Friedrich von Raumer.

Italy and the Italians (Volume 2) online

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officers there the justice to acknowledge that they
did not search more or less than it was their duty
to do. I gave them nothing, and they did not in-
timate in any way that they expected a gratuity.


Miinich — Library — School of Painting — Religious Feuds —
Threatened Dissolution of the German Confederation.

Munich, September 16th.

The very kind reception which I find here, and

the vast treasures of art, detain me, in spite of my


longing to be at home. " When," I asked the porter
" will the library be open i'" " You mean the Cilyp-
tothek," he replied. Much may hence be inferred
respecting the state of philology here, and the rela-
tion between art and science. If as much were
done for the latter as for the former, it would not
produce less excellent fruit.

If the Munich school of painting has appropriated
to itself the epic and the tragic, and that of Diissel-
dorf has confined itself more to the elegy and the
idyl, this is partly owing to the nature of the lead-
ing masters, and partly to the circumstance that
for the development of fresco-painting on a large
scale outward encouragements are indispensable,
and these have hitherto been afforded almost solely
by the King of Bavaria. In comparison with the
richness and grandeur of these Munich fresco-
paintings by Cornelius, Hess, Schnorr, and others,
many pictures admired elsewhere appear almost
like mere play, or like cleverly manufactured goods
for the supply of a large demand. Many a painter
may say to Teniers, to Denner, to Carlo Dolce :
Anch' io sono pittore ! Cornelius may address this
exclamation to Michael Angelo, who will not re-
pulse, but acknowledge and give him his hand. But
more of all this when I see you.

Though art furnishes most subjects for reflection
at Munich, yet many other points could not be
left untouched, and, in proportion as the former


delighted, these filled me with profound sorrow.
Germany, the kernel, the heart of Europe, is again
in danger, through all sorts of zealots, of falling
again into religious and political feuds, regardless
of the awful era of the thirty years' war, and the
cupidity of eastern and western neighbours. In-
stead of the motto of all confederated states. Vis
unita Jbrtior — unity gives strength — the contrary
principle seems to be every where springing up and
made the rule of conduct to the ruin of Germany.

That confederation, on which the most confiding
and the best disposed Germans placed their hope,
is losing all cohesive force. It says to the members
that have been ill for years, and earnestly soliciting
medicine and assistance : Your disorder is a local
one, and concerns the whole body very little or not
at all. But, if these neglected members, thus left
to themselves, should at last lose their patience and
temper, the cry will be : Revolution ! revolution !
But, who will then have caused this revolution, and
on whom must the blame of it fall ?


General Survey of Ital\ — The Arts — Sciences — Music.

Veioua, September Gth.
Your remark, that my communications relative
to Italy are more desultory and detached than those
VOL. II. a


on England, is quite correct. But is not this partly
owing to the subjects and circumstances, which
show great diversity, and can scarcely be brought
under one point of view, or combined into one pic-
ture ? On this and many other accounts, one
might more easily place together and compare Ger-
many and Italy, than (as Archenholz did) Eng-
land and Italy. The task, indeed, is attractive and
instructive ; were it not on the other hand extremely
difficult, and in so far ungrateful, that neither party
would be satisfied with the results, whether prais e
or censure.

After I have seen, and by the aid of others
learned so much in Italy, I feel a necessity for fol-
lowing up individual remarks and statements with
a general survey, in order to sift, if possible, the
impressions of the moment, that the more general
objective truth may be brought to light. But, in
preparing to indulge this inclination, i am met by
the just apprehension that in this way more may
be easily lost than gained. For the individual im-
pression, the momentary feeling, have at least con-
ditional truth and value ; but if you suffer yourself
to be led by these impressions, these feelings, to
set up general opinions and decisions, that condi-
tional truth invariably disappears before you can
exchange it for a higher. And who is there that
possesses so much knowledge and penetration as to
venture to judge a great country and people in all


its relations, connexions, and doings, and to acquit
or condemn ?

Notwithstanding these weighty objections, I
cannot refrain from looking back at my Italian tour,
and again entering upon a brief consideration of
individual points. Jf, in the following fragments,
I express myself perhaps more keenly and deci-
dedly than is fitting, it must be considered that
mawkish forms of politeness, which so readily pre-
sent themselves, only make the matter longer and
more tedious. Besides, all that I say is a mere
personal opinion, at the beginning and end of which
is written : Salvo meliori.

As a proof how easy it is to fall into the fault of
the too much or too little, I prefix two opposite
conclusions respecting Italy. A writer of the
northern Alps says : — " All her glory has departed,
and flown beyond the Alps ; Italy has nothing left
of her own but sheer misery." To this a Neapo-
litan replies : — " He is ill-advised who seeks to de-
prive Italy of her ancient and merited glory ; she
has been in all ages the mistress [maestra) of
nations." Whoever proves too much, proves no-
thing : I trust that I shall not be in this predica-

Not to gain the applause of the Italians, or as a
captatio benevolentice, but from a sense of truth, I
admit that, every thing considered, the individual
Italian, as such, and even without any scholastic



cultivation, is more intelligent, and, when he likes,
more may be made of him than in general of any
individual person of any other nation ; I admit that
the history of Italy is older, and down to the 16th
century richer and more multifarious than that of
any other country of Europe. But this very truth,
this very admiration increases, on the other hand,
the measure of demands and the severity of the
judgment. It is not from hatred and aversion, but
from sympathy and fondness, that the dislike and
censure of much that is Italian arise, and the
greater and more worthy the subject, the more un-
worthy are flattery and indulgence.*

The question has often occurred to me, when in
Italy, whether the luck of having a long and glo-
rious history may not be a misfortune to a people.
The living generation then sums up all the deeds of
its ancestors, exults in them, contents itself with
relating and boasting of them, without augmenting
by its own energy and industry the treasures which
it has inherited. A young people, on the contrary,
cannot fill up its time with the examination and
analysis of the past ; its views are rather directed
to the future; it concerns not itself about old
inheritances, but about new deeds. It is not till we
assign its own to every generation, that merit, worth,

• Nobody can wi

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Online LibraryFriedrich von RaumerItaly and the Italians (Volume 2) → online text (page 20 of 22)