Editorial Note (page ornament): An ornamental border frames all the text except the printer's name (G.F. Tupper),
which lies just beneath it.
No. 1. (
Price One Shilling
With an Etching by
W. HOLMAN HUNT.
Thoughts towards Nature
In Poetry, Literature, and Art.
- When whoso merely hath a little thought
- Will plainly think the thought which is in him,—
- Not imaging another's bright or dim,
- Not mangling with new words what others taught;
- When whoso speaks, from having either sought
- Or only found,—will speak, not just to skim
- A shallow surface with words made and trim,
- But in that very speech the matter brought:
- Be not too keen to cry—“So this is all!—
10A thing I might myself have thought as well,
- But would not say it, for it was not worth!”
- Ask: “Is this truth?” For is it still to tell
- That, be the theme a point or the whole earth,
- Truth is a circle, perfect, great or small?
AYLOTT & JONES, 8, PATERNOSTER ROW.
G.F Tupper, Printer, Clement's Lane. Lombard Street.
- My Beautiful Lady . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Of my Lady in Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- The Love of Beauty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- The Subject in Art, (No. 1.) . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .
- The Seasons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Dream Land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Songs of One Household, (My Sister's Sleep.) . . . . . .
- Hand and Soul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Her First Season . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- A Sketch from Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- An End . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
⁂ It is requested that those who may have by them any
Poems, Essays, or other articles appearing to
coincide with the views in which this
Periodical is established,
and who may feel desirous of contributing such
forward them, for the approval of the Editor, to the Office
publication. It may be relied upon that the most sincere
attention will be paid to
the examination of all manuscripts,
whether they be eventually accepted or declined.
Figure: Etching by William Holman Hunt. 2 panels, top panel shows lady picking flowers
near river as her lover pulls her back, the second shows the lover prostrate with grief on
his lady's grave as a procession of nuns passes behind him. Signed in lower left: W.
- I love my lady; she is very fair;
- Her brow is white, and bound by simple hair;
- Her spirit sits aloof, and high,
- Altho' it looks thro' her soft eye
- Sweetly and tenderly.
- As a young forest, when the wind drives thro',
- My life is stirred when she breaks on my view.
- Altho' her beauty has such power,
- Her soul is like the simple flower
10Trembling beneath a shower.
- As bliss of saints, when dreaming of large wings,
- The bloom around her fancied presence flings,
- I feast and wile her absence, by
- Pressing her choice hand passionately—
- Imagining her sigh.
- My lady's voice, altho' so very mild,
- Maketh me feel as strong wine would a child;
- My lady's touch, however slight,
- Moves all my senses with its might,
20Like to a sudden fright.
- A hawk poised high in air, whose nerved wing-tips
- Tremble with might suppressed, before he dips,—
- In vigilance, not more intense
- Than I; when her word's gentle sense
- Makes full-eyed my suspense.
- Her mention of a thing—august or poor,
- Makes it seem nobler than it was before:
- As where the sun strikes, life will gush,
- And what is pale receive a flush,
30Rich hues—a richer blush.
- My lady's name, if I hear strangers use,—
- Not meaning her—seems like a lax misuse.
- I love none but my lady's name;
- Rose, Maud, or Grace, are all the same,
- So blank, so very tame.
- My lady walks as I have seen a swan
- Swim thro' the water just where the sun shone.
- There ends of willow branches ride,
- Quivering with the current's glide,
40By the deep river-side.
- Whene'er she moves there are fresh beauties stirred;
- As the sunned bosom of a humming-bird
- At each pant shows some fiery hue,
- Burns gold, intensest green or blue:
- The same, yet ever new.
- What time she walketh under flowering May,
- I am quite sure the scented blossoms say,
- “O lady with the sunlit hair!
- “Stay, and drink our odorous air—
50“The incense that we bear:
- “Your beauty, lady, we would ever shade;
- “Being near you, our sweetness might not fade.”
- If trees could be broken-hearted,
- I am sure that the green sap smarted,
- When my lady parted.
- This is why I thought weeds were beautiful;—
- Because one day I saw my lady pull
- Some weeds up near a little brook,
- Which home most carefully she took,
60Then shut them in a book.
- A deer when startled by the stealthy ounce,—
- A bird escaping from the falcon's trounce,
- Feels his heart swell as mine, when she
- Stands statelier, expecting me,
- Than tall white lilies be.
- The first white flutter of her robe to trace,
- Where binds and perfumed jasmine interlace,
- Expands my gaze triumphantly:
- Even such his gaze, who sees on high
70His flag, for victory.
- We wander forth unconsciously, because
- The azure beauty of the evening draws:
- When sober hues pervade the ground,
- And life in one vast hush seems drowned,
- Air stirs so little sound.
- We thread a copse where frequent bramble spray
- With loose obtrusion from the side roots stray,
- (Forcing sweet pauses on our walk):
- I'll lift one with my foot, and talk
80About its leaves and stalk.
- Or may be that the prickles of some stem
- Will hold a prisoner her long garment's hem;
- To disentangle it I kneel,
- Oft wounding more than I can heal;
- It makes her laugh, my zeal.
- Then on before a thin-legged robin hops,
- Or leaping on a twig, he pertly stops,
- Speaking a few clear notes, till nigh
- We draw, when quickly he will fly
90Into a bush close by.
- A flock of goldfinches may stop their flight,
- And wheeling round a birchen tree alight
- Deep in its glittering leaves, until
- They see us, when their swift rise will
- Startle a sudden thrill.
- I recollect my lady in a wood,
- Keeping her breath and peering—(firm she stood
- Her slim shape balanced on tiptoe—)
- Into a nest which lay below,
100Leaves shadowing her brow.
- I recollect my lady asking me,
- What that sharp tapping in the wood might be?
- I told her blackbirds made it, which,
- For slimy morsels they count rich,
- Cracked the snail's curling niche:
- She made no answer. When we reached the stone
- Where the shell fragments on the grass were strewn,
- Close to the margin of a rill;
- “The air,” she said, “seems damp and chill,
110“We'll go home if you will.”
- “Make not my pathway dull so soon,” I cried,
- “See how those vast cloudpiles in sun-glow dyed,
- “Roll out their splendour: while the breeze
- “Lifts gold from leaf to leaf, as these
- “Ash saplings move at ease.”
- Piercing the silence in our ears, a bird
- Threw some notes up just then, and quickly stirred
- The covert birds that startled, sent
- Their music thro' the air; leaves lent
120Their rustling and blent,
- Until the whole of the blue warmth was filled
- So much with sun and sound, that the air thrilled.
- She gleamed, wrapt in the dying day's
- Glory: altho' she spoke no praise,
- I saw much in her gaze.
- Then, flushed with resolution, I told all;—
- The mighty love I bore her,—how would pall
- My very breath of life, if she
- For ever breathed not hers with me;—
130Could I a cherub be,
- How, idly hoping to enrich her grace,
- I would snatch jewels from the orbs of space;—
- Then back thro' the vague distance beat,
- Glowing with joy her smile to meet,
- And heap them round her feet.
- Her waist shook to my arm. She bowed her head,
- Silent, with hands clasped and arms straightened:
- (Just then we both heard a church bell)
- O God! It is not right to tell:
140But I remember well
- Each breast swelled with its pleasure, and her whole
- Bosom grew heavy with love; the swift roll
- Of new sensations dimmed her eyes,
- Half closing them in ecstasies,
- Turned full against the skies.
- The rest is gone; it seemed a whirling round—
- No pressure of my feet upon the ground:
- But even when parted from her, bright
- Showed all; yea, to my throbbing sight
150The dark was starred with light.
- All seems a painted show. I look
- Up thro' the bloom that's shed
- By leaves above my head,
- And feel the earnest life forsook
- All being, when she died:—
- My heart halts, hot and dried
- As the parched course where once a brook
- Thro' fresh growth used to flow,—
- Because her past is now
10No more than stories in a printed book.
- The grass has grown above that breast,
- Now cold and sadly still,
- My happy face felt thrill:—
- Her mouth's mere tones so much expressed!
- Those lips are now close set,—
- Lips which my own have met;
- Her eyelids by the earth are pressed;
- Damp earth weighs on her eyes;
- Damp earth shuts out the skies.
20My lady rests her heavy, heavy rest.
- To see her slim perfection sweep,
- Trembling impatiently,
- With eager gaze at me!
- Her feet spared little things that creep:—
- “We've no more right,” she'd say,
- “In this the earth than they.”
- Some remember it but to weep.
- Her hand's slight weight was such,
- Care lightened with its touch;
30My lady sleeps her heavy, heavy sleep.
- My day-dreams hovered round her brow;
- Now o'er its perfect forms
- Go softly real worms.
- Stern death, it was a cruel blow,
- To cut that sweet girl's life
- Sharply, as with a knife.
- Cursed life that lets me live and grow,
- Just as a poisonous root,
- From which rank blossoms shoot;
40My lady's laid so very, very low.
- Dread power, grief cries aloud, “unjust,”—
- To let her young life play
- Its easy, natural way;
- Then, with an unexpected thrust,
- Strike out the life you lent,
- Just when her feelings blent
- With those around whom she saw trust
- Her willing power to bless,
- For their whole happiness;
50My lady moulders into common dust.
- Small birds twitter and peck the weeds
- That wave above her head,
- Shading her lowly bed:
- Their brisk wings burst light globes of seeds,
- Scattering the downy pride
- Of dandelions, wide:
- Speargrass stoops with watery beads:
- The weight from its fine tips
- Occasionally drips:
60The bee drops in the mallow-bloom, and feeds.
- About her window, at the dawn,
- From the vine's crooked boughs
- Birds chirupped an arouse:
- Flies, buzzing, strengthened with the morn;—
- She'll not hear them again
- At random strike the pane:
- No more upon the close-cut lawn,
- Her garment's sun-white hem
- Bend the prim daisy's stem,
70In walking forth to view what flowers are born.
- No more she'll watch the dark-green rings
- Stained quaintly on the lea,
- To image fairy glee;
- While thro' dry grass a faint breeze sings,
- And swarms of insects revel
- Along the sultry level:—
- No more will watch their brilliant wings,
- Now lightly dip, now soar,
- Then sink, and rise once more.
80My lady's death makes dear these trivial things.
- Within a huge tree's steady shade,
- When resting from our walk,
- How pleasant was her talk!
- Elegant deer leaped o'er the glade,
- Or stood with wide bright eyes,
- Staring a short surprise:
- Outside the shadow cows were laid,
- Chewing with drowsy eye
- Their cuds complacently:
90Dim for sunshine drew near a milking-maid.
- Rooks cawed and labored thro' the heat;
- Each wing-flap seemed to make
- Their weary bodies ache:
- The swallows, tho' so very fleet,
- Made breathless pauses there
- At something in the air:—
- All disappeared: our pulses beat
- Distincter throbs: then each
- Turned and kissed, without speech,—
100She trembling, from her mouth down to her feet.
- My head sank on her bosom's heave,
- So close to the soft skin
- I heard the life within.
- My forehead felt her coolly breathe,
- As with her breath it rose:
- To perfect my repose
- Her two arms clasped my neck. The eve
- Spread silently around,
- A hush along the ground,
110And all sound with the sunlight seemed to leave.
- By my still gaze she must have known
- The mighty bliss that filled
- My whole soul, for she thrilled,
- Drooping her face, flushed, on my own;
- I felt that it was such
- By its light warmth of touch.
- My lady was with me alone:
- That vague sensation brought
- More real joy than thought.
120I am without her now, truly alone.
- We had no heed of time: the cause
- Was that our minds were quite
- Absorbed in our delight,
- Silently blessed. Such stillness awes,
- And stops with doubt, the breath,
- Like the mute doom of death.
- I felt Time's instantaneous pause;
- An instant, on my eye
- Flashed all Eternity:—
130I started, as if clutched by wild beasts' claws,
- Awakened from some dizzy swoon:
- I felt strange vacant fears,
- With singings in my ears,
- And wondered that the pallid moon
- Swung round the dome of night
- With such tremendous might.
- A sweetness, like the air of June,
- Next paled me with suspense,
- A weight of clinging sense—
140Some hidden evil would burst on me soon.
- My lady's love has passed away,
- To know that it is so
- To me is living woe.
- That body lies in cold decay,
- Which held the vital soul
- When she was my life's soul.
- Bitter mockery it was to say—
- “Our souls are as the same:”
- My words now sting like shame;
150Her spirit went, and mine did not obey.
- It was as if a fiery dart
- Passed seething thro' my brain
- When I beheld her lain
- There whence in life she did not part.
- Her beauty by degrees,
- Sank, sharpened with disease:
- The heavy sinking at her heart
- Sucked hollows in her cheek,
- And made her eyelids weak,
160Tho' oft they'd open wide with sudden start.
- The deathly power in silence drew
- My lady's life away.
- I watched, dumb with dismay,
- The shock of thrills that quivered thro'
- And tightened every limb:
- For grief my eyes grew dim;
- More near, more near, the moment grew.
- O horrible suspense!
- O giddy impotence!
170I saw her fingers lax, and change their hue.
- Her gaze, grown large with fate, was cast
- Where my mute agonies
- Made more sad her sad eyes:
- Her breath caught with short plucks and fast:—
- Then one hot choking strain.
- She never breathed again:
- I had the look which was her last:
- Even after breath was gone,
- Her love one moment shone,—
180Then slowly closed, and hope for ever passed.
- Silence seemed to start in space
- When first the bell's harsh toll
- Rang for my lady's soul.
- Vitality was hell; her grace
- The shadow of a dream:
- Things then did scarcely seem:
- Oblivion's stroke fell like a mace:
- As a tree that's just hewn
- I dropped, in a dead swoon,
190And lay a long time cold upon my face.
- Earth had one quarter turned before
- My miserable fate
- Pressed on with its whole weight.
- My sense came back; and, shivering o'er,
- I felt a pain to bear
- The sun's keen cruel glare;
- It seemed not warm as heretofore.
- Oh, never more its rays
- Will satisfy my gaze.
200No more; no more; oh, never any more.
- John Boccaccio, love's own squire, deep sworn
- In service to all beauty, joy, and rest,—
- When first the love-earned royal Mary press'd,
- To her smooth cheek, his pale brows, passion-worn,—
- 'Tis said, he, by her grace nigh frenzied, torn
- By longings unattainable, address'd
- To his chief friend most strange misgivings, lest
- Some madness in his brain had thence been born.
- The artist-mind alone can feel his meaning:—
10Such as have watched the battle-rank'd array
- Of sunset, or the face of girlhood seen in
- Line-blending twilight, with sick hope. Oh! they
- May feed desire on some fond bosom leaning:
- But where shall such their thirst of Nature stay?
If Painting and Sculpture delight us like other works of
merely from the difficulties they surmount; like an
‘egg in a bottle,’ a tree made out
of stone, or a face made of
pigment; and the pleasure we receive, is our wonder at
achievement; then, to such as so believe, this treatise is not written.
as the writer conceives, works of Fine Art delight us by the
interest the objects they
depict excite in the beholder, just as those
objects in nature would excite his
interest; if by any association of
ideas in the one case, by the same in the other,
without reference to
the representations being other than the objects they
then, to such as so believe, the following upon ‘SUBJECT’
addressed. Whilst, at the same time, it is not disallowed that a
pleasure may and does result, upon reflecting that the
objects contemplated were the
work of human ingenuity.
Now the subject to be treated, is the ‘subject’ of Painter and
ought to be the nature of that ‘subject,’ how far
that subject may be drawn from past or
present time with advantage,
how far the subject may tend to confer upon its embodiment
title, ‘High Art,’ how far the subject may tend to confer upon its
the title ‘Low Art;’ what is ‘High Art,’ what is
To begin then (at the end) with ‘High Art.’ However we
may differ as to facts,
the principle will be readily granted, that
i. e. Art, par
excellence, Art, in its most exalted
character, addresses pre-eminently the highest
attributes of man,
viz.: his mental and his moral faculties.
‘Low Art,’ or Art in its less exalted character, is that which
less exalted attributes of man, viz.: his mere sensory
faculties, without affecting the
mind or heart, excepting through the
volitional agency of the observer.
These definitions are too general and simple to be disputed; but
endeavour to define more particularly, let us analyze the
subject, and see what it will
All the works which remain to us of the Ancients, and this
remarkable, are, with the exception of those by
incompetent artists, universally
admitted to be ‘High Art.’ Now
do we afford them this high title, because all remnants
antique world, by tempting a comparison between what was, and
is, will set
the mental faculties at work, and thus address the
of man? Or, as this is owing to the agency of
the observer, and not to the subject
represented, are we to seek for
the cause in the subjects themselves!
Let us examine the subjects. They are mostly in sculpture; but
this cannot be
the cause, unless all modern sculpture be considered
‘High Art.’ This is leaving out of
the question in both ages, all
works badly executed, and obviously incorrect, of which
numerous examples both ancient and modern.
The subjects we find in sculpture are, in “the round,” mostly
men or women in
thoughtful or impassioned action: sometimes they
are indeed acting physically; but then,
as in the Jason adjusting
his Sandal, acting by mechanical impulse, and thinking or
in another direction. In relievo we have an historical combat,
such as that
between the Centaurs and Lapithæ; sometimes a group
in conversation, sometimes a
recitation of verses to the Lyre; a
dance, or religious procession.
As to the first class in “the round,” as they seem to appeal to
intellectual, and often to the moral faculties, they are naturally,
and according to the
broad definition, works of ‘High Art.’ Of
the relievo, the historical combat appeals to
the passions; and,
being historical, probably to the intellect. The like may be said
the conversational groups, and lyrical recitation which follow. The
to the passions and the intellect ; since the intellect
recognises therein an order and
design, her own planning; while
the solemn, modest demeanour in the religious procession
the heart and the mind. The same remarks will apply to the few
paintings we possess, always excluding such merely deco-
rative works as are not fine
art at all.
Thus it appears that all these works of the ancients
have been denominated works of ‘High Art;’ and here we remark
difference between the hypothetical or rational, and the historical
account of facts;
for though here is
enough why ancient art
have been denominated ‘High Art,’ that it
nated on this account, is a position not capable of proof: whereas,
probability, the true account of the matter runs thus—The
works of antiquity awe us by
their time-hallowed presence; the
mind is sent into a serious contemplation of things;
and, the subject
itself in nowise contravening, we attribute all this potent effect
the agency of the subject before us, and ‘High Art,’ it becomes
, with all such as “follow its cut.”
But then as
this was so named, not from the abstract cause, but from a result
effect ; when a
work is produced in a similar spirit, but
in a dissimilar matter, and the critics have to settle to what class
of art it belongs,—then is the new work dragged up to fight with
one, like the poor beggar Irus in front of Ulysses; then are
they turned over and
applied, each to each, like the two triangles in
Euclid; and then, if they square, fit
and tally in every quarter—
with the nude to the draped in the one, as the nude to the
in the other—with the standing to the sitting in the one, as the
the sitting in the other—with the fat to the lean in the
one, as the fat to the lean in
the other—with the young to the old
in the one, as the young to the old in the
other—with head to body,
as head to body; and nose to knee, as nose to knee, &c.
the critics have done a great deal)—then is the work
pronounced one of ‘High Art;’ and the obsequious artist is
consider it is.
But if, per contra, as in the former case, the
works are not to be
literally reconciled, though wrought in the self-same spirit;
this unfortunate creature of genius is degraded into a lower rank of
the artist, if he have faith in the learned, despairs; or, if
he have none, he
swears. But listen, an artist speaks: “If I have
genius to produce a work
in the true spirit of high art, and yet am
so ignorant of its principles, that I scarce
know whereon the success
of the work depends, and scarcely whether I have succeeded or
with this ignorance and this power, what needs your knowledge or
seeing that nature is all-sufficient, and produces a
painter as she produces a plant?”
To the artist (the last of his
race), who spoke thus, it is answered, that science is
not meant for
him, if he like it not, seeing he can do without it, and seeing,
over, that with it
alone he can never do. Science here does
make; it unmakes, wonderingly to find the making of what God has
God has made through the poet, leading him blindly
by a path which he has not known;
this path science follows slowly
and in wonder. But though science is not to make the
is no reason in nature that the artist reject it. Still, science is
perly the birthright of the critic; 'tis his all in all. It shows him
painters, sculptors, his fellow men, often his inferiors in their
want of it, his
superiors in the ability to do what he cannot do;
it teaches him to love them as angels
bringing him food which
cannot attain, and to venerate their works as a gift from the
But to return to the critical errors relating to ‘High Art.’
constituents of high art were unknown, whilst its
abstract principles were unsought, and
whilst it was only recognized
in the concrete, the critics, certainly guilty of the most
able blindness, blundered up to the masses of ‘High Art,’ left by
“there let us fix our observatory,” and here came
out perspective glass, and callipers
and compasses; and here they
made squares and triangles, and circles, and ellipses, for,
“this is ‘High Art,’ and this hath certain proportions;” then in
logic of their hearts, they continued, “all these proportions we
know by admeasurement,
whatsoever hath these is ‘High Art,’
whatsoever hath not, is ‘Low Art.’ This was as
certain as the
fact that the sun is a globe of glowing charcoal, because
they both yield light and heat. Now if the phantom of a
embryon-electrician had arisen and told them that their “high art
possessed an electric influence, which, acting in the brain
of the observer, would awake
in him emotions of so exalted a
character, that he forthwith, inevitably nodding at
them, must utter
the tremendous syllables ‘High Art;’” he, the then
electrician, from that age withheld to bless and irradiate the
of ours, would have done something more to the purpose
than all the critics and the
Thus then we see, that the antique, however successfully it may have
is not our model; for, according to that faith demanded
at setting out, fine art
delights us from its being the semblance of
what in nature delights. Now, as the artist
does not work by the
instrumentality of rule and science, but mainly by an
impulse; if he copy the antique, unable as he is to segregate the
delectable matter, he must needs copy the whole, and
thereby multiply models, which the
casting-man can do equally
well; whereas if he copy nature, with a like inability to
that delectable attribute which allures him to copy her, and under
same necessity of copying the whole, to make sure of this “tenant
we then have the artist, the instructed of nature,
fulfilling his natural capacity,
while his works we have as manifold
yet various as nature's own thoughts for her
But reverting to the subject, it was stated at the beginning that
delights, by presenting us with objects, which in nature
delight us; and ‘High Art’ was
defined, that which addresses the
intellect; and hence it might appear, as delight is an
the mind, that ‘Low Art,’ which addresses the senses, is not Fine
all. But then it must be remembered, that it was neither
stated of ‘Fine Art,’ nor of
‘High Art,’ that it always
delights; and again, that delight is not entirely mental. To
out the confines of high and low art, where the one terminates and
commences, would be difficult, if not impracticable without
circumscribing the import of the terms, pain,
pleasure, delight, sensory, mental,
psychical, intellectual, objective,
subjective, &c. &c.; and then, as little or nothing would be
mainly pertinent to the subject, it must be content to receive no
definitions than those broad ones already laid down, with
their latitude somewhat
corrected by practical examples. Yet
before proceeding to give these examples, it might
be remarked of
‘High Art,’ that it always might, if it do not always excite
portion of delight, irrespective of that subsequent delight consequent
examination of a curiosity; that its function is sometimes,
with this portion of
delight, to commingle grief or distress, and that
it may, (though this is
its function,) excite mental anguish, and
by a reflex action, actual body
pain. Now then to particularize,
by example; let us suppose a perfect and correct
painting of a stone,
a common stone such as we walk over. Now although this
might to a religious man, suggest a text of scripture; and to the
a theory of scientific interest; yet its general effect upon
the average number of
observers will be readily allowed to be more
that of wonder or admiration at a triumph
over the apparently
impossible (to make a round stone upon a flat piece of canvass)
at aught else the subject possesses. Now a subject such as this
belongs to such
very low art, that it narrowly illudes precipitation
over the confines of Fine Art ;
yet, that it is Fine Art is indis-
putable, since no mere mechanic artisan, or other
than one specially
gifted by nature, could produce it. This then shall introduce us
“Subject.” This subject then, standing where fine art gradually
mechanic art, and almost midway between them; of
no use nor beauty; but to be wondered
at as a curiosity; is a subject
of scandalous import to the artist, to the artist thus
gifted by nature
with a talent to reproduce her fleeting and wondrous forms. But
as the writer doubts, nature could afford a monster so qualified
for a poet, yet
destitute of poetical genius; then the scandal attaches
if he attempt a step in advance,
or neglect to join himself to those,
a most useful class of mechanic artists, who
illustrate the sciences
by drawing and diagram.
But as the subject supposed is one never treated in painting;
in fact, to exemplify an extreme; let us consider the
merits of a subject really
practical, such as ‘dead game,’ or ‘a
basket of fruit;’ and the first general idea such
a subject will
excite is simply that of
, ‘something to eat.’ For
fruit on the tree, or a pheasant in the air, is a portion of nature
properly belongs to the section, ‘Landscape,’ a division of art
enough; yet gather the fruit or bring down the pheasant,
and you presently bring down
the poetry with it ; and although
Sterne could sentimentalize upon a dead ass; and
though a dead
pheasant in the
larder, or a dead sheep at a butcher's, may excite
feelings akin to anything but good
living; and though they may
be the excitive causes of poetical, nay, or moral reflexion;
see them on the canvass, and the first and uppermost idea will be
that of ‘
,’ and how, in the name of decency, they ever came
there. It will be
vain to argue that gathered fruit is only nature
under a certain phase, and that a dead
sheep or a dead pheasant is
only a dead animal like a dead ass—it will be pitiably vain
miserable sophistry, since we know that the dead pheasant in a
always be as
, while the same at he poulterer's will
be but a dead
For we have not one only, but numerous general ideas annexed
to every object in
nature. Thus one of the series may be that that
object is matter, one that it is
individual matter, one that it is
animal matter, one that it is a bird, one that it is a
that it is a dead pheasant, and one that it is food. Now, our
ideas or notions are not evoked in this order as each new
object addresses the mind; but
that general idea is
which accords with the first or
principle destination of the object:
thus the first general idea of a cowry, to the
Indian, is that of
money, not of a shell; and our first general idea of a dead
is that of food, whereas to a zoologist it might have a different
but this is the exception. But it was said, that a dead pheasant in
picture would always be as food, while the same at the poulterer's
would be but a dead
pheasant: what then becomes of the first
general idea? It seems to be disposed of thus:
at the first sight of
the shop, the idea is that of food, and next (if you are not
and poets never are), the mind will be attracted to the species of
and (unless hunger presses) you may be led on to moralize
like Sterne: but, amongst
pictures, where there is nothing else to
excite the general ideas of food, this,
whenever adverted to, must
over re-excite that idea; and hence it appears that these
subjects might be poetical enough if exhibited all together,
must be surrounded with eatables, like a possibly-poetical-pheasant
Longer stress has been laid upon this subject, “Still Life,” than
justified by its insignificance, but as this is a branch of
art which has never aspired
to be ‘High Art,’ it contains something
definite in its character which makes it better
worth the analysis
than might appear at first sight; but still, as a latitude has
taken in the investigation which is ever unavoidable in the handling
mercurial matter as poetry (where one must spread out a
broad definition to catch it
wherever it runs), and as this is ever
such as are unaccustomed to abstract thinking,
from the difficulty of educing a rule
amidst an infinite array of
exceptions, and of recognising a principle shrouded in the
of conflicting details; it appears expedient, before pursuing
question, to reinforce the first broad elementary principles with
modification they may have acquired in their progress
to this point in the argument,
together with the additional data
which may have resulted from analytic reference to
First then, as Fine Art delights in proportion to the delectating
the objects it depicts, and, as subsequently stated, grieves
or distresses in proportion
as the objects are grievous or distressing,
we have this resultant: “Fine Art
in proportion to the
excitor influence of the object;” and then,
either the sensory or the mental faculties, in
a like proportion to
the excitor properties of the objects respectively.” Thus then
have, definitely stated, the powers or capabilities of
regulated and governed by the objects it selects, and the objects it
making its subject. Now the question in hand is, “what
the nature of that
should be,” but the
must be ac-
cording to what
Fine Art proposes to effect; all then must depend
upon this proposition. For if you
propose that Fine Art shall
excite sensual pleasure, then such objects as excite sensual
should form the
of Fine Art; and those which excite
pleasure in the highest degree, will form the
Art.’ Or if you propose that Fine Art shall excite a physical
getic activity, by addressing the sensory organism, which is a phase
former proposition, (for what are popularly called sensual
pleasures, are only
particular sensory excitements sought by a phy-
sical appetite, while this
sensory-organic activity is physically appe-
tent also,) then the subjects of art ought
to be draw form such ob-
jects as excite a general activity, such as field-sports,
battles, executions, court pageants, conflagrations, murders; and
which most intensely excite this sensory-organic activity, by
expressing most of
physical human power or suffering, such as battles,
executions, regality, murder, would
Art, and consequently these would
.” But if you propose
(with the writer) that
shall regard the general happiness
of man, but addressing those
attributes which are
by exciting the activity of his
rational and benevolent powers (and
the writer would add, man's religious aspirations,
but omits it as
sufficiently evolvable from the proposition, and since some
willing men cannot at present recognize man as a religious animal),
then the subject of
Fine Art should be drawn from objects which
address and excite the activity of man's
rational and benevolent
powers, such as:—acts of justice—of mercy—good
order—acts of intellect—men obviously speaking or thinking ab-
thoughts, as evinced by one speaking to another, and looking
at, or indicating, a
flower, or a picture, or a star, or by looking on
the wall while speaking—or, if the
scene be from a
story, or another beneficent work, then
not only of men in abstract
thought or meditation, but, it may be, in simple
conversation, or in
passion—or a simple representation of a person in a play or
as of Jacques, Ferdinand, or Cordelia; or, in real life, portraits of
who are honestly beautiful; or expressive of innocence, happi-
ness, benevolence, or
intellectuality, but not of gluttony, wantonness,
anger, hatred, or malevolence, unless
in some cases of justifiable
satire—of histrionic or historic
—in some cases, grand or
beautiful buildings, even without
figures—any scene on sea or land
which induces reflection—all subjects from such parts
of history as
are morally or intellectually instructive or attractive—and
executions—all forms of thought
poetry, however wild, if consistent with rational benevolence—all
or comic, domestic or historical—all religious subjects
proposing good that will not
shock any reasonable number of reason-
able men—all subjects that leave the artist wiser
none which intrinsically act otherwise—to sum all, every thing
incident in nature which excites, or may be made to excite, the
mind and the
heart of man as a mentally intelligent, not as a brute
animal, is a subject for Fine
Art, at all times, in all places, and in
all ages. But as all these subjects in nature
affect our hearts or our
understanding in proportion to the heart and understanding
have to apprehend and to love them, those will excite us most
intensely which we
know most of and love most. But as we may
learn to know them all and to love them all,
and what is dark to-
day may be luminous to-morrow, and things, dumb to-day,
grow voiceful, and the strange voice of to-day be plain and reproach
to-morrow; who shall adventure to say that this or that is the highest?
And if it appear
that all these subjects in nature
affect us with
and that the artist's representations affect as the
subjects affect, then it follows,
with all these subjects, Fine Art may
affect us equally; but the subjects may all be
high; therefore, all
Fine Art may be High Art.
- The crocus, in the shrewd March morn,
- Thrusts up his saffron spear;
- And April dots the sombre thorn
- With gems, and loveliest cheer.
- Then sleep the seasons, full of might;
- While slowly swells the pod,
- And rounds the peach, and in the night
- The mushroom bursts the sod.
- The winter comes: the frozen rut
10Is bound with silver bars;
- The white drift heaps against the hut;
- And night is pierced with stars.
- Where sunless rivers weep
- Their waves into the deep,
- She sleeps a charmed sleep;
- Awake her not.
- Led by a single star,
- She came from very far,
- To seek where shadows are
- Her pleasant lot.
- She left the rosy morn,
10She left the fields of corn,
- For twilight cold and lorn,
- And water-springs.
- Thro' sleep, as thro' a veil,
- She sees the sky look pale,
- And hears the nightingale,
- That sadly sings.
- Rest, rest, a perfect rest,
- Shed over brow and breast;
- Her face is toward the west,
20The purple land.
- She cannot see the grain
- Ripening on hill and plain;
- She cannot feel the rain
- Upon her hand.
- Rest, rest, for evermore
- Upon a mossy shore,
- Rest, rest, that shall endure,
- Till time shall cease;—
- Sleep that no pain shall wake,
30Night that no morn shall break,
- Till joy shall overtake
- Her perfect peace.
- She fell asleep on Christmas Eve.
- Upon her eyes' most patient calms
- The lids were shut; her uplaid arms
- Covered her bosom, I believe.
- Our mother, who had leaned all day
- Over the bed from chime to chime,
- Then raised herself for the first time,
- And as she sat her down, did pray.
- Her little work-table was spread
10With work to finish. For the glare
- Made by her candle, she had care
- To work some distance from the bed.
- Without, there was a good moon up,
- Which left its shadows far within;
- The depth of light that it was in
- Seemed hollow like an altar-cup.
- Through the small room, with subtle sound
- Of flame, by vents the fireshine drove
- And reddened. In its dim alcove
20The mirror shed a clearness round.
- I had been sitting up some nights,
- And my tir'd mind felt weak and blank;
- Like a sharp strengthening wine, it drank
- The stillness and the broken lights.
- Silence was speaking at my side
- With an exceedingly clear voice:
- I knew the calm as of a choice
- Made in God for me, to abide.
- I said, “Full knowledge does not grieve:
30This which upon my spirit dwells
- Perhaps would have been sorrow else:
- But I am glad 'tis Christmas Eve.”
- Twelve struck. That sound, which all the years
- Hear in each hour, crept off; and then
- The ruffled silence spread again,
- Like water that a pebble stirs.
- Our mother rose from where she sat.
- Her needles, as she laid them down,
- Met lightly, and her silken gown
40Settled: no other noise than that.
- “Glory unto the Newly Born!”
- So, as said angels, she did say;
- Because we were in Christmas-day,
- Though it would still be long till dawn.
- She stood a moment with her hands
- Kept in each other, praying much;
- A moment that the soul may touch
- But the heart only understands.
- Almost unwittingly, my mind
50Repeated her words after her;
- Perhaps tho' my lips did not stir;
- It was scarce thought, or cause assign'd.
- Just then in the room over us
- There was a pushing back of chairs,
- As some who had sat unawares
- So late, now heard the hour, and rose.
- Anxious, with softly stepping haste,
- Our mother went where Margaret lay,
- Fearing the sounds o'erhead—should they
60Have broken her long-watched for rest!
- She stooped an instant, calm, and turned;
- But suddenly turned back again;
- And all her features seemed in pain
- With woe, and her eyes gazed and yearned.
- For my part, I but hid my face,
- And held my breath, and spake no word:
- There was none spoken; but
The silence for a little space.
- My mother bowed herself and wept.
70And both my arms fell, and I said:
- “God knows I knew that she was dead.”
- And there, all white, my sister slept.
- Then kneeling, upon Christmas morn
- A little after twelve o'clock
- We said, ere the first quarter struck,
- “Christ's blessing on the newly born!”
- “Rivolsimi in quel lato
- Là 'nde venia la voce,
- E parvemi una luce
- Che lucea quanto stella:
- La mia mente era quella.”
Bonaggiunta Urbiciani, (1250.)
Before any knowledge of painting was brought to Florence, there
painters in Lucca, and Pisa, and Arezzo, who feared
God and loved the art. The keen,
grave workmen from Greece,
whose trade it was to sell their own works in Italy and
Italians to imitate them, had already found rivals of the soil with
could forestall their lessons and cheapen their crucifixes
addolorate, more years than is supposed before the art came at
all into Florence. The
pre-eminence to which Cimabue was raised
at once by his contemporaries, and which he
still retains to a wide
extent even in the modern mind, is to be accounted for, partly
the circumstances under which he arose, and partly by that extra-
purpose of fortune born with the lives of some few, and
through which it
is not a little thing for any who went before, if
they are even remembered as the
shadows of the coming of such an
one, and the voices which prepared his way in the
wilderness. It is
thus, almost exclusively, that the painters of whom I speak
now known. They have left little, and but little heed is taken of
that which men
hold to have been surpassed; it is gone like time gone
—a track of dust and dead leaves
that merely led to the fountain.
Nevertheless, of very late years, and in very rare instances, some
signs of a
better understanding have become manifest. A case in
point is that of the tryptic and
two cruciform pictures at Dresden,
by Chiaro di Messer Bello dell' Erma, to which the
phlet of Dr. Aemmster has at length succeeded in attracting the
dents. There is another, still more solemn and beautiful work, now
proved to be
by the same hand, in the gallery at Florence. It is
the one to which my narrative will
This Chiaro dell' Erma was a young man of very honorable
family in Arezzo;
where, conceiving art almost, as it were, for him-
self, and loving it deeply, he
endeavored from early boyhood towards
the imitation of any objects offered in nature.
The extreme longing
after a visible embodiment of his thoughts strengthened as his
increased, more even than his sinews or the blood of his life; until
he would feel faint in sunsets and at the sight of stately persons.
When he had
lived nineteen years, he heard of the famous Giunta
Pisano; and, feeling much of
admiration, with, perhaps, a little of
that envy which youth always feels until it has
learned to measure
success by time and opportunity, he determined that he would
out Giunta, and, if possible, become his pupil.
Having arrived in Pisa, he clothed himself in humble apparel,
that any other thing than the desire he had for
knowledge should be his plea with the
great painter; and then,
leaving his baggage at a house of entertainment, he took his
along the street, asking whom he met for the lodging of Giunta. It
that one of that city, conceiving him to be a stranger
and poor, took him into his
house, and refreshed him; afterwards
directing him on his way.
When he was brought to speech of Giunta, he said merely that
he was a student,
and that nothing in the world was so much at
his heart as to become that which he had
heard told of him with
whom he was speaking. He was received with courtesy and
sideration, and shewn into the study of the famous artist. But the
forms he saw
there were lifeless and incomplete; and a sudden
exultation possessed him as he said
within himself, “I am the master
of this man.” The blood came at first into his face,
but the next
moment he was quite pale and fell to trembling. He was able,
to conceal his emotion; speaking very little to Giunta,
but, when he took his leave,
thanking him respectfully.
After this, Chiaro's first resolve was, that he would work out
one of his thoughts, and let the world know him.
But the lesson which he had now
learned, of how small a greatness
might win fame, and how little there was to strive
to make him torpid, and rendered his exertions less continual.
Pisa was a larger and more luxurious city than Arezzo; and,
when in his walks, he saw
the great gardens laid out for pleasure,
and the beautiful women who passed to and fro,
and heard the
music that was in the groves of the city at evening, he was taken
wonder that he had never claimed his share of the inheritance
of those years in which
his youth was cast. And women loved
Chiaro; for, in despite of the burthen of study, he
and very manly in his walking; and, seeing his face in front,
was a glory upon it, as upon the face of one who feels a light round
So he put thought from him, and partook of his life. But, one
night, being in a
certain company of ladies, a gentleman that was
there with him began to speak of the
paintings of a youth named
Bonaventura, which he had seen in Lucca; adding that Giunta Pisano
might now look
for a rival. When Chiaro heard this, the lamps shook
before him, and the music beat in
his ears and made him giddy. He
rose up, alleging a sudden sickness, and went out of
that house with
his teeth set.
He now took to work diligently; not returning to Arezzo, but
remaining in Pisa,
that no day more might be lost; only living en-
tirely to himself. Sometimes, after
nightfall, he would walk abroad
in the most solitary places he could find; hardly
feeling the ground
under him, because of the thoughts of the day which held him
The lodging he had chosen was in a house that looked upon
gardens fast by the
Church of San Rocco. During the offices, as he
sat at work, he could hear the music of
the organ and the long
murmur that the chanting left; and if his window were
sometimes, at those parts of the mass where there is silence through-
church, his ear caught faintly the single voice of the
priest. Beside the matters of his
art and a very few books, almost
the only object to be noticed in Chiaro's room was a
crated image of St. Mary Virgin wrought out of silver, before
stood always, in summer-time, a glass containing a lily and a rose.
It was here, and at this time, that Chiaro painted the
pictures; as also, in all likelihood, the one—inferior in merit,
certainly his—which is now at Munich. For the most part, he was
calm and regular
in his manner of study; though often he would
remain at work through the whole of the
day, not resting once so
long as the light lasted; flushed, and with the hair from his
Or, at times, when he could not paint, he would sit for hours in
all the greatness the world had known from of old;
until he was weak with yearning, like
one who gazes upon a path
He continued in this patient endeavour for about three years, at
of which his name was spoken throughout all Tuscany. As his
fame waxed, he began to be
employed, besides easel-pictures,
upon paintings in fresco: but I believe that no traces
remain to us
of any of these latter. He is said to have painted in the Duomo:
D'Agincourt mentions having seen some portions of a fresco by
him which originally had
its place above the high altar in the
Church of the Certosa; but which, at the time he
saw it, being very
dilapidated, had been hewn out of the wall, and was preserved
the stores of the convent. Before the period of Dr. Aemmster's
however, it had been entirely destroyed.
Chiaro was now famous. It was for the race of fame that he had
girded up his loins; and he had not paused until fame was reached:
yet now, in
taking breath, he found that the weight was still at his
heart. The years of his labor
had fallen from him, and his life
was still in its first painful desire.
With all that Chiaro had done during these three years, and even
with the studies of his early youth, there had always been a
feeling of worship and
service. It was the peace-offering that he
made to God and to his own soul for the eager
selfishness of his
aim. There was earth, indeed, upon the hem of his raiment; but
this was of the heaven, heavenly. He had seasons when he could
to think of no other feature of his hope than this: and some-
times, in the ecstacy of
prayer, it had even seemed to him to behold
that day when his mistress—his mystical lady
(now hardly in her
ninth year, but whose solemn smile at meeting had already
on his soul like the dove of the Trinity)—even she, his own
holy Italian art—with her virginal bosom, and her un-
fathomable eyes, and the thread of
sunlight round her brows—should
pass, through the sun that never sets, into the circle
of the shadow
of the tree of life, and be seen of God, and found good: and then
had seemed to him, that he, with many who, since his coming, had
joined the band
of whom he was one (for, in his dream, the body he
had worn on earth had been dead an
hundred years), were permitted
to gather round the blessed maiden, and to worship with
all ages and ages of ages, saying, Holy, holy, holy. This thing he
seen with the eyes of his spirit; and in this thing had trusted,
believing that it would
surely come to pass.
But now, (being at length led to enquire closely into himself,) even
in the pursuit of fame, the unrest abiding after attainment had
proved to him that he
had misinterpreted the craving of his own
spirit—so also, now that he would willingly
have fallen back on
devotion, he became aware that much of that reverence which
had mistaken for faith had been no more than the worship of beauty.
after certain days passed in perplexity, Chiaro said within
himself, “My life and my
will are yet before me: I will take
another aim to my life.”
From that moment Chiaro set a watch on his soul, and put his
hand to no
other works but only to such as had for their end the
presentment of some moral
greatness that should impress the be-
holder: and, in doing this, he did not choose for
his medium the
action and passion of human life, but cold symbolism and
impersonation. So the people ceased to throng about his pictures
heretofore; and, when they were carried through town and town
to their destination, they
were no longer delayed by the crowds
eager to gaze and admire: and no prayers or offerings were brought
to them on their
path, as to his Madonnas, and his Saints, and his
Holy Children. Only the critical
audience remained to him; and
these, in default of more worthy matter, would have turned
scrutiny on a puppet or a mantle. Meanwhile, he had no more of
fever upon him;
but was calm and pale each day in all that he did
and in his goings in and out. The
works he produced at this time
have perished—in all likelihood, not unjustly. It is said
may easily believe it), that, though more labored than his former
they were cold and unemphatic; bearing marked out upon
them, as they must certainly have
done, the measure of that boun-
dary to which they were made to conform.
And the weight was still close at Chiaro's heart: but he held in
breath, never resting (for he was afraid), and would not know it.
Now it happened, within these days, that there fell a great feast
Pisa, for holy matters: and each man left his occupation; and
all the guilds and
companies of the city were got together for games
and rejoicings. And there were
scarcely any that stayed in the
houses, except ladies who lay or sat along their
open windows which let the breeze beat through the rooms and
the spread tables from end to end. And the golden cloths that
their arms lay upon drew
all eyes upward to see their beauty; and
the day was long; and every hour of the day was
bright with the
So Chiaro's model, when he awoke that morning on the hot pave-
the Piazza Nunziata, and saw the hurry of people that
passed him, got up and went along
with them ; and Chiaro waited
for him in vain.
For the whole of that morning, the music was in Chiaro's room
Church close at hand: and he could hear the sounds that
the crowd made in the streets;
hushed only at long intervals while
the processions for the feast-day chanted in going
under his windows.
Also, more than once, there was a high clamour from the
of factious persons: for the ladies of both leagues were looking
he who encountered his enemy could not choose but
draw upon him. Chiaro waited a long
time idle; and then knew
that his model was gone elsewhere. When at his work, he
blind and deaf to all else; but he feared sloth: for then his stealthy
would begin, as it were, to beat round and round him,
seeking a point for attack. He now
rose, therefore, and went to
the window. It was within a short space of noon; and
him a throng of people was coming out through the porch of San
The two greatest houses of the feud in Pisa had filled the church
that mass. The first to leave had been the Gherghiotti; who,
stopping on the threshold,
had fallen back in ranks along each side
of the archway: so that now, in passing
outward, the Marotoli had
to walk between two files of men whom they hated, and
fathers had hated theirs. All the chiefs were there and their
and each knew the name of each. Every man
of the Marotoli, as he came forth and saw his
foes, laid back his
hood and gazed about him, to show the badge upon the close
that held his hair. And of the Gherghiotti there were some who
girdles; and some shrilled and threw up their
wrists scornfully, as who flies a falcon;
for that was the crest of
On the walls within the entry were a number of tall, narrow fres-
presenting a moral allegory of Peace, which Chiaro had painted
that year for the Church.
The Gherghiotti stood with their backs
to these frescoes: and among them Golzo Ninuccio,
noble of the faction, called by the people of Golaghiotta, for his
based life. This youth had remained for some while talking list-
lessly to his
fellows, though with his sleepy sunken eyes fixed on
them who passed: but now, seeing
that no man jostled another, he
drew the long silver shoe off his foot, and struck the
dust out of it
on the cloak of him who was going by, asking him how far the
rose at Viderza. And he said so because it was three months
since, at that place, the
Gherghiotti had beaten the Marotoli to the
sands, and held them there while the sea came
in; whereby many
had been drowned. And, when he had spoken, at once the
archway was dazzling with the light of confused swords; and they
who had left
turned back; and they who were still behind made
haste to come forth: and there was so
much blood cast up the
walls on a sudden, that it ran in long streams down
Chiaro turned himself from the window; for the light felt dry
his lids, and he could not look. He sat down, and heard
the noise of contention driven
out of the church-porch and a great
way through the streets; and soon there was a deep
heaved and waxed from the other side of the city, where those of
parties were gathering to join in the tumult.
Chiaro sat with his face in his open hands. Once again he had
set his foot on a place that looked green and fertile; and
once again it seemed to him
that the thin rank mask was about to
spread away, and that this time the chill of the
water must leave
leprosy in his flesh. The light still swam in his head, and bewil-
dered him at first ; but when he knew his thoughts, they were
“Fame failed me: faith failed me: and now this also,—the hope
nourished in this my generation of men,—shall pass from me,
and leave my feet and my
hands groping. Yet, because of this, are
my feet become slow and my hands thin. I am as
one who, through
the whole night, holding his way diligently, hath smitten the
unto the flint, to lead some whom he knew darkling; who hath
kept his eyes
always on the sparks that himself made, lest they
should fail; and who, towards dawn,
turning to bid them that he
had guided God speed, sees the wet grass untrodden except of
own feet. I am as the last hour of the day, whose chimes are a
whom the next followeth not, nor light ensueth
from him; but in the same darkness is the
old order begun afresh.
Men say, ‘This is not God nor man; he is not as we are,
above us: let him sit beneath us, for we are many.’ Where I
write Peace, in
that spot is the drawing of swords, and there men's
footprints are red. When I would
sow, another harvest is ripe.
Nay, it is much worse with me than thus much. Am I not as
cloth drawn before the light, that the looker may not be blinded;
sheweth thereby the grain of its own coarseness; so that
the light seems defiled, and
men say, ‘We will not walk by it.’
Wherefore through me they shall be doubly accursed,
through me they reject the light. May one be a devil and not
As Chiaro was in these thoughts, the fever encroached slowly on
veins, till he could sit no longer, and would have risen; but
suddenly he found awe
within him, and held his head bowed,
without stirring. The warmth of the air was not
there seemed a pulse in the light, and a living freshness, like
The silence was a painful music, that made the blood ache in his
he lifted his face and his deep eyes.
A woman was present in his room, clad to the hands and feet
with a green
and grey raiment, fashioned to that time. It seemed
that the first thoughts he had ever
known were given him as at
first from her eyes, and he knew her hair to be the golden
which he beheld his dreams. Though her hands were joined, her
not lifted, but set forward; and though the gaze was
austere, yet her mouth was supreme
in gentleness. And as he
looked, Chiaro's spirit appeared abashed of its own
presence, and his lips shook with the thrill of tears; it seemed such
bitter while till the spirit might be indeed alone.
She did not move closer towards him, but he felt her to be as
him as his breath. He was like one who, scaling a
great steepness, hears his own voice echoed in some place much
higher than he can
see, and the name of which is not known to him.
As the woman stood, her speech was with
Chiaro: not, as it were,
from her mouth or in his ears; but distinctly between them.
“I am an image, Chiaro, of thine own soul within thee. See me, and
me as I am. Thou sayest that fame has failed thee, and faith
failed thee; but because at
least thou hast not laid thy life unto riches,
therefore, though thus late, I am
suffered to come into thy know-
ledge. Fame sufficed not, for that thou didst seek fame:
own conscience (not thy mind's conscience, but thine heart's), and
shall approve and suffice. For Fame, in noble soils, is a fruit of
the Spring: but not
therefore should it be said: ‘Lo! my garden
that I planted is barren: the crocus is
here, but the lily is dead in
the dry ground, and shall not lift the earth that covers
I will fling my garden together, and give it unto the builders.’
heed rather that thou trouble not the wise secret earth; for in
the mould that thou
throwest up shall the first tender growth lie to
waste; which else had been made strong
in its season. Yea, and
even if the year fall past in all its months, and the soil be
thee, peevish and incapable, and though thou indeed gather all
harvest, and it suffice for others, and thou remain vext with empti-
others drink of thy streams, and the drouth rasp thy
throat;—let it be enough that these
have found the feast good, and
thanked the giver: remembering that, when the winter is
through, there is another year, whose wind is meek, and whose sun
While he heard, Chiaro went slowly on his knees. It was not to
spoke, for the speech seemed within him and his own. The
air brooded in sunshine, and
though the turmoil was great outside,
the air within was at peace. But when he looked in
her eyes, he
wept. And she came to him, and cast her hair over him, and,
hands about his forehead, and spoke again:
“Thou hadst said,” she continued, gently, “that faith failed thee.
cannot be so. Either thou hadst it not, or thou hast it. But
who bade thee strike the
point betwixt love and faith? Wouldst
thou sift the warm breeze from the sun that
quickens it? Who
bade thee turn upon God and say: “Behold, my offering is of
and not worthy: thy fire comes not upon it: therefore, though I
slay not my
brother whom thou acceptest, I will depart before thou
smite me.” Why shouldst thou rise
up and tell God He is not
content? Had He, of His warrant, certified so to thee? Be
nice to seek out division; but possess thy love in sufficiency: as-
is faith, for the heart must believe first. What He hath
set in thine heart to do, that
do thou; and even though thou do it
without thought of Him, it shall be well done: it is this sacrifice
that He asketh
of thee, and His flame is upon it for a sign. Think
not of Him; but of His love and thy
love. For God is no morbid
exactor: he hath no hand to bow beneath, nor a foot, that
shouldst kiss it.”
And Chiaro held silence, and wept into her hair which covered
and the salt tears that he shed ran through her hair upon
his lips; and he tasted the
bitterness of shame.
Then the fair woman, that was his soul, spoke again to him, saying:
“And for this thy last purpose, and for those unprofitable truths
teaching,—thine heart hath already put them away, and it
needs not that I lay my bidding
upon thee. How is it that thou, a
man, wouldst say coldly to the mind what God hath said
the heart warmly? Thy will was honest and wholesome; but
look well lest this also
be folly,—to say, ‘I, in doing this, do
strengthen God among men.’ When at any time hath
he cried unto
thee, saying, ‘My son, lend me thy shoulder, for I fall?’ Deemest
that the men who enter God's temple in malice, to the
provoking of blood, and neither
for his love nor for his wrath will
abate their purpose,—shall afterwards stand with
thee in the
porch, midway between Him and themselves, to give ear unto thy
voice, which merely the fall of their visors can drown, and to
see thy hands, stretched
feebly, tremble among their swords? Give
thou to God no more than he asketh of thee; but
to man also, that
which is man's. In all that thou doest, work from thine own
simply; for his heart is as thine, when thine is wise and humble;
shall have understanding of thee. One drop of rain is as
another, and the sun's prism in
all: and shalt not thou be as he,
whose lives are the breath of One? Only by making
thyself his equal
can he learn to hold communion with thee, and at last own
above him. Not till thou lean over the water shalt thou see thine
therein: stand erect, and it shall slope from thy feet and be
lost. Know that there is
but this means whereby thou may'st
serve God with man:—Set thine hand and thy soul to
And when she that spoke had said these words within Chiaro's
left his side quietly, and stood up as he had first seen
her; with her fingers laid
together, and her eyes steadfast, and with
the breadth of her long dress covering her
feet on the floor. And,
speaking again, she said:
“Chiaro, servant of God, take now thine Art unto thee, and paint
thus, as I am, to know me: weak, as I am, and in the weeds of
this time; only with eyes
which seek out labour, and with a faith,
not learned, yet jealous of prayer. Do this; so
shall thy soul
stand before thee always, and perplex thee no more.”
And Chiaro did as she bade him. While he worked, his face
with knowledge: and before the shadows had turned,
his work was done. Having finished,
he lay back where he sat,
and was asleep immediately: for the growth of that strong
was heavy about him, and he felt weak and haggard; like one just
come out of
a dusk, hollow country, bewildered with echoes, where
he had lost himself, and who has
not slept for many days and
nights. And when she saw him lie back, the beautiful woman
to him, and sat at his head, gazing, and quieted his sleep with her voice.
The tumult of the factions had endured all that day through all
though Chiaro had not heard it: and the last service of that
Feast was a mass sung at
midnight from the windows of all the
churches for the many dead who lay about the city,
and who had to
be buried before morning, because of the extreme heats.
In the Spring of 1847 I was at Florence. Such as were there at
time with myself—those, at least, to whom Art is some-
thing,—will certainly recollect
how many rooms of the Pitti Gallery
were closed through that season, in order that some
of the pictures
they contained might be examined, and repaired without the
sity of removal. The hall, the staircases, and the vast central suite
apartments, were the only accessible portions; and in these such
paintings as they could
admit from the sealed
penetralia were pro-
fanely huddled together,
without respect of dates, schools, or persons.
I fear that, through this interdict, I may have missed seeing many
the best pictures. I do not mean
only the most talked of: for
as they were restored, generally found their way somehow
into the open rooms, owing to
the clamours raised by the students;
and I remember how old Ercoli's, the curator's,
spectacles used to
be mirrored in the reclaimed surface, as he leaned mysteriously
these works with some of the visitors, to scrutinize and elucidate.
One picture, that I saw that Spring, I shall not easily forget. It
among those, I believe, brought from the other rooms, and had
been hung, obviously out
of all chronology, immediately beneath
that head by Raphael so long known as the “Berrettino,” and now
said to be the portrait of Cecco Ciulli.
The picture I speak of is a small one, and represents merely the
of a woman, clad to the hands and feet with a green and grey
raiment, chaste and early
in its fashion, but exceedingly simple.
She is standing: her hands are held together
lightly, and her
eyes set earnestly open.
The face and hands in this picture, though wrought with great
have the appearance of being painted at once, in a single
sitting: the drapery is
unfinished. As soon as I saw the figure, it
drew an awe upon me, like water in shadow. I
shall not attempt to
describe it more than I have already done; for the most
wonder of it was its literality. You knew that figure, when painted,
been seen; yet it was not a thing to be seen of men. This
language will appear
ridiculous to such as have never looked on the
work; and it may be even to some among
those who have. On
examining it closely,I perceived in one corner of the canvass
Manus Animam pinxit, and the date 1239.
I turned to my Catalogue, but that was useless, for the pictures
all displaced. I then stepped up to the Cavaliere Ercoli, who
was in the room at the
moment, and asked him regarding the
subject of authorship of the painting. He treated the matter, I
slightingly, and said that he could show me the
reference in the Catalogue, which he had
compiled. This, when
found, was not of much value, as it merely said, “Schizzo d'autore
incerto,” adding the inscription.* I could willingly have prolonged
my inquiry, in the hope that it
might somehow lead to some result;
but I had disturbed the curator from certain yards of
Guido, and he
was not communicative. I went back therefore, and stood before
picture till it grew dusk.
The next day I was there again; but this time a circle of students
round the spot, all copying the “Berrettino.” I
however, to find a place whence I could see
my picture, and
I seemed to be in nobody's way. For some minutes I remained
then I heard, in an English voice: “Might I beg of
you, sir, to stand a little more to
this side, as you interrupt my view.”
I felt vext, for, standing where he asked me, a glare struck on
picture from the windows, and I could not see it. However, the
reasonably made, and from a countryman; so I com-
plied, and turning away, stood by his
easel. I knew it was not worth
while; yet I referred in some way to the work underneath
one he was copying. He did not laugh, but he smiled as we do in
Very odd, is it not?” said he.
The other students near us were all continental; and seeing
Englishman select an Englishman to speak with, conceived, I sup-
pose, that he
could understand no language but his own. They had
evidently been noticing the interest
which the little picture appeared
to excite in me.
One of them, and Italian, said something to another who stood
him. He spoke with a Genoese accent, and I lost the sense
in the villainous dialect.
“Che so?” replied the other, lifting his
towards the figure; “roba mistica: 'st' Inglesi son
misticismo: somiglia alle nebbie di là. Li fa pensare
alla patria, “E
intenerisce il core
Lo dì ch' han detto ai dolci amici adio.”
“La notte, vuoi dire,” said a third.
There was a general laugh. My compatriot was evidently a
novice in the
language, and did not take in what was said. I
remained silent, being amused.
‘Et toi donc?” said he who had quoted Dante, turning to
student, whose birthplace was unmistakable even had he been
addressed in any other
language: “que dis-tu de ce genre-là?”
“Moi?” returned the Frenchman, standing back from his
and looking at me and at the figure, quite politely, though with an
reservation: “Je dis, mon cher, que c'est une spécialité dont
me fiche pas mal. Je tiens que quand on ne comprend pas une
chose, c'est qu' elle ne
My reader thinks possibly that the French student was right.
Transcribed Footnote (page 33):
*I should here say, that in the catalogue for the year just over, (owing, as in
before mentioned, to the zeal and enthusiasm of Dr. Aemmester) this, and
pictures, have been more competently entered. The work in
question is now placed in the
Sala Sessagona, a room I did not see—under the
number 161. It is described as
“Figura mistica di Chiaro dell' Erma,” and
there is a brief notice of
the author appended.
The critic who should undertake to speak of all the poetry
issues from the press of these present days, what is so called by courtesy
well as that which may claim the title as of right, would impose on
himself a task
demanding no little labor, and entailing no little disgust
and weariness. Nor is the
trouble well repaid. More profit will not
accrue to him who studies, if the word can be
used, fifty of a certain
class of versifiers, than to him who glances over one: and,
successful effort to warn such that poetry is not their proper sphere,
that they must seek elsewhere for a vocation to work out, might
philanthropist to assume the position of scare-crow, and
drive away the unclean birds
from the flowers and the green leaves; on
the other hand, the small results which
appear to have hitherto attended
such endeavors are calculated rather to induce those
who have yet made,
to relinquish them than to lead others to follow in the same track.
is truly a disheartening task. To the critic himself no good, though
amusement occasionally, can be expected: to the criticised, good
but rarely, for he is
seldom convinced, and annoyance and rancour al-
most of course; and, even in those few
cases where the voice crying
“in the wilderness” produces its effect, the one thistle
the attempt at bearing figs sees its neighbors still believing in
success, and soon has its own place filled up. The sentence of those
not read is the best criticism on those who will not think.
It is acting on these considerations that we propose not to take
count of any
works that do not either show a purpose achieved or give
promise of a worthy event;
while of such we hope to overlook none.
We believe it may safely be assumed that at no previous period has
been more buzzed round by triviality and common-place;
but we hold firm, at the same
time, that at none other has there been a
greater or a grander body of genius, or so
honorable a display of well
cultivated taste and talent. Certainly the public do not
seem to know
this: certainly the critics deny it, or rather speak as though they
contemplated that such a position would be advanced: but, if the fact
it will make itself known, and the poets of this day will assert
themselves, and take
Note: The words “have” and “Lindsay” at the end of the first two lines quoted here are
printed on separate lines below, as foldovers.
Of these it is our desire to speak truthfully, indeed, and without
but always as bearing in mind that the inventor is more
than the commentator, and the
book more than the notes; and that, if
it is we who speak, we do so not for ourselves,
nor as of ourselves.
The work of Arthur Hugh Clough now before us, (we feel warranted
dropping of the
even at his first work,) unites the most
forms of nature, and the most unsophisticated conditions of life
character, with the technicalities of speech, of manners, and of persons
Oxford reading party in the long vacation. His hero is
- “Philip Hewson, the poet,
- Hewson, the radical hot, hating lords and scorning ladies;”
and his heroine is no heroine, but a woman, “Elspie, the quiet, the
The metre he has chosen, the hexametral, harmonises with the spirit
primitive simplicity in which the poem is conceived; is itself a
background, as much as
are “Knoydart, Croydart, Moydart, Morrer,
and Ardnamurchan;” and gives a new
individuality to the passages of
familiar narrative and every day conversation. It has
appropriateness; although, at first thought of the subject, this
perhaps, be scarcely admitted of so old and so stately a rhythmical
As regards execution, however, there may be noted, in qualification
pliancy and vigour, a certain air of experiment in occasional
passages, and a license
in versification, which more than warrants a
warning “to expect every kind of
irregularity in these modern
hexameters.” The following lines defy all efforts
at reading in dactyls
or spondees, and require an almost complete transposition of accent.
“There was a point which I forgot, which our gallant Highland homes
“While the little drunken Piper came across to shake hands with
“Something of the world, of men and women: you will not refuse me.”
In the first of these lines, the omission of the former “
would remove all objection; and there are others where a final
appears clearly deficient; as thus:—
“Only the road and larches and ruinous millstead between” [
“Always welcome the stranger: I may say, delighted to see [
Fine young men:”—
“Nay, never talk: listen now. What I say you can't
“Laid her hand on her lap. Philip took it. She
did not resist” [
Yet the following would be scarcely improved by greater exactness:
“Roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God;”
Nor, perhaps, ought this to be made correct:
Note: The words “it” and “Arthur”, and half of the word “cottage” at the end of lines 11,
26, and 24 respectively, are printed on separate lines below, as foldovers.
“Close as the bodies and intertwining limbs of athletic wrestlers.”
The aspect of
fact pervading “the Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich,”
—(in English, “the hut of the bearded well,” a somewhat singular
to say the least,) is so strong and complete as to render necessary
the few words of
dedication, where, in inscribing the poem, (or, as the
author terms it,
“trifle,”) to his “long-vacation pupils,” he expresses
hope, that they “will not be displeased if, in a fiction, purely
they are here and there reminded of times enjoyed together.”
As the story opens, the Oxford party are about to proceed to dinner
“the place of the Clansmen's meeting.” Their characters, discrimi-
nated with the nicest taste, and perfectly worked out, are thus in-
- “Be it recorded in song who was first, who last, in dressing.
- Hope was the first, black-tied, white-waistcoated, simple, his Honor;
- For the postman made out he was a son to the Earl of Ilay,
- (As, indeed, he was to the younger brother, the Colonel);
- Treated him therefore with special respect, doffed bonnet, and ever
- Called him his Honor: his Honor he therefore was at the cottage;
- Always his Honor at least, sometimes the Viscount of Ilay.
- “Hope was the first, his Honor; and, next to his Honor, the Tutor.
- Still more plain the tutor, the grave man nicknamed Adam,
10White-tied, clerical, silent, with antique square-cut waistcoat,
- Formal, unchanged, of black cloth, but with sense and feeling beneath [it;
- Skilful in ethics and logic, in Pindar and poets unrivalled;
Shady in Latin, said Lindsay, but
topping in plays
- “Somewhat more splendid in dress, in a waistcoat of a lady,
- Lindsay succeeded, the lively, the cheery, cigar-loving Lindsay,
- Lindsay the ready of speech, the Piper, the Dialectician:
- This was his title from Adam, because of the words he invented,
- Who in three weeks had created a dialect new for the party.
- “Hewson and Hobbes were down at the
matutine bathing; of
20Arthur Audley, the bather
par excellence glory of headers:
- Arthur they called him for love and for euphony: so were they bathing
- There where in mornings was custom, where, over a ledge of granite,
- Into a granite bason descended the amber torrent.
- There were they bathing and dressing: it was but a step from the cot-[tage,
- Only the road and larches and ruinous millstead between.
- Hewson and Hobbes followed quick upon Adam; on them followed [Arthur.
- “Airlie descended the last, splendescent as god of Olympus.
- When for ten minutes already the fourwheel had stood at the gateway;
- He, like a god, came leaving his ample Olympian chamber.”—pp. 5, 6.
A peculiar point of style in this poem, and one which gives a certain
character to some of its more familiar aspects, is the frequent
recurrence of the same
line, and the repeated definition of a personage
Note: The words ‘it’ and ‘labor’ at the end of the lines 1 and 14 quoted here are printed
on separate lines below, as foldovers.
by the same attributes. Thus, Lindsay is
“the Piper, the Dialectician,”
Arthur Audley “the glory of
headers,” and the tutor “the grave man
nicknamed Adam,” from
beginning to end; and so also of the others.
Omitting the after-dinner speeches, with their
“Long constructions strange and plusquam-Thucydidean,”
that only of “Sir Hector, the Chief and the Chairman;” in honor of the
Oxonians, than which nothing could be more unpoetically truthful, is
with the acknowledgment, ending in a sarcasm at the game
laws, by Hewson, who, as he
is leaving the room, is accosted by “a
thin man, clad as the Saxon:”
- “‘Young man, if ye pass thro' the Braes o'Lochaber,
- See by the Loch-side ye come to the Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich.’”—p. 9.
Throughout this scene, as through the whole book, no opportunity is
for giving individuality to the persons introduced: Sir
Hector, of whom we lose sight
henceforward, the attaché, the Guards-
man, are not mere names, but characters: it is
not enough to say that
two tables were set apart “for keeper and gillie and
peasant:” there is
something to be added yet; and with others assembled around
“Pipers five or six ;
among them the young one, the
The morrow's conversation of the reading party turns on “noble
and rustic girls, their partners.” And here speaks out Hewson
- “‘Never (of course you will laugh, but of course all the same I shall say [it,)
- Never, believe me, revealed itself to me the sexual glory,
- Till, in some village fields, in holidays now getting stupid,
- One day sauntering long and listless, as Tennyson has it,
- Long and listless strolling, ungainly in hobbydihoyhood,
- Chanced it my eye fell aside on a capless bonnetless maiden,
- Bending with three-pronged fork in a garden uprooting potatoes.
- Was it the air? who can say? or herself? or the charm of the labor?
- But a new thing was in me, and longing delicious possessed me,
10Longing to take her and lift her, and put her away from her slaving.
- Was it to clasp her in lifting, or was it to lift her by clasping,
- Was it embracing or aiding was most in my mind? Hard question.
- But a new thing was in me: I too was a youth among maidens.
- Was it the air? who can say? But, in part, 'twas the charm of the [labor.’”
And he proceeds in a rapture to talk on the beauty of household
Hereat Arthur remarks:
“‘Is not all this just the same that one hears at common room
perhaps Trinity-wines, about Gothic buildings and beauty?’”
— p. 13.
The character of Hobbes, called into energy by this observation, is
developed in the lines succeeding:
- “And with a start from the sofa came Hobbes; with a cry from the sofa,
- There where he lay, the great Hobbes, contemplative, corpulent, witty;
- Author forgotten and silent of currentest phrase and fancy;
- Mute and exuberant by turns, a fountain at intervals playing,
- Mute and abstracted, or strong and abundant as rain in the tropics;
- Studious; careless of dress; inobservant; by smooth persuasions
- Lately decoyed into kilt on example of Hope and the Piper,
- Hope an Antinous mere, Hyperion of calves the Piper. . . . .
- “‘Ah! could they only be taught,’ he resumed, ‘by a Pugin of women
10How even churning and washing, the dairy, the scullery duties,
- Wait but a touch to redeem and convert them to charms and attractions;
- Scrubbing requires for true grace but frank and artistical handling,
- And the removal of slops to be ornamentally treated!”—pp. 13, 14.
Here, in the tutor's answer to Hewson, we come on the moral of
the poem, a
moral to be pursued through commonplace lowliness of
station and through high rank,
into the habit of life which would be,
in the one, not petty,—in the other, not
overweening,—in any, calm
- “‘You are a boy; when you grow to a man, you'll find things alter.
- You will learn to seek the good, to scorn the attractive,
- Scorn all mere cosmetics, as now of rank and fashion,
- Delicate hands, and wealth, so then of poverty also,
- Poverty truly attractive, more truly, I bear you witness.
- Good, wherever found, you will choose, be it humble or stately,
- Happy if only you find, and, finding, do not lose it.’”—p. 14.
When the discussion is ended, the party propose to separate, some
on their tour ; and Philip Hewson will be of these.
- “‘Finally, too,’ from the kilt and the sofa said Hobbes in conclusion,
- ‘Finally Philip must hunt for that home of the probable poacher,
- Hid in the Braes of Lochaber, the Bothie of what-did-he-call-it.
- Hopeless of you and of us, of gillies and marquises hopeless,
- Weary of ethic and logic, of rhetoric yet more weary,
- There shall he, smit by the charm of a lovely potatoe-uprooter,
- Study the question of sex in the Bothie of what-did-he-call-it.”’—p. 18.
The action here becomes divided; and, omitting points of detail, we
confine ourselves to tracing the development of the idea in which
the subject of the
Philip and his companions, losing their road, are received at a farm,
they stay for three days: and this experience of himself begins.
He comes prepared;
and, if he seems to love the “golden-haired
Katie,” it is less that she
is “the youngest and comeliest daughter”
than because of her position,
and that in that she realises his precon-
ceived wishes. For three days he is with her
and about her; and he
Note: The word ‘her’ at the end of line 7 quoted here is printed on a separate line below,
as a turnover. The half-line by WMR appearing halfway down the page is printed as part of
the final line of the passage quoted above, and the word “mountains” is printed on a
separate line below, as a turnover.
remains when his friends leave the farm-house.
But his love is no more
than the consequence of his principles; it is his own will
sidered and but half understood. And a letter to Adam tells how it
had an end:
- “‘I was walking along some two miles from the cottage,
- Full of my dreamings. A girl went by in a party with others:
- She had a cloak on,—was stepping on quickly, for rain was beginning;
- But, as she passed, from the hood I saw her eyes glance at me:—
- So quick a glance, so regardless I, that, altho' I felt it,
- You couldn't properly say our eyes met; she cast it, and left it.
- It was three minutes, perhaps, ere I knew what it was. I had seen her
- Somewhere before, I am sure; but that wasn't it,—not its import.
- No; it had seemed to regard me with simple superior insight,
10Quietly saying to herself: ‘Yes, there he is still in his fancy. . . . . .
- Doesn't yet see we have here just the things he is used to elsewhere,
- And that the things he likes here, elsewhere he wouldn't have looked at;
- People here, too, are people, and not as fairy-land creatures.
- He is in a trance, and possessed,—I wonder how long to continue.
- It is a shame and pity,—and no good likely to follow.’—
- Something like this; but, indeed, I cannot the least define it.
- Only, three hours thence, I was off and away in the moor-land,
- Hiding myself from myself, if I could, the arrow within me.’”—p. 29.
Philip Hewson has been going on
- “Even as cloud passing subtly unseen from mountain to mountain,
- Leaving the crest of Benmore to be palpable next on Benvohrlich,
- Or like to hawk of the hill, which ranges and soars in its hunting,
- Seen and unseen by turns.” . . . . . .
And these are his words in the [mountains: . . . . . .
- “‘Surely the force that here sweeps me along in its violent impulse,
- Surely my strength shall be in her, my help and protection about her,
- Surely in inner-sweet gladness and vigor of joy shall sustain her;
- Till, the brief winter o'erpast, her own true sap in the springtide
- Rise, and the tree I have bared be verdurous e'en as aforetime:
- Surely it may be, it should be, it must be. Yet, ever and ever,
- ‘Would I were dead,’ I keep saying, ‘that so I could go and uphold [her.’”—pp.
And, meanwhile, Katie, among the others, is dancing and smiling
still on some
one who is to her all that Philip had ever been.
When Hewson writes next, his experience has reached its second
stage. He is
at Balloch, with the aunt and the cousin of his friend
Hope: and the lady Maria has
made his beliefs begin to fail and totter,
and he feels for something to hold firmly.
He seems to think, at one
moment, that the mere knowledge of the existence of such an
ought to compensate for lives of drudgery hemmed in with want; then
round on himself with, “How shall that be?” And, at length,
his questions, saying that it must and should be so, if it is.
After this, come scraps of letters, crossed and recrossed, from the
Note: The number
“39” at the end of line 11 is printed on a separate line above, as a turnover. The word
“ocean” in line 1 is printed on a separate line below, as a turnover.
Toper-na-fuosich. In his travelling towards home, a horse
cast a shoe, and the were
directed to David Mackaye. Hewson is
still in the clachan hard by when he urges his
friend to come to him:
and he comes.
- “There on the blank hill-side, looking down through the loch to the [ocean;
- There, with a runnel beside, and pine-trees twain before it,
- There, with the road underneath, and in sight of coaches and steamers,
- Dwelling of David Mackaye and his daughters, Elspie and Bella,
- Sends up a column of smoke the Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich. . . . .
- “So on the road they walk, by the shore of the salt sea-water,
- Silent a youth and maid, the elders twain conversing.”—pp. 36, 37.
- “Ten more days, with Adam, did Philip abide at the changehouse;
- Ten more nights they met, they walked with father and daughter.
10Ten more nights; and, night by night, more distant away were
- Philip and she; every night less heedful, by habit, the father.—pp. 38, [39.
From this point, we must give ourselves up to quotation; and the
remaining to us is our only apology to the reader for
making any omission whatever in
- “For she confessed, as they sat in the dusk, and he saw not her blushes,
- Elspie confessed, at the sports, long ago, with her father, she saw him,
- When at the door the old man had told him the name of the Bothie;
- There, after that, at the dance; yet again at the dance in Rannoch;
- And she was silent, confused. Confused much rather Philip
- Buried his face in his hands, his face that with blood was bursting.
- Silent, confused; yet by pity she conquered here fear, and continued:
- ‘Katie is good and not silly: be comforted, Sir, about her;
- Katie is good and not silly; tender, but not, like many,
10Carrying off, and at once, for fear of being seen, in the bosom
- Locking up as in a cupboard, the pleasure that any man gives them,
- Keeping it out of sight as a prize they need be ashamed of:
- That is the way, I think, Sir, in England more than in Scotland.
- No; she lives and takes pleasure in all, as in beautiful weather;
- Sorry to lose it; but just as we would be to lose fine weather. . . . .
- There were at least five or six,—not there; no, that I don't say,
- But in the country about,—you might just as well have been courting.
- That was what gave me much pain; and (you won't remember that tho'),
- Three days after, I met you, beside my Uncle's walking;
20And I was wondering much, and hoped you wouldn't notice;
- So, as I passed, I couldn't help looking. You didn't know me;
- But I was glad when I heard, next day, you were gone to the teacher.’
- “And, uplifting his face at last, with eyes dilated,
- Large as great stars in mist, and dim with dabbled lashes.
- Philip, with new tears starting,
- ‘You think I do not remember,’
- Said, ‘suppose that I did not observe. Ah me! shall I tell you?
- Elspie, it was your look that sent me away from Rannoch.’ . . . .
- And he continued more firmly, altho' with stronger emotion.
- ‘Elspie, why should I speak it? You cannot believe it, and should not.
30Why should I say that I love, which I all but said to another?
- Yet, should I dare, should I say, Oh Elspie you only I love, you,
- First and sole in my life that has been, and surely that shall be;
- Could, oh could, you believe it, oh Elspie, believe it, and spurn not?
- Is it possible,—possible, Elspie?’
- ‘Well,’ she answered,
- Quietly, after her fashion, still knitting; ‘Well, I think of it.
- Yes, I don't know, Mr. Philip; but only it feels to me strangely,—
- Like to the high new bridge they used to build at, below there,
- Over the burn and glen, on the road. You won't understand me. . . . .
- Sometimes I find myself dreaming at nights about arches and bridges;
40Sometimes I dream of a great invisible hand coming down, and
- Dropping a great key-stone in the middle.’ . . . .
- “But while she was speaking,—
- So it happened,—a moment she paused from her work, and, pondering,
- Laid her hand on her lap. Philip took it, she did not resist.
- So he retained her fingers, the knitting being stopped. But emotion
- Came all over her more and more, from his hand, from her heart, and
- Most from the sweet idea and image her brain was renewing.
- So he retained her hand, and, his tears down-dropping on it,
- Trembling a long time, kissed it at last: and she ended.
- And, as she ended, up rose he, saying: ‘What have I heard? Oh!
50What have I done, that such words should be said to me? Oh! I see it,
- See the great key-stone coming down from the heaven of heavens.’
- And he fell at her feet, and buried his face in her apron.
- “But, as, under the moon and stars, they went to the cottage,
- Elspie sighed and said: ‘Be patient, dear Mr. Philip;
- Do not do anything hasty. It is all so soon, so sudden.
- Do not say anything yet to any one.’
- ‘Elspie,’ he answered,
- “Does not my friend go on Friday? I then shall see nothing of you:
- Do not I myself go on Monday? ‘But oh!’ he said, ‘Elspie,
- Do as I bid you, my child; do not go on calling me
60Might I not just as well be calling you
- Call me, this heavenly night, for once, for the first time, Philip.’
- “‘Philip,’ she said, and laughed, and said she could not say it.
- ‘Philip,’ she said. He turned, and kissed the sweet lips as they said it.
- “But, on the morrow, Elspie kept out of the way of Philip;
- And, at the evening seat, when he took her hand by the alders,
- Drew it back, saying, almost peevishly:
- “‘No, Mr. Philip;
- I was quite right last night: it is too soon, too sudden,
- What I told you before was foolish, perhaps,—was hasty.
- When I think it over, I am shocked and terrified at it.’”. . . .
70“Ere she had spoken two words, had Philip released her fingers;
- As she went on, he recoiled, fell back, and shook, and shivered.
- There he stood, looking pale and ghastly; when she had ended,
- Answering in a hollow voice:
- “‘It is true; oh! quite true, Elspie.
- Oh! you are always right; oh! what, what, have I been doing?
- I will depart to-morrow. But oh! forget me not wholly,
- Wholly, Elspie, nor hate me; no, do not hate me, my Elspie.’”
Note: The notation ‘47, 48.’ at the end of line 7 quoted here is printed on a separate
line above, as a turnover. The notation ‘pp. 39-44.’ at the end of line 94 quoted here is
printed on a separate line below, as a turnover.
- “But a revulsion passed thro' the brain and bosom of Elspie;
- And she got up from her seat on the rock, putting by her knitting,
- Went to him where he stood, and answered:
- “‘No, Mr. Philip:
80No; you are good, Mr. Philip, and gentle; and I am the foolish:
- No, Mr. Philip; forgive me.’
- “She stepped right to him, and boldly
- Took up his hand, and placed it in her's, he daring no movement;
- Took up the cold hanging hand, up-forcing the heavy elbow.
- ‘I am afraid,’ she said; ‘but I will;’ and kissed the fingers.
- And he fell on his knees, and kissed her own past counting. . . . . .
- “As he was kissing her fingers, and knelt on the ground before her,
- Yielding, backward she sank to her seat, and, of what she was doing
- Ignorant, bewildered, in sweet multitudinous vague emotion,
- Stooping, knowing not what, put her lips to the curl on his forehead.
90And Philip, raising himself, gently, for the first time, round her
- Passing his arms, close, close, enfolded her close to his bosom.
- “As they went home by the moon, ‘Forgive me, Philip,’ she whispered:
- ‘I have so many things to talk of all of a sudden,
- I who have never once thought a thing in my ignorant Highlands.’”—[pp.
We may spare criticism here, for what reader will not have felt such
There is something in this of the very tenderness of tender-
ness; this is true
delicacy, fearless and unembarrassed. Here it seems
almost captious to object: perhaps,
indeed, it is rather personal whim
than legitimate criticism which makes us take some
exception at “the
curl on his forehead;” yet somehow there seems a hint in it of
Elspie's doubts now return upon her with increased force; and it is
after many conversations with the “teacher” that she allows
her resolve to be fixed.
So, at last,
- “There, upon Saturday eve, in the gorgeous bright October,
- Under that alders knitting, gave Elspie her troth to Philip.”
And, after their talk, she feels strong again, and fit to be his.—Then
- “‘But we must go, Mr. Philip.’
- “‘I shall not go at all,’ said
- He, ‘If you call me
Mr. T hank Heaven! that's well over!’
- “‘No, but it's not,’ she said; ‘it is not over, nor will be.
- Was it not, then,’ she asked, ‘the name I called you first by?
- No, Mr. Philip, no. You have kissed me enough for two nights.
- No.—Come, Philip, come, or I'll go myself without you.’
- “‘You never call me Philip,’ he answered, ‘until I kiss you.’”—pp. [47, 48.
David Mackaye gives his consent; but first Hewson must return to
study for a year.
His views have not been stationary. To his old scorn for the idle of
the earth had
succeeded the surprise that overtook him at Balloch: and
he would now hold to his
creed, yet not as rejecting his experience.
Some, he says, were made for use; others
for ornament; but let these
, of a truth, and not such as
find themselves merely thrust
into exemption from labor. Let each know his place, and
“For it is beautiful only to do the thing we are meant for.”
And of his friend urging Providence he can only, while answering that
must be in the right, ask where the limit comes between
circumstance and Providence,
and can but wish for a great cause, and
the trumpet that should call him to God's
battle, whereas he sees
- “Only infinite jumble and mess and dislocation,
- Backed by a solemn appeal, ‘For God's sake, do not stir there.’”
And the year is now out.
- “Philip returned to his books, but returned to his Highlands after. . . .
- There in the bright October, the gorgeous bright October,
- When the brackens are changed, and heather blooms are faded,
- And, amid russet of heather and fern, green trees are bonnie,
- There, when shearing had ended, and barley-stooks were garnered,
- David gave Philip to wife his daughter, his darling Elspie;
- Elspie, the quiet, the brave, was wedded to Philip, the poet. . . . .
- So won Philip his bride. They are married, and gone to New Zealand.
- Five hundred pounds in pocket, with books and two or three pictures,
10Tool-box, plough, and the rest, they rounded the sphere to New Zealand.
- There he hewed and dug; subdued the earth and his spirit.”— pp. 52-55.
Among the prominent attributes of this poem is its completeness.
elaboration, not only of character and of mental discipline, but of
incident also, is
unbroken. The absences of all mention of Elspie in the
opening scene and again at the
dance at Rannoch may at first seem to
be a failure in this respect; but second thoughts
will show it to be far
otherwise: for, in the former case, her presence would not have
any significance for Hewson, and, in the latter, would have been over-
by him save so far as might warrant a future vague recollection,
pre-occupied as his
eyes and thoughts were by another. There is one
condition still under which we have as
yet had little opportunity of dis-
playing this quality; but it will be found to be as
fully carried out in
the descriptions of nature. In the first of our extracts the
few, but stand for many.
- “Meäly glen, the heart of Lochiel's fair forest,
- Where Scotch firs are darkest and amplest, and intermingle
- Grandly with rowan and ash;—in Mar you have no ashes;
- There the pine is alone or relieved by birch and alder.”—p. 22.
In the next mere sound and the names go far towards the entire
not so far as to induce any negligence in essential details:
- “As, at return of tide, the total weight of ocean,
- Drawn by moon and sun from Labrador and Greenland,
Note: The notation ‘p. 12.’ at the end of line 5 of the lower poem quoted here is
printed on a separate line below, as a turnover.
- Sets in amain in the open space betwixt Mull and Scarfa,
- Heaving, swelling, spreading, the might of the mighty Atlantic;
- There into cranny and slit of the rocky cavernous bottom
- Settles down; and with dimples huge the smooth sea-surface
- Eddies, coils, and whirls, and dangerous Corryvreckan.”—p. 52.
Two more passages, and they must suffice as examples. Here the
perfect; but it is the isolation, not of the place and the actors
only; it is, as it
were, almost our own in an equal degree;
- “Ourselves too seeming
- Not as spectators, accepted into it, immingled, as truly
- Part of it as are the kine of the field lying there by the birches.”
- “There, across the great rocky wharves a wooden bridge goes,
- Carrying a path to the forest; below,—three hundred yards, say,—
- Lower in level some twenty-five feet, thro' flats of shingle,
- Stepping-stones and a cart-track cross in the open valley.
- But, in the interval here, the boiling pent-up water
- Frees itself by a final descent, attaining a bason
10Ten feet wide and eighteen long, with whiteness and fury
- Occupied partly, but mostly pellucid, pure, a mirror;
- Beautiful there for the color derived from green rocks under;
- Beautiful most of all where beads of foam uprising
- Mingle their clouds of white with the delicate hue of the stillness.
- Cliff over cliff for its sides, with rowan and pendent birch-boughs,
- Here it lies, unthought of above at the bridge and pathway,
- Still more concealed from below by wood and rocky projection.
- You are shut in, left alone with yourself and perfection of water,
- Hid on all sides, left alone with yourself and the goddess of bathing.”—
20“So they bathed, they read, they roamed in glen and forest;
- Far amid blackest pines to the waterfall they shadow,
- Far up the long long glen to the loch, and the loch beyond it
- Deep under huge red cliffs, a secret.”
In many of the images of this poem, as also in the volume ”Ambar-
valia,” the joint production of Clough and Thomas Burbidge, there is
moderness, a reference distinctly to the means and habits
of society in these days, a
recognition of every-day fact, and a willing-
ness to believe it as capable of poetry
as that which, but for having
once been fact, would not now be tradition. There is a
character in passages like the following, the familiarity of the
blending with the remoteness of the form of metre, such as should not
overlooked in attempting to estimate the author's mind and views
- “Still, as before (and as now), balls, dances, and evening parties, . . . .
- Seemed like a sort of unnatural up-in-the-air balloon work, . . . .
- As mere gratuitous trifling in presence of business and duty
- As does the turning aside of the tourist to look at a landscape
- Seem in the steamer or coach to the merchant in haste for the city.”—[p. 12.
Indeed, the general adaptation of the style to the immediate matter,
alternation of the poetic and the familiar, with a certain mixture
even of classical
phrase and allusion, is highly appropriate, and may
almost be termed constant, except
in occasional instances where more
poetry, and especially more conception and working
out of images, is
introduced than squares with a strict observance of nature. Thus
lines quoted where Elspie applies to herself the incident of “the
new bridge” and “the great key-stone in the middle” are
by others (omitted in our extract) where the idea is followed into
details; and there is another passage in which, through no less than
teen lines, she compares herself to an inland stream disturbed and
on by the mingling with it of the sea's tide. Thus also one of
the most elaborate
descriptions in the poem,—an episode in itself of
the extremest beauty and finish, but,
as we think, clearly misplaced,—
is a picture of the dawn over a great city, introduced
into a letter of
Philip's, and that, too, simply as an image of his own mental
There are but few poets for whom it would be superfluous to
whether pieces of such-like mere poetry might not more properly form
of the descriptive groundwork, and be altogether banished from
conversation, where the greater amount of their intrinsic
care and excellence becomes,
by its position, a proportionally increasing
load of disregard for truthfulness.
For a specimen of a peculiarly noble spirit which pervades the whole
would refer the reader to the character of Arthur Audley,
unnecessary to the story, but
most important to the sentiment; for a
comprehensive instance of minute feeling for
individuality, to the nar-
rative of Lindsay and the corrections of Arthur on returning
- “He to the great
might have been upsoaring, sublime and ideal;
- He to the merest
it was restricting, diminishing,
For pleasant ingenuity, involving, too, a point of character, to the final
of Hobbes to Philip, wherein, in a manner made up of playful
subtlety and real poetical
feeling, he proves how “this Rachel and
Leah is marriage.”
“The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich” will not, it is to be feared, be
extensively read; its length combined with
the metre in which it is
written, or indeed a first hasty glance at the contents, does
not allure the
even of poetical readers; but it will not be left or forgotten
by such as fairly enter
upon it. This is a poem essentially thought and
studied, if not while in the act of
writing, at least as the result of a
condition of mind; and the author owes it to the
appreciations of all
into whose hands it shall come, and who are willing to judge for
selves, to call it, should a second edition appear, by its true name;—
trifle, but a work.
That public attention should have been so little engaged by this
poem is a
fact in one respect somewhat remarkable, as contrasting
with the notice which the
“Ambarvalia” has received. Nevertheless,
independently of the greater importance of
“the Bothie” in length
and development, it must, we think, be admitted to be written
sounder and more matured principles of taste,—the style being
characterized and distinctive without special prominence, whereas
a few of the poems in the other volume are examples rather of style
thought, and might be held in recollection on account of the
former quality alone.
- He gazed her over, from her eyebrows down
- Even to her feet: he gazed so with the good
- Undoubting faith of fools, much as who should
- Accost God for a comrade. In the brown
- Of all her curls he seemed to think the town
- Would make an acquisition; but her hood
- Was not the newest fashion, and his brood
- Of lady-friends might scarce approve her gown.
- If I did smile, 'twas faintly; for my cheeks
10Burned, thinking she'd be shown up to be sold,
- And cried about, in the thick jostling run
- Of the loud world, till all the weary weeks
- Should bring her back to herself and to the old
- Familiar face of nature and the sun.
- The air blows pure, for twenty miles,
- Over this vast countrié:
- Over hill and wood and vale, it goeth,
- Over steeple, and stack, and tree:
- And there's not a bird on the wind but knoweth
- How sweet these meadows be.
- The swallows are flying beside the wood,
- And the corbies are hoarsely crying;
- And the sun at the end of the earth hath stood,
10And, thorough the hedge and over the road,
- On the grassy slope is lying:
- And the sheep are taking their supper-food
- While yet the rays are dying.
- Sleepy shadows are filling the furrows,
- And giant-long shadows the trees are making;
- And velvet soft are the woodland tufts,
- And misty-gray the low-down crofts;
- But the aspens there have gold-green tops,
- And the gold-green tops are shaking:
20The spires are white in the sun's last light;—
- And yet a moment ere he drops,
- Gazes the sun on the golden slopes.
- Two sheep, afar from fold,
- Are on the hill-side straying,
- With backs all silver, breasts all gold:
- The merle is something saying,
- Something very very sweet:—
- ‘The day—the day—the day is done:’
- There answereth a single bleat—
30The air is cold, the sky is dimming,
- And clouds are long like fishes swimming.
- Love, strong as death, is dead.
- Come, let us make his bed
- Among the dying flowers:
- A green turf at his head;
- And a stone at his feet,
- Whereon we may sit
- In the quiet evening hours.
- He was born in the spring,
- And died before the harvesting.
10On the last warm summer day
- He left us;—he would not stay
- For autumn twilight cold and grey
- Sit we by his grave and sing
- He is gone away.
- To few chords, and sad, and low,
- Sing we so.
- Be our eyes fixed on the grass,
- Shadow-veiled, as the years pass,
- While we think of all that was
20In the long ago.
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