‘My father has given me a hundred and fifty pounds,’ said my brother to me one morning, ‘and something which is better - his blessing. I am going to leave you.’

‘And where are you going?’

‘Where? to the great city; to London, to be sure.’

‘I should like to go with you.’

‘Pooh,’ said my brother, ‘what should you do there? But don’t be discouraged, I daresay a time will come when you too will go to London.’

And, sure enough, so it did, and all but too soon.

‘And what do you purpose doing there?’ I demanded.

‘Oh, I go to improve myself in art, to place myself under some master of high name, at least I hope to do so eventually. I have, however, a plan in my head, which I should wish first to execute; indeed, I do not think I can rest till I have done so; every one talks so much about Italy, and the wondrous artists which it has produced, and the wondrous pictures which are to be found there; now I wish to see Italy, or rather Rome, the great city, for I am told that in a certain room there is contained the grand miracle of art.’

‘And what do you call it?’

‘The Transfiguration, painted by one Rafael, and it is said to be the greatest work of the greatest painter whom the world has ever known. I suppose it is because everybody says so, that I have such a strange desire to see it. I have already made myself well acquainted with its locality, and think that I could almost find my way to it blindfold. When I have crossed the Tiber, which, as you are aware, runs through Rome, I must presently turn to the right, up a rather shabby street, which communicates with a large square, the farther end of which is entirely occupied by the front of an immense church, with a dome which ascends almost to the clouds, and this church they call St. Peter’s.’

‘Ay, ay,’ said I, ‘I have read about that in Keysler’s Travels.’

‘Before the church, in the square, are two fountains, one on either side, casting up water in showers; between them, in the midst, is an obelisk, brought from Egypt, and covered with mysterious writing; on your right rises an edifice, not beautiful nor grand, but huge and bulky, where lives a strange kind of priest whom men call the Pope, a very horrible old individual, who would fain keep Christ in leading strings, calls the Virgin Mary the Queen of Heaven, and himself God’s Lieutenant-General upon earth.’

‘Ay, ay,’ said I, ‘I have read of him in Foxe’s BOOK OF MARTYRS.’

‘Well, I do not go straight forward up the flight of steps conducting into the church, but I turn to the right, and, passing under the piazza, find myself in a court of the huge bulky house; and then ascend various staircases, and pass along various corridors and galleries, all of which I could describe to you, though I have never seen them; at last a door is unlocked, and we enter a room rather high, but not particularly large, communicating with another room, into which, however, I do not go, though there are noble things in that second room - immortal things, by immortal artists; amongst others, a grand piece of Correggio; I do not enter it, for the grand picture of the world is not there; but I stand still immediately on entering the first room, and I look straight before me, neither to the right nor left, though there are noble things both on the right and left, for immediately before me at the farther end, hanging against the wall, is a picture which arrests me, and I can see nothing else, for that picture at the farther end hanging against the wall is the picture of the world. . . .’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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