University of Virginia Library



The superb gentleman from Verona, pleasantly parrying the not-so-pleasant little man from Spain, resumes his off-hand sketch.—Toward Jan Steen, sapient spendthrift in shabby raiment, smoking his tavern-pipe and whiffing out his unconventional philosophy, Watteau, habited like one of his own holiday-courtiers in the Park of Fontainebleau, proves himself, tho' but in a minor incident, not lacking in considerate courtesy humane.

“O, O, too picturesque by half!”
Was Veronese's turning laugh;
“Nay, nay: but see, on ample round
Of marble table silver-bound
Prince Comus, in mosaic, crowned;
Vin d'oro there in crystal flutes—
Shapely as those, good host of mine,
You summoned ere our Sillery fine


We popped to Bacchus in salutes;—
Well, cavaliers in manhood's flower
Fanning the flight o' the fleeing hour;
Dames, too, like sportful dolphins free:—
Silks irridescent, wit and glee.
Midmost, a Maltese knight of honor
Toasting and clasping his Bella Donna;
One arm round waist with pressure soft,
Returned in throbbed transporting rhyme;
A hand with minaret-glass aloft,
Pinnacle of the jovial prime!
What think? I daub, but daub it, true;
And yet some dashes there may do.”
The Frank assented. But Jan Steen,
With fellowly yet thoughtful mien,
Puffing at skull-bowl pipe serene,
“Come, a brave sketch, no mincing one!
And yet, adzooks, to this I hold,
Be it cloth of frieze or cloth of gold,
All's picturesque beneath the sun;
I mean, all's picture; death and life
Pictures and pendants, nor at strife—
No, never to hearts that muse thereon.
For me, 'tis life, plain life, I limn—
Not satin-glossed and flossy-fine
(Our Turburg's forte here, good for him).
No, but the life that's wine and brine,


The mingled brew; the thing as spanned
By Jan who kept the Leyden tavern
And every rollicker fellowly scanned—
And, under his vineyard, lo, a cavern!
But jolly is Jan, and never in picture
Sins against sinners by Pharisee stricture.
Jan o' the Inn, 'tis he, for ruth,
Dashes with fun art's canvas of truth.”
Here Veronese swerved him round
With glance well-bred of ruled surprise
To mark a prodigal so profound,
Nor too good-natured to be wise.
Watteau, first complimenting Steen,
Ignoring there his thriftless guise,
Took up the fallen thread between.
Tho' unto Veronese bowing—
Much pleasure at his sketch avowing;
Yet fain he would in brief convey
Some added words—perchance, in way
To vindicate his own renown,
Modest and true in pictures done:
“Ay, Signor; but—your leave—admit,
Besides such scenes as well you've hit,
Your Pittoresco too abounds
In life of old patrician grounds
For centuries kept for luxury mere:
Ladies and lords in mimic dress
Playing at shepherd and shepherdess
By founts that sing The sweet o'the year!


But, Signor—how! what's this? you seem
Drugged off in miserable dream.
How? What impends?”
“Barbaric doom!
Worse than the Constable's sack of Rome!”
Ceil, ceil! The matter? tell us, do.”
“This cabbage Utility, parbleu!
What shall insure the Carnival—
The gondola—the Grand Canal?
That palaced duct they'll yet deplete,
Improve it to a huckster's street.
And why? Forsooth, malarial!”
There ending with an odd grimace,
Reflected from the Frenchman's face.