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(Nicolas's brother), and of his friendship with
Albano. They are grave at first, but somehow
Peter de Laar makes them all laugh.
Then there are more wines and more meats,
and considerably more laughter. Suddenly,
from no man knows where, Peter produces a
fiddle. He plays once, and twice, and thrice,
and again. He plays the good old airs of
Holland, such as Teniers' frows dance to, and
Ostade's boors nod lazily to, guzzling beer the
while; such as the lady in the satin dress of
Gerarhd Douw plays so sweetly to the
cavalier in buff boots; such as the hurdy-
gurdy players of Metzu and Jan Steen grind
so piteously before cottage doors; such as
bring the tears into the eyes of the good
company in the old house in the Strada
Vecchia, though Peter de Laar be the only
Dutchman present.

Peter can paint, and paint well, besides
playing on the fiddle. He has a pretty hand,
too, for turning versesthe more satirical
the better. He is a good classic and an
inimitable storyteller, and a practical joker
unrivalled for invention and auacity. He can
smoke like a Dutchman, as he is, and sing
madrigals, and do tricks of legerdemain
wonderful to look at. He is come to spend
three months among the beautiful Italian
scenery, but how long do you think he stops?
Five years. Soon the grave and sedate
Nicolas Poussin, soon the saturnine Claude
Gelée, yclept Lorraine, begin to find that
they cannot do without the sprightly Dutchman.
He fiddles, or touches the bass viol or
the harpsichordo, before they set to work of a
morning; he sings to them as he and they
paint, or, while a tint is drying or the sky is
too overcast for him to paint the sunny
landscapes by, he will throw his huge grotesque
laugh-provoking limbs on a stool, and from
one of the tomes in the ebon cabinet read
forth in a bold strident voice the sounding
prose of Livy that Master Poussin loves so
well to listen to; or he will "lisp in numbers,"
and clearing away the dust and cobwebs from
crabbed Basle or Haerlem Latin characters
call forth joy and merriment from Master
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, and Master P.
Virgilius Maro their repositories.

But when work is over (Peter can work
well and play well), it is then that his supple
joints, his joyous face, his great hearty laugh
come into full play. It is in the posadas and
the wine-shops, among the merry crowds on
the Corso and the Pincian Hill, in moonlight
junketings among the ruins of the Coliseum,
in the gloomy Ghetto among the Jews, playing
them scurvy tricks, that he earns his surname
of Il Bamboccio, that he becomes the idol and
glory of the Italian jokers and hoaxers. We
have been too much accustomed to look at
the Italians as a sentimental and romantic
people; yet, in pure fact, few nations possess
so much of the vis comica. A glance at the
memoirs of Baldinucci, at the glorious repertory
of hoaxes to be found in the Decameron,
at the infinity of pantomimes, farces, and
burlesques to which the little Venetian
theatres gave birth; or even at the buffooneries
of that superlative literary blackguard, Peter
Aretino, would prove the contrary. Punch
came from Italy, so did Toby; so did harlequin,
columbine, clown, and pantaloon. Fancy
the stealing of sausages and the animation of
clock faces to have had their origins in the
clime of Dante and Petrarch, oh, ye Della
Cruscans, and readers of Rosa Matilda
novels! If orchards were to be rifled, old
ladies frightened, monks waylaid and enticed
to drink strong waters till they went home
intoning profane canticles to the great scandal
of the monastic orderswho but Il Bamboccio?
If tradesmen's signs were to be altered, names
erased, obnoxious collectors of the gabella, or
salt-tax, to be tarred and feathered, or any
other achievements to be accomplished after
the manner of that respected nobleman of
modern times, who, if he ever reaped half the
stock of wild oats he was supposed to have on
hand to sow, must be able to undersell all the
corn in Egypt for years to comewho but
Il Bamboccio? Like, also, the aristocrat I have
obscurely hinted at, Peter de Laar not only
enjoys the fame of what he does, but of a
great deal of what he neither does do nor has
any hand in doing. All the hoaxes, all the
satires, all the practical jokes, all the caricatures,
all the concetti, are credited to his
account. Though he strenuously denies it, he
is set down for certain as the heir-at-law
to the celebrated Pasquin. The statue of
Pasquin, as all men know, was wont to be
covered every morning with violent squibs
and satirical pamphlets; and now, if ever a
pasquinade appears against a Cardinal, an
epigram on a Monsignore, a couplet on love,
politics, or divinity who but Il Bamboccio is
fixed upon as the culprit?

Every evening, after the heat of the day,
when the dust is laid and the cool breezes
come in refreshingly from the Campagna, the
beau monde of Rome come forth to walk on
the Corso. Priests, gentles, noble ladies,
cavalieri serventi and patiti, stately Cardinals
in their coaches of scarlet and gold drawn by
eight mules a-piece, walk, ride, flirt, or
decorously amble up and down. There are
smiles, and jests, and smart witticisms, and
brilliant skirmishes of gallantry round the
ladies. One Friday, in the year 1624, at the
very height and fashionable time of the
promenade, a huge elderly ape, a white-headed,
vicious, bushy-haired villanous animal, which
would be, perhaps, were he to stand upright,
nearly as large as a man, appears at the
further extremity of the Corso. Gravely he
marches, looking slyly at the ladies under
their veils, and grimacing horribly. Some
laugh, some shriek, some cry that he has
escaped from a menagerie. All at once, with an
appalling scream and a chattering such as man
never heard before, he stops opposite a richly-
dressed lady, called La Parqueria, and, in

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