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and the book may be laid down without rudeness ; while the bore must be endured, until “il s'ennuye nous d'ennuyer.” If the purchaser finds, too late, that he has bought folly or impertinence, let him put it in handsome binding; for if gold and frippery will pass such qualities current when incarnated in a coxcomb, they will perhaps do as much for them when embodied in print. At all events the volume will fill a shelf as well as better books ; and this, after a time, becomes the destiny of the gravest authors, in the most select libraries. Not, however, that one should write expressly “ afin d'embobiliner les pauvres gens,” but with a loyal intent to be as little stale, flat, and unprofitable as possible. Of this, however, authors are unfortunately not always the best judges; and moreover there is so much danger in the imputation of setting the Thames on fire, that, what between reviewers, attornies general, and hypocritical readers, they have no great encouragement in putting forth their best wares.
“ Each cried, that is levell’d at me."
MOLIERE was accused of putting living characters into his exquisite comedies. The ridicules of society were then so graphic, the Hôtel Rambouillet, the Jesuits, and the Court, all furnished such abundant materials to truth and satire, that the temptation to give to fiction the interest of fact, must have been irresistible. « C'est une chose étrange qu’on imprime les gens malgré eux,'* observes the immortal author of the “ Précieuses Ridicules," in allusion to the accusations made against him. But Moliere in drawing characters from the particular species and genus, avoided all personal allusion. Nobody's history was told, nobody's secret was revealed; but his enemies made his fine delineations of life and character, a subject of misrepresentation and persecution, from which
* “ It is strange that they will print folks without their leave."
the power of the king only could protect him. It was Louis the XIVth, who sheltered him from the wrath of the Tartuffes, and supplied him, from his own observations, with some of the most striking characters in his works; for kings like to be amused, even at the expense of their dearest friends: and, provided their own characters, and conduct, and measures, are held sacred, for the rest, 6 Sauve qui peut.”
Party spirit, which, from a decree of imperial proscription, to a column in the lowest organ of purchaseable ribaldry, stops at no means of blackening its opponent, frequently avails itself of this instrument for bringing the self-love of the gullible to its side: and the legitimate satire on a prevailing vice or folly, is affixed to some particular individual, presumed to have been “ put into the book” of the author, who is to be run down at the expence of truth, honesty, and honour. But between the ruffianism that attacks character for the gratifications of base, vindictive, and sordid passions, and that honest and courageous delineator of the peculiar vices or follies of the day, which comes under the head of what Moliere calls « La Satire honnête et permise," there is the same difference, as between the hired assassin who way-lays and murders for a stated price, and the gallant soldier, who goes forth in the broad day to combat the enemy of public safety and public rights.
I am a great amateur of old picture frames. Cardinal Fesch, who is considered, even in Italy, very high up in the scale of the cognoscenti, told me some very curious anecdotes concerning them. I think it was his Eminence who pointed out to me the most interesting frame extant. It enshrines a superb picture by Raphael, of a female saint, (I believe St. Eleanora.) It is in white and gold, exquisitely designed and carved by Benvenuto Cellini, who was sent by Pope Clement the VIIth, with the picture and frame to the great personage on whom the Pope bestowed it!—What a present !-and what persons !--Clement the VIIth !-Raphael !--Cellini !—This Pope Clement was a true Medici, in his passionate love for the arts. In passing to mass every morning, through the beautiful Salon of the Belvidere, he always paused and made an offering at the shrine of its divine Apollo. It was he who employed Fra Giovagnolo Montorsoli, to restore the hand of that unrivalled statue ; and he was wont to converse with the sculptor while he worked. When his ingenious task was finished, Clement made the artist a Canonico.
The oldest frames are I believe the Cancelli, so called, from the skreen work which shuts out the choir from the body of the church, and which they imitated. These frames are divided into compartments, (generally into three,) and the pictures are set in each compartment. They are frequently made with doors ; and were used as altarpieces, in private oratories.*
The great painters of Italy not only drew the designs for their own frames, but occasionally
* There is one of these cancelli, or altarpieces, at the castle of Malahide, which escaped the religious rapacity of Myles Corbett, to whom Malahide was given by Oliver Cromwell; the Talbots being then driven into Connaught, the limbo of catholic gentility in Ireland.