The Marble Faun Volume 1 (Chapter 8)

 
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Chapter 8 : Page 1 of 7

Donatello, while it was still a doubtful question betwixt afternoon and
morning, set forth to keep the appointment which Miriam had carelessly
tendered him in the grounds of the Villa Borghese. The entrance to these
grounds (as all my readers know, for everybody nowadays has been in
Rome) is just outside of the Porta del Popolo. Passing beneath that not
very impressive specimen of Michael Angelo's architecture, a minute's
walk will transport the visitor from the small, uneasy, lava stones
of the Roman pavement into broad, gravelled carriage-drives, whence
a little farther stroll brings him to the soft turf of a beautiful
seclusion. A seclusion, but seldom a solitude; for priest, noble, and
populace, stranger and native, all who breathe Roman air, find free
admission, and come hither to taste the languid enjoyment of the
day-dream that they call life.

But Donatello's enjoyment was of a livelier kind. He soon began to draw
long and delightful breaths among those shadowy walks. Judging by the
pleasure which the sylvan character of the scene excited in him, it
might be no merely fanciful theory to set him down as the kinsman, not
far remote, of that wild, sweet, playful, rustic creature, to whose
marble image he bore so striking a resemblance. How mirthful a discovery
would it be (and yet with a touch of pathos in it), if the breeze which
sported fondly with his clustering locks were to waft them suddenly
aside, and show a pair of leaf-shaped, furry ears! What an honest strain
of wildness would it indicate! and into what regions of rich mystery
would it extend Donatello's sympathies, to be thus linked (and by no
monstrous chain) with what we call the inferior trioes of being, whose
simplicity, mingled with his human intelligence, might partly restore
what man has lost of the divine!

 
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