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The ambiguity becomes more striking in painting from the naked figure. If the wonder occasioned by the object is greater, so is the despair of rivalling what we see. The sense of responsibility increases with the hope of creating an artificial splendour to match the real one. The display of unexpected charms foils our vanity, and mortifies passion. The painting A Diana and Nymphs is like plunging into a cold bath of desire : to make a statue of a Venus transforms the sculptor himself to stone. The snow on the lap of beauty freezes the soul. The heedless, unsuspecting licence of foreign manners gives the artist abroad an advantage over ours at home. Sir Joshua Reynolds painted only the head of Iphigene from a beautiful woman of quality : Canova had innocent girls to sit to him for his Graces. I have but one other word to add on this part of the subject: if having to paint a delicate and modest female is a temptation to gallantry, on the other hand the sitting to a lady for one's picture is a still more trying situation, and amounts (almost of itself) to a declaration of love!
Landscape-painting is free from these tormenting dilemmas and embarrassments. as full of the feeling of pastoral simplicity and ease, as portrait-painting is of personal vanity and, egotism. Away then with those incumbrances to the true liberty of thought—the sitter's chair, the bag-wig and sword, the drapery, the lay figure --and let us to some retired spot in the country, take out our portfolio, plant our easel, and begin. We are all at once shrouded from observation
“ The world forgetting, by the world forgot!" We enjoy the cool shade, with solitude and silence; or hear the dashing waterfall,
“Or stock-dove plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustles to the sighing gale.” It seems almost a shame to do any thing, we are so well content without it; but the eye is restless, and we must have something to show when we get home. We set to work, and failure, or success, prompts us to go on. We take up the pencil, or lay it down again, as we please. We muse or paint, as objects strike our senses or our reflection. The perfect leisure we feel turns labour to a luxury. We try to imitate the grey colour of a rock or of the bark of a tree: the breeze wafted from its broad foliage gives us fresh spirits to proceed, we dip our pencil in the sky, or ask the white clouds sailing over its bosom to sit for their pictures. We are in no hurry, and have the day before us.
Or else, escaping from the close-embowered scene, we catch fading distances on airy downs, and seize on golden sunsets with the fleecy flocks glittering in the evening ray, after a shower of rain has fallen. Or from Norwood's ridgy heights, survey the snake-like Thames, or its smokecrowned capital;
“ Think of its crimes, its cares, its pain,
Then shield us in the woods again.” No one thinks of disturbing a landscape-painter at his task: he seems a kind of magician, the privileged genius of the place. Wherever a Claude, a Wilson has introduced his own portrait in the foreground of a picture, we look at it with interest (however ill it may be done), feeling that it is the portrait of one who was quite happy at the time, and how glad we should be to change places with him.
Mr. Burke has brought in a fine episode in one of his later works in allusion to Sir Joshua's portrait of Lord Keppel, and of some other friends, painted in their better days. The portrait is indeed a fine one, worthy of the artist and the critic, and perhaps recalls Lord Keppel's memory oftener than any other circumstance at present does. Portrait-painting is, in truth, a sort of cement of friendship, and a clue to history. Mr. C****r, of the Admiralty, the other day blundered upon some observations of mine relating to this subject, and made the House stare by asserting that portrait-painting was history or history portrait, as it happened, but went on to add, “That those gentlemen who had seen the ancient portraits lately exhibited in Pall-mall, must have been satisfied that they were strictly historical ;" which showed that he knew nothing at all of the matter, and merely talked by rote. There was nothing historical in the generality of those portraits, except that they were portraits of people mentioned in history—there was no more of the spirit of history in them, which is passive or active, than in their dresses.
I was going to observe, that I think the reviving the recollection of our family and friends in our absence may be a frequent and strong inducement to sitting for our pictures, but that I believe the love of posthumous fame, or of continuing our memories after we are dead, has very little to do with it. And one reason I should give for that opinion is this, that we are not naturally very prone to dwell with pleasure on any thing that may happen in relation to us after we are dead, because we are not fond of thinking of death at all. We shrink equally from the contemplation of that fatal event or from any speculation on its consequences. The surviving ourselves in our pictures is but a poor consolation—it is rather adding mockery to calamity. The perpetuating our names in the wide page of history or to a remote posterity is a vague calculation, that takes out the immediate sting of mortality -whereas, we ourselves may hope to last (by a fortunate extension of the term of human life) almost as long as an ordinary portrait ; and the wounds of lacerated friendship it heals must be still green, and our ashes scarcely cold. I think therefore that the looking forward to this mode of keeping alive the memory of what we were by lifeless hues and discoloured features, is not among the most approved consolations of human life, or favourite dalliances of the imagination. Yet I own I should like some part of me, as the hair or even nails, to be preserved entire, or I should have no objection to lie like Whitfield in a state of petrifaction. This smacks of the bodily reality at least-acts like a deception to the spectator, and breaks the fall from this “ warm, kneaded motion to a clod"--from that to nothing to the person himself. I suspect that the idea of posthumous fame, which has so unwelcome a condition annexed to it, loses its general relish as we advance in life, and that it is only when we are young, that we pamper our imaginations with this bait, with a sort of impunity. The reversion of immortality is then so distinct, that we may talk of it without much fear of entering upon possession : death is itself a fable—a sound that dies upon our lips; and the only certainty seems the only impossibility. Fame, at that romantic period, is the first thing in our mouths, and death the last in our thoughts.
To the memory of the Spanish Patriots latest killed, in resisting
the Regency and the Duke of Angoulême.
Brave men who at the Trocadero fell-
vengeance is behind, and justice is to come.
"And do you travel alone ?" is a question that has often been proposed to me in a tone of surprise mixed with remonstrance, when I have opened the project, or described the past incidents, of a journey in which I had no companion. Accident, or the humour of the moment, have in general been the best reasons I could adduce, and perhaps they are as solid ones as most people can assign for their practice in matters of the like importance. But the kind objector is seldom satisfied with this reply, for he thinks (though perhaps he is too polite to say) that a man who rambles forth without any comrade, must be very fastidious, or very unfortunate in his acquaintance. I certainly do not fall within the latter predicament; and if the first imputation be well founded, I may claim some excuse as an old traveller, (not to say an elderly man,) who has, either by choice or chance, associated with wayfarers of almost every character, who knows well how the pleasures of travel and the enjoyments of society may, under propitious circumstances, enhance and recommend each other, but who has also tasted pretty largely of the mortifications that arise in this, as in greater undertakings, from an ill-judged alliance.
If society be requisite on a journey of pleasure, it will be generally agreed that company on a very large scale is not always advantageous to such an expedition. Whether six or six-and-twenty persons go to Blackwall together for the purpose of eating white-bait, is, perhaps, not very material as a question of sentiment; but I would not willingly join a pic-nic party under Stonehenge, or appoint a rendezvous of carriages on the quiet margin of Grasmere. Our Northern neighbours, indeed, have established a steam-boat on Loch Lomond, and the passengers are regularly disembogued where they may take a view of Rob Roy's cave: a very business-like arrangement, by which twenty families at once may be booked for a day's felicity, and enraptured, pursuant to contract, at so much per head; children, I suppose, at half-price. Most persons will
say that the promoters of this undertaking have rather signalized their commercial activity than the delicacy of their taste; and yet, if the steam-boat enthusiasts are mistaken in their mode of paying homage to Nature, they do but err a little more palpably than the multitude of prouder tourists, who pour their "select parties” upon every sequestered and romantic country in more aristocratical conveyances.
there is no sober solitary traveller who cannot, like myself, remember some provoking occasion, when his reveries have been put to flight by these gregarious pilgrims of Nature. I had once established myself very luxuriously at a small, convenient inn, standing by itself in the wilds of Cardiganshire, and was listening to the melody of some neighbouring waterfalls, among which I proposed to spend a long summer's evening, when suddenly a different sound broke in upon my meditations ; a rumbling of wheels. was heard, and, with infinite bustle and commotion, there arrived at the inn-door, two carriages, a gig, and three horsemen. The party alighted: four ladies, an old gentleman and two young ones, two little boys, a valet-de-chambre, two grooms, a lady's maid, a poodle, and a couple of terriers. The gentlemen claimed an old watering-place ac. quaintance with me, and were polite enough to think it a piece of good
VOL. VIII. NO, XXXVI.
fortune that we should see the Falls” in each other's company. A vast deal of arrangement, however, and enquiring, and expostulation with the people of the house, was to be gone through before the Falls obtained
any share of attention ; nor were our thoughts and conversation of a very romantic character when we at last set out for the cas
One of the horses had suffered a strain; a bottle of fish-sauce had been forgotten; the boys would not keep in their mother's sight; and an old maid, who had been studying Malkin's Tour, strove vigorously to convince our Welsh guide that he had taken the wrong path. When we came to the waterfalls, the old gentleman was disappointed, the mamma was frightened, the maiden lady, armed with note-book and ink-horn, occupied the foreground of the view; the young men spouted parodies of Gray's Bard, and the terriers hunted a rat.
As for me, my companions, as I have since heard, discovered me to be a peevish old bachelor, and to have no taste for romantic scenery.
It is the common misfortune of travelling parties, to be clogged with some unblest spirit, who by the peculiarity of his humour, or by some undefinable fatality, never fails to blight the enjoyment and damp the cordiality of his associates. The perfection of this character consists, not in a mere passive sullenness (like my own upon the occasion I just mentioned), but in a wakeful, assiduons, and self-complacent ill-nature. Men of this disposition are particularly fond of travelling in company, and they are just such companions as the “ Little Master," who followed Sintram through the haunted valley, or the Dæmon in the Ars Moriendi, who besets a gentleman with the kind suggestion—" Interficias teipsum.” He is the most diligent of travellers; he scrupulously sees every thing, and sees only to disapprove: like a dog that ranges far and wide for objects of curiosity, and bestows the same mark of contempt on all.
In a journey I once made with some friends through Switzerland, I was, by evil hap, induced to wait upon a gentleman of this humour with a letter of introduction. We were proceeding to the celebrated Lake of the four Cantons, and he, with great politeness, offered to bear us company, and afford us the benefit of his local knowledge. He entertained us, at starting, with a careful enumeration of the things we should not see to advantage at this particular time. The morning was undeniabiy fine, and one of our boatmen expatiated on its splendour with a profusion of bad French and bad German, till our friend put him to silence by telling him, with a sneer, that if he had the day to sell, he had better leave off puffing and name his price. The skies, as if resenting this affront, became overcast, and a drizzling rain attacked us, re-inforced by icy blasts from between the mountains. We had proposed to visit several places adjoining the lake, which are connected in tradition with the romantic history of William Tell and the Austrian governor; and our kind cicerone insisted that we could see all these spots as well in the worst weather (which he owned we were but too likely to encounter) as in clear sunshine. On, therefore, we went, and our companion, though drenched and chilled like ourselves, and exposed, with us, to some slight danger, became, after his manner, perfectly joyous, and expatiated eloquently upon the sublime piles of rock, the magnificent Alpine vistas, and the variety of lake prospects that might have been visible at each point of our course, if the clouds had not