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We cite the annexed, simply because it is a most graphic description of a scene which also occurred in our native town in the country. It should be premised that a great excitement exists in the community, a report having arisen that a grave in the peaceful church-yard had been violated, and the lifeless tenant carried off by the doctors :
"The appearance of the grave led to suspicion that there had been foul play. It was examined, and the suspicions were found to be too true. The body of a girl some fourteen years of age, of respectable family, had been stolen from the sepulchre to be cut up and made into a “'natomy, as the people expressed it. The whole town was aghast. Such an outrage had never been heard of in that part of the world, and the good people could scarcely believe that such monsters lived, as men who dig up corpses to hack them in pieces. They met in righteous indignation, and appointed a committee of investigation, who never rested till they got upon the trail of the hyenas; they never rested till the perpetrator of the deed was in prison. . . . THESE events naturally led to great apprehensions respecting other graves, and many
were searched by anxious friends, who now watched the tombs with more vigilance than did the guards set over the holy sepulchre. The impression became very strong that a certain grave had been robbed. It was the grave of a lovely woman, the wife of a drunkard; and the fact that he was dead to all feeling, and consequently would not be likely to care what became of the body of his wife, seemed to confirm the grounds of suspicion, and finally it was determined to make the examination. It was the afternoon of a warm day in the midst of summer, when I, a mere child then, was attracted into the yard by seeing a number of men around a grave.' I soon learned what was going on, and creeping between the feet of those who were standing nearest, I was soon immediately over the head of the grave which they had now opened down to the coffin. Having cleared off the earth and started the fastenings of the lid, which were all found secure, they raised it, and the full light of the sun flowed upon the most horrid spectacle which my eyes before or since have seen! . .. I waited not for a second look, but ran from the spot in awrul terror, and have, from that time, had an image of death's doings,' which I never could have obtained but for the loathsome revelations of that grave-yard scene. These are not the things that I intended to record of that hallowed spot. Yet they are, perhaps, among the most vivid impressions that I retain of it; unless it be my fears to pass it alone after dark ! And I should as soon have thought of setting fire to the church, as of playing within the enclosure. I looked upon it with reverential awe as God's acre;' and I wish with all my heart that the feelings of regard for sacred places, and times, and things, which we felt in our childhood, might return.
There is a good deal of very faithful limning in the sketch of Our Minister. He illustrated, in his own person, the extraordinary sacredness with which young minds in the country invest the parson. "That he ever sinned,' says our author, “I never supposed ; and if any one had mentioned any thing to his disadvantage in my hearing, it would have shocked me very much as it would now to hear of a peccadillo in an angel.' We like an independent pastor, and ó our minister seems to have been one: “The pastor was the pastor. As shepherd of the flock, it was his office to watch over them and keep them, as far as in him lay, from wandering into dangerous ways, and from the covert or open assaults of enemies who go about, like their master, the devil, seeking whom they may devour. And when any one or any dozen of the sheep took it into their heads that they knew more about the proper mode of managing the flock than the shepherd whom the Lord had sent to tend them, they soon found that they had mistaken their calling, and would consult their happiness and usefulness by quietly minding their own business. We are glad that our minister' was not
— Too great and good For human nature's daily food.'
The first pastor of our boyhood was frightfully holy. Notice that the minister was coming' would send us little people up stairs in a twinkling. It might with truth be said, in Yankee phrase, that he was “a dreadful good man,' He was a well-meaning, half-educated, very dull, and uncommonly “protracted' preacher, and we have no doubt he has gone to his reward.' It has come to be seen, we are glad to say, in these latter days, that a lugubrious face, a sepulchral voice, and a smileless countenance, are not the necessarily outward signs or significant concomitants of that religion which maketh glad the heart of man' and inspires him with the hope of glory. There is something very affecting, as we have already shown, in the writer's visit, after years of absence, to the old meeting-house. These are his first thoughts : Come from your graves, old men and women of my native parish ; come, stand up before me, while I draw your portraits and write your history! But they come not! Of all that were the men and women grown when I was a boy, how few of them are there now! No one knows him ; some bow, indeed, as is the country custom to all, but there is no smile of recognition. The meeting-house itself has a new fashion, but that is nothing to the change in the faces of the people, those 'old familiar faces.' They are gone — all gone! From among the reminiscences of Scenes and Characters in the Meeting-House we select the following. The first is a rebuke of what, on the score at least of good taste, if nothing else, was always our aversion:
ONE Sunday, there was a family in church from the far city of New York. They had come up there to visit some country relations, and two or three of these gay city girls burst out laughing in the midst of the sermon. The cause was this: the old aunt whom they had come to visit had stopped in at one of the neighbors on the way to church, and had borrowed some little yellow cakes, called turnpikes, and used, I believe, for some purpose or other in baking bread. She had thrust them into her work-bag, which she carried on her arm, and during sermon, having occasion to use her handkerchief, she drew it forth suddenly, and out flew the 'turnpikes,' rolling and scampering over the floor. The city girls tittered at this, as if it were very funny. Their seat was on the side of the pulpit, so that the pastor did not see them, or he would have brought them to order by a look, or a blow on the desk, which would have sent the blood out of their cheeks, though their cheeks would have been red after that. But JOSEPH BUTLER saw them, and rising in his seat, struck with his psalm-book on the top of the pew; the preacher paused; the congregation sat dumb; the good elder spoke, calmly, but with energy: Those young women will stop that laughing in the house of God! They did stop; the pastor proceeded; Joseph sat down, and the city girls gave no occasion for the exercise of summary church discipline during the remainder of their summer visit.'
The second is a picture of a personage not altogether uncommon, we fear, in the country meeting-houses of the present day. We remember us of more than one church-gossip, such as is described below:
"I wish you could see old Mrs. SNIFFLE, the gossip of the congregation, in her rounds of absorption, fastening herself upon every one, to take in, like a sponge, whatever they would impart, that she might have the sweet satisfaction of leaking it to others. Her harvest time was at the close of the morning service, when the most of the people remained in their respective pews to eat their dinner, which those from a distance brought with them. This was the favorable moment for Mrs. SNIFFLE’s expedition, and darting out of her own seat, she would drop in at another, out with her snuff box, pass it round, and inquire the news. Staying just long enough to extract the essence of all the matters in her line to be met with there, she would make all haste to the pew of soine one from another neighborhood, where she would impart the information she had just received, with her own edifying comments, pick up as many additional fragments of facts as she could find, and pass on to another pew, spending the whole of the interval of divine worship in this avocation, and the leisure of the week to come in spreading among her neighbors these items of news, especially such as come under the head of scandal. It is only just to the people, however, to add, that Mrs. SNIFFLE was a black sheep in the flock; there was not another like her; and we may well say, · Happy is that people which is so well off 'as to have only one Mrs. SNIFFLE!''
"Our Singing Schools' would do no discredit to the historian of 'Peter CRAM, of Tinnecum,' a narrative which we hope and trust our author has encountered. If not, he shall be furnished with one, 'on application to this office.' Deacon SMALL,
a very large man, who could sing nothing but bass, and that very basely,' had sung tenor, and 'led the singing for ten years, until those of the congregation 'whose nerves were not made of steel wire' began to take steps for improving the music. The deacon, who was as jealous of his prerogative as was Mr. JONAS WEATHERBY of Tinnecum, said, that'for his part, he should be glad to do any thing reasonable, and he had sometimes thought the singing would be better if the young folks would come together once a month or so and practise the tunes with him; he would give his time for nothing, and perhaps something might be done.' 'But this,' says our historian, • was not the thing. The deacon's singing was as bad as the choir's, in fact worse ; for what he lacked in skill and taste he made up in volume ; and his voice, in a part for which it had no fitness, would swell above all the rest, so as to make such dire music as no gentle ears could endure without grievous pain, causing strong temptations to feel wrong even in church. When therefore the reformers heard that Deacon
Small proposed to drill the choir into harmony, they thought of hanging up their own harps; for the deacon's instructions could manifestly avail nothing but to make bad worse.' A new singing-master was at length procured, a war broke out between the ‘Fors' and the · Againsts' of that measure, and the result was, that a lasting feud arose between the contending parties in the congregation. We quite agree with our author, that it is intolerable that God should be mocked with such “praise' as is offered to him in some of our country churches ;' and yet we could well wish that in some of our city churches a few of the good old country tunes might be sung to the words, at least, with which they have been so long associated. It grieves us always to hear the wedded lines of Windham' (a grand old tune, dear Sir, in all its parts,') * Alesbury,' “Florida,' and the like, sung in our churches to a species of undefinable, operatic, difficult music, which one cannot help wishing was not only difficult but impossible. There are some things in the chapter on • Old-Fashioned Revivals, concerning which we should be glad to have our present 'say :'
we may recur to the subject, for it is a fruitful one, hereafter. The pictures which ensue, of 'Spinning-Bees,' ' Country Weddings,' etc., “Richard Rogers's First Sermon,' and The Dismissal of Mr. Rogers,' are exceedingly graphic, and will well reward perusal. But we are at the end of our tether,' at this present writing.
The Lessons of Art: Charles L. Elliott, THE AMERICAN Portrait-Painter. In the literary department of the last number of that truly national work, 'The Gallery of Illustrious Americans,' under the head of 'Glances at our Artists,' there is a well-written and discriminating article upon Charles L. ELLIOTT, who stands by the universal verdict of the public and the concessions of his brother artists at the very head of his profession of portrait-painting. We have read the article to which we have alluded with so much pleasure, and it contains so many valuable lessons for young artists, that we cannot resist the inclination to quote from it a few passages, for the edification of our readers. Following an interesting description of his subject's early history, while living in the country, and the artistical' bent' and practice of his boyhood, we find the subjoined :
"He came to New-York, with an introduction to Colonel TRUMBULL, who had at the time a studio in the Old Academy of Fine Arts, of which he was then President. The Colonel examined all his drawings, and one or two of his essays in oil, and then strongly advised him to give up all idea of being a painter, and apply himself to architecture. •I do this,' said the Colonel, for two reasons. You do n't seem to me to possess so much genius for painting as for architecture; and you will make a better living in this country by the latter profession. America will yet be a great field for the architect, and you certainly indicate uncommon talents that way.' ELLIOTT replied that he had gratified all his architectural ambition up in the country, and was fully determined, and had been, ever since he was ten years old, to be a painter, and live or die by that business. It was very natural for Colonel TRUMBULL, on the evidence he had before him of ELLIOTT's drawings, to give him this advice; for he had never practised any departinent of art with the slightest care, except that of architectural drawings, and we have been assured by those who saw these early works, that they were admirable in their design and execution.
“Let me dissuade you from that resolution, my young friend, continued the Colonel, ' by the history of my own life. I have devoted many years to my art, and, in my career, you can judge what you may hope for, if you are even very successful. I have, it is true, received some commissions from Congress for national pictures; but this was only a piece of good luck. Aside from this, what can I say? I have painted a great many pictures that have been praised by connoiseurs and amateurs and artists; and yet you see hanging around this room nearly all the works on which I have expended the principal energies of my life. People come and admire them, and go away; and yet here are nearly all the pictures of almost half a century of labor. I am now an old man, and time and disappointment have chilled my ambition. I have waked from the dream of life, and its reality, death, is looking steadily on me. My principal solicitude now is, to make some good disposition of this Gallery, which I think will yet have value even in the estimation of my own countrymen. I must take time to look about me, to see if I have friends enough in the world to give these pictures to.
* This was said,' ELLIOTT has remarked, “ with a sad feeling. He seemed to feel that the world had not done him justice, and I have long felt so myself; but, although I could hardly help weeping at the sight of the gray-haired painter, grown sad and perhaps misanthropic by disappointment and neglect, yet it did not discourage me much. I thought the world would treat other painters better, and I was determined to run my chance. Seeing me resolute, he said he would trangress the rules of the Academy, which admitted students only during the winter, and allow me to visit the Antique Gallery. He had a good deal of leisure time, and would give me instruction in drawing, and furnish me the necessary apparatus. I began immediately, and I am happy to say that he more than redeemed his pledge. I owe much to the good old man, and I shall always be proud to own it.'
After remaining several months with TRUMBULL, vigorously prosecuting the study of drawing, and evincing great progress, Elliott went to study with Quidor, a fellow-pupil with Jarvis and the lamented INMAN. Here for a time, and 'for bread and butter,' he employed himself in copying prints in oil, but at length began to paint portraits, at such prices as he could command. It was at this period, too, that ELLIOTT painted a grand composition called and known by the name of 'The Battle of Fort Christina,' drawn from Irving's inimitable history of it in his KNICKERBOCKER's history; a memorable contest, which terminated, after ten hours' hard fighting, without the loss of a single man on either side! In the intervals of portrait-painting, not profitably followed about those days,' even by the best artists, Elliott threw off two compositions of considerable merit, « The Bold Dragoon, and an illustration of PAULDING'S 'Dutchman's Fireside,' that were exposed for sale in a shop window. TRUMBULL, who had heard nothing of ELLIOTT since he left his studio, happened to see them in the window, while walking leisurely by, in the style of a “gentleman of the old school. He stepped into the door, and inquired, 'Who painted those pictures ?' ' ELLIOTT,' was the reply. Where is his room?' IIe no sooner heard the answer, than he hurried to the painter. He knocked softly, entered uncovered, with all the stateliness of the last century, and said to the artist, ' You can go on painting, Sir ; you need not follow architecture, Sir ; I wish you good day, Sir,' and disappeared. He did go on, and with what a triumphant result, is well known to our readers and to the general public. The reflections of the writer upon the inadequate encouragement afforded to young and struggling artists of merit, are forcible and well put.?
Let all true friends of art remember,' he says, that if they wish to serve an artist they must help him when he needs help. And when you give an artist a commission, do n't think of “getting a good bargain,' in other words, more than your money's worth, but give him a scope for his genius, if he have any ; let him give some play to his imagination ; let him consult his own taste, and work out his own ideal in his own way. We join in the general regret expressed in the annexed paragraph, that our departed friend INman could not have lived to be handed down in immortal color? by the pencil of an artist the characteristics of whose genius, in more respects than one, most resembled his own :
"INMAN had none of the jealousies that so often mar the magnanimity of rival artists. He had heard much of Elliot'r lately, and although he had known him years before, they had not recently met. It is well known of course to our readers, that long before he was called hence, his friends felt a very deep solicitude for his life, but he himself seemed to entertain the brightest hopes of his own speedy recovery. It would have been cruel to pluck from his brow those last beams of light that the kind sun was casting over it, as he went to his setting. One pleasant day he called at Elliott's studio, and at the end of a long and kindly conversation, he said, " ELLIOTT, when I shall have recovered somewhat my health and spirits, we must exchange portraits. I have never been so well painted as I desire to be. Nothing will give me more pleasure than to paint yours, except in having you execute mine.' They pledged each other that the first artistic labors they performed, when ÎNMAN should be ready, would be this courteous exchange of the fruits of their gifted pencils. Poor INMAN pressed kindly the hand of ELLIOTT, and gave him the "good-by' with the careless cheerfulness with which we speak when we suppose we shall meet again in a day or two.
He returned to his home and never left it again. The friends of art will never cease to regret, that the two portrait painters, who so immeasurably excelled almost all others in their departments, should have thus lost the opportunity of transmitting to the future those inimitable works which they must have executed of each other, if Heaven had only given them the opportunity.'
We close our extracts from the paper upon Mr. Elliott with the following observations touching his pictures, and his peculiar powers of portraiture:
"In the first place, we apprehend that it will hardly be questioned by any who have studied ElLiotr's pictures, that one of his great attributes as a portrait painter is the extreme fidelity of his likenesses. Whenever we look on one of his portraits, we feel that he must have known not only the peculiarities of the person's face and features, but that he had read profoundly, intimately and genially, the prevailing character of his mind. In all his pictures we can read the individuality of the person he has painted, and not the general expression, which reminds us of some one or more individuals. We feel sure that he must have turned the head and eye in such a position as to bring out the prevailing expression by which the character
of the individual would be best understood and soonest recognised by his own acquaintances.
In the second place: Having observed that the portraits of ELLIOTT, like those of Sir Thomas LAWRENCE and VAN DYKE, all look well, we have often inquired why this was so. Surely every body is not good-looking.. We solved the mystery in the following manner: In order to produce a picture which should, while being a good likeness, make an impressive and pleasing portrait, it is necessary to resort to the liberty which art has the right of claiming, of painting the subject with the best expression he wears, and under the most favorable circumstances. It is the attribute of art, as it is of love, to usurp those golden hours of enchantment, when every smile breathes voluptu. ousness, when every glance flashes with the fire of passion, or the inspiration of poetry. There is a honey-moon in love,' is a proverb which comes from the Arabs. There ought to be some holy spot left in the heart of every man and woman, from which should beam forth on the face joyous, gleaming, touching, loving, humane, and we will even say divine expression, that will often clothe the faithful portrait with the charm of poetry, if there were any enthusiasm left in the heart.
“We take it then for granted, that when Elliott paints a portrait, his first rule is, to make a faithful likeness, and then to make a pleasing picture. The one is gained by accurate lines, the second by a proper arrangement of light, shadow, and position, with a skilful and artistic distribution of all those little accessories which make up the sum total of the sunny side' of life, art and poetry. In summing up then what we conceive
to be the popular opinion among those who are capable of judging of the merits of Elliott, as a painter, it seems to us that there is a universal conviction that wherever his pencil traces a face, it is sure to follow its outline with the utmost fidelity; to make a picture which can never be mistaken for the portrait of another person ; and then when those prime objects are accomplished, to clothe the whole with that warm, genial, and glowing atmosphere which will make the man he paints, when he looks at it, a better man; which will inspire him with purer imaginations, higher purposes, and more exalted resolutions; which will make him more generous in his actions, more genial in his heart, and more courteous in his manners. In a word, we mean to say that there is something in the style of ELLIOTT's painting not unlike the moral air which pervades the writings, and still more, which pervaded the manner of Dr. CHANNING, who has won for himself the fame of the largests the most genial, the most generous philanthropy of any philosopher or scholar who has lived on this continent.'
We are sure it will be conceded, by all who have ever had an opportunity to examine any three of Elliott's portraits, that the above tribute to their peculiar characteristics is as well deserved as it is felicitously conveyed. In self-evident honesty of likeness, in earnestness of expression, in geniality of feeling, in spirituality, and in deep rich flesh-tints, his paintings have few equals and no superiors. The writer speaks as follows of the picture of Captain Ericsson, which was almost the first picture of Elliott that excited the universal admiration of the visitors to the National Academy : ' It was regarded by competent inspectors and critics as one of the noblest portraits which had been executed in this country since the time of Stuart, and there were not wanting those who unhesitatingly pronounced it superior to any work of that great artist.' This portrait, after the exhibition was over, was sent to Mrs. ERICSSON in London ; and we well remember the enthusiastic letter of thanks for the picture returned by that lady to her husband ; indeed, if we are not mistaken, an extract from the letter appeared at the time in these pages. Thinking at night of her husband's necessarily prolonged absence, and with that ' hunger of the heart for his presence which that absence inspired, she would frequently rise from her bed, light a candle, and again and again survey the beloved lineaments. English artists, of the highest merit, she added, pronounced it a master-piece of art. We close this article with the single remark, that ELLIOTT, as has been said of Inman, has 'none of the jealousy that so often mars the magnanimity of rival artists.? No man ever heard him praise his own works, on the one hand, nor detract from the merits of a brother-artist, on the other. On the contrary, the young artist has no warmer friend, and merit, however obscure, a more honest and frank admirer, than Charles L. ELLIOTT.