Obrazy na stronie

Stories. The ingenious writer of Eöthen ap- , and most massive I ever saw, and seemed to pears to have been led unconsciously to the promise the strength which is said to charactersame conclusion. He was surprised, when sail

ize the wines of this district, called from the liting in a Greek brigantine from Smyrna, to hear north of the river. There was generally a spark

tle town of St. Emillion, on the ridge to the the sailors listening, without impatience, to tales ling crispness about the views, a softness in the three hours long. In one he recognized an old air, and over the country an appearance of ease friend of the Nights, which he believed to have and substantial wealth, which were very animatsprung from a Grecian brain. History inter- ing. Castillon, four or five leagues from Liposes no obstacle. During the Caliphat the bourne, is a much smaller town, with some reGreeks were in frequent communication with mains of antiquity in its appearance. Close to Bagdad. “They were the merchants, barbers

, English of Guyenne, and in which the two Tal

it was fought the battle which deprived the pedlars, and intriguers in general of south-west- bots fell. Here we exchanged our calèche for a ern Asia.” Accordingly, the Eastern materials small char-à-banc with one horse, which took us that built up the Arabian tales might easily lie to Montaigne St. Michel, along a detestable close to the plastic hand of that accomplished road, mostly somewhat ascending. We found and inventive people.

the higher ground to be a wide, broken plain, Sterling spent the autumn and winter of out of sight of the Dordogne, and studded with 1836, and the spring and summer of the follow- small stone windmills, each carrying a conical

roof. ing year, with a relative at Bordeaux, where he

The first memorial of the days of Montaigne prepared some poetical contributions for Black- which we discovered was the parish church, a wood's Magazine. None are included in the very old building. There is a massive square collection of his remains.

tower covered by a slightly pointed roof, and During this sojourn in the south of France he having two large openings near its summit in visited the château of the famous Montaigne; each side, which look like windows, but are and we extract the account in his Journal as

without shafts, and seem to distinguish a good

deal of the church architecture of the neighboura very agreeable specimen of his lighter style :

hood. There is a round apsis beyond the tower

at the east end, with only two small loophole Sept. 21, 18 —- I left Bordeaux yesterday, windows; and at the west end is raised a small with my chivalrous and melancholy companion, curiously complicated wooden superstructure, for Libourne on the Dordogne, and drove the designed to contain the bell of a large clock, to whole way through a flat and richly cultivated which access is obtained by a rude external country with a good many trees. It was dark wooden gallery, painted red, and stretching all when we reached the banks of the river, at seven the length of the body of the church, close unin the evening; and we saw the water gleaming der the eaves. From this building runs under us as we drove over the bridge with straight road, perhaps a quarter of a mile long, the lights of the town in front. We soon reached to the château. our hôtel, called Des Princes, where we slept. The part of Montaigne's house which we first This morning we rose in good time, breakfasted, reached was the tower described by him in his and started at a few minutes after eight, in a Essay On the Three Commerces (iii. 3), as conlight calèche, for · Castillon, which lies up the taining his library and study. It is a plain, river, on the same side as Libourne. The road round structure, at the south-eastern corner of is flat, and the river not in sight; but the coun- the château ; a dead wall runs from it on each try looks extremely rich and prosperous, with a side, at right angles, and rises to about half its profusion of scattered trees, and with some height. This is in reality the exterior of ranges pleasant rising grounds on the opposite side of of outbuildings, which form two sides of the the road to that on which the Dordogne lies. court-yard. In this wall, close to the tower, The sun was shining brightly, though with a and facing us as we approached, was a small good many clouds about the sky; and the air gate, through which we found entrance. The was peculiarly clear, so that every tree and château itself was now on our left, running plant, and even the single vine-leaves, were along the western side of the quadrangle. It is beautifully distinct and vivid. It was a pleasure a high building of gray stone, evidently very anto see the solid-looking, white houses, with the cient, and probably untouched, except for resharp scalloped shadows of the eaves. Every pairs, since the days of Montaigne's father. laborer's face under his broad straw hat had There are a considerable number of windows a strong shadow thrown as far as the up- scattered very irregularly over the front. Near per lip. Sometimes a withered bright red leaf the middle at each side of the small unornamenton the summit of a vine-spray, with the light ed entrance are two large and high towers of glowing through it, looked as brilliant as the ru- unlike architecture; the one with deep machico by glass of an old cathedral window. The vines lations, the other without them, and both with themselves were of more picturesque growth conical roofs. If erected, as I presume, by than about Bordeaux, rising to a much greater Montaigne's father, the building must be about height round pointed poles, and pushing out three hundred years old: the whole place has their young boughs of pale green in bacchanal now an air of sluttish neglect, though not at all liberty. The black bunches were the largest of decay. It is now inhabited by an old gentle



man, formerly a military man, whose civility we , tions, at one end, and a window, which entitles should ill repay by recording any idle accounts it to be spoken of as très plaisammant percé, – of his simple establishment and very agreeable having a pleasant window-light — and which, conversation. The house is only one room though directly overlooking the court-yard, furdeep; and behind it runs a long and broad ter- nishes a view, above the northern line of offices, race, covered with grass, and with some trees towards Mont Peyroux and Gurson. growing upon it, amongst others a large horse The whole appearance and position of this chestnut. It is bordered by a stone balustrade, apartment seem especially characteristic of Monwhich rises on the edge of a steep, wooded bank, taigne. The cheerfulness, the airiness, the quiet, and has beyond it a very extensive prospect the constant though somewhat remote view of over a flat country, with slight eminences on natural objects, and of the far-spread and busy the horizon, marked towards the north by the occupations of men, all are suitable to him. The village and château of Mont Peyroux, which in ornamenting the joists of his chamber-roof with Montaigne's day was a sort of dependence on several scores of moral sentences was the work his seigneurie, and belonged to his younger of a speculative idler; and their purport is albrother. Near it, and still higher against the ways, so far as I saw, suitable to bis sceptical but sky, are the ruins of the château of Gurson, des humane and indulgent temper. The neglect of stroyed in the Revolution, and which seems to all elegance and modern convenience in the have been a castle in our English sense of the house, together with its perfect preservation word, that is, a feudal abode constructed for de- from decay, add to the interest, and seem to fence. It was probably the residence of the prove that it is maintained in its old completeness lady to whom Montaigne addresses his Essay on and bareness, not from any notion of use, but Education (i. 25). The whole prospect is woody out of respect for the memory of its celebrated and cultivated, but without water, or any very remarkable outlines, open, airy, quiet, and sufficiently prosperous. The old gentleman told us In the mean time, it is very painful to mark, that he was possessed of eleven métairies or in a religious sense, the downward steps of this farms with the château, but that Montaigne had accomplished, and otherwise admirable, person. held eighteen.

Between Continental and English piety he traced After taking leave of our host we returned to the corner tower, which we examined through

a wide difference; the former resembling the out, and were much interested by the minute matured mind of Paul and John ; the latter, the agreement of its present state with every thing re-unenlightened intelligence of the Apostles becorded in Montaigne's description. The ground-fore Pentecost. Above all things, it seemed floor retains the appearance of having once been necessary to him to break the “charmed sleep" a small chapel, though now dark and dilapi- of theology. Such bloodless, skeleton frames as dated. The first floor, which was the sleeping Hammand, Hooker, or Taylor, had left, presentapartment of the Gascon philosopher, does not ed no beauty to satisfy one who gazed enamoured look as if it had been applied since his day to any other purpose. The third and last story is

on the mystical creations of Schleiermacher and that so particularly described by its occupant as

Tholuck. having contained his library and study.

A winter in Madeira benefited the health of The room still overlooks the entrance of the Sterling so much that he was enabled to pass château, and, from three windows in different the summer in England with some satisfaction. sides of the circuit, commands the garden, the But a milder temperature being still desirable, court, the house, and the outhouses. The books he set about fulfilling his long-cherished scheme indeed are gone; but the many small rafters of the roof are inscribed on their lower faces with of visiting Rome, travelling through Belgium, up mottoes and pithy sentences, which recall, as by the Rhine, across Switzerland, and so to Milan. a living voice, the favorite studies and thoughts The occasional glimpses of him on the road are of Montaigne.

extremely pleasing: The chapel still shows the recess where stood the altar; and there are the remains of colors At Florence he of course recurred with inand gilding on the defaced coats of arms around creased interest to the same subject. “I spent the walls. The bedroom floor presents nothing some days at Bologna, where it seemed to me remarkable; but that above, in which are the that the Caraccis pictures, and those of their inscriptions on its rafters, preserves the exact followers, were like things produced by most inform described by its ancient occupant. The genious machines of pictorial Perkinses and paces of Montaigne must have been of about a Babbages. I rejoiced in Francia and Perugino, foot and a half; for the diameter of the tower and thought the St. Cecilia a dazzling piece of inside is about twenty-four feet. The circle is incongruity, the form of the painting being that at one part cut by two straight walls, joining in of the simple visionary style of earlier times, an angle, being the portion which he speaks of and the sentiment and execution that of beauti: as adapted for his seat and table. The three fnl but not devout nature. I had before seen windows, affording a rich and free prospect, are Parma, as well as Milan, and grown to love Luistill unchanged. There is a sort of closet open- ni, Correggio, and the Sposalizio. Here I breathe, ing off the room, with the traces of painted or if not the most ennobling, certainly the most denaments on the wall, a fire-place, as he men- ' lightful, air of my life. The two Galleries, and

ever seen.

the aspect of the town, keep me in a state of and variety; and the Frescoes of the Sistine harmless intoxication, more coherent than dream, seem to me to rise far beyond even the sculptures more exciting than rational insight, half poetry, of the Medicean Chapel at Florence. Taking half religion, or rather the pure enthusiasm character and genius both into account, he seems which is common to both, clad in the fairest visi

to me the greatest Italian since Dante. Of Rable forms of nature and imagination. I fancy phael, I think like all the world, except that he I write nonsense ; but it is because I can find no does not give me the impression of a very high sense to express the kind of childish, yet intel or pure religious spirit. I find the works previlectual, joy which Florence perpetually feeds in ous to 1500 of inexhaustible interest. My want me. The Venus shakes my allegiance to her of is that of more complete knowledge of the sculpMelo, without having overthrown it. It seems tures in the Vatican : but I am afraid of the the perfection of innocent beauty, neither melt- cold; and I fear I shall quit Rome still very ige ed into passion, nor raised to piety. The con norant of them. The statue of a sleeping fetrast, on the one and baser hand, is Titian's, and, male, which used to be called Cleopatra, and on the other and nobler, the Madonna del Car now Ariadne, gives me, I think, as much pleasdellino; but the statue is perhaps the least like ure as any other. I conceive it to be the nymph any thing I was familiar with before. Diana's of a fountain. But I think all the gratification virgins might learn modesty from it; and I think which any works of art here give me is little in it must produce something of a similar influence comparison with that derived from the general on every one who looks at it. I do not think look of Rome and the country round it. The Raphael's pictures have raised my previous esti- views which combine the city with the Campag. mate of him, though they have rendered it much na and the mountains, strike me as the grandest more lively. The Madonna del Gran Duca in style, and the most thoroughly poetic I have and the Cardellino give me as high and pure

It would require not only exquisite pleasure as any. The Seggiola is an age for- poetry, but this united with a divine music, to ward in experience of life and human feeling, as render the sort of impression made by these well as talent; but it has none of the Perugian prospects. That, for instance, from the front of piety."

St. John Lateran, from the Pincian, from San

Pietro in Montorio, and especially from Sant Rome shed over Sterling the still and solemn Onofrio, the Convent of Tasso, the lonely trauthoughtfulness which imaginative and pensive quillity of the Aventine, and all that opens round minds have always found in it. Of all earthly it, - indeed, any spot in Rome which gives a collections of life, that city alone seems to de- glimpse of the mountains raises and harmonizes serve the name of Eternal. The religious spirit world always do, but with unrivalled fulness of

the mind, not only as the noble aspects of the of the place, however, affected him only on the imagery, and with a thoughtful sense of personal side of aversion and surprise. He saw the Pope reconciliation to the lot of humanity. “ in all his pomp at St. Peter's," and turned away as from “ a mere lie in livery." The sojourn in

A friend's translation of the Edda drew from Rome was useful in giving a stimulus to his in- Sterling some enthusiastic, if not particularly tellectual exertions. But the spiritual vision intelligible, praises of Greek mythology. One was still disturbed and spotted. About this may turn a loving and delighted eye on the potime he read the infamous book of Strauss, etic world of Olympus and Arcadia, with its which that unhappy person presumed to entitle ever-changing views and splendid pageants; but a "Life of Jesus,” and the perusal of which, we

it is not easy to join in the hopeful looking for agree with the Archdeacon in believing, “ can

of a day, when that beautiful creation is to bescarcely be unattended by injury.” This sincere

come an inexhaustible treasure-house of noble friend did not let go the hand of his former joys and consolations to the now ignorant and curate without earnest and affectionate expostu- suffering multitudes. This was the anticipation lation; and the correspondence languished, as of Sterling. But it is necessary to have been its inefficiency became apparent.

suckled in the “creed outwon," in order to apBut we leave this distressing chapter of the preciate so vividly its grandeur and capacity. history to revert, for a moment, to Sterling's Ital- We think it was Fiume who said, that the reliian experiences. Here are some ingenious criti- gion of Paganism, the inhabitants and machinery cisms on art and painters, and local scenery :

of the Homeric Elysium, were so lastingly love

ly, that somewhere or other it must, even to this During the last three months I have seen, bour, continue to abide and flourish. The lonfelt, breathed little but Rome. I have not at- gitude. bas yet to be calculated by the Geographtempted to gain originality by differing from all ical Society. But far into the present century, mankind, but have been content to see and reverence the greatness of Raphael and Michael

a single worshipper, at least, remained to offer Angelo. Both of them exceed my fancy of due honors to Jupiter or Minerva. It was told their excellence, but, I think, Michael most.

of that remarkable person, known as “ Taylor For I had not been prepared for him by any the Platonist,” that he really burnt incense to works comparable to the Cartoons for extent | Cytherea, or whatever denizen of the Olympian

houses might engage his daily regard. Our own genius, though on a small scale, as a spangle remembrance of Mr. Taylor would countenance may be gold as pure as a doubloon. I cannot the tradition; and Sterling gives a very striking describe the feeling of the ludicrous which came and amusing anecdote of the sculptor, Thor- over me just now, on finding a passage where waldsen, that may help to keep up the spirits of he tells of Adam grudging a penny for nonthose who are waiting for the Cyprian coach and pareils at a stall in Mesopotamia, when rememsparrows, or listening for the horn of Triton:

bering the unpurchased plenty of his former

orchard." Thorwaldsen's statues I have seen in plaster, and can conceive how far more striking they

Sterling had left his family at Clifton, and remust be in the Church for which they were in- turning in the early spring of 1840, he found tended. He is, however, not at all preeminently them well and affectionate, — a great source of a Christian sculptor, though much the greatest comfort to his own tender heart. But the dark since Michael Angelo. It was very curious to current of his German fancies flowed in a deeper observe in his studio at Rome, that his design and stronger stream. A pamphlet of Arnold on for the hearers of Homer rhapsodizing is sub- Prophecy be suspected to be worth all else on stantially the same as that for the company gath the subject in the English language! This is ered about the Baptist, which fills a pediment of the Copenhagen Church. It is too much, no

very painful to read; and so is the saying, that doubt, to say, as some have said, that there can Mr. Carlyle is doing his work “by convincing be no Christian sculpture; but certainly the men's hearts that no belief can be adopted as spirit of the Gospel has never been as perfectly useful unless embraced as true;" as if an aposexhibited in this form of art, or art of form, as tle had not told us the same thing some 1800 in the Cartoons and some of the Madonnas of

years ago, when declaring that “whatever is not Raphael, and even in the works of some earlier

of painters. The grave equipoise of soul, expressed

FAITH, is sin.” in symmetric images, is evidently Thorwaldsen's

Dividing the next winter between Torquay predominant characteristic: and this is appro- and Penzance, he kept the poetic chisel busy on priate to moral and philosophical, not to devo- the head of Strafford, and made it quite a labor tional elevation. Did you ever hear the story of of love. He said that he never was in water his being at a party at Bunsen's, whose house where he swam so lightly; and his joy knew no was on the Capitoline Hill, on the site of the bounds when Archdeacon Hare commended the Temple of Olympian Jove, and where the conversation, as often under Bunsen's guidance,

tragedy. took a very Christian turn, till Thorwaldsen

Human praise, however, was soon to be unremarked through the window, commanding a availing; but the energy of his spirit upheld noble prospect of Rome, the modern city, the him. At Falmouth, he rose at five o'clock, readplanet Jupiter in great glory, and filling his glass ing and writing in his little study, that overexclaimed: “Well? here's in honor of the ancient looked the sea ; and the rural charms of the Gods?

neighbourhood, whenever discovered, gave him Sterling was at Clifton in 1839, busily en real gratification. His interest in the welfare of gaged in a tragedy on Strafford, on which he his poorer brethren did not grow cold. He bestowed much thought and time. It was after-established a course of lectures at an institution wards published, without exciting much atten- in the town, and opened it with one from bis tion, or leaving a durable impression on the poet- own pen. He also set up a book-club, and exical memory. His health was again declining; erted himself in helping the Cornish artists to the gleams of fine weather that shone over him improve the style of their pictures. in Italy having soon become clouded. In No The spring of 1842 found him in the Meditervember, he ruptured a blood-vessel, but rallied ranean, and especially rejoicing in Naples, with again, and, relinquishing his intention of going its sumptuous galleries and its buried cities, that to Madeira, took up his abode at Falmoutli, rivalled the Vatican in impressiveness. The where he walked and rode down the sun in temple of Pæstum soon won bis admiration as little excursions and some “ geological triviali- the most beautiful of all buildings out of Sicily ties.” Nor was the tree of knowledge altogether or Greece. He needed to lay up cheering barred up, although a dragon, in the formidable thoughts, for the darkest days of his life were at shape of consumption, kept angry watch under hand. The year 1843 was full of calamities. the boughs. The eager student now and then At the beginning of it he broke a blood-vessel, gave a vigorous shake, that brought a handful of and before the close he had lost both his mother fruit. Among other books, he read the letters and his wife. In June he quitted Falmouth for of Charles Lamb, and reckoned them with Cow- Ventnor, in the Isle of Wight, which bis medical per's and Horace Walpole's; that is, amongst friends considered “the best attainable climate the pleasantest in the language. Of Lamb he in England.” But his weakness increased. On writes very happily: “ He was a man of true I the 16th of September, 1844, he felt that the

shadows were closing round. The story of his tion of my friend's life is unsatisfactory. By last days should be related only in the simple the omissions of certain portions, it might casily and touching language of his biographer and have been made to appear more satisfactory; friend :

but then it would have been a lie.” No; we

would not relinquish a single page or line of SterIn this conviction he said: “I thank the All-ling's investigations and doubts

. They are spots in wise One.” His sister remarked the next day the picture, cross lights that obscure and harden that he was unusually cheerful. He lay on the sofa quietly, telling her of little things that he the features; but they are better than the most wished her to do for him, and choosing out books golden sunshine and colors, because they are to be sent to his friends. On the 18th he was true, and because they are admonitory and proagain comforted by letters from Mr. Trench and phetic. Mr. Mill, to whom he took pleasure in scribbling The great lesson of Sterling's life was not the some little verses of thanks. Then, writing a vanity of human wishes, but of human curiosity. few lines in pencil

, he gave them to his sister, It is here said that the problem of the age is the saying, “ This is for you ; you will care more for reconcilement of faith with knowledge, philosothis ! The lines were —

phy with religion. This problem, Sterling, in Could we but hear all Nature's voice,

the forlornest sense of deprivation, studied himFrom Glowworm up to Sun,

self blind in working. His biographer justifies 'T would speak with one concordant sound, and commends the sacrifice. He considers him “ Thy will, O God, be done!”

to have been one of those “ who seem to regard But hark! a sadder, mightier prayer

it as their appointed task, to descend to the gates From all men's hearts that live,

of Hades and bring back Cerberus in chains.” “Thy will be done in earth and Heaven, Perhaps so, yet, upon, the whole, there is at And thou my sins forgive!"

least as much risk of evil as chance of good from

such enterprises. All researches into the mysThese were the last words he wrote. He teries of God's government and designs, except murmured over the last two lines to himself. He had been very quiet all that day, little in- under the lamp of the Bible, are simply what clined to read or speak, until the evening, when South called a splendid and magisterial way of he talked a little to his sister. As it grew dusk, being ridiculous. he appeared to be seeking for something, and, Of the literary character of Sterling, that in on her asking what he wanted, said, “ Only the which the general reader will chiefly desire to old Bible, which I used so often at Herstmonceux become acquainted with him, these volumes supin the cottages;” and which generally lay near him. A little later his brother arrived from ply a most delightful reflection. They contain London, with whom he conversed cheerfully for specimens of almost every kind of composition, a few minutes. He was then left to settle for grave, gay, satiric, didactic, romantic, metaphysthe night. But soon he grew worse; and the ical. There is the tale for the lover, the critiservant summoned the family to his room. He cism for the man of taste, the detached thought was no longer able to recognize them. The last or sentiment for the moralist. Each and all disstruggle was short ; and before eleven o'clock play talents that needed only protracted cultivahis spirit had departed. He was buried in the tion and stern discipline to raise their possessor beautiful little churchyard of Bonchurch.

into the front ranks of literature. These sickSuch is a very faint outline of the life and ness broke up into fragments. During all bis death of John Sterling, a man of singular pow- life the lion was in his path; what in happier ers and most attractive qualities, but whose circumstances would have been toil was taken name, in the words of one whom he admired, up as a pastime. We might easily fill our pages would have been written in water, if the rector with extracts to justify and confirm our praise. of Herstmonceux had not come forward to col- A long list of marked quotations tempts the lect his literary ashes, and write an inscription pen; space and time forbid the indulgence of on the urn.

the pleasure. Every reader of these volumes will rejoice in Sterling was a master of language, - vivid, the affectionate activity of the friend, while they abundant, pictorial. We could point to many lament the mournful tale he relates. We heartily passages worthy of Macaulay. But we should applaud the candor and sincerity of the artist. look for them chiefly in the earlier days of his The portrait hangs before us, adorned, indeed, labors. There is a marked change in the manby the frame that encloses it, but true to the very ner of some of his later writings. The style life. The Archdeacon writes:—“A bent tree is seems to us in not a few places unlikely to satisnot to be drawn as a straight one, or the truth of fy the taste or fill the ear of readers familiar history vanishes, and its use as a discipline of with the rich and flowing music of the sevenknowledge and wisdom. Hence the representa- | teenth century, or the lighter graces of the age

« PoprzedniaDalej »