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Review of The Life and Times of Salvator Rosa [by Lady Morgan]. Edinburgh Review 40 (1824): 316-49.

We are not among the devoted admirers of Lady Morgan. She is a clever and lively writer--but not very judicious, and not very natural. Since she has given up making novels, we do not think she has added much to her reputation--and indeed is rather more liable than before to the charge of tediousness and presumption. There is no want, however, either of amusement or instruction in her late performances--and we have no doubt she would write very agreeably, if she was only a little less ambitious of being always fine and striking. But though we are thus clear-sighted to her defects, we must say, that we have never seen anything more utterly unjust, or more disgusting and disgraceful, than the abuse she has had to encounter from some of our Tory journals--abuse, of which we shall say no more at present, than that it is incomparably less humiliating to the object than to the author.[a]

Common justice seemed to require this observation from us--nor will it appear altogether out of place when we add, that we cannot but suspect that it is to a feeling connected with that subject that we are indebted for the work now before us. Salvator Rosa was, like his fair biographer, in hostility with the High-church and High-monarchy men of his day; and the enemy of the Holy Alliance, in the nineteenth century, must have followed with peculiar interest the fortunes of an artist who was so obnoxious to the suspicions of the Holy Office in the seventeenth.[b]

There are few works more engaging than those which reveal to us the private history of eminent individuals; the lives of painters seem to be even more interesting than those of almost any other class of men; and, among painters, there are few names of greater note, or that have a more powerful attraction, than that of Salvator Rosa. We are not sure, however, that Lady Morgan’s work is not, upon the whole, more calculated to dissolve than to rivet the spell which these circumstances might, at first, throw over the reader’s mind. The great charm of biography consists in the individuality of the details, the familiar tone of the incidents, the bringing us acquainted with the persons of men whom we have formerly known only by their works or names, the absence of all exaggeration or pretension, and the immediate appeal to facts instead of theories. We are afraid, that, if tried by these rules, Lady Morgan will be found not to have written biography. A great part of the work is, accordingly, very fabulous and apocryphal. We are supplied with few anecdotes or striking traits, and have few data to go upon, during the early and most anxious period of Salvator’s life; but a fine opportunity is in this way afforded to conjecture how he did or did not pass his time; in what manner, and at what precise era, his peculiar talents first developed themselves; and how he must have felt in certain situation, supposing him ever to have been placed in them. In one place, for example, she employs several pages in describing Salvator’s being taken by his father from his village-home to the College of Somasco, with a detailed account of the garments in which he and his father may be presumed to have been dressed; the adieus of his mother and sisters; the streets, the churches by which they passed; in short, with an admirable panoramic view of the city of Naples and its environs, as it would appear to any modern traveller; and an assurance at the end, that "Such was the scenery of the Vomiro in the beginning of the seventeenth century; such is it now!" Added to all which, we have, at every turn, pertinent allusions to celebrated persons who visited Rome and Italy in the same century, and perhaps wandered in the same solitudes, or were hid in the recesses of the same ruins; and learned dissertations on the state of the arts, sciences, morals, and politics, from the earliest records up to the present day. On the meager thread of biography, in short, Lady Morgan has been ambitious to string the flowers of literature and the pearls of philosophy, and to strew over the obscure and half-forgotten origin of poor Salvator the colours of a sanguine enthusiasm and a florid imagination! So fascinated indeed is she with the splendour of her own style, that whenever she has a simple fact or well-authenticated anecdote to relate, she is compelled to apologize for the homeliness of the circumstance, as if the flat realities of her story were unworthy accompaniments to the fine imaginations with which she has laboured to exalt it.

We could have wished, certainly, that she had shown less pretension in this respect. Women write well, only when they write naturally: And therefore we could dispense with their inditing prize-essays or solving academic questions;--and should be far better pleased with Lady Morgan if she would condescend to a more ordinary style, and not insist continually on playing the diplomatist in petticoats, and strutting the little Gibbon of her age![c]

Another circumstance that takes from the interest of the present work is, that the subject of it was both an author and an artist, or, as Lady Morgan somewhat affectedly expresses it, a painter-poet. It is chiefly in the latter part of this compound character, or as a satirist, comic writer and actor, that he comes upon the stage in these volumes; and the enchantment of the scene is hurt by it.

The great secret of our curiosity respecting the lives of painters is, that they seem to be a different race of beings, and to speak a different language from ourselves. We want to see what is the connecting link between pictures and books, and how colours will translate into words. There is something mystical and anomalous to our conceptions in the existence of persons who talk by natural signs, and express their thoughts by pointing to the objects they wish to represent. When they put pen to paper, it is as if a dumb person should stammer out his meaning for the first time, or as if the bark of a tree (repeating the miracle in Virgil) should open its lips and discourse.[d] We have no notion how Titian could be witty, or Raphael learned; and we wait for the solution of the problem, as for the result of some curious experiment in natural history.[e] Titian’s acquitting himself of a compliment to Charles V., or Raphael’s writing a letter to a friend, describing his idea of the Galatea, excites our wonder, and holds us in a state of breathless suspense, more than the first having painted all the masterpieces of the Escurial, or than the latter’s having realized the divine idea in his imagination.[f] Because they have a language which we want, we fancy they must want, or cannot be at home in ours;--we start and blush to find, that, though few are painters, all men are, and naturally must be, orators and poets. We have a stronger desire to see the autographs of artists than of authors or emperors; for we somehow cannot imagine in what manner they would form their tottering letters, or sign their untaught names. We in fact exercise a sort of mental superiority and imaginary patronage over them (delightful in proportion as it is mixed up with a sense of awe and homage in other respects); watch their progress like that of grown children; are charmed with the imperfect glimmerings of wit or sense; and secretly expect to find them,--or express all the impertinence of an affected surprise if we do not--what Claude Lorraine is here represented to have been out of his painting room, little better than natural changelings and drivellers. It pleases us therefore to be told, that Gaspar Poussin, when he was not painting, rode a hunting; that Nicolas was (it is pretended) a miser and a pedant--that Domenichino was retired and modest, and Guido and Annibal Caracci unfortunate![g] This is as it should be, and flatters our self-love. Their works stand out to ages bold and palpable, and dazzle or inspire by their beauty and their brilliancy:--That is enough--the rest sinks into the ground of obscurity, or is only brought out as something odd and unaccountable by the patient efforts of good-natured curiosity. But all this fine theory and flutter of contradictory expectations is balked and knocked on the head at once, when, instead of a dim and shadowy figure in the background, a mere name, of which nothing is remembered but its immortal works, a poor creature performing miracles of art, and not knowing how it has performed them, a person steps forward, bold, gay, gaillard, with all his faculties about him, master of a number of accomplishments which he is not backward to display, mingling with the throng, looking defiance around, able to answer for himself, acquainted with his own merits, and boasting of them, not merely having the gift of speech, but a celebrated improvisatore, musician, comic actor and buffoon, patriot and cynic, reciting and talking equally well, taking up his pen to write satires, and laying it down to paint them. There is a vulgarity in all this practical bustle and restless stage-effect, that takes away from that abstracted and simple idea of art which at once attracts and baffles curiosity, like a distinct element in nature. "Painting," said Michael Angelo, "is jealous, and requires the whole man to herself."[h] And there is something sacred and privileged in the character of those heirs of fame, and their noiseless reputation, which ought not, we think, to be gossipped to the air, babbled to the echo, or proclaimed by beat of drum at the corners of streets, like a procession or a puppet-show. We may peep and pry into the ordinary life of painters, but it will not do to strip them stark-naked. A speaking portrait of them--an anecdote or two--an expressive saying dropped by chance--an incident marking the bent of their genius, or its fate, are delicious; but here we should draw the curtain, or we shall profane this sort of image-worship. Least of all do we wish to be entertained with private brawls, or professional squabbles, or multifarious pretensions. "The essence of genius," as Lady Morgan observes, "is concentration." So is that of enthusiasm. We lay down the "Life and Times of Salvator Rosa," therefore, with less interest in the subject than when we took it up. We had rather not read it. Instead of the old and floating traditions on the subject,--instead of the romantic name and romantic pursuits of the daring copyist of Nature, conversing with her rudest forms, or lost in lonely musing,--eyeing the clouds that roll over his head, or listening to the waterfall, or seeing the fresh breeze waving the mountain-pines, or leaning against the side of an impending rock, or marking the bandit that issues from its clefts, "housing with wild men, with wild usages," himself unharmed and free,--and bequeathing the fruit of his uninterrupted retirement and out-of-doors studies as the best legacy to posterity,--we have the Coviello of the Carnival, the causeur of the saloons, the political malecontent, the satirist, sophist, caricaturist, the trafficker with Jews, the wrangler with courts and academies, and, last of all, the painter of history, despising his own best works, and angry with all who admired or purchased them.

The worst fault that Lady Morgan has committed is in siding with this infirmity of poor Salvator, and pampering him into a second Micahael Angelo. The truth is, that the judgment passed upon him by his contemporaries was right in this respect. He was a great landscape painter; but his histories were comparatively forced and abortive. If this had been merely the opinion of his enemies, it might have been attributed to envy and faction; but it was no less the deliberate sentiment of his friends and most enthusiastic partisans; and if we reflect on the nature of our artist’s genius or his temper, we shall find that it could not well have been otherwise. This from a child was wayward, indocile, wild and irregular, unshackled, impatient of restraint, and urged on equally by success or opposition into a state of jealous and morbid irritability. Those who are at war with others, are not at peace with themselves. It is the uneasiness, the turbulence, the acrimony within that recoils upon external objects. Barry abused the Academy, because he could not paint himself.[i] If he could have painted up to his own idea of perfection, he would have thought this better than exposing the ill-directed efforts or groundless pretensions of others. Salvator was rejected by the Academy of St. Luke, and excluded, in consequence of his hostility to reigning authorities, and his unlicensed freedom of speech, from the great works and public buildings in Rome; and though he scorned and ridiculed those by whose influence this was effected, yet neither the smiles of friends and fortune, nor the flatteries of fame, which in his lifetime had spread his name over Europe, and might be confidently expected to extend it to a future age, could console him for the loss, which he affected to despise, and would make no sacrifice to obtain. He was indeed hard to please. He denounced his rivals and maligners with bitterness; and with difficulty tolerated the enthusiasm of his disciples, or the services of his patrons. He was at all times full of indignation, with or without cause. He was easily exasperated, and not willing soon to be appeased, or to subside into repose and good humour again. He slighted what he did best; and seemed anxious to go out of himself. In a word, irritability rather than sensibility, was the category of his mind: he was more distinguished by violence and restlessness of will, than by dignity or power of thought. The truly great, on the contrary, are sufficient to themselves, and so far satisfied with the world. "Their mind to them is a kingdom," from which they look out, as from a high watchtower or noble fortress, on the passions, the cabals, the meannesses and follies of mankind. They shut themselves up "in measureless content;" or soar to the great, discarding the little; and appeal from envious detraction or "unjust tribunals under change of times," to posterity. They are not satirists, cynics, nor the prey of these; but painters, poets, and philosophers.

Salvator was the victim of a too morbid sensibility, or of early difficulty and disappointment. He was always quarrelling with the world, and lay at the mercy of his own piques and resentments. But antipathy, the spirit of contradiction, captious discontent, fretful impatience, produce nothing fine in character neither dwell on beauty, nor pursue truth, nor rise into sublimity. The splenetic humourist is not the painter of humanity. Landscape painting is the obvious resource of misanthropy. Our artist, escaping from the herd of knaves and fools, sought out some rue solitude, and found repose there. Teased by the impertinence, stung to the quick by the injustice of mankind, the presence of the works of nature would be a relief to his mind, and would, by contrast, stamp her striking features more strongly there. In the coolness, in the silence, in the untamed wildness of mountain scenery, in the lawless manners of its inhabitants, he would forget the fever and the anguish, and the artificial restraints of society. We accordingly do not find in Salvator’s rural scenes either natural beauty or fertility, or even the simply grand; but whatever seizes attention by presenting a barrier to the will, or scorning the power of mankind, or snapping asunder the chain that binds us to the kind--the barren, the abrupt, wild sterile regions, the steep rock, the mountain torrent, the bandit’s cave, the hermit’s cell,--all these, while they released him from more harassing and painful reflections, soothed his moody spirit with congenial gloom, and found a sanctuary and a home there. Not only is there a corresponding determination and singleness of design in his landscapes (excluding every approach to softness, or pleasure, or ornament), but the strength of the impression is confirmed even by the very touch and mode of handling; he brings us in contact with the objects he paints; and the sharpness of a rock, the roughness of the bark of a tree, or the ruggedness of a mountain path are marked in the freedom, the boldness, and firmness of his pencilling. There is not in Salvator’s scenes the luxuriant beauty and divine harmony of Claude, nor the amplitude of Nicolas Poussin, nor the gorgeous richness of Titian--but there is a deeper seclusion, a more abrupt and total escape from society, more savage wildness and grotesqueness of form, a more earthy texture, a fresher atmosphere, and a more obstinate resistance to all the effeminate refinements of art. Salvator Rosa then is, beyond all question, the most romantic of landscape painters; because the very violence and untractableness of his temper threw him with instinctive force upon those objects in nature which would be most likely to sooth and disarm it; while, in history, he is little else than a caricaturist (we mean compared with such men as Raphael, Michael Angelo, &c.), because the same acrimony and impatience have made him fasten on those subjects and aspects of the human mind which would most irritate and increase it; and he has, in this department, produced chiefly distortion and deformity, sullenness and rage, extravagance, squalidness, and poverty of appearance. But it is time to break off this long and premature digression, into which our love of justice and of the arts (which requires, above all, that no more than justice should be done to any one) had led us, and return to the elegant but somewhat fanciful specimen of biography before us. Lady Morgan (in her flattery of the dead, the most ill-timed and unprofitable, but least disgusting of all flattery) has spoken of the historical compositions of Salvator in terms that leave no distinction between him and Michael Angelo; and we could not refrain from entering our protest against such an inference, and thus commencing our account of her book with what may appear at once a piece of churlish criticism and a want of gallantry.

The materials of the first volume, containing the account of Salvator’s outset in life, and early struggles with fortune and his art, are slender, but spun out at great length, and steeped in very brilliant dyes. The contents of the second volume, which relates to a period when he was before the public, was in habits of personal intimacy with his future biographers, and made frequent mention of himself in letters to his friends which are still preserved, are more copious and authentic, and on that account--however Lady Morgan may wonder at it--more interesting. Of the artist’s infant years, little is known, and little told; but that little is conveyed with all the "pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious" authorship. It is said, that the whole matter composing the universe might be compressed in a nutshell, taking away the porous interstices and flimsy appearances: So, we apprehend, that all that is really to be learnt of the subject of these Memoirs from the first volume of his life, might be contained in a single page of solid writing.

It appears that our artist was born in 1615, of poor parents, in the Borgo de Renella, near Naples. His father, Vito Antonio Rosa, was an architect and landsurveyor, and his mother’s name was Giulia Grecca, who had also two daughters. Salvator very soon lost his full baptismal name for the nickname of Salvatoriello, in consequence of his mischievous tricks and lively gesticulations when a boy, or, more probably, this was the common diminutive of it given to all children. He was intended by his parents for the church, but early showed a truant disposition, and a turn for music and drawing. He used to scrawl with burnt sticks on the walls of his bedroom, and contrived to be caught in the fact of sketching outlines on the chapel-walls of the Certosa, when some priests were going by to mass, for which he was severely whipped. He was then sent to school at the monastery of the Somasco in Naples, where he remained for two years, and laid in a good stock of classical learning, of which he made great use in his after life, both in his poems and pictures. Salvator’s first knowledge of painting was imbibed in the workshop of Francesco Francanzani (a painter at that time of some note in Naples), who had married one of his sisters, and under whose eye he began his professional studies. Soon after this he is supposed to have made a tour through the mountains of the Abruzzi, and to have been detained a prisoner by the banditti there. On the death of his father, he endeavoured to maintain his family by sketches in landscape or history, which he sold to the brokers in Naples, and one of these (his Hagar in the Wilderness), was noticed and purchased by the celebrated Lanfranco, who was passing the broker’s shop in his carriage. Salvator finding it in vain to struggle any longer with chagrin and poverty in his native place, went to Rome, where he met with little encouragement, and fell sick, and once more returned to Naples. An accident, or rather the friendship of an old school-fellow, now introduced him into the suite of the Cardinal Brancaccia, and his picture of Prometheus brought him into general notice, and recalled him to Rome. About the same time, he appeared in the Carnival with prodigious eclat as an improvisatore and comic actor; and from this period may be dated the commencement of his public life as a painter, a satirist, and a man of general talents.

Except on these few tangible points the Manuscript yawns dreadfully; but Lady Morgan, whose wit or courage never flags, fills up the hollow spaces, and "skins and films the missing part," with an endless and dazzling profusion of digressions, invectives, and hypotheses. It is with pleasure that we give a specimen of the way in which she thus magnifies trifles, and enlarges on the possibilities of her subject. Salvator was born in 1615. As the birth of princes is announced by the discharge of artillery and the exhibition of fire-works, her ladyship thinks proper to usher in the birth of her hero with the following explosion of imagery and declamation.

"The sweeping semicircle which the most fantastic and singular city of Naples marks on the shore of its unrivalled bay, from the Capo di Pausilippo to the Torrione del Carmine, is dominated by a lofty chain of undulating hills, which take their distinctive appellations from some local peculiarity or classical tradition. The high and insulated rock of St Elmo, which overtops the whole, is crowned by that terrible fortress to which it gives its name--a fearful and impregnable citadel, that, since the first moment when it was raised by an Austrian conqueror to the present day, when it is garrisoned by a Bourbon with Austrian troops, has poured down the thunder of its artillery to support the violence, or proclaim the triumphs of foreign interference over the rights and liberties of a long-suffering and oft-resisting people.

Swelling from the base of the savage St Elmo, smile the lovely heights of San Martino, where, through chestnut woods and vineyards, gleam the golden spires of the monastic palace of the Monks of the Certosa.[1] A defile cut through the rocks of the Monte Donzelle, and shaded by the dark pines which spring from their crevices, forms an umbrageous pathway from this superb convent to the Borgeo di Renella, the little capital of a neighbouring hill, which, for the peculiar beauty of its position, and the views it commands, is still called ‘l’ameno villaggio.’ At night the fires of Vesuvius almost bronze the humble edifices of Renella; and the morning sun, as it rises, discovers from various points, the hills of Vomiro and Pausilippo, the shores of Puzzuoli and of Baiae, the islets of Nisiti, Capri, and Procida, till the view fades into the extreme verge of the horizon, where the waters of the Mediterranean seem to mingle with those clear skies whose tint and lustre they reflect.

In this true ‘nido paterno’ of genius, there dwelt, in the year 1615, an humble and industrious artist called Vito Antonia Rosa--a name even then not unknown to the arts, though as yet more known than prosperous. Its actual possessor, the worthy Messire Antonio, had, up to this time, struggled with his good wife Giulia Grecca and two daughters still in childhood, to maintain the ancient respectability of his family. Antonio was an architect and landsurveyor of some note, but of little gains; and if, over the old architectural portico of the Casaccia of Renella might be read,

‘Vito Antonio Rosa, Agremensore ed Architecto;’

the intimation was given in vain! Few passed through the decayed Borgo of Renella, and still fewer, in times so fearful, were able to profit by the talents and profession which the inscription advertised. The family of Rosa, inconsiderable as it was, partook of the pressure of the times; and the pretty Borgo, like its adjacent scenery, (no longer the haunt of Consular voluptuaries, neither frequented by the great nor visited by the curious) stood lonely and beautiful--unencumbered by those fantastic belvideras and grotesque pavilions, which in modern times rather deform than beautify a site, for which Nature has done all, and Art can do nothing.

The cells of the Certosa, indeed, had their usual complement of lazy monks and ‘Frati conversi.’ The fortress of St Elmo, then as now, manned by Austrian troops, glittered with foreign pikes.[j] The cross rose on every acclivity, and the sword guarded every pass: but the villages of Renella and San Martino, of the Vomiro and of Pausilippo, were thinned of their inhabitants to recruit foreign armies; and this earthly paradise was dreary as the desert, and silent as the tomb.

The Neapolitan barons, those restless but brave feudatories, whose resistance to their native despots preserved something of the ancient republican spirit of their Greek predecessors, now fled from the capital. They left its beautiful environs to Spanish viceroys, and to their official underlings; and sullenly shut themselves up in their domestic fortresses of the Abruzzi or of Calabria. ‘La Civiltâ,’ a class then including the whole of the middle and professional ranks of society of Naples, was struggling for a bare existence in the towns and cities. Beggared by taxation levied at the will of their despots, and collected with every aggravation of violence, its members lived under the perpetual surveillance of foreign troops and domestic shirri, whose suspicions their brooding discontents were well calculated to nourish.

The people--the debased, degraded people--had reached that maximum of suffering beyond which human endurance cannot go. They were famished in the midst of plenty, and, in regions the most genial and salubrious, were dying of diseases, the fearful attendants on want. Commerce was at a stand, agriculture was neglected, and the arts, under the perpetual dictatorship of a Spanish court-painter, had no favour but for the Seguaci of Lo Spagnuoletto.

In such times of general distress and oppression, when few had the means or the spirit to build, and still fewer had lands to measure or property to transfer, it is little wonderful that the humble architect and landsurveyor of Renella," &c.

And so she gets down to the humble parentage of her hero; and after telling us that his father was chiefly anxious that he should not be an artist, and that both parents resolved to dedicate him to religion, she proceeds to record, that he gave little heed to his future vocation, but manifested various signs of a disposition for all the fine arts. This occasioned considerable uneasiness and opposition on the part of those who had destined him to something very different; and "the cord of paternal authority, drawn to its extreme tension, was naturally snapped."--And upon this her volatile pen again takes its roving flight.

"The truant Salvatoriello fled from the restraints of an uncongenial home, from Albert Le Grand and Santa Caterina di Sienna, and took shelter among those sites and scenes whose imagery soon became a part of his own intellectual existence, and were received as impressions long before they were studied as subjects. Sometimes he was discovered by the Padre Cercatore of the convent of Renella, among the rocks and caverns of Baiae, the ruined temples of Gods, and the haunts of Sibyls. Sometimes he was found by a gossip of Madonna Giulia, in her pilgrimage to a ‘maesta,’ sleeping among the wastes of the Solfatara, beneath the scorched branches of a blasted tree, his head pillowed by lava, and his dream most probably the vision of an infant poet’s slumbers. For even then he was ‘the youngest he / That sat in shadow of Apollo’s tree,’ seeing Nature with a poet’s eye, and sketching her beauties with a painter’s hand" (45).

Now this is well imagined and quaintly expressed; it pleases the fair writer, and should offend nobody else. But we cannot say quite so much of the note which is appended to it, and couched in the following terms.

"Rosa drew his first impressions from the magnificent scenery of Pausilippo and Vesuvius; Hogarth found his in a pot-house at Highgate, where a drunken quarrel and a broken nose ‘first woke the God within him.’ Both, however, reached the sublime in their respective vocations--Hogarth in the grotesque, and Salvator in the majestic!"[k]

Really these critics who have crossed the Alps do take liberties with the rest of the world,--and do not recover from a certain giddiness ever after. In the eagerness of partisanship, the fair author here falsifies the class to which these two painters belonged. Hogarth did not excel in the "grotesque," but in the ludicrous and natural,--nor Salvator in the "majestic," but in the wild and gloomy features of man or nature; and in talent Hogarth had the advantage--a million to one. It would not be too much to say, that he was probably the greatest observer of manners, and the greatest comic genius, that ever lived. We know no one, whether painter, poet, or prose-writer, not even Shakespeare, who, in his peculiar department, was so teeming with life and invention, so over-informed with matter, so "full to overflowing," as Hogarth was. We shall not attempt to calculate the quantity of pleasure and amusement his pictures have afforded, for it is quite incalculable. As to the distinction between "high and low" in matters of genius, we shall leave it to her Ladyship’s other critics. But shall Hogarth’s world of truth and nature (his huge total farce of human life) be reduced to "a drunken quarrel and a broken nose?" We will not retort this sneer by any insult to Salvator; he did not paint his pictures in opposition to Hogarth. There is an air about his landscapes sacred to our imaginations, though different from the close atmosphere of Hogarth’s scenes; and not the less so, because the latter could paint something better than "a broken nose." Nothing provokes us more than these exclusive and invidious comparisons, which seek to raise one man of genius by setting down another, and which, suppose that there is nothing to admire in the greatest talents, unless they can be made a foil to bring out the weak points or nominal imperfections of some fancied rival.

We might transcribe, for the entertainment of the reader, the passage to which we have already referred, describing Salvator’s departure, in the company of his father, for the college of the Congregazione Somasco; but we prefer one which, though highly coloured and somewhat dramatic, is more to our purpose--the commencement of Salvator’s studies as an artist under his brother-in-law Francanzani. We cannot, however, do this at once: for, in endeavouring to lay our hands upon the passage, we were as usual intercepted by showers of roses and clouds of perfume. Lady Morgan’s style resembles "another morn risen on mid-noon."[l] We must make a career therefore with the historian, and reach the temple of painting through the sounding portico of music. It appears that Salvator, after he left the brotherhood of the Somasco, with more poetry than logic in his head, devoted himself to music; and Lady Morgan preludes her narration with the following eloquent passage.

"All Naples--(where even to this day love and melody make a part of the existence of the people)--all Naples was then resounding to guitars, lutes and harps, accompanying voices, which forever sang the fashionable canzoni of Cambio Donato, and of the Prince di Venusa. [2] Neither German phlegm, nor Spanish gloom, could subdue spirits so tuned to harmony, nor silence the passionate serenatas which floated along the shores, and reverberated among the classic grottoes of Pausilippo. Vesuvius blazed, St Elmo thundered from its heights, conspiracy brooded in the caves of Baiae, and tyranny tortured its victim in the dungeons of the Castello Nuovo; yet still the ardent Neapolitans, amidst all the horrors of their social and political position,[3] could snatch moments of blessed forgetfulness, and, reckless of their country’s woes and their own degradation, could give up hours to love and music, which were already numbered in the death-warrants of their tyrants. . . . It was at this moment, when peculiar circumstances were awakening in the region of the syrens ‘the hidden soul of harmony,’ when the most beautiful women of the capital and the court gave a public exhibition of their talents and their charms, and glided in their feluccas on the moonlight midnight seas, with harps of gold and hands of snow, that the contumacious students of the Padri Somaschi escaped from the restraints of their cloisters, and the horrid howl of their laude spirituali, to all the intoxication of sound and sight, with every sense in full accordance with the musical passion of the day. It is little wonderful, if, at this epoch of his life, Salvator gave himself up unresistingly to the pursuit of a science, which he cultivated with ardour, even when time had preached his tumultuous pulse to rest; or if the floating capital of genius, which was as yet unappropriated, was in part applied to that species of composition, which, in the youth of man as of nations, precedes deeper and more important studies, and for which, in either, there is but one age. All poetry and passion, his young Muse ‘dallied with the innocence of love;’ and inspired strains, which, though the simple breathings of an ardent temperament, the exuberance of youthful excitement, and an overteeming sensibility, were assigning him a place among the first Italian lyrists of his age. Little did he then dream that posterity would apply the rigid rules of criticism to the ‘idle visions’ of his boyish fancy; or that his bars and basses would be conned and analyzed by the learned umpires of future ages--declared ‘not only admirable for a dîlettante, but, in point of melody, superior to that of most of the masters of his time.’[4]


It happened at this careless, gay, but not idle period of Salvator’s life, that an event occurred which hurried on his vocation to that art, to which his parents were so determined that he should not addict himself, but to which Nature had so powerfully directed him. His probation of adolescence was passed: his hour was come; and he was about to approach that temple whose threshold he modestly and poetically declared himself unworthy to pass. ‘Del immortalide al tempio augusto / Dove serba la gloria e I suoi tesori.’

At one of the popular festivities annually celebrated at Naples in honour of the Madonna, the beauty of Rosa’s elder sister captivated the attention of a young painter, who, though through life unknown to ‘fortune,’ was not even then ‘unknown to fame.’ The celebrated and unfortunate Francesco Francanzani, the inamorata of La Signorina Rosa, was a distinguished pupil of the Spagnuoletto school; and his picture of San Giuseppe, for the Chiesa Pellegrini, had already established him as one of the first painters of his day. Francanzani, like most of the young Neapolitan painters of his time, was a turbulent and factious character, vain and self-opinionated; and, though there was in his works a certain grandeur of style, with great force and depth of colouring, yet the impatience of his disappointed ambition, and indignation at the neglect of his acknowledged merit, already rendered him reckless of public opinion.[5]

It was the peculiar vanity of the painters of that day to have beautiful wives. Albano had set the example"--[as if any example need be set, or the thing had been done in concert]--"Domenichino followed it to his cost; Rubens turned it to the account of his profession; and Francanzani, still poor and struggling, married the portionless daughter of the most indigent artist in Naples, and thought perhaps more of the model than the wife. This union, and, still more, a certain sympathy in talent and character between the brothers-in-law, frequently carried Salvator to the stanza or work-room of Francesco. Francesco, by some years the elder, was then deep in the faction and intrigues of the Neapolitan school; and was endowed with that bold eloquence, which, displayed upon bold occasions, is always so captivating to young auditors. It was at the foot of his kinsman’s easel, and listening to details which laid perhaps the foundation of that contemptuous opinion he cherished through life for schools, academies, and all incorporated pedantry and pretension,[6] that Salvator occasionally amused himself in copying, on any scrap of board or paper which fell in his way, whatever pleased him in Francesco’s pictures. His long-latent genius thus accidentally awakened, resembled the acqua buja, whose cold and placid surface kindles like spirits on the contact of a spark. In these first, rude, and hasty sketches, Francanzani, as Passeri informs us, saw ‘molti segni d’un indole spirituosa’ (great signs of talent and genius); and he frequently encouraged, and sometimes corrected, the copies which so nearly approached the originals. But Salvator, who was destined to imitate none, but to be imitated by many, soon grew impatient of repeating another’s conceptions, and of following in an art in which he already perhaps felt, with prophetic throes, that he was born to lead. His visits to the workshop of Francanzani grew less frequent; his days were given to the scenes of his infant wanderings; he departed with the dawn, laden with his portfolio filled with primed paper, and a pallet covered with oil colours; and it is said, that even then he not only sketched, but coloured from nature. When the pedantry of criticism (at the suggestion of envious rivals) accused him of having acquired, in his colouring, too much of the impasting of the Spagnuoletto school, it was not aware that his faults, like his beauties, were original; and that he sinned against the rules of art, only because he adhered too faithfully to nature."--[Salvator’s flesh colour is as remarkably dingy and Spagnuolettish, as the tone of his landscapes is fresh and clear.]--"Returning from these arduous but not profitless rambles, through wildernesses and along precipices, impervious to all save the enterprise of fearless genius, he sought shelter beneath his sister’s roof, where a kinder welcome awaited him than he could find in that home where it had been decreed from his birth that he should not be a painter.

Francanzani was wont, on the arrival of his brother-in-law, to rifle the contents of his portfolio; and he frequently found there compositions hastily thrown together, but selected, drawn, and coloured with a boldness and a breadth, which indicated the confidence of a genius sure of itself. The first accents of ‘the thrilling melody of sweet renown’ which ever vibrated to the heart of Salvator, came to his ear on these occasions in the Neapolitan patois of his relation, who, in glancing by lamp-light over his labours, would pat him smilingly on th head, and exclaim, ‘Fruscia, fruscia, Salvatoriello--che va buono,’ (‘Go on, go on, this is good’)--simple plaudits! but frequently remembered in aftertimes (when the dome of the Pantheon had already rung with the admiration extorted by his Regulus) as the first which cheered him in his arduous progress." (p. 94)

The reader cannot fail to observe here how well every thing is made out: how agreeably every thing is assumed: how difficulties are smoothed over, little abruptnesses rounded off: how each circumstance falls into its place just as it should, and answers to a preconceived idea, like the march of a verse or the measure of a dance: and how completely that imaginary justice is everywhere done to the subject, which, according to Lord Bacon, gives poetry so decided an advantage over history! Yet this is one of our fair authoress’s most severe and literal passages. Her prose-Muse is furnished with wings; and the breeze of Fancy carries her off her feet from the plain ground of matter-of-fact, whether she will or no. Lady Morgan, in this part of her subject, takes occasion to animadvert on an opinion of Sir Joshua’s respecting our artist’s choice of a particular style of landscape painting.[m]

"‘Salvator Rosa,’ says Sir J. Reynolds, ‘saw the necessity of trying some new source of pleasing the public in his works. The world were tired of Claude Lorraine’s and G. Poussin’s long train of imitators.’

‘Salvator therefore struck into a wild, savage kind of nature, which was new and striking.’

The first of these paragraphs contains a strange anachronism. When Salvator struck into a new line, Poussin and Claude, who, though his elders, were his contemporaries, had as yet no train of imitators. The one was struggling for a livelihood in France, the other was cooking and grinding colours for his master at Rome. Salvator’s early attachment to Nature in her least imitated forms, was not the result of speculation having any reference to the public: it was the operation of original genius, and of those particular tendencies which seemed to be breathed into his soul at the moment it first quickened. From his cradle to his tomb he was the creature of impulse, and the slave of his own vehement volitions."--Note, p. 97-8.

We think this is spirited and just. Sir Joshua, who borrowed from almost all his predecessors in art, was now and then a little too ready to detract from them. We dislike these attempts to explain away successful talent into a species of studied imposture--to attribute genius to a plot, originality to a trick. Burke, in like manner, accused Rousseau of the same kind of malice prepense in bringing forward his paradoxes--as if he did it on a theory, or to astonish the public, and not to give vent to his peculiar humours and singularity of temperament.[n]

We next meet with a poetical version of a picturesque tour undertaken by Salvator among the mountains of the Abruzzi, and of his detention by the banditti there. We have much fine writing on the subject; but after a world of charming theories and romantic conjectures, it is left quite doubtful whether this last event ever took place at all--at least we could wish there was some better confirmation of it than a vague rumour, and an etching by Salvator of a "Youth taken captive by banditti, with a female figure pleading his cause," which the historian at once identifies with the adventures of the artist himself, and "moralizes into a thousand similes." We are indemnified for the dearth of satisfactory evidence on this point by animated and graceful transitions to the history and manners of the Neapolitan banditti, their physiognomical distinctions and political intrigues, to the grand features of mountain scenery, and to the character of Salvator’s style, founded on all these exciting circumstances, real or imaginary. On the death of his father, Vito Antonio, which happened when he was about seventeen, the family were thrown on his hands for support, and he struggled for some time with want and misery, which he endeavoured to relieve by his hard bargains with the rivenditori (picture-dealers) in the Strada della Carità, till necessity and chagrin forced him to fly to Rome. The purchase of his Hagar by Lanfranco is the only bright streak in this period of his life, which cheered him for a moment with faint delusive hope.

The art of writing may be said to consist in thinking of nothing but one’s subject: the art of book-making, on the contrary, can only subsist on the principle of laying hands on every thing that can supply the place of it. The author of the Life and Times of Salvator Rosa, though devoted to her hero, does not scruple to leave him sometimes, and to occupy many pages with his celebrated contemporaries, Domenichino, Lanfranco, Caravaggio, and the sculptor Bernini, the most splendid coxcomb in the history of art, and the spoiled child of vanity and patronage.[o] Before we take leave of Naples, we must introduce our readers to some of this good company, and pay our court in person. We shall begin with Caravaggio, one of the characteristic school both in mind and manners. The account is too striking in many respects to be passed over, and affords a fine lesson on the excesses and untamed irregularities of men of genius.

"In the early part of the seventeenth century, the manner of the Neapolitan school was purely Caravaggesque. Michael Angelo Amoreghi, better known as Il Caravaggio (from the place of his birth in the Milanese, where his father held no higher rank than that of a stone mason), was one of those powerful and extraordinary geniuses which are destined by their force and originality to influence public taste, and master public opinion, in whatever line they start. The Roman School, to which the almost celestial genius of Raphael had so long been as a tutelary angel, sinking rapidly into degradation and feebleness, suddenly arose again under the influence of a new chief, whose professional talent and personal character stood opposed in the strong relief of contrast to that of his elegant and poetical predecessor.

The influence of this ‘uomo intractabile e brutale,’ this passionate and intractable man, as he is termed by an Italian historian of the arts, sprang from the depression of the school which preceded him. Nothing less than the impulsion given by the force of contrast, and the shock occasioned by a violent change, could have produced an effect on the sinking art such as proceeded from the strength and even coarseness of Caravaggio. He brought back nature triumphant over mannerism--nature, indeed, in all the exaggeration of strong motive and overbearing volition; but still it was nature; and his bold example dissipated the languor of exhausted imitation, and gave excitement even to the tamest mediocrity and the feeblest conception. . . . When on his first arrival in Rome (says Bellori) the cognoscenti advised him to study from the antiques, and take Raphael as his model, he used to point to the promiscuous groups of men and women passing before him, and say, ‘those were the models and the masters provided him by Nature.’ Teased one day by a pedant on the subject, he stopped a gipsey-girl who was passing by his window, called her in, placed her near his easel, and produced his splendid Zingara in atto di predire l’avventure, his well-known and exquisite Egyptian Fortune-teller. His Gamblers was done in the same manner.

The temperament which produced this peculiar genius was necessarily violent and gloomy. Caravaggio tyrannized over his school, and attacked his rivals with other arms than those of his art. He was a professed duellist; and having killed one of his antagonists in a rencontre, he fled to Naples, where an asylum was readily granted him. His manner as a painter, his character as a man, were both calculated to succeed with the Neapolitan school; and the maniera Caravaggesca thenceforward continued to distinguish its productions, till the art, there, as throughout all Europe, fell into utter degradation, and became lost almost as completely as it had been under the Lower Empire.

In a warm dispute with one of his own young friends in a tennis-court, he had struck him dead with a racket, having been himself severely wounded. Notwithstanding the triumphs with which he was loaded in Naples, where he executed some of his finest pictures, he soon got weary of his residence there, and went to Malta. His superb picture of the Grand Master obtained for him the cross of Malta, a rich golden chain, placed on his neck by the Grand Master’s own hands, and two slaves to attend him. But all these honours did not prevent the new knight from falling into his old habits. Il suo torbido ingegno, says Bellori, plunged him into new difficulties; he fought and wounded a noble cavalier, was thrown into prison by the Grand Master, escaped most miraculously, fled to Syracuse, and obtained the suffrages of the Syracusans by painting his splendid picture of the Santa Morte, for the church of Santa Lucia. In apprehension of being taken by the Maltese knights, he fled to Messina, from thence to Palermo, and returned to Naples, where hopes were given him of the Pope’s pardon. Here, picking a quarrel with some military men at an inn door, he was wounded, took refuge on board a felucca, and set sail for Rome. Arrested by a Spanish guard, at a little port (where the felucca cast anchor), by mistake, for another person, when released he found the felucca gone, and in it all his property. Traversing the burning shore under a vertical sun, he was seized with a brain-fever, and continued to wander through the deserts of the Pontine Marshes, till he arrived at Porto Ercoli, when he expired in his fortieth year." p. 139.

We have seen some of the particulars differently related; but this account is as probable as any; and it conveys a startling picture of the fate of a man led away by headstrong passions and the pride of talents,--an intellectual outlaw, having no regard to the charities of life, nor knowledge of his own place in the general scale of being. How different, how superior, and yet how little more fortunate, was the amiable and accomplished Domenichino (the "most sensible of painters"), who was about this time employed in painting the dome of St Januarius!

"Domenichino reluctantly accepted the invitation (1629); and he arrived in Naples with the zeal of a martyr devoted to a great cause, but with a melancholy foreboding, which harassed his noble spirit, and but ill prepared him for the persecution he was to encounter. Lodged under the special protection of the Deputati, in the Palazzo dell’ Arcivescovato, adjoining the church, on going forth from his sumptuous dwelling the day after his arrival, he found a paper addressed to him sticking in the key-hole of his anteroom. It informed him, that if he did not instantly return to Rome, he should never return there with life. Domenichino immediately presented himself to the Spanish viceroy, the Conte Monterei, and claimed protection for a life then employed in the service of the church. The piety of the count, in spite of his partiality to the faction [of Spagnuoletto], induced him to pledge the word of a grandee of Spain, that Domenichino should not be molested; and from that moment a life, no longer openly assailed, was embittered by all that the littleness of malignant envy could invent to undermine its enjoyments and blast its hopes. Calumnies against his character, criticisms on his paintings, ashes mixed with his colours, and anonymous letters, were the miserable means to which his rivals resorted; and to complete their work of malignity, they induced the viceroy to order pictures from him for the Court of Madrid; and when these were little more than laid in in dead colours, they were carried to the viceregal palace, and placed in the hands of Spagnuoletto to retouch and alter at pleasure. In this disfigured and mutilated condition, they were despatched to the gallery of the King of Spain. Thus drawn from his great works by despotic authority, for the purpose of effecting his ruin, enduring the complaints of the Deputati, who saw their commission neglected, and suffering from perpetual calumnies and persecutions, Domenichino left the superb picture of the Martyrdom of San Gennaro, which is now receiving the homage of posterity, and fled to Rome; taking shelter in the solemn shades of Frescati, where he resided some time under the protection of Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini. It was at this period that Domenichino was visited by his biographer Passeri, then an obscure youth, engaged to assist in the repairs of the pictures in the cardinal’s chapel. ‘When we arrived at Frescati,’ says Passeri in his simple style, "Domenichino received me with much courtesy; and hearing that I took a singular delight in the belles-lettres, it increased his kindness to me. I remember me, that I gazed on this man as though he were an angel. I remained till the end of September, occupied in restoring the chapel of St Sebastian, which had been ruined by the damp. Sometimes Domenichino would join us, singing delightfully to recreate himself as well as he could. When night set in we returned to our apartment, while he most frequently remained in his own, occupied in drawing, and permitting none to see him. Sometimes, however, to pass the time, he drew caricatures of us all, and of the inhabitants of the villa; and when he succeeded to his satisfaction, he was wont to indulge in immoderate fits of laughter; and we, who were in the adjoining room, would run in to know his reason, and then he showed us his spirited sketches (spiritose galanterie). He drew a caricature of me with a guitar, one of Canini the painter, and one of the guarda roba, who was lame with the gout, and of the subguarda roba, a most ridiculous figure. To prevent our being offended, he also caricatured himself. These portraits are now preserved by Signor Giovanni Pietro Bellori in his study.’ Vita di Domenichino.--Obliged, however, at length, to return to Naples to fulfil his fatal engagements, overwhelmed both in mind and body by the persecutions of his soi-disant patrons and his open enemies, he died, says Passeri, ‘fra mille crepacuori,’ amidst a thousand heart-breakings, with some suspicion of having been poisoned, in 1641." p. 150.

We could wish Lady Morgan had preserved more of this simple style of Passeri. We confess we prefer it to her own more brilliant and artificial one; for instance, to such passages as the following, describing Salvator’s first entrance into the city of Rome.

"In entering the greatest city of the world at the Ave Maria, the hour of Italian recreation"--(Why must he have entered it at this hour, except for the purpose of giving the author an apology for the following eloquent reflections?)--"in passing from the silent desolate suburbs of San Giovanni to the Corso (then a place of crowded and populous resort), where the princes of the Conclave presented themselves in all the pomp and splendour of Oriental satraps, the feelings of the young and solitary stranger must have suffered a revulsion, in the consciousness of his own misery. Never, perhaps, in the deserts of the Abruzzi, in the solitudes of Otranto, or in the ruins of PFstum, did Salvator experience sensations of such utter loneliness, as in the midst of this gaudy and multitudinous assemblage; for in the history of melancholy sensations there are few comparable to that sense of isolation, to that desolateness of soul, which accompanies the first entrance of the friendless on a world where all, save they, have ties, pursuits, and homes." p. 174.

When we come to passages like this, so buoyant, so airy, and so brilliant, we wish we could forget that history is not a pure voluntary effusion of sentiment, and that we could fancy ourselves reading a page of Mrs. Radcliffe’s Italian, or Miss Porter’s Thaddeus of Warsaw! Presently after, we learn, that "Milton and Salvator, who, in genius, character, and political views, bore no faint resemblance to each other, though living at the same time both in Rome and Naples, remained mutually unknown. The obscure and indigent young painter had, doubtless, no means of presenting himself to the great republican poet of England;--if, indeed, he had then ever heard of one so destined to illustrate the age in which both flourished."--p. 176. This is the least apposite of all our author’s critical juxtapositions; if we except the continual running parallel between Salvator, Shakspeare, and Lord Byron, as the three demons of the imagination personified. Modern critics can no more confer rank in the lists of fame, than modern heralds can confound new and old nobility.[p]

Salvator’s first decided success at Rome, or in his profession, was in his picture of Prometheus, exhibited in the Pantheon, when he was little more than twenty, and which stamped his reputation as an artist from that time forward, though it did not lay the immediate foundation of his fortune. In this respect, his rejection by the Academy of St Luke, and the hostility of Bernino, threw very considerable obstacles in his way. Lady Morgan celebrates the success of this picture at sufficient length, and with enthusiastic sympathy, and accompanies the successive completion of his great historical efforts afterwards, the Regulus, the Purgatory, the Job, the Saul, and the Conspiracy of Catiline, with appropriate comments; but, as we are tainted with heresy on this subject, we shall decline entering into it, farther than to say generally, that we think the colouring of Salvator’s flesh dingy, his drawing meager, his expressions coarse or violent, and his choice of subjects morose and monotonous. The figures in his landscape-compositions are admirable for their spirit, force, wild interest, and daring character; but, in our judgment, they cannot stand alone as high history, nor, by any means, claim the first rank among epic or dramatic productions. His landscapes, on the contrary, as we have said before, have a boldness of conception, a unity of design, and felicity of execution, which, if it does not fill the mind with the highest sense of beauty or grandeur, assigns them a place by themselves, which invidious comparison cannot approach or divide with any competitor. They are original and perfect in their kind; and that kind is one that the imagination requires for its solace and support; is always glad to return to, and is never ashamed of, the wild and abstracted scenes of nature. Having said thus much by way of explanation, we hope we shall be excused from going farther into the details of an obnoxious hypercriticism, to which we feel an equal repugnance as professed worshippers of fame and genius! Our readers will prefer, to our sour and fastidious (perhaps perverse) criticism, the lively account which is here given of Salvator’s first appearance in a new character--one of the masks of the Roman carnival--which had considerable influence in his subsequent pursuits and success in life.

"Towards the close of the Carnival of 1639, when the spirits of the revellers (as is always the case in Rome) were making a brilliant rally for the representations of the last week, a car, or stage, highly ornamented, drawn by oxen, and occupied by a masked troop, attracted universal attention by its novelty and singular representations. The principal personage announced himself as a certain Signor Formica, a Neapolitan actor, who, in the character of Coviello, a charlatan, displayed so much genuine wit, such bitter satire, and exquisite humour, rendered doubly effective by a Neapolitan accent and national gesticulations, that other representations were abandoned, and gipsies told fortunes, and Jews hung in vain. The whole population of Rome gradually assembled round the novel, the inimitable Formica. The people relished his flashes of splenetic humour aimed at the great; the higher orders were delighted with an improvisatore, who, in the intervals of his dialogues, sung to the lute, of which he was a perfect master, the Neapolitan ballads, then so much in vogue. The attempts made by his fellow-revellers to obtain some share of the plaudits he so abundantly received, whether he spoke or sung, asked or answered questions, were all abortive; while he, (says Baldinucci), ‘at the head of every thing by his wit, eloquence, and brilliant humour, drew half Rome to himself.’ The contrast between his beautiful musical and poetical compositions, and those Neapolitan gesticulations in which he indulged, when, laying aside his lute, he presented his vials and salves to the delighted audience, exhibited a versatility of genius, which it was difficult to attribute to any individual then known in Rome. Guesses and suppositions were still vainly circulating among all classes, when, on the close of the Carnival, Formica, ere he drove his triumphal car from the Piazza Navona, which, with one of the streets in the Trasevere, had been the principal scene of his triumph, ordered his troop to raise their masks, and, removing his own, discovered that Coviello was the sublime author of the Prometheus, and his little troop the ‘Partigiani’ of Salvator Rosa. All Rome was from this moment (to use a phrase which all his biographers have adopted) ‘filled with his fame.’ That notoriety which his high genius had failed to procure for him, was obtained at once by those lighter talents which he had nearly suffered to fall into neglect, while more elevated views had filled his mind." p. 253.

Lady Morgan then gives a very learned and sprightly account of the characters of the old Italian comedy, with a notice of Moliere, and sprinklings of general reading, from which we have not room for an extract.[q] Salvator, after this event, became the rage in Rome; his society and conversation were much sought after, and his improvisatore recitations of his own poetry, in which he sketched the outline of his future Satires, were attended by some of the greatest wits and most eminent scholars of the age. He on one occasion gave a burlesque comedy in ridicule of Bernini, the favourite court-artist. This attack drew on him a resentment, the consequences of which, "like a wounded snake, dragged their slow length" through the rest of his life. Those who are the loudest and bitterest in their complaints of persecution and ill-usage are the first to provoke it. In the warfare waged so fondly and (as it is at last discovered) so unequally with the world, the assailants and the sufferers will be generally found to be the same persons. We would not, by this indirect censure of Salvator, be understood to condemn or discourage those who have an inclination to go on the same forlorn hope: we merely wish to warn them of the nature of the service, and that they ought not to prepare for a triumph, but a martyrdom! If they are ambitious of that, let them take their course.

Salvator’s success in his new attempt threw him in some measure, from this time forward, into the career of comedy and letters: painting, however, still remained his principal pursuit and strongest passion. His various talents and agreeable accomplishments procured him many friends and admirers, though his hasty temper and violent pretensions often defeated their good intentions towards him. He wanted to force his Histories down the throats of the public and of private individuals, who came to purchase his pictures, and turned from, and even insulted those who praised his landscapes. This jealousy of a man’s self, and quarrelling with the favourable opinion of the world, because it does not exactly accord with our own view of our merits, is one of the most tormenting and incurable of all follies. We subjoin the two following remarkable instances of it.

"The Prince Francesco Ximenes having arrived in Rome, found time, in the midst of the honours paid to him, to visit Salvator Rosa; and, being received by the artist in his gallery, he told him frankly, that he had come for the purpose of seeing and purchasing some of those beautiful small landscapes, whose manner and subjects had delighted him in many foreign galleries.--‘Be it known then to your Excellency,’ interrupted Rosa impetuously, ‘that I know nothing of landscape-painting! Something indeed I do know of painting figures and historical subjects, which I strive to exhibit to such eminent judges as yourself, in order that once for all I may banish from the public mind that fantastic humour of supposing I am a landscape, and not an historical painter.’

Shortly after, a very rich cardinal, whose name is not recorded, called on Salvator to purchase some pictures; and as his Eminence walked up and down the gallery, he always paused before some certain quadretti, and never before the historical subjects, while Salvator muttered from time to time between his clenched teeth, ‘Sempre, sempre, poesi piccoli.’ When at last the Cardinal glanced his eye over some great historical picture, and carelessly asked the price as a sort of company question, Salvator bellowed forth ‘Un milione.’ His Eminence, stunned or offended, hurried away, and returned no more."

Other stories are told of the like import. And yet if Salvator had been more satisfied in his own mind of the superiority of his historical pictures, he would have been less anxious to make others converts to his opinion. So shrewd a man ought to have been aware of the force of the proverb about nursing the rickety child.

One of the most creditable traits in the character of Salvator is the friendship of Carlo Rossi, a wealthy Roman citizen, who raised his prices and built a chapel to his memory; and one of the most pleasant and flattering to his talents is the rivalry of Messer Agli, an old Bolognese merchant, who came all the way to Florence (while Salvator was residing there) to enter the lists with him as the clown and quack-doctor of the commedia della arte.

We loiter on the way with Lady Morgan--which is a sign that we do not dislike her company, and that our occasional severity is less real than affected. She opens many pleasant vistas, and calls up numerous themes of never-failing interest. Would that we could wander with her under the azure skies and golden sunsets of Claude Lorrain, amidst classic groves and temples, and flocks, and herds, and winding streams, and distant hills and glittering sunny vales,

--"Where universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Leads on the eternal spring;"--

or repose in Gaspar Poussin’s cool grottos, or on his breezy summits, or by his sparkling waterfalls!--but we must not indulge too long in these delightful dreams. Time presses, and we must on. It is mentioned in this part of the narrative which treats of Salvator’s contemporaries and great rivals in landscape, that Claude Lorraine, besides his natural stupidity in all other things, was six-and-thirty before he began to paint (almost the age at which Raphael died), and in ten years after was--what no other human being ever was or will be. The lateness of the period at which he commenced his studies, render those unrivalled masterpieces which he left behind him to all posterity a greater miracle than they would otherwise be. One would think that perfection required at least a whole life to attain it. Lady Morgan has described this divine artist very prettily and poetically; but her description of Gaspar Poussin is as fine, and might in some places be mistaken for that of his rival. This is not as it should be; since the distance is immeasurable between the productions of Claude Lorraine and all other landscapes whatever--with the single exception of Titian’s backgrounds.[7] Sir Joshua Reynolds used to say (such was his opinion of the faultless beauty of his style), that "there would be another Raphael before there was another Claude!"

The first volume of the present work closes with a spirited account of the short-lived revolution at Naples, brought about by the celebrated Massaniello. Salvator contrived to be present at one of the meetings of the patriotic conspirators by torchlight, and has left a fine sketch of the unfortunate leader. An account of this memorable transaction will be found in Robertson, and a still more striking and genuine one in the Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz.

We must hasten through the second volume with more rapid strides. Salvator, after the failure and death of Massaniello, returned to Rome, disappointed, disheartened, and gave vent to his feelings on this occasion by his two poems, La Babilonia, and La Guerra, which are full of the spirit of love and hatred, of enthusiasm and bitterness.[8] About the same time, he painted his two allegorical pictures of "Human Frailty," and "Fortune." These were exhibited in the Pantheon; and from the sensation they excited, and the sinister comments that were made on them, had nearly conducted Salvator to the Inquisition. In the picture of "Fortune," more particularly, "the nose of one powerful ecclesiastic, and the eye of another, were detected in the brutish physiognomy of the swine who were treading pearls and flowers under their feet; a Cardinal was recognised in an ass scattering with his hoof the laurel and myrtle which lay in his path, and in an old goat reposing on roses. Some there were who even fancied the infallible lover of Donna Olympia, the Sultana Queen of the Quirinal! The cry of atheism and sedition--of contempt of established authorities--was thus raised under the influence of private pique and long-cherished envy. It soon found an echo in the painted walls where the Conclave sat ‘in close divan,’ and it was bandied about from mouth to mouth till it reached the ears of the Inquisitor, within the dark recesses of his house of terrors." II. 20.

The consequence was, that our artist was obliged to fly from Rome, after waiting a little to see if the storm would blow over, and to seek an asylum in the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany at Florence. Here he passed some of the happiest years of his life, flattered by princes, feasting nobles, conversing with poets, receiving the suggestions of critics, painting landscapes or history as he liked best, composing and reciting his own verses, and making a fortune, which he flung away again as soon as he had made it, with the characteristic improvidence of genius. Of the gay, careless, and friendly intercourse in which he passed his time, the following passages give a very lively intimation.

"It happened that Rosa, in one of those fits of idleness to which even his strenuous spirit was occasionally liable, flung down his pencil, and sallied forth to communicate the infection of his far niente to his friend Lippi.[r] On entering his studio, however, he found him labouring with great impetuosity on the back-ground of his picture of the Flight into Egypt; but in such sullen vehemence, or in such evident ill-humour, that Salvator demanded, ‘Che fai, amico?’--‘What am I about?’ said Lippi; ‘I am going mad with vexation. Here is one of my best pictures ruined: I am under a spell, and cannot even draw the branch of a tree, nor a tuft of herbage.’--‘Signore Dio!’ exclaimed Rosa, twisting the paletti off his friend’s thumb, ‘what colours are here?’ and scraping them off, and gently pushing away Lippi, he took his place, murmuring, ‘Let me see! who knows but I may help you out of the scrape?’ Half in jest and half in earnest, he began to touch and retouch, and change, till nightfall found him at the easel, finishing one of the best background landscapes he ever painted. All Florence came the next day to look at this chef-d'Oeuvre, and the first artists of the age took it as a study.

A few days afterwards, Salvator called upon Lippi, found him preparing a canvas, while Malatesta read aloud to him and Ludovico Seranai the astronomer, the MS. of his poem of the Sphynx. Salvator, with a noiseless step, took his seat in an old Gothic window, and, placing himself in a listening attitude, with a bright light falling through stained glass upon his fine head, produced a splendid study, of which Lippi, without a word of his intention, availed himself; and executed, with incredible rapidity, the finest picture of Salvator that was ever painted. Several copies of it were taken with Lippi’s permission, and Ludovico Seranai purchased the original at a considerable price. In this picture Salvator is dressed in a cloth habit, with richly slashed sleeves, turnovers, and a collar. It is only a head and bust, and the eyes are looking towards the spectator." II. 66.

At one time, his impatience at being separated from Carlo Rossi and other friends was so great, that he narrowly risked his safety to obtain an interview with them. About three years after he had been at Florence, he took post-horses, and set off for Rome at midnight. Having arrived at an inn in the suburbs, he despatched messages to eighteen of his friends, who all came, thinking he had got into some new scrape; breakfasted with them, and returned to Florence, before his Roman persecutors or his Tuscan friends were aware of his adventure.

Salvator, however, was discontented even with this splendid lot, and sought to embower himself in entire seclusion, and in deeper bliss, in the palace of the Counts Maffei at Volterra, and in the solitudes in its neighbourhood. Here he wandered night and morn, drinking in that slow poison of reflection which his soul loved best--planning his Catiline Conspiracy--preparing his Satires for the press--and weeding out their Neapolitanisms, in which he was assisted by the fine taste and quick tact of his friend Redi. This appears to have been the only part of his life to which he looked back with pleasure or regret. He however left this enviable retreat soon after, to return to Rome, partly for family reasons, and partly, no doubt, because the deepest love of solitude and privacy does not wean the mind, that has once felt the feverish appetite, from the desire of popularity and distinction. Here, then, he planted himself on the Monte Pincio, in a house situated between those of Claude Lorraine and Nicholas Poussin--and used to walk out of an evening on the fine promenade near it, at the head of a group of gay cavaliers, musicians, and aspiring artists; while Nicholas Poussin, the very genius of antiquity personified, and now bent down with age himself, led another band of reverential disciples, side by side, with some learned virtuoso or pious churchman! Meantime, commissions poured in upon Salvator, and he painted successively his Jonas for the King of Denmark--his Battle-piece for Louis XIV., still in the Museum at Paris--and, lastly, to his infinite delight, an Altar-piece for one of the churches in Rome. Salvator, about this time, seems to have imbibed (even before he was lectured on his want of economy by the Fool at the house of his friend Minucci) some idea of making the best use of his time and talents.

"The Constable Colonna (it is reported) sent a purse of gold to Salvator Rosa on receiving one of his beautiful landscapes. The painter, not to be outdone in generosity, sent the prince another picture, as a present,--which the prince insisted on remunerating with another purse; another present and another purse followed; and this struggle between generosity and liberality continued, to the tune of many other pictures and presents, until the prince, finding himself a loser by the contest, sent Salvator two purses, with an assurance that he gave in, et lui ceda le champ de bataille."

Salvator was tenacious in demanding the highest prices for his pictures, and brooking no question as to any abatement; but when he had promised his friend Ricciardi a picture, he proposed to restrict himself to a subject of one or two figures; and they had nearly a quarrel about it.

"In April 1662," says his biographer, "and not long after his return to Rome, his love of wild and mountainous scenery, and perhaps his wandering tendencies, revived by his recent journey, induced him to visit Loretto, or at least to make that holy city the shrine of a pilgrimage, which it appears was one rather of taste than of devotion. His feelings on this journey are well described in one of his own Letters inserted in the Appendix. ‘I could not,’ says Salvator, ‘give you any account of my return from Loretto, till I arrived here on the sixth of May. I was for fifteen days in perpetual motion. The journey was beyond all description curious and picturesque; much more so than the route from hence to Florence. There is a strange mixture of savage wildness and domestic scenery, of plain and precipice, such as the eye delights to wander over. I can safely swear to you, that the tints of these mountains by far exceed all I have ever observed under your Tuscan skies; and as for your Verucola, which I once thought a dreary desert, I shall henceforth deem it a fair garden, in comparison with the scenes I have now explored in these Alpine solitudes. O God! how often have I sighed to possess, how often since called to mind, those solitary hermitages which I passed on my way! How often wished that fortune had reserved for me such a destiny! I went by Ancona and Torolo, and on my return visited Assisa--all sites of extraordinary interest to the genius of painting. I saw at Terni (four miles out of the high road) the famous waterfall of Velino; an object to satisfy the boldest imagination by its terrific beauty--a river dashing down a mountainous precipice of near a mile in height, and then flinging up its foam to nearly an equal altitude! Believe, that while in this spot, I moved not, saw not, without bearing you full in my mind and memory." See p. 277.

He begins another letter, of a later date, on his being employed to paint the altar of San Giovanni de Fiorentini, thus gaily:--

"Sonate le campane--Ring out the chimes!--At last after thirty years existence in Rome, of hopes blasted and complaints reiterated against men and gods, the occasion is accorded me for giving one altar-piece to the public."

His anxiety to finish this picture in time for a certain festival, kept him, he adds, "secluded from all commerce of the pen, and from every other in the world; and I can truly say, that I have forgotten myself, even to neglecting to eat; and so arduous is my application, that when I had nearly finished, I was obliged to keep my bed for two days; and had not my recovery been assisted by emetics, certain it is it would have been all over with me in consequence of some obstruction in the stomach. Pity me then, dear friend, if for the glory of my pencil, I have neglected to devote my pen to the service of friendship."--Letter to the Abate Ricciardi.

Passeri has left the following particulars recorded of him on the day when this picture (the Martyrdom of Saint Damian and Saint Cosmus) was first exhibited.

"He (Salvator) had at last exposed his picture in the San Giovanni de’ Fiorentini; and I, to recreate myself, ascended on that evening to the heights of Monte della Trinita, where I found Salvator walking arm in arm with Signor Giovanni Carlo dei Rossi, so celebrated for his performance on the harp of three strings, and brother to that Luigi Rossi, who is so eminent all over the world for his perfection in musical composition. And when Salvator (who was my intimate friend) perceived me, he came forward laughingly, and said to me these precise words:--‘Well, what say the malignants now? Are they at last convinced that I can paint on the great scale? Why, if not, then e’en let Michael Angelo come down, and do something better. Now at least I have stopped their mouths, and shown the world what I am worth.’ I shrugged my shoulders. I and the Signor Rossi changed the subject to one which lasted us till nightfall; and from this (continues Passeri in his rambling way [9]) it may be gathered how gagliardo he (Salvator) was in his own opinion. Yet it may not be denied but that he had all the endowments of a marvellous great painter! one of great resources and high perfection; and had he no other merit, he had at least that of being the originator of his own style. He spoke, this evening, of Paul Veronese more than of any other painter, and praised the Venetian school greatly. To Raphael he had no great leaning, for it was the fashion of the Neapolitan School to call him hard, di pietra, dry," &c. p. 172.

Our artist’s constitution now began to break, worn out perhaps by the efforts of his art, and still more by the irritation of his mind. In a letter dated in 1666, he complains,

"I have suffered two months of agony, even with the abstemious regimen of chicken broth! My feet are two lumps of ice, in spite of the woollen hose I have imported from Venice. I never permit the fire to be quenched in my own room, and am more solicitous than even the Cavalier Cigoli," (who died of a cold caught in painting a fresco in the Vatican.) "There is not a fissure in the house that I am not daily employed in diligently stopping up, and yet with all this I cannot get warm; nor do I think the torch of love, or the caresses of Phryne herself, would kindle me into a glow. For the rest, I can talk of any thing but my pencil: my canvass lies turned to the wall; my colours are dried up now, and for ever; nor can I give my thoughts to any subject whatever, but chimney-corners, brasiers, warming-pans, woollen gloves, woollen caps, and such sort of gear. In short, dear friend, I am perfectly aware that I have lost much of my original ardour, and am absolutely reduced to pass entire days without speaking a word. Those fires, once mine and so brilliant, are now all spent, or evaporating in smoke. Woe unto me, should I ever be reduced to exercise my pencil for bread!"

Yet after this, he at intervals produced some of his best pictures. The scene, however, was now hastening to a close; and the account here given of his last days, though containing nothing perhaps very memorable, will yet, we think, be perused with a melancholy interest.

"A change in his complexion was thought to indicate some derangement of the liver, and he continued in a state of great languor and depression during the autumn of 1672; but in the winter of 1673, the total loss of appetite, and of all power of digestion, reduced him almost to the last extremity; and he consented, at the earnest request of Lucrezia and his numerous friends, to take more medical advice. He now passed through the hands of various physicians, whose ignorance and technical pedantry come out with characteristic effect in the simple and matter-of-fact details which the good Padre Baldovini has left of the last days of his eminent friend.[s] Various cures were suggested by the Roman faculty for a disease which none had yet ventured to name. Meantime the malady increased, and showed itself in all the life-wearing symptoms of sleeplessness, loss of appetite, intermitting fever, and burning thirst. A French quack was called in to the sufferer; and his prescription was, that he should drink water abundantly, and nothing but water. While, however, under the care of this Gallic Sangrado, a confirmed dropsy unequivocally declared itself; and Salvator, now acquainted with the nature of his disease, once more submitted to the entreaties of his friends; and, at the special persuasion of the Padre Francesco Baldovini, placed himself under the care of a celebrated Italian empiric, then in great repute in Rome, called Dr Penna.

Salvator had but little confidence in medicine. He had already, during this melancholy winter, discarded all his physicians, and literally thrown physic to the dogs. But hope, and spring, and love of life, revived together; and, towards the latter end of February he consented to receive the visits of Penna, who had cured Baldovini (on the good father’s own word) of a confirmed dropsy the year before. When the doctor was introduced, Salvator, with his wonted manliness, called on him to answer the question he was about to propose with honesty and frankness, viz. Was his disorder curable? Penna, after going through certain professional forms, answered, ‘that his disorder was a simple, and not a complicated dropsy, and that therefore it was curable.’

Salvator instantly and cheerfully placed himself in the doctor’s hands, and consented to submit to whatever he should subscribe. ‘The remedy of Penna,’ says Baldovini, ‘lay in seven little vials, of which the contents were to be swallowed every day.’ But it was obvious to all, that as the seven vials were emptied, the disorder of Rosa increased; and on the seventh day of his attendance, the doctor declared to his friend Baldovini, that the malady of his patient was beyond his reach and skill.

The friends of Salvator now suggested to him their belief that his disease was brought on and kept up by his rigid confinement to the house, so opposed to his former active habits of life; but when they urged him to take air and exercise, he replied significantly to their importunities, ‘I take exercise! I go out! if this is your counsel, how are you deceived!’ At the earnest request, however, of Penna, he consented to see him once more; but the moment he entered his room he demanded of him, ‘if he now thought that he was curable?’ Penna, in some emotion, prefaced his verdict by declaring solemnly, ‘that he should conceive it no less glory to restore so illustrious a genius to health, and to the society he was so calculated to adorn, than to save the life of the Sovereign Pontiff himself; but that, as far as his science went, the case was now beyond the reach of human remedy.’ While Penna spoke, Salvator, who was surrounded by his family and many friends, fixed his penetrating eyes on the physician’s face, with the intense look of one who sought to read his sentence in the countenance of his judge ere it was verbally pronounced;--but that sentence was now passed! and Salvator, who seemed more struck by surprise than by apprehension, remained silent and in a fixed attitude! His friends, shocked and grieved, or awed by the expression of his countenance, which was marked by a stern and hopeless melancholy, arose and departed silently one by one. After a long and deep reverie, Rosa suddenly left the room, and shut himself up alone in his study. There in silence, and in unbroken solitude, he remained for two days, holding no communication with his wife, his son, or his most intimate friends; and when at last their tears and lamentations drew him forth, he was no longer recognisable. Shrunk, feeble, attenuated, almost speechless, he sunk on his couch, to rise no more!

Life was now wearing away with such obvious rapidity, that his friends, both clerical and laical, urged him in the most strenuous manner to submit to the ceremonies and forms prescribed by the Roman Catholic church in such awful moments. How much the solemn sadness of those moments may be increased, even to terror and despair, by such pompous and lugubrious pageants, all who have visited Italy--all who still visit it, can testify. Salvator demanded what they required of him. They replied, ‘in the first instance to receive the sacrament as it is administered in Rome to the dying.’--‘To receiving the sacrament,’ says his confessor Baldovini, ‘he showed no repugnance (non se mostrb repugnante); but he vehemently and positively refused to allow the host, with all the solemn pomp of its procession, to be brought to his house, which he deemed unworthy of the divine presence.

The rejection of a ceremony which was deemed in Rome indispensably necessary to salvation, and by one who was already stamped with the church’s reprobation, soon took air; report exaggerated the circumstance into a positive expression of infidelity; and the gossipry of the Roman anterooms was supplied for the time with a subject of discussion, in perfect harmony with their slander, bigotry, and idleness. ‘As I went forth from Salvator’s door,’ relates the worthy Baldovini, ‘I met the Canonico Scornio, a man who has taken out a license to speak of all men as he pleases. "And how goes it with Salvator?" demands of me this Canonico. "Bad enough, I fear."--"Well, a few nights back, happening to be in the anteroom of a certain great prelate, I found myself in the centre of a circle of disputants, who were busily discussing whether the aforesaid Salvator would die a schismatic, a Huguenot, a Calvinist, or a Lutheran?"--"He will die, Signor Canonico," I replied, "when it pleases God, a better Catholic than any of those who now speak so slightingly of him!"--and so I pursued my way.

On the 15th of March Baldovini entered the patient’s chamber. But, to all appearance, Salvator was suffering great agony. ‘How goes it with thee, Rosa?’ asked Baldovini kindly, as he approached him. ‘Bad, bad!’ was the emphatic reply. While writhing with pain, the sufferer after a moment added:--‘To judge by what I now endure, the hand of death grasps me sharply.’

In the restlessness of pain, he now threw himself on the edge of the bed, and placed his head on the bosom of Lucrezia, who sat supporting and weeping over him. His afflicted son and friend took their station at the other side of his couch, and stood watching the issue of these sudden and frightful spasms in mournful silence. At that moment a celebrated Roman physician, the Doctor Catanni, entered the apartment. He felt the pulse of Salvator, and perceived that he was fast sinking. He communicated his approaching dissolution to those most interested in the melancholy intelligence, and it struck all present with unutterable grief. Baldovini, however, true to his sacred calling, even in the depth of his human affliction, instantly despatched the young Agosto to the neighbouring Convent della Trinità, for the holy Viaticum. While life was still fluttering at the heart of Salvator, the officiating priest of the day arrived, bearing with him the holy apparatus of the last mysterious ceremony of the church. The shoulders of Salvator were laid bare, and anointed with the consecrated oil; some prayed fervently, others wept, and all even still hoped; but the taper which the Doctor Catanni held to the lips of Salvator, while the Viaticum was administered, burned brightly and steadily! Life’s last sigh had transpired, as Religion performed her last rite." p. 205.

Salvator left a wife and son, (a boy of about thirteen), who inherited a considerable property, in books, prints, and bills of exchange, which his father had left in his banker’s hands for pictures painted in the last few years of his life.

We confess we close these volumes with something of a melancholy feeling. We have, in this great artist, another instance added to the list of those who, being born to give delight to others, appear to have lived only to torment themselves, and, with all the ingredients of happiness placed within their reach, to have derived no benefit either from talents or success. Is it, that the outset of such persons in life (who are raised by their own efforts from want and obscurity) jars their feelings and sours their tempers? Or that painters, being often men without education or general knowledge, over-rate their own pretensions, and meet with continual mortifications in the rebuffs they receive from the world, who do not judge by the same individual standard? Or is a morbid irritability the inseparable concomitant of genius? None of these suppositions fairly solves the difficulty; for many of the old painters (and those the greatest) were men of mild manners, of great modesty, and good temper. Painting, however, speaks a language known to few, and of which all pretend to judge; and may thus, perhaps, afford more occasion to pamper sensibility into a disease, where the seeds of it are sown too deeply in the constitution, and not checked by proportionable self-knowledge and reflection. Where an artist of genius, however, is not made the victim of his own impatience, or of idle censures, or of the good fortune of others, we cannot conceive of a more delightful or enviable life. There is none that implies a greater degree of thoughtful abstraction, or a more entire freedom from angry differences of opinion, or that leads the mind more out of itself, and reposes more calmly on the grand and beautiful, or the most casual object in nature. Salvator died young. He had done enough for fame; and had he been happier, he would perhaps have lived longer. We do not, in one sense, feel the loss of painters so much as that of other eminent men. They may still be said to be present with us bodily in their works: we can revive their memory by every object we see; and it seems as if they could never wholly die, while the ideas and thoughts that occupied their minds while living survive, and have a palpable and permanent existence in the forms of external nature.

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Notes in Original:

[1] "The pavilions of the Caliphs of Bagdad were not so deliciously placed, nor so sumptuously raised, as this retreat of the self-denying brotherhood of the Certosa. It was founded in the fourteenth century by Charles, son of Robert of Arragon, King of Naples." [return to text]

[2] Evelyn, who visited Naples about this time, observes that "the country people are so jovial and so addicted to music, that the very husbandmen almost universally play on the guitar, singing and accompanying songs in praise of their sweethearts, and will commonly go to the field with their fiddle. They are merry, witty, and genial, all of which I attribute to their ayre."–Memoirs, vol. 1. [return to text]

[3] "Among the women were the Signorine Leonora and Caterina, who were never heard but with rapture" (says Della Valle, a contemporary of Salvator, in speaking of the female musicians of this time), "particularly the elder, who accompanied herself on the arch lute. I remember their mother in her youth, when she sailed in her felucca near the grotto of Pausilippo, with her golden harp in her hand; but in our times these shores were inhabited by syrens, not only beautiful and tuneful, but virtuous and beneficent." [return to text]

[4] Burney’s History of Music. Dr Burney purchased an old music book of Salvator’s compositions, of his granddaughter, in 1773, and brought it over with him to England. [return to text]

[5] He was thrown into gaol and executed, for his concern in some desperate enterprise. [return to text]

[6] Why so? Was it not said just before, that this painter was deep in the Neapolitan school? But Lady Morgan will have it so, and we cannot contradict her. [return to text]

[7] We might refer to the back-ground of the St Peter Martyr. Claude, Gaspar, and Salvator could not have painted this one background among them! but we have already remarked, that comparisons are odious. [return to text]

[8] The Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini, having been present by his own request at the recitation of one of these pieces, and being asked his opinion, declared, that "Salvator’s poetry was full of splendid passages, but that, as a whole, it was unequal." [return to text]

[9] Lady Morgan is always quarrelling with Passeri’s style, because it is not that of a modern Blue-stocking. [return to text]

Editor's Notes:

[a]  Such conservative periodicals as the Quarterly Review and Blackwood's accused Morgan of writing on inappropriate subjects for a woman writer as well as mocked her political beliefs; the Quarterly in particular was notorious for the intensity of its language in its attacks on her writings and herself. [return to text]

[b] Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) was an Italian painter, actor, and poet.  Morgan considered him an "Italian patriot who, stepping boldly in advance of a degraded age, stood in the foreground of his times, like one of his own spirited and graceful figures, when all around him was timid mannerism and grovelling subserviency!" (Lady Morgan, The Life and Times of Salvator Rosa, 2 vols., [London:  Henry Colburn, 1824], 1: iii-iv).   He supported a Neapolitan rebellion against Spanish rule that was led by fisherman Masaniello (1622-1647) (who he also painted) as well as penned a number of satires. [return to text]

[c] Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788). [return to text]

[d] See Book III of Virgil's Aeneid. [return to text]

[e] Raphael (1483-1520) and Titian (c. 1487-1576) are both eminent Italian Renaissance painters.  [return to text]

[f] Titian painted Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor, 1519-1558, and King of Spain, 1516-1556) on a number of occasions.  One of Raphael's frescoes takes the nymph Galatea as its subject; the author here is likely referring to Raphael's "Letter to Baldassare Castiglione" about the Galatea fresco. The Escurial (or Escorial) is a monastery in Madrid that has, since the Renaissance, been associated with a rich archive of manuscripts, volumes, and art works, including a number of Titians. [return to text]

[g] Claude de Lorrain (1600-1681) and Nicholas Poussin (1594-1666) are both seventeenth-century French painters; Gaspar Poussin (1613-1675) was a French landscape painter, like his brother-in-law Nicholas Poussin.  The rest of the figures cited here are noteworthy Italian painters who occasionally collaborated:  Guido Reni (1575-1642), Domenichino Zampieri (1581-1641), and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609).  [return to text]

[h] Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), Italian artist who worked in a variety of visual media as well as wrote poetry.    [return to text]

[i] James Barry (1741-1806), British painter and member of the Royal Academy until he was expelled because of his attacks on Sir Joshua Reynolds and other establishment figures. [return to text]

[j] Italy was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early nineteenth century. [return to text]

[k] William Hogarth (1697-1764), British painter and visual satirist. [return to text]

[l] The phrase is taken from William Wordsworth:  Book VI of The Prelude (on "Cambridge and the Alps"), lines 197-98.   [return to text]

[m] Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), portrait painter, first president of the Royal Academy, and author of Discourses Delivered at the Royal Academy (1769-1791). [return to text]

[n] Edmund Burke (1729-1797) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1754); "malice prepense" means "malice aforethought."  [return to text]

[o] For Domenchino, see note g, above. Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647) and Caravaggio (1573-1610) were Italian painters; Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was an influential sculptor and architect.  [return to text]

[p] The author alludes here to Ann Radcliffe's gothic novel, The Italian (1797), Jane Porter's Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803), and the poets John Milton (1608-1674) and Lord Byron (1788-1824). [return to text]

[q] Molière is the pseudonym of French dramatist, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673). [return to text]

[r] Lorenzo Lippi (1606-1665), painter and poet. [return to text]

[s] Francesco Baldovini (1635-1716), author. [return to text]

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