Alps And Sanctuaries Of Piedmont And The Canton Ticino By Samuel Butler






































































 - ALPS AND SANCTUARIES OF PIEDMONT AND THE CANTON TICINO

by Samuel Butler

(From the 1913 A. C. Fifield edition with - Page 1
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ALPS AND SANCTUARIES OF PIEDMONT AND THE CANTON TICINO

By Samuel Butler

(From the 1913 A. C. Fifield edition with some portions taken from the 1881 edition.)

Author's Preface to First Edition

I should perhaps apologise for publishing a work which professes to deal with the sanctuaries of Piedmont, and saying so little about the most important of them all - the Sacro Monte of Varallo. My excuse must be, that I found it impossible to deal with Varallo without making my book too long. Varallo requires a work to itself; I must, therefore, hope to return to it on another occasion.

For the convenience of avoiding explanations, I have treated the events of several summers as though they belonged to only one. This can be of no importance to the reader, but as the work is chronologically inexact, I had better perhaps say so.

The illustrations by Mr. H. F. Jones are on pages 95, 211, 225, 238, 254, 260. The frontispiece and the illustrations on the title-page and on pages 261, 262 are by Mr. Charles Gogin. There are two drawings on pages 136, 137 by an Italian gentleman whose name I have unfortunately lost, and whose permission to insert them I have, therefore, been unable to obtain, and one on page 138 by Signor Gaetano Meo. The rest are mine, except that all the figures in my drawings are in every case by Mr. Charles Gogin, unless when they are merely copied from frescoes or other sources. The two larger views of Oropa are chiefly taken from photographs. The rest are all of them from studies taken upon the spot.

I must acknowledge the great obligations I am under to Mr. H. F. Jones as regards the letterpress no less than the illustrations; I might almost say that the book is nearly as much his as mine, while it is only through the care which he and another friend have exercised in the revision of my pages that I am able to let them appear with some approach to confidence.

November, 1881.

CHAPTER I - Introduction

Most men will readily admit that the two poets who have the greatest hold over Englishmen are Handel and Shakespeare - for it is as a poet, a sympathiser with and renderer of all estates and conditions whether of men or things, rather than as a mere musician, that Handel reigns supreme. There have been many who have known as much English as Shakespeare, and so, doubtless, there have been no fewer who have known as much music as Handel: perhaps Bach, probably Haydn, certainly Mozart; as likely as not, many a known and unknown musician now living; but the poet is not known by knowledge alone - not by gnosis only - but also, and in greater part, by the agape which makes him wish to steal men's hearts, and prompts him so to apply his knowledge that he shall succeed. There has been no one to touch Handel as an observer of all that was observable, a lover of all that was loveable, a hater of all that was hateable, and, therefore, as a poet. Shakespeare loved not wisely but too well. Handel loved as well as Shakespeare, but more wisely. He is as much above Shakespeare as Shakespeare is above all others, except Handel himself; he is no less lofty, impassioned, tender, and full alike of fire and love of play; he is no less universal in the range of his sympathies, no less a master of expression and illustration than Shakespeare, and at the same time he is of robuster, stronger fibre, more easy, less introspective. Englishmen are of so mixed a race, so inventive, and so given to migration, that for many generations to come they are bound to be at times puzzled, and therefore introspective; if they get their freedom at all they get it as Shakespeare "with a great sum," whereas Handel was "free born." Shakespeare sometimes errs and grievously, he is as one of his own best men "moulded out of faults," who "for the most become much more the better, for being a little bad;" Handel, if he puts forth his strength at all, is unerring: he gains the maximum of effect with the minimum of effort. As Mozart said of him, "he beats us all in effect, when he chooses he strikes like a thunderbolt." Shakespeare's strength is perfected in weakness; Handel is the serenity and unself- consciousness of health itself. "There," said Beethoven on his deathbed, pointing to the works of Handel, "there - is truth." These, however, are details, the main point that will be admitted is that the average Englishman is more attracted by Handel and Shakespeare than by any other two men who have been long enough dead for us to have formed a fairly permanent verdict concerning them. We not only believe them to have been the best men familiarly known here in England, but we see foreign nations join us for the most part in assigning to them the highest place as renderers of emotion.

It is always a pleasure to me to reflect that the countries dearest to these two master spirits are those which are also dearest to myself, I mean England and Italy. Both of them lived mainly here in London, but both of them turned mainly to Italy when realising their dreams. Handel's music is the embodiment of all the best Italian music of his time and before him, assimilated and reproduced with the enlargements and additions suggested by his own genius. He studied in Italy; his subjects for many years were almost exclusively from Italian sources; the very language of his thoughts was Italian, and to the end of his life he would have composed nothing but Italian operas, if the English public would have supported him. His spirit flew to Italy, but his home was London. So also Shakespeare turned to Italy more than to any other country for his subjects. Roughly, he wrote nineteen Italian, or what to him were virtually Italian plays, to twelve English, one Scotch, one Danish, three French, and two early British.

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