« ForrigeFortsett »
telligent, discriminating, and instructive that we have ever seen from the pen of a foreigner ; very superior, in every respect, to the superficial remarks of Mirabeau, or even the vivid, but flippant delineations of the German Prince.'
Art. VI. Heath's Book of Beauty. M.D.CCC.XXXIII. With
Nineteen beautifully finished Engravings, from Drawings by the
volume to be. The engravings are beautiful specimens of the art, and the tales are really beautiful compositions. It is a book of beauty, but not of beauties. We do not know what has of late happened to our Artists, but, whether it be owing to favouritism, to caprice, or to the adoption of some new standard of beauty, or whether beauty itself is going out of fashion, or whatever explanation may be given, this volume presents by no means the first instance in which we have been puzzled to account for the lavishing of the powers of the pencil and the burin upon subjects so unattractive, or at least so little conformable to our ideas of loveliness and grace.
In the present volume, out of the nineteen female beauties, Gulnare is a fright; Grace St. Aubyn might be lovely with a nose half the length of that which, not Nature, but the artist has given her; Laura is decidedly unpleasing ; Lucy Ashton has little pretensions to beauty; Lolah is in the sulks, and her mouth is the very type of ill-temper; Meditation might be styled Affectation; and Geraldine has more character than beauty. The others, we admit, are happier specimens of varied beauty. Leonora is a lovely blonde, with the genuine mild, serene beauty of the English lady. Rebecca is romantically beautiful, a creature of poetry, looking like a fragile charm that a rude breath might dissolve. The Enchantress has an oriental cast of feature as well as of costume, which comports with her look of witchery. Medora is a Grecian beauty. Belinda looks as if descended from a picture gallery of the age of Sir Charles Grandison. The Mask is a portrait of a dazzling creature with that witching expression which no Englishman wishes to see in the wornan he esteems. Donna Julia, The Bride, and Madeline are also, each in a different style, beautiful. But too much praise can hardly be given to the Artists. As a series of plates, they are of the highest merit.
To these plates, originally designed as illustrations of Lord Byron's Poems, and Scott's Novels, Miss Landon has been employed to accommodate a series of tales, in which she has exhibited a power of imagination and a skill in composition far exceeding any thing that we could have anticipated from her former
productions. She must pardon us for saying that we much prefer her prose to her verse. At the same time the powers of mind displayed in her present production shew, that she might have written far better poetry had she not been misled by the applause lavished on her first clever, but immature uncultivated efforts. Encouragement is sunshine to genius: Flattery is the forcing glass. But of late L. E. L. has seemed to be pruning her talents, and has appeared as a writer in a new character. These tales are framed for the amusement of the polite and gay. The volume is for the drawing-room or the boudoir. Of the general tendency of such works of imagination, we have often had occasion to express our opinion. But it is due to the present Writer to bear our testimony to the feminine propriety and chastity of sentiment as well as of style, which characterize these tales. Of the elegance of the composition, our readers will judge from the subjoined specimens.
• Water—the mighty, the pure, the beautiful, the unfathomablewhere is thy element so glorious as it is in thine own domain, the deep seas ? What an infinity of power is in the far Atlantic, the boundary of two separate worlds, apart like those of memory and of hope! Or in the bright Pacific, whose tides are turned to gold by a southern sun, and in whose bosom sleep a thousand isles, each covered with the verdure, the flowers, and the fruit of Eden! But amid all thine hereditary kingdoms, to which hast thou given beauty as a birthright, lavishly as thou hast to thy favourite Mediterranean? The silence of a summer night is now sleeping on its bosom, where the bright stars are mirrored, as if in its depths they had another home and another heaven. A spirit, cleaving air midway between the two, might have paused to ask which was sea, and which was sky. The shadows of earth and earthly things, resting omen-like upon the waters, alone shewed which was the home and which the mirror of the celestial host.
• But the distant planets were not the only lights reflected from the sea; an illuminated villa upon the extreme point of a small rising on the coast, flung down the radiance from a thousand lamps. From the terrace came the breath of the orange-plants, whose white flowers were turned to silver in the light which fell on them from the windows. Within the halls were assembled the fairest and noblest of Sicily.
* "A king, or more, the Athenian Pericles, might have welcomed his most favoured guests in such a chamber. The walls were painted in fresco, as artists paint whose present is a dream of beauty, and whose future is an immortality. Each fresco was a scene in Arcadia : and the nymphs who were there gathering their harvest of roses, were only less lovely than the Sicilian maidens that fitted past. pp. 1, 2.
* Somerset House conveys the idea of a Venetian palace; its Corinthian pillars, its walls rising from the waters, its deep arches, fitting harbour for the dark gondola, the lion sculptured in the carved armsall realises the picture which the mind has of those marble home
VOL. IX.- N.S.
where the Foscarini and the Donati dwelt, in those days when Venice was at her height of mystery and magnificence. The other side is, on the contrary, just the image of a Dutch town; the masses of floating planks, the low tile-covered buildings, the crowded warehouses-mean, dingy, but full of wealth and industry--are the exact semblance of the towns which like those of the haughty bride of the Adriatic, rose from the very bosom of the deep-Amsterdam and Venice. The history of the Italians is picturesque and chivalric, but that of the Dutch has always seemed to me the beau-idéal of honourable industry, rational exertion, generally enjoyed liberty, and all strong in more than one brave defence. He does not deserve to read history, who does not enjoy the gallant manner in which they beat back Louis XIV.
*** The two banks of the river embody the English nation,” thought Charles; there is its magnificence and its poetry, its terraces, its pillars, and its carved emblazonings; and on the other is its trade, its industry, its warehouses, and their many signs of skill and toil. Ah! the sun is rising over them, as if in encouragement. I here take the last lesson of my destiny. I have chosen the wrong side of the river — forced upon exertion, what had I to do with the poetry of life ?”
* The river became at every instant more beautiful ; long lines of crinison light trembled in the stream ; fifty painted spires glittered in the bright air, each marking one of those sacred fanes where the dead find a hallowed rest, and the living a hallowed hope. In the midst arose the giant dome of St. Paul's—a mighty shrine, fit for the thanksgiving of a mighty people. As yet, the many houses around lay in unbroken repose; the gardens of the Temple looked green and quiet as if far away in some lonely valley; and the few solitary trees scattered among the houses seemed to drink the fresh morning air, and rejoice.
“ How strong is the love of the country in all indwellers of towns!” exclaimed Charles. “How many creepers, shutting out the dark wall, can I see from this spot! how many pots of bright-coloured and sweetscented plants are carefully nursed in windows, which, but for them, would be dreary indeed! And yet, even here, is that wretched inequality in which fate delights alike in the animate and inanimate world. What have those miserable trees and shrubs done, that they should thus be surrounded by an unnatural world of brick,—the air, which is their life, close and poisoned, and the very rain, which should refresh them, washing down the soot and dust from the roofs above; and all this, when so many of their race flourish in the glad and open fields, their free branches spreading to the morning dews and the summer showers, while the earliest growth of violets springs beneath their shade.'
• He turned discontentedly to the other side of the bridge.
« « Beautiful!” was his involuntary ejaculation. The waves were freighted as if with Tyrian purple, so rich was the sky which they mirrored ; the graceful arches of Westminster Bridge stretched lightly across, and, shining like alabaster, rose the carved walls of the fine old Abbey, where sleep the noblest of England's dead. Honour to the glorious past !-how it honoured us! Once we were the future, and how much was done for our sake !--The contrast between above and below the bridge is very striking. Below, all seems for use, except
Somerset House-and even that, when we think, is but a superb office- and the Temple gardens: all is crowded, dingy, and commercial. Above, wealth has arrived at luxury; and the grounds behind Whitehall, the large and ornamental houses, have all the outward signs of rank and riches.
* Charles turned sullenly from them, and watched the boats now floating with the tide. As yet few were in motion ; the huge barges rested by the banks, but two or three colliers came on with their large black sails, and darkening the glistening river as they passed. At this moment, the sweet chimes of St. Bride struck five, and the sound was immediately repeated by the many clocks on every side : for an instant, the air was filled with music.
<“ Curious it is,” murmured our hero, “that every hour of our day is repeated from myriad chimes, and yet how rarely do we attend to the clock striking! Alas! how emblematic is this of the
in which we neglect the many signs of time! How terrible, when we think of what Time may achieve, is the manner in which we waste it! At the end of every man's life, at least three-quarters of the mighty element of which that life was composed, will be found void—lost—nay, utterly forgotten! And yet that time, laboured and husbanded, might have built palaces, gathered wealth, and, still greater, made an imperishable name.'
Art. VII.-1. Fifty-one original Fables, with Morals and Ethical
Index, embellished with Eighty-five original Designs, by R. Cruickshank: engraved on Wood. Also, a Translation of Plutarch’s Banquet of the Seven Sages, revised for this work. 8vo.
pp. 251. Price 12s. London, 1833. 2. Flowers of Fable; culled from Epictetus, Croxall, Dodsley, Gay,
Cowper, Pope, Moore, Merrick, Denis, and Tapner; with original Translations from La Fontaine, Krasicki, Herder, Gellert, Lessing, Pignotti, and others: the whole selected for the Instruction of Youth, and pruned of all objectionable Matter. Embellished with One Hundred and Fifty Engravings on Wood. 18mo.
pp. 352. Price 5s. London, 1832. 3. Moral Fables and Parables. By Ingram Cobbin, M.A. 24mo.
pp. 167. Price 2s. London, 1832. AN
N original fable is a novelty; and Dean Swift, who could
imitate almost any style, confesses, in a letter to Gay, that he could never succeed in a fable. Mr. Crithannah, the Author of the first of these publications, modestly states, that if per' adventure five out of his fifty should prove worthy of the know' ledge of posterity, his literary ambition will be satisfied.' Posterity, we cannot answer for; but he has taken the best possible method of gaining the favour of Posterity's worshipful predecessor, the public, by employing Mr. R. Cruickshank to illustrate these fables by some extremely clever and humorous designs, excellently cut on wood. We should wish to pick out one of the five best, if possible, but are not sure whether the Author would fix upon the following as one.
• FABLE XVII.
THE THISTLE AND THE WHEAT.
«“What an unarmed, pusillanimous, humble being art thou !" said a Thistle to a blade of Wheat ; “ without a weapon to repulse an enemy, and contented to keep the benefit of thy acquirements within a circumscribed space. Why dost thou not make a bustle in the world as I do, keeping every one at bay, and when I choose, disseminating my opinions East, West, North, and South ?" “ I am not", replied the Wheat, “ aware of having any enemies; and therefore need no weapon of defence. If I possess cultivated abilities, I am satisfied to comfort and instruct my immediate neighbourhood therewith, and my instructions are received cordially. Thou needest not to pride thyself on spreading afar thy opinions, since thy neighbours wish not for them; and, for my own part, I am inclined to believe that, wherever thy wild doctrines take root, they invariably prove a curse.'
Lest we should have failed to choose aright, we will make room for another specimen.
* A Cow was grazing in a rich meadow, when raising her head, she observed a Goat tearing some ivy from a tree that grew hard by. Interested for his welfare, “ Desist ", said she, “ from browsing on those poisonous leaves, and partake with me of this delicious herbage." To this warning the Goat paid no attention, but continued to eat. At last, the Cow thought proper, in kindness, to employ her superior strength, and drove him
away “ I doubt not ", said the Goat, “ that your intentions are good, and that you consider you are doing me a personal favour ;-as such, I give you credit for your good will; but permit me to tell you that your solicitude savours too much of the powerful to be, under any circumstances, convincing, and that in this instance, founded as it is in ignorance of what is wholesome for me and delicious to my palate, it is absurdly intrusive.”'
We have not room to insert the Moral. A high tone of moral sentiment pervades the work, and the Author's object has evidently been to promote the improvement of his readers.
The Flowers of Fable deserves high praise, as well for its excellent design as for its tasteful execution. Most of the collections of Fables which find their way into schools, and into the hands of young persons, on the strength of their supposed harmlessness and prescriptive reputation, contain many fables of very doubtful tendency, inculcating craft, selfishness, or expediency,