[27] Andrew Guelph AND Og of Basan, DISCIPLES of ALDROVANDUS MAGNUS

THE obscure village of Basan, situated on the wilds of Pomerania, gave birth to Andrew Guelph and to Og, from thence denominated, of Basan. Andrew's parents were reputable farmers, who tilled their own lands, and had the comfort of seeing their numerous herds grazing in their own pastures. Without the delicacies of life, they enjoyed every necessary, and being ignorant of a higher station were amply contented [28] with their own. Geoffry Simons, or Sikimonds, the brother of Andrew's mother, was esteemed the father of Og, tho' there are who assert he was of far more illustrious extraction; as Prince Henry Suckingbottle and Felt Marshal Swappingback had passed through his native village some nine months before his birth, and had honoured his mother with particular marks of condescension and affability. But whether they really were his earthly fathers I will not pretend to determine; certain it is that they stood by proxy as his godfathers, Feb. 3, 1519, in the parish church of St. Sigismund, and by their desire he was baptized by the name of Og, common to their illustrious ancestors.
The relationship between Og and An- [29] drew afforded them frequent opportunities of being together, and the similarity of disposition united them by much stronger ties than those of blood. Their employments frequently called them into the fields, and it was in mutually delighting to observe nature, that they first imbibed the desire of imitating her productions. Seldom did the sun set before they had engraven on the rocks the resemblance of some of the shrubs that grew from the fissures, or the likeness of several of the goats that came to drink at the spring beneath. The desire of excelling each other produced many surprizing efforts of genius, and it happened after they had amused themselves almost five years in covering the neighbouring rocks with their sculptures, that Og's mother unfortunately lost a sheep, on which she had [30] placed her affections. Searching for her lost favourite she climbed the rocks, to which her son and his friend were accustomed to resort. The first object that struck her eyes was the portrait of the animal she was looking for, sketched out upon the stone. When she returned home she could not help relating what she had seen to a Jew, who frequented her house, and who had been educated a painter. The Jew offered to cultivate the talents of Og, and Andrew ardently begged to receive his instructions together with his friend. Their joint request granted, both learnt with the greatest avidity; but at the end of two years finding they excelled their master, they entreated their parents for permission to travel to Prague, where they might improve under so great a [31] painter as the famous Aldrovandus. – The parents consented, and the young men set out in the depth of winter for Bohemia, and arriving at Prague were received in the manner I have related by Aldrovandus. After his death they sold a cabinet of their own and their master's paintings for a considerable sum, and then set out together for Tyrol, which they had a great desire to see, as the wildness of the landscapes and the romantic grandeur of the mountains, promised them excellent subjects for the pencil. A tent, two mules, and an Hungarian servant (whose portrait Andrew took great delight in drawing) was all the baggage and suite with which they were encumbered. During the summer months they roved from one part of this beautiful country to another; now pitching their [32] tent in a green valley by a waterfall, now gaining the highlands and living amongst the mountaineers; whose queer countenances and uncouth dresses furnished them with admirable studies. The rude scenery of these mountains suited the melancholy of Og's imagination, which delighted in solitude and gloom. He sequestered himself from his companion, hid himself in the forests of pines, and descended into caverns where no one had ever penetrated. Whilst Og was delivering himself up to his genius in these wildernesses, Andrew, whose imagination was less fervid, contented himself with the humbler prospects of the valleys. He took pleasure in the conversation of the peasants, and on a moonlight evening would take his guitar, and accompanying it with his voice, enliven the [33] assembled peasants before their simple habitations. There are said to have been two pictures in the Dusseldorp collection by his hand, in which he has placed himself at the door of a hovel, surrounded with a groupe of children; their eyes beaming with mirth, and looking at a young man, who is capering under the shade of a beech tree, through whose leaves quivers the light of the moon. On a bank sit several young peasants, whispering to one another; their features scarce discernible; their limbs finely proportioned and their attitudes spirited. Behind lies a wide extended country, concealed by a beautiful haze; the distribution of light and shade are very masterly, the tints soft and mellow, and the aërial perspective admirable. Many connoisseurs give this moon-light the preference to any they have ever seen. Andrew, during his stay [34] in these vallies, applied himself to botany, and introduced a vast variety of plants in the foreground of his landscapes, which he never failed of finishing with the most scrupulous exactness. Monsieur Van Slingelandt, of the Hague, is in possession of one of these views from Tyrol, where the artist has faithfully imitated the cataract of Brawling-bubble, shaded by a variety of trees, and estimable on account of the innumerable aquatic plants he has placed on the margin of the torrent. They are coloured with truth, and touched with such lightness and facility as is truly surprizing. A bridge formed of the stumps of fir-trees, and a rainbow produced by the spray of the water, has the finest effect imaginable. The sky is warm and glowing: several golden clouds envelope the setting sun, whose beams pierce through [35] the thickets, and partially enlighten the off-skip; but a want of keeping in the back ground, where the painter has brought some very distant peaks too near the eye, offends the critical spectator. Andrew waited near half the summer for his companion, and had nearly given him up for lost, when one morning, as he was straying by the banks of a rivulet, be saw a strange figure descending a precipice with wonderful alertness. judge of his surprize, when shortly after be recollected the well known features of Og of Basan, most reverently mantled in a long beard. Andrew desired his friend to quit this savage state, and then begged to know for what purpose be bad undertaken so wild an expedition. "For the love of my art," replied Og with some warmth; "I have beheld nature in her [36] sanctuary, I have contemplated the tempest gathering at my feet, and venting its fury on these contemptible habitations. You have idly remained amongst these herdsmen, these unfeeling clowns, whilst I have discovered the source of rivers and the savage animals that inhabit them. Here, take my papers and observe what scenes I have imitated." Andrew took the drawings with impatience and devoured them with his eyes. "What rocks!" exclaimed the transported painter; "what energy in the strokes of this pencil!" "Indeed," continued he, turning to his friend, who was reciting some lines he had composed amongst the mountains, "you have acquired a new manner. Our master Aldrovandus never equalled the magnificent forests you have represented. Then what harmony [37] in these tints! What a gradation of shadow! But this sketch exceeds them all. What are these visionary beings you have introduced? Is not that august figure, bending over the torrent, Aldrovandus?" He continued a long while to interrogate his friend, and then began a very serious conversation, in the course of which they agreed to quit Tyrol and pass into Italy, to make their talents known, and to cultivate the society of those illustrious painters, whose fame had reached the very extremities of Europe. This resolution taken was not long in executing, and passing over the mountains they discovered the plains of Italy, for the first time, Sept. 1540.
Every city presented to them a multiplicity of objects with which they were [38] unacquainted. Venice struck them with surprize, and being long accustomed to scenes of nature, they were astonished, rather than delighted, with those of art. It was in this city, at this period the resort of foreigners from every part of the world, they became acquainted with Soorcrout and Sucrewasser of Vienna, painters of whom we shall make honourable mention in the subsequent part of our work. These young men, who had already acquired a considerable reputation by their singular style of painting, totally different from the manner of Aldrovandus and his disciples, attempted to depreciate, by a meanness too remarkable in several great artists, the pictures, and studies which Andrew and Og of Basan bad brought from the rocks of Tyrol. They deemed them preposterous and unmeaning, [39] found great fault with the varnish, peculiar to Aldrovandus, condemned oils in general, and strenuously recommended white of egg. Not contented with these criticisms, they openly attacked the memory of Aldrovandus, treated him as a vile plagiary, who copied nature instead of the antique models, which alone they regarded as the standards of perfection; besides that, he had never been at Rome, was ignorant of the divine Raphaello, and, to crown all, was born in Flanders. Andrew Guelph, conscious of the ridiculous malignity of these assertions, prudently left the public to decide, whether his paintings ought to be condemned without trial; but Og of Basan, with his usual violence of temper, insisted upon an assembly of the conoscenti being summoned, and claimed the [40] privilege of confronting his works with those of Sucrewasser and Soorcrout of Vienna. Accordingly the conoscenti were convoked, a day appointed, and a casino chosen for the rendezvous of the assembly.
Andrew Guelph prepared his moonlight for the occasion, and Og of Basan a wilderness, in which he introduced the temptation of our Saviour. His rivals brought each of them pieces, which they esteemed capital. Signor Andrea Boccadolce, president of the society, having taken the chair, and the pictures being placed in a row before him, silence was proclaimed, and Og of Basan commanded to advance and vindicate the use his master, Aldrovandus [41] Magnus, had made of nut oil, preferably to white of egg, defended by Sucrewasser and Soorcrout.
Og of Basan obeyed, and with a modest assurance stepped into the middle of the assembly, hemmed three times, cast a terrible eye upon his antagonists, bowed to the president, and began in the following terms. "Had I even a third part of my master's merit, I should not without fear hazard my opinion before so respectable an assembly, distinguished by their profession, and still more by that rare knowledge, and that taste in it, which they have displayed on so many preceding occasions. Imagine not, illustrious Signors! I am ignorant of my rivals' merit. Their performances have doubtless met with no more than deserved ap- [42] plause; and had the hens of your sacred republic ceased depositing their eggs, you would then have unanimously allowed the beauty evident in every stroke; for they might have been visible; but I must confess the splendor of their incomparable varnish has bereft me of eyes to examine what, I doubt not, merits the most exact attention." Here Soorcrout bit his lip, and Sucrewasser scratched his elbow: Signor Boccadolce whistled gently, and the conoscenti looked at one another, as if they had never thought of this before. Og proceeded. "Aldrovandus, whom the Duke of Bohemia regretted to his last moments; Aldrovandus, the pupil of Hemmeline; Aldrovandus, who obtained the title of Magnus, anointed his pictures with nut-oil; shew me a more illustrious example [43] and I will follow it. Ah! if we could recall this great man from the tomb, in which I saw him interred, how ably would he defend the cause of nut-oil. Had my feeble voice but half the unction of his tongue, I should confound you partizans of white of egg: I should drive you to despair: Ye would hide yourselves from this assembly: Ye would make an omelet of your eggs and bury them in your own entrails." So saying, the artist advanced towards his rivals, who retreated in proportion, and, with a full swing of his arm, tore away the curtain from his picture, and exposed his wilderness to view. A murmur of applause ran through the whole assembly, when they beheld this prodigy of art, where the tempter stood confessed in all his wiles, and Signor Boccadolce pro- [44] nounced, that no varnish but nut-oil could smooth a wilderness, or give so amiable a polish to the devil's horn. Andrew immediately uncovering his moonlight, compleated the astonishment of the spectators and the confusion of his rivals, who, refusing to disclose their pieces, retired without delay, and left Venice the day following. Now all the conoscenti hurried to compliment our artists upon the exquisite beauty of their performances, and no other varnish but nut-oil was approved. The sketches they had brought from Tyrol were purchased with avidity, and most of the nobles desired them to make finished pictures after these bold designs, and in a short space of time they found themselves growing exceedingly rich. The Pococurante family, in particular, commanded a [45] whole gallery of paintings, which was to immortalize the mighty deeds of their ancestors. The interesting conversation of Og of Basan, his natural eloquence and address, procured him access to the first houses in Venice, where he often conversed with strangers, whose discourse was full of the praises of Rome and Raphael, insomuch that he determined to visit that capital of the world, and leaving Andrew to finish the Pococurante gallery, he took the road of Bologna and hastened to Tivoli, whose cascades, cool grottos, venerable temples and refreshing shades detained him during the heats, which continued two months. He spent his mornings in exploring the subterraneous apartments (many of which he was the first that had entered) and in copying the grotesques on the vaulted cielings, [46] of which he published two volumes in folio, elegantly illuminated. He was very fortunate in his researches after antiquities, having discovered some of the most estimable which now grace the Italian cabinets. His evenings were dedicated to music and the reading of Ariosto, then lately given to the world.
A young native of Tivoli, whose name we are ignorant of, was partly the cause of his lingerings in this enchanted region. Her form was perfectly Grecian, and the contour of her face exceeded those of the antique Julia; but it was her taste which captivated the heart of our artist. Like him she delighted in woods and caverns, and was charmed, like him, with the ruins that lay scattered over her country. She would often lead him to meadows of greenswerd, where she had observed some [47] sculptured marble overgrown with flowers; when the sun had cast his setting gleams on the Sybil's temple, she would hasten to her love and conduct him to a grove of cypresses, and sing under their shades till the moon dimly discovered the waterfalls to her view. Then they would seat themselves together on the brink of the stream which runs foaming through the valleys, and when an universal stillness prevailed, interrupted alone by the waters and the bell of some distant monastery, she would select those stanzas in the Orlando which expressed her passion, and repeat them with rapture. Many are the nights they passed together, and many the mornings when they ascended the cliffs, and beheld the sun rising behind the towers of Rome. At length Og recollected, he was born not to spend all [48] his days at Tivoli, and whilst his beloved nymph was sleeping by his side, be arose, and without venturing to cast one look behind, fled like a criminal towards Rome: But let us leave him a prey to his guilty reflections, and represent the distraction of the unhappy maid, who awoke never to recover her lost happiness. At first she imagined her lover in the neighbouring thicket, and putting aside the brambles with her tender arms, searched every brake in vain. She lifted up her voice, and filled all the valley with her cries. She ran in all the wildness of grief to the river, and her troubled imagination represented the body of her lover floating down the floods. A peasant, who was trimming his vines, perceived her agitation, and running towards her, asked her the cause of her affliction. [49] She described her lover in such a manner as to admit of no doubt, and the peasant declared he had seen him at the first dawn on the way to Rome. She started: A cold tremor seized her whole frame: She would have fallen had not an aged pine sustained her. She opened once more her eyes, and casting a last look on the scenes of her former happiness, plunged headlong into the tide, and was seen no more. Whilst this new Olimpia* added another victim to love, her Bireno was graciously received by the Cardinal Grossocavallo, who lodged him in his palace and presented him to his Holiness, who was pleased to command two altar-pieces, and to name two famous miracles for their subjects; the one St. Dennis bearing his own head, in- [50] tended as a present for the King of France; the other St. Anthony preaching to the fishes, which was to be sent to Frederick the Simple, King of Naples. Og succeeded wonderfully in both performances. The astonishment in the head at finding itself off its own shoulders was expressed to admiration, and the attitude of the blessed St. Dennis as natural as that of any man, who ever carried such a burthen.' In the second picture he placed St. Anthony on a rock projecting over the sea, almost surrounded by shoals of every species of fish, whose countenances, all different, were highly expressive of the most profound attention and veneration.' Many persons fancied they distinguished the likeness of most of the Conclave in these animals; but this is generally believed to be a false observa- [51] tion, as the painter had no pique against any of their Eminences. What, however, gave rise to this idea, was, as I learn from the best authority, some dislike he entertained against Cardinal Hippolito d'Est, on account of his stupid treatment of his beloved poet Ariosto. He was even heard to repeat one day, when this Cardinal was advancing towards him, the following line from the Orlando:

Vi venia a bocca aperta il grosso tonno.

After he had finished the altar-pieces above-mentioned, and presented them to his Holiness, he desired permission to study the works of Raphael, dispersed in the apartments of the Vatican. So reasonable a request was not denied, and our artist, permitted to visit every part of this immense palace, spent two months in straying through the vast saloons, exa- [52] mining the antiques with a critical eye, and copying the paintings of Raphael. Charmed with the solitude of many of the coved halls in this stupendous edifice, he frequently retired to them with a few books he had chosen from the famous library, and his own volumes of designs. It was with difficulty he could he forced from his retirement to take the necessary sustenance. Thus delivered up to meditation, he composed a treatise upon his art, and a dissertation upon the plurality of worlds, not published till after his death. He was perfectly serene whilst occupied in this manner; but when his treatise and dissertation were ended, and his designs after Raphael completed, he abandoned himself to a melancholy, which overcast all his happiness. He would now walk by moonlight through [53] the lonely galleries, and revolve in his mind the instability of human grandeur. The magnificence of the ancient Romans reduced to heaps of mouldering ruins, objects continually before his eyes, reminded him of the fall of empires, and this idea was attended by a series of others still more gloomy. "So many great characters (said he, as he was reading Tacitus on the capital of a broken column) passed away like fleeting clouds, of which no traces remain, fill me with the most interesting reflections. Where now are those crouds, which assisted at the dedication of the capitol, that rended the air with their acclamations at the triumphs of Pompey, that seated at the table of Lucullus? All are no more. The time too must come, when these halls will be levelled with the plain, these [54] arches fall to the ground, and that awful period may also arrive when the moon shall cease to cast her gleam over their ruins." The recollection of Tivoli now stole insensibly into his mind: He grew troubled, and reproached himself a thousand times with having deserted one who had sacrificed all for him. Tho' he was ignorant of her sad fate, the delicacy of her sensations recurred to his memory with innumerable circumstances, which revived all his former tenderness, and many dreadful suspicions haunted his fancy. If he slept, his dreams represented her in the well-known woods wailing as in anguish, or on the distant shore of rapid torrents beckoning him to console her in vain, for the instant he attempted to advance, tempests arose, and whirlwinds of fire snatched her screaming [55] from his sight. Often he imagined himself reclining by her side in meads of flowers, under a sky of the purest azure, and suddenly she would become ghastly pale, and frowning on him, drive him to a flood that rolled its black waves between terrifying precipices, and dashing into its current drag him after her, and then he would wake in horror, crying, I drown! I drown!" Indeed he seems to have been selected as an example of divine vengeance. Alone in this great capital, without a friend to administer consolation, or sustain his sinking spirits, he returned to Tivoli , fully resolved to make every reparation to her who had placed such unmerited confidence in his perjured breast. But ye who have any sensibility, figure to yourselves the poignancy of his grief, when the first object [56] he beheld was a young man, the brother of her he bad loved, and who had lately taken the monastic habit, shuddering at his sight, and exclaiming, "Avaunt, wretch! my sister plunged into that torrent for thee-for thee she is lost forever-and scarce three days did my mother survive her. Thou too shouldst join them, or I would die a thousand deaths, did not my order forbid me to vindicate my wrongs. 'Tis to my future hopes thou owest thy present safety; but be gone, lest I break my vow, and sacrifice thee to my revenge." Cowardice generally accompanies guilt: Og, terrified at the resolute aspect of the young man, and appalled by the lively sense of his wrongs, retired without making any reply, and remounting his horse, which he had led when he ascended the steeps of Tivoli, [57] galloped away with astonishing swiftness, without determining where to direct his route. In every passing wind, be fancied be beard voices upbraiding him with his crimes, and cries denouncing vengeance seemed to issue from every thicket be left behind. At length, harrassed by continual fears, be stopped towards the close of the evening, near the sepulchre of Cecilia Metella, and throwing himself from his wearied horse, which be left carelessly to drink at a fountain, sought the interior of the structure. There, beneath the covert of a solitary pine, he folded his arms and remained till night in silence, the image of despair. The screeches of noxious birds, which frequented the edifice, rouzed him from his trance. He started up, and quitted the ruins with terror, as if he had been per- [58] sonally guilty of the murder, and without looking for his horse, turned his steps towards a garden he just distinguished in the twilight. As he had taken no sustenance the whole day, some branches loaded with fruit, that bung over the wall, offered themselves opportunely to allay his hunger. Whilst he was gathering them the moon arose, and discovered faintly the desolate scene around: There a pillar yet erect with an humble shed beneath, whose roof leaned on its base: Here a tract of uncultivated ground strewed with the fragments of superb edifices, long since laid low: There the remains of fountains and aqueducts, whose hollow arches still echoed the murmurs of rivulets, which forced their feeble course with difficulty thro' heaps of mouldering marbles, and [59] roots of fantastick laurels. Rome lay extended beyond, diversified by its domes and spires, and marked by a dim haze, proceeding from the lights in its palaces. Our wanderer listened to the confused sounds of music, of revelry and triumph, which arose from the numerous habitations, but it was with disgust. He loathed every thing that was allied to joy, and abhorred all that bespoke festivity. He remained uneasy till the uproar ceased, and, when the surrounding regions were hushed in the most profound tranquility, began his complaints. He was on the very point of depriving himself of existence, and walked to and fro, agitated by all the violent emotions of despair. Half the night was spent in vain lamentations, and the grey twilight was just beginning to be visible, when, [60] wearied with inquietude, he sunk down on the ground and fell into a slumber, in which the scene hovered before his fancy: A fictitious city was stretched out before him, enlightened by a fictitious moon. The shade of her he loved skimmed along a colonnade, which cast its shadows on the plain, and then stood leaning on the lonely pillar, uttered a feeble groan and glided by his side. Her wet garments clinging round her delicate shape, her swollen eyes and drooping hands, announced a melancholy fate. She seemed to say, "Why do my affections still linger on thee beyond the tomb! - Why doth my pale bosom still cherish its wonted fires! - How comes it that I do not appear riding on a sulphureous cloud, shaking a torch in my hand and screaming out Perjury! - No! my [61] gentle nature forbids me to injure thee. But mark! Quit yonder fatal city; seek the islands of the south, and may'st thou expiate thy crime!" The form next shed some visionary tears, and seemed to mingle with the mists of the morning. Og, awakened by the sun beams, recollected his dream, and without even taking leave of the Cardinal Grossocavallo, in whose care he had deposited a coffer containing the rewards of his pencil, heedlessly took the road to Naples, resolving to pass into Sicily, and end his days in that island.
For the sake of brevity, let us suppose him arrived as far as Naples, ignorant of any person to whom he might address himself, without money and ashamed to own himself in distress. This was a mortifying situation to one who had been [62] accustomed to affluence and familiarized with prosperity. A kind of false pride prevented his making use of his art to extricate himself from these difficulties. "What," said he, "shall I, who have been courted by the nobles of Venice and the princes of Rome, whose pieces have been sought after by the Holy Father himself, condescend to offer them to a Neapolitan rabble for a morsel of bread? But were I to present myself to the King, and implore his protection, my mean appearance, so different from the idea which has been formed of me, would expose me to the derision of the whole court. What shall I do? - To whom shall I apply for succour? Were I to measure back my steps to Rome, that city would remind me of all my misery, and renew all my sorrows; and must I not expect [63] to be received as a man bereft of reason, a slave to inconsistency?"
It happened, whilst Og was bewailing himself in this manner, that a vast concourse of people, all hurrying to enter a church, attracted his attention, and, without rightly knowing what he did, he joined the throng and followed it into a chapel, where, to his surprize, he beheld his picture of St. Anthony preaching to the fishes placed over the altar and admired with universal rapture. One person was charmed with the position of the saint, his outstretched arm and enthusiastic countenance. Another praised the amiable physiognomy of an huge thunny, first and foremost amongst the auditors. A third impiously wished such fine fish transferred to his own table, and a wag, [64] who was squinting in a corner of the chapel, would have said a smart thing if he had dared. In short, every body expressed their admiration after their own way, and our painter was so affected with these impartial praises, that he burst into tears, and made such an extravagant outcry that the priest was ready to souse him for a demoniac. But no sooner did he declare himself the author of that master-piece which excited such admiration, and produce some designs he always carried about with him as credentials, than the Count Zigzaggi stepping forwards welcomed him to Naples, invited him to his house, and assured him of the King's protection. Though Og was secretly overjoyed at so obliging an offer, yet his delicacy prevented his immediately accepting it, and it was not till [65] after repeated intreaties and innumerable compliments, that he could be prevailed upon to accompany Signor Zigzaggi to his palace. As the pride of genius often increases with poverty, Zigzaggi was dreadfully perplexed how to treat his guest with sufficient respect; for Og, though encumbered with no great change of raiment, would not accept of any from the Count, and shutting himself up in a closet that looked towards the Bay, with his pallet and pencils, refused to see any person till he had acquainted Andrew Guelph with his condition. An express was speedily dispatched to Venice, and, in seven weeks after, his faithful friend arrived with a splendid suite, and a coffer filled with 15,000 sequines. Andrew had employed his time in a different manner from Og. He had met with no damsel [66] that died for love of him, and afterwards scared him in his dreams. He had whined away no months in shady retirements, nor wasted his youthful hours in sauntering through deserted galleries, or in moralizing upon the decline of empires. Though he had written no dissertation upon the plurality of worlds, he bad realized, by his application, the plurality of sequines, with which he was far better contented, and Og, in his present circumstances, thought he had great reason. Andrew had beard of his friend's ridiculous conduct, and lamented his being carried away by the impetuosity of his imagination; but he was so happy in being restored to him, that he forgot all his faults, and from this time would never believe be bad any. Og related his adventures with such a mov- [67] ing simplicity, that his friend dissolved into tears, and mourned the maid of Tivoli with unfeigned affliction. He tried to sooth Og's melancholy by recounting what bad happened to himself, and describing the ingenious productions of Schooreel, who had travelled to the Holy Land, where he had painted the sepulchre of Christ. Andrew would not allow his friend to depend long upon the Count's benevolence: he bought a house and gardens on the shore opposite to the island of Ischia, and provided himself with boats, in which be used to share the diversion of fishing with his friend, whose mind, calmed by the lovely prospects around this agreeable solitude, situated in one of the finest climates of Europe, began to recover its long-lost serenity. Og, willing to leave Zigzaggi a proof of his [68] gratitude, desired Andrew's assistance in composing and finishing a picture, which should excel all his former productions.
They chose a subject capable of displaying their various talents, and secluding themselves from all society in their romantic villa, spent a whole winter in bringing their scheme to perfection. The piece which resulted from this application was so transcendent as to merit a very particular description. Our painters had been reading an old Italian poem, which related the deeds of the antediluvian giants and heroes, their astonishing magnificence, and the wars they waged against the cherubim that guarded the sacred mount of Paradise. It sung of Noah and the inspirations he received from the Deity, by whose com- [69] mand be had raised the ark and preserved himself and his children from universal destruction. The approach of the deluge, the consternation of mankind, the horrid despair of the giants, and the wreck of nature, were all described with such energy as set the imagination of Og all on fire, and totally possessed him with antediluvian subjects. He laboured with his ideas, he could not rest till he had embodied them, and during the whole time which he employed in painting the capital performance I am going to describe, he was in a kind of rapture.
He represented a vast hall in the ark, supported by tall slender columns of a strange unknown architecture. Above were domes, which admitted a pale watery light, diffusing a sacred gloom over the [70] whole apartment. On the foreground he placed the venerable patriarch in extasy at the sight of an angel, descending majestically on a rainbow, which cast its vivid tints on the cornices of the hall, gleaming with gems. These bright hues were powerfully contrasted with the shade that prevailed in the background, where a line of portals, inscribed with mysterious characters, seemed just emerging from the darkness. The form of the angel seemed to hover in the air. It was lucid and transparent, its hair seemed like waving sun-beams, and its countenance was worthy of a minister of the Deity. The rays which darted from the angel struck upon several altars, vases and golden ornaments dispersed in various parts of the apartment. These Andrew finished with his accustomed [71] delicacy. But it would be in vain to attempt giving an idea of the patriarch's countenance; so many expressions were united in his features. His arms were extended in the very act of veiling his face with his ample robe, which fell around him in variety of folds and partially covered the cedar floor, rendered with the greatest truth. Every person that was admitted to the sight of this performance, returned struck with astonishment. Sig. Zigzaggi, though by no means able to comprehend the subject, or admire its sublimity, gloried in possessing such a treasure, and encouraged Og of Basan to paint its companion, who still adhering to his antediluvian subject, designed another chamber in the ark, less awful than the former, but more pleasing. Noah and his family appeared in [72] a spacious apartment enlightened by lamps depending from the arched roof, which was studded with stars. The painter had lavished a variety of splendid decorations on the arcades which supported the edifice, under which Shem and his spouse were seated on beds covered with the furs of animals. Ham and Japhet were tending a number of quadrupeds, who were discovered behind a range of lattices. Heaps of flowers and baskets of various fruits occupied the space nearest the eye; where two children were sporting with peacocks and other birds, whose plumage seemed to give way under their pressure. Noah, with his hands clasped together, was represented in a transport of gratitude, extolling that Being who guided the ark through the waters, and forbad the waves [73] to dash it against the peaks of the mountains. The imaginary costume was preserved with judgment, and the light which the lamps yielded was warm, glowing, and well thrown on the objects. This picture was esteemed above criticism, and its fame reaching the King's ears, Og was sent for and conducted to a private audience by the Count Zigzaggi. His Majesty, charmed with the painter's eloquent conversation, took a rich diamond from his finger and presented it to him. Zigzaggi placed the family-piece of the ark in one of the royal apartments, from whence it was soon after transported to Spain, and forms at present the principal ornament of the Escurial. Cardinal Grossocavallo, who had beard of our artist's success at Naples, wrote him a very obliging letter, accom- [74] panied by the coffer he had placed under his care, which his Eminence had augmented by a considerable present. The coffer and letter were delivered to Og by a young man the Cardinal recommended to his notice. This was Benboaro Benbacaio, who had studied under Julio Romano." but whose school he had quitted to place himself under the direction of Og of Basan. Benboaro resembled him in many respects; particularly in an imagination wild and singular, and a taste acquired by a particular observation of nature. Above all, an enthusiastic admiration of Og's productions prepossessed that painter in his favour, who received him without any hesitation, and heard with pleasure his critiques on the Roman school. "There they forced me," said he, "eternally to repeat the same subjects; [75] they obliged me to study anatomy, to which science I had ever a disgust; they pinioned my imagination; in short, they enslaved my pencil, which is at present free, and shall be dedicated to your service." Benboaro had not remained a year with Og before the latter declared his resolution to him of going into Sicily, where he proposed spending the remainder of his days in the society of Andrew Guelph. "If," said he to his disciple, "a youth like you can forego the pleasures of this gay city, can spurn the allurements of the world and bury yourself in the solitudes of Mongebello, you may follow me; if not, open my coffers, and retire loaded with half their contents." The young man protested the world had no charms to entice him from one to whom he was eternally attached, and, throwing himself at his [76] feet, beseeched him not to leave him behind. Og consented; and the week following embarked with his disciple and Andrew Guelph for the island, in which he was to cast his last look on the face of nature. It was in the beginning of summer, the sea calm and reflecting the varied shores of the bay of Naples, when their bark was rowed out of port. At night they touched at the island of Caprea, where they landed, and pitched their tents in a little green spot, shaded with woods and in the midst of rocks and ruins. As soon as the morning star appeared on the horizon, they quitted Caprea, and taking advantage of a brisk gale, crowded their sails and reached Cape Policastro before sun-set. The face of the country seemed so delightfully wooded, that they cast anchor off a pro- [77] montory, and landing, began to penetrate into the forests which covered the shores. Among them they found many irregular lawns, hemmed in by thickets of laurel and bay, with here and there a tall pine rising from amongst them, whose stems were loaded with luxuriant woodbines. The sun had just sunk into the ocean when they attained these pleasing regions, where the freshness of the breezes, the clearness of the springs, and the odour of the plants and flowers, which began to be diffused in every gale, tempted them to erect their tents and remain there till the full of the moon. Another circumstance which persuaded them to stay was the neighbourhood of a ruin, where some very hospitable peasants had erected sheds to screen their herds from the heats. – These good folks supplied them with milk, bread [78] and fruit in abundance. Being rather fatigued with their voyage, the lowing of the cattle and the buzzing of night-flies, soon lulled them to sleep. Six days were spent in seeking herbs in the woods, drawing under the shade, and dancing with the peasants on the green. Benboaro declared he never knew happiness till now, and being charmed with the wild beauties of some of his rustic partners, he would fain have persuaded Og of Basan to fix his abode near their cottages; but his designs were unalterable, and on the full of the moon he ordered him to descend the hillocks and repair to the shore, where the vessel was ready to receive them. He obeyed, not without reluctance, and kept his eyes fixed on the smoak which ascended from the cottages, whose roofs just peeped above [79] the thickets, till the moon concealed herself behind a cloud. This moment of darkness plunged Og into a reverie; he thought of Tivoli and sighed. Andrew slept, and Benboaro wished himself with the cottagers. Before morning they were off Policastro, and the next day coasted the shores of Calabria, whose distant mountains were tinged with a deep azure. The vast forests which reached quite from the feet of the highlands to the water's edge concealed the ruins of Pestum, at that time unknown. Towards evening it fell calm, and our voyagers put their oars in motion till they approached a shady bay, where they rested on them and enjoyed the refreshing fragrance of the vegetation, washed by a gentle shower. The calm continuing, they landed in the bay, with [80] some difficulty on account of the rocks, which bordered the shore. A ridge of cliffs projected into the sea, covered by dark thickets of oak. Below were several coves that received the waters and afforded convenient baths. Above were jagged pinnacles, shaded by Italian pines and trodden alone by goats, who were frisking carelessly amongst them. Whilst Og and his companions were examining this sylvan scene, they perceived a flight of birds, pursued by eagles, take refuge in a grotto which had escaped their observation. It was spacious and lofty, its sides seemed worn by the course of waters into variety of uncouth shapes, and a rill trickled along the pavement, which was strewed with dry leaves. The whole scene reminded them of Virgil's description of a bay in the first Eneid. [81]

Hinc atque hinc vastae rupes, geminique minantur
In coelum scopuli, quorum sub verticelatè
Aequora tuta silent: tum sylvis Scenacoruscis
Desuper, horrentique atrum memusimminet umbrâ.
Fronte sub adversâ scopulis pendentibus Antrum:
Intus aquae dulces vivoque sedilia saxo,
Nympharum domus.

Here they kindled a fire and spent the night in conversation. At the first dawn they set sail for the streights, and leaving the Lipari islands behind, arrived within sight of Messina just as its magnificent buildings and the galliots in its harbour were illuminated by the setting sun. They enjoyed the perfume of the clover fields which surround the city, and Og smiled with complacency on the island, where he promised himself many happy [82] years of peaceful retirement. No sooner were they landed than some of the Sicilian nobles, who had notice of their arrival, came down to the port to receive them, and desired they might lodge them in their houses. Og drew a favourable augury from this reception, and his disciple, pleased with the gay prospect of the city, and flattered by the compliments of the Sicilians, forgot his cottagers, and began secretly to wish his master might postpone his project of retirement. He could not conceal his pleasure at finding himself in an illuminated palace, at a splendid table, covered with delicacies and sparkling with wines, environed by fair Sicilians warbling the soft airs of their country. Andrew, who was of a very social disposition, blessed the art which procured him such company, and Og of [83] Basan thought no more, at present, of the solitudes of Mongebello. After the repast succeeded a lively ball, at which Og danced, though rather untowardly; but when he was known to be the famous painter, nobody cared to laugh. The next day his kind patrons introduced him to the principal citizens of Messina, who delighted in the fine arts: to these he presented several volumes of sketches and designs after nature. During two years which he passed at Messina, he, together with his friend and his disciple, adorned many churches and cabinets with their paintings; but tired at length with the bustle of a city life he languished after retirement.
Andrew Guelph, who had lately married a beautiful Sicilian with considerable [84] riches, was by no means ready to accomplish this design, and pleaded the cares of a family for his excuse. As for Benboaro, he would never quit his master; neither the charms of Messina, nor its gay inhabitants, nor the amusements of a lively society, could induce him to abandon him, and without discovering any reluctance, he followed Og into the forests and wilds, which skirt the little mountains and extinguished volcanoes around mount Etna. They wandered together over all the regions of this famous mountain, and at last pitched upon a spot near the celebrated chesnut trees, where they built a hut and fixed their residence. After they had remained about two months in this sequestered habitation, Og grew restless and melancholy. The parting injunction of the maid of Tivoli [85] rushed fresh into his mind, and with redoubled force. He had now visited those regions, which he doubted not were meant by the islands of the south, to which she had commanded him to fly. Recollecting her last wish, that be might expiate his crime, he was one day overheard to say, "Ah! those last words, so softened by her affection, were surely not so much a wish as a prophecy; and I, who till this moment fondly thought myself pursuing a calm and long retirement, in this delicious climate, have been making my progress hither but to finish my course. The time of expiating my baseness draws near, and methinks at this instant I see the pale form of her I betrayed hovering over me, and beckoning me up to the summit of yonder volcano. Yes, there must be the fated scene [86] of expiation. Nor shall it be long, gentle spirit! ere I obey thy summons. I shall willingly submit to my doom, not despairing it may one day render me worthy of thy society and friendship in a happier world."
Nothing could exceed the astonishment of Benboaro, who caught every syllable of this strange soliloquy. The youth, concluding his master's senses and imagination disturbed, neglected no means in his power to comfort, or assuage him. All his attention, however, failed to alleviate the sorrow which preyed upon Og's mind, and one morning he ordered him in a peremptory manner to leave him in entire solitude. Benboaro refusing to comply, his master rushed into the thicket of the forests, and was shortly concealed [87] from his sight. Seven days the youth sought him in vain, traversing wildernesses where no one had ever penetrated, and ascending precipices which the boldest peasant was afraid to scale, subsisting all the while on the fruits and berries be casually met with. The region of snow which encircles the Crater did not deter his enquiries. With incredible labour he struggled over rocks of ice, seeking his master's vestiges in vain. By night he was directed by the mournful light of those eternal fires which issue from the peak of the mountain, and by day a few straggling crucifixes, erected over the graves of unhappy travellers, who had perished inthe expedition, served him at once as a mark and a memorial of the perils of his route. On the fourth day, after a night spent almost without sleep, [88] he arose, and lifting up his eyes saw before him the mouth of that tremendous volcano, which the superstition of the times led him to believe the entrance of Hell. The solitude in which he found himself, the sullen murmur of the volcano, and all the horrors of the scene worked so strongly on his imagination, that he fancied he beheld strange shapes descending and ascending the steeps of the fiery gulph. He even believed he heard the screams of desolation and the cries of torment issuing from the abyss. Such was his terror, that he neglected to turn his eyes on the vast prospects below, and hastening from the edge of the Crater, where he had stood petrified for some minutes, returned over the deserts of snow, fainting with his toils, and in despair of ever beholding his master more.
[89] As soon as he reached the verge of the woods, he fell on the ground in a deep sleep, from which he was awakened by some peasants, who were collecting sulphur. Of these he eagerly enquired, whether they had seen a man with a long beard and armed with a scymitar? "Yes," answered they, "we have seen him: the vile sorcerer has blasted us with his haggard eyes. He passed us just beneath the cliffs, which hang over the great chesnut-tree, muttering execrations and talking to the winds. A violent tempest ensued, which has destroyed three of our cottages, and in the midst of the storm we saw the wretch that occasioned it fall from the cliff, wrapped in a blue flame. The Virgin preserve us from his maledictions!" Benboaro wished to hear no more; and quitting the [90] peasants without making any reply, he returned weeping to his hut, doubting no longer of his master's unhappy fate. Having provided himself with chesnuts, he crossed the wilds between the foot of the mountain and Messina, sleeping in the day and travelling in the cool of the evening. All the way he bewailed the dangers and extravagances to which genius is exposed, and arrived pale with grief and fatigue at Andrew's house. His countenance told his tale before he related it. Andrew was almost distracted with the news, and never ceased till his death, which happened three years after, to lament the despair of his unhappy friend. Benboaro, still in search of instruction, sailed to Italy, shortly after his return from the mountain, in the beginning of the year 1547, where he greatly distin- [91] guished himself. The family of Andrew still subsist in Sicily, and have inherited many of his valuable paintings: his son had a taste for the art, and has left behind him several pieces dispersed in the cabinets of the curious. For distinction, the father is called Old Andrew Guelph.

* Alluding to a story in the 10th canto of the Orlando Furioso.

Aldrovandus Magnus
::: Andrew Guelph, and Og of
Basan, Disciples of Aldrovandus Magnus
Sucrewasser of Vienna
::: Blunderbussiana ::: Watersouchy