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faithful imitation of pleasing nature. I know little of the masters ; care nothing for the schools ; and disdain to learn by rote the technical babble about gusto, chiaro oscuro, handling, tints and half tints, orpiments, pigments, lucid and opaque, carnations, Spanish brown, Venetian red, and Naples yellow : but having a practised eye, and a fervent feeling for the great original, as executed by the hand of the Creator, I consider myself competent, without other apprenticeship, to form an opinion of any copy modified by the pencil of man. I need not put my eye to school to enable it to judge of resemblances ; nor make my heart member of an academy, that it
, may learn responses to the whisperings of external beauty. Perhaps the critics think otherwise, but they may be very positive and yet very wrong. In- the infancy of painting, the artists contented themselves with a simple imitation of nature, and he was the best performer who could produce the cleverest
deception. It was reckoned a great triumph when : Bucephalus neighed at Alexander's portrait ; Zeuxis
snapped his fingers at Parrhasius when the birds came to peck at his painted grapes, but confessed himself outdone, when, on offering to remove a curtain that apparently covered a portion of his rival's canvass, he discovered it, to be the production of his brush. In the progress of professional ambition, such easy victories are disdained ; difficulties are overcome which were before considered insuperable ; foreshortening, perspective, composition, light and shade, are scientifically combined ; and while nature assumes no position in which she cannot be faithfully reflected, her imitators select none in which she cannot be pleasingly, as well as accurately, represented. The arts have their decline and fall as well as empires; and painting, from this epoch, begins to feel the touches of corruption, until the conquest of technical difficulties is deemed the paramount excellence : subjects are selected, not
because they are pleasing, but because they afford an opportunity for display of talent; and it becomes the grand object of an artist to exhibit himself rather than nature. Hence mannerism, and hence the propriety of terming the present era the age of artists rather than the age of the arts. Literature follows the same course : in Lord Byron, for instance, is not nature every where subordinate to self-display? he is his own muse, and drawing upon himself for inspiration, needs no other Pegasus than his favourite hobbyhorse-Egotism. Our musical composers are too busy in exhibiting their science to think of pleasing our ears: Braham forgets the composer, that the singer may manifest his execution ; and even our daughters, when they come from boarding school, disdain to recreate us with any simple or pathetic melodies, that they may dazzle and astonish us with the velocity of their fingers in rattling through a difficult piece.
But what has all this to do with Soult and his Murillos !--nothing-save that it occurred to me as I was crossing the Pont Royal on my way to his hotel, and so completely engrossed my attention, that I was nearly run over by a cabriolet. Having finished my exordium, and escaped the wheels, I proceeded to the Fauxbourg St. Germain, and turned into the court yard of marshal Soult, duke of Dalmatia, in a corner of which were four stablemen, too busy in tossing up half-pence to bestow even a look upon the visitors. Probably his grace has often indulged in a similar recreation, but having tossed up his half-pence to better account, he has found his way into the saloon, and left his competitors in the stable yard. A groom of the chambers having conducted us through that indispensable appendage to every French mansion, a spacious billiard room, led us to a small ante-chamber, where we were received with a frank courtesy by the marshal, a middle sized, though somewhat corpulent per
my reveries--all seemed a waking dream-a solecism of fact-a practical impossibility--an anomalous jumble both of time and place.
Roused from this abstraction by the admiration expressed at Murillo's large painting of the Nativity, I proceeded to examine it. Having scarcely any thing in England but the Cottage Girls, Gipsy Boys, and other juvenile polissons of this artist, one is prepossessed with the idea that he could not elevate himself to the poetry of painting and the sublime of Scriptural illustration; but if this single picture be not sufficient to remove so erroneous an impression, let the spectator contemplate the Return of the Prodigal Son, by its side, and their combined effect will banish all his scepticism. In that of Our Saviour at the Pool of Bethesda, the hand of Christ is conceived to have realised that almost unattainable perfection-a happy union of the divine and human expression; while the Angel appearing to St. Peter in his Prison, does not lose the celestial beauty, in the look of sympathising earnestness with which he is addressing the Saint. Almost all the paintings are of large dimensions, and in excellent preservation; and not one can be scrutinised without a conviction that Murillo's great teacher was Nature. The Fairs and Markets of his master, Juan del Castillio, were too ignoble for his ambition; he was too poor to go to Italy; and though he had access at Madrid to some of the works of Rubens and Vandyck, he was content with neither a pulpy Venus, nor a full-ruffed portrait, but betook himself to the study of the great Goddess. Exhibiting none of that mannerism, self-display, and pedantry, to which I alluded in the outset, he blends every thing harmoniously and naturally ; and remembering that the object of his art is to please, he lends himself to the expression of amiable and tender sentiments with a felicity in which no artist has exceeded him. Let any unprejudiced person proceed from the annual
exposition of the gaudy and theatrical French school at the Louvre to Marshal Soult's gallery of Murillos, and he will at once recognise the superiority of native untutored genius over the imitative pedantic efforts of institutions, schools, and academies.
THE CIVIC DINNER.
The guests assembled in Budge-row,
Sir Peter Pruin mumbles grace,
A terrible attack takes place :
None seem to think of indigestions;
Like gluttons playing at cross-questions.
What's that on Mrs, Firkin's head ?
Roast hare and sweet sauce-wears a wig-
What has she got ? a roasted pig.
A rein-deer tongue-begins to chatter.
And Miss Augusta ? fried in batter.
How well he carves ! he 's named by will
Some mint-sauce, and a few more capers.
This trifle makes us lick our lips;
But Birch is surely best for whips,
Nice chickens-Mrs. Fry must carry
A tender heart—but toughish gizzard;
Knows all his letters down to izzard.
What's your gown made of? currant jelly:
A famous buttock-vermicelli,
Black puddings--pepper'd-dish’d--Belzoni ;
A glass of-Probert's pond with Thurtell;
She's a most loving wife-mock-turtle.
She loved his-mutton-chops and so
Some kissing crust and off they go.
A green goose-lost at Charing-cross;
And we both roll'd in-lobster sauce.
Another bottle, this is flat.
His Royal Highness-lots of fat.
Poor Miss-red herring-We must give her
Grand Signior--turkey dish'd in grease :
And just cut open-Mrs. Reese.
A nice Welsh-rabbit-muffins-mummery-
Crimp'd cod-crim-con-Crim Tartars-Aummery.
“ Why, what a rascal art thou, then, to praise him so for run
- ning !A horseback, ye Cuckoo; but afoot he will not budge a foot!"
SHAKSPEARE. SIGHT-SEEING in hot weather is rather an awful enterprise: going over palaces is the most objectionable form of this painful pleasure ; and the Château of Versailles, from its immense extent and total want of furniture, is perhaps the most weari. some of all these edifices to wade through. Others look like habitations : to a certain Extent, they let us into the arcana of royalty's domestic life, and so possess some interest, as well as dignity of association ; but here all is bare and empty : however fatigued the visitant may be, there is not a single