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within the ranks of its legitimate chronology, that some of those arbitrary forms of the Renaissance, which owe their origin to Michael Angelo, should really find favour. If, as we have said, the shoulders of his predecessors be the best place for the painter, it is certain that they are the only place for the architect. Here, therefore, the self-reliant, unamalgamating mind of Michael Angelo—who, moreover, did not execute his first tasks in architecture until he was past forty years of age-offers at the outset grave impediments to his career. The worst that can be said of an architect-namely, that he has cast 'aside the rules which his predecessors respected-was the sum of Vasari's praise for him. Even granting that the art had admitted of any impromptu and newly-imagined forms, the artist who, whether in painting, sculpture, or design, instinctively avoided even the necessary niceties of detail, was not the man to recommend them. But in the field which he now entered that freedom of innovation, whether of rejection or introduction, which the force of his genius had rendered admirable in his painting and endurable in his sculpture, was totally inadmissible. It was no longer a question whether he might shirk the beauties of ornament, or even how he might treat them. The order of an edifice is as the flower to a plant, deciding its genus. The architect, in selecting his form of decoration, expresses not his fancy but his creed, and to mix up several together is to have no creed at all. Far from rebelling, therefore, against such conditions, Michael Angelo, with his well-known antipathy to what he thought the nonsense of art, should the more gladly have welcomed the system which spared him all necessity for invention. His antipathy to precedent was, however, stronger still. The sacristy of S. Lorenzo, in the decoration of which he reigned without control, is a memorial of the twofold anomaly of a form of mind which, while disregarding the canons of antique taste, was more than commonly unfitted to supply any others in their place. The mixture of several orders and the invention of new; the unmeaning subdivision of spaces; the grotesque heads in the cornice of the basement, and the masks and detached ram's horns on the capitals; the strange drawn-out consols, half as long as the doors, in the adjacent library ; the doors themselves, with triangalar pediments enclosed within circular; all show arrangements by the master for which he had no rule, and a medley to the spectator to which there is no key. As Wood tersely says in his letters, 'Simplicity I did not expect; but here there is neither grace nor boldness, lightness nor magnificence. The vagaries of a Borromini were its natural consequence.

Even in cases where Michael Angelo did employ something approaching to a simple order of decoration, he defeats both its meaning and beauty by some adaptation of his own, as in the Ionic capitals on the ground-floor of one of the palaces of the Campidoglio, where the volutes, instead of ranging flat with the building, are made to return, like the form adopted by the Greeks in turning an angle ; thus perpetuating the sense of an architectural difficulty where the occasion for it does not exist. Where he had not the temptation of any precise laws to infringe, his conceptions of ornamental beauty do not the more commend themselves to the eye.


In those opportunities for spontaneous decoration (we know what our Wren would have made of them) afforded by blank niches and windows, far from revelling in his liberty, he is evidently puzzled to know how to use it. So, at least, we must conclude from the nondescript festoons of scrolls and urns, guttæ and shells, with the papal tiara by way of flower, and the keys of St. Peter by way of buds, fortunately suspended far above ordinary observation on the attic of the external order of St. Peter's.

But though the peculiarities of his mental constitution are answerable for those transgressions unavoidably associated with Michael Angelo's memory as an architect, we must remember that to that great mind are also owing those qualities which ever entitle him to reverence in this form of art - qualities which, though they do little to redeem his architectural shortcomings, rendered him, without question, the best builder, and, in some instances, the finest designer of general masses of his time. Without dwelling on his fanciful comparison, as old as Vitruvius, of the members of architecture to the human body, there can be no doubt of the intimate affinity which connected the structure of his edifices with that of his figures. The same instinctive desire for mechanical truth which rendered him triumphant over the science of anatomy led him also to those correct practical inferences in which the essence of engineering consists. There was nothing to apprehend from novelty of design in this instance. There is no latitude of taste in the pursuit of utility, as there is no difference of opinion where that end is attained. Michael Angelo becomes here as intelligible as he is great. From the self-sustaining scaffolding whence he called into existence the sublime conceptions of the Sistine ceiling, to the fortifications of Florence, which, more than 150 years later, received the high homage of a careful measurement by the best military engineer of Louis XIV.'s reign, his merits, if they have never been the object of exaggerated admiration, have, at all events, never been disputed. However he may have failed in the external, and what he seems to have thought the more optional graces of architecture, yet in such as flow from the very nature


of fine construction he stands unrivalled. The most beautiful form he has bequeathed to us, that of the cupola of St. Peter's, is an instance in point. There is no reason to believe that Michael Angelo discarded Bramante's cupola on the score of inferior grace. What he objected to was its structural incapacity to sustain the required weight; and in the change of form to secure additional strength followed, in true architectural consequence, additional beauty as well.

We owe to Mr. Harford's folio of engravings the first opportunity of viewing the successive designs for St. Peter's by Bramanie, San Gallo, and Michael Angelo, and therefore the self-evident superiority of the last. Those of the two first, while it is doubtful whether they were even capable of being executed, convey a composite conception between the temple and the church, which leaves no leading idea on the mind; that of Michael Angelo, on the other hand, with its grand balance of lightlyrising and firmly-planted masses, offers one of those simple forms of constructive truth whence the utmost variety of architectural beauty may be worked out. Here again the great man puts forth what he knows to be his force in the most prominent light, so filling the mind with the sense of his mechanical skill and unity of design as to render it comparatively indifferent to the minor ornamental shortcomings of the edifice.

Mr. Harford's enthusiasm for his subject is nowhere more judiciously shown than in the clearness with which he has pointed out the superiority of St. Peter's as according to Michael Angelo's design it would have been, compared to the actual building as papal tamperings have made it. The same ill fortune which had attended him through his other undertakings may be said to have reached its climax here. This great temple of the Vatican, to which he devoted the last seventeen years of his life--a votive offering of his genuine piety-which he had redeemed from confusion and feebleness, and raised up into a model of simplicity and grandeur, fell into ignorant and irreverent hands, incapable of any conception of the architect's intention but that which completely disguised it. Again, the Grand Hall of the Baths of Diocletian, converted by Michael Angelo, without essential alteration, into a church - della Madonna degli Angioli—of the finest proportions, shared the same fate, being distorted in the last century by one Vanvitelli into the form of a Latin cross, to the sacrifice equally of its original form, and of the master's judicious adaptation. Thus the two specimens most imbued with his energy and grandeur of thought were in great measure sacrificed, while his Florentine edifices, which received the first fruits of his ornamental



incongruities, have preserved uninjured the evidence of his deficiencies. Nothing, however, in his architectural career is more melancholy than the results of the banishment to Carrara and Pietra Santa. It is true there is not much probably to regret in the non-execution of that façade, on the preparation of which Leo X. wasted the best years of the greatest man of his pontificate ; at the same time a deeper moral is added to the injustice by the fact that, of the five columns which appear to have been the chief fruits of this profanation of his energies, one only reached Florence. This lay for years, broken in two, before the church it had been destined to ornament, and there still lies, we are assured, immersed in the deposit of centuries. The four others, after traversing the road he had constructed, never advanced beyond the place of embarkation.

We must be brief in our comments on the fourth element of Michael Angelo's mental constitution. To measure his poetry by the standard of his plastic and pictorial powers, as some commentators have attempted, is as mistaken as it is uncomplimentary. Subjective' is a term which cannot be said to distinguish an art depending, by its very nature, on the predominance of individual thought and character. The peculiar qualities also of his artistic genius, to the great advantage of his muse, are not visible in his verse. There are no ebullitions of Barsark energy in his poetic sentiments, no redundant thunder of sound in his verse. The relation of means to end, as in his engineering science, is clearly perceived: he never displays strength merely for strength's sake. Had he only written as he

. wrought, the world would have added no fourth garland to his brow. It must be admitted that his poetry is occasionally rugged in form—that it is in parts obscure even to an Italian (though for this the lapse of time, which affects the mutable forms of thought, may account), and that the leading signs of his art are in this particular traceable. But no one would pronounce these to be the predominant characteristics of his poetry. On the contrary, his lyric muse is compact in form, while his graphic

was diffuse: his verse is pregnant with clear meaning, uttering things,' as Berni said of him, while others only spoke • words '-his most lauded art is singularly unintelligible: the language of his hand spurned precedent even of the highest order; the language of his poetry is modelled on the purest types of his native tongue : his poetry, considered as the general worship of the Beautiful, justifies the quotation Mr. Harford has given from Condivi—“That he not only admired human beauty, but universally everything beautiful-a beautiful horse or dog, a beautiful landscape and plant, a beautiful mountain and forest, a




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beautiful situation, and, in short, every beautiful thing that can be imagined-surveying it with the most animated delight, and extracting pleasure from the beauties of nature as bees do the honey from flowers.' No words, on the other hand, could be more out of place, applied to his art.

Here, therefore, that connexion which Mr. Harford has sought to establish between the mind of Michael Angelo and the mind of his time, and which we have repudiated in his art, comes legitimately into view, and is pointed out by his biographer with singular success. All that was real in the sentiments and phraseology of modern Platonism found ready reception in a heart and life alike earnest and virtuous. In his homage to a pagan philosophy there was no self-flattering pride conveniently screening vague principles—no “profane and vain babblings, which disfigure more or less almost every work on letters and art of that time. At the same time we are not inclined to assume that the contrition expressed in those beautiful sonnets, beginning, ‘Carico d'anni, e di peccati pieno ;' and again, · Vivo al peccato, ed a me morto vivo,' refer really to any substitution of the code of a Medicean Platonism for the doctrines of Christianity. Though he was carried along in phraseology, and partially in thought, in that orbit of habit wherein each generation moves, it is difficult to believe that it affected the equilibrium of his inmost heart. He who had known the heart-sickness of hope deferred, and never realised, is here heard acknowledging, not that he had bowed down to any particular form of falsehood, but simply that, having set his affections on earthly things, he had found them wanting.

We must confess a preference for Mr. Harford's faithful translations of Michael Angelo's poetry over the versions of Wordsworth and Southey, who have rather exchanged one beauty for another than kept close to the original. In the renderings of Mr. Harford we have far more of the unalloyed spirit of the great Italian.

The same desire to know only what his theme teaches attends Mr. Harford's interpretation of the bond which united the illustrious names of Michael Angelo and Vittoria Colonna-a bond so far unlike others over which poetry has shed her beams, as to shine with the purer lustre the closer it is seen. If it be insulting to attach the idea of love in its common sense to two such joint names, it is equally as absurd to apply the term • Platonic' to one of the loftiest instances of friendship that ever existed between elderly man and woman. These were the days when no man spoke of his lady as a woman, or of his devotion as a passion; when Cardinal Bembo created a furore in Venice


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