[from Alta Letter 18]
    Constantinople, August 23rd, 1867.

[Old-Master worshippers]

I understand it, I think. The people who go into ecstacies over St. Sophia get them out of the guide book (where every church is spoken of as being "considered by good judges to be the most marvelous structure, in many respects, that the world has ever seen.") Or else they are these old-master worshippers from the wilds of New Jersey, who can't tell a fresco from lath-and-plaster, and don't know any more about pictures than a kangaroo does about astronomy. And so you always hear them carrying on about wonderful pictures, wonderful statuary and wonderful architecture, the shameless lunatics! as if they had always been used to palaces and studios, extensive travel and the company of the elegant and accomplished, instead of being raised in a cow-lot, educated in a saw-mill, and their minds enlarged and stored with precious knowledge by travel down a creek on a shingle raft.

Now there was that wretched woman in the Vatican in Rome. She overheard Brown say something outrageous about the old masters, and she permitted him to overhear her say something rather savage about "people who had no appreciation of the divine works of the great masters." It was not a gentlemanly thing for a lady to do, but she did not know that, perhaps. However, she went into hysterics, pretty soon, over a picture marked "Angelo," and called it a miracle of art, and a heavenly conception and a work such as none but inspired hands could have wrought, and a lot more of sickening nonsense like that, but finally an officer of the institution came along and set her back. He said that that particular "Angelo" was not Mike, but a certain other Angelo who used to be a butcher in Pisa--and that after painting until he found out it was not his best hold, he went back into the butchering business again. I just had an idea that may be that woman had had more experience in tending babies on a salary than in setting in judgment on the inspired fire-screens of the old masters.

[Daily Alta California, 23 October 1867]

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