Page images

books and different papers, -an occupa

And still it might, and yet it may again, tion to which he felt himself impelled by

If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,

And case thy reputation i'r thy tent." nature ; and this natural inclination was favoured by fortune, for the governors of Cimabue died in 1300. His epitaph is the city had invited certain Greek painters to Florence, for the purpose of restoring

“ Credidit

ut Cimabos picturæ castra tencre;

Sic tenuit vivens, nunc tenet astra poli.' the art of painting, which had not merely degenerated, but was altogether lost. Vasari, Lives of the Painters, I. 93 :These artists, among other works, began “The gratitude which the masters in to paint the Chapel of the Gondi, sit- painting owe to Nature,—who is ever uate next the principal chapel, in Santa ihe truest model of him who, possessing Maria Novella, the roof and walls of the power to select the brightee parts which are now almost entirely destroyed from her best and loveliest features, by time,- and Cimabue, often escaping employs himself unweariedly in the from the school, and having already reproduction of these beauties, - this made a commencement in the art he gratitude, I say, is due, in my judgment, was so fond of, would stand watching to the Florentine painter Giotto, seeing those masters at their work, the day that he alone,- although born amidst through. Judging from these circum- incapable artists, and at a time when all stances, his father, as well as the artists good methods in art had long been enthemselves, concluded him to be well tombed beneath the ruins of war,-yet, endowed for painting, and thought that by the favour of Heaven, he, I say, alone much might be hoped from his future succeeded in resuscitating Art, and re: efforts, if he were devoted to that art. storing her to a path that may be called Giovanni was accordingly, to his no the true one. And it was in truth a small satisfaction, placed with those great marvel, that from so rude and masters. From this time he laboured inapt an age Giotto should have had incessantly, and was so far aided by his strength to elicit so much, that the art of natural powers that he soon greatly sur. design, of which the men of those days passed his teachers both in design and had little, if any knowledge, was by his colouring. For these masters, caring means effectually recalled into life. The little for the progress of art, had exe birth of this great man took place in the cuted their works as we now see them, hamlet of Vespignano, fourteen miles not in the excellent manner of the ancient from the city of Florence, in the year Greeks, but in the rude modern style 1276. His father's name was Bondone, of their own day. Wherefore, though a simple husbandman, who reared the Cimabue imitated his Greek instructors, child, to whom he had given the name he very much improved the an, relieving of Giotto, with such decency as his cone it greatly from their uncouth manner, dition permitted. The boy was early and doing honour to his country by the remarked for extreme vivacity in all his name he acquired, and by the works he childish proceedings, and for extraordiperformed. Of this we have evidence in nary promptitude of intelligence; so that Florence from the pictures which he he became endeared, not only 10 his painted there ; as, for example, the front father, but to all who knew him in the of the altar of Santa Cecilia, and a pic village and around it. When he was ture of the Virgin, in Santa Croce, about ten years old, Bondone gave him which was, and is still, attached to one a few sheep to watch, and with these he of the pilasters on the right of the choir.” wandered about the vicinity,—now here 95. Shakespeare, Troil. and Cres., and now there. But, induced by Nature

herself to the arts of design, he was The present eye praises the present object :

perpetually drawing on the stones, the Then marvel' not, thou great and complete earth, or the sand, some natural object

that came before him, or some fantasy That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax ; that presented itself to his thoughts. It Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs, The cry rent once 01

chanced one day that the affairs of Cimabue took him from Florence to Ves.

Ill. 3:



pignano, when he perceived the young pose of the Pope, and the manner in Giotto, who, while his sheep fed around which that Pontiff desired to avail him. him, was occupied in drawing one of self of his assistance ; and, finally, re. them from the life, with a stone slightly quested to have a drawing, that he might pointed, upon a smooth, clean piece of send it to his Holiness. Giotto, who rock, -and that without any teaching was very courteous, took a sheet of paper whatever but such as Nature herself had and a pencildipped in a red colour, then, imparted. Halting in astonishment, resting his elbow on his side, to form a Cimabue inquired of the boy if he would sort of compass, with one turn of the accompany him to his home, and the hand he drew a circle, so perfect and child replied, he would go willingly, if exact that it was a marvel to behold. his father were content to permit it. This done, he turned smiling to the Cimabue therefore requesting the con- courtier, saying, “Here is your drawing? sent of Bondone, the latter granted it .Am I to have nothing more than this?' readily, and suffered the artist to conduct inquired the latter, conceiving himself to his son to Florence, where, in a short be jested with. * That is enough and to time, instructed by Cimabue and aided spare,' returned Giotto ; send it with by Nature, the boy not only equalled his the rest, and you will see if it will be master in his own manner, but became recognised.'. The messenger, unable to so good an imitator of Nature that he obtain anything more, went away very totally banished the rude Greek manner, ill satisfied, and fearing that he had been restoring art to the better path adhered fooled. Nevertheless, having despatched to in modern times, and introducing the the other drawings to the Pope, with the custom of accurately drawing living per- names of those who had done them, he sons from nature, which had not been sent that of Giotto also, relating the used for more than two hundred years. mode in which he had made his circle, Or, if some had attempted it, as said without moving his arm and without above, it was not by any means with the compasses ; from which the Pope, and success of Giotto. Among the portraits such of the courtiers as were well versed by this artist, and which still remain, is in the subject, perceived how far Giotto one of his contemporary and intimate surpassed all the other painters of bis friend, Dante Alighieri, who was no less time. This incident, becoming known, famous as a poet than Giotto as a painter, gave rise to the proverb, still used in and whom Messer Giovanni Boccaccio relation to people of dull wits,—Tu sei has lauded so highly in the introduction più tondo che lo di Giotto; the signifito his story of Messer Forese da Rabat. | cance of which consists in the double ta, and of Giotto the painter himself. meaning of the word 'tondo,' which is This portrait is in the chapel of the used in the Tuscan for slowness of inpalace of the Podestà in Florence ; and tellect and heaviness of comprehension, in the same chapel are the portraits of as well as for an exact circle. The proSer Brunetto Latini, master of Dante, verb has besides an interest from the and of Messer Corso Donati, an illustri- circumstance which gave it birth. . ous citizen of that day."

“It is said that Giotto, when he was Pope Benedict the Ninth, hearing of still a boy, and studying with Cimabue, Giotto's fame, sent one of his courtiers once painted a fly on the nose of a figure to Tuscany, to propose to him certain on which Cimabue himself was employel, paintings for the Church of St. Peter. and this so naturally, that, when the The messenger," continues Vasari, master returned to continue his work. “when on his way to visit Giotto, and he believed it to be real, and lifted his to inquire what other good masters there hand more than once to drive it away were in Florence, spoke first with many before he should go on with the paintartists in Siena, -then, having received ing." designs from them, he proceeded to Flo Boccaccio, Decameron, VI. 5, tells this rence, and repaired one morning to the tale of Giotto :workshop, where Giotto was occupied "As it often happens that fortune hideg Mth his labours. He declared the pur- under the meanest trades in life the

greatest vistves, which has been proved After they had gotten a good part of by Parapinea ; so are the greatest ge- their way, thoroughly wet, and covered niuses found frequently lodged by Nature with dirt and mire, which their two in the most deformed and misshapen shuffling steeds had thrown upon them, bodies, which was verified in two of our and which by no means improved their own citizens, as I am now going to relate. looks, it began to clear up at last, and For the one, who was called Forese da they, who had hitherto said but little to Rabatta, being a little deformed mortal, each other, now turned to discourse to. with a flat Dutch face, worse than any gether; whilst Forese, riding along and of the family of the Baronci, yet was he listening to Giotto, who was excellent at esteemed by most men a repository of telling a story, began at last to view him the civil law. And the other, whose attentively from head to foot, and, seeing game was Giotto, had such a prodigious him in that wretched, dirty pickle, with fancy, that there was nothing in Nature, out having any regard to himself he fell the parent of all things, but he could a laughing, and said, “Do you suppose, imitate it with his pencil so well, and Giotto, if a stranger were to meet with draw it so like, as to deceive our very you now, who had never seen you before, senses, imagining that to be the very that he would imagine you to be the thing itself which was only his painting : best painter in the world, as you really therefore, having brought that art again are?' Giotto readily replied, “Yes, sir, to light, which had lain buried for many I believe he might think so, if, looking ages under the errors of such as aimed at you at the same time, he would ever more to captivate the eyes of the ignorant, conclude that you had learned your A, than to please the understandings of B, C.' At this Forese was sensible of those who were really judges, he may be his mistake, finding himself well paid in deservedly čalled one of the lights and his own coin.” glories of our city, and the rather as Another story of Giotto may be found being master of his art, notwithstanding in Sacchetti, Nov. 75. his modesty would never suffer himself 97. Probably Dante's friend, Guido to be so esteemed; which honour, though Cavalcanti, Inf. X. Note 63; and Guido rejected by him, displayed itself in hin Guinicelli, Purg. XXVI. Note 92, whom with the greater lustre, as it was so he calls eagerly usurped by others less knowing

“The father than himself, and by many also who had of me and of my betters, who had ever all their knowledge from him. But Practised the sweet and gracious rhymes of though his excellence in his profession was so wonderful, yet as to his person

99. Some commentators suppose that and aspect he had no way the advantage Dante here refers to himself. He more of Signor Forese. To come then to my probably is speaking only in general story. These two worthies had each his terms, without particular reference to country-seat at Mugello, and Forese any one. being gone thither in the vacation time, 103. Ben Jonson, Ode on the Death and riding upon an unsightly steed, of Sir H. Morison : chanced to meet there with Giotto; who It is not growing like a tree was no better equipped than himself,

In bulk doth make men better be , when they returned together to Florence. To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear;

Or standing long an oak, three hundred year Travelling slowly along, as they were

A lily of a day able to go no faster, they were overtaken

Is fairer far in May, by a great shower of rain, and forced to Although it fall and die that night: take shelter in a poor man's house, who

It was the plant and flower of light." was well known to them both; and, as 105. The babble of childhood; papo there was no appearance of the weather's for pane, bread, and dindi for danari, clearing up, and each being desirous of money. getting home that night, they borrowed Halliwell, Dic. of Arch, and Prov. two old, rusty cloaks, and two rusty hats, Words : “DINDERS, small coins of the and they proceeded on their journey. Lower Empire, found at Wroxeter."


them me


108. The revolution of the fixed stars, 138. Spenser, Faery Queene, VI. c. 7, according to the Ptolemaic theory, which st. 22:was also Dante's, was thirty-six thousand “He, thereu ith much abashed and affrayd, years.

Began to tremble every limbe and vaine.' 109. “Who goes so slowly," inter

141. A prophecy of Dante's banishprets the Ottimo. 112. At the battle of Monte Aperto.

ment and poverty and humiliation. See Inf. X. Note 86. 118. Henry Vaughan, Sacred Poems :

CANTO XII. .O holy hope and high humility,

1. In the first part of this canto the High as the heavens above;

same subject is continued, with examples These are your walks, and you have showed of pride humbled, sculptured on the To kindle my cold love !"

pavement, upon which the j'roud are

doomed to gaze as they go with their And Milton, Sams. Agon., 185: heads bent down beneath their heavy

“Apt words have power to swage burdens, The tumours of a troubled mind."

So that they may behold their evil ways." 121. A haughty and ambitious noble Iliad, XIII. 700 : “ And Ajax, the man of Siena, who led the Sienese swift son of Oïleus, never at all stood troops at the battle of Monte Aperto. apart from the Telamonian Ajax ; but Afterwards, when the Sienese as in a fallow field two dark bullocks, routed by the Florentines at the battle of possessed of equal spirit, drag the comColle in the Val d'Elsa, (Purg. XIII. pacted plough, and much sweat breaks Note 115,) he was taken prisoner “and out about the roots of their horns, and his head was cut off,” says Villani, VII. the well-polished yoke alone divides 31, "and carried through all the camp them, stepping along the furrow, and fixed upon a lance. And well was ful. the plough cuts up the bottom of the filled 'he prophecy and revelation which soil, so they, joined together, stood very the devil had made to him, by means of near to each other." necromancy, but which he did not

3. In Italy a pedagogue is not only a understand; for the devil, being con- teacher, but literally a leader of children, strained to tell how he would succeed in and goes from house to house collecting that battle, mendaciously answered, and his little flock, which he brings home said : Thou shalt go forth and fight, again after school. thou shalt conquer not die in the battle, Galatians iii. 24: “The law was our and thy head shall be highest in the schoolmaster (Paidagogos) to bring us camp.' And he, believing from these unto Christ.” words that he should be victorious, and 17. Tombs under the pavement in the believing that he should be lord over all, aisles of churches, in contradistinction did not put a stop after 'not' (vincerai to those built aloft against the walls. no, morrai, thou shalt conquer not, thou 25. The reader will not fail to mark shalt die). And therefore it is great the artistic structure of the passage from folly to put faith in the devil's advice. this to the sixty-third line. First there This Messer Provenzano was a great are four stanzas beginning, “I saw; man in Siena after his victory at Monte then four beginning, “0;" then four Aperto, and led the whole city, and all beginning, Displayed ; and then a the Ghibelline party of Tuscany made stanza which resumes and unites them him their chief, and he was very pre- all. sumptuous in his will."

27. Luke x. 18: “I beheld Satan as The humility which saved him was lightning fall from heaven." his seating himself at a little table in the Milton, Parad. Lost, I. 44:public square of Siena, called the Campo,

“ Him the Almighty Power and begging money of all passers to pay Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky the ransom of a friend who had been with hideous ruin and combustion, down taken prisoner by Charles of Anjou, as In adamantine chains and penal fire,

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell here narrated by Dante.

Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arma."

28. Iliad, I. 403 : “ Him of the 39. Homer, Iliad, XXIV. 604, hundred hands, whom the gods call makes them but twelve. “Twelve chil. Briareus, and all men Ægæon." Inf. dren perisheul in her halls, six daughters XXI. Note 98.

and six blooming sons; these Apollo He was struck by the thunderbolt of slew from his silver bow, enraged with Jove, or by a shaft of Apollo, at the Niobe ; and those Diana, delighting in battle of ilegra. "Ugly medley of arrows, because she had deemed herself sacred and profane, of revealed truth equal to the beautiful-cheeked Latona. and fiction ! " exclaims Venturi.

She said that Latona had borne only 31. Thymbræus, a surname of Apollo, two, but she herself had borne many; from his temple in Thymbra.

nevertheless those, though but two, 34. Nimrod, who “. began to be a exterminated all these.' nighty one in the earth," and his But Ovid, Metamorph., VI., says :“tower whose top may reach unto “ Seven are my daughters of a form divine, heaven.”

With seven fair sons, an indefective line. Genesis xi. 8: “So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face

40. 1 Samuel xxxi. 4, 5: “Then said of all the earth; and they left to build Saul unto his armour-bearer, Draw thy the city. Therefore is the name of it sword and thrust me through therewithi, called "Babel ; because the Lord did lest these uncircumcised come and thrust

But his tiere confound the language of all the me through and abuse me. earth, and from thence did the Lord armour-bearer would not, for he was scatter them abroad upon the face of all sore afraid; therefore Saul took a sworil, the earth."

and fell upon it. And when his armourSee also Inf. XXXI. Note 77.

bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fel!

likewise upon his sword, and died witli 36. Lombardi proposes in this line to

him." read “together" instead of "proud; which Biagioli thinks is “changing a

42. 2 Samuel i. 21 : “Ye mountains beautiful diamond for a bit of lead; and of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither

let there be rain upon you." stupid is he who accepts the change." 37. Among the Greek epigrams is

43. Arachne, daughter of Idmon the one on Niobe, which runs as follows :

dyer of Colophon. Ovid, Metamorph.,

This sepulchre within it has no corse : “ One at the loom so excellently skilled,

This corse without here has no sepulchre, That to the goddess she refused to yield
But to itself is sepulchre and corse."

Low was her birth, and small her native town,

She from her art alone obtained renown. Ovid, Metamorph., VI., Croxall's

Nor would the work, when finished, please so Tr.:

much, Widowed and childless, lamentable state !

As, while she wrought, to view each graceful

touch; A doleful sight, among the dead she sate ; Whether the shapeless wool in balls she Hardened with woes, a statue of despair,

wound, To every breath of wind unmoved her hair ;

Or with quick motion turned the spindle Her cheek still reddening, but its colour dead,

round, Faded her eyes, and set within her head.

Or with her pencil drew the neat design, Mo more her pliant tongue its motion keeps, Pallas her mistress shone in every line. But stands congealed within her frozen lips.

This the proud maid with scornful air denies, Stagnatc and dull, within her purple veins,

And even the goddess at her work defies ; Its current stopped, the lifeless blood remains. Disowns her heavenly mistress every hour, Her feet their usual offices refuse,

Nor asks her aid, nor deprecates her power. Her arms and neck their graceful gestures Let us, she cries, but to a trial come,

lose : Action and life from every part are gone,

And if she conquers, let her fix my doom." And even her entrails turn to solid stone; Yet still she wecps, and whirled by stormy

It was rather an unfair trial of skill, winds,

at the end of which Minerva, getting Borne through the air, her native country angry, struck Arachne on the forehead

finds ; There fixed, she stands upon a bleaky hill,

with her shuttle of box-wood. There yet her marble cheeks eternal tears “The unhappy maid, impatient of the wrong, distil."

Down from a beam her injured person kung :


« PreviousContinue »