The Innocents Abroad

Here’s a quick paragraph from this book by Mark Twain:

You would think that those men had an astonishing talent for seeing
things that had already passed away.  It was what I thought when I stood
before “The Last Supper” and heard men apostrophizing wonders, and
beauties and perfections which had faded out of the picture and gone, a
hundred years before they were born.  We can imagine the beauty that was
once in an aged face; we can imagine the forest if we see the stumps; but
we can not absolutely see these things when they are not there.  I am
willing to believe that the eye of the practiced artist can rest upon the
Last Supper and renew a lustre where only a hint of it is left, supply a
tint that has faded away, restore an expression that is gone; patch, and
color, and add, to the dull canvas until at last its figures shall stand
before him aglow with the life, the feeling, the freshness, yea, with all
the noble beauty that was theirs when first they came from the hand of
the master.  But I can not work this miracle.  Can those other uninspired
visitors do it, or do they only happily imagine they do?

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