« ForrigeFortsæt »
cannot gaze on their productions without pleasurable emotions. Murillo's Holy Family, Wilkie's Blind Fiddler, and the Village Festival, are striking illustrations of this remark.
As the lover of nature gazes with delight on the varied objects of creation, so the lover of art revels in the glowing and truthful productions of master minds. Five hours ago, I noticed a young man seated on the bench opposite a painting of Canaletti, a View on the Grand Canal, Venice; and he is sitting in the same spot now. A ten minutes' conversation with him has told me that he came up from the country almost on purpose to study Canaletti. Oh, how enthusiastically, how extravagantly, he has been pointing out to me the different excellences of the picture, dwelling on them, and especially on the fluidity and luminousness of the water, with ecstacy! Were Canaletti alive and present, I doubt not he would willingly bow down, and kiss his feet. There he sits, with a pencil in his hand of a superior kind, which has cost him three shillings and sixpence; and from a word or two which escaped him, I suspect it was nearly the last three-and-sixpence he had
in his purse.
I do love to hear a man talk who is in right earnest, whether he speak of temporal or eternal things. We get no good in going to sleep when we should be wide awake, or in loitering when we should be making progress. It may appear a little abrupt, perhaps, to go at once from a modern painter to the shepherd king; but I never read the ninety-fifth Psalm without thinking that David was in earnest—that he flung his soul into his words, when he burst out as he did into the—“O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms."
This picture of Canaletti is a fine production. Alas! how is the proud and splendid city of the Adriatic now humbled! Venice that was, and Venice that is, are indeed different places. Her greatness is departed.
There are many splendid specimens of art, magnificent triumphs of the pencil, in the gallery, to which, on account of the freedom exercised in their design and execution, particular allusion cannot be made. One of two things must be admitted, either that the general conception of modesty and propriety entertained by the christian world is too strict, or that painters in their principles and practice are too free. Without any affectation, I am quite inclined to think that the latter is the more just, and certainly the more safe conclusion of the two. The morality of a painting reaches the judgment only by passing through the lengthy avenues of reason and reflection, while its immorality influences the passions instantaneously through the eye. Hardly can I persuade myself that my error is to be too precise and severe in judging the thoughts, words, or deeds of my fellow men, though I do oftentimes fear that I fall into the opposite error.
Many of the paintings are from scriptural subjects, and beautifully do they embody them; so that he who is a Bible reader, as he regards them, cannot fail to go in his thoughts to the blessed volume of Divine instruction.
Even here, while gazing on the whirlwind energy of Michael Angelo; the fiery vigour of Rubens; the rich and glorious colouring of Titian; and the deep and grand dark-green masses of Gaspar Poussin's pencil, we ought to acknowledge an adorable Creator, in these imitations of his works, as well as in the wonders of his creation, and the wisdom and goodness of his holy word. The sunlit sky, with all its glorious hues, the hills and vales, the endowments of mind and body, and all the pleasure-giving faculties of man, spring from the same Almighty source. God is wise: “ There is no searching of his understanding," Isa. xl. 28. “ Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised," Psa. cxlv. 3. God is good : "full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy," Psa. cxlv. 8.
YESTERDAY I was roaming the fields in the neighbourhood of Hornsey woods and Muswell hill, poking in the ditches, pulling down the honey-suckles in the hedges, peering into the long grass to watch the shortlegged ladybird - and, long-legged grasshopper; and every now and then sitting on the stiles to rest myself, and wipe my spectacles; and where am I now? Why, on the top of the Monument, looking around on London's proud city lying below. You will say
time of life, might be well satisfied to keep his feet on level ground, and not give way to the pitiful ambition of getting above the heads of his neighbours. Well! welll say what you will, the truth is the truth, aud I will not disguise it; whether it be wise or foolish, right or wrong in me to have mounted so high, here I am. Yes! here is Old
that a man,
Humphrey on the top of the Monument; the breeze blowing so freshly that he can hardly keep his hat upon his head.
While I pencil down these remarks, I am obliged to get to what a sailor would call, the “lee side” of the column, and rest my paper on the iron railing, for the blustering wind pays no more respect to an old man than it does to a young one.
There! a half sheet of thick post has been blown from my hand, and is flying and fluttering far above the highest houses in the direction of Leadenhall Market.
It is said that a man ought not to ascend a high hill, without coming down again wiser and better than he went up. I cannot tell whether this will be my case; but I know very well that it ought to be, after all the labour it has cost mie to clamber up the three hundred and forty-five steps of this winding staircase, to say nothing of the sixpence given to the doorkeeper, and another paid for his little book. My legs ache, and my knees shake with the exertion. Time has been when I could have run up such a place as this without stopping ; when I could have skipped up two or three steps at a time as nimbly as ..... But it is idle to boast of what I have been; my aching joints tell me what I
A comfortable seat would be a great luxury at this moment, that I might recover my breath, and collect myself a little ; but such a thing is not to be had for love or money. I feel what I suppose is common to the visitors of this place, a slight sensation of insecurity, of danger, and fear; an inclination to keep close to the column, and to the doorway leading down the staircase. Now and then, too, my imagination gets the better of
me, and I fancy myself plunging down headlong from
ill spare it under my present circumstances. I half begin to doubt the wisdoin of my ambitious enterprise. I will tie my pocket handkerchief round my neck, for the wind searches me. There, I shall now do pretty well.
The book in the blue cover, that I bought down below, informs me that the great London fire, in the year 1666, which this monument is meant to commemorate, consumed the buildings on four hundred and thirty-six acres of ground, four hundred streets and lanes, thirteen thousand two hundred houses, the cathedral church of St. Paul, eighty-nine parish churches, six chapels, Guildhall, Royal Exchange, Custom House, Blackwell Hall, divers hospitals and libraries, fifty-two of the companies' halls, and a vast number of other stately edifices; together with three of the city gates, four bridges, the prisons of Newgate and the Fleet, Poultry and Woodstreet compters; the loss of which, together with that of the merchandize and household furniture, by the best calculation, amounted to ten millions seven hundred and thirty thousand five hundred pounds.
I am now trying to imagine myself surrounded by this most terrible conflagration. Oh the distress, the misery, the despair, that must have wrung the hearts of the houseless and homeless multitude ! Yet, sce how mercy was mingled with judgment; only eight human lives were lost by this fearful visitation ;
and the plague, which had long raged in the city, was stayed by the devouring flames! The account given of the fire thrills one's very soul.