"THE PAINTER OF FLORENCE."

There is an old painting in the church of the Holy Virgin at Florence, representing the Virgin with the infant Jesus in her arms, trampling the dragon under her feet, about which is the following curious legend, thus humorously described by Southey, in the Annals of the Fine Arts:

There once was a Painter in Catholic days,
Like Job who eschewed all evil,
Still on his Madonnas the curious may gaze
With applause and amazement; but chiefly his praise
And delight was in painting the devil.

They were angels compared to the devils he drew,
Who besieged poor St. Anthony's cell,
Such burning hot eyes, such a d——mnable hue,
You could even smell brimstone, their breath was so blue
He painted his devils so well.

And now had the artist a picture begun,
'Twas over the Virgin's church door;
She stood on the dragon embracing her son,
Many devils already the artist had done,
But this must outdo all before.

The old dragon's imps as they fled through the air,
At seeing it paused on the wing,
For he had a likeness so just to a hair,
That they came as Apollyon himself had been there,
To pay their respects to their king.

Every child on beholding it, shivered with dread,
And screamed, as he turned away quick;
Not an old woman saw it, but raising her head,
Dropp'd a bead, made a cross on her wrinkles, and said,
"God help me from ugly old Nick!"

What the Painter so earnestly thought on by day,
He sometimes would dream of by night;
But once he was started as sleeping he lay,
'Twas no fancy, no dream—he could plainly survey
That the devil himself was in sight.

"You rascally dauber," old Beelzebub cries,
"Take heed how you wrong me, again!
Though your caricatures for myself I despise,
Make me handsomer now in the multitude's eyes,
Or see if I threaten in vain."

Now the painter was bold and religious beside,
And on faith he had certain reliance,
So earnestly he all his countenance eyed,
And thanked him for sitting with Catholic pride,
And sturdily bid him defiance.

Betimes in the morning, the Painter arose,
He is ready as soon as 'tis light;
Every look, every line, every feature he knows,
'Twas fresh to his eye, to his labor he goes,
And he has the wicked old one quite.

Happy man, he is sure the resemblance can't fail,
The tip of his nose is red hot,
There's his grin and his fangs, his skin cover'd with scales
And that—the identical curl of the tail,
Not a mark—not a claw is forgot.

He looks and retouches again with delight;
'Tis a portrait complete to his mind!
He touches again, and again feeds his sight,
He looks around for applause, and he sees with affright,
The original standing behind.

"Fool! idiot!" old Beelzebub grinned as he spoke,
And stamp'd on the scaffold in ire;
The painter grew pale, for he knew it no joke,
'Twas a terrible height, and the scaffolding broke;
And the devil could wish it no higher.

"Help! help me, O Mary," he cried in alarm,
As the scaffold sank under his feet,
From the canvas the Virgin extended her arm,
She caught the good painter, she saved him from harm,
There were thousands who saw in the street.