Imágenes de páginas

immense advantage if you can get an artist with you ; for his trained, instructed eye will gather up all the points of a prospect, background, foreground, and perspective, and he will even help Dame Nature by showing you how a clump of trees in the foreground would help that magnificent pile of buildings, or how a grey ruin on that eminence would help the rivershore. He will tell you, too, what famous artists loved these scenes ; how Turner loved that sedgy stream, or Copley Fielding found most congenial scenery here for his water-colours.

It is astonishing what a variety of landscape you may see within the limits of an English county. Suppose you have been staying at Brighton. You are tired of that long promenade by the sea, of the open drawing-room on the pier, of the tables d'hôte, of parties and concerts that only reproduce London, of the Pavilion where military bands alternate with popular preachers, and balls and fancy fairs. You want to enjoy scenes now that are entirely. bucolic and unsophisticated. First drive to the Devil's Dyke, or better still, farther on to Chantonbury Ring. There, outspread before you, is a vast magnificent panorama, enclosed here and there by the sea or by the Downs, and comprehending many inland counties. You have rarely seen so magnificent a sight, and you hardly thought, perhaps, that the languid southern coast could so soon afford you this keen mountain air.

behind you.

Now that you have comprehended the panorama, you shall examine more minutely the nearer details. The region has a quadrilateral of railways; but within these iron lines there is an intensely rural country, which railways almost seem to have cut off from the outer world. The inhabitants are Baotian, but their scenery is eminently good. I at least have a painter and a poet with me, and they will leave nothing unnoticed. But let me candidly avow that pedestrianism has its inconveniences. You are going out into the wilderness. You are leaving all luxuries

You cannot exactly fix the limits of your day's march. You move circuitously to visit different points of interest. Do not imagine that you have the slightest chance of fish or game, for all luxuries go to Brighton or London. If you are very fortunate, you will get ham and eggs; in some places you will hardly get bread and cheese.

That inn, where you confidently relied for rest, has all its beds full, and the larger your party the worse your chances. Then you have to trudge in the dark, perhaps over ploughed fields

When you come to the countrytown, probably the one good inn will be full, and, not to blink the truth, perhaps you have to go to a pot-house, or something very like it. It is not so bad, if things are clean and wholesome. Besides, you get very much the kind of interior that Teniers used to paint, which gives a kind of picturesque aspect to things. I am bound to say that the natives have greatly progressed in a lively appreciation and appropriation of metropolitan changes.

What, then, is the actual compensation which you obtain for this unwonted amount of endurance and self-denial ? In the first place, your blood gets properly oxygenated. Then you have that thorough change of scene which is the most invigorating of all remedial agencies. Above all, you get a shifting change of God's own pictures. This kind of country, for instance, is the very sort which Hobbema painted

a broad, flat region, with thick foliaged trees. All over the land are the clear running brooks ; and peasants will talk of going to the brooks, meaning the meadows. Here you are by the side of a slow winding river. The cattle are like Cuyp's in the rich grass and by the pools. The tall reeds, osiers, and bulrushes have an almost tropic growth. Yon dim, secluded path by the river-side is almost a tinuous bower, stretching away like some path in primeval Paradise, that wilderness of freshness and verdure. Now here is a pretty scene ! Look at that young mother, who has thrown herself into this unconscious graceful pose, playing with her baby while a child is at her side. They are not very far from the side of a deep well. That low thatched cottage is home-like. By the cottage-side a deeply sunken road sinks into a wide plain. A boy is coming up


the lane driving cattle to the shed. The village spire governs the landscape. The soft light of sunset is over all. The scene is so sweet, so still, so English. But our English landscape is always thickly set with objects of interest. You are on the Downs, and you trace out clearly the vallum of a Roman camp. Here, amid these meadows, are some remains of a Roman villa ; but they are built over, like barns, and jealously preserved from inspection by a morose farmer, who declines to show them by this dim gleaming light. This is a picturesque cottage that has stood for hundreds of years, and artists have resorted hither in crowds. Presently we come to the home of the De la Zouches, a beautifully-timbered park, rich with ferns—a glorious mass of grand old wood. We go onwards to see the famous art-collections at Petworth. We are in luck; for the new lord is reconstructing Petworth, and the galleries will be closed to the public probably for eighteen months. sorry to see that Turner's local pictures have been cut away from their panels, in consequence of some repairs—the pier at Brighton, the Chichester Canal, and views in the Park. The Park, with its lakes, its clumps of trees, and its many deer, might well be illustrated by the genius of Turner. Here you find many examples of Turner, from his earlier to his latest style; many pictures of Reynolds, Gainsborough; some matchless pictures by Cuyp, a

I am

glowing Claude, and among the Vandykes, that of Strafford, which is the only picture mentioned by Mr. Hallam in his Constitutional History. We must look at Waagen's Art Treasures of Great Britain for the Petworth treasures. They suggest that, properly to understand our greatest painter, we ought to have, at least for once, a collection of all his pictures in chronological order. Near here are the Lavingtons; one of them is Bishop Wilberforce's place, and at another Richard Cobden lies buried. I met an old woman close by who knew and liked him well. Then by Angmering we have the Duke of Norfolk's decoy for wild fowl, a system of ponds and cages in a tangled wilderness, and which I am sorry to see the young Duke is allowing to fall into decay; and a little farther on is the park, dismantled of its residence, but with some of the finest timber in the country. The best wooded part of the country is, however, Midhurst. On the outskirts of the little town is a lovely wood of yews, called the Close Walk, where four arched aisles of avenues are cut through the wood. Also here are the famous ruins of Cowdry, burned down in the same year that its young lord was drowned in a foreign land. Cowdry is to ruined castles what Tintern is to ruined abbeys, rich with ivied oriels, arches, towers, where Dame Nature has covered up the unsightliness of decay with her soft, delicate touches. Thence you move

across the


« AnteriorContinuar »