« AnteriorContinua »
Tabular common places; then expatiate
Meanwhile, 'tis otherwise with the gooseberry tart,
Now think of any dinner of “ formal cut,”
With men you never saw ;-whose names perhaps
With flourishes of trumpets, or sleep dance.
The universe salutes our little room,
And earn'd our innings.
Hail, Paranomasia !
“One touch of punning makes the whole world kin." Reader. Vide the punster who wrote Lear and Hamlet!
But punning may be tiresome.
Yes, and laughter;
Here we tell stories, anecdotes,- love friends,
A PROGRESS THROUGH THE CITIES OF THE LOIRE
AND THE SEINE.
(Concluded from page 254.) The Sunday following that alluded to being another fête day, the church had further doings at Tours; but on this occasion the evening was the time, and the procession made what is called a Reposoire in the Place d'Aumont, where, at the end of the shaded promenade, a raised canopy of pure white covered an altar, on which were abundance of gewgaws and wax candles. From the front of this altar a benediction was pronounced on the people, who, including the military guard, dropped simultaneously on their knees. The scene was sufficiently striking; but, truth to say, we were not near enough to hear one word that was spoken. The music, however, both vocal and instrumental, made a fine impression in the situation selected for the performance. When the host was being removed from the altar, there were, as usual, quite a covey of little children and infants placed under the canopy, and a middle-aged woman threw herself prostrate on the ground so that the bost might pass over her. We fear the Grand Vicar's reflections must have been more of earth than his appearance indicated, for it required close attention and careful stepping to avoid treading on the little brats, who, to do them justice, coiled themselves into small bulk, and kept their places quietly on the ground.
We were greatly disappointed with the contents of the Musée, and the Picture Gallery is execrable. The old pictures are bad copies ; and, in one or two instances, damaged and worthless productions by third-class masters. The amateurs of Tours repose in the comfortable conviction that the assemblage contains two works by Rubens; but these are so scoured in some parts, and badly repaired in others, that no one skilled in the touch and drawing of that illustrious master can detect either in the canvasses alluded to. The modern pictures are very much in keeping with the others. Two by Le Comte De Forben -" The Ruins of Palmira,” and “ Ruins in Upper Egypt during the Inundation of the Nile”--are, from their false colouring and feeble execution, as well as from their great size and position at either end of the room, rendered conspicuously offensive. Indeed, the modern pictures at the Musée are, without exception, illustrations of all the worst qualities of the French School as it now exists. However unaccounts able it may appear, greater ignorance prevails in Tours of the power and value of this art, than in many smaller towns in France, the inhabitants of which may be of inferior repute for intelligence and refinement.
The only private collections in Tours belong to two English residents-Colonel Gore and Mr. Smith. That of the former being removed in summer to the proprietor's country residence, we had not an opportunity of seeing it. Mr. Smith's collection is limited in extent, but includes pictures of great interest and value ;-they were brought together by Mr. Smith's maternal great-grandfather; and were, for upwards of a century, known as ornaments to the family residence of Brockley Hill, in Middlesex. The first in the collection that claims attention, is a picture in the best manner of Murillo, and not less than six feet by five in size. The subject is two somewhat ragged-looking boys,-one lying on the ground opening muscles with a knife, while the other stands beside him holding a red herring in his hand, which he appears to offer to his companion in barter. In the drawing-in the rich colouring which is subdued by its harmony-and by the expression of the characters—it reminded us of the “Beggar Boys" by ihe same master. The shadows are in broad masses, while the lights are judiciously concentrated ; and, in addition to all these qualities, the condition of the picture is so perfect, that we have rarely met with a more desirable specimen of the master.
A Rocky Landscape, by Salvator Rosa, with the subject of Lalona well introduced, and an admirable marine peep of deep perspective on the left side of the picture, form an example of this master, in his wild and poetic vein, which leaves nothing to wish for. The variety of tints in the great rocks, forming a large portion of the foreground, would prove a profitable study for an artist; for they are so artistically arranged as to produce an effect extremely true to nature. The execution throughout is firm and spirited; while it, at the same time, evinces a greater regard to finish than is usually to be found in the works of this great and original painter. There is a “ Portrait of J. Sharpe, Esq.,”-the grand-uncle of Mr. Smith,-by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which has been more than once engraved. At this moment we cannot recall to mind a portrait in which are more fully developed the powers of this bright ornament of the English School of Painting. In many respects it reminds us of the portraits of Titian. The flesh colours have an extraordinary appearance of reality, as has the expression of the countenance. The hands, too, are fine, while the execution throughout equals in transparency and force the handling of Rembrandt. The transparency of the colouring affords evidence, too, that it had been painted before Sir Joshua became speculative in the use of his matériel. There is another English picture of great interest. It is a “ Family Group," including the subject of Sir Joshua's portrait alluded to, and eight or ten other figures; and the painter is Hogarth. In colouring, as well as finish, it surpasses most of Hogarth's works—while the grouping is well managed, and the countenances are full of life and of individual character. Mr. Smith has other fine portraits by Zucchero and others-of “ Mary Queen of Scotland”-her son “ James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England,” and other members of the Stuart family; and by Sir Peter Lely. There is also a racy sketch by Rubens of the “ Meeting of Jacob and Esau.” We regret, however, that we cannot particularize them all. It afforded us much pleasure to inspect a collection which embraced such pictures as we have alluded to; and we cannot refrain from expressing the hope that they will again find their way back to England in Mr. Smith's possession and in safety.
When an English gentleman, or one having his outward appearance and bearing, arrives at Tours, he has it in his power, according to the etiquette of the place, to call for any of the inhabitants whose acquaintance he is desirous of making. His visit is soon returned, and it then lies with either of the parties whether their meeting shall lead to a visiting acquaintance, ending perhaps in friendship. So loose a barrier to the precincts of society must not a little astound those whose ideas of prudence are solely founded on the usages of domestic life in England. Nor can we give the system our approval. An artful man may long conduct himself in a manner perfectly comme il faut, as a means of ingratiating himself with those whose good opinion he thinks it advantageous for him to possess; and an unprincipled adventurer may thus find himself privileged by so easy and familiar an intercourse with a family, as to put it in his power to injure its peace or interrupt its happiness. A safeguard against one source of danger may exist in the fact, that fortunes have fallen to the lot of few of the English young ladies at Tours ; and it would appear, too, as if the facilities of ingress afforded to strangers, create a certain feeling of distrust which may often lead to inquiries, before an overgrown intimacy has ripened into affection. Still, danger and distrust would be avoided by changing a system of intercourse, the occasional bad consequences of which have been sufficiently conspicuous. From what we learned, however, from those who have been half a lifetime in Tours, these evil results are curiously rare; while, as far as our own observation went, it becomes us well to state that, in its tone of morality, and as regards the hospitalities and agrémens of life, the English society at Tours is not surpassed by that of any town of similar extent in France. A large portion of those who constitute it are families of respectability, brought there either to economize—for living and education are still greatly cheaper than in England-or for the benefit of the climate. Except the Subscription Concerts, and the occasional opening of the theatre by a company of Comedians, or for the Opera, there are no public amusements. But then the succession of evening parties, and soirées dansantes, during the winter, is incessant. The French portion of society is unusually wealthy and refined at Tours; and we think their really good class is of easier access to the English than in some other towns; although the increasing dislike of the lower orders towards our countrymen is there, as in most other parts of France, obvious through the transparent drapery of a spurious politeness. We only took one letter to Tours—for all we wished was access to society without being drawn into its vortex-and fortunately it was to an English lady, whose graceful deportment and admirable qualities of mind gave her influence to make our introduction lead to hospitality and kindness, from her limited but most desirable circle of acquaintances. The French ladies seldom walk out. But once a-week during summer a military band plays in the evening, when quite a brilliant turn-out takes place on “ The Mall,”—a fine promenade on the old ramparts of the south side of the town; and there is, immediately below, a walk shaded with trees for those who may prefer it. Indeed, there are many very charming walks and drives all about Tours; and that by the Mail alluded to, making a turn through the Rue des Acacias, when its trees are in full flower and fragrance, and round by the river side, is always agreeable and of ready access.