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The Magic Mirror.
It told, in language firm and staid,
With all my motley Border train
Of bloodhounds, collies, ratches, harriers,
(A brave bloodhound both stanch and true,)
I at the LION's bugle-horn,
With echoes brave will wake the morn,
And trace the sneaking robber's trail
On one old heathery hill of mine,
"Twill make the herds, with tails on riggings,
To burrow in their ten-pound biggings.
Poor barking puppies! all is lost,
If such as you must rule the roast."
"Bow-wow! Bow-wow!" with dreadful blurrier,
Cried an outrageous Scottish Terrier,
"Well yowff'd, my lord! That note again,
We'll scatter the poor servile train,
Like chaff before the tempest free,
That revels down by Fernilee;
I'll ferret out in sad surprisal,
Each fulmart, badger, cat, and weazel,
From hole, from howf, from den and dingle ;"
"Yell!" quoth a hound of Highland breed,
A fierce and dangerous chap indeed.
A head as hard as Swedish iron,
He bay'd the bevy fierce and furious,
A great bull Raven came in view,
And with our flesh and blood to cram him.
Down came the Raven with a swoop,
Toss'd him, and shook him, cowed him, awed him,
War to the throat and to the knife;
And all for-what the age disgraces
That some few knaves might keep their places,
IGNORAMUS ON THE FINE ARTS.
THERE are three artists, but three, -with whose works I can boast of something like intimacy; and they are, perhaps, the most thoroughly and exclusively English in the world. These are, Hogarth, Bewick, and Green. However unequal in fame, dissimilar in style, or diverse in their subjects-the trio have many points in common. All, in a manner, selfeducated, and self-exalted, commenced as artisans, and made themselves excellent artists. All completed their studies, and gathered their materials in their native island, and each, after his kind, represented the Nature which every one may see, though very few like them have perceived and conceived. All, too, by birth or descent, were men of the North Countrie. Only one of them, however, has found a biographer in Allan Cunningham, but both the others have found a panegyrist in Christopher North. At the risk of repeating some of Christopher's observations, which will always bear repetition, I, his humble contributor, will venture a few words on their respective merits, leaving the "invention of their defects," to Dogberries of greater perspicacity. Green was my friend in days of auld lang syne; and Bewick my delight, when a picture-book was as good as a minced pie, or a pantomime. Pictures were pictures then, indeed.
Green was a man who will not soon be forgotten among the old familiar faces, nor will his works want vouchers, while autumn sheds her "blossoming hues of fire and gold" on the ferny slopes of our fells-and the slate-rocks shimmer in the morn
ing sun, after a night of rain or start from the white dispersing mists, like enchanted towers, at the breaking of the spell of darkness. Of all landscape painters he was the most literal, the most absolute copyist, of the objects on his retina. What he saw he painted as exactly as it could be painted-he had no notion of supplying the necessary imperfections of art by any adventitious splendour of his own. memory was not stored with traditional recipes, nor his imagination overlaid with pictorial commonplaces. The forms, colours, combinations which he fed upon, were gathered, like manna, fresh every morning. He never considered how Claude or Gainsborough would have treated a subject, nor what a Cockney might think of it. When he set about a picture, he thought no more of any other picture, than nature, when scooping out "still St Mary's Lake," thought about the Caspian Sea. He did not manufacture the sublime, by leaving out the details, nor sophisticate beauty into prettiness, by turning Westmoreland into a Covent Garden Arcadia, and shepherd lasses into mantel-piece shepherdesses neither did he fill our civil kind-hearted valleys with melo-dramatic horrors, and murky caverns, fit only for banditti to skulk in, and for Mrs Radcliffe to write about. truth, we have hardly a cavern big enough to conceal a cask of mountain dew-and what Gray could be dreaming of, when he fancied that Borrowdale Crags would close in and secrete him, like Frederic Barbarossa, in a stony immortality, I for one
“Frederick Barbarossa, according to German tradition, sits within the Kyffhausen, leaning on a stone-table, into which his long beard has grown, waiting until the day arrives when he is to hang up his shield on a withered tree, which will immediately put forth leaves, and then happier days will begin their course. His head nods, and his eyes twinkle, as if he slept uneasily, or were about to awake. At times his slumber is interrupted; but his naps are generally about a hundred years in duration. In his waking moments, he is supposed to be fond of music; and amongst the numerous tales to which his magic state has given rise, there is one of a party of musicians, who thought proper to treat him with a regular concert in his subterraneous abode. Each was rewarded with a green bough, a mode of payment so offensive to their expectations, that upon their return to earth, all flung away his gift save one, and he kept his bough only as a memorial of the adventure, without the least suspicion of its val
cannot tell. Mr Green knew the crags and waterfalls, as well as he knew his own children, and was just as little afraid of them. He taught his pencil, too, as he taught his children, to speak the truth, and the whole truth, without regard of consequences. His landscapes convey, not that abstraction which the mind
constructs out of many interrupted impressions, and which it can recall at pleasure; not that general likeness, which always remains, and can always be recognised; but a direct corporeal perception in the very posture, circumstance, and complexion of the instant. What his eye told, his hand repeated verbatim et lite
Great, however, was his surprise, when, upon shewing it to his wife, every leaf was changed into a golden dollar."-CROFTON CROKER'S FAIRY LEGENDS. London Magazine, March, 1822.
"Greece revered her yet living Achilles in the White Island, the Britons expected the waking of Arthur, entranced in Avelon, and, almost in our days, it was thought that Sebastian of Portugal would one day return to claim his usurped realms. Thus, also, the three founders of the Helvetic confederacy are thought to slumber in a cavern near the lake of Lucerne. The herdsmen call them the three Tells; and say that they lie there in their antique garb in a quiet sleep; and when Switzerland is in her utmost need, they will awaken and regain the liberties of the land.”—Quarterly Review, No. LXXVII. Do not you know the fine Roman hand?
This legend of Barbarossa, (and almost every nation has something similar,) has been called an imitation of that proverbial tale of the Seven Sleepers, who retreated to a cave near Ephesus during the persecution of Decius, and, after a nap of one hundred and eighty-seven years, were awakened in the reign of Theodosius, utterly unconscious that they had slept more than a few hours. As usual in these cases, they bestowed their blessing on the unknown descendants of their sometime contemporaries, and expired, as the Milesian canoes, so frequently discovered entire in the bogs of Erin, crumble to pieces as soon as they are exposed to upper air. Like most of the Christian miracles, whether canonical or apocryphal, this beautiful fancy has been smuggled into the Koran, and there disfigured with clumsy additions. Mahomet was the greatest plagiarist that ever existed; and though marvellously clever, was a very prosaic impostor after all. He had no imagination; and whatever he borrowed from the vast and wondrous stores of Oriental fable, he vulgarized. Like Mr Hume, he dealt very largely in numerical exaggeration; though it is probable he therein imitated the cabalists, rabbis, and Christian heretics, (who ascribed mystic powers and meanings to numbers,) rather than the honourable member for Middlesex.
The falsehoods of fraud, cupidity, and priestcraft, may always be distinguished from the fictions which imagination utters for her own delight, from the superstitions which are grounded in the truth of human nature, by their dulness, sameness, and matter-of-fact monstrosity. Yet it is not to be concluded, because the marvellous traditions of far-sundered races often bear a striking resemblance to each other, that they necessarily are derived from one original inventor. Every mythology has its sleepers. Endymion and Epimenides are among the oldest we know of. Who has not read of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood? The seed of these stories is in every fancy; and occasions will arrive to make it shoot forth and blossom. The repose of a fair statue, bathed in moonshine, would readily suggest the loves of the sleeping Endymion and his pale paramour; the rude blocks of stone that people stalactitic caves are quite human enough to give a hint for the caverned slumbers of the Seven, of the Danish Ogier, and the German Barbarossa. Religious or historic faith in the poetic nonage of nations, would take to themselves the half creations of imperfect vision, and turn the fantastic imagery into saints, martyrs, heroes, or deities.
What a figure would poor Gray, with his face and his pig-tail, have cut behind a stone table in the heart of Eaglecrag! Not much like the imperial red-band, I trow; for he never could have had beard enough for a Mussulman to swear by-liberal ás he has been in that particular to the Bard. By the way, the British Pindar was more indebted to Hudibras in that passage than to Milton or Raphael either.
This hairy meteor did denounce
Its own grave and the state's were made.-Canto the First.
I like to laugh at Gray; because I love him. He was a scholar, a gentleman, and a Christian. To detract from his poetic fame, is black ingratitude in any who have read him while their hearts were young.
ratim, as Homer's Iris and Talthybius repeat their message. (I used to love those repetitions when I was at school: it was like sliding glibly down the hill one has been toiling and panting to the top of. The lines counted all the same.)
Hence it requires rather more than a "Fortnight's Ramble" among the lakes a close and observant acquaintance with all their variable aspects-to know half the merit of Green. Many artists could give a Dutchman, or a Lincolnshire man, or haply a Hampsteadian, a more satisfactory feeling of mountain scenery-for many exhibit more cleverly what the unexperienced Fancy would anticipate of a mountainous prospect; more strikingly portray what all mountains have in common, just as the tragedies of Sophocles display the contour and generalities of the passions more distinctly than the mannered dramas of Euripides and Shakspeare: but those who dwell among the scenes which he delineated, will daily appreciate him higher and higher;—and should they be divided by seas and shores from this land of peaceful waters, his pictured lines will bring the haunts of memory back upon the soul with the vividness of a calenture. Artistically speaking (the word is Mr Green's), the finest natural prospects do not always make the best pictures. Who upon earth could ever paint the bare sea, or the desert, or the infinity of snow? But the smallest cove embosomed in the hills, with its single patch of corn, its low lone cottage, its solitary yew or sycamore, its own wee tarn, and "almost its own sky," has associations too vast to be contained in an acre of canvass. Paint it, and it will only be little, cabined, cribbed, confined, petty: for a picture cannot be much more than it shews: whereas in nature, the very narrowness of the visible round inspires a latent feeling of unseen greatness, which is a necessary ingredient in the sense of seclusion. Every painted landscape, if it possess the unity essential to a work of art, must make a whole of what in nature is felt and understood to be but a part, perhaps a part as unconsidered, if not as prominent, as the nose on the face.
In nature we are glad to merge our
human individuality in the universal, while in art we demand that every thing should be humanized, and refer to man as its centre and solution. We require a meaning, a purpose in every line, and light, and shade. I think silvan scenery paints the best of any. In glades and copses the eye is confined to a small indefinite space, and to a few picturesque objects, which fancy can multiply and vary as it chooses. The effects of light and shadow are strongly marked, and within the reach of imitation. The distance, seen through vistas of trees, or peeping between the branches, affords a most intelligible perspective. A wood is a sort of natural diorama. Trees, too, are individuals; and being liable to the operations of time, have a poetical sympathy with human life, which in lakes and mountains can hardly be imagined. Figures of men or animals, in a wide landscape, rarely compose well with the massier parts of the picture. If they be conspicuous in the foreground, they change the character of the composition. If far withdrawn from the point of sight, they become obscure and diminutive. Besides, there is no manner of keeping in proportion between any organized body and the huge masses of nature. The poet indeed may make a man, or, if he pleases, a bird, commensurate with Chimboraco, or Ontario, because he expresses thoughts and feelings which not the world of matter can circumscribe; but the landscape-painter cannot do this. If he even attempt to give his figures action or expression, he transgresses his province. But human forms combine most happily with mossy trunks and interwoven boughs, with tall flowers and twining creepers, with tangled underwood, and sunny intervals, and grey stones, decked with pendent greenery. Then what more native to the Dryad's haunts, than the nestling birdies that have new startled from her form, or the stag with antlered front, uplifted from the reddening fern, and eyeing securely the lovers met beneath the trysting-tree? Perhaps, moreover, the felicitous intermixture of straight and wavy lines, of disclosure and concealment, of intricacy and simplicity, contribute to the picturesque in woodland retirements.