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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 2
I bowed in acknowledgment - for the overpowering sense of splendor and perfume, and music, together with the unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, prevented me from expressing, in words, my appreciation of what I might have construed into a compliment.
"Here," he resumed, arising and leaning on my arm as he sauntered around the apartment, "here are paintings from the Greeks to Cimabue, and from Cimabue to the present hour. Many are chosen, as you see, with little deference to the opinions of Virtu. They are all, however, fitting tapestry for a chamber such as this. Here, too, are some _chefs d'oeuvre_ of the unknown great; and here, unfinished designs by men, celebrated in their day, whose very names the perspicacity of the academies has left to silence and to me. What think you," said he, turning abruptly as he spoke - "what think you of this Madonna della Pieta?"
"It is Guido's own! " I said, with all the enthusiasm of my nature, for I had been poring intently over its surpassing loveliness. "It is Guido's own! - how _could_ you have obtained it? - she is undoubtedly in painting what the Venus is in sculpture."
"Ha! " said he thoughtfully, "the Venus - the beautiful Venus? - the Venus of the Medici? - she of the diminutive head and the gilded hair? Part of the left arm (here his voice dropped so as to be heard with difficulty,) and all the right, are restorations; and in the coquetry of that right arm lies, I think, the quintessence of all affectation. Give _me_ the Canova! The Apollo, too, is a copy - there can be no doubt of it - blind fool that I am, who cannot behold the boasted inspiration of the Apollo! I cannot help - pity me! - I cannot help preferring the Antinous. Was it not Socrates who said that the statuary found his statue in the block of marble? Then Michael Angelo was by no means original in his couplet -
'Non ha l'ottimo artista alcun concetto
It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner of the true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference from the bearing of the vulgar, without being at once precisely able to determine in what such difference consists. Allowing the remark to have applied in its full force to the outward demeanor of my acquaintance, I felt it, on that eventful morning, still more fully applicable to his moral temperament and character. Nor can I better define that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart from all other human beings, than by calling it a _habit_ of intense and continual thought, pervading even his most trivial actions - intruding upon his moments of dalliance - and interweaving itself with his very flashes of merriment - like adders which writhe from out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around the temples of Persepolis.
I could not help, however, repeatedly observing, through the mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he rapidly descanted upon matters of little importance, a certain air of trepidation - a degree of nervous _unction_ in action and in speech - an unquiet excitability of manner which appeared to me at all times unaccountable, and upon some occasions even filled me with alarm. Frequently, too, pausing in the middle of a sentence whose commencement he had apparently forgotten, he seemed to be listening in the deepest attention, as if either in momentary expectation of a visiter, or to sounds which must have had existence in his imagination alone.