba di Roma " Mr. Story gives a study of Rome whose interest and value must be recognized. The two volumes of " Conversations in a Studio " offer criticism on life and art that is stimulating, suggestive, and fine, containing the later fruits of Mr. Story's ideas and impressions concerning art and literature.
The Storys and the Brownings were much together in Rome. Margaret Fuller and Mrs. Story were on the most intimate terms, and at the time of Miss Fuller's secret marriage to the Marchese d' Ossoli it was to Mrs. Story that she went for counsel and sympathy. Charlotte Cushman, Harriet Hosmer, the Hawthornes, James Jackson Jarves, and many another of the most interesting and famous people were among the circle that the Storys drew about them.
Thackeray was a delighted visitor at Mr. Story's studio and at his home. In 1893 Mr. and Mrs. Story celebrated their golden wedding, and they then looked back over forty-five years of their beautiful art life in the Eternal City. They had three children, — Waldo, a sculptor in Rome ; Julian, the painter, who is the husband of Emma Eames, and a daughter, who married the Marchese Peruzzi, of an old Florentine family closely allied with the Medici, and whose home is in Florence, with a summer residence at Vallombrosa, where Mr. Story died in 1895.
Florence offered the choicest scenic setting for all this drama of friendship. To Landor, an enthusiastic lover of pictures ; to' Browning, who was always deeply interested in the intellectual forces of Tuscany ; to Story, with his swift sympathies and versatile culture, all the Florentine background gave color and joy to their social life. The deeper intellectual forces of Italy had their origin in Florence. From the period of the Humanists, on through the radiation of thought from the Platonic Academy, the vast influence of the great libraries established in Florence and the power for culture that was wielded so generously by princely patrons of learning and art, — from all these mingled conditions arose the intellectual pre-eminence of Florence. The Florentines, like the Athenians, loved their city. That Landor entered deeply into this intense mental life that pervades Florence as an atmosphere is evident from many phases of his work, and perhaps especially so in the " Imaginary Conversation " represented as taking place between Savonarola and the Prior of San Marco. Landor first wrote it in Italian under the title " Savonarola e it Priori di San Marco," and it was originally published (in 1860) in pamphlet form. In all Landor's literary work nothing more impressively reveals the majesty of his spirit than this work, nor has biography offered any interpretation of Savonarola that so absolutely penetrated into his wonderful inner life as has Landor in this sympathetic divination. " My future is beginning in this piazza," he makes Savonarola say at the moment of his martyrdom; " I can yet look beyond it. . . . I and my words may pass away, but never will God's, however now neglected." The sublimity of that faith, that vision which could discern " a future, beginning from that piazza," is something unapproached in any other transcription of the execution of Savonarola, whose dream had been to make all art and all learning absolutely consecrated to the glory of the divine life, and who saw, in the life beyond, the life which was to open to him through the flames and the torture, the opportunity to achieve that in which he had failed while on earth.
" No work begun shall ever pause for death."
To all the glories of art and music Savonarola was infinitely susceptible. On him as Professor Pasquale Villari has said, " Florentine art acted like sacred music, and bore witness to the omnipotence of genius inspired by faith. The paintings of Fra Angelico seemed to have brought down angels from heaven to dwell in the cloisters of San Marco, and he felt as if his soul had been transported to the world of the blessed."
No one can wander today through the consecrated convent of San Marco untouched by the great spirit of the man whose personal presence pervades the very air. The cells, forever glorified with the ineffable beauty of Fra Angelico ; the chapel, wherein are entombed Benivieni, Poliziano, and Pico della Mirandola, of the Platonic Academy ; the convent garden where Lorenzo de' Medici was accustomed to walk — all are eloquent of Savonarola.
Of one occasion this anecdote is preserved. " A monk in the interest of Lorenzo went to Savonarola with the message that Lorenzo it Magnifico was walking in the garden. ' Did he ask for me ? ' asked Savonarola. ' No, Father,' replied the priest. ' Let him then pursue his devotions undisturbed,' tranquilly replied Savonarola." It is, however, in the library of San Marco that one comes peculiarly near the personal presence of Savonarola. Here is the little niche in the wall with a slightly raised dais where he stood when preaching to his brethren, and the room wherein was enacted the last remarkable scene of his life in the convent, thus described by Professor Villari : —
" In the middle of this hall, under the simple vaults of Michelozzi, Savonarola placed the sacrament, collecting his brethren around him, and addressed them in his last and memorable words : ` My sons, in the presence of God, standing before the sacred Host, and with my enemies already in the convent, I now confirm my doctrine. What I have said came to me from God, and He is my witness in heaven that what I say is true. I little thought that the whole city would so soon have turned against me ; but God's will be done. My last admonition to you is this : Let your arms be faith, patience, and prayer. I leave you with anguish and pain, to pass into the hands of my enemies. I know not whether they will take my life ; but of this I am certain, that, dead, I shall be able to do far more for you in heaven than, living, I have ever had power to do for you on earth."
Of all places in Florence it is perhaps in San Marco that the visitor lingers longest and to which he turns most often. The library still echoes with the words of Savonarola to the Frati on that night of Palm Sunday, 1498, when he received in writing the promise of the signoria that he, with his companions, should be safely returned. With his friars he sought the library, where he preached eloquently in Latin, exhorting them all to follow God with patience, faith, and prayer. He was ready, he told them, to receive all tribulation with joy for the love of the Lord, knowing that in doing good and suffering evil consisted the Christian life. He concluded his sermon, and on leaving the library said to his brethren :
" I will say to you what Jeremiah said : ` This thing I expected, but not so soon nor so suddenly."
Another chronicler of the scene says : —
" He exhorted them further to live well and to be fervent in prayer. And having confessed to the Father Fra Domenico da Pescia, he took the communion in the first library. And the same did Fra Domenico. After eating a little, he was somewhat refreshed ; and he spoke the last words to his friars, exhorting them to per-severe in religion, and kissing them all he took his last departure from them. In the parting, one of his children said to him : ' Father, why dost thou abandon us and leave us so desolate ?' To which he replied : ` Son, have patience ; God will help you ; ' and he added that he would either see them again alive or that after death he would appear to them without fail. Also, as he departed, he gave up the common keys to the brethren, with so great humility and charity, that the friars could not keep themselves from tears, and many of them wished by all means to go with him. At last recommending himself to their prayers, he made his way towards the door of the library, where the first commissioners, all armed, were awaiting him ; to whom, giving himself into their hands like a most meek lamb, he said : ` I recommend to you this my flock and all these other citizens.' And when he was in the corridor of the library he said : ` My friars, doubt not, for God will not fail to perfect His work ; and although I be put to death, I shall help you more than I have done in life, and I will return without fail to console you, either dead or alive.' Arrived at the holy water, which is at the exit of the choir, Fra Domenico said to him ' Fain would I too come to these. nuptials.' Certain of the laymen, his friends, were arrested at the command of the Signoria. When the Father Fra Girolamo was in the first cloister, Fra Benedetto, the miniaturist, strove ardently to go with him ; and when the officers thrust him back he still insisted that he would go. But the Father Fra Girolamo turned to him and said : ` Fra Benedetto, on your obedience come not, for I and Fra Domenico have to die for the love of Christ.' And thus he was torn away from the eyes of his children."
In San Marco there are several works by Fra Bartolommeo, one being of the Madonna which is very beautiful. This painter had been deeply impressed by the sermons of Savonarola and had felt that he was called to the religious life as a vocation. For some time he lived in monastic retreat at Prato, and finally, being removed to San Marco, he again turned to his art, resolving to use it only for devotional subjects. A portrait of Savonarola which he painted is a wonderful interpretation of the very spirit of the great martyr.
In the two cells that were occupied by Savonarola one feels very close to that life that was lived there four hundred years ago. His desk, his chair, his rosary, and a copy of his sermons ; a most interesting old picture which belonged to the Buondelmonti family showing the tragic scene of the execution of Savonarola on May 28, 1498, all absorb the visitor. It was his personal devotion to St. Thomas Aquinas that led Savonarola to choose the Dominican order of monks, and it was only eight years before his death that he had been chosen Prior of San Marco. The church in the monastery could not begin to hold the crowds that thronged to listen to him, and he obtained leave to preach in the Duomo. " In order to participate in the benefits of the spiritual food he dispensed," says a writer, " the inhabitants of the town and neighboring villages deserted their abodes, and the rude mountaineers descended from the Apennines and directed their steps towards Florence, where crowds of pilgrims flocked every morning at break of day, when the gates were opened, and became the objects of a charity truly fraternal, the citizens vying with one another in the exercise of the duties of Christian hospitality, embracing them in the streets as brothers, even before they were acquainted with their names, while some of the more pious received them by forty at a time into their houses."
There were rich and beautiful mornings passed by one and another of this group of choice spirits in the Uffizi or the Pitti galleries. The Palazzo Pitti always suggests to the thoughtful visitor the curious workings of destiny. When Luca Pitti gave to Brunelleschi the order to design him a palace so vast that " the doors of the Palazzo Medici should serve as models for the windows " he little dreamed that his hated rivals would come into possession of the magnificent architectural creation which was built to crush their pride and outdo their splendor. Luca Pitti had served Florence as Prior, Gonfalonier, and as Ambassador to Rome ; he was the rival of the Medici and the Strozzi, whose ambitions he planned to undermine ; but his projects ended, instead, in his own defeat and ruin. The treachery he planned against the Medici returned against himself, and although warned by Niccolo Soderini, he was unable to avert the consequences of his plot against the Medicean dynasty. It was in 1440 that Brunelleschi received this commission, which he only lived to carry out to the second story, leaving the completion of the palace to other hands. In 1549 it was purchased by the Duchessa Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I, and in the spring of the following year they took possession of it, and thus the palace passed into the possession of the Medici. Some idea of the immensity of the Pitti Palace can be gained from its proportions, each window being twenty-four feet wide and each of the three stories forty feet in height. It is an impressive rather than beautiful palace, looking more like a vast fortress. George Eliot said that this palace was a wonderful union of Cyclopean grandeur and massive regularity.
The Court of the palace has statues and a fountain, and from this one passes into the Silver Chamber (camera degli Argenti) in which the royal plate is kept which includes a service of lapis-lazuli, and work by Benvenuto Cellini and Pollajuolo.
The private apartments of the king comprise a study, in which are two beautiful cabinets in mosaic and bronze which belonged to the Medici, a sleeping-room, with canopied bed, and a toilet chamber with innumerable mirrors. The Queen's private apartments have a boudoir, whose walls are covered with pale rose satin, embroidered, and the chairs and sofa upholstered in the same. Here, too, is one of those exquisite cabinets in which Cosimo and his Eleonora seem to have so lavishly indulged. In the sleeping-room the bed is canopied in dark green brocade, and at the head is a prie dieu with a font holding holy water, over which hangs a crucifix. There is a writing-table of rare beauty, and in the sala di toilette, opening from this room, are wonderful triplicate mirrors, magnificent wardrobes, and a dressing-table furnished with articles in gold and pearl. The royal apartments contain a few pictures of note, — a " Madonna of the Roses " by Botticelli, and also a Madonna by Carlo Dolci.
The great canvas of " Pallas and the Centaur" by Botticelli (often referred to as " An Allegory ") is placed in these apartments, and it is considered one of the most interesting of his works. The figure of Pallas is instinct with vitality ; and the ethereal draperies, fluttering as she glides forward clutching the hair of the Centaur, suggest the very poetry of motion. The intense blue of the sky and the glimpse of shore in the background con-tribute to the exquisite pictorial effect.
The pictures in the Pitti gallery number some five hundred only, but in quality they form the richest and most important gallery in the world. These works are almost exclusively great master-pieces. The gallery comprises sixteen rooms, known as the Sala dell' Iliade, the Sala di Giove, and the Salas of -Apollo, Venus, Mars, Ulysses, Prometheus, and others, not to forget the Sala della Stufa (Salon of the Stove), for a stove in Italy is fairly entitled to rank as an important and interesting curio, if not as a treasure of art ! Here one wanders on and finds the wonderful " Vision of Ezekiel," in which the prophet, gazing into the heavens, sees the Heavenly Father in all the glory of splendor, leaning from the clouds with angels and seraphs ; Fra Bartolommeo's " Ecce Homo ; " the Madonna of Filippo Lippi ; Raphael's " La Donna Velata ; " the " Warrior " of Salvator Rosa, and two of his enchanting landscapes ; Perugino's " Adoration," with its infinite sweetness ; and the " Assumption" of Andrea del Sarto.
Guido Reni's " Cleopatra " is a vivid, brilliant work, showing the Egyptian queen in the splendor of her beauty — the bust uncovered and the asp at her breast. The expression of the face is a study. One of the greatest works here is Giorgione's " Concert," in which the very genius of music is painted. The monk has his hands on the clavichord ; his head is turned away, and one feels that he is hearing harmonies not of this world. The very genius of music shines from the beautiful, impassioned face. Here, too, one finds the famous " Marriage of St. Catherine," by Titian, Andrea del Sarto's " Dispute About the Trinity," Raphael's " Madonna della Seggiola," in which the Mother sits in a low chair holding the Child, while St. John folds his tiny hands in prayer ; the coloring is exceptionally pure and strong ; Salvator Rosa's " Conspiracy of Cati-line," Raphael's " Holy Family," Murillo's Madonna, Raphael's portrait of Julius II, Perugino's " Magdalen," Albert Dürer's " Adam and Eve," — two life-sized portraits, Eve represented as with golden hair, — and Da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra. These are but a few of the rich works that leave their very impress upon life. The well-known picture of " The Three Fates," usually attributed to Michael Angelo, is a very striking work. Connoisseurs differ in their opinions as to the artist, some good authorities inclining to believe it the work of Fiorentino. The " Assumption of the Virgin," by Andrea del Sarto, is one of the noblest works in the entire world of art. In the luminous atmosphere the Virgin is seen, seated on the clouds, gazing upward with a celestial expression. Of Andrea del Sarto's works Swinburne has written : " At Florence only can one trace and tell how great a painter, and how various, Andrea was. There, only, but surely there, can the spirit and presence of the things of time on his immortal spirit be understood." The " Annunciation " by this artist, which is in the Pitti, is one of the most poetic conceptions given by any artist of that sublime event. Mary is represented as having just risen from prayer when the angel appears bowing on one knee, and the instantaneous and sublime impression made upon the Virgin is felt in every line and gesture. The " Holy Family " and the figure of St. John as a boy, by Andrea del Sarto, are in these galleries, with other works of this artist. No more beautiful example of coloring combined with wonderful expressiveness of the figures can be found in any work of Titian's than in his " Marriage of St. Catherine," and the light on the picture recalls to the gazer Longfellow's lines regarding this artist : —
" You have caught
The uttermost that can be reached by color
Titian's " La Bella " represents a young and beautiful woman with a delicate, proud patrician face ; the luxuriant hair coiled in braids ; the three-fourths-length figure is portrayed standing, costumed in rich brocade, décolleté, with long puffed sleeves. It is without doubt a portrait of the Duchessa Eleonora, the wife of Cosimo I, as the face is the same as that of her authorized portrait by Titian which is in the Uffizi. The belief that the Duchessa is the original of this picture has been questioned, but it is now generally accepted on the evidence of the portrait.
Raphael can be studied to great advantage in the Pitti, although the devotee of his art will find an earthly paradise in the Raphael stanza in the Vatican. In the Pitti is not only the " Madonna della Seggiola " already mentioned, but the " Ma-donna della Granduca," showing the halo around the heads of the M other and the Holy Child, — a picture of the utmost reverence and stately simplicity ; and beside these is the " Madonna del Baldacchino," revealing the Virgin and the Child seated under a canopy with angels near. These Madonnas, with their celestial loveliness and human tenderness and charm, recall to one anew the words of John Addington Symonds when he says : " What distinguishes the whole work of Raphael is its humanity in the double sense of the humane and the human. . . Even sadness, tragedy, and death take loveliness with him."
One of the most fascinating of Raphael's works is " La Donna Velata," a portrait which has nothing in common with his Madonnas, but is full of fine detail and subtle feeling. The " San Marco " of Fra Bartolommeo is a work of great force ; the portrait of " Rubens " by himself, and his landscape, " Ulysses on the Islands of the Phoenicians," are most interesting. Salvator Rosa's " Harbor at Sunset " is a picture with such a glory of coloring that no words can convey any adequate idea of its beauty. One work by Carlo Dolci, " St. Andrew Praying before his Execution," must have a word of itself. The sweetness and beauty of the expression in the face makes this work almost greater than his famous Madonna. One fascinating composition (attributed to Bonifazio Veronese) is The Sybil Explaining to Augustus the Mystery of the Incarnation."
All these halls of the Pitti gallery are beautiful in themselves, in the rich decorations of the ceiling, the inlaid floors, and the sumptuous tables of mosaic and bronze and colored marbles, and the magnificent vases with which they are deco-rated.
The views from the windows of the Palazzo Pitti are superb. On one side are seen the heights of Bellosguardo, crowned with white stone villas, and the mediæval tower ; another looks towards Fiesole, and the view to the east over the city is one of the most striking in all Europe, taking in the Duomo, the strange mediæval tower of Civita Vecchio, the dome of San Spirito, and the bell tower of San Lorenzo, which contains the bell given by Anna Maria de' Medici, the sister of the last Grand Duke of this historic family, and which was erected as late as 1740.
The Uffizi gallery is notable for its long corridors of sculpture, for many fine works, and for the special representations of different schools, the French, Flemish, Venetian, Italian, and Dutch, and for the gallery of the portraits of living artists painted by themselves, which, beginning with Michael Angelo, Da Vinci, Raphael, and others of their time, extends to contemporary artists, as Sir John Millais, Alma Tadema, Puvis de Chavannes, Bonnat, Henner, and George Frederick Watts.
The Church of San Lorenzo had a peculiar attraction for the group of friends who loved to wander about Florence. " The general effect is very sombre," Hawthorne records, " and the shrines, the monuments, and the statues look dingy with time and neglect." The interior is, indeed, dark and forbidding, but the very gloom has its fascination.
One's first impression is a sense of vacant space, and in imagination one hears, even across the gulf of five hundred years, the impassioned eloquence of Savonarola, who, from this very pulpit that we now see, fearlessly launched his denunciations at the Medici family, the immediate patrons of the church itself. Just before May 9, 1498, when he was put to death in the Piazza Signoria, he preached one of his most thrilling sermons in San Lorenzo, whose accents almost seem to echo there today. The vast space is in the form of a Latin cross. Corinthian columns divide the nave from the aisles. There is a beautiful singing gallery, inlaid with white and colored marbles and crystal. There are sculptures and paintings rep-resenting Donatello, Dupré, Rossellini, Verrocchio, Perugino, and here in the Medici chapel is the great masterpiece of Filippo Lippi, an Annunciation. Very recently — indeed, in 1896 — a monument to Donatello, the work of Raffaello Romanelli, was placed in this chapel. In connection with this church of San Lorenzo is the Laurentian library, which was initiated by Cosimo it Vecchio, the son of Giovanni di Bicci, the rich and powerful noble to whom Florence owes so much. It is a curious fact, that, although the populace grumbled regarding the tyranny of the Medici family, they yet became so accustomed to the yoke as to miss it when it fell off, and to demand its return. In the fifteenth century Cosimo and his brother Lorenzo (Il Magnifico) were exiled to Padua, but the people became discontented and tumultuous, and the Medici were recalled, to return with triumphs and rejoicings, and, indeed, the period of their greatest power came after this. There were two Cosimos in the Medici family — the elder called " Il Vecchio," to distinguish him from the Grand Duke of the same name. Cosimo it Vecchio died in 1469, and his son Piero succeeded. As before noted, it was he who married Mona Lucrezia Tornabuoni.
He became the head of the republic when but fifteen years of age and his reign was a remarkable one. His was a great nature, enthusiastic, liberal, and generous. He was the patron of arts and science, and the restorer and promoter of Florentine magnificence. Under his leader-ship Florence acquired that prestige which she has never entirely lost as the artistic and intellectual metropolis of Italy. It may not be generally remembered that Pope Clement VII was a Medici. Lorenzo it Magnifico had a brother, Giuliano, who was murdered by Bernardo Bandini, of the conspiracy of the Pazzi. He had never married, but he left a son. The Magnificent recognized this nameless nephew, educated him, and he became a cardinal under Leo X, and afterward the Pope known as Clement VII. The reign of Lorenzo was no less glorious in defeat than in triumph. Pope Sixtus IV and Ferdinand, King of Naples, hated the Medici, and brought war against Florence. Disaster followed disaster, and Lorenzo voluntarily went to Naples to put himself in the hands of Ferdinand. But the King of Naples, too, was not without his magnanimity, and the personal meeting of the two men was the initiation of a warm friendship between them, and there ensued a peace that gave many glorious years to Florence. Lorenzo the Magnificent died in Carreggi in 1492, the same year in which America was discovered. He had married Clarice Orsini, and of this marriage there were seven children, of whom one of the daughters, Maria, was the love of Michael Angelo. The eldest son, Pietro, succeeded to the government of Florence, but he lacked his father's noble qualities. He was arrogant and selfish, and wished to reign independent of the Signoria, who are the Parliament of Florence. Pietro placed Pisa and Leghorn in the hands of Charles VIII, of France, and this so incensed the Florentines, who were urged on also by the fiery eloquence of Savonarola, that they banished the Medici from Florence again, robbed their houses, and captured all the rich treasures that had been collected by Lorenzo it Magnifico. He died in exile in 1504, and left a son, named Lorenzo, and a daughter, Clarice, who married Filippo Strozzi : whose name is now given to the new viale skirting a park in the more modern part of the city.
Florence in her own way is as distinctive as Rome. The contrast is great. The archae ological interest is in Rome, but in the purely artistic Florence is far the richer, and especially in sculpture. Any hour in the day one may stroll into church or gallery and see masterpieces that hold their own through all the ages. No city has a more vividly defined centre and point of departure for sight-seeing than has Florence in the Duomo. The marvellous monument of the genius of Brunelleschi dominates the entire city. From it everything else is relative. Like Rome and Paris, Florence is divided by her river, — the turbid, muddy Arno ; and while the principal centre of business is on one side, the two are almost equal in point of historic and social importance. The square around the Duomo, called the Piazza del Duomo, is the centre of various streets, one of which leads directly to the Piazza della Signoria, on which the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia de' Lanza, filled with great groups of sculpture, are located.
From this piazza are the entrances to the grand council chamber of the Vecchio, where stands the colossal statue of Savonarola, and from which open the rooms of the Medici family, filled with their treasures. Here, too, is the entrance to the Uffizi gallery, and a little street near runs down to Santa Croce, in which are the tombs of Michael Angelo, Alfieri, a monument to Dante, and other wonderful groups. Just beyond the Palazzo Vecchio lies the famous Ponte Vecchio, over the Arno, — the bridge lined with the shops of jewellers and vendors of bric-a-brac. Along the bank of the river is the well-known drive and promenade called the Lung' Arno, with shops and hotels facing the river, and the spires and towers of the city on the opposite side ; and the background of hills crowned with villas offers one of the most picturesque views in the world. The dome of San Spirito is defined against a golden background in the late afternoon, and following this promenade one comes to the Cascine, which is to Florence what the Pincian hill is to Rome. Florence is so rich in art that one knows not where to begin in speaking of its treasures. One of the most interesting churches is that of Sante Croce, and it is one of the first to which the tourist turns his steps. It dates from the year 1297, and was commenced by the monks of St. Francis, who were under the special protection of Pope Gregory IX. Giotto became master of the work in 1334, but the façade is modern, and was completed as late as 1863. Over the grand entrance is a bas-relief representing the Elevation of the Cross, by Giovanni Dupré, of Siena, who is also the sculptor of a fine statue of the Madonna Addolorata. There is an hour in this church in the late afternoon, when the sunset lights touch paintings and sculptures with the gleams of gold, that is one to be remembered.
Sante Croce is the Florentine Pantheon. It was here that the most impressive and magnetic preacher of his day, Fra Francesco da Montepulciana, held his audiences under a spell half of terror, half of love, and where in response to his vivid painting of the horrors that followed those who did not repent, they all cried out : " Misericordia." A larger number of the ancient Florentine families are entombed here than in any other one church. The inscriptions form almost a history of Florence, for there is hardly an important family whose name is not found here. The church is lined with monuments to the greatest Italians. Here is Donatello's statue of St. Louis, Bishop of Toulouse. San Bernardino of Siena has a tablet here. Vasari's monument to Michael Angelo is a grand conception. As will be remembered, Michael Angelo died in Rome (in 1565) at the age of ninety, and Cosimo I had the body secretly brought to Florence. The funeral ceremonies took place in the church of San Lorenzo, and the oration was pronounced by Benedetto Varchi, the historian and poet. It is said that every artist in Florence contributed to the decoration of the church on this occasion, and a high mass in solemn music was rendered before the body was entombed in Santa Croce. Al-though the ashes of Dante rest in Ravenna, the monument to him by Ricci, placed in the piazza of Santa Croce, is one of the important modern works in Florence.
A bronze tablet in Santa Croce commemorates Garibaldi, and another is placed to the memory of the great patriot Mazzini. The Duchess of Albany placed in this church the monumental tomb of Alfieri, and an imposing monument is that erected to the memory of Machiavelli.
In no city has history and art been more closely interwoven than in Florence. In fact, Florentine art is simply consecrated by the sacrifice, the nobility, the loftiness of purpose out of which it springs, and the glory of its heroic age still lingers. We have all been more or less accustomed to hearing of the crimes and iniquities of the Medici ; but the record of this family of Florentine nobles comprises some of the most generous and uplifting passages in history.
One of the most charming drives around Florence is to the Certosa — the old convent that crowns the summit of a hill whose slopes are all in a glimmer of silver-green olive trees, interspersed with the tall, dark cypresses. The Certosa dates back to 1341, when Niccolo Acciajuolo induced the republic to grant its fortifications. There are now only a few monks in residence, and their occupation is less that of devotion than of the manufacture of chartreuse which they sell to the visitors. The cloister is very attractive with its Luca della Robbias, and the church is rich in frescoes and marbles. The high altar is over a crypt, in which are the tombs of the founder of his family. Perkins, in his Tuscan Sculptors," says : —
" Whether Andrea Orcagna built the Certosa near Florence is uncertain ; but the monuments of its founder, Niccolô Acciajuolo, and his family, which exist in the subterranean church, belong to his time, and were perhaps executed by some of his scholars. The tomb of Niccolô (Grand Seneschal of the kingdom of Naples under Queen Joanna I, ob. 1366) consists of his recumbent statue, clad in armor placed high against the wall, beneath a rich gothic canopy. His son, Lorenzo, upon whose funeral obsequies he spent more than fifty thousand gold florins, lies below under a marble slab, upon which is sculptured the effigy of this youth of a most lovely countenance, cavalier and great baron, tried in arms, and eminent for his graceful manners and his gracious and noble aspect. Next him lie his grandfather and his sister Lapa. The general design of Niccolô's tomb is very peculiar, gothic certainly, but almost transitional to the cinquecento. Niccolô, the Grand Seneschal, founder of the convent, was a noble character. The family, originally from Brescia, and named after the trade they rose by, attained sovereignty in the person of Ranier, nephew of the Seneschal, styled Duke of Athens and Lord of Thebes and Argos and Sparta. He was succeeded by his bastard son Antony, and the latter by two nephews, whom he invited from Florence, Ranion and Antony Acciajuolo ; the son of the latter, Francesco, finally yielded Athens to Mahomet II in 1456, and was soon afterwards strangled by his orders at Thebes."
The tomb of Bishop Angelo Acciajuolo, by Donatello, is also very striking. Of the recumbent figure of the Bishop of Cortona, also in this crypt, Mr. Perkins says : —
" It is very carefully modelled: the flesh parts are well treated, and the drapery is disposed in natural folds. It has almost the effect of a corpse laid out for burial before the altar, and produces a striking effect."
Passing on to the foot of Bellosguardo, one comes to the ancient Church of San Francesco di Paola, where the bishop of Fiesole lies, of whose tomb Mr. Perkins says : —
" The admirably truthful figure of the dead bishop, clad in his episcopal robes, is laid upon a sarcophagus within a square recess, whose architrave and side posts are decorated with enamelled tiles, painted with flowers and fruits colored after nature. At the back of the recess, filling up the space above the sarcophagus, are three half-figures, of Christ, the Madonna, and St. John ; all the faces are expressive, and that of the Saviour is especially fine and full of mournful dignity. Around the top of the sarcophagus runs a rich cornice, below which are sculptured two flying angels, bearing between them a garland containing an inscription setting forth the name and titles of the deceased."
The panoramic beauty of all this region is the more exquisite because of the rich color scheme. The amethyst mountains change to rose, to purple, to gray, to green, the delicate shades blending into each other and deepening, fading, paling, receding as one watches them. It was from this Bellosguardo region that Hawthorne wrote : —
" The Umbrian Valley opens before us, set in its grand framework of nearer and more distant hills. It seems as if all Italy lay under our eyes in this one picture. For there is the broad, sunny smile of God, which we fancy to be spread over this favored land more abundantly than on other regions, and beneath it glows a most rich and varied fertility. The trim vineyards are there, and the fig trees, and the mulberries, and the smoky-hued tracts of the olive orchards ; there, too, are fields of every kind of grain, among which waves the Indian corn. White villas, gray convents, church spires, villages, towns, each with its battlemented walls and towered gateway, are scattered upon this spacious map ; a river gleams across it ; and the lakes open their blue eyes in its face, reflecting heaven, lest mortals should forget that better land when they behold the earth so beautiful."
All these drives and the old cloisters and niches were endeared to the Storys by almost daily familiarity, and Mr. Browning frequently accompanied them, although Mrs. Browning's health made excursions seldom possible for her. Landor, too, was one of the most ardent habitués of churches and galleries. His mania — for it was hardly less — for collecting old paintings was one of his marked characteristics, as was his lack of discrimination between the genuine and poor imitations. During one of his last drives around Florence, narrates Kate Field, " he stopped the horses at the corner of a dirty little old street, and, getting out of the carriage, hurriedly disappeared round a corner, leaving us without explanation and consequently in amazement. We had not long to wait, however, as he soon appeared carrying a large roll of canvas. ` There ! ' he exclaimed, as he again seated himself, ` I 've made a capital bargain. I 've long wanted these paintings, but the man asked more than I could give. To-day he relented. They are very clever, and I shall have them framed.' Alas ! they were not clever, and Landor, in his last days, had queer notions concerning art. That he was excessively fond of pictures is undoubtedly true ; he surrounded himself with them, but there was far more quantity than quality about them. He frequently attributed very bad paintings to very good masters ; and it by no means followed because he called a battle-piece a ' Salvator Rosa,' that it was painted by Salvator. But the old man was tenacious of his art opinions, and it was unwise to argue the point." Mr. Browning always endeavored to exert a restraining influence over Landor's too indiscriminate purchases, which often proved to be a small fortune to unscrupulous dealers.
Mrs. Browning's first acquaintance with Landor began in England, some years before her marriage, and of this first meeting with Landor and Wordsworth (in 1836), she wrote : " At the same time I saw Landor — the brilliant Landor ! and felt the difference between great genius and eminent talent." That she had stood face to face with these two poets ; that she had met " Landor, in whose words the ashes of antiquity burn again," was an event to her, and neither would have dreamed how this meeting initiated a lifelong friendship destined to hold peculiar experiences. Landor was full of life and impassioned energy. He had been one of the great group to first recognize Robert Browning's genius on the appearance of " Paracelsus," -- a group which included Leigh Hunt, Barry Cornwall, Dickens, and Wordsworth. It was not, however, until after the marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, and their establishment in Casa Guidi in Florence, that Landor came to know them intimately, and the appreciation gradually grew, on the part of the Brownings, to tender solicitude and the final care of Landor in his latest years. When " Luria " had appeared (in 1866), Browning dedicated it to Landor in these words : " I dedicate this last attempt for the present at dramatic poetry, to a great dramatic poet, ' wishing what I write may be read by his light,' if a phrase originally addressed, by not the least worthy of his contemporaries, to Shakespeare, may be applied here by one whose sole privilege is in a grateful admiration to Walter Savage Landor." Of Browning Landor had said :
" H e has sent me some admirable things. I only wish he would atticize a little. Few of the Athenians had such a quarry on their property, but they constructed better roads for the conveyance of the material."
Still later Landor had written, in a letter to Southey : --
" I have written to Browning ; a great poet a very great poet, indeed, as the world will have to agree with us in thinking. 1 am now deep in the Soul's Tragedy. The sudden close of Luria is very grand ; but preceding it I fear there is rather too much of argumentation and reflection. It is continued too long after the Moor has taken the poison. I may be wrong but if it is so, you will see it and tell him. God grant he may live to be much greater than he is, high as he stands above most of the living : latis humeris et toto vertice. But now to the Soul's Tragedy, and so adieu till we meet at this very table."
The foundation of the friendship which was to prove to be to Landor the blessing of his last years was thus laid in intellectual appreciation and mutual esteem. " It requires a god to recognize a god," runs an old proverb. In this case the recognition was mutual and generous. Landor's admiration for Mrs. Browning was infinitely deepened and extended when " Aurora Leigh " appeared. " I am reading a poem," he wrote of it, " full of thought and fascinating with fancy. — Mrs. Browning's Aurora Leigh. In many pages there is the wild imagination of Shakespeare. I had no idea that any one in this age was capable of so much poetry. I am half drunk with it. Never did I think I should have a good hearty draught of poetry again : the distemper had got into the vineyard that produced it. Here are indeed, even here, some flies upon the surface, as there always will be upon what is sweet and strong. I know not yet what the story is. Few possess the power of construction."
Although the Storys made occasional visits to Florence, and had passed several summers in Siena, they did not come to know Landor well until the very close of his life. Mr. and Mrs. Story had once paid him a brief visit in England, introduced to him by Mr. Kenyon, and of this Mrs. Story records that he was extremely cordial and kind and induced them to pass some time with him. He had his walls lined with paintings, of no great value, I believe," she adds, but bearing high-sounding names of the Italian schools."
The friendship between the Brownings and the Storys was, on the part of the latter, at least, the most interesting of their lives. Mr. Henry James narrates with what eager response Mr. Story visited every day the Pitti gallery, at the time of his first sojourn in Florence, when he and Browning met, and how Mr. Story abounded " in descriptions of pictures, statues, museums, churches, and in enthusiasms, opinions, and disappointments." All this artistic tumult fascinated Browning's imagination. During one of the early sojourns of the Storys in Florence came Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Pearse Cranch of Cam-bridge, Massachusetts, and they all " sat over the fire and told stories." Mr. Cranch was one of those versatile and delicately gifted New Englanders — a poet, painter, musician, who, like Jones Very and Dr. Parsons, must be closely and, indeed, reverently approached to be in any adequate sense appreciated. He was a man of exquisite divination, as revealed for instance in a stanza of his : —
"We are spirits clad in veils :
Together Browning and Story made excursions to the old Badia, which contains that beautiful tomb by Mino da Fiesole ; the quaint and massive Bargello, formerly the Palace of the Podestà, whose picturesque court, with its grand staircase by Goddi impressed them, it may well be believed, in the same profound manner that is felt by the artistically inclined tourist of to-day. The fine upper loggia, the design of Orcagna, is his best monument, and the tragic cell for the condemned — rarely vacant in his day — still gives a shiver to the sensitive observer. The Arms of the Duke of Athens and those of more than two hundred Podestàs, are a rich and effective feature of the court. The upper salons which were formerly the apartments of the Podestà contain many notable objects : Donatello's " David," standing with his foot on the head of Goliath ; the wonderful " Dancing Mercury " of Giovanni da Bologna, with its airy, floating lightness ; a gruesome reliquary ; and countless old bronzes, frescoes, and curios.
To what extent Santa Croce impressed the poet and the sculptor, there is no record. Mrs. Browning seems always to have been fascinated by Santa Maria Novella, with its famous Cimabue, and the strange old green cloister. Santa Croce is the Westminster Abbey of Florence; and the tombs of Michael Angelo, of Machiavelli, of Alfieri, the frescoes of Giotto in the Capella Peruzzi — the finest series that he ever produced — allure one to linger away many a morning until the old sacristan relentlessly closes its doors. The Storys spend " long, quiet evenings with the Brownings at Casa Guidi," and Mrs. Story and Mrs. Browning read and discuss " Jane Eyre " together. " Plainly `Jane Eyre ' is by a woman," said Mrs. Browning. At the festival of Corpus Domini the Storys and the Brownings together watch the motley procession that fills the streets between the Palazzo Vecchio and the piazza of Santa Maria Novella, where the compagnie of the churches, costumed in white, with curls on their heads and with black draperies, march with their banners ; the nobility, richly clad with scarlet capes, follow, and the Host is borne, under a sumptuous canopy, into the church, the soldiers all kneeling in the piazza as it passes. All the nameless fascination of foreign customs charmed the eye and furnished that scenic back-ground which made so picturesque the friendship between the Storys and the Brownings. Mr. Story writes from Rome to James Russell Lowell, after one of their returns from Florence, that Browning has " great vivacity . . . and very great frankness and friendliness of manner and mind." There was an idyllic summer at Bagni di Lucca, when, high up in the chestnut-wooded hills, the Brownings and the Storys passed idle days together ; taking evening drives along the rushing little Serchio where Shelley used to row his boat, and " falling asleep whenever the wind blew coolly through the windows." Both Mr. and Mrs. Browning were deeply absorbed in work that summer, — she engaged on " Aurora Leigh," and he busy in collecting and revising his lyric poems for publication. This Arcadian life was full of brightness. There is a picnic to Porto Fiorito, — the revelries being conducted by the Brownings, the Storys, and Mr. Lytton, who, Secretary of the Legation in Florence, es-capes for a day in the woods. They "passed over wild and grand scenery " and found an old church " from which the view was magnificent,—with deep patches of purple shade and little grey towns perched here and there." And on another day they dined together on a smooth grassy table under the trees and rocks." And Mr. Story records :1 " The whole day in the woods with the Brownings. We went at ten o'clock, carrying our provisions. Browning and I walked to the spot, and there, spreading shawls under the great chestnuts, we read and talked the livelong day, the Lima, at our feet, babbling on over the stones." ... So the gods talked, apparently
" in the breath of the woods ; "
and we have Emerson's word for it that
" the poet who overhears
When the Storys were not in Florence there were always possibilities that the Brownings might be in Rome, — their journey thither, on one trip, extending over eight days, during which they visited Assisi, and its great monastery and triple church. They arrived in Rome to find that the Storys had taken an apartment for them, and to find lighted lamps and fires, and smiling faces that evening." Later there came the Siena summers when the Storys and the Brownings made their villeggiatura in the strange mediæval hill-town, one summer of which Landor was with them as the guest of the Storys. These lovely chapters of life ran on from year to year until, in the last June days of 1861, Elizabeth Browning entered on that life more abundant ; and more than a quarter of a century later, in the December of 1889, came to Robert Browning the beautiful realization of his immortal lines : —
" O thou soul of my soul ! I shall clasp thee again,