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THE PAINTER OF MUNICH.
BY MISS EMMA ROBERTS.
Merchant of Venice. An exile and a fugitive, the wide world was spread out, like a map, before Lorenzo Montesecco. He had incurred the jealousy of the Venetian Senate ; and, almost miraculously, escaping the fury of a vindictive government, was now a wandering outlaw, with little save his own talents and industry to depend upon for support. Unfortunately for the adventurer, the Christian world was at peace; his good sword was therefore useless; and, bending his spirit to his fortunes, he determined to make the love of an art, to which he had formerly devoted himself for amusement, subservient to the more urgent necessities which now pressed upon him. Resolved to trust to his pencil for the means of subsistence, Montesecco's proud heart revolted at the idea of exhibiting himself as an artist in Italy. Germany offered a field for his exertions, and a place of concealment, and thither he determined to pursue his course. Although intending to enter upon his new profession at Vienna, the state of the traveller's finances warned him to rest for a while in the capital of Bavaria, and he took up his residence at Munich, in the hope that he should there find employment. The stranger established himself in a suite of cheap apartments, the first floor of a house in a mean and narrow street. Seated by a small fire, which the chilly climate obliged him to kindle, and satisfying the cravings of hunger with a very frugal supper, he felt all the loneliness of his situation.
While surrounded by friends at Venice, Lorenzo had never been reminded of the want of relatives: an orphan, without brother, sister, or any near kindred, the loss of family connections was supplied by his intimate acquaintance; but now he experienced the misery of being cut No. 6.
off from the rest of the world, without a single being to share in his afflictions, or to feel interested in the success of his undertakings. The young artist had little hope of tasting the pleasures of society in Munich, unless the grand picture, which was still to be painted, should bring him into notice: he sickened at the idea of communion with the ignorant and vulgar; and, aware that his poverty would exclude him from polite circles, went to bed full of miserable anticipations of solitariness,
The first thing which Lorenzo did, after dressing himself on the following morning, was to reconnoitre his opposite neighbours : for, when a person is utterly destitute of friends and acquaintance, opposite neighbours become particularly interesting. The appearance, however, of the adjacent houses was not very promising : the one exactly facing his own, was much larger than the rest; but the quantity of flowering plants, which were placed on two green shelves in front of the windows. rendered him almost hopeless of penetrating the interior: the next was even more squalid and dirty than those around it; and the third seemed entirely shut up and deserted. The painter arranged his apartments, went out to purchase a few of the necessary articles for the commencement of his work, and, on his return home, was surprised to find that there was much more to be seen from his window than he expected. A pair of ragged canvass blinds had been drawn up, in the mansion which had so much disgusted him, and disclosed an apartment furnished in a tawdry style, but displaying more of wealth and of comfort than he could have imagined, from the dilapidated state of the exterior. An old man, possessing one of those singular countenances which invariably betray the origin of a tribe scattered over the whole face of the earth, clad in mean habiliments, and casting a suspicious glance around, stood at the door; and a young female, bearing, in a softened image, the striking lineaments of her father, looked out of the window to give
some new direction respecting the household affairs. The Jewess was handsome, and, unlike her parent, indulged in costly attire. Perhaps, to a nice critic, her dress might have appeared gaudy, a little tarnished, and put on in somewhat a slovenly manner; but Lorenzo gazed with the eye of a painter; he was delighted with the rich contrast between the folds of the yellow turban, and the dark masses of black curls below the war-hue of the purple vest, and the crimson shawl which fell in graceful drapery over it, and the long pendant gold ear-rings, and the strings of many-coloured beads, which encircled the rather exposed neck of the beautiful brunette, seemed appropriate, and not ill-fancied ornaments. The young Jewess, perhaps not wholly unconscious of the admiration which she had excited, loitered at the window, and played off a few coquettish airs, as if anxious to attract farther notice. Lorenzo was beginning to detect a fault in the object which had engaged him, but his attention was diverted by the appearance of a small white hand wandering amid the flower-pots at the next door: he gazed upon the beautiful apparition, as the taper fingers twitched off, here and there, a dead leaf. At length, in placing the flowers so as to admit light into the interior, nearly the whole form of the operator became distinctly visible. She, too, was young, and exquisitely fair; her bright sunny tresses hung like a cloud of amber, round her delicate countenance: a scrupulously clean and neatly-plaited boddice of cambric rose to her throat, where it was fastened with a pale blue ribbon ; her vest and petticoat were of blue stuff, and beads of the same confined her full white sleeyes : her appearance was as picturesque as that of her neighbour, but infinitely more charming. After having been engaged some time with her plants, she cast her eyes accidentally across the street, encountered those of the gazer, and, blushing deeply, retired immediately from the window. Lorenzo stood rooted to the spot, long after the fair girl had withdrawn from view. Every thing inside the apartment betokened a rigid system of economy, blended with the most spotless delicacy.
The stranger, strongly interested, yet ashamed of appearing rude, contrived, by a couple of looking-glasses judiciously placed, to discover all that was passing in the opposite chambers, without the danger of attracting observation to himself. The fairest of his neighbours plied her needle diligently, until interrupted in her work by an elderly man, a striking contrast to the old Jew at the next door: tall and upright, he moved about with an air of authority; seemed particularly fidgety respecting the placing of his long laced and fringed cravat; made his patient attendant kneel down until every wrinkle of the silk stocking, round his dwindled leg, was smoothed up; and returned his nicely folded mantle to her with an air of disgust. She brushed it a second time, re-arranged the drapery, and, finally, having had his sword buckled on to his satisfaction, the old beau, for such he seemed, took his hat and marched into the street, picking his way through the dirty children, and other nuisances which infested the narrow avenue, with an air of supreme contempt. The young female, who had been so diligently employed about his person, bad resumed her needlework, the Jewess had flaunted out, and Lorenzo, having nothing else to do, repaired to his easel. He spent several hours in re-touching a head, which had been a favourite study, only interrupted in his employment by occasional glances at the mirror, in which he saw the inhabitant of the opposite room, as lonely as himself, prepare her scanty dinner. A small stew of herbs and vegetables, a thin oaten cake, and a glass of water composed the repast. Lorenzo longed to share it with her; or rather to add his own to it; and when his painting had reached its last finish, and hunger absolutely compelled him to seek a meal, he took the opportunity, while inquiring of his hostess whether she could recommend him to any person who would take charge of his work, and hang it up in
some conspicuous place, of putting a few questions respecting his opposite neighbours.
Dame Brigette, when her admiration of her lodger's performance, which to her appeared a master-piece of art, permitted her to speak, said, that old Ephraim Manasses and his wife were decentish people enough for Jews, and would doubtless leave Miriam a hoard of money-bags; but that, were it not for the kind heart and sweet looks of Miss Bertha, nobody could, or would, endure the insolence of Baron Von Mildenthal, her father, who was as proud as he was poor: “ some petty employment,” continued the old lady, waxing wroth as she spoke, « which he has contrived to get at the Electoral palace, just keeps his head above water and enables him to strut in idleness, while he immures his poor daughter almost from the light of heaven, shutting her up, and employing her all day at work, in order that nobody at court may guess at her existence; because, forsooth, he is ashamed of the mean place in which he is obliged to live, and can't afford to let the poor thing brave it like the fine ladies of his acquaintance." This account deeply engaged the painter's feelings in favour of the fair recluse; he pitied her for the hardships which she endured under an austere and selfish parent; and, with all the romance of youth, abandoned himself to the sweetest hopes. The future, arrayed in fancy's magic mirror, presented a prospect full of felicity-he was at the head of his profession, established in a handsome house, and enabled to offer his hand to the lovely Bertha. In the interim, it was necessary to begin the work which was to lead to such magnificent results; he saw his picture judiciously placed; and, trusting that he should soon have abundance of employment, commenced the sketch for a historical piece, on which he hoped to lay the foundation of his fame.
Lorenzo was not long at a loss for a subject: his own neighbourhood furnished him with models, and suggested the idea of Esther appearing before Ahasueras. Miriam