« PreviousContinue »
E will pass over a period of about
twenty-five years before we again introduce our hero to the reader,
who we will ask to accompany us to the Pincian Hill, then, as now, the fashionable promenade of Rome.
Here, one evening towards the latter end of the seventeenth century, might be seen a gay crowd of the elite of the ancient city, consisting of princes, cardinals, monks, friars, and gaily dressed ladies of various ranks. Some were walking, some driving, and others standing in groups, or reclining on the chairs and benches placed for general accommodation.
Amongst the multitude there was one group that a stranger would have remarked as more noticeable than the others, by the number of gentlemen of distinguished appearance, who were in the company of a tall, handsome looking man in the decline of life, dressed in a black velvet coat and cap, from underneath which escaped his long curling black hair tinged with grey. Genius shone forth in the flashing eye and expressive countenance as he sat on a low chair, surrounded by numerous well-known men of rank and letters, with whom he was keeping up conversation of apparently an interesting nature, to judge from the eagerness of his companions to draw out his ideas and ask his opinions.
Salvator had indeed fought his way to fame, as from boyhood he had always declared he could and would do. He had conquered all difficulties, outlived envy, and could boast of having the highest persons in the land desirous of being included in his acquaintance.
He had never ceased to feel a longing to return to Rome; and at last, when years had removed many of his former enemies, and so weakened the remembrance of "La Fortuna" that those who figured in it no longer bore any grudge, he thought he might venture to return. He had powerful friends there who paved his way, and assured him there was no longer any cause for fear, and so he came back, having risen to the summit of fame as an artist, with a matured judgment and a mind highly cultivated and refined by his past intercourse in Florence with men of letters and learning
He took a house on the Pincian Hill, furnished it superbly, and appropriated one of the largest rooms as a picture gallery for his own paintings. He no longer had any need to send them for public exhibition as in former days. His prices now were so enormous, that only the wealthiest nobles could purchase them; yet his orders were far too numerous for execution. He was extremely generous, and glad to do à kind action. He called one day at the house of a poor musician, who was practising on a miserable, cracked string piano, Salvator could not help making a wry face at the notes it produced.
"I know it is a miserable instrument, signor," said the poor man, who had a delicate
a wife and several children to support,“ but I can afford nothing better.”
Stop a bit,” said Salvator, “and I will turn the instrument into the most valuable one in all Rome.”
The musician stared. He thought his visitor must be making fun of him; but Salvator was as good as his word. He went home and procured such materials as he required for his purpose; then returning, he sat down and commenced painting a landscape on the inside of the lid, which when finished made the old harpsichord really invaluable. It was sold immediately for a very high price, and often afterwards it passed from hand to hand for considerable sums. It is still in existence, and is highly valued by its pos
Salvator's career from boyhood to advanced age had been a remarkable instance of what perseverance and resolve, united to great natural talent, can effect under the most disadvantageous circumstances. He may truly be said to have fought a great battle, and to have gained a great victory.
His health began to decline soon after the period of which we have just spoken, and about a year later, in 1673, he died. His works live to immortalize his name.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
LONDON AND BECCLES.