Imatges de pàgina

might have free disposal of the priors dence that it was no vain delusion and monks, both in constituting and which he had witnessed, as well by in removing them, as might appear the marks of recent stripes, as by his expedient.

death, which followed shortly after. A. D. 1092.

A.D. 1099. Vision of the Monks at Fulda. Narrative of the Death of William In those days a pestilence sorely af Rufus, and the Prodigies which atflicted the monastery of Fulda, by tended it. which, first the abbot, and afterwards In the year of our Lord 1100, William, many of the monks were slain ; but king of England, surnamed “the red," the brethren who remained alive, be- having kept with great pomp his took themselves to alms-giving and Christmas at Gloucester, his Easter prayers, both for the souls of their de- at Chichester, and his Pentecost at ceased brethren, and for the health of London,-on the day after that of St the living However, in process of Peter ad vincula, went into the new time (as generally comes to pass) the forest to hunt, when Walter Tyrrell, devotion of the brethren began a little aiming at a stag, unintentionally smote to fail, and the cellarer* ceased not to the king with an arrow, who, pierced affirm that the funds of the abbey through the heart, fell without speakwere not sufficient to maintain so great ing a word, and thus ended a cruel life an expense. He also added, that it by a miserable death. Several prodigies appeared foolish that the dead should also preceded his decease. For the consume what was necessary towards same king, the day before this event, the support of the living ; wherefore, saw in a dream his own blood issue on a certain night, when the cellarer out as from the stroke of a lancet, the had deferred a little his night's rest, stream whereof spouted up to the sky, on account of some necessary business, overshadowing the sun, and darkenand at last, having completed his af- ing the brightness of the firmament. fairs, was hastening to his chamber; As soon as he was awakened, he called behold, as he passed the door of the on the Virgin Mary, and having a chapter-house, he saw the abbot and light brought, and forbidding those all the brethren who had departed that of his chamber to depart from him, year, sitting in the chapter-house, ac- he passed the rest of the night withcording to custom. The cellarer, af- out sleep. But in the morning, when frighted at such a vision, began to fly, the day broke, a certain monk, a fobut at the abbot's command he was reigner, who followed the royal court seized by the brethren, and brought on the business of his church, related into the chapter-house. He was first to Robert Fitzhamon (a man of inreproved for the sin of avarice, and fluence, and a familiar of the king's) then severely beaten with scourges, a wonderful and terrible vision which after which the abbot said, with a stern appeared to him the same night. For countenance, “ It is too presumptuous in his sleep he saw the king enter & in any one to seek after the profit to certain church, and, with a haughty arise from the death of another, espe- and insolent mien, as he was wont, cially as death is common to all;" and look on the standers by; then seizing added, “ that it was an impious thing a crucifix with his teeth, he began when a monk had passed all his days gnawing the arms and legs till he had in holy offices, that he should be de- almost destroyed them; all which the prived, after his death, of the neces- crucifix endured for a time, but at last sary nourishment of a single year.” struck the king with its right foot, inHe then said, “ Depart, for thou shalt somuch that he fell backwards on the soon die, and reform all the monks pavement—and he then beheld a flame whom thy avarice has corrupted by issue from the mouth of the prostrate thy example.” The monk therefore king, which extended itself so widely, went to his companions, and gave evi- that the cloud of smoke, like a great

Cellarer. This was the appellation given to an officer, " who was to be the father of the whole society, had the care of every thing relating to the food of the monks, and ves. sels of the cellar, kitchen, and repertory.” See Fosbrooke's History of Monachism (page 177), where the duties attached to this office are accurately and minutely detailed." In the original he is called “ Cellarius sive Promus."

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors]

shadow, rolled to the sky. This vi- and the now stiff and stinking corpse sion, when Robert Fitzhamon related was left in the road for those who it to the king, he only laughed, and were so disposed to carry away. redoubling his shouts of laughter, In the same hour, the Earl of Cornsaid, “ he is a monk, and has dream- wall, hunting in a wood two days joured like a monk for the sake of a fee. ney distant, being left by his compaPay him a hundred shillings, that he nions, met a great hairy black goat, may not complain that his was an carrying on its back the king discoempty dream.

loured and naked, and pierced through Howbeit, the king himself dreamed the body by a grizly wound. And another dream the night before his the goat, being adjured by the Triune death, wherein he saw a most beauti- God to discover what thing it was, ful child laid out upon an altar, and answered, “ I bear away to judgment being hungry beyond measure, and your king, even the tyrant William urged by vehement inclination, he the Red, for I am a malignant spirit, went up and began eating of that in, and the avenger of that raging malice fant's flesh, which appeared to him with which he persecuted the church delicious when he had tasted it; but of Christ; and it was I who contrived when he was about to indulge still his death, by the orders of Alban, the further his voracious appetite, the blessed protomartyr of England, who child turned towards him with a fierce made his complaint to the Lord, that countenance, and threatening, voice, in the isle of Britain, of which he was exclaiming, "hold! you have had too the original sanctifier, this king's evil much already." The king consulted deeds passed all measure of forgivea certain bishop in the morning on This adventure the Earl ima the subject of this dream; and the mediately related to his companions, bishop, suspecting the cause of such and, in the space of three days, he a judgment, admonished him to de- found all things to be true as the visist from persecuting the church ; sion had warned him, by means of “ for this," he added, “ was a fore- ocular witnesses. Over and above warning of (Heaven, and a merciful these several prodigies, the earth emitchastisement-neither, as thou hast ted fountains of blood in various quardesigned to do, go to hunt this day;" ters, by way of further foretokening The king, slighting this salutary ad- the event which was to take place. monition, went into the wood to hunt, Also Anselm, Archbishop of Canternotwithstanding. And lo! by acci- bury, who had been banished to parts dent, a great stag running before the beyond sea for three years by his tyking, he exclaimed to a knight who ranny, came about the kalends of was by his side, Walter Tyrrell by August from Rome to Marcenniacum name, shoot devil," whereupon in- to enjoy the converse of St Hugh, the stantly parted from the bow that ar- bishop of Clugny; where, on occarow, (of which it may well and truly sion of some discourse between them be said, as if it had been prophetically concerning King William being had, written,

that venerable abbot bore witness to “ Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile te. the truth in these words, saying, lum.”)

“ last night I beheld that same king and glancing against a tree which sent brought before the throne of God, and it back in an oblique direction, it accused, and heard the sentence of pierced the heart of the king, who fell damnation pronounced against him.” dead to the earth at the same instant. But in what manner these things had The people who were with him fled come to his knowledge, neither the different ways, that unfortunate knight archbishop, nor any that were there being foremost. But a few of them present at that time inquired, such returning, found the body lying bath was the awe with which the abbot's ed in its own blood, and beginning to eminent sanctity inspired them. The mortify, and placing it on a miserable following day the archbishop, having coalman's car which happened to pass departed thence, proceeded to Lyons ; that way, drawn by a half-starved and the next morning, while the horse, compelled the poor peasant to monks were singing the matin-song convey it to the city. On its way in his presence, lo! a youth delicately thither, passing through a deep and attired, and of a serene countenance, clayey road, the carriage broke down, stood by the side of one of the arch

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

bishop's clerks, as he lay in bed near the clerk, becoming more alert, raised the door of his chamber, and had close his head, but when his eyes were open ed his eyes, but was not yet asleep- could see nobody:--The night after, Adam!” he cried, “sleepest thou?” as one of the monks belonging to the Whereto the clerk answered that he same archbishop's company was chantdid not.

“ Wilt thou hear of things ing his matins, behold ! one offered that are new," said the vision; and him a scroll of parchment to read, the clerk said, “ willingly.” Where- whereon he saw these words written, upon straightway the vision replied, “ obiit Rex Willelmus." And, when

know then this thing for certain, he looked up, he saw none besides his the discord which has fallen out be- companions. In a very short time aftween the archbishop and King Wil- terwards the king's death was anliam is at rest for ever.” At this nounced to the archbishop.

Transactions of the Bilettanti Society of Edinburgh,

No II.

Viator's Letters on the History and Progress of the Fine Arts.



his own way, the conception which he With your permission I will now re- formed of his subjects, but even to sume my

“ Observations on the history choose whatever subject seemed most and progress of the fine arts.” It has agreeable to his particular taste and often been remarked, that many other fancy. The dispute on the sacrament circumstances besides the endowment and its companion, the school of Athens, of genius are requisite to form a great he painted before he had attained his man, whether in arts or arms, in bu- twenty-eighth year,--and I know not siness or in policy. What these are two works, either in art or in literature, with respect to artists I shall not, at that evince a more clear perception of present, stop to inquire, nor is it, in- human nature than these truly masdeed, necessary; for the sketch which terly productions. Placed at Rome I gave in my last letter, relative to in the centre of a splendid and refined the progress of the arts prior to the court, surrounded by the intellectual appearance of Raphael, contains a suf- and the powerful, the roverend and ficient comment on the subject. But the honourable of the earth, he seems all favourable circumstances are, with- to have contemplated, with singular out patronage, nugatory; and the ge- faculties of discernment, the grand of nius of Raphael would have languish- the human character, and to have ed and expired—“sunk into the grave transferred the result of his observaunpitied and unknown,” had he ap- tions to his canvas with the felicity of peared in any

other province of Chris a creative hand; and yet in the midst tendom but Italy. In that country of this effulgence of superior genius, alone, at that time, the arts were stu we may trace the skilful adaptation died in their true spirit, and applied of great professional learning, showto their proper purpose, not merely ing with what care he studied the as the decorations of grandeur, but in works of his predecessors, and with the visible illustration of religion and what industry he must have previoushistory.

ly devoted himself to the imitation of The munificence of the priesthood their beauties. drew forth the latent energies of ta In the upper part of the dispute on lent for the one, and the pride and the sacrament, something may be distaste of the nobility fostered the effects covered of the superb taste of Bartholodirected to the other. It was, how meo in drapery with that hardness of ever, the good fortune of Raphael, outline which the artist had acquirwhile he met with a degree of en ed from his first master Perugino, couragement, such as few artists ever but in the general aggregate of the obtained, to be allowed the free exer work we perceive the power and hapcise of his genius, toembody, not only in piness of his own peculiar genius. The

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

school of Athens is more purely his happened long before the ascension, and is own production, and being free from recited in the ninth chapter of St Luke, the traces of imitation, is, upon the when the countenance of Jesus was changed, whole, a more perfect work.

and he became 'Erigov, and his clothing was The pictures which he executed im

white and lightened. The robe of the as

cending Christ is blue. mediately after these, with the exception of his Heliodorus, which, per- together to constitute one plot. The pic

“ The painter brings different incidents haps, in dignity and enlargement of ture consists of three different groups, comstyle, is superior to them both, are bined or united in one scheme or action. marked with the negligences of a more 1. Jesus ascending perpendicularly into careless pencil. This has been attri- the air, clothed in blue raiment, and attendbuted, not without plausibility, to the ed by two other figures. dissipated habits into which he was at

2. Some of his disciples on the mount, that time allured, by the mistaken founded by the sight.

who see the ascent, and lie dazzled and conkindness of his admirers and the pa 3. A number of persons at the bottom trons of his talents. They drew him of the mount, who appear to look intently from his studies into company, and on a young man possessed by a devil and forgot, that every moment which he convulsed; none of them see the ascension, spent in their convivial entertainment, but the young man, or rather the devil who

On all similar occasubtracted something from his ability, is in him, does see it. and tended to impair his fame. His sions these fallen angels know the Christ mind, however, was of too high a cast

and acknowledge him. The other figures to be entirely enslaved by their dan- variously and distinctly expressed in every

are agitated with astonishment and terror, gerous adulation, and, with an effort

one of them at the sight of the effect which that could not have been performed they see is made upon him by some object without a strong inherent taste for which they do not see. This is the subpurity and virtue, he broke from the lime imagination by which the lower part Circean enchantment of dissipation, of the picture is connected with the upand resumed the proper path of his per.”+ glorious destiny. The Cartoons at Had the life of Raphael, which Hampton Court, and the Transfigura- closed on his birth-day, in his thirtytion, are the monuments at once of seventh year, been prolonged to the his repentance and his power. And period of Leonardo da Vinci, Michel here I am enabled to present you, Angelo, or Titian, when in so short Sir, with a very curious piece of cri a time he produced so many great, so ticism on the latter production, from many unrivalled works, to what exthe pen of no less a personage than cellence might he not have carried the the probable author of the celebrated art! letters of Junius. It was transmitted The next eminent artist who comes to a friend of mine, and it serves to under our consideration is that what has ever hitherto been The grandeur which Michel Angelo considered as a fault in the Transfigu- gave to the human figure-Titian has ration, is, perhaps, its greatest and rivalled in colouring. But I do not most skillfully contrived beauty. Be propose, on the present occasion, to this, however, as it may, the critique investigate the merits of his colouring, is a literary curiosity, not merely on but to pursue the consideration of the account of the pen from which it has

intellectual powers of the artists whom come, but the intellectual acumen it falls within the scope of my present which it exhibits.

purpose to notice. It is the mental, “ The title of this picture is a misnomer. not the mechanical department of the The picture tells you it is the Ascension.-- art to which I wish, in this historical The transfiguration is another incident which view, to draw your attention. Per,

[ocr errors]

In the common version thus : “ And, as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias; who appeared in glory, and spake of his de. cease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.

+ We possess some curious facts about Junius, which, on some other occasion, we may be permitted to divulge.


haps at some other time you may give The terror which the murderer has me “ room and verge enough" to spread, is denoted by the speed of the treat of that also. I shall, therefore, horseman passing into the dark recesspass over the numerous portraits of es of a distant part of the forest. Titian, and only notice one of those This picture is the first work in works in which the mind was even more art, wherein the human figure and employed than the hand-for exam- the scene are combined as an historiple, his St Peter martyr, which, pera cal landscape, where all the objects haps, as a composition, may deserve to are the full size of nature. be ranked among the finest concep It is unnecessary, Sir, I presume, tions of genius ; in execution it had to remind you, that this sublime prono superior. As the legend on which duction was greatly damaged while in it is founded is not much known in the possession of the French. The our presbyterian region, it may be vessel, you will recollect, in which it necessary to give you some account of was shipped, with other plunder of

Venice, in passing down the Adriatic This St Peter was the head of a re- Sea, was chased by one of our cruizligious sect in some part of a foreign ers, a shot from which struck the piccountry, but the particular place I ture, and shivered the panel on which really cannot exactly tell; and on it was painted. his way from Germany to Milan, with The next great master, in point of a companion, he was attacked by an time and rank to Titian, is Corregio. adversary to his religious opinions Enthusiasm, in contemplating his while passing through a wood and works, might be almost led to fancy murdered. His death is the subject that he had received his instructions of the picture.

in another and a better world. His The prcstrate figure of the saint just figures seem to belong to a higher fallen beneath a blow from the assassin, race of beings than man, and possess raises one of his hands towards heaven a holiness and grace of semblance too with a countenance of confidence in celestial for this earth. His celebrated eternal reward for the firmness of his Note is a fine illustration of his pecufaith ; while the assassin grasps with liar taste and sentiment. The idea of his left hand the mantle of the vic- representing the body of the infant tim, the better to enable him, by Jesus as resplendent, is not only a his uplifted sword in the other, to sublime poetical conception,considering give the fatal blow.

The com

that he was sent to illuminate the mind panion is seen flying off in terror, from Pagan darkness, but a beautiful having received a wound on the head. allegory, told, if the expresssion may The ferocious and determined action be allowed, with all the propriety of of the murderer, bestriding his victim, a classical mythologist. completes a group of figures which The inspiring power of Corregio's have not their rival in art, no not genius is always supposed to have had even in the Laocoon. The majestic a great effect on the mind of Parmetrees of the wood, as well as the dark giano, whose graceful figures have so and shaggy furze, form an awful and much ease and motion, that they have appropriate back-ground, in deep and rarely been equalled. His Moses dreadful harmony with the tragedy breaking the tables, and the vision of of the subject.

St Gierolimo, are full of the impress The heavenly messengers seen in of intellectual power, and works of the glory above, bearing the palm the first class of art. branches, the emblems of reward for After these great masters, the demartyrdom, form the second light of cline of the general prosperity of Italy the subject. The first is the sky and caused a falling off in the arts for cloud which give relief to the black some time. They began, however, to drapery of the wounded companion. revive again under the three CarThe rays from the celestial effulgence racci at Bologna, and the names of above, sparkling on the gloomy branch- Guido, Dominichino, and Guercino, es and foliage of the trees, like so may in some respects be deservedly many diamonds, link, as it were, to- placed with those elder worthies, to gether, all the other gradations of light whose peculiar powers I have so parfrom the top to the bottom of the ticularly drawn your attention. Where picturc.

I can refer to examples, I will not

« AnteriorContinua »