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Full text of "The collected works of William Hazlitt"

BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
FROM THE 

SAGE ENDOWMENT FUND 

THE GIFT OF 

1891 



3 





CORNELL UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 




3 1924 064 976 966 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924064976966 



THE 

COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM HAZLITT 

IN TWELVE VOLUMES 



VOLUME NINE 



All rights resert-ed 



THE COLLECTED WORKS OF 

WILLIAM HAZLITT 

EDITED BY A. R. WALLER 
AND ARNOLD GLOVER 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

W. E. HENLEY 



The Principal 
Picture-Galleries in England 
Notes of a Journey through France and Italy- 
Miscellaneous Essays on the Fine Arts 



1903 

LONDON: J. M. DENT & CO. 
McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.: NEW YORK 



»'*> 



Edinburgh ; T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

THE PRINCIPAL PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND i 

NOTES OF A JOURNEY THROUGH FRANCE AND 

ITALY .... 83 

MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 305 

NOTES . . . 439 

APPENDIX .489 



SKETCHES OF THE PRINCIPAL 
PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

WITH A 

CRITICISM ON 'MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE' 



VOL. IX. : A 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



Sketches of the Principal Piclure-Galleries in England, fyith a Criticism on ' Marriage 
a-la-mode,' appeared in a small 8vo. volume (6^ in. X 4 in.) in 1824, ' Printed for 
Taylor and Hessey, 93, Fleet-Street, and 13, Waterloo-Place, Pall-Mall.' The 
last page bears advertisements of the Characters of Shakspeare's Plays, Lectures on 
the English Poets, and Lectures on the English Comic Writers, The printer's name, 
given behind the half-title, is ' T. Green, 76 Fleet-street.' 

Four pages of Taylor & Hessey's announcements (' Booksellers to H.R.H. the 
Prince Leopold *) are bound up with the volume. 

The present text is that of the 1824 volume. 

The Sketches formed part of the two volumes of ' Criticisms on Art,' collected 
and edited by his son in 1843-4, and of the one volume of 'Essays on the Fine 
Arts,' edited by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in 1873. 



ADVERTISEMENT 

It is the object of the following little work to give an account of 
the principal Picture-Galleries in this country, and to describe the 
feelings which they naturally excite in the mind of a lover of art. 
Almost all those of any importance have been regularly gone through. 
One or two, that still remain unnoticed, may be added to our catalogue 
ralsonnee at a future opportunity. It may not be improper to mention 
here that Mr. Angerstein's pictures have been lately purchased for the 
commencement of a National Gallery, but are still to be seen in their 
old places on the walls of his house. 



CONTENTS 



Mr. Angerstein's Collection 


PAGE 
7 


Dulwich Gallery ..... 


17 


The Marquis of Stafford's Gallery 


27 


Pictures at Windsor Castle 


36 


Pictures at Hampton Court 


42 


Lord Grosvenor's Collection 


49 


Pictures at Wilton and Stourhead . 


SS 


Pictures at Burleigh House 


62 


Pictures at Oxford and Blenheim . 


69 


Appendix 




Criticism on Marriage a-la-Mode . 


75 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 



MR. ANGERSTEIN'S COLLECTION 

Oh ! Art, lovely Art ! ' Balm of hurt minds, chief nourisher in life's 
feast, great Nature's second course ! ' Time's treasurer, the unsullied 
mirror of the mind of man ! Thee we invoke, and not in vain, for 
we find thee here retired in thy plentitude and thy power! The 
walls are dark with beauty ; they frown severest grace. The eye 
is not caught by glitter and varnish ; we see the pictures by their own 
internal light. This is not a bazaar, a raree-show of art, a Noah's 
ark of all the Schools, marching out in endless procession ; but a 
sanctuary, a holy of holies, collected by taste, sacred to fame, 
enriched by the rarest products of genius. For the number of 
pictures, Mr. Angerstein's is the finest gallery, perhaps, in the world. 
We feel no sense of littleness : the attention is never distracted for 
a moment, but concentrated on a few pictures of first-rate excellence. 
Many of these ctef-d'auvres might occupy the spectator for a whole 
morning ; yet they do not interfere with the pleasure derived from each 
other — so much consistency of style is there in the midst of variety ! 

We know of no greater treat than to be admitted freely to a 
Collection of this sort, where the mind reposes with full confidence 
in its feelings of admiration, and finds that idea and love of conceiv- 
able beauty, which it has cherished perhaps for a whole life, reflected 
from every object around it. It is a cure (for the time at least) for 
low-thoughted cares and uneasy passions. We are abstracted to 
another sphere : we breathe empyrean air ; we enter into the minds 
of Raphael, of Titian, of Poussin, of the Caracci, and look at nature 
with their eyes ; we live in time past, and seem identified with the 
permanent forms of things. The business of the world at large, and 
even its pleasures, appear like a vanity and an impertinence. What 
signify the hubbub, the shifting scenery, the fantoccini figures, the 
folly, the idle fashions without, when compared with the solitude, 
the silence, the speaking looks, the unfading forms within ? — Here is 
the mind's true home. The contemplation of truth and beauty is the 

7 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

proper object for which we were created, which calls forth the most 
intense desires of the soul, and of which it never tires. A capital 
print-shop (Molteno's or Colnaghi's) is a point to aim at in a 
morning's walk — a relief and satisfaction in the motley confusion, 
the littleness, the vulgarity of common life: but a print-shop has 
but a mean, cold, meagre, petty appearance after coming out of a 
fine Collection of Pictures. We want the size of life, the marble 
flesh, the rich tones of nature, the diviner expanded expression. 
Good prints are no doubt, better than bad pictures; or prints, 
generally speaking, are better than pictures ; for we have more 
prints of good pictures than of bad ones : yet they are for the most 
part but hints, loose memorandums, outlines in little of what the 
painter has done. How often, in turning over a number of choice 
engravings, do we tantalise ourselves by thinking ' what a head that 
must be,' — in wondering what colour a piece of drapery is of, green 
or black, — in wishing, in vain, to know the exact tone of the sky 
in a particular corner of the picture ! Throw open the folding- 
doors of a fine Collection, and you see all you have desired realised 
at a blow — the bright originals starting up in their own proper shape, 
clad with flesh and blood, and teeming with the first conceptions of 
the painter's mind ! The disadvantage of pictures is, that they cannot 
be multiplied to any extent, like books or prints ; but this, in another 
point of view, operates probably as an advantage, by making the sight 
of a fine original picture an event so much the more memorable, and 
the impression so much the deeper. A visit to a genuine Collection 
is like going a pilgrimage — it is an act of devotion performed at the 
shrine of Art ! It is as if there were but one copy of a book in the 
world, locked up in some curious casket, which, by special favour, 
we had been permitted to open, and peruse (as we must) with 
unaccustomed relish. The words would in that case leave stings 
in the mind of the reader, and every letter appear of gold. The 
ancients, before the invention of printing, were nearly in the same 
situation with respect to books, that we are with regard to pictures ; 
and at the revival of letters, we find the same unmingled satisfaction, or 
fervid enthusiasm, manifested in the pursuit or the discovery of an old 
manuscript, that connoisseurs still feel in the purchase and possession 
of an antique cameo, or a fine specimen of the Italian school of paint- 
ing. Literature was not then cheap and vulgar, nor was there what is 
called a reading public ; and the pride of intellect, like the pride of art, 
or the pride of birth, was confined to the privileged few ! 

We sometimes, in viewing a celebrated Collection, meet with an 
old favourite, a Jirst love in such matters, that we have not seen for 
many years, which greatly enhances the delight. We have, perhaps. 



MR. ANGERSTEIN'S COLLECTION 

pampered our imaginations with it all that time; its charms have 
sunk deep into our minds ; we wish to see it once more, that we 
may confirm our judgment, and renew our vows. The Susannah and 
the Elders at Mr. Angerstein's was one of those that came upon us 
under these circumstances. We had seen it formerly, among other 
visions of our youth, in the Orleans Collection, — where we used to 
go and look at it by the hour together, till our hearts thrilled with 
its beauty, and our eyes were filled with tears. How often had we 
thought of it since, how often spoken of it ! — There it was still, the 
same lovely phantom as ever — not as when Rousseau met Madame 
de Warens, after a lapse of twenty years, who was grown old and 
wrinkled — but as if the young Jewish Beauty had been just surprised 
in that unguarded spot — crouching down in one corner of the picture, 
the face turned back with a mingled expression of terror, shame, and 
unconquerable sweetness, and the whole figure (with the arms crossed) 
shrinking into itself with bewitching grace and modesty ! It is by 
Ludovico Caracci, and is worthy of his name, from its truth and 
purity of design, its expression and its mellow depth of tone. Of 
the Elders, one is represented in the attitude of advancing towards 
her, while the other beckons her to rise. We know of no painter 
who could have improved upon the Susannah, except Correggio, who, 
with all his capricious blandishments, and wreathed angelic smiles, 
would hardly have given the same natural unaffected grace, the same 
perfect womanhood. 

There is but one other picture in the Collection, that strikes us, as 
a matter of taste or fancy, like this ; and that is the Silenus teaching a 
Toung Apollo to play on the pipe — a small oblong picture,- executed in 
distemper, by Annibal Caracci. The old preceptor is very fine, with 
a jolly, leering, pampered look of approbation, half inclining to the 
brute, half-conscious of the God ; but it is the Apollo that constitutes 
the charm of the picture, and is indeed divine. The whole figure is 
full of simple careless grace, laughing in youth and beauty ; he holds 
the Pan's-pipe in both hands, looking up with timid wonder ; and 
the expression of delight and surprise at the sounds he produces is 
not to be surpassed. The only image we would venture to compare 
with it for innocent artless voluptuousness, is that of the shepherd-boy 
in Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, ' piping as though he should never be 
old ! ' A comparison of this sort, we believe, may be made, in spite 
of the proverb, without injustice to the painter or the poet. Both 
gain by it. The idea conveyed by the one, perhaps, receives an 
additional grace and lustre, while a more beautiful moral sentiment 
hovers round the other, from thinking of them in this casual connec- 
tion. If again it be asked. Which is the most admirable ? — we should 

9 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

answer — Both are equally exquisite in their way, and yield the 
imagination all the pleasure it is capable of — and should decline 
giving an invidious preference to either. The cup can only be full. 
The young shepherd in the Arcadia wants no outward grace to 
recommend him ; the stripling God no hidden charm of expression. 
The language of painting and poetry is intelligible enough to mortals ; 
the spirit of both is divine, and far too good for him, who, instead of 
enjoying to the utmost height, would find an unwelcome flaw in 
either. The Silenus and Apollo has something of a RafFaellesque 
air, with a mixture of Correggio's arch sensibility — there is nothing 
of Titian in the colouring — yet Annibal Caracci was in theory a 
deserter from the first to the two last of these masters ; and swore 
with an oath, in a letter to his uncle Ludovico, that ' they were the 
only true painters ! ' 

We should nearly have exhausted our stock of enthusiasm in 
descanting on these two compositions, in almost any other case; 
but there is no danger of this in the present instance. If we were 
at any loss in this respect, we should only have to turn to the large 
picture of the Raising of Lazarus, by Sebastian del Piombo ; 

-' and still walking under, 



Find some new matter to look up and wonder.' 

We might dwell on the masterly strength of the drawing, the 
gracefulness of the principal female figures, the high-wrought execu- 
tion, the deep, rich, mosaic colouring, the massiness and bustle of 
the back-ground. We think this one of the best pictures on so 
large a scale that we are anywhere acquainted with. The whole 
management of the design has a very noble and imposing effect, 
and each part severally will bear the closest scrutiny. It is a 
magnificent structure built of solid and valuable materials. The 
artist has not relied merely on the extent of his canvas, or the 
importance of his subject, for producing a striking result — the effect 
is made out by an aggregate of excellent parts. The hands, the 
feet, the drapery, the heads, the features, are all fine. There is 
some satisfaction in looking at a large historical picture, such as 
this : for you really gain in quantity, without losing in quality ; 
and have a studious imitation of individual nature, combined with 
masculine invention, and the comprehensive arrangement of an 
interesting story. The Lazarus is very fine and bold. The flesh 
is well-baked, dingy, and ready to crumble from the touch, when 
it is liberated from its dread confinement to have life and motion 
impressed on it again. He seems impatient of restraint, gazes 
eagerly about him, and looks out from his shrouded prison on this 
lO 



MR. ANGERSTEIN'S COLLECTION 

new world with hurried amazement, as if Death had scarcely yet 
resigned his power over the senses. We would wish our artists to 
look at the legs and feet of this figure, and see how correctness of 
finishing and a greatness of gusto in design are compatible with, and 
set off each other. The attendant female figures have a peculiar 
grace and becoming dignity, both of expression and attitude. They 
are in a style something between Michael Angelo and Parmegiano. 
They take a deep interest in the scene, but it is with the air of 
composure proper to the sex, who are accustomed by nature and 
duty to works of charity and compassion. The head of the old 
man, kneeling behind Christ, is an admirable study of drawing, 
execution, and character. The Christ himself is grave and earnest, 
with a noble and impressive countenance ; but the figure wants that 
commanding air which ought to belong to one possessed of preter- 
natural power, and in the act of displaying it. Too much praise 
cannot be given to the back-ground — the green and white draperies 
of some old people at a distance, which are as airy as they are 
distinct — the buildings like tombs — and the different groups, and 
processions of figures, which seem to make life almost as grave 
and solemn a business as death itself. This picture is said by some 
to have been designed by Michael Angelo, and painted by Sebastian 
del Piombo, in rivalship of some of Raphael's works. It was in the 
Orleans Gallery. 

Near this large historical composition stands (or is suspended in 
a case) a single head, by Raphael, of Pope Julius ii. It is in itself 
a Collection — a world of thought and character. There is a 
prodigious weight and gravity of look, combined with calm self- 
possession, and easiness of temper. It has the cast of an English 
countenance, which Raphael's portraits often have, Titian's never. 
In Raphael's the mind, or the body, frequently prevails ; in Titian's 
you always see the soul — faces 'which pale passion loves.' Look 
at the Music-piece by Titian, close by in this Collection — it is 
'all ear,' — the expression is evanescent as the sounds — the features 
are seen in a sort of dim chiaro scuro, as if the confused impressions 
of another sense intervened — and you might easily suppose some of 
the performers to have been engaged the night before in 

' Mask or midnight serenade. 
Which the starved lover to his mistress sings. 
Best quitted with disdain.' ^ 

^ We like this picture of a Concert the best of the three by Titian in the same 
room. The other two are a Ganymede, and a Venus and Adonis ; the last does 
not appear to us from the hand of Titian. 

II 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

The ruddy, bronzed colouring of Raphael generally takes ofF from 
any appearance of nocturnal watching and languid hectic passion! 
The portrait of Julius ii. is finished to a great nicety. The hairs 
of the beard, the fringe on the cap, are done by minute and careful 
touches of the pencil. In seeing the labour, the conscientious and 
modest pains, which this great painter bestowed upon his smallest 
works, we cannot help being struck with the number and magnitude 
of those he left behind him. When we have a single portrait placed 
before us, that might seem to have taken half a year to complete it, 
we wonder how the same painter could find time to execute his 
Cartoons, the compartments of the Vatican, and a thousand other 
matchless works. The same account serves for both. The more 
we do, the more we can do. Our leisure (though it may seem 
a paradox) is in proportion to our industry. The same habit of 
intense application, which led our artist to bestow as much pains 
and attention on the study of a single head, as if his whole reputation 
had depended on it, enabled him to set about the greatest works 
with alacrity, and to finish them with ease. If he had done any 
thing he undertook to do, in a slovenly disreputable manner, he 
would (upon the same principle) have lain idle half his time. Zeal 
and diligence, in this view, make life, short as it is, long. — Neither 
did Raphael, it should seem, found his historical pretensions on his 
incapacity to paint a good portrait. On the contrary, the latter here 
looks very much like the corner-stone of the historical edifice. Nature 
did not put him out. He was not too great a genius to copy what he 
saw. He probably thought that a deference to nature is the 
beginning of art, and that the highest eminence is scaled by single 
steps ! 

On the same stand as the portrait of Julius u. is the much vaunted 
Correggio — the Christ in the Garden. We would not give a farthing 
for it. The drapery of the Christ is highly finished in a silver and 
azure tone — but high finishing is not all we ask from Correggio. 
It is more worthy of Carlo Dolce. — Lest we should forget it, we 
may mention here, that the admired portrait of Govarcius was gone 
to be copied at Somerset-house. The Academy have then, at length, 
fallen into the method pursued at the British Gallery, of recommend- 
ing the students to copy from the Old Masters. Well — better late 
than never ! This same portrait is not, we think, the truest specimen 
of Vandyke. It has not his mild, pensive, somewhat effeminate cast 
of colour and expression. His best portraits have an air of faded 
gentility about them. The Govarcius has too many streaks of blood- 
colour, too many marks of the pencil, to convey an exact idea of 
Vandyke's characteristic excellence ; though it is a fine imitation of 

12 



MR. ANGERSTEIN'S COLLECTION 

Rubens's florid manner. Vandyke's most striking portraits are those 
which look just like a gentleman or lady seen in a looking-glass, and 
neither more nor less. 

Of the Claudes, we prefer the St. Ursula — the Embariing of the 
Five thousand Virgins — to the others. The water is exquisite ; and 
the sails of the vessels glittering in the morning sun, and the blue 
flags placed against the trees, which seem like an opening into the 
sky behind — so sparkling is the effect of this ambiguity in colouring 
— are in Claude's most perfect manner. The Altieri Claude is one 
of his noblest and most classical compositions, with towers, and trees, 
and streams, and flocks, and herds, and distant sunny vales, 

' Where universal Pan, 

Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance, 
Leads on the eternal spring :— ' 

but the eflijct of the execution has been deadened and rendered flat 
by time or ill-usage. There is a dull, formal appearance, as if the 
different masses of sky, of water, &c., were laid on with plates of tin 
or lead. This is not a general defect in Claude : his landscapes have 
the greatest quantity of inflection, the most delicate brilliancy, of all 
others. A lady had been making a good copy of the Seaport, which 
is a companion to the one we have described. We do not think 
these Claudes, famous as they are, equal to Lord Egremont's Jacob 
and Laban ; to the Enchanted Castle ; to a green vernal Landscape, 
which was in Walsh Porter's Collection, and which was the very 
finest we ever saw ; nor to some others that have appeared from time 
to time in the British Institution. We are sorry to make this, which 
may be thought an ill-natured, remark : but, though we have a great 
respect for Mr. Angerstein's taste, we have a greater for Claude 
Lorraine's reputation. Let any persons admire these specimens of 
his art as much as they will (and the more they admire them, the 
more we shall be gratified), and then we will tell them, he could do 
far finer things than these ! 

There is one Rembrandt, and one N. Poussin. The Rembrandt 
(the Woman taken in Adultery) is prodigious in colouring, in light and 
shade, in pencilling, in solemn effect ; but that is nearly all — 

' Of outward show 
Elaborate, of inward less exact.' 

Nevertheless, it is worth any money. The Christ has considerable 
seriousness and dignity of aspect. The marble pavement, of which 
the light is even dazzling ; the figures of the two Rabbis to the right, 
radiant with crimson, green, and azure ; the back-ground, which seems 

13 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

like some rich oil-colour smeared over a ground of gold, and where 
the eye staggers on from one abyss of obscurity to another, — place 
this picture in the first rank of Rembrandt's wonderful performances. 
If this extraordinary genius was the most literal and vulgar of 
draughtsmen, he was the most ideal of colourists. When Annibal 
Caracci vowed to God, that Titian and Correggio were the only 
true painters, he had not seen Rembrandt; — if he had, he would 
have added him to the list. The Poussin is a Dance of Bacchanals : 
theirs are not ' pious orgies.' It is, however, one of this master's 
finest pictures, both in the spirit of the execution, and the ingenuity 
and equivoque of the invention. If the purity of the drawing will 
make amends for the impurity of the design, it may pass : assuredly 
the jsame subject, badly executed, would not be endured ; but the 
life of mind, the dexterity of combination displayed in it, supply 
the want of decorum. The old adage, that ' Vice, by losing all its 
grossness, loses half its evil,' seems chiefly applicable to pictures. 
Thus a naked figure, that has nothing but its nakedness to recommend 
it, is not fit to be hung up in decent apartments. If it is a Nymph 
by Titian, Correggio's 16, we no longer think of its being naked ; 
but merely of its sweetness, its beauty, its naturalness. So far art, 
as it is intellectual, has a refinement and extreme unction of its own. 
Indifferent pictures, like dull people, must absolutely be moral ! We 
suggest this as a hint to those persons of more gallantry than discretion, 
who think that to have an indecent daub hanging up in one corner of 
the room, is proof of a liberality of gusto, and a considerable progress 
in itirtii. Tout au contraire. 

We have a clear, brown, woody Landscape by Caspar Poussin, in 
his fine determined style of pencilling, which gives to earth its 
solidity, and to the air its proper attributes. There are perhaps, 
no landscapes that excel his in this fresh, healthy look of nature. 
One might say, that wherever his pencil loves to haunt, 'the air 
is delicate.' We forgot to notice a St. John in the Wilderness, by 
A. Caracci, which has much of the autumnal tone, the 'sear and 
yellow leaf,' of Titian's landscape-compositions. A Rape of the 
SaUnes, in the inner room, by Rubens, is, we think, the most 
tasteless picture in the Collection: to see plump, florid viragos 
struggling with bearded ruffians, and tricked out in the flounces, 
furbelows, and finery of the court of Louis xiv. is preposterous. 
But there is another Rubens in the outer room, which, though 
fantastical and quaint, has qualities to redeem all faults. It is an 
allegory of himself and his three wives, as a St. George and Holy 
Family, with his children as Christ and St. John, playing with a 
Iamb ; in which he has contrived to bring together all that is rich 

14 



MR. ANGERSTEIN'S COLLECTION 

in antique dresses, (black as jet, and shining like diamonds,) trans- 
parent in flesh-colour, agreeable in landscape, unfettered in composi- 
tion. The light streams from rosy clouds ; the breeze curls the ' 
branches of the trees in the back-ground, and plays on the clear 
complexions of the various scattered group. It is one of this painter's 
most splendid, and, at the same time, most solid and sharply finished 
productions. 

Mr. Wilkie's Alehouse Door is here, and deserves to be here. 
Still it is not his best ; though there are some very pleasing rustic 
figures, and some touching passages in it. As in his Blind- Man' s-buff, 
the groups are too straggling, and spread over too large a surface of 
bare foreground, which Mr. Wilkie does not paint well. It looks 
more like putty than earth or clay. The artist has a better eye 
for the individual details, than for the general tone of objects. 
Mr. Liston's face in this • flock of drunkards ' is a smiling failure. 

A portrait of Hogarth, by himself, and Sir Joshua's half-length of 
Lord Heathfield, hang in the same room. The last of these is 
certainly a fine picture, well composed, richly coloured, with 
considerable character, and a look of nature. Nevertheless, our 
artist's pictures, seen among standard works, have (to speak it 
plainly) something old-womanish about them. By their obsolete 
and affected air, they remind one of antiquated ladies of quality, and 
are a kind of Duchess-Dowagers in the art — somewhere between the 
living and the dead. 

Hogarth's series of the Marriage a-la-Mode^ (the most delicately 
painted of all his pictures, and admirably they certainly are painted) 
concludes the Catalogue Raisonnee of this Collection. — A study of 
Heads, by Correggio, and some of Mr. Fuseli's stupendous figures 
from his Milton Gallery, are on the staircase. 



A CATALOGUE OF THE 
PICTURES IN THE ANGERSTEIN GALLERY 

1 . The Marriage a la Mode, No. i . Hogarth, 

2. The Marriage a la Mode, No. 2. Ditto. 

3. The Marriage a la Mode, No. 3. Ditto. 

4. The Marriage a la Mode, No. 4. Ditto. 

5. The Marriage a la Mode, No. 5. Ditto. 

6. The Marriage a la Mode, No. 6. Ditto. 

1 The Reader, if he pleases, may turn to an Essay on this subject in the 
lUiund Table. 

IS 



PICTURE-GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

7. Portrait of Lord Heathfield, the Defender of Gibraltar. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

8. His own Portrait, with his Dog. Hogarth. 

9. The Village Festival. Wilkie. 

10. The Portrait of Rubens. (Formerly in the Collection of 
Sir Joshua Reynolds.) Vandycl. 

11. The Woman taken in Adultery. Painted for the Burgo- 
master Six. Rembrandt. 

12. A Landscape; Evening; with Horses, Cattle, and Figures. 
(From the Collection of Sir Laurence Dundas.) Cuyp. 

13. Christ praying in the Garden. Correggio. 

14. The Adoration of the Shepherds. Rembrandt. 

15. A Land Storm. (From the Lansdown Collection.) 

Gaspar Poussin. 

16. Portrait of Pope Julius the Second. (From the Lancillotti 
Palace.) Raphael. 

17. The Emperor Theodosius refused admittance into the Church 
by St. Ambrose. Vandyck. 

18. A Landscape, with Figures; representing Abraham preparing 
to sacrifice his son Isaac. (From the Colonna Palace.) 

Gaspar Poussin. 

19. Portrait of Govartius. Vandyck. 

20. Pan teaching Apollo the use of the Pipe. Annibal Caracci. 

21. A Sea-Port at Sunset, in which is represented the Legend 
of the Embarkation of St. Ursula. (Formerly in the Barberini 
Palace. ) Claude. 

22. Erminia discovering the Shepherds : From Tasso's ' Jerusalem 
Delivered.' Domenichino. 

23. Philip the Fourth and his Queen. Velasque%. 

24. Venus and Adonis. (From the Colonna Palace.) Titian. 

25. St. John in the Wilderness. (From the Orleans Collection.) 

Annibal Caracci. 

26. A Landscape, with Figures. Claude. 

27. Christ raising Lazarus. (From the Orleans Collection.) 

Sebastian del Piomho. 

28. A Concert. Titian. 

29. An Italian Sea-Port at Sunset, with Figures. Claude. 

30. The Rape of Ganymede. ( From the Colonna Palace. ) Titian. 

31. A Sea-Port, in which is represented the Embarkation of the 
Queen of Sheba on her visit to Solomon. (From the Collection of 
the Duke de Bouillon. ) Claude. 

32. A Study of Heads. (From the Orleans Collection.) 

Correggio. 
16 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

33. A Study of Heads. (From the same Collection.) Correggio. 

34. The Rape of the Sabine Women. Rubens. 

35. The Holy Family, with St. George, a Female Saint, and 
Angels. Rubens. 

36. A Landscape, with Figures; representing the Marriage of 
Rebecca. (From the Collection of the Duke de Bouillon.) Claude. 

37. Susanna and the Elders. (From the Orleans Collection.) 

Ludov. Caracci. 

38. A Bacchanalian Scene. Nich. Poussin. 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

It was on the 5th of November that we went to see this Gallery. 
The morning was mild, calm, pleasant : it was a day to ruminate on 
the object we had in view. It was the time of year 

' When yellow leaves, or few or none, do hang 
Upon the branches ; ' 

their scattered gold was strongly contrasted with the dark green 
spiral shoots of the cedar trees that skirt the road ; the sun shone 
faint and watery, as if smiling his last; Winter gently let go the 
hand of Summer, and the green fields, wet with the mist, anticipated 
the return of Spring. At the end of a beautiful little village, Dulwich 
College appeared in view, with modest state, yet mindful of the olden 
time ; and the name of Allen and his compeers rushed full upon the 
memory ! How many races of school-boys have played within its 
walls, or stammered out a lesson, or sauntered away their vacant 
hours in its shade: yet, not one Shakspeare is there to be found 
among them all ! The boy is clothed and fed and gets through 
his accidence : but no trace of his youthful learning, any more than 
of his saffron livery, is to be met with in the man. Genius is not to 
be 'constrained by mastery.' — Nothing comes of these endowments 
and foundations for learning, — you might as well make dirt-pies, or 
build houses with cards. Yet something does come of them too — a 
retreat for age, a dream in youth — a feeling in the air around them, 
the memory of the past, the hope of what will never be. Sweet are 
the studies of the school-boy, delicious his idle hours ! Fresh and 
gladsome is his waking, balmy are his slumbers, book-pillowed ! He 
wears a green and yellow livery perhaps ; but ' green and yellow 
melancholy ' comes not near him, or if it does, is tempered with 
youth and innocence ! To thumb his Eutropius, or to knuckle down 
at taw, are to him equally delightful ; for whatever stirs the blood, 
VOL. IX. : B 17 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

or inspires thought in him, quickens the pulse of life and joy. He 
has only to feel, in order to be happy ; pain turns smiling from him, 
and sorrow is only a softer kind of pleasure. Each sensation is but 
an unfolding of his new being ; care, age, sickness, are idle words ; 
the musty records of antiquity look glossy in his sparkling eye, and 
he clasps immortality as his future bride ! The coming years hurt 
him not — he hears their sound afar off, and is glad. See him there, 
the urchin, seated in the sun, with a book in his hand, and the wall 
at his back. He has a thicker wall before him — the wall that parts 
him from the future. He sees not the archers taking aim at his 
peace ; he knows not the hands that are to mangle his bosom. He 
stirs not, he still pores upon his book, and, as he reads, a slight 
hectic flush passes over his cheek, for he sees the letters that compose 
the word Fame glitter on the page, and his eyes swim, and he thinks 
that he will one day write a book, and have his name repeated by 
thousands of readers, and assume a certain signature, and write Essays 
and Criticisms in a London Magazine, as a consummation of felicity 
scarcely to be believed. Come hither, thou poor little fellow, and 
let us change places with thee if thou wilt ; here, take the pen and 
finish this article, and sign what name you please to it ; so that we 
may but change our dress for yours, and sit shivering in the sun, 
and con over our little task, and feed poor, and lie hard, and be 
contented and happy, and think what a fine thing it is to be an 
author, and dream of immortality, and sleep o'nights ! 

There is something affecting and monastic in the sight of this little 
nursery of learning, simple and retired as it stands, just on the verge 
of the metropolis, and in the midst of modern improvements. There 
is a chapel, containing a copy of RaphaeTs Transfiguration, by Julio 
Romano : but the great attraction to curiosity at present is the 
Collection of pictures left to the College by the late Sir Francis 
Bourgeois, who is buried in a mausoleum close by. He once (it is 
said) spent an agreeable day here in company with the Masters of 
the College and some other friends ; and he determined, in conse- 
quence, upon this singular mode of testifying his gratitude and his 
respect. Perhaps, also, some such idle thoughts as we have here 
recorded might have mingled with this resolution. The contempla- 
tion and the approach of death might have been softened to his mind 
by being associated with the hopes of childhood ; and he might wish 
that his remains should repose, in monumental state, amidst 'the 
innocence and simplicity of poor Charity Boys ! ' Might it not have 
been so ? 

The pictures are 356 in number, and are hung on the walls of 
a large gallery, built for the purpose, and divided into five compart- 

18 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

ments. They certainly looked better in their old places, at the 
house of Mr. Desenfans (the original collector), where they were 
distributed into a number of small rooms, and seen separately and 
close to the eye. They are mostly cabinet-pictures ; and not only 
does the height, at which many of them are necessarily hung to cover 
a large space, lessen the effect, but the number distracts and deadens 
the attention. Besides, the skylights are so contrived as to ' shed a 
dim,' though not a ' religious light ' upon them. At our entrance, 
we were first struck by our old friends the Cuyps ; and just beyond, 
caught a glimpse of that fine female head by Carlo Maratti, giving us 
a welcome with cordial glances. May we not exclaim — 

' What a delicious breath painting sends forth ! 
The violet-bed 's not sweeter.' 

A fine gallery of pictures is a sort of illustration of Berkeley's 
Theory of Matter and Spirit. It is like a palace of thought — 
another universe, built of air, of shadows, of colours. Every thing 
seems ' palpable to feeling as to sight.' Substances turn to shadows 
by the painter's arch-chemic touch ; shadows harden into substances. 
' The eye is made the fool of the other senses, or else worth all the 
rest.' The material is in some sense embodied in the immaterial, 
or, at least, we see all things in a sort of intellectual mirror. The 
w orld of art is an enchanting; decepti on. We discover distance in 
a glazed surface ; a provmce is contained in a foot of canvass ; a thin 
evanescent tint gives the form and pressure of rocks and trees ; an 
inert shape has life and motion in it. Time stands still, and the 
dead re-appear, by means of this ' so potent art ! ' Look at the 
Cuyp next the door (No. 3). It is woven of etherial hues. A soft 
mist is on it, a veil of subtle air. The tender green of the vallies 
beyond the gleaming lake, the purple light of the hills, have an effect 
like the down on an unripe nectarine. You may lay your finger on 
the canvass ; but miles of dewy vapour and sunshine are between you 
and the objects you survey. It is almost needless to point out that 
the cattle and figures in the fore-ground, like dark, transparent spots, 
give an immense relief to the perspective. This is, we think, the 
finest Cuyp, perhaps, in the world. The landscape opposite to it 
(in the same room) by Albert Cuyp, has a richer colouring and 
a stronger contrast of light and shade, but it has not that tender bloom 
of a spring morning (so delicate, yet so powerful in its effect) which 
the other possesses. Two Horses, by Cuyp (No. 74), is another 
admirable specimen of this excellent painter. It is hard to say, 
which is most true to nature — the sleek, well-fed look of the bay 
horse, or the bone and spirit of the dappled iron-grey one, or the 

19 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

face of the man who is busy fastening a girth. Nature is scarcely 
more faithful to itself, than this delightfully unmannered, unaffected 
picture is to it. In the same room there are several good Tenierses, 
and a small Head of an old Man, by Rembrandt, which is as smoothly 
finished as a miniature. No. lo. Inferior of an Ale-house, by Adrian 
Brouwer, almost gives one a sick head-ache ; particularly, the face 
and figure of the man leaning against the door, overcome with 
' potations pottle deep.' Brouwer united the depth and richness 
of Ostade to the spirit and felicity of Teniers. No. 12, Sleeping 
Nymph and Satyr, and 59, Nymph and Satyr, by Polemberg, are not 
pictures to our taste. Why should any one make it a rule never to 
paint any thing but this one subject ? Was it to please himself or 
others? The one shows bad taste, the other wrong judgment. 
The grossness of the selection is hardly more offensive than the 
finicalness of the execution. No. 49, a Mater Dolorosa, by Carlo 
Dolce, is a very good specimen of this master ; but the expression 
has too great a mixture of piety and pauperism in it. It is not 
altogether spiritual. No. 51, Ji School with Girls at work, by 
Crespi, is a most rubbishly performance, and has the look of a 
modern picture. It was, no doubt, painted in the fashion of the 
time, and is now old-fashioned. Every thing has this modern, or 
rather uncouth and obsolete look, which, besides the temporary and 
local circumstances, has not the free look of nature. Dress a figure 
in what costume you please (however fantastic, however barbarous), 
but add the expression which is common to all faces, the properties 
that are common to all drapery in its elementary principles, and the 
picture will belong to all times and places. It is not the addition of 
individual circumstances, but the omission of general truth, that makes 
the little, the deformed, and the short-lived in art. No. 183, Religion 
in the Desart, a sketch by Sir Francis Bourgeois, is a proof of this 
remark. There are no details, nor is there any appearance of per- 
manence or sta[bility about it. It] seems to have been painted yester- 
day, and to labour under premature decay. It has a look of being 
half done, and you have no wish to see it finished. No. 53, 
Interior of a Cathedral, by Sanadram, is curious and fine. From 
one end of the perspective to the other — and back again — would 
make a morning's walk. 

In the Second Room, No. 90, a Sea Storm, by Backhuysen, and 
No. 93, A Calm, by W. Vandervelde, are equally excellent, the one 
for its gloomy turbulence, and the other for its glassy smoothness. 
92, Landscape with Cattle and Figures, is by Both, who is, we 
confess, no great favourite of ours. We do not like his straggling 
branches of trees without masses of foliage, continually running up 

20 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

into the sky, merely to let in the landscape beyond. No. 96, Blowing 
Hot and Cold, by Jordaens, is as fine a picture as need be painted. 
It is full of character, of life, and pleasing colour. It is rich and 
not gross. 98, Portrait of a Lady, said in the printed Catalogue to 
be by Andrea Sacchi, is surely by Carlo Maratti, to whom it used to 
be given. It has great beauty, great elegance, great expression, and 
great brilliancy of execution ; but every thing in it belongs to a more 
polished style of art than Andrea Sacchi. Be this as it may, it is one 
of the most perfect pictures in the collection. Of the portraits of 
known individuals in this room, we wish to say but little, for we can 
say nothing good. That of Mr. Kemble, by Beechey, is perhaps the 
most direct and manly. In this room is Rubens's Sampson and Dalilah, 
a coarse daub— at least, it looks so between two pictures by Vandyke, 
Chanty, and a Madonna and Infant Christ. That painter probably 
never produced any thing more complete than these two compositions. 
They have the softness of air, the solidity of marble : the pencil 
appears to float and glide over the features of the face, the folds 
of the drapery, with easy volubility, but to mark every thing with 
a precision, a force, a grace indescribable. Truth seems to hold the 
pencil, and elegance to guide it. The attitudes are exquisite, and the 
expression all but divine. It is not like Raphael's, it is true — but 
whose else was ? Vandyke was born in Holland, and lived most of his 
time in England ! — There are several capital pictures of horses, &c. by 
Wouvermans, in the same room, particularly the one with a hay-cart 
loading on the top of a rising ground. The composition is as striking 
and pleasing as the execution is delicate. There is immense knowledge 
and character in Wouvermans' horses — an ear, an eye turned round, 
a cropped tail, give you their history and thoughts — but from the 
want of a little arrangement, his figures look too often like spots on a 
dark ground. When they are properly relieved and disentangled 
from the rest of the composition, there is an appearance of great life 
and bustle in his pictures. His horses, however, have too much of 
the manege in them — he seldoms gets beyond the camp or the riding 
school. — This room is rich in master-pieces. Here is the Jacobus 
Dream, by Rembrandt, with that sleeping figure, thrown like a 
bundle of clothes in one comer of the picture, by the side of some 
stunted bushes, and with those winged shapes, not human, nor 
angelical, but bird-like, dream-like, treading on clouds, ascending, 
descending through the realms of endless light, that loses itself in 
infinite space ! No one else could ever grapple with this subject, or 
stamp it on the willing canvass in its gorgeous obscurity but Rem- 
brandt ! Here also is the St. Barbara, of Rubens, fleeing from her 
persecutors ; a noble design, as if she were scaling the steps of some 

21 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

high overhanging turret, moving majestically on, with Fear before 
her, Death behind her, and Martyrdom crowning her : — and here is 
an eloquent landscape by the same master-hand, the subject of which 
is, a shepherd piping his flock homewards through a narrow defile, 
with a graceful group of autumnal trees waving on the edge of the 
declivity above, and the rosy evening light streaming through the 
clouds on the green moist landscape in the still lengthening distance. 
Here (to pass from one kind of excellence to another with kindly 
interchange) is a clear sparkling Waterfall, by Ruysdael, and 
Hobbima's Water-Mill, with the wheels in motion, and the ducks 
paddling in the restless stream. Is not this a sad anti-climax from 
Jacob's Dream to a picture of a Water-Mill ? We do not know ; 
and we should care as little, could we but paint either of the 
pictures. 

' Entire affection scometh nicer hands.' 

If a picture is admirable in its kind, we do not give ourselves much 
trouble about the subject. Could we paint as well as Hobbima, we 
should not envy Rembrandt : nay, even as it is, while we can relish 
both, we envy neither ! 

The Centre Room commences with a Girl at a Windoiv, by 
Rembrandt. The picture is known by the print of it, and is one of 
the most remarkable and pleasing in the Collection. For clearness, 
for breadth, for a lively, ruddy look of healthy nature, it cannot be 
surpassed. The execution of the drapery is masterly. There is a 
story told of its being his servant-maid looking out of a window, but 
it is evidently the portrait of a mere child. — y/ Farrier shoeing an Ass, 
by Berchem, is in his usual manner. There is truth of character and 
delicate finishing ; but the fault of all Berchem's pictures is, that he 
continues to finish after he has done looking at nature, and his last 
touches are different from hers. Hence comes that resemblance to 
tea-hoard painting, which even his best works are chargeable with. 
We find here one or two small Claudes of no great value ; and two 
very clever specimens of the court-painter, Watteau, the Gainsborough 
of France. They are marked as Nos. 184 and 194, Fete Champetre, 
and Le Bal Champetre. There is something exceedingly light, agree- 
able, and characteristic in this artist's productions. He might almost 
be said to breathe his figures and his flowers on the canvas — so fragile 
is their texture, so evanescent is his touch. He unites the court and 
the country at a sort of salient point — you may fancy yourself with 
Count Grammont and the beauties of Charles 11. in their gay retreat 
at Tunbridge Wells. His trees have a drawing-room air with them, 
an appearance of gentility and etiquette, and nod gracefiilly over-head ; 

22 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

while the figures below, thin as air, and "uegetably clad, in the midst 
of all their aifectation and grimace, seem to have just sprung out of 
the ground, or to be the fairy inhabitants of the scene in masquerade. 
They are the Oreads and Dryads of the Luxembourg ! Quaint 
association, happily effected by the pencil of Watteau ! In the Bal 
Champetre we see Louis xiv. himself dancing, looking so like an old 
beau, his face flushed and puckered up with gay anxiety ; but then 
the satin of his slashed doublet is made of the softest leaves of the 
water-Uly ; Zephyr plays wanton with the curls of his wig ! We 
have nobody who could produce a companion to this picture now : 
nor do we very devoutly wish it. The Louis the Fourteenths are 
extinct, and we suspect their revival would hardly be compensated 
even by the re-appearance of a Watteau. — No. 187, the Death of 
Cardinal Beaufort, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, is a very indifferent and 
rather unpleasant sketch of a very fine picture. One of the most 
delightful things in this delightful collection is the Portrait (195) of 
the Prince of the ylusturias, by Velasquez. The easy lightness of the 
childish Prince contrasts delightfully with the unwieldy figure of 
the horse, which has evidently been brought all the way from the 
Low Countries for the amusement of his rider. Velasquez was 
(with only two exceptions, Titian and Vandyke) as fine a portrait- 
painter as ever lived ! In the centre room also is the Meeting of 
Jacob and Rachel, by Murillo — a sweet picture with a fresh green 
landscape, and the heart of Love in the midst of it. — There are 
several heads by Holbein scattered up and down the different com- 
partments. We need hardly observe that they all have character in 
the extreme, so that we may be said to be acquainted with the people 
they represent ; but then they give nothing but character, and only one 
part of that, w'z. the dry, the literal, the concrete, and fixed. They 
want the addition of passion and beauty ; but they are the finest caput 
mortuums of expression that ever were made. Hans Holbein had 
none of the volatile essence of genius in his composition. If 
portrait-painting is the prose of the art, his pictures are the prose 
of portrait-painting. Yet he is ' a reverend name ' in art, and one of 
the benefactors of the human mind. He has left faces behind him 
that we would give the world to have seen, and there they are — 
stamped on his canvass for ever ! Who, in reading over the names 
of certain individuals, does not feel a yearning in his breast to know 
their features and their lineaments ? We look through a small frame, 
and lo ! at the distance of three centuries, we have before us the 
figures of Anne Boleyn, of the virtuous Cranmer, the bigotted Queen 
Mary, the noble Surrey — as if we had seen them in their life-time, 
not perhaps in their best moods or happiest attitudes, but as they 

23 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

sometimes appeared, no doubt. We know at least what sort of looking 
people they were : our minds are made easy on that score ; the ' body 
and limbs ' are there, and we may ' add what flourishes ' of grace or 
ornament we please. Holbein's heads are to the finest portraits what 
state-papers are to history. 

The first picture in the Fourth Room is the Prophet Samuel, by 
Sir Joshua. It is not the Prophet Samuel, but a very charming 
picture of a little child saying its prayers. The second is. The 
Education of Bacchus, by Nicholas Poussin. This picture makes one 
thirsty to look at it — the colouring even is dry and adust. It is true 
history in the technical phrase, that is to say, true poetry in the vulgate. 
The figure of the infant Bacchus seems as if he would drink up a 
vintage — he drinks with his mouth, his hands, his belly, and his 
whole body. Gargantua was nothing to him. In the Education of 
Jupiter, in like manner, we are thrown back into the infancy of 
mythologic lore. The little Jupiter, suckled by a she-goat, is 
beautifully conceived and expressed ; and the dignity and ascendancy 
given to these animals in the picture is wonderfully happy. They 
have a very imposing air of gravity indeed, and seem to be by pre- 
scription ' grand caterers and wet-nurses of the state ' of Heaven ! 
■Apollo giving a Poet a Cup of Water to drink is elegant and classical ; 
and The Flight into Egypt instantly takes the tone of Scripture-history. 
This is strange, but so it is. All things are possible to a high 
imagination. All things, about which we have a feeling, may be 
expressed by true genius. A dark landscape (by the same hand) in 
a corner of the room is a proof of this. There are trees in the fore- 
ground, with a paved road and buildings in the distance. The 
Genius of antiquity might wander here, and feel itself at home. — 
The large leaves are wet and heavy with dew, and the eye dwells 
'under the shade of melancholy boughs.' In the old collection (in 
Mr. Desenfans' time) the Poussins occupied a separated room by 
themselves, and it was (we confess) a very favourite room with us. 
— No. 226, is a Landscape, by Salvator Rosa. It is one of his very 
best — rough, grotesque, wild — Pan has struck it with his hoof — the 
trees, the rocks, the fore-ground, are of a piece, and the figures are 
subordinate to the landscape. The same dull sky lowers upon the 
scene, and the bleak air chills the crisp surface of the water. It is 
a consolation to us to meet with a fine Salvator. His is one of the 
great names in art, and it is among our sources of regret that we 
cannot always admire his works as we would do, from our respect to 
his reputation and our love of the man. Poor Salvator ! he was 
unhappy in his life-time ; and it vexes us to think that we cannot 
make him amends by fancying him so great a painter as some others, 

24 



THE DULWICH GALLERY 

whose fame was not their only inheritance! — 227, Venus and Cupid, 
is a delightful copy after Correggio. We have no such regrets or 
qualms of conscience with respect to him. ' He has had his reward.' 
The weight of his renown balances the weight of barbarous coin that 
sunk him to the earth. Could he live now, and know what others 
think of him, his misfortunes would seem as dross compared with his 
lasting glory, and his heart would melt within him at the thought, 
with a sweetness that only his own pencil could express. 233, The 
Virgin, Infant Christ, and St. John, by Andrea del Sarto, is exceed- 
ingly good. — 290, Another Holy Family, by the same, is an admirable 
picture, and only inferior to Raphael. It has delicacy, force, 
thought, and feeling. ' What lacks it then,' to be equal to Raphael ? 
We hardly know, unless it be a certain firmness and freedom, and 
glowing animation. The execution is more timid and laboured. It 
looks like a picture (an exquisite one, indeed), but Raphael's look 
like the divine reality itself! — No. 234, Codes defending the Bridge, 
is by Le Bran. We do not like this picture, nor 271, The Massacre 
of the Innocents, by the same artist. One reason is that they are 
French, and another that they are not good. They have great 
merit, it is true, but their merits are only splendid sins. They 
are mechanical, mannered, colourless, and unfeeling. — No. 237, is 
Murillo's Spanish Girl ivith Flotvers. The sun tinted the young 
gipsey's complexion, and not the painter. — No. 240, is The Casatella 
and Villa of Mecenas, near Ti-voli, by Wilson, with his own portrait 
in the fore-ground. It is an imperfect sketch ; but there is a curious 
anecdote relating to it, that he was so delighted with the waterfall 
itself, that he cried out, while painting it : ' Well done, water, by 
G — d!' — No. 243, Saint Cecilia, by Guercino, is a very pleasing 
picture, in his least gaudy manner. — No. 251, Venus and Adonis, by 
Titian. We see so many of these Venuses and Adonises, that we 
should like to know which is the true one. This is one of the best 
we have seen. We have two Francesco Molas in this room, the 
Rape of Proserpine, and a Landscape with a Holy Family. This 
artist dipped his pencil so thoroughly in Titian's palette, that his 
works cannot fail to have that rich, mellow look, which is always 
delightful. — No. 303, Portrait of Philip the Fourth of Spain, by 
Velasquez, is purity and truth itself. We used to like the Sleeping 
Nymph, by Titian, when we saw it formerly in the little entrance- 
room at Desenfans', but we cannot say much in its praise here. 

The Fifth Room is the smallest,' but the most precious in its 
contents. — No. 322, Spanish Beggar Boys, by Murillo, is the 
triumph of this Collection, and almost of painting. In the imitation 
of common life, nothing ever went beyond it, or as far as we can 

25 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

judge, came up to it. A Dutch picture is mechanical, and mere 
still-life to it. But this is life itself. The boy at play on the ground 
is miraculous. It is done with a few dragging strokes of the pencil, 
and with a little tinge of colour ; but the mouth, the nose, the eyes, 
the chin, are as brimful as they can hold of expression, of arch 
roguery, of animal spirits, of vigorous, elastic health. The vivid, 
glowing, cheerful look is such as could only be found beneath a 
southern sun. The fens and dykes of Holland (with all our respect 
for them) could never produce such an epitome of the vital principle. 
The other boy, standing up with the pitcher in his hand, and a crust 
of bread in his mouth, is scarcely less excellent. His sulky, 
phlegmatic indifference speaks for itself. The companion to this 
picture, 324, is also very fine. Compared with these imitations of 
nature, as faultless as they are spirited, Murillo's Virgins and Angels 
however good in themselves, look vapid, and even vulgar. A Child 
Sleeping, by the same painter, is a beautiful and masterly study. — 
No. 329, a Musical Party, hy Giorgione, is well worthy of the notice 
of the connoisseur. No. 331, St. John Preaching in the Wilderness, 
by Guido, is an extraordinary picture, and very unlike this painter s 
usual manner. The colour is as if the flesh had been stained all over 
with brick-dust. There is, however, a wildness about it which 
accords well with the subject, and the figure of St. John is full of 
grace and gusto. — No. 344, The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, by the 
same, is much finer, both as to execution and expression. The face 
is imbued with deep passion. — No. 345, Portrait of a Man, by L. da 
Vinci, is truly simple and grand, and at once carries you back to that 
age. — Boors Merry Making, by Ostade, is fine ; but has no business 
where it is. Yet it takes up very little room. — No. 347, Portrait of 
Mrs. Siddons, in the character of the Tragic Muse, by Sir Joshua, 
appears to us to resemble neither Mrs. Siddons, nor the Tragic Muse. 
It is in a bastard style of art. Sir Joshua had an importunate theory 
of improving upon nature. He might improve upon indifferent 
nature, but when he had got the finest, he thought to improve upon 
that too, and only spoiled it. — No. 349, The Virgin and Child, by 
Correggio, can only be a copy. — No. 332, The Judgment of Paris, 
by Vanderwerf, is a picture, and by a master, that we hate. He 
always chooses for his subjects naked figures of women, and tantalises 
us by making them of coloured ivory. They are like hard-ware toys. 
— No. 354, a Cardinal Blessing a Priest, by P. Veronese, is dignified 
and picturesque in the highest degree. — No. 355, The Adoration of 
the Shepherds, by Annibal Caracci, is an elaborate, but not very 
successful performance. — No. 356, Christ bearing his Cross, by 
Morales, concludes the list, and is worthy to conclude it. 
26 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 

Our intercourse with the dead is better than our intercourse with 
the living. Thgre_aTe_onl2_three_£leasures in life, pure and lasting, 
and all derived from in^nimatejtiiings^-^^booEs, pictures, and" the "face 
ornature."'^Wtet"is"tEe world but a heap of ruined friendships^' but 
the "grave of lovFt~rftlt"&ther pleasures are as false and hollow, / 
vanishing from our embrace like smoke, or like a feverish dream. r~ 
Scarcely can we recollect that they were, or recal without an effort 
the anxious and momentary interest we took in them. — But thou, 
oh! divine Bath of Diana, with deep azure eyes, with roseate hues, 
spread by the hand of Titian, art still there upon the wall, another, 
yet the same that thou wert five-and-twenty years ago, nor wantest 

' Forked mountain or blue promontory 

With Trees upon 't that nod unto the world, 
And mock our eyes with air ! ' 

And lo ! over the clear lone brow of Tuderley and Norman Court, 
knit into the web and fibres of our heart, the sighing grove waves in 
the autumnal air, deserted by Love, by Hope, but forever haunted by 
Memory! And there that fine passage stands in Antony and 
Cleopatra as we read it long ago with exaulting eyes in Paris, after 
puzzling over a tragedy of Racine's, and cried aloud : ' Our Shak- 
speare was also a poet ! ' These feelings are dear to us at the time ; 
and they come back unimpaired, heightened, mellowed, whenever we 
choose to go back to them. We turn over the leaf and ' volume of 
the brain,' and there see them face to face. — Marina in Pericles 
complains that 

' Life is as a storm hurrying her from her friends ! ' 

Not so from the friends abovementioned. If we bring but an eye, 
an understanding, and a heart to them, we find them always with us, 
always the same. The change, if there is one, is in us, not in them. 
Oh ! thou then, whoever thou art, that dost seek happiness in thyself, 
independent on others, not subject to caprice, not mocked by insult, 
not snatched away by ruthless hands, over which Time has no power, 
and that Death alone cancels, seek it (if thou art wise) in books, in 
pictures, and the face of nature, for these alone we may count upon 
as friends for life ! (While we are true to ourselves, they will not be 
faithless to us. While we remember any thing, we cannot forget 
them. \A.s long as we have a wish for pleasure, we may find it here ; 
for it depends only on our love for them, and not on theirs for us. 

27 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

The enjoyment is purely ideal, and is refined, unembittered, unfading, 
for that reason. 

A complaint has been made of the short-lived duration of works 
of art, and particularly of pictures ; and poets more especially are apt 
to lament and to indulge in an elegiac strain over the fragile beauties 
of the sister-art. The complaint is inconsiderate, if not invidious. 
They 'will last our time. Nay, they have lasted centuries before us, 
and will last centuries after us ; and even when they are no more, 
will leave a shadow and a cloud of glory behind them, through all 
time. Lord Bacon exclaims triumphantly, ' Have not the poems of 
Homer lasted five-and-twenty hundred years, and not a syllable of 
them is lost ? ' But it might be asked in return, ' Have not many 
of the Greek statues now lasted almost as long, without losing a 
particle of their splendour or their meaning, while the Iliad (except 
to a very few) has become almost a dead letter ? ' Has not the 
Venus of Medicis had almost as many partisans and admirers as the 
Helen of the old blind bard ? Besides, what has Phidias gained in 
reputation even by the discovery of the Elgin Marbles ? Or is not 
Michael Angelo's the greatest name in modern art, whose works we 
only know from description and by report ? Surely, there is some- 
thing in a name, in wide-spread reputation, in endless renown, to 
satisfy the ambition of the mind of man. Who in his works would 
vie immortality with nature ? An epitaph, an everlasting monument 
in the dim remembrance of ages, is enough below the skies. More- 
over, the sense of final inevitable decay humanises, and gives an 
affecting character to the triumphs of exalted art. Imperishable 
works executed by perishable hands are a sort of insult to our nature, 
and almost a contradiction in terms. They are ungrateful children, 
and mock the makers. Neither is the noble idea of antiquity legibly 
made out without the marks of the progress and lapse of time. That 
which is as good now as ever it was, seems a thing of yesterday. 
Nothing is old to the imagination that does not appear to grow old. 
Ruins are grander and more venerable than any modern structure can 
be, or than the oldest could be if kept in the most entire preservation. 
They convey the perspective of time. So the Elgin Marbles are 
more impressive from their mouldering, imperfect state. They trans- 
port us to the Parthenon, and old Greece. The Theseus is of the 
age of Theseus : while the Apollo Belvidere is a modern fine gentle- 
man ; and we think of this last figure only as an ornament to the 

room where it happens to be placed We conceive that those are 

persons of narrow minds who cannot relish an author's style that 
smacks of time, that has a crust of antiquity over it, like that which 
gathers upon old wine. These sprinklings of archaisms and obsolete 

28 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 

turns of expression (so abhorrent to the fashionable reader) are 
intellectual links that connect the generations together, and enlarge 
our knowledge of language and of nature. Of the two, we prefer 
black-letter to hot-pressed paper. Does not every language change 
and wear out ? Do not the most popular writers become quaint and 
old-fashioned every fifty or every hundred years ? Is there not a 
constant conflict of taste and opinion between those who adhere to 
the established and triter modes of expression, and those who affect 
glossy innovations, in advance of the age ? It is pride enough for the 
best authors to have been read. This applies to their own country ; 
and to all others, they are ' a book sealed.' But Rubens is as good 
in Holland as he is in Flanders, where he was born, in Italy or in 
Spain, in England, or in Scotland — no, there alone he is not under- 
stood. The Scotch understand nothing but what is Scotch. What 
has the dry, husky, economic eye of Scotland to do with the florid 
hues and luxuriant extravagance of Rubens ? Nothing. They like 
Wilkie's ^flM^«r style better. It may be said that translations remedy 
the want of universality of language: but prints give (at least) as 
good an idea of pictures as translations do of poems, or of any pro- 
ductions of the press that employ the colouring of style and imagina- 
tion. Gil Bias is translateable ; Racine and Rousseau are not. The 
mere English student knows more of the character and spirit of 
Raphael's pictures in the Vatican, than he does of Ariosto or Tasso 
from Hoole's Version. There is, however, one exception to the 
catholic language of painting, which is in French pictures. They 
are national fixtures, and ought never to be removed from the soil in 
which they grow. They will not answer any where else, nor are 
they worth Custom-House Duties. Flemish, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, 
are all good and intelligible in their several ways — we know what 
they mean — they require no interpreter : but the French painters see 
nature with organs and with minds peculiarly their own. One must 
be born in France to understand their painting, or their poetry. 
Their productions in art are either literal, or extravagant — dry, frigid 
facsimiles, in which they seem to take up nature by pin-points, or else 
vapid distorted caricatures, out of all rule and compass. They are, 
in fact, at home only in the light and elegant ; and whenever they 
attempt to add force or solidity (as they must do in the severer pro- 
ductions of the pencil) they are compelled to substitute an excess of 
minute industry for a comprehension of the whole, or make a desperate 
mechanical effort at extreme expression, instead of giving the true, 
natural, and powerful workings of passion. Their representations of 
nature are meagre skeletons, that bear the same relation to the ori- 
ginals that botanical specimens, enclosed in a portfolio, flat, dry, hard, 

29 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

and pithless, do to flourishing plants and shrubs. Their historical 
figures are painful outlines, or graduated elevations of the common 
statues, spiritless, colourless, motionless, which have the form, but 
none of the power of the antique. What an abortive attempt is the 
Coronation of Napoleon, by the celebrated David, lately exhibited in 
this country ! It looks like a finished sign-post painting — a sea of 
frozen outlines. — Could the artist make nothing of ' the foremost man 
in all this world,' but a stiff, upright figure ? The figure and attitude 
of the Empress are, however, pretty and graceful ; and we recollect 
one face in profile, of an ecclesiastic, to the right, with a sanguine 
look of health in the complexion, and a large benevolence of soul. 
It is not Monsieur Talleyrand, whom the late Lord Castlereagh 
characterised as a worthy man and his friend. His Lordship was 
not a physiognomist ! The whole of the shadowed part of the 
picture seems to be enveloped in a shower of blue powder. — But to 
make amends for all that there is or that there is not in the work, 
David has introduced his wife and his two daughters ; and in the 
Catalogue has given us the places of abode, and the names of the 
husbands of the latter. This is a little out of place : yet these are 
the people who laugh at our blunders. We do not mean to extend 
the above sweeping censure to Claude, or Poussin : of course they 
are excepted : but even in them the national character lurked amidst 
unrivalled excellence. If Claude has a fault, it is that he is finical ; 
and Poussin' s figures might be said by a satirist to be antique puppets. 
To proceed to our task. — 

The first picture that struck us on entering the Marquis of 
Stafford's Gallery (a little bewildered as we were with old recollec- 
tions, and present objects) was the Meeting of Christ and St. John, 
one of Raphael's master-pieces. The eager ' child-worship ' of the 
young St. John, the modest retirement and dignified sweetness of 
the Christ, and the graceful, matron-like air of the Virgin bending 
over them, full and noble, yet feminine and elegant, cannot be sur- 
passed. No words can describe them to those who have not seen 
the picture : — the attempt is still vainer to those who have. There 
is, however, a very fine engraving of this picture, which may be had 
for a trifling sum. — No glory is around the head of the Mother, nor 
is it needed : but the soul of the painter sheds its influence over it 
like a dove, and the spirit of love, sanctity, beauty, breathes from the 
divine group. There are four Raphaels (Holy Families) in this 
collection, two others by the side of this in his early more precise and 
affected manner, somewhat faded, and a small one of the Virgin, 
Sleeping Jesus, and St. John, in his finest manner. There is, or there 
was, a duplicate of this picture (of which the engraving is also 

3° 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 

common) in the Louvre, which was certainly superior to the one at 
the Marquis of Stafford's. The colouring of the drapery in that too 
was cold, and the face of the Virgin thin and poor ; but never was 
infancy laid asleep more calmly, more sweetly, more soundly, than in 
the figure of Our Saviour — the little pouting mouth seemed to drink 
balmy, innocent sleep — and the rude expression of wonder and delight 
in the more robust, sun-burnt, fur-clad figure of St. John was as 
spirited in itself as it was striking, when contrasted with the meeker 
beauties of the figure opposed to it. — From these we turn to the 
Four Ages, by Titian, or Giorgione, as some say. Strange that 
there should have lived two men in the same age, on the same spot of 
earth, with respect to whom it should bear a question — which of 
them painted such a picture ! Barry, we remember, and Collins, the 
miniature-painter, thought it a Giorgione, and they were considered 
two of the best judges going, at the time this picture was exhibited, 
among others, in the Orleans Gallery. We cannot pretend to decide 
on such nice matters ex cathedra ; but no painter need be ashamed to 
own it. The gradations of human life are marked with characteristic 
felicity, and the landscape, which is thrown in, adds a pastoral charm 
and naivete to the whole. To live or to die in such a chosen, still 
retreat must be happy ! — Certainly, this composition suggests a beauti- 
ful moral lesson ; and as to the painting of the group of children in 
the corner, we suppose, for careless freedom of pencil, and a certain 
milky softness of the flesh, it can scarcely be paralleled. Over the 
three Raphaels is a Danae, by Annibal Caracci, which we used to 
adore where it was hung on high in the Orleans Gallery. The face 
is fine, up-turned, expectant ; and the figure no less fine, desirable, 
ample, worthy of a God. — The golden shower is just seen descend- 
ing; the landscape at a distance has (so fancy might interpret) a 
cold, shuddering aspect. There is another very fine picture of the 
same hand close by, St. Gregory with Angels. It is diflicult to know 
which to admire most, the resigned and yet earnest expression of the 
Saint, or the elegant forms, the graceful attitudes, and bland, cordial, 
benignant faces of the attendant angels. The artist in these last has 
evidently had an eye to Correggio, both in the waving outline, and in 
the charm of the expression ; and he has succeeded admirably, but 
not entirely. Something of the extreme unction of Correggio is 
wanting. The drawing of Annibal's Angels is, perhaps, too firm, 
too sinewy, too masculine. In Correggio, the Angel's spirit seemed 
to be united to a human body, to imbue, mould, penetrate every part 
with its sweetness and softness : in Caracci, you would say that a 
heavenly spirit inhabited, looked out of, moved a goodly human frame, 
' And o'er-informed the tenement of clay.' 

31 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

The composition of this picture is rather forced (it was one of 
those made to order for the monks) and the colour is somewhat 
metallic ; but it has, notwithstanding, on the whole, a striking and 
tolerably harmonious effect. — There is still another picture by Caracci 
(also an old favourite with us, for it was in the Orleans att) Diana 
and Nymphs bathing, with the story of Calisto. It is one of his very 
best, with something of the drawing of the antique, and the landscape- 
colouring of Titian. The figures are all heroic, handsome, such as 
might belong to huntresses, or Goddesses : and the coolness and 
seclusion of the scene, under grey over-hanging cliffs, and brown 
overshadowing trees, with all the richness and truth of nature, have 
the effect of an enchanting reality. — The story and figures are more 
classical and better managed than those of the Diana and Calisto by 
Titian ; but there is a charm in that picture and the fellow to it, the 
Diana and Act/ton, (there is no other fellow to it in the world!) 
which no words can convey. It is the charm thrown over each by 
the greatest genius for colouring that the world ever saw. It is 
difficult, nay, impossible to say which is the finest in this respect : 
but either one or the other (whichever we turn to, and we can never 
be satisfied with looking at either — so rich a scene do they unfold, so 
serene a harmony do they infiise into the soul) is like a divine piece 
of music, or rises ' like an exhalation of rich distilled perfumes.' In 
the figures, in the landscape, in the water, in the sky, there are tones, 
colours, scattered with a profuse and unerring hand, gorgeous, but 
most true, dazzling with their force, but blended, softened, woven 
together into a woof like that of Iris — tints of flesh colour, as if you 
saw the blood circling beneath the pearly skin ; clouds empurpled 
with setting suns ; hills steeped in azure skies ; trees turning to a 
mellow brown ; the cold grey rocks, and the water so translucent, 
that you see the shadows and the snowy feet of the naked nymphs in 
it. With all this prodigality of genius, there is the greatest severity 
and discipline of art. The figures seem grouped for the effect of 
colour — the most striking contrasts are struck out, and then a third 
object, a piece of drapery, an uplifted arm, a bow and arrows, a 
straggling weed, is introduced to make an intermediate tint, or carry 
on the harmony. Every colour is melted, impasted into every other, 
with fine keeping and bold diversity. Look at that indignant, queen- 
like figure of Diana (more perhaps like an offended mortal princess, 
than an immortal Goddess, though the immortals could frown and 
give themselves strange airs), and see the snowy, ermine-like skin ; 
the pale clear shadows of the delicately formed back ; then the brown 
colour of the slender trees behind to set off the shaded flesh ; and last, 
the dark figure of the Ethiopian girl behind, completing the gradation. 

32 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 

Then the bright scarf suspended in the air connects itself with the 
glowing clouds, and deepens the solemn azure of the sky : Actaeon's 
bow and arrows fallen on the ground are also red ; and there is a 
little flower on the brink of the Bath which catches and pleases the 
eye, saturated with this colour. The yellowish grey of the earth 
purifies the low tone of the figures where they are in half-shadow ; 
and this again is enlivened by the leaden-coloured fountain of the 
Bath, which is set off (or kept down in its proper place) by the blue 
vestments strown near it. The figure of Actseon is spirited and 
natural ; it is that of a bold rough hunter in the early ages, struck 
with surprise, abashed with beauty. The forms of some of the 
female figures are elegant enough, particularly that of Diana in the 
story of Calisto ; and there is a very pretty-faced girl mischievously 
dragging the culprit forward ; but it is the texture of the flesh that is 
throughout delicious, unrivalled, surpassingly fair. The landscape 
canopies the living scene with a sort of proud, disdainful conscious- 
ness. The trees nod to it, and the hills roll at a distance in a sea of 
colour. Every where tone, not form, predominates — there is not a 
distinct line in the picture — but a gusto, a rich taste of colour is left 
upon the eye as if it were the palate, and the diapason of picturesque 
harmony is full to overflowing. ' Oh Titian and Nature ! which of 
you copied the other ? ' 

We are ashamed of this description, now that we have made it, 
and heartily wish somebody would make a better. There is another 
Titian here (which was also in the Orleans Gallery),^ Venus rising 
from the sea. The figure and face are gracefully designed and sweetly 
expressed : — whether it is the picture of the Goddess of Love, may 
admit of a question ; that it is the picture of a lovely woman in a 
lovely attitude, admits of none. The half-shadow in which most of 
it is painted, is a kind of veil through which the delicate skin shows 
more transparent and aerial. There is nothing in the picture but this 
single exquisitely turned figure, and if it were continued downward 
to a whole-length, it would seem like a copy of a statue of the Goddess 
carved in ivory or marble ; but being only a half-length, it has not 
this effect at all, but looks like an enchanting study, or a part of a 
larger composition, selected a I'envie. The hair, and the arm holding 
it up, are nearly the same as in the well-known picture of Titian's 
Mistress, and as delicious. The back-ground is beautifully painted. 
We said before, that there was no object in the picture detached 

1 Two thirds of the principal pictures in the Orleans Collection are at present at 
Cleveland-House, one third purchased by the Marquis of Stafford, and another 
third left by the Duke of Bridgewater, another of the purchasers Mr. Brian had 
the remaining third. 

VOL. IX. : C 33 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES IN ENGLAND 

from the principal figure. Nay, there is the sea, and a sea-shell, but 
these might be given in sculpture. — Under the Venus, is a portrait by 
Vandyke, of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, a most gentleman- 
like performance, mild, clear, intelligent, unassuming ; and on the 
right of the spectator, a Madonna, by Guide, with the icy glow of 
sanctity upon it ; and to the left, the Fable of Salmacis, by Albano 
(saving the ambiguity of the subject), exquisitely painted. Four 
finer specimens of the art can scarcely be found again in so small a 
compass. There is in another room a portrait, said to be by Moroni, 
and called Titian's School-master, from a vague tradition, that he 
was in the habit of frequently visiting, in order to study and learn 
from it. If so, he must have profited by his assiduity ; for it looks 
as if he had painted it. Not knowing any thing of Moroni, if we 
had been asked who had done it, we should have replied, ' Either 
Titian or the Devil.' i It is considerably more laboured and minute 
than Titian ; but the only objection at all staggering is, that it has 
less fiery animation than is ordinarily to be found in his pictures. 
Look at the portrait above it, for instance — Clement vii. by the great 
Venetian ; and you find the eye looking at you again, as if it had 
been observing you all the time : but the eye in Titian's School-master 
is an eye to look at, not to look luith,'^ or if it looks at you, it does not 
look through you, which may be almost made a test of Titian's heads. 
There is not the spirit, the intelligence within, moulding the expres- 
sion, and giving it intensity of purpose and decision of character. In 
every other respect but this (and perhaps a certain want of breadth) 
it is as good as Titian. There is (we understand) a half-length of 
Clement vii. by Julio Romano, in the Papal Palace at Rome, in 
which he is represented as seated above the spectator, with the head 
elevated and the eye looking down like a camel's, with an amazing 
dignity of aspect. The picture (Mr. Northcote says) is hard and 
ill-coloured, but, in strength of character and conception, superior to 
the Titian at the Marquis of Stafford's. Titian, undoubtedly, put a 
good deal of his own character into his portraits. He was not him- 
self filled with the ' milk of human kindness.' He got his brother, 
who promised to rival him in his own art, and of whom he was 
jealous, sent on a foreign embassy ; and he so frightened Pordenone 
while he was painting an altar-piece for a church, that he worked 
with his palette and brushes in his hand, and a sword by his side. 

We meet with one or two admirable portraits, particularly No. 112, 
by Tintoretto, which is of a fine fleshy tone, and A Doge of Venice, 

1 'Aut Erasmus aut Diabolus.' Sir Thomas More's exclamation on meeting 
with the philosopher of Rotterdam. 

^ The late Mr. Curran described John Kemble's eye in these words. 
34 



THE MARQUIS OF STAFFORD'S GALLERY 

by Palma Vecchio, stamped with an expressive look of official and 
assumed dignity. There is a Bassan, No, 95, The Circumcision, the 
colours of which are somewhat dingy with age, and sunk into the 
canvas ; but as the sun shone upon it while we were looking at it, it 
glittered all green and gold. Bassan's execution is as fine as possible, 
and his colouring has a most striking harmonious effect. — We must 
not forget the Muleteers, supposed to be by Correggio, in which the 
figure of the Mule seems actually passing across the picture (you hear 
his bells) ; nor the little copy of his Marriage of St. Catherine, by 
L. Caracci, which is all over grace, delicacy, and sweetness. Any 
one may judge of his progress in a taste for the refinements of art, by 
his liking for this picture. Indeed, Correggio is the very essence of 
refinement. Among other pictures in the Italian division of the 
gallery, we would point out the Claudes (particularly Nos. 43 and 
50,) which, though inferior to Mr. Angerstein's as compositions, 
preserve more of the delicacy of execution, (or what Barry used to 
call 'the Jme oleaginous touches of Claude' ) — two small Caspar 
Poussins, in which the landscape seems to have been just washed by 
a shower, and the storm blown over — the Death of Adonis, by Luca 
Cambiasi, an Orleans picture, lovely in sorrow, and in speechless 
agony, and faded like the life that is just expiring in it — a Joseph and 
Potiphar's Wife, by Alessandro Veronese, a very clever, and sensible, 
but rigidly painted picture * — an Albert Durer, the Death of the 
Vir^n — a Female head, by Leonardo da Vinci — and the Woman taken 
in Adultery, by Pordenone, which last the reader may admire or not, 
as he pleases. We cannot close this list without referring to the 
Christ bearing his cross, by Domenichino, a picture full of interest 
and skill ; and the little touching allegory of the Infant Christ 
sleeping on a cross, by Guido. 

The Dutch School contains a number of excellent specimens of 
the best masters. There are two Tenierses, a Fair, and Boors 
merry-making, unrivalled for a look of the open air, for lively awk- 
ward gesture, and variety and grotesqueness of grouping and rustic 
character. There is a little picture, by Le Nain, called the Village 
Minstrel, with a set of youthful auditors, the most incorrigible little 
mischievous urchins we ever saw, but with admirable execution and 
expression. The Metzus are curious and fine — the Ostades admir- 
able. Gerard Douw's own portrait is certainly a gem. We noticed 
a Ruysdael in one corner of the room (No. 221), a dark, flat, 
wooded country, but delectable in tone and pencilling. Vandevelde's 
Sea-pieces are capital — the water is smooth as glass, and the boats 
and vessels have the buoyancy of butterflies on it. The Sear-port, by 
' It is said in the catalogue to be painted on touch-stone, 

35 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

A. Cuyp, is miraculous for truth, brilliancy, and clearness, almost 
beyond actual water. These cannot be passed over ; but there is a 
little picture which we beg to commend to the gentle reader, the 
Vangoyen, at the end of the room, No. 156, which has that yellow- 
tawny colour in the meads, and that grey chill look in the old 
conyent, that give one the precise feeling of a mild day towards the 
end of winter, in a humid, marshy country. We many years ago 
copied a Vangoyen, a view of a Canal * with yellow tufted banks and 
gliding sail,' modestly pencilled, truly felt — and have had an affection 
for him ever since. There is a small inner room with some most 
respectable modern pictures. Wilkie's Breakfast -^able is among 
them. 

The Sacraments, by N. Poussin, occupy a separate room by them- 
selves, and have a grand and solemn effect ; but we could hardly see 
them where they are ; and in general, we prefer his treatment of 
light and classical subjects to those of sacred history. He wanted 
•weight for the last ; or, if that word is objected to, we will change 
it, and S3.j force. 

On the whole, the Stafford Gallery is probably the most magni- 
ficent Collection this country can boast. The specimens of the 
different schools are as numerous as they are select ; and they are 
equally calculated to delight the student by the degree, or to inform 
the uninitiated by the variety of excellence. Yet even this Collection 
is not complete. It is deficient in Rembrandts, Vandykes, and 
Rubenses ; except one splendid allegory and fruit-piece by the last. 



THE PICTURES AT WINDSOR CASTLE 

The palaces of Windsor and Hampton-court contain pictures 
worthy of the feelings we attach to the names of those places. The 
first boasts a number of individual pictures of great excellence and 
interest, and the last the Cartoons. 

Windsor Castle is remarkable in many respects. Its tall, grey, 
square towers, seated on a striking eminence, overlook for many miles 
the subjacent country, and, eyed in the distance, lead the mind of the 
solitary traveller to romantic musing ; or, approached nearer, give the 
heart a quicker and stronger pulsation. Windsor, besides its pictu- 
resque, commanding situation, and its being the only palace in the 
kingdom fit for the receptacle of ' a line of kings,' is the scene of 
many classical associations. Who can pass through Datchet, and the 
neighbouring greensward paths, and not think of FalstafF, of Ann 
Page, and the oak of Heme the hunter ? Or if he does not, still he 

36 



THE PICTURES AT WINDSOR CASTLE 

is affected by them as if he did. The tall slim deer glance startled 
by, in some neglected track of memory, and fairies trip it in the 
unconscious haunts of the imagination ! Pope's lines on Windsor 
Forest also suggest themselves to the mind in the same way, and 
make the air about it delicate. Gray has consecrated the same spot 
by his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College ; and the finest 
passage in Burke's writings is his comparison of the British Monarchy 
to ' the proud Keep of Windsor.' The walls and massy towers of 
Windsor Castle are indeed built of solid stone, weather-beaten, time- 
proof; but the image answering to them in the mind's eye is woven of 
pure thought and the airy films of the imagination — Arachne's web 
not finer 1 

The rooms are chill and comfortless at this time of the year,' and 
gilded ceilings look down on smoky fire-places. The view from the 
windows, too, which is so rich and glowing in the summer-time, is 
desolate and deformed with the rains overflowing the marshy grounds. 
As to physical comfort, one seems to have no more of it in these 
tapestried halls and on marble floors, than the poor bird driven before 
the pelting storm, or the ploughboy seeking shelter from the drizzling 
sky, in his sheepskin jacket and clouted shoes, beneath the dripping, 
leafless spray. The palace does not (more than the hovel) always 
defend us against the winter's cold. The apartments are also filled 
with too many rubbishly pictures of kings and queens — there are too 
many of Verrio's paintings, and a whole roomful of West's ; but 
there are ten or twenty pictures which the eye, having once seen, 
never loses sight of, and that make Windsor one of the retreats and 
treasuries of art in this country. These, however, are chiefly pictures 
which have a personal and individual interest attached to them, as we 
have already hinted : there are very few historical compositions of 
any value, and the subjects of the others are so desultory that the 
young person who shows them, and goes through the names of the 
painters and portraits very correctly, said she very nearly went out of 
her mind in the three weeks she was ' studying her part.' It is a 
matter of nomenclature : we hope we shall make as few blunders in 
our report as she did. 

In the first room the stranger is shown into, there are two large 
landscapes by Zuccarelli. They are clever, well-painted pictures ; 
but they are worth nothing. The fault of this artist is, that there is 
nothing absolutely good or bad in his pictures. They are mere 
handicraft. The whole is done with a certain mechanical ease and 
indifference ; but it is evident no part of the picture gave him any 
pleasure, and it is impossible it should give the spectator any. His 
' Written in February, 1823, 

37 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

only ambition was to execute his task, so as to save his credit ; and 
your first impulse is, to turn away from the picture, and save your 
time. 

In the next room, there are four Vandykes — two of them excellent. 
One is the Duchess of Richmond, a whole-length, in a white satin 
drapery, with a pet lamb. The expression of her face is a little 
sullen and capricious. The other, the Countess of Carlisle, has a 
shrewd, clever, sensible countenance ; and, in a certain archness of 
look, and the contour of the lower part of the face, resembles the late 
Mrs. Jordan. — Between these two portraits is a copy after Rembrandt, 
by Gainsborough, a fine sombre, mellow head, with the hat flapped 
over the face. 

Among the most delightful and interesting of the pictures in this 
Collection, is the portrait by Vandyke, of Lady Venetia Digby. It 
is an allegorical composition : but what truth, what purity, what 
delicacy in the execution ! You are introduced into the presence of 
a beautiful woman of quality of a former age, and it would be next to 
impossible to perform an unbecoming action with that portrait hanging 
in the room. It has an air of nobility about it, a spirit of humanity 
within it. There is a dove-like innocence and softness about the 
eyes ; in the clear, delicate complexion, health and sorrow contend 
for the mastery ; the mouth is sweetness itself, the nose highly 
intelligent, and the forehead is one of ' clear-spirited thought.' But 
misfortune has touched all this grace and beauty, and left its canker 
there. This is shown no less by the air that pervades it, than by the 
accompanying emblems. The children in particular are exquisitely 
painted, and have an evident reference to those we lately noticed in 
the Four Ages, by Titian. This portrait, both from the style and 
subject, reminds one forcibly of Mrs. Hutchinson's admirable 
Memoirs of her own Life. Both are equally history, and the history 
of the female heart (depicted, in the one case, by the pencil, in the 
other, by the pen) in the finest age of female accomplishment and 
pious devotion. Look at this portrait, breathing the beauty of virtue, 
and compare it with the 'Beauties' of Charles ii.'s court, by Leiy. 
They look just like what they were — a set of kept-mistresses, painted, 
tawdry, showing off their theatrical or meretricious airs and graces, 
without one trace of real elegance or refinement, or one spark of 
sentiment to touch the heart. Lady Grammont is the handsomest of 
them ; and, though the most voluptuous in her attire and attitude, 
the most decent. The Duchess of Portsmouth, in her helmet and 
plumes, looks quite like a heroine of romance or modern Amazon ; 
but for an air of easy assurance, inviting admiration, and alarmed at 
nothing but being thought coy, commend us to my lady above,- 

38 



THE PICTURES AT WINDSOR CASTLE 

in the sky-blue drapery, thrown carelessly across her shoulders ! As 
paintings, these celebrated portraits cannot rank very high. They 
have an affected ease, but a real hardness of manner and execution ; 
and they have that contortion of attitude and setness of features which 
we afterwards find carried to so disgusting and insipid an excess in 
Kneller's portraits. Sir Peter Lely was, however, a better painter 
than Sir Godfrey Kneller — that is the highest praise that can be 
accorded to him. He had more spirit, more originality, and was the 
livelier coxcomb of the two ! Both these painters possessed consider- 
able mechanical dexterity, but it is not of a refined kind. Neither of 
them could be ranked among great painters, yet they were thought by 
their contemporaries and themselves superior to every one. At the 
distance of a hundred years we see the thing plainly enough. 

In the same room with the portrait of Lady Digby, there is one 
of Killigrew and Carew, by the same masterly hand. There is spirit 
and character in the profile of Carew, while the head of Killigrew is 
surprising from its composure and sedateness of aspect. He was one 
of the grave wits of the day, who made nonsense a profound study, 
and turned trifles into philosophy, and philosophy into a jest. The 
pale, sallow complexion of this head is throughout in wonderful keep- 
ing. The beard and face seem nearly of the same colour. We often 
see this clear uniform colour of the skin in Titian's portraits. But 
then the dark eyes, beard, and eye-brows, give relief and distinctness. 
The fair hair and complexions, that Vandyke usually painted, with 
the almost total absence of shade from his pictures, made the task 
more difficult ; and, indeed, the prominence and effect he produces in 
this respect, without any of the usual means, are almost miraculous. 

There are several of his portraits, equestrian and others, of Charles 
I. in this Collection, some of them good, none of them first-rate. 
Those of Henrietta (his Queen) are always delightful. The painter 
has made her the most lady-like of Queens, and of women. 

The family picture of the Children of Charles i. is certainly 
admirably painted and managed. The large mastiff-dog is inimitably 
fine and true to nature, and seems as if he was made to be pulled 
about by a parcel of royal infants from generation to generation. In 
general, it may be objected to Vandyke's dressed children, that they 
look like little old men and women. His grown-up people had too 
much stiffness and formality ; and the same thing must quite overlay 
the playfulness of infancy. Yet what a difference between these 
young princes of the House of Stuart, and two of the princes of the 
reigning family with their mother, by Ramsay, which are evident 
likenesses to this hour ! 

We have lost our reckoning as to the order of the pictures and 

39 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

rooms in which they are placed, and must proceed promiscuously 
through the remainder of our Catalogue. 

One of the most noted pictures at Windsor is that of the Misers, 
by Quintin Matsys. Its name is greater than its merits, like many 
other pictures which have a lucky or intelligible subject, boldly 
executed. The conception is good, the colouring bad ; the drawing 
firm, and the expression coarse and obvious. We are sorry to speak 
at all disparagingly of Quintin Matsys ; for the story goes that he was 
originally bred a blacksmith, and turned painter to gain his master's 
daughter, who would give her hand to no one but on that condition. 
Happy he who thus gained the object of his love, though posterity 
may differ about his merits as an artist ! Yet it is certain, that any 
romantic incident of this kind, connected with a well-known work, 
inclines us to regard it with a favourable instead of a critical eye, by 
enhancing our pleasure in it ; as the eccentric character, the wild 
subjects, and the sounding name of Salrator Rosa have tended to lift 
him into the highest rank of fame among painters. 

In the same room with the Misers, by the Blacksmith of Antwerp, 
is a very different picture by Titian, consisting of two figures also, 
viz. Himself and a Venetian Senator. It is one of the finest speci- 
mens of this master. His own portrait is not much : it has spirit, but 
is hard, with somewhat of a vulgar, knowing look. But the head of 
the Senator is as fine as anything that ever proceeded from the hand 
of man. The expression is a lambent flame, a soul of fire dimmed, 
not quenched by age. The flesh is flesh. If Rubens's pencil fed 
upon roses, Titian's was carnivorous. The tone is betwixt a gold and 
silver hue. The texture and pencilling are marrowy. The dress is 
a rich crimson, which seems to have been growing deeper ever since 
it was painted. It is a front view. As far as attitude or action is 
concerned, it is mere still-life ; but the look is of that kind that goes 
through you at a single glance. Let any one look well at this 
portrait, and if he then sees nothing in it, or in the portraits of this 
painter in general, let him give up virtu and criticism in despair. 

This room is rich in valuable gems, which might serve as a test of 
a real taste for the art, depending for their value on intrinsic qualities, 
and not on imposing subjects, or mechanical arrangement or quantity. 
As where ' the still, small voice of reason ' is wanting, we judge of 
actions by noisy success and popularity ; so where there is no true 
moral sense in art, nothing goes down but pomp, and bustle, and pre- 
tension. The eye of taste looks to see if a work has nature's finest 
image and superscription upon it, and for no other title and passport to 
fame. There is a Toung Man's Head, (we believe in one corner of 
this room) by Holbein, in which we can read high and heroic 

40 



THE PICTURES AT WINDSOR CASTLE 

thoughts and resolutions, better than in any Continence of Scipio we 
ever saw, or than in all the Battles of Alexander thrown into a lump. 
There is a Portrait of Erasmus, by the same, and in the same or an 
adjoining room, in which we see into the mind of a scholar and of an 
amiable man, as through a window. There is a Headhy Parmegiano, 
lofty, triumphant, showing the spirit of another age and clime — one 
by Raphael, studious and self-involved — another, said to be by 
Leonardo da Vinci (but more like Holbein) grown crabbed with age 
and thought — and a girl reading, by Correggio, intent on her subject, 
and not forgetting herself. These are the materials of history ; and 
if it is not made of them, it is a nickname or a mockery. All that 
does not lay open the fine net-work of the heart and brain of man, 
that does not make us see deeper into the soul, is but the apparatus 
and machinery of history-painting, and no more to it than the frame is 
to the picture. 

We noticed a little Mater Dolorosa in one of the rooms, by Carlo 
Dolci, which is a pale, pleasing, expressive head. There are two 
large figures of his, a Magdalen and another, which are in the very 
falsest style of colouring and expression ; and Touth and Age, by 
Denner, which are in as perfectly bad a taste and style of execution 
as anything we ever saw of this artist, who was an adept in that way. 

We are afraid we have forgotten one or two meritorious pictures 
which we meant to notice. There is one we just recollect, a Portrait 
of a Touth in black, by Parmegiano. It is in a singular style, but 
very bold, expressive, and natural. There is (in the same apartment 
of the palace) a fine picture of the Battle of Norlingen, by Rubens. 
The size and spirit of the horses in the fore-ground, and the obvious 
animation of the riders, are finely contrasted with the airy perspective 
and mechanical grouping of the armies at a distance ; and so as to 
prevent that confusion and want of positive relief, which usually 
pervade Battle-pieces. In the same room (opposite) is Kneller's 
Chinese converted to Christianity — a portrait of which he was justly 
proud. It is a fine oil-picture, clear, tawny, without trick or affecta- 
tion, and full of character. One of Kneller's fine ladies or gentlemen, 
with their wigs and toupees, would have been mortally offended to 
have been so painted. The Chinese retains the same oily sly look, 
after his conversion as before, and seems just as incapable of a 
change of religion as a piece of terra cotta. On each side of this 
performance are two Guidos, the Perseus and Andromeda, and Venus 
attired by the Graces. We give the preference to the former. The 
Andromeda is a fine, noble figure, in a striking and even daring posi- 
tion, with an impassioned and highly-wrought expression of features ; 
and the whole scene is in harmony with the subject. The Venus 

41 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

attired by the Graces (though fall of beauties, particularly the colouring 
of the flesh in the frail Goddess) is formal and disjointed in the com- 
position ; and some of the actions are void of grace and even of 
decorum. We allude particularly to the Matd-in-'waiting, who is 
combing her hair, and to the one tying on her sandals, with her arm 
crossing Venus's leg at right angles. The Cupid in the window is as 
light and wanton as a butterfly flying out of it. He may be said to 
flutter and hover in his own delights. There are two capital 
engravings of these pictures by Strange. 



THE PICTURES AT HAMPTON COURT 

This palace is a very magnificent one, and we think, has been 
undeservedly neglected. It is Dutch-built, of handsome red brick, 
and belongs to a class of houses, the taste for which appears to have 
been naturalised in this country along with the happy introduction of 
the Houses of Orange and Hanover. The approach to it through 
Bushy-Park is delightful, inspiriting at this time of year ; and the 
gardens about it, with their close-clipped holly hedges and arbours 
of evergreen, look an artificial summer all the year round. The 
statues that are interspersed do not freeze in winter, and are cool 
and classical in the warmer seasons. The Toy-Inn stands opportunely 
at the entrance, to invite the feet of those who are tired of a straggling 
walk from Brentford or Kew, or oppressed with thought and wonder 
after seeing the Cartoons. 

Besides these last, however, there are several fine pictures here. 
We shall pass over the Knellers, the Verrios, and the different 
portaits of the Royal Family, and come at once to the Nine Muses, 
by Tintoret. Or rather, his Nine Muses are summed up in one, 
the back-figure in the right-hand corner as you look at the picture, 
which is all grandeur, elegance, and grace. — We should think that in 
the gusto of form and a noble freedom of outline, Michael Angelo 
could hardly have surpassed this figure. The face too, which is half 
turned round, is charmingly handsome. The back, the shoulders, 
the legs, are the perfection of bold delicacy, expanded into full-blown 
luxuriance, and then retiring as it were from their own proud beauty 
and conscious charms into soft and airy loveliness — 

' Fine by degrees, and beautifully less.' 

Is it a Muse ? Or is it not a figure formed for action more than 
contemplation ? Perhaps this hypercritical objection may be true ; 
and it might without any change of character or impropriety be 
42 



THE PICTURES AT HAMPTON COURT 

supposed, from its buoyancy, its ease, and sinewy elasticity, to 
represent the quivered Goddess shaping her bow for the chase. But, 
at any rate, it is the figure of a Goddess, or of a woman in shape 
equal to a Goddess, The colour is nearly gone, so that it has 
almost the tone of a black and white chalk-drawing ; and the effect 
of form remains pure and unrivalled. There are several other very 
pleasing and ably-drawn figures in the group, but they are eclipsed in 
the superior splendour of this one. So far the composition is faulty, 
for its balance is destroyed ; and there are certain critics who could 
probably maintain that the picture would be better, if this capital 
excellence in it had been deliberately left out : the picture would, 
indeed, have been more according to rule, and to the taste of those 
who judge, feel, and see by rule only ! Among the portraits which 
are curious, is one of Baccio Bandinetti, with his emblems and 
implements of sculpture about him, said to be by Correggio. We 
cannot pretend to give an opinion on this point ; but it is a studious, 
powerful, and elaborately painted head. We find the name of Titian 
attached to two or three portraits in the Collection. There is one 
very fine one of a young man in black, with a black head of hair, 
the face seen in a three-quarter view, and the dark piercing eye, full 
of subtle meaning, looking round at you ; which is probably by 
Titian, but certainly not (as it is pretended) of himself. It has 
not the aquiline cast of features by which his own portraits are 
obviously distinguished. We have seen a print of this picture, in 
which it is said to be done for Ignatius Loyola. The portrait 
of a lady with green and white purfled sleeves (like the leaves and 
flower of the water-lily, and as clear ! ) is admirable. It was in 
the Pail-Mall exhibition of the Old Masters a short time ago ; 
and is by Sebastian del Piombo. — The care of the painting, the 
natural ease of the attitude, and the steady, sensible, cowuersable look 
of the countenance, place this in a class of pictures, which one feels 
a wish to have always by one's side, whenever there is a want of 
thought, or a flaw in the temper, that requires filling up or setting 
to rights by some agreeable and at the same time not over-exciting 
object. There are several sot-disant Parmegianos ; one or two good 
Bassans ; a Battle-Piece set down to Julio Romano ; a coloured 
drawing (in one corner of a room) of a Nymph and Satyr is very 
fine; and some of Polemberg's little disagreeable pictures of the 
same subject, in which the Satyrs look like paltry bits of painted 
wood, and the Nymphs like glazed China-ware. We have a 
prejudice against Polemberg, which is a rare thing with us ! 

The Cartoons occupy a room by themselves — there are not many 
such rooms in the world. All other pictures look like oil and 

43 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

varnish to these — we are stopped and attracted by the colouring, 
the pencilling, the finishing, or the want of it, that is, by the instru- 
mentalities of the art — but here the painter seems to have flung his 
mind upon the canvas ; hie thoughts, his great ideas alone prevail ; 
there is nothing between us and the subject; we look through 
a frame, and see scripture-histories, and are made actual spectators 
of miraculous events. Not to speak it profanely, they are a sort 
of revelation of the subjects, of which they treat ; there is an ease 
and freedom of manner about them, which brings preternatural 
characters and situations home to us, with the familiarity of common 
every-day occurrences ; and while the figures fill, raise, and satisfy 
the mind, they seem to have cost the painter nothing. The Cartoons 
are unique productions in the art. They are mere intellectual, or 
rather -visible abstractions of truth and nature. Every where else 
we see the means ; here we arrive at the end apparently without 
any means. There is a Spirit at work in the divine creation before 
us. We are unconscious of any details, of any steps taken, of any 
progress made ; we are aware only of comprehensive results, of 
whole masses and figures. The sense of power supersedes the 
appearance of effort. It is like a waking dream, vivid, but undistin- 
guishable in member, joint, or limb ; or it is as if we had ourselves 
seen the persons and things at some former period of our being, and 
that the drawing certain dotted lines upon coarse paper, by some 
unknown spell, brought back the entire and living images, and made 
them pass before us, palpable to thought, to feeling, and to sight. 
Perhaps not all is owing to genius : something of this effect may be 
ascribed to the simplicity of the vehicle employed in embodying the 
story, and something to the decayed and dilapidated state of the 
pictures themselves. They are the more majestic for being in ruin : 
we are struck chiefly with the truth of proportion, and the range 
of conception : all the petty, meretricious part of the art is dead in 
them ; the carnal is made spiritual, the corruptible has put on incor- 
ruption, and, amidst the wreck of colour, and the mouldering of 
material beauty, nothing is left but a universe of thought, or the 
broad, imminent shadows of ' calm contemplation and majestic 
pains ! ' 

The first in order is the Death of Ananias ; and it is one of the 
noblest of these noble designs. The effect is striking; and the 
contrast between the stedfast, commanding attitude of the Apostles, 
and the convulsed and prostrate figure of Ananias on the floor, is 
finely imagined. It is much as if a group of persons on shore stood 
to witness the wreck of life and hope on the rocks and quicksands 
beneath them. The abruptness and severity of the transition are, 

44 



THE PICTURES AT HAMPTON COURT 

however, broken and relieved by the other human interests in the 
picture. The Ananias is a masterly, a stupendous figure. The 
attitude, the drawing, the expression, the ease, the force, are alike 
wonderful. He falls so naturally, that it seems as if a person could 
fall in no other way ; and yet of all the ways in which a human 
figure could fall, it is probably the most expressive of a person 
overwhelmed by and in the grasp of Divine vengeance. This is in 
some measure, we apprehend, the secret of Raphael's success. Most 
painters, in studying an attitude, puzzle themselves to find out what 
will be picturesque, and what will be fine, and never discover it : 
Raphael only thought how a person would stand or fall naturally in 
such or such circumstances, and the picturesque and the Jine followed 
as matters of course. Hence the unaffected force and dignity of his 
style, which are only another name for truth and nature under 
impressive and momentous circumstances. The distraction of the 
face, the inclination of the head on one side, are as fine as possible, 
and the agony is just verging to that point, in which it is relieved by 
death. The expression of ghastly wonder in the features of the man 
on the floor next him is also remarkable ; and the mingled beauty, 
grief, and horror in the female head behind can never be enough 
admired or extolled. The pain, the sudden and violent contraction 
of the muscles, is as intense as if a sharp instrument had been driven 
into the forehead, and yet the same sweetness triumphs there as ever, 
the most perfect self-command and dignity of demeanour. We could 
hazard a conjecture that this is what forms the great distinction 
between the natural style of Raphael and the natural style of 
Hogarth. Both are equally intense; but the one is intense little- 
ness, meanness, vulgarity ; the other is intense grandeur, refinement, 
and sublimity. In the one we see common, or sometimes uncommon 
and painful, circumstances acting with all their force on narrow minds 
and deformed bodies, and bringing out distorted and violent efforts at 
expression ; in the other we see noble forms and lofty characters 
contending with adverse, or co-operating with powerful impressions 
from without, and imparting their own unaltered grace, and habitual 
composure to them. In Hogarth, generally, the face is excited and 
torn in pieces by some paltry interest of its own ; in Raphael, on the 
contrary, it is expanded and ennobled by the contemplation of some 
event or object highly interesting in itself: that is to say, the passion 
in the one is intellectual and abstracted ; the passion in the other is 
petty, selfish, and confined. We have not thought it beneath the 
dignity of the subject to make this comparison between two of the 
most extraordinary and highly gifted persons that the world ever saw. 
If Raphael had seen Hogarth's pictures, he would not have despised 

45 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

them. Those only can do it (and they are welcome ! ) who, wanting 
all that he had, can do nothing that he could not, or that they them- 
selves pretend to accomplish by afFectation and bombast. 

Elymas the Sorcerer stands next in order, and is equal in merit. 
There is a Roman sternness and severity in the general look of the 
scene. The figure of the Apostle, who is inflicting the punishment 
of blindness on the impostor, is grand, commanding, full of ease and 
dignity : and the figure of Elymas is blind all over, and is muffled up 
in its clothes from head to foot. A story is told of Mr. Garrick's 
objecting to the natural effect of the action, in the hearing of the late 
Mr. West, who, in vindication of the painter, requested the celebrated 
comedian to close his eyes and walk across the room, when he instantly 
stretched out his hands, and began to grope his way with the exact 
attitude and expression of this noble study. It may be worth remark- 
ing here, that this great painter and fine observer of human nature 
has represented the magician with a hard iron visage, and strong 
uncouth figure, made up of bones and muscles, as one not troubled 
with weak nerves, nor to be diverted from his purpose by idle 
scruples, as one who repelled all sympathy with others, who was 
not to be moved a jot by their censures or prejudices against him, 
and who could break with ease through the cobweb snares which he 
laid for the credulity of mankind, without being once entangled in 
his own delusions. His outward form betrays the hard, unimaginative, 
self-willed understanding of the Sorcerer. — There is a head (a profile) 
coming in on one side of the picture, which we would point out to 
our readers as one of the most finely relieved, and best preserved, 
in this series. The face of Elymas, and some others in the picture, 
have been a good deal hurt by time and ill-treatment. There is a 
snuffy look under the nose, as if the water colour had been washed 
away in some damp lumber-room, or unsheltered out-house. The 
Cartoons have felt 'the seasons' difference,' being exposed to wind 
and rain, tossed about from place to place, and cut down by profane 
hands to fit them to one of their abodes ; so that it is altogether 
wonderful, that 'through their looped and tattered wretchedness,' 
any traces are seen of their original splendour and beauty. That 
they are greatly changed from what they were even a hundred years 
ago, is evident from the heads in the RadcIifFe library at Oxford, 
which were cut out from one of them that was nearly destroyed by 
some accident, and from the large French engravings of single heads, 
done about the same time, which are as finished and correct as 
possible. Even Sir James Thornhill's copies bear testimony to the 
same effect. Though without the spirit of the originals, they have 
fewer blots and blotches in them, from having been better taken care 

46 



THE PICTURES AT HAMPTON COURT 

of. A skeleton is barely left of the Cartoons : but their mighty 
relics, like the bones of the Mammoth, tell us what the entire and 
living fabric must have been ! 

In the Gate Beautiful there is a profusion of what is fine, and of 
imposing contrasts. The twisted pillars have been found fault with ; 
but there they stand, and will for ever stand to answer all cavillers 
with their wreathed beauty. The St. John in this Cartoon is an 
instance of what we have above hinted as to the ravages of time on 
these pictures. In the old French engraving (half the size of life) 
the features are exceedingly well marked and beautiful, whereas 
they are here in a great measure defaced ; and the hair, which is 
at present a mere clotted mass, is woven into graceful and waving 
curls, 

' Like to those hanging locks 
Of young Apollo.' 

Great inroads have been made on the delicate outline of the other 
parts, and the surface has been generally injured. The Beggars are 
as fine as ever : they do not lose by the squalid condition of their 
garb or features, but remain patriarchs of poverty, and mighty in 
disease and infirmity, as if they crawled and grovelled on the 
pavement of Heaven. They are lifted above this world ! The 
child carrying the doves at his back is an exquisite example of 
grace, and innocence, and buoyant motion ; and the face and figure 
of the young woman seen directly over him give a glad welcome 
to the eye in their fresh, unalloyed, and radiant sweetness and joy. 
This head seems to have been spared from the unhallowed touch of 
injury, like a little isle or circlet of beauty. It was guarded, we 
may suppose, by its own heavenly, feminine look of smiling loveliness. 
There is another very fine female head on the opposite side of the 
picture, of a graver cast, looking down, and nearly in profile. The 
only part of this Cartoon that we object to, or should be for turning 
out, is the lubberly naked figure of a boy close to one of the 
pillars, who seems to have no sort of business there, and is an obvious 
eye-sore. 

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes is admirable for the clearness 
and prominence of the figures, for the vigorous marking of the 
muscles, for the fine expression of devout emotion in the St. Peter, 
and for the calm dignity in the attitude, and divine benignity in the 
countenance of the Christ. Perhaps this head expresses, more than 
any other that ever was attempted, the blended meekness, benevolence, 
and sublimity in the character of our Saviour. The whole figure is 
so still, so easy, it almost floats in air, and seems to sustain the boat 

47 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

by the secret sense of power. We shall not attempt to make a formal 
reply to the old objection to the diminutive size of the boat, but we 
confess it appears to us to enhance the value of the miracle. Its 
load swells proportionably in comparison, and the waves conspire to 
bear it up. The Storks on the shore are not the least animated or 
elevated part of the picture ; they exult in the display of divine power, 
and share in the prodigality of the occasion. 

The Sacrifice at Lystra has the marks of Raphael's hand on every 
part of it. You see and almost hear what is passing. What a 
pleasing relief to the confused, busy scene, are the two children 
piping at the altar ! How finely, how unexpectedly, but naturally, 
that innocent rustic head of a girl comes in over the grave counten- 
ances and weighty, thoughtful heads of the group of attendant 
priests ! The animals brought to be sacrificed are equally fine in 
the expression of terror, and the action of resistance to the rude force 
by which they are dragged along. 

A great deal has been said and written on the St. Paul preaching 
at Athens. The features of excellence in this composition are indeed 
so bold and striking as hardly to be mistaken. The abrupt figure 
of St. Paul, his hands raised in that fervent appeal to Him who 
' dwelleth not in temples made with hands,' such as are seen in 
gorgeous splendour all around, the circle of his auditors, the noble 
and pointed diversity of heads, the one wrapped in thought and in its 
cowl, another resting on a crutch and earnestly scanning the face of 
the Apostle rather than his doctrine, the careless attention of the 
Epicurean philosopher, the fine young heads of the disciples of the 
Porch or the Academy, the clenched fist and eager curiosity of 
the man in front as if he was drinking sounds, give this picture a 
superiority over all the others for popular and intelligible effect. We 
do not think that it is therefore the best ; but it is the easiest to 
describe and to remember. 

The Giving of the Keys is the last of them : it is at present at 
Somerset House. There is no set purpose here, no studied contrast : 
it is an aggregation of grandeur and high feeling. The disciples 
gather round Christ, like a flock of sheep listening to some divine 
shepherd. The figure of their master is sublime : his countenance 
and attitude ' in act to speak.' The landscape is also extremely fine 
and of a soothing character. — Every thing falls into its place in these 
pictures. The figures seem to stop just where their business and 
feelings bring them : not a fold in the draperies can be disposed of 
for the better or otherwise than it is. 

It would be in vain to enumerate the particular figures, or to 
explain the story of works so well known : what we have aimed at 

48 



LORD GROSVENOR'S PICTURES 

has been to shew the spirit that breathes through them, and we shall 
count ourselves fortunate, if we have not sullied them with our praise. 
We do not care about some works : but these were sacred to our 
imaginations, and we should be sorry indeed to have profaned them 
by description or criticism. We have hurried through our unavoidable 
task with fear, and look back to it with doubt. 



LORD GROSVENOR'S COLLECTION OF PICTURES 

We seldom quit a mansion like that of which we have here to 
give some account, and return homewards, but we think of Warton's 
Sonnet, 'written after seeing Wilton-house. 

' From Pembroke's princely dome, where mimic art 
Decks with a magic hand the dazzling bowers, 
Its living hues where the warm pencil pours, 
And breathing forms from the rude marble start, 
How to life's humbler scenes can I depart ? 
My breast all glowing from those gorgeous tow'rs, 
In my low cell how cheat the sullen hours ? 
Vain the complaint ! For Fancy can impart 
(To Fate superior, and to Fortune's doom) 
Whate'er adorns the stately-storied hall : 
She, mid the dungeon's solitary gloom, 
Can dress the Graces in their Attic pall : 
Bid the green landscape's vernal beauty bloom ; 
And in bright trophies clothe the twilight wall.' 

Having repeated these lines to ourselves, we sit quietly down in 
our chairs to con over our task, abstract the idea of exclusive property, 
and think only of those images of beauty and of grandeur, which we 
can carry away with us in our minds, and have every where before 
us. Let us take some of these, and describe them how we can. 

There is one — we see it now — the Man with a Hawk, by 
Rembrandt. ' In our mind's eye, Horatio ! ' What is the 
difference between this idea which we have brought away with us, 
and the picture on the wall ? Has it lost any of its tone, its ease, 
its depth? The head turns round in the same graceful moving 
attitude, the eye carelessly meets ours, the tufted beard grows to the 
chin, the hawk flutters and balances himself on his favourite perch, 
his master's hand ; and a shadow seems passing over the picture, just 
leaving a light in one corner of it behind, to give a livelier effect to 
the whole. There is no mark of the pencil, no jagged points or solid 
masses ; it is all air, and twilight might be supposed to have drawn 

VOL. IX. : D 49 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

his veil across it. It is as much an idea on the canvas, as it is in 
the mind. There are no means employed, as far as you can discover 
— you see nothing but a simple, grand, and natural effect. It is 
impalpable as a thought, intangible as a sound — nay, the shadows 
have a breathing harmony, and fling round an undulating echo of 
themselves, 

' At every fall smoothing the raven down 
Of darkness till it smiles ! ' 

In the opposite corner of the room is a Portrait of a Female (by 
the same), in which every thing is as clear, and pointed, and brought 
out into the open day, as in the former it is withdrawn from close 
and minute inspection. The face glitters with smiles as the ear-rings 
sparkle with light. The whole is stiff, starched, and formal, has a 
pearly or metallic look, and you throughout mark the most elaborate 
and careful finishing. The two pictures make an antithesis, where 
they are placed ; but this was not probably at all intended : it 
proceeds simply from the difference in the nature of the subject, and 
the truth and appropriate power of the treatment of it. — In the 
middle between these two pictures is a small history, by Rembrandt, 
of the Salutation of Elizabeth, in which the figures come out straggling, 
disjointed, quaint, ugly as in a dream, but partake of the mysterious 
significance of preternatural communication, and are seen through the 
visible gloom, or through the dimmer night of antiquity. Light and 
shade, not form or feeling, were the elements of which Rembrandt 
composed the finest poetry, and his imagination brooded only over the 
medium through which we discern objects, leaving the objects them- 
selves uninspired, unhallowed, and untouched ! 

We must go through our account of these pictures as they start up 
in our memory, not according to the order of their arrangement, for 
want of a proper set of memorandums. Our friend, Mr. Gummow, 
of Cleveland-house, had a nice little neatly-bound duodecimo Catalogue, 
of great use as a Vade Mecum to occasional visitants or absent critics 
— but here we have no such advantage ; and to take notes before 
company is a thing that we abhor. It has a look of pilfering some- 
thing from the pictures. While we merely enjoy the sight of the 
objects of art before us, or sympathise with the approving gaze of 
the greater beauty around us, it is well ; there is a feeling of luxury 
and refinement in the employment ; but take out a pocket-book, and 
begin to scribble notes in it, the date of the picture, the name, the 
room, some paltry defect, some pitiful discovery (not worth remember- 
ing), the non-essentials, the mechanic common-places of the art, and 
the sentiment is gone — you shew that you have a further object in 

SO 



LORD GROSVENOR'S PICTURES 

view, a job to execute, a feeling foreign to the place, and different 
from every one else — you become a butt and a mark for ridicule to 
the rest of the company — and you retire with your pockets full of 
wisdom from a saloon of art, with as little right as you have to carry 
off the dessert, (or what you have not been able to consume,) from 
an inn, or a banquet. Such, at least, is our feeling ; and we had 
rather make a mistake now and then, as to a numero, or the name of 
a room in which a picture is placed, than spoil our whole pleasure in 
looking at a fine Collection, and consequently the pleasure of the 
reader in learning what we thought of it. 

Among the pictures that haunt our eye in this way is the Adoration 
of the Angels, by N. Poussin. It is one of his finest works — elegant, 
graceful, fiiU of feeling, happy, enlivening. It is treated rather as a 
classical than as a sacred subject. The Angels are more like Cupids 
than Angels. They are, however, beautifully grouped, with various 
and expressive attitudes, and remind one, by their half antic, half 
serious homage, of the line — 

' Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.' 

They are laden with baskets of flowers — the tone of the picture is 
rosy, florid ; it seems to have been painted at 

' The breezy call of incense-breathing mom,' 

and the angels overhead sport and gambol in the air with butterfly- 
wings, like butterflies. It is one of those rare productions that satisfy 
the mind, and from which we turn away, not from weariness, but from 
a fulness of delight. — The Israelites returning Thanks in the Wilderness 
is a fine picture, but inferior to this. Near it is a group of Angels, 
said to be by Correggio. The expressions are grotesque and fine, 
but the colouring does not seem to us to be his. The texture of the 
flesh, as well as the hue, too much resembles the skin of ripe fruit. 
We meet with several fine landscapes of the two Poussins, (particularly 
one of a rocky eminence by Caspar,) in the room before you come 
to the Rembrandts, in which the mixture of grey rock and green 
trees and shrubs is beautifully managed, with striking truth and 
clearness. 

Among detached and smaller pictures, we would wish to point out 
to the attention of our readers, an exquisite head of a Child, by 
Andrea del Sarto, and a fine Salvator in the inner room of all : in the 
room leading to it, a pleasing, glassy Cuyp, an airy, earthy-looking 
Teniers, and a Mother and a Sleeping Child, by Guido : in the Saloon, 
a St. Catherine, one of Parmegiano's most graceful pictures ; a St. 
Agnes, by Domenichino, full of sweetness, thought, and feeling ; and 

51 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

two pictures by Raphael, that have a look as if painted on paper : a 
Repose in Egypt, and St. Luke painting the Virgin, both admirable 
for drawing and expression, and a rich, purple, crayon tone of 
colouring. Wherever Raphael is, there is grace and dignity, and 
an informing soul. In the last-mentioned room, near the entrance, is 
also a Conversion of Saint Paul, by Rubens, of infinite spirit, 
brilliancy, and delicacy of execution. 

But it is in the large room to the right, that the splendour and 
power of Rubens reign triumphant and unrivalled, and yet he has 
here to contend with highest works and names. The four large 
pictures of ecclesiastical subjects, the Meeting of Abram and Melchisedec, 
the Gathering of Manna, the Evangelists, and the Fathers of the Church, 
have no match in this country for scenic pomp, and dazzling airy 
effect. The figures are colossal ; and it might be said, without much 
extravagance, that the drawing and colouring are so too.^ He seems 
to have painted with a huge sweeping gigantic pencil, and with broad 
masses of unalloyed colour. The spectator is (as it were) thrown 
back by the pictures, and surveys them, as if placed at a stupendous 
height, as well as distance from him. This, indeed, is their history : 
they were painted to be placed in some Jesuit's church abroad, at an 
elevation of forty or fifty feet, and Rubens would have started to see 
them in a drawing-room or on the ground. Had he foreseen such a 
result, he would perhaps have added something to the correctness of 
the features, and taken something from the gorgeous crudeness of the 
colour. But there is grandeur of composition, involution of form, 
motion, character in its vast, rude outline, the imposing contrast of 
sky and flesh, fine grotesque heads of old age, florid youth, and fawn- 
like beauty ! You see nothing but patriarchs, primeval men and 
women, walking among temples, or treading the sky — or the earth, 
with an ' air and gesture proudly eminent,' as if they trod the sky — 
when man first rose from nothing to his native sublimity. We cannot 
describe these pictures in their details ; they are one staggering blow 
after another of the mighty hand that traced them. All is cast in 
the same mould, all is filled with the same spirit, all is clad in the 
same gaudy robe of light. Rubens was at home here; his _/or/e was 
the processional, the showy, and the imposing; he grew almost 
drunk and wanton with the sense of his power over such subjects ; 
and he, in fact, left these pictures unfinished in some particulars, that, 
for the place and object for which they were intended, they might be 
perfect. They were done (it is said) for tapestries from small 
designs, and carried nearly to their present state of finishing by his 

^ We heard it well said the other day, that ' Rubens's pictures were the nalette 
of Titian.' '^ 

52 



LORD GROSVENOR'S PICTURES 

scholars. There is a smaller picture in the same room, Ixion 
embracing the false Juno, which points out and defines their style of 
art and adaptation for remote effect. There is a delicacy in this 
last picture (which is, however of the size of life) that makes it 
look like a miniature in comparison. The flesh of the women is like 
lilies, or like milk strewed upon ivory. It is soft and pearly ; but, 
in the larger pictures, it is heightened beyond nature, the veil of air 
between the spectator and the figures, when placed in the proper 
position, being supposed to give the last finishing. Near the Ixion is 
an historical female figure, by Guide, which will not bear any com- 
parison for transparency and delicacy of tint with the two Junos. — 
Rubens was undoubtedly the greatest scene-painter in the world, if we 
except Paul Veronese, and the Fleming was to him flat and insipid. 
' It is place which lessens and sets off.' We once saw two pictures 
of Rubens' hung by the side of the Marriage of Cana in the Louvre ; 
and they looked nothing. The Paul Veronese nearly occupied the 
side of a large room (the modern French exhibition-room) and it was 
like looking through the side of a wall, or at a splendid banquet and 
gallery, full of people, and full of interest. The texture of the two 
Rubenses was 'woolly, or flowery, or sattiny : it was all alike ; but in 
the Venetian's great work the pillars were of stone, the floor was 
marble, the tables were wood, the dresses were various stuffs, the sky 
was air, the flesh was flesh ; the groups were living men and women. 
Turks, emperours, ladies, painters, musicians — all was real, dazzling, 
profiise, astonishing. It seemed as if the very dogs under the table 
might get up and bark, or that at the sound of a trumpet the whole 
assembly might rise and disperse in different directions, in an instant. 
This picture, however, was considered as the triumph of Paul 
Veronese, and the two by the Flemish artist that hung beside it 
were very inferior to some of his, and assuredly to those now 
exhibited in the Gallery at Lord Grosvenor's. Neither do we wish 
by this allusion to disparage Rubens ; for we think him on the whole 
a greater genius, and a greater painter, than the rival we have here 
opposed to him, as we may attempt to shew when we come to speak 
of the Collection at Blenheim. 

There are some divine Claudes in the same room ; and they too 
are like looking through a window at a select and conscious landscape. 
There are five or six, all capital for the composition, and highly 
preserved. There is a strange and somewhat anomalous one of Christ 
in the Mount, as if the artist had tried to contradict himself, and yet 
it is Claude all over. Nobody but he could paint one single atom of 
it. The Mount is stuck up in the very centre of the picture, against 
all rule, like a huge dirt-pye : but then what an air breathes round it, 

S3 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

what a sea encircles it, what verdure clothes it, what flocks and herds 
feed round it, immortal and unchanged ! Close by it is the Arch of 
Constantine ; but this is to us a bitter disappointment. A print of it 
hung in a little room in the country, where we used to contemplate it 
by the hour together, and day after day, and ' sigh our souls ' into 
the picture. It was the most graceful, the most perfect of all Claude's 
compositions. The Temple seemed to come forward into the middle 
of the picture, as in a dance, to show its unriyalled beauty, the 
Vashti of the scene ! Young trees bent their branches over it with 
playful tenderness ; and, on the opposite side of a stream, at which 
cattle stooped to drink, there grew a stately grove, erect, with answer- 
ing looks of beauty : the distance between retired into air and 
gleaming shores. Never was there scene so fair, ' so absolute, that 
in itself summ'd all delight.' How did we wish to compare it with 
the picture ! The trees, we thought, must be of vernal green — the 
sky recalled the mild dawn, or softened evening. No, the branches 
of the trees are red, the sky burned up, the whole hard and uncomfort- 
able. This is not the picture, the print of which we used to gaze at 
enamoured — there is another somewhere that we still shall see ! There 
are finer specimens of the Morning and Evening of the Roman Empire, 
at Lord Radnor's, in Wiltshire. Those here have a more polished, 
cleaned look, but we cannot prefer them on that account. In one 
corner of the room is a St. Bruno, by Andrea Sacchi — a fine study, 
with pale face and garments, a saint dying (as it should seem) — but 
as he dies, conscious of an undying spirit. The old Catholic painters 
put the soul of religion into their pictures — for they felt it within 
themselves. 

There are two Titians — the Woman taken in Adultery, and a large 
mountainous landscape with the story of Jupiter and Antiope. The 
last is rich and striking, but not equal to his best ; and the former, 
we think, one of his most exceptionable pictures, both in character, 
and (we add) colouring. In the last particular, it is tricky, and 
discovers, instead of concealing its art. The flesh is not transparent, 
but a transparency ! Let us not forget a fine Synders, a Boar-hunt, 
which is highly spirited and natural, as far as the animals are con- 
cerned ; but is patchy, and wants the tone and general effect that 
Rubens would have thrown over it. In the middle of the right-hand 
side of the room, is the Meeting of Jacob and Laban, by Murillo. It 
is a lively, out-of-door scene, full of bustle and expression ; but it 
rather brings us to the tents and faces of two bands of gypsies meeting 
on a common heath, than carries us back to the remote times, places, 
and events, treated of. Murillo was the painter of nature, not of 
the imagination. There is a Sleeping Child by him, over the door of 

54 



PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, ETC. 

the saloon (an admirable cabinet-picture), and another of a boy, a 
little spirited rustic, brown, glowing, ' of the earth, earthy,' the flesh 
thoroughly baked, as if he had come out of an oven ; and who regards 
you with a look as if he was afraid you might bind him apprentice to 
some trade or handicraft, or send him to a Sunday-school ; and so 
put an end to his short, happy, careless life — to his lessons from that 
great teacher, the Sun — to his physic, the air — to his bed, the earth — 
and to the soul of his very being. Liberty! 

The first room you enter is filled with some very good and some 
very bad English pictures. There is Hogarth's Distressed Poet — 
the Death of Wolfe, by West, which is not so good as the print would 
lead us to expect — an excellent whole-length portrait of a youth, by 
Gainsborough — A Man with a Hawk, by North cote, and Mrs. 
Siddons as the Tragic Muse, by Sir Joshua. This portrait Lord 
Grosvenor bought the other day for £i']6o. It has risen in price 
every time it has been sold. Sir Joshua sold it for two or three 
hundred pounds to a Mr. Calonne. It was then purchased by Mr. 
Desenfans who parted with it to Mr. William Smith for a larger sum 
(we believe j^50o) ; and at the sale of that gentleman's pictures, it 
was bought by Mr. Watson Taylor, the last proprietor, for a thousand 
guineas. While it was in the possession of Mr. Desenfans, a copy of 
it was taken by a pupil of Sir Joshua's, of the name of Score, which 
is now in the Dulwich Gallery, and which we always took for an 
original. The size of the original is larger than the copy. There 
was a dead child painted at the bottom of it, which Sir Joshua 
Reynolds afterwards disliked, and he had the canvas doubled upon 
the frame to hide it. It has been let out again, but we did not observe 
whether the child was there. We think it had better not be seen. 

We do not wish to draw invidious comparisons ; yet we may say, 
in reference to the pictures in Lord Grosvenor's Collection, and those 
at Cleveland-house, that the former are distinguished most by elegance, 
brUliancy, and high preservation ; while those belonging to the 
Marquis of Stafford look more like old pictures, and have a corre- 
sponding tone of richness and magnificence. We have endeavoured 
to do justice to both, but we confess we have fallen very short even 
of our own hopes and expectations. 



PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, &c. 

Salisbury Plain, barren as it is, is rich in collections and monuments 
of art. There are, within the distance of a few miles, Wilton, 
Longford-Castle, Fonthill- Abbey, Stourhead, and last though not 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

least worthy to be mentioned, Stonehenge, that * huge, dumb heap,' 
that stands on the blasted heath, and looks like a group of giants, 
bewildered, not knowing what to do, encumbering the earth, and 
turned to stone, while in the act of warring on Heaven. An attempt 
has lately been made to give to it an antediluvian origin. Its mystic 
round is in all probability fated to remain inscrutable, a mighty maze 
without a plan : but still the imagination, when once curiosity and 
wonder have taken possession of it, heaves with its restless load, 
launches conjecture farther and farther back beyond the land-marks 
of time, and strives to bear down all impediments in its course, as the 
ocean strives to overleap some vast promontory ! 

Fonthill-Abbey, which was formerly hermetically sealed against all 
intrusion,'^ is at present open to the whole world ; and Wilton-House, 
and Longford-Castle, which were formerly open to every one, are at 
present shut, except to petitioners, and a favoured few. Why is this 
greater degree of strictness in the latter instances resorted to ? In 
proportion as the taste for works of art becomes more general, do 
these Noble Persons wish to set bounds to and disappoint public 
curiosity? Do they think that the admiration bestowed on fine 
pictures or rare sculpture lessens their value, or divides the property, 
as well as the pleasure with the possessor ? Or do they think that 
setting aside the formality of these new regulations, three persons in 
the course of a whole year would intrude out of an impertinent 
curiosity to see their houses and furniture, without having a just value 
for them as objects of art ? Or is the expence of keeping servants to 
shew the apartments made the plea of this churlish, narrow system ? 
The public are ready enough to pay servants for their attendance, and 
those persons are quite as forward to do this who make a pilgrimage 
to such places on foot as those who approach them in a post-chaise or 
on horseback with a livery servant, which, it seems, is the prescribed 
and fashionable etiquette ! Whatever is the cause, we are sorry for 
it ; more particularly as it compels us to speak of these two admired 
Collections from memory only. It is several years since we saw 

^ This is not absolutely true. Mr. Banks the younger, and another young 
gentleman, formed an exception to this rule, and contrived to get into the Abbey- 
grounds, in spite of warning, just as the recluse proprietor happened to be passing 
by the spot. Instead, however, of manifesting any displeasure, he gave them a 
most polite reception, shewed them whatever they expressed a wish to see, asked 
them to dinner, and after passing the day in the greatest conviviality, dismissed 
them by saying, 'That they might get out as they got in.' This was certainly a 
good jest. Our youthful adventurers on forbidden ground, in the midst of their 
festive security, might have expected some such shrewd turn from the antithetical 
genius of the author of Vathek, who makes his hero, in a paroxysm of impatience, 
call out for 'the Koran and sugar ! ' 

56 



PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, ETC. 

them ; but there are some impressions of this sort that are proof 
against time. 

Lord Radnor has the two famous Claudes, the Morning and 
Evening of the Roman Empire. Though as landscapes they are 
neither so brilliant, nor finished, nor varied, as some of this Artist's, 
there is a weight and concentration of historic feeling about them 
which many of his allegorical productions want. In the first, half- 
finished buildings and massy columns rise amidst the dawning eiFulgence 
that is streaked with rims of inextinguishable light ; and a noble tree 
in the foreground, ample, luxuriant, hangs and broods over the 
growing design. There is a dim mistiness spread over the scene, as 
in the beginning of things. The Evening, the companion to it, is 
even finer. It has all the gorgeous pomp that attends the meeting of 
Night and Day, and a flood of glory still prevails over the coming 
shadows. In the cool of the evening, some cattle are feeding on the 
brink of a glassy stream, that reflects a mouldering ruin on one side 
of the picture ; and so precise is the touch, so true, so firm is the 
pencilling, so classical the outline, that they give one the idea of 
sculptured cattle, biting the short, green turf, and seem an enchanted 
herd ! They appear stamped on the canvas to remain there for ever, 
or as if nothing could root them from the spot. Truth with beauty 
suggests the feeling of immortality. No Dutch picture ever suggested 
this feeling. The objects are real, it is true ; but not being beautiful 
or impressive, the mind feels no wish to mould them into a permanent 
reality, to bind them fondly on the heart, or lock them in the imagina- 
tion as in a sacred recess, safe from the envious canker of time. No 
one ever felt a longing, a sickness of the heart, to see a Dutch land- 
scape twice; but those of Claude, after an absence of years, have 
this effect, and produce a kind of calenture. The reason of the 
difference is, that in mere literal copies from nature, where the objects 
are not interesting in themselves, the only attraction is to see the 
felicity of the execution ; and having once witnessed this, we are 
satisfied. But there is nothing to stir the fancy, to keep alive the 
yearnings of passion. We remember one other picture (and but one) 
in Lord Radnor's Collection, that was of this ideal character. It 
was a Magdalen by Guido, with streaming hair, and streaming eyes 
looking upwards — -full of sentiment and beauty. 

There is but one fine picture at Wilton-house, the Family Vandyke ; 
with a noble Gallery of antique marbles, which we may pronounce to 
be invaluable to the lover of art or to the student of history or human 
nature. Roman Emperors or Proconsuls, the poets, orators, and 
almost all the great men of antiquity, are here ' ranged in a row,' and 
palpably embodied either in genuine or traditional busts. Some of 

57 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

these indicate an almost preternatural capacity and inspired awfulness 
of look, particularly some of the earlier sages and fabulists of Greece, 
which we apprehend to be ideal representations ; while other more 
modern and better authenticated ones of celebrated Romans are 
distinguished by the strength and simplicity of common English heads 
of the best class. — The large picture of the Pembroke Family, by 
Vandyke, is unrivalled in its kind. It is a history of the time. It 
throws us nearly two centuries back to men and manners that no 
longer exist. The members of a Noble House ('tis a hundred and 
sixty years since) are brought together in propria persona, and appear 
in all the varieties of age, character, and costume. There are the old 
Lord and Lady Pembroke, who ' keep their state ' raised somewhat 
above the other groups ; — the one a lively old gentleman, who seems 
as if he could once have whispered a flattering tale in a fair lady's 
ear ; his help-mate looking a little fat and sulky by his side, probably 
calculating the expence of the picture, and not well understanding the 
event of it — there are the daughters, pretty, well-dressed, elegant 
girls, but somewhat insipid, sentimental, and vacant — then there are 
the two eldest sons, that might be said to have walked out of Mr. 
Burke's description of the age of chivalry ; the one a perfect courtier, 
a carpet-knight, smooth-faced, handsome, almost effeminate, that 
seems to have moved all his life to ' the mood of lutes and soft 
recorders,' decked in silks and embroidery like the tender flower 
issuing from its glossy folds ; the other the gallant soldier, shrewd, 
bold, hardy, with spurred heel and tawny buskins, ready to ' mount 
on barbed steeds, and witch the world with noble horsemanship' — 
down to the untutored, carroty-headed boy, the Goose-Gibbie of the 
piece, who appears to have been just dragged from the farm-yard to 
sit for his picture, and stares about him in as great a heat and fright 
as if he had dropped from the clouds : — all in this admirable, living 
composition is in its place, in keeping, and bears the stamp of the age 
and of the master's hand. Even the oak-pannels have an elaborate, 
antiquated look, and the furniture has an aspect of cumbrous, conscious 
dignity. It should not be omitted that it was here (in the house or 
the adjoining magnificent grounds) that Sir Philip Sidney wrote his 
Arcadia ; and the story of Musidorus and Philoclea, of Mopsa and 
Dorcas, is quaintly traced on oval pannels in the principal drawing- 
room. 

It is on this account that we are compelled to find fault with the 
Collection at Fonthill Abbey, because it exhibits no picture of 
remarkable eminence that can be ranked as an heir-loom of the 
imagination — which cannot be spoken of but our thoughts take wing 
and stretch themselves towards it — the very name of which is music 

S8 



PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, ETC. 

to the instructed ear. We would not give a rush to see any Collection 
that does not contain some single picture at least, that haunts us with 
an uneasy sense of joy for twenty miles of road, that may cheer us at 
intervals for twenty years of life to come. Without some such 
thoughts as these riveted in the brain, the lover and disciple of art 
would truly be ' of all men the most miserable : ' but with them 
hovering round him, and ever and anon shining with their glad lustre 
into his sleepless soul, he has nothing to fear from fate, or fortune. 
We look, and lo ! here is one at our side, facing us, though far- 
distant. It is the Young Man's Head, in the Louvre, by Titian, 
that is not unlike Jeronymo della Porretta in Sir Charles Grandison. 
What a look is there of calm, unalterable self-possession — 

' Above all pain, all passion, and all pride j ' 

that draws the evil out of human life, that while we look at it 
transfers the same sentiment to our own breasts, and makes us feel as 
if nothing mean or little could ever disturb us again I This is high 
art ; the rest is mechanical. But there is nothing like this at Fonthill 
(oh ! no), but every thing which is the very reverse. As this, how- 
ever, is an extreme opinion of ours, and may be a prejudice, we shall 
endeavour to support it by facts. There is not then a single Titian 
in all this boasted and expensive Collection — there is not a Raphael — 
there is not a Rubens (except one small sketch) — there is not a 
Guido, nor a Vandyke — there is not a Rembrandt, there is not a 
Nicolo Poussin, nor a fine Claude. The two Altieri Claudes, which 
might have redeemed Fonthill, Mr. Beckford sold. What shall we 
say to a Collection, which uniformly and deliberately rejects every 
great work, and every great name in art, to make room for idle 
rarities and curiosities of mechanical skill ? It was hardly necessary 
to build a cathedral to set up a toy-shop ! Who would paint a 
miniature-picture to hang it at the top of the Monument ? This huge 
pile (capable of better things) is cut up into a parcel of little rooms, 
and those little rooms are stuck full of little pictures, and bijouterie. 
Mr. Beckford may talk of his Diamond Berchem, and so on : this is 
but the language of a petlt-maitre in art ; but the author of Vathek 
(with his leave) is not a. petit-maitre. His genius, as a writer, 'hath 
a devil : ' his taste in pictures is the quintessence and rectified spirit 
of still-life. He seems not to be susceptible of the poetry of painting, 
or else to set his face against it. It is obviously a first principle with 
him to exclude whatever has feeling or imagination — to polish the 
surface, and suppress the soul of art — to proscribe, by a sweeping 
clause or at one fell swoop, every thing approaching to grace, or beauty, 
or grandeur — to crush the sense of pleasure or of power in embryo 

59 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

— and to reduce all nature and art, as far as possible, to the texture 
and level of a China dish — smooth, glittering, cold, and unfeeling ! 
We do not object so much to the predilection for Teniers, Wouver- 
mans, or Ostade — we like to see natural objects naturally painted 
— but we unequivocally hate the affectedly mean, the elaborately little, 
the ostentatiously perverse and distorted, Polemberg's walls of amber, 
Mieris's groups of steel, Vanderwerf's ivory flesh ; — yet these are the 
chief delights of the late proprietor of Fonthill-abbey ! Is it that his 
mind is ' a volcano burnt out,' and that he likes his senses to repose 
and be gratified with Persian carpets and enamelled pictures ? Or 
are there not traces of the same infirmity of feeling even in the high- 
souled Vathek, who compliments the complexion of the two pages of 
Fakreddin as being equal to ' the porcelain of Franguestan ? ' Alas ! 
Who would have thought that the Caliph Vathek would have 
dwindled down into an Emperor of China and King of Japan ? But 
so it is. — 

Stourhead, the seat of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, did not answer 
our expectations. But Stourton, the village where it stands, made up 
for our disappointment. After passing the park-gate, which is a 
beautiful and venerable relic, you descend into Stourton by a sharp- 
winding declivity, almost like going under-ground, between high 
hedges of laurel trees, and with an expanse of woods and water spread 
beneath. It is a sort of rural Herculaneum, a subterranean retreat. 
The inn is like a modernized guard-house ; the village-church stands 
on a lawn without any inclosure ; a row of cottages facing it, with 
their white-washed walls and flaunting honey-suckles, are neatness 
itself. Every thing has an air of elegance, and yet tells a tale of 
other times. It is a place that might be held sacred to stillness and 
solitary musing ! — The adjoining mansion of Stourhead commands an 
extensive view of Salisbury Plain, whose undulating swells shew the 
earth in its primeval simplicity, bare, with naked breasts, and varied 
in its appearance only by the shadows of the clouds that pass across 
it. The view without is pleasing and singular : there is little within- 
doors to beguile attention. There is one master-piece of colouring 
by Paul Veronese, a naked child with a dog. The tone of the flesh 
is perfection itself. On praising this picture (which we always do 
when we like a thing) we were told it had been criticized by a great 
judge, Mr. Beckford of Fonthill, who had found fault with the 
execution as too coarse and muscular. We do not wonder — it is not 
like his own turnery-ware ! We should also mention an exquisite 
Holbein, the Head of a Child, and a very pleasing little landscape by 
Wilson. Besides these, there are some capital pen-and-ink drawings 
(views in Venice), by Canaletti, and three large copies after Guide 

60 



PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, ETC. 

of the Venus attired by the Graces, the Andromeda, and Herodias's 
Daughter. They breathe the soul of softness and grace, and remind 
one of those fair, sylph-like forms that sometimes descend upon the 
earth with fatal, fascinating looks, and that 'tempt but to betray.' 
After the cabinet-pictures at Fonthill, even a good copy of a Guido is 
a luxury and a relief to the mind : it is something to inhale the divine 
airs that play around his figures, and we are satisfied if we can but 
« trace his footsteps, and his skirts far-off behold.' The rest of this 
Collection is, for the most part, trash : either Italian pictures painted in 
the beginning of the last century, or English ones in the beginning of 
this. It gave us pain to see some of the latter ; and we willingly 
draw a veil over the humiliation of the art, in the age and country 
that we live in. We ought, however, to mention a portrait of a 
youth (the present proprietor of Stourhead) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
which is elegant, brilliant, ' though in ruins ; ' and a spirited portrait 
by Northcote, of a lady talking on her fingers, may, perhaps, challenge 
an exception for itself to the above general censure. 

We wish our readers to go to Petworth, the seat of Lord 
Egremont, where they will find the coolest grottos and the finest 
Vandykes in the world. There are eight or ten of the latter that are 
not to be surpassed by the art of man, and that we have no power 
either to admire or praise as they deserve. For simplicity, for 
richness, for truth of nature, for airiness of execution, nothing ever 
was or can be finer. We will only mention those of the Earl and 
Countess of Northumberland, Lord Newport, and Lord Goring, 
Lord Strafford, and Lady Carr, and the Duchess of Devonshire. 
He who possesses these portraits is rich indeed, if he has an eye to 
see, and a heart to feel them. The one of Lord Northumberland in 
the Tower is not so good, though it is thought better by the multitude. 
That is, there is a subject — something to talk about ; but in fact, the 
expression is not that of grief, or thought, or of dignified resignation, 
but of a man in ill health. Vandyke was a mere portrait-painter, but 
he was a perfect one. His forte was not the romantic or pathetic ; 
he was ' of the court, courtly.' He had a patent from the hand of 
nature to paint lords and ladies in prosperity and quite at their ease. 
There are some portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds in this Collection ; 
and there are people who persist in naming him and Vandyke in the 
same day. The rest of the Collection consists (for the most part) of 
staircase and family pictures. But there are some admirable statues 
to be seen here, that it would ask a morning's leisure to study 
properly. 



6i 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

PICTURES AT BURLEIGH HOUSE i 

Burleigh ! thy groves are leafless, thy walls are naked — 
' And dull, cold winter does inhabit here.' 

The yellow evening rays gleam through thy fretted Gothic windows ; 
but I only feel the rustling of withered branches strike chill to my 
breast ; it was not so twenty years ago. Thy groves were leafless 
then as now : it was the middle of winter twice that I visited thee 
before ; but the lark mounted in the sky, and the sun smote ray 
youthful blood with its slant ray, and the ploughman whistled as he 
drove his team afield ; Hope spread out its glad vistas through thy 
fair domains, oh, Burleigh ! Fancy decked thy walls with works of 
sovereign art, and it was spring, not winter, in my breast. All is 
still the same, like a petrification of the mind — the same things in 
the same places ; but their effect is not the same upon me. I am 
twenty years the worse for -wear and tear. What is become of the 
never-ending studious thoughts that brought their own reward or 
promised good to mankind ? of the tears that started welcome and 
unbidden ? of the sighs that whispered future peace ? of the smiles 
that shone, not in my face indeed, but that cheered my heart, and 
made a sunshine there when all was gloom around ? That fairy 
vision — that invisible glory, by which I was once attended — ushered 
into life, has left my side, and ' faded to the light of common day,' 
and I now see what is, or has been — not what may lie hid in Time's 
bright circle and golden chaplet ! Perhaps this is the characteristic 
difference between youth and a later period of life — that we, by 
degrees, learn to take things more as we find them, call them more 
by their right names ; that we feel the warmth of summer, but the 
winter's cold as well ; that we see beauties, but can spy defects in the 
fairest face ; and no longer look at every thing through the genial 
atmosphere of our own existence. We grow more literal and less 
credulous every day, lose much enjoyment, and gain some useful, and 
more useless knowledge. The second time I passed along the road 
that skirts Burleigh Park, the morning was dank and ' ways were 
mire.' I saw and felt it not : my mind was otherwise engaged. 
Ah ! thought I, there is that fine old head by Rembrandt ; there 
within those cold grey walls, the painter of old age is enshrined, 
immortalized in some of his inimitable works ! The name of 
Rembrandt lives in the fame of him who stamped it with renown, 
while the name of Burleigh is kept up by the present owner. An 

* From the New Monthly Magazine, 
62 



PICTURES AT BURLEIGH HOUSE 

artist survives in the issue of his brain to all posterity— a lord is 
nothing without the issue of his body lawfully begotten, and is lost 
in a long line of illustrious ancestors. So much higher is genius than 
rank — such is the difference between fame and title ! A great name 
in art lasts for centuries — it requires twenty generations of a noble 
house to keep alive the memory of the first founder for the same 
length of time. So I reasoned, and was not a little proud of my 
discovery. 

In this dreaming mood, dreaming of deathless works and deathless 
names, I went on to Peterborough, passing, as it were, under an 
arch-way of Fame, 

' and still walking under, 

Found some new matter to look up and wonder.' 

I had business there : I will not say what. I could at this time do 
nothing. I could not write a line — I could not draw a stroke. ' I 
was brutish ; ' though not ' like warlike as the wolf, nor subtle as the 
fox for prey.' In words, in looks, in deeds, I was no better than a 
changeling. Why then do I set so much value on my existence 
formerly ? Oh God ! that I could but be for one day, one hour, nay 
but for an instant, (to feel it in all the plentitude of unconscious bliss, 
and take one long, last, lingering draught of that full brimming cup of 
thoughtless freedom,) what then I was — that I might, as in a trance, 
a waking dream, hear the hoarse murmur of the bargemen, as the 
Minster tower appeared in the dim twilight, come up from the willowy 
stream, sounding low and underground like the voice of the bittern — 
that I might paint that field opposite the window where I lived, and 
feel that there was a green, dewy moisture in the tone, beyond my 
pencil's reach, but thus gaining almost a new sense, and watching the 
birth of new objects without me — that I might stroll down Peter- 
borough bank, (a winter's day,) and see the fresh marshes stretching 
out in endless level perspective, (as if Paul Potter had painted them,) 
with the cattle, the windmills, and the red-tiled cottages, gleaming in 
the sun to the very verge of the horizon, and watch the fieldfares in 
innumerable flocks, gamboling in the air, and sporting in the sun, and 
racing before the clouds, making summersaults, and dazzling the eye 
by throwing themselves into a thousand figures and movements — that 
I might go, as then, a pilgrimage to the town where my mother was 
born, and visit the poor farm-house where she was brought up, and 
lean upon the gate where she told me she used to stand when a child 
of ten years old and look at the setting sun! — I could do all this 
still ; but with different feelings. As our hopes leave us, we lose even 
our interest and regrets for the past. I had at this time, simple as I 

63 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

seemed, many resources. I could in some sort ' play at bowls with 
the sun and moon ; ' or, at any rate, there was no question in meta- 
physics that I could not bandy to and fro, as one might play at 
cup-and-ball, for twenty, thirty, forty miles of the great North Road, 
and at it again, the . next day, as fresh as ever. I soon get tired of 
this now, and wonder how I managed formerly. I knew Tom Jones 
by heart, and was deep in Peregrine Pickle. I was intimately 
acquainted with all the heroes and heroines of Richardson's romances, 
and could turn from one to the other as I pleased. I could con over 
that single passage in Pamela about ' her lumpish heart,' and never 
have done admiring the skill of the author and the truth of nature. 
I had my sports and recreations too, some such as these following : — 

' To see the sun to bed, and to arise. 
Like some hot amourist, with glowing eyes 
Bursting the lazy bands of sleep that bound him, 
With all his fires and travelling glories round him. 
Sometimes the moon on soft night clouds to rest. 
Like beauty nestling in a young man's breast. 
And all the winking stars, her handmaids, keep 
Admiring silence while those lovers sleep. 
Sometimes outstretcht, in very idleness, 
Nought doing, saying little, thinking less, 
To view the leaves, thin dancers upon air, 
Go eddying round and small birds how they fare, 
When Mother Autumn fills their beaks with com, 
Filch'd from the careless Amalthea's horn : 
And how the woods berries and worms provide 
Without their pains, when earth has nought beside 
To answer their small wants. 
To view the graceful deer come tripping by. 
Then stop and gaze, then turn, they know not why. 
Like bashful younkers in society. 
To mark the structure of a plant or tree. 
And all fair things of earth, how fair they be.' 

I have wandered far enough from Burleigh House ; but I had 
some associations about it which I could not well get rid of, without 
troubling the reader with them. 

The Rembrandts disappointed me quite. I could hardly find a 
trace of the impression which had been inlaid in my imagination. I 
might as well 

' Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream.' 

Instead of broken wrinkles and indented flesh, I saw hard lines and 
stained canvas. I had seen better Rembrandts since, and had learned 
64 



PICTURES AT BURLEIGH HOUSE 

to see nature better. Was it a disadvantage, then, that for twenty 
years I had carried this fine idea in my brain, enriching it from time 
to time from my observations of nature or art, and raising it as they 
were raised ; or did it much signify that it was disturbed at last ? 
Neither. The picture was nothing to me : it was the idea it had 
suggested. The one hung on the wall at Burleigh ; the other was an 
heir-loom in my mind. Was it destroyed, because the picture, after 
long absence, did not answer to it ? No. There were other pictures 
in the world that did, and objects in nature still more perfect. This 
is the melancholy privilege of art ; it exists chiefly in idea, and is not 
liable to serious reverses. If we are disappointed in the character of 
one we love, it breaks the illusion altogether ; for we drew certain 
consequences from a face. If an old friendship is broken up, we 
cannot tell how to replace it, without the aid of habit and a length of 
time. But a picture is nothing but a face ; it interests us only in idea. 
Hence we need never be afraid of raising our standard of taste too 
high ; for the mind rises with it, exalted and refined, and can never 
be much injured by finding out its casual mistakes. Like the possessor 
of a splendid collection, who is indifferent to or turns away from 
common pictures, we have a selecter gallery in our own minds. In 
this sense, the knowledge of art is its oiun exceeding great reward. 
But is there not danger that we may become too fastidious, and have 
nothing left to admire ? None : for the conceptions of the human 
soul cannot rise superior to the power of art ; or if they do, then we 
have surely every reason to be satisfied with them. The mind, in 
what depends upon itself alone, ' soon rises from defeat unhurt,' 
though its pride may be for a moment ' humbled by such rebuke,' 

' And in its liquid texture mortal wound 
Receives no more than can the fluid air.' 

As an illustration of the same thing, there are two Claudes at 
Burleigh, which certainly do not come up to the celebrity of the 
artist's name. They did not please me formerly : the sky, the water, 
the trees seemed all too blue, too much of the colour of indigo. But I 
believed, and wondered. I could no longer admire these specimens 
of the artist at present, but assuredly my admiration of the artist him- 
self was not less than before ; for since then, I had seen other works 
by the same hand, 

' inimitable on earth 

By model or by shading pencil drawn,' — 

surpassing every idea that the mind could form of art, except by 

having seen them. I remember one in particular that Walsh Porter 

VOL. IX. : E 65 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

had (a bow-shot beyond all others)- — a vernal landscape, an 'Hes- 
perian fable true,' with a blue unclouded sky, and green trees and 
grey turrets and an unruffled sea beyond. But never was there sky 
so soft or trees so clad with spring, such air-drawn towers or such 
halcyon seas : Zephyr seemed to fan the air, and Nature looked on 
and smiled. The name of Claude has alone something in it that 
softens and harmonises the mind. It touches a magic chord. Oh ! 
matchless scenes, oh ! orient skies, bright with purple and gold ; ye 
opening glades and distant sunny vales, glittering with fleecy flocks, 
pour all your enchantment into my soul, let it reflect your chastened 
image, and forget all meaner things! Perhaps the most affecting 
tribute to the memory of this great artist is the character drawn of 
him by an eminent master, in his Dream of a Painter. 

' On a sudden I was surrounded by a thick cloud or mist, and my guide 
wafted me through the air, till we alighted on a most delicious rural spot. 
I perceived it was the early hour of the morn, when the sun had not risen 
above the horizon. We were alone, except that at a little distance a 
young shepherd played on his flageolet as he walked before his herd, 
conducting them from the fold to the pasture. The elevated pastoral air 
he played charmed me by its simplicity, and seemed to animate his obedient 
flock. The atmosphere was clear and perfectly calm : and now the rising 
sun gradually illumined the fine landscape, and began to discover to our 
view the distant country of immense extent. I stood awhile in expectation 
of what might next present itself of dazzling splendour, when the only 
object which appeared to fill this natural, grand, and simple scene, was a 
rustic who entered, not far from the place where we stood, who by his 
habiliments seemed nothing better than a peasant ; he led a poor little ass, 
which was loaded with all the implements required by a painter in his work. 
After advancing a few paces he stood still, and with an air of rapture 
seemed to contemplate the rising sun : he next fell on his knees, directed 
his eyes towards heaven, crossed himself, and then went on with eager 
looks, as if to make choice of the most advantageous spot from which to 
make his studies as a painter. "This," said my conductor, "is that 
Claude Gelee of LoiTaine, who, nobly disdaining the low employment to 
which he was originally bred, left it with all its advantages of competence 
and ease to embrace his present state of poverty, in order to adorn the 
world with works of most accomplished excellence." ' 

There is a little Paul Brill at Burleigh, in the same room with the 
Rembrandts, that dazzled me many years ago, and delighted me the 
other day. It looked as sparkling as if the sky came through 
the frame. I found, or fancied I found, those pictures the best that 
I remembered before, though they might in the interval have faded a 
little to my eyes, or lost some of their original brightness. I did not 
see the small head of Queen Mary by Holbein, which formerly struck 

66 



PICTURES AT BURLEIGH HOUSE 

me so fovcibly ; but I have little doubt respecting it, for Holbein was 
a sure hand ; he only wanted effect, and this picture looked through 
you. One of my old favourites was the Head of an Angel, by Guido, 
nearly a profile, looking up, and with wings behind the back. It was 
hung lower than it used to be, and had, I thought, a look less aerial, 
less heavenly ; but there was still a pulpy softness in it, a tender grace, 
an expression unutterable — which only the pencil, his pencil, could 
convey ! And are we not then beholden to the art for these glimpses 
of Paradise ? Surely, there is a sweetness in Guido's heads, as there 
is also a music in his name. If Raphael did more, it was not with the 
same ease. His heads have more meaning ; but Guido's have a look 
of youthful innocence, which his are without. As to the boasted 
picture of Christ by Carlo Dolce, if a well-painted table-cloth and 
silver-cup are worth three thousand guineas, the picture is so, but not 
else. Yet one touch of Paul Veronese is worth all this enamelling 
twice over. The head has a wretched mawkish expression, utterly 
unbecoming the character it professes to represent. But I will say no 
more about it. The Bath of Seneca is one of Luca Jordano's best 
performances, and has considerable interest and effect. Among other 
historical designs, there is one of Jacob's Dream, with the angels 
ascending and descending on a kind of stairs. The conception is 
very answerable to the subject ; but the execution is not in any high 
degree spirited or graceful. The mind goes away no gainer from the 
picture. Rembrandt alone perhaps could add any thing to this 
subject. Of him it might be said, that ' his light shone in darkness ! ' 
— The wreaths of flowers and foliage carved in wood on the wainscots 
and ceiling of many of the rooms, by the celebrated Grinling Gibbons 
in Charles the Second's time, shew a wonderful lightness and facility 
of hand, and give pleasure to the eye. The other ornaments and 
curiosities I need not mention, as they are carefully pointed out by 
the housekeeper to the admiring visitor. There are two heads, how- 
ever, (one of them happens to have a screen placed before it) which I 
would by no means wish any one to pass over, who is an artist, or 
feels the slightest interest in the art. They are, I should suppose 
unquestionably, the original studies by Raphael of the heads of the 
Virgin and Joseph in his famous picture of the Madonna of the Crown. 
The Virgin is particularly beautiful, and in the finest preservation, as 
indeed are all his genuine pictures. The canvas is not quite covered 
in some places ; the colours are as fresh as if newly laid on, and the 
execution is as firm and vigorous as if his hand had just left it. It 
shews us how this artist wrought. The head is, no doubt, a highly- 
finished study from nature, done for a particular purpose, and worked 
up according to the painter's conception, but still retaining all the 

67 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

force and truth of individuality. He got all he could from Nature, 
and gave all he could to her in return. If Raphael had merely 
sketched this divine face on the canvas from the idea in his own 
mind, why not stamp it on the larger composition at once ? He 
could work it up and refine upon it there just as well, and it would 
almost necessarily undergo some alteration in being transferred thither 
afterwards. But if it was done as a careful copy from Nature in the 
first instance, the present was the only way in which he could proceed, 
or indeed by which he could arrive at such consummate excellence. 
The head of the Joseph (leaning on the hand and looking down) is 
fine, but neither so fine as the companion to it, nor is it by any means 
so elaborately worked up in the sketch before us. 

I am no teller of stories ; but there is one belonging to Burleigh- 
House, of which I happen to know some of the particulars. The 
late Earl of Exeter had been divorced from his first wife, a woman 
of fashion, and of somewhat more gaiety of manners than ' lords who 
love their ladies like.' He determined to seek out a second wife in 
an humbler sphere of life, and that it should be one who, having no 
knowledge of his rank, should love him for himself alone. For this 
purpose, he went and settled incognito (under the name of Mr. Jones) 
at Hodnet, an obscure village in Shropshire. He made overtures to 
one or two damsels in the neighbourhood, but they were too knowing 
to be taken in by him. His manners were not boorish, his mode of 
life was retired, it was odd how he got his livelihood, and at last, he 
began to be taken for a highwayman. In this dilemma he turned to 
Miss Hoggins, the eldest daughter of a small farmer, at whose house 
he lodged. Miss Hoggins, it might seem, had not been used to 
romp with the clowns : there was something in the manners of their 
quiet, but eccentric guest that she liked. As he found that he had 
inspired her with that kind of regard which he wished for, he made 
honourable proposals to her, and at the end of some months, they 
were married, without his letting her know who he was. They set 
off in a post-chaise from her father's house, and travelled homewards 
across the country. In this manner they arrived at Stamford, and 
passed through the town without stopping, till they came to the 
entrance of Burleigh-Park, which is on the outside of it. The gates 
flew open, the chaise entered, and drove down the long avenue of 
trees that leads up to the front of this fine old mansion. As they 
drew nearer to it, and she seemed a little surprised where they were 
going, he said, ' Well, my dear, this is Burleigh-House ; it is the 
home I have promised to bring you to, and you are the Countess of 
Exeter ! ' It is said, the shock of this discovery was too much for 
this young creature, and that she never recovered it. It was a sensa- 

68 



PICTURES AT OXFORD AND BLENHEIM 

tion worth dying for. The world we live in was worth making, had 
it been only for this. Te Thousand and One Tales of the jiirabian 
Night's Entertainment ! hide your diminished heads ! I never wish 
to have been a lord, but when I think of this story. 



PICTURES AT OXFORD AND BLENHEIM 

Rome has been called the ' Sacred City : ' — might not our Oxford 
be called so too ? There is an air about it, resonant of joy and hope : 
it speaks with a thousand tongues to the heart : it waves its mighty 
shadow over the imagination : it stands in lowly sublimity, on the 
' hill of ages ; ' and points with prophetic fingers to the sky : it greets 
the eager gaze from afar, ' with glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,' 
that shine with an internal light as with the lustre of setting suns ; and 
a dream and a glory hover round its head, as the spirits of former 
times, a throng of intellectual shapes, are seen retreating or advancing 
to the eye of memory : its streets are paved with the names of learning 
that can never wear out : its green quadrangles breathe the silence of 
thought, conscious of the weight of yearnings innumerable after the 
past, of loftiest aspirations for the future : Isis babbles of the Muse, 
its waters are from the springs of Helicon, its Christ-Church meadows, 
classic, Elysian fields! — We could pass our lives in Oxford without 
having or wanting any other idea — that of the place is enough. We 
imbibe the air of thought; we stand in the presence of learning. We 
are admitted into the Temple of Fame, we feel that we are in the 
sanctuary, on holy ground, and ' hold high converse with the mighty 
dead.' The enlightened and the ignorant are on a level, if they have 
but faith in the tutelary genius of the place. We may be wise by 
proxy, and studious by prescription. Time has taken upon himself 
the labour of thinking ; and accumulated libraries leave us leisure to 
be dull. There is no occasion to examine the buildings, the churches, 
the colleges, by the rules of architecture, to reckon up the streets, to 
compare it with Cambridge (Cambridge lies out of the way, on one ■ 
side of the world) — but woe to him who does not feel in passing 
through Oxford that he is in ' no mean city,' that he is surrounded 
with the monuments and lordly mansions of the mind of man, out- 
vying in pomp and splendour the courts and palaces of princes, rising 
like an exhalation in the night of ignorance, and triumphing over 
barbaric foes, saying, ' All eyes shall see me, and all knees shall bow 
to me ! ' — as the shrine where successive ages came to pay their pious 
vows, and slake the sacred thirst of knowledge, where youthful hopes 
(an endless flight) soared to truth and good, and where the retired 

69 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

and lonely student brooded over the historic or over fancy's^ page, 
imposing high tasks for himself, framing high destinies for the race 
of man — the lamp, the mine, the well-head from whence the spark 
of learning was kindled, its stream flowed, its treasures were spread 
out through the remotest corners of the land and to distant nations. 
Let him then who is fond of indulging in a dream-like existence go 
to Oxford and stay there ; let him study this magnificent spectacle, 
the same under all aspects, with its mental twilight tempering the 
glare of noon, or mellowing the silver moonlight ; let him wander in 
her sylvan suburbs, or linger in her cloistered halls ; but let him not 
catch the din of scholars or teachers, or dine or sup with them, or 
speak a word to any of the privileged inhabitants ; for if he does, the 
spell will be broken, the poetry and the religion gone, and the palace 
of enchantment will melt from his embrace into thin air ! 

The only Collection of Pictures at Oxford is that at the RadclifFe 
Library ; bequeathed by Sir William Guise. It is so far appropriate 
that it is dingy, solemn, old ; and we would gladly leave it to its 
repose ; but where criticism comes, affection ' clappeth his wings, 
and straightway he is gone.' Most of the pictures are either copies, 
or spoiled, or never were good for any thing. There is, however, a 
Music Piece by Titian, which bears the stamp of his hand, and is 
'majestic, though in ruins.' It represents three young ladies 
practising at a harpsichord, with their music-master looking on. One 
of the girls is tall, with prominent features seen in profile, but 
exquisitely fair, and with a grave expression ; the other is a lively, 
good-humoured girl, in a front view ; and the third leans forward 
from behind, looking down with a demure, reserved, sentimental cast 
of countenance, but very pretty, and much like an English face. 
The teacher has a manly, intelligent countenance, with a certain 
blended air of courtesy and authority. It is a fascinating picture, 
to our thinking ; and has that marked characteristic look, belonging 
to each individual and to the subject, which is always to be found in 
Titian's groups. We also noticed a dingy, melancholy-looking Head 
over the window of the farthest room, said to be a Portrait of 
Vandyke, with something striking in the tone and expression ; and a 
small Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, attributed to Giuseppe 
Ribera, which has considerable merit. The amateur will here find 
continual copies (of an indifferent class) of many of his old favourite 
pictures of the Italian school, Titian, Domenichino, Correggio, and 
others. But the most valuable part of the Collection consists of four 
undoubted Heads cut out of one of the Cartoons, which was destroyed 
by fire about a hundred years ago : they are here preserved in their 
pristine integrity. They shew us what the Cartoons were. They 

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PICTURES AT OXFORD AND BLENHEIM 

have all the spirit and freedom of Raphael's hand, but without any 
of the blotches and smearing of those at Hampton Court ; with 
which the damp of outhouses and the dews of heaven have evidently 
had nearly as much to do as the painter. Two are Heads of men, 
and two of women ; one of the last, Rachel 'weeping for her Children, 
and another still finer (both are profiles) in which all the force and 
boldness of masculine understanding is combined with feminine soft- 
ness of expression. The large, ox-like eye, a ' lucid mirror,' with 
the eye-lids drooping, and the long eye-lashes distinctly marked, the 
straight scrutinizing nose, the full, but closed lips, the matronly chin 
and high forehead, altogether convey a character of matured thought 
and expansive feeling, such as is seldom to be met with. Rachel 
•weeping for her Children has a sterner and more painful, but a very 
powerful expression. It is heroic, rather than pathetic. The Heads 
of the men are spirited and forcible, but they are distinguished chiefly 
by the firmness of the outline, and the sharpness and mastery of the 
execution. 

Blenheim is a morning's walk from Oxford, and is not an unworthy 
appendage to it — 

' And fast by hanging in a golden chain 
This pendent world, in bigness as a star 
Of smallest magnitude, close by the moon ! ' 

Blenheim is not inferior in waving woods and sloping lawns and 
smooth waters to Pembroke's princely domain, or to the grounds of 
any other park we know of. The building itself is Gothic, capricious, 
and not imposing — a conglomeration of pigeon-houses — 

' In form resembling a goose pie.' 

But as a receptacle for works of art, (with the exception of Cleveland 
House,) it is unrivalled in this country. There is not a bad picture 
in it : the interest is sustained by rich and noble performances from 
first to last. It abounds in Rubens' works. The old Duchess of 
Marlborough was fond of the historical pieces of this great painter ; 
she had, during her husband's wars and negociations in Flanders, a 
fine opportunity of culling them, ' as one picks pears, saying, this I 
like, that I like still better : ' and from the selection she has made, 
it appears as if she understood the master's genius well. She has 
chosen those of his works which were most mellow, and at the same 
time gorgeous in colouring, most luxuriant in composition, most 
unctuous in expression. Rubens was the only artist that could have 
embodied some of our countryman Spenser's splendid and voluptuous 

71 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

allegories. If a painter among ourselves were to attempt a Spenser 
Gallery, (perhaps the finest subject for the pencil in the world after 
Heathen mythology and Scripture History,) he ought to go and 
study the principles of his design at Blenheim! — The Silenus and the 
Rape of Proserpine contain more of the Bacchanalian and lawless 
spirit of ancient fable than perhaps any two pictures extant. We 
shall not dispute that Nicolas Poussin could probably give more of 
the abstract, metaphysical character of his traditional personages, or 
that Titian could set them off better, so as to ' leave stings ' in the 
eye of the spectator, by a prodigious gusto of colouring, as in his 
Bacchus and Ariadne : but neither of them gave the same undulating 
outline, the same humid, pulpy tone to the flesh, the same graceful 
involution to the grouping and the forms, the same animal spirits, the 
same breathing motion. Let any one look at the figure of the Silenus 
in the first-mentioned of these compositions, its unwieldly size, its 
reeling, drunken attitude, its capacity for revelling in gross, sensual 
enjoyment, and contrast it with the figure of the nymph, so light, so 
wanton, so fair, that her clear crystal skin and laughing grace spread 
a ruddy glow, and account for the giddy tumult all around her ; and 
say if any thing finer in this kind was ever executed or imagined. 
In that sort of licentious fancy, in which a certain grossness of 
expression bordered on caricature, and where grotesque or enticing 
form was to be combined with free and rapid movements, or different 
tones and colours were to be flung over the picture as in sport or in 
a dance, no one ever surpassed the Flemish painter ; and some of the 
greatest triumphs of his pencil are to be found in the Blenheim 
Gallery. There are several others of his best pictures on sacred 
subjects, such as the Flight into Egypt, and the illustration of the 
text, ' Suffer little children to come unto me.' The head and figure 
and deportment of the Christ, in this last admirable production, are 
nobly characteristic (beyond what the painter usually accomplished 
in this department)^ — the face of a woman holding a young child, 
pale, pensive, with scarce any shadow, and the head of the child 
itself (looking as vacant and satisfied as if the nipple had just dropped 
from its mouth) are actually alive. Those who can look at this 
picture with indifference, or without astonishment at the truth of 
nature, and the felicity of execution, may rest assured that they know 
as little of Rubens as of the Art itself. Vandyke, the scholar and 
rival of Rubens, holds the next place in this Collection. There is 
here, as in so many other places, a picture of the famous Lord 
Strafford, with his Secretary — both speaking heads, and with the 
characters finely diversified. We were struck also by the delightful 
family picture of the Duchess of Buckingham and her Children, but 
72 



PICTURES AT OXFORD AND BLENHEIM 

not so much (we confess it) as we expected from our recollection of 
this picture a few years ago. It had less the effect of a perfect 
mirror of fashion in ' the olden time,' than we fancied to ourselves — 
the little girl had less exquisite primness and studied gentility, the 
little boy had not the same chubby, good-humoured look, and the 
colours in his cheek had faded — nor had the mother the same graceful, 
matron-like air. Is it we or the picture that has changed ? In 
general our expectations tally pretty well with our after-observations, 
but there was a falling-off in the present instance. There is a fine 
whole-length of a lady of quality of that day (we think Lady 
Cleveland) ; but the master-piece of Vandyke's pencil here is his 
Charles I. on Horseback. It is the famous cream or fawn-coloured 
horse, which, of all the creatures that ever were painted, is surely one 
of the most beautiful. 

' Sure never were seen 
Two such beautiful ponies; 
All others are brutes. 
But these macaronies.' 

Its steps are delicate, as if it moved to some soft measure or courtly 
strain, or disdained the very ground it trod upon ; its form all light- 
ness and elegance : the expression quick and fiery ; the colour 
inimitable ; the texture of the skin sensitive and tremblingly alive all 
over, as if it would shrink from the smallest touch. The portrait of 
Charles is not equal ; but there is a landscape-background, which in 
breezy freshness seems almost to rival the airy spirit and delicacy of 
the noble animal. There are also one or two fine Rembrandts 
(particularly a Jacob and Esau) — an early Raphael, the Adoration of 
some saint, hard and stiff, but carefully designed ; and a fine, sensible, 
gracefiil head of the Fornarina, of which we have a common and 
well-executed engraving. 

' But did you see the Titian room ? ' — Yes, we did, and a glorious 
treat it was ; nor do we know why it should not be shewn to every 
one. There is nothing alarming but the title of the subjects — The 
Loves of the Gods — just as was the case with Mr. T. Moore's Lo-ves 
of the Angels — but oh! how differently treated! What a gusto in 
the first, compared with the insipidity of the last ! What streaks of 
living blood-colour, so unlike gauze spangles or pink silk-stockings ! 
What union, what symmetry of form, instead of sprawling, flimsy 
descriptions — what an expression of amorous enjoyment about the 
mouth, the eyes, and even to the finger-ends, instead of cold conceits, 
and moonlight similes ! This is en passant ; so to our task. — It is 
said these pictures were discovered in an old lumber-room by Sir 

73 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

Joshua Reynolds, who set a high value on them, and that they are 
undoubtedly by Titian, having been originally sent over as a present 
by the King of Sardinia (for whose ancestor they were painted) to 
the first Duke of Marlborough. We should (without, however, 
pretending to set up an opinion) incline, from the internal evidence, 
to think them from the pencil of the great Venetian, but for two 
circumstances : the first is the texture of the skin ; and secondly, 
they do not compose well as pictures. They have no back-ground 
to set them off, but a most ridiculous trellis-work, representing nothing, 
hung round them ; and the flesh looks monotonous and hard, like the 
rind of fruit. On the other hand, this last objection seems to be 
answered satisfactorily enough, and without impugning the skill of 
the artist ; for the pictures are actually painted on skins of leather. 
In all other respects, they might assuredly be by Titian, and we 
know of no other painter who was capable of achieving their various 
excellences. The drawing of the female figures is correct and 
elegant in a high degree, and might be supposed to be borrowed from 
classic sculpture, but that it is more soft, more feminine, more lovely. 
The colouring, with the exception already stated, is true, spirited, 
golden, harmonious. The grouping and attitudes are heroic, the 
expression in some of the faces divine. We do not mean, of course, 
that it possesses the elevation or purity that Raphael or Correggio 
could give, but it is warmer, more thrilling and ecstatic. There is 
the glow and ripeness of a more genial clime, the purple light of love, 
crimsoned blushes, looks bathed in rapture, kisses with immortal 
sweetness in their taste — Nay, then, let the reader go and see the 
pictures, and no longer lay the blame of this extravagance on us. 
We may at any rate repeat the subjects. They are eight in number. 
I. Mars and Venus. The Venus is well worthy to be called the 
Queen of Love, for shape, for air, for every thing. Her redoubted 
lover is a middle-aged, ill-looking gentleman, clad in a buff-jerkin, and 
somewhat of a formalist in his approaches and mode of address ; but 
there is a Cupid playing on the floor, who might well turn the world 
upside down. 2. Cupid and Psyche. The Cupid is perhaps rather a 
gawky, awkward stripling, with eager, open-mouthed wonder : but 
did ever creature of mortal mould see any thing comparable to the 
back and limbs of the Psyche, or conceive or read any thing equal to 
it, but that unique description in the Troilus and Cressida of Chaucer? 
3. Apollo and Daphne. Not equal to the rest. 4. Hercules and 
Dejanira. The female figure in this picture is full of grace and 
animation, and the arms that are twined round the great son of Jove 
are elastic as a bended bow. 5. Vulcan and Ceres. 6. Pluto and 
Proserpine. 7. Jupiter and lo. Very fine. And finest of all, and 
74 



CRITICISM ON MARRIAGE ALA-MODE 

last, Neptune and Amphitrite. In this last work it seems 'as if 
increase of appetite did grow with what it fed on.' What a face is 
that of Amphitrite for beauty and for sweetness of expression ! One 
thing is remarkable in these groups (with the exception of two) 
which is that the lovers are all of them old men ; but then they 
retain their beards (according to the custom of the good old times !) 
and this makes not only a picturesque contrast, but gives a beautiful 
softness and youthful delicacy to the female faces opposed to them. 
Upon the whole, this series of historic compositions well deserves the 
attention of the artist and the connoisseur, and perhaps some light 
might be thrown upon the subject of their authenticity by turning 
over some old portfolios. We have heard a hint thrown out that 
the designs are of a date prior to Titian. But ' we are ignorance 
itself in this ! ' 



APPENDIX 

CRITICISM 
ON HOGARTH'S MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE 

The Criticism on Hogarth's ^Marriage a-la-Mode,' referred to in the 
account of Mr. Angerstein' s pictures {^page 15), is as folloivs : — 

The superiority of the pictures of Hogarth, which we have seen 
in the late collection at the British Institution, to the common prints, 
is confined chiefly to the Marriage a-la-Mode. We shall attempt to 
illustrate a few of their most striking excellences, more particularly 
with reference to the expression of character. Their merits are 
indeed so prominent, and have been so often discussed, that it may 
be thought difficult to point out any new beauties ; but they contain 
so much truth of nature, they present the objects to the eye under 
so many aspects and bearings, admit of so many constructions, and 
are so pregnant with meaning, that the subject is in a manner 
inexhaustible. 

Boccaccio, the most refined and sentimental of all the novel-writers, 
has been stigmatized as a mere inventor of licentious tales, because 
readers in general have only seized on those things in his works which 
were suited to their own taste, and have reflected their own grossness 
back upon the writer. So it has happened that the majority of critics 
having been most struck with the strong and decided expression in 
Hogarth, the extreme delicacy and subtle gradations of character 
in his pictures have almost entirely escaped them. In the first 

75 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

picture of the Marriage a-la^Mode, the three figures of the young 
Nobleman, his intended Bride, and her innamorato the Lawyer, 
shew how much Hogarth excelled in the power of giving soft and 
effeminate expression. They have, however, been less noticed than 
the other figures, which tell a plainer story, and convey a more 
palpable moral. Nothing can be more finely managed than the 
differences of character in these delicate personages. The Beau sits 
smiling at the looking-glass, with a reflected simper of self-admiration, 
and a languishing inclination of the head, while the rest of his body 
is perked up on his high heels, with a certain air of tip-toe elevation. 
He is the Narcissus of the reign of George ii., whose powdered 
peruke, ruffles, gold lace, and patches, divide his self-love equally 
with his own person, the true Sir Plume of his day, — 

' Of amber snufF-box justly vain, 

And the nice conduct of a clouded cane.' 

There is the same felicity in the figure and attitude of the Bride, 
courted by the Lawyer. There is the utmost flexibility, and 
yielding softness in her whole person, a listless languor and tremulous 
suspense in the expression of her face. It is the precise look and 
air which Pope has given to his favourite Belinda, just at the moment 
of the Rape of the Lock. The heightened glow, the forward intel- 
ligence, and loosened soul of love in the same face, in the Assigna- 
tion-scene before the masquerade, form a fine and instructive contrast 
to the delicacy, timidity, and coy reluctance expressed in the first. 
The Lawyer, in both pictures, is much the same — perhaps too much 
so — though even this unmoved, unaltered appearance may be designed 
as characteristic. In both cases, he has 'a person and a smooth 
dispose, framed to make women false.' He is full of that easy 
good-humour, and easy good opinion of himself, with which the sex 
are delighted. There is not a sharp angle in his face to obstruct his 
success, or give a hint of doubt or difficulty. His whole aspect is 
round and rosy, lively and unmeaning, happy without the least expense 
of thought, careless, and inviting ; and conveys a perfect idea of the 
uninterrupted glide and pleasing murmur of the soft periods that flow 
from his tongue. 

The expression of the Bride in the Morning-scene is the most 
highly seasoned, and at the same time the most vulgar in the series. 
The figure, face, and attitude of the Husband are inimitable. Hogarth 
has with great skill contrasted the pale countenance of the Husband 
with the yellow whitish colour of the marble chimney-piece behind 
him, in such a manner as to preserve the fleshy tone of the former. 
The airy splendour of the view of the inner room in this picture, 

76 



CRITICISM ON MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE 

is probably not exceeded by any of the productions of the Flemish 
school. 

The Young Girl, in the third picture, who is represented as a 
victim of fashionable profligacy, is unquestionably one of the artist's 
chef-d'ceunires. The exquisite delicacy of the painting is only sur- 
passed by the felicity and subtlety of the conception. Nothing can 
be more striking than the contrast between the extreme softness of 
her person and the hardened indifference of her character. The 
vacant stillness, the docility to vice, the premature suppression of 
youthful sensibility, the doll-like mechanism of the whole figure, 
which seems to have no other feeling but a sickly sense of pain, 
— shew the deepest insight into human nature, and into the effects 
of those refinements in depravity, by which it has been good- 
naturedly asserted, that ' vice loses half its evil in losing all its 
grossness.' The story of this picture is in some parts very obscure 
and enigmatical. It is certain that the Nobleman is not looking 
straight forward to the Quack, whom he seems to have been threaten- 
ing with his cane ; but that his eyes are turned up with an ironical 
leer of triumph to the Procuress. The commanding attitude and 
size of this woman, — the swelling circumference of her dress, spread 
out like a turkey-cock's feathers, — the fierce, ungovernable, inveterate 
malignity of her countenance, which hardly needs the comment of 
the clasp-knife to explain her purpose, are all admirable in themselves, 
and still more so, as they are opposed to the mute insensibility, the 
elegant negligence of dress, and the childish figure of the girl, who 
is supposed to be her protegee. As for the Quack, there can be no 
doubt entertained about him. His face seems as if it were composed 
of salve, and his features exhibit all the chaos and confusion of the 
most gross, ignorant, and impudent empiricism. 

The gradations of ridiculous affectation in the Music-scene, are 
finely imagined and preserved. The preposterous, overstrained 
admiration of the Lady of Quality; the sentimental, insipid, patient, 
dehght of the Man with his hair in papers, and sipping his tea ; 
the pert, smirking, conceited, half-distorted approbation of the figure 
next to him; the transition to the total insensibility of the round 
face in profile, and then to the wonder of the Negro-boy at the 
rapture of his mistress, — form a perfect whole. The sanguine 
complexion and flame-coloured hair of the female Virtuoso throw 
an additional light on the character. This is lost in the print. 
The continuing the red colour of the hair into the back of the 
chair, has been pointed out as one of those instances of alliteration 
in colouring, of which these pictures are everywhere full. The 
gross, bloated appearance of the Italian Singer is well relieved by 

77 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

the hard features of the instrumental Performer behind him, which 
might be carved of wood. The Negro-boy, holding the chocolate, 
in expression, colour, and execution, is a master-piece. The gay, 
lively derision of the other Negro-boy, playing with the Actason, is 
an ingenious contrast to the profound amazement of the first. Some 
account has already been given of the two lovers in this picture. 
It is curious to observe the infinite activity of mind which the artist 
displays on every occasion. An instance occurs in the present picture. 
He has so contrived the papers in the hair of the Bride, as to make 
them look almost like a wreathe of half-blown flowers ; while those 
which he has placed on the head of the musical Amateur very much 
resemble a chcueux-de-fris of horns, which adorn and fortify the lack- 
lustre expression and mild resignation of the face beneath. 

The Night-scene is inferior to the rest of the series. The attitude 
of the Husband, who is just killed, is one in which it would be 
impossible for him to stand, or even to fall. It resembles the loose 
pasteboard figures they make for children. The characters in the 
last picture, in which the Wife dies, are all masterly. We would 
particularly refer to the captious, petulant self-sufficiency of the 
Apothecary, whose face and figure are constructed on exact physio- 
gnomical principles, and to the fine example of passive obedience and 
non-resistance in the Servant, whom he is taking to task, and whose 
coat of green and yellow livery is as long and melancholy as his face. 
The disconsolate look, the haggard eyes, the open mouth, the comb 
sticking in the hair, the broken, gapped teeth, which, as it were, 
hitch in an answer — every thing about him denotes the utmost 
perplexity and dismay. The harmony and gradations of colour in 
this picture are uniformly preserved with the greatest nicety, and 
are well worthy the attention of the artist. 

It has been observed, that Hogarth's pictures are exceedingly 
unlike any other representations of the same kind of subjects — that 
they form a class, and have a character, peculiar to themselves. 
It may be worth while to consider in what this general distinction 
consists. 

In the first place they are, in the strictest sense, historical pictures; 
and if what Fielding says be true, that his novel of Tom Jones ought 
to be regarded as an epic prose-poem, because it contained a regular 
developement of fable, manners, character, and passion, the composi- 
tions of Hogarth will, in like manner be found to have a higher claim 
to the title of Epic Pictures, than many which have of late arrogated 
that denomination to themselves. When we say that Hogarth treated 
his subjects historically, we mean that his works represent the manners 
and humours of mankind in action, and their characters by varying 



CRITICISM ON MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE 

expression. Every thing in his pictures has life and motion in it. 
Not only does the business of the scene never stand still, but every 
feature and muscle is put into full play ; the exact feeling of the 
moment is brought out, and carried to its utmost height, and then 
instantly seized and stamped on the canvas forever. The expression 
is always taken en passant, in a state of progress or change, and, as it 
were, at the salient point. Besides the excellence of each individual 
face, the reflection of the expression from face to face, the contrast 
and struggle of particular motives and feelings in the different actors 
in the scene, as of anger, contempt, laughter, compassion, are conveyed 
in the happiest and most lively manner. His figures are not like the 
background on which they are painted : even the pictures on the wall 
have a peculiar look of their own. — Again, with the rapidity, variety, 
and scope of history, Hogarth's heads have all the reality and correct- 
ness of portraits. He gives the extremes of character and expression, 
but he gives them with perfect truth and accuracy. This is in fact 
what distinguishes his compositions from all others of the same kind, 
that they are equally remote from caricature and from mere still-life. 
It of course happens in subjects from common life, that the painter 
can procure real models, and he can get them to sit as long as he 
pleases. Hence, in general, those attitudes and expressions have been 
chosen which could be assumed the longest ; and in imitating which, 
the artist, by taking pains and time, might produce almost as complete 
a fac-simile as he could of a flower or a flower-pot, of a damask 
curtain, or a china vase. The copy was as perfect and as uninterest- 
ing in the one case as in the other. On the contrary, subjects of 
drollery and ridicule affording frequent examples of strange deformity 
and peculiarity of features, these have been eagerly seized by another 
class of artists, who, without subjecting themselves to the laborious 
drudgery of the Dutch school and their imitators, have produced our 
popular caricatures, by rudely copying or exaggerating the casual 
irregularities of the human countenance. Hogarth has equally avoided 
the faults of both these styles — the insipid tameness of the one, and 
the gross vulgarity of the other — so as to give to the productions of 
his pencil equal solidity and effect : for his faces go to the very verge 
of caricature, and yet never (we believe in any single instance) go 
beyond it ; they take the very widest latitude, and yet we always 
see the links which bind them to nature : they bear all the marks, 
and carry all the conviction of reality with them, as if we had seen 
the actual faces for the first time, from the precision, consistency, 
and good sense, with which the whole and every part is made out. 
They exhibit the most uncommon features with the most uncommon 
expressions, but which are yet as familiar and intelligible as possible ; 

79 



THE PICTURE GALLERIES OF ENGLAND 

because, with all the boldness, they have all the truth of nature. 
Hogarth has left behind him as many of these memorable faces, in 
their memorable moments, as, perhaps, most of us remember in the 
course of our lives ; and has thus doubled the quantity of our 
observation. 

We have, in the present paper, attempted to point out the fund of 
observation, physical and moral, contained in one set of these pictures, 
the Marriage a-la-mode. The rest would furnish as many topics to 
descant upon, were the patience of the reader as inexhaustible as the 
painter's invention. But as this is not the case, we shall content 
ourselves with barely referring to some of those figures in the other 
pictures, which appear the most striking ; and which we see, not 
only while we are looking at them, but which we have before us 
at all other times. — For instance : who, having seen, can easily 
forget that exquisite frost-piece of religion and morality, the anti- 
quated prude, in the picture of Morning \ or that striking commentary 
on the good old times, the little wretched appendage of a foot-boy, 
who crawls, half famished and half frozen, behind her ? The 
French man and woman, in the Noon, are the perfection of flighty 
affectation and studied grimace ; the amiable fraternization of the 
two old women saluting each other, is not enough to be admired ; 
and in the little master, in the same national group, we see the early 
promise and personification of that eternal principle of wondrous self- 
complacency, proof against all circumstances, which makes the 
French the only people who are vain, even of being cuckolded and 
being conquered ! Or shall we prefer to this, the outrageous distress 
and unmitigated terrors of the boy who has dropped his dish of meat, 
and who seems red all over with shame and vexation, and bursting 
with the noise he makes ? Or what can be better than the good 
housewifery of the girl underneath, who is devouring the lucky 
fragments ? Or than the plump, ripe, florid, luscious look of the 
servant-wench, embraced by a greasy rascal of an Othello, with her 
pye-dish tottering like her virtue, and with the most precious part of 
its contents running over ? Just — no, not quite — as good, is the joke 
of the woman over head, who, having quarrelled with her husband, 
is throwing their Sunday's dinner out of the window, to complete 
this chapter of accidents of baked dishes. The husband, in the 
Emening scene, is certainly as meek as any recorded in history ; but 
we cannot say that we admire this picture, or the Night scene after 
it. But then in the Taste in High Life, there is that inimitable 
pair, differing only in sex, congratulating and delighting one another 
by ' all the mutually reflected charities ' of folly and affectation ; with 
the young lady, coloured like a rose, dandling her little, black, pug- 

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CRITICISM ON MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE 

faced, white-teethed, chuckling favourite; and with the portrait of 
Mens. Des Noyers, in the background, dancing in a grand ballet, 
surrounded by butterflies. And again, in The Election Dinner, is 
the immortal cobbler, surrounded by his peers, who ' frequent and 
full,'— 

' In loud recess and brawling conclave sit : '— 

the Jew, in the second picture, a very Jew in grain — innumerable fine 
sketches of heads in the Polling for Votes, of which the nobleman, 
overlooking the caricaturist, is the best ; — and then the irresistible, 
tumultuous display of broad humour in the Chairing the Member, 
which is, perhaps, of all Hogarth's pictures, the most full of laughable 
incidents and situations. The yellow, rusty-faced thresher, with his 
swinging flail, breaking the head of one of the chairmen ; and his 
redoubted antagonist, the sailor, with his oak stick, and stumping 
wooden leg, a supplemental cudgel — the persevering ecstasy of the 
hobbling blind fiddler, who, in the fray, appears to have been trod 
upon by the artificial excrescence of the honest tar — Monsieur, the 
Monkey, with piteous aspect, speculating the impending disaster of 
the triumphant candidate ; and his brother Bruin, appropriating the 
paunch — the precipitous flight of the pigs, souse over head into the 
water — the fine lady fainting, with vermilion lips — and the two 
chimney sweepers, satirical young rogues ! We had almost forgot 
the politician, who is burning a hole through his hat with a candle, 
in reading a newspaper ; and the chickens, in The March to Finchley, 
wandering in search of their lost dam, who is found in the pocket 
of the Serjeant. Of the pictures in The Rake's Progress we shall 
not here say any thing, because we think them, on the whole, inferior 
to the prints ; and because they have already been criticised by a 
writer, to whom we could add nothing, in a paper which ought to be 
read by every lover of Hogarth and of English genius.^ 

^ See an Essay on the Genius of Hogarth, by C. Lamb. 



VOL. IX. : F 



8l 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 
THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

Notes of a Journey through France and Italy^ By W. Ha^litt^ was published in 
1826, in an 8vo. volume (9 x 5 J inches). Printed for Hunt and Clarke, Tavistock- 
Street, Co vent-Garden. The printer's name is given behind the title-page as 
' William Clowes, Northumberland -court,' and the following lines from Cymbeline 
(Act III, 4.) appear underneath the author's name on the title-page : — 

' I' the world's volume 
Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it 5 
In a great pool, a swan's nest. Prithee think 
There's livers out of Britain.' 

As stated in the Advertisement, the Notes were reprinted from the Morning 
C^roH/V/f, to which they had been contributed in 1824 and 1825. They are now 
reprinted for the first time since the publication of the volume of 1826, and as 
they appeared in that volume. A few passages which appeared in the papers as 
they came out in the Morning Chronicle, and were omitted when Hazlitt collected 
the letters in book-form, will be found among the notes at the end of the volume. 



ADVERTISEMENT 

The following Notes of a Journey through France and Italy are 
reprinted from the columns of the Morning Chronicle. The favourable 
reception they met with there suggested the idea of the present work. 
My object has been to describe what I saw or remarked myself; or 
to give the reader some notion of what he might expect to find in 
travelling the same road. There is little of history or antiquities or 
statistics ; nor do I regret the want of them, as it may be abundantly 
supplied from other sources. The only thing I could have wished 
to expatiate upon more at large is the manners of the country : but 
to do justice to this, a greater length of time and a more intimate 
acquaintance with society and the language would be necessary. 
Perhaps, at some fiiture opportunity, this defect may be remedied. 



8S 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Chapter I. — Rules for travelling abroad. Brighton. Crossing the 

Channel. Dieppe. Remarks on the French common People 89 

Chapter II. — Normandy. Appearance of the Country. Rouen. 

The Cathedral there. The sense of Smell . . .94. 

Chapter III. — The Road from Rouen to Paris. A Mistake. 
Evreux. A young Frenchman. A trait of national 
Politeness. Louviers. The Diligence, and the Company 
in it. Lord Byron and Mr. Moore . . .100 

Chapter IV. — The Louvre . . . . .106 

Chapter V. — Gravity of the French. Their Behaviour at the 

Theatre. Account of going to a Play. Minute attention 

paid to the Arts and Sciences in France. Sir T. Lawrence. 

Horace Vernet . . . . . .113 

Chapter VI. — Dialogue on theExhibitionof ModemFrenchPictures 122 

Chapter VII. — The Luxembourg Gallery . . . 129 

Chapter VIII. — National Antipathies. Cemetery of Pere la C/mise 138 

Chapter IX. — Mademoiselle Mars. The Theatre Franfais. 
Moiiere's Misanthrope and Tartuffe. Admirable manner of 
casting a Play in Paris. French Actors, Le Peintre, Odry, 
and Potier. Talma and Mademoiselle Georges . . 147 

Chapter X. — Description of Paris. The Garden of the Tui- 
leries. The Champ de Mars. The Jardin des Plantes. 
Reflections . . . . . • i5S 

Chapter XI. — French Sculpture. Note on the Elgin Marbles . 1 62 

Chapter XII. — The French Opera. Dido and .^neas. Madame 
Le Gallois in the Ballet. Italian Opera or Salle Lowvois. 
Mombelli and Pellegrini in the Gazza Ladra. Allusion to 
Brunei . . . . . . .169 

Chapter XIII. — Leave Paris for Lyons. Adventures on the 
Road. Fontainbleau. Montargis. Girl at the Inn there. 
A French Diligence. Moulins. Palisseau. The Bour- 
bonnois. Descent into Tarare. Meeting with a young 
Englishman there. Arrival at Lyons. Manners of French 
Servants. French Translation of Tom Jones. M. Martine's 
Death of Socrates . . . . . -175 

Chapter XIV. — Set out for Turin by Way of Mont Cenis. The 
Cheats of Scapin. The Diligence. Pont Beau Voisin, the 
frontier Town of the King of Sardinia's Dominions. Have 
to pass the Custom House. My Box of Books leaded. A 
Note which is little to the Purpose. First View of the 
Alps. The Grand Chartreuse. Cavern of La Grotte. 

87 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Chamber/. St. Michelle. Lans-le-Bourg. Our Spanish 
fellow-traveller. Passage of Mount Cenis. Arrival at Susa . 183 

Chapter XV. — Turin. Its magnificent Situation. The Effect 
of first feeling one's-self in Italy. Theatre. Capital 
Pantomime-acting. Passports. Get seats in a Voiture to 
Florence, with two English Ladies. Mode of travelling. 
Italian Peasants. Parma. Windows lined with Faces. 
Maria-Louisa. Character of Correggio. Frescoes by the 
same in the Cupola of St. Paul's. The Famese Theatre. 
Bologna. Academy of Painting. Towns in Italy . 19S 

Chapter XVI.— Road to Florence. The Apennines. Covigliaijo. 
La Maschere. Approach to and Description of Florence. 
Carnival. Lent. The Popish Calendar. Fesole. Cold in 
Italy .....•• 207 

Chapter XVII.— The public Gallery. Antique Busts. The Venus. 
Raphael's Fomarina. The Perseus of Benvenuto Cellini. 
John of Bologna's Rape of the Sabines. The Palace Pitti . 219 

Chapter XVIII.— Sienna. Radicofani. Aquapendente. Descrip- 
tion of the Inn there. San Lorenzo. Monte-Fiascone. 
Lake of Bolsena. Desolate Appearance of the Country 
near Rome. First View of St. Peter's from Baccano . 227 

Chapter XIX.— Rome. The Vatican. The Capella Sistina. 
Holy V7eek. The Coliseum. The Temple of Vesta. 
Picture Galleries — the Ruspigliosi, Doria, Borghese, Corsini, 
and Little Farnese. Guido . • .232 

Chapter XX. — Character of the English . . 241 

Chapter XXI. — Return to Florence. Italian Banditti. Temi. 
Tivoli. Spoleto. Church and Pictures at Assizi. Perugia. 
An Irish Priest. Cortona. Arrezo. Incisa . .253 

Chapter XXII. — Journey to Venice. Plain of Lombardy. A 

country Inn. Ferrara. Rovigo. Padua. Description of Venice . 263 

Chapter XXIII. — Palaces at Venice — the Grimani, Barberigo, 
and Manfrini Collections. Paul Veronese. Titian's St. 
Peter Martyr. The Assumption and Martyrdom of St. 
Lawrence. St. Mark's Place . . . 268 

Chapter XXIV. — Journeyto Milan. Verona. TheTomb of Juliet. 
The Amphitheatre. The Fortress of Peschiera. Lake of 
Garda. Milan. The Inhabitants. The Duomo. Theatre of 
the Gran Scala. Isola Bella. Lago Maggiore. Baveno . 275 

Chapter XXV. — The passage over the Simplon. Inn at Brigg. 

Valley of the Simplon. Sion. Bex. Vevey . .281 

Chapter XXVI. — Excursion to Chamouni. Mont - Blanc. 

Geneva. Lausanne . . . . .288 

Chapter XXVII. — Return down the Rhine through Holland. 

Concluding remarks . . . 295 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 
THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

CHAPTER I 

/The rule for travelling abroad is to take our common sense with us, 
and leave our prejudices behind us J The object of travelling is to see 
and learn ; but such is our impatience of ignorance, or the jealousy of 
our self-love, that we generally set up a certain preconception before- 
hand (in self-defence, or as a barrier against the lessons of experience,) 
and are surprised at or quarrel with all that does not conform to it. 
Let us think what we please of what we really find, but prejudge 
nothing. The English, in particular, carry out their own defects as 
a standard for general imitation; and think the virtues of others (that 
are not their vices) good for nothing. Thus they find fault with the 
gaiety of the French as impertinence, with their politeness as grimace. 
This repulsive system of carping and contradiction can extract neither 
use nor meaning from any thing, and only tends to make those who 
give way to it uncomfortable and ridiculous. On the contrary, we 
should be as seldom shocked or annoyed as possible, (it is our vanity 
or ignorance that is mortified much oftener than our reason ! ) and 
contrive to see the favourable side of things. This will turn both to 
profit and pleasure. The intellectual, like the physical, is best kept 
up by an exchange of commodities, instead of an ill-natured and idle 
search after grievances. The first thing an Englishman does on going 
abroad is to find fault with what is French, because it is not English. 
If he is determined to confine all excellence to his own country, he 
had better stay at home. 

On arriving at Brighton (in the full season,) a lad offered to 
conduct us to an inn. ' Did he think there was room ? ' He was 
sure of it. 'Did he belong to the inn ? ' No, he was from London. 
In fact, he was a young gentleman from town, who had been stopping 
some time at the White-Horse Hotel, and who wished to employ his 
spare time (when he was not riding out on a blood-horse) in serving 
the house, and relieving the perplexities of his fellow-travellers. No 

89 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

one but a Londoner would volunteer his assistance in this way. 
Amiable land of Cockayne, happy in itself, and in making others 
happy ! Blest exuberance of self-satisfaction, that overflows upon 
others ! Delightful impertinence, that is forward to oblige them ! 

There is something in being near the sea, like the confines of 
eternity. It is a new element, a pure abstraction. The mind loves 
to hover on that which is endless, and forever the same. People 
wonder at a steam-boat, the invention of man, managed by man, that 
makes its liquid path like an iron railway through the sea — I wonder 
at the sea itself, that vast Leviathan, rolled round the earth, smiling 
in its sleep, waked into fury, fathomless, boundless, a huge world of 
water-drops — Whence is it, whither goes it, is it of eternity or of 
nothing ? Strange, ponderous riddle, that we can neither penetrate 
nor grasp in our comprehension, ebbing and flowing like human life, 
and swallowing it up in thy remorseless womb, — what art thou ? 
What is there in common between thy life and ours, who gaze at 
thee ? Blind, deaf and old, thou seest not, hearest not, understandest 
not ; neither do we understand, who behold and listen to thee ! 
Great as thou art, unconscious of thy greatness, unwieldy, enormous, 
preposterous twin-birth of matter, rest in thy dark, unfathomed cave 
of mystery, mocking human pride and weakness. Still is it given to 
the mind of man to wonder at thee, to confess its ignorance, and to 
stand in awe of thy stupendous might and majesty, and of its own 
being, that can question thine ! But a truce with reflections. 

The Pavilion at Brighton is like a collection of stone pumpkins and 
pepper-boxes. It seems as if the genius of architecture had at once 
the dropsy and the megrims. Any thing more fantastical, with a 
greater dearth of invention, was never seen. The King's stud (if 
they were horses of taste) would petition against so irrational a 
lodging. 

Brighton stands facing the sea, on the bare cliffs, with glazed 
windows to reflect the glaring sun, and black pitchy bricks shining 
like the scales of fishes. The town is however gay with the influx 
of London visitors — happy as the conscious abode of its sovereign ! 
Every thing here appears in motion — coming or going. People at a 
watering-place may be compared to the flies of a summer ; or to 
fashionable dresses, or suits of clothes walking about the streets. The 
only idea you gain is, of finery and motion. The road between 
London and Brighton presents some very charming scenery ; Reigate 
is a prettier English country-town than is to be found anywhere — out 
of England ! As we entered Brighton in the evening, a Frenchman 
was playing and singing to a guitar. It was a relief to the conversa- 
tion in the coach, which had been chiefly supported in a nasal tone by 

90 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

a disciple of Mrs. Fry and amanuensis of philanthropy in general. 
As we heard the lively musician warble, we forgot the land of 
Sunday-schools and spinning-jennies. The genius of the South had 
come out to meet us. 

We left Brighton in the steam-packet, and soon saw the shores of 
Albion recede from us. Out of sight, out of mind. How poor a 
geographer is the human mind ! How small a space does the 
imagination take in at once ! In travelling, our ideas change like the 
scenes of a pantomime, displacing each other as completely and 
rapidly. Long before we touched on French ground, the English 
coast was lost in distance, and nothing remained of it but a dim mist ; 
it hardly seemed ' in a great pool a swan's nest.' So shall its glory 
vanish like a vapour, its liberty like a dream ! 

We had a fine passage in the steam-boat (Sept. i, 1824). Not 
a cloud, scarce a breath of air ; a moon, and then star-light, till the 
dawn, with rosy fingers, ushered us into Dieppe. Our fellow- 
passengers were pleasant and unobtrusive, an English party of the 
better sort : a Member of Parliament, delighted to escape from ' late 
hours and bad company ; ' an English General, proud of his bad 
French ; a Captain in the Navy, glad to enter a French harbour 
peaceably ; a Country Squire, extending his inquiries beyond his 
paternal acres ; the younger sons of wealthy citizens, refined through 
the strainers of a University-education and finishing off with foreign 
travel ; a young Lawyer, quoting Peregrine Pickle, and divided 
between his last circuit and projected tour. There was also a young 
Dutchman, looking mild through his mustachios, and a new-married 
couple (a French Jew and Jewess) who grew uxorious from the 
effects of sea-sickness, and took refuge from the qualms of the 
disorder in paroxysms of tenderness. We had some diiEculty in 
getting into the harbour, and had to wait till morning for the tide. 
I grew very tired, and laid the blame on the time lost in getting some 
restive horses on board, but found that if we had set out two hours 
sooner, we should only have had to wait two hours longer. The 
doctrine of Optimism is a very good and often a very true one in 
travelling. In advancing up the steps to give the officers our 
passport, I was prevented by a young man and woman, who said they 
were before me, and on making a second attempt, an elderly 
gentleman and lady set up the same claim, because they stood behind 
me. It seemed that a servant was waiting with passports for four. 
Persons in a certain class of life are so full of their own business and 
importance, that they imagine every one else must be aware of it — 
I hope this is the last specimen I shall for some time meet with of 
city-manners. After a formal custom-house search, we procured 

91 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

admittance at Pratt's Hotel, where they said they had reserved a bed 
for a Lady. France is a country where they give honneur aux Dames. 
The window looked out on the bridge and on the river, which 
reflected the shipping and the houses ; and we should have thought 
ourselves luckily off, but that the bed, which occupied a niche in the 
sitting-room, had that kind of odour which could not be mistaken for 
otto of roses. 

Dieppe. — This town presents a very agreeable and romantic 
appearance to strangers. It is cut up into a number of distinct 
divisions by canals, drawbridges, and bastions, as if to intercept the 
progress of an enemy. The best houses, too, are shut up in close 
courts and high walls on the same principle, that is, to stand a further 
siege in the good old times. There are rows of lime-trees on the 
quay, and some of the narrow streets running from it look like wells. 
This town is a picture to look at ; it is a pity that it is not a nosegay, 
and that the passenger who ventures to explore its nooks and alleys 
is driven back again by ' a compound of villainous smells,' which 
seem to grow out of the ground. In walking the streets, one must 
take one's nose with one, and that sense is apt to be offended in 
France as well as in Scotland. Is it hence called in French the 
organ of sense ? The houses and the dresses are equally old-fashioned. 
In France one lives in the imagination of the past; in England every 
thing is new and on an improved plan. Such is the progress of 
mechanical invention ! In Dieppe there is one huge, mis-shapen, but 
venerable-looking Gothic Church (a theological fixture,) instead of 
twenty new-fangled erections, Egyptian, Greek or Coptic. The 
head-dresses of the women are much the same as those which the 
Spectator laughed out of countenance a hundred years ago in England, 
with high plaited crowns, and lappets hanging down over the 
shoulders. The shape and colours of the bodice and petticoat are 
what we see in Dutch pictures ; the faces of the common people we 
are familiarized with in Mieris and Jan Steen. They are full and 
fair like the Germans, and have not the minced and peaked character 
we attribute to the French. They are not handsome, but good- 
natured, expressive, placid. They retain the look of peasants more 
than the town's-people with us, whether from living more in the open 
air, or from greater health and temperance, I cannot say. What 
I like in their expression (so far) is not the vivacity, but the good- 
ness, the simplicity, the thoughtful resignation. The French are 
full of gesticulation when they speak ; they have at other times an 
equal appearance of repose and content. You see the figure of a girl 
sitting in the sun, so still that her dress seems like streaks of red and 
black chalk against the wall ; a soldier reading ; a group of old 

92 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

women (with skins as tough, yellow, and wrinkled as those of a 
tortoise) chatting in a corner and laughing till their sides are ready to 
split ; or a string of children tugging a fishing-boat out of the harbour 
as evening goes down, and making the air ring with their songs and 
shouts of merriment (a sight to make Mr. Malthus shudder ! ). Life 
here glows, or spins carelessly round on its soft axle. The same 
animal spirits that supply a fund of cheerful thoughts, break out into 
all the extravagance of mirth and social glee. The air is a cordial 
to them, and they drink drams of sunshine. My particular liking to 
the French is, however, confined to their natural and unsophisticated 
character. The good spirits ' with which they are clothed and fed,' 
and which eke out the deficiencies of fortune or good government, 
are perhaps too much for them, when joined with external advantages, 
or artificial pretensions. Their vivacity becomes insolence in office ; 
their success, presumption ; their gentility, affectation and grimace. 
But the national physiognomy (taken at large) is the reflection of 
good temper and humanity. One thing is evident, and decisive in 
their favour — they do not insult or point at strangers, but smile on 
them good-humouredly, and answer them civilly. 

' Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease, 
Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please !' 

Nothing shews the contented soul within, so much as our not 
seeking for amusement in the mortifications of others : we only envy 
their advantages, or sneer at their defects, when we are conscious of 
wanting something ourselves. The customs and employments of the 
people here have a more primitive and picturesque appearance than in 
England. Is it that with us every thing is made domestic and 
commodious, instead of being practised in the open air, and subject 
to the casualties of the elements ? For instance, you see the women 
washing clothes in the river, with their red petticoats and bare feet, 
instead of standing over a washing-tub. Human life with us is 
framed and set in comforts : but it wants the vivid colouring, the 
glowing expression that we meet elsewhere. After all, is not the 
romantic effect produced partly owing to the novelty of the scene ; 
or do we not attribute to a superiority in others what is merely a 
greater liveliness of impression in ourselves, arising from curiosity 
and contrast ? If this were all, foreigners ought to be as much 
delighted with us, but they are not. A man and woman came and 
sung ' God save the King,' before the windows of the Hotel, as if 
the French had so much loyalty at present that they can spare us 
some of it. What an opinion must they have formed of the absurd 
nationality of the English, to suppose that we can expect them to 

93 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

feel this sort of mock-sentiment towards our King ! What English 
ballad-singer would dream of flattering the French visitors by a song 
in praise of Louis le Desire before a Brighton or a Dover Hotel ? 

As the door opened just now, I saw the lad or garfon, who waits 
on us, going up stairs with a looking-glass, and admiring himself in it. 
If he is pleased with himself, he is no less satisfied with us, and with 
every thing else. 



CHAPTER n 

The road from Dieppe to Rouen is highly interesting. You at first 
ascend a straight steep hill, which commands a view of the town and 
harbour behind you, with villas on each side, something between 
modern cottages and antique castles ; and afterwards, from the top of 
the hill, the prospect spreads out over endless plains, richly cultivated. 
It has been conjectured that the English borrowed their implements 
and modes of husbandry from their Norman Conquerors ; the resem- 
blance is, indeed, complete to a deception. You might suppose one 
side of the channel was transported to the other, from the general 
aspect of the country, from the neatness of the orchard-plots, the 
gardens, and farm-yards. Every thing has a look of the greatest 
industry and plenty. There is a scanty proportion of common 
pasturage ; but rich fields of clover, oats, barley, and vetches, with 
luxuriant crops ready to cut, are presented to the eye in uninterrupted 
succession ; there are no wastes, no barren, thankless enclosures ; 
every foot of ground seems to be cultivated with the utmost success. 
It is in vain after this to talk of English agriculture, as if no such 
thing existed anywhere else. Agriculture can do no more than 
make provision that every part of the soil is carefully tilled, and raise 
the finest crops from it. The only distinctive feature is, that there 
are here no hedges along the road-side, their place being supplied by 
rows of apple-trees or groves of elm and poplar, which stretch out 
before you in lengthened vistas, as far as the eye can reach. We 
like this, whatever Mr. Mac-Adam may object ; and moreover, the 
roads here are as good as his. To be sure, they are much broader, 
and admit of this collateral improvement. Shady plantations open 
their arms to meet you, closing in a point, or terminated by a turn in 
the road ; and then you enter upon another long hospitable avenue, 

' Bidding the lovely scenes at distance hail ; ' 

the smiling landscape waves on either side to a considerable extent ; 
you pass a shepherd tending his flock, or a number of peasants 
94 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

returning from market in a light long waggon, like a hen-coop ; the 
bells of the horses jingle, the postilion cracks his whip, or speaks to 
them with a friendly voice, and the Diligence rolls on, at the rate of 
six miles an hour towards Paris! — Travelling is much cheaper in 
France than in England. The distance from Dieppe to Rouen is 
thirty-six miles, and we only paid eight francs, that is, six shillings 
and eight pence a-piece, with two francs more to the guide and 
postilion, which is not fourpence a mile, including all expenses. On 
the other hand, you have not the advantage of taking an outside 
place at half-price, as a very trifling difference is made in this 
respect. 

The Diligence itself cuts a very awkward figure, compared with 
our stage-coaches. There is much the same difference as between 
a barge and a pleasure-boat ; but then it is roomy and airy, and 
remarkably easy in its motion. In the common mechanic arts the 
French attend to the essential only ; we are so fond of elegance and 
compactness, that we sacrifice ease to show and finish. The harness 
of the horses is made of ropes or rusty leather, and it is wonderful 
how they get along so well as they do, three, or sometimes four 
a-breast. The apples of the orchards hang over the road-side, which 
speaks well for the honesty of the inhabitants, or the plenty of the 
country. The women appear to work a good deal out of doors. 
Some of the older ones have strangely distorted visages, and those 
horrid Albert-Durer chins and noses, that have been coming together 
for half a century. The younger ones are handsome, healthy- 
looking, animated ; a better sort of English country girls. The 
character of French coquetry prevails even here, and you see a 
young peasant-girl, broiling in the sun, with a blue paper cap on her 
head, that glitters like the smoothest satin, and that answers the 
purpose of finery just as well. I observed that one man frequently 
holds the plough and guides the horses without any one else to assist 
him, as they do in Scotland, and which in England they hold to be 
an agricultural heresy. In Surrey, where an English gentleman had 
hired a Scotch servant to try this method, the boors actually collected 
round the man in the church-yard on Sunday, and pointed at him, 
crying, 'That's he who ploughs and drives the horses himself!' 
Our prejudices are no less on the alert, and quite as obstinate against 
what is right as what is wrong. I cannot say I was quite pleased 
with my barber at Dieppe, who inserted a drop of citron juice in the 
lather I was to shave with, and converted it into a most agreeable 
perfume. It was an association of ideas, a false refinement, to which 
I had not been accustomed, and to which I was averse. The best 
excuse I could find for my reluctance to be pleased, was that at the 

95 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

next place where the same thing was attempted, the operator, by 
some villainous mixture, almost stunk me to death ! 

The entrance into Rouen, through extensive archways of tall 
trees, planted along the margin of the Seine, is certainly delectable. 
Here the genius of civilized France first began to display itself. 
Companies of men and women were sitting in the open air, enjoying 
the cool of the evening, and the serene moonlight, under Chinese 
lamps, with fruit and confectionery. We arrived rather late, but 
were well received and accommodated at the Hotel Vatel. My bad 
French by no means, however, conciliates the regard or increases the 
civility of the people on the road. They pay particular attention, 
and are particularly delighted with the English, who speak French 
well, or with tolerable fluency and correctness, for they think it a 
compliment to themselves and to the language ; whereas, besides 
their dislike to all difficulty and uncertainty of communication, they 
resent an obvious neglect on this point as an affront, and an unwarrant- 
able assumption of superiority, as if it were enough for an Englishman 
to shew himself among them to be well received, without so much as 
deigning to make himself intelligible. A person, who passes through 
a country in sullen silence, must appear very much in the character of 
a spy. Many things (a native is conscious) will seem strange to a 
foreigner, who can neither ask the meaning, nor understand the 
explanation of them ; and on the other hand, if in these circumstances 
you are loquacious and inquisitive, you become proportionably trouble- 
some. It would have been better (such is the natural feeling, the 
dictate at once of self-love and common sense) to have learned the 
language before you visited the country. An accent, an occasional 
blunder, a certain degree of hesitation are amusing, and indirectly 
flatter the pride of foreigners ; but a total ignorance or wilful 
reluctance in speaking shews both a contempt for the people, and an 
inattention to good manners. To neglect to make one's self master 
of a language tacitly implies, that in travelling through a country we 
have neither wants nor wishes to gratify ; that we are quite in- 
dependent, and have no ambition to give pleasure, or to receive 
instruction. 

At Rouen the walls of our apartment were bare, being mere lath 
and plaster, a huge cobweb hung in the window, the curtains were 
shabby and dirty, and the floor without carpetting or matting; but 
our table was well-furnished, and in the English taste. French 
cooking comprehends English, and easily condescends to it ; so that 
an Englishman finds himself better off in France than a Frenchman 
does in England. They complain that our cookery is dry, and our 
solid, unsavoury morsels, beef-steaks, and mutton chops, must stick in 

96 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

their throats as well as be repulsive to their imaginations ; nor can 
we supply the additional sauces or disguises which are necessary to 
set them off. On the other hand, we had a dinner at the Hotel 
Vatel, a roast fowl, greens, and bacon, as plain, as sweet, and whole- 
some, as we could get at an English farm-house. We had also 
pigeons, partridges, and other game, in excellent preservation, and 
kept quite clear of French receipts and odious ragouts. Game or 
poultry is the half-way house, a sort of middle point, between French 
and English cookery. The bread here is excellent, the butter 
admirable, the mUk and coffee superior to what we meet with at 
home. The wine and fruit, too, are delightful, but real French 
dishes are an abomination to an English palate. Unless a man 
means to stay all his life abroad, let him beware of making the 
experiment, or get near enough to the door to make his exit suddenly. 
The common charges at the inns are much the same as in England ; 
we paid twenty-pence for breakfast, and half a crown, or three 
shillings, for dinner. The best Burgundy is only three shillings and 
four-pence a bottle. A green parrot hung in a cage, in a small court 
under our window, and received the compliments and caresses of 
every one who passed. It is wonderful how fond the French are of 
holding conversation with animals of all descriptions, parrots, dogs, 
monkeys. Is it that they choose to have all the talk to themselves, 
to make propositions, and fancy the answers ; that they like this 
discourse by signs, hy jabbering, and gesticulation, or that the mani- 
festation of the principle of life without thought delights them above 
all things ? The sociableness of the French seems to expand itself 
beyond the level of humanity, and to be unconscious of any descent. 
Two boys in the kitchen appeared to have nothing to do but to beat 
up the white of eggs into froth for salads. The labour of the French 
costs them nothing, so that they readily throw it away in doing 
nothing or the merest trifles. A nice-looking girl who officiated as 
chamber-maid, brought in a ripe melon after dinner, and offering it 
with much grace and good humour as 'un petit cadeau' (a trifling 
present) was rather hurt we did not accept of it. Indeed it was 
wrong. A Mr. James Williams acted as our English interpreter 
while we staid, and procured us places in the Paris Diligence, though 
it was said to be quite full. We here also heard that the packet 
we came over in, blew up two days after, and that the passengers 
escaped in fishing-boats. This has completed my distaste to steam- 
boats. 

The city of Rouen is one of the oldest and finest in France. It 
contains about a hundred thousand inhabitants, two noble churches ; 
a handsome quay is embosomed in a range of lofty hills, and watered 

VOL. IX. : G 97 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

by the Seine, which, proud of its willowy banks and tufted islands, 
winds along by it. The ascent up the rising grounds behind it, is 
magnificent beyond description. The town is spread out at your 
feet (an immense, stately mass of dark grey stone), the double towers 
of the old Gothic Cathedral, and of the beautiful Church of St. 
Antoine, rise above it in their majestic proportions, overlooking the 
rich sunny valleys which stretch away in the distance ; you gradually 
climb an amphitheatre of hills, sprinkled with gardens and villas to 
the very top, and the walk on Sunday afternoon is crowded with 
people enjoying the scene, adding to its animation by their intelligent, 
varying looks, and adorning it by their picturesque and richly- 
coloured dresses. There is no town in England at the same time so 
fine, and so finely situated. Oxford is as fine in its buildings and 
associations, but it has not the same advantages of situation : Bristol 
is as fine a mass of buildings, but without the same striking accom- 
paniments — 

'The pomp of groves and garniture of fields.' 

Edinburgh alone is as splendid in its situation and buildings, and 
would have even a more imposing and delightful effect if Arthur's 
Seat were crowned with thick woods, if the Pentland-hills could be 
converted into green pastures, if the Scotch people were French, and 
Leith-walk planted with vineyards ! The only blot in this fair scene 
was the meeting with a number of cripples, whose hideous cries 
attracted and alarmed attention before their formidable mutilations 
became visible, and who extorted charity rather from terror than 
pity. Such objects abound in France and on the Continent. Is it 
from the want of hospitals, or from the bad care taken of the young 
and necessitous, to whom some dreadful accident has happened ? — 
The hill that commands this beautiful prospect, and seems the resort 
of health, of life, of pleasure, is called (as I found on inquiry) Mont 
des Malades ! Would any people but the French think of giving it 
so inauspicious a title ? To the English such a name would spoil 
the view, and infect the imagination with the recollections of pain 
and sickness. But a Frenchman's imagination is proof against such 
weaknesses ; he has no sympathy except with the pleasurable ; and 
provided a hill presents an agreeable prospect, never troubles his 
head whether the inhabitants are sick or well. The streets of 
Rouen, like those of other towns in France, are dirty for the 
same reason. A Frenchman's senses and understanding are alike 
inaccessible to pain — he recognises (happily for himself) the 
existence only of that which adds to his importance or his 
satisfaction. He is delighted with perfumes, but passes over the 
98 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

most offensive smells,^ and will not lift up his little finger to remove 
a general nuisance, for it is none to him. He leaves the walls of his 
houses unfinished, dilapidated, almost uninhabitable, because his 
thoughts are bent on adorning his own person — on jewels, trinkets, 
pomade divine ! He is elaborate in his cookery and his dress, because 
the one flatters his vanity, the other his appetite ; and he is licentious 
in his pleasures, nay gross in his manners, because in the first he 
consults only his immediate gratification, and in the last annoys others 
continually, from having no conception that any thing he (a French- 
man) can do can possibly annoy them. He is sure to offend, because 
he takes it for granted he must please. A great deal of ordinary 
French conversation might be spared before foreigners, if they knew 
the pain it gives. Virtue is not only put out of countenance by it, 
but vice becomes an indifferent common-place in their mouths. The 
last stage of human depravity is, when vice ceases to shock — or to 
please. A Frenchman's candour and indifference to what must be 
thought of him (combined with his inordinate desire to shine) are 
curious. The hero of his own little tale carries a load of crimes and 
misfortunes at his back like a lead of band-boxes, and (light-hearted 
wretch) sings and dances as he goes ! The inconsequentiality in the 
French character, from extreme facility and buoyancy of impression, 
is a matter of astonishment to the English. A young man at Rouen 
was walking briskly along the street to church, all the way tossing 
his prayer-book into the air, when suddenly on reaching the entrance 

^ One wonld tbink that a people so devoted to perfumes, who deal in essences 
and scents, and have fifty different sorts of snuffs, would be equally nice, and 
offended at the approach of every disagreeable odour. Not so. They seem to 
have no sense of the disagreeable in smells or tastes, as if their heads were stuffed 
with a cold, and hang over a dunghill, as if it were a bed of roses, or swallow the 
most detestable dishes with the greatest relish. The nerve of their sensibility is 
bound up at the point of pain. A Frenchman (as far as I can find) has no idea 
answering to the word nasty ; or if he has, feels a predilection for, instead of an 
aversion to, it. So in morals they bid fair to be the Sybarites of the modern 
world. They make the best of every thing (which is a virtue) — and treat the 
worst with levity or complaisance (which is a vice). They harbour no antipathies. 
They would swallow Gil Bias's supper as a luxury, and boast of it afterwards as a 
feat. Their moral system is not sustained by the two opposite principles of 
attraction and repulsion, for they are shocked at nothing : what excites horror or 
disgust in other minds, they consider as a bagatelle ; it is resolved into an abstrac- 
tion of agreeable sensations, a source of amusement. There is an oil of self- 
complacency in their constitutions, which takes the sting out of evil, and neutralizes 
the poison of corruption. They, therefore, can commit atrocities with impunity, 
and wallow in disgrace without a blush, as no other people can. There is Monsieur 
Chateaubriand, for instance. Who would not suppose that the very echo of his 
own name would hoot him out of the world ? So far from it, his pamphlet On 
the CenmriUp ba> just come to a third edition, and is stuck all over Paris ! 

99 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

a priest appeared coming from church, and he fell on his knees on 
the steps. No wonder the Popish clergy stand up for their religion, 
when it makes others fall on their knees before them, and worship 
their appearance as the shadow of the Almighty! The clergy in 
France present an agreeable and almost necessary foil to the foibles 
of the national character, with their sombre dress, their gravity, their 
simplicity, their sanctity. It is not strange they exert such an 
influence there : their professional pretensions to learning and piety 
must have a double weight, from having nothing to oppose to them 
but frivolity and the impulse of the moment. The entering the 
Cathedral here after the bustle and confusion of the streets, is like 
entering a vault — a tomb of worldly thoughts and pleasures, pointing 
to the skies. The slow and solemn movements of the Priests, as 
grave as they are unmeaning, resemble the spells of necromancers ; 
the pictures and statues of the dead contrast strangely with the faces 
of the living ; the chaunt of the Priests sounds differently from the 
jargon of the common people ; the little oratories and cells, with some 
lone mourner kneeling before a crucifix, every thing leads the thoughts 
to another world, to death, the resurrection, and a judgment to come. 
The walls and ornaments of this noble pile are left in a state of the 
most lamentable neglect, and the infinite number of paltry, rush- 
bottomed chairs, huddled together in the aisle, are just like the 
rubbish of a broker's shop. The great bell of the Cathedral is 
the most deep-mouthed I ever heard, • swinging slow with sullen 
roar,' rich and sonorous, and hoarse with counting the flight of a 
thousand years. It is worth while to visit France, were it only 
to see Rouen. 



CHAPTER III 

The Road to Paris. — They vaunt much of the Lotuer Road from 
Rouen to Paris ; but it is not so fine as that from Dieppe to Rouen. 
You have comparatively few trees, the soil is less fertile, and you are 
(nearly the whole way) tantalized with the vast, marshy-looking 
plains of Normandy, with the Seine glittering through them like a 
snake, and a chain of abrupt chalky hills, like a wall or barrier 
bounding them. There is nothing I hate like a distant prospect 
without any thing interesting in it— it is continually dragging the eye 
a wearisome journey, and repaying it with barrenness and deformity. 
Yet a Frenchman contrived to make a panegyric on this scene, after 
the fashion of his countrymen, and with that sort of tripping jerk 
which is peculiar to their minds and bodies — * II y a de Peau, il y a 
lOO 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

dti bots, U y a des montagnes, il y a de la verdure,^ &c. It is true, 
there were all these things in the abstract, or as so many detached 
particulars to make a speech about, which was all that he wanted. 
A Frenchman's eye for nature is merely nominal. I find that with 
the novelty, or on farther experience my enthusiasm for the country 
and the people, palls a little. During a long day's march (for I was 
too late, or rather too ill to go by the six o'clock morning Diligence,) 
I got as tired of toiling on under a scorching sun and over a dusty 
road, as if I had been in England. Indeed, I could almost have 
fancied myself there, for I scarcely met with a human being to 
remind me of the difference. I at one time encountered a horseman 
mounted on a demipique saddle, in a half military uniform, who seemed 
determined to make me turn out of the foot-path,i or to ride over me. 
This looked a little English, though the man did not. I should take 
him for an Exciseman. I suppose in all countries people on horse- 
back give themselves airs of superiority over those who are on foot. 
The French character is not altogether compounded of the amiable, 
any more than the English is of the respectable. In judging of 
nations, it will not do to deal in mere abstractions. In countries, as 
well as individuals, there is a mixture of good and bad qualities ; yet 
we may attempt to strike a general balance, and compare the rules 
with the exceptions. Soon after my equestrian adventure (or escape,) 
I met with another pleasanter one ; a little girl, with regular features 
and dark eyes, dressed in white, and with a large straw bonnet 
flapping over her face, was mounted behind a youth who seemed to 
be a relation, on an ass — a common mode of conveyance in this 
country. The young lad was trying to frighten her, by forcing the 
animal out of its usual easy pace into a canter, while she, holding 
fast, and between laughing and crying, called out in a voice of great 
sweetness and naivete — ' // n' est pas bon trotter, il n' est pas bon trotter.' 
There was a playfulness in the expression of her terrors quite charm- 
ing, and quite French. They turned down an avenue to a villa a 
little way out of the road. I could not help looking after them, and 
thinking what a delightful welcome must await such innocence, such 
cheerfulness, and such dark sparkling eyes ! Mais allons. These 
reflections are perhaps misplaced : France is not at present altogether 
the land of gallantry or sentiment, were one ever so much disposed 
to them. 

Within half a mile of Louviers (which is seven leagues from 
Rouen) a Diligence passed me on the road at the full speed of a 
French Diligence, rolling and rumbling on its way over a paved 

^ This is not correct ; there is no foot-path in France, but there is a side-path, 
claiming, I presume, the same privileges. 

lOI 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

road, with five clumsy-looking horses, and loaded to the top like a 
Plymouth van. I was to stop at Louviers, at the Hotel de Mouton, 
and to proceed to Paris by the coach the next day ; for I was told 
there was no conveyance onwards that day, and I own that this 
apparition of a Diligence in full sail, and in broad day (when I had 
understood there were none but night coaches) surprised me. I was 
going to set it down in ' my tables,' that there is no faith to be placed 
in what they say at French inns. I quickened my pace in hopes of 
overtaking it while it changed horses. The main street of Louviers 
appeared to me very long and uneven. On turning a corner, the 
Hotel de Mouton opened its gates to receive me, the Diligence 
was a little farther on, with fresh horses just put to and ready to start 
(a critical and provoking dilemma;) I hesitated a moment, and at 
last resolved to take my chance in the Diligence, and seeing Paris 
written on the outside, and being informed by Monsieur le Conducteur, 
that I could stop at Evreux for the night, I took the rest for granted, 
and mounted in the cabriolet, where sat an English gentleman (one 
of those with whom I had come over in the steam-boat,) solitary and 
silent. My seating myself in the opposite corner of the cabriolet 
(which is that part of a French Diligence which is placed in front, 
and resembles a post-chaise in form and ease,) did not break the 
solitude or the silence. In company, ttvo negatmes do not make an 
affirmative. I know few things more delightful than for two English- 
men to loll in a post-chaise in this manner, taking no notice of each 
other, preserving an obstinate silence, and determined to send their 
country to Coventry^ We pretended not to recognise each other, and 
yet our saying nothing proved every instant that we were not French. 
At length, about half way, my companion opened his lips, and asked 
in thick, broken French, ' How far it was to Evreux ? ' I looked at 
him, and said in English, 'I did not know.' Not another word 
passed, yet, I dare say, both of us had a very agreeable time of it, 
as the Diligence moved on to Evreux, making reflections on the 
national character, and each thinking himself an exception to its 
absurdities, an instance of its virtues ; so easy is it always (and more 
particularly abroad) to fancy ourselves free from the errors we witness 
in our neighbours. It is this, indeed, which makes us so eager to 
detect them, as if to see what is wrong was the same thing as being 
in the right ! 

At Evreux, I found I had gone quite out of my road, and that 
there was no conveyance to Paris till the same hour the next night. 
I was a good deal mortified and perplexed at this intelligence, but 

• ' There is nothing which an Englishman enjoys so much as the pleasure of 
sulkiness.' — Edinburgh Rez/ieWjUo. 80. 
102 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

found some consolation at the Office where I obtained it, from 
casually hearing the name of my companion, which is a great point 
gained in travelling. Of course, the discovery is pleasant, if it is a 
name you are acquainted with ; or if not, at least you have the satis- 
faction of knowing it is some one you do not know, and so are made 
easy on that head. I bespoke a bed, and was shown into the common 
room, where I took coffee, and had what the Scotch call a brandered 
fowl for supper. The room was papered with marine landscapes, so 
that you seemed sitting in the open air with boats and trees and the 
sea-shore all round you, and Teleraachus and Calypso, figures landing 
or embarking on halcyon seas. Even a country-inn in France is 
classical. It is a pity that the English are so dull and sluggish, ' like 
the fat weed that roots itself at ease on Lethe's wharf,' that they 
cannot lend themselves to these airy fictions, always staring them in 
the face, but rather turn away from them with an impatience and 
disgust proportioned to the elegance of the design and the tax levied 
on their taste. A Frenchman's imagination, on the contrary, is 
always at the call of his senses. The latter have but to give the hint, 
and the former is glad to take it ! I tired every one out by inquiring 
my best mode of getting on to Paris next day ; and being slow to 
believe that my only way was to go back to Louviers, like a fool as I 
had come, a young Frenchman took compassion on my embarrassment, 
and offered to be my interpreter, ' as he spoke both languages.' He 
said, * I must feel great pain in not being able to express myself.' 
I said ' None but in giving others the trouble to understand me.' He 
shook his head, I spoke much too fast for him ; he apologized for not 
being able to follow me from want of habit, though he said, ' he 
belonged to a society of twelve at Paris, where they spoke English 
every evening generally.' I said, ' we were well matched,' and when 
this was explained to him, he repeated the word ' matched^ with a 
ludicrous air of distress, at finding that there was an English phrase 
which was not familiarised to him in ' the society of twelve, where 
they spoke the English language generally every evening.' We soon 
came to a dead stand, and he turned to my English companion in the 
cabriolet, on whom he bestowed, for the rest of the evening, the 
tediousness of any ' society of twelve.' I could not help laughing to 
see my luckless fellow-countryman, after one or two attempts to rally 
and exchange remarks, reduced to the incessant repetition of his 
melancholy ' oa/,' and my lively Parisian rioting in the advantage he 
had obtained over a straggling Englishman, gliding from topic to topic 
without contradiction or control, passing from the population of Paris 
to the Beaux-Arts, from the Belles-Lettres to politics, running the 
circle of knowledge, and finding himself still at home, faltering at the 

103 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

mention of the Allies and the Bourbons, and rising with outstretched 
arm and continuous voice at the name of Buonopar-r (like the eagle 
soaring on level wing) — getting nearer and nearer the victim of his 
volubility, seizing my poor friend by the button, and at last retiring 
abruptly, as if afraid of a re-action, and wishing him ' good repose ' 
for the evening. Happy member of a ' society of twelve ! ' Apt 
representative of thirty millions of people, who build their self-esteem 
on the basis of vanity, and weave happiness out of breath, which costs 
them nothing ! Why envy, why wish to interrupt them, like a mis- 
chievous school-boy, who throws a great stone into a pond flill of 
frogs, who croak their delights ' generally every evening,' and who, 
the instant the chasm is closed, return to the charge with unabated 
glee and joyous dissonance ! 

I must not forget to mention a favourable trait in the common 
French character. I asked to speak to the Conducteur, and some- 
thing like a charge of deception was brought, from which he defended 
himself strenuously. The whole kitchen and stable-yard gathered 
round to hear a dispute, which was by no means waged with equal 
war of words. They understood that I was disappointed, and had 
made a ridiculous mistake. Not a word or look of derision was 
observable in the whole group ; but rather a rising smile, suppressed 
for fear of giving pain, and a wish to suggest some expedient on the 
occasion. In England, I will venture to say, that a Frenchman, in 
similar circumstances, stammering out a grave charge of imposition 
against a coachman, and evidently at a loss how to proceed, would 
have been hooted out of the place, and it would have been well for 
him if he had escaped without broken bones. If the French have 
the vices of artificial refinement and effeminacy, the English still 
retain too many of those which belong to a barbarous and savage 
state. 

I returned to Louviers the next morning under the safe conduct of 
my former guide, where I arrived half an hour before the necessary 
time, found myself regularly booked for Paris, with five francs paid 
on account; and after a very comfortable breakfast, where I was 
waited on by a pretty, modest-looking brunette (for the French 
country-girls are in general modest-looking,) I took my seat in the 
fourth place of the Diligence. Here I met with every thing to annoy 
an Englishman. There was a Frenchman in the coach, who had a 
dog and a little boy with him, the last having a doll in his hands, 
which he insisted on playing with ; or cried and screamed furiously 
if it was taken from him. It was a true French child ; that is, a 
little old man, like Leonardo da Vinci's Laughing Boy, with eyes 
glittering like the glass ones of his favourite doll, with flaxen ringlets 

1 04 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

like hers, with cheeks as smooth and unhealthy, and a premature 
expression of cunning and self-complacency. A disagreeable or ill- 
behaved child in a stage coach is a common accident, and to be 
endured. But who but a Frenchmen would think of carrying his 
dog ? He might as well drag his horse into the coach after him. A 
Frenchman (with leave be it spoken) has no need to take a dog with 
him to ventilate the air of a coach, in which there are three other 
Frenchmen. It was impossible to suffer more from heat, from 
pressure, or from the periodical 'exhalation of rich-distilled perfumes.' 
If the French have lost the sense of smell, they should reflect (as 
they are a reflecting people) that others have not. Really, I do not 
see how they have a right in a public vehicle to assault one in this 
way by proxy, any more than to take one literally by the nose. One 
does not expect from the most refined and polished people in Europe 
grossnesses that an Esquimaux Indian would have too much sense 
and modesty to be guilty of. If the presence of their dogs is a 
nuisance, the conversation of their masters is often no less offensive to 
another sense — both are suffocating to every body but themselves, 
and worthy of each other. Midas whispered his secret to the reeds, 
that whispered it again. The French, if they are wise, ought not to 
commit the national character on certain delicate points in the manner 
they do. While they were triumphant, less caution might be 
necessary : but no people can afford at the same time to be odious 
as well as contemptible in the eyes of their enemies. We dined at 
Mantes, where the ordinary was plentiful and excellent, and where a 
gentleman of a very prepossessing appearance took up the conversation 
(descanting on the adventures of a shooting-party the day before) in 
that gay, graceful, and animated tone, which I conceive to be 
characteristic of the best French society. In talking and laughing, 
he discovered (though a young man) the inroads which hot soups 
and high-seasoned ragouts had made in his mouth, with the same 
alacrity and good-humour as if he had to shew a complete set of the 
whitest teeth. We passed an interesting village, situated on the slope 
of a hill, with a quaint old tower projecting above it, and over-hanging 
the Seine. Not far from the high road stands Rosny, once the seat 
of the celebrated Sully. The approach to the capital on the side of 
St. Germain's is one continued succession of imposing beauty and 
artificial splendour, of groves, of avenues, of bridges, of palaces, 
and of towns like palaces, all the way to Paris, where the sight of 
the Thuilleries completes the triumph of external magnificence, and 
oppresses the soul with recollections not to be borne or to be 
expressed! — Of them, perhaps, hereafter. 

In the coach coming along, a Frenchman was curious to learn of a 

105 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Scotch gentleman, who spoke very respectable French, whether Lord 
Byron was much regretted in England ? He said there was much 
beauty in his writings, but too much straining after effect. He 
added, that there was no attempt at effect in Racine. This with 
the French is a final appeal in matters of poetry and taste. A 
translation of Lord Byron's Works complete is common in all the 
shops here. I am not sure whether an English Poet ought to be 
proud of this circumstance or not. I also saw an Elegy on his Death 
advertised, said to be written by his friend. Sir Thomas More. 
How oddly the French combine things ! There is a Sir Thomas 
More in English History and Letters ; but that Sir Thomas More 
is not this Mr. Thomas Moore — ' let their discreet hearts believe it ! ' 



CHAPTER IV 

The first thing I did when I got to Paris was to go to the Louvre. 
It was indeed ' first and last and midst ' in my thoughts. Well 
might it be so, for it had never been absent from them for twenty 
years. I had gazed myself almost blind in looking at the precious 
works of art it then contained — should I not weep myself blind in 
looking at them again, after a lapse of half a life — or on finding them 
gone, and with them gone all that I had once believed and hoped of 
human kind ? What could ever fill up that blank in my heart, fearful 
to think upon — fearful to look upon ? I was no longer young ; and 
he who had collected them, and ' worn them as a rich jewel in his 
Iron Crown,' was dead, a captive and vanquished ; and with him all 
we who remained were ♦ thrown into the pit,' the lifeless bodies of 
men, and wore round our necks the collar of servitude, and on our 
foreheads the brand, and in our flesh and in our souls the stain of 
thraldom and of the born slaves of Kings. Yet thus far had I come 
once more ' to dream and be an Emperour ! ' Thou sacred shrine of 
God-like magnificence, must not my heart fail and my feet stumble, 
as I approach thee ? How gladly would I kneel down and kiss thy 
threshold ; and crawl into thy presence, like an Eastern slave ! For 
here still linger the broken remains and the faded splendour of that 
proud monument of the triumphs of art and of the majesty of man's 
nature over the mock-majesty of thrones ! Here Genius and Fame 
dwell together ; ' School calleth unto School,' and mighty names 
answer to each other ; that old gallery points to the long, dim per- 
spective of waning years, and the shadow of Glory and of Liberty is 
seen afar off. In pacing its echoing floors, I hear the sound of the 
1 06 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

footsteps of my youth, and the dead start from their slumbers ! . . . 
In all the time that I had been away from thee, and amidst all the 
changes that had happened in it, did I ever forget, did I ever profane 
thee ? Never for a moment or in thought have I swerved from thee, 
or from the cause of which thou wert the pledge and crown. Often 
have I sought thee in sleep, and cried myself awake to find thee, with 
the heart-felt yearnings of intolerable affection. Still didst thou haunt 
me, like a passionate dream — like some proud beauty, the queen and 
mistress of my thoughts. Neither pain nor sickness could wean me 
from thee — 

' My theme in crowds, my solitary pride.' 

In the tangled forest or the barren waste — in the lowly hovel or the 
lofty palace, thy roofs reared their vaulted canopy over my head, a 
loftier palace, an ampler space — a 'brave o'er-hanging firmament,' 
studded with constellations of art. Wherever I was, thou wert with 
me, above me and about me ; and didst ' hang upon the beatings of 
my heart,' a vision and a joy unutterable. There was one chamber 
of the brain (at least) which I had only to unlock and be master of 
boundless wealth — a treasure-house of pure thoughts and cherished 
recollections. Tyranny could not master, barbarism slunk from it ; 
vice could not pollute, folly could not gainsay it. I had but to touch 
a certain spring, and lo ! on the walls the divine grace of Guido 
appeared free from blemish — there were the golden hues of Titian, 
and Raphael's speaking faces, the splendour of Rubens, the gorgeous 
gloom of Rembrandt, the airy elegance of Vandyke, and Claude's 
classic scenes lapped the senses in Elysium, and Poussin breathed the 
spirit of antiqmty over them. There, in that fine old lumber-room 
of the imagination, were the Transfiguration, and the St. Peter 
Martyr, with its majestic figures and its unrivalled landscape back- 
ground. There also were the two St. Jeromes, Domenichino's and 
Correggio's — there ' stood the statue that enchants the world ' — 
there were the Apollo and the Antinous, the Laocoon, the Dying 
Gladiator, Diana and her Fawn, and all the glories of the antique 
world — 

' There was old Proteus coming from the sea, 
And aged Triton blew his wreathed horn.' 

But Legitimacy did not • sit squat, like a toad,' in one corner of it, 
poisoning the very air, and keeping the free-born spirit aloof from it ! 
There were one or two pictures (old favourites) that I wished to 
see again, and that I was told still remained. I longed to know 
whether they were there, and whether they would look the same. 
It was fortunate I arrived when I did ; for a week later the doors 

107 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

would have been shut against me, on occasion of the death of the 
King. His bust is over the door, which I had nearly mistaken for 
a head of Memnon — or some Egyptian God. After passing through 
the modern French Exhibition (where I saw a picture by Sir 
Thomas Lawrence, and a vile farrago of Bourbon-Restoration pic- 
tures,) I came within sight of the Grand Gallery of the Louvre, 
which is at present only railed off. One or two English stragglers 
alone were in it. The coolness and stillness were contrasted with 
the bustle, the heat, and the smell of the common apartments. My 
thoughts rushed in and filled the empty space. Instead of the old 
Republican door-keepers, with their rough voices and affectation of 
equality, a servant in a court-livery stood at the gate. On presenting 
myself, I inquired if a Monsieur Livernois (who had formerly ushered 
me into this region of enchantment) were still there ; but he was 
gone or dead. My hesitation and foreign accent, with certain other 
appeals, procured me admittance. I passed on without further 
question. I cast a glance forward, and found that the Poussins were 
there. At the sight of the first, which I distinctly recollected (a 
fine green landscape, with stately ruins,) the tears came into my eyes, 
and I passed an hour or two in that state of luxurious enjoyment, 
which is the highest privilege of the mind of man, and which perhaps 
makes him amends for many sorrows. To my surprise, instead of 
finding the whole changed, I found every thing nearly in its place, as 
I proceeded through the first compartments, which I did slowly, and 
reserving the Italian pictures for a bon bouche. The colours even 
seemed to have been mellowed, and to have grown to the walls in 
the last twenty years, as if the pictures had been fixed there by the 
cramping-irons of Victory, instead of hanging loose and fluttering, 
like so much tattered canvass, at the sound of English drums, and 
breath of Prussian manifestoes. Nothing could be better managed 
than the way in which they had blended the Claudes and Poussins 
alternately together — the ethereal refinement and dazzling brilliancy 
of the one relieving and giving additional zest to the sombre, grave, 
massive character of the other. Claude Lorraine pours the spirit of 
air over all objects, and new-creates them of light and sun-shine. In 
several of his master-pieces which are shewn here, the vessels, the 
trees, the temples and middle distances glimmer between air and solid 
substance, and seem moulded of a new element in nature. No words 
can do justice to their softness, their precision, their sparkling effect. 
But they do not lead the mind out of their own magic circle. They 
repose on their own beauty ; they fascinate with faultless elegance. 
Poussin's landscapes are more properly pictures of time than of place. 
They have a fine moral perspective, not inferior to Claude's aerial 
1 08 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

one. They carry the imagination back two or four thousand years 
at least, and bury it in the remote twilight of history. There is an 
opaqueness and solemnity in his colouring, assimilating with the tone 
of long-past events : his buildings are stiff with age ; his implements 
of husbandry are such as would belong to the first rude stages of 
civilization ; his harvests are such (as in the Ruth and Boaz) as 
would yield to no modern sickle ; his grapes (as in the Return from 
the Promised Land) are a load to modern shoulders ; there is a 
simplicity and undistinguishing breadth in his figures ; and over all, 
the hand of time has drawn its veil. Poussin has his faults ; but, like 
all truly great men, there is that in him which is to be found nowhere 
else ; and even the excellences of others would be defects in him. 
One picture of his in particular drew my attention, which I had not 
seen before. It is an addition to the Louvre, and makes up for 
many a flaw in it. It is the Adam and Eve in Paradise, and it is all 
that Mr. Martin's picture of that subject is not. It is a scene of 
sweetness and seclusion ' to cure all sadness but despair.' There is 
the freshness of the first dawn of creation, immortal verdure, the 
luxuriant budding growth of unpruned Nature's gifts, the stillness and 
the privacy, as if there were only those two beings in the world, 
made for each other, and with this world of beauty for the scene of 
their delights. It is a Heaven descended upon earth, as if the finger 
of God had planted the garden with trees and fruits and flowers, and 
his hand had watered it ! One fault only can be found by the critical 
eye. Perhaps the scene is too flat. If the ' verdurous wall of 
Paradise ' had upreared itself behind our first parents, it would have 
closed them in more completely, and would have given effect to the 
blue hills that gleam enchantment in the distance. Opposite, ' in 
darkness visible,' hangs the famous landscape of the Deluge by the 
same master-hand, a leaden weight on the walls with the ark ' hulling ' 
on the distant flood, the sun labouring, wan and faint, up the sky, 
and the heavens, ' blind with rain,' pouring down their total cisterns 
on the weltering earth. Men and women and different animals are 
struggling with the wide-spread desolation ; and trees, climbing the 
sides of rocks, seem patiently awaiting it above. One would think 
Lord Byron had transcribed his admirable account of the Deluge in 
his Heaven and Earth from this noble picture, which is in truth the 
very poetry of painting. — One here finds also the more unequivocal 
productions of the French school (for Claude and Poussin ^ were in 

^ We may trace something of their national origin in both their minds. In 
Claude there is the French Jinicalnas, and love of minute details ; but there is a 
Jiision of all these into the most perfect harmony from the influence of a southern 
sky, and he has none of the flimsiness or littleness of effect, to which his country- 

109 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

a great measure Italian,) Le Brun, Sebastian Bourdon, some of Le 
Sueur's expressive faces, and the bland expansive style of Philip 
Champagne — no mean name in the history of art. See, in particular, 
the exquisite picture of the Sick Nun, (the Nun was his own 
daughter, and he painted this picture as a present to the Convent, in 
gratitude for her recovery,) — and another of a Religious Communion, 
with attendants in rich dresses. 

One finds no considerable gap, till one comes to the Antwerp 
pictures ; and this yawning chasm is not ill supplied by the Luxem- 
bourg pictures, those splendid solecisms of Rubens' s art. Never was 
exhibited a greater union of French flutter and Gothic grace, of 
borrowed absurdity and inherent power. He has made a strange 
jumble of the Heathen mythology, his own wives, and the mistresses 
of Louis XIII. His youthful Gods are painted all light and air, and 
figure in quaintly enough, with some flaunting Dowager dressed in 
the height of the fashion in the middle of the 1 7th century, or with 
some strapping quean (his queens are queans) with her robes of rich 
stuffs slipping off her shoulders, and displaying limbs that, both for 
form and hue, provoke any feeling but indifference. His groups 
spring from the bold licentious hand of genius ; and decorated in the 
preposterous finery of courtly affectation, puzzle the sense. I do not 
think with David (the celebrated French painter) that they ought to 
be burnt, but he has himself got possession of their old places in the 
Luxembourg, and perhaps he is tolerably satisfied with this arrange- 
ment. A landscape with a rainbow by Rubens (a rich and dazzling 
piece of colouring) that used to occupy a recess half-way down the 
Louvre, was removed to the opposite side. The singular picture 
(the Defeat of Goliath, by Daniel Volterra,) painted on both sides 
on slate, still retained its station in the middle of the room. It had 
hung there for twenty years unmolested. The Rembrandts keep 
their old places, and are as fine as ever, with their rich enamel, their 
thick lumps of colour, their startling gloom, and bold execution — 

men are prone. Again, it cannot be denied that there is a certain setness and 
formality, a didactic or prosing vein in Nicolas Poussin's compositions. He pro- 
ceeds on system, has a deliberate purpose to make out, and is often laboured, 
monotonous, and extravagant. His pictures are the linest subjects in the world 
for French criticism — to point the moral, or detach an episode. He is somewhat 
pedantic and over-significant, in the manner of French orators and poets. He 
had, like his countrymen, no great eye for nature or truth of expression ; but he 
had what they chiefly want — imagination^ or the power of placing himself in the 
circumstances of others. Poussin, in fact, held a middle place between Raphael 
and other painters of the Italian school, who have embodied the highest poetry of 
expression, and the common run of French artists, whose utmost stretch of inven- 
tion reaches no farther than correctness in the costume and chronology of their 
subject. 
110 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

their ear-rings, their gold-chains, and fur-collars, on which one is 
disposed to lay furtive hands, so much have they the look of wealth 
and substantial use ! The Vandykes are more light and airy than 
ever. There is a whole heap of them ; and among the rest that 
charming portrait of an English lady with a little child (as fine and 
true a compliment as was ever paid to the English female character,) 
sustained by sweetness and dignity, but with a mother's anxious 
thoughts passing slightly across her serene brow. The Cardinal 
Bentivoglio (which I remember procuring especial permission to 
copy, and left untouched, because, after Titian's portraits, there was 
a want of interest in Vandyke's which I could not get over,) is not 
there.^ But in the Dutch division, I found Weenix's game, the 
battle-pieces of Wouvermans, and Ruysdael's sparkling woods and 
waterfalls without number. On these (I recollect as if it were 
yesterday) I used, after a hard day's work, and having tasked my 
faculties to the utmost, to cast a mingled glance of surprise and 
pleasure, as the light gleamed upon them through the high casement, 
and to take leave of them with a non equidem Invideo, miror mag'ts. 

In the third or Italian division of the Gallery, there is a profusion 
of Albanos, with Cupids and naked Nymphs, which are quite in the 
old French taste. They are certainly very pleasing compositions, 
but from the change produced by time, the figures shew like beauty- 
spots on a dark ground. How inferior is he to Guido, the painter 
of grace and sentiment, two of whose master-pieces enchanted me 
anew, the Annunciation and the Presentation in the Temple. In 
each of these there is a tenderness, a delicacy of expression like the 
purest affection, and every attitude and turn of a limb is conscious 
elegance and voluptuous refinement. The pictures, the mind of the 
painter, are instinct and imbued with beauty. It is worth while to 
have lived to have produced works like these, or even to have seen 
and felt their power ! Painting of old was a language which its 
disciples used not merely to denote certain objects, but to unfold their 
hidden meaning, and to convey the finest movements of the soul into 
the limbs or features of the face. They looked at nature with a 
feeling of passion, with an eye to expression ; and this it was that, 
while they sought for outward forms to communicate their feelings, 
moulded them into truth and beauty, and that surrounds them with an 
atmosphere of thought and sentiment. To admire a fine old picture 
is itself an act of devotion, and as we gaze, we turn idolaters. The 
modems are chiefly intent on giving certain lines and colours, the 
mask or material face of painting, and leave out the immortal part of 
it. Thus a modern Exhibition Room (whether French or English) 
' It i» at Florence. 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

has a great deal of shew and glitter, and a smell of paint in it. In 
the Louvre we are thrown back into the presence of our own best 
thoughts and feelings, the highest acts and emanations of the mind of 
man breathe from the walls, shadowy tears and sighs there keep yigils, 
and the air within it is divine ! 

The ideal is no less observable in the portraits than in the histories 
here. Look at the portrait of a man in black, by Titian (No. 
1 210). There is a tongue in that eye, a brain beneath that fore- 
head. It is still ; but the hand seems to have been just placed on its 
side ; it does not turn its head, but it looks towards you to ask, 
whether you recognise it or not ? It was there to meet me, after an 
interval of years, as if I had parted with it the instant before. Its 
keen, steadfast glance staggered me like a blow. It was the same — 
how was I altered ! I pressed towards it, as it were, to throw off a 
load of doubt from the mind, or as having burst through the obstacles 
of time and distance that had held me in torturing suspense. I do 
not know whether this is not the most striking picture in the room — 
the least common-place. There may be other pictures more delightful 
to look at ; but this seems, like the eye of the Collection, to be 
looking at you and them. One might be tempted to go up and speak 
to it ! The allegorical portrait of the Marchioness of Guasto is still 
here, transparent with tenderness and beauty — Titian's Mistress, that 
shines like a crystal mirror — the Entombing of Christ, solemn, 
harmonious as the coming on of evening — the Disciples at Emmaus 
— and the Crowning with Thorns, the blood here and there seeming 
ready to start through the flesh-colour, which even English artists 
have not known enough how to admire. The Young Man's Head, 
with a glove that used so much to delight, I confess, disappointed 
me, and I am convinced must have been painted upon. There are 
other Titians, and a number of Raphaels — the Head of a Student 
muffled in thought — his own delightful Head (leaning on its hand) 
redolent of youthful genius, and several small Holy Families, full of 
the highest spirit and unction. There are also the three Marys with 
the Dead Body of Christ, by L. Caracci ; the Salutation by Sebastian 
del Piombo ; the noble Hunting-piece, by Annibal Caracci ; the fine 
Landscapes of Domenichino (that in particular of the story of 
Hercules and Achelous, with the trunk of a tree left in the bed of a 
mountain-torrent) ; and a host besides, ' thick as the autumnal leaves 
that strew the brooks in Vallombrosa,' and of the same colour ! 
There are so many of these select and favourite pictures left, that one 
does not all at once feel the loss of others which are more common 
in prints and in the mouth of fame ; and the absence of which may 
be considered as almost an advantage for a first recognition and 

112 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

revival of old associations. But afterwards we find a want of larger 
pictures to answer to the magnitude of the Collection, and to sustain 
the balance of taste between the Italian and the other schools. We 
have here as fine Claudes and Poussins as any in the world, but not 
as fine Raphaels, Correggios, Domenichinos, as there are elsewhere, 
— as were once here. There are wanting, to make the gallery 
complete, six or eight capital pictures, the Transfiguration, the St. 
Peter Martyr, &c. ; and among others (not already mentioned,) the 
Altarpiece of St. Mark, by Tintoret, and Paul Veronese's Marriage 
at Cana. With these it had been perfect, ' founded as the rock, as 
broad and general as the casing air ; ' without these it is ' coop'd and 
cabin'd in by saucy doubts and fears.' The largest Collection in the 
world ought to be colossal, not only in itself, but in its component 
parts. The Louvre is a quarter of a mile in length, and equal (as it 
is) to Mr. Angerstein's, the Marquess of Stafford's, the Dulwich 
Gallery, and Blenheim put together. It was once more than equal 
to them in every circumstance to inspire genius or console reflection. 
We still see the palace of the Thuilleries from the windows, with the 
white flag waving over it : but we look in vain for the Brazen Horses 
on its gates, or him who placed them there, or the pale bands of 
warriors that conquered in the name of liberty and of their country ! 



CHAPTER V 

The gravity of the French character is a no less remarkable (though 
a less obvious) feature in it than its levity. The last is the quality 
that strikes us most by contrast to ourselves, and that comes most 
into play in the intercourse of common life ; and therefore we are 
generally disposed to set them down as an altogether frivolous and 
superficial people. It is a mistake which we shall do well to correct 
on farther acquaintance with them ; or if we persist in it, we must 
call to our aid an extraordinary degree of our native blindness and 
obstinacy. We ought never to visit their Theatres, to walk along 
their streets, to enter their houses, to look in their faces (when they 
do not think themselves observed,) to open their books, or take a 
view of their picture-galleries. Sterne seems to have been the first, 
as well as last traveller, who found out their weak side in this respect. 
'If the French have a fault, Monsieur le Comte,' says he, 'it is that 
they are too serious.' This contradiction in their character has been 
little noticed, and they have never had the credit of it, though it 
stares one in the face everywhere. How we are to piece the two 
extremes together is another question. Is it that their whole 
VOL. IX. : H 113 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

character is a system of inconsequentiality^. Or are they gay and 
trifling in serious matters, serious only in trifles ? Or are their minds 
more of the cameleon-cast, that reflects all objects alike, whether 
grave or gay, and give themselves up entirely, and without resistance, 
to the prevailing impulse ? Or is it owing to a want of comprehension, 
so that they are incapable of correcting one feeling by another, and 
thus run into extremes? Or that they have a greater scope and 
variety of resources, excelling us as much in gravity as in want of 
thought, outdoing us in tragedy and comedy, as they betake them- 
selves to each, in the poetical or in the prosaic departments of life, 
only that they sometimes make a transposition of the two characters 
a little oddly, and pass from the one to the other without our well 
knowing why I 

I have been frequently puzzled with this exception to the butterfly, 
airy, thoughtless, fluttering character of the French (on which we 
compliment ourselves,) and never more so than the first night I went 
to the theatre. The order, the attention, the decorum were such as 
would shame any London audience. The attention was more like 
that of a learned society to a lecture on some scientific subject, than 
of a promiscuous crowd collected together merely for amusement, and 
to pass away an idle hour. There was a professional air, an unvarying 
gravity in the looks and demeanour of the whole assembled multitude, 
as if every one had an immediate interest in the character of the 
national poetry, in the purity of the French accent, in the propriety 
of the declamation, in the conceptions of the actor, and the develope- 
ment of the story, instead of its presenting a mob of idle boys and 
girls, of ignorant gaping citizens, or supercilious box-lobby loungers, 
affecting a contempt for the performance, and for every one around 
them. The least noise or irregularity called forth the most instant 
and lively disapprobation ; and the vivacity of the French character 
displayed itself to advantage in earnest gesticulations and expressions 
of impatience. Not only was the strictest silence observed, as soon 
as the curtain drew up, but no one moved or attempted to move. 
The spell thrown over the customary or supposed restlessness and 
volatility of the French was in this respect complete. The uniformity 
of the appearance was indeed almost ridiculous ; for the rows of heads 
in the seats of the pit no more stirred or projected the breadth of a 
finger beyond the line, than those of a regiment of recruits on parade, 
or than if a soldier were stationed to keep each chin in its place. 
They may be reduced to the state of automatons ; but there were no 
traces of the monkey character left.^ If the performance had been at 

^ Is not a monkey grave when it is doing nothing, or when it is not employed 
in mischief? 
114 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Court, greater propriety could not have been maintained ; but it was 
a French play (one of Racine's) and acted before a Parisian 
audience : this seemed to be enough to ensure it a proper reception. 
One would suppose, from their interest in dramatic representations, 
that the French were a nation of actors. Perhaps it may be asked, 
' Is not that the case ? and is it not their vanity, their own desire to 
shine, or their sympathy with whatever or whoever is a candidate for 
applause, that accounts for their behaviour ? ' At least, their vanity 
makes them grave ; and if it is this which rivets their attention, and 
silences their eternal loquacity, it must be allowed to produce effects 
which others would do well to imitate from better motives, if they 
have them ! ^ 

The play was not much ; but there seemed to be an abstract 
interest felt in the stage as such, in the sound of the verse, in the 
measured step of the actors, in the recurrence of the same pauses, and 
of the same ideas ; in the correctness of the costume, in the very 
notion of the endeavour after excellence, and in the creation of an 
artificial and imaginary medium of thought. If the French are more 
susceptible of immediate, sensible impressions, it would appear, 
judging from their behaviour at their own theatres, that they are also 
more sensible of reflex and refined ones. The bare suggestion of an 
interesting topic is to them interesting : it may be said, on the most 
distant intimation, to excite the most lively concern, and to collect 
their scattered spirits into a focus. Their sensibility takes the alarm 
more easily ; their understanding is quicker of hearing. With them, 
to the sublime or pathetic there is but one step — the name; the 
moment the subject is started, they ' jump at ' the catastrophe and all 
the consequences. We are slow, and must have a thing made out to 
us in striking instances, and by successive blows. We are sluggish, 
and must be lifted up to the heights of a factitious enthusiasm by the 
complicated machinery of a powerful imagination : we are obstinate, 
not to say selfish, and require to be urged over the abyss of mental 
anguish -by the utmost violence of terror and pity. But with the 
French, all this is a matter of course, a verbal process. Tears, as 
well as smiles, cost them less than they do us. Words are more 
nearly allied to things in their minds ; the one have a more vital 
being, though it does not follow that the other are altogether empty 
and barren of interest. But the French seem (in their dramatic 
exhibitions) not to wish to get beyond, or (shall I speak it more 
plainly?) to have no faculty for getting beyond the abstract con- 
ception, the naked proposition of the subject. They are a people 

' The French phrase for being present at a play is, to assist at it. It must be 
owned that there is some appearance of truth in the expression. 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

(I repeat it) void and bare of the faculty of imagination, if by this 
we mean the power of placing things in the most novel and striking 
point of view ; and they are so for this reason, that they have no need 
of it. It is to them a superfluity — a thankless toil. Their quick, 
discursive apprehension runs on before, and anticipates and defeats 
the efforts of the highest poetry. They are contented to indulge in 
all the agony or ecstacy of sounding and significant common-places. 
The words charming, delicious, indescribable. Sec. excite the same 
lively emotions in their minds as the most vivid representations of 
what is said to be so ; and hence verbiage and the cant of sentiment 
fill the place, and stop the road to genius — a vague, flaccid, enervated 
rhetoric being too often substituted for the pith and marrow of truth 
and nature. The greatest facility to feel or to comprehend will not 
produce the most intense passion, or the most electrical expression of 
it. There must be a resistance in the matter to do this — a collision, 
an obstacle to overcome. The torrent rushes with fury from being 
impeded in its course : the lightning splits the gnarled oak. There 
is no malice in this statement ; but I should think they may them- 
selves allow it to be an English version of the truth, containing a 
great deal that is favourable to them, with a saving clause for our own 
use. The long (and to us tiresome) speeches in French tragedy 
consist of a string of emphatic and well-balanced lines, announcing 
general maxims and indefinite sentiments applicable to human life. 
The poet seldom commits any excesses by giving way to his own 
imagination, or identifying himself with individual situations and 
sufferings. We are not now raised to the height of passion, now 
plunged into its lowest depths ; the whole finds its level, like 
water, in the liquid, yielding susceptibility of the French character, 
and in the unembarrassed scope of the French intellect. The finest 
line in Racine, that is, in French poetry, is by common consent 
understood to be the following : — 

Craignez Dieu, mon cher Abner, et ne craignez que Dieu. 

That is. Fear God, my dear Abner, and fear only him. A pious and 
just exhortation, it is true ; but, when this is referred to as the highest 
point of elevation to which their dramatic genius has aspired, though 
we may not be warranted in condemning their whole region of poetry 
as a barren waste, we may consider it as very nearly a level plain, 
and assert, that though the soil contains mines of useful truths within 
its bosom and glitters with the graces of a polished style, it does not 
abound in picturesque points of view or romantic interest ! It is 
certain that a thousand such lines would have no effect upon an 
English audience but to set them to sleep, like a sermon, or to make 
ii6 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

them commence a disturbance to avoid it. Yet, though the declama- 
tion of the French stage is as monotonous as the dialogue, the French 
listen to it with the tears in their eyes, holding in their breath, 
beating time to the cadence of the verse, and following the actors 
with a book in their hands for hours together. The English most 
assuredly do not pay the same attention to a play of Shakspeare's, or 
to any thing but a cock-fight or a sparring-match. This is no great 
compliment to them ; but it makes for the gravity of the French, who 
have mistaken didactic for dramatic poetry, who can sit out a play 
with the greatest patience and complacency, that an Englishman 
would hoot off the stage, or yawn over from beginning to end for its 
want of striking images and lively effect, and with whom Saturn is a 
God no less than Mercury ! I am inclined to suspect the genius of 
their religion may have something to do with the genius of their 
poetry. The first absorbs in a manner their powers of imagination, 
their love of the romantic and the marvellous, and leaves the last in 
possession of their sober reason and moral sense. Their churches 
are theatres ; their theatres are like churches. Their fancies are 
satiated with the mummeries and pageantry of the Catholic faith, with 
hieroglyphic obscurity and quaint devices ; and, when they come to 
the tangible ground of human affairs, they are willing to repose alike 
from ornament and extravagance, in plain language and intelligible 
ideas. They go to mass in the morning to dazzle their senses, and 
bewilder their imagination, and inflame their enthusiasm ; and they 
resort to the theatre in the evening to seek relief from superstitious 
intoxication in the prose of poetry, and from Gothic mysteries and 
gloom, in classic elegance and costume. Be this as it may, the love 
of the French for Racine is not a feeling of the moment, or left 
behind them at the theatres ; they can quote him by heart, and his 
sententious, admirable lines occupy the next place in their minds to 
their amatory poetry. There is nothing unpleasant in a French theatre 
but a certain infusion of soup-maigre into the composition of the air, 
(so that one inhales a kind of thin pottage,) and an oily dinginess 
in the complexions both of the men and women, which shews more 
by lamp-light. It is not true (as has been said) that their theatres 
are nearly dark, or that the men stand in the pit. It is true, none 
but men are admitted into it, but they have seats just the same as 
with us, and a curious custom of securing their places when they go 
out, by binding their handkerchiefs round them, so that at the end of 
the play the benches presented nothing but a row of knotted pocket 
handkerchiefs. Almost every one returned and sat out the enter- 
tainment, which was not a farce, but a sentimental comedy, and a 
very charming one too, founded on the somewhat national subject of 

ri7 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

a seduction by an English nobleman in France, and in which the fair 
sufFerer was represented by a young debutante, in natural expression 
and pathos little inferior to Miss Kelly, (as far as we can translate 
French into English nature,) but fatter and prettier. So much for 
their taste in theatricals, which does not incline wholly to puppet- 
shows and gew-gaws. The Theatre, in short, is the Throne of the 
French character, where it is mounted on its pedestal of pride, and 
seen to every advantage. I like to contemplate it there, for it 
reconciles me to them and to myself. It is a common and amicable 
ground on which we meet. Their tears are such as others shed — 
their interest in what happened three thousand years ago is not 
exclusively French. They are no longer a distinct race or caste, but 
human beings. To feel towards others as of a different species, is 
not the way to increase our respect for ourselves or human nature. 
Their defects and peculiarities, we may be almost sure, have corre- 
sponding opposite vices in us — the excellences are confined pretty 
much to what there is in common. 

The ordinary prejudice entertained on this subject in England is, 
that the French are little better than grown children — 

' Pleas'd with a feather — tickled with a straw — ' 

full of grimace and noise and shew, lively and pert, but with no turn 
or capacity for serious thought or continued attention of any kind, 
and hardly deserving the name of rational beings, any more than apes 
or jack-daws. They may laugh and talk more than the English ; 
but they read, and, I suspect, think more, taking them as a people. 
You see an apple-girl in Paris, sitting at a stall with her feet over a 
stove in the coldest weather, or defended from the sun by an umbrella, 
reading Racine or Voltaire. Who ever saw such a thing in London 
as a barrow-woman reading Shakspeare or Fielding ? You see a 
handsome, smart grisette at the back of every little shop or counter in 
Paris, if she is not at work, reading perhaps one of Marmontel's 
Tales, with all the absorption and delicate interest of a heroine of 
romance. Yet we make doleful complaints of the want of education 
among the common people, and of the want of reflection in the 
female character in France. There is something of the same turn 
for reading in Scotland ; but then where is the gaiety or the grace ? 
They are more sour and formal even than the English. The book- 
stalls all over Paris present a very delightful appearance. They 
contain neatly-bound, cheap, and portable editions of all their standard 
authors, which of itself refutes the charge of a want of the knowledge 
or taste for books. The French read with avidity whenever they 
can snatch the opportunity. They read standing in the open air, into 
ii8 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

which they are driven by the want of air at home. They read in 
garrets and in cellars. They read at one end of a counter, when 
a person is hammering a lock or a piece of cabinet-work at the other, 
without taking their eye from the book, or picking a quarrel with the 
person who is making the noise. Society is the school of education in 
France ; there is a transparency in their intellects as in their atmos- 
phere, which makes the communication of thought or sound more 
rapid and general. The farina of knowledge floats in the air, and 
circulates at random. Alas ! it ' quickens, even with blowing.' A 
perriwig-maker is an orator ; a fish-woman is a moralist ; a woman of 
fashion is a metaphysician, armed with all the topics ; a pretty woman 
in Paris, who was not also a Hue-stocking, would make little figure in 
the circles. It would be in vain for her to know how to dispose 
a knot of ribands or a bunch of flowers in her hair, unless she could 
arrange a critical and analytical argument in all the forms. It is 
nothing against her, if she excels in personal and mental accomplish- 
ments at the same time. This turn for literary or scientific topics in 
the women may indeed be accounted for in part from the modes of 
social intercourse in France ; but what does this very circumstance 
prove, but that an interchange of ideas is considered as one great 
charm in the society between men and women, and that the thirst of 
knowledge is not banished by a grosser passion ? Knowledge and 
reason, however, descend ; and where the women are philosophers, 
the men are not quite block-heads or petit-maitres. They are far from 
being the ignorant smatterers that we pretend. They are not back- 
ward at asking for reasons, nor slow in giving them. They have 
a theory for every thing, even for vice and folly. Their faces again 
are grave and serious when they are by themselves, as they are gay 
and animated in society. Their eyes have a vacant, absent stare ; 
their features set or lengthen all at once into ' the melancholy of 
Moorditch.' The Conducteur of the Diligence from Rouen confirmed 
me agreeably in my theory of the philosophical character of the 
French physiognomy. With large grey eyes and drooping eye-lids, 
prominent distended nostrils, a fine Fenelon expression of countenance, 
and a mouth open and eloquent, with furrowed lines twisted round it 
like whip-cord, he stood on the steps of the coach, and harangued to the 
gentlemen within on the betise of some voyageur Anglois with the air 
of a professor, and in a deep sonorous voice, worthy of an oration of 
Bossuet. I should like to hear a Yorkshire guard, with his bluff, 
red face, bristly bullet head, little peering eyes, round shoulders, and 
squeaking voice, ascend into an imaginary rostrum in this manner, 
wave a florid speculation in one hand, and hold fast by the coach-door 
with the other, or get beyond an oath, a hearty curse, or his shrewd 

119 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

country gibberish ! The face of the French soldiery is a face of 
great humanity — it is manly, sedate, thoughtful — it is equally free 
from fierceness and stupidity ; and it seems to bear in its eye defeat 
and victory, the eagle and the lilies ! I cannot help adding here, 
that a French gentleman (an Rentier) who lodges in the hotel 
opposite to me, passes his time in reading all the morning, dines, plays 
with his children after dinner, and takes a hand at backgammon with 
an old gouvernante in the evening. He does not figure away with a 
couple of horses in the streets like our English jocieys (who really are 
nothing without a footman behind them,) nor does his wife plague his 
life out to run after all the new sights. And yet they are from the 
country. This looks like domestic comfort and internal resources. 
How many disciples of Rousseau's Emilius are there in France at the 
present day ? I knew one twenty years ago. 

The French are a people who practise the arts and sciences 
naturally. A shoe-black is the artiste du jour (artist of the day,) and 
a rat-catcher approaches you under some insidious nom de guerre. 
Every thing is with them imposing, grave, important. « Except (it 
may be said) what really is so ; ' and it may be insinuated, that all 
their pretensions are equally idly mockery and grimace. Look, 
then, at their works of science and of art — the one the most compre- 
hensive and exact, the other the most laborious and finished in the 
world. What are their chemists, their astronomers, their naturalists, 
their painters, their sculptors ? If not the greatest and most inventive 
geniuses, the most accurate compilers, and the most severe students in 
their several departments. La Place, Lavoisier, Cuvier, David, 
Houdon, are not triflers or pretenders. In science, if we have 
discovered the principles, they have gone more into the details — in 
art we accuse them of being over-laboured, and of finishing too 
minutely and mechanically ; and they charge us (justly enough) with 
a want oijinesse, and with producing little more than rude sketches 
and abortive caricatures. Their frigid, anatomical inquiries — their 
studies after the antique, and acquaintance with all the professional 
and scientific branches of their art, are notorious — and the care with 
which they work up their draperies and back-grounds is obvious to 
every one, and a standing subject of complaint and ridicule to English 
artists and critics. Their refinement in art, I confess, consists chiefly 
in an attention to rules and details, but then it does imply an attention 
to these, which is contrary to our idea of the flighty French character. 
I remember, some years ago, a young French artist in the Louvre, 
who was making a chalk-drawing of a small Virgin and Child, by 
Leonardo da Vinci, and he took eleven weeks to complete it, sitting 
with his legs astride over a railing, looking up and talking to those 

1 20 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

about him — consulting their opinion as to his unwearied imperceptible 
progress — going to the iire to warm his hands, and returning to 
perfectionate himself \ There was a good deal of ' laborious foolery ' 
in all this, but still he kept on with it, and did not fly to fifty things 
one after the other. Another student had undertaken to copy the 
Titian's Mistress, and the method he took to do it was to parcel out 
his canvass into squares like an engraver ; after which he began very 
deliberately, not with the face or hair, but with the first square in the 
right-hand corner of the picture, containing a piece of an old table. 
He did not care where he began, so that he went through the whole 
regularly. C'est egal, is the common reply in all such cases. This 
continuity of purpose, without any great effort or deep interest, 
surprises an Englishman. We can do nothing without a strong motive, 
and without violent exertion. But it is this very circumstance 
probably that enables them to proceed : they take the matter quite 
easily, and have not the same load of anxious thought to bear up 
against, nor the same impatient eagerness to reach perfection at a 
single stride, to stop them midway. They have not the English air 
hanging at their backs, like the Old Man of the Sea at Sinbad's ! 
The same freedom from any thing like morbid humour assists them to 
plod on like the Dutch from mere phlegm, or to diverge into a variety 
of pursuits, which is still more natural to them. Horace Vernet has 
in the present Exhibition a portrait of a lady, (a rival to Sir T. 
Lawrence's) and close to it, a battle-piece, equal to Ward or Cooper. 
Who would not be a Parisian born, to attain excellence with the 
wish to succeed from mere confidence or indifference to success, to 
unite such a number of accomplishments, or be equally satisfied 
without a single one ! 

The English are over-hasty in supposing a certain lightness and 
petulance of manner in the French to be incompatible with sterling 
thought or steady application, and flatter themselves that not to be 
merry is to be wise. A French lady who had married an English- 
man remarkable for his dullness, used to apologise for his silence in 
company by incessantly repeating ' C'est toujours Locke, toujours 
Newton,' as if these were the subjects that occupied his thoughts. 
It is well we have these names to appeal to in all cases of emergency ; 
and as far as mere gravity is concerned, let these celebrated persons 
have been as wise as they would, they could not for the life of them 
have appeared duller or more stupid than the generality of their 
countrymen. The chief advantage I can find in the English over 
the French comes to this, that though slower, if they once take a 
thing up, they are longer in laying it down, provided it is a grievance 
or a sore subject. The reason is, that the French do not delight in 

IZI 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

grievances or in sore subjects ; and that the English delight in nothing 
else, and battle their way through them most manfully. Their forte is 
the disagreeable and repulsive. I think they would have fought the 
battle of Waterloo over again ! The English, besides being ' good 
haters,' are dogged and downright, and have no salvos for their 
self-love. Their vanity does not heal the wounds made in their 
pride. The French, on the contrary, are soon reconciled to fate, and 
so enamoured of their own idea, that nothing can put them out of 
conceit with it. Whatever their attachment to their country, to 
liberty or glory, they are not so affected by the loss of these as to 
make any desperate effort or sacrifice to recover them. Their 
continuity of feeling is such, as to be no enemy to a whole skin. 
They over-ran Europe like tigers, and defended their own territory like 
deer. They are a nation of heroes — on this side of martyrdom ! 



CHAPTER VI 

DIALOGUE, FRENCH AND ENGLISH 

French. — Have you seen the whole of our Exposition of the present 
year ? — 

English.^No, but I have looked over a good part of it. I have 
been much pleased with many of the pictures. As far as I can judge, 
or have a right to say so, I think your artists have improved within 
these few years. 

French. — -Perhaps so, occasionally, but we have not David and 
some others. 

English. — I cannot say that I miss him much. He had, I dare 
say, many excellences, but his faults were still more glaring, accord- 
ing to our insular notions of the art. Have you Guerin now ? He 
had just brought out his first picture of Phaedra and Hippolitus when 
I was in Paris formerly. It made a prodigious sensation at the time, 
and very great things were expected from him. 

French No, his works are not much spoken of. 

English. — The Hippolitus in the picture I speak of was very 
beautiful ; but the whole appeared too much cast in the mould of the 
antique, and it struck me then that there was a mannerism about 
it that did not augur favourably for his future progress, but denoted 
a premature perfection. What I like in your present Exhibition is, 
that you seem in a great measure to have left this academic manner, 
and to have adopted a more natural style. 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

French. — I do not exactly comprehend. 

English Why, you know the English complain of French art as 

too laboured and mechanical, as not allowing scope enough for genius 
and originality, as you retort upon us for being coarse and rustic. 

French. — Ah ! I understand. There is a picture in the English 
style ; the subject is a Greek massacre, by Rouget. It is an elauche. 
It is for effect. There is much spirit in the expression, and a bold- 
ness of execution, but every part is not finished. It is like a first 
sketch, or like the painting of the scenes at our theatres. He has 
another picture here. 

English. — Yes, of great merit in the same style of dashing, off- 
hand, explosive effect. He is something between our Ward and 
Haydon. But that is not what I mean. I do not wish you to 
exchange your vices for ours. We are not as yet models in the Fine 
Arts. I am only glad that you imitate us, as it is a sign you begin 
to feel a certain deficiency in yourselves. There is no necessity for 
grossness and extravagance, any more than for being finical or 
pedantic. Now there is a picture yonder, which I think has broken 
through the trammels of the modern French school, without forfeit- 
ing its just pretensions to classical history. It has the name of 
Drolling on it. What, pray, is the subject of it ? 

French. — It is Ulysses conducting Polyxena to the sacrifice. He has 
one much better at the Luxembourg. 

English. — I don't know ; I have not seen that, but this picture 
appears to me to be a very favourable specimen of the present French 
school. It has great force, considerable beauty, symmetry of form, 
and expression ; and it is animated flesh, not coloured stone. The 
action and gestures into which the figures throw themselves, seem the 
result of life and feeling, and not of putting casts after the antique into 
Opera attitudes, 

French. — We do not think much of that picture. It has not been 
perfected. 

English. — Perhaps it passes a certain conventional limit, and is 
borne away by the impulse of the subject; and of* that the most 
eminent among the French artists might be thought to be as much 
afraid as the old lady at Court was that her face would fall in pieces, 
if her features relaxed into a smile. The Ulysses is poor and stiff: 
the nurse might be finer ; but I like the faces of the two foremost 
figures much ; they are handsome, interesting, and the whole female 
group is alive and in motion. 

French. — What do you think of the picture by Gerard, No. 745, 
of the Meeting bet-ween Louis XIV. and the Spanish Ambassador ? It 
is greatly admired here. 

123 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

English. — It appeared to me (as I passed it just now) to be a 
picture of great bustle and spirit ; and it looks as if Iris had dipped 
her woof in it, the dresses are so gay and fine. Really, the show of 
variegated colours in the principal group is like a bed of tulips. 
That is certainly a capitally painted head of a priest stooping forward 
in a red cap and mantle. 

French. — And the youth near him no less. 

English. — The complexion has too much the texture of fruit. 

French. — But for the composition — the contrast between youth 
and age is so justly marked. Are you not struck with the figure of 
the Spanish Ambassador ? His black silk drapery is quite in the 
Italian style. 

English. — I thought Gerard had been chiefly admired for a certain 
delicacy of expression, more than for his colouring or costume. He 
was a favourite painter of the Empress Josephine. 

French. — But in the present subject there is not much scope for 
expression. 

English. — It is very true ; but in a picture of the same crowded 
and courtly character {The last Moments of Henry IV.,) the painter 
has contrived to introduce a great deal of beauty and tenderness of 
expression in the appearance of some of the youthful attendants. 
This is a more shewy and finely painted drawing-room picture ; but 
that appears to me to have more character in it. It has also the merit 
of being finished with great care. I think the French excel in small 
histories of the domestic or ornamental kind. Here, for instance, is 
a very pretty picture by Madame Hersent, 897, Louis XIV. taking 
leave of his Grand-child. It is well painted, the dresses are rich and 
correct — the monarch has a great deal of negligent dignity mixed 
with the feebleness of age, the contrast of innocence and freshness in 
the child is well-managed, and the attendants are decayed beauties 
and very confidential-looking persons of that period. One great 
charm of all historical subjects is, to carry us back to the scene and 
time, which this picture does. Probably from the Age and Court of 
Louis XVIII. to that of Louis xiv. it is not far for a French imagination 
to transport itself. 

French. — Monsieur, it is so far that we should never have got 
from the one to the other, if you had not helped us. 

English — So much the worse ! But do you not think that a clever 
picture of the Interior of a Gothic Ruin, 247, (Bouton.^) It seems 
to me as if the artist had been reading Sir Walter Scott. That 
lofty, ruinous cave looks out on the wintry sea from one of the 
Shetland Isles. There is a cold, desolate look of horror pervading it 
' Inventor of the Diorama, 

124 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

to the utmost extremity. But the finishing is, perhaps, somewhat too 
exact for so wild a scene. Has not the snow, lodged on the broken 
ledges of the rocks, a little of the appearance of the coat of candied 
sugar on a twelfth-cake ? But how comes the dog in possession of 
so smart a kennel ? It is said in the Catalogue, that by his barking 
he alarms his master, who saves the poor woman and her infant from 
perishing. Who would have thought that such a scene as this had 
a master ? 

French. — Dogs are necessary everywhere in France : there is no 
place that we can keep them out of. They are like the machines in 
ancient poetry — a part of every plot. Poodles are the true desires : 
they have ousted even the priests. They may soon set up a 
hierarchy of their own. They swarm, and are as filthy as an 
Egyptian religion. 

English. — But this is a house-dog, not a lap-dog. 

French. — There is no saying — but pass on. Is there any other 
picture that you like ? 

English. — Yes, I am much pleased with the one opposite, the 
Marriage of the Virgin, 268, by Mons. Caminade. It is both 
elegant and natural. The Virgin kneels in a simple and expressive 
attitude ; in the children there is a playful and healthy aspect, and 
the grouping is quite like a classic bas-relief. Perhaps, in this respect, 
it wants depth. Can you tell me, why French painting so much 
aiFects the qualities of sculpture in general, — flatness and formality in 
the groups, and hardness of outline in the single figures ? 

French. — I cannot answer that question, as it is some time since 
I left England, where I remained only ten months to perfect myself 
in the language. You probably think more highly of the next 
picture : The Establishment of the Enfans Trowoes, by M ? 

English. — I am afraid not ; for it has the old French flimsiness 
and flutter. The face of the Foundress resembles a shower of 
roseate tints. You may be sure, however, that the English in 
general will approve mightily of it, who like all subjects of charitable 
institutions. I heard an English lady just now in raptures with the 
naked children seated on the blankets, calling them affectionately, 
' poor little dears ! ' We like subjects of want, because they afford 
a relief to our own sense of comfortlessness, and subjects of 
benevolence, because they soothe our sense of self-importance — a 
feeling of which we stand greatly in need. 

French. — What is your opinion of the portrait of Louis xviii., by 
Gerard ? 

English. — It seems to have been painted after dinner, and as if his 
Majesty was uneasy in his seat — the boots might have been spared. 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

French. — We have a picture by one of your compatriots — the 
Chevalier Lawrence — 

English. — Yes, the portrait of a Lady, in the next room. It was 
accounted one of the best portraits in our Somerset-house Exhibition 
last summer. 

French. — But there is a portrait of a French Lady, placed as a 
companion to it, by Horace Vernet, which is thought better. 

English. — I have no doubt. But I believe, in England, the 
preference would be given the contrary way. 

French. — May I ask on what ground. Sir ? 

English. — Let me ask, did you ever happen to sit to have a cast of 
your head taken ? Because I conceive that precisely the same heated, 
smooth, oily, close, stifling feeling that one's face has just before 
the mask is taken off, is that which is conveyed by the texture and 
look of a finished French portrait, generally speaking, and by this in 
particular. I like the Head of a Lady, by Guerin (838), on the 
opposite side of the room, better. It is clear, cold, blue and white, 
with an airy attitude, and firm drawing. There is no attempt to 
smother one with dingy flesh rouged over. 

French. — But have you seen our miniatures ? The English 
miniatures, I imagine, are not good. 

English.^ — At least, we have a good many of them. I know an 
English critic, who would at least count you up thirty eminent 
English miniature-painters at a breath, — all first-rate geniuses ; so 
differently do we view these things on different sides of the Channel ! 
In truth, all miniatures must be much alike. There can be no such 
thing as an English miniature, that is, as a coarse, slovenly daub in 
little. We finish when we cannot help it. We do not volunteer a 
host of graces, like you ; but we can make a virtue of necessity. 
There was a Mr. Hayter, who painted resplendent miniatures, 
perfect mirrors of the highest heaven of beauty ; but he preferred the 
English liberty of sign-post painting in oil. I observe among your 
miniatures several enamels and copies from the Old Masters in the 
Louvre. Has not the coming to them the effect of looking through 
a window ? What a breadth, what a clearness, what a solidity ? 
How do you account for this superiority ? I do not say this 
invidiously, for I confess it is the same, whenever copies are 
introduced by stealth in our English Exhibition. 

French. — I perceive. Sir, you have a prejudice in favour of the 
English style of art. 

English. — None at all ; but I cannot think our faults any justifica- 
tion of yours, or yours of ours. For instance, here is a landscape by 
a countryman of mine, Mr. Constable (No. 358). Why then all 

126 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

this affectation of dashing lights and broken tints and straggling lumps 
of paint, which I dare say give the horrors to a consummate French 
artist? On the other hand, why do not your artists try to give 
something of the same green, fresh, and healthy look of living nature, 
without smearing coats of varnish over raw dabs of colour (as we 
do), tUl the composition resembles the ice breaking up in marshy 
ground after a frosty morning ? Depend upon it, in disputes about 
taste, as in other quarrels, there are faults on both sides. 
French. — The English style has effect, but it is gross. 
English. — True : yet in the inner rooms there are some water- 
colour landscapes, by Copley Fielding, which strike me as uniting 
effect with delicacy, particularly No. 360, with some beautiful trees 
fringing the fore-ground. I think our painters do best when they 
are cramped in the vehicle they employ. They are abusers of oil- 
colours. 

French. — I recollect the name ; but his works did not seem to 
me to be finished. 

English. — They are finished as nature is finished : that is, the 
details are to be found in them, though they do not obtrude them- 
selves. You French require every thing to be made out like pin's 
points or botanic specimens of leaves and trees. Your histories want 
life, and your landscapes air. I could have sworn the little fishing- 
piece (No. — ) was English. It is such a daub, and yet has such a 
feeling of out-of-door scenery in it. 

French. — You do not flatter us. But you allow our excellence in 
sculpture. 

English. — There is an admirable study of a little girl going into a 
bath, by Jacquot. It is so simple, true, and expressive, I thought it 
might be Chantry's. I cannot say I saw any others that pleased me. 
The Eurydice, by Nantreuil, is a French Eurydice. It is an elegantly- 
formed female, affecting trifling airs and graces in the agonies of 
death. Suppose we return to the pictures in the Green Room. 
There is nothing very remarkable here, except the portrait of an 
artist by himself, which looks for all the world as if it fed upon its 
own white lead. 

French. — Do you like that figure of a woman in one corner in the 
Massacre of the Innocents \ The artist has done all he could to 
propitiate the English taste. He has left his work in a sufficiently 
barbarous and unfinished state. 

English. — But he has taken pains to throw expression, originality, 
and breadth into it. With us it would be considered as a work of 
genius. I prefer it much to any thing by our artists of the same 
kind, both for the tone, the wild lofty character, and the unctuous 

127 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

freedom of the pencilling. There is a strange hurly-burly in the 
background, and a lurid tone over the whole picture. This is what 
we mean by imagination — giving the feeling that there is in nature. 
You mean by imagination the giving something out of it — such as the 
Nymph (No. — ) appearing to the River God. The young lady is 
a very charming transparency, or gauze-drawing ; and the River God 
is a sturdy wooden statue, painted over ; but I would ask you, is 
there any thing in the picture that takes you beyond a milliner's shop 
in the Palais-royal, or a tea-garden in the neighbourhood of St. 
Cloud ? The subject of Locusta poisoning a young sla-ue, by Figalon, 
is, I think, forcibly and well treated. The old sorceress is not an 
every day person. The French too seldom resort to the grace of 
Deformity. Yet how finely it tells ! They are more timid and 
fastidious than the ancients, whom they profess to imitate. There 
is one other large historical composition in the room which I am 
partial to ; and yet the faces, the manners, the colouring, every thing 
in it is French. It is the Henry the Fourth pardoning the peasants 
•who have supplied the besieged in Paris ivith food. That head of a 
young woman near the middle is particularly fine, and in the happiest 
style of French art. Its effect against the sky is picturesque; it 
is handsome, graceful, sensitive, and tinged with an agreeable 
florid hue. 

French. — But what is your opinion of Horace Vernet's Battle- 
piece ? 

English. — May I ask the subject ? 

French. — It is the battle of Mont-Mirail, after the return from 
Russia. 

English. — Good : I was sadly afraid it was the Battle of Mont 
St. Jean. We ought to blot it forever from our history, if we have 
been, or intend to be, free. But I did not know but some Frenchman 
might be found to stain his canvass with it, and present it to M. le 
Vicomte Chateaubriand. 

French. — But I speak of the painting. Sir. 

English. — It is something in the same style, but hardly so clever 
as the picture of the Queen's Trial, by Hayter. Did you see that 
when you were in London ? 

French. — No, Sir. 

English. — Then we cannot enter into the comparison. 

French. — That is true. 

English. — We never had a school of painting till the present day. 
Whether we have one at present, will be seen in the course of the 
winter. Yours flourished one hundred and fifty years ago. For, 
not to include Nicholas Poussin and Claude Lorraine in it, (names 

128 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

that belong to time and nature,) there were Philip Champagne, 
Jouvenet, Le Sueur, whose works are surely unequalled by the 
present race of artists, in colouring, in conception of the subject, in 
the imitation of nature, and in picturesque effect. As a proof of it, 
they become their places, and look well in the Louvre. A picture 
of David's would be an eye-sore there. You are familiar with 
their works ? 

French. — I have seen those masters, but there is an objection to 
passing into that part of the Louvre. 

English. — The air is, I own, different. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE LUXEMBOURG GALLERY 

Racine's poetry, and Shakspeare's, however wide apart, do not 
absolutely prove that the French and English are a distinct race of 
beings, who can never properly understand one another. But the 
Luxembourg Gallery, I think, settles this point forever — not in our 
favour, for we have nothing (thank God) to oppose to it, but 
decidedly against them, as a people incapable of any thing but the 
little, the affected, and extravagant in works of imagination and 
the Fine Arts. Poetry is but the language of feeling, and we may 
convey the same meaning in a different form of words. But in the 
language of painting, words become things ; and we cannot be mis- 
taken in the character of a nation, that, in thus expressing themselves, 
uniformly leave out certain elements of feeling, and greedily and 
ostentatiously insert others that they should not. The English have 
properly no school of art, (though they have one painter at least equal 
to Moli^re,) — we have here either done nothing worth speaking of, 
compared with our progress in other things, or our faults are those of 
negligence and rusticity. But the French have done their utmost 
to attain perfection, and they boast of having attained it. What they 
have done is, therefore, a fair specimen of what they can do. Their 
works contain undoubted proofs of labour, learning, power ; yet they 
are only the worse for all these, since, without a thorough knowledge 
of the scientific and mechanical part of their profession, as well as 
profound study, they never could have immortalized their want of 
taste and genius in the manner they have done. Their pictures at 
the Luxembourg are ' those faultless monsters which the art ne'er 
saw ' till now — the ' hand-writing on the wall,' which nothing can 
VOL. IX. : I 129 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

reverse. It has been said, that ' Vice to be hated needs but to be 
seen,' and the same rule holds good in natural as in moral deformity. 
It is a pity that some kind hand does not take an opportunity of 
giving to ashes this monument of their glory and their shame, but 
that it is important to preserve the proofs of such an anomaly in the 
history of the human mind as a generation of artists painting in this 
manner, and looking down upon the rest of the world as not even 
able to appreciate their paramount superiority in refinement and 
elegance. It is true, strangers know not what to make of them. 
The ignorant look at them with wonder — the more judicious, with 
pain and astonishment at the perversion of talents and industry. 
Still, they themselves go on, quoting one another's works, and 
parcelling out the excellences of the several pictures under different 
heads — pour les colons, pour le dessein, pour la composition, pour l' expres- 
sion, as if all the world were of accord on this subject, and Raphael 
had never been heard of. It is enough to stagger a nation, as well as 
an individual, in their admiration of their own accomplishments, when 
they find they have it all to themselves ; but the French are blind, 
insensible, incorrigible to the least hint of any thing like imperfection 
or absurdity. It is this want of self-knowledge, and incapacity to 
conceive of any thing beyond a certain conventional circle, that is 
the original sin — the incurable error of all their works of imagination. 
If Nature were a French courtezan or Opera-dancer, their poetry 
and painting would be the finest in the world. ^ 

The fault, then, that I should find with this Collection of Pictures 
is, that it is equally defective in the imitation of nature, which belongs 
to painting in general ; or in giving the soul of nature — expression, 
which belongs more particularly to history-painting. Their style of 
art is false from beginning to end, nor is it redeemed even by the 
vices of genius, originality, and splendour of appearance. It is at 
once tame and extravagant, laboured and without effect, repulsive to 
the senses and cold to the heart. Nor can it well be otherwise. It 
sets out on a wrong principle, and the farther it goes, nay, the more 
completely it succeeds in what it undertakes, the more inanimate, 
abortive, and unsatisfactory must be the performance. French paint- 
ing, in a word, is not to be considered as an independent art, or 
original language, coming immediately from nature, and appealing to 
it — it is a bad translation of sculpture into a language essentially 

' It is the same idle, inveterate self-complacency, the same limited compre- 
hension, that has been their ruin in every thing. Parisian exquisites could not 
conceive that it snowed in Russia, nor how it was possible for barbarians to 
bi'uouac in the Champs Elysees. But they have forgotten the circumstance 
altogether. Why should I remind them of it ? 
T30 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

incompatible with it. The French artists take plaster-casts from 
the antique, and colour them by a receipt ; they take plaster-casts and 
put them into action, and give expression to the features according to 
the traditional rules for composition and expression. This is the 
invariable process : we see the infallible results, which differ only 
according to the patience, the boldness, and ingenuity of the painter 
in departing from nature, and caricaturing his subject. 

For instance, let us take the Endymion of Girodet, No 57. It is 
a well-drawn, though somewhat effeminate Academy-figure. All 
the rest is what I have said. It is a waste of labour, an abuse of 
power. There is no repose in the attitude ; but the body, instead 
of being dissolved in an immortal sleep, seems half lifted up, so as to 
produce a balance of form, and to make a display of the symmetry 
of the proportions. Vanity here presides even over sleep. The head 
is turned on one side as if it had not belonged to the body (which it 
probably did not) and discovers a meagre, insignificant profile, hard 
and pinched up, without any of the genial glow of youth, or the calm, 
delighted expansion of the heavenly dream that hovered so long over 
it. The sharp edges of the features, like rims of tin, catch the moon- 
light, but do not reflect the benign aspect of the Goddess ! There is 
no feeling (not a particle) of the poetry of the subject. Then the 
colouring is not natural, is not beautiful, is not delicate, but that of a 
livid body, glittering in the moon-beams, or with a cloud of steel- 
filings, glimmering round it for a veil of light. It is not left as dead- 
colouring in an evidently unfinished state, or so as to make a blank for 
the imagination to fill up (as we see in Fuseli's pictures) ; but every 
part is worked up with malicious industry, not to represent flesh, but 
to be as like marble or polished steel as possible. There is no variety 
of tint, no reflected light, no massing, but merely the difference that 
is produced in a smooth and uniformly coloured surface, by the altera- 
tions proper to sculpture, which are given with a painful and oppressive 
sense of effort and of difficulty overcome. 

This is not a natural style. It is foppish and mechanical ; or just 
what might be expected from taking a piece of stone and attempting 
to colour it, not from nature, not from imagination or feeling, but 
from a mere wilful determination to supply the impressions of one 
sense from those of another, by dint of perseverance and a growing 
conceit of one's-self. There is, indeed, a progress to perfection ; 
for by the time the work is finished, it is a finished piece of arrogance 
and folly. If you are copying a yellow colour, and you resolve to 
make it blue, the more blue you make it, the more perfectly you 
succeed in your purpose ; but it is the less like yellow. So the 
more perfectly French a work of art is, the less it is like nature ! 

131 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

The French artists have imitated the presumption of the tyrant 
Mezentius, who wished to link dead bodies to living ones. — Again, 
in the same artist's picture oi Atala at the Tomb (which I think his 
best, and which would make a fine bas-relief i) the outline of the 
countenance of Atala is really noble, with a beautiful expression of 
calm resignation ; and the only fault to be found with it is, that, 
supported as the head is in the arms of the Priest, it has too much 
the look of a bust after the antique, that we see carried about the 
streets by the Italian plaster-cast-makers. Otherwise, it is a classical 
and felicitous stroke of French genius. They do well to paint Sleep, 
Death, Night, or to approach as near as they can to the verge of 
still-life, and leaden-eyed obscurity ! But what, I believe, is regarded 
as the master-piece of this artist, and what I have no objection to 
consider as the triumph of French sublimity and pathos, is his picture 
of the Deluge, No. 55. The national talent has here broken loose 
from the trammels of refinement and pedantry, and soars unconstrained 
to its native regions of extravagance and bombast. The English are 
willing to abide by this as a test. If there be in the whole of this 
gigantic picture of a gigantic subject any thing but distortion, mean- 
ness, extreme absurdity and brute force, we are altogether mistaken 
in our notions of the matter. Was it not enough to place that huge, 
unsightly skeleton of old age upon the shoulders of the son, who is 
climbing a tottering, overhanging precipice, but the farce of imposture 
and improbability must be systematically kept up by having the wife 
clinging to him in all the agony of the most preposterous theatrical 
affectation, and then the two children dangling to her like xhc fag-end 
of horror, and completing the chain of disgusting, because impractic- 
able and monstrous distress ? Quod sic mihi ostendis, incredulus odi. 
The principle of gravitation must be at an end, to make this picture 
endurable for a moment. All the effect depends on the fear of 
falling, and yet the figures could not remain suspended where they 
are for a single instant (but must be flung ' with hideous ruin and 
combustion down,' ) if they were any thing else but grisly phantoms. 
The terror is at once physical and preternatural. Instead of death- 
like stillness or desperate fortitude, preparing for inevitable fate, or 
hurrying from it with panic-fear at some uncertain opening, they have 
set themselves in a picturesque situation, to meet it under every 
disadvantage, playing off their antics like a family of tumblers at 
a fair, and exhibiting the horrid grimaces, the vulgar rage, cowardice, 
and impatience of the most wretched actors on a stage. The painter 
has, no doubt, ' accumulated horror on horror's head,' in straining 

' French pictures, to be thoroughly and unexceptionably good, ought to be 
/ra«j/attrfback again into sculpture, from which they are originally taken. 
132 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the credulity or harrowing up the feelings of the spectator to the 
utmost, and proving his want of conception no less by the exaggera- 
tion, than his want of invention by the monotony of his design. Real 
strength knows where to stop, because it is founded on truth and 
nature ; but extravagance and affectation have no bounds. They 
rush into the vacuum of thought and feeling, and commit every sort 
of outrage and excess,^ Neither in the landscape is there a more 
historic conception than in the actors on the scene. There is none 
of the keeping or unity that so remarkably characterizes Poussin's 
fine picture of the same subject, nor the sense of sullen, gradually 
coming fate. The waters do not rise slowly and heavily to the tops 
of the highest peaks, but dash tumultuously and violently down rocks 
and precipices. This is not the truth of the history, but it accords 
with the genius of the composition. I should think the painter 
might have received some hints from M. Chateaubriand for the 
conduct of it. It is in his frothy, fantastic, rhodomontade way — 
' It out-herods Herod ! ' 

David's pictures, after this, are tame and trite in the comparison ; 
they are not romantic or revolutionary, but they are completely 

' Yet they tax Shakspeare with grossneas and barbarity. There is nothing lilce 
this scene in all his plays, except Titus Andronicus, which is full of the same 
tragic exaggeration and tautology, I was walking out (this ist of October — a 
clear grey autumnal morning) in the gardens of the Tuileries, and seeing the long, 
tall avenue of trees before me that leads up to the barrier of Neuilly, it put me in 
mind of former times, of prints and pictures of the scenery and roads in foreign 
countries which I had been used to from a child, with the old-fashioned look of 
every thing around Paris, as if it were the year 1724, instead of 1824, till the 
view before me seemed to become part of a dream, or to transport me into past 
time, or to raise itself up in my imagination, like a picture in the * Pilgrim's 
Progress.* I wondered whether Buonaparte sometimes thought of this view when 
he was at St. Helena. I checked myself in this strain of speculation as over- 
charged and disproportioned to the occasion, according to the correct and elegant 
taste of the people where I was, when on a post opposite, I saw stuck up in large 
letters, * Pension de PUni'vers,* meaning a tenpenny ordinary. These are the people 
that are continually crying out against the extravagance and bombast of their 
neighbours. Their imagination runs to the ends of the universe, when it has 
nothing but words to carry — no people so magnificent, so prodigal of professions, 
so hyperbolical as they — add but meaning or a weight of feeling to them, and they 
complain bitterly of the load, and throw it ofF as barbarous, intolerable, Gothic, 
and uncouth. It is not the extravagance of the style, then, with which they 
quarrel, but the palpableness of the imagery which gives a blow to their slender 
intellectual stamina, or the accumulation of feeling about it with which they have 
not firmness or comprehension to grapple. ' Dip it in the ocean, and it will stand ' 
— says Sterne's barber of the buckle of his wig. They magnify trifles, con amort ; 
it is only when a poor struggling attempt is to be made to gain relief from the 
'perilous stulT that weighs upon the heart,* or to embody the swelling conceptions 
of the soul in remote and lofty images, that they shrink back with the timidity of 
women and the formality of pedants. 

'33 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

French ; they are in a little, finical manner, without beauty, grandeur, 
or effect. He has precision of outline and accuracy of costume'; 
but how small a part is this of high history ! In a scene like that 
of the Oath of the Horatii, or the Pass of Thermopyh, who would 
think of remarking the turn of an ancle, or the disposition of a piece 
of drapery, or the ornaments of a shield ? Yet one is quite at leisure 
to do this in looking at the pictures, without having one's thoughts 
called off by other and nobler interests. The attempts at expression 
are meagre and constrained, and the attitudes affected and theatrical. 
There is, however, a unity of design and an interlacing of shields 
and limbs, which seems to express one soul in the Horatii, to which 
considerable praise would be due, if they had more the look of 
heroes, and less that of petit-maitres. I do not wonder David does 
not like Rubens, tor he has none of the Fleming's bold, sweeping 
outline. He finishes the details very prettily and skilfully, but has 
no idea of giving magnitude or motion to the whole. His stern 
Romans and fierce Sabines look like young gentlemen brought up at 
a dancing or fencing school, and taking lessons in these several elegant 
exercises. What a fellow has he made of Romulus, standing in the 
act to strike with all the air of a modern dandy ! The women are 
in attitudes, and contribute to the eloquence of the scene. Here is a 
wife, (as we learn from the Catalogue) there a sister, here a mistress, 
there a grandmother with three infants. Thus are the episodes made 
out by a genealogical table of the relations of human life ! Such is 
the nature of French genius and invention, that they can never get 
out of leading-strings ! The figure of Brutus, in the picture of that 
subject, has a fine, manly, unaffected character. It has shrunk on 
one side to brood over its act, without any strut or philosophic 
ostentation, which was much to be dreaded. He is wrapt in gloomy 
thought, as in a mantle. Mr. Kean might have sat for this figure, 
for, in truth, it is every way like him. The group of women on 
the opposite side of the canvass, making a contrast by their lively 
colours and flimsy expression of grief, might have been spared. 
These pictures have, as we were told, been objected to for their 
too great display of the naked figure, in some instances bordering 
on indecency. The indecency (if so it is) is not in the nakedness 
of the figures, but in the barrenness of the artist's resources to clothe 
them with other attributes, and with genius as with a garment. If 
their souls had been laid bare as well as their limbs, their spirits 
would have shone through and concealed any outward deformity. 
Nobody complains of Michael Angelo's figures as wanting severity 
and decorum. 

Guerin's Phiedra and Hippolitus I have already treated of, and 

134 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

I see no reason to alter my opinion. It was just painted when I last 
saw it, and has lost some of its freshness and the gloss of novelty. 
Modem pictures have the art of very soon becoming old. What 
remains of it has the merit of very clever studies after the antique, 
arranged into a subject. The rest is not worth speaking of. A set 
of school-boys might as well come with their portfolios and chalk- 
drawings under their arms, and set up for a school of Fine Art. 
A great nation ought to know better, and either strike out some- 
thing original _/or others to imitate, or acknowledge that they have done 
nothing worthy of themselves. To arch an eye-brow, or to point 
a finger, is not to paint history. The study of nature can alone form 
the genuine artist. Any thing but this can only produce counterfeits. 
The tones and colours that feed the eye with beauty, the effects of 
light and shade, the soul speaking in the eyes or gasping on the lips, 
the groups that varying passion blends, these are the means by which 
nature reveals herself to the inspired gaze of genius, and that, 
treasured up and stamped by labour and study on the canvass, are 
the indispensable materials of historical composition. To take 
plaster-casts and add colour to them by an act of the will ; or to 
take the same brittle, inanimate, inflexible models, and put life and 
motion into them by mechanical and learned rules, is more than 
Prometheus or Iris could pretend to do. It is too much for French 
genius to achieve. To put a statue into motion, or to give appropriate, 
natural, and powerful expression to set features of any kind, is at all 
times difficult ; but, in the present instance, the difficulty is enhanced, 
till it amounts to a sort of contradiction in terms ; for it is proposed 
to engraft French character and expression (the only ones with which 
the artists are acquainted, or to which they can have access as living 
studies) on Greek forms and features. Two things more abhorrent 
in nature exist not. One of two consequences necessarily happens : 
either the original model is given literally and entire, without any 
attempt to disguise the awkward plagiarism, and inform it with a new 
character ; or if the artist, disdaining such servile trammels, strives 
to infuse his own conceptions of grace and grandeur into it, then the 
hero or God of antiquity comes down from his pedestal to strut a 
French dancing-master or tragedian. For simplicity and unexampled 
grace, we have impertinence and affectation ; for stoic gravity and 
majestic suffering, we have impatience, rage, womanish hysterics, 
and the utmost violence of frenzied distortion. French art (like all 
other national art) is either nothing, or a transcript of the national 
character. In the JEneas and Dido, of the same artist, the drawing, 
the costume, the ornaments, are correct and classical ; the toilette of 
the picture is well made ; the ^neas is not much more insipid than 

'35 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

the hero of Virgil, and there is an exceedingly pretty girl, (like a 
common French peasant girl,) a supposed attendant on the Queen. 
The only part of the picture in which he has attempted an extra- 
ordinary effect, and in which he has totally failed, is in the expres- 
sion of enamoured attention on the part of the Queen. Her eyes do 
not, ' like stars, shoot madly from their spheres,' but they seem to 
have no sort of business in her head, and make the doucereuse in a 
most edifying manner. You are attracted to the face at a distance 
by the beauty of the outline (which is Greek) and instantly repelled 
by the grossness of the filling up of the expression (which is French). 
The Clytemnestra is, I think, his chef-d'csuvre. She is a noble figure, 
beautiful in person, and deadly of purpose ; and there is that kind of 
breathless suppression of feeling, and noiseless moving on to her end, 
which the rigid style of French art is not ill-adapted to convey. 
But there is a strange tone of colouring thrown over the picture, 
which gives it the appearance of figures done in stained porcelain, or 
of an optical deception. There is nothing to remind you that the 
actors of the scene are of flesh and blood. They may be of steel 
or bronze, or glazed earthenware, or any other smooth, unfeeling 
substance. This hard, liny, metallic, tangible character is one of the 
great discriminating features of French painting, which arises partly 
from their habitual mode of study, partly from the want of an eye 
for nature, but chiefly, I think, from their craving after precise and 
definite ideas, in which, if there is the least flaw or inflection, their 
formal apprehension loses sight of them altogether, and cannot recover 
the clue. This incrusted, impenetrable, stifling appearance is not 
only unpleasant to the eye, but repels sympathy, and renders their 
pictures (what they have been asserted to be) negations equally of the 
essential qualities both of painting and sculpture. 

Of their want of ideal passion, or of the poetry of painting, and 
tendency to turn every thing either into comic or tragic pantomime, 
the picture of Cain after the Murder of Abel, by Paul Guerin, is a 
striking example. This composition does not want power. It would 
be disingenuous to say so. The artist has done what he meant in it. 
What, then, has he expressed ? The rage of a wild beast, or of a 
maniac gnashing his teeth, and rushing headlong down a precipice to 
give vent to a momentary frenzy ; not the fixed inward anguish of a 
man, withered by the curse of his Maker, and driven out into the 
wide universe with despair and solitude and unavailing remorse for 
his portion. The face of his wife, who appears crouched behind 
him, possesses great beauty and sweetness. But the sweetness and 
beauty are kept quite distinct. That is, grief absorbs some of the 
features, while others retain all their softness and serenity. This 

136 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

hypercriticism would not have been possible, if the painter had studied 
the expression of grief in nature. But he took a plaster-model, and 
tried to melt it into becoming woe ! 

I have said enough to explain my objections to the grand style of 
French art ; and I am sure I do not wish to pursue so unpleasant a 
subject any farther. I only wish to hint to my countrymen some 
excuse for not admiring these pictures, and to satisfy their neighbours 
that our want of enthusiasm is not wholly owing to barbarism and 
blindness to merit. It may be asked then, ' Is there nothing to praise 
in this collection ? ' Far from it. There are many things excellent 
and admirable, with the drawbacks already stated, and some others 
that are free from them. There is Le Thiere's picture of the 
Judgment of Brutus ; a manly, solid, and powerful composition, 
which was exhibited some years ago in London, and is, I think, 
decidedly superior to any of our West's. In Horace Vernet's 
Massacre of the Mamelukes, no English critic will deny the expression 
of gloomy ferocity in the countenance of the Sultan, or refuse to 
extol the painting of the drapery of the Negro, with his back to the 
spectator, which is, perhaps, equal to any thing of the Venetian 
School, and done (for a wager) from real drapery. Is not 'the 
human face divine ' as well worth studying in the original as the dyes 
and texture of a tunic ? A small picture, by Delacroix, taken from 
the Inferno, Virgil and Dante in the boat, is truly picturesque in the 
composition and the eifect, and shews a real eye for Rubens and for 
nature. The forms project, the colours are thrown into masses. 
Gerard's Cupid and Psyche is a beautiful little picture, and is indeed 
as beautiful, both in composition and expression, as any thing of the 
kind can well be imagined ; I mean, that it is done in its essential 
principles as a design from or for sculpture. The productions of the 
French school make better prints than pictures. Yet the best of 
them look like engravings from antique groups or cameos. ^ There 
is also a set of small pictures by Ducis, explaining the effects of Love 
on the study of Painting, SciJpture, and Poetry, taken from appro- 
priate subjects, and elegantly executed. Here French art appears in 
its natural character again, courtly and polished, and is proportionably 
attractive. Perhaps it had better lay aside the club of Hercules, and 
take up the distaff of Omphale ; and then the women might fairly 
beat the men out of the field, as they threaten almost to do at present. 

' The Orpheus and Eurydkt of Drolling 13 a performance of great merit. The 
females, floating in the air before Orpheus, are pale as lilies, and beautiful in death. 
But he need hardly despair, or run wild as he does. He may easily overtake them ; 
and as to vanishing, they have no appearance of it. Their figures are quite solid 
and determined in their outline. 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

The French excel in pieces of light gallantry and domestic humour, 
as the English do in interiors and pig-styes. This appears to me the 
comparative merit and real bias of the two nations, in what relates to 
the productions of the pencil ; but both will scorn the compliment, 
and one of them may write over the doors of their Academies of 
Art — ' Magnis excidit ausis.' The other cannot even say so much. 



CHAPTER VIII 

NATIONAL ANTIPATHIES 

The prejudice we entertain against foreigners is not in the first 
instance owing to any ill-will we bear them, so much as to the 
untractableness of the imagination, which cannot admit two standards 
of moral value according to circumstances, but is puzzled by the 
diversity of manners and character it observes, and made uneasy in its 
estimate of the propriety and excellence of its own. It seems that 
others ought to conform to our way of thinking, or we to theirs ; 
and as neither party is inclined to give up their peculiarities, we cut 
the knot by hating those who remind us of them. We get rid of 
any idle, half-formed, teazing, irksome sense of obligation to sym- 
pathise with or meet foreigners half way, by making the breach as 
wide as possible, and treating them as an inferior species of beings to 
ourselves. We become enemies, because we cannot be friends. Our 
self-love is annoyed by whatever creates a suspicion of our being in 
the wrong ; and only recovers its level by setting down all those who 
differ from us as thoroughly odious and contemptible. 

It is this consideration which makes the good qualities of other 
nations, in which they excel us, no set-oiF to their bad ones, in which 
they fall short of us ; nay, we can forgive the last much sooner than 
the first. The French being a dirty people is a complaint we very 
often bring against them. This objection alone, however, would 
give us very little disturbance ; we might make a wry face, an 
exclamation, and laugh it off. But when we find that they are lively, 
agreeable, and good-humoured in spite of their dirt, we then know 
not what to make of it. We are angry at seeing them enjoy them- 
selves in circumstances in which we should feel so uncomfortable ; 
we are baulked of the advantage we had promised ourselves over 
them, and make up for the disappointment by despising them heartily, 
as a people callous and insensible to every thing like common decency. 
In reading Captain Parry's account of the Esquimaux Indian woman, 

138 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

who so dexterously trimmed his lamp by licking up half the train-oil, 
and smearing her face and fingers all over with the grease, we barely 
smile at this trait of barbarism. It does not provoke a serious 
thought ; for it does not stagger us in our opinion of ourselves. But 
should a fine Parisian lady do the same thing (or something like it) 
in the midst of an eloquent harangue on the infinite superiority of the 
French in delicacy and refinement, we should hardly restrain our 
astonishment at the mixture of incorrigible grossness and vanity. 
Unable to answer her arguments, we should begin to hate her person : 
her gaiety and wit, which had probably delighted us before, would 
be changed into forwardness, flippancy, and impertinence ; from seeing 
it united with so many accomplishments, we should be led to doubt 
whether sluttishness was not a virtue, and should remove the doubt 
out of court by indulging a feeling of private resentment, and resorting 
to some epithet of national abuse. The mind wishes to pass an act 
of uniformity for all its judgments : in defiance of every day's ex- 
perience, it will have things of a piece, and where it cannot have every 
thing right or its own way, is determined to have it all wrong. 

A Frenchman, we will say, drops what we think a frivolous 
remark, which excites in us some slight degree of impatience : 
presently after, he makes a shrewd, sensible observation. This rather 
aggravates the mischief, than mends it ; for it throws us out in our 
calculations, and confounds the distinction between sense and nonsense 
in our minds. A volley of unmeaning declamation or frothy imperti- 
nence causes us less chagrin than a single word that overturns some 
assertion we had made, or puts us under the necessity of reversing, or 
imposes on us the still more unwelcome task of revising our con- 
clusions. It is easy in this case to save ourselves the trouble by 
calling our antagonist knave ot fool; and the temptation is too strong, 
when we have a whole host of national prejudices at our back to 
justify us in so concise and satisfactory a mode of reasoning. A 
greater fund of vivacity and agreeable qualities in our neighbours is 
not sure to excite simple gratitude or admiration ; it much oftener 
excites envy, and we are uneasy till we have quieted the sense of our 
deficiency by construing the liveliness of temper or invention, with 
which we cannot keep pace, into an excess of levity, and the con- 
tinued flow of animal spirits into a species of intoxicatidn or insanity. 
Because the French are animated and full of gesticulation, they are a 
theatrical people ; if they smile and are polite, they are like monkeys — 
an idea an Englishman never has out of his head, and it is well if he 
can keep it between his lips.i No one assuredly would appear dull 

^ See the admirably-drawn, but painful scene in Evelina between Captain 
Mervin and Monsieur Dubois. 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

and awkward, who can help it. Many an English belle, who figures 
at home in the first circles of fashion and is admired for her airy, 
thoughtless volubility, is struck dumb, and looks a mere dowdy (as if 
it were a voluntary or assumed transformation of character) the 
moment she sets foot on French ground ; and the whispered sounds, 
lourde or elle n'est pas spirituelle, lingering in her ears, will not induce 
her to dissuade her husband (if he is a Lord or Member of Parlia- 
ment) from voting for a French war, and are answered by the 
thunders of our cannon on the French coast ! We even quarrel 
with the beauty of French women, because it is not English. If 
their features are regular, we find fault with their complexions ; and 
as to their expression, we grow tired of that eternal smile upon their 
faces; though their teeth are white, why should they be always 
shewing them ? Their eyes have an unpleasant glitter about them ; 
and their eyebrows, which are frequently black and arched, are 
painted and put on ! In short, no individual, no nation is liked by 
another for the advantages it possesses over it in wit or wisdom, in 
happiness or virtue. We despise others for their inferiority, we hate 
them for their superiority ; and I see no likelihood of an accom- 
modation at this rate. The English go abroad; and when they 
come back, they brood over the civilities or the insults they have 
received with equal discontent. The gaiety of the Continent has 
thrown an additional damp upon their native air, and they wish to 
clear it by setting fire to a foreign town or blowing up a foreign 
citadel. We are then easy and comfortable for a while. We think 
we can do something, that is, violence and wrong ; and should others 
talk of retaliating, we say with Lord Bathurst, ' Let them come ! ' — 
our fingers tingling for the fray, and finding that nothing rouses us 
from our habitual stupor like hard blows. Defeated in the arts of 
peace, we get in good humour with ourselves by trying those of war. 
Ashamed to accost a lady, we dare face a bastion — without spirit to 
hold up our heads, we are too obstinate to turn our backs — and give 
ourselves credit for being the greatest nation in the world, because 
our Jack Tars (who defend the wooden walls of Old England — the 
same that we afterwards see with sore arms and wooden legs, begging 
and bawling about our streets) are the greatest blackguards on the 
face of the globe ; because our Life Guardsmen, who have no brains 
to lose, are willing to have them knocked out, and because with the 
incessant noise and stir of our steam-engines and spinning- jennies (for 
having no wish to enjoy, we are glad to work ourselves to death) we 
can afford to pay all costs ! 

What makes the matter worse, is the idle way in which we abstract 
upon one another's characters. We are struck only with the differ- 

140 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

ences, and leave the common qualities out of the question. This 
renders a mutual understanding hopeless. We put the exceptions for 
the rule. If we meet with any thing odd and absurd in France, it is 
immediately set down as French and characteristic of the country, 
though we meet with a thousand odd and disagreeable things every 
day in England (that we never met before) without taking any 
notice of them. There is a wonderful keeping in our prejudices ; we 
reason as consistently as absurdly upon the confined notions we have 
taken up. We put the good, wholesome, hearty, respectable qualities 
into one heap and call it English, and the bad, unwholesome, frivolous, 
and contemptible ones into another heap, and call it French ; and 
whatever does not answer to this pretended sample, we reject as 
spurious and partial evidence. Our coxcomb conceit stands over the 
different races of mankind, like a smart Serjeant of a regiment, and 
drills them into a pitiful uniformity, we ourselves being picked out as 
the elite du corps, and the rest of the world forming the forlorn hope 
of humanity. One would suppose, to judge from the conversation of 
the two nations, that all Frenchmen were alike, and that all English- 
men were personified by a particular individual, nicknamed John Bull. 
The French have no idea that there is any thing in England but 
roast-beef and plum-pudding, and a number of round, red faces, 
growing fat and stupid upon such kind of fare ; while our traditional 
notion of the French is that of soup-maigre and wooden shoes, and a 
set of scare-crow figures corresponding to them. All classes of 
society and differences of character are by this unfair process con- 
solidated into a sturdy, surly English yeoman on the one side of the 
Channel, or are boiled down and evaporate into a shivering, chattering 
valet-de-chambre, or miserable half-starved peasant on the other. It 
is a pleasant way of settling accounts and taking what we please for 
granted. It is a very old method of philosophizing, and one that is 
quite likely to last ! 

If we see a little old hump-backed withered Frenchman about five 
feet high, tottering on before us on a pair of spindle-shanks, with 
white thread stockings, a shabby great-coat, and his hair done up into 
a queue, his face dry, grey, and pinched up, his cheeks without blood 
in them, his eyes without lustre, and his body twisted like a cork- 
screw, we point to this grotesque figure as a true Frenchman, as the 
very essence of a Parisian, and an edifying vestige of the ancient 
regime and of the last age, before the French character was sophisti- 
cated. It does not signify that just before we had passed a bluff, 
red-faced, jolly-looking coachman or countryman, six feet four inches 
high, having limbs in proportion, and able to eat up any two ordinary 
Englishmen. This thumping make-weight is thrown out of the scale, 

141 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

because it does not help out our argument, or confirm our prejudices. 
This huge, raw-boned, heavy, knock-kneed, well-fed, shining-faced 
churl makes no impression on our minds, because he is not French, 
according to our idea of the word ; or we pass him over under the 
pretext that he ought to be an Englishman. But the other extreme 
we seize upon with avidity and delight ; we dandle it, we doat upon 
it, we make a puppet of it to the imagination ; we speak of it with 
glee, we quote it as a text, we try to make a caricature of it ; our 
pens itch to describe it as a complete specimen of the French nation, 
and as a convincing and satisfactory proof, that the English are the 
only people who are of sound mind and body, strong wind and limb, 
and free from the infirmities of a puny constitution, affectation, and 
old age ! An old woman in France, with wrinkles and a high- 
plaited cap, strikes us as being quite French, as if the old women in 
England did not wear night-caps, and were not wrinkled. In passing 
along the streets, or through the walks near Paris, we continually 
meet a gentleman and lady whom we take for English, and they turn 
out to be French ; or we fancy that they are French, and we find on 
a nearer approach, or from hearing them speak, that they are English. 
This does not at all satisfy us that there is no such marked difference 
between the two nations as we are led to expect ; but we fasten on 
the first luius tiatune we can find out as a striking representative of 
the universal French nation, and chuckle over and almost hug him to 
our bosoms as having kindly come to the relief of our wavering pre- 
judices, and as an undoubted proof of our superiority to such a set of 
abortions as this, and of our right to insult and lord it over them at 
pleasure! If an object of this kind (as it sometimes happens) asks 
charity with an air of briskness and politesse, and does not seem quite 
so wretched as we would have him, this is a further confirmation of 
our theory of the national conceit and self-sufficiency ; and his cheer- 
fulness and content under deformity and poverty are added to his 
catalogue of crimes ! i We have a very old and ridiculous fancy in 
England, that all Frenchmen are or ought to be lean, and their 
women short and crooked ; and when we see a great, fat, greasy 
Frenchman waddling along and ready to burst with good, living, we 
get off by saying that it is an unwholesome kind of fat ; or, if a 

1 A French dwarf, exhibited in London some years ago, and who had the mis- 
fortune to be born a mere trunk, grew enraged at the mention of another dwarf as 
a rival in bodily imperfection, and after insisting that the other had both hands 
and feet, exclaimed emphatically, ' Mais moi, je suis unique.' My old acquaintance 
(Dr. Stoddart) used formerly to recount this trait of French character very trium- 
phantly, but then it was in war-time. He may think it indecent to have here 
hinted any such thing of an individual of a nation with whom we are at peace. 
At present, he seems to have become a sort of portent and by-word himself among 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Frenchwoman happens to be tall and straight, we immediately take 
a disgust at her masculine looks, and ask if all the women in France 
are giantesses ? 

It is strange we cannot let other people alone who concern them- 
selves so little about us. Why measure them by our standard ? Can 
we allow nothing to exist for which we cannot account, or to be right 
which has not our previous sanction ? The difficulty seems to be 
to suspend our judgments, or to suppose a variety of causes to produce 
a variety of effects. All men must be alike — all Frenchmen must be 
alike. This is a portable theory, and suits our indolence well. But, 
if they do not happen to come exactly into our terms, we are angry, 
and transform them into beasts. Our first error lies in expecting a 
number of different things to tally with an abstract idea, or general 
denomination, and we next stigmatize every deviation from this 
standard by a nickname. A Spaniard, who has more gravity than 
an Englishman, is an owl ; a Frenchman, who has less, is a monkey. 
I confess, this last simile sticks a good deal in my throat ; and at 
times it requires a stretch of philosophy to keep it from rising to my 
lips. A walk on the Boulevards is not calculated to rid an English- 
man of all his prejudices or of all his spleen. The resemblance to an 
English promenade afterwards makes the difference more mortifying. 
There is room to breathe, a footpath on each side of the road, and trees 
over your head. But presently the appearance of a Bartlemy-fair all 
the year round, the number of little shabby stalls, the old iron, pastry, 
and children's toys ; the little white lapdogs, with red eyes, combing 
and washing ; the mud and the green trees, wafting alternate odours ; 
the old women sitting like terra-cotta figures ; the passengers running 
up against you, (most of them so taken up with themselves that they 
seem like a crowd of absent people ! ) the noise, the bustle, the flutter, 
the hurry without visible object; the vivacity without intelligible 
meaning ; the loud and incessant cry of * Messieurs ' from a bawling 
charlatan inviting you to some paltry, cheating game, and a broad 
stare or insignificant grin from the most ill-bred and ill-looking of the 
motley set at the appearance of an Englishman among them ; all this 
jumble of little teazing, fantastical, disagreeable, chaotic sensations 
really puts one's patience a little to the test, and throws one a little 

English politicians; and without head or heart may exclaim — ^ Mais mot, je suis 
unique I ' — See his late articles on the Spanish Refugees, &c. Would such a man 
have been any better, had he never turned renegade, or had he become {his first 
ambition) a revolutionary leader ? Would he not have been as blood-thirsty, as 
bigoted, as perverse and ridiculous on the side of the question he left, as on the 
one he has come over to ? It imports little what men are, so long as they are 
themsel'ves. The great misfortune of a certain class of persons (both for their own 
sake and that of others) is ever to have been born or heard of ! 

143 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

off one's guard. I was in this humour the other day, and wanted 
some object to conduct off a superfluity of rising irritability, when, at 
a painted booth opposite, I saw a great lubberly boy in an ecstacy of 
satisfaction. He had on a red coat, a huge wig of coarse yellow 
hair, and with his hat was beating a monkey in the face, dressed en 
militaire — grinning, jabbering, laughing, screaming, frantic with delight 
at the piteous aspect and peevish gestures of the animal ; while a tall 
showman, in a rusty blue coat and long pig-tail, (which might have 
been stolen from the monkey) looked on with severe complacency 
and a lofty pride in the bizarrerie, and the 'mutually reflected 
charities ' of the scene. The trio (I am vexed to think it) massed 
themselves in my imagination, and I was not sorry to look upon them 
as a little national group, well-matched, and tricked out alike in 
pretensions to huraanity.i 

I was relieved from this fit of misanthropy, by getting into the 
shade of the barrier-wall, and by meeting a man, (a common French 
mechanic,) carrying a child in his arms, and the mother by its side, 
clapping her hands at it, smiling, and calling out ' Mon petit ami ! ' 
with unmingled and unwearied delight. There was the same over- 
animation in talking to the child as there would have been in talking 
to a dog or a parrot. But here it gave pleasure instead of pain, 
because our sympathies went along with it. I change my opinion of 
the French character fifty times a day, because, at every step, I wish 
to form a theory, which at the next step, is contradicted. The 
ground seems to me so uncertain — the tenure by which I hold my 
opinions so frail, that at last I grow ashamed of them altogether — of 
what I think right, as of what I think wrong. 

To praise or to blame is perhaps equally an impertinence. While 
we are strangers to foreign manners and customs, we cannot be judges ; 
it would take almost a life to understand the reasons and the differ- 
ences ; and by the time we can be supposed to do this, we become 
used to them, and in some sense parties concerned. The English 
are the fools of an hypothesis, as the Scotch are of a system. We 
must have an opinion — right or wrong ; but, in that case, till we have 
the means of knowing whether it is right or wrong, it is as well to 
have a qualified one. We may at least keep our temper, and collect 
hints for self-correction ; we may amuse ourselves in collecting 

^ I remember being once mucb amused with meeting, in a hot dusty day, between 
Blenheim and Oxford, some strolling Italians with a troop of dancing dogs, and a 
monkey in costume mounted on the back of one of them. He rode en ca'valier, and 
kept his countenance with great gravity and decorum, and turned round with a 
certain look of surprise and resentment, that I, a foot-passenger, should seem to 
question his right to go on horseback. This seemed to me a fine piece of practical 
satire in the manner of Swift. 

'44 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

materials for a decision that may never be passed, or will have little 
effect, even when it is, and may clear our eyesight from the motes 
and beams of prejudice by looking at things as they occur. Our 
opinions have no great influence on others ; but the spirit in which 
we form them has a considerable one on our own happiness. It is of 
more importance to ourselves than to the French, what we think of 
them. It would be hard if a mental obliquity on their parts should 
' thrust us from a level consideration,' or some hasty offence taken at 
the outset should shut up our eyes, our ears, and understandings for 
the rest of a journey, that we have commenced for no other purpose 
than to be spectators of a new and shifting scene, and to have our 
faculties alike open to impressions of all sorts. 

What Englishman has not seen the Cemetery of Perc la Chaise ? 
What Englishman will undertake either to condemn or entirely 
approve it, unless he could enter completely into the minds of the 
French themselves? The approach to it (a little way out of Paris) 
is literally ' garlanded with flowers.' You imagine yourself in the 
neighbourhood of a wedding, a fair, or some holiday-festival. Women 
are sitting by the road-side or at their own doors, making chaplets of 
a sort of yellow flowers, which are gathered in the fields, baked, and 
will then last a French ' Forever.' They have taken ' the lean 
abhorred monster,' Death, and strewed him o'er and o'er with 
sweets ; they have made the grave a garden, a flower-bed, where all 
Paris reposes, the rich and the poor, the mean and the mighty, gay 
and laughing, and putting on a fair outside as in their lifetime. Death 
here seems life's playfellow, and grief and smiling content sit at one 
tomb together. Roses grow out of the clayey ground ; there is the 
urn for tears, the slender cross for faith to twine round ; the neat 
marble monument, the painted wreaths thrown upon it to freshen 
memory, and mark the hand of friendship. ' No black and melan- 
cholic yew-trees ' darken the scene, and add a studied gloom to it 
— no ugly death's heads or carved skeletons shock the sight. On 
the contrary, some pretty Ophelia, as general mourner, appears to 
have been playing her fancies over a nation's bier, to have been 
scattering ' pansies for thoughts, rue for remembrances.' But is not 
the expression of grief, like hers, a little too fantastical and light- 
headed ? Is it not too much like a childish game of Make-Believe ? 
Or does it not imply a certain want of strength of mind, as well as 
depth of feeling, thus to tamper with the extremity of woe, and 
varnish over the most serious contemplation of mortality I True 
sorrow is manly and decent, not eflfeminate or theatrical. The tomb 
is not a baby-house for the imagination to hang its idle ornaments and 
mimic finery in. To meet sad thoughts, and o/erpower or allay them 
VOL. IX. : K 145 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

by other lofty and tender ones, is right ; but to shun them altogether, 
to affect mirth in the midst of sighing, and divert the pangs of inward 
misfortune by something to catch the eye and tickle the sense, is what 
the English do not sympathize with. It is an advantage the French 
have over us. The fresh plants and trees that wave over our graves ; 
the cold marble that contains our ashes ; the secluded scene that 
collects the wandering thoughts ; the innocent, natural flowers that 
spring up, unconscious of our loss — objects like these at once 
cherish and soften our regrets ; but the petty daily offerings of con- 
dolence, the forced liveliness and the painted pride of the scene before 
us, are like galvanic attempts to recall the fleeting life— they neither 
flatter the dead nor become the living ! One of the most heartless 
and flimsy extravagances of the New Eloise, is the attempt made to 
dress up the daughter of Madame d'Orbe like Julia, and set her in 
her place at the table after her death. Is not the burying-ground of 
the Pere la Chaise tricked out and over-acted much on the same 
false principle, as if there were nothing sacred from impertinence and 
affectation ? I will not pretend to determine ; but to an English 
taste it is so. We see things too much, perhaps, on the dark side ; 
they see them too much (if that is possible) on the bright. Here is 
the tomb of Abelard and Eloise — immortal monument, immortal as 
the human heart and poet's verse can make it ! But it is slight, 
fantastic, of the olden time, and seems to shrink from the glare of 
daylight, or as if it would like to totter back to the old walls of the 
Paraclete, and bury its quaint devices and its hallowed inscriptions in 
shadowy twilight. It is, however, an affecting sight, and many a 
votive garland is sprinkled over it. Here is the tomb of Ney, (the 
double traitor) worthy of his fate and of his executioner ; — and of 
Massena and Kellerman. There are many others of great note, 
and some of the greatest names — Moli^re, Fontaine, De Lille. 
Chancellors and charlottiers lie mixed together, and announce them- 
selves with equal pomp. These people have as good an opinion of 
themselves after death as before it. You see a bust with a wreath 
or crown round its head — a strange piece of masquerade — and other 
tombs with a print or miniature of the deceased hanging to them ! 
Frequently a plain marble slab is laid down for the surviving relatives 
of the deceased, waiting its prey in expressive silence. This is 
making too free with death, and acknowledging a claim which 
requires no kind of light to be thrown upon it. We should visit the 
tombs of our friends with more soothing feelings, without marking 
out our own places beside them. But every French thought or 
sentiment must have an external emblem. The inscriptions are in 
general, however, simple and appropriate. I only remarked one to 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

which any exception could be taken ; it was a plain tribute of 
affection to some individual by his family, who professed to have 
' erected this modest monument to preserve his memory Jorever ! ' 
What a singular idea of modesty and eternity ! So the French, in 
the Catalogue of the Louvre, in 1803, after recounting the various 
transmigrations of the Apollo Belvidere in the last two thousand years 
(vain warnings of mutability ! ) observed, that it was at last placed in 
the Museum at Paris, ' to remain there forever.' Alas ! it has been 
gone these ten years. 



CHAPTER IX 

Mademoiselle Mars (of whom so much has been said) quite comes 
up to my idea of an accomplished comic actress. I do not know 
that she does more than this, or imparts a feeling of excellence that 
we never had before, and are at a loss how to account for afterwards 
(as was the case with our Mrs. Jordan and Mrs. Siddons in opposite 
departments,) but she answers exactly to a preconception in the mind, 
and leaves nothing wanting to our wishes. I had seen nothing of the 
kind on our stage for many years, and my satisfaction was the greater, 
as I had often longed to see it. The last English actress who shone 
in genteel comedy was Miss Farren, and she was just leaving the 
stage when I first became acquainted with it. She was said to be 
a faint copy of Mrs. Abington — but I seem to see her yet, glittering 
in the verge of the horizon, fluttering, gay, and airy, the ' elegant turn 
of her head,' the nodding plume of feathers, the gloves and fan, the 
careless mien, the provoking indifference — we have had nothing like 
it since, for I cannot admit that Miss O'Neil had the Lady-Tea%k air 
at all. Out of tragedy she was awkward and heavy. She could 
draw out a white, patient, pathetic pocket-handkerchief with great 
grace and simplicity ; she had no notion of flirting a fan. The rule 
here is to do every thing without effort — 

' Flavia the least and slightest toy 
Can with resistless art employ.' 

This art is lost among us ; the French still have it in very considerable 
perfection. Really, it is a fine thing to see Moli^re's Misanthrope, 
at the Theatre Frangais, with Mademoiselle Mars as Celimene. I 
had already seen some very tolerable acting at the minor French 
Theatres, but I remained sceptical ; I still had my English scruples 
hanging about me, nor could I get quite reconciled to the French 
manner. For mannerism is not excellence. It might be good, but I 

'47 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

was not sure of it. Whatever one hesitates about in this way, is not 
the best. If a thing is first-rate, you see it at once, or the fault is 
yours. True genius will always get the better of our local prejudices, 
for it has already surmounted its own. For this reason, one becomes 
an immediate convert to the excellence of the French school of 
serious comedy. Their actors have lost little or nothing of their 
spirit, tact, or skill in embodying the wit and sense of their favourite 
authors. The most successful passages do not interfere with our 
admiration of the best samples of English acting, or run counter to 
our notions of propriety. That which we thought well done among 
ourselves, we here see as well or better done ; that which we 
thought defective, avoided. The excellence or even superiority of 
the French over us only confirms the justness of our taste. If the 
actor might feel some jealousy, the ci'itic can feel none. What 
Englishman does not read Moli^re with pleasure ? Is it not a 
treat then to see him well acted ? There is nothing to recall our 
national antipathies, and we are glad to part with such unpleasant 
guests. 

The curtain is scarcely drawn up, when something of this effect 
is produced in the play I have mentioned, and the entrance of 
Mademoiselle Mars decides it. Her few first simple sentences — her 
' Mon Arm ' at her lover's first ridiculous suggestion, the mingled 
surprise, displeasure, and tenderness in the tone — her little peering 
eyes, full of languor and archness of meaning — the peaked nose and 
thin compressed lips, opening into an intelligent, cordial smile — her 
self-possession — her slightest gesture — the ease and rapidity of her 
utterance, every word of which is perfectly distinct — the playful, 
wondering good-nature with which she humours the Misanthrope's 
eccentricities throughout, and the finer tone of sense and feeling in 
which she rejects his final proposal, must stamp her a favourite with 
the English as well as with the French part of the audience. I 
cannot see why that should not be the case. She is all life and spirit. 
Would we be thought entirely without them ? She has a thorough 
understanding and relish of her author's text. So, we think, have 
we. She has character, expression, decision — they are the very 
things we pique ourselves upon. Ease, grace, propriety — we aspire 
to them, if we have them not. She is free from the simagrees, 
the unmeaning petulance and petty affectation that we reproach the 
French with, and has none of the awkwardness, insipidity, or vulgarity 
that we are so ready to quarrel with at home. It would be strange 
if the English did not admire her as much as they profess to do. I 
have seen but one book of travels in which she was abused, and that 
was written by a Scotchman ! Mademoiselle Mars is neither hand- 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

some nor delicately formed. She has not the light airy grace, nor 
the evanescent fragility of appearance that distinguished Miss Farren, 
but more point and meaning, or more of the intellectual part of 
comedy. 

She was admirably supported in Celimene. Monsieur Damas 
played the hero of the Misanthrope, and played it with a force and 
natural freedom which I had no conception of as belonging to the 
French stage. If they drawl out their tragic rhymes into an endless 
sing-song, they cut up their comic verses into mincemeat. The pauses, 
the emphasis, are left quite ad libitum, and are as sudden and varied 
as in the most familiar or passionate conversation. In Racine they 
are obliged to make an effort to get out of themselves, and are solemn 
and well-behaved ; in MoliSre they are at home, and commit all sorts 
of extravagances with wonderful alacrity and effect. Heroes in 
comedy, pedants in tragedy, they are greatest on small occasions ; 
and their most brilliant efforts arise out of the ground of common life. 
Monsieur Damas's personification of the Misanthrope appeared to me 
masterly. He had apparently been chosen to fill the part for his 
ugliness ; but he played the lover and the fanatic with remarkable 
skill, nature, good-breeding, and disordered passion. The rapidity, 
the vehemence of his utterance and gestures, the transitions from one 
feeling to another, the fond rapture, the despair, the rage, the sarcastic 
coolness, the dignified contempt, were much in the style of our most 
violent tragic representations, and such as we do not see in our serious 
comedy or in French tragedy. The way in which this philosophic 
madman gave a loose to the expression of his feelings, when he first 
suspects the fidelity of his mistress, when he quarrels with her, and 
when he is reconciled to her, was strikingly affecting. It was a 
regular furious scolding-bout, with the ordinary accompaniments of 
tears, screams, and hysterics. A comic actor with us would have 
made the part insipid and genteel ; a tragic one with them pompous 
and affected. At Drury-lane, Mr. Powell would take the part. 
Our fine gentlemen are walking suits of clothes ; their tragic per- 
formers are a professor's gown and wig : the Misanthrope of Moliire, 
as Monsieur Damas plays it, is a true orator and man of genius. If 
they pour the oil of decorum over the loftier waves of tragedy, their 
sentimental comedy is like a puddle in a storm. The whole was 
admirably cast, and ought to make the English ashamed of them- 
selves, if they are not above attending to any thing that can give 
pleasure to themselves or other people. Arsinoe, the friend and rival 

of Celimlne, was played by Madame , a ripe, full-blown beauty, 

a prude, the redundancies of whose person and passions are kept in 
due bounds by tight lacing and lessons of morality. Eliante was a 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Mademoiselle Menjaud, a very aimable-looking young person, and 
exactly fitted to be an eleve in this School for Scandal. She smiled 
and blushed and lisped mischief in the prettiest manner imaginable. 
The man who comes to read his Sonnet to Alceste was inimitable. 
His teeth had an enamel, his lips a vermilion, his eyes a brilliancy, his 
smile a self-complacency, such as never met in poet or in peer, since 
Revolutions and Reviews came into fashion. He seemed to have 
been preserved in a glass-case for the last hundred and fifty years, and 
to have walked out of it in these degenerate days, dressed in brocade, 
in smiles and self-conceit, to give the world assurance of what a 
Frenchman was ! Philinte was also one of those prosing confidants, 
with grim features, and profound gravity, that are to be found in all 
French plays, and who, by their patient attention to a speech of half 
an hour long, acquire an undoubted right to make one of equal length 
in return. When they were all drawn up in battle-array, in the scene 
near the beginning, which Sheridan has copied, it presented a very 
formidable aspect indeed, and the effect was an historical deception. 
You forgot you were sitting at a play at all, and fancied yourself 
transported to the court or age of Louis xiv. ! — Blest period! — the 
triumph of folly and of France, when, instead of poring over systems 
of philosophy, the world lived in a round of impertinence — when to 
talk nonsense was wit, to listen to it politeness — when men thought 
of nothing but themselves, and turned their heads with dress instead 
of the affairs of Europe — when the smile of greatness was felicity, 
the smile of beauty Elysium — and when men drank the brimming 
nectar of self-applause, instead of waiting for the opinion of the 
reading public ! Who would not fling himself back to this period of 
idle enchantment ? But as we cannot, the best substitute for it is to 
see a comedy of Moli^re's acted at the Theatre Fran5ais. The 
thing is there imitated to the life. 

After all, there is something sufficiently absurd and improbable in 
this play. The character from which it takes its title is not well 
made out. A misanthrope and a philanthropist are the same thing, 
as Rousseau has so well shewn in his admirable criticism on this piece. 
Besides, what can be so nationally characteristic as the voluntary or 
dramatic transfers of passion in it ? Alceste suspects his mistress's 
truth, and makes an abrupt and violent declaration of love to another 
woman in consequence, as if the passion (in French) went along with 
the speech, and our feelings could take any direction at pleasure 
which we bethought ourselves of giving them. And then again, 
when after a number of outrages and blunders committed by himself, 
he finds he is in the wrong, and that he ought to be satisfied with 
Celimene and the world, which turns out no worse than he always 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

thought it ; he takes, in pure spite and the spirit of contradiction, the 
resolution to quit her forever, unless she will agree to go and live 
with him in a wilderness. This is not misanthropy, but sheer 
' midsummer madness.' It is a mere idle abstract determination to 
be miserable, and to make others so, and not the desperate resource 
of bitter disappointment (for he has received none) nor is it in the 
least warranted by the proud indignation of a worthy sensible man at 
the follies of the world (which character Alceste is at first represented 
to be). It is a gratuitous start of French imagination, which is still 
in extremes, and ever in the wrong. Why, I would ask, must a man 
be either a mere courtier and man of the world, pliant to every 
custom, or a mere enthusiast and maniac, absolved from common 
sense and reason ? Why could not the hero of the piece be a 
philosopher, a satirist, a railer at mankind in general, and yet marry 
Celimene, with whom he is in love, and who has proved herself 
worthy of his regard ? The extravagance of Timon is tame and 
reasonable to this, for Timon had been ruined by his faith in mankind, 
whom he shuns. Yet the French would consider Timon as a very 
farouche and outre sort of personage. To be hurried into extremities 
by extreme suffering and wrong, is with them absurd and shocking : 
to play the fool without a motive or in virtue of making a set speech, 
they think in character and keeping. So far, to be sure, we differ in 
the first principles of dramatic composition. A similar remark might 
be made on the Tartuffe. This character is detected over and over 
again in acts of the most barefaced profligacy and imposture ; he 
makes a fine speech on the occasion, and Orgon very quietly puts the 
offence in his pocket. This credulity to verbal professions would be 
tolerated on no stage but the French, as natural or probable. Plain 
English practical good sense would revolt at it as a monstrous fiction. 
But the French are so fond of hearing themselves talk, that they take 
a sort of interest (by proxy) in whatever affords an opportunity for 
an ingenious and prolix harangue, and attend to the dialogue of their 
plays, as they might to the long-winded intricacies of a law-suit. Mr. 
Bartolino Saddletree would have assisted admirably at a genuine 
prosing French Comedy. 

Mademoiselle Mars played also in the afterpiece, a sort of shadowy 
Catherine and Petruchio. She is less at home in the romp than in the 
fine lady. She did not give herself up to the ' whole loosened soul ' 
of farce, nor was there the rich laugh, the sullen caprice, the childish 
delight and astonishment in the part, that Mrs. Jordan would have 
thrown into it. Mrs. Orger would have done it almost as well. 
There was a dryness and restraint, as if there was a constant dread of 
running into caricature. The outline was correct, but the filling up 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

was not bold or luxuriant. There is a tendency in the lighter French 
comedy to a certain jejuneness of manner, such as we see in litho- 
graphic prints. They do not give full swing to the march of the 
humour, just as in their short, tripping walk they seem to have their 
legs tied. Madame Marsan is in this respect superior. There was 
an old man and woman in the same piece, in whom the quaint 
drollery of a couple of veteran retainers in the service of a French 
family was capitally expressed. The humour of Shakspeare's play, 
as far as it was extracted, hit very well. — The behaviour of the 
audience was throughout exemplary. There was no crowd at the 
door, though the house was as full as it could hold ; and indeed most 
of the places are bespoke, whenever any of their standard pieces are 
performed. The attention never flags ; and the buzz of eager 
expectation and call for silence, when the curtain draws up, is just 
the same as with us when an Opera is about to be performed, or a 
song to be sung. A French audience are like flies caught in treacle. 
Their wings are clogged, and it is all over with their friskings and 
vagaries. Their bodies and their minds set at once. They have, in 
fact, a national theatre and a national literature, which we have not. 
Even well-informed people among us hardly know the difference 
between Otway and Shakspeare ; and if a person has a fancy for any 
of our elder classics, he may have it to himself for what the public 
cares. The French, on the contrary, know and value their best 
authors. They have MoliSre and Racine by heart — they come to 
their plays as to an intellectual treat ; and their beauties are reflected 
in a thousand minds around you, as you see your face at every turn in 
the Cafe des Milles-Colonnes. A great author or actor is really in 
France what one fancies them in England, before one knows any 
thing of the world as it is called. It is a pity we should set ourselves 
up as the only reading or reflecting people — ut lucus a non lucendo.^ 
But we have here no oranges in the pit, no cry of porter and cider, 
no jack-tars to encore Mr. Braham three times in ' The Death of 
Abercrombie,' and no play-bills. This last is a great inconvenience 
to strangers, and is what one would not expect from a play-going 

^ Mr. Wordsworth, in some fine lines, reproaches the French with having ' no 
single volume paramount, no master-spirit' — 

* But equally a want of books and men,' 

I wish he would shew any single author that exercises such a 'paramount* 
influence over the minds of the English, as four or five * master-spirits * do on 
those of the French. The merit is not here the question, but tlie effect pro- 
duced. He himself is not a very striking example of the sanguine enthusiasm 
with which his countrymen identify themselves with works of great and original 
genius ! 
152 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

people ; though it probably arises from that very circumstance, as 
they are too well acquainted with the actors and pieces to need a 
prompter. They are not accidental spectators, but constant visitors, 
and may be considered as behind the scenes. 

I saw three very clever comic actors at the Theatre des Varietes 
on the Boulevards, all quite different from each other, but quite 
French. One was Le Peintre, who acted a master-printer ; and he 
was a master-printer, so bare, so dingy, and so wan, that he might be 
supposed to have lived on printer's ink and on a crust of dry bread 
cut with an oniony knife. The resemblance to familiar life was so 
complete and so habitual, as to take away the sense of imitation or 
the pleasure of the deception. Another was Odry, (I believe,) who 
with his blue coat, gold-laced hat, and corpulent belly, resembled a 
jolly, swaggering, good-humoured parish-officer, or the boatswain of 
an English man-of-war. His eclats de rire, the giddy way in which he 
ran about the stage (like an overgrown schoolboy), his extravagant 
noises, and his gabbling and face-making were, however, quite in the 
French style. A fat, pursy Englishman, acting the droll in this 
manner, would be thought drunk or mad ; the Frenchman was only 
gay ! Monsieur Potier played an old lover, and, till he was drest, 
looked like an old French cook-shop keeper. The old beau trans- 
pired through his finery afterwards. But, though the part was 
admirably understood, the ridicule was carried too far. This person 
was too meagre, his whisper too inaudible, his attempts at gallantry 
too feeble and vapid, and the whole too much an exhibition of mere 
physical decay to make the satire pleasant. There should be at least 
some revival of the dead ; the taper of love ought to throw out an 
expiring gleam. In the song in praise of Love he threw a certain 
romantic air into the words, warbling them in a faint demi-voix, and 
with the last sigh of a youthful enthusiasm fluttering on his lips. 
This was charming. I could not help taking notice, that during his 
breakfast, and while he is sipping his coffee, he never once ceases 
talking to his valet the whole time. The concluding scene, in which, 
after kneeling to his mistress, he is unable to rise again without the 
help of his nephew, who surprises him in this situation, and who is 
also his rival, is very amusing.^ The songs at this theatre are very 
pleasing and light, but so short, that they are over almost as soon as 
begun, and before your ears have a mouthjul of sound. This is very 
tantalizing to us; but the French seem impatient to have the dialogue 

* The same circnmstance literally happened to Gibbon, though from a different 
cause. He fell on his knees before a Swiss lady (1 think a Mademoiselle 
d'lvernois,) and was so fat he could not rise. She left him in this posture, and 
sent in a servant to help him up, 

IS3 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

go on again, in which they may suppose themselves to have a share. 
I wanted to see Brunet, but did not. 

Talma and Mademoiselle Georges (the great props of French 
tragedy) are not at present here. Talma is at Lyons, and Made- 
moiselle Georges has retired on n pique into the country, in the 
manner of some English actresses. I had seen them both formerly, 
and should have liked to see them again. Talma has little of the 
formal automaton style in his acting. He has indeed that common 
fault in his countrymen of speaking as if he had swallowed a handful 
of snuff; but in spite of this, there is great emphasis and energy in 
his enunciation, a just conception, and an impressive representation of 
character. He comes more in contact with nature than our Kemble- 
school, with more of dignity than the antagonist one. There is a 
dumb eloquence in his gestures. In (Edipus, I remember his raising 
his hands above his head, as if some appalling weight were falling on 
him to crush him ; and in the Philoctetes, the expression of excruciating 
pain was of that mixed mental and physical kind, which is so 
irresistibly affecting in reading the original Greek play, which Racine 
has paraphrased very finely. The sounds of his despair and the 
complaints of his desolate situation were so thrilling, that you might 
almost fancy you heard the wild waves moan an answer to them. 
Mademoiselle Georges (who gave recitations in London in 1817) 
was, at the time I saw her, a very remarkable person. She was 
exceedingly beautiful, and exceedingly fat. Her fine handsome 
features had the regularity of an antique statue, with the roundness 
and softness of infancy. Her well-proportioned arms (swelled out 
into the largest dimensions) tapered down to a delicate baby-hand. 
With such a disadvantage there was no want of grace or flexibility in 
her movements. Her voice had also great sweetness and compass. 
It either sunk into the softest accents of tremulous plaintiveness, or 
rose in thunder. The effect was surprising ; and one was not 
altogether reconciled to it at first. She plays at the Odeon, and has 
a rival at the Theatre Fran5ais, Madame Paradol, who is very like 
her in person. She is an immense woman ; when I saw her, I 
thought it was Mademoiselle Georges fallen away ! There are some 
other tragic actresses here, with the prim airs of a French milliner 
forty years ago, the hardiesse of a battered gou-vernante, and the brazen 
lungs of a drum-major. Mademoiselle Duchesnois I have not had 
an opportunity of seeing. 



154 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 



CHAPTER X 

Paris is a beast of a city to be in — to those who cannot get out of it. 
Rousseau said well, that all the time he was in it, he was only trying 
how he should leave it. It would still bear Rabelais' double etymo- 
logyof Par-ris and Lutetia.^ There is not a place in it where you 
can set your foot in peace or comfort, unless you can take refuge in 
one of their hotels, where you are locked up as in an old-fashioned 
citadel, without any of the dignity of romance. Stir out of It, and 
you are in danger of being run over every instant. Either you must 
be looking behind you the whole time, so as to be in perpetual fear of 
their hackney-coaches and cabriolets ; or, if you summon resolution, 
and put off the evil to the last moment, they come up against you 
with a sudden acceleration of pace and a thundering noise, that 
dislocates your nervous system, till you are brought to yourself by 
having the same startling process repeated. Fancy yourself in 
London with the footpath taken away, so that you are forced to 
walk along the middle of the streets with a dirty gutter running 
through them, fighting your way through coaches, waggons, and hand- 
carts trundled along by large mastiff-dogs, with the houses twice as 
high, greasy holes for shop-windows, and piles of wood, green-stalls, 
and wheelbarrows placed at the doors, and the contents of wash-hand 
basins pouring out of a dozen stories — fancy all this and worse, and, 
with a change of scene, you are in Paris. The continual panic in 
which the passenger is kept, the alarm and the escape from it, the 
anger and the laughter at it, must have an effect on the Parisian 
character, and tend to make it the whiffling, skittish, snappish, 
volatile, inconsequential, unmeaning thing it is. The coachmen 
nearly drive over you in the streets, because they would not mind 
being driven over themselves — that is, they would have no fear of it 
the moment before, and would forget it the moment after. If an 
Englishman turns round, is angry, and complains, he is laughed at as 
a blockhead ; and you must submit to be rode over in your national 
character. A horseman makes his horse curvet and capriole right 
before you, because he has no notion how an English lady, who is 
passing, can be nervous. They run up against you in the street out 
of mere heedlessness and hurry, and when you expect to have a 
quarrel (as would be the case in England) make you a low bow and 

' The fronts of the houses and of many of the finest buildings seem (so to speak) 
to have been composed in mud, and translated into stone — so little projection, 
relief, or airiness have they. They have a look of being stuck together. 

I5S 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

slip on one side, to shew their politeness. The very walk of the 
Parisians, that light, jerking, fidgetting trip on which they pride 
themselves, and think it grace and spirit, is the effect of the awkward 
construction of their streets, or of the round, flat, slippery stones, over 
which you are obliged to make your way on tiptoe, as over a succes- 
sion of stepping-stones, and where natural ease and steadiness are out 
of the question. On the same principle, French women shew their 
legs (it is a pity, for they are often handsome, and a stolen glimpse of 
them would sometimes be charming) sooner than get draggle-tailed; 
and you see an old French beau generally walk like a crab nearly 
sideways, from having been so often stuck up in a lateral position 
between a coach-wheel, that threatened the wholeness of his bones, 
and a stone-wall that might endanger the cleanliness of his person. 
In winter, you are splashed all over with the nnud; in summer, you 
are knocked down with the smells. If you pass along the middle of 
the street, you are hurried out of breath ; if on one side, you must 
pick your way no less cautiously. Paris is a vast pile of tall and 
dirty alleys, of slaughter-houses and barbers' shops — an immense 
suburb huddled together within the walls so close, that you cannot 
see the loftiness of the buildings for the narrowness of the streets, and 
where all that is fit to live in, and best worth looking at, is turned out 
upon the quays, the boulevards, and their immediate vicinity. 

Paris, where you can get a sight of it, is really fine. The view 
from the bridges is even more imposing and picturesque than ours, 
though the bridges themselves and the river are not to compare with 
the Thames, or with the bridges that cross it. The mass of public 
buildings and houses, as seen from the Pont Neuf, rises around you on 
either hand, whether you look up or down the river, in huge, aspiring, 
tortuous ridges, and produces a solidity of impression and a fantastic 
confusion not easy to reconcile. The clearness of the air, the glitter- 
ing sunshine, and the cool shadows add to the enchantment of the 
scene. In a bright day, it dazzles the eye like a steel mirror. The 
view of London is more open and extensive ; it lies lower, and 
stretches out in a lengthened line of dusky magnificence. After all, 
it is an ordinary town, a place of trade and business. Paris is a 
splendid vision, a fabric dug out of the earth, and hanging over it. 
The stately, old-fashioned shapes and jutting angles of the houses 
give it the venerable appearance of antiquity, while their texture and 
colour clothe it in a robe of modern splendour. It looks like a col- 
lection of palaces, or of ruins! They have, however, no single 
building that towers above and crowns the whole, like St. Paul's, 
(the Pantheon is a stiff, unjolnted mass to it) — nor is Notre-Dame at 
all to be compared to Westminster-Abbey with its Poets' Corner, that 

156 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

urn full of noble English ashes, where Lord Byron was ashamed to 
lie. The Chamber of Deputies (formerly the residence of the Dukes 
of Bourbon) presents a brilliant frontispiece, but it is a kind of 
architectural abstraction, standing apart, and unconnected with every 
thing else, not burrowing, like our House of Commons (that true and 
original model of a Representative Assembly House ! ) almost under- 
ground, and lost among the rabble of streets. The Tuileries is also a 
very noble pile of buildings, if not a superb piece of architecture. It 
is a little heavy and monotonous, a habitation for the bodies or for 
the minds of Kings, but it goes on in a laudable jog-trot, right-lined 
repetition of itself, without much worth or sense in any single part (like 
the accumulation of greatness in an hereditary dynasty). At least it 
ought to be finished (for the omen's sake), to make the concatenation 
of ideas inviolable and complete ! The Luxembourg, the Hospital 
of Invalids, the Hall of Justice, and innumerable other buildings, 
whether public or private, are far superior to any of the kind we have 
in London, except Whitehall, on which Inigo Jones laid his graceful 
hands ; or Newgate, where we English shine equally in architecture, 
morals, and legislation. Our palaces (within the bills of mortality) 
are dog-holes, or receptacles for superannuated Abigails, and tabbies 
of either species. Windsor (whose airy heights are placed beyond 
them) is, indeed, a palace for a king to inhabit, or a poet to describe, 
or to turn the head of a prose-writer. ( See Gray's Ode, and the 
famous passage in Burke about it.) Buonaparte's Pillar, in the Place 
Vendorae, cast in bronze, and with excellent sculptures, made of the 
cannon taken from the Allies in their long march to Paris, is a fine 
copy of the antique. A white flag flaps over it. I should like to 
write these lines at the bottom of it. Probably, Mr. Jerdan will 
know where to find them. 

' The painful warrior, famoused for fight 
After a thousand victories once foiled. 
Is from the book of honour razed quite. 

And all the rest forgot, for wrhich he toiled.' 

The new streets and squares in this neighbourhood are also on an 
improved plan — there is a double side-path to walk on, the shops are 
more roomy and richer, and you can stop to look at them in safety. 
This is as it should be — all we ask is common sense. Without this 
practical concession on their parts, in the dispute whether Paris is not 
better than London, it would seem to remain a question, whether it is 
better to walk on a mall or in a gutter, whether airy space is preferable 
to fetid confinement, or whether solidity and show together are not 

'57 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

better than mere frippery ? But for a real West End, for a solid 
substantial cut into the heart of a metropolis, commend me to the 
streets and squares on each side of the top of Oxford-street — with 
Grosvenor and Portman squares at one end, and Cavendish and 
Hanover at the other, linked together by Bruton, South-Audley, and 
a hundred other fine old streets, with a broad airy pavement, a display 
of comfort, of wealth, of taste, and rank all about you, each house 
seeming to have been the residence of some respectable old English 
family for half a century past, and with Portland-place looking out 
towards Hampstead and Highgate, with their hanging gardens and 
lofty terraces, and Primrose-hill nestling beneath them, in green, 
pastoral luxury, the delight of the Cockney, the aversion of Sir 
Walter and his merrymen ! My favourite walk in Paris is to the 
Gardens of the Tuileries. Paris differs from London in this respect, 
that it has no suburbs. The moment you are beyond the barriers, you 
are in the country to all intents and purposes. You have not to wade 
through ten miles of straggling houses to get a breath of fresh air, or a 
peep at nature. It is a blessing to counterbalance the inconveniences 
of large cities built within walls, that they do not extend far beyond 
them. The superfluous population is pared off, like the pie-crust by 
the circumference of the dish — even on the court side, not a hundred 
yards from the barrier of Neuilly, you see an old shepherd tending 
his flock, with his dog and his crook and sheep-skin cloak, just as if it 
were a hundred miles off, or a hundred years ago. It was so twenty 
years ago. I went again to see if it was the same yesterday. The old 
man was gone ; but there was his flock by the road-side, and a dog 
and a boy, grinning with white healthy teeth, like one of Murillo's 
beggar-boys. It was a bright frosty noon ; and the air was, in a 
manner, vitreous, from its clearness, its coolness, and hardness to the 
feeling. The road I speak of, frequented by English jockeys and 
French market-women, riding between panniers, leads down to the 
Bois de Boulogne on the left, a delicious retreat, covered with copse- 
wood for fuel, and intersected by green-sward paths and shady alleys, 
running for miles in opposite directions, and terminating in a point of 
inconceivable brightness. Some of the woods on the borders of 
Wiltshire and Hampshire present exactly the same appearance, with 
the same delightful sylvan paths through them, and are covered in 
summer with hyacinths and primroses, sweetening the air, enamelling 
the ground, and with nightingales loading every bough with rich 
music. It was winter when I used to wander through the Bois de 
Boulogne formerly, dreaming of fabled truth and good. Somehow 
my thoughts and feet still take their old direction, though hailed by 
no friendly greetings : — 
158 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

' What though the radiance which was once so bright. 
Be now for ever vanished from my sight ; 
Though nothing can bring back the hour 
Of glory in the grass — of splendour in the flower ; ' — 

yet the fever and the agony of hope is over too, ' the burden and the 
mystery ; ' the past circles my head, like a golden dream ; it is a 
fine fragment of an unfinished poem or history ; and the ' worst,' as 
Shakspeare says, ' returns to good ! ' I cannot say I am at all 
annoyed (as I expected) at seeing the Bourbon court-carriages issuing 
out with a flourish of trumpets and a troop of horse. It looks like a 
fantoccini procession, a State mockery. The fine moral lesson, the 
soul of greatness, is wanting. The legitimate possessors of royal 
power seem to be playing at Make-Believe ; the upstarts and impostors 
are the true Simon Pures and genuine realities. Bonaparte mounted 
a throne from the top of the pillar of Victory. People ask who 
Charles x. is ? But to return from this digression. 

Through the arch-way of the Tuileries, at the end of the Champs 
Elysees, you see the Barrier of Neuilly, like a thing of air, diminished 
by a fairy perspective. The effect is exquisitely light and magical. 
You pass through the arch-way, and are in the gardens themselves. 
Milton should have written those lines abroad, and in this very spot — 

' And bring with thee retired Leisure, 
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure.' 

True art is ' nature to advantage drest ; ' it is here a powdered beau. 
The prodigality of littleness, the excess of ornament, the superficial 
gloss, the studied neatness, are carried to a pitch of the romantic. 
The Luxembourg gardens are more extensive, and command a finer 
view ; but are not kept in the same order, are dilapidated and 
desultory. This is an enclosure of all sweet sights and smells, a 
concentration of elegance. The rest of the world is barbarous to 
this ' paradise of dainty devices,' where the imagination is spell-bound. 
It is a perfectly-finished miniature set in brilliants. It is a toilette for 
nature to dress itself; where every flower seems a narcissus ! The 
smooth gravel-walks, the basin of water, the swans (they might be of 
wax), the golden fishes, the beds of flowers, chineasters, larkspur, 
geraniums, bright marigolds, mignonette ('the Frenchman's darling ') 
scenting the air with a faint luscious perfume, the rows of orange- 
trees in boxes, blooming verdure and vegetable gold, the gleaming 
statues, the raised terraces, the stately avenues of trees, and the gray 
cumbrous towers of the Tuileries overlooking the whole, give an 
effect of enchantment to the scene. This and the man in black by 

'59 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Titian, in the Louvre just by (whose features form a sombre pendant 
to the gay parterres) are the two things in Paris I like best. I 
should never tire of walking in the one, or of looking at the other. 
Yet no two things can be more opposite.^ The one is the essence of 
French, the other of Italian art. By following the windings of the 
river in this direction, you come to Passy — a delightful village, half- 
way to St. Cloud, which is situated on a rich eminence that looks 
down on Paris and the Seine, and so on to Versailles, where the 
English reside. I have not been to see them, nor they me. The 
whole road is interspersed with villas, and lined with rows of trees. 
This last is a common feature in foreign scenery. Whether from the 
general love of pleasurable sensations, or from the greater warmth of 
southern climates making the shelter from the heat of the sun more 
necessary, or from the closeness of the cities making a promenade 
round them more desirable, the approach to almost all the principal 
towns abroad is indicated by shady plantations, and the neighbourhood 
is a succession of groves and arbours. 

The Champ de Mars (the French Runnymede) is on the opposite 
side of the river, a little above the Champs Elysees. It is an oblong 
square piece of ground immediately in front of the Ecole Militaire, 
covered with sand and gravel, and bare of trees or any other ornament. 
It is left a blank, as it should be. In going to and returning from it, 
you pass the fine old Invalid Hospital, with its immense gilded 
cupola and outer-walls overgrown with vines, and meet the crippled 
veterans who have lost an arm or leg, fighting the battles of the 
Revolution, with a bit of white ribbon sticking in their button-holes, 
which must gnaw into their souls worse than the wounds in their 
flesh, if Frenchmen did not alike disregard the wounds both of their 
bodies and minds. 

The Jardin des Plantes, situated at the other extremity of Paris, 
on the same side of the river, is well worth the walk there. It is 
delightfully laid out, with that mixture of art and nature, of the 
useful and ornamental, in which the French excel all the world. 
Every plant of every quarter of the globe is here, growing in the 
open air ; and labelled with its common and its scientific name on it. 
A prodigious number of animals, wild and tame, are enclosed in 
separate divisions, feeding on the grass or shrubs, and leading a life 
of learned leisure. At least, they have as good a title to this ironical 
compliment as most members of colleges and seminaries of learning ; 
for they grow fat and sleek on it. They have a great variety of the 
simious tribe. Is this necessary in France ? The collection of wild 
beasts is not equal to our Exeter-'Change ; nor are they confined in 

' They are as different as Mr. Moore's verses and an epic poem. 

i6o 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

iron cages out of doors under the shade of their native trees (as I was 
told), but shut up in a range of very neatly-constructed and very 
ill-aired apartments. 

I have already mentioned the P^re la Chaise — the Catacombs I 
have not seen, nor have I the least wish. But I have been to the top 
of Mont-Martre, and intend to visit it again. The air there is truly 
vivifying, and the view inspiring. Paris spreads out under your feet 
on one side, ' with glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,' and 
appears to fill the intermediate space, to the very edge of the horizon, 
with a sea of hazy or sparkling magnificence. All the different 
striking points are marked as on a map. London nowhere presents 
the same extent or integrity of appearance. This is either because 
there is no place so near to London that looks down upon it from the 
same elevation, or because Paris is better calculated for a panoramic 
view from the loftier height and azure tone of its buildings. Its 
form also approaches nearer to a regular square. London, seen 
either from Highgate and Hampstead, or from the Dulwich side, 
looks like a long black wreath of smoke, with the dome of St. Paul's 
floating in it. The view on the other side Mont-Martre is also fine, 
and an extraordinary contrast to the Paris side — it is clear, brown, 
flat, distant, completely rustic, full of ' low farms and pelting villages.' 
You see St. Denis, where the Kings of France lie buried, and can 
fancy you see Montmorenci, where Rousseau lived, whose pen was 
near being as fatal to their race as the scythe of death. On this 
picturesque site, which so near London would be enriched with noble 
mansions, there are only a few paltry lodging-houses and tottering 
wind-mills. So little prone are the Parisians to extricate themselves 
from the sty of Epicurus ; so fond of cabinets of society, of playing at 
dominoes in the coffee-houses, and of practising the art de briller dans 
les Salons ; so fond are they of this, that even when the Allies were 
at Mont-Martre, they ran back to be the first to give an imposing 
account of the attack, to finish the game of the Revolution, and make 
the iloge of the new order of things. They shew you the place 
where the affair with the Prussians happened, as — a brilliant exploit. 
When will they be no longer liable to such intrusions as these, or to 
such a result from them ? When they get rid of that eternal smile 
upon their countenances, or of that needle-and-thread face, that is 
twisted into any shape by every circumstance that happens,i or when 

' The French physiognomy is like a telegraphic machine, ready to shift and 
form new combinations every moment. It is commonly too light and variable 
for repose ; it is careless, indifferent, but not sunk in indolence, nor wedded to 
ease : as on the other hand, it is restless, rapid, extravagant, without depth or 
force. Is it not the same with their feelings, which are alike incapable of a habit 

VOL. IX. : L i6i 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

ihey can write such lines as the following, or even understand their 
meaning, their force or beauty, as a charm to purge their soil of 
insolent foes — theirs only, because the common foes of man ! 

But let thy spiders that suck up thy venom. 
And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way ; 
Doing annoyance to the feet of them 
That with usurping steps do trample thee ; 
Yield stinging-nettles to mine enemies ; 
And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower. 
Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder. 
Whose double tongue may, with a mortal touch, 
Throw death upon thy baffled enemies.' 

No Parisian's sides can ' bear the beating of so strong a passion,' as 
these lines contain ; nor have they it in them to ' endure to the end 
for liberty's sake.' They can never hope to defend the political 
principles which they learnt from us, till they understand our poetry, 
both of which originate in the same cause, the strength of our livers 
and the stoutness of our hearts. 



CHAPTER XI 

Statuary does not affect me like painting. I am not, I allow, a 
fair judge, having paid a great deal more attention to the one than to 
the other. Nor did I ever think of the first as a profession ; and it 
is that perhaps which adds the sting to our love of excellence, the 
hope of attaining it ourselves in any particular walk. We strain our 
faculties to the utmost to conceive of what is most exquisite in any 
art to which we devote ourselves, and are doubly sensitive to it when 
we see it attained. Knowledge may often beget indifference, but 
here it begets zeal. Our affections kindled and projected forward by 
the ardour of pursuit, we come to the contemplation of truth and 
beauty with the passionate feeling of lovers ; the examples of 
acknowledged excellence before us are the steps by which we scale 
the path of distinction, the spur which urges us on ; and the admira- 
tion which we fondly cherish for them is the seed of future fame. 

of quiescence, or of persevering action or passion ? It seems so to me. Their 
freedom from any tendency to drunkenness, to indulge in its dreamy stupor, or 
give way to its incorrigible excesses, confirms by analogy the general view of their 
character. I do not bring this as an accusation against them, I ask if it is not the 
fact ; and if it will not account for many things observable in them, good, bad, 
and indifferent? In a word, mobility without momentum solves the whole riddle 
of the French character. 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

No wonder that the youthful student dwells with delight and rapture 
on the finished works of art, when they are to his heated fancy the 
pledge and foretaste of immortality ; when at every successful stroke 
of imitation he is ready to cry out with Correggio — ' I also am a 
painter ! ' — when every heightening flush of his enthusiasm is a fresh 
assurance to him of congenial powers — and when overlooking the 
million of failures (that all the world have forgot) or names of inferior 
note, Raphael, Titian, Guide, Salvator are each another self. Happy 
union of thoughts and destinies, lovelier than the hues of the rainbow ! 
Why can it not last and span our brief date of life ? 

One reason, however, why I prefer painting to sculpture is, that 
painting is more like nature. It gives one entire and satisfactory 
view of an object at a particular moment of time, which sculpture 
never does. It is not the same in reality, I grant ; but it is the same 
in appearance, which is all we are concerned with. A picture wants 
solidity, a statue wants colour. But we see the want of colour as a 
palpably glaring defect, and we do not see the want of solidity, the 
effects of which to the spectator are supplied by light and shadow. 
A picture is as perfect an imitation of nature as is conveyed by a 
looking-glass ; which is all that the eye can require, for it is all it can 
take in for the time being. A fine picture resembles a real living 
man ; the finest statue in the world can only resemble a man turned 
to stone. The one is an image, the other a cold abstraction of 
nature. It leaves out half the visible impression. There is therefore 
something a little shocking and repulsive in this art to the common 
eye, that requires habit and study to reconcile us completely to it, or 
to make it an object of enthusiastic devotion. It does not amalgamate 
kindly and at once with our previous perceptions and associations. 
As to the comparative difficulty or skill implied in the exercise of 
each art, I cannot pretend to judge : but I confess it appears to me 
that statuary must be the most trying to the faculties. The idea of 
moulding a limb into shape, so as to be right from every point of 
view, fairly makes my head turn round, and seems to me to enhance 
the difiiculty to an infinite degree. There is not only the extra- 
ordinary circumspection and precision required (enough to distract 
the strongest mind, as I should think), but if the chisel, working in 
such untractable materials, goes a hair's-breadth beyond the mark, 
there is no remedying it. It is not as in painting, where you may 
make a thousand blots, and try a thousand experiments, efface them 
all one after the other, and begin anew : the hand always trembles on 
the brink of a precipice, and one step over is irrecoverable. There 
is a story told, however, of Hogarth and Roubilliac, which, as far as 
it goes, may be thought to warrant a contrary inference. These 

163 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

artists difFered about the difficulty of their several arts, and agreed to 
decide it by exchanging the implements of their profession with each 
other, and seeing which could do best without any regular prepara- 
tion. Hogarth took a piece of clay, and succeeded in moulding a 
very tolerable bust of his friend ; but when Roubilliac, being furnished 
with paints and brushes, attempted to daub a likeness of a human 
face, he could make absolutely nothing out, and was obliged to own 
himself defeated. Yet Roubilliac was a man of talent, and no mean 
artist. It was he who, on returning from Rome where he had 
studied the works of Bernini and the antique, and on going to see his 
own performances in Westminster Abbey, exclaimed, that ' they 
looked like tobacco-pipes, by G — d ! ' What sin had this man or 
his parents committed, that he should forfeit the inalienable birth- 
right of every Frenchman — imperturbable, invincible selfsufficiency ? 
The most pleasing and natural application of sculpture is, perhaps, to 
the embellishment of churches and the commemoration of the dead. 
I don't know whether they were Roubilliac's or not, but I remember 
seeing many years ago in Westminster Abbey (in the part that is at 
present shut up) two figures of angels bending over a tomb, that 
affected me much in the same manner that these lines of Lord 
Byron's have done since — 

' And when I think that his immortal wings 
Shall one day hover o'er the sepulchre 
Of the poor child of clay that so adored him 
As he adores the highest. Death becomes 
Less terrible ! ' 

It appears to me that sculpture, though not proper to express 
health or life or motion, accords admirably with the repose of the 
tomb ; and that it cannot be better employed than in arresting the 
fleeting dust in imperishable forms, and in embodying a lifeless 
shadow. Painting, on the contrary, from what I have seen of it in 
Catholic countries, seems to be out of its place on the walls of 
churches ; it has a flat and flimsy effect contrasted with the solidity 
of the building, and its rich flaunting colours harmonize but ill with 
the solemnity and gloom of the surrounding scene. 

I would go a pilgrimage to see the St. Peter Martyr, or the 
Jacob's Dream by Rembrandt, or Raphael's Cartoons, or some of 
Claude's landscapes ; — but I would not go far out of my way to see 
the Apollo, or the Venus, or the Laocoon. I never cared for them 
much ; nor, till I saw the Elgin Marbles, could I tell why, except 
for the reason just given, which does not apply to these particular 
statues, but to statuary in general. These are still to be found in 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, with appropriate descriptive stanzas 
appended to them ; i but they are no longer to be found in the Louvre, 
nor do the French seem to know they ever were there. Out of sight, 
out of mind, is a happy motto. What is not French, either as 
done by themselves, or as belonging to them, is of course not worth 
thinking about. Be this as it may, the place is fairly emptied out. 
Hardly a trace remains of the old Collection to remind you of what 
is gone. A short list includes all of distinguished excellence — the 
admirable bust of Vitellius, the fine fragment of Inopus, a clothed 
statue of Augustus, the full-zoned Venus, and the Diana and Fawn, 
whose light, airy grace seems to have mocked removal. A few more 
are ' thinly scattered to make up a shew,' but the bulk, the main 
body of the Grecian mythology, with the flower of their warriors 
and heroes, were carried off by the Chevalier Canova on his 
shoulders, a load for Hercules ! The French sculptors have nothing 
of their own to shew for it to fill up the gap. Like their painters, 
their style is either literal and rigid, or affected and burlesque. Their 
merit is chiefly confined to the academic figure and anatomical skill ; 
if they go beyond this, and wander into the regions of expression, 
beauty, or grace, they are apt to lose themselves. The real genius 
of French sculpture is to be seen in the curled wigs and swelling 
folds of the draperies in the statues of the age of Louis xiv. There 
they shone unrivalled and alone. They are the best man-milliners 
and Jriseurs in ancient or modern Europe. That praise cannot be 
denied them ; but it should alarm them for their other pretensions. 
I recollect an essay in the Moniteur some years ago (very playful and 
very well written) to prove that a great hairdresser was a greater 
character than Michael Angelo or Phidias ; that his art was more 

^ Lord Byron has merely taken up the common cant of connoisseurship, 
inflating it with hyperbolical and far-fetched eulogies of his own — not perceiving 
that the Apollo was somewhat of a coxcomb, the Venus somewhat insipid, and 
that the expression in the Laocoon is more of physical than of mental agony. The 
faces of the boys are, however, superlatively fine. They are convulsed with pain, 
yet fraught with feeling. He has made a better hit in interpreting the downcast 
look of the Dying Gladiator, as denoting his insensibility to the noise and bustle 
around him : — 

' He heard it, but he heeded not — his eyes 
Were with his heart, and that was far away ; 
He reck'd not of the life he lost, nor prize, 
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay, 
There were his young barbarians all at play, 
There was their Dacian mother — he, their sire, 
Butcher'd to make a Roman holyday — 
All this rush'd with his blood — shall he expire 
And unaveng'd ? — Arise ! ye Goths and glut your ire ! ' 

165 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

an invention, more a creation out of nothing, and less a servile copy 
of any thing in nature. There was a great deal of ingenuity in the 
reasoning, and I suspect more sincerity than the writer was aware of. 
It expresses, I verily believe, the firm conviction of every true 
Frenchman. In whatever relates to the flutter and caprice of 
fashion, where there is no impulse but vanity, no limit but extrava- 
gance, no rule but want of meaning, they are in their element, and 
quite at home. Beyond that, they have no style of their own, and 
are a nation of second-hand artists, poets, and philosophers. Never- 
theless, they have Voltaire, La Fontaine, Le Sage, Moli^re, 
Rabelais, and Montaigne — good men and true, under whatever class 
they come. They have also Very and Vestris. This is granted. 
Is it not enough ? I should like to know the thing on the face of 
God's earth in which they allow other nations to excel them. Nor 
need their sculptors be afraid of turning their talents to account, 
while they can execute pieces of devotion for the shrines of Saints, 
and classical equivoques for the saloons of the old or new Noblesse. 

The foregoing remarks are general. I shall proceed to mention 
a few exceptions to, or confirmations of them in their Expose ^ of the 
present year. The Othryadas luounded (No. 1870), by Legendre 
Heral, is, I think, the least mannered, and most natural. It is a 
huge figure, powerful and somewhat clumsy (with the calves of the 
legs as if they had gaiters on), but it has great power and repose in 
it. It seems as if, without any effort, a blow from it would crush 
any antagonist, and reminds one of Virgil's combat of Dares and 
Entellus. The form of the head is characteristic, and there is a 
fine mixture of sternness and languor in the expression of the features. 
The sculptor appears to have had an eye to the countenance of the 
Dying Gladiator ; and the figure, from its ease and massiness, has 
some resemblance to the Elgin Marbles. It is a work of great 
merit. The statue of Othryadas erecting the Trophy to his Companions 
(No. 1774) is less impressive, and aims at being more so. It comes 
under the head of theatrical art, that is of French art proper. They 
cannot long keep out of this. They cannot resist an attitude, a 
significant efl^ect. They do not consider that the definition of 
Sculpture is, or ought to be, nearly like their own celebrated one 

' Why do the French confound the words exhibition and exposure} One of 
which expresses what is creditable, and the other what is disgracefnl. Is it that 
the sense of vanity absorbs every other consideration, turning the sense of shame, 
in case of exposure, into a source of triumph, and the conscious tingling feeling of 
ostentation in a display of talent into a flagrant impropriety ? I do not lay much 
stress on this word-catching, which is a favourite mode of German criticism. We 
say, for instance, indiscriminately, that *a thing redounds to our credit or our 
disgrace.' 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

of Death — an eternal repose ! This fault may in some measure be 
found with the Hercules recovering the body of Icarus from the Sea 
(No. 1903), by Razzi. The body of Icarus can hardly be said to 
have found a resting-place. Otherwise, the figure is finely designed, 
and the face is one of considerable beauty and expression. The 
Hercules is a man-mountain. From the size and arrangement of 
this group, it seems more like a precipice falling on one's head, than 
a piece of sculpture. The effect is not so far pleasant. If a 
complaint lies against this statue on the score of unwieldy and 
enormous size, it is relieved by No. 1775, -^ Zephyr thwarting the 
loves of a Butterfly and a Rose, Boyer. Here French art is on its 
legs again, and in the true vignette style. A Zephyr, a Butterfly, 
and a Rose, all in one group — Charming ! In such cases the light- 
ness, the prettiness, the flutter, and the affectation are extreme, and 
such as no one but themselves will think of rivalling. One of their 
greatest and most successful attempts is the Grace aux Prisonniers, 
No. 1802, by David. Is it not the Knife-grinder of the ancients, 
thrown into a more heroic attitude, and with an impassioned expres- 
sion I However this may be, there is real boldness in the design, 
and animation in the countenance, a feeling of disinterested generosity 
contending with the agonies of death. I cannot give much praise 
to their religious subjects in general. The French of the present 
day are not bigots, but sceptics in such matters ; and the cold, formal 
indifference of their artists appears in their works. The Christ 
confounding the incredulity of St. Thomas (by Jacquot) is not calculated 
to produce this effect on anybody else. They treat classical subjects 
much more con amore ; but the mixture of the Christian Faith and of 
Pagan superstitions is at least as reprehensible in the present Collection 
as in Milton's Paradise Lost. Among pieces of devotion. The 
Virgin and Child, and the St. Catherine of Cortot (Nos. 1791-22) 
struck me as the best. There is a certain delicacy of finishing and 
graceful womanhood about both, which must make them very 
acceptable accompaniments to Catholic zeal. The French excel 
generally in emblematic subjects, or in whatever depends on accuracy 
and invention in costume, of which there are several examples here. 
What I liked best, however, were some of their studies of the naked 
figure, which have great simplicity and ease, such as a Nymph making 
a Garland of Flowers, No. 1888 (Parmentier), and a Touth going to 
bathe. No. 1831 (Espercieux). This last figure, in particular, 
appears to be really sliding down into the bath. Cupid tormenting the 
Soul (after Chaudet) is a very clever and spirited design, in bronze. 
Their busts, in general, are not excellent. There are, however, a 

few exceptions, one especially of a Mademoiselle Hersilie de F , 

167 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

by Gayrard, which is a perfect representation of nature. It is an 
unaffected, admirable portrait, with good humour and good sense 
playing over every feature of the face. 

In fine, I suspect there is nothing in the French Saloon of Sculpture 
greatly to stagger or entirely to overset the opinion of those who 
have a prejudice against the higher pretensions of French art. They 
have no masterpieces equal to Chantry's busts, nor to Flaxman's 
learned outlines, nor to the polished elegance of Canova ; to say 
nothing of the exquisite beauty and symmetry of the antique, nor of 
the Elgin Marbles, among which the Theseus sits in form like a 
demi-god, basking on a golden cloud. If ever there were models 
of the Fine Arts fitted to give an impulse to living genius, these are 
they.^ With enough to teach the truest, highest style in art, they 
are not in sufficient numbers or preservation to distract or discourage 
emulation. With these and Nature for our guides, we might do 
something in sculpture, if we were not indolent and unapt. The 
French, whatever may be their defects, cannot be charged with want 
of labour and study. The only charge against them (a heavy one, 
if true) is want of taste and genius. 

' It were to be wished that the French sculptors would come over and look at 
the Elgin Marbles, as they are arranged with great care and some pomp in the 
British Museum. They may smile to see that we are willing to remove works of 
art from their original places of abode, though we will not allow others to do so. 
These noble fragments of antiquity might startle our fastidious neighbours a little 
at first from their rude state and their simplicity, but I think they would gain 
upon them by degrees, and convince their understandings, if they did not subdue 
their affections. They are indeed an equally instructive lesson and unanswerable 
rebuke to them and to us — to them for thinking that finishing every 
part alike is perfection, and to us who imagine that to leave every part alike 
unfinished Is grandeur. They are as remote from finicalness as grossness, and 
combine the parts with the whole in the manner that nature does. Every part 
is given, but not ostentatiously, and only as it would appear in the circumstances. 
There is an alternate action and repose. If one muscle is strained, another is 
proportionably relaxed. If one limb is in action and another at rest, they come 
under a different law, and the muscles are not brought out nor the skin tightened 
in the one as in the other. There is a flexibility and sway of the limbs and of the 
whole body. The flesh has the softness and texture of flesh, not the smoothness 
or stiffness of stone. There is an undulation and a liquid flow on the surface, as 
the breath of genius moved the mighty mass : they are the finest forms in the 
most striking attitudes, and with every thing in its place, proportion, and degree, 
uniting the ease, truth, force, and delicacy of Nature. They shew nothing but 
the artist's thorough comprehension of, and entire docility to that great teacher. 
There Is no petit-maitreship, no pedantry, no attempt at a display of science, or at 
forcing the parts into an artificial symmetry, but it is like cutting a human body 
out of a block of marble, and leaving It to act for itself with all the same springs, 
levers, and internal machinery. It was said of Shakspeare*s dramas, that they 
were the hgic of passion 5 and it may be affirmed of the Elgin Marbles, that they 
are the logic of form. — One part being given, another cannot be otherwise than it 

168 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 



CHAPTER XII 

The French themselves think less about their music than any other 
of their pretensions. It is almost a sore subject with them ; for it 
interrupts their talking, and they had rather hear nothing about it, 
except as an accompaniment to a jig. Their ears are, in this respect, 
in their heels, and it is only the light and giddy that they at all endure. 
They have no idea of cadence in any of the arts — of the rise and fall 
of the passions — of the elevations or depressions of hope or fear in 
poetry — of alternate light or shade in pictures — all is reduced (as 
nearly as possible) in their minds to the level of petty, vapid self- 
satisfaction, or to dry and systematic prosing for the benefit of others. 
But they must be more particularly at a loss in music, which requires 
the deepest feeling, and admits the least of the impertinence of 
explanation, which mounts on its own raptures and is dissolved in 
its own tenderness ; which has no witness or vouchers but the inward 
sense of delight, and rests its faith on the speechless eloquence, the 
rich, circling intoxication of inarticulate but heart-felt sounds. The 
French have therefore no national music, except a few meagre 
chansons, and their only idea of musical excellence is either rapidity 
or loudness of execution. You perceive the effect of this want of 
enthusiasm even in the streets, — they have neither barrel-organs nor 
blind fiddlers as with us, who are willing to pay for the encourage- 
ment of the arts, however indifferently we may practise them ; nor 
does the national spirit break out from every strolling party or village 
group, as it is said to do in Italy. A French servant-girl, while she 
is cleaning out a room, lays down her brush to dance — she takes it 
up to finish her work, and lays it down again to dance, impelled by 
the lightness of her head and of her heels. But you seldom hear her 
sing at her work, and never, if there is any one within hearing to talk 
to. — The French Opera is a splendid, but a comparatively empty 
theatre. It is nearly as large (I should think) as the King's Theatre 
in the Hay -market, and is in a semi-circular form. The pit (the 

is. There is a mutual understanding and re-action throughout the whole frame. 
The Apollo and other antiques are not equally simple and severe. The limbs 
have too much an appearance of being cased in marble, of making a display of 
every recondite beauty, and of balancing and answering to one another, like the 
rhymes in verse. The Elgin Marbles are harmonious, flowing, varied prose. In 
a word, they are like casts after the finest nature. Any cast from nature, how- 
ever inferior, is in the same style. Let the French and English sculptors make 
casts continually. The one will see in them the parts everywhere given — the 
other will see them everywhere given in subordination to, and as forming materials 
for a whole. 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

evening I was there) was about half full of men, in their black, 
dingy sticky-looking dresses ; and there were a few plainly-dressed 
women in the boxes. But where was that blaze of beauty and 
fashion, of sparkling complexions and bright eyes, that streams like 
a galaxy from the boxes of our Opera-house — like a Heaven of 
loveliness let half-way down upon the earth, and charming ' the 
upturned eyes of wondering mortals,' before which the thrilling 
sounds that circle through the House seem to tremble with delight 
and drink in new rapture from its conscious presence, and to which 
the mimic Loves and Graces are proud to pay their distant, smiling 
homage ? Certainly it was not here ; nor do I know where the sun 
of beauty hides itself in France. I have seen but three rays of it 
since I came, gilding a dark and pitchy cloud ! It was not so in 
Rousseau's time, for these very Loges were filled with the most 
beautiful women of the Court, who came to see his De-uin du Village, 
aud whom he heard murmuring around him in the softest accents — 
' Tons ces sons la -vont au cceur ! ' The change is, I suppose, owing 
to the Revolution ; but whatever it is owing to, the monks have not, 
by their return, banished this conventual gloom from their theatres ; 
nor is there any of that airy, flaunting, florid, butterfly, gauzy, 
variegated appearance to be found in them that they have with us. 
These gentlemen still keep up the farce of refusing actors burial in 
consecrated ground ; the mob pelt them, and the critics are even with 
them by going to see the representation of the TartufFe ! 

I found but little at the Royal Academy of Music (as it is 
affectedly called) to carry off this general dulness of eflFect, either 
through the excellence or novelty of the performances. A Made- 
moiselle Noel (who seems to be a favourite) made her debut in 
Dido. Though there was nothing very striking, there was nothing 
offensive in her representation of the character. For any thing that 
appeared in her style of singing or acting, she might be a very pleasing, 
modest, unaffected English girl performing on an English stage. 
There was not a single trait of French bravura or grimace. Her 
execution, however, seldom rose higher than an agreeable mediocrity ; 
and with considerable taste and feeling, her powers seemed to be 
limited. She produced her chief effect in the latter and more 
pathetic scenes, and ascended the funeral pile with dignity and 
composure. Is it not strange (if contradictions and hasty caprices 
taken up at random, and laid down as laws, were strange in this centre 
of taste and refinement) that the French should raise such an outcry 
against our assaults at arms and executions on the stage, and yet see a 
young and beautiful female prepare to give herself the fatal blow, 
without manifesting the smallest repugnance or dissatisfaction ? — 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

^neas and larbas were represented by Messrs. Mourritt and Derivis. 
The first was insipid, the last a perfect Stentor. He spoke or sung 
all through with an unmitigated ferocity of purpose and manner, and 
with lungs that seemed to have been forged expressly for the occasion. 
Ten bulls could not bellow louder, nor a whole street-full of frozen- 
out gardeners at Christmas. His barbarous tunic and accoutrements 
put one strongly in mind of Robinson Crusoe, while the modest 
demeanour and painted complexion of the pious -S^neas bore a con- 
siderable analogy to the submissive advance and rosy cheeks of that 
usual accompaniment of English travelling, who ushers himself into the 
room at intervals, with awkward bows, and his hat twirled round in 
his hands, ' to hope you '11 remember the coachman.' The JEneas 
of the poet, however, was a shabby fellow, and had but justice done 
him. 

I had leisure during this otiose performance to look around me, and 
as ' it is my vice to spy into abuses,' the first thing that struck me 
was the prompter. Any Frenchman who has that sum at his 
disposal, should give ten thousand francs a year for this situation. It 
must be a source of ecstasy to him. For not an instant was he 
quiet — tossing his hands in the air, darting them to the other side of the 
score which he held before him in front of the stage, snapping his 
fingers, nodding his head, beating time with his feet ; and this not 
mechanically, or as if it were a drudgery he was forced to go through, 
and would be glad to have done with, but with unimpaired glee and 
vehemence of gesture, jerking, twisting, fidgeting, wriggling, starting, 
stamping, as if the incessant motion had fairly turned his head, and 
every muscle in his frame were saturated with the spirit of quick- 
silver. To be in continual motion for four hours, and to direct the 
motions of others by the wagging of a finger, to be not only an object 
of important attention to the stage and orchestra, but (in his own 
imagination) to pit, boxes, and gallery, as the pivot on which the 
whole grand machinery of that grandest of all machines, the French 
Opera, turns — this is indeed, for a Parisian, the acme of felicity ! 
Every nerve must thrill with electrical satisfaction, and every pore 
into which vanity can creep tingle with self-conceit ! Not far from 
this restless automaton (as if extremes met, or the volatility of youth 
subsided into a sort of superannuated still-life) sat an old gentleman in 
front of the pit, with his back to me, a white powdered head, the 
curls sticking out behind, and a coat of the finest black. This was 
all I saw of him for some time — he did not once turn his head or 
shift his position, any more than a wig and coat stuck upon a barber's 
block — till I suddenly missed him, and soon after saw him seated on 
the opposite side of the house, his face as yellow and hard as a piece 

171 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

of mahogany, but without expressing either pleasure or pain. Neither 
the fiddlers' elbows nor the dancers' legs moved him one jot. His 
fiddling fancies and his dancing-days were flown, and had left this 
shadow, this profile, this mummy of a French gentleman of the old 
regime behind. A Frenchman has no object in life but to talk and 
move with eclat, and when he ceases to do either, he has no heart to 
do any thing. Deprived of his vivacity, his thoughtlessness, his 
animal spirits, he becomes a piece of costume, a finely-powdered wig, 
an embroidered coat, a pair of shoe-buckles, a gold cane, or a snuff- 
box. Drained of mere sensations and of their youthful blood, the 
old fellows seem like the ghosts of the young ones, and have none of 
their overweening offensiveness, or teasing officiousness. I can 
hardly conceive of a young French gentleman, nor of an old one who 
is otherwise. The latter come up to my ideal of this character, cut, 
as it were, out of pasteboard, moved on springs, amenable to forms, 
crimped and starched like a cravat, without a single tart ebullition, or 
voluntary motion. Some of them may be seen at present gliding 
along the walks of the Tuileries, and the sight of them is good for 
sore eyes. They are also thinly sprinkled through the play-house ; 
for the drama and the belles-lettres were in their time the amusement 
and the privilege of the Court, and the contrast of their powdered 
heads and pale faces makes the rest of the audience appear like a set 
of greasy, impudent mechanics. A Frenchman is nothing without 
powder, an Englishman is nothing with it. The character of the 
one is artificial, that of the other natural. The women of France do 
not submit to the regular approaches and the sober discipline of age 
so well as the men. I had rather be in company with an old French 
gentleman than a young one ; I prefer a young Frenchwoman to an 
old one. They aggravate the encroachments of age by contending 
with them, and instead of displaying the natural graces and venerable 
marks of that period of life, paint and patch their wrinkled faces, 
and toupee and curl their grizzled locks, till they look like Friesland 
hens, and are a caricature and burlesque of themselves. The old 
women in France that figure at the theatre or elsewhere, have very 
much the appearance of having kept a tavern or a booth at a fair, or 
of having been mistresses of a place of another description, for the 
greater part of their lives. A mannish hardened look and character 
survives the wreck of beauty and of female delicacy. 

Of all things that I see here, it surprises me the most that the 
French should fancy they can dance. To dance is to move with 
grace and harmony to music. But the French, whether men or 
women, have no idea of dancing but that of moving with agility, and 
of distorting their limbs in every possible way, till they really alter 

172 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the structure of the human form. By grace I understand the natural 
movements of the human body, heightened into dignity or softened 
into ease, each posture or step blending harmoniously into the rest. 
There is grace in the waving of the branch of a tree or in the 
bounding of a stag, because there is freedom and unity of motion. 
But the French Opera-dancers think it graceful to stand on one leg 
or on the points of their toes, or with one leg stretched out behind 
them, as if they were going to be shod, or to raise one foot at right 
angles with their bodies, and twirl themselves round like a te-totum, 
to see how long they can spin, and then stop short all of a sudden ; 
or to skim along the ground, flat-footed, like a spider running along a 
cobweb, or to pop up and down like a pea on a tobacco-pipe, or to 
stick in their backs till another part projects out behind comme des 
•uolails, and to strut about like peacocks with infirm, vain-glorious 
steps, or to turn out their toes till their feet resemble apes, or to 
raise one foot above their heads, and turn swiftly round upon the 
other, till the petticoats of the female dancers (for I have been think- 
ing of them) rise above their garters, and display a pair of spindle- 
shanks, like the wooden ones of a wax-doll, just as shapeless and as 
tempting. There is neither voluptuousness nor grace in a single 
attitude or movement, but a very studious and successful attempt to 
shew in what a number of uneasy and difficult positions the human 
body can be put with the greatest rapidity of evolution. It is not 
that they do all this with much more to redeem it, but they do all 
this, and do nothing else. It would be very well as an exhibition of 
tumbler's tricks, or as rope-dancing (which are only meant to surprise), 
but it is bad as Opera-dancing, if opera-dancing aspires to be one of 
the Fine Arts, or even a handmaid to them ; that is, to combine 
with mechanical dexterity a sense of the beautiful in form and 
motion, and a certain analogy to sentiment. ' The common people,' 
says the Author of Wa-verley, ' always prefer exertion and agility to 
grace.' Is that the case also with the most refined people upon 
earth ? These antics and vagaries, this kicking of heels and shaking 
of feet as if they would come off, might be excusable in the men, for 
they shew a certain strength and muscular activity ; but in the female 
dancers they are unpardonable. What is said of poetry might be 
applied to the sex. Non sat\is^ est pulchra poemata esse, dulcia sunto. 
So women who appear in public, should be soft and lovely as well as 
skilfiil and active, or they ought not to appear at all. They owe it to 
themselves and others. As to some of the ridiculous extravagances 
of this theatre, such as turning out their toes and holding back their 
shoulders, one would have thought the Greek statues might have 
taught their scientific professors better — if French artists did not see 

173 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

every thing with French eyes, and lament all that differs from their 
established practice as a departure from the line of beauty. They 
are sorry that the Venus does not hold up her head like a boarding- 
school miss — 

' And would ask the Apollo to dance ! ' 

In three months' practice, and with proper tuition, Greek forms 
would be French, and they would be perfect! — Mademoiselles 
Fanny and Noblet, I kiss your hands ; but I have no pardon to beg 
of Madame Le Gallois, for she looked like a lady (very tightly 
laced) in the ballet, and played like a heroine in the pantomime part 
of La Folk par Amour. There was a violent start at the first 
indication of her madness, that alarmed me a little, but all that 
followed was natural, modest, and affecting in a high degree. The 
French turn their Opera-stage into a mad-house ; they turn their 
mad-houses (at least they have one constructed on this principle) 
into theatres of gaiety, where they rehearse ballets, operas, and plays. 
If dancing were an antidote to madness, one would think the French 
would be always in their right senses. 

I was told I ought to see Nina, or La Folk par Amour at tha Salle 
Louvois, or Italian Theatre. If I went for that purpose, it would 
be rather with a wish than from any hope of seeing it better done. I 
went however • 

' Oh for a beaker full of the warm South ! ' 

It was to see the Gazza Ladra. The house was full, the evening 
sultry, a hurry and bustle in the lobbies, an eagerness in the looks of 
the assembled crowd. The audience seemed to be in earnest, and to 
have imbibed an interest from the place. On the stage there were 
rich dresses and voices, the tones of passion, ease, nature, animation ; 
in short, the scene had a soul in it. One wondered how one was in 
Paris, with their pasteboard maps of the passions, and thin-skinned, 
dry-lipped humour. Signora Mombelli played the humble, but 
interesting heroine charmingly, with truth, simplicity, and feeling. 
Her voice is neither rich nor sweet, but it is clear as a bell. Signor 
Pellegrini played the intriguing Magistrate, with a solemnity and 
farcical drollery, that I would not swear is much inferior to Liston. 
But I swear, that Brunet (whom I saw the other night, and had seen 
before without knowing it) is not equal to Liston. Yet he is a 
feeble, quaint diminutive of that original. He squeaks and gibbers 
oddly enough at the Theatre des Varietes, like a mouse in the hollow 
of a musty cheese, his small eyes peering out, and his sharp teeth 
nibbling at the remains of some faded joke. The French people of 
174 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

quality go to the Italian Opera, but they do not attend to it. The 
tabbies of the Court are tabbies still ; and took no notice of what was 
passing on the stage on this occasion, till the tolling of the bell made 
a louder and more disagreable noise than themselves ; this they 
seemed to like. They behave well at their own theatres, but it 
would be a breach of etiquette to do so anywhere else. A girl in 
the gallery (an Italian by her complexion, and from her interest in 
the part) was crying bitterly at the story of the Maid and the Magpie, 
while three Frenchmen, in the Troisieme Loge, were laughing at her 
the whole time. I said to one of them, ' It was not a thing to laugh 
at, but to admire.' He turned away, as if the remark did not come 
within his notions of sentiment. This did not stagger me in my 
theory of the French character ; and when one is possessed of nothing 
but a theory, one is glad, not sorry to keep it, though at the expense 
of others. 1 



CHAPTER XIII 

We left Paris in the Diligence, and arrived at Fontainbleau the 
first night. The accommodations at the inn were indifferent, and 
not cheap. The palace is a low straggling mass of very old 
buildings, having been erected by St. Louis in the 12th century, 
whence he used to date his Rescripts, ' From my Deserts of Fon- 
tainbleau ! ' It puts one in mind of Monkish legends, of faded 
splendour, of the leaden spouts and uncouth stone-cherubim of a 
country church-yard. It is empty or gaudy within, stiff and heavy 
without. Henry iv. figures on the walls with the fair Gabrielle, 
like the Tutelary Satyr of the place, keeping up the remembrance 
of old-fashioned royalty and gallantry. They here shew you the 
table (a plain round piece of mahogany) on which Buonaparte in 
1 8 1 4 signed the abdication of the human race, in fa'vour of the hered- 
itary proprietors of the species. We walked forward a mile or two 
before the coach the next day on the road to Montargis. It presents 
a long, broad, and stately avenue without a turning, as far as the eye 
can reach, and is skirted on each side by a wild, woody, rocky 
scenery. The birch-trees, with their grey stems and light glittering 
branches, silvered over the darker back-ground, and afforded a 
striking contrast to the brown earth and green moss beneath. There 
was a stillness in the woods, which affects the mind the more in 

' For some account of Madame Pasta's acting in Nina, I talce the liberty to 
refer to a volume of Table-Talk, just published. 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

objects whose very motion is gentleness. The day was dull, but 
quite mild, though in the middle of January. The situation of 
Fontainbleau is certainly interesting and fine. It stands in the midst 
of an extensive forest, intersected with craggy precipices and rugged 
ranges of hills ; and the various roads leading to or from it are cut out 
of a wilderness, which a hermit might inhabit. The approach to the 
different towns in France has, in this respect, the advantage over 
ours ; for, from burning wood instead of coal, they must have large 
woods in the neighbourhood, which clothe the country round them, 
and aiford, as Pope expresses it, 

' In summer shade, in winter fire.' 

We dig our fuel out of the bowels of the earth, and have a greater 
portion of its surface left at our disposal, which we devote not to 
ornament, but use. A copse-wood or an avenue of trees however, 
makes a greater addition to the beauty of a town than a coal-pit or 
a steam-engine in its vicinity. 

When the Diligence came up, and we took our seats in the coupe 
(which is that part of a French stage-coach which resembles an old 
shattered post-chaise, placed in front of the main body of it) we found 
a French lady occupying the third place in it, whose delight at our 
entrance was as great as if we had joined her on some desert island, 
and whose mortification was distressing when she learnt we were not 
going the whole way with her. She complained of the cold of the 
night air ; but this she seemed to dread less than the want of 
company. She said she had been deceived, for she had been told 
the coach was full, and was in despair that she should not have a 
soul to speak to all the way to Lyons. We got out, notwith- 
standing, at the inn at Montargis, where we met with a very 
tolerable reception, and were waited on at supper by one of those 
Maritorneses that perfectly astonish an English traveller. Her joy 
at our arrival was as extreme as if her whole fortune depended on 
it. She laughed, danced, sung, fairly sprung into the air, bounced 
into the room, nearly overset the table, hallooed and talked 
as loud as if she had been alternately ostler and chamber-maid. 
She was as rough and boisterous as any country bumpkin at a wake 
or statute-fair ; and yet so full of rude health and animal spirits, that 
you were pleased instead of being offended. In England, a girl 
with such boorish manners would not be borne ; but her good- 
humour kept pace with her coarseness, and she was as incapable of 
giving as of feeling pain. There is something in the air in France 
that carries off the blue devils ! 

The mistress of the inn, however, was a little peaking, pining 

176 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

woman, with her face wrapped up in flannel, and not quite so 
inaccessible to nervous impressions ; and when I asked the girl, 
• What made her speak so loud ? ' she answered for her, ' To make 
people deaf! ' This side-reproof did not in the least moderate the 
brazen tones of her help-mate, but rather gave a new fillip to her 
spirits ; though she was less on the alert than the night before, and 
appeared to the full as much bent on arranging her curls in the 
looking-glass when she came into the room, as on arranging the 
breakfast things on the tea-board. 

We staid here till one o'clock on Sunday (the i6th,) waiting the 
arrival of the Lyonnais, in which we had taken our places forward, 
and which I thought would never arrive. Let no man trust to a 
placard stuck on the walls of Paris, advertising the cheapest and 
most expeditious mode of conveyance to all parts of the world. 
It may be no better than a snare to the unwary. The Lyonnais, 
I thought from the advertisement, was the Swift-sure of Diligences. 
It was to arrive ten hours before any other Diligence ; it was the 
most compact, the most elegant of modern vehicles. From the 
description and the print of it, it seemed ' a thing of life,' a minion 
of the fancy. To see it stand in a state of disencumbered abstraction, 
it appeared a self-impelling machine ; or if it needed aid, was horsed, 
unlike your Paris Diligences, by nimble, airy Pegasuses. To look 
at the fac-s'tmile of it that was put into your hand, you would 
say it might run or fly — might traverse the earth, or whirl you 
through the air, without let or impediment, so light was it to 
outward appearance in structure ' fit for speed succinct ' — a chariot 
for Puck or Ariel to ride in ! This was the account I had (or some- 
thing like it) from Messieurs the Proprietors at the Cour des Fontaines. 
' Mark how a plain tale shall put them down.' Those gentlemen 
came to me after I had paid for two places as far as Nevers, to ask 
me to resign them in favour of two Englishmen, who wished to go 
the whole way, and to re-engage them for the following evening. 
I said I could not do that ; but as I had a dislike to travelling at 
night, I would go on to Montargis by some other conveyance, and 
proceed by the Lyonnais, which would arrive there at eight or 
nine on Sunday morning, as far as I could that night. I set out on 
the faith of this understanding. I had some difficulty in finding the 
Office sur la place, to which I had been directed, and which was 
something between a stable, a kitchen, and a cook-shop. I was led 
to it by a shabby double or counterpart of the Lyonnais, which stood 
before the door, empty, dirty, bare of luggage, waiting the Paris 
one, which had not yet arrived. It drove into town four hours 
afterwards, with three foundered hacks, with the postilion and 
VOL. IX. : M 177 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Conducteur for its complement of passengers, the last occupying the 
left hand corner of the coupe in solitary state, with a whisp of straw 
thrust through a broken pane of one of the front windows, and a 
tassel of blue and yellow fringe hanging out of the other ; and with 
that mixture of despondency and Jierte in his face, which long and 
uninterrupted pondering on the state of the way-bill naturally 
produces in such circumstances. He seized upon me and my 
trunks as lawful prize ; he afterwards insisted on my going forward 
in the middle of the night to Lyons, (contrary to my agreement,) 
and I was obliged to comply, or to sleep upon trusses of straw in 
a kind of out-house. We quarrelled incessantly, but I could not 
help laughing, for he sometimes looked like my old acquaintance. 

Dr. S., and sometimes like my friend, A H , of 

Edinburgh. He said we should reach Lyons the next evening, 
and we got there twenty-four hours after the time. He told me 
for my comfort, the reason of his being so late was, that two of his 
horses had fallen down dead on the road. He had to raise relays 
of horses all the way, as if we were travelling through a hostile 
country ; quarrelled with all the postilions about an abatement of 
a few sous ; and once our horses were arrested in the middle of the 
night by a farmer who refiised to trust him ; and he had to go 
before the Mayor, as soon as day broke. We were quizzed by the 
post-boys, the inn-keepers, the peasants all along the road, as a 
shabby concern ; our Conducteur bore it all, like another Candide. 
We stopped at all the worst inns in the outskirts of the towns, 
where nothing was ready ; or when it was, was not eatable. The 
second morning we were to breakfast at Moulins ; when we 
alighted, our guide told us it was eleven : the clock in the kitchen 
pointed to three. As he laughed in my face when I complained 
of his misleading me, I told him that he was ' un impudent,' and this 
epithet sobered him the rest of the way. As we left Moulins, the 
crimson clouds of evening streaked the west, and I had time to 
think of Sterne's Maria. The people at the inn, I suspect, had 
never heard of her. There was no trace of romance about the 
house. Certainly, mine was not a Sentimental Journey. Is it not 
provoking to come to a place, that has been consecrated by 'famous 
poet's pen,' as a breath, a name, a fairy-scene, and find it a dull, 
dirty town ? Let us leave the realities to shift for themselves, and 
think only of those bright tracts that have been reclaimed for us by 
the fancy, where the perfume, the sound, the vision, and the joy 
still linger, like the soft light of evening skies ! Is the story of 
Maria the worse, because I am travelling a dirty road in a rascally 
Diligence ? Or is it an injury done us by the author to have 
178 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

invented for us what we should not have met with in reality ? 
Has it not been read with pleasure by thousands of readers, 
though the people at the inn had never heard of it ? Yet 
Sterne would have been vexed to find that the fame of his 
Maria had never reached the little town of Moulins. We are 
always dissatisfied with the good we have, and always punished for 
our unreasonableness. 

At Palisseau (the road is rich in melo-dramatic recollections) it 
became pitch-dark ; you could not see your hand ; I entreated to 
have the lamp lighted; our Conducteur said it was broken icasse'). 
With much persuasion, and the ordering a bottle of their best wine, 
which went round among the people at the inn, we got a lantern with 
a rushlight in it, but the wind soon blew it out, and we went on our 
way darkling ; the road lay over a high hill, with a loose muddy 
bottom between two hedges, and as we did not attempt to trot or 
gallop, we came safe to the level ground on the other side. We 
breakfasted at Rouane, where we were first shewn into the kitchen, 
while they were heating a suffocating stove in a squalid salle a 
manger. There, while I was sitting half dead with cold and fatigue, 
a boy came and scraped a wooden dresser close at my ear, with a 
noise to split one's brain, and with true French nonchalance ; and a 
portly landlady, who had risen just as we had done breakfasting, 
ushered us to our carriage with the airs and graces of a Madame 
Maintenon. In France you meet with the court address in a 
stable-yard. In other countries you may find grace in a cottage or 
a wilderness ; but it is simple, unconscious grace, without the full- 
blown pride and strut of mannered confidence and presumption. 
A woman in France is graceful by going out of her sphere ; not 
by keeping within it. — In crossing the bridge at Rouane, the sun 
shone brightly oil the river and shipping, which had a busy cheerful 
aspect; and we began to ascend the Bourbonnois under more 
flattering auspices. We got out and walked slowly up the sounding 
road. I found that the morning air refreshed and braced my spirits ; 
and that even the continued fatigue of the journey, which I had 
dreaded as a hazardous experiment, was a kind of seasoning to me. 
I was less exhausted than the first day. I will venture to say, 
that for an invalid, sitting up all night is better than lying in bed 
all day. Hardships, however dreadful to nervous apprehensions, 
by degrees give us strength and resolution to endure them : whereas 
effeminacy softens and renders us less and less capable of encountering 
pain or difficulty. It is the love of indulgence, or the shock of the 
first privation or effort, that confirms almost all the weaknesses of 
body or mind. As we loitered up the long, winding ascent of the 

179 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

road from Rouane, we occasionally approached the brink of some 
Alpine declivity tufted with pine trees, and noticed the white villas, 
clustering [or] scattered, which in all directions spotted the very 
summits of that vast and gradual amphitheatre of hills which 
overlooked the neighbouring town. The Bourbonnois is the first 
large chain of hills piled one upon another, and extending range 
beyond range, that you come to on the route to Italy, and that 
occupy a wide-spread district, like a mighty conqueror, with uniform 
and growing magnificence. To those who have chiefly seen 
detached mountains or abrupt precipices rising from the level surface 
of the ground, the effect is exceedingly imposing and grand. The 
descent on the other side into Tarare is more sudden and dangerous ; 
and you avoid passing over the top of the mountain (along which 
the road formerly ran) by one of those fine, broad, firmly-cemented 
roads with galleries and bridges, which bespeak at once the master- 
hand that raised them. Tarare is a neat little town, famous for the 
manufacture of serges and calicoes. We had to stop here for three- 
quarters of an hour, waiting for fresh horses ; and as we sat in the 
coupe in this helpless state, the horses taken out, the sun shining in, 
and the wind piercing through every cranny of the broken panes and 
rattling sash-windows, the postilion came up and demanded to know 
if we were English, as there were two English gentlemen who 
would be glad to see us. I excused myself from getting out, but 
said I should be happy to speak to them. Accordingly, my 
informant beckoned to a young man in black, who was standing at a 
little distance in a state of anxious expectation, and who coming to 
the coach-door said, he presumed we were from London, and that 
he had taken the liberty to pay his respects to us. His friend, he 
said, who was staying with him, was ill in bed, or he would have 
done himself the same pleasure. He had on a pair of wooden clogs, 
turned up and pointed at the toes in the manner of the country 
(which he recommended to me as useful for climbing the hills if 
ever I should come into those parts) warm worsted mittens, and had 
a thin, genteel, shivering aspect. I expected every moment he 
would tell me his name or business ; but all I learnt was that he and 
his friend had been here some time, and that they could not get 
away till spring, that there were no entertainments, that trade was 
flat, and that the French seemed to him a very different people from 
the English. The fact is, he found himself quite at a loss in a 
French country-town, and had no other resource or way of amusing 
himself, than by looking out for the Diligences as they passed, and 
trying to hear news from England. He stood at his own door, and 
waved his hand with a melancholy air as we rode by, and no doubt 
1 80 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

instantly went up stairs to communicate to his sick friend, that he 
had conversed with two English people. 

Our delay at Tarare had deprived us of nearly an hour of day- 
light ; and, besides, the miserable foundered jades of horses, that 
we had to get on with in this paragon of Diligences, were quite 
unequal to the task of dragging it up and down the hills on the road 
to Lyons, which was still twenty miles distant. The night was 
dark, and we had no light. I found it was quite hopeless when we 
should reach our journey's end (if we did not break our necks by 
the way) and that both were matters of very great indifference to 
Mons. le Conducteur, who was only bent on saving the pockets of 
Messieurs his employers, and who had no wish, like me, to see the 
Vatican ! He affected to make bargains for horses, which always 
failed and added to our delay ; and lighted his lantern once or twice, 
but it always went out. At last I said that I had intended to give 
him a certain sum for himself, but that if we did not arrive in Lyons 
by ten o'clock at night, he might depend upon it I would not give 
him a single farthing. This had the desired effect. He got out 
at the next village we came to, and three stout horses were fastened 
to the harness. He also procured a large piece of candle (with a 
reserve of another piece of equal length and thickness in his lantern) 
and held it in his hand the whole way, only shifting it from one 
hand to the other, as he grew tired, and biting his lips and making 
wry faces at this new office of a candelabrum, which had been thrust 
upon him much against his will. I was not sorry, for he was one of 
the most disagreeable Frenchmen I ever met with, having all 
the indifference and self-sufficiency of his countrymen with none of 
their usual obligingness. He seemed to me a person out of his place 
(a thing you rarely discover in France) — a broken-down tradesman, 
or ' one that ' had had misfortunes,' and who neither liked nor was 
fit for his present situation of Conducteur to a Diligence without 
funds, without horses, and without passengers. We arrived in safety 
at Lyons at eleven o'clock at night, and were conducted to the Hotel 
des Couriers, where we, with some difficulty, procured a lodging and 
a supper, and were attended by a brown, greasy, dark-haired, good- 
humoured, awkward gypsey of a wench from the south of France, 
who seemed just caught ; stared and laughed, and forgot every thing 
she went for ; could not help exclaiming every moment — ' Que 
Madame a le peau blanc ! ' from the contrast to her own dingy com- 
plexion and dirty skin, took a large brass-pan of scalding milk, came 
and sat down by me on a bundle of wood, and drank it ; said she had 
had no supper, for her head ached, and declared the English were 
braves gens, and that the Bourbons were Ions enfans, started up to 

i8i 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

look through the key-hole, and whispered through her broad strong- 
set teeth, that a fine Madam was descending the staircase, who had 
been to dine with a great gentleman, oiFered to take away the supper 
things, left them, and called us the next morning with her head and 
senses in a state of even greater confusion than they were over-night. 
The familiarity of common servants in France surprises the English 
at first ; but it has nothing offensive in it, any more than the good 
natured gambols and freedoms of a Newfoundland dog. It is quite 
natural. 

Lyons is a fine, dirty town. The streets are good, but so high 
and narrow, that they look like sinks of filth and gloom. The shops 
are mere diingeons. Yet two noble rivers water the city, the Rhone 
and the Saone — the one broad and majestic, the other more confined 
and impetuous in its course, and join a little below the town to pour 
their friendly streams into the Mediterranean. The square is spacious 
and handsome, and the heights of St. Just, that overlook it, command 
a fine view of the town, the bridges, both rivers, the hills of Provence, 
the road to Chambery, and the Alps, with their snowy tops propping 
the clouds. The sight of them effectually deterred me from attempt- 
ing to go by Geneva and the Simplon ; and we were contented (for 
this time) with the humbler passage of Mount Cenis. Here is the 
Hotel de Notre Dame de Piete, which is shewn you as the inn where 
Rousseau stopped on his way to Paris, when he went to overturn the 
French Monarchy by the force of style. I thought of him, as we 
came down the mountain of Tarare, in his gold-laced hat, and with 
Kxsjet d'eau playing. If they could but have known who was coming, 
how many battalions would have been sent out to meet him ; what 
a ringing of alarm-bells, what a beating of drums, what raising of 
drawbridges, what barring of gates, what examination of passports, 
what processions of priests, what meetings of magistrates, what 
confusion in the towns, what a panic through the country, what 
telegraphic despatches to the Court of Versailles, what couriers 
posting to all parts of Europe, what manifestoes from armies, what 
a hubbub of Holy Alliances, and all for what ? To prevent one 
man from speaking what he and every other man felt, and whose 
only fault was that the beatings of the human heart had found an 
echo in his pen ! At Lyons I saw this inscription over a door : 
let on trouve le seul it unique depot de I'encre sans pareil et incorruptible — 
which appeared to me to contain the whole secret of French poetry. 
I went into a shop to buy M. Martine's Death of Socrates, which I 
saw in the window, but they would neither let me have that copy nor 
get me another. The French are not ' a nation of shopkeepers.' 
They had quite as lieve see you walk out of their shops as come into 
182 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

them. While I was waiting for an answer, a French servant in 
livery brought in four volumes of the History of a Foundling, an 
improved translation, in which it was said the morceaux omitted 
by M. de la Place were restored. I was pleased to see my old 
acquaintance Tom Jones, with his French coat on. The poetry 
of M. Alphonse Martine and of M. Casimir de la Vigne circulates 
in the provinces and in Italy, through the merit of the authors and 
the favour of the critics. L. H. tells me that the latter is a great 
Bonapartist, and talks of ' the tombs of the brave.' He said I might 
form some idea of M. Martine's attempts to be great and unfrenchified 
by the frontispiece to one of his poems, in which a young gentleman 
in an heroic attitude is pointing to the sea in a storm, with his other 
hand round a pretty girl's waist. I told H. this poet had lately 
married a lady of fortune. He said, ' That 's the girl.' He also 
said very well, I thought, that ' the French seemed born to puzzle 
the Germans.' Why are there not salt-spoons in France ? In 
England it is a piece of barbarism to put your knife into a salt-cellar 
with another. But in France the distinction between grossness and 
refinement is done away. Every thing there is refined ! 



CHAPTER XIV 

There was a Diligence next day for Turin over Mount Cenis, which 
went only twice a week (stopping at night) and I was glad to secure 
(as I thought) two places in the interior at seventy francs a seat, for 
240 miles. The fare from Paris to Lyons, a distance of 360 miles, 
was only fifty francs each, which is four times as cheap ; but the 
difference was accounted for to me, from there being no other convey- 
ance, which was an arbitrary reason, and from the number and expense 
of horses necessary to drag a heavy double coach over mountainous 
roads. Besides, it was a Royal Messagerie, and I was given to 
understand that Messrs. Bonnafoux paid the King of Sardinia a 
thousand crowns a year for permission to run a Diligence through 
his territories. The knave of a waiter (I found) had cheated me; 
and that from Chambery there was only one place in the interior and 
one in the coupe, which turned out to be a cabriolet, a place in front 
with a leathern apron and curtains, which in winter time, and in 
travelling over snowy mountains and through icy valleys, was not a 
situation ' devoutly to be wished.' I had no other resource, however, 
having paid my four pounds in advance at the over-pressing instances 
of the Garfon, but to call him a coquin, (which being a Milanese was 

183 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

not quite safe) to throw out broad hints (a P Anglais) of a collusion 
between him and the Office, and to arrange as well as I could with 
the Conducteur, that I and my fellow-traveller should not be separated. 
I would advise all English people travelling abroad to take their own 
places at coach-offices, and not to trust to waiters, who will make a 
point of tricking them, both as a principle and pastime ; and further 
to procure letters of recommendation (in case of disagreeable accidents 
on the road) for it was a knowledge of this kind, namely, that I had 
a letter of introduction to one of the Professors of the College at 
Lyons, that procured me even the trifling concession above-mentioned, 
through the influence which the landlady of the Hotel had with the 
Conducteur : otherwise, instead of being stuck in the cabriolet, I 
might have mounted on the imperial, and any signs of vexation or 
impatience I might have exhibited, would have been construed into 
ebullitions of the national character, and a want of bienseance in 
Monsieur I'Anglois. The French, and foreigners in general, (as 
far as I have seen) are civil, polite, easy-tempered, obliging ; but 
the art of keeping up plausible appearances stands them in lieu of 
downright honesty. They think they have a right to cheat you if 
they can (a compliment, a civil bow, a shrug, is worth the money ! ) 
and the instant you find out the imposition or begin to complain, they 
turn away from you as a disagreeable or wrong-headed person, and 
you can get no redress but by main force. It is not the original 
transgressor, but he who declares he is aggrieved, that is considered 
as guilty of a breach of good manners, and a disturber of the social 
compact. I think one is more irritated at the frequent impositions 
that are practised on one abroad, because the novelty of the scene, 
one's ignorance of the ways of the world, and the momentary excite- 
ment of the spirits and of the flush of hope, have a tendency to renew 
in one's mind the unsuspecting simplicity and credulity of youth ; and 
the petty tricks and shuffling behaviour we meet with on the road 
are a greater baulk to our warm, sanguine, buoyant, travelling 
impulses. 

Annoyed at the unfair way in which we had been treated, and at 
the idea of being left to the mercy of the Conducteur, whose ' honest, 
sonsie, bawsont face ' had, however, no more of the fox in it than 
implied an eye to his own interest, and might be turned to our own 
advantage, we took our seats numerically in the Royal Diligence of 
Italy, at seven in the evening (January 20) and for some time suffered 
the extreme penalties of a French stage-coach — not indeed ' the icy 
fang and season's difference,' but a very purgatory of heat, closeness, 
confinement, and bad smells. Nothing can surpass it but the section 
of a slave-ship, or the Black-hole of Calcutta. Mr. Theodore Hook 

184 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

or Mr. Croker should take an airing in this way on the Continent, 
in order to give them a notion of, and I should think, a distaste for 
the blessings of the Middle Passage. Not only were the six places 
in the interior all taken, and all full, but they had suspended a wicker 
basket (like a hen-coop) from the top of the coach, stuffed with fur- 
caps, hats, overalls, and different parcels, so as to make it impossible 
to move one way or other, and to stop every remaining breath of air. 
A negociant at my right-hand corner, who was inclined to piece out a 
lengthened recital ^vith a parce que and a de sorte que at every word, 
having got upon ticklish ground, without seeing his audience, was cut 
short in the flower of his oratory, by asserting that Barcelona and 
St. Sebastian's in Spain were contiguous to each other. ' They were 
at opposite sides of the country,' exclaimed in the same breath a 
French soldier and a Spaniard, who sat on the other side of the 
coach, and whom he was regaling with the gallant adventures of a 
friend of his in the Peninsula, and not finding the usual excuse — 
' Cest igaV — applicable to a blunder in geography, was contented to 
fall into the rear of the discourse for the rest of the journey. At 
midnight we found that we had gone only nine miles in five hours, 
as we had been climbing a gradual ascent from the time we set out, 
which was our first essay in mountain-scenery, and gave us some 
idea of the scale of the country we were beginning to traverse. The 
heat became less insupportable as the noise and darkness subsided ; 
and as the morning dawned, we were anxious to remove that veil of 
uncertainty and prejudice which the obscurity of night throws over a 
number of passengers whom accident has huddled together in a stage- 
coach. I think one seldom finds one's-self set down in a party of 
this kind without a strong feeling of repugnance and distaste, and one 
seldom quits it at last without some degree of regret. It was the 
case in the present instance. At day-break, the pleasant farms, the 
thatched cottages, and sloping valleys of Savoy attracted our notice, 
and I was struck with the resemblance to England (to some parts of 
Devonshire and Somersetshire in particular) a discovery which I 
imparted to my fellow-travellers with a more lively enthusiasm than 
it was received. An Englishman thinks he has only to communicate 
his feelings to others to meet with sympathy, and is not a little 
disconcerted if (after this amazing act of condescension) he is at all 
repulsed. How should we laugh at a Frenchman who expected us 
to be delighted with his finding out a likeness of some part of 
England to France ? We English are a nation of egotists, say what 
we will ; and so much so, that we expect others to swallow the bait 
of our self-love. 

At Pont Beau-Voisin, the frontier town of the King of Sardinia's 

i8s 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

dominions, we stopped to breakfast, and to have our passports and 
luggage examined at the Barrier and Custom-house. I breakfasted 
with the Spaniard, who invited himself to our tea-party, and compli- 
mented Madame (in broken English) on the excellence of her 
performance. We agreed between ourselves that the Spaniards and 
English were very much superior to the French. I found he had 
a taste for the Fine Arts, and I spoke of Murillo and Velasquez as 
two excellent Spanish painters. ' Here was sympathy.' I also 
spoke of Don Quixote — 'Here was more sympathy.' What a thing 
it is to have produced a work that makes friends of all the world that 
have read it, and that all the world have read ! Mention but Don 
Quixote, and who is there that does not own him for a friend, 
countryman, and brother ? There is no French work, at the name 
of which (as at a talisman) the scales of national prejudice so 
completely fall off; nay more, I must confess there is no English 
one. We were summoned from our tea and patriotic effusions to 
attend the Douane. It was striking to have to pass and repass the 
piquets of soldiers stationed as a guard on bridges across narrow 
mountain-streams that a child might leap over. After some slight 
dalliance with our great-coat pockets, and significant gestures as if 
we might or might not have things of value about us that we should 
not, we proceeded to the Custom-house. I had two trunks. One 
contained books. When it was unlocked, it was as if the lid of 
Pandora's box flew open. There could not have been a more sudden 
start or expression of surprise, had it been filled with cartridge- 
paper or gun-powder. Books were the corrosive sublimate that 
eat out despotism and priestcraft — the artillery that battered down 
castle and dungeon-walls — the ferrets that ferreted out abuses- — the 
lynx-eyed guardians that tore off disguises — the scales that weighed 
right and wrong — the thumping make-weight thrown into the balance 
that made force and fraud, the sword and the cowl, kick the beam — 
the dread of knaves, the scoff of fools — the balm and the consolation 
of the human mind — the salt of the earth — the future rulers of the 
world ! A box full of them was a contempt of the constituted 
Authorities ; and the names of mine were taken down with great care 
and secrecy — Lord Bacon's ' Advancement of Learning,' Milton's 
' Paradise Lost,' De Stutt-Tracey's ' Ideologic,' (which Bonaparte 
said ruined his Russian expedition,) Mignet's 'French Revolution,' 
(which wants a chapter on the English Government,) 'Sayings and 
Doings,' with pencil notes in the margin, ' Irving's Orations,' the 
same, an ' Edinburgh Review,' some ' Morning Chronicles,' ' The 
Literary Examiner,' a collection of Poetry, a Volume bound in 
crimson velvet, and the Paris edition of ' Table-talk.' Here was 
i86 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

some questionable matter enough — but no notice was taken. My box 
was afterwards corded and leaded with equal gravity and politeness, 
and it was not till I arrived at Turin that I found it was a prisoner of 
state, and would be forwarded to me anywhere I chose to mention, 
out of his Sardinian Majesty's dominions. I was startled to find 
myself within the smooth polished grasp of legitimate power, without 
suspecting it ; and was glad to recover my trunk at Florence, with 
no other inconvenience than the expense of its carriage across the 
country.! 

It was noon as we returned to the inn, and we first caught a full 

^ At Milan, a short time ago, a gentleman had a Homer, in Greek and Latin, 
among his books. He was surlily asked to explain what it meant. Upon doing 
so, the Inspector shook his head doubtingly, and said, 'it might pass this time," 
but advised him to beware of a second, ' Here, now, is a work,' he continued, 

pointing to 's Lives of the Popes, containing all the abominations (public and 

private) of their history, ' You should bring such books as this with you ! ' This 
is one specimen of that learned conspiracy for the suppression of light and letters, 
of which we are sleeping partners and honorary associates. The Allies complain 
at present of Mr. Canning's 'faithlessness.' Oh ! that he would indeed play them 
false and earn his title of 'slippery George !' Faithful to anything he cannot be — 
faithless to them would be something. The Austrians, it is said, have lately 
attempted to strike the name of Italy out of the maps, that that country may 
neither have a name, a body, or a soul left to it, and even to suppress the publica- 
tion of its finest historians, that it may forget it ever had one. Go on, obliging 
creatures ! Blot the light out of heaven, tarnish the blue sky with the blight and 
fog of despotism, deface and trample on the green earth ; for while one trace of 
what is fair or lovely is left in the earth under our feet, or the sky over our 
heads, or in the mind of man that is within us, it will remain to mock your 
impotence and deformity, and to reflect back lasting hatred and contempt upon 
you. Why does not our Eton scholar, our classic Statesman, suggest to the Allies 
an intelligible hint of the propriety of inscribing the name of Italy once more on 
the map, 

'Like that ensanguined flower inscribed with woe' — 

of taking off the prohibition on the Histories of Guicciardini and Davila ? Or 
why do not the English people — the English House of Commons, suggest it to 
him ? Is there such a thing as the English people — as an English House of 
Commons ? Their influence is not felt at present in Europe, as erst it was, to its 
short-lived hope, bought with flat despair. The reason is, the cause of the people 
of Europe has no echo in the breasts of the British public. The cause of Kings 
had an echo in the breast of a British Monarch — that of Foreign Governments in 
the breasts of British Ministers ! There are at present no fewer than fifteen 
hundred of the Italian nobility of the first families proscribed from their country, 
or pining in dungeons. For what ? For trying to give to their country inde- 
pendence and a Constitutional Government, like England ! What says the 
English House of Lords to that ? What if the Russians were to come and apply 
to us and to them the benefits and the principles of the Holy Alliance — the 
bayonet and the thumbscrew? Lord Bathurst says, 'Let them come ;' — and they 
will come when we have a servile people, dead to liberty, and an arbitrary govern- 
ment, hating and ready to betray it ! 

187 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

view of the Alps over a plashy meadow, some feathery trees, and the 
tops of the houses of the village in which we were. It was a 
magnificent sight, and in truth a new sensation. Their summits were 
bright with snow and with the midday sun ; they did not seem to 
stand upon the earth, but to prop the sky ; they were at a considerable 
distance from us, and yet appeared just over our heads. The surprise 
seemed to take away our breath, and to lift us from our feet. It was 
drinking the empyrean. As we could not long retain possession of 
our two places in the interior, I proposed to our guide to exchange 
them for the cabriolet ; and, after some little chaffering and candid 
representations of the outside passengers of the cold we should have 
to encounter, we were installed there to our great satisfaction, and the 
no less contentment of those whom we succeeded. Indeed I had no 
idea that we should be steeped in these icy valleys at three o'clock in 
the morning, or I might have hesitated. The view was cheering, 
the clear air refreshing, and I thought we should set off each morning 
about seven or eight. But it is part of the sfavoir -vivre in France, 
and one of the methods of adding to the agremens of travelling, to set 
out three hours before daybreak in the depth of winter, and stop two 
hours about noon, in order to arrive early in the evening. With all 
the disadvantages of preposterous hours and of intense cold pouring 
into the cabriolet like water the two first mornings, I cannot say 
I repented of my bargain. We had come a thousand miles to see 
the Alps for one thing, and we did see them in perfection, which we 
could not have done inside. The ascent for some way was striking 
and full of novelty ; but on turning a corner of the road we entered 
upon a narrow defile or rocky ledge, overlooking a steep valley under 
our feet, with a headlong turbid stream dashing down it, and spreading 
itself out into a more tranquil river below, a dark wood of innumerable 
pine-trees covering the side of the valley opposite, with broken crags, 
morasses, and green plots of cultivated ground, orchards, and quiet 
homesteads, on which the sun glanced its farewell rays through the 
openings of the mountains. On our left, a precipice of dark brown 
rocks of various shapes rose abruptly at our side, or hung threatening 
over the road, into which some of their huge fragments, loosened by 
the winter's flaw, had fallen, and which men and mules were 
employed in removing — (the thundering crash had hardly yet sub- 
sided, as you looked up and saw the fleecy clouds sailing among the 
shattered cliffs, while another giant-mass seemed ready to quit its 
station in the sky) — and as the road wound along to the other 
extremity of this noble pass, between the beetling rocks and dark 
sloping pine-forests, frowning defiance at each other, you caught the 
azure sky, the snowy ridges of the mountains, and the peaked tops of 
i88 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the Grand Chartreuse, waving to the right in solitary state and air- 
clad brightness. — It was a scene dazzling, enchanting, and that 
stamped the long-cherished dreams of the imagination upon the 
senses. Between those four crystal peaks stood the ancient monastery 
of that name, hid from the sight, revealed to thought, half-way 
between earth and heaven, enshrined in its cerulean atmosphere, 
lifting the soul to its native home, and purifying it from mortal 
grossness. I cannot wonder at the pilgrimages that are made to it, 
its calm repose, its vows monastic. Life must there seem a noiseless 
dream ; — Death a near translation to the skies I Winter was even 
an advantage to this scene. The black forests, the dark sides of the 
rocks gave additional and inconceivable brightness to the glittering 
summits of the lofty mountains, and received a deeper tone and a 
more solemn gloom from them ; while in the open spaces the unvaried 
sheets of snow fatigue the eye, which requires the contrast of the 
green tints or luxuriant foliage of summer or of spring. This was 
more particularly perceptible as the day closed, when the golden 
sunset streamed in vain over frozen valleys that imbibed no richness 
from it, and repelled its smile from their polished marble surface. 
But in the more gloomy and desert regions, the difference is less 
remarkable between summer and winter, except in the beginning of 
spring, when the summits of the hoary rocks are covered with snow, 
and the cleft[s] in their sides are filled with fragrant shrubs and 
flowers. I hope to see this miracle when I return. 

We came to Echelles, where we changed horses with great 
formality and preparation, as if setting out on some formidable 
expedition. Six large strong-boned horses with high haunches (used 
to ascend and descend mountains) were put to, the rope-tackle was 
examined and repaired, and our two postilions mounted and dis- 
mounted more than once, before they seemed willing to set off, which 
they did at last at a hand-gallop, that was continued for some miles. 
It is nothing to see English blood-horses get over the ground with 
such prodigious fleetness and spirit, but it is really curious to see the 
huge cart-horses, that they use for Diligences abroad, lumbering along 
and making the miles disappear behind them with their ponderous 
strength and persevering activity. The road for some way rattled 
under their heavy hoofs, and the heavy wheels that they dragged or 
whirled along at a thundering pace ; the postilions cracked their 
whips, and the one in front (a dark, swarthy, short-set fellow) 
flourished his, shouted and hallooed, and turned back to vociferate his 
instructions to his companion with the robust energy and wildness of 
expression of a smuggler or a leader of banditti, carrying off a rich 
booty from a troop of soldiers. There was something in the scenery 

i8g 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

to favour this idea. Night was falling as we entered the superb 
tunnel cut through the mountain at La Grotte (a work attributed to 
Victor-Emanuel, with the same truth that FalstafFtook to himself the 
merit of the death of Hotspur), and its iron floor rang, the whips 
cracked, and the roof echoed to the clear voice of our intrepid 
postilion as we dashed through it. Our path then wound among 
romantic defiles, where huge masses of snow and the gathering gloom 
threatened continually to bar our way ; but it seemed cleared by the 
lively shout of our guide, and the carriage-wheels, clogged with ice, 
rolled after the heavy tramp of the horses. In this manner we rode 
on through a country full of wild grandeur and shadowy fears, till we 
had nearly reached the end of our day's journey, when we dismissed 
our two fore-horses and their rider, to whom I presented a trifling 
douceur ' for the sake of his good voice and cheerful countenance.' 
The descent into Chambery was the most dangerous part of the road, 
and our horses were nearly thrown on their haunches several times. 
The road was narrow and slippery ; there were a number of market- 
carts returning from the town, and there was a declivity on one side, 
which, though not a precipice, was quite sufficient to have dashed us 
to pieces in a common-place way. We arrived at Chambery in the 
dusk of the evening ; and there is surely a charm in the name, and in 
that of the Charmettes near it (where he who relished all more 
sharply than his fellows, and made them feel for him as for them- 
selves, alone felt peace or hope), which even the Magdalen Muse 
of Mr. Moore has not been able to unsing ! We alighted at the inn 
fatigued enough, and were delighted on being shewn to a room to find 
the floor of wood, and English teacups and saucers. We were in 
Savoy. 

We set out early the next morning, and it was the most trying 
part of our whole journey. The wind cut like a scythe through the 
valleys, and a cold, icy feeling struck from the sides of the snowy 
precipices that surrounded us, so that we seemed enclosed in a huge 
well of mountains. We got to St. Jean de Maurienne to breakfast 
about noon, where the only point agreed upon appeared to be to have 
nothing ready to receive us. This was the most tedious day of all ; 
nor did we meet with any thing to repay us for our uncomfortable 
setting out. We travelled through a scene of desolation, were chilled 
in sunless valleys or dazzled by sunny mountain-tops, passed frozen 
streams or gloomy cavities, that might be transformed into the scene 
of some Gothic wizard's spell, or reminded one of some German 
novel. Let no one imagine that the crossing the Alps is the work 
of a moment, or done by a single heroic effort — that they are a huge 
but detached chain of hills, or like the dotted line we find in the 
190 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

map. They are a sea or an entire kingdom of mountains. It took 
us three days to traverse them in this, which is the most practicable 
direction, and travelling at a good round pace. We passed on as far 
as eye could see, and still we appeared to have made little way. 
Still we were in the shadow of the same enormous mass of rock and 
snow, by the side of the same creeping stream. Lofty mountains 
reared themselves in front of us — horrid abysses were scooped out 
under our feet. Sometimes the road wound along the side of a steep 
hill, overlooking some village-spire or hamlet, and as we ascended it, 
it only gave us a view of remoter scenes, ' where Alps o'er Alps 
arise,' tossing about their billowy tops, and tumbling their unwieldy 
shapes in all directions — a world of wonders! — Any one, who is 
much of an egotist, ought not to travel through these districts ; his 
vanity will not find its account in them ; it will be chilled, mortified, 
shrunk up : but they are a noble treat to those who feel themselves 
raised in their own thoughts and in the scale of being by the 
immensity of other things, and who can aggrandise and piece out 
their personal insignificance by the grandeur and eternal forms of 
nature ! It gives one a vast idea of Buonaparte to think of him in 
these situations. He alone (the Rob Roy of the scene) seemed a 
match for the elements, and able to master ' this fortress, built by 
nature for herself.' Neither impeded nor turned aside by immoveable 
barriers, he smote the mountains with his iron glaive, and made them 
malleable ; cut roads through them ; transported armies over their 
ridgy steeps ; and the rocks ' nodded to him, and did him courtesies ! ' 
We arrived at St. Michelle at night-fall (after passing through beds 
of ice and the infernal regions of cold), where we met with a truly 
hospitable reception, with wood-floors in the English fashion, and 
where they told us the King of England had stopped. This made 
no sort of difference to me. 

We breakfasted the next day (being Sunday ) at L ans-le-Bourg, where 
I observed my friend the Spaniard busy with his tables, taking down the 
name of the place. The landlady was a little, round, fat, good-humoured 
black-eyed Italian or Savoyard, saying a number of good things to all 
her guests, but sparing of them otherwise. We were now at the foot of 
Mount Cenis, and after breakfast we set out on foot before the Diligence, 
which was to follow us in half an hour. We passed a melancholy- 
looking inn at the end of the town, professing to be kept by an English- 
woman ; but there appeared to be nobody about the house, English, 
French, or Italian. The mistress of it (a young woman who had 
married an Italian) had, in fact, died a short time before of pure chagrin 
and disappointment in this solitary place, after having told her tale of 
distress to every one, till it fairly wore her out. We had leisure to look 

191 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

back to the town as we proceeded, and which, with its church, stone- 
cottages, and slated roofs, shrunk into a miniature-model of itself as 
we continued to advance farther and higher above it. Some straggling 
cottages, some vineyards planted at a great height, and another 
compact and well-built village, that seemed to defy the extremity of 
the seasons, were seen in the direction of the valley that we were 
pursuing. Else all around were shapeless, sightless piles of hills 
covered with snow, with crags or pine-trees or a foot-path peeping 
out, and in the appearance of which no alteration whatever was made 
by our advancing or receding. We gained on the mountain by a 
broad, winding road that continually doubles, and looks down upon 
the point from whence you started half an hour before. Some snow 
had fallen in the morning, but it was now fine, though cloudy. We 
found two of our fellow-travellers following our example, and they 
soon after overtook us. They were both French. We noticed some 
of the features of the scenery ; and a lofty hill opposite to us being 
scooped out into a bed of snow, with two ridges or promontories 
projecting (something like an arm-chair) on each side. '■Voila!' 
said the younger and more volatile of our companions, ^c'est un trone, 
et h nuage est la gloire ! ' — A white cloud indeed encircled its misty 
top. I complimented him on the happiness of his allusion, and said 
that Madame was pleased with the exactness of the resemblance. 
He then turned to the valley, and said, ' Cest un berceau.' This is 
the height to which the imagination of a Frenchman always soars, 
and it can soar no higher. Any thing that is not cast in this 
obvious, common-place mould, that had been used a thousand times 
before with applause, they think barbarous, and as they phrase it, 
originaire. No farther notice was taken of the scenery, any more 
than if we had been walking on the Boulevards at Paris, and my 
young Frenchman talked of other things, laughed, sung, and smoked 
a cigar with a gaiety and lightness of heart that I envied. ' What has 
become,' said the elder of the Frenchmen, 'of Monsieur I'Espagnol? 
He does not easily quit his seat ; he sits in one corner, never looks out, 
or if you point to any object, takes no notice of it ; and when you 
come to the end of the stage, says — "What is the name of that place 
we passed by last ? " takes out his pocket-book, and makes a note of 
it. "That is droll.'" And what made it more so, it turned out 
that our Spanish friend was a painter, travelling to Rome to study 
the Fine Arts ! All the way as we ascended, there were red posts 
placed at the edge of the road, ten or twelve feet in height, to point 
out the direction of the road in case of a heavy fall of snow, and with 
notches cut to shew the depth of the drifts. There were also 
scattered stone-hovels, erected as stations for the Gens (Parmes, who 
192 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

were sometimes left here for several days together after a severe 
snow-storm, without being approached by a single human being. 
One of these stood near the top of the mountain, and as we were tired 
of the walk (which had occupied two hours) and of the uniformity 
of the view, we agreed to wait here for the Diligence to overtake us. 
We were cordially welcomed in by a young peasant (a soldier's 
wife) with a complexion as fresh as the winds, and an expression as 
pure as the mountain-snows. The floor of this rude tenement con- 
sisted of the solid rock ; and a three-legged table stood on it, on 
which were placed three earthen bowls filled with sparkling wine, 
heated on a stove with sugar. The woman stood b)', and did the 
honours of this cheerful repast with a rustic simplicity and a pastoral 
grace that might have called forth the powers of Hemskirk and 
Raphael. I shall not soon forget the rich ruby colour of the wine, 
as the sun shone upon it through a low glazed window that looked 
out on the boundless wastes around, nor its grateful spicy smell as 
we sat round it. I was complaining of the trick that had been 
played by the waiter at Lyons in the taking of our places, when I 
was told by the young Frenchman, that, in case I returned to Lyons, 
I ought to go to the Hotel de I'Europe, or to the Hotel du Nord, 
' in which latter case he should have the honour of serving me.' I 
thanked him for his information, and we set out to finish the ascent 
of Mount Cenis, which we did in another half-hour's march. The 
tratteur of the Hotel du Nord and I had got into a brisk theatrical 
discussion on the comparative merits of Kean and Talma, he assert- 
ing that there was something in French acting which an English 
understanding could not appreciate ; and I insisting loudly on bursts 
of passion as the forte of Talma, which was a language common to 
human nature ; that in his (Edipus, for instance, it was not a French- 
man or an Englishman he had to represent — ' Mais c'est un homme, 
c'est (Edipe ' — when our cautious Spaniard brushed by us, determined 
to shew he could descend the mountain, if he would not ascend it on 
foot. His figure was characteristic enough, his motions smart and 
lively, and his dress composed of all the colours of the rainbow. He 
strutted on before us in the snow, like a flamingo or some tropical 
bird of variegated plumage ; his dark purple cloak fluttered in the air, 
his Montero cap, set a little on one side, was of fawn colour ; his 
waistcoat a bright scarlet, his coat a reddish brown, his trowsers a 
pea-green, and his boots a perfect yellow. He saluted us with a 
national politeness as he passed, and seemed bent on redeeming the 
sedentary sluggishness of his character by one bold and desperate 
effort of locomotion. 

The coach shortly after overtook us. We descended a long and 
VOL. IX. : N 193 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

steep declivity, with the highest point of Mount Cenis on our left, 
and a lake to the right, like a landing-place for geese. Between the 
two was a low, white monastery, and the barrier where we had our 
passports inspected, and then went forward with only two stout horses 
and one rider. The snow on this side of the mountain was nearly 
gone. I supposed myself for some time nearly on level ground, till 
we came in view of several black chasms or steep ravines in the side 
of the mountain facing us, with water oozing from it, and saw through 
some galleries, that is, massy stone-pillars knit together by thick rails 
of strong timber, guarding the road-side, a perpendicular precipice 
below, and other galleries beyond, diminished in a fairy perspective, 
and descending 'with cautious haste and giddy cunning,' and with 
innumerable windings and re-duplications to an interminable depth and 
distance from the height where we were. The men and horses with 
carts, that were labouring up the path in the hollow below, shewed 
like crows or flies. The road we had to pass was often immediately 
under that we were passing, and cut from the side of what was all 
but a precipice out of the solid rock by the broad, firm master-hand 
that traced and executed this mighty work. The share that art has 
in the scene is as appalling as the scene itself— the strong security 
against danger as sublime as the danger itself. Near the turning of 
one of the first galleries is a beautiful waterfall, which at this time 
was frozen into a sheet of green pendant ice — a magical transforma- 
tion. Long after we continued to descend, now faster and now 
slower, and came at length to a small village at the bottom of a 
sweeping line of road, where the houses seemed like dove-cotes with 
the mountain's back reared like a wall behind them, and which I 
thought the termination of our journey. But here the wonder and the 
greatness began : for, advancing through a grove of slender trees to 
another point of the road, we caught a new view of the lofty mountain 
to our left. It stood in front of us, with its head in the skies, covered 
with snow, and its bare sides stretching far away into a valley that 
yawned at its feet, and over which we seemed suspended in mid air. 
The height, the magnitude, the immoveableness of the objects, the 
wild contrast, the deep tones, the dance and play of the landscape 
from the change of our direction and the interposition of other 
striking objects, the continued recurrence of the same huge masses, 
like giants following us with unseen strides, stunned the sense like a 
blow, and yet gave the imagination strength to contend with a force 
that mocked it. Here immeasurable columns of reddish granite 
shelved from the mountain's sides ; here they were covered and 
stained with furze and other shrubs ; here a chalky cliff shewed a fir- 
grove climbing its tall sides, and that itself looked at a distance like a 
194 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

huge, branching pine-tree ; beyond was a dark, projecting knoll, or 
hilly promontory, that threatened to bound the perspective — but, on 
drawing nearer to it, the cloudy vapour that shrouded it (as it were) 
retired, and opened another vista beyond, that, in its own unfathomed 
depth, and in the gradual obscurity of twilight, resembled the 
uncertain gloom of the back-ground of some fine picture. At the 
bottom of this valley crept a sluggish stream, and a monastery or low 
castle stood upon its banks. The effect was altogether grander than 
I had any conception of. It was not the idea of height or elevation 
that was obtruded upon the mind and staggered it, but we seemed to 
be descending into the bowels of the earth — its foundations seemed to 
be laid bare to the centre ; and abyss after abyss, a vast, shadowy, 
interminable space, opened to receive us. We saw the building up 
and frame-work of the world — its limbs, its ponderous masses, and 
mighty proportions, raised stage upon stage, and we might be said to 
have passed into an unknown sphere, and beyond mortal limits. As 
we rode down our winding, circuitous path, our baggage, (which had 
been taken off) moved on before us ; a grey horse that had got loose 
from the stable followed it, and as we whirled round the different 
turnings in this rapid, mechanical flight, at the same rate and the 
same distance from each other, there seemed something like witch- 
craft in the scene and in our progress through it. The moon had risen, 
and threw its gleams across the fading twilight ; the snowy tops of 
the mountains were blended with the clouds and stars ; their sides 
were shrouded in mysterious gloom, and it was not till we entered 
Susa, with its fine old drawbridge and castellated walls, that we found 
ourselves on terra Jirma, or breathed common air again. At the inn 
at Susa, we first perceived the difference of Italian manners ; and the 
next day arrived at Turin, after passing over thirty miles of the 
straightest, flattest, and dullest road intthe world. Here we stopped 
two days to recruit our strength and look about us. 



CHAPTER XV 

My arrival at Turin was the first and only moment of intoxication I 
have found in Italy. It is a city of palaces. After a change of 
dress (which, at the end of a long journey, is a great luxury) I 
walked out, and traversing several clean, spacious streets, came to a 
promenade outside the town, from which I saw the chain of Alps we 
laad left behind us, rising like a range of marble pillars in the evening 
sky. Monte Viso and Mount Cenis resembled two pointed cones of 

195 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

ice, shooting up above all the rest. I could distinguish the broad 
and rapid Po, winding along at the other extremity of the walk, 
through vineyards and meadow grounds. The trees had on that 
deep sad foliage, which takes a mellower tinge from being prolonged 
into the midst of winter, and which I had only seen in pictures. 
A Monk was walking in a solitary grove at a little distance from the 
common path. The air was soft and balmy, and I felt transported 
to another climate — -another earth — another sky. The winter was 
suddenly changed to spring. It was as if I had to begin my life 
anew. Several young Italian women were walking on the terrace, in 
English dresses, and with graceful downcast looks, in which you might 
fancy that you read the soul of the Decameron. It was a fine, serious 
grace, equally remote from French levity and English suUenness, 
but it was the last I saw of it. I have run the gauntlet of vulgar 
shapes and horrid faces ever since. The women in Italy (so far as 1 
have seen hitherto) are detestably ugly. They are not even dark 
and swarthy, but a mixture of brown and red, coarse, marked with 
the small pox, with pug-features, awkward, ill-made, fierce, dirty, lazy, 
neither attempting nor hoping to please. Italian beauty (if there is, 
as I am credibly informed, such a thing) is retired, conventual, denied to 
the common gaze. It was and it remains a dream to me, a vision of 
the brain ! I returned to the inn (the Pension Suisse) in high spirits, 
and made a most luxuriant dinner. We had a wild duck equal to 
what we had in Paris, and the grapes were the finest I ever tasted. 
Afterwards we went to the Opera, and saw a ballet of action (out-herod- 
ing Herod) with all the extravagance of incessant dumb-show and 
noise, the glittering of armour, the burning of castles, the clattering 
of horses on and off the stage, and heroines like furies in hysterics. 
Nothing at Bartholomew Fair was ever in worse taste, noisier, or ' 
finer. It was as if a whole people had buried their understandings, 
their imaginations, and their hearts in their senses ; and as if the latter 
were so jaded and worn out, that they required to be inflamed, 
dazzled, and urged almost to a kind of frenzy-fever, to feel any thing. 
The house was crowded to excess, and dark, all but the stage, which 
shed a dim, ghastly light on the gilt boxes and the audience. 
Milton might easily have taken his idea of Pandemonium from the 
inside of an Italian Theatre, its heat, its gorgeousness, and its gloom. 
We were at the back of the pit, in which there was only standing 
room, and leaned against the first row of boxes, full of the Piedmontese 
Nobility, who talked fast and loud in their harsh guttural dialect, in 
spite of the repeated admonitions of ' a gentle usher, Authority by 
name,' who every five seconds hissed some lady of quality and high 
breeding whose voice was heard with an eclat above all the rest. No 
196 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

notice whatever was taken of the acting or the singing (which was 
any thing but Italian, unless Italian at present means a bad imitation 
of the French) till a comic dance attracted all eyes, and drew forth 
bursts of enthusiastic approbation. I do not know the performers' 
names, but a short, squat fellow (a kind of pollard of the green-room) 
dressed in a brown linsey-woolsey doublet and hose, with round head, 
round shoulders, short arms and short legs, made love to a fine die- 
azuay lady, dressed up in the hoops, lappets and furbelows of the last 
age, and stumped, nodded, pulled and tugged at his mistress with 
laudable perseverance, and in determined opposition to the awkward, 
mawkish graces of an Adonis of a rival, with flowing locks, pink 
ribbons, yellow kerseymere breeches, and an insipid expression of the 
utmost distress. It was an admirable grotesque and fantastic piece of 
pantomime humour. The little fellow who played the Clown, 
certainly entered into the part with infinite adroitness and spirit. He 
merited the teres et rotundus of the poet. He bounded over the stage 
like a foot-ball, rolled himself up like a hedge-hog, stuck his arms in 
his sides like fins, rolled his eyes in his head like bullets — and the 
involuntary plaudits of the audience witnessed the success of his 
efforts at once to electrify and stultify them ! The only annoyance 
I found at Turin was the number of beggars who are stuck against 
the walls like fixtures, and expose their diseased, distorted limbs, with 
no more remorse or feeling than if they did not belong to them, 
deafening you with one wearisome cry the whole day long. 

We were fortunate enough to find a voiture going from Geneva to 
Florence, with an English lady and her niece — I bargained for the 
two remaining places for ten guineas, and the journey turned out 
pleasantly, I believe, to all parties ; I am sure it did so to us. We 
were to be eight days on the road, and to stop two days to rest, once 
at Parma, and once at Bologna, to see the pictures. Having made 
this arrangement, I was proceeding over the bridge towards the 
Observatory that commands a view of the town and the whole 
surrounding country, and had quite forgotten that I had such a thing 
as a passport to take with me. I found, however, I had no fewer 
than four signatures to procure, besides the six that were already 
tacked to my passport, before I could proceed, and which I had some 
difficulty in obtaining in time to set out on the following morning. 
The hurry I was thrown into by this circumstance prevented me from 
seeing some fine Rembrandts, Spagnolettos and Caraccis, which I was 
told are to be found in the Palace of Prince Carignani and elsewhere. 
I received this piece of information from my friend the Spaniard, 
who called on me to inquire my proposed route, and to ' testify,' as 
he said, ' his respect for the English character.' Shall I own it ? I 

197 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

who flout, rail at, and contemn the English, was more pleased with this 
compliment paid to me in my national character, than with any I ever 
received on the score of personal civility. My fellow-traveller was 
for Genoa and Milan ; I for Florence : but we were to meet at Rome. 

The next morning was clear and frosty, and the sun shone bright 
into the windows of the voiture, as we left Turin, and proceeded 
for some miles at a gentle pace along the banks of the Po. The 
road was level and excellent, and we met a number of market people 
with mules and yokes of oxen. There were some hills crowned 
with villas ; some bits of traditional Italian scenery now and then ; but 
in general you would not know but that you were in England, except 
from the greater clearness and lightness of the air. We breakfasted 
at the first town we came to, in two separate English groups, and I 
could not help being struck with the manner of our reception at an 
Italian inn, which had an air of indifference, insolence, and hollow 
swaggering about it, as much as to say, ' Well, what do you think of 
us Italians ? Whatever you think, we care very little about the 
matter ! ' The French are a politer people than the Italians — the 
English are hQnester ; but I may as well postpone these comparisons 
till my return. The room smoked, and the waiter insisted on having 
the windows and the door open, in spite of my remonstrances to the 
contrary. He flung in and out of the room as if he had a great 
opinion of himself, and wished to express it by a braggadocio air. 
The partridges, coffee, cheese and grapes, on which we breakfasted 
a lafourchette, were, however, excellent. I said so, but the acknow- 
ledgment seemed to be considered as superfluous by our attendant, 
who received five francs for his master, and one for himself, with an 
air of condescending patronage. In consequence of something being 
said about our passports, he relaxed in the solemnity of his deport- 
ment, and observed that ' he had been once near being engaged as 
valet to an English gentleman, at Ostend ; that he had but three 
hours to procure his passport, but while he was getting it, the ship 
sailed, and he lost his situation.' Such was my first impression of 
Italian inns and waiters, and I have seen nothing since materially to 
alter it. They receive you with a mixture of familiarity and fierce- 
ness, and instead of expecting any great civility from them, they 
excite that sort of uncomfortable sensation as to the footing you are 
upon, that you are glad to get away without meeting with some 
affront. There is either a fawning sleekness, which looks like 
design, or an insolence, which looks as if they had you in their 
power. In Switzerland and Savoy you are waited on by women ; in 
Italy by men. I cannot say I like the exchange. From Turin to 
Florence, only one girl entered the room, and she (not to mend the 

198 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

matter) was a very pretty one I was told at the office of Messrs. 

Bonnafoux at Turin, that travelling to Rome by a vetturino was 
highly dangerous, and that their Diligence was guarded by four 
carabineers, to defend it from the banditti. I saw none, nor the 
appearance of any thing that looked like a robber, except a bare-foot 
friar, who suddenly sprang out of a hedge by the road-side, with a 
somewhat wild and haggard appearance, which a little startled me. 
Instead of finding a thief concealed behind each bush, or a Salvator 
Rosa face scowling from a ruined hovel, or peeping from a jutting 
crag at every turn, there is an excellent turnpike-road all the way, 
three-fourths perfectly level, skirted with hedges, corn-fields, orchards 
and vineyards, populous with hamlets and villages, with labourers at 
work in the fields, and with crowds of peasants in gay, picturesque 
attire, and with healthy, cheerful, open, but manly countenances, 
passing along, either to or from the different market-towns. It was 
Carnival time ; and as we travelled on, we were struck with the 
variety of rich dresses, red, yellow, and green, the high-plaited head- 
dresses of the women, some in the shape of helmets, with pins stuck 
in them like skewers, with gold crosses at their bosoms, and large 
muffs on their hands, who poured from the principal towns along the 
high-road, or turned off towards some village-spire in the distance, 
chequering the landscape with their gaily-tinted groups. They often 
turned back and laughed as we drove by them, or passed thoughtfully 
on without noticing us, but assuredly showed no signs of an intention 
to rob or murder us. Even in the Apennines, though the road is 
rugged and desolate, it is lined with farm-houses and towns at small 
distances ; and there is but one house all the way that is stained by 
the recollection of a tragic catastrophe. How it may be farther 
south, I cannot say ; but so far, the reports to alarm strangers are (to 
the best of my observation and conjecture) totally unfounded. 

We had left the Alps behind us, the white tops of which we still 
saw scarcely distinguishable from ridges of rolling clouds, and that 
seemed to follow us like a formidable enemy, and almost enclose us in 
a semicircle ; and we had the Apennines in front, that, gradually 
emerging from the horizon, opposed their undulating barrier to our 
future progress, with shadowy shapes of danger and Covigliaijo 
lurking in the midst of them. All the space between these two, for 
at least 150 miles (I should suppose) is one level cultivated plain, 
one continuous garden. This became more remarkably the case, as 
we entered the territories of Maria-Louisa (the little States of Parma 
and Placentia) when, for two whole days, we literally travelled 
through an uninterrupted succession of corn-fields, vineyards and 
orchards, all in the highest state of cultivation, with the hedges 

199 



NOTES OP A JOURNEY 

neatly clipped into a kind of trellis-work, and the vines hanging in 
festoons from tree to tree, or clinging ' with marriageable arms ' round 
the branches of each regularly planted and friendly support. It was 
more like passing through a number of orchard-plots or garden-grounds 
in the neighbourhood of some great city (such as London) than 
making a journey through a wide and extensive tract of country. 
Not a common came in sight, nor a single foot of waste or indifferent 
ground. It became tedious at last from the richness, the neatness, 
and the uniformity ; for the whole was worked up to an ideal model, 
and so exactly a counterpart of itself, that it was like looking out of 
a window at the same identical spot, instead of passing on to new 
objects every instant. We were saturated even with beauty and 
comfort, and were disposed to repeat the wish — 

' To-morrow to fresh fields and pastures new.' 

A white square villa, or better sort of farm-house, sometimes stared 
on us from the end of a long, strait avenue of poplars, standing in 
ostentatious, unadorned nakedness, and in a stiff, meagre, and very 
singular taste. What is the cause of the predilection of the Italians 
for straight lines and unsheltered walls ? Is it for the sake, of security 
or vanity ? The desire of seeing everything or of being seen by 
every one ? The only thing that broke the uniformity of the scene, 
or gave an appearance of wretchedness or neglect to the country, was 
the number of dry beds of the torrents of melted snow and ice that 
came down from the mountains in the breaking up of the winter, and 
that stretched their wide, comfortless, unprofitable length across these 
valleys in their progress to the Adriatic. Some of them were half a 
mile in breadth, and had stately bridges over them, with innumerable 
arches — (the work, it seems, of Maria Louisa) some of which we 
crossed over, others we rode under. We approached the first of 
them by moonlight, and the effect of the long, white, glimmering, 
sepulchral arches was as ghastly then as it is dreary in the day-time. 
There is something almost preternatural in the sensation they excite, 
particularly when your nerves have been agitated and harassed during 
several days' journey, and you are disposed to startle at everything in 
a questionable shape. You do not know what to make of them. 
They seem like the skeletons of bridges over the dry bones and dusty 
relics of rivers. It is as if some mighty concussion of the earth had 
swept away the water, and left the bridge standing in stiffened horror 
over it. It is a new species of desolation, as flat, dull, disheartening, 
and hopeless as can be imagined. Mr. Crabbe should travel post to 
Italy on purpose to describe it, and to add it to his list of prosaic 
horrors. While here, he might also try his hand upon an Italian 
200 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

vintage, and if he does not squeeze the juice and spirit out of it, and 
leave nothing but the husk and stalks, I am much mistaken. As we 
groped our way under the stony ribs of the first of these structures 
that we came to, one of the arches within which the moonlight fell, 
presented a momentary appearance of a woman in a white dress and 
hood, stooping to gather stones. I wish I had the petrific pencil of 
the ingenious artist above-named, that I might imbody this flitting 
shadow in a permanent form. 

It was late on the fourth day (Saturday) before we reached Parma. 
Our two black, glossy, easy-going horses were tired of the sameness 
or length of the way ; and our guide appeared to have forgotten it, 
for we entered the capital of the Archduchy without his being aware 
of it. We went to the Peacock Inn, where we were shewn into a 
very fine but faded apartment, and where we stopped the whole of the 
next day. Here, for the first time on our journey, we found a carpet, 
which, however, stuck to the tiled floor with dirt and age. There 
was a lofty bed, with a crimson silk canopy, a marble table, looking- 
glasses of all sizes and in every direction,^ and excellent cofl^ee, fruit, 
game, bread and wine at a moderate rate — that is to say, our supper 
the first night, our breakfast, dinner, and coffee the next day, and 
coffee the following morning, with lodging and fire, came to twenty- 
three francs. It would have cost more than double in England in the 
same circumstances. We had an exhilarating view from our window 
of the street and great square. It was full of noise and bustle. The 
people were standing in lounging attitudes by themselves, or talking 
loud in groups, and with great animation. The expression of 
character seemed to be natural and unaffected. Every one appeared 
to follow the bent of his own humour and feelings (good or bad) and 
I did not perceive any of that smirking grimace and varnish of 
affectation and self-complacency, which glitters in the face and 
manners of every Frenchman, and makes them so many enemies. If 
an individual is inordinately delighted with himself, do not others 
laugh at and take a dislike to him ? Must it not be equally so 
with a nation enamoured of itself? — The women that I saw did 
not answer to my expectations. They had high shoulders, thick 

^ Why have they such quantities of looking-glasses in Italy, and none in Scot- 
land ? The dirt in each country is equal ; the finery not. Neither in Scotland do 
they call in the aid of the Fine Arts, of the upholsterer and tapissier, to multiply 
the images of the former in squalid decorations, and thus shew that the det)asement 
is moral as well as physical. They write up on certain parts of Rome ' Immondizia.' 
A Florentine asked why it was not written on the gates of Rome ? An English- 
man might be tempted to ask, why it is not written on the gates of Calais, to serve 
for the rest of the Continent ? If the people and houses in Italy are as dirty or 
dirtier than in France, the streets and towns are kept in infinitely better order. 

201 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

waists, and shambling feet, or that crapaudeux shape, which is odious 
to see or think of. The men looked better, and I saw little differ- 
ence between them and the English, except a greater degree of fire 
and spirit. The priests had many of them (both here and at Turin) 
fine faces, with a jovial expression of good humour and good living, 
or of subtle thought and painful watching, studious to keep the good 
things that enriched the veins and pampered the pride of the brother- 
hood. Here we saw the whole market-place kneel down as the host 
passed by. Being Carnival time, high mass was celebrated at the 
principal churches, and Moses in Egypt was given at the Opera in the 
evening. The day before, as we entered Parma in the dusk, we saw 
a procession of flambeaux at a distance, which denoted a funeral. 
The processions are often joined by persons of the highest quality in 
disguise, who make a practice of performing penance, or expiating 
some offence by attending the obsequies of the dead. This custom 
may be ridiculed as superstitious by an excess of Protestant zeal ; but 
the moralist will hardly blame what shews a sense of human infirmity, 
and owns something ' serious in mortality ; ' and is besides freed from 
the suspicion of ostentation or hypocrisy. Lord Glenallan, in ' The 
Antiquary,' has been censured on the same principle, as an ex- 
crescence of morbid and superannuated superstition. Honi soit qui 
mal y pense. When human nature is no longer liable to such mis- 
fortunes, our sympathy with them will then be superfluous — we may 
dry up our tears, and stifle our sighs. In the mean time, they who 
enlarge our sympathy with others, or deepen it for ourselves from 
lofty, imaginary sources, are the true teachers of morality, and bene- 
factors of mankind, were they twenty times tools and Tories. It is 
not the shutting up of hospitals, but the opening of the human heart, 
that will lead to the regeneration of the world ^ ! 

It was at Parma I first noticed the women looking out of the 
windows (not one or two stragglers, but two or three from every 
house) where they hang like signs or pictures, stretching their necks 
out, or confined, like children by iron bars, often with cushions to 
lean upon, scaldakttos dangling from their hands (another vile 
custom). This seems to shew a prodigious predominance of the 
organ of sight, or a want of something to do or to think of. In 
France, the passion of the women is not to see, but to talk. In 
Hogarth, you perceive some symptoms of the same prurience of the 
optic nerve, and willingness to take in knowledge at the entrance 
of the eyes. It certainly has a great look of ignorance, indolence, 
and vulgarity. In summer time, perhaps, the practice might be 
natural — in winter, the habit is quite unaccountable. I thought, at 
^ See Westminster Revie<w, 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

first, it might be one of the abuses of the Carnival ; but the Carnival 
is over, and the windows are still lined with eyes and heads — that do 
not like the trouble of putting on a cap. 

We were told we could see her Majesty at mass, (so her dutiful 
subjects call the Archduchess) and we went to see the daughter of a 
sovereign, the self-devoted consort of one who only lost himself by 
taking upon him a degrading equality with Emperors and Kings. 
We had a Cicerone with us, who led us, without ceremony, to a 
place in the chapel, where we could command a full view of Maria 
Louisa, and which we made use of without much reserve. She 
knelt, or stood, in the middle of a small gallery, with attendants, 
male and female, on each side of her. We saw her distinctly for 
several minutes. She has full fair features, not handsome, but with 
a mild, unassuming expression, tinged with thoughtfulness. She 
appears about forty ; she seemed to cast a wistful look at us, being 
strangers and English people — 

' Methought she looked at us — 
So every one believes, that sees a Duchess ! ' — Old Play. 

There are some not very pleasant rumours circulated of her. She 
must have had something of the heroine of the Cid about her. 
She married the man who had conquered her father. She is said to 
have leaned on the Duke of Wellington's arm. After that, she 
might do whatever she pleased. Perhaps these stories are only 
circulated to degrade her ; or, perhaps, a scheme may have been laid 
to degrade her in reality, by the persons nearest to her, and most 
interested in, but most jealous of, her honour ! We were invited to 
see the cradle of the little Napoleon, which I declined ; and we then 
went to see the new gallery which the Archduchess has built for her 
pictures, in which there is a bust of herself, by Canova. Here I saw 
a number of pictures, and among others the Correggios and the 
celebrated St. Jerome, which I had seen at Paris. I must have been 
out of tune ; for ray disappointment and my consequent mortification 
were extreme. I had never thought Correggio a God ; but I had 
attributed this to my own inexperience and want of taste, and I hoped 
by this time to have ripened into that full idolatry of him expressed 
by Mengs and others. Instead of which, his pictures (they stood on 
the ground without frames, and in a bad light) appeared to be com- 
paratively mean, feeble, and affected. There is the master-hand, no 
doubt, but tremulous with artificial airs — beauty and grace carried to a 
pitch of quaintness and conceit — the expression of joy or woe, but 
lost in a doting contemplation of its own ecstasy or agony, and after 
being raised to the height of truth and nature, hurried over the brink 

203 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

of refinement into efFeminacy, by a craving after impossibilities, and a 
wanton dalliance with the ideal. Correggio has painted the wreathed 
smile of sweetness, but he does not stop till he has contorted it into 
affectation ; he has expressed the utmost distress and despondency of 
soul, but it is the weakness of suffering without the strength. His 
pictures are so perfect and delicate, that ' the sense aches at them ; ' 
and in his efforts after refinement, he has worked himself up into a 
state of languid, nervous irritability, which is reflected back upon the 
spectator. These remarks appeared to me applicable in their full 
force to the St. Jerome, the Taking down from the Cross, and the 
Martrydom of St. Placide, in which there is an executioner with his 
back turned, in a chiaroscuro of the most marvellous clearness and 
beauty. In all these there is a want of manly firmness and simplicity. 
He might be supposed to have touched, at some period of his progress, 
on the highest point of excellence, and then to have spoiled all by a 
wish to go farther, without knowing how or why. Perhaps modesty, 
or an ignorance of what others had done, or of what the art could do, 
was at the foundation of this, and prevented him from knowing where 
to stop. Perhaps he had too refined and tender a susceptibility, or 
ideas of sanctity and sweetness beyond the power of his art to 
express ; and in the attempt to reconcile the mechanical and idial, 
failed from an excess of feeling ! I saw nothing else to please me, 
and I was sorry I had come so far to have my faith in great names 
and immortal works misgive me. I was ready to exclaim, ' Oh 
painting ! I thought thee a substance, and I find thee a shadow ! ' 
There was, however, a Cro'wning of the Virgin, a fresco (by 
Correggio) from the Church of St. Paul, which was full of majesty, 
sweetness, and grace ; and in this, and the heads of boys and fawns, 
in the Chase of Diana, there is a freedom and breadth of execution, 
owing to the mode in which they were painted, and which makes 
them seem pure emanations of the mind, without anything overdone, 
finical, or little. The cupola of St. Paul's, painted by Correggio in 
fresco, is quite destroyed, or the figures flutter in idle fragments from 
the walls. Most of the other pictures in this church were in a 
tawdry, meretricious style. I was beginning to think that painting 
was not calculated for churches, coloured surfaces not agreeing with 
solid pillars and masses of architecture, and also that Italian art was 
less severe, and more a puppet-show business than I had thought it. 
I was not a little tired of the painted shrines and paltry images of the 
Virgin at every hundred yards as we rode along. But if my thoughts 
were veering to this cheerless, attenuated speculation of nothingness 
and vanity, they were called back by the sight of the Farnese 
Theatre — the noblest and most striking monument I have seen of 
204 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the golden age of Italy. It was built by one of the Farnese family 
about the fifteenth or sixteenth century, and would hold eight thousand 
spectators. It is cold, empty, silent as the receptacles of the dead. 
The walls, roofs, rafters, and even seats, remain perfect ; but the tide 
of population and of wealth, the pomp and pride of patronage and 
power, seemed to have turned another way, and to have left it a 
deserted pile, that would, long ere this, have mouldered into ruin and 
decay, but that its original strength and vast proportions would not 
suffer it — a lasting proof of the magnificence of a former age, and of 
the degeneracy of this ! The streets of Parma are beautiful, airy, 
clean, spacious ; the churches elegant ; and the walls around it 
picturesque and delightful. The walls and ramparts, with the 
gardens and vineyards close to them, have a most romantic effect ; 
and we saw, on a flight of steps near one of the barriers, a group of 
men, women, and children, that for expression, composition, and 
colouring rivalled any thing in painting. We here also observed the 
extreme clearness and brilliancy of the southern atmosphere : the line 
of hills in the western horizon was distinguished from the sky by a 
tint so fine that it was barely perceptible. 

Bologna is even superior to Parma. If its streets are less stately, 
its public buildings are more picturesque and varied ; and its long 
arcades, its porticos, and silent walks are a perpetual feast to the eye 
and the imagination. At Parma (as well as Turin) you see a whole 
street at once, and have a magical and imposing effect produced once 
for all. At Bologna you meet with a number of surprises ; new 
beauties unfold themselves, a perspective is gradually prolonged, or 
branches off by some retired and casual opening, winding its heedless 
way — the rus in urbe — where leisure might be supposed to dwell with 
learning. Here is the Falling Tower, and the Neptune of John of 
Bologna, in the great square. Going along, we met Professor 
Mezzofanti, who is said to understand thirty-eight languages, English 
among the rest. He was pointed out to us as a prodigious curiosity 
by our guide, (Signor Gatti) who has this pleasantry at his tongue's 
end, that ' there is one Raphael to paint, one Mezzofanti to under- 
stand languages, and one Signor Gatti to explain everything they 
wish to know to strangers.' We went under the guidance of this 
accomplished person, and in company of our fellow-travellers, to the 
Academy, and to the collection of the Marquis Zampieri. In the 
last there is not a single picture worth seeing, except some old and 
curious ones of Giotto and Ghirlandaio. One cannot look at these 
performances (imperfect as they are, with nothing but the high 
endeavour, the fixed purpose stamped on them, like the attempts of 
a deformed person at grace) with sufficient veneration, when one 

205 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

considers what they must have cost their authors, or what they have 
enabled others to do. If Giotto could have seen the works of 
Raphael or Correggio, would he not have laughed or wept ? Yet 
Raphael and Correggio should have bowed the head to him, for 
without those first rude beginners and dumb creators of the art, they 
themselves would never have been! — -What amused us here was a 
sort of wild Meg Merrilies of a woman, in a grey coarse dress, and 
with grey matted hair, that sprang out of a dungeon of a porter's 

lodge, and seizing upon Madame , dragged her by the arm up 

the staircase, with unrestrained familiarity and delight. We thought 
it was some one who presumed on old acquaintance, and was over- 
joyed at seeing Madame a second time. It was the mere spirit 

of good fellowship, and the excess of high animal spirits. No woman 
in England would dream of such an extravagance, who was not mad 
or drunk. She afterwards followed us about the rooms ; and though 
she rather slunk behind, being somewhat abashed by our evident wish 
to shake her off, she still seemed to watch for an opportunity to dart 
upon some one, like an animal whose fondness you cannot get rid of 
by repeated repulses. ^ There is a childishness and want of self- 
control about the Italians, which has an appearance of folly or 
craziness. We passed a group of women on the road, and though 
there was something odd in their dress and manner, it was not for 
some time that we discovered that they were insane persons, walking 
out under the charge of keepers, from a greater degree of vacant 
vivacity, or thoughtful abstraction than usual. 

To return. The Collection of Pictures in the Academy is worthy 
of Italy and of Bologna. It is chiefly of the Bolognese school ; or 
in that fine, sombre, shadowy tone that seems reflected from sacred 
subjects or from legendary lore, that corresponds with crucifixions 
and martyrdoms, that points to skyey glories or hovers round con- 
ventual gloom. Here is the St. Cecilia of Raphael (of which the 
engraving conveys a faithful idea), several Caraccis, Domenichino's 
St. Teresa, and his St. Peter Martyr, (a respectable, not a formidable 
rival of Titian's) a Sampson, by Guido (an ill-chosen subject, finely 
coloured) and the Five Patron-Saints of Bologna, by the same, a 
very large, finely-painted and impressive picture, occupying the end 
of the Gallery. Four out of five of the Saints are admirable old 

^ They tell a story in Paris of a monkey at the Jardin des Plantes, that was 
noted for its mischievous tricks and desire to fly at every one. Dr. Gall observed 
the organ of philanthropy particularly strong in the beast, and desired the keeper 
to let him loose, when he sprung upon the Doctor, and hugged him round the neck 
with the greatest bon-hommie and cordiality, to the astonishment of the keeper and 
the triumph of craniology ! Some men are as troublesome as some animals with 
their demonstrations of benevolence. 
206 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Monkish heads (even their very cowls seem to think) : the Dead 
Christ above has a fine monumental effect ; and the whole picture, 
compared with this master's general style, is like ' the cathedral's 
gloom and choir,' compared with sunny smiles and the shepherd's 
pipe upon the mountains. I left this Gallery, once more reconciled 
to my favourite art. Guido also gains upon me, because I continually 
see fine pictures of his. ' By their works ye shall know them,' is a 
fair rule for judging of painters or men. 

There is a side pavement at Bologna, Modena, and most of the 
other towns in Italy, so that you do not walk, as in Paris, in continual 
dread of being run over. The shops have a neat appearance, and are 
well supplied with the ordinary necessaries of life, fruit, poultry, 
bread, onions or garlick, cheese and sausages. The butchers' shops 
look much as they do in England. There is a technical description 
of the chief towns in Italy, which those who learn the Italian 
Grammar are told to get by heart — Genoa la superba, Bologna la 
dotta, Ravenna Tantica, Firense la Bella, Roma la santa. Some of 
these I have seen, and others not ; and those that I have not seen 
seem to me the finest. Does not this list convey as good an idea of 
these places as one can well have ? It selects some one distinct 
feature of them, and that the best. Words may be said, after all, to 
be the finest things in the world. Things themselves are but a 
lower species of words, exhibiting the grossnesses and details of 
matter. Yet, if there be any country answering to the description 
or idea of it, it is Italy ; and to this theory, I must add, the Alps are 
also a proud exception. 



CHAPTER XVI 

We left Bologna on our way to Florence in the afternoon, that we 
might cross the Apenines the following day. High Mass had 
been celebrated at Bologna ; it was a kind of gala day, and the road 
was lined with flocks of country-people returning to their homes. At 
the first village we came to among the hills, we saw, talking to her 
companions by the road-side, the only very handsome Italian we have 
yet seen. It was not the true Italian face neither, dark and oval, 
but more like the face of an English peasant, with heightened grace 
and animation, with sparkling eyes, white teeth, a complexion 
breathing health, 

' And when she spake, 

Betwixt the pearls and rubies softly brake 

A silver sound, which heavenly music seem'd to make.' 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Our voiture was ascending a hill; and as she walked by the side of 
it with elastic step, and a bloom like the suffusion of a rosy cloud, the 
sight of her was doubly welcome, in this land of dingy complexions, 
squat features, scowling eye-brows and round shoulders. 

We slept at , nine miles from Bologna, and set off early the 

next morning, that we might have the whole day before us. The 
moon, which had lighted on us on our way the preceding evening, 
still hung over the western horizon, its yellow orb nigh dropping 
behind the snowy peaks of the highest Apennines, while the sun 
was rising with dazzling splendour behind a craggy steep that over- 
hung the frozen road we were passing over. The white tops of the 
Apennines, covered with hoar-frost gleamed in the misty morning. 
There was a delightful freshness and novelty in the scene. The 
Apenines have not the vastness nor the unity of effect of the Alps ; 
but are broken up into a number of abrupt projecting points, that 
crossing one another, and presenting new combinations as the traveller 
shifts his position, produce, though a less sublime and imposing, a 
more varied and picturesque effect. A brook brawled down the 
precipice on the road-side, a pine-tree or mountain-ash hung over it, 
and shewed the valley below in a more distant, airy perspective ; on 
the point of a rock half-way down was perched some village-spire or 
ruined battlement, while hamlets and farm-houses were sheltered in 
the bosom of the vale far below : a pine-forest rose on the sides 
of the mountain above, or a bleak tract of brown heath or dark 
morass was contrasted with the clear pearly tints of the snowy ridges 
in the higher distance, above which some still loftier peak saluted the 
sky, tinged with a rosy light. — Such were nearly the features of the 
landscape all round, and for several miles ; and though we constantly 
ascended and descended a very winding road, and caught an object 
now in contact with one part of the scene, now giving relief to 
another, at one time at a considerable distance beneath our feet, and 
soon after soaring as high above our heads, yet the elements of beauty 
or of wildness being the same, the coup d'ceil, though constantly 
changing, was as often repeated, and we at length grew tired of a 
scenery that still seemed another and the same. One of our 
pleasantest employments was to remark the teams of oxen and carts 
that we had lately passed, winding down a declivity in our rear, or 
suspended on the edge of a precipice, that on the spot we had 
mistaken for level ground. We had some difficulty too with our 
driver, who had talked gallantly over-night of hiring a couple of oxen 
to draw us up the mountain ; but when it came to the push, his heart 
failed him, and his Swiss economy prevailed. In addition to his 
habitual closeness, the windfall of the ten guineas, which was beyond 

208 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

his expectations, had whetted his appetite for gain, and he appeared 
determined to make a good thing of his present journey. He pre- 
tended to bargain with several of the owners, but from his beating 
them down to the lowest fraction, nothing ever came of it, and when 
from the thawing of the ice in the sun, the inconvenience became 
serious, so that we were several times obliged to get out and walk, to 
enable the horses to proceed with the carriage, he said it was too 
late. The country now grew wilder, and the day gloomy. It was 
three o'clock before we stopped at Pietra Mala to have our luggage 
examined on entering the Tuscan States ; and here we resolved to 
breakfast, instead of proceeding four miles farther to Covigliaio, 
where, though we did not choose to pass the night, we had proposed 
to regale our waking imaginations with a thrilling recollection of the 
superstitious terrors of the spot, at ease and in safety. Our reception 
at Pietra Mala was frightful enough ; the rooms were cold and empty, 
and we were met with a vacant stare or with sullen frowns, in lieu of 
any better welcome. I have since thought that these were probably 
the consequence of the contempt and ill-humour shewn by other 
English travellers at the desolateness of the place, and the apparent 
want of accommodation ; for, as the fire of brushwood was lighted, 
and the eggs, bread, and coffee were brought in by degrees, and we 
expressed our satisfaction in them, the cloud on the brow of our 
reluctant entertainers vanished, and melted into thankful smiles. 
There was still an air of mystery, of bustle, and inattention about 
the house ; persons of both sexes, and of every age, passed and 
repassed through our sitting room to an inner chamber with looks 
of anxiety and importance, and we learned at length that the 
mistress of the inn had been, half an hour before, brought to bed 
of a fine boy ! 

We had now to mount the longest and steepest ascent of the 
Apennines ; and Jaques, who began to be alarmed at the accounts 
of the state of the road, and at the increasing gloom of the weather, 
by a great effort of magnanimity had a yoke of oxen put to, and after- 
wards another horse, to drag us up the worst part ; but as soon as he 
could find an excuse he dismissed both, and we crawled and stumbled 
on as before. The hills were covered with a dense cloud of sleet 
and vapour driven before the blast, that wrapped us round, and hung 
like a blanket or (if the reader pleases) a dark curtain over the more 
distant range of mountains. On our right were high ledges of frown- 
ing rocks, ' cloud-clapt,' and the summits impervious to the sight — on 
our farthest left, an opening was made which showed a milder sky, 
evening clouds pillowed on rocks, and a chain of lofty peaks basking 
in the rays of the setting sun ; between, and in the valley below, there 

VOL. IX. : o 209 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

was nothing to be seen but mist and crag and grim desolation with the 
lowering symptoms of the impending storm. We felt uncomfortable, 
for the increased violence of the wind or thickening of the fog would 
have presented serious obstacles to our farther progress, which became 
every moment more necessary as the evening closed in — as it was, we 
only saw a few yards of the road distinctly before us, which cleared 
as we advanced forward ; and at the side there was sometimes a 
precipice, beyond which we could distinguish nothing but mist, so 
that we seemed to be travelling along the edge of the world. The 
feeling was more striking than agreeable. Our horses were blinded 
by the mist, which drove furiously against them, and were nearly 
exhausted with continued exertion. At length, when we had arrived 
near the very top of the mountain, we had to cross a few yards of 
very slippery ice, which became a matter of considerable doubt and 
difficulty. — The horses could hardly keep their feet in straining to 
move forward, and if one of them had fallen and been hurt, the 
accident might have detained us on the middle of the mountain, with- 
out any aid near, or made it so late that the descent on the other side 
would have been_ dangerous. Luckily, a desperate effort succeeded, 
and we gained the summit of the hill without accident. We had still 
some miles to go, and we descended rapidly down on the other side, 
congratulating ourselves that we had day-light to distinguish the road 
from the abyss that often skirted it. About half-way down we 
emerged, to our great delight, from the mist (or brouillard, as it is 
called) that had hitherto enveloped us, and the valley opened at our 
feet in dim but welcome perspective. We proceeded more leisurely 
on to La Maschere, having escaped the dangers threatened us from 
precipices and robbers, and drove into a spacious covered court-yard 
belonging to the inn, where we were safely housed like a flock of 
sheep folded for the night. The inn at La Maschere is, like many 
of the inns in Italy, a set of wide dilapidated halls, without furniture, 
but with quantities of old and bad pictures, portraits or histories. 
The people (the attendants here were women) were obliging and 
good-humoured, though we could procure neither eggs nor milk with 
our coffee, but were compelled to have it hlack. We were put into 
a sitting-room with three beds in it without curtains, as they had no 
other with a fire-place disengaged, and which, with the coverlids like 
horse-cloths, and the strong smell of the leaves of Indian corn with 
which they were stuffed, brought to one's mind the idea of a three- 
stalled stable. We were refreshed, however, for we slept securely ; 
and we entered upon the last stage betimes the following day, less 
exhausted than we had been by the first. We had left the unqualified 
desolation and unbroken irregularity of the Apennines behind us ; but 

2IO 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

we were still occasionally treated with a rocky cliff, a pine-grove, a 
mountain-torrent ; while there was no end of sloping hills with old 
ruins or modern villas upon them, of farm-houses built in the Tuscan 
taste, of gliding streams with bridges over them, of meadow-grounds, 
and thick plantations of olives and cypresses by the road side. 

After being gratified for some hours with the cultivated beauty of 
the scene (rendered more striking by contrast with our late perils), 
we came to the brow of the hill overlooking Florence, which lay 
under us, a scene of enchantment, a city planted in a garden, and 
resembling a rich and varied suburb. The whole presented a brilliant 
amphitheatre of hill and vale, of buildings, groves, and terraces. The 
circling heights were crowned with sparkling villas ; the varying 
landscape, above or below, waved in an endless succession of olive- 
grounds. The olive is not unlike the common willow in shape or 
colour, and being still in leaf, gave to the middle of winter the appear- 
ance of a grey summer. In the midst, the Duomo and other churches 
raised their heads; vineyards and olive-grounds climbed the hills 
opposite till they joined a snowy ridge of Apennines rising above the 
top of Fesole ; one plantation or row of trees after another fringed 
the ground, like rich lace; though you saw it not, there flowed the 
Arno ; every thing was on the noblest scale, yet finished in the 
minutest part — the perfection of nature and of art, populous, splendid, 
full of life, yet simple, airy, embowered. Florence in itself is inferior 
to Bologna, and some other towns ; but the view of it and of the 
immediate neighboiu'hood is superior to any I have seen. It is, 
indeed, quite delicious, and presents an endless variety of enchanting 
walks. It is not merely the number or the exquisiteness or admirable 
combination of the objects, their forms or colour, but every spot is 
rich in associations at once the most classical and romantic. From 
ray friend L. H.'s house at Moiano, you see at one view the village 
of Setiniano, belonging to Michael Angelo's family, the house in 
which Machiavel lived, and that where Boccaccio wrote, two ruined 

castles, in which the rival families of the Gerardeschi and the 

carried on the most deadly strife, and which seem as though they 
might still rear their mouldering heads against each other ; and not 
far from this the Valley of Ladies (the scene of The Decameron), and 
Fesole, with the mountains of Perugia beyond. With a view like 
this, one may think one's sight * enriched,' in Burns's phrase. On 
the ascent towards Fesole is the house where Galileo lived, and 
where he was imprisoned after his release from the Inquisition, at the 
time Milton saw him.^ In the town itself are Michael Angelo's 

^ He was confined in the Inquisition about six weeks, where it is supposed he 
was put to the torture ; for he had strange pains in his limbs, and bodily disabilities 

211 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

house, the Baptistery, the gates of which he thought worthy to be 
the gates of Paradise, the Duomo, older than St. Peter's, the ancient 
Palace of the Medici family, the Palace Pitti, and here also stands 
the statue that ' enchants the world.' The view along the Arno is 
certainly delightful, though somewhat confined, and the bridges over 
it grotesque and old, but beautiful. 

The streets of Florence are paved entirely with flag-stones, and it 
has an odd effect at first to see the horses and carriages drive over 
them. You get out of their way, however, more easily than in Paris, 
from not having the slipperiness of the stones to contend with. The 
streets get dirty after a slight shower, and the next day you have 
clouds of dust again. Many of the narrower streets are like lofty 
paved courts, cut through a solid quarry of stone. In general, the 
public buildings are old, and striking chiefly from their massiness and 
the quaintness of the style and ornaments. Florence is like a town 
that has survived itself. It is distinguished by the remains of early 
and rude grandeur ; it is left where it was three hundred years ago. 
Its history does not seem brought down to the present period. On 
entering it, you may imagine yourself enclosed in a besieged town ; if 
you turn down any of its inferior streets, you feel as if you might 
meet the plague still lurking there. Even the walks out of the town 
are mostly between high stone-walls, which are a bad substitute for 
hedges. The best and most fashionable is that along the river-side ; 
and the gay dresses and glittering equipages passing under the tall 
cedar-trees, and with the purple hills in the distance for a back-ground, 
produce a delightful effect, particularly when seen from the opposite 
side of the river. The carriages in Florence are numerous and 
splendid, and rival those in London. Lord Burghersh's, with its 
six horses and tall footmen in fine liveries, is only distinguishable from 
the rest by the little child in a blue velvet hat and coat, looking out at 
the window. The Corso on Sundays, and on other high days and 
holidays, is filled with a double row of open carriages, like the ring 
in Hyde-Park, moving slowly in opposite directions, in which you 
see the flower of the Florentine nobility. I see no difference between 
them and the English, except that they are darker and graver. It 
was Carnival-time when we came, and the town presented something 
of the same scene that London does at Bartholomew-Fair. The 
streets were crowded with people, half of them masked. But what 
soon took off from the gaiety of the motley assemblage was, that you 
found that the masks were all the same. There was great observance 

afterwards. In the Museum here is at present preserved, in a glass-case, a finger 
of Galileo, pointing to the skies ! Such is the history of philosophy and super- 
stition. 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

of the season, and great good-will to be pleased, but a dearth of wit 
and invention. Not merely the uniformity of the masks grew tire- 
some, but the seeing an inflexible pasteboard countenance moving 
about upon a living body (and without any thing quaint or extravagant 
in the actions of the person to justify a resort to so grotesque a 
disguise) shocked by its unmeaning incongruity. May-day in London 
is a favourable version of the Carnival here. The finery of the 
chimney-sweepers is an agreeable and intelligible contrast to their 
usual squalidness. Their three days' license has spirit, noise, and 
mirth in it ; whereas the dull eccentricity and mechanical antics of 
the Carnival are drawled out till they are merged without any 
violent effort in the solemn farce of Lent. It had been a fine 
season this year, and it is said that the difference between a 
good season and a bad one to the trades-people is so great, that it 
pays the rent of their houses. No one is allowed to wear a 
mask, after Lent commences, and the priests never mask. There 
is no need that they should. There is no ringing of bells here 
as with us (triple bob-majors have not sent their cheering sound 
into the heart of Italy) ; but during the whole ten days or fort- 
night that the Carnival continues, there is a noise and jangling of 
bells, such as is made by the idle boys in a country town on 
our Shrove Tuesday. We could not tell exactly what to make 
of the striking of the clocks at first : at eight they struck two ; at 
twelve six. We thought they were put back to prevent the note 
of time, or were thrown into confusion to accord with the license of 
the occasion. A day or two cleared up the mystery, and we found 
that the clocks here (at least those in our immediate neighbourhood) 
counted the hours by sixes, instead of going on to twelve — which 
method, when you are acquainted with it, saves time and patience 
in telling the hour. I have only heard of two masks that seemed to 
have any point or humour in them ; and one of these was not a 
mask, but a person who went about with his face uncovered, but 
keeping it, in spite of every thing he saw or heard, in the same 
unmoved position as if it were a mask. The other was a person 
so oddly disguised, that you did not know what to make of him, 
whether he were man or woman, beast or bird, and who, pretending to 
be equally at a loss himself, went about asking every one, if they could 
tell him what he was ? A Neapolitan nobleman who was formerly 
in England (Count Acetto), carried the liberty of masking too far. 
He went to the English Ambassador's in the disguise of a monk, 
carrying a bundle of wood at his back, with a woman's legs peeping 
out, and written on a large label, ' Provision for the Convent.' The 
clergy, it is said, interfered, and he has been exiled to Lucca. Lord 

213 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Burghersh remonstrated loudly at this step, as a violation of the 
dignity and privileges of Ambassadors. The offence, whatever it 
was, was committed at his house, and the English Ambassador's 
house is supposed to be in England — the absentees here were alarmed, 
for at this rate strangers might be sent out of the town at an 
hour's notice for a jest. The Count called in person on the Grand 
Duke, who shook him kindly by the hand — the Countess Rinuccini 
demanded an interview with the Grand Duchess — but the clergy 
must be respected, and the Count has been sent away. There has 
been a good deal of talk and bustle about it — ask the opinion of a dry 
Scotchman, who judges of every thing by precedent, and he will tell 
you, ' It is just like our allien Bill.' It is a rule here that a priest 
is never brought upon the stage. How do they contrive to act our 
Romeo and Juliet ? Moli^re's Tartuffe is not a priest, but merely a 
saint. When this play was forbidden to be acted a second time by 
the Archbishop of Paris, and the audience loudly demanded the 
reason of its being withdrawn, MoliSre came forward and said, 
' Monsieur I' Archenieque ne veut pas qu'il soit joue ? ' This was a 
hundred and fifty years ago. With so much wit and sense in the 
world one wonders that there are any TartufFes left in it ; but for the 
last hundred and fifty years, it must be confessed, they have had but 
an uneasy life of it. 

Lent is not kept here very strictly. The streets, however, have 
rather a ' fishy fume ' in consequence of it ; and, generally speaking, 
the use of garlick, tobacco, cloves and oil gives a medicated taint to 
the air. The number of pilgrims to Rome, at this season, is 
diminished from 80 or 90,000 a century ago, to a few hundreds at 
present. We passed two on the road, with their staff and scrip and 
motley attire. I did not look at them with any particle of respect. 
The impression was, that they were either knaves or fools. The 
farther they come on this errand, the more you have a right to 
suspect their motives, not that I by any means suppose these are 
always bad — but those who signalise their zeal by such long marches 
obtain not only absolution for the past, but extraordinary indulgence 
for the future, so that if a person meditate any baseness or mischief, 
a pilgrimage to Rome is his high road to it. The Popish religion is 
a convenient cloak for crime, an embroidered robe for virtue. It 
makes the essence of good and ill to depend on rewards and punish- 
ments, and places these in the hands of the priests, for the honour of 
God and the welfare of the church. Their path to Heaven is a kind 
of gallery directly over the path to Hell ; or, rather, it is the same 
road, only that at the end of it you kneel down, lift up your hands 
and eyes, and say you have gone wrong, and you are admitted into 

214 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the right-hand gate, instead of the left-hand one. Hell is said, in 
the strong language of controversial divinity, to be ' paved with good 
intentions.' Heaven, according to some fanatical creeds, is ' paved 
with mock-professions.' Devotees and proselytes are passed on like 
wretched paupers, with false certificates of merit, by hypocrites and 
bigots, who consider submission to their opinions and power as more 
than equivalent to a conformity to the dictates of reason or the will 
of God. All this is charged with being a great piece of cant and 
imposture : it is not more so than human nature itself. Popery is 
said to be a make-belie-ve religion : man is a make-believe animal — he 
is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part ; he is ever at war 
with himself — his theory with his practice — what he would be (and 
therefore pretends to be) with what he is ; and Popery is an 
admirable receipt to reconcile his higher and his lower nature in 
a beautiful equivoque or double-entendre of forms and mysteries, — the 
palpableness of sense with the dim abstractions of faith, the in- 
dulgence of passion with the atonement of confession and abject 
repentance when the fit is over, the debasement of the actual with 
the elevation of the ideal part of man's nature, the Pagan with the 
Christian religion ; to substitute lip-service, genuflections, adoration 
of images, counting of beads, repeating of Aves for useful works 
or pure intentions, and to get rid at once of all moral obligation, of 
all self-control and self-respect, by the proxy of maudlin superstition, 
by a slavish submission to priests and saints, by prostrating ourselves 
before them, and entreating them to take our sins and weaknesses 
upon them, and supply us with a saving grace (at the expence of 
a routine of empty forms and words) out of the abundance of 
their merits and imputed righteousness. This religion suits the 
pride and weakness of man's intellect, the indolence of his 
will, the cowardliness of his fears, the vanity of his hopes, his 
disposition to reap the profits of a good thing and leave the trouble 
to others, the magnificence of his pretensions with the meanness 
of his performance, the pampering of his passions, the stifling 
of his remorse, the making sure of this world and the next, the 
saving of his soul and the comforting of his body. It is adapted 
equally to kings and people — to those who love power or dread it — 
who look up to others as Gods, or who would trample them under 
their feet as reptiles — to the devotees of show and sound, or the 
visionary and gloomy recluse — to the hypocrite and bigot — to saints 
or sinners — to fools or knaves — to men, women, and children. In 
short, its success is owing to this, that it is a mixture of bitter sweets 
— that it is a remedy that soothes the disease it affects to cure — 
that it is not an antidote, but a vent for the peccant humours, the 

2IS 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

follies and vices of mankind, with a salvo in favour of appearances, 
a reserve of loftier aspirations (whenever it is convenient to resort to 
them), and a formal recognition of certain general principles, as a 
courtesy of speech, or a compromise between the understanding and 
the passions ! Omne tuUt punctum. There is nothing to be said 
against it, but that it is contrary to reason and common sense ; and 
even were they to prevail over it, some other absurdity would start 
up in its stead, not less mischievous but less amusing ; for man can- 
not exist long without having scope given to his propensity to the 
marvellous and contradictory. Methodism with us is only a bastard 
kind of Popery, with which the rabble are intoxicated ; and to 
which even the mistresses of Kings might resort (but for its 
vulgarity) to repair faded charms with divine graces, to exchange 
the sighs of passion for the tears of a no less luxurious repentance, 
and to exert one more act of power by making proselytes of their 
royal paramours ! 

The Popish calendar is but a transposition of the Pagan Mythology. 
The images, shrines, and pictures of the Virgin Mary, that we meet 
at the corner of every street or turning of a road, are not of modern 
date, but coeval with the old Greek and Roman superstitions. 
There were the same shrines and images formerly dedicated to Flora, 
or Ceres, or Pomona, and the flowers and the urn still remain. The 
oaths of the common people are to this day more Heathen than 
Catholic. They swear ' By the countenance of Bacchus ' — ' By the 
heart of Diana.' A knavish innkeeper, if you complain of the bad- 
ness of his wine, swears ' Per Bacco e per Dio,' ' By Bacchus and by 
God, that it is good ! ' I wonder when the change in the forms of 
image-worship took place in the old Roman States, and what effect it 
had. I used formerly to wonder how or when the people in the 
mountains of Cumberland and Westmoreland, and who live in solitudes 
to which the town of Keswick is the polite world, and its lake • the 
Leman-Lake,' first passed from Popery to Protestantism, what 
difference it made in them at the time, or has done to the present 
day ? The answer to this question would go a good way to shew 
how little the common people know of or care for any theory of 
religion, considered merely as such. Mr. Southey is on the spot, and 
might do something towards a solution of the difficulty ! 

Customs come round. I was surprised to find, at the Hotel of the 
Four Nations, where we stopped the two first days, that we could 
have a pudding for dinner (a thing that is not to be had in all France) ; 
and I concluded this was a luxury which the Italians had been com- 
pelled to adopt from the influx of the English, and the loudness of 
their demands for comfort. I understand it is more probable that 

216 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

this dish is indigenous rather than naturalized ; and that we got it 
from them in the time of Queen Elizabeth, when our intercourse with 
Italy was more frequent than it was with France. We might have 
remained at the Four Nations ; for eighteen francs a day, living in 
a very sumptuous manner ; but we have removed to apartments fitted 
up in the English fashion, for ten piastres (two guineas) a month, 
and where the whole of our expenses for boiled and roast, with 
English cups and saucers and steamed potatoes, does not come to 
thirty shillings a week. We have every English comfort with 
clearer air and a finer country. It was exceedingly cold when we first 
came, and we felt it the more from impatience and disappointment. 
From the thinness of the air there was a feeling of nakedness about 
you ; you seemed as if placed in an empty receiver. Not a particle 
of warmth or feeling was left in your whole body : it was just as if 
the spirit of cold had penetrated every part ; one might be said to be 
•Dttrified. It is now milder (Feb. 23), and like April weather in 
England. There is a balmy lightness and vernal freshness in the 
air. Might I once more see the coming on of Spring as erst in the 
spring-time of my life, it would be here ! I cannot speak to the 
subject of manners in this place, except as to outward appearances, 
which are the same as in a country town in England. • Judging by 
the fashionable test on this subject, they must be very bad and 
desperate indeed ; for none of that stream of prostitution flows down 
the streets, that in the British metropolis is supposed to purify the 
morality of private families, and to carry off every taint of grossness or 
licentiousness from the female heart. Cecisbeism still prevails here, 
less in the upper, more in the lower classes ; and may serve as a subject 
for the English to vent their spleen and outrageous love of virtue upon. 
Fesole, that makes so striking a point of view near Florence, was 
one of the twelve old Tuscan cities that existed before the time of 
the Romans, and afterwards in a state of hostility to them. It is 
supposed to have been originally founded by a Greek colony that 
came over with Cecrops, and others go back to the time of Japhet or 
to Hesiod's theogony. Florence was not founded till long after. It 
is said to have occupied the three conically-shaped hills which stand 
about three miles from Florence. Here was fought the last great 
battle between Catiline and the Senate ; and here the Romans 
besieged and starved to death an army of the Goths. It is a place 
of the highest antiquity and renown, but it does not bear the stamp 
of anything extraordinary upon its face. You stand upon a bleak, 
rocky hill, without suspecting it to have been the centre of a thronged 
population, the seat of battles and of mighty events in eldest times. 
So you pass through cities and stately palaces, and cannot be 

217 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

persuaded that, one day, no trace of them will be left. Italy is not 
favourable to the look of age or of length of time. The ravages of 
the climate are less fatal ; the oldest places seem rather deserted than 
mouldering into ruin, and the youth and beauty of surrounding 
objects mixes itself up even with the traces of devastation and decay. 
The monuments of antiquity appear to enjoy a green old age in the 
midst of the smiling productions of modern civilization. The gloom 
of the seasons does not at any rate add its weight to the gloom and 
antiquity. It was in Italy, I believe, that Milton had the spirit and 
buoyancy of imagination to write his Latin sonnet on the Platonic 
idea of the archetype of the world, where he describes the shadowy 
cave in which 'dwelt Eternity' (^otiosa eternitas), and ridicules the 
apprehension that Nature could ever grow old, or ' shake her starry 
head with palsy.' It has been well observed, that there is more of 
the germ of Paradise Lost in the author's early Latin poems, than in 
his early English ones, which are in a strain rather playful and 
tender, than stately or sublime. It is said that several of Milton's 
Poems, which he wrote at this period, are preserved in manuscript in 
the libraries in Florence ; but it is probable that if so, they are no 
more than duplicates of those already known, which he gave to 
friends. His reputation here was high, and delightful to think of; 
and a volume was dedicated to him by Malatesta, a poet of the day, 
and a friend of Redi — ' To the ingenuous and learned young English- 
man, John Milton.' When one thinks of the poor figure which our 
countrymen often make abroad, and also of the supposed reserved habits 
and puritanical sourness of our great English Epic Poet, one is a little 
in pain for his reception among foreigners and surprised at his success, 
for which, perhaps, his other accomplishments (as his skill in music) 
and his personal advantages, may, in some measure, account. There 
is another consideration to be added, which is, that Milton did not 
labour under the disadvantage of addressing foreigners in their native 
tongue, but conversed with them on equal terms in Latin. That was 
surely the polite and enviable age of letters, when the learned spoke a 
common and well-known tongue, instead of petty, huckstering, Gothic 
dialects of different nations ! Now, every one who is not a French- 
man, or who does not gabble French, is no better than a stammerer 
or a changeling out of his own country. I do not complain of this 
as a very great grievance ; but it certainly prevents those far-famed 
meetings between learned men of different nations, which are recorded 
in history, as of Sir Thomas More with Erasmus, and of Milton with 
the philosophers and poets of Italy. 

' Sweet is the dialect of Arno's vale : 
Though half consumed, I gladly turn to hear.' 
218 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

So Dante makes one of his heroes exclaim. It is pleasant to hear 
or speak one's native tongue when abroad ; but possibly the language 
of that higher and adopted country, which was familiar to the scholar 
of former times, sounded even sweeter to the ear of friendship or of 



ffenius. 



CHAPTER XVII 

The first thing you do when you get to a town abroad is to go to the 
Post-office in expectation of letters, which you are sure not to receive 
exactly in proportion as you are anxious to have them. Friends at 
a distance have you at a disadvantage ; and they let you know it, if 
they will let you know nothing else. There is in this a love of 
power or of contradiction, and at the same time a want of imagina- 
tion. They cannot change places with you, or suppose how you 
can be so much at a loss about what is so obvious to them. It 
seems putting them to unnecessary trouble to transmit a self-evident 
truth (which it is upon the spot) a thousand miles (where it becomes 
a discovery). You have this comfort, however, under the delay of 
letters, that they have no bad news to send you, or you would hear 
of it in an instant. 

When you are disappointed of your letters at the post-office at 
Florence, you turn round, and find yourself in the square of the 
Grand Duke, with the old Palace opposite to you, and a number 
of colossal statues, bleached in the open air, in front of it. They 
seem a species of huge stone-masonry. What is your surprise to 
learn, that they are the Hercules of Bandinello, and the David of 
Michael Angelo ! Not far from these, is the Perseus of Benvenuto 
Cellini, which he makes such a fuss about in his Life.^ It is of 
bronze. After a great deal of cabal, before he was employed on 
this work, and great hostility and disagreeable obstacles thrown in- 
his way in the progress of it, he at length finished the mould, and 
prepared to cast the figure. He found that the copper which he 
had at first thrown in did not work kindly. After one or two 
visits to the furnace, he grew impatient, and seizing on all the lead, 
iron, and brass he could lay his hands on in the house, threw it 
pell-mell, and in a fit of desperation, into the melting mass, and 
retired to wait the result. After passing an hour in the greatest 

^ The jewellers' shops on the bridge, in one of which he was brought up, still 
remain. The Rape of the Sabines, by John of Bologna, near Benvenuto's Perseus, 
is an admirable group : nothing can exceed the fleshiness and softened contours of 
the female figure, seen in every direction. 

219 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

agitation, he returned ; and inspecting the cast, to his extreme joy 
discovered it to be smooth and perfect, without a flaw in any part, 
except a dint in the heel. He then sat down to enjoy his triumph 
over his enemies, and to devour a cold chicken (which he had 
provided for his supper) with vast composure and relish. It is a 
pity that a work produced under such auspicious circumstances does 
not altogether answer the romantic expectations formed of it. There 
is something petty and forced about it ; and it smells of the gold- 
smith's and jeweller's shop. I would rather see the large silver 
vase, richly embossed by him with groups of flowers and figures, 
which was ordered by the Pope and placed under his table for the 
Cardinals and other guests to throw their bones into, instead of 
throwing them on the floor for the dogs to pick up, as had hitherto 
been the custom— a fine proof of the mingled barbarism and refine- 
ment of those days.i Benvenuto was a character and a genius, and 
more of a character than of a genius ; for, after all, the greatest 
geniuses are ' men of no mark or likelihood.' Their strongest 
impulses are not personal, but pass out of themselves into the 
universe ; nor do they waste their energies upon their private whims 
and perverse peculiarities. In Bandinello one does not look for 
much ; he was never much esteemed, and is made a butt of by 
Benvenuto Cellini. But what shall we say to a commonplace or 
barbarous piece of work by Michael Angelo ? The David is as if 
a large mass of solid marble fell upon one's head, to crush one's 
faith in great names. It looks like an awkward overgrown actor 
at one of our minor theatres, without his clothes : the head is too 
big for the body, and it has a helpless expression of distress. The 
Bacchus in the Gallery, by the same artist, is no better. It is pot- 
bellied, lank, and with a sickly, mawkish aspect. Both these statues 
were, it is true, done when he was very young ; and the latter, when 
finished, he buried underground, and had it dug up as an antique, 
and when it was pronounced by the virtuosi of the day to be superior 
to any thing in modern art, he produced the arm (which he had 
broken off), and claimed it as his own, to the confusion of his 
adversaries. Such is the story ; and under the safeguard of this 
tradition, it has passed, criticism-proof. There are two pictures 
here attributed to this great artist ; one in the Gallery, and another 
in the Palace Pitti, of The Fates, which are three meagre, dry, 
mean-looking old women. I shall not return to this subject till 
I get to the Vatican, and then I hope to tell a different story. 
Nothing more casts one down than to find an utter disproportion 
between the reality and one's previous conceptions in a case of this 

^ See his Memoirs of himself, lately re-translated by Thomas Roscoe, Esq, 

220 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

kind, when one has been brooding all one's life over an idea of 
greatness. If one could sneak off with one's disappointment in one's 
pocket, and say nothing about it, or whisper it to the reeds, or bury 
it in a hole, or throw it into the river (Arno), where no one would 
fish it up, it would not signify ; but to be obliged to note it in one's 
common-place book, and publish it to all the world, 'tis villainous ! 
It is well one can turn from disagreeable thoughts like these to a 
landscape of Titian's (the Holy Family at the Pitti Palace). A 
green bank in the fore-ground presents a pastoral scene of sheep and 
cattle reposing ; then you have the deep green of the middle distance, 
then the blue-topped hills, and the golden sky beyond, with the red 
branches of an autumn wood rising into it ; and in the faces of the 
bending group you see the tints of the evening sky reflected, and the 
freshness of the landscape breathed on their features. The depth and 
harmony of colouring in natural objects, refined in passing through 
the painter's mind, mellowed by the hand of time, has acquired the 
softness and shadowy brilliancy of a dream, and while you gaze at it, 
you seem to be entranced ! But to take things somewhat more in 
order. — 

One of the striking things in the Gallery at Florence (given to 
the City by one of the Medici Family) is the Collection of Antique 
Busts. The Statues of Gods are the poetry of the art of that period. 
The busts of men and women handed down to us are the history of 
the species. You see the busts of Vitellius (whose throat seems 
bursting with 'the jowl' and a dish of lampreys), Galba, Trajan, 
Augustus, Julia, Faustina, Messalina ; and you ask, were there real 
beings like these existing two thousand years ago ? It is an exten- 
sion of the idea of humanity ; and ' even in death there is animation 
too.' History is vague and shadowy, but sculpture gives life and 
body to it ; the names and letters in time-worn books start up real 
people in marble, and you no longer doubt their identity with the 
present race. Nature produced forms then as perfect as she does 
now. — Forsyth and others have endeavoured to invalidate the authen- 
ticity of these busts, and to shew that few of them can be traced with 
certainty to the persons whose names they bear. That with me is 
not the question. The interesting point is not to know tuho they 
were, but that they were. There is no doubt that they are busts of 
people living two thousand years ago, and that is all that my moral 
demands. As to individual character, it would be as well sometimes 
to find it involved in obscurity ; for some of the persons are better 
looking than for the truth of physiognomy they ought to be. Nero 
is as handsome a gentleman as his eulogists could wish him to be. 
The truth is, that what pleases me in these busts and others of the 

221 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

same kind that I have seen is, that they very much resemble English 
people of sense and education in the present day, only with more 
regular features. They are grave, thoughtful, unaffected. There 
is not a face among them that you could mistake for a French face. 
These fine old heads, in short, confirm one in the idea of general 
humanity : French faces stagger one's faith in the species ! 

There are two long galleries enriched with busts and statues of the 
most interesting description, with a series of productions of the early 
Florentine school, the Flying Mercury of John of Bologna, &c. ; and 
in a room near the centre (called the Tribune) stands the Venus of 
Medici, with some other statues and pictures not unworthy to do her 
homage. I do not know what to say of the Venus, nor is it 
necessary to say much where all the world have already formed an 
opinion for themselves ; yet, perhaps, this opinion, which seems the 
most universal, is the least so, and the opinion of all the world means 
that of no one individual in it. The end of criticism, however, is 
rather to direct attention to objects of taste, than to dictate to it. 
Besides, one has seen the Venus so often and in so many shapes, that 
custom has blinded one equally to its merits or defects. Instead of 
giving an opinion, one is disposed to turn round and ask, .' What do 
you think of it ? ' It is like a passage in the ' Elegant Extracts,' 
which one has read and admired, till one does not know what to 
make of it, or how to affix any ideas to the words : beauty and 
sweetness end in an unmeaning commonplace ! If I might, notwith- 
standing, hazard a hyper-criticism, I should say, that it is a little too 
much like an exquisite marble doll. I should conjecture (for it is 
only conjecture where familiarity has neutralized the capacity of 
judging) that there is a want of sentiment, of character, a balance 
of pretensions as well as of attitude, a good deal of insipidity, and an 
over-gentility. There is no expression of mental refinement, nor 
much of voluptuous blandishment. There is great softness, sweetness, 
symmetry, and timid grace — a faultless taraeness, a negative perfec- 
tion. The Apollo Belvidere is positively bad, a theatrical coxcomb, 
and ill-made ; I mean compared with the Theseus. The great 
objection to the Venus is, that the form has not the true feminine 
proportions ; it is not sufficiently large in the lower limbs, but tapers 
too much to a point, so that it wants firmness and a sort of indolent 
repose (the proper attribute of woman), and seems as if the least 
thing would overset it. In a word, the Venus is a very beautiful 
toy, but not the Goddess of Love, or even of Beauty. It is not the 
statue Pygmalion fell in love with ; nor did any man ever wish or 
fancy his mistress to be like it. There is something beyond it, both 
in imagination and in nature. Neither have we a firm faith in the 

222 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

identity of the Goddess ; it is a nice point, whether any such form 
ever existed. Now let us say what we will of the ideal, it ought, 
when embodied to the senses, to bear the stamp of the most absolute 
reality, for it is only an image taken from nature, with every thing 
omitted that might contradict or disturb its uniformity. The Venus 
is not a poetical and abstract personification of certain qualities ; but 
an individual model, that has been altered and tampered with. It 
would have had a better effect if executed in ivory, with gold sandals 
and bracelets, like that of Phidias (mentioned by Pliny), to define 
its pretensions as belonging to the class of ornamental art; for it 
neither carries the mind into the regions of ancient mythology, nor 
of ancient poetry, nor rises to an equality of style with modern 
poetry or painting. Raphael has figures of far greater grace, both 
mental and bodily. The Apollo of Medicis, which is in the same 
room, is a very delightful specimen of Grecian art ; but it has the 
fault of being of that equivocal size (I believe called small-life) which 
looks like diminutive nature, not nature diminished. 

Raphael's Fornarina (which is also in this highly-embellished 
cabinet of art) faces the Venus, and is a downright, point-blank 
contrast to it. Assuredly no charge can be brought against it of 
mimmini-piminee affectation or shrinking delicacy. It is robust, full 
to bursting, coarse, luxurious, hardened, but wrought up to an infinite 
degree of exactness and beauty in the details. It is the perfection 
of vulgarity and refinement together. The Fornarina is a bouncing, 
buxom, sullen, saucy baker's daughter — but painted, idolized, immor- 
talized by Raphael ! Nothing can be more homely and repulsive 
than the original ; you see her bosom swelling like the dough rising 
in the oven ; the tightness of her skin puts you in mind of Trim's 
story of the sausage-maker's wife — nothing can be much more 
enchanting than the picture — than the care and delight with which 
the artist has seized the lurking glances of the eye, curved the 
corners of the mouth, smoothed the forehead, dimpled the chin, 
rounded the neck, till by innumerable delicate touches, and the 
' labour of love,' he has converted a coarse, rude mass into a miracle 
of art. Raphael, in the height of his devotion, and as it were to 
insinuate that nothing could be too fine for this idol of his fancy 
(as Rousseau prided himself in writing the letters of Julia on the 
finest paper with gilt edges) has painted the chain on the Fornarina's 
neck with actual gold-leaf. Titian would never have thought of such 
a thing ; he could not have been guilty of such a solecism in painting, 
as to introduce a solid substance without shadow. Highly as 
Raphael has laboured this portrait, it still shows his inferiority to 
Titian in the imitative part of painting. The colour on the cheeks 

223 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

of the Fornarina seems laid on the skin ; in the girl by Titian at the 
Pitti Palace, it is seen through it. The one appears tanned by the 
sun ; the other to have been out in the air, or is like a flower ' just 
washed in the dew.' Again, the surface of the flesh in Raphael is 
so smooth, that you are tempted to touch it : in Titian, it retires 
from the touch into a shadowy recess. There is here a duplicate 
(varied) of his Mistress at her Toilette (to be seen in the Louvre), 
dressed in a loose night-robe, and with the bosom nearly bare. It is 
very carefully finished, and is a rich study of colouring, expression, 
and natural grace. Of the Titian Venus (with her gouvernante and 
chest of clothes in the background) I cannot say much. It is very 
like the common print. The Endymion by Guercino has a divine 
character of pensive softness, and youthful, manly grace, and the 
impression made by the picture answers to that made by the fable — 
an excellent thing in history ! It is one of the finest pictures in 
Florence. I should never have done if I were to go into the details. 
I can only mention a few of the principal. Near the Fornarina is 
the Young St. John in the Wilderness, by Raphael ; it is very dark, 
very hard, and very fine, like an admirable carving in wood. He 
has here also two Holy Families, full of playful sweetness and mild 
repose. There are also two by Correggio of the same subject, and a 
fine and bold study of the Head of a Boy. There is a spirit of joy 
and laughing grace contained in this head, as the juice of wine is in 
the grape. Correggio had a prodigious raciness and gusto, when he 
did not fritter them away by false refinement and a sort of fastidious 
hypercriticism upon himself. His sketches, I suspect, are better 
than his finished works. One of the Holy Families here is the very 
acme of the affettuoso and Delia Cruscan style of painting. The 
figure of the Madonna is like a studiously-involved period or turn 
upon words : the infant Christ on the ground is a diminutive appella- 
tion, a prettiness, a fairy-fancy. Certainly, it bears no proportion to 
the Mother, whose hands are bent back over it with admiration and 
delight, till grace becomes a cramp, and her eye-lids droop and quiver 
over the fluttering object of her ' strange child-worship,' almost as if 
they were moved by metallic tractors. The other Madonna is per- 
fectly free from any taint of affectation. It is a plain rustic beauty, 
innocent, interesting, simple, without one contortion of body or of 
mind. It is sweetly painted. The Child is also a pure study after 
nature : the blood is tingling in his veins, and his face has an admir- 
able expression of careless infantine impatience. The old Man at 
the side is a masterpiece, with all this painter's knowledge of fore- 
shortening, chiaroscuro, the management of drapery, &c. Herodias's 
Daughter, by Luini, is an elaborate and successful imitation of 
224 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Leonardo da Vinci. The Medusa's Head of the latter is hardly, 
I think, so fine as Barry's description of it. It has not quite the 
watery languor — the dim obscurity. The eyes of the female are too 
much like the eyes of the snakes, red, crusted, and edgy. I shall 
only notice one picture more in this collection — the Last Judgment, 
by Bronzino. It has vast merit in the drawing and expression, but 
its most remarkable quality is the amazing relief without any perceiv- 
able shadow, and the utmost clearness with the smallest possible 
variety of tint. It looks like a Mosaic painting. The specimens of 
the Dutch and other foreign schools here are upon a small scale, and 
of inferior value. 

The Palace Pitti was begun by one of the Strozzi, who boasted 
that he would build a palace with a court-yard in it, in which another 
palace might dance. He had nearly ruined himself by the expense, 
when one of the Medici took it off his hands and completed it. It 
is at present the residence of the Grand Duke. The view within 
over the court-yard to the terrace and mount above is superb. Here 
is the Venus of Canova, an elegant sylph-like figure ; but Canova was 
more to be admired for delicacy of finishing, than for expression or 
conception of general form. At the Gallery there is one room full 
of extraordinary pictures and statues : at the Palace Pitti there are 
six or seven covered with some of the finest portraits and history- 
pieces in the world, and the walls are dark with beauty, and breathe 
an air of the highest art from them. It is one of the richest and 
most original Collections I have seen. It is not so remarkable for 
variety of style or subject as for a noble opulence and aristocratic 
pride, having to boast names in the highest ranks of art, and many of 
their best works. The Palace Pitti formerly figured in the Catalogue 
of the Louvre, which it had contributed to enrich with many of its 
most gorgeous jewels, which have been brought back to their original 
situation, and which now shine here, though not with unreflected 
lustre, nor in solitary state. Among these, for instance, is Titian's 
Hippolito di Medici (which the late Mr. Opie pronounced the finest 
portrait in the world ) , with the spirit and breadth of history, and with 
the richness, finish, and glossiness of an enamel picture. I remember 
the first time I ever saw it, it stood on an easel which I had to pass, 
with the back to me, and as I turned and saw it with the boar-spear 
in its hand, and its keen glance bent upon me, it seemed ' a thing of 
life,' with supernatural force and grandeur. The famous music-piece 
by Giorgioni was at one time in the Louvre, and is not a whit 
inferior to Titian. The head turned round of the man playing on 
the harpsichord, for air, expression, and a true gusto of colouring, 
may challenge competition all the world through. There goes a 

VOL. IX. : p 225 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

tradition that these are the portraits of Luther and Calvin. Giorgioni 
died at the age of thirty-four, heart-broken, it is said, because one of 
his scholars had robbed him of his mistress — possibly the very beauty 
whose picture is introduced here. Leo x., by Raphael, that fine, 
stern, globular head, on which ' deliberation sits and public care,' is 
in the same room with the Cardinal Bentivoglio, one of Vandyke's 
happiest and most spiritual heads — a fine group of portraits by Rubens, 
of himself, his brother, Grotius and Justus Lipsius, all in one frame 
— an admirable Holy Family, in this master's very best manner, by 
Julio Romano — and the Madonna della Seggia of Raphael — all of 
these were formerly in the Louvre. The last is painted on wood, 
and worn, so as to have a crayon look. But for the grouping, the 
unconscious look of intelligence in the children, and the rounding and 
fleshiness of the forms of their limbs, this is one of the artist's most 
unrivalled works. There are also several by Andrea del Sarto, con- 
ceived and finished with the highest taste and truth of feeling ; a 
Nymph and Satyr by Giorgioni, of great gusto ; Hercules and 
Antxus, by Schiavoni (an admirable study of bold drawing and 
poetical colouring), an unfinished sketch by Guido, several by Cigoli 
and Fra. Bartolomeo ; a girl in a flowered dress, by Titian (of 
which Mr. Northcote possesses a beautiful copy by Sir Joshua) ; 
another portrait of a Man in front view and a Holy Family, by the 
same ; and one or two fine pieces by Rubens and Rembrandt. 
There is a Parmegiano here, in which is to be seen the origin of 
Mr. Fuseli's style, a child in its mother's lap, with its head rolling 
away from its body, the mother's face looking down upon it with 
green and red cheeks tapering to a point, and a thigh of an angel, 
which you cannot well piece to an urn which he carries in his hand, 
and which seems like a huge scale of the ' shardborne beetle.' — The 
grotesque and discontinuous are, in fact, carried to their height. 
Here is also the Conspiracy of Catiline, by Salvator Rosa, which 
looks more like a Cato-street Conspiracy than any thing else, or a 
bargain struck in a blacksmith's shop ; and a Battle-piece by the same 
artist, with the round haunches and flowing tail of a white horse 
repeated, and some fierce faces, hid by the smoke and their helmets, 
of which you can make neither head nor tail. Salvator was a great 
landscape-painter; but both he and Lady Morgan have been guilty 
of a great piece of egotism in supposing that he was any thing more. 
These are the chief failures, but in general out of heaps of pictures 
there is scarce one that is not of the highest interest both in itself, 
and from collateral circumstances. Those who come in search of 
high Italian art will here find it in perfection ; and if they do not 
feel this, they may turn back at once. The pictures in the Pitti 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Palace are finely preserved, and have that deep, mellow tone of age 
upon them which is to the eyes of a connoisseur in painting as the 
rust of medals or the crust on wine is to connoisseurs and judges of a 
different stamp. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

The road between Florence and Rome by Sienna is not very interest- 
ing, though it presents a number of reflections to those who are well 
acquainted with the changes that have taken place in the history and 
agriculture of these districts. Shortly after you leave Florence, the 
way becomes dreary and barren or unhealthy. Towards the close of 
the first day's journey, however, we had a splendid view of the 
country we were to travel, which lay stretched out beneath our feet 
to an immense distance, as we descended into the little town of Pozzo 
Borgo. Deep valleys sloped on each side of us, from which the 
smoke of cottages occasionally curled : the branches of an overhanging 
birch-tree or a neighbouring ruin gave relief to the grey, misty land- 
scape, which was streaked by dark pine-forests, and speckled by the 
passing clouds ; and in the extreme distance rose a range of hills 
glittering in the evening sun, and scarcely distinguishable from the 
ridge of clouds that hovered near them. We did not reach these 
hUls (on the top of one of which stands the fort of Radicofani) till 
the end of two days' journey, making a distance of between fifty and 
sixty miles, so that their miniature size and fairy splendour, as they 
crowned the far-off horizon, may be easily guessed. We did not 
find the accommodation on the road quite so bad as we had expected. 
The chief want is of milk, which is to be had only in the morning ; 
but we remedied this defect by a taking a bottle of it with us. The 
weather was cold enough (in the middle of March) to freeze it. 
The economy of life is here reduced to a very great simplicity, 
absolute necessaries from day to day and from hand to mouth ; and 
nothing is allowed for the chapter of accidents, or the irregular 
intrusion of strangers. The mechanism of English inns is accounted 
for by the certainty of the arrival of customers, with full pockets and 
empty stomachs. There every road is a thoroughfare ; here a 
traveller is a curiosity, and we did not meet ten carriages on our 
journey, a distance of a hundred and ninety-three miles, and which it 
took us six days to accomplish. I may add that we paid only seven 
louis for our two places in the Voiture (which, besides, we had 
entirely to ourselves) our expences on the road included. This is 
cheap enough. 

227 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Sienna is a fine old town, but more like a receptacle of the dead 
than the residence of the living. ' It was,' might be written over 
the entrance to this, as to most of the towns in Italy. The 
magnificence of the buildings corresponds but ill with the squalidness 
of the inhabitants ; there seems no reason for crowding the streets so 
close together when there are so few people in them. There is at 
present no enemy without to huddle them together within the walls, 
whatever might have been the case in former times : for miles you do 
not meet a human being, or discern the traces of a human dwelling. 
The view through the noble arch of the gate as you leave Sienna is 
at once exquisitely romantic and picturesque : otherwise, the country 
presents a most deplorable aspect for a length of way. Nature seems 
to have here taken it upon her to play the part of a cinder-wench, and 
to have thrown up her incessant heaps of clay and ashes, without 
either dignity or grace. At a distance to the right and left, you see 
the stately remains of the ancient Etruscan cities, cresting the heights 
and built for defence ; and here and there, perched on the top of a 
cliff, the ruinous haunt of some bandit chief (the scourge of later 
days), that might be compared in imagination to some dragon, old 
and blind, still watching for its long-lost prey, and sharing the 
desolation it has made. There are two of these near the wretched 
inn of La Scala, where we stopped the third morning, rising in lonely 
horror from the very point of two hills, facing each other and only 
divided by a brook, that baffle description, and require the artist's 
boldest pencil. Aided by the surrounding gloom, and shrouded by 
the driving mist (as they were when we passed), they throw the 
mind back into a trance of former times, and the cry of midnight 
revelry, of midnight murder is heard from the crumbling walls. The 
romantic bridge and hamlet under them begins the ascent of Radico- 
fani. The extensive ruin at the top meets your view and disappears 
repeatedly during the long, winding, toilsome ascent. Over a 
tremendous valley to the left, we saw the distant hills of Perugia, 
covered with snow and blackened with clouds, and a heavy sleet was 
falling around us. We started, on being told that the post-house 
stood directly on the other side of the fort (at a height of 2400 feet 
above the level of the sea), and that we were to pass the night there. 
It was like being lodged in a cloud : it seemed the very rocking- 
cradle of storms and tempests. As we wound round the road at the 
foot of it, we were relieved from our apprehensions. It was a 
fortress built by stubborn violence for itself, that might be said to 
scowl defiance on the world below, and to promise security and 
shelter to those within its reach. Huge heaps of round stones, 
gnarled like iron, and that looked as if they would break the feet 

228 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

that trusted themselves among them, were rolled into the space 
between the heights and the road-side. The middle or principal turret, 
which rose between the other two, was thrown into momentary per- 
spective by the mist ; a fragment of an outer wall stood beneath, half 
cohered with ivy ; close to it was an old chapel-spire built of red 
brick, and a small hamlet crouched beneath the ramparts. It re- 
minded me, by its preternatural strength and sullen aspect, of the 
castle of Giant Despair in The Pilgrim's Progress. The dark and 
stern spirit of former times might be conceived to have entrenched 
itself here as in its last hold ; to have looked out and laughed at 
precipices and storms, and the puny assaults of hostile bands, and 
resting on its red right arm, to have wasted away through inaction 
and disuse in its unapproachable solitude and barbarous desolation. 
Never did I see any thing so rugged and so stately, apparently so 
formidable in a former period, so forlorn in this. It was a majestic 
shadow of the mighty past, suspended in another region, belonging to 
another age. I might take leave of it in the words of old Burnet, 
whose Latin glows among these cold hills. Vale augusta sedei, digna 
rege ; vale augusta rupes, semper mih'i memoranda ! — We drove into 
the inn-yard, which resembled a barrack (so do most of the inns on 
the road), with its bed-rooms like hospital- wards, and its large apart- 
ments for assemblages of armed men, now empty, gloomy, and 
unfiimished ; but where we found a hospitable welcome, and by the 
aid of a double fee to the waiters every thing very comfortable. The 
first object was to procure milk for our tea (of which last article we 
had brought some very good from the shop of Signor Pippini, at 
Florence 1) and the next thing was to lay in a stock for the remaining 
half of our journey. We were not sorry to pass a night at the height 
of 2400 feet above the level of the sea, and immediately under this 
famous fortress. The winds ' howled through the vacant guard- 
rooms and deserted lobbies ' of our hostelry, and the snow descended 
in a heavy fall, and covered the valleys ; but Radicofani looked the 
same, as we saw it through the coach-windows the next morning, 
old, grey, deserted, gloomy, as if it had survived ' a thousand storms, 
a thousand winters ' — the peasant still crawled along its trenches, the 
traveller stopped to gaze at its battlements — but neither spear nor 
battle-axe would glitter there again, nor banner be spread, nor the 
clash of arms be heard in the round of ever-rolling years — it looked 
back to other times as we looked back upon it, and stood tower- 
ing in its decay, and nodding to an eternal repose ! The road 
in this, as in other parts of Italy, is evidently calculated, and was 

^ Excellent tea is to be had at Rome at an Italian shop at the corner of the Via 
Condotti, in the Piazza di Spagna. 

229 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

originally constructed, for the march of an army. Instead of creeping 
along the valleys, it passes along the ridges of hills to prevent surprise, 
or watch the movements of an enemy, and thus generally commands 
an extensive view of the country, such as it is. It was long before 
winding slowly into the valley, we lost sight of our last night's station. 

Aquapendente is situated on the brow of a hill, over a running 
stream, as its name indicates, and the ascent to it is up the side of a 
steep rugged ravine, with overhanging rocks and shrubs. The 
mixture of wildness and luxuriance answered to my idea of Italian 
scenery, but I had seen little of it hitherto. The town is old, dirty, 
and disagreeable ; and we were driven to an inn in one of the bye- 
streets, where there was but one sitting-room, which was occupied by 
an English family, who were going to leave it immediately, but who, 
I suppose, on hearing that some one else was waiting for it, claimed 
the right of keeping it as long as they pleased. The assertion of an 
abstract right is the idea uppermost in the minds of all English people. 
Unfortunately, when its attainment is worth any thing, their spirit of 
contradiction makes them ready to relinquish it ; or when it costs 
them any thing, their spirit of self-interest deters them from the 
pursuit ! After waiting some time, we at last breakfasted in a sort of 
kitchen or outhouse upstairs, where we had very excellent but homely 
fare, and where we were amused with the furniture — a dove-house, 
a kid, half-skinned, hanging on the walls ; a loose heap of macaroni 
and vegetables in one corner, plenty of smoke, a Madonna carved and 
painted, and a map of Constantinople. The pigeons on the floor 
were busy with their murmuring plaints, and often fluttered their 
wings as if to fly. So, thought I, the nations of the earth clap their 
wings, and strive in vain to be free ! The landlady was a woman 
about forty, diminutive and sickly, but with one of those pale, mild, 
penetrating faces which one seldom sees out of Italy. She was the 
mother of two buxom daughters, as coarse and hard as any thing of 
the kind one might meet with in Herefordshire or Gloucestershire ! 
The road from Aquapendente is of a deep heavy soil, over which the 
horses with difficulty dragged the carriage. The view on one side 
was bounded by two fine conical hills clothed to the very top with 
thick woods of beech and fir ; and our route lay for miles over an 
undulating ground covered with the wild broom (growing to the size 
of a large shrub), among which herds of slate-coloured oxen were seen 
browzing luxuriously. The broom floated above them, their covering 
and their food, with its flexible silken branches of light green, and 
presented an eastern scene, extensive, soft and wild. We passed, I 
think, but one habitation between Aquapendente and San Lorenzo, 
and met but one human being, which was a Gend' Armes ! I asked 

230 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

our Vetturino if this dreary aspect of the country was the effect of 
natiure or of art. He pulled a handful of earth from the hedge-side, 
and shewed a rich black loam, capable of every improvement. I 
asked in whose dominions we were, and received for answer, ' In the 
Pope's.' San Lorenzo is a town built on the summit of a hill, in 
consequence of the ravages of the malaria in the old town, situated in 
the valley below. It looks like a large alms-house, or else like a 
town that has run away from the plague and itself, and stops suddenly 
on the brow of a hill to see if the Devil is following it. The ruins 
below are the most ghastly I ever saw. The scattered fragments of 
walls and houses are crumbling away like rotten bones, and there are 
holes in the walls and subterraneous passages, in which disease, like 
an ugly witch, seems to lurk and to forbid your entrance. Further 
on, and winding round the edge of the lake, you come to Bolsena. 
The unwholesome nature of the air from the water may be judged of 
from the colour of the tops of the houses, the moss on which is as 
yellow as the jaundice, and the grass and corn-fields on its borders are 
of a tawny green. The road between this and Monte-Fiascone, 
which you see on an eminence before you, lies through a range of 
gloomy defiles, and is deformed by the blackened corses of huge oak- 
trees, that strew the road-side, the unsightly relics of fine old woods 
that were cut down and half-burnt a few years ago as the haunts ot 
bands of robbers. They plant morals in this country by rooting up 
trees ! While the country is worth seeing, it is not safe to travel ; 
but picturesque beauty must, of course, give place to the police. I 
thought, when I first saw these cadaverous trunks lying by the side 
of the lake, that they were the useless remains of cargoes of timber 
that we had purchased of the Holy See to fight its battles, and maintain 
the cause of social order in every part of the world ! Let no English 
traveller stop at Monte-Fiascone (I mean at the inn outside the town), 
unless he would be starved and smoke-dried, but pass on to Viterbo, 
which is a handsome town, with the best inn on the road. You pass 
one night more on the road in this mode of travelling (which resembles 
walking a minuet, rather than striking up a country dance) at 
Ronciglione ; and the next day from Baccano, you see rising up, in 
a flat, hazy plain, the dome of St. Peter's. You proceed for some mUes 
along a gradual descent without any object of much interest, pass the 
Tiber and the gate Del Popolo, and you are in Rome. When there, 
go any where but to Franks's Hotel, and get a lodging, if possible, on 
the Via Gregoriana, which overlooks the town, and where you can 
feast the eye and indulge in sentiment, without being poisoned by bad 
air. The house of Salvator Rosa is at present let out in lodgings. I 
have now lived twice in houses occupied by celebrated men, once in 

231 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

a house that had belonged to Milton, and now in this, and find to my 
mortification that imagination, is entirely a thing imaginary, and has 
nothing to do with matter of fact, history, or the senses. To see an 
object of thought or fancy is just as impossible as to feel a sound or 
hear a smell. 



CHAPTER XIX 

' As London is to the meanest country town, so is Rome to every 
other city in the world.' 

So said an old friend of mine, and I believed him till I saw it. 
This is not the Rome I expected to see. No one from being in it 
would know he was in the place that had been twice mistress of the 
world. I do not understand how Nicolas Poussin could tell, taking 
up a handful of earth, that it was ' a part of the Eternal City.' 
In Oxford an air of learning breathes from the very walls : halls and 
colleges meet your eye in every direction ; you cannot for a moment 
forget where you are. In London there is a look of wealth and 
populousness which is to be found nowhere else. In Rome you are 
for the most part lost in a mass of tawdry, fulsome common-places. It 
is not the contrast of pig-styes and palaces that I complain of, the 
distinction between the old and new ; what I object to is the want of 
any such striking contrast, but an almost uninterrupted succession of 
narrow, vulgar-looking streets, where the smell of garlick prevails 
over the odour of antiquity, with the dingy, melancholy flat fronts of 
modern-built houses, that seem in search of an owner. A dunghill, 
an outhouse, the weeds growing under an imperial arch offend me not ; 
but what has a green-grocer's stall, a stupid English china warehouse, 
a putrid trattoria, a barber's sign, an old clothes or old picture shop or 
a Gothic palace, with two or three lacqueys in modern liveries loung- 
ing at the gate, to do with ancient Rome ? No ! this is not the wall 
that Romulus leaped over : this is not the Capitol where Julius Caesar 
fell : instead of standing on seven hills, it is situated in a low valley : 
the golden Tiber is a muddy stream : St. Peter's is not equal to 
St. Paul's : the Vatican falls short of the Louvre, as it was in my 
time ; but I thought that here were works immoveable, immortal, inim- 
itable on earth, and lifting the soul half way to heaven. I find them 
not, or only what I had seen before in different ways : the Stanzas 
of Raphael are faded, or no better than the prints ; and the mind of 
Michael Angelo's figures, of which no traces are to be found in the 
copies, is equally absent from the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Rome 
is great only in ruins : the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Arch of 

232 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Constantine fully answered my expectations ; and an air breathes 
round her stately avenues, serene, blissful, like the mingled breath of 
spring and winter, betwixt life and death, betwixt hope and despair. 
The country about Rome is cheerless and barren. There is little 
verdure, nor are any trees planted, on account of their bad effects on 
the air. Happy climate ! in which shade and sunshine are alike fatal. 
The Jews (I may add while I think of it) are shut up here in a 
quarter by themselves. I see no reason for it. It is a distinction 
not worth the making. There was a talk (it being Anno Santo) of 
shutting them up for the whole of the present year. A soldier stands 
at the gate, to tell you that this is the Jews' quarter, and to take any 
thing you choose to give him for this piece of Christian information. 
A Catholic church stands outside their prison, with a Crucifixion 
painted on it as a frontispiece, where they are obliged to hear a sermon 
in behalf of the truth of the Christian religion every Good Friday. 
On the same day they used to make them run races in the Corso, for 
the amusement of the rabble (high and low) — now they are compelled 
to provide horses for the same purpose. Owing to the politeness of 
the age, they no longer burn them as of yore, and that is something. 
Religious zeal, like all other things, grows old and feeble. They 
treat the Jews in this manner at Rome (as a local courtesy to St. 
Peter), and yet they compliment us on our increasing liberality to the 
Irish Catholics. The Protestant chapel here stands outside the walls, 
while there is a British monument to the memory of the Stuarts, inside 
of St. Peter's ; the tombs in the English burying-ground were destroyed 
and defaced not long ago ; yet this did not prevent the Prince Regent 
from exchanging portraits with the Pope and his Ministers! — 'Oh! 
liberalism — lovely liberalism ! ' as Mr. Blackwood would say. 

From the window of the house where I lodge, I have a view of 
the whole city at once : nay, I can see St. Peter's as I lie in bed of a 
morning. The town is an immense mass of solid stone-buildings, 
streets, palaces, and churches ; but it has not the beauty of the 
environs of Florence, nor the splendid background of Turin, nor does 
it present any highly picturesque or commanding points of view like 
Edinburgh. The pleasantest walks I know are round the Via 
Sistina, and along the Via di Quattro-Fontane— they overlook Rome 
from the North-East on to the churches of Santa Maria Maggiore, 
and of St. John Lateran, towards the gate leading to Naples. As 
we loiter on, our attention was caught by an open greensward to the 
left, with foot-paths, and a ruined wall and gardens on each side. A 
carriage stood in the road just by, and a gentleman and lady, with 
a little child, had got out of it to walk. A soldier and a girl were 
seen talking together further on, and a herd of cattle were feeding at 

233 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

their leisure on the jrielding turf. The day was close and dry — not 
a breath stirred. All was calm and silent. It had been cold when 
we set out, but here the air was soft — of an Elysian temperature, as 
if the winds did not dare to visit the sanctuaries of the dead too 
roughly. The daisy sprung beneath our feet — the fruit-trees blossomed 
within the nodding arches. On one side were seen the hills of Albano, 
on the other the Claudian gate ; and close by was Nero's Golden 
House, where there were seventy thousand statues and pillars, of 
marble and of silver, and where senates kneeled, and myriads shouted 
in honour of a frail mortal, as of a God. Come here, oh man ! and 
worship thine own spirit, that can hoard up, as in a shrine, the 
treasures of two thousand years, and can create out of the memory of 
fallen splendours and departed grandeur a solitude deeper than that of 
desert wildernesses, and pour from the out-goings of thine own thoughts 
a thunder louder than that of maddening multitudes ! No place was 
ever so still as this ; for none was ever the scene of such pomp and 
triumph ! Not far from this are the Baths of Titus ; the grass and 
the poppy (the flower of oblivion) grow over them, and in the vaults 
below they shew you (by the help of a torch) paintings on the ceiling 
eighteen hundred years old, birds, and animals, a figure of a slave, a 
nymph and a huntsman, fresh and elegantly foreshortened, and also 
the place where the Laocoon was discovered. A few paces off is 
the Coliseum, or Amphitheatre of Titus, the noblest ruin in Rome. 
It is circular, built of red stone and brick, with arched windows, and 
the gillyflower and fennel growing on its walls to the very top : one 
side is nearly perfect. As you pass under it, it seems to raise itself 
above you, and mingle with the sky in its majestic simplicity, as if 
earth were a thing too gross for it ; it stands almost unconscious of 
decay, and may still stand for ages- — though Mr. Hobhouse has 
written Annotations upon it ! There is a hypocritical inscription on 
it, to say that it has been kept in repair by the Popes, in order to 
preserve the memory of the martyrs that suffered here in cruel 
combats with wild beasts. As I have alluded to this subject, I will 
add that I think the finest stanza in Lord Byron is that where he 
describes the Dying Gladiator, who falls and does not hear the shout 
of barbarous triumph echoing from these very walls : — 

' He hears it not ; his thoughts are far away. 
Where his rude hut beside the Danube lay ; 
There are his young barbarians, all at play, 
They and their Dacian mother ; he their sire 
Is doom'd to make a Roman holiday. 
When will ye rise, ye Goths ? awake and glut your ire ! ' 

Childe Harold. 
234 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

The temple of Vesta is on the Tiber. It is not unlike an hour- 
glass — or a toad-stool ; it is small, but exceedingly beautiful, and has 
a look of great antiquity. The Pantheon is also as fine as possible. 
It has the most perfect unity of effect. It was hardly a proper 
receptacle for the Gods of the Heathens, for it has a simplicity and 
grandeur like the vaulted cope of Heaven. Compared with these 
admired remains of former times I must say that the more modern 
churches and palaces in Rome are poor, flashy, up-start looking things. 
Even the dome of St. Peter's is for the most part hid by the front, 
and the Vatican has no business by its side. The sculptures there are 
also indifferent, and the mosaics, except two — the Transfiguration 
and St. Jerome, ill chosen. I was lucky enough to see the Pope 
here on Easter Sunday. He seems a harmless, infirm, fretful old 
man. I confess I should feel little ambition to be at the head of a 
procession, at which the ignorant stare, the better informed smile. 
I was also lucky enough to see St. Peter's illuminated to the very 
top (a project of Michael Angelo's) in the evening. It was finest 
at first, as the kindled lights blended with the fading twilight. It 
seemed doubtful whether it were an artificial illumination, the work 
of carpenters and torch-bearers, or the reflection of an invisible sun. 
One half of the cross shone with the richest gold, and rows of lamps 
gave light as from a sky. At length a shower of fairy lights burst 
out at a signal in all directions, and covered the whole building. 
It looked better at a distance than when we went nearer it. It 
continued blazing all night. What an effect it must have upon the 
country round ! Now and then a life or so is lost in lighting up the 
huge fabric, but what is this to the glory of the church and the salva- 
tion of souls, to which it no doubt tends ? I can easily conceive some 
of the wild groups that I saw in the streets the following day to have 
been led by delight and wonder from their mountain-haunts, or even 
from the bandits' cave, to worship at this new starry glory, rising 
from the earth. The whole of the immense space before St. Peter's 
was in the afternoon crowded with people to see the Pope give his 
benediction. The rich dresses of the country people, the strong 
features and orderly behaviour of all, gave this assemblage a decided 
superiority over any thing of the kind I had seen in England. I did 
not hear the Miserere which is chaunted by the Priests, and sung by 
a single voice (I understand like an angel's) in a dim religious light 
in the Sistine Chapel ; nor did I see the exhibition of the relics, at 
which I was told all the beauty of Rome was present. It is some- 
thing even to miss such things. After all, St. Peter's does not seem 
to me the chief boast or most imposing display of the Catholic 
religion. Old Melrose Abbey, battered to pieces and in ruins, as 

235 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

it is, impresses me much more than the collective pride and pomp of 
Michael Angelo's great work. Popery is here at home, and may 
strut and swell and deck itself out as it pleases, on the spot and for 
the occasion. It is the pageant of an hour. But to stretch out its 
arm fifteen hundred miles, to create a voice in the wilderness, to have 
left its monuments standing by the Teviot-side, or to send the mid- 
night hymn through the shades of Vallombrosa, or to make it echo 
among Alpine solitudes, that is faith, and that is power. The rest is 
a puppet-shew ! I am no admirer of Pontificals, but I am a slave to 
the picturesque. The Priests talking together in St. Peter's, or the 
common people kneeling at the altars, make groups that shame all art. 
The inhabitants of the city have something French about them — 
something of the cook's and the milliner's shop — something pert, 
gross, and cunning ; but the Roman peasants redeem the credit of 
their golden sky. The young women that come here from Gensano 
and Albano, and that are known by their scarlet boddices and white 
head-dresses and handsome good-humoured faces, are the finest 
specimens I have ever seen of human nature. They are like 
creatures that have breathed the air of Heaven, till the sun has 
ripened them into perfect beauty, health, and goodness. They are 
universally admired in Rome. The English women that you see, 
though pretty, are pieces of dough to them. Little troops and 
whole families, men, women, and children, from the Campagna and 
neighbouring districts of Rome, throng the streets during Easter 
and Lent, who come to visit the shrine of some favourite Saint, 
repeating their Aves aloud, and telling their beads with all the 
earnestness imaginable. Popery is no farce to them. They surely 
think St. Peter's is the way to Heaven. You even see priests 
counting their beads, and looking grave. If they can contrive to 
get possession of this world for themselves, and give the laity the 
reversion of the next, were it only in imagination, something is 
to be said for the exchange. I only hate half-way houses in religion 
or politics, that take from us all the benefits of ignorance and super- 
stition, and give us none of the advantages of liberty or philosophy 
in return. Thus I hate Princes who usurp the thrones of others, 
and would almost give them back, sooner than allow the rights of 
the people. Once more, how does that monument to the Stuarts 
happen to be stuck up in the side-aisle of St. Peter's ? I would 
ask the person who placed it there, how many Georges there have 
been since James in. ? His ancestor makes but an ambiguous figure 
beside the posthumous group — 

' So sit two Kings of Brentford on one throne ! ' 
236 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

The only thing unpleasant in the motley assemblage of persons at 
Rome, is the number of pilgrims with their greasy oil-skin cloaks. 
They are a dirty, disgusting set, with a look of sturdy hypocrisy 
about them. The Pope [pro forma) washes their feet ; the Nuns, 
when they come, have even a less delicate office to perform. Religion, 
in the depth of its humility, ought not to forget decorum. But I am 
a traveller, and not a reformer. 

The picture-galleries in Rome disappointed me quite. I was told 
there were a dozen at least, equal to the Louvre ; there is not one. 
I shall not dwell long upon them, for they gave me little pleasure. 
At the Ruspigliosi Palace (near the Monte Cavallo, where are the 
famous Colossal groups, said to be by Phidias and Praxiteles, of one 
of which we have a cast in Hyde Park) are the Aurora and the 
Andromeda, by Guido. The first is a most splendid composition 
(like the Daughter of the Dawn) but painted in fresco ; and the 
artist has, in my mind, failed through want of practice in the grace 
and colouring of most of the figures. They are a clumsy, gloomy- 
looking set, and not like Guido's females. The Andromeda has all 
the charm and sweetness of his pencil, in its pearly tones, its graceful 
timid action, and its lovely expression of gentleness and terror. The 
face, every part of the figure, has a beauty and softness not to be 
described. This one figure is worth all the other group, and the 
ApoUo, the horses and the azure sea to boot. People talk of the 
insipidity of Guido. Oh ! let me drink long, repeated, relishing 
draughts of such insipidity ! If delicacy, beauty, and grace are 
insipidity, I too profess myself an idolizer of insipidity : I will 
venture one assertion, which is, that no other painter has expressed 
the female character so well, so truly, so entirely in its fragile, 
lovely essence, neither Raphael, nor Titian, nor Correggio ; and, 
after these, it is needless to mention any more. Raphael's women 
are Saints ; Titian's are courtesans ; Correggio's an affected mixture 
of both ; Guido's are the true heroines of romance, the brides of the 
fancy, such as ' youthful poets dream of when they love,' or as a 
Clarissa, a Julia de Roubigne, or a Miss Milner would turn out 
be ! They are not only angels, but young ladies into the barg: 
which is more than can be said for any of the others, and yet 
something to say. Vandyke sometimes gave this effect in portrait, 
but his historical figures are fanciful and sprawling. Under the 
Andromeda is a portrait by Nicholas Poussin of himself (a dupHcate 
of that in the Louvre), and an infant Cupid or Bacchus, by the same 
artist, finely coloured, and executed in the manner of Titian. There 
is in another room an unmeaning picture, by Annibal Caracci, of 
Samson pulling down the temple of the Philistines, and also a fine 

237 



as a 
It to ) 
?ain,/ 
it i/ 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

dead Christ by him ; add to these a Diana and Endymion by 
Guercino, in which the real sentiment of the story is thrown into 
the landscape and figures. The Ruspigliosi Pavilion, containing 
these and some inferior pictures, is situated near the remains of 
Constantine's Bath in a small raised garden or terrace, in which 
the early violets and hyacinths blossom amidst broken cisterns and 
defaced statues. It is a pretty picture ; art decays, but nature still 
survives through all changes. At the Doria Palace, there is nothing 
remarkable but the two Claudes, and these are much injured in colour. 
The trees are black, and the water looks like lead. There are 
several Garofolos, which are held in esteem here (not unjustly) and 
one fine head by Titian. The Velasquez (Innocent x. ), so much 
esteemed by Sir Joshua, is a spirited sketch. The Borghese Palace 
has three fine pictures, and only three — the Diana and Actseon of 
Domenichino ; the Taking down from the Cross, by Raphael ; and 
Titian's Sacred and Profane Love. This last picture has a peculiar 
and inexpressible charm about it. It is something between portrait 
and allegory, a mixture of history and landscape, simple and yet 
quaint, fantastical yet without meaning to be so, but as if a sudden 
thought had struck the painter, and he could not help attempting to 
execute it out of curiosity, and finishing it from the delight it gave 
him. It is full of sweetness and solemnity. The Diana of Domeni- 
chino is just the reverse of it. Every thing here is arranged methodi- 
cally, and is the effect of study and forethought. Domenichino was 
a painter of sense, feeling, and taste ; but his pencil was meagre, and 
his imagination dispirited and impoverished. In Titian, the execution 
surpassed the design, and the force of his hand and eye, as he went 
on, enriched the most indifferent outline : in Domenichino, the filling 
up fell short of the conception and of his own wishes. He was a 
man of great modesty and merit ; and when others expressed an 
admiration of his talents, they were obliged to reckon up a number 
of his chef-d' awures to convince him that they were in earnest. He 
could hardly believe that any one else thought much of his works, 
when he thought so little of them himself. Raphael's Taking down 
from the Cross is in his early manner, and the outlines of the limbs 
are like the edges of plates of tin ; but it has what was inseparable 
from his productions, first and last, pregnant expression and careful 
drawing. I ought to mention that there is, by the same master-hand, 
a splendid portrait of Caesar Borgia, which is an addition to my list. 
The complexion is a strange mixture of orange and purple. The 
hair of his sister, Lucretia Borgia (the friend and mistress of Cardinal 
Bembo) is still preserved in Italy, and a lock of it was in the posses- 
sion of Lord Byron. I lately saw it in company with that of Milton 
238 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

and of Bonaparte, looking calm, golden, beautiful, a smiling trophy 
from the grave ! The number and progressive improvement of 
Raphael's works in Italy is striking. It might teach our holiday 
artists that to do well is to do much. Excellence springs up behind 
us, not before us ; and is the result of what we have done, not of 
what we intend to do. Many artists (especially those abroad, who 
are distracted with a variety of styles and models) never advance 
beyond the contemplation of some great work, and think to lay in an 
unexampled store of accomplishments, before they commence any 
undertaking. That is where they ought to end ; to begin with it is 
too much. It is as if the foundation-stone should form the cupola of 
St. Peter's. Great works are the result of much labour and of many 
failures, and not of pompous pretensions and fastidious delicacy. 

The Corsini pictures are another large and very indifferent collec- 
tion. All I can recollect worth mentioning are, a very sweet and 
silvery-toned Herodias, by Guido ; a fine landscape, by Caspar 
Poussin ; an excellent sketch from Ariosto of the Giant Orgagna ; 
and the Plague of Milan by a modern artist, a work of great inven- 
tion and judgment, and in which the details of the subject are so 
managed as to affect, and not to shock. The Campidoglio collection 
is better. There is a large and admirable Guercino, an airy and 
richly-coloured Guido, some capital little Garofolos, a beautiful copy 
of a Repose of Titian's by Pietro da Cortona, several Giorgiones, 
and a number of antique busts of the most interesting description. 
Here is the bronze She- Wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, and 
the Geese that cackled in the Capitol. I find nothing so delightful 
as these old Roman heads of Senators, Warriors, Philosophers. 
They have all the freshness of truth and nature. They shew some- 
thing substantial in mortality. They are the only things that do not 
crush and overturn our sense of personal identity ; and are a fine 
relief to the mouldering relics of antiquity, and to the momentary 
littleness of modern things ! The little Farnese contains the Galatea 
and the Cupid and Psyche. If any thing could have raised my idea 
of Raphael higher, it would have been some of these frescoes. I 
would mention the group of the Graces in particular ; they are true 
Goddesses. The fine flowing outline of the limbs, the variety of 
attitudes, the unconscious grace, the charming unaffected glow of the 
expression, are inimitable. Raphael never perhaps escaped so com- 
pletely from the trammels of his first manner, as in this noble series 
of designs. The Galatea has been injured in colour by the stoves 
which the Germans, who were quartered there, lighted in the apart- 
ment. In the same room is the famous chalk head, said to have 
been sketched upon the wall by Michael Angelo. The story is 

239 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

probably a fabrication ; the head is as coarse and roechanical as any 
thing can be. Raphael's Loggia in the corridors of the Vatican 
(the subjects of what is called his Bible) appear to me divine in 
form, relief, conception — above all, the figure of Eve at the forbidden 
tree ; his Stanzas there appear to me divine, more particularly the 
Heliodorus, the School of Athens, and the Miracle of Bolseno, with 
all the truth and force of character of Titian's portraits (I see 
nothing, however, of his colouring) and his own purity, sweetness, 
and lofty invention, added to them. His oil pictures there are 
divine. The Transfiguration is a wonderful collection of fine heads 
and figures : their fault is, that they are too detached and bare, but 
it is not true that it embraces two distinct points of time. The 
event below is going on in the Gospel account, at the same time with 
the miracle of the Transfiguration above. But I almost prefer to 
this the Foligno picture : the child with the casket below is of all 
things the most Raphaelesque, for the sweetness of expression, and 
the rich pulpy texture of the flesh ; and perhaps I prefer even to this 
the Crowning of the Virgin, with that pure dignified figure of the 
Madonna sitting in the clouds, and that wonderous emanation of 
sentiment in the crowd below, near the vase of flowers, all whose 
faces are bathed in one feeling of ecstatic devotion, as the stream 
of inspiration flows over them. There is a singular effect of colour- 
ing in the lower part of this picture, as if it were painted on slate, 
and from this cold chilly ground the glow of sentiment comes out 
perhaps the more strong and effectual. In the same suite of apart- 
ments (accessible to students and copyists) are the Death of St. 
Jerome, by Domenichino ; and the Vision of St. Romuald, by 
Andrea Sacchi, the last of the Italian painters. Five nobler or 
more impressive pictures are not in the world. A single figure of 
St. Michelle (as a pilgrim among the Alps) is a pure rich offering of 
the pencil to legendary devotion, and remarkable for the simplicity of 
the colouring, sweetness of the expression, and the gloomy splendour 
of the background. There are no others equally good. The Vatican 
contains numberless fine statues and other remains of antiquity, elegant 
and curious. The Apollo I do not admire, but the Laocoon appears 
to me admirable, for the workmanship, for the muscular contortions 
of the father's figure, and the divine expression of the sentiment of 
pain and terror in the children. They are, however, rather small 
than young. Canova's figures here seem to me the work of an 
accomplished sculptor, but not of a great man. Michael Angelo's 
figures of Day and Night, at the Chapel of St. Lorenzo at Florence, 
are those of a great man ; whether of a perfect sculptor or not, I 
will not pretend to say. The neck of the Night is curved like the 
240 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

horse's, the limbs have the involution of serpents. These two figures 
and his transporting the Pantheon to the top of St. Peter's, have 
settled my wavering idea of this mighty genius, which his David and 
early works at Florence had staggered. His Adam receiving life 
from his Creator, in the Sistine Chapel, for boldness and freedom, 
is more like the Elgin Theseus than any other figure I have seen. 
The Jeremiah in the same ceiling droops and bows the head like 
a willow-tree surcharged with showers. Whether there are any 
faces worthy of these noble figures I have not been near enough to 
see. Those near the bottom of the Last Judgment are hideous, 
vulgar caricatures of demons and cardinals, and the whole is a mass 
of extravagance and confusion. I shall endeavour to get a nearer 
view of the Prophets and Sybils in the Capella Sistina. And if I 
can discover an expression and character of thought in them equal 
to their grandeur of form, I shall not be slow to acknowledge it. 
Michael Angelo is one of those names that cannot be shaken without 
pulling down Fame itself. The Vatican is rich in pictures, statuary, 
tapestry, gardens, and in the views from it ; but its immense size is 
divided into too many long and narrow compartments, and it wants 
the unity of effect and imposing gravity of the Louvre. 



CHAPTER XX 

There are two things that an Englishman understands, hard words 
and hard blows. Nothing short of this (generally speaking) excites 
his attention or interests him in the least. His neighbours have the 
benefit of the one in war time, and his own countrymen of the other 
in time of peace. The French express themselves astonished at the 
feats which our Jack Tars have so often performed. A fellow in 
that class of life in England will strike his hand through a deal board 
— first, to shew his strength, which he is proud of; secondly, to give 
him a sensation, which he is in want of; lastly to prove his powers 
of endurance, which he also makes a boast of. So qualified, a con- 
troversy with a cannon-ball is not much out of his way : a thirty-two 
pounder is rather an ugly customer, but it presents him with a tangible 
idea (a thing he is always in search of) — and, should it take off his 
head or carry away one of his limbs, he does not feel the want of the 
one or care for that of the other. Naturally obtuse, his feelings 
become hardened by custom ; or if there are any qualms of repugnance 
or dismay left, a volley of oaths, a few coarse jests, and a double 
allowance of grog soon turn the affair into a pastime. Stung with 
VOL. IX. : Q 241 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

wounds, stunned with bruises, bleeding and mangled, an English 
sailor never finds himself so much alive as when he is flung half dead 
into the cockpit ; for he then perceives the extreme consciousness of 
his existence in his conflict with external matter, in the violence of 
his will, and his obstinate contempt for suffering. He feels his 
personal identity on the side of the disagreeable and repulsive ; and it 
is better to feel it so than to be a stock or a stone, which is his 
ordinary state. Pain puts life into him ; action, soul : otherwise, 
he is a mere log. The English are not like a nation of women. 
They are not thin-skinned, nervous, or effeminate, but dull and 
morbid : they look danger and difliculty in the face, and shake hands 
with death as with a brother. They do not hold up their heads, but 
they will turn their backs on no man : they delight in doing and in 
bearing more than others : what every one else shrinks from through 
aversion to labour or pain, they are attracted to, and go through with, 
and so far (and so far only) they are a great people. At least, it 
cannot be denied that they are a pugnacious set. Their heads are so 
full of this, that if a Frenchman speaks of Scribe, the celebrated 
farce-writer, a young Englishman present will suppose he means Cribb 
the boxer ; and ten thousand people assembled at a prize-fight wiU 
witness an exhibition of pugilism with the same breathless attention 
and delight as the audience at the Theatre Frangais listen to the 
dialogue of Racine or MoliSre. Assuredly, we do not pay the same 
attention to Shakspeare : but at a boxing-match every Englishman 
feels his power to give and take blows increased by sympathy, as at a 
French theatre every spectator fancies that the actors on the stage 
talk, laugh, and make love as he would. A metaphysician might say, 
that the English perceive objects chiefly by their mere material 
qualities of solidity, inertness, and impenetrability, or by their own 
muscular resistance to them ; that they do not care about the colour, 
taste, smell, the sense of luxury or pleasure : — they require the heavy, 
hard, and tangible only, something for them to grapple with and 
resist, to try their strength and their unimpressibility upon. They do 
not like to smell to a rose, or to taste of made-dishes, or to listen to 
soft music, or to look at fine pictures, or to make or hear fine speeches, 
or to enjoy themselves or amuse others ; but they will knock any man 
down who tells them so, and their sole delight is to be as uncom- 
fortable and disagreeable as possible. To them the greatest labour is 
to be pleased : they hate to have nothing to find fault with : to expect 
them to smile or to converse on equal terms, is the heaviest tax you 
can levy on their want of animal spirits or intellectual resources. A 
drop of pleasure is the most difficult thing to extract from their hard, 
dry, mechanical, husky frame ; a civil word or look is the last thing 
242 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

they can part with. Hence the matter-of-factness of their under- 
standings, their tenaciousness of reason or prejudice, their slowness to 
distinguish, their backwardness to yield, their mechanical improve- 
ments, their industry, their courage, their blunt honesty, their dislike 
to the frivolous and florid, their love of liberty out of hatred to 
oppression, and their love of virtue from their antipathy to vice. 
Hence also their philosophy, from their distrust of appearances and 
unwillingness to be imposed upon ; and even their poetry has its 
probable source in the same repining, discontented humour, which 
flings them from cross-grained realities into the region of lofty and 
eager imaginations.^ — A French gentleman, a man of sense and wit, 
expressed his wonder that all the English did not go and live in the 
South of France, where they would have a beautiful country, a fine 
climate, and every comfort almost for nothing. He did not perceive 
that they would go back in shoals from this scene of fancied con- 
tentment to their fogs and sea-coal fires, and that no Englishman can 
live without something to complain of. Some persons are sorry to 
see our countrymen abroad cheated, laughed at, quarrelling at all the 
inns they stop at: — while they are in hot ivater, while they think 
themselves ill-used and have but the spirit to resent it, they are happy. 
As long as they can swear, they are excused from being com- 
plimentary : if they have to fight, they need not think : while they 
are provoked beyond measure, they are released from the dreadful 
obligation of being pleased. Leave them to themselves, and they are 
dull : introduce them into company, and they are worse. It is the 
incapacity of enjoyment that makes them sullen and ridiculous ; the 
mortification they feel at not having their own way in everything, and 
at seeing others delighted without asking their leave, that makes them 
haughty and distant. An Englishman is silent abroad from having 
nothing to say ; and he looks stupid, because he is so. It is kind 
words and graceful acts that afflict his soul — an appearance of 
happiness, which he suspects to be insincere because he cannot enter 
into it, and a flow of animal spirits which dejects him the more from 

^ We have five names unrivalled in modern times and in their different ways : 
— Newton, Locke, Bacon, Shakspeare, and Milton — and if to these we were to add 
a sixth that could not be questioned in his line, perhaps it would be Hogarth. Our 
wit is the eiTect not of gaiety, but spleen — the last result of a pertinacious reductio 
ad abmrdum. Our greatest wits have been our gravest men. Fielding seems to 
have produced his History of a Foundling with the same deliberation and forethought 
that Arkwright did his spinning-jenny. The French have no poetry ; that is, no 
combination of internal feeling with external imagery. Their dramatic dialogue is 
frothy verbiage or a mucilage of sentiment without natural bones or substance : 
ours constantly clings to the concrete, and has a purchase upon matter. Outward 
objects interfere with and extinguish the flame of their imagination ; with us they 
are the fuel that kindle it into a brighter and stronger blaze, 

243 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

making him feel the want of it in himself; pictures that he does not 
understand, music that he does not feel, love that he cannot make, 
suns that shine out of England, and smiles more radiant than they ! 
Do not stifle him with roses : do not kill him with kindness : leave 
him some pretext to grumble, to fret, and torment himself. Point at 
him as he drives an English mail-coach about the streets of Paris or 
of Rome, to relieve his despair of eclat by affording him a pretence 
to horsewhip some one. Be disagreeable, surly, lying, knavish, 
impertinent out of compassion ; insult, rob him, and he will thank 
you; take any thing from him (nay even his life) sooner than his 
opinion of himself and his prejudices against others, his moody 
dissatisfaction and his contempt for every one who is not in as ill a 
humour as he is. 

John Bull is certainly a singular animal. It is the being the beast 
he J3 that has made a man of him. If he do not take care what he is 
about, the same ungoverned humour will be his ruin. He must have 
something to butt at ; and it matters little to him whether it be friend 
or foe, provided only he can run-a-muck. He must have a grievance 
to solace him, a bug-bear of some sort or other to keep himself in 
breath : otherwise, he droops and hangs the head — he is no longer 
John Bull, but John Ox, according to a happy allusion of the Poet- 
Laureate's. This necessity of John's to be repulsive (right or wrong) 
has been lately turned against himself, to the detriment of others, and 
his proper cost. Formerly, the Pope, the Devil, the Inquisition, and 
the Bourbons, served the turn, with all of whom he is at present 
sworn friends, unless Mr. Canning should throw out a tub to a nxihale 
in South America : then Bonaparte took the lead for awhile in John's 
panic-struck brain ; and latterly, the Whigs and the Examiner news- 
paper have borne the bell before all other topics of abuse and obloquy. 
Formerly, liberty was the word with John, — now it has become a 
bye-word. Whoever is not determined to make a slave and a drudge 
of him, he defies, he sets at, he tosses in the air, he tramples under 
foot ; and after having mangled and crushed whom he pleases, stands 
stupid and melancholy [fanum in cornu) over the lifeless remains of 
his victim. When his fury is over, he repents of what he has done — 
too late. In his tame fit, and having made a clear stage of all who 
would or could direct him right, he is led gently by the nose by Mr. 
Croker ; and the ' Stout Gentleman ' gets upon his back, making a 
monster of him. Why is there a tablet stuck up in St. Peter's at 
Rome, to the memory of the three last of the Stuarts ? Is it a 
baises mains to the Pope, or a compromise with legitimacy ? Is the 
dread of usurpation become so strong, that a reigning family are half- 
ready to acknowledge themselves usurpers, in favour of those who are 
244 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

not likely to come back to assert their claim, and to countenance the 
principles that may keep them on a throne, in- lieu of the paradoxes 
that placed them there ? It is a handsome way of paying for a king- 
dom with an epitaph, and of satisfying the pretensions of the living 
and the dead. But we did not expel the slavish and tyrannical 
Stuarts from our soil by the volcanic eruption of 1688, to send a 
whining Jesuitical recantation and writ of error after them to the 
other world a hundred years afterwards. But it may be said that the 
inscription is merely a tribute of respect to misfortune. What ! from 
that quarter ? No ! it is a ' lily-livered,' polished, courtly, pious 
monument to the fears that have so long beset the hearts of Monarchs, 
to the pale apparitions of Kings dethroned or beheaded in time past 
or to come (from that sad example) to the crimson flush of victory, 
which has put out the light of truth, and to the reviving hope of that 
deathless night of ignorance and superstition, when they shall once 
more reign as Gods upon the earth, and make of their enemies their 
footstool ! Foreigners cannot comprehend this bear-garden work of 
ours at all: they 'perceive a fury, but nothing wherefore.' They 
cannot reconcile the violence of our wills with the dulness of our 
apprehensions, nor account for the fuss we make about nothing ; our 
convulsions and throes without end or object, the pains we take to 
defeat ourselves and others, and to undo all that we have ever done, 
sooner than any one else should share the benefit of it. They think 
it is strange, that out of mere perversity and contradiction we would 
rather be slaves ourselves, than suffer others to be free ; that we back 
out of our most heroic acts and disavow our favourite maxims (the 
blood-stained devices in our national coat of arms) the moment we find 
others disposed to assent to or imitate us, and that we would willingly 
see the last hope of liberty and independence extinguished, sooner than 
give the smallest credit to those who sacrifice every thing to keep the 
spark alive, or abstain from joining in every species of scurrility, 
insult, and calumny against them, if the word is once given by the 
whippers-in of power. The English imagination is not riante : it 
inclines to the gloomy and morbid with a heavy instinctive bias, and 
when fear and interest are thrown into the scale, down it goes with a 
vengeance that is not to be resisted, and from the effects of which it 
is not easy to recover. The enemies of English liberty are aware of 
this weakness in the public mind, and make a notable use of it. 

' But that two-handed engine at the door 
Stands ready to smite once and smite no more.' 

Gliie a dog an ill name, and hang him — so says the proverb. The 
courtiers say, ' Give a patriot an ill name, and ruin him ' alike with 

245 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Whig and Tory — with the last, because he hates you as a friend to 
freedom ; with the first, because he is afraid of being implicated in 
the same obloquy with you. This is the reason why the Magdalen 
Muse of Mr. Thomas Moore finds a taint in the Liberal; why Mr. 
Hobhouse visits Pisa, to dissuade Lord Byron from connecting him- 
self with any but gentlemen-born, for the credit of the popular cause. 
Set about a false report or insinuation, and the effect is instantaneous 
and universally felt — prove that there is nothing in it, and you are 
just where you were. Something wrong somewhere, in reality or 
imagination, in public or in private, is necessary to the minds of the 
English people : bring a charge against any one, and they hug you to 
their breasts : attempt to take it from them, and they resist it as they 
would an attack upon their persons or property : a nickname is to 
their moody, splenetic humour a freehold estate, from which they will 
not be ejected by fair means or foul : they conceive they have a -oested 
right in calumny. No matter how base the lie, how senseless the jest, 
it tells — because the public appetite greedily swallows whatever is 
nauseous and disgusting, and refuses, through weakness or obstinacy, 
to disgorge it again. Therefore Mr. Croker plies his dirty task — 
and is a Privy-councillor ; Mr. Theodore Hook calls Mr. Waithman 
' Lord Waithman ' once a week, and passes for a wit ! 

I had the good fortune to meet the other day at Paris with my old 

fellow-student Dr. E , after a lapse of thirty years ; he is older 

than I by a year or two, and makes it five-and-twenty. He had not 
been idle since we parted. He sometimes looked in, after having 
paid La Place a visit ; and I told him it was almost as if he had 
called on a star in his way. It is wonderful how friendship, that has 
long lain unused, accumulates like money at compound interest. We 
had to settle a long account, and to compare old times and new. He 
was naturally anxious to learn the state of our politics and literature, 
and was not a little mortified to hear that England, ' whose boast it 
was to give out reformation to the world,' had changed her motto, 
and was now bent on propping up the continental despotisms, and on 
lashing herself to them. He was particularly mortified at the 
degraded state of our public press — at the systematic organization of 
a corps of government-critics to decry every liberal sentiment, and 
proscribe every liberal writer as an enemy to the person of the reigning 
sovereign, only because he did not avow the principles of the Stuarts. 
I had some difficulty in making him understand the full lengths of the 
malice, the lying, the hypocrisy, the sleek adulation, the meanness, 
equivocation, and skulking concealment, of a Quarterly Reviewer,'^ 

^ A Mr. Law lately came over from America to horsewhip the writer of an 
article in the Sluarterly, reflecting on his mother (Mrs. Law) as a woman of bad 
246 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

the reckless blackguardism of Mr. Blackwood, and the obtuse 
drivelling profligacy of the John Bull. He said, ' It is worse with 
you than with us : here an author is obliged to sacrifice twenty 
mornings and twenty pair of black silk-stockings, in paying his court 
to the Editors of different journals, to ensure a hearing from the 
public ; but with you, it seems, he must give up his understanding and 
his character, to establish a claim to taste or learning.' He asked if 
the scandal could not be disproved, and retorted on the heads of the 
aggressors : but I said that these were persons of no character, or 
studiously screened by their employers ; and besides, the English 
imagination was a bird of heavy wing, that, if once dragged through 
the kennel of Billingsgate abuse, could not well raise itself out of it 
again. He could hardly believe that under the Hanover dynasty (a 
dynasty founded to secure us against tyranny) a theatrical licenser 
had struck the word ' tyrant ' out of Mr. Shee's tragedy, as offensive 
to ears polite, or as if from this time forward there could be supposed 
to be no such thing in rerum natura ; and that the common ejaculation, 
' Good God ! ' was erased from the same piece, as in a strain of too 
great levity in this age of cant. I told him that public opinion in 
England was at present governed by half a dozen miscreants, who 
undertook to bait, hoot, and worry every man out of his country, or 
into an obscure grave, with lies and nicknames, who was not prepared 
to take the political sacrament of the day, and use his best endeavours 
(he and his friends) to banish the last traces of freedom, truth, and 
honesty from the land. ' To be direct and honest is not safe.' To 
be a Reformer, the friend of a Reformer, or the friend's friend of a 
Reformer, is as much as a man's peace, reputation, or even life is 
worth. Answer, if it is not so, pale shade of Keats, or living mummy 
of William Gifford ! Dr. E was unwilling to credit this state- 
ment, but the proofs were too flagrant. He asked me what became 
of that band of patriots that swarmed in our younger days, that were 
so glowing-hot, desperate, and noisy in the year 1794? I said 
I could not tell ; but referred him to our present Poet-Laureate for 
an account of them ! 

' Can these things be, 

And overcome us like a summer-cloud. 

Without a special wonder ? ' 

character, for the Tory reason that she was the wife of a Mr. Law, who differed 
with his brother (Lord Ellenborough) in politics. He called on Mr. Barrow, who 
knew nothing of the writer ; he called on Mr. Gifford, who knew nothing of the 
writer ; he called on Mr. Murray, who looked oddly, but he could get no redress 
except a public disavowal of the falsehood ; and they took that opportunity to 
retract some other American calumny. Mr. L. called on one Secretary of the 
Admiralty, but there are two Secretaries of the Admiralty ! 

247 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

I suspect it is peculiar to the English not to answer the letters of 
their friends abroad. They know you are anxious to hear, and have 
a surly, sullen pleasure in disappointing you. To oblige is a thing 
abhorrent to their imaginations ; to be uneasy at not hearing from 
home just when one wishes, is a weakness which they cannot 
encourage. Any thing like a responsibility attached to their writing 
is a kind of restraint upon their free-will, an interference with their 
independence. There is a sense of superiority in not letting you 
know what you wish to know, and in keeping you in a state of help- 
less suspense. Besides, they think you are angry at their not writing, 
and would make them if you could; and they show their resentment 
of your impatience and ingratitude by continuing not to write. — One 
thing truly edifying in the accounts from England, is the number of 
murders and robberies with which the newspapers abound. One 
would suppose that the repetition of the details, week after week, 
and day after day, might stagger us a little as to our superlative idea 
of the goodness, honesty, and industry of the English people. No 
such thing : whereas one similar fact occurring once a year abroad 
fills us with astonishment, and makes us ready to dub the Italians ''' 
(without any further inquiry) a nation of assassins and banditti. It 
is not safe to live or travel among them. Is it not strange, that we 
should persist in drawing such wilful conclusions from such groundless 
premises? A murder or a street-robbery in London is a matter of 
course ^ : accumulate a score of these under the most aggravated 
circumstances one upon the back of the other, in town and country, 
in the course of a few weeks — -they all go for nothing ; they make 
nothing against the English character in the abstract ; the force of 
prejudice is stronger than the weight of evidence. The process of 
the mind is this ; and absurd as it appears, is natural enough. We 
say (to ourselves) we are English, we are good people, and therefore 
the English are good people. We carry a proxy in our bosoms for 
the national character in general. Our own motives are ' very stuff 
o' the conscience,' and not like those of barbarous foreigners. 
Besides, we know many excellent English people, and the mass of 
the population cannot be affected in the scale of morality by the 
outrages of a few ruffians, which instantly meet with the reward they 
merit from wholesome and excellent laws. We are not to be 
moved from this position, that the great body of the British public 
do not live by thieving and cutting the throats of their neighbours, 

^ Chief Justice Holt used to say, 'there were more robberies committed in 
England than in Scotland, because ivc had better hearts' The English are at all 
times disposed to interpret this literally. 

248 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

whatever the accounts in the newspapers might lead us to suspect. 
The streets are lined with bakers', butchers', and haberdashers' shops, 
instead of night-cellars and gaming-houses ; and are crowded with 
decent, orderly, well-dressed people, instead of being rendered 
impassable by gangs of swindlers and pickpockets. The exception does 
not make the rule. Nothing can be more clear or proper ; and yet 
if a single Italian commit a murder or a robbery, we immediately form 
an abstraction of this individual case, and because we are ignorant of 
the real character of the people or state of manners in a million of 
instances, take upon us, like true Englishmen, to fill up the blank, 
which is left at the mercy of our horror-struck imaginations, with 
bugbears and monsters of every description. We should extend to 
others the toleration and the suspense of judgment we claim ; and I 
am sure we stand in need of it from those who read the important 
head of ' Accidents and Offences ' in our Journals. It is true an 
Italian baker, some time ago, shut his wife up in an oven, where she 
was burnt to death ; the heir of a noble family stabbed an old woman 
to rob her of her money ; a lady of quality had her step-daughter 
chained to a bed of straw, and fed on bread and water till she lost 
her senses. This translated into vulgar English means that all the 
bakers' wives in Italy are burnt by their husbands at a slow fire ; 
that all the young nobility are common bravoes ; that all the step- 
mothers exercise unheard-of and unrelenting cruelty on the children 
of a former marriage. We only want a striking frontispiece to make 
out a tragic volume. As the traveller advances into the country, 
robbers and rumours of robbers fly before him with the horizon. In 
Italy, 

' Man seldom is — but always to be robbed.'' 

At Turin, they told me it was not wise to travel by a vetturino 
to Florence without arms. At Florence, I was told one could not 
walk out to look at an old ruin in Rome, without expecting to see 
a Lazzaroni start from behind some part of it with a pistol in his 
hand. ' There 's no such thing ; ' but hatred has its phantoms as 
well as fear ; and the English traduce and indulge their prejudices 
against other nations in order to have a pretence for maltreating them. 
This moral delicacy plays an under-game to their political profligacy. 
I am at present kept from proceeding forward to Naples by imaginary 
bands of brigands that infest the road the whole way. The fact is, 
that a gang of banditti, who had committed a number of atrocities 
and who had their haunts in the mountains near Sonino, were taken 
up about three years ago, to the amount of two-and thirty : four of 
them were executed at Rome, and their wives still get their living 

249 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

in this city by sitting as models to artists, on account of the handsome- 
ness of their features and the richness of their dresses. As to 
courtesans, from which one cannot separate the name of Italy even 
in idea, I have seen but one person answering to this description 
since I came, and I do not even know that this was one. But I 
saw a girl in white (an unusual thing) standing at some distance at 
the corner of one of the bye-streets in Rome ; after looking round 
her for a moment, she ran hastily up the street again, as if in fear of 
being discovered, and a countryman who was passing with a cart at 
the time, stopped to look and hiss after her. If the draymen in 
London were to stop to gape and hoot at all the girls they see stand- 
ing at the corners of streets in a doubtful capacity, they would have 
enough to do. But the tide of public prostitution that pours down 
all our streets is considered by some moralists as a drain to carry off 
the peccant humours of private life, and to keep the inmost recesses 
of the female breast sweet and pure from blemish ! If this is to be 
the test, we have indeed nearly arrived at the idea of a perfect 
commonwealth. 

Cicisleism is still kept up in Italy, though somewhat on the decline. 
I have nothing to say in favour of that anomaly in vice and virtue. 
The English women are particularly shocked at it, who are allowed 
to hate their husbands, provided they do not like any body else. It 
is a kind of marriage within a marriage ; it begins with infidelity to 
end in constancy ; it is not a state of licensed dissipation, but is a 
real chain of the affections, superadded to the first formal one, and 
that often lasts for life. A gay captain in the Pope's Guard is 
selected by a lady as her canialier ser-uente in the prime of life, and 
is seen digging in the garden of the family in a grey jacket and white 
hairs thirty years after. This does not look like a love of change. 
The husband is of course always i. fixture ; not so the cavalier ser-uente, 
who is liable to be removed for a new favourite. In noble families 
the lover must be noble; and he must be approved by the husband. 
A young officer, who the other iSay volunteered this service to a 
beautiful Marchioness without either of these titles, and was a sort 
of interloper on the intended gallant, was sent to Volterra. What- 
ever is the height to which this system has been carried, or the level 
to which it has sunk, it does not appear to have extinguished jealousy 
in all its excess as a part of the national character, as the following 
story will shew : it is related by M. Beyle, in his charming little 
work, entitled De I' Amour, as a companion to the famous one in 
Dante ; and I shall give the whole passage in his words, as placing 
the Italian character (in former as well as latter times) in a striking 
point of view. 

250 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

' I allude,' he says, ' to those touching lines of Dante ; — 

' Deh ! quando tu sarai tomato al mondo, 
Ricordati di me, che son la Pia ; 
Sienna mi fe : disfecemi Maremma : 
Salsi colui, che inannellata pria, 
Disposando, m'avea con la sua gemma/ — Purgatorio, c. 5. 

' The woman who speaks with so much reserve, had in secret 
undergone the fate of Desdemona, and had it in her power, by a 
single word, to have revealed her husband's crime to the friends 
whom she had left upon earth. 

' Nello della Pietra obtained in marriage the hand of Madonna 
Pia, sole heiress of the Ptolomei, the richest and most noble family 
of Sienna. Her beauty, which was the admiration of all Tuscany, 
gave rise to a jealousy in the breast of her husband, that, envenomed 
by false reports and by suspicions continually reviving, led to a fright- 
ful catastrophe. It is not easy to determine at this day if his wife 
was altogether innocent ; but Dante has represented her as such. 
Her husband carried her with him into the marshes of Volterra, 
celebrated then, as now, for the pestiferous effects of the air. Never 
would he tell his unhappy wife the reason of her banishment into so 
dangerous a place. His pride did not deign to pronounce either 
complaint or accusation. He lived with her alone, in a deserted 
tower, of which I have been to see the ruins on the sea-shore ; here 
he never broke his disdainful silence, never replied to the questions 
of his youthful bride, never listened to her entreaties. He waited 
unmoved by her for the air to produce its fatal effects. The vapours 
of this unwholesome swamp were not long in tarnishing features the 
most beautiful, they say, that in that age had appeared upon earth. 
In a few months she died. Some chroniclers of these remote times 
report, that Nello employed the dagger to hasten her end : she died 
in the marshes in some horrible manner ; but the mode of her death 
remained a mystery, even to her contemporaries. Nello della Pietra 
survived to pass the rest of his days in a silence which was never 
broken. 

' Nothing can be conceived more noble or more delicate than the 
manner in which the ill-fated Pia addresses herself to Dante. She 
desires to be recalled to the memory of the friends whom she had 
quitted so young : at the same time, in telling her name and alluding 
to her husband, she does not allow herself the smallest complaint 
against a cruelty unexampled, but thenceforth irreparable ; and merely 
intimates that he knows the history of her death. This constancy 
in vengeance and in suffering is to be met with, I believe, only among 

251 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

the people of the South. In Piedmont, I found myself the 
involuntary witness of a fact almost similar ; but I was at the time 
ignorant of the details. I was ordered with five-and-twenty dragoons 
into the woods that border the Sesia, to prevent the contraband 
trafEc. On ray arrival in the evening at this wild and solitary place, 
I distinguished among the trees the ruins of an old castle : I went to 
it : to my great surprise, it was inhabited. I there found a Noble- 
man of the country, of a very unpromising aspect ; a man six feet in 
height, and forty years of age : he allowed me a couple of apartments 
with a very ill grace. Here I entertained myself by getting up some 
pieces of music with my quarter-master : after the expiration of some 
days, we discovered that our host kept guard over a woman whom 
we called Camilla in jest : we were far from suspecting the dreadful 
truth. She died at the end of six weeks. I had the melancholy 
curiosity to see her in her coffin ; I bribed a monk who had charge 
of it, and towards midnight, under pretext of sprinkling the holy 
water, he conducted me into the chapel. I there saw one of those 
fine faces, which are beautiful even in the bosom of death : she had 
a large aquiline nose, of which I never shall forget the noble and 
expressive outline. I quitted this mournful spot ; but five years 
after, a detachment of my regiment accompanying the Emperor to 
his coronation as King of Italy, I had the whole story recounted to 

me. I learned that the jealous husband, the Count of , had one 

morning found, hanging to his wife's bedside, an English watch 
belonging to a young man in the little town where they lived. The 
same day he took her to the ruined castle, in the midst of the forests 
of the Sesia. Like Nello della Pietra, he uttered not a single word. 
If she made him any request, he presented to her sternly and in 
silence the English watch, which he had always about him. In this 
manner he passed nearly three years with her. She at length fell a 
victim to despair, in the flower of her age. Her husband attempted 
to dispatch the owner of the watch with a stiletto, failed, fled to 
Genoa, embarked there, and no tidings have been heard of him 
since. His property was confiscated.' — De V Amour, vol i. p. 131. 

This story is interesting and well told. One such incident, or 
one page in Dante or in Spenser is worth all the route between this 
and Paris, and all the sights in all the post-roads in Europe. Oh 
Sienna ! if I felt charmed with thy narrow, tenantless streets, or 
looked delighted through thy arched gateway over the subjected 
plain, it was that some recollections of Madonna Pia hung upon the 
beatings of my spirit, and converted a barren waste into the regions 
of romance ! 

252 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 



CHAPTER XXI 

We had some thoughts of taking a lodging at L'Ariccia, at the Caffe 
del Piazza, for a month, but the deep sandy roads, the centinels 
posted every half-mile on this, which is the route for Naples (which 
shewed that it was not very safe to leave them), the loose, straggling 
woods sloping down to the dreary marshes, and the story of 
Hippolitus painted on the walls of the inn (who, it seems, was 
'native to the manner here'), deterred us. L'Ariccia, besides 
being, after Cortona, the oldest place in Italy, is also one step 
towards Naples, which I had a strong desire to see — its brimming 
shores, its sky which glows like one entire sun, Vesuvius, the mouth 
of Hell, and Sorrentum, like the Islands of the Blest — yet here 
again the reports of robbers, exaggerated alike by foreigners and 
natives, who wish to keep you where you are, the accounts of hogs 
without hair, and children without clothes to their backs, the vermin 
(animal as well as human), the gilded hams and legs of mutton that 
Forsyth speaks of, gave me a distaste to the journey, and I turned 
back to put an end to the question. I am fond of the sun, though 
I do not like to see him and the assassin's knife glaring over my head 
together. As to the real amount of the danger of travelling this 
road, as far as I can learn, it is this — there is at present a possibility 
but no probability of your being robbed or kidnapped, if you go in 
the daytime and by the common method of a Vetturino, stopping two 
nights on the road. If you go alone, and with a determination to 
set time, place, and circumstances at defiance, like a personified 
representation of John Bull, maintaining the character of your 
countrymen for sturdiness and independence of spirit, you stand a 
very good chance of being shot through the head : the same thing 
might happen to you, if you refused your money to an English foot- 
pad ; but if you give it freely, like a gentleman, and do not stand too 
nicely upon a punctilio, they let you pass like one. If you have no 
money about you, you must up into the mountain, and wait till you 
can get it. For myself, my remittances have not been very regular 
even in walled towns ; how I should fare in this respect upon the 
forked mountain, I cannot tell, and certainly I have no wish to try. 
A friend of mine said that he thought it the only romantic thing going, 
this of being carried off by the banditti ; that life was become too 
tame and insipid without such accidents, and that it would not be 
amiss to put one's-self in the way of such an adventure, like putting 
in for the grand prize in the lottery. Assuredly, one is not likely 
to go to sleep in such circumstances : one person who was detained 

253 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

in this manner, and threatened every hour with being despatched, 
went mad in consequence. A French Artist was laid hold of by a 
gang of the outlaws, as he was sketching in the neighbourhood of 
their haunts, about a year ago ; he did not think their mode of life at 
all agreeable. As he had no money, they employed him in making 
sketches of their heads, with which they were exceedingly delighted. 
Their vanity kept him continually on the alert when they had a 
moment's leisure ; and, besides, he was fatigued almost to death, for 
they made long marches of from forty to fifty miles a day, and scarcely 
ever rested more than one night in the same place. They travelled 
through bye-roads (in constant apprehension of the military) in parties 
of five or six, and met at some common rendezvous at night-fall. He 
was in no danger from them in the day-time ; but at night they sat 
up drinking and carousing, and when they were in this state of excite- 
ment, he was in considerable jeopardy from their violence or sportive 
freaks : they amused themselves with presenting their loaded pieces 
at his breast, or threatened to dispatch him if he did not promise to 
procure ransom. At last he effected his escape in one of their 
drunken bouts. Their seizure of the Austrian officer last year was 
singular enough : they crept for above a mile on their hands and 
knees, from the foot of the mountain which was their place of retreat, 
and carried off their prize in the same manner, so as to escape the 
notice of the sentinels who were stationed at short distances on the 
road side. Some years since a plan was laid to carry off Lucien 
Buonaparte from his villa at Frascati, about eleven miles from Rome, 
on the Albano side, where the same range of Apennines begins : he 
was walking in his garden and saw them approaching through some 
trees, for his glance is quick and furtive ; he retired into the house, 
his valet came out to meet them, who passed himself off for his 
master, they were delighted with their sham-prize, and glad to take 
4,000 crowns to release him. Since then Lucien Buonaparte has 
lived in Rome. I remember once meeting this celebrated character 
in the streets of Paris, walking arm in arm with Maria Cosway, with 
whom I had drunk tea the evening before. He was dressed in a 
light drab-coloured great-coat, and was then a spirited, dashing-looking 
young man. I believe I am the only person in England who ever 
read his Charlemagne. It is as clever a poem as can be written by 
a man who is not a poet. It came out in two volumes quarto, and 
several individuals were applied to by the publishers to translate it ; 
among others Sir Walter Scott, who gave for answer, ' that as to 
Mister Buonaparte's poem, he should have nothing to do with it.' 
Such was the petty spite of this understrapper of greatness and of 
titles, himself since titled, the scale of whose intellect can be equalled 
254 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

by nothing but the pitifulness and rancour of his prejudices ! The 
last account I have heard of the exploits of Neapolitan banditti is, 
that they had seized upon two out of three Englishmen, who had 
determined upon passing through Calabria on their way to Sicily, and 
were proceeding beyond Psestum for this purpose. They were told 
by the Commandant there, that this was running into the lion's 
mouth, that there were no patrols to protect them farther, and that 
they were sure to be intercepted ; but an Englishman's will is his 
law — they went forward — and succeeded in getting themselves into 
the only remaining romantic situation. I have not heard whether they 
have yet got out of it. The national propensity to contend with 
difficulty and to resist obstacles is curious, perhaps praiseworthy. A 
young Englishman returned the other day to Italy with a horse that 
he had brought with him for more than two thousand miles on the 
other side of Grand Cairo ; and poor Bowdich gave up the ghost in 
a second attempt to penetrate to the source of the Niger, the encourage- 
ment to persevere being in proportion to the impossibility of success ! 
I am myself somewhat effeminate, and would rather ' the primrose 
path of dalliance tread ; ' or the height of my ambition in this line 
would be to track the ancient route up the valley of the Simplon, 
leaving the modern road (much as I admire the work and the work- 
man), and clambering up the ledges of rocks, and over broken bridges, 
at the risk of a sprained ankle or a broken limb, to return to a late, 
but excellent dinner at the post-house at Brigg ! 

What increases the alarm of robbers in the South of Italy, is the 
reviving of old stories, like the multiplication of echoes, and shifting 
their dates indefinitely, so as to excite the fears of the listener, or 
answer the purposes of the speaker. About three years ago, a 
desperate gang of ruffians infested the passes of the Abruzzi, and 
committed a number of atrocities ; but this gang, to the amount of 
about thirty, were seized and broken up, their ringleaders beheaded 
in the Square di Popolo at Rome, and their wives or mistresses now 
live there by sitting for their pictures to English artists. The 
remainder figure as convicts in striped yellow and brown dresses in 
the streets of Rome, and very civilly pull off their hats to strangers 
as they pass. By the way, I cannot help reprobating this practice of 
employing felons as common labourers in places of public resort. 
Either you must be supposed to keep up your feelings of dislike and 
indignation against them while thus mixing with the throng and 
innocently employed, which is a disagreeable and forced operation of 
the sense of justice ; or if you retain no such feelings towards these 
victims of the law, then why do they retain the chains on their feet 
and ugly badges on their shoulders ? If the thing is to be treated 

255 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

seriously, it is painful : if lightly and good-humouredly, it turns the 
whole affair into a farce or drama, with as little of the useful as the 
pleasant in it. I know nothing of these people that I see manacled 
and branded, but that they are labouring in a broiling sun for my con- 
venience ; if one of them were to break loose, I should not care to 
stop him. When we witness the punishments of individuals, we 
should know their crimes ; or at least their punishment and their 
delinquency should not be mixed up indiscriminately with the ordinary 
gaieties and business of human life. It is a chapter of the volume 
that should be read apart ! About six months ago, twenty-two 
brigands came down from the mountains at Velletri, and carried off 
four young women from the village. A Vetturino, who wished me 
to return with him to Florence, spoke of this as having happened the 
week before. There is a band of about ninety banditti scattered 
through the mountains near Naples. Some years ago they were the 
terror of travellers : at present they are more occupied in escaping 
from the police themselves. But by thus confounding dates and 
names, all parts of the road are easily filled all the year round with 
nothing but robbers and rumours of robbers. In short, any one I 
believe can pass with proper precaution from Rome to Naples and 
back again, with tolerable, if not with absolute security. If he can 
guard equally against petty thieving and constant imposition for the 
rest of his route, it will be well. 

Before leaving Rome, we went to Tivoli, of which so much has 
been said. The morning was bright and cloudless ; but a thick mist 
rose from the low, rank, marshy grounds of the Campagna, and 
enveloped a number of curious objects to the right and left, till we 
approached the sulphurous stream of Solfatara, which we could dis- 
tinguish at some distance by its noise and smell, and which crossing 
the road like a blue ugly snake, infects the air in its hasty progress to 
the sea. The bituminous lake from which it springs is about a mile 
distant, and has the remains of an ancient temple on its borders. 
Farther on is a round brick tower, the tomb of the Plautian family, 
and Adrian's villa glimmers with its vernal groves and nodding arches 
to the right. In Rome, around it nothing strikes the eye, nothing 
rivets the attention but ruins, the fragments of what has been ; the 
past is like a halo forever surroiinding and obscuring the present ! 
Ruins should be seen in a desert, like those of Palmyra, and a pil- 
grimage should be made to them ; but who would take up his abode 
among tombs ? Or if there be a country and men in it, why have 
they nothing to shew but the relics of antiquity, or why are the living 
contented to crawl about like worms, or to hover like shadows in the 
monuments of the dead ? Every object he sees reminds the modern 

256 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Roman that he is nothing — the spirits of former times overshadow 
him, and dwarf his pigmy efforts : every object he sees reminds the 
traveller that greatness is its own grave. Glory cannot last; for 
when a thing is once done, it need not be done again, and with the 
energy to act, a people lose the privilege to be. They repose upon 
the achievements of their ancestors ; and because every thing has been 
done for them, sink into torpor, and dwindle into the counterfeits of 
what they were. The Greeks will not recover their freedom till 
they forget that they had ancestors, for nothing is twice because it 
'was once. The Americans will perhaps lose theirs, when they 
begin fully to reap all the fruits of it ; for the energy necessary to 
acquire freedom, and the ease that follows the enjoyment of it, are 
almost incompatible. If Italy should ever be any thing again, it will 
be when the tokens of her former glory, pictures, statues, triumphal 
arches are mouldered in the dust, and she has to re-tread the gradual 
stages of civilization, from primeval barbarism to the topmost round 
of luxury and refinement ; or when some new light gives her a new 
impulse; or when the last oppression (such as in all probability 
impends over her) equally contrary to former independence, to 
modern apathy, stinging her to the quick, once more kindles the fire 
in her eye, and twines the deadly terrors on her brow. Then she 
might have music in her streets, the dance beneath her vines, 
inhabitants in her houses, business in her shops, passengers in her 
roads, commerce on her shores, honesty in her dealings, openness in 
her looks, books for the censorship, the love of right for the fear of 
power, and a calculation of consequences from a knowledge of prin- 
ciples — and England, like the waning moon, would grow pale in the 
rising dawn of liberty, that she had in vain tried to tarnish and 
obscure ! Mais assez des reflexions pour un voyageur. 

Tivoli is an enchanting — a fairy spot. Its rocks, its grottos, its 
temples, its waterfalls,and the rainbows reflected on them, answer to 
the description, and make a perfect play upon the imagination. Every 
object is light and fanciful, yet steeped in classic recollections. The 
whole is a fine net-work — a rare assemblage of intricate and high- 
wrought beauties. To do justice to the scene would require the pen 
of Mr. Moore, minute and striking as it is, sportive yet romantic, 
displaying all the fascinations of sense, and unfolding the mysteries of 
sentiment, 

' Where all is strength below, and all above is grace,' — 

glittering like a sunbeam on the Sybil's Temple at top, or darting on 

a rapid antithesis to the dark grotto of the God beneath, loading the 

prismatic spray with epithets, linking the meeting beauties on each 

VOL. IX. : R 257 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

side the abrupt, yawning chasm by an alliteration, painting the flowers, 
pointing the rocks, passing the narrow bridge on a dubious metaphor, 
and blending the natural and artificial, the modern and the antique, 
the simple and the quaint, the glimmer and the gloom in an exquisite 
profusion of fluttering conceits. He would be able to describe it 
much better, with its tiny cascades and jagged precipices, than his 
friend Lord Byron has described the Fall of Terni, who makes it, 
without any reason that I can find, tortuous, dark, and boiling like a 
witch's cauldron. On the contrary, it is simple and majestic in its 
character, a clear mountain-stream that pours an uninterrupted, 
lengthened sheet of water over a precipice of eight hundred feet, in 
perpendicular descent, and gracefully winding its way to the channel 
beyond, while on one side the stained rock rises bare and stately the 
whole height, and on the other, the gradual green woods ascend, 
moistened by the ceaseless spray, and lulled by the roar of the 
waterfall, as the ear enjoys the sound of famous poet's verse. If 
this noble and interesting object have a fault, it is that it is too 
slender, straight, and accompanied with too few wild or grotesque 
ornaments. It is the Doric, or at any rate the Ionic, among water- 
falls. It has nothing of the texture of Lord Byron's terzains, 
twisted, zigzag, pent up and struggling for a vent, broken off at 
the end of a line, or point of a rock, diving under ground, or out 
of the reader's comprehension, and pieced on to another stanza or 
shelving rock. — Nature has 

' Poured it out as plain 
As downright Shippen, or as old Montaigne.' 

To say the truth, if Lord Byron had put it into Don Juan instead of 
Childe Harold, he might have compared the part which her ladyship 
has chosen to perform on this occasion to an experienced waiter 
pouring a bottle of ale into a tumbler at a tavern. It has somewhat 
of the same continued, plump, right-lined descent. It is not frittered 
into little parts, nor contrasted into quaintness, nor tortured into fury. 
All the intricacy and contradiction that the noble Poet ascribes to 
it belong to Tivoli ; but then Tivoli has none of the grandeur or 
violence of the description in Childe Harold. The poetry is fine, but 
not like. 

As I have got so far on my way, I may as well jump the inter- 
mediate space, and proceed with my statistics here, as there was 
nothing on the road between this and Rome worth mentioning, except 
Narni (ten miles from Terni), the approach to which overlooks a 
fine, bold, woody, precipitous valley. We stopped at Terni for the 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

express purpose of visiting the Fall, which is four or five miles from 
it. The road is excellent, and commands a succession of charming 
points of view. You must pass the little village of Papinio, perched 
like a set of pigeon-houses on the point of a rock about halfway up, 
which has been battered almost in pieces by French, Austrians, and 
others at different times, from a fort several hundred feet above it, 
and that looks directly down upon the road. When you get to the 
top of the winding ascent, and immediately before you turn off by a 
romantic little path to the waterfall, you see the ranges of the Abruzzi 
and the frozen top of the Pie de Lupo. Along this road the Austrian 
troops marched three years ago to the support of good government 
and social order at Naples. The prospect of the cold blue mountain- 
tops, and other prospects which the sight of this road recalled, chilled 
me, and I hastened down the side-path to lose, in the roar of the 
Velino tumbling from its rocky height, and the wild freedom of 
nature, my recollection of tyranny and tyrants. On a green bank far 
below, so as to be just discernible, a shepherd-boy was sleeping under 
the shadow of a tree, surrounded by his flock, enjoying peace and 
freedom, scarce knowing their names. That 's something — we must 
wait for the rest ! 

We returned to the inn at Terni too late to proceed on our journey, 
and were thrust, as a special favour, into a disagreeable apartment. 
We had the satisfaction, however, to hear the united voices of the 
passengers by two vetturinos, French and Italian men and women, 
lifted up against the supper and wine as intolerably bad. The general 
complaint was, that having paid so much for our fare, we were treated 
like beggars — comme des gueux. This was true enough, and not 
altogether unreasonable. Let no one who can help it, and who 
travels for pleasure, travel by a vetturino. You are treated much 
in the same manner as if in England you went by the caravan 
or the waggon. In fact, this mode of conveyance is an imposition 
on innkeepers and the public. It is the result of a combination 
among the vetturino owners, who bargain to provide you for a 
certain sum, and then billet you upon the innkeepers for as little 
as they can, who when thus obtruded upon them, under the 
guarantee of a grasping stage-coach driver, consider you as com- 
mon property or prey, receive you with incivility, keep out of 
the way, will not deign you an answer, stint you in the quantity of 
your provisions, poison you by the quality, order you into their worst 
apartments, force other people into the same room or even bed with 
you, keep you in a state of continual irritation and annoyance all the 
time you are in the house, and send you away jaded and dissatisfied 
with your reception, and terrified at the idea of arriving at the next 

259 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

place of refreshment, for fear of meeting with a renewal of the same 
contemptible mortifications and petty insults. You have no remedy : 
if you complain to the Vetturino, he says it is the fault of the inn- 
keeper ; if you remonstrate with the innkeeper, he says he has orders 
from the Vetturino only to provide certain things. It is of little use 
to try to bribe the waiters ; they doubt your word, and besides, do 
not like to forego the privilege of treating a vetturino passenger as 
one. It is best, if you travel in this manner, to pay for yourself; 
and then you may stand some chance of decent accommodation. I 
was foolish enough to travel twice in this manner, and pay three 
Napoleons a day, for which I might have gone post, and fared in the 
most sumptuous manner. I ought to add, in justice, that when I 
have escaped from the guardianship of Monsieur le Vetturino and have 
stopped at inns on my own account, as was the case at Venice, Milan, 
and at Florence twice, I have no reason to complain either of the 
treatment or the expence. As to economy, it is in vain to look for 
it in travelling in Italy or at an hotel ; and if you succeed in procuring 
a private lodging for a time, besides the everlasting trickery and cabal, 
you are likely to come off with very meagre fare, unless you can eat 
Italian dishes. I ought, however, to repeat what I believe I have 
said before, that the bread, butter, milk, wine and poultry that you 
get here (even ordinarily) are excellent, and that you may also 
obtain excellent tea and coffee. 

We proceeded next morning (in no very good humour) on our 
way to Spoleto. The day was brilliant, and our road lay through 
steep and narrow defiles for several hours. The sides of the hills on 
each side were wild and woody ; indeed, the whole ride was interest- 
ing, and the last hill before we came to Spoleto, with a fine monastery 
embosomed in its thick tufted trees, crowned our satisfaction with the 
journey. Spoleto is a handsome town, delightfully situated, and has 
an appearance (somewhat startling in Italy) as if life were not quite 
extinct in it. It stands on the slope of a range of the Apennines, 
extending as far as Foligno and Perugia, and * sees and is seen ' to a 
great distance. From Perugia in particular (an interval of forty 
miles) you seem as if you could put your hand upon it, so plain does 
it appear, owing to the contrast between the white stone-houses, and 
the dark pine-groves by which it is surrounded. The effect of this 
contrast is not always pleasant. The single cottages or villas scattered 
in the neighbourhood of towns in Italy, often look like dominos or 
dice spread on a dark green cloth. We arrived at Foligno early in 
the evening, and as a memorable exception to the rest of our route, 
found there an inn equally clean and hospitable. From the windows 
of our room we could see the young people of the town walking out 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

in a fine open country, to breathe the clear fresh air, and the priests 
sauntering in groups and enjoying the otium cum dignltate. It was for 
some monks of Foligno that Raphael painted his inimitable Madonna. 
We turned off at Assizi to view the triple Franciscan church and 
monastery. We saw the picture of Christ (shewn by some nuns), 
that used to smile upon St. Francis at his devotions ; and the little 
chapel in the plain below, where he preached to his followers six 
hundred years ago, over which a large church is at present built, like 
Popery surmounting Christianity. The church on the top of the hill, 
built soon after his death in honour of the saint, and where his heart 
reposes, is a curiosity in its kind. First, two churches were raised, 
one on the top of the other, and then a third was added below with 
some difficulty, by means of excavations in the rock. The last boasts 
a modern and somewhat finical mausoleum or shrine, and the two 
first are ornamented with fresco paintings by Giotto and Ghirlandaio, 
which are most interesting and valuable specimens of the early history 
of the art. I see nothing to contemn in them — much to admire — fine 
heads, simple grouping, a knowledge of drawing and fore-shortening, 
and dignified attitudes and expressions, some of which Raphael has 
not disdained to copy, though he has improved upon them. St. 
Francis died about 1220, and this church was finished and ornamented 
with these designs of the chief actions of his life, within forty months 
afterwards ; so that the pictures in question must be about six hundred 
years old. We are not, however, to wonder at the maturity of these 
productions of the pencil ; the art did not arise out of barbarism or 
nothing, but from a lofty preconception in the minds of those who 
first practised it, and applied it to purposes of devotion. Even the 
grace and majesty of Raphael were, I apprehend, but emanations of 
the spirit of the Roman Catholic religion, and existed virtually in the 
minds of his countrymen long before and after he transferred them, 
with consummate skill, to the canvass. Not a Madonna scrawled on 
the walls near Rome, not a baby-house figure of the Virgin, that is 
out of character and costume, or that is not imbued with an expression 
of resignation, benignity, and purity. We were shewn these different 
objects by a young priest, who explained them to us with a. graceful- 
ness of manner, and a mild eloquence, characteristic of his order. I 
forgot to mention, in the proper place, that I was quite delighted with 
the external deportment of the ecclesiastics in Rome. It was marked 
by a perfect propriety, decorum, and humanity, from the highest to 
the lowest. Not the slightest look or gesture to remind you that you 
were foreigners or heretics — an example of civility that is far from 
being superfluous, even in the capital of the Christian world. It may 
be said that this is art, and a desire to gain upon the good opinion of 

261 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

strangers. Be it so, but it must be allowed that it is calculated to 
this end. Good manners have this advantage over good morals, that 
they lie more upon the surface ; and there is nothing, I own, that 
inclines me to think so well of the understandings or dispositions of 
others, as a thorough absence of all impertinence. I do not think they 
can be the worst people in the world who habitually pay most atten- 
tion to the feelings of others ; nor those the best who are endeavouring 
every moment to hurt them. At Perugia, while looking at some 
panels in a church painted by Pietro Perugino, we met with a young 
Irish priest, who claimed acquaintance with us as country-folks, and 
recommended our staying six days, to see the ceremonies and finery 
attending the translation of the deceased head of his order from the 
church where he lay to his final resting-place. We were obliged by 
this proposal, but declined it. It was curious to hear English spoken 
by the inmate of a Benedictine Monastery, — to see the manners of an 
Italian priest engrafted on the Irish accent — to think that distant 
countries are brought together by agreement in religion — that the 
same country is rent asunder by differences in it. Man is certainly 
an ideal being, whom the breath of an opinion wafts from Indus to the 
Pole, and who is ready to sacrifice the present world and every object 
in it for a reversion in the skies ! Perugia is situated on a lofty hill, 
and is in appearance the most solid mass of building I ever beheld. 
It commands a most extensive view in all directions, and the ascent to 
it is precipitous on every side. Travelling this road from Rome to 
Florence is like an eagle's flight — from hill-top to hill-top, from 
towered city to city, and your eye devours your way before you over 
hill or plain. We saw Cortona on our right, looking over its wall of 
ancient renown, conscious of its worth, not obtruding itself on super- 
ficial notice ; and passed through Arezzo, the reputed birth-place of 
Petrarch. All the way we were followed (hard upon) by another 
Vetturino, with an English family, and we had a scramble whenever 
we stopped for supper, beds, or milk. At Incisa, the last stage before 
we arrived at Florence, an intimation was conveyed that we should 
give up our apartments in the inn, and seek for lodgings elsewhere. 
This modest proposition could come only from English people, who 
have such an opinion of their dormant stock of pretended good-nature, 
that they think all the world must in return be ready to give up their 
own comforts to oblige them. We had two French gentlemen in the 
coach with us, equally well-behaved and well-informed, and two 
Italians in the cabriolet, as good-natured and ' honest as the skin 
between their brows.' Near Perugia we passed the celebrated lake 
of Thrasymene, near which Hannibal defeated the Roman consul 
Flaminius. It struck me as not unlike Windermere in character and 
262 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

scenery, but I have seen other lakes since, which have driven it out 
of my head. Florence (the city of flowers) seemed to deserve its 
name as we entered it for the second time more than it did the first. 
The weather had been cold during part of our journey, but now it 
had changed to sultry heat. The people looked exceedingly plain 
and hard-featured, after having passed through the Roman States. 
They have the look of the Scotch people, only fiercer and more 
ill-tempered. 



CHAPTER XXII 

I HAVE already described the road between Florence and Bologna. 
I found it much the same on returning ; for barren rocks and 
mountains undergo little alteration either in summer or winter. 
Indeed, of the two, I prefer the effect in the most dreary season, for 
it is then most complete and consistent with itself: on some kinds of 
scenery, as on some characters, any attempt at the gay and pleasing 
sits ill, and is a mere piece of affectation. There is so far a distinc- 
tion between the Apennines and Alps, that the latter are often covered 
with woods, and with patches of the richest verdure, and are capable 
of all the gloom of winter or the bloom of spring. The soil of the 
Apennines, on the contrary, is as dry and gritly as the rocks them- 
selves, being nothing but a collection of sand-heaps and ashes, and 
mocks at every idea that is not of a repulsive and disagreeable kind. 
We stopped the first night at Traversa, a miserable inn or almost 
hovel on the road side, in the most desolate part of this track ; and 
found amidst scenes, which the imagination and the pen of travellers 
have peopled with ghastly phantoms and the assassin's midnight 
revelry, a kind but simple reception, and the greatest sweetness of 
manners, prompted by the wish, but conscious of being perhaps 
without the means to please. Courtesy in cities or palaces goes for 
little, means little, for it may and must be put on ; in the cottage or 
on the mountain-side it is welcome to the heart, for it comes from it. 
It then has its root in unsophisticated nature, without the gloss of art, 
and shews us the original goodness of the soil or germ, from which 
human affections and social intercourse in all their ramifications 
spring. A little boy clung about its mother, wondering at the 
strangers ; but from the very thoughts of novelty and distance, 
nestling more fondly in the bosom of home. What is the map of 
Europe, what all the glories of it, what the possession of them, to 
that poor little fellow's dream, to his sidelong glance at that wide 
world of fancy that circles his native rocks ! 

263 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

The second morning, we reached the last of the Apennines that 
overlook Bologna, and saw stretched out beneath our feet a different 
scene, the vast plain of Lombardy, and almost the whole of the North 
of Italy, like a rich sea of boundless verdure, with towns and villas 
spotting it like the sails of ships. A hazy inlet of the Adriatic 
appeared to the right (probably the Gulph of Comachio). We 
strained our eyes in vain to catch a doubtful view of the Alps, but 
they were still sunk below the horizon. We presently descended 
into this plain (which formed a perfect contrast to the country we had 
lately passed), and it answered fully to the promise it had given us. 
We travelled for days, for weeks through it, and found nothing but 
ripeness, plenty, and beauty. It may well be called the Garden of 
Italy or of the World. The whole way from Bologna to Venice, 
from Venice to Milan, it is literally so. But I anticipate. — We 
went to our old inn at Bologna, which we liked better the second 
time than the first ; and had just time to snatch a glimpse of the 
Guides and Domenichinos at the Academy, which gleamed dark and 
beautiful through the twilight. We set out early the next morning 
on our way to Venice, turning off to Ferrara. It was a fine spring 
morning. The dew was on the grass, and shone like diamonds in 
the sun. A refreshing breeze fanned the light-green odorous branches 
of the trees, which spread their shady screen on each side of the road, 
which lay before us as straight as an arrow for miles. Venice was at 
the end of it; Padua, Ferrara, midway. The prospect (both to the 
sense and to the imagination) was exhilarating; and we enjoyed it 
for some hours, till we stopped to breakfast at a smart-looking 
detached inn at a turning of the road, called, I think, the Albergo di 
J^enexia. This was one of the pleasantest places we came to during 
the whole of our route. We were shewn into a long saloon, into 
which the sun shone at one extremity, and we looked out upon the 
green fields and trees at the other. There were flowers in the room. 
An excellent breakfast of coffee, bread, butter, eggs, and slices of 
Bologna sausages was served up with neatness and attention. An 
elderly female, thin, without a cap, and with white thread-stockings, 
watched at the door of a chamber not far from us, with the patience 
of an eastern slave. The door opened, and a white robe was handed 
out, which she aired carefully over a chaffing-dish with mechanical 
indifference, and an infinite reduplication of the same folds. It was 
our young landlady who was dressing for church within, and who at 
length issued out, more remarkable for the correctness of her costume 
than the beauty of her person. Some rustics below were playing at 
a game, that from the incessant loud jarring noises of counting that 
accompanied it, implied equally good lungs and nerves in the 

264 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

performers and by-standers. At the tinkling of a village bell, all was 
in a moment silent, and the entrance of a little chapel was crowded 
with old and young, kneeling in postures of more or less earnest 
devotion. We walked forward, delighted with the appearance of the 
country, and with the simple manners of the inhabitants ; nor could 
we have proceeded less than four or five miles along an excellent 
footpath, but under a broiling sun, before we saw any signs of our 
Vetturino, who was willing to take this opportunity of easing his 
horses — a practice common with those sort of gentry. Instead of a 
fellow-feeling with you, you find an instinctive inclination in persons 
of this class all through Italy to cheat and deceive you : the more 
easy or cordial you are with them, the greater is their opinion of your 
foUy and their own cunning, and the more are they determined to 
repel or evade any advances to a fair understanding : threaten, or 
treat them with indignity, and you have some check over them ; relax 
the reins a moment, and they are sure to play you some scurvy trick. 

At Ferrara we were put on short allowance, and as we found 
remonstrance vain, we submitted in silence. We were the more 
mortified at this treatment, as we had begun to hope for better things ; 
but Mr. Henry Waister, our Commissary on the occasion, was deter- 
mined to make a good thing of his three Napoleons a-day ; he had 
strained a point in procuring us a tolerable supper and breakfast at the 
two last stages, which must serve for some time to come ; and as he 
would not pay for our dinner, the landlord would not let us have one, 
and there the matter rested. We walked out in the evening, and 
found Ferrara enchanting. Of all the places I have seen in Italy, 
it is the one by far I should most covet to live in. It is the 
ideal of an Italian city, once great, now a shadow of itself. Which- 
ever way you turn, you are struck with picturesque beauty and 
faded splendours, but with nothing squalid, mean, or vulgar. The 
grass grows in the well-paved streets. You look down long avenues 
of buildings, or of garden walls, with summer-houses or fruit-trees 
projecting over them, and airy palaces with dark portraits gleaming 
through the grated windows — you turn, and a chapel bounds your 
view one way, a broken arch another, at the end of the vacant, 
glimmering, fairy perspective. You are in a dream, in the heart of 
a romance ; you enjoy the most perfect solitude, that of a city which 
was once filled with ' the busy hum of men,' and of which the 
tremulous fragments at every step strike the sense, and call up re- 
flection. In short, nothing is to be seen of Ferrara, but the remains, 
graceftJ and romantic, of what it was — no sordid object intercepts 
or sullies the retrospect of the past — it is not degraded and patched 
up like Rome, with upstart improvements, with earthenware and oil- 

265 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

shops ; it is a classic vestige of antiquity, drooping into peaceful decay, 

a sylvan suburb — 

'Where buttress, wall and tower 
Seem fading fast away 
From human thoughts and purposes, 
To yield to some transforming power. 
And blend with the surrounding trees.' 

Here Ariosto lived — here Tasso occupied first a palace, and then a 
dungeon. Verona has even a more sounding name ; boasts a finer 
situation, and contains the tomb of Juliet. But the same tender 
melancholy grace does not hang upon its walls, nor hover round its 
precincts as round those of Ferrara, inviting to endless leisure and 
pensive musing. Ferrara, while it was an independent state, was a 
flourishing and wealthy city, and contained 70,000 inhabitants ; but 
from the time it fell into the hands of the Popes, in 1597, it 
declined, and it has now little more than an historical and poetical 
being. 

From Ferrara we proceeded through Rovigo to Padua the Learned, 
where we were more fortunate in our inn, and where, in the fine open 
square at the entrance, I first perceived the rage for vulgar and 
flaunting statuary, which distinguishes the Lombardo-Venetian States. 
The traveller to Venice (who goes there to see the masterpieces of 
Titian or Palladio's admired designs), runs the gauntlet all the way 
along at every town or villa he passes, of the most clumsy, affected, 
paltry, sprawling figures, cut in stone, that ever disgraced the chisel. 
Even their crucifixes and common Madonnas are in bad taste and 
proportion. This inaptitude for the representation of forms in a 
people, whose eye for colours transcended that of all the world besides, 
is striking as it is curious : and it would be worth the study of a man's 
whole life to give a true and satisfactory solution of the mystery. 
Padua, though one of the oldest towns in Italy, is still a place 
of some resort and bustle ; among other causes, from the number of 
Venetian families who are in the habit of spending the summer months 
there. Soon after leaving it, you begin to cross the canals and rivers 
which intersect this part of the country borderiiig upon the sea, and 
for some miles you follow the course of the Brenta along a flat, dusty, 
and unprofitable road. This is a period of considerable and painful 
suspense, till you arrive at Fusina, where you are put into a boat and 
rowed down one of the Lagunes, where over banks of high rank grass 
and reeds, and between solitary sentry-boxes at different intervals, you 
see Venice rising from the sea. For an hour and a half, that it takes 
you to cross from the last point of land to this Spouse of the Adriatic, 
its long line of spires, towers, churches, wharfs is stretched along the 

266 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

water's edge, and you view it with a mixture of awe and incredulity. 
A city built in the air would be something still more wonderful ; but 
any other must yield the palm to this for singularity and imposing 
effect. If it were on the firm land, it would rank as one of the first 
cities in Europe for magnificence, size, and beauty ; as it is, it is 
without a rival. I do not know what Lord Byron and Lady Morgan 
could mean by quarrelling about the question who first called Venice 
' the Rome of the sea ' — since it is perfectly unique in its kind. If 
a parallel must be found for it, it is more like Genoa shoved into the 
sea. Genoa stands on the sea, this In it. The effect is certainly 
magical, dazzling, perplexing. You feel at first a little giddy : you 
are not quite sure of your footing as on the deck of a vessel. You 
enter its narrow, cheerful canals, and find that instead of their being 
scooped out of the earth, you are gliding amidst rows of palaces and 
under broad-arched bridges, piled on the sea-green wave. You begin 
to think that you must cut your liquid way in this manner through 
the whole city, and use oars instead of feet. You land, and visit 
quays, squares, market-places, theatres, churches, halls, palaces ; 
ascend tall towers, and stroll through shady gardens, without being 
once reminded that you are not on terra jlrma. The early in- 
habitants of this side of Italy, driven by Attila and his hordes of 
Huns from the land, sought shelter in the sea, built there for safety 
and liberty, laid the first foundations of Venice in the rippling wave, 
and commerce, wealth, luxury, arts, and crimson conquest crowned 
the growing Republic ; — 

' And Ocean smil'd, 
Well pleased to see his wondrous child.' 

Man, proud of his amphibious creation, spared no pains to aggrandize 
and embellish it, even to extravagance and excess. The piles and 
blocks of wood on which it stands are brought from the huge forests 
at Treviso and Cadore : the stones that girt its circumference, and 
prop its walls, are dug from the mountains of Istria and Dalmatia : 
the marbles that inlay its palace-floors are hewn from the quarries 
near Verona. Venice is loaded with ornament, like a rich city- 
heiress with jewels. It seems the natural order of things. Her 
origin was a wonder : her end is to surprise. The strong, implanted 
tendency of her genius must be to the showy, the singular, the 
fantastic. Herself an anomaly, she reconciles contradictions, liberty 
with aristocracy, commerce with nobility, the want of titles with the 
pride of birth and heraldry. A violent birth in nature, she lays 
greedy, perhaps ill-advised, hands on all the artificial advantages that 
can supply her original defects. Use turns to gaudy beauty ; extreme 

267 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

hardship to intemperance in pleasure. From the level uniform 
expanse that forever encircles her, she would obviously affect the 
aspiring in forms, the quaint, the complicated, relief and projection. 
The richness and foppery of her architecture arise from this : its 
stability and excellence probably from another circumstance counter- 
acting this tendency to the buoyant and fluttering, -viz., the necessity 
of raising solid edifices on such slippery foundations, and of not 
playing tricks with stone-walls upon the water. Her eye for colours 
and costume she would bring with conquest from the East. The 
spirit, intelligence, and activity of her men, she would derive from 
their ancestors: the grace, the glowing animation and bounding step 
of her women, from the sun and mountain-breeze ! The want of 
simplicity and severity in Venetian taste seems owing to this, that all 
here is factitious and the work of art : redundancy again is an 
attribute of commerce, whose eye is gross and large, and does not 
admit of the too much ; and as to irregularity and want of fixed 
principles, we may account by analogy at least for these, from that 
element of which Venice is the nominal bride, to which she owes her 
all, and the very essence of which is caprice, uncertainty, and 
vicissitude ! 

' And now from out the watery floor 

A city rose, and well she wore 

Her beauty, and stupendous walls, 

And towers that touched the stars, and halls 

Pillar'd with whitest marble, whence 

Palace on lofty palace sprung : 

And over all rich gardens hung, 

Where, amongst silver water-falls. 

Cedars and spice-trees, and green bowers, 

And sweet winds playing with all the flowers 

Of Persia and of Araby, 

Walked princely shapes ; some with an air 

Like warriors ; some like ladies fair 

Listening 

In supreme magnificence.' 

This, which is a description of a dream of Babylon of old, by a living 
poet, is realized almost literally in modern Venice. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

I NEVER saw palaces anywhere but at Venice. Those at Rome are 

dungeons compared to them. They generally come down to the 

water's edge, and as there are canals on each side of them, you see 
268 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

ihtm four-square. The views by Canaletti are very like, both for the 
effect of the buildings and the hue of the water. The principal are 
by Palladio, Longhena, and Sansovino. They are massy, elegant, 
well-proportioned, costly in materials, profuse of ornament. Perhaps 
if they were raised above the water's edge on low terraces (as some 
of them are), the appearance of comfort and security would be 
greater, though the architectural daring, the poetical miracle would 
appear less. As it is, they seem literally to be suspended in the 
water. — The richest in interior decoration that I saw, was the 
Grimani Palace, which answered to all the imaginary conditions of 
this sort of thing. Aladdin might have exchanged his for it, and 
given his lamp into the bargain. The floors are of marble, the 
tables of precious stones, the chairs and curtains of rich silk, the 
walls covered with looking-glasses, and it contains a cabinet of in- 
valuable antique sculpture, and some of Titian's finest portraits. I 
never knew the practical amount to the poetical, or furniture seem to 
grow eloquent but in this instance. The rooms were not too large 
for comfort neither; for space is a consideration at Venice. All 
that it wanted of an Eastern Palace was light and air, with distant 
vistas of hill and grove. A genealogical tree of the family was hung 
up in one of the rooms, beginning with the founder in the ninth 
century, and ending with the present representative of it ; and one of 
the portraits, by Titian, was of a Doge of the family, looking just 
like an ugly, spiteful old woman ; but with a truth of nature, and a 
force of character that no one ever gave but he. I saw no other 
mansion equal to this. The Pisani is the next to it for elegance and 
splendour ; and from its situation on the Grand Canal, it admits a 
flood of bright day through glittering curtains of pea-green silk, into 
a noble saloon, enriched with an admirable family-picture by Paul 
Veronese, with heads equal to Titian for all but the character of 
thought. 

Close to this is the Barberigo Palace, in which Titian lived, and 
in which he died, with his painting-room just in the state in which he 
left it. It is hung round with pictures, some of his latest works, 
such as the Magdalen and the Salvator Mundi (which are common in 
prints), and with an unfinished sketch of St. Sebastian, on which he 
was employed at the time of his death. Titian was ninety-nine when 
he died, and was at last carried off by the plague. My guide 
who was enthusiastic on the subject of Venetian art, would not allow 
any falling-off in these latest efforts of his mighty pencil, but repre- 
sented him as prematurely cut off in the height of his career. He 
knew, he said, an old man, who had died a year ago, at one hundred 
and twenty. The Venetians may still live to be old, but they do not 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

paint like Titian ! The Magdalen is imposing and expressive, but 
the colouring is tinted (quite different from Titian's usual simplicity) 
and it has a flaccid, meretricious, affectedly lachrymose appearance, 
which I by no means like. There is a slabbery freedom or a stiff 
grandeur about most of these productions, which, I think, savoured of 
an infirm hand and eye, accompanied with a sense of it. Titian, it is 
said, thought he improved to the last, and wished to get possession of 
his former pictures, to paint them over again, upon broader and more 
scientific principles, as some authors have wished to re-write their 
works : there was a small model of him in wax, done by a con- 
temporary artist in his extreme old age, shewn in London a year or 
two ago, with the black velvet cap, the green gown, and a white 
sleeve appearing from under it, against a pale, shrivelled hand. The 
arrangement of colouring was so truly characteristic, that it was 
probably dictated by himself. It may be interesting to artists to be 
told, that the room in the Barberigo Palace (said to be his painting- 
room) has nearly a southern aspect. There are some other indifferent 
pictures hanging in the room, by painters before his time, probably 
some that he had early in his possession, and kept longest for that 
reason. It is an event in one's life to find one's-self in Titian's 
painting-room. Yet it did not quite answer to my expectations — a 
hot sun shone into the room, and the gondola in which we came 
was unusually close — neither did I stoop and kiss the stone which 
covers his dust, though I have worshipped him on this side of 
idolatry ! 

' CI giace il gran Titiano di Vecelli, 
Emulator di Zeusi e di gl'Apelli.' 

This is the inscription on his tomb in the church of the Frati. I 
read it twice over, but it would not do. Why grieve for the 
immortals ? One is not exactly one's-self on such occasions, and 
enthusiasm has its intermittent and stubborn fits ; besides, mine is, at 
present, I suspect, a kind of July shoot, that must take its rise from the 
stock of former impressions. It spread aloft on the withered branches 
of the St. Peter Martyr, and shot out more kindly still from 
seeing three pictures of his, close together, at the house of Signer 
Manfrini (a Venetian tobacconist), an elaborate Portrait of his friend 
Ariosto — sharp-featured and tawny-coloured, with a light Morisco 
look — a bronzed duplicate of the Four Ages at the Marquess of 
Stafford's — and his Mistress (which is in the Louvre) introduced 
into a composition with a gay cavalier and a page. I was glad to see 
her in company so much fitter for her than her old lover ; and 
besides, the varied grouping gave new life and reality to this charm- 
270 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

ing vision. The two last pictures are doubtfully ascribed to 
Giorgioni, and this critical equivoque was a source of curiosity and 
wonder. Giorgioni is the only painter with respect to whom this 
could be made a question (the distinction between Titian and the 
other painters of the Venetian school, Tintoret and Paul Veronese, 
is broad and palpable enough) — and for myself, I incline to attribute 
the last of the three chef (Pxwures above enumerated to Giorgioni. 
The difference, it appears to me, may be thus stated. There is more 
glow and animation in Giorgioni than in Titian. He is of a franker and 
more genial spirit. Titian has more subtilty and meaning, Giorgioni 
more life and youthful blood. The feeling in the one is suppressed ; 
in the other, it is overt and transparent. Titian's are set portraits, 
with the smallest possible deviation from the straight line : they look as 
if they were going to be shot, or to shoot somebody. Giorgioni, in 
what I have seen of his pictures, as the Gaston de Foix, the Music- 
piece at Florence, &c. is full of inflection and contrast; there is 
seldom a particle of it in Titian. An appearance of silence, a 
tendency to still-life, pervades Titian's portraits ; in Giorgioni's there 
is a bending attitude, and a flaunting air, as if floating in gondolas or 
listening to music. For all these reasons (perhaps slenderly put 
together) I am disposed to think the portrait of the young man in 
the picture alluded to is by Giorgioni, from the flushed cheek, the 
good-natured smile, and the careless attitude ; and for the same reason, 
I think it likely that even the portrait of the lady is originally his, 
and that Titian copied and enlarged the design into the one we see 
in the Louvre, for the head (supposed to be of himself, in the back- 
ground) is middle-aged, and Giorgioni died while Titian was yet 
young. The question of priority in this case is a very nice one ; 
and it would be curious to ascertain the truth by tradition or private 
documents of any kind. 

I teazed my •valet de place (Mr. Andrew Wyche, a Tyrolese, a 
very pleasant, companionable, and patriotic sort of person) the whole 
of the first morning at every fresh landing or embarkation by asking, 
' But are we going to see the Saint Peter Martyr ? ' When we 
reached the Church of Saint John and Saint Paul, the light did not 
serve, and we got reprimanded by the priest for turning our backs on 
the host, in our anxiety to find a proper point of view. We returned 
to the charge at five in the afternoon, when the light fell upon it 
through a high-arched Gothic window, and it came out in all its 
pristine glory, with its rich, embrowned, overshadowing trees, its 
nobly-drawn heroic figures, its blood-stained garments, its flowers and 
trailing plants, and that cold convent-spire rising in the distance 
amidst the sapphire mountains and the golden sky. I found every 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

thing in its place and as I expected. Yet I am unwilling to say that 
I saw it through my former impressions : this picture suffices to 
itself, and fills the mind without an effort; for it contains all the 
mighty world of landscape and history, grandeur and breadth of form 
with the richest depth of colouring, an expression characteristic, 
powerful, that cannot be mistaken, conveying th? scene at the 
moment, a masterly freedom and unerring truth of execution, and a 
subject as original as it is stately and romantic. It is the foremost of 
Titian's productions, and exhibits the most extraordinary specimen 
of his varied powers. Most probably, as a picture, it is the finest in 
the world ; or if I cannot say it is the picture which I would the 
soonest have painted, it is at least the one which I would the soonest 
have. It is a rich feast to the eye, ' where no crude surfeit reigns.' 
As an instance of the difference between Titian and Raphael, you 
here see the figures from below, and they stand out with noble 
grandeur of effect against the sky ; Raphael would have buried them 
under the horizon, or stuck them against the landscape, without relief 
or motion. So much less knowledge had he of the picturesque ! 
Again, I do not think Raphael could have given the momentary 
expression of sudden, ghastly terror, or the hurried, disorderly 
movements of the flying Monk, or the entire prostration of the other 
(like a rolling ruin) so well as Titian. The latter could not, I 
know, raise a sentiment to its height like the former ; but Raphael's 
expressions and attitudes were (so to speak) the working out of ' fore- 
gone conclusions,' not the accidental fluctuations of mind or matter 
— were final and fixed,i not salient or variable. I observed, in look- 
ing closer, that the hinder or foreshortened leg of the flying monk 
rests upon the edge of a bank of earth, from which he is descending. 
This explains the action of the part better, but I doubt whether this 
idea of inequality and interruption from the broken nature of the 
ground is an addition to the feeling of precipitate fear and staggering 
perplexity in the mind of the person represented. This may be an 
hypercriticism. The colouring of the foremost leg of this figure is 
sufficient to prove that the utter paleness of the rest of it is from its 
having faded in the course of time. The colour of the face in this 
and the other monk is the same as it was twenty years ago ; it has 
sustained no injury in that time. But for the sun-burnt, well-baked, 
robust tone of the flesh-colour, commend me to the leg and girded 
thigh of the robber. What a difference between this and Raphael's 
brick-dust ! — I left this admirable performance with regret ; yet I do 
not see why ; for I have it present with me, ' in my mind's eye,' 

^ See even the Ananias, Elymas, and others, which might be thought 
exceptions. 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

and swear, in the wildest scenes of the Alps, that the St. Peter 
Martyr is finer. That, and the Man in the Louvre, are my standards 
of perfection ; my taste may be wrong ; nay, even ridiculous — yet 
such it is. 

The picture of the Assumption, at the Academy of Painting at 
Venice, which was discovered but the other day under a load of dirt 
and varnish, is cried up as even superior to the St. Peter : it is indeed 
a more extraordinary picture for the artist to have painted ; but for 
that very reason it is neither so perfect nor so valuable. Raphael 
could not paint landscape ; Titian could hardly paint history without 
the help of landscape. A background was necessary to him, like 
music to a melodrame. He had in this picture attempted the style of 
Raphael, and has succeeded and even failed — to admiration. He 
has given the detached figures of the Roman school, the contrasted, 
uniform colours of their draperies, the same determined outline, no 
breaking of the colours or play of light and shade, and has aimed at 
the same elevation and force of expression. The drawing has 
nearly the same firmness with more scope, the colouring is richer and 
almost as hard, the attitudes are imposing and significant, and the 
features handsome — what then is wanting ? That glow of heaven- 
ward devotion bent on ideal objects, and taking up its abode in the 
human form and countenance as in a shrine ; that high and abstracted 
expression, that outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible 
grace, which Raphael alone could give in its utmost purity and 
intensity. One glimpse of the Crowning of the Virgin in the Vatican 
is worth it all — lifts the mind nigher to the subject, dissolves it in 
greater sweetness, sinks it in deeper thoughtfulness. The eager 
headlong enthusiasm of the Apostle to the right in a green mantle is 
the best ; the lambent eyes and suffused glow of the St. John are 
only the indications of rosy health, and youthful animation ; the 
Virgin is a well-formed rustic beauty with a little affectation, and the 
attitude of the Supreme Being is extravagant and distorted. Raphael 
could have painted this subject, as to its essential qualities, better ; 
he could not have done the St. Peter Martyr in any respect so well. 
I like Titian's Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (notwithstanding the 
horror of the subject) better than the Assumption, for its charac- 
teristic expression, foreshortening, and fine mellow masses of light and 
shade. Titian could come nearer the manner of Michael Angelo 
than that of Raphael, from an eye for what was grand and impres- 
sive in outward form and position, as his frescoes of Prometheus, 
Cain and Abel, and another grotesque and gigantic subject on the 
ceiling of one of the churches, shew. These, in picturesque group- 
ing, in muscular relief, and vastness of contour, surpass Michael 
VOL. IX. : s 273 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

Angelo's figures in the Last Judgment, however they may fall short 
of them in anatomical knowledge or accuracy. I also was exceed- 
ingly delighted with the Salutation of the Virgin at the Academy, 
which is shewn as one of his masterpieces, for the mixture of airy 
scenic effect with the truth of individual portraiture. The churches 
and public buildings here bear ample testimony to the powers of 
Titian's historic pencil, though I did not see enough of his portraits in 
private collections, of which I had hoped to take my fill. In the large 
hall of the Academy of Painting are also the line picture of the Miracle 
of Saint Mark by Tintoret, an inimitable representation of a religious 
and courtly ceremony by Paris Bourbon (inimitable for the light, 
rich, gauze-colouring, and magical effect of the figures in perspective), 
and several others of vast merit as well as imposing dimensions. 
The Doge's Palace and the Council-Chamber of the Senate are 
adorned with the lavish performances of Tintoret and Paul Veronese ; 
and in the allegorical figures in the ceiling of the Council-Chamber, and 
in the splendid delineation of a Doge returning thanks to the Virgin 
for some victory over the Infidels, which occupies the end of it, I 
think the last-named painter has reached the top of his own and 
of Venetian art. As an art of decoration, addressing itself to the 
eye, to the vain or voluptuous part of our constitution, it cannot be 
carried farther. Of all pictures this Thanksgiving is the most 
dazzling, the most florid. A rainbow is not more rich in hues, a 
bubble that glitters in the sun is not more light and glossy, a bed of 
tulips is not more gaudy. A flight of angels with rosy hues and 
winged glories connects the heavenly and the earthly groups like a 
garland of blushing flowers. The skill and delicacy of this com- 
position is equal to its brilliancy of effect. His marriage of Cana 
(another wonderful performance) is still at Paris : it was formerly in 
the Refectory of the church of St. Giorgio Maggiore, on an island on 
the opposite side of the harbour, which is well worth attention for the 
architecture by Palladio and the altar-piece in bronze by John of 
Bologna, containing a number of figures (as it appears to me) of the 
most masterly design and execution. 

I have thus hastily run through what struck me as most select 
in fine art in this celebrated city. To enumerate every thing would 
be endless. There are other objects for the curious. The Mosaics 
of the church of St. Mark, the Brazen Horses, the belfry or 
Campanile, the arsenal, and the theatres, which are wretched both 
as it relates to the actors and the audience. The shops are 
exceedingly neat and well-stocked, and the people gay and spirited. 
The harbour does not present an appearance of much traflac. In the 
times of the Republic, 30,000 people are said to have slept every 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

night in the vessels in the bay. Daniell's Hotel, at which we were, 
and to which I would recommend every English traveller, commands 
a superb view of it, and the scene (particularly by moonlight) is 
delicious. I heard no music at Venice, neither voice nor lute ; 
saw no group of dancers or maskers, and the gondolas appear to me 
to resemble hearses more than pleasure-boats. I saw the Rialto, 
which is no longer an Exchange. The Bridge of Sighs, of which 
Lord Byron speaks, is not a thoroughfare, but an arch suspended at 
a considerable height over one of the canals, and connecting the 
Doge's palace with the prison. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

We left Venice with mingled satisfaction and regret. We had to 
retrace our steps as far as Padua, on our way to Milan. For four 
days' journey, from Padua to Verona, to Brescia, to Treviglio, to 
Milan, the whole way was cultivated beauty and smiling vegetation. 
Not a rood of land lay neglected, nor did there seem the smallest 
interruption to the bounty of nature or the industry of man. The 
constant verdure fatigued the eye, but soothed reflection. For miles 
before you, behind you, and on each side, the trailing vines hung 
over waving corn-fields, or clear streams meandered through rich 
meadow-grounds, and pastures. The olive we had nearly left 
behind us in Tuscany, and were not sorry to part with its half- 
mourning appearance amidst more luxuriant scenes and various 
foliage. The country is quite level, and the roads quite straight for 
nearly four hundred miles that we had travelled after leaving 
Bologna ; and every foot or acre of this immense plain is wrought 
up to a pitch of neatness and productiveness, equal to that of a 
gentleman's kitchen-garden, or to the nursery-grounds in the 
neighbourhood of London. A gravel-pit or a furze-bush by the 
roadside is a relief to the eye. There is no perceptible difference 
in approaching the great towns, though their mounds of green earth 
and the mouldering remains of fortifications give an agreeable and 
romantic variety to the scene ; the whole of the intermediate space 
is literally, and without any kind of exaggeration, one continued and 
delightful garden. Whether this effect is owing to the felicity 
of the soil and climate, or to the art of man, or to former good 
government, or to all these combined, I shall not here inquire ; but 
the fact is so, and it is sufficient to put an end to the idea that there 
is neither industry nor knowledge of agriculture nor plenty out of 

275 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

England, and to the common proverbial cant about the sloth and 
apathy of the Italians, as if they would not lift the food to their 
mouths, or gather the fruits that are drooping into them. If the 
complaints of the poverty and wretchedness of Italy are confined to 
the Campagna of Rome, or to some districts of the Apennines, 
I have nothing to say ; but if a sweeping conclusion is drawn from 
these to Italy in general, or to the North of it in particular, I must 
enter my protest against it. Such an inference is neither philo- 
sophical, nor, I suspect, patriotic. The English are too apt to take 
every opportunity, and to seize on every pretext for treating the rest 
of the world as wretches — a tone of feeling which does not exactly 
tend to enhance our zeal in the cause either of liberty or humanity. 
If people are wretches, the next impression is that they deserve to 
be so ; and we are thus prepared to lend a helping hand to make 
them what we say they are. The Northern Italians are as fine a 
race of people as walk the earth ; and all that they want, to be what 
they once were, or that any people is capable of becoming, is neither 
English abuse nor English assistance, but three words spoken to the 
other powers; ' Let them alone ! ' But England, in the dread that 
others should follow her example, has quite forgotten what she 
herself once was. Another idea that the aspect of this country 
and of the country-people suggests, is the fallacy of some of Mr. 
Malthus's theories. The soil is here cultivated to the greatest 
possible degree, and yet it seems to lead to no extraordinary excess 
of population. Plenty and comfort abound ; but they are not 
accompanied by an appearance of proportionable want and misery, 
tracking them at the heels. The present generation of farmers and 
peasants seem well of ; the last, probably, were so : this circumstance, 
therefore, does not appear to have given any overweening presump- 
tuous activity, or headstrong impulse to the principle of population, 
nor to have determined those fortunate possessors of a land flowing 
with milk and honey, from an acquaintance with the good things of 
this life, to throw all away at one desperate cast, and entail famine, 
disease, vice, and misery on themselves and their immediate 
descendants. It is not, however, my intention to enter into politics 
or statistics : let me, therefore, escape from them. 

We reached Verona the second day : it is delightfully situated. 
Mr. Addison has given a very beautiful description of the Giusti 
gardens which overlook it on one side. They here shew you the 
tomb of Juliet : it looks like an empty cistern in a common court- 
yard : you look round, however, and the carved niches with the 
frescoes on the walls convince you that you are in the precincts of 
an ancient monastery. The guide also points to the part of the 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

wall that Romeo leaped over, and takes you to the spot in the 
garden where he fell. This gives an air of trick and fiction to the 
whole. The tradition is a thousand years old : it is kept up with 
a tender and pious awe : the interest taken in the story of a passion 
faithful to death shews not that the feeling in rare, but common. 
Many Italian women have read Shakspeare's tragedy of Romeo and 
Juliet, admire and criticise it with great feeling. What remains of 
the old monastery is at present a Foundling Hospital. On returning 
from tliis spot, which is rather low and gloomy, we witnessed the 
most brilliant sight we had seen in Italy — the sun setting in a flood 
of gold behind the Alps that overlook the lake of Garda. The 
Adige foamed at our feet below; the bank opposite was of pure 
emerald ; the hills which rose directly behind it in the most 
fantastic forms were of perfect purple, and the arches of the bridge 
to the left seemed plunged in ebon darkness by the flames of light 
that darted round them. Verona has a less dilapidated, pensive air 
than Ferrara. Its streets and squares are airy and spacious ; but 
the buildings have a more modern and embellished look, and there 
is an appearance of greater gaiety and fashion among the inhabitants. 
The English sometimes come here to reside, though not in such 
crowds as at Florence, and things are proportionably less dear. 
The Amphitheatre is nearly as fine and quite as entire as that at 
Rome : the Gate of Galienas terminates one of the principal streets. 
We met with nothing remarkable the rest of the way to Milan, 
except the same rich, unvaried face of the country ; the distant Alps 
hanging like a thin film over the horizon, or approaching nearer in 
lofty, solid masses as we advanced ; the lake of Garda embosomed in 
them, and the fine fortress of Peschiera buried in its almost 
subterranean fastnesses like a mole ; the romantic town of Virli, with 
a rainbow glittering over its verdant groves and hills ; a very bad inn 
at Brescia, and a very excellent one at Treviglio. Milan was alive 
and full of visitors, thick as the ' motes that people the sun-beam ; ' 
it felt the presence of its lord. The Emperor of Austria was there ! 
MOan (at least on this occasion) was as gay as Bath or any town in 
England. How times and the characters of countries change with 
them ! In other parts of Italy, as at Rome and at Florence, the 
business of the inhabitants seemed to be to hide themselves, neither 
to see nor be seen : here it was evidently their object to do both. 
The streets were thronged and in motion, and the promenades full 
of carriages and of elegantly-dressed women, as on a festival or gala- 
day. I think I never saw so many well-grown, well-made, good- 
looking women as at Milan. I did not however see one face 
strikingly beautiful, or with a very fine expression. In this respect 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

the Romans have the advantage of them. The North has a tinge 
of robust barbarism in it. Their animation was a little exuberant ; 
their look almost amounts to a stare, their walk is a swing, their 
curiosity is not free from an air of defiance. The free and 
unrestrained manners of former periods of Italy appear also to have 
been driven northward, and to have lingered longer on the confines. 
The Cathedral or Duomo is a splendid fabric of white marble : it is 
rich, vast, and the inside solemn and full of a religious awe : the 
marble is from a quarry on the Lago Maggiore. We also saw the 
celebrated theatre of the Gran Scala, which is of an immense size 
and of extreme beauty, but it was not full, nor was the performance 
striking. The manager is the proprietor of the Cobourg Theatre 
(Mr. Glossop), and his wife (formerly our Miss Fearon) the 
favourite singer of the Milanese circles. I inquired after the great 
pantomine Actress, Pallarini, but found she had retired from the 
stage on a fortune. The name of Vigano was not known to my 
informant. I did not see the great picture of the Last Supper by 
Lionardo nor the little Luini, two miles out of Milan, which my 
friend Mr. Beyle charged me particularly to see. 

We left Milan, in a calash or small open carriage, to proceed to 
the Isles Borromees. The first day it rained violently, and the 
third day the boy drove us wrong, pretending to mistake Laveno for 
Baveno ; so I got rid of him. We had a delightful morning at 
Como, and a fine view of the lake and surrounding hills, which 
however rise too precipitously from the shores to be a dwelling-place 
for any but hunters and fishermen. Several English gentlemen as well 
as rich Milanese have villas on the banks. I had a hankering after 
Cadenobia ; but the Simplon still lay before me. We were utterly 
disappointed in the Isles Borromees. Isola Bella, belonging to the 
Marquis Borromeo, indeed resembles ' a pyramid of sweet-meats 
ornamented with green festoons and flowers.' I had supposed this 
to be a heavy German conceit, but it is a literal description. The 
pictures in the Palace are trash. We were accosted by a beggar in 
an island which contains only a palace and an inn. We proceeded 
to the inn at Baveno, situated on the high road, close to the lake, 
and enjoyed for some days the enchanting and varied scenery along 
its banks. The abrupt rocky precipices that overhang it — the woods 
that wave in its refreshing breeze— the distant hills — the gliding 
sails and level shore at the opposite extremity — the jagged summits 
of the mountains that look down upon Palanza and Feriole, and 
the deep defiles and snowy passes of the Simplon, every kind of 
sublimity or beauty, changing every moment with the shifting light 
or point of view from which you beheld them. We were tempted to 

278 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

stop here for the summer in a suite of apartments (not ill furnished) 
that command a panoramic view of the lake hidden by woods and 
vineyards from all curious eyes, or in a similar set of rooms at Intra 
on the other side of the lake, with a garden and the conveniences of 
a market-town, for six guineas for the half year. Hear this, ye who 
pine in England on Umited incomes, and with a taste for the 
picturesque ! The temptation was great, and may yet prove too 
strong. We wished, however, to pass the Simplon first. We 
proceeded to Domo d' Ossola for this purpose, and the next day 
began the ascent. I have already attempted to describe the passage 
of Mont Cenis : this is said to be finer, and I believe it ; but it 
impressed me less, I believe owing to circumstances. The road 
does not wind its inconceivable breathless way down the side of the 
same mountain (like the circumgirations of an eagle), gallery seeing 
gallery sunk beneath it, but makes longer reaches, and passes over 
from one side of the valley to the other. The ascent is nearly by 
the side of the brook of the Simplon for several miles, and you pass 
along by the edge of precipices and by slender bridges over 
mountain-torrents, under huge brown rugged rocks, hanging over the 
road like mighty masses of ruins or castle walls — some bare, others 
covered with pine-trees to the top ; some too steep for any plant to 
grow on them, others displaying spots of verdure, the thatched 
cottage, and the winding path half-way up, and dallying with vernal 
flowers and the winter's snow to the last moment. The fir generally 
clothes them, and its spiry form and dark hues combine well with 
their ' star-ypointing pyramids,' and ashy paleness. The eagle 
screams over-head, and the chamois looks startled round. Half-way 
up a little rugged path (the pathway of their life) loitered a young 
peasant and his mistress hand in hand, with some older people 
behind, foUcrwing to their peaceful humble home — half hid among 
the cliffs and clouds. We passed under one or two sounding arches, 
and over some lofty bridges. At length we reached the village of 
the Simplon, and stopped there at a most excellent inn, where we 
had a supper that might vie, for taste and elegance, with that with 
which Chiffinch entertained Peveril of the Peak and his companion 
at the little inn, in the wilds of Derbyshire. The next day we 
proceeded onwards, and passed the commencement of the tremendous 
glacier of the Flech Horr. Monteroso ascended to the right, 
shrouded in cloud and mist, at a height inaccessible even to the eye. 
This mountain is only a few hundred feet lower than Mont-Blanc, 
yet its name is hardly known. So a difference of a hair's breadth 
in talent often makes all the difference between total obscurity and 
endless renown ! We soon after passed the barrier, and found 

279 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

ourselves involved in fog and driving sleet upon the brink of 
precipices : the view was hidden, the road dangerous. On our right 
were drifts of snow left there by the avalanches. Soon after the 
mist dispersed, or we had perhaps passed below it, and a fine sunny 
morning disclosed the whole amazing scene above, about, below us. 
On our right was the Swartzenberg, behind us the Simplon, on our 
left the Flech Horr, and the pointed Clise-Horn — opposite was the 
Yung-Frow, and the distant mountains of the lake of Geneva rose 
between, circled with wreaths of mist and sunshine : stately fir-trees 
measured the abrupt descent at our side, or the sound of dimly-seen 
cataracts ; and in an opening below, seen through the steep chasm 
under our feet, lay the village of Brigg (as in a map) still half a 
day's journey distant. We wound round the valley at the other 
extremity of it : the road on the opposite side, which we could 
plainly distinguish, seemed almost on the level ground, and when we 
reached it we found a still greater depth below us. Villages, cottages, 
flocks of sheep in the valley underneath, now came in sight, and 
made the eye giddy to look at them : huge cedars by the road-side 
were interposed between us and the rocks and mountains opposite, 
and threw them into half-tint ; and the height above our heads, and 
that beneath our feet, by being perceptibly joined together, doubled 
the elevation of the objects. Mountains seem highest either when 
you are at their very summits and look down on the world, or when 
you are midway up, and the eye -takes in the measure of their height 
at two distinct stages. I think the finest part of the descent of the 
Simplon is about four or five miles before you come to Brigg. The 
valley is here narrow, and affords prodigious contrasts of wood and 
rock, of hill and vale, of sheltered beauty and of savage grandeur. 
The red perpendicular chasm in the rock at the foot of the Clise- 
Horn is tremendous ; the look back to the snow-clad Swartzenberg 
that you have left behind is no less so. I grant the Simplon has the 
advantage of Mont Cenis in variety and beauty and in sudden and 
terrific contrasts, but it has not the same simple expansive grandeur, 
blending and growing into one vast accumulated impression ; nor is 
the descent of the same whirling and giddy character, as if you were 
hurried, stage after stage, and from one yawning depth to another, 
into the regions of ' Chaos and old Night.' The Simplon presents 
more picturesque points of view ; Mont Cenis makes a stronger 
impression on the imagination. I am not prejudiced in favour of one 
or the other ; the road over each was raised by the same master- 
hand. After a jaunt like this through the air, it was requisite to 
pause some time at the hospitable inn at Brigg to recover. It only 
remains for me to describe the lake of Geneva and Mont Blanc. 
280 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 



CHAPTER XXV 

We left the inn at Brigg, after having stopped there above a week, 
and proceeded on our way to Vevey, which had always been an 
interesting point in the horizon, and a resting-place to the imagina- 
tion. In travelling, we visit names as well as places ; and Vevey is 
the scene of the Netu Eloise. In spite of Mr. Burke's philippic 
against this performance, the contempt of the Lake School, and Mr. 
Moore's late Rhymes on the Road, I had still some overmastering 
recollections on that subject, which I proposed to indulge at my 
leisure on the spot which was supposed to give them birth, and which 
I accordingly did. I did not, on a re-perusal, find my once favourite 
work quite so vapid, quite so void of eloquence or sentiment as some 
critics (it is true, not much beholden to it) would insinuate. The 
following passage, among others, seemed to me the perfection of 
style : — ' Mais vols la rapidite de cet astre, qui vole et ne s'arrete 
jamais ; le terns fuit, I' occasion echappe, ta beaute, ta beaute mime aura 
son terme, elle doit Jletrir et perir unjour comme unjleur qui tombe sans 
avoir ete cueillH' What a difference between the sound of this 
passage and of Mr. Moore's verse or prose ! Nay, there is more 
imagination in the single epithet astre, applied as it is here to this 
brilliant and fleeting scene of things, than in all our fashionable poet's 
writings ! At least I thought so, reading St. Preux's Letter in the 
wood near Clarens, and stealing occasional glances at the lake and 
rocks of Meillerie. But I am anticipating. 

The mountains on either side of the Valley of the Simplon present 
a gloomy succession of cliffs, often covered with snow, and contrasting 
by no means agreeably with the marshy grounds below, through which 
the Rhone wanders scarce noticed, scarce credited. It is of a whitish 
muddy colour (from the snow and sand mingled with its course, very 
much as if had been poured out of a washing-tub), and very different 
from the deep purple tint it assumes on oozing out from the other 
side of the Lake, after having drank its cerulean waters. The 
woods near the lofty peaks of the Clise-Horn, and bordering on 
Monteroso, are said to be still the frequent haunt of bears, though a 
price is set upon their heads. As we advanced farther on beyond 
Tortomania, the whole breadth of the valley was sometimes covered 
with pine-forests, which gave a relief to the eye, and afforded scope 
to the imagination. The fault of mountain scenery in general is, 
that it is too barren and naked, and that the whole is exposed in 
enormous and unvarying masses to the view at once. The clothing 
of trees is no less wanted as an ornament than partially to conceal 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

objects, and thus present occasional new points of view. Without 
something to intercept and break the aggregate extent of surface, you 
gain no advantage by change of place ; the same elevation and ground- 
plan of hill and valley are still before you — you might as well carry a 
map or landscape in your hand. In this part of our journey, however, 
besides the natural wildness and grandeur of the scenery, the road 
was rough and uneven, and frequently crossed rude bridges over the 
Rhone, or over rivulets pouring into it : the gloomy recesses of the 
forests might be the abode of wild beasts or of the lurking robber. 
The huge fragments of rock that had tumbled from the overhanging 
precipices often made a turning in the road necessary, and for a 
moment interrupted the view beyond ; the towns, built on the sides 
of the hills, resembled shattered heaps of rock, scarcely distinguishable 
from the grey peaks and crags with which they were surrounded, 
giving an agreeable play to the fancy ; while the snowy tops of the 
Simplon mountains, now coming in sight, now hidden behind the 
nearer summits, threw us back to the scenes we had left, and measured 
the distance we had traversed. The way in which these mighty 
landmarks of the Alpine regions ascertain this point is, however, 
contrary to the usual one : for it is by appearing plainer, the farther 
you retire from them. They tower with airy shape and dazzling 
whiteness above the lengthening perspective ; and it is the intervening 
objects that dwindle in the comparison, and are lost sight of in 
succession. In the midst of the most lonely and singular part of this 
scene, just as we passed a loose bridge of rough fir-planks over a 
brawling brook, and as a storm seemed to threaten us, we met a party 
of English gentlemen in an open carriage, though their courteous 
looks and waving salutation almost ' forbade us to interpret them 
such.' Certainly there is no people in whom urbanity is more a 
duty than the English ; for there is no people that feel it more. 
Travelling confounds our ideas, not of place only, but of time ; and I 
could not help making a sudden transition from the party we had by 
chance encountered to the Chevalier Grandison and his friends, 
paying their last visit to Bologna. Pshaw ! Why do I indulge in 
such idle fancies ? Yet why in truth should I not, when I am a 
thousand miles from home, and when every object one meets is like 
a dream ? Passe pour cela. 

We reached Sion that evening. It is one of the dirtiest and least 
comfortable towns on the road ; nor does the chief inn deserve the 
epithet so applicable to Swiss inns in general — simplex munditiis. It 
was here that Rousseau, in one of his early peregrinations, was 
recommended by his landlord to an iron-foundry in the neighbourhood 
(the smoke of which, I believe, we saw at a little distance), where 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

he would be likely to procure emplojrment, mistaking 'the pauper 
lad ' for a journeyman blacksmith. Perhaps the author of the 
Rhymes on the Road will think it a pity he did not embrace this 
proposal, instead of forging thunderbolts for kingly crowns. Alas ! 
Mr. Moore would then never have had to write his ' Fables for the 
Holy Alliance.' Haunted by some indistinct recollection of this 
adventure, I asked at the Inn, * If Jean Jacques Rousseau had ever 
resided in the town ? ' The waiter himself could not tell, but soon 
after brought back for answer, ' That Monsieur Rousseau had never 
lived there, but that he had passed through about fourteen years before 
on his way to Italy, when he had only time to stop to take tea ! ' — 
Was this a mere stupid blunder, or one of the refractions of fame, 
founded on his mission as Secretary to the Venetian Ambassador a 
hundred years before ? There is a tradition in the neighbourhood of 
Milton's house in York-street, Westminster, that ' one Mr. Milford, 
a celebrated poet, formerly lived there ! ' We set forward the next 
morning on our way to Martigny, through the most dreary valley 
possible, and in an absolute straight line for twelve or fifteen miles of 
level road, which was terminated by the village-spire and by the hills 
leading to the Great St. Bernard and Mont-Blanc. The wind 
poured down from these tremendous hills, and blew with unabated 
fiiry in our faces the whole way. It was a most unpleasant ride, nor 
did the accommodations at the inn (the Swan, I think) make us 
amends. The rooms were cold and empty. It might be supposed 
that the desolation without had subdued the imagination to its own 
hue and quality, so that it rejected all attempts at improvement ; that 
the more niggard Nature had been to it, the more churlish it became 
to itself; and through habit, neither felt the want of comforts nor a 
wish to supply others with them. Close to the bridge stands a steep 
rock with a castle at the top of it (attributed to the times of the 
Romans). At a distance it was hardly discernible ; and afterwards, 
when we crossed over to Chamouni, we saw it miles below us like a 
dove-cot, or a dirt-pye raised by children. Yet viewed from beneath, 
it seemed to present an imposing and formidable attitude, and to 
elevate its pigmy front in a line with the stately heights around. So 
Mr. Washington Irvine binds up his own portrait with Goldsmith's in 
the Paris edition of his works, and to many people seems the genteeler 
man ! From the definite and dwarfish, we turned to the snow-clad 
and cloud-capt ; and strolled to the other side of the village, where the 
road parts to St. Bernard and Chamouni, anxiously gazing at the steep 
pathway on either side, and half tempted to launch into that billowy 
sea of mist and mountain : but we reserved this for a subsequent 
period. As we were loitering at the foot of the dizzy ascent, our 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

postilion, who had staid behind us a couple of hours the day before to 
play at bowls, now drove on half an hour before his time, and when 
we turned a corner which gave us a view of our inn, no cabriolet was 
there. He, however, soon found his mistake, and turned back to 
meet us. The only picturesque objects between this and Bex are a 
waterfall about two hundred feet in height, issuing through the 
cavities of the mountain from the immense glacier in the valley of 
Trie, and the romantic bridge of St. Maurice, the boundary between 
Savoy and the Pays de Vaud. On the ledge of a rocky precipice, as 
you approach St. Maurice, stands a hermitage in full view of the 
road ; and possibly the inmate consoles himself in his voluntary retreat 
by watching the carriages as they come in sight, and fancying that the 
driver is pointing out his aeriel dwelling to the inquisitive and 
wondering traveller ! If a man could transport himself to one of the 
fixed stars, so far from being lifted above this sublunary sphere, he 
would still wish his fellow-mortals to point to it as his particular 
abode, and the scene of his marvellous adventures. We go into a 
crowd to be seen : we go into solitude that we may be distinguished 
from the crowd, and talked of. We travel into foreign parts to get 
the start of those who stay behind us ; we return home to hear what 
has been said of us in our absence. Lord Byron mounted on his 
pedestal of pride on the shores of the Adriatic, as Mr. Hobhouse 
rides in the car of popularity through the streets of Westminster. 
The one object could be seen at a distance ; the other, whose mind is 
more Sancho-Panza-ish and pug-featured, requires to be brought 
nearer to the eye for stage-effect ! Bex itself is delicious. It stands 
in a little nook of quiet, almost out of the world, nestling in rural 
beauty, in mountain sublimity. There is an excellent inn, a country 
church before it, a large ash tree, a circulating library, a rookery, 
every thmg useful and comfortable for the life of man. Behind, there 
is a ridge of dark rocks ; beyond them tall and bare mountains — and 
a higher range still appears through rolling clouds and circling mists. 
Our reception at the inn was every way what we could wish, and we 
were half disposed to stop here for some months. But something 
whispered me on to Vevey : — this we reached the next day in a 
drizzling shower of rain, which prevented our seeing much of the 
country, excepting the black masses of rock and pine-trees that rose 
perpendicularly from the roadside. The day after my arrival, I found 
a lodging at a farm-house, a mile out of Vevey, so ' lapped in luxury,' 
so retired, so reasonable, and in every respect convenient, that we 
remained here for the rest of the summer, and felt no small regret at 
leaving it. 

The country round Vevey is, I must nevertheless own, the least 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

picturesque part of the borders of the Lake of Geneva. I wonder 
Rousseau, who was a good judge and an admirable describer of 
romantic situations, should have fixed upon it as the scene of the 
' New Eloise.' You have passed the rocky and precipitous defiles at 
the entrance into the valley, and have not yet come into the open and 
more agreeable parts of it. The immediate vicinity of Vevey is 
entirely occupied with vineyards slanting to the south, and inclosed 
between stone-walls without any kind of variety or relief. The walks 
are uneven and bad, and you in general see little (for the walls on 
each side of you) but the glassy surface of the Lake, the rocky 
barrier of the Savoy Alps opposite (one of them crowned all the year 
round with snow, and which, though it is twenty miles off, seems as 
if you could touch it with your hand, so completely does size neutralize 
the effect of distance), the green hills of an inferior class over Clarens, 
with the Dent de Jamant sticking out of them like an iron tooth, and 
the winding valley leading northward towards Berne and Fribourg. 
Here stands Gelamont (the name of the Campagna which we took), 
on a bank sloping down to the brook that passes by Vevey, and so 
entirely embosomed in trees and ' upland swells,' that it might be 
called, in poetical phrase, 'the peasant's nest.' Here every thing 
was perfectly clean and commodious. The fermier or vineyard- 
keeper, with his family, lived below, and we had six or seven rooms 
on a floor (furnished with every article or convenience that a London 
lodging affords) for thirty Napoleons for four months, or about 
thirty shillings a week. This first expense we found the greatest 
during our stay, and nearly equal to all the rest, that of a servant 
included. The number of English settled here had made lodgings 
dear, and an English gentleman told me he was acquainted with not 
less than three-and-twenty English families in the neighbourhood. 
To give those who may feel an inclination to try foreign air, an idea 
of the comparative cheapness of living abroad, I will mention that 
mutton (equal to the best Welch mutton, and fed on the high grounds 
near Moudon) is two batz, that is, threepence English per pound ; 
and the beef (which is also good, though not of so fine a quality) is 
the same. Trout, caught in the Lake, you get almost for nothing. 
A couple of fowls is eighteen-pence. The wine of the country, 
which though not rich, is exceedingly palatable, is three pence a 
bottle. You may have a basket of grapes in the season for one 
shilling or fifteen pence.i The bread, butter and milk are equally 
cheap and excellent. They have not the art here of adulterating 
every thing. You find the same things as in England, served up in 
the same plain and decent manner, but in greater plenty, and generally 
' The girls who work in the vineyards, are paid three batz a day. 

285 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

speaking, of a better and more wholesome quality, and at least twice 
as cheap. In England they hare few things, and they contrive to 
spoil those few. There is a good deal of ill-nature and churlishness, 
as well as a narrow policy in this. The trading principle seems to be 
to give you the worst, and make you pay as dear for it as possible. 
It is a vile principle. As soon as you land at Dover, you feel the 
force of this home truth. They cheat you to your face, and laugh at 
you. I must say, that it appears to me, whatever may be the faults 
or vices of other nations, the English population is the only one to 
which the epithet blackguard is applicable. They are, in a word, the 
only people who make a merit of giving others pain, and triumph in 
their impudence and ill-behaviour, as proofs of a manly and independent 
spirit. Afraid that you may complain of the absence of foreign 
luxuries, they are determined to let you understand beforehand, they 
do not care about what you may think, and wanting the art to please, 
resort to the easier and surer way of keeping up their importance by 
practising every kind of annoyance. Instead of their being at your 
mercy, you find yourself at theirs, subjected to the sullen airs of the 
masters, and to the impertinent fatuity of the waiters. They dissipate 
your theory of English comfort and hospitality at the threshold. 
What do they care that you have cherished a fond hope of getting a 
nice, snug little dinner on your arrival, better than any you have had 

in France ? ' The French may be d ,' is the answer that passes 

through their minds — 'the dinner is good enough, if it is English ! ' 
Let us take care, that by assuming an insolent local superiority over 
all the world, we do not sink below them in every thing, liberty not 
excepted. While the name of any thing passes current, we may 
dispense with the reality, and keep the start of the rest of mankind, 
simply by asserting that we have it, and treating all foreigners as a set 
of poor wretches, who neither know how, nor are in truth fit to live ! 
Against this post, alas ! John Bull is continually running his head, 
but as yet without knocking his brains out. The beef-steak which 
you order at Dover with patriotic tender yearnings for its reputation, 
is accordingly filled with cinders — the mutton is done to a rag — the 
soup not eatable — the porter sour — the bread gritty — the butter rancid. 
Game, poultry, grapes, wine it is in vain to think of; and as you may 
be mortified at the privation, they punish you for your unreasonable 
dissatisfaction by giving you cause for it in the mismanagement of 
what remains. 1 In the midst of this ill fare you meet with equally 

1 Since my return I have put myself on a regimen of brown bread, beef, and 
tea, and have thus defeated the systematic conspiracy carried on against weak 
digestions. To those accustomed to, and who can indulge in foreign luxuries, this 
list will seem far from satisfactory. 
286 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

bad treatment. While you are trying to digest a tough beef-steak, a 
fellow comes in and peremptorily demands your fare, on the assurance 
that you will get your baggage from the clutches of the Custom-house 
in time to go by the six o'clock coach ; and when you find that this 
is impossible, and that you are to be trundled oflF at two in the 
morning, or by the next day's coach, if it is not fuH, and complain to 
that personification of blind justice, an English mob, you hear the arch 
slang reply, ' Do you think the Gentleman such a fool as to part with 
his money without knowing why ? ' and should the natural rejoinder 
rise to your lips — ' Do you take me for a fool, because I did not take 
you for a rogue ? ' the defendant immediately stands at bay upon the 
national character for honesty and morality. ' I hope there are no 
rogues here ! ' is echoed through the dense atmosphere of English 
intellect, though but the moment before they had been laughing in 
their sleeves (or out loud) at the idea of a stranger having been 
tricked by a townsman. Happy country ! equally and stupidly 
satisfied with its vulgar vices and boasted virtues ! 

' Oh ! for a lodge in some vast wilderness, 
Some boundless continuity of shade ! ' 

Yet to what purpose utter such a wish, since it is impossible to stay 
there, and the moment you are separated from your fellows, you 
think better of them, begin to form chimeras with which you would 
fain compare the realities, find them the same as ever to your cost and 
shame — 

' And disappointed still, are still deceived ! ' 

I found little of this tracasserie at Gelamont. Days, weeks, months, 
and even years might have passed on much in the same manner, with 
'but the season's difference.' We breakfasted at the same hour, and 
the tea-kettle was always boiling (an excellent thing in housewifery) 
— a lounge in the orchard for an hour or two, and twice a week we 
could see the steam-boat creeping like a spider over the surface of the 
lake ; a volume of the Scotch novels (to be had in every library on 
the Continent, in English, French, German, or Italian, as the reader 
pleases), or M. Galignani's Paris and London Obser'ver, amused us 
till dinner time ; then tea and a walk till the moon unveiled itself, 
' apparent queen of night,' or the brook, swoln with a transient shower, 
was heard more distinctly in the darkness, mingling with the soft, 
rustling breeze ; and the next morning the song of peasants broke 
upon refreshing sleep, as the sun glanced among the clustering vine- 
leaves, or the shadowy hills, as the mists retired from their summits, 
looked in at our windows. The uniformity of this mode of life was 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

only broken during fifteen weeks that we remained in Switzerland, by 
the civilities of Monsieur Le Vade, a Doctor of medicine and 
octagenarian, who had been personally acquainted with Rousseau in 
his younger days ; by some attempts by our neighbours to lay us under 
obligations, by parting with rare curiosities to Monsieur I'Anglois for 
half their value ; and by an excursion to Chamouni, of which I must 
defer the account to my next. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

We crossed over in a boat to St. Gingolph, a little town opposite to 
Vevey, and proceeded on the other side of the lake to Martigny, 
from which we could pass over either on foot or by the help of mules 
to Mont-Blanc. It was a warm day towards the latter end of 
August, and the hills before us drew their clear outline, and the more 
distant Alps waved their snowy tops (tinged with golden sunshine) in 
the gently-undulating surface of the crystal lake. As we approached 
the Savoy side, the mountains in front, which from Vevey look like 
a huge battery or flat upright wall, opened into woody recesses, or 
reared their crests on high ; rich streaks of the most exquisite verdure 
gleamed at their feet, and St. Gingolph came distinctly in view, with 
its dingy-looking houses and smoking chimneys. It is a small 
manufacturing town, full of forges and workshops, and the inn is dirty 
and disagreeable. The contrast to Vevey was striking. But this 
side of the lake is in the dominions of the King of Sardinia, and 
cleanliness seems to be in general the virtue of republics, or of free 
states. There is an air of desolation, sluttishness, and indifference, 
the instant you cross the water, compared with the neatness, activity, 
regularity, and cheerfulness of the Pays de Vaud. We walked out to 
take a view of the situation, as soon as we had bespoken our room and 
a supper. It was a brilliant sunset; nor do I recollect having ever 
beheld so majestic and rich a scene, set off to such advantage. A 
steep pathway led to a village embayed between two mountains, whose 
tops towered into the sky : conical hills rose to about half their 
height, covered with green copses : fields and cottages were seen 
climbing as it were the sides of others, with cattle feeding ; the huge 
projecting rocks gave new combinations and a new aspect to the most 
picturesque objects ; tall branching trees (ash, or beech, or chesnut) 
hung from green sloping banks over the road-side, or dipped their 
foliage in the transparent wave below : their bold luxuriant forms 
threw the rocks and mountains into finer relief, and elevated them 
into a higher atmosphere, so that they seemed trembling (another airy 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

world) over our heads. The lake shone like a broad golden mirror, 
reflecting the thousand dyes of the fleecy purple clouds, while Saint 
Gingolph, with its clustering habitations, shewed like a dark pitchy 
spot by its side ; and beyond the glimmering verge of the Jura (almost 
hid in its own brightness) hovered gay wreaths of clouds, fair, lovely, 
visionary, that seemed not of this world, but brought from some dream 
of fancy, treasured up from past years, emblems of hope, of joy and 
smiling regret, that had come to grace a scene so heavenly, and to bid 
it a last, lingering farewell. No person can describe the effect ; but 
so in Claude's landscapes the evening clouds drink up the rosy light, 
and sink into soft repose ! Every one who travels into Switzerland 
should visit this secluded spot, and witness such a sunset, with the 
heaven stooping its face into the lake on one side, and the mountains, 
rocks, and woods, lifting earth to heaven on the other. We had no 
power to leave it or to admire it, till the evening shades stole in upon 
us, and drew the dusky veil of twilight over it. 

We had a pleasant walk the next morning along the side of the 
lake under the grey cliffs, the green hills and azure sky ; now passing 
under the open gateway of some dilapidated watch-tower that had in 
former times connected the rocky barrier with the water, now watch- 
ing the sails of a boat slowly making its way among the trees on the 
banks of the Rhone, like butterflies expanding their wings in the 
breeze, or the snowry ridges that seemed close to us at Vevey receding 
farther into a kind of lofty back-ground as we advanced. The 
speculation of Bishop Berkeley, or some other philosopher, that 
distance is measured by motion and not by the sight, is verified here 
at every step. After going on for hours, and perceiving no altera- 
tion in the form or appearance of the object before you, you begin 
to be convinced that it is out of ordinary calculation, or, in the 
language of the Fancy, an ' ugly customer ; ' and our curiosity once 
excited, is ready to magnify every circumstance relating to it 
to an indefinite extent. The literal impression being discarded as 
insufficient, the imagination takes out an unlimited letter of credit 
for all that is possible or wonderful, and what the eye sees is con- 
sidered thenceforward merely as an imperfect hint, to be amplified 
and filled up on a colossal scale by the understanding and rules of 
proportion. To say the truth, you also suffer a change, feel like 
Lilliputians, and can fancy yourselves transported to a different 
world, where the dimensions and relations of things are regulated 
by some unknown law. The inn where we stopped at Vionnax is 
bad. Beyond this place, the hills at the eastern end of the lake 
form into an irregular and stupendous amphitheatre ; and you pass 
through long and apparently endless vistas of tall flourishing trees, 

VOL. IX. : T 289 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

without being conscious of making much progress. There is a 
glass-manufactory at Vionnax, which I did not go to see ; others 
who have more curiosity may. It will be there (I dare say) next 
year for those who choose to visit it : I liked neither its glare nor 
its heat. The cold icy crags that hang suspended over it have been 
there a thousand years, and will be there a thousand years to come. 
Short-lived as we are, let us attach ourselves to the immortal, and 
scale (assisted by earth's giant brood) the empyrean of pure thought! 
But the English abroad turn out or their way to see every petti- 
fogging, huckstering object that they could see better at home, and 
are as fussy and fidgetty, with their smoke-jacks and mechanical 
inventions among the Alps, as if they had brought Manchester and 
Sheffield in their pockets ! The finest effect along this road is the 
view of the bridge as you come near St. Maurice. The mountains 
on either side here descend nearly to a point, boldly and abruptly ; 
the river flows rapidly through the tall arch of the bridge, on one 
side of which you see an old fantastic turret, and beyond it the hill 
called the Sugar-loaf, rising up in the centre of immense ranges of 
mountains, and with fertile and variously-marked plains stretching 
out in the intervening space. The landscape painter has only to go 
there, and make a picture of it. It is already framed by nature to 
his hand ! I mention this the more, because that kind of grouping of 
objects which is essential to the picturesque, is not always to be found 
in the most sublime or even beautiful scenes. Nature (so to speak) 
uses a larger canvass than man, and where she is greatest and most 
prodigal of her wealth, often neglects that principle of concentration 
and contrast which is an indispensable preliminary before she can be 
translated with effect into the circumscribed language of art. We 
supped at Martigny, at the Hotel de la Poste (formerly a convent), 
and the next morning proceeded by the Valley of Trie and the Col 
de Peaume to Chamouni. 

We left the great St. Bernard, and the road by which Buonaparte 
passed to Marengo, on our left, and Martigny and the Valley of the 
Simplon directly behind us. These last were also soon at an im- 
measurable depth below us ; but the summits of the mountains that 
environed us on all sides, seemed to ascend with us, and to add our 
elevation to their own. Crags, of which we could only before 
discern the jutting tops, gradually reared their full stature at our 
side ; and icy masses, one by one, came in sight, emerging from their 
lofty recesses, like clouds floating in mid-air. All this while a green 
valley kept us company by the road-side, watered with gushing rills, 
interspersed with cottages and well-stocked farms : fine elms and ash 
grew on the sides of the hills, under the shade of one of which we 

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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

saw an old peasant asleep. The road, however, was long, rough, 
and steep ; and from the heat of the sun, and the continual interrup- 
tion of loose stones and the straggling roots of trees, I felt myself 
exceedingly exhausted. We had a mule, a driver, and a guide. I 
was advised, by all means, to lessen the fatigue of the ascent by 
taking hold of the queue of Monsieur le Mulet, a mode of travelling 
partaking as little of the sublime as possible, and to which I reluctantly 
acceded. We at last reached the top, and looked down on the 
Valley of Trie, bedded in rocks, with a few wooden huts in it, a 
mountain-stream traversing it from the Glacier at one end, and with 
an appearance as if summer could never gain a footing there, before 
it would be driven out by winter. In the midst of this almost 
inaccessible and desolate spot, we found a little inn or booth, with 
refreshments of wine, bread, and fruit, and a whole drove of English 
travellers, mounted or on foot. 

' Nor Alps nor Apennines can keep them out. 
Nor fortified redoubt ! ' 

As we mounted the steep wood on the other side of the valley, we 
met several mules returning, with their drivers only, and looking 
extremely picturesque, as they were perched above our heads among 
the jagged pine-trees, and cautiously felt their perilous way over the 
edges of projecting rocks and stumps of trees, down the zig-zag 
pathway. The view here is precipitous, extensive, and truly appalling, 
both from the size of the objects and their rugged wildness. The 
smell of the pine-trees, the clear air, and the golden sunshine gleaming 
through the dark foliage refreshed me ; and the fatigue from which 
I had suffered in the morning completely wore off. I had concluded 
that when we got to the top of the wood that hung over our heads, 
we should have mastered our difficulties ; but they only then began. 
We emerged into a barren heath or morass of a most toilsome ascent, 
lengthening as we advanced, with herds of swine, sheep, and cattle 
feeding on it, and a bed of half-melted snow marking the summit 
over which we had to pass. We turned aside, half-way up this 
dreary wilderness, to stop at a chalet, where a boy, who tended the 
straggling cattle, was fast asleep in the middle of the day ; and being 
waked up, procured us a draught of most delicious water from a 
fountain. We at length reached the Col de Peaume, and saw Mont 
Blanc, the King of Mountains, stretching away to the left, with 
clouds circling round its sides, and snows forever resting on its head. 
It was an image of immensity and eternity. Earth had heaved it 
from its bosom ; the ' vast cerulean ' had touched it with its breath. 
It was a meeting of earth and sky. Other peaked cliffs rose per- 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

pendicularly by its side, and a range of rocks, of red granite, fronted 
it to the north ; but Mont-Blanc itself was round, bald, shining, 
ample, and equal in its swelling proportions — a huge dumb heap 
of matter. The valley below was bare, without an object — no 
ornament, no contrast to set it off — it reposed in silence and in 
solitude, a world within itself. 

' Retire, the world shut out, thy thoughts call home.' 

There is an end here of vanity and littleness, and all transitory jarring 
interests. You stand, as it were, in the presence of the Spirit of the 
Universe, before the majesty of Nature, with her chief elements about 
you ; cloud and air, and rock, and stream, and mountain are brought 
into immediate contact with primeval Chaos and the great First 
Cause. The mind hovers over mysteries deeper than the abysses 
at our feet ; its speculations soar to a height beyond the visible forms 
it sees around it. As we descended the path on foot (for our 
muleteer was obliged to return at the barrier between the two states 
of Savoy and Switzerland marked by a solitary unhewn stone,) we 
saw before us the shingled roofs of a hamlet, situated on a patch of 
verdure near inaccessible columns of granite, and could hear the 
tinkling bells of a n^nber of cattle pasturing below (an image of 
patriarchal times ! ) — we also met one or two peasants returning home 
with loads of fern, and still farther down, found the ripe harvests 
of wheat and barley growing close up to the feet of the glaciers 
(those huge masses of ice arrested in their passage from the mountains, 
and collected by a thousand winters,) and the violet and gilliflower 
nestling in the cliffs of the hardest rocks. There are four of these 
glaciers, that pour their solid floods into the valley, with rivulets 
issuing from them into the Arbe. The one next to Chamouni is, 
I think, the finest. It faces you like a broad sheet of congealed 
snow and water about half-way up the lofty precipice, and then 
spreads out its arms on each side into seeming batteries and fortifica- 
tions of undistinguishable rock and ice, as though winter had here 
' built a fortress for itself,' seated in stern state, and amidst frowning 
horrors. As we advanced into the plain, and before it became dusk, 
we could discern at a distance the dark wood that skirts the glaciers 
of Mont-Blanc, the spire of Chamouni, and the bridges that cross the 
stream. We also discovered, a little way on before us, stragglers on 
mules, and a cabriolet, that was returning from the valley of Trie, 
by taking a more circuitous route. As the day closed in and was 
followed by the moonlight, the mountains on our right hung over us 
like a dark pall, and the glaciers gleamed like gigantic shrouds 
opposite. We might have fancied ourselves inclosed in a vast tomb, 
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THROUGH FRANCE A.ND ITALY 

but for the sounding cataracts and the light clouds that flitted over 
our heads. We arrived at Chamouni at last, and found the three 
inns crowded with English. The entrance to that to which we had 
been recommended, or rather were conducted by our guide (the 
Hotel de Londres,) was besieged by English loungers, like a bazaar, 
or an hotel at some fashionable watering-place, and we were glad to 
secure a small but comfortable room for the night. 

We had an excellent supper, the materials of which we understood 
came from Geneva. We proceeded the next morning to Saleges, on 
our way to this capital. If the entrance to the valley of Chamouni 
is grand and simple, the route from it towards Geneva unites the 
picturesque to the sublime in the most remarkable degree. For two 
or three miles you pass along under Mont-Blanc, looking up at it with 
awe and wonder, derived from a knowledge of its height. The 
interest, the pleasure you take in it is from conviction and reflection ; 
but turn a corner in the road at a homely village and a little bridge, 
and it shoots up into the sky of its own accord, like a fantastic vision. 
Its height is incredible, its brightness dazzling, and you notice the 
snow crusted upon its surface into round hillocks, with pellucid 
shadows like shining pavilions for the spirits of the upper regions 
of the air. Why is the effect so different from its former desolate 
and lumpish appearance ? Tall rocks rise from the roadside with 
dark waving pine-trees shooting from them, over the highest top of 
which, as you look up, you see Mont-Blanc ; a ruined tower serves 
as a foil to the serene smiler in the clouds that mocks at the defences 
of art, or the encroachments of time. Another mountain opposite, 
part bare, part clothed with wood, intercepts the view to the left, 
giving effect to what is seen, and leaving more to the imagination ; 
and the impetuous torrent roars at your feet, a hundred fathoms 
below, with the bright red clusters of the mountain-ash and loose 
fragments of rock bending over it, and into which a single step would 
precipitate you. One of the mightiest objects in nature is set off by 
the most appropriate and striking accidents ; and the impression is of 
the most romantic and enchanting kind. The scene has an intoxicat- 
ing effect ; you are relieved from the toil of wishing to admire, and 
the imagination is delighted to follow the lead of the senses. We 
passed this part of the road in a bright morning, incessantly turning 
back to admire, and finding fresh cause of pleasure and wonder at 
every step or pause, loth to leave it, and yet urged onward by 
continual displays of new and endless beauties. Chamouni seems to 
lie low enough ; but we found that the river and the road along with 
it winds and tumbles for miles over steep banks or sloping ground ; 
and as you revert your eye, you find that which was a flat converted 

293 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

into a table-land; the objects which were lately beneath you now 
raised above you, and forming an intermediate stage between the spot 
where you are and the more distant elevations ; and the last snow- 
crowned summits reflected in translucent pools of water by the road- 
side, with spots of the brightest azure in them (denoting mineral 
springs) ; the luxuriant branches of the ash, willow, and acacia 
waving over them, and the scarlet flowers of the geranium, or the 
water-lilies, ' all silver white,' stuck like gems in the girdle of old 
winter, and offering a sparkling foreground to the retiring range of 
icebergs and avalanches. This rapid and whirling descent continued 
almost to Saleges, about twenty miles from Chamouni. Here we 
dined, and proceeded that night to Bonneville, on nearly level ground ; 
but still with the same character the whole way of a road winding 
through the most cultivated and smiling country, full of pastures, 
orchards, vineyards, cottages, villas, refreshing streams, long avenues 
of trees, and every kind of natural and artificial beauty, flanked with 
rocks and precipices (on each side) of the most abrupt and terrific 
appearance, and on which, from the beginning of time, the hand of 
man has made no impression, except that here and there you see 
a patch of verdure, a cottage, a flock of sheep, at a height which 
the eye can hardly reach, and which you think no foot could tread. 
[ have seen no country where I have been more tempted to stop 
and enjoy myself, where I thought the inhabitants had more 
reason to be satisfied, and where, if you could not find happiness, it 
seemed in vain to seek farther for it. You have every kind and 
degree of enjoyment ; the extremes of luxury and wildness, gigantic 
sublimity at a distance or over your head, elegance and comfort at 
your feet ; you may gaze at the air-drawn Alps, or shut out the 
prospect by a flowering shrub, or by a well-clipped hedge, or neatly- 
wainscoted parlour : and you may vary all these as you please, ' with 
kindliest interchange.' Perhaps one of these days I may try the 
experiment, and turn my back on sea-coal fires, and old English 
friends ! The inn at Bonneville was dirty, ill-provided, and as it 
generally happens in such cases, the people were inattentive, and the 
charges high. We were, however, indemnified by the reception we 
met with at Geneva, where the living was luxurious, and the expence 
comparatively trifling. I shall not dwell on this subject, lest I should 
be thought an epicure, though indeed I rather ' live a man forbid,' 
being forced to deny myself almost all those good things which I 
recommend to others. Geneva is, I think, a very neat and picturesque 
town, not equal to some others we had seen, but very well for a 
Calvinistic capital. It stands on a rising ground, at the end of the 
lake, with the purple Rhone running by it, and Mont-Blanc and the 
294 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Savoy Alps seen on one side, and the Jura on the other. I was 
struck with the fine forms of many of the women here. Though I 
was pleased with my fare, I was not altogether delighted with the 
manners and appearance of the inhabitants. Their looks may be said 
to be moulded on the republican maxim, that ' you are no better than 
they,' and on the natural inference from it, that ' they are better than 
you.' They pass you with that kind of scrutinizing and captious air, 
as if some controversy was depending between you as to the form of 
religion or government. I here saw Rousseau's house, and also read 
the Edinburgh Review for May. The next day we passed along in 
the Diligence through scenery of exquisite beauty and perfect cultiva- 
tion — vineyards and farms, and villas and hamlets of the most 
enviable description, succeeding each other in uninterrupted connexion, 
by the smooth margin of the silver lake. We saw Lausanne by 
moonlight. Its situation, as far as I could judge, and the environs 
were superb. We arrived that night at Vevey, after a week's absence 
and an exceedingly delightful tour. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

We returned down the Rhine through Holland. I was willing to 
see the contrast between flat and lofty, and between Venice and 
Amsterdam. We left Vevey on the 20th of September, and arrived 
in England on the i6th of October. It was at first exceedingly hot ; 
we encountered several days of severe cold on the road, and it after- 
wards became mild and pleasant again. We hired a char-aux-hancs 
from Vevey to Basle, and it took us four days to reach this latter 
place ; the expense of the conveyance was twenty-four francs a day, 
besides the driver. The first part of our journey, as we ascended 
from the Lake on the way to Moudon, was like an aerial voyage, 
from the elevation and the clearness of the atmosphere ; yet still 
through the most lovely country imaginable, and with glimpses of the 
grand objects behind us (seen over delicious pastures, and through 
glittering foliage) that were truly magical. The combinations of 
language, however, answer but ill to the varieties of nature, and by 
repeating these descriptions so often, I am afraid of becoming tire- 
some. My excuse must be, that I have little to relate but what I 
saw. After mounting to a considerable height, we descended to 
Moudon, a small town situated in a most romantic valley. The 
accommodations at the inn here were by no means good, though it is 
a place of some pretensions. In proportion to the size of the house 

295 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

and the massiveness of the furniture, the provisions of the kitchen 
appeared to be slender, and the attendance slack. The freshness of 
the air the next morning, and the striking beauty and rapid changes 
of the scenery, soon made us forget any disappointment we had 
experienced in this respect. As we ascended a steep hill on this side 
of Moudon, and looked back, first at the green dewy valley under 
our feet, with the dusky town and the blue smoke rising from it, then 
at the road we had traversed the preceding evening, winding among 
thick groves of trees, and last at the Savoy Alps on the other side of 
the Lake of Geneva (with which we had been familiar for four 
months, and which seemed to have no mind to quit us) I perceived a 
bright speck close to the top of one of these — I was delighted, and 
said it was Mont Blanc. Our driver was of a different opinion, was 
positive it was only a cloud, and I accordingly supposed I had taken 
a sudden fancy for a reality. I began in secret to take myself to task, 
and to lecture myself for my proneness to build theories on the 
foundation of my conjectures and wishes. On turning round occa- 
sionally, however, I observed that this cloud remained in the same 
place, and I noticed the circumstance to our guide, as favouring my 
first suggestion ; for clouds do not usually remain long in the same 
place. We disputed the point for half a day, and it was not till the 
afternoon when we had reached the other side of the lake of 
Neufchatel, that this same cloud rising like a canopy over the point 
where it had hovered, * in shape and station proudly eminent,' he 
acknowledged it to be Mont Blanc. We were then at a distance of 
about forty miles from Vevey, and eighty or ninety from Chamouni. 
This will give the reader some idea of the scale and nature of this 
wonderfiil scenery. We dined at Iverdun (a pretty town), at the 
head of the lake, and passed on to Neufchatel, along its enchanting 
and almost unrivalled borders, having the long unaspiring range of the 
Jura on our left (from the top of which St. Preux, on his return 
from his wanderings round the world, first greeted that country, 
where ' torrents of delight had poured into his heart,' and, indeed, we 
could distinguish the Dent de Jamant right over Clarens almost the 
whole way), and on our right was the rippling lake, its low cultivated 
banks on the other side, then a brown rocky ridge of mountains, and 
the calm golden peaks of the snowy passes of the Simplon, the Great 
St. Bernard, and (as I was fain to believe) of Monteroso rising into 
the evening sky at intervals beyond. Meanwhile we rode on through 
a country abounding in farms and vineyards and every kind of comfort, 
and deserving the epithets, 'verd et riant.' Sometimes a tall rock 
rose by the road side ; or a ruinous turret or a well-compacted villa 
attracted our attention. Neufchatel is larger and handsomer than 
296 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

Iverdun, and is remarkable for a number of those genteel and quiet- 
looking habitations, where people seem to have retired (in the midst 
of society) to spend the rest of their lives in ease and comfort: they 
are not for shew, nor are they very striking from situation ; they are 
neither fashionable nor romantic ; but the decency and sober orna- 
ments of their exterior evidently indicate fireside enjoyments and 
cultivated taste within. This kind of retreat, where there is nothing 
to surprise, nothing to disgust, nothing to draw the attention out of 
itself, uniting the advantages of society and solitude, of simplicity and 
elegance, and where the mind can indulge in a sort of habitual and 
self-centred satisfaction, is the only one which I should never feel a 
wish to quit. The golden mean is, indeed, an exact description of the 
mode of life I should like to lead — of the style I should like to write ; 
but alas ! I am afraid I shall never succeed in either object of my 
ambition ! 

The next day being cloudy, we lost sight entirely of the highest 
range of Alpine hills, and saw them no more afterwards. The road 
lay for some miles through an open and somewhat dreary country, in 
which the only objects of curiosity were the tall peasant-girls working 
in the fields, with their black gauze head-dresses, sticking out from 
their matted hair like the wings of a dragon-fly. We, however, had 
the Lake of Bienne and Isle of St. Pierre in prospect before us, which 
are so admirably described by Rousseau, in his ' Reveries of a 
Solitary Walker,' and to which he gives the preference over the 
Lake of Geneva. The effect from the town of Bienne where we 
stopped to dine was not much ; but in climbing to the top of a steep 
sandy hill beyond it, we saw the whole to great advantage. Evening 
was just closing in, and the sky was cloudy, with a few red streaks 
near the horizon : the first range of Alps only was discernible ; the 
Lake was of a dull sombre lead colour, and the Isle of St. Pierre 
was like a dark spot in it ; the hills on one side of the Lake ascended 
abrupt and gloomy ; extensive forests swept in magnificent surges over 
the rich valley to our left ; towns were scattered below us here and 
there, as in a map ; rocky fragments hung over our heads, with the 
shattered trunks of huge pine-trees ; a mountain-torrent rushed down 
the irregular chasm between us and the base of the mountain, that 
rose in misty grandeur on the opposite side ; but the whole was in the 
greatest keeping, and viewed by the twilight of historic landscape. 
Yet amidst all this solemnity and grandeur, the eye constantly reverted 
to one little dark speck, the Isle of St. Pierre (where Rousseau had 
taken refuge for a few months from his sorrows and his persecutions) 
with a more intense interest than all the rest ; for the widest prospects 
are trivial to the deep recesses of the human heart, and its anxious 

297 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

beatings are far more audible than the ' loud torrent or the whirlwind's 
roar ! ' The clouds of vapours, and the ebon cloud of night pre- 
vented our having a distinct view of the road that now wound down 

to , where we stopped for the night. The inn here (the Rose 

and Crown), though almost a solitary house in a solitary valley, is a 
very good one, and the cheapest we met with abroad. Our bill for 
supper, lodging, and breakfast, amounted to only seven francs. Our 
route, the following morning, lay up a broad steep valley, with a fine 
gravelly road through it, and forests of pine and other trees, raised 
like an amphitheatre on either side. The sun had just risen, and the 
drops of rain still hung upon the branches. On the other side we 
came into a more open country, and then again were inclosed among 
wild and narrow passes of high rock, split either by thunder or 
earthquakes into ledges, like castle walls, coming down to the edge of 
a stream that winds through the valley, or aspiring to an airy height, 
with the diminished pines growing on their very tops, and patches of 
verdure and the foliage of other trees flourishing in the interstices 
between them. It was the last scene of the kind we encountered. I 
begin to tire of these details, and will hasten to the end of my journey, 
touching only on a few detached points and places. 

Basle. — This is a remarkably neat town ; but it lies beyond the 
confines of the picturesque. We stopped at the Three Kings, and 
were shewn into a long, narrow room, which did not promise well at 
first ; but the waiter threw up the window at the further end, and we 
all at once saw the full breadth of the Rhine, rolling rapidly beneath 
it, after passing through the arches of an extensive bridge. It was 
clear moonlight, and the effect was fine and unexpected. The broad 
mass of water rushed by with clamorous sound and stately impetuosity, 
as if it were carrying a message from the mountains to the ocean ! 
The next morning we perceived that it was of a muddy colour. We 
thought of passing down it in a small boat ; but the covering was so 
low as to make the posture uncomfortable, or, if raised higher, there 
was a danger of its being overset by any sudden gust of wind. We 
therefore went by the Diligence to Colmar and Strasburg. I 
regretted afterwards that we did not take the right hand road by 
Freybourg and the Black Forest — the woods, hills, and mouldering 
castles of which, as far as I could judge from a distance, are the most 
romantic and beautiful possible. The tower at Strasburg is red, and 
has a singular appearance. The fortifications here, in time of peace, 
have an effect like the stillness of death. 

Rastadt. — We crossed the Rhine at Strasburg, and proceeded 
through Rastadt and Manheim to Mayence. We stopped the first 
night at the Golden Cross at Rastadt, which is the very best inn I 

298 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

was at during the whole time I was abroad. Among other things, 
we had chlffrons for supper, which I found on inquiry were wood- 
partridges, which are much more highly esteemed than the field ones. 
So delicately do they distinguish in Germany ! Manheim is a 
splendid town, both from its admirable buildings and the glossy 
neatness of the houses. They are too fine to live in, and seem only 
made to be looked at. Would that one of the streets could be set 
down in Waterloo-place ! Yet even Manheim is not equal to the 
towns in Italy. There the houses are palaces. 

Mayence is a disagreeable town. We half missed the scenery 
between this and Coblentz, the only part of the Rhine worth seeing. 
We saw it, however, by moonlight (which hung over it like a silver 
veil), with its nodding towers and dismantled fortresses over our 
heads, the steep woody banks on the opposite side, and the broad 
glittering surface of the Rhine, reflecting the white clouds or dark sail 
gliding by. It was like a brilliant dream ; nor did the mellow 
winding notes of the horn, calling to the warders of the drawbridges 
as we passed along, lessen the effect. Ehrenbreitstein overlooks 
Coblentz, and crowBS it with magnificence and beauty. The Duke 
of Wellington, I understood, had been here, and being asked by 
a French officer, ' If it could be taken ? ' answered, ' Yes ; in two 
ways, by hunger and gold.' Did the Duke of Wellington make 
this answer ? I cry you mercy — it was the Frenchman who gave the 
answer : the Duke said nothing. 

Cologne is the birth-place of Rubens ; and at one of the churches, 
there is a Crucifixion by him, which we did not see, for it being the 
time of divine service, the back was turned to the spectator, and only 
a copy of it was exhibited. The road from Cologne to Neuss is the 
only really bad one we found on the Continent ; it is a mere sand- 
bank, and not likely to be soon mended, from its vicinity to the 
Rhine. 

From Neuss to Cleves we went in the Royal Prussian Diligence, 
and from thence to Nimeguen, the first town in Holland. From a 
small tower here we had an admirable view of the country. It was 
nearly a perfect flat all round, as far as the eye could reach ; yet it 
was a rich and animated, as well as a novel scene. You saw a greater 
extent of surface than is possible in a hilly country ; all within the 
circumference of the horizon lay exposed to the eye. It was like 
seeing a section of the entire globe, or like * striking flat its thick 
rotundity.' It was a fine clear afternoon, and in the midst of this 
uniformity of surface, you saw every other variety — rich meadows, 
with flocks and herds feeding, hedge-rows, willowy banks, woods, 
corn-fields, roads winding along in different directions, canals, boats 

299 



NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

sailing, innumerable villages, windmills, bridges, and towns and cities 
in the far-off horizon ; but neither rock, nor mountain, nor barren 
waste, nor any object that prevented your seeing the one beyond it. 
There were no contrasts, no masses, but the immense space stretched 
out beneath the eye was filled up with dotted lines, and minute, 
detached, countless beauties. It was as if the earth were curiously 
fringed and embroidered. Holland is the same everywhere, except 
that it is often more intersected by canals ; and that as you approach 
the sea, the water prevails over the land. We proceeded from 
Nimeguen to Utrecht and Amsterdam, by the stage. The rich 
uninterrupted cultivation, the marks of successful industry and smiling 
plenty, are equally commendable and exhilarating ; but the repetition 
of the same objects, and the extent of home view, become at last 
oppressive. If you see much at once, there ought to be masses and 
relief: if you see only detached objects, you ought to be confined to 
a few of them at a time. What is the use of seeing a hundred wind- 
mills, a hundred barges, a hundred willow-trees, or a hundred herds 
of cattle at once ? Any one specimen is enough, and the others hang 
like a dead-weight on the traveller's patience. Besides, there is some- 
thing lumpish and heavy in the aspect of the country ; the eye is 
clogged and impeded in its progress over it by dams and dykes, and 
the marshy nature of the soil damps and chills imagination. There 
is a like extent of country at Cassel in France ; but from the greater 
number of woods and a more luxuriant vegetation (leaving the bare 
earth seldom visible,) the whole landscape seems in one glow, and the 
eye scours delighted over waving groves and purple distances. The 
towns and villas in Holland are unrivalled for neatness, and an appear- 
ance of wealth and comfort. All the way from Utrecht to Amsterdam, 
to the Hague, to Rotterdam, you might fancy yourself on Clapham 
Common. The canals are lined with farms and summer-houses, with 
orchards and gardens of the utmost beauty, and in excellent taste. 
The exterior of their buildings is as clean as the interior of ours ; 
their public-houses look as nice and well-ordered as our private ones. 
If you are up betimes in a morning, you see a servant wench (the 
domestic Naiad,) with a leathern pipe, like that attached to a fire- 
engine, drenching the walls and windows with pail-fulls of water. 
With all this, they suffocate you with tobacco smoke in their stage- 
coaches and canal-boats, and you do not see a set of clean teeth from 
one end of Holland to the other. Amsterdam did not answer our 
expectations ; it is a kind of paltry, rubbishly Venice. The pictures 
of Rembrandt here (some of which have little shade) are inferior to 
what we have in England. I was assured here that Rembrandt was 
the greatest painter in the world, and at Antwerp that Rubens was. 
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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

The inn at Amsterdam (the Rousland) is one of the best I have been 
at ; and an inn is no bad test of the civilization and diffusion of 
cotnfort in a country. We saw a play at the theatre here ; and the 
action was exceedingly graceful and natural. The chimes at Amster- 
dam, which play every quarter of an hour, at first seemed gay and 
delightful, and in a day and a half became tedious and intolerable. 
It was as impertinent as if a servant could not come into the room to 
answer the bell without dancing and jumping over the chairs and 
tables every time. A row of lime-trees grew and waved their 
branches in the middle of the street facing the hotel. The Dutch, 
who are not an ideal people, bestow all their taste and fancy on 
practical things, and instead of creating the chimeras of poetry, devote 
their time and thoughts to embellishing the objects of ordinary and 
familiar life. Ariosto said, it was easier to build palaces with words, 
than common houses with stones. The Hague is Hampton-Court 
turned into a large town. There is an excellent collection of pictures 
here, with some of my old favourites brought back from the Louvre, 
by Rembrandt, Vandyke, Paul Potter, &c. Holland is, perhaps, the 
only country which you gain nothing by seeing. It is exactly the 
same as the Dutch landscapes of it. I was shewn the plain and 
village of Ryswick, close to the Hague. It struck me I had seen 
something very like it before. It is the back-ground of Paul Potter's 
Bull. From the views and models of Chinese scenery and buildings 
preserved in the Museum here, it would seem that Holland is the 
China of Europe. Delft is a very model of comfort and polished 
neatness. We met with a gentleman belonging to this place in the 
trackschuyt, who, with other civilities, shewed us his house (a perfect 
picture in its kind,) and invited us in to rest and refresh ourselves, 
while the other boat was getting ready. These things are an exten- 
sion of one's idea of humanity. It is pleasant, and one of the uses of 
travel, to find large tracts of land cultivated, cities built and repaired, 
all the conveniences of life, men, women, and children laughing, 
talking, and happy, common sense and good manners on the other 
side of the English channel. I would not wish to lower any one's 
idea of England ; but let him enlarge his notions of existence and 
enjoyment beyond it. He will not think the worse of his own 
country, for thinking better of human nature ! The inconveniences 
of travelling by canal-boats in Holland is, that you make little way, 
and are forced to get out and have your luggage taken into another 
boat at every town you come to, which happens two or three times in 
the course of the day. Let no one go to the Washington Arms at 
Rotterdam ; it is only fit for American sea-captains. Rotterdam is a 
handsome bustling town ; and on inquiring our way, we were accosted 

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NOTES OF A JOURNEY 

by a Dutch servant-girl, who had lived in an English family for a 
year, and who spoke English better, and with less of a foreign accent, 
than any French woman I ever heard. This convinced me that 
German is not so difficult to an Englishman as French ; for the 
difficulty of acquiring any foreign language must be mutual to the 
natives of each country. There was a steam-boat here which set sail 
for London the next day ; but we preferred passing through Ghent, 
Lille, and Antwerp. This last is a very delightful city, and the 
spire of the cathedral exquisitely light, beautiful, and well-proportioned. 
Indeed, the view of the whole city from the water-side is as singular 
as it is resplendent. We saw the Rubenses in the great church here. 
They were hung outside the choir ; and seen against the huge white 
walls, looked like pictures dangling in a broker's shop for sale. They 
did not form a part of the building. The person who shewed us the 
Taking Down from the Cross, said, ' It was the finest picture in the 
world.' I said, * One of the finest ' — an answer with which he 
appeared by no means satisfied. We returned by way of St. Omers 
and Calais. I wished to see Calais once more, for it was here I 
first landed in France twenty years ago. 

I confess, London looked to me on my return like a long, strag- 
gling, dirty country-town ; nor do the names of Liverpool, Manchester, 
Birmingham, Leeds, or Coventry, sound like a trumpet in the ears, 
or invite our pilgrim steps like those of Sienna, of Cortona, Perugia, 
Arezzo, Pisa and Ferrara. I am not sorry, however, that I have 
got back. There is an old saying. Home is home, be it never so homely. 
However delightful or striking the objects may be abroad, they do 
not take the same hold of you, nor can you identify yourself with 
them as at home. Not only is the language an insuperable obstacle ; 
other things as well as men speak a language new and strange to you. 
You live comparatively in a dream, though a brilliant and a waking 
one. It is in vain to urge that you learn the language ; that you are 
familiarized with manners and scenery. No other language can ever 
become our mother-tongue. We may learn the words ; but they do 
not convey the same feelings, nor is it possible they should do so, 
unless we could begin our lives over again, and divide our conscious 
being into two different selves. Not only can we not attach the same 
meaning to words, but we cannot see objects with the same eyes, or 
form new loves and friendships after a certain period of our lives. 
The pictures that most delighted me in Italy were those I had before 
seen in the Louvre ' with eyes of youth.' I could revive this feeling 
of enthusiasm, but not transfer it. Neither would I recommend the 
going abroad when young, to become a mongrel being, half French, 
half English. It is better to be something than nothing. It is well 

302 



THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY 

to see foreign countries to enlarge one's speculative knowledge, and 
dispel false prejudices and libellous views of human nature ; but our 
affections must settle at home. Besides though a dream, it is a 
splendid one. It is fine to see the white Alps rise in the horizon of 
fancy at the distance of a thousand miles ; or the imagination may- 
wing its thoughtful flight among the castellated Apennines, roaming 
from city to city over cypress and olive grove, viewing the inhabitants 
as they crawl about mouldering palaces or temples, which no hand 
has touched for the last three hundred years, and see the genius of 
Italy brooding over the remains of virtue, glory and liberty, with 
Despair at the gates, an English Minister handing the keys to a 
foreign Despot, and stupid Members of Parliament wondering what 
is the matter ! 



The End. 



303 



MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS ON 
THE FINE ARTS 



VOL. IX. . U jg^ 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

Of the essays on the Fine Arts which follow, none were collected for publica- 
tion in volume form by Hazlitt. Particulars as to their source will be found at 
the head of the Notes referring to each essay. 

In 1838 the articles on Painting and TAe Fine Arts, 'contributed to the seventh 
edition of the Encyclopasdia Britannica, by B. R. Haydon, Esq., and William 
Hazlitt, Esq.,' were republished in Edinburgh by Messrs. Adam & Charles Black, 
in a post 8vo. volume. See the article in the present volume and notes thereto. 

In 1843 appeared a fcap. 8vo. volume of 'Criticisms on Art : and Sketches of 
the Picture Galleries of England. By William Hazlitt. With Catalogues of the 
Principal Galleries, now first collected. Edited by his Son,' and published by 
John Templeman, 248, Regent Street. A Second Series appeared the year following, 
published by C. Templeman, 6 Great Portland Street, London. These volumes 
contain the essays printed in the present volume, together with others on Art 
which are to be found in Table Talk, The Round Table, The Plain Speaker and 
volume X. of the present edition, where the Edinburgh Re-vienv articles will be 
found. They also contain two appendixes of catalogues of pictures in the various 
galleries, compiled by Hazlitt's son, and not here reprinted. In the Advertisement 
to these volumes Mr. W. Hazlitt (the second) states : 'I have carefully corrected 
all the references to the pictures described, according to the latest arrangement of 
each particular gallery ; and I have here and there ventured to append an illustra- 
tive or corrective note, where such seemed to be required as to a matter of fact.' 
In the present edition the Essays are given as Hazlitt published them, and in the 
order of their first publication. 

A ' New Edition ' of ' Essays on the Fine Arts by William Hazlitt,' was 
published in one volume by Messrs. Reeves & Turner in 1873, edited by Mr. 
W. Carew Hazlitt. 



CONTENTS 





PAGE 


On Haydon's Solomon ..... 


309 


The Catalogue Rajsonne of the British Institution . 


311 


West's Picture of Death on the Pale Horse 


. 318 


On Williams's Views in Greece .... 


• 324 


On the Elgin Marbles .... 


. 326 


Fonthill Abbey ..... 


■ 348 


Judging of Pictures 


• 356 


The Vatican 


3S9 


English Students at Rome .... 


367 


Fine Arts ..... 


377 


James Barry ... 


■ +13 


Originality ...... 


• 423 


The Ideal . . 


• 429 


Royal Academy ... 


• 434 



507 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 



ON HAYDON'S SOLOMON 

The Tenth Exhibition of the Society of Painters in Oil and 
Water Colours opened on Monday last. The productions of Glover, 
Cristall, De Wint, &c. principally iill and adorn the Water Colour 
Department. — Among the oil pictures in the room, the principal are. 
The Judgment of Solomon, by Mr. Haydon, and Don Quixote receiving 
Mambrino's Helmet from Sancho, by Mr. Richter. The former is a 
work that evidently claims a place in the higher department of art ; 
and we are little disposed to reject that claim. It certainly shews a 
bold and aspiring mind ; in many parts (that which we hold above 
all other things to be essential to the painter) an eye for the picturesque 
both in form and colour ; considerable variety of expression, attitude 
and character, and great vigour and rapidity of execution throughout. 
It would, at the same time, be in vain to deny, that the success is not 
always in proportion to the effort made ; that the conception of 
character is sometimes erroneous ; that the desire to avoid insipidity 
and monotony has occasionally led to extravagance and distortion ; 
that there are great inequalities in the style, and some inconsistencies 
in the composition ; and that, however striking and admirable many 
of the parts are, there is a want of union and complete harmony 
between them. What was said of the disjecta membra poet£ is not 
inapplicable to this picture. It exhibits fine studies and original 
fragments of a great work — it has many powerful starts of genius — 
without conveying that impression of uniform consistency and combined 
effect, which is sometimes attained by the systematic mechanism of 
well-disciplined dullness, and at others is the immediate emanation 
of genius. 

That which strikes the eye most on entering the room, and on 
which it dwells with the greatest admiration afterwards, are the 
figures of the two Jewish Doctors on the left of Solomon. We 
do not recollect any figures in modern pictures, which have a more 

309 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

striking effect. We say this, not only with respect to the solid mass 
of colour which they project on the eye, the dark draperies contrasting 
finely with the paleness of the countenances, but also with respect to 
the force, truth, and dramatic opposition of character displayed in 
them. The face of the one is turned in anxious expectation towards 
the principal actors in the scene : the other, looking downwards, 
appears lost in inward meditation upon it. The one is eagerly 
watching for the catastrophe, — the other seems endeavouring to 
anticipate it. Too much praise cannot be given to the conception 
of the figure of Solomon, which is raised above the rest of the 
picture, and placed in the centre — the face fronting, and looking 
down, the action balanced and suspended, and the face intended to 
combine the different characters of youth, beauty, and wisdom. 
Such is evidently the conception of the painter, which we think 
equally striking and just ; but we are by no means satisfied that he 
has succeeded in embodying this idea, except as far as relates to the 
design. The expression of the countenance of the youthful judge, 
which ought to convey the feeling of calm penetration, we think, 
degenerates into supercilious indifference ; the action given to the 
muscles is such as to destroy the beauty of the features, without 
giving force to the character, and instead of the majesty of conscious 
power and intellect, there is an appearance of languid indecision, 
which seems to shrink with repugnance from the difficulties which 
it has to encounter. The colouring of the head is unexceptionable. 
In the face of the good mother, the artist has, in our opinion, 
succeeded in overcoming that which has been always considered as 
the greatest difficulty of the art — the union of beauty with strong 
expression. The whole face exhibits the internal workings of 
maternal love and fear ; but its death-like paleness and agony do 
not destroy the original character of feminine beauty and delicacy. 
The attitude of this figure is decidedly bad, and out of nature as 
well as decorum. It is one of those sprawling, extravagant, theatrical 
French figures, in which a common action is strained to the extremity 
of caricature. The action and expression of the executioner are 
liable to the same objection. He is turbulent and fierce, instead of 
being cold and obdurate. He should not bluster in the part heroic- 
ally like an actor — it is his office — On the whole, we think this 
picture decidedly superior to any of this Artist's former productions, 
and a proof not only of genius, but of improved taste and judgment. 
In speaking of it with freedom, we trust we shall best serve both him 
and the art. 



310 



THE CATALOGUE RAISONNJi; 

THE CATALOGUE RAISONNE OF THE 
BRITISH INSTITUTION 

We will lay odds that this is a fellow 'damned in a fair face;' 
with white eyes and eye-brows ; of the colour of a Shrewsbury cake ; 
a smooth tallow-skinned rascal, a white German sausage, a well-fed 

chitterling, from whose face Madame de would have turned 

away in disgust, — a transcendental stuffed man ! We have no 
patience that the Arts should be catechised by a piece of whit- 
leather, a whey-face, who thinks that pictures, like the moon, 
should be made of green-cheese ! Shall a roll of double tripe rise 
up in judgment on grace ; shall a piece of dough talk of feeling ? 
'Tis too much. 'Sdeath, for Rembrandt to be demanded of a 
cheese-curd, what replication should he make ? What might 
Vandyke answer to a jack-pudding, whose fingers are of a thickness 
at both ends ? What should Rubens say, who ' lived in the rainbow, 
and played i' th' plighted clouds,' to a swaddling-clout, a piece of 
stockinet, of fleecy hosiery, to a squab man, without a bend in his 
body ? What might Raphael answer to a joint-stool ? Or Nicholas 
Poussin, charged in the presence of his Cephalus and Aurora with 
being a mere pedant, without grace or feeling, to this round-about 
machine of formal impertinence, this lumbering go-cart of dulness 
and spite ? We could have wished that as the fellow stood before 
the portrait of Rembrandt, chattering like an ape, making mocks 
and mows at it, the picture had lifted up its great grimy fist, and 
knocked him down. 

The Catalogue Rahonne of the British Institution is only worth 
notice, as it is pretty well understood to be a declaration of the 
views of the Royal Academy. It is a very dull, gross, impudent 
attack by one of its toad-eaters on human genius, on permanent 
reputation, and on liberal art. What does it say ? Why, in so 
many words, that the knowledge of Art in this country is inconsistent 
with the existence of the Academy, and that their success as a body 
of men instituted for promoting and encouraging the Fine Arts, 
requires the destruction or concealment of all works of Art of great 
and acknowledged excellence. In this they may be right ; but we 
did not think they would have come forward to say so themselves. 
Or that they would get a fellow, a low buffoon, a wretched Merry 
Andrew, a practical St. Giles's joker, a dirty Grub-Street critic, to 
vent his abominations on the chef-d' cewvres produced by the greatest 
painters that have gone before them, to paw them over with his 
bleared-eyes, to smear the filth and ordure of his tongue upon them, 

311 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

to spit at them, to point at them, to nickname them, to hoot at them, 
to make mouths at them, to shrug up his shoulders and run away 
from them in the presence of these divine guests, like a blackguard 
who affects to make a bugbear of every one he meets in the street ; 
to play over again the nauseous tricks of one of Swift's Yahoos — 
and for what ? Avowedly for the purpose of diverting the public 
mind from the contemplation of all that genius and art can boast in 
the lapse of ages, and to persuade the world that there is nothing in 
Art that has been or ever will be produced worth looking at but the 
gilt frames and red curtains at the Exhibition of the Royal Academy ! 
We knew before that they had no great genius for the Arts ; but we 
thought they might have some love of them in their hearts. They 
here avow their rankling jealousy, hatred and scorn, of all Art and 
of all the great names in Art, and as a bold put indeed, require the 
keeping down of the public taste as the only means of keeping up 
the bubble of their reputation. They insist that their only hope of 
continued encouragement and support with a discerning public is in 
hood-winking that public, in confining their highest notions of Art 
to their own gross and superficial style of daubing, and in vilifying all 
works of standard genius. — This is right English. The English are 
a shop-keeping nation, and the Royal Academy are a society of 
hucksters in the Fine Arts, who are more tenacious of their profits as 
chapmen and dealers, than of the honour of the Art. The day after 
the Catalogue Raisonne was published, the Prince Regent, in the 
name and on behalf of his Father, should have directed it to be 
burned by the hands of the hangman of their Committee, or, upon 
refusal, have shut up their shop. A society for the encouragement 
and promotion of Art has no right to exist at all, from the moment 
that it professes to exist only in wrong of Art, by the suppression of 
the knowledge of Art, in contempt of genius in Art, in defiance 
of all manly and liberal sentiment in Art. But this is what the 
Royal Academy professes to do in the Catalogue Raisonne. 

The Academy, from its commencement and up to the present hour, 
is in fact, a mercantile body, like any other mercantile body, con- 
sisting chiefly of manufacturers of portraits, who have got a regular 
monopoly of this branch of trade, with a certain rank, style, and title 
of their own, that is, with the King's privilege to be thought Artists 
and men of genius, — and who, with the jealousy natural to such bodies, 
supported by authority from without, and by cabal within, think them- 
selves bound to crush all generous views and liberal principles of Art, 
lest they should interfere with their monopoly and their privilege to 
be thought Artists and men of genius. The Academy is the Royal 
road to Art. The whole style of English Art, as issuing from this 

312 



THE CATALOGUE RAISONN^ 

Academy, is founded on a principle of appeal to the personal vanity 
and ignorance of their sitters, and of accommodation to the lucrative 
pursuits of the Painter, in a sweeping attention to effect in painting, 
by which means he can cover so many more whole or half lengths in 
each season. The Artists have not time to finish their pictures, or 
if they had, the effect would be lost in the superficial glare of that 
hot room, where nothing but rouged cheeks, naked shoulders, and 
Ackermann's dresses for May, can catch the eye in the crowd and 
bustle and rapid succession of meretricious attractions, as they do in 
another hot room of the same equivocal description. Yet they 
complain in one part of the Catalogue, that ' they (the Academicians) 
are forced to come into a hasty competition every year with works 
that have stood the test of ages.' It is for that very reason, among 
others, that it was proper to exhibit the works at the British 
Institution, to show to the public, and by that means to make the 
Academicians feel, that the securing the applause of posterity and a 
real rank in the Art, which that alone can give, depended on the 
number of pictures they finished, and not on the number they began. 
It is this which excites the apprehensions of the cabal ; for if the 
eye of the public should be once spoiled by the Old Masters, the 
necessity of doing something like them might considerably baulk 
the regularity of their returns. Why should they complain of being 
forced into this premature competition ? Who forces them to bring 
forward so many pictures yearly before they are fit to be seen ? 
Would they have taken more pains, more time to finish them, to 
work them up to that fastidious standard of perfection, on which they 
have set their minds, if they had not been hurried into this unfair 
competition with the British Institution, ' sent to their account with 
all their imperfections on their heads, unhouseled, unanointed, 
unanealed ? ' Would they have done a single stroke more to any 
one picture, if the Institution had never been opened ? No such 
thing. It is not then true, that this new and alarming competition 
prevents them from finishing their works, but it prevents them from 
imposing them on the public as finished. Pingo in efernitatem, is not 
their motto. There are three things which constitute the art of 
painting, which make it interesting to the public, which give it 
permanence and rank among the efforts of human genius. They are, 
first, gusto or expression : i.e. the conveying to the eye the im- 
pressions of the soul, or the other senses connected with the sense 
of sight, such as the different passions visible in the countenance, the 
romantic interest connected with scenes of nature, the character and 
feelings associated with different objects. In this, the highest and 
first part of art, the Italian painters, particularly Raphael, Correggio, 

313 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

&c., excel. The second is the picturesque ; that is, the seizing on 
those objects, or situations and accidents of objects, as light and 
shade, &c. which make them most striking to the mind as objects 
of sight only. This is the forte of the Flemish and Venetian painters, 
Titian, Paul Veronese, Rubens, Vandyke, Rembrandt, and they 
have carried this part of the art as high as it can go, some of them 
with more, some of them with less of the former excellence. The 
third is the exact and laborious imitation of natural objects, such as 
they exist in their component parts, with every variety and nicety 
of detail, the pencil performing the part of a microscope, and there 
being no necessity for expression or the picturesque in the object 
represented, or anything but truth in the representation. In this 
least interesting but still curious and ingenious part of the Art, the 
Dutch School have been allowed to excel, though with little of 
the former qualities, which indeed are not very much wanted for 
this purpose. Now in all these three the English School are 
notoriously deficient and they are so for these following reasons : — 

They cannot paint gusto, or high expression, for it is not in the 
national character. At least, it must be sought in Nature ; but our 
Painters do not go out of their way in search of character and 
expression — their sitters come to them in crowds ; and they come 
to them not to be painted in all the truth of character and expression, 
but to htjlattered out of all meaning ; or they would no longer come in 
crowds. To please generally, the Painter must exaggerate what is 
generally pleasing, obvious to all capacities, and void of offence before 
God and man, the shewy, the superficial, and the insipid, that 
which strikes the greatest number of persons with the least effort of 
thought ; and he must suppress all the rest ; all that might be ' to 
the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness.' The 
Exhibition is a successful experiment on the ignorance and credulity 
of the town. They collect ' a quantity of barren spectators ' to 
judge of Art, in their corporate and public capacity, and then each 
makes the best market he can of them in his own. A Royal 
Academician must not ' hold the mirror up to Nature,' but make his 
canvass ' the glass of fashion, and the mould of form.' The ' numbers 
without number ' who pay thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred guineas 
for their pictures in large, expect their faces to come out of the 
Painter's hands smooth, rosy, round, smiling ; just as they expect 
their hair to come out of the barber's curled and powdered. It 
would be a breach of contract to proceed in any other way. A 
fashionable Artist and a fashionable hair-dresser have the same 
common principles of theory and practice ; the one fits his customers 
to appear with eclat in a ball room, the other in the Great Room of 

314 



THE CATALOGUE RAISONN^ 

the Royal Academy. A certain dexterity, and a knowledge of the 
prevailing fashion, are all that is necessary to either. An Exhibition- 
portrait is, therefore, an essence, not of character, but of common- 
place. It displays not high thought and fine feeling, but physical 
well-being, with an outside label of health, ease, and competence. 
Yet the Catalogue-writer talks of the dignity of modern portrait ! 
To enter into a general obligation to paint the passions or characters 
of men, must, where there are none, be difficult to the artist ; where 
they are bad, be disagreeable to his employers. When Sir Thomas 
Lawrence painted Lord Castlereagh some time ago, he did not try 
to exhibit his character, out of complaisance to his Lordship, nor 
his understanding, out of regard to himself; but he painted him in 
a fashionable coat, with his hair dressed in the fashion, in a genteel 
posture like one of his footmen, and with the prim, smirking aspect 
of a haberdasher. There was nothing of the noble disin-vo/tura of 
his Lordship's manner, the grand contour of his features, the pro- 
fiindity of design hid under an appearance of indifference, the traces 
of the Irish patriot or the English statesman. It would have puzzled 
Lavater or Spurzheim to have discovered there the author of the 
Letter to JHon Prince. Tacitus had drawn him before in a different 
style, and perhaps Sir Thomas despaired of rivalling this great master 
in his own way. Yet the picture pleased, and Mr. Perry of the 
Chrcnicle swore to the likeness, though he had been warned to the 
contrary. Now, if this picture had erred on the side of the 
characteristic expression as much as it did on that of mannered 
insignificance, how it must have shocked all parties in the State ! 
An insipid misrepresentation was safer than a disagreeable reality. 
In the glosses of modern art, as in the modern refinement of law, it 
is the truth that makes the libel. — Again, the picturesque is necessarily 
banished from the painting rooms of the Academicians, and from 
the Great Room of the Academy. People of fashion go to be 
painted because other people do, and they wish to look like other 
people. We never remember to have seen a memorable head in the 
Exhibition of the Royal Academy. Any thing that had any thing 
singular or striking in it would look quite monstrous there, and would 
be stared out of countenance. Any thing extraordinary or original in 
nature is inadmissible in modern art ; any thing that would strike the 
eye, or that you would ever think of again, would be a violation of 
decorum, an infringement of professional etiquette, and would disturb 
the uniform and well-arranged monotony of the walls of the Exhibition 
' with most admired disorder.' A man of any originality of mind, 
if he has also the least common sense, soon finds his error, and 
reforms. At Rome one must do as the people at Rome do. The 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

Academy is not the place for the eccentricities of genius. The 
persons of rank and opulence, who wish to have their pictures 
exhibited, do not wish to be exhibited as objects of natural history, 
as extraordinary phenomena in art or nature, in the moral or 
intellectual world ; and in this they are right. Neither do they 
wish to volunteer their own persons, which they hold in due 
reverence, though there is nothing at all in them, as subjects for 
the painter to exercise his skill upon, as studies of light and shade, 
as merely objects of sight, as something curious and worth seeing 
from the outward accidents of nature. They do not like to share 
their triumph with nature ; to sink their persons in ' her glorious light.' 
They owe no allegiance to the elements. They wish to be painted 
as Mr. and Mrs. Such-a-one, not as studies of light and shade ; they 
wish to be represented as complete abstractions of persons and 
property, to have one side of the face seen as much as the other ; to 
have their coat, waistcoat and breeches, their muslin dresses, silks, 
sophas, and settees, their dogs and horses, their house furniture, 
painted, to have themselves and all that belongs to them, and 
nothing else painted. The picture is made for them, and not they 
for the picture. Hence there can be nothing but the vapid, trite, 
and mechanical, in professional Art. Professional Art is a contradic- 
tion in terms. Art is genius, and genius cannot belong to a profession. 
Our Painters' galleries are not studies, but lounging shew-rooms. 
Would a booby with a star wish to be painted (think you) with 
a view to its effect in the picture, or would he not have it seen at 
all events and as much as possible ? The Catalogue Writer wishes 
the gentlemen-sitters of the Royal Academy to go and look at 
Rembrandt's portraits, and to ask themselves, their wives, and 
daughters, whether they would like to be painted in the same way ? 
No, truly. This, we confess, is hard upon our Artists, to have to 
look upon splendour and on obscurity still more splendid, which they 
dare not even attempt to imitate ; to see themselves condemned, by 
the refinements of taste and progress of civilization, to smear rouge 
and white paste on the faces and necks of their portraits, for ever ; 
and still ' to let / dare not wait upon / •would, like the poor cat in 
the adage.' But why then complain of the injury they would sustain 
by the restoration of Art (if it were possible) into the original 
wardship of nature and genius, when ' service sweat for duty, not 
for meed.' Sir Joshua made a shift to combine some of Rembrandt's 
art with his portraits, only by getting the start of public affectation, 
and by having the lead in his profession, so that like the early 
painters he could assert the independence of his own taste and 
judgment. The modern makers of catalogues would have driven 
316 



THE CATALOGUE RAISONNil 

him and his chiaro scuro into the shade presently. The critic professes 
to admire Sir Joshua, though all his excellencies are Gothic, palpably 
borrowed from the Old Masters. But he is wrong or inconsistent 
in everything. — The imitation of the details of nature is not com- 
patible with the professional avarice of the painter, as the two former 
essentials of the art are inconsistent with the vanity and ignorance of 
his employers. ' This, this is the unkindest blow of all.' It is that 
in which the understanding of the multitude is most likely to conspire 
with the painter's ' own gained knowledge ' to make him dissatisfied 
with his disproportioned profits or under the loss of them. The Dutch 
masters are instructive enough in this way, and shew the value of detail 
by shewing the value of Art where there is nothing else but this. But 
this is not all. It might be pretended by our wholesale manufacturers 
of chef-d'awvres in the Fine Arts, that so much nicety of execution 
is useless or improper in works of high gusto and grand effect. It 
happens unfortunately, however, that the works of the greatest gusto 
and most picturesque effect have this fidelity of imitation often in 
the highest degree (as in Raphael, Titian, and Rembrandt), generally 
in a very high, degree (as in Rubens and Paul Veronese), so that 
the moderns gain nothing by this pretext. This is a serious loss of 
time or reputation to them. To paint a hand like Vandyke would 
cost them as much time as a dozen half-lengths ; and they could not 
do it after all. To paint an eye like Titian would cost them their 
whole year's labour, and they would lose their time and their labour 
into the bargain. Or to take Claude's landscapes as an example in 
this respect, as they are in almost all others. If Turner, whom, 
with the Catalogue-writer, we allow, most heartily allow, to be the 
greatest landscape-painter of the age, were to finish his trees or his 
plants in the foreground, or his distances, or his middle distances, or 
his sky, or his water, or his buildings, or any thing in his pictures, in 
like manner, he could only paint and sell one landscape where he 
now paints and sells twenty. This is a clear loss to the artist 
of pounds, shillings, and pence, and ' that 's a feeling disputation.' 
He would have to put twenty times as much of every thing into a 
picture as he now has, and that is what (if he is like other persons 
who have got into bad habits) he would be neither able nor willing 
to do. It was a common cant a short time ago to pretend of him 
as it formerly was of Wilson, that he had other things which Claude 
had not, and that what Claude had besides, only impaired the 
grandeur of his pictures. The public have seen to the contrary. 
They see the quackery of painting trees blue and yellow, to produce 
the effect of green at a distance. They see the affectation of 
despising the mechanism of the Art, and never thinking about any 

317 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

thing but the mechanism. They see that it is not true in Art, that 
a part is greater than the whole, or that the means are destructive of 
the end. They see that a daub, however masterly, cannot vie with 
the perfect landscapes of the all-accomplished Claude. ' To some 
men their graces serve them but as enemies ' ; and it was so till the 
other day with Claude. If it had been only for opening the eyes 
of the public on this subject, the Institution would have deserved well 
of the art and their country. 



WEST'S PICTURE OF DEATH ON THE PALE 
HORSE 

Mr. West's name stands deservedly high in the annals of art in 
this country — too high for him to condescend to be his own puffer, 
even at second-hand. He comes forward, in the present instance, as 
the painter and the showman of the piece ; as the candidate for public 
applause, and the judge who awards himself the prize ; as the idol on 
the altar, and the priest who offers up the grateful incense of praise. 
He places himself, as it were, before his own performance, with a 
Catalogue Raisonne in his hand, and, before the spectator can form 
a judgment on the work itself, dazzles him with an account of the 
prodigies of art which are there conceived and executed. This is 
not quite fair. It is a proceeding which, though ' it sets on a quan- 
tity of barren spectators to admire, cannot but make the judicious 
grieve.' Mr. West, by thus taking to himself unlimited credit for 
the ' high endeavour and the glad success,' by proclaiming aloud that 
he has aimed at the highest sublimities of his art, and as loudly, with 
a singular mixture of pomposity and phlegm, that he has fully accom- 
plished all that his most ardent hopes had anticipated, — must, we 
should think, obtain a great deal of spurious, catchpenny reputation, 
and lose a great deal of that genuine tribute of approbation to which 
he is otherwise entitled, by turning the attention of the well-informed 
and unprejudiced part of the community from his real and undoubted 
merits to his groundless and exaggerated pretensions. Self-praise, it 
is said, is no praise ; but it is worse than this. It either shows great 
weakness and vanity for an artist to talk (or to get another to talk) 
of his own work, which was produced yesterday, and may be forgotten 
to-morrow, with the same lofty, emphatic, solemn tone, as if it were 
already stamped with the voice of ages, and had become sacred to the 
imagination of the beholder ; or else the doing so is a deliberate 
attempt to encroach on the right of private judgment and public 
318 



WEST'S PICTURE OF DEATH 

opinion, which those who are not its dupes will resent accordingly, 
and endeavour to repel by acts of precaution or hostility. An 
unsuccessful effort to extort admiration is sure to involve its own 
punishment. 

We should not have made these remarks, if the ' Description of the 
Picture of Death ' had been a solitary instance of the kind ; but it is 
one of a series of descriptions of the same sort — it is a part of a 
system of self-adulation which cannot be too much discouraged. 
Perhaps Mr. West may say, that the Descriptive Catalogue is not his ; 
that he has nothing to do with its composition or absurdities. But it 
must be written with his consent and approbation ; and this is a 
sanction which it ought not to receive. We presume the artist would 
have it in his option to put a negative on any undue censure or 
flagrant abuse of his picture ; it must be equally in his power, and it 
is equally incumbent upon him, to reject, with dignified modesty, the 
gross and palpable flatteries which it contains, direct or by impUcation. 

The first notice we received of this picture was by an advertise- 
ment in a morning paper, (the editor of which is not apt to hazard 
extravagant opinions without a prompter,) purporting that, 'in con- 
sequence of the President's having devoted a year and a half to its 
completion, and of its having for its subject the Terrible Sublime, it 
would place Great Britain in the same conspicuous relation to the 
rest of Europe in arts, that the battle of Waterloo had done in arms ! ' 
We shall not stay to decide between the battle and the picture ; but 
the writer follows up the same idea of the Terrible Subftme in the 
Catalogue, the first paragraph of which is conceived in the following 
terms : — 

♦ The general effect proposed to be excited by this picture is the 
terrible sublime, and its various modifications, until lost in the opposite 
extremes of pity and horror, a sentiment which painting has so seldom 
attempted to awaken, that a particular description of the subject will 
probably be acceptable to the public' 

' So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery.' Mr. West 
here, like Bayes in the ' Rehearsal,' insinuates the plot very pro- 
foundly. He has, it seems, opened a new walk in art with its 
alternate ramifications into the opposite regions of horror and pity, 
and kindly takes the reader by the hand, to show him how trium- 
phantly he has arrived at the end of his journey. 

' In poetry,' continues the writer, ' the same effect is produced by 
a few abrupt and rapid gleams of description, touching, as it were, 
with fire, the features and edges of a general mass of awful obscurity ; 
but in painting, such indistinctness would be a defect, and imply, that 
the artist wanted the power to pourtray the conceptions of his fancy. 

319 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

Mr. West was of opinion that to delineate a physical form, which in 
its moral impression would approximate to that of the risionary Death 
of Milton, it was necessary to endow it, if possible, with the appear- 
ance of superhuman strength and energy. He has, therefore, exerted 
the utmost force and perspicuity of his pencil on the central figure.' 
This is ' spoken with authority, and not as the scribes.' Poetry, 
according to the definition here introduced of it, resembles a candle- 
light picture, which gives merely the rim and outlines of things in a 
vivid and dazzling, but confused and imperfect manner. We cannot 
tell whether this account will be considered as satisfactory. But 
Mr. West, or his commentator, should tread cautiously on this 
ground. He may otherwise commit himself, not only in a com- 
parison with the epic poet, but with the inspired writer, who only 
uses <words. It will hardly be contended, for instance, that the 
account of Death on the Pale Horse in the book of Revelations, 
never produced its due eff"ect of the terrible sublime, till the deficiencies 
of the pen were supplied by the pencil. Neither do we see how the 
endowing a physical form with superhuman strength, has any necessary 
connection with the .moral impression of the visionary Death of Milton. 
There seems to be here some radical mistake in Mr. West's theory. 
The moral attributes of death are powers and effects of an infinitely 
wide and general description, which no individual or physical form can 
possibly represent, but by courtesy of speech or by a distant analogy. 
The moral impression of Death is essentially visionary ; its reality is 
in the mind's eye. Words are here the only things ; and things, 
physical forms, the mere mockeries of the understanding. The less 
definite the conception, the less bodily, the more vast, unformed, and 
unsubstantial, the nearer does it approach to some resemblance of that 
omnipresent, lasting, universal, irresistible principle, which every- 
where, and at some time or other, exerts its power over all things. 
Death is a mighty abstraction, like Night, or Space, or Time. He is 
an ugly customer, who will not be invited to supper, or to sit for his 
picture. He is with us and about us, but we do not see him. He 
stalks on before us, and we do not mind him ; he follows us behind, 
and we do not look back at him. We do not see him making faces 
at us in our lifetime ! we do not feel him tickling our bare ribs after- 
wards, nor look at him through the empty grating of our hollow eyes ! 
Does Mr. West really suppose that he has put the very image of 
Death upon his canvas ; that he has taken the fear of him out of our 
hearts ; that he has circumscribed his power with a pair of compasses; 
that he has measured the length of his arm with a two-foot rule ; that 
he has suspended the stroke of his dart with a stroke of his pencil ; 
that he has laid his hands on the universal principle of destruction, 
320 



WEST'S PICTURE OF DEATH 

and hemmed him in with lines and lineaments, and made a gazing- 
stock and a show of him, ' under the patronage of the Prince Regent ' 
(as that illustrious person has taken, and confined, and made a show 
of another enemy of the human race) — so that the work of decay and 
dissolution is no longer going on in nature ; that all we have heard or 
felt of death is but a fable compared with this distinct, living, and 
warranted likeness of him ? Oh no ! There is no power in the 
pencil actually to embody an abstraction, to impound the imagina- 
tion, to circumvent the powers of the soul, which hold communion 
with the universe. The painter cannot make the general particular, 
the infinite and imaginary defined and palpable, that which is only 
believed and dreaded, an object of sight. 

As Mr. West appears to have wrong notions of the powers of his 
art, so he seems not to put in practice all that it is capable of. The 
only way in which the painter of genius can represent the force of 
moral truth, is by translating it into an artificial language of his own, 
— by substituting hieroglyphics for words, and presenting the closest 
and most striking afRnities his fancy and observation can suggest 
between the general idea and the visible illustration of it. Here we 
think Mr. West has failed. The artist has represented Death riding 
over his prostrate victims in all the rage of impotent despair. He is 
in a great splutter, and seems making a last effort to frighten his foes 
by an explosion of red-hot thunderbolts, and a pompous display of 
his allegorical parapharnalia. He has not the calm, still, majestic 
form of Death, kUling by a look, — withering by a touch. His 
presence does not make the still air cold. His flesh is not stony or 
cadaverous, but is crusted over with a yellow glutinous paste, as if it 
had been baked in a pye. Milton makes Death ' grin horrible a 
ghastly smile,' with an evident allusion to the common Death's head ; 
but in the picture he seems grinning for a wager, with a full row of 
loose rotten teeth ; and his terrible form is covered with a long black 
drapery, which would cut a figure in an undertaker's shop, and which 
cuts a figure where it is (for it is finely painted), but which serves 
only as a disguise for the King of Terrors. We have no idea of such 
a swaggering and blustering Death as this of Mr. West's. He has 
not invoked a ghastly spectre from the tomb, but has called up an old 
squalid ruffian from a night cellar, and crowned him ' monarch of the 
universal world.' The horse on which he rides is not ' pale,' but 
white. There is no gusto, no imagination in Mr. West's colouring. 
As to his figure, the description gives an accurate idea of it enough. 
- His horse rushes forward with the universal wildness of a tem- 
pestuous element, breathing livid pestilence, and rearing and trampling 
with the vehemence of unbridled fury.' The style of the figure 

VOL. IX. : X 321 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

corresponds to the style of the description. It is over-loaded and 
top-heavy. The chest of the animal is a great deal too long for 
the legs. 

The painter has made amends for this splashing figure of the Pale 
Horse, by those of the White and Red Horse. They are like a 
couple of rocking-horses, and go as easy. Mr. West's vicarious 
egotism obtrudes itself again offensively in speaking of the Rider on 
the White Horse. 'As he is supposed,' says the Catalogue, 'to 
represent the Gospel, it was requisite that he should be invested with 
those exterior indications of purity, excellence, and dignity, which 
are associated in our minds with the name and offices of the Messiah. 
But it was not the Saviour healing and comforting the afflicted, or 
the meek and lowly Jesus, bearing with resignation the scorn and 
hatred of the scoffing multitude, that was to be represented ; — it was 
the King of Kings going forth, conquering and to conquer. He is 
therefore painted with a solemn countenance, expressive of a mind 
filled with the thoughts of a great enterprise ; and he advances 
onward in his sublime career with that serene Majesty,' &c. Now 
this is surely an unwarrantable assumption of public opinion in a 
matter of taste. Christ is not represented in this picture as he was in 
Mr. West's two former pictures ; but in all three he gives you to 
understand that he has reflected the true countenance and divine 
character of the Messiah. Multum abludit imago. The Christs in 
each picture have a different character indeed, but they only present 
a variety of meanness and insipidity. But the unwary spectator, who 
looks at the catalogue to know what he is to think of the picture, and 
reads all these there/ores of sublimity, serenity, purity, &c. considers 
them as so many infallible inferences and demonstrations of the 
painter's skill. 

Mr. West has been tolerably successful in the delineation of the 
neutral character of the ' Man on the Black Horse ; ' but ' the two 
wretched emaciated figures ' of a man and woman before him, 
' absorbed in the feelings of their own particular misery,' are not 
likely to excite any sympathy in the beholders. They exhibit the 
lowest stage of mental and physical imbecility, that could never by 
any possibility come to any good. In the domestic groupe in the 
foreground, ' the painter has attempted to excite the strongest degree 
of pity which his subject admitted, and to contrast the surrounding 
objects with images of tenderness and beauty ; ' and it is here that he 
has principally failed. The Dying Mother appears to have been in 
her lifetime a plaster-cast from the antique, stained with a little purple 
and yellow, to imitate the life. The ' Lovely Infant ' that is falling 
from her breast, is a hideous little creature, with glazed eyes, and 

322 



WEST'S PICTURE OF DEATH 

livid aspect, borrowed from the infant who is falling out of his 
mother's lap over the bridge, in Hogarth's Print of Gin-Lane. The 
Husband's features, who is placed in so pathetic an attitude, are cut 
out of the hardest wood, and of the deepest dye ; and the surviving 
Daughter, who is stated ' to be sensible only to the loss she has sus- 
tained by the death of so kind a parent,' is neither better nor worse 
than the figures we meet with in the elegant frontispieces to history- 
books, or family stories, intended as Christmas presents to good little 
boys and girls. The foreshortening of the lower extremities, both 
of the Mother and Child, is wretchedly defective, either in drawing 
and colouring. 

In describing ' the anarchy of the combats of men with beasts,' 
Mr. West has attained that sort of excellence which always arises 
from a knowledge of the rules of composition. His lion, however, 
looks as if his face and velvet paws were covered with calf's skin, or 
leather gloves pulled carefully over them. So little is the appearance 
of hair given ! The youth in this group, whom Mr. West celebrates 
for his muscular manly courage, has a fine rustic look of health and 
strength about him ; but we think the other figure, with scowling 
swarthy face, striking at an animal, is superior in force of character 
and expression. In the back figure of the man holding his hand to 
his head, (with no very dignified action), the artist has well imitated 
the bad colouring, and stiff inanimate drawing of Poussin. The 
remaining figures are not of much importance, or are striking only 
from their defects. Mr. West, however, omits no opportunity of 
discreetly sounding his own praise. ' The story of this group,' it is 
said, ' would have been incomplete, had the lions not been shown 
conquerors to a certain extent, by the two wounded men,' &c. As 
it is, it is perfect ! Admirable critic ! Again we are told, ' The 
pyramidal form of this large division n perfected by a furious bull,' &c. 
Nay, indeed, the form of the pyramid is even preserved in the title- 
page of the catalogue. The prettiest incident in the picture is the 
dove lamenting over its mate, just killed by the serpent. We do not 
deny Mr. West the praise of invention. Upon the whole, we think 
this the best coloured and most picturesque of all Mr. West's produc- 
tions ; and in all that relates to composition, and the introduction of 
the adjuncts of historical design, it shows, like his other works, the 
hand of a master. In the same room is the picture of Christ Rejected. 
Alas ! how changed, and in how short a time ! The colours are 
scarcely dry, and it already looks dingy, flat, and faded. 



323 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 



ON WILLIAMS'S VIEWS IN GREECE 

There has been lately exhibited at the Calton Convening Room, 
Edinburgh, a collection of views in Greece, Italy, Sicily, and the 
Ionian Isles, painted in water colours by Mr. Hugh Williams, a 
native of Scotland, which themselves do honour to the talents of the 
artist, as the attention they have excited does to the taste of the 
northern capital. It is well ; for the exhibition in that town of 
the works of living artists (to answer to our Somerset House 
exhibition) required some set-off. Mr. Williams has made the 
amende honorable, for his country, to the offended genius of art, and 
has stretched out under the far-famed Calton Hill, and in the eye of 
Arthur's Seat, fairy visions of the fair land of Greece, that Edinburgh 
belles and beaux repair to see with cautious wonder and well-regulated 
delight. It is really a most agreeable novelty to the passing visitant 
to see the beauty of the North, the radiant beauty of the North, 
enveloped in such an atmosphere, and set off by such a back-ground. 
Oriental skies pour their molten lustre on Caledonian charms. The 
slender, lovely, taper waist (made more taper, more lovely, more 
slender by the stay-maker), instead of being cut in two by the keen 
blasts that rage in Prince's street, is here supported by warm languid 
airs, and a thousand sighs, that breathe from the vale of Tempe. Do 
not those fair tresses look brighter as they are seen hanging over a 
hill in Arcadia, than when they come in contact with the hard grey 
rock of the castle ? Do not those fair blue eyes look more trans- 
lucent as they glance over some classic stream ? What can vie with 
that alabaster skin but marble temples, dedicated to the Queen of 
Love ? What can match those golden freckles but glittering sunsets 
behind Mount Olympus ? Here, in one corner of the room, stands 
the Hill of the Muses, and there is a group of Graces under it ! 
There played the Nine on immortal lyres, and here sit the critical 
but admiring Scottish fair, with the catalogue in their hands, reading 
the quotations from Lord Byron's verses with liquid eyes and lovely 
vermilion lips — would that they spoke English, or any thing but 
Scotch ! — Poor is this irony ! Vain the attempt to reconcile Scottish 
figures with Attic scenery ! What land can rival Greece ? What 
earthly flowers can compare with the colours in the sky ? What 
living beauty can recall the dead ? For in that word, Greece, there 
breathe three thousand years of fame that has no date to come ! 
Over that land hovers a light, brighter than that of suns, softer than 
that which vernal skies shed on halcyon seas, the light that rises from 
the tomb of virtue, genius, liberty ! Oh ! thou Uranian Venus, thou 
324 



ON AVILLIAMS'S VIEWS I|N GREECE 

that never art, but wast and art to be ; thou that the eye sees not, but 
that livest for ever in the heart ; thou whom men believe and know 
to be, for thou dwellest in the desires and longings, and hunger of the 
mind ; thou that art a Goddess, and we thy worshippers, say dost thou 
not smile for ever on this land of Greece, and shed thy purple light over 
it, and blend thy choicest blandishments with its magic name ? But 
here (in the Calton Convening Room, in Waterloo place, close under 
the Melville monument — strange contradiction ! ) another Greece 
grows on the walls — other skies are to be seen, ancient temples rise, 
and modern Grecian ladies walk. Here towers Mount Olympus, 
where Gods once sat — that is the top of a hill in Arcadia — (who 
would think that the eyes would ever behold a form so visionary, that 
they would ever see an image of that, which seems only a delicious 
vanished sounds') this is Corinth — that is the Parthenon — there 
stands Thebes in Boeotia — that is the Plain of Platasa, — yonder is the 
city of Syracuse, and the Temple of Minerva Sunias, and there the 
scite of the gardens of Alcinous. 

' Close to the gate a spacious garden lies, 
From storms defended, and inclement skies ; 
Tall thriving trees confess the fruitful mould, 
The reddening apple ripens here to gold. 
Here the blue fig with luscious juice o'erflows, 
With deeper red the full pomegranate glows ; 
The branch here bends beneath the weighty pear, 
And verdant olives flourish round the year. 
The balmy spirit of the western gale 
Eternal breathes on fruits, untaught to fail ; 
The same mild season gives the blooms to blow, 
The buds to harden, and the fruit to grow.' 

This is Pope's description of them in the Odyssey, which (we 
must say) is very bad, and if Mr. Williams had not given us a more 
distinct idea of the places he professes to describe, we should not have 
gone out of our way to notice them. As works of art, these water- 
colour drawings deserve very high praise. The drawing is correct 
and characteristic : the colouring chaste, rich, and peculiar ; the 
finishing generally careful ; and the selection of points of view striking 
and picturesque. We have at once an impressive and satisfactory 
idea of the country of which we have heard so much ; and wish to 
visit places which, it seems from this representation of them, would 
not bely all that we have heard. Some splenetic travellers have pre- 
tended that Attica was dry, flat, and barren. But it is not so in 
Mr. Williams's authentic draughts ; and we thank him for restoring 
to us our old, and, as it appears, true illusion — for crowning that 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

Elysium of our school-boy fancies with majestic hills, and scooping it 
into lovely winding valleys once more. Lord Byron is, we believe, 
among those who have spoken ill of Greece, calling it a ' sand-bank,' 
or something of that sort. Every ill-natured traveller ought to hold 
a pencil as well as a pen in his hand, and be forced to produce a 
sketch of his own lie. As to the subjects of Mr. Williams's pencil, 
nothing can exceed the local interest that belongs to them, and which 
he has done nothing, either through injudicious selection, or negligent 
execution, to diminish. Quere. Is not this interest as great in 
London as it is in Edinburgh ? In other words, we mean to ask, 
whether this exhibition would not answer well in London. 

There are a number of other very interesting sketches interspersed, 
and some very pleasing home views, which seem to show that nature is 
everywhere herself. 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

' Who to the life an exact piece would make 
Must not from others' work a copy take ; 
No, not from Rubens or Vandyke : 
Much less content himself to make it like 
Th' ideas and the images which lie 
In his own Fancy or his Memory. 
No : he before his sight must place 
The natural and living face ; 
The real object must command 
Each judgment of his eye and motion of his hand.' 

The true lesson to be learnt by our students and professors from 
the Elgin marbles, is the one which the ingenious and honest Cowley 
has expressed in the above spirited lines. The great secret is to 
recur at every step to nature — 

' To learn 
Her manner, and with rapture taste her style.' 

It is evident to any one who views these admirable remains of 
Antiquity (nay, it is acknowledged by our artists themselves, in 
despite of all the melancholy sophistry which they have been taught 
or have been teaching others for half a century) that the chief 
excellence of the figures depends on their having been copied from 
nature, and not from imagination. The communication of art with 
nature is here everywhere immediate, entire, palpable. The artist 
gives himself no fastidious airs of superiority over what he sees. He 

326 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

has not arrived at that stage of his progress described at much length 
in Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, in which having served out 
his apprenticeship to nature, he can set up for himself in opposition to 
her. According to the old Greek form of drawing up the indentures 
in this case, we apprehend they were to last for life. At least, we 
can compare these Marbles to nothing but human figures petrified : 
they have every appearance of absolute fac-simiks or casts taken from 
nature. The details are those of nature ; the masses are those of 
nature ; the forms are from nature ; the action is from nature ; the 
whole is from nature. Let any one, for instance, look at the leg of 
the Ilissus or River-God, which is bent under him — let him observe 
the swell and undulation of the calf, the inter-texture of the muscles, 
the distinction and union of all the parts, and the effect of action 
every where impressed on the external form, as if the very marble were 
a flexible substance, and contained the various springs of life and 
motion within itself, and he will own that art and nature are here the 
same thing. It is the same in the back of the Theseus, in the thighs 
and knees, and in all that remains unimpaired of these two noble 
figures. It is not the same in the cast (which was shown at Lord 
Elgin's) of the famous Torso by Michael Angelo, the style of which 
that artist appears to have imitated too well. There every muscle 
has obviously the greatest prominence and force given to it of which 
it is capable in itself, not of which it is capable in connexion with 
others. This fragment is an accumulation of mighty parts, without 
that play and re-action of each part upon the rest, without that 
' alternate action and repose ' which Sir Thomas Lawrence speaks of 
as characteristic of the Theseus and the Ilissus, and which are as 
inseparable from nature as waves from the sea. The learned, 
however, here make a distinction, and suppose that the truth of nature 
is, in the Elgin Marbles, combined with ideal forms. If by ideal 
forms they mean fine natural forms, we have nothing to object ; but if 
they mean that the sculptors of the Theseus and Ilissus got the forms 
out of their own heads, and then tacked the truth of nature to them, 
we can only say, 'Let them look again, let them look again.' We 
consider the Elgin Marbles as a demonstration of the impossibility of 
separating art from nature without a proportionable loss at every 
remove. The utter absence of all setness of appearance proves that 
they were done as studies from actual models. The separate parts of 
the human body may be given from scientific knowledge : — their 
modifications or inflections can only be learnt by seeing them in action ; 
and the truth of nature is incompatible with ideal form, if the latter 
is meant to exclude actually existing form. The mutual action of 
the parts cannot be determined where the object itself is not seen. 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

That the forms of these statues are not common nature, such as we 
see it every day, we readily allow : that they were not select Greek 
nature, we see no convincing reason to suppose. That truth of nature, 
and ideal or fine form, are not always or generally united, we know ; 
but how they can ever be united in art, without being first united in 
nature, is to us a mystery, and one that we as little believe as 
understand ! 

Suppose, for illustration's sake, that these Marbles were originally 
done as casts from actual nature, and then let us inquire whether they 
would not have possessed all the same qualities that they now display, 
granting only, that the forms were in the first instance selected with the 
eye of taste, and disposed with knowledge of the art and of the subject. 

First, the larger masses and proportions of entire limbs and divisions 
of the body would have been found in the casts, for they would have 
been found in nature. The back and trunk, and arms, and legs, and 
thighs would have been there, for these are parts of the natural man 
or actual living body, and not inventions of the artist, or ideal creations 
borrowed from the skies. There would have been the same sweep in 
the back of the Theseus ; the same swell in the muscles of the arm 
on which he leans ; the same division of the leg into calf and small, 
i.e. the same general results, or aggregation of parts, in the principal and 
most striking divisions of the body. The upper part of the arm would 
have been thicker than the lower, the thighs larger than the legs, the 
body larger than the thighs, in a cast taken from common nature ; and 
in casts taken from the finest nature they would have been so in the 
same proportion, form, and manner, as in the statue of the Theseus, if 
the Theseus answers to the idea of the finest nature ; for the idea and 
the reality must be the same ; only, we contend that the idea is taken 
from the reality, instead of existing by itself, or being the creature of 
fancy. That is, there would be the same grandeur of proportions 
and parts in a cast taken from finely developed nature, such as the 
Greek sculptors had constantly before them, naked and in action, that 
we find in the limbs and masses of bone, flesh, and muscle, in these 
much and justly admired remains. 

Again, and incontestibly, there would have been, besides the 
grandeur of form, all the minutiie and individual details in the cast 
that subsist in nature, and that find no place in the theory of ideal art 
— in the omission of which, indeed, its very grandeur is made to 
consist. The Elgin Marbles give a flat contradiction to this gratuitous 
separation of grandeur of design and exactness of detail, as incom- 
patible in works of art, and we conceive that, with their whole 
ponderous weight to crush it, it will be difficult to set this theory on 
its legs again. In these majestic colossal figures, nothing is omitted, 

328 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

nothing is made out by negation. The veins, the wrinkles in the 
skin, the indications of the muscles under the skin (which appear as 
plainly to the anatomist as the expert angler knows from an undula- 
tion on the surface of the water what fish is playing with his bait 
beneath it), the finger-joints, the nails, every the smallest part cognizable 
to the naked eye, is given here with the same ease and exactness, 
with the same prominence, and the same subordination, that it would 
be in a cast from nature, i.e., in nature itself. Therefore, so far these 
things, viz., nature, a cast from it, and the Elgin Marbles, are the 
same ; and all three are opposed to the fashionable and fastidious 
theory of the ideal. Look at Sir Joshua's picture of Puck, one of 
his finest-coloured, and most spirited performances. The fingers are 
mere spuds, and we doubt whether any one can make out whether 
there are four toes or five allowed to each of the feet. If there had 
been a young Silenus among the Elgin Marbles, we don't know that 
in some particulars it would have surpassed Sir Joshua's masterly 
sketch, but we are sure that the extremities, the nails, &c. would 
have been studies of natural history. The life, the spirit, the character 
of the grotesque and imaginary little being would not have made an 
abortion of any part of his natural growth or form. 

Farther, in a cast from nature there would be, as a matter of 
course, the same play and flexibility of limb and muscle, or, as Sir 
Thomas Lawrence expresses it, the same ' alternate action and repose,' 
that we find so admirably displayed in the Elgin Marbles. It seems 
here as if stone could move : where one muscle is strained, another is 
relaxed, where one part is raised, another sinks in, just as in the 
ocean, where the waves are lifted up in one place, they sink pro- 
portionally low in the next : and all this modulation and affection of 
the different parts of the form by others arise from an attentive and 
co-instantaneous observation of the parts of a flexible body, where the 
muscles and bones act upon, and communicate with, one another like 
the ropes and puUies in a machine, and where the action or position 
given to a particular limb or membrane naturally extends to the whole 
body. This harmony, this combination of motion, this unity of spirit 
diffused through the wondrous mass and every part of it, is the glory 
of the Elgin Marbles : — put a well-formed human body in the same 
position, and it will display the same character throughout ; make a 
cast from it while in that position and action, and we shall still see 
the same bold, free, and comprehensive truth of design. There is no 
alliteration or antithesis in the style of the Elgin Marbles, no setness, 
squareness, affectation, or formality of appearance. The different 
muscles do not present a succession of tumuli, each heaving with big 
throes to rival the other. If one is raised, the other falls quietly into 

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ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

its place. Neither do the different parts of the body answer to one 
another, like shoulder-knots on a lacquey's coat or the different 
ornaments of a building. The sculptor does not proceed on 
architectural principles. His work has the freedom, the variety, and 
stamp of nature. The form of corresponding parts is indeed the 
same, but it is subject to inflection from different circumstances. 
There is no primness or petit maitre-ship, as in some of the later 
antiques, where the artist seemed to think that flesh was glass or some 
other brittle substance ; and that if it were put out of its exact shape 
it would break in pieces. Here, on the contrary, if the foot of one 
leg is bent under the body, the leg itself undergoes an entire altera- 
tion. If one side of the body is raised above the other, the original, 
or abstract, or ideal form of the two sides is not preserved strict and 
inviolable, but varies as it necessarily must do in conformity to the 
law of gravitation, to which all bodies are subject. In this respect, a 
cast from nature would be the same. Mr. Chantrey once made a 
cast from Wilson the Black. He put him into an attitude at first, 
and made the cast, but not liking the effect when done, got him to sit 
again and made use of the plaister of Paris once more. He was 
satisfied with the result ; but Wilson, who was tired with going 
through the operation, as soon as it was over, went and leaned upon a 
block of marble with his hands covering his face. The sagacious 
sculptor was so struck with the superiority of this natural attitude over 
those into which he had been arbitrarily put that he begged him (if 
possible) to continue in it for another quarter of an hour, and another 
impression was taken off. All three casts remain, and the last is a 
proof of the superiority of nature over art. The effect of lassitude is 
visible in every part of the frame, and the strong feeling of this 
affection, impressed on every limb and muscle, and venting itself 
naturally in an involuntary attitude which gave immediate relief, is 
that which strikes every one who has seen this fine study from the 
life. The casts from this man's figure have been much admired : — it 
is from no superiority of form : it is merely that, being taken from 
nature, they bear her ' image and superscription.' 

As to expression, the Elgin Marbles (at least the Ilissus and 
Theseus) afford no examples, the heads being gone. 

L astly, as to the ideal form, we contend it is nothing but a selection 
of fine nature, such as it was seen by the ancient Greek sculptors ; 
and we say that a sufficient approximation to this form may be found 
in our own country, and still more in other countries, at this day, to 
warrant the clear conclusion that, under more favourable circum- 
stances of climate, manners, &c. no vain imagination of the human 
mind could come up to entire natural forms ; and that actual casts 

33° 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

from Greek models would rival the common Greek statues, or 
surpass them in the same proportion and manner as the Elgin Marbles 
do. Or if this conclusion should be doubted, we are ready at any 
time to produce at least one cast from living nature, which if it does 
not furnish practical proof of all that we have here advanced, we are 
willing to forfeit the last tiling we can afford to part with — a theory ! 
If then the Elgin Marbles are to be considered as authority in 
subjects of art, we conceive the following principles, which have not 
hitherto been generally received or acted upon in Great Britain, will 
be found to result from them : — 

1. That art is (first and last) the imitation of nature. 

2. That the highest art is the imitation of the finest nature, that is 
to say, of that which conveys the strongest sense of pleasure or 
power, of the sublime or beautiful. 

3. That the ideal is only the selecting a particular form which 
expresses most completely the idea of a given character or quality, as 
of beauty, strength, activity, voluptuousness, &c. and which preserves 
that character with the greatest consistency throughout. 

4. That the historical is nature in action. With regard to the face, 
it is expression. 

5. That grandeur consists in connecting a number of parts into a 
whole, and not in leaving out the parts. 

6. That as grandeur is the principle of connexion between different 
parts, beauty is the principle of affinity between different forms, or 
rather gradual conversion into each other. The one harmonizes, the 
other aggrandizes our impressions of things. 

7. That grace is the beautiful or harmonious in what relates to 
position or motion. 

8. That grandeur of motion is unity of motion. 

9. That strength is the giving the extremes, softness, the unitingthem. 

10. That truth is to a certain degree beauty and grandeur, since all 
things are connected, and all things modify one another in nature. 
Simplicity is also grand and beautiful for the same reason. Elegance 
is ease and lightness, with precision. 

All this we have, we believe, said before ; we shall proceed to such 
proofs or explanations as we are able to give of it in another article. 

■7 At the conclusion of a former article on this subject, we ventured 
to lay down some general principles, which we shall here proceed to 
elucidate in such manner as we are able. 

I. The first was, that art is {first and last") the imitation of nature. 

By nature, we mean actually existing nature, or some one object to 

be found in rerum naturd, not an idea of nature existing solely in the 

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ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

mind, got from an infinite number of different objects, but which was 
never yet embodied in an individual instance. Sir Joshua Reynolds 
may be ranked at the head of those who have maintained the supposi- 
tion that nature (or the universe of things) was indeed the ground- 
work or foundation on which art rested ; but that the superstructure 
rose above it, that it towered by degrees above the world of realities, 
and was suspended in the regions of thought alone — that a middle 
form, a more refined idea, borrowed from the observation of a number 
of particulars, but unlike any of them, was the standard of truth and 
beauty, and the glittering phantom that hovered round the head of the 
genuine artist : 

' So from the ground 
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves 
More aiiy, last the bright consummate flower !' 

We have no notion of this vague, equivocal theory of art, and 
contend, on the other hand, that each image in art should have a 
tally or corresponding prototype in some object in nature. Otherwise, 
we do not see the use of art at all : it is a mere superfluity, an 
incumbrance to the mind, a piece of ' laborious foolery ' — for the 
word, the mere name of any object or class of objects will convey the 
general idea, more free from particular details or defects than any the 
most neutral and indefinite representation that can be produced by 
forms and colours. The word Man, for instance, conveys a more 
filmy, impalpable, abstracted, and (according to this hypothesis) 
sublime idea of the species, than Michael Angelo's Adam, or any real 
image can possibly do. If this then is the true object of art, the 
language of painting, sculpture, &c. becomes quite supererogatory. 
Sir Joshua and the rest contend, that nature (properly speaking) does 
not express any single individual, nor the whole mass of things as 
they exist, but a general principle, a something common to all these, 
retaining the perfections, that is, all in which they are alike, and 
abstracting the defects, namely, all in which they differ : so that, out 
of actual nature, we compound an artificial nature, never answering to 
the former in any one part of its mock-existence, and which last is 
the true object oi imitation to the aspiring artist. Let us adopt this 
principle of abstraction as the rule of perfection, and see what havoc 
it will make in all our notions and feelings in such matters. If the 
perfect is the intermediate, why not confound all objects, all forms, all 
colours at once ? Instead of painting a landscape with blue sky, or 
white clouds, or green earth, or grey rocks and towers ; what should 
we say if the artist (so named) were to treat all these 'fair varieties' 
as so many imperfections and mistakes in the creation, and mass them 

332 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

altogetlier, by mixing up the colours on his palette in the same dull, 
leaden tone, and call this the true principle of epic landscape-painting ? 
Would not the thing be abominable, an abortion, and worse than the 
worst Dutch picture ? Variety then is one principle, one beauty in 
external nature, and not an everlasting source of pettiness and 
deformity, which must be got rid of at all events, before taste can set 
its seal upon the work, or fancy own it. But it may be said, it is 
different in things of the same species, and particularly in man, who 
is cast in a regular mould, which mould is one. What then, are we, 
on this pretext, to confound the difference of sex in a sort of herma- 
phrodite softness, as Mr. Westall, Angelica Kauffman, and others, 
have done in their effeminate performances ? Are we to leave out of 
the scale of legitimate art, the extremes of infancy and old age, as not 
middle terms in man's life ? Are we to strike off from the list of 
available topics and sources of interest, the varieties of character, of 
passion, of strength, activity, &c.? Is everything to wear the same 
form, the same colour, the same unmeaning face ? Are we only to 
repeat the same average idea of perfection, that is, our own want of 
observation and imagination, for ever, and to melt down the 
inequalities and excrescences of individual nature in the monotony of 
abstraction ? Oh no ! As well might we prefer the cloud to the 
rainbow ; the dead corpse to the living moving body ! So Sir Joshua 
debated upon Rubens's landscapes, and has a whole chapter to inquire 
whether accidents in nature, that is, rainbows, moonlight, sun-sets, 
clouds and storms, are the proper thing in the classical style of art. 
Again, it is urged that this is not what is meant, viz. to exclude 
different classes or characters of things, but that there is in each class 
or character a middle point, which is the point of perfection. What 
middle point ? Or how is it ascertained ? What is the middle age 
of childhood ? Or are all children to be alike, dark or fair ? Some 
of Titian's children have black hair, and others yellow or auburn : 
who can tell which is the most beautiful ? May not a St. John be 
older than an infant Christ ? Must not a Magdalen be different from 
a Madonna, a Diana from a Venus ? Or may not a Venus have more 
or less gravity, a Diana more or less sweetness ? What then becomes 
of the abstract idea in any of these cases ? It varies as it does in 
nature ; that is, there is indeed a general principle or character to be 
adhered to, but modified everlastingly by various other given or 
nameless circumstances. The highest art, like nature, is a living 
spring of unconstrained excellence, and does not produce a continued 
repetition of itself, like plaster-casts from the same figure. But once 
more it may be insisted, that in what relates to mere form or organic 
structure, there is necessarily a middle line or central point, anything 

333 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

short of which is deficiency, and anything beyond it excess, being the 
average form to which all the other forms included in the same 
species tend, and approximate more or less. Then this average form 
as it exists in nature should be taken as the model for art. What 
occasion to do it out of your own head, when you can bring it under 
the cognizance of your senses ? Suppose a foot of a certain size and 
shape to be the standard of perfection, or if you will, the mean pro- 
portion between all other feet. How can you tell this so well as by 
seeing it ? How can you copy it so well as by having it actually 
before you ? But, you will say, there are particular minute defects 
in the best-shaped actual foot which ought not to be transferred to the 
imitation. Be it so. But are there not also particular minute 
beauties in the best, or even the worst shaped actual foot, which you 
will only discover by ocular inspection, which are reducible to no 
measurement or precepts, and which in finely-developed nature out- 
weigh the imperfections a thousandfold, the proper general form 
being contained there also, and these being only the distinctly arti- 
culated parts of it, with their inflections which no artist can carry in 
his head alone ? For instance, in the bronze monument of Henry vii. 
and his wife, in Westminster Abbey, by the famous Torregiano, 
the fingers and fingernails of the woman in particular are made out as 
minutely, and, at the same time, as beautifully as it is possible to 
conceive ; yet they have exactly the effect that a cast taken from a 
fine female hand would have, with every natural joint, muscle, and 
nerve in complete preservation. Does this take from the beauty or 
magnificence of the whole ? No : it aggrandises it. What then does 
it take from ? Nothing but the conceit of the artist that he can paint 
a hand out of his own head (that is, out of nothing, and by reducing 
it again as near as can be to nothing, to a mere vague image) that 
shall be better than any thing in nature. A hand or foot is not one 
thing, because it is one •word or name ; and the painter of mere 
abstractions had better lay down his pencil at once, and be contented 
to write the descriptions or titles under works of art. Lastly, it may 
be objected that a whole figure can never be found perfect or equal ; 
that the most beautiful arm will not belong to the same figure as the 
most beautiful leg, and so on. How is this to be remedied ? By 
taking the arm from one, and the leg from the other, and clapping 
them both on the same body ? That will never do ; for however 
admirable in themselves, they will hardly agree together. One will 
have a different character from the other ; and they will form a sort 
of natural patchwork. Or, to avoid this, will you take neither from 
actual models, but derive them from the neutralising medium of your 
own imagination. Worse and worse. Copy them from the same 
334 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

model, the best in all its parts you can get ; so that, if you have to 
alter, you may alter as little as possible, and retain nearly the whole 
substance of nature.^ You may depend upon it that what is so 
retained, will alone be of any specific value. The rest may have a 
negative merit, but will be positively good for nothing. It will be 
to the vital truth and beauty of what is taken from the best nature, 
like the piecing of an antique statue. It fills a gap, but nothing 
more. It is, in fact, a mental blank. 

2. This leads us to the second point laid down before, which was, 
that the highest art is the imitation of thejinest nature, or in other words, 
of that 'which conveys the strongest sense of pleasure or power, of the 
sublime or beautiful. 

The artist does not pretend to invent an absolutely new class of 
objects, without any foundation in nature. He does not spread his 
palette on the canvas, for the mere finery of the thing, and tell us 
that it makes a brighter show than the rainbow, or even than a bed 
of tulips. He does not draw airy forms, moving above the earth, 
' gay creatures of the element, that play i' th' plighted clouds,' and 
scorn the mere material existences, the concrete descendants of those 
that came out of Noah's Ark, and that walk, run, or creep upon 
it. No, he does not paint only what he has seen in his mind's eye, 
but the common objects that both he and others daily meet — rocks, 
clouds, trees, men, women, beasts, fishes, birds, or what he calls 
such. He is then an imitator by profession. He gives the 
appearances of things that exist outwardly by themselves, and have 
a distinct and independent nature of their own. But these know 
their own nature best ; and it is by consulting them that he can alone 
trace it truly, either in the immediate details, or characteristic 
essences. Nature is consistent, unaffected, powerful, subtle : art is 
forgetful, apish, feeble, coarse. Nature is the original, and therefore 
right : art is the copy, and can but tread lamely in the same steps. 
Nature penetrates into the parts, and moves the whole mass : it acts 
with diversity, and in necessary connexion ; for real causes never 
forget to operate, and to contribute their portion. Where, therefore, 
these causes are called into play to the utmost extent that they ever 
go to, there we shall have a strength and a refinement, that art may 
imitate but cannot surpass. But it is said that art can surpass this 
most perfect image in nature by combining others with it. What ! 
by joining to the most perfect in its kind something less perfect ? 
Go to, — this argument will not pass. Suppose you have a goblet of 
the finest wine that ever was tasted : you will not mend it by pouring 

^ I believe this rule will apply to all except grotesques, which are evidently 
taken from opposite natures. 

335 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

into it all sorts of samples of an inferior quality. So the best in 
nature is the stint and limit of what is best in art : for art can 
only borrow from nature still ; and, moreover, must borrow entire 
objects, for bits only make patches. We defy any landscape- 
painter to invent out of his own head, and by jumbling together all 
the different forms of hills he ever saw, by adding a bit to one, and 
taking a bit from another, anything equal to Arthur's seat, with the 
appendage of Salisbury Crags, that overlook Edinburgh. Why so ? 
Because there are no levers in the mind of man equal to those with 
which nature works at her utmost need. No imagination can toss 
and tumble about huge heaps of earth as the ocean in its fiiry can. 
A volcano is more potent to rend rocks asunder than the most 
splashing pencil. The convulsions of nature can make a precipice 
more frightfully, or heave the backs of mountains more proudly, or 
throw their sides into waving lines more gracefully than all the beau 
ideal of art. For there is in nature not only greater power and scope, 
but (so to speak) greater knowledge and unity of purpose. Art is 
comparatively weak and incongruous, being at once a miniature and 
caricature of nature. We grant that a tolerable sketch of Arthur's 
seat, and the adjoining view, is better than Primrose Hill itself, (dear 
Primrose Hill ! ha 1 faithless pen, canst thou forget its winding slopes, 
and valleys green, to which all Scotland can bring no parallel?) but 
no pencil can transform or dandle Primrose Hill (our favourite Primrose 
Hill ! ) into a thing of equal character and sublimity with Arthur's 
seat. It gives us some pain to make this concession ; but in doing it, 
we flatter ourselves that no Scotchman will have the liberality in any 
way to return us the compliment. We do not recollect a more striking 
illustration of the difference between art and nature in this respect, than 
Mr. Martin's very singular and, in some things, very meritorious 
pictures. But he strives to outdo nature. He wants to give more than 
she does, or than his subject requires or admits. He sub-divides his 
groups into infinite littleness, and exaggerates his scenery into absolute 
immensity. His figures are like rows of shiny pins ; his mountains are 
piled up one upon the back of the other, like the stories of houses. 
He has no notion of the moral principle in all art, that a part may be 
greater than the whole. He reckons that if one range of lofty square 
hills is good, another range above that with clouds between must be 
better. He thus wearies the imagination, instead of exciting it. We 
see no end of the journey, and turn back in disgust. We are tired of 
the effort, we are tired of the monotony of this sort of reduplication of 
the same object. We were satisfied before ; but it seems the painter 
was not, and we naturally sympathise with him. This craving after 
quantity is a morbid affection. A landscape is not an architectural 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

elevation. You may build a house as high as you can lift up stones 
with pulleys and levers, but you cannot raise mountains into the sky 
merely with the pencil. They lose probability and effect by striving 
at too much ; and, with their ceaseless throes, oppress the imagination 
of the spectator, and bury the artist's fame under them. The only 
error of these pictures is, however, that art here puts on her seven-league 
boots, and thinks it possible to steal a march upon nature. Mr. Martin 
might make Arthur's Seat sublime, if he chose to take the thing 
as it is ; but he would be for squaring it according to the mould in 
his own imagination, and for clapping another Arthur's Seat on the 
top of it, to make the Calton Hill stare ! Again, with respect to 
the human figure. This has an internal structure, muscles, bones, 
blood-vessels, &c. by means of which the external surface is 
operated upon according to certain laws. Does the artist, with all 
his generalizations, understand these, as well as nature does ? Can he 
predict, with all his learning, that if a certain muscle is drawn up in 
a particular manner, it will present a particular appearance in a 
different part of the arm or leg, or bring out other muscles, which 
were before hid, with certain modifications ? But in nature all this 
is brought about by necessary laws, and the effect is visible to those, 
and those only, who look for it in actual objects. This is the great 
and master-excellence of the Elgin Marbles, that they do not seem 
to be the outer surface of a hard and immovable block of marble, 
but to be actuated by an internal machinery, and composed of the 
same soft and flexible materials as the human body. The skin (or 
the outside) seems to be protruded or tightened by the natural action 
of a muscle beneath it. This result is miraculous in art : in nature 
it is easy and unavoidable. That is to say, art has to imitate or 
produce certain effects or appearances without the natural causes : 
but the human understanding can hardly be so true to those causes 
as the causes to themselves ; and hence the necessity (in this sort of 
simulated creation) of recurring at every step to the actual objects and 
appearances of nature. Having shown so far how indispensable it 
is for art to identify itself with nature, in order to preserve the truth 
of imitation, without which it is destitute of value or meaning, it may 
be said to follow as a necessary consequence, that the only way in 
which art can rise to greater dignity or excellence is by finding out 
models of greater dignity and excellence in nature. Will any one, 
looking at the Theseus, for example, say that it could spring merely 
from the artist's brain, or that it could be done from a common, ill- 
made, or stunted body ? The fact is, that its superiority consists in 
this, that it is a perfect combination of art and nature, or an identical, 
and as it were spontaneous copy of an individual picked out of a 
VOL. IX. : Y ^37 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

finer race of men than generally tread this ball of earth. Could it be 
made of a Dutchman's trunk-hose ? No. Could it be made out of 
one of Sir Joshua's Discourses on the middle form ? No. How 
then ? Out of an eye, a head, and a hand, with sense, spirit, and 
energy to follow the finest nature, as it appeared exemplified in 
sweeping masses, and in subtle details, without pedantry, conceit, 
cowardice, or affectation ! Some one was asking at Mr. H — yd — n's 
one day, as a few persons were looking at the cast from this figure, 
why the original might not hare been done as a cast from nature. 
Such a supposition would account at least for what seems otherwise 
unaccountable — the incredible labour and finishing bestowed on the 
back and the other parts of this figure, placed at a prodigious height 
against the walls of a temple, where they could never be seen after 
they were once put up there. If they were done by means of a cast 
in the first instance, the thing appears intelligible, otherwise not. Our 
host stoutly resisted this imputation, which tended to deprive art of one 
of its greatest triumphs, and to make it as mechanical as a shaded 
profile. So far, so good. But the reason he gave was bad, mz., that 
the limbs could not remain in those actions long enough to be cast. 
Yet surely this would take a shorter time than if the model sat to 
the sculptor ; and we all agreed that nothing but actual, continued, 
and intense observation of living nature could give the solidity, 
complexity, and refinement of imitation which we saw in the half 
animated, almost moving figure before us.^ Be this as it may, the 
principle here stated does not reduce art to the imitation of what is 
understood by common or low life. It rises to any point of beauty 
or sublimity you please, but it rises only as nature rises exalted with 
it too. To hear these critics talk, one would suppose there was 
nothing in the world really worth looking at. The Dutch pictures 
were the best that they could paint : they had no other landscapes 
or faces before them. Honi soit qui mal y pense. Yet who is not 
alarmed at a Venus by Rembrandt ? The Greek statues were [cum 
grano salts') Grecian youths and nymphs; and the women in the 
streets of Rome (it has been remarked 2) look to this hour as if they 
had walked out of Raphael's pictures. Nature is always truth : 
at its best, it is beauty and sublimity as well ; though Sir Joshua tells 
us in one of the papers in the Idler, that in itself, or with reference 
to individuals, it is a mere tissue of meanness and deformity. 
Luckily, the Elgin Marbles say no to that conclusion : for they are 

^ Some one finely applied to the repose of this figure the words : 

' Sedet, in asternumque sedebit, 

Infelix Theseus.' 
^ By Mr. Coleridge. 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

decidedly part and parcel thereof. What constitutes fine nature, we 
shall inquire under another head. But we would remark here, that 
it can hardly be the middk form, since this principle, however it 
might determine certain general proportions and outlines, could never 
be intelligible in the details of nature, or applicable to those of art. 
Who will say that the form of a finger nail is just midway between 
a thousand others that he has not remarked : we are only struck with 
it when it is more than ordinarily beautiful, from symmetry, an 
oblong shape, &c. The staunch partisans of this theory, however, 
get over the difficulty here spoken of, in practice, by omitting the 
details altogether, and making their works sketches, or rather what 
the French call ebauches and the English daubs. 

3 . The Ideal is only the selecting a particular form which expresses 
most completely the idea of a given character or quality, as of beauty, 
strength, activity, voluptuousness, isfc. and which preserves that 
character -with the greatest consistency throughout. 

Instead of its being true in general that the ideal is the middle point, 
it is to be found in the extremes ; or, it is carrying any idea as far as 
it will go. Thus, for instance, a Silenus is as much an ideal thing as 
an Apollo, as to the principle on which it is done, viz., giving to 
every feature, and to the whole form, the utmost degree of grossness 
and sensuality that can be imagined, with this exception (which has 
nothing to do with the understanding of the question), that the ideal 
means by custom this extreme on the side of the good and beautiful. 
With this reserve, the ideal means always the something more of 
anything which may be anticipated by the fancy, and which must be 
found in nature (by looking long enough for it) to be expressed as 
it ought. Suppose a good heavy Dutch face (we speak by the 
proverb) — this, you will say, is gross ; but it is not gross enough. 
You have an idea of something grosser, that is, you have seen 
something grosser and must seek for it again. When you meet with 
it, and have stamped it on the canvas, or carved it out of the block, 
this is the true ideal, namely, that which answers to and satisfies a 
preconceived idea ; not that which is made out of an abstract idea, 
and answers to nothing. In the Silenus, also, according to the 
notion we have of the properties and character of that figure, there 
must be vivacity, slyness, wantonness, &c. Not only the image in 
the mind, but a real face may express all these combined together ; 
another may express them more, and another most, which last is the 
ideal; and when the image in nature coalesces with, and gives a body, 
force, and reality to the idea in the mind, then it is that we see the 
true perfection of art. The forehead should be ' villainous low ; ' 
the eye-brows bent in ; the eyes small and gloating ; the nose pugged, 

339 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

and pointed at the end, with distended nostrils ; the mouth large and 
shut ; the cheeks swollen ; the neck thick, &c. There is, in all this 
process, nothing of softening down, of compromising qualities, of 
finding out a mean proportion between different forms and characters ; 
the sole object is to intensify each as much as possible. The only 
fear is 'to o'erstep the modesty of nature,' and run into caricature. 
This must be avoided ; but the artist is only to stop short of this. 
He must not outrage probability. We must have seen a class of such 
faces, or something so nearly approaching, as to prevent the imagi- 
nation from revolting against them. The forehead must be low, but 
not so low as to lose the character of humanity in the brute. It 
would thus lose all its force and meaning. For that which is 
extreme and ideal in one species is nothing, if, by being pushed too 
far, it is merged in another. Above all, there should be keeping in 
the whole and every part. In the Pan, the horns and goat's feet, 
perhaps, warrant the approach to a more animal expression than 
would otherwise be allowable in the human features ; but yet this 
tendency to excess must be restrained within certain limits. If Pan 
is made into a beast, he will cease to be a God ! Let Momus distend 
his jaws with laughter, as far as laughter can stretch them, but no 
farther ; or the expression will be that of pain and not of pleasure. 
Besides, the overcharging the expression or action of any one feature 
will suspend the action of others. The whole face will no longer 
laugh. But this universal suffusion of broad mirth and humour over 
the countenance is very different from a placid smile, midway 
between grief and joy. Yet a classical Momus, by modern theories 
of the ideal, ought to be such a nonentity in expression. The 
ancients knew better. They pushed art in such subjects to the 
verge of ' all we hate,' while they felt the point beyond which it 
could not be urged with propriety, i.e. with truth, consistency, and 
consequent effect. There is no difference, in philosophical reasoning, 
between the mode of art here insisted on, and the ideal regularity of 
such figures as the Apollo, the Hercules, the Mercury, the Venus, 
&c. All these are, as it were, personifications, essences, abstractions 
of certain qualities of virtue in human nature, not of human nature in 
general, which would make nonsense. Instead of being abstractions 
of all sorts of qualities jumbled together in a neutral character, they 
are in the opposite sense abstractions of some single quality or 
customary combination of qualities, leaving out all others as much as 
possible, and imbuing every part with that one predominant character 
to the utmost. The Apollo is a representation of graceful dignity 
and mental power ; the Hercules of bodily strength ; the Mercury of 
swiftness ; the Venus of female loveliness, and so on. In these, in 
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ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

the Apollo is surely implied and found more grace than usual ; 
in the Hercules more strength than usual ; in the Mercury more 
lightness than usual ; in the Venus more softness than usual. Is it 
not so ? What then becomes of the pretended middle form ? One 
would think it would be sufficient to prove this, to ask, ' Do not these 
statues differ from one another ? And is this difference a defect ? ' 
It would be ridiculous to call them by different names, if they were 
not supposed to represent different and peculiar characters : sculptors 
should, in that case, never carve anything but the statue of a man, 
the statue of a woman, &c. and this would be the name of perfection. 
This theory of art is not at any rate justified by the history of 
art. An extraordinary quantity of bone and muscle is as proper to 
the Hercules as his club, and it would be strange if the Goddess 
of Love had not a more delicately rounded form, and a more 
languishing look withal, than the Goddess of Hunting. That 
a form combining and blending the properties of both, the downy 
softness of the one, with the elastic buoyancy of the other, would 
be more perfect than either, we no more see than that grey is 
the most perfect of colours. At any rate, this is the march neither 
of nature nor of art. It is not denied that these antique sculptures are 
models of the ideal ; nay, it is on them that this theory boasts of being 
founded. Yet they give a flat contradiction to its insipid mediocrity. 
Perhaps some of them have a slight bias to the false ideal, to the 
smooth and uniform, or the negation of nature : any error on this side 
is, however, happily set right by the Elgin Marbles, which are the 
paragons of sculpture and the mould of form. — As the ideal then re- 
quires a difference of character in each figure as a whole, so it expects 
the same character (or a corresponding one) to be stamped on each 
part of every figure. As the legs of a Diana should be more muscular 
and adapted for running, than those of a Venus or a Minerva, so the 
skin of her face ought to be more tense, bent on her prey, and 
hardened by being exposed to the winds of heaven. The respective 
characters of lightness, softness, strength, &c. should pervade each 
part of the surface of each figure, but still varying according to the 
texture and functions of the individual part. This can only be 
learned or practised from the attentive observation of nature in those 
forms in which any given character or excellence is most strikingly 
displayed, and which has been selected for imitation and study on that 
account. — Suppose a dimple in the chin to be a mark of voluptuous- 
ness ; then the Venus should have a dimple in the chin ; and she has 
one. But this will imply certain correspondent indications in other 
parts of the features, about the corners of the mouth, a gentle 
undulation and sinking in of the cheek, as if it had just been pinched, 

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ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

and so on : yet so as to be consistent with the other qualities of 
roundness, smoothness, &c. which belong to the idea of the character. 
Who will get all this and embody it out of the idea of a middle form, 
I cannot say : it may be, and has been, got out of the idea of a 
number of distinct enchanting graces in the mind, and from some 
heavenly object unfolded to the sight ! 

4. That the historical is nature in action. With regard to the face, it 
is expression. 

Hogarth's pictures are true history. Every feature, limb, figure, 
group, is instinct with life and motion. He does not take a subject and 
place it in a position, like a lay figure, in which it stirs neither limb nor 
joint. The scene moves before you : the face is like a frame-work of 
flexible machinery. If the mouth is distorted with laughter, the eyes 
swim in laughter. If the forehead is knit together, the cheeks are 
puckered up. If a fellow squints most horribly, the rest of his face is 
awry. The muscles pull different ways, or the same way, at the same 
time, on the surface of the picture, as they do in the human body. What 
you see is the reverse of still life. There is a continual and complete 
action and re-action of one variable part upon another, as there is 
in the Elgin Marbles. If you pull the string of a bow, the bow 
itself is bent. So is it in the strings and wires that move the human 
frame. The action of any one part, the contraction or relaxation of 
any one muscle, extends more or less perceptibly to every other : 

' Thrills in each nerve, and lives along the line.' 

Thus the celebrated lo of Correggio is imbued, steeped, in a manner in 
the same voluptuous feeling all over — the same passion languishes in her 
whole frame, and communicates the infection to the feet, the back, 
and the reclined position of the head. This is history, not carpenter's 
work. Some painters fancy that they paint history, if they get the 
measurement from the foot to the knee and put four bones where 
there are four bones. This is not our idea of it ; but we think it is 
to show how one part of the body sways another in action and in 
passion. The last relates chiefly to the expression of the face, though 
not altogether. Passion may be shown in a clenched fist as well as 
in clenched teeth. The face, however, is the throne of expression. 
Character implies the feeling, which is fixed and permanent ; ex- 
pression that which it occasional and momentary, at least, technically 
speaking. Portrait treats of objects as they are ; history of the events 
and changes to which they are liable. And so far history has a 
double superiority ; or a double difficulty to overcome, toz. in the 
rapid glance over a number of parts subject to the simultaneous action 
342 



ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

of the same law, and in the scope of feeling required to sympathise 
with the critical and powerful movements of passion. It requires 
greater capacity of muscular motion to follow the progress of a 
carriage in violent motion, than to lean upon it standing still. If, to 
describe passion, it were merely necessary to observe its outward effects, 
these, perhaps, in the prominent points, become more visible and more 
tangible as the passion is more intense. But it is not only necessary 
to see the effects, but to discern the cause, in order to make the one 
true to the other. No painter gives more of intellectual or impassioned 
appearances than he understands or feels. It is an axiom in painting 
that sympathy is indispensible to truth of expression. Without it, you 
get only caricatures, which are not the thing. But to sympathise 
with passion, a greater fund of sensibility is demanded in proportion to 
the strength or tenderness of the passion. And as he feels most of 
this whose face expresses most passion, so he also feels most by 
sympathy whose hand can describe most passion. This amounts 
nearly, we take it, to a demonstration of an old and very disputed 
point. The same reasoning might be applied to poetry, but this is not 
the place. — Again, it is easier to paint a portrait than an historical 
face, because the head j-«Vj- for the first, but the expression will hardly 
sit for the last. Perhaps those passions are the best subjects for 
painting, the expression of which may be retained for some time, so as 
to be better caught, which throw out a sort of lambent fire, and leave 
a reflected glory behind them, as we see in Madonnas, Christ's heads, 
and what is understood by sacred subjects in general. The violences 
of human passion are too soon over to be copied by the hand, and the 
mere conception of the internal workings is not here sufficient, as it 
is in poetry. A portrait is to history what still-life is to portraiture : 
that is, the whole remains the same while you are doing it ; or while 
you are occupied about each part, the rest wait for you. Yet, what 
a difference is there between taking an original portrait and making a 
copy of one ! This shows that the face in its most ordinary state is 
continually varying and in action. So much of history is there in 
portrait! — No one should pronounce definitively on the superiority of 
history over portrait, without recollecting Titian's heads. The finest 
of them are very nearly (say quite) equal to the finest of Raphael's. 
They have almost the look of still-life, yet each part is decidedly 
influenced by the rest. Everything is relative in them. You cannot 
put any other eye, nose, lip in the same face. As is one part, so is 
the rest. You cannot fix on any particular beauty ; the charm is in 
the whole. They have least action, and the most expression of any 
portraits. They are doing nothing, and yet all other business seems 
insipid in comparison of their thoughts. They are silent, retired, and 

343 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

do not court observation ; yet you cannot keep your eyes from them. 
Some one said, that you would be as cautious of your behaviour in a 
room where a picture of Titian's was hung, as if there was somebody 
by — so entirely do they look you through. They are the least tire- 
some Jurniture-company in the world ! 

5 . Grandeur consists in connecting a number of parts into a ivhole, and 
not leaving out the parts. 

Sir Joshua lays it down that the great style in art consists in the 
omission of the details. A greater error never man committed. The 
great style consists in preserving the masses and general proportions ; 
not in omitting the details. Thus, suppose, for illustration's sake, the 
general form of an eye-brow to be commanding and grand. It is of 
a certain size, and arched in a particular curve. Now, surely, this 
general form or outline will be equally preserved, whether the painter 
daubs it in, in a bold, rough way, as Reynolds or perhaps Rembrandt 
would, or produces the effect by a number of hair-lines arranged in 
the same form as Titian sometimes did ; and in his best pictures. It 
will not be denied (for it cannot) that the characteristic form of the 
eye-brow would be the same, or that the effect of the picture at a 
small distance would be nearly the same in either case ; only in the 
latter, it would be rather more perfect, as being more like nature. 
Suppose a strong light to fall on one side of a face, and a deep shadow 
to involve the whole of the other. This would produce two distinct 
and large masses in the picture ; which answers to the conditions of 
what is called the grand style of composition. Well, would it destroy 
these masses to give the smallest veins or variation of colour or surface 
in the light side, or to shade the other with the most delicate and 
elaborate chiaroscuro ? It is evident not ; from common sense, from 
the practice of the best masters, and, lastly, from the example of 
nature, which contains both the larger masses, the strongest contrasts, 
and the highest finishing, within itself. The integrity of the whole, 
then, is not impaired by the indefinite subdivision and smallness of 
the parts. The grandeur of the ultimate effects depends entirely on 
the arrangement of these in a certain form or under certain masses. 
The Ilissus, or River-god, is floating in his proper element, and is, 
in appearance, as firm as a rock, as pliable as a wave of the sea. The 
artist's breath might be said to mould and play upon the undulating 
surface. The whole is expanded into noble proportions, and heaves 
with general effect. What then ? Are the parts unfinished ; or are 
they not there ? No ; they are there with the nicest exactness, 
but in due subordination ; that is, they are there as they are found in 
fine nature ; and float upon the general form, like straw or weeds upon 
the tide of ocean. Once more : in Titian's portraits we perceive a 

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ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

certain character stamped upon the different features. In the Hippo- 
lito de Medici the eye-brows are angular, the nose is peaked, the 
mouth has sharp corners, the face is (so to speak) a pointed oval. 
The drawing in each of these is as careful and distinct as can be. 
But the unity of intention in nature, and in the artist, does not the less 
tend to produce a general grandeur and impressiveness of effect; 
which at first sight it is not easy to account for. To combine a 
number of particulars to one end is not to omit them altogether ; and 
is the best way of producing the grand style, because it does this 
without either affectation or slovenliness. 

6. The sixth rule we proposed to lay down was, that as grandeur 
is the principle of connexion betnveen different parts ; beauty is the principle 
of affinity betiveen different forms, or their gradual conversion into each 
other. The one harmonizes, the other aggrandizes, our impressions of things. 

There is a harmony of colours and a harmony of sounds, un- 
questionably : why then there should be all this squeamishness about 
admitting an original harmony of forms as the principle of beauty and 
source of pleasure there we cannot understand. It is true, that there 
is in organized bodies a certain standard of form to which they 
approximate more or less, and from which they cannot very widely 
deviate without shocking the sense of custom, or our settled expecta- 
tions of what they ought to be. And hence it has been pretended 
that there is in all such cases a middle central form, obtained by leaving 
out the peculiarities of all the others, which alone is the pure standard 
of truth and beauty. A conformity to custom is, we grant, one 
condition of beauty or source of satisfaction to the eye, because an 
abrupt transition shocks; but there is a conformity (or correspond- 
ence) of colours, sounds, lines, among themselves, which is soft and 
pleasing for the same reason. The average or customary form merely 
determines what is natural. A thing cannot please, unless it is to be 
found in nature ; but that which is natural is most pleasing, according 
as it has other properties which in themselves please. Thus the 
colour of a cheek must be the natural complexion of a human face ; — 
it would not do to make it the colour of a flower or a precious stone ; — 
but among complexions ordinarily to be found in nature, that is most 
beautiful which would be thought so abstractedly, or in itself. Yellow 
hair is not the most common, nor is it a mean proportion between the 
different colours of women's hair. Yet, who will say that it is not 
the most beautiful ? Blue or green hair would be a defect and an 
anomaly, not because it is not the medium of nature, but because it is 
not in nature at all. To say that there is no difference in the sense 
of form except from custom, is like saying that there is no difference 
in the sensation of smooth or rough. Judging by analogy, a gradation 

345 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

or symmetry of form must affect the mind in the same manner as a 
gradation of recurrence at given intervals of tones or sounds ; and if 
it does so in fact, we need not inquire further for the principle. Sir 
Joshua (who is the arch-heretic on this subject) makes grandeur or 
sublimity consist in the middle form, or abstraction of all peculiarities ; 
which is evidently false, for grandeur and sublimity arise from extra- 
ordinary strength, magnitude, &c. or in a word, from an excess of 
power, so as to startle and overawe the mind. But as sublimity is an 
excess of power, beauty is, we conceive, the blending and harmonizing 
different powers or qualities together, so as to produce a soft and 
pleasurable sensation. That it is not the middle form of the species 
seems proved in various ways. First, because one species is more 
beautiful than another, according to common sense. A rose is the 
queen of flowers, in poetry at least ; but in this philosophy any other 
flower is as good. A swan is more beautiful than a goose ; a stag 
than a goat. Yet if custom were the test of beauty, either we should 
give no preference, or our preference would be reversed. Again, let 
us go back to the human face and figure. A straight nose is allowed 
to be handsome, that is, one that presents nearly a continuation of the 
line of the forehead, and the sides of which are nearly parallel. Now 
this cannot be the mean proportion of the form of noses. For, first, 
most noses are broader at the bottom than at the top, inclining to 
the negro head, but none are broader at top than at the bottom, to 
produce the Greek form as a balance between both. Almost all 
noses sink in immediately under the forehead bone, none ever project 
there ; so that the nearly straight line continued from the forehead 
cannot be a mean proportion struck between the two extremes of 
convex and concave form in this feature of the face. There must, 
therefore, be some other principle of symmetry, continuity, &c. to 
account for the variation from the prescribed rule. Once more (not 
to multiply instances tediously), a double calf is undoubtedly the 
perfection of beauty in the form of the leg. But this is a rare thing. 
Nor is it the medium between two common extremes. For the 
muscles seldom swell enough to produce this excrescence, if it may be 
so called, and never run to an excess there, so as, by diminishing the 
quantity, to subside into proportion and beauty. But this second or 
lower calf is a connecting link between the upper calf and the small 
of the leg, and is just like a second chord or half-note in music. We 
conceive that any one who does not perceive the beauty of the Venus 
de Medicis, for instance, in this respect, has not the proper perception 
of form in his mind. As this is the most disputable, or at least the 
most disputed part of our theory, we may, perhaps, have to recur to 
it again, and shall leave an opening for that purpose. 
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ON THE ELGIN MARBLES 

7. That grace is the beautiful or harmonious in 'what relates to 
position or motion. 

There needs not much be said on this point ; as we apprehend it 
will be granted that, whatever beauty is as to the form, grace is the 
same thing in relation to the use that is made of it. Grace, in writing, 
relates to the transitions that are made from one subject to another, 
or to the movement that is given to a passage. If one thing leads to 
another, or an idea or illustration is brought in without effect, or 
without making a boggle in the mind, we call this a graceful style. 
Transitions must in general be gradual and pieced together. But 
sometimes the most violent are the most graceful, when the mind is 
fairly tired out and exhausted with a subject, and is glad to leap to 
another as a repose and relief from the first. Of these there are 
frequent instances in Mr. Burke's writings, which have something 
Pindaric in them. That which is not beautiful in itself, or in the 
mere form, may be made so by position or motion. A figure by no 
means elegant may be put in an elegant position. Mr. Kean's figure 
is not good ; yet we have seen him throw himself into attitudes of 
infinite spirit, dignity, and grace. John Kemble's figure, on the 
contrary, is fine in itself; and he has only to show himself to be 
admired. The direction in which anything is moved has evidently 
nothing to do with the shape of the thing moved. The one may be 
a circle and the other a square. Little and deformed people seem to 
be well aware of this distinction, who, in spite of their unpromising 
appearance, usually assume the most imposing attitudes, and give them- 
selves the most extraordinary airs imaginable. 

8. Grandeur of motion is unity of motion. 

This principle hardly needs illustration. Awkwardness is contra- 
dictory or disjointed motion. 

9. Strength in art is giving the extremes, softness the uniting 
them. 

There is no incompatibility between strength and softness, as is 
sometimes supposed by frivolous people. Weakness is not refinement. 
A shadow may be twice as deep in a finely coloured picture as in 
another, and yet almost imperceptible, from the gradations that lead 
to it, and blend it with the light. Correggio had prodigious strength, 
and greater softness. Nature is strong and soft, beyond the reach of 
art to imitate. Softness then does not imply the absence of consider- 
able extremes, but it is the interposing a third thing between them, 
to break the force of the contrast. Guido is more soft than strong. 
Rembrandt is more strong than soft. 

10. And lastly. That truth is, to a certain degree, beauty and 
grandeur, since all things are connected, and all things modify one another 

347 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

in nature. Simplicity is also grand and beautiful for the same reason. 
Elegance is ease and lightness, 'with precision. 

This last head appears to contain a number of gratis dicta, got 
together for the sake of completing a decade of propositions. They 
have, however, some show of truth, and we should add little clear- 
ness to them by any reasoning upon the matter. So we will con- 
clude here for the present. 

FONTHILL ABBEY 

London Magazine. November 1822. 

The old sarcasm — Omne ignotum pro magnifico est — cannot be justly 
applied here. Fonthill Abbey, after being enveloped in impene- 
trable mystery for a length of years, has been unexpectedly thrown 
open to the vulgar gaze, and has lost none of its reputation for 
magnificence — though, perhaps, its visionary glory, its classic renown, 
have vanished from the public mind for ever. It is, in a word, a 
desart of magnificence, a glittering waste of laborious idleness, a 
cathedral turned into a toy-shop, an immense Museum of all that 
is most curious and costly, and, at the same time, most worthless, 
in the productions of art and nature. Ships of pearl and seas of 
amber are scarce a fable here — a nautilus's shell surmounted with a 
gilt triumph of Neptune — tables of agate, cabinets of ebony and 
precious stones, painted windows ' shedding a gaudy, crimson light,' 
satin borders, marble floors, and lamps of solid gold — Chinese 
pagodas and Persian tapestry — all the miniature splendour of Solomon's 
Temple is displayed to the view — whatever is far-fetched and dear- 
bought, rich in the materials, or rare and difficult in the workmanship 
— but scarce one genuine work of art, one solid proof of taste, one 
lofty relic of sentiment or imagination ! 

The difficult, the unattainable, the exclusive, are to be found here 
in profusion, in perfection ; all else is wanting, or is brought in 
merely as a foil or as a stop-gap. In this respect the collection is 
as satisfactory as it is unique. The specimens exhibited are the best, 
the most highly finished, the most costly and curious, of that kind 
of ostentatious magnificence which is calculated to gratify the sense 
of property in the owner, and to excite the wondering curiosity of 
the stranger, who is permitted to see or (as a choice privilege and 
favour) even to touch baubles so dazzling and of such exquisite 
nicety of execution ; and which, if broken or defaced, it would be 
next to impossible to replace. The same character extends to the 
pictures, which are mere furniture-pictures, remarkable chiefly for 
their antiquity or painful finishing, without beauty, without interest, 

348 



FONTHILL ABBEY 

and with about the same pretensions to attract the eye or delight the 
fancy as a well-polished mahogany table or a waxed oak-floor. Not 
one great work by one great name, scarce one or two of the worst 
specimens of the first masters, Leonardo's Laughing Boy, or a copy 
from Raphael or Correggio, as if to make the thing remote and finical 
—but heaps of the most elaborate pieces of the worst of the Dutch 
masters, Breughel's Sea-horses with coats of mother-of-pearl, and 
Rottenhammer's Elements turned into a Flower-piece. The Catalogue, 
in short, is guiltless of the names of any of those works of art 

' Which like a trumpet make the spirits dance ; ' 

and is sacred to those which rank no higher than veneering, and 
where the painter is on a precise par with the carver and gilder. 
Such is not our taste in art ; and we confess we should have been 
a little disappointed in viewing Fonthill, had not our expectations 
been disabused beforehand. Oh ! for a glimpse of the Escurial ! 
where the piles of Titians lie ; where nymphs, fairer than lilies, 
repose in green, airy, pastoral landscapes, and Cupids with curled 
locks pluck the wanton vine ; at whose beauty, whose splendour, 
whose truth and freshness, Mengs could not contain his astonishment, 
nor Cumberland his raptures ; 

' While groves of Eden, vanish'd now so long, 
Live in description, and look green in song ; ' 

the very thought of which, in that monastic seclusion and low dell, 
surrounded by craggy precipices, gives the mind a calenture, a 
longing desire to plunge through wastes and wilds, to visit at the 
shrine of such beauty, and be buried in the bosom of such verdant 

sweetness Get thee behind us, temptation ; or not all China and 

Japan will detain us, and this article will be left unfinished, or found 
(as a volume of Keats's poems was carried out by Mr. Ritchie to be 
dropped in the Great Desart) in the sorriest inn in the farthest part 
of Spain, or in the marble baths of the Moorish Alhambra, or amidst 
the ruins of Tadmor, or in barbaric palaces, where Bruce encountered 
Abyssinian queens ! Any thing to get all this frippery, and finery, 
and tinsel, and glitter, and embossing, and system of tantalization, 
and fret-work of the imagination out of our heads, and take one deep, 
long, oblivious draught of the romantic and marvellous, the thirst 
of which the fame of Fonthill Abbey has raised in us, but not 
satisfied ! — 

Mr. Beckford has undoubtedly shown himself an industrious 
bijout'ter, a prodigious virtuoso, an accomplished patron of unpro- 
ductive labour, an enthusiastic collector of expensive trifles — the 

349 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

only proof of taste (to our thinking) he has shown in this collection 
is his getting rid of it. What splendour, what grace, what grandeur 
might he substitute in lieu of it ! What a handwriting might he 
spread out upon the walls ! What a spirit of poetry and philosophy 
might breathe there ! What a solemn gloom, what gay vistas of 
fancy, like chequered light and shade, might genius, guided by art, 
shed around ! The author of Vathek is a scholar ; the proprietor 
of Fonthill has travelled abroad, and has seen all the finest remains 
of antiquity and boasted specimens of modern art. Why not lay his 
hands on some of these ? He had power to carry them away. One 
might have expected to see, at least, a few fine old pictures, marble 
copies of the celebrated statues, the Apollo, the Venus, the Dying 
Gladiator, the Antinous, antique vases with their elegant sculptures, 
or casts from them, coins, medals, bas-reliefs, something connected 
with the beautiful forms of external nature, or with what is great in 
the mind or memorable in the history of man, — Egyptian hiero- 
glyphics, or Chaldee manuscripts, or paper made of the reeds of the 
Nile, or mummies from the Pyramids ! Not so ; not a trace (or 
scarcely so) of any of these ; — as little as may be of what is classical 
or imposing to the imagination from association or well-founded 
prejudice ; hardly an article of any consequence that does not seem 
to be labelled to the following efl^ect — ' This is mine, and there is no one 
else in the •whole ivorld in ivhom it can inspire the least interest, or any 
feeling beyond a momentary surprise ! ' To show another your property 
is an act in itself ungracious, or null and void. It excites no pleasure 
from sympathy. Every one must have remarked the difference in 
his feelings on entering a venerable old cathedral, for instance, and a 
modern-built private mansion. The one seems to fill the mind and 
expand the form, while the other only produces a sense of listless 
vacuity, and disposes us to shrink into our own littleness. Whence 
is this, but that in the first case our associations of power, of interest, 
are general, and tend to aggrandize the species ; and that in the 
latter [viz. the case of private property) they are exclusive, and tend 
to aggrandize none but the individual ? This must be the effect, 
unless there is something grand or beautiful in the objects themselves 
that makes us forget the distinction of mere property, as from the 
noble architecture or great antiquity of a building ; or unless they 
remind us of common and universal nature, as pictures, statues do, 
like so many mirrors, reflecting the external landscape, and carrying 
us out of the magic circle of self-love. But all works of art come 
under the head of property or showy furniture, which are neither 
distinguished by sublimity nor beauty, and are estimated only by the 
labour required to produce what is trifling or worthless, and are 
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FONTHILL ABBEY 

consequently nothing more than obtrusive proofs of the wealth of the 
immediate possessor. The motive for the production of such toys is 
mercenary, and the admiration of them childish or servile. That 
which pleases merely from its novelty, or because it was never seen 
before, cannot be expected to please twice : that which is remarkable 
for the difficulty or costliness of the execution can be interesting to 
no one but the maker or owner. A shell, however rarely to be met 
with, however highly wrought or quaintly embellished, can only 
flatter the sense of curiosity for a moment in a number of persons, 
or the feeling of vanity for a greater length of time in a single person. 
There are better things than this (we will be bold to say) in the 
world both of nature and art — things of universal and lasting interest, 
things that appeal to the imagination and the affections. The village- 
bell that rings out its sad or merry tidings to old men and maidens, to 
children and matrons, goes to the heart, because it is a sound significant 
of weal or woe to all, and has borne no uninteresting intelligence to 
you, to me, and to thousands more who have heard it perhaps for 
centuries. There is a sentiment in it. The face of a Madonna (if 
equal to the subject) has also a sentiment in it, ' whose price is above 
rubies.' It is a shrine, a consecrated source of high and pure feeling, 
a well-head of lovely expression, at which the soul drinks and is 
refreshed, age after age. The mind converses with the mind, or 
with that nature which, from long and daily intimacy, has become a 
sort of second self to it : but what sentiment lies hid in a piece of 
porcelain ? What soul can you look for in a gilded cabinet or a 
marble slab ? Is it possible there can be any thing like a feeling of 
littleness or jealousy in this proneness to a merely ornamental taste, 
that, from not sympathising with the higher and more expansive 
emanations of thought, shrinks from their display with conscious 
weakness and inferiority ? If it were an apprehension of an invidious 
comparison between the proprietor and the author of any signal work 
of genius, which the former did not covet, one would think he must 
be at least equally mortified at sinking to a level in taste and pursuits 
with the maker of a Dutch toy. Mr. Beckford, however, has 
always had the credit of the highest taste in works of art as well as 
in -virtu. As the showman in Goldsmith's comedy declares that 
' his bear dances to none but the genteelest of tunes — Water parted 
from the Sea, or The Minuet in Ariadne ; ' — so it was supposed that this 
celebrated collector's money went for none but the finest Claudes and 
the choicest specimens of some rare Italian master. The two Claudes 
are gone. It is as well — they must have felt a little out of their place 
here- — they are kept in countenance, where they are, by the very 
best company ! 

351 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

We once happened to have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Beckford 
in the Great Gallery of the Louvre^ — he was very plainly dressed in 
a loose great coat, and looked somewhat pale and thin — but what 
brought the circumstance to our minds, was that we were told on this 
occasion one of those thumping matter-of-fact lies, which are pretty 
common to other Frenchmen besides Gascons — viz. That he had 
offered the First Consul no less a sum than tivo hundred thousand guineas 
for the purchase of the St. Peter Martyr. Would that he had ! and 
that Napoleon had taken him at his word! — which we think not 
unlikely. With two hundred thousand guineas he might have taken 
some almost impregnable fortress. ' Magdeburg,' said Buonaparte, 
' is worth a hundred queens : ' and he would have thought such 
another stronghold worth at least one Saint. As it is, what an 
opportunity have we lost of giving the public an account of this 
picture ! Yet why not describe it, as we see it still ' in our mind's 
eye,' standing on the floor of the Thuilleries, with none of its brightness 
impaired, through the long perspective of waning years ? There it 
stands, and will for ever stand in our imagination, with the dark, 
scowling, terrific face of the murdered monk looking up to his 
assassin, the horror-struck features of the flying priest, and the skirts 
of his vest waving in the wind, the shattered branches of the autumnal 
trees that feel the coming gale, with that cold convent spire rising 
in the distance amidst the sapphire hills and golden sky — and over- 
head are seen the cherubim bringing the crown of martyrdom with 
rosy fingers ; and (such is the feeling of truth, the soul of faith in the 
picture) you hear floating near, in dim harmonies, the pealing anthem, 
and the heavenly choir ! Surely, the St. Peter Martyr surpasses all 
Titian's other works, as he himself did all other painters. Had this 
picture been transferred to the present collection (or any picture like 
it) what a trail of glory would it have left behind it ! for what a 
length of way would it have haunted the imagination ! how often 
should we have wished to revisit it, and how fondly would the eye 
have turned back to the stately tower of Fonthill Abbey, that from 
the western horizon gives the setting sun to other climes, as the 
beacon and guide to the knowledge and the love of high Art ! 

The Duke of Wellington, it is said, has declared Fonthill to be 
' the finest thing in Europe.' If so, it is since the dispersion of the 
Louvre. It is also said, that the King is to visit it. We do not 
mean to say it is not a fit place for the King to visit, or for the Duke 
to praise : but we know this, that it is a very bad one for us to 
describe. The father of Mr. Christie was supposed to be ' equally 
great on a ribbon or a Raphael.' This is unfortunately not our 
case. We are not 'great' at all, but least of all in little things. 

352 



FONTHILL ABBEY 

We have tried in various ways : we can make nothing of it. Look 
here — this is the Catalogue. Now what can we say (who are not 
auctioneers, but critics) to 

Six Japan heron-pattern embossed dishes ; or, 

Twelve bumt-in dishes in compartments ; or, 

Sixteen ditto, enamelled with insects and birds ; or. 

Seven embossed soup-plates, with plants and rich borders ; or. 

Nine chocolate cups and saucers of egg-shell China, blue lotus pattern ; or, 

Two butter pots on feet, and a bason, cover, and stand, of Japan ; or, 

Two basons and covers, sea-green mandarin ; or, 

A very rare specimen of the basket-work Japan, ornamented with flowers 

in relief^ of the finest kind, the inside gilt, from the Ragland 

Museum ; or. 
Two fine enamelled dishes scalloped ; or. 
Two blue bottles and two red and gold cups — extra fine ; or, 
A very curious egg-shell lantern ; or. 
Two very rare Japan cups mounted as milk buckets, with silver rims, gilt 

and chased ; or. 
Two matchless Japan dishes ; or, 
A very singular tray, the ground of a curious njjood artificially njuwued, 

with storks in various attitudes on the shore, mosaic border, and 

avanturine back ; or. 
Two extremely rare bottles with chimseras and plants, mounted in silver 

gilt; or. 
Twenty-four fine old seve dessert plates; or, 
Two precious enamelled bowl dishes, with silver handles ; — 

Or, to stick to the capital letters in this Paradise of Dainty 
Devices, lest we should be suspected of singling out the meanest 
articles, we will just transcribe a few of them, for the satisfaction 
of the curious reader : — 

A Rich and Highly Ornamented Casket of the very rare gold Japan, 

completely covered with figures. 
An Oriental Sculptured Tassa of Lapis Lazuli, mounted in silver 

gilt, and set with lapis lazuli intaglios. From the Garde Meuble of 

the late King of France. 
A Persian Jad Vase and Cover, inlaid with flowers and ornaments, 

composed of oriental rubies, and emeralds on stems of fine gold. 
A large Oval Engraved Rock Crystal Cup, with the figure of a 

Syren, carved from the block, and embracing a part of the vessel with 

her wings, so as to form a handle ; from the Royal Collection of 

France. 
An Oval Cup and Cover of Oriental Mamillated Agate, richly 

marked in arborescent mocoa, elaborately chased and engraved in a 

very superior manner. An unique article. 
VOL. IX. : z 353 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

Shall we go on with this fooling ? We cannot. The reader 
must be tired of such an uninteresting account of empty jars and 
caskets — it reads so like Delia Cruscan poetry. They are not even 
Nugis Canom. The pictures are much in the same mimminee-pimminie 
taste. For instance, in the first and second days' sale we meet with 
the following : — 

A high-finished miniature drawing of a Holy Family, and a portrait : one 

of those with which the patents of the Venetian nobility were usually 

embellished. 
A small landscape, by Breughel. 
A small miniature painting after Titian, by Stella. 
A curious painting, by Peter Peters Breughel, the conflagration of Troy 

— a choice specimen of this scarce master. 
A picture by Franks, representing the temptation of St. Anthony. 
A picture by old Breughel, representing a fete — a singular specimen of 

his first manner. 
Lucas Cranach — The Madonna and Child — highly finished. 
A crucifixion, painted upon a gold ground, by Andrea Orcagna, a rare and 

early specimen of Italian art. From the Campo Santo di Pisa. 
A lady's portrait, by Cosway. 
Netecher — a lady seated, playing on the harpsichord, &c. 

Who cares any thing about such frippery, time out of mind the 
stale ornaments of a pawnbroker's shop ; or about old Breughel, or 
Stella, or Franks, or Lucas Cranach, or Netecher, or Cosway? — 
But at that last name we pause, and must be excused if we consecrate 
to him a petit souvenir in our best manner : for he was Fancy's child. 
All other collectors are fools to him : they go about with painful 
anxiety to find out the realities : — he said he had them — and in 
a moment made them of the breath of his nostrils and the fiimes 
of a lively imagination. His was the crucifix that Abelard prayed 
to — the original manuscript of the Rape of the Lock — the dagger 
with which Felton stabbed the Duke of Buckingham — the first 
finished sketch of the Jocunda — Titian's large colossal portrait of 
Peter Aretine — a mummy of an Egyptian king — an alligator stuffed. 
Were the articles authentic ? — no matter — his faith in them was true. 
What a fairy palace was his of specimens of art, antiquarianism, 
and virtu, jumbled all together in the richest disorder, dusty, 
shadowy, obscure, with much left to the imagination (how diflTerent 
from the finical, polished, petty, perfect, modernised air of Fonthill!) 
and with copies of the old masters, cracked and damaged, which he 
touched and retouched with his own hand, and yet swore they were 
the genuine, the pure originals ! He was gifted with a second-sight 
in such matters : he believed whatever was incredible. Happy 

f!54 



FONTHILL ABBEY 

mortal ! Fancy bore sway in him, and so vivid were his impressions 
that they included the redity in them. The agreeable and the true 
with him were one. He believed in Swedenborgianism — he 
believed in animal magnetism — he had conversed with more than 
one person of the Trinity — he could talk with his lady at Mantua 
through some fine vehicle of sense, as we speak to a servant down 
stairs through an ear-pipe. — Richard Cosway was not the man to 
flinch from an ideal proposition. Once, at an Academy dinner, 
when some question was made, whether the story of Lambert's leap 
was true, he started up, and said it was, for he was the man that 
performed it ; — he once assured us, that the knee-pan of king James i. 
at Whitehall was nine feet across (he had measured it in concert 
with Mr. Cipriani) ; he could read in the book of Revelations 
without spectacles, and foretold the return of Buonaparte from Elba 
and from St. Helena. His wife, the most lady-like of English- 
women, being asked, in Paris, what sort of a man her husband was, 
answered, Toujours riant, toujours ga't. This was true. He must 
hare been of French extraction. His soul had the life of a bird ; 
and such was the jauntiness of his air and manner that, to see mm 
sit to have his half-boots laced on, you would fancy (with the help 
of a figure) that, instead of a little withered elderly gentleman, it was 
Venus attired by the Graces. His miniatures were not fashionable 
— they were fashion itself. When more than ninety, he retired from 
his profession, and used to hold up the palsied right hand that had 
painted lords and ladies for upwards of sixty years, and smiled, with 
unabated good humour, at the vanity of human wishes. Take him 
with all his faults or follies, 'we scarce shall look upon his like again ! ' 
After speaking of him, we are ashamed to go back to Fonthill, 
lest one drop of gall should fall from our pen. No, for the rest of 
our way, we will dip it in the milk of human kindness, and deliver 
all with charity. There are four or five very curious cabinets — a 
triple jewel cabinet of opaque, with panels of transparent amber, 
dazzles the eye like a temple of the New Jerusalem — the Nautilus's 
shell, with the triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite, is elegant, and 
the table on which it stands superb — the cups, vases, and sculptures, 
by Cellini, Berg, and John of Bologna, are as admirable as they are 
rare — the Berghem (a sea-port) is a fair specimen of that master — 
the Poulterer's Shop, by G. Douw, is passable — there are some 
middling Bassans — the Sibylla Libyca, of L. Caracci, is in the 
grand style of composition — there is a good copy of a head by 
Parmegiano — the painted windows in the centre of the Abbey have 
a surprising effect — the form of the building (which was raised by 
torch-light) is fantastical, to say the least — and the grounds, which 

3SS 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

are extensive and fine from situation, are laid out with the hand of a 
master. A quantity of coot, teal, and wild fowl sport in a crystal 
stream that winds along the park ; and their dark brown coats, seen 
in the green shadows of the water, have a most picturesque effect. 
Upon the whole, if we were not much pleased by our excursion to 
Fonthilj, we were very little disappointed ; and the place altogether 
is consistent and characteristic. 



JUDGING OF PICTURES 

Painters assume that none can judge of pictures but themselves. 
Many do this avowedly, some by implication, and all in practice. 
They exclaim against any one writing about art who has not served 
his apprenticeship to the craft, who is not versed in the detail of its 
mechanism. This has often put me a little out of patience — but I 
will take patience, and say why. 

In the first place, with regard to the productions of living artists, 
painters have no right to speak at all. The way in which they are 
devoured and consumed by envy would be ludicrous if it were not 
lamentable. It is folly to talk of the divisions and backbitings of 
authors and poets while there are such people as painters in the 
world. I never in the whole course of my life heard one speak in 
hearty praise of another. Generally they blame downrightly — but 
at all events their utmost applause is with a damning reservation. 
Authors — even poets, the genus Irritabile — do taste and acknowledge 
the beauties of the productions of their competitors ; but painters 
either cannot see them through the green spectacles of envy, or 
seeing, they hate and deny them the more. In conformity with 
this, painters are more greedy of praise than any other order of men. 
' They gorge the little fame they get all raw ' — they are gluttonous 
of it in their own persons in the proportion in which they would 
starve others. 

I once knew a very remarkable instance of this. A friend of mine 
had written a criticism of an exhibition. In this were mentioned in 
terms of the highest praise the works of two brothers — suflSciently 
so, indeed, to have satisfied, one would have thought, the most 
insatiate. I was going down into the country to the place where 
these brothers lived, and I was asked to be the bearer of the work 
in which the critique appeared. I was so, and sent a copy to each 
of them. Some days afterwards I called on one of them, who 
began to speak of the review of his pictures. He expressed some 
thanks for what was said of them, but complained that the writer of 

3S6 



JUDGING OF PICTURES 

it had fallen into a very common error under which he had often 
suffered — the confounding, namely, his pictures with his brother's. 
' Now, my dear sir,' continued he, ' what is said of me is all very 
well, but here,' turning to the high-wrought panegyric on his brother, 
' this is all in allusion to my style — this is all with reference to my 
pictures — this is all meant for me.' I could hardly help exclaiming 
before the man's fece. The praise which was given to himself was 
such as would have called a blush to any but a painter's face to speak 
of; but, not content with this, he insisted on appropriating his 
brother's also : How insatiate is the pictorial man ! 

But to come to the more general subject — I deny in toto and at 
once the exclusive right and power of painters to judge of pictures. 
What is a picture meant for ? To convey certain ideas to the mind 
of painters ? that is, of one man in ten thousand ? — No, but to make 
them apparent to the eye and mind of all. If a picture be admired 
by none but painters, I think it is strong presumption that the 
picture is bad. A painter is no more a judge, I suppose, than 
another man of how people feel and look under certain passions and 
events. Every body sees as well as him whether certain figures on 
the canvas are like such a man, or like a cow, a tree, a bridge, or a 
windmill. All that the painter can do more than the lay spectator, 
is to tell why and how the merits and defects of a picture are pro- 
duced. I see that such a figure is ungraceful and out of nature — he 
shows me that the drawing is faulty, or the foreshortening incorrect. 
He then points out to me whence the blemish arises ; but he is not 
a bit more aware of the existence of the blemish than I am. In 
Hogarth's ' Frontispiece ' I see that the whole business is absurd, 
for a man on a hill two miles off could not light his pipe at a candle 
held out of a window close to me — he tells me that it is from a want 
of perspective, that is, of certain rules by which certain effects are 
obtained. He shows me why the picture is bad, but I am just as 
well capable of saying ' The picture is bad ' as he is. To take a 
coarse illustration, but one most exactly apposite, I can tell whether 
a made dish be good or bad, — whether its taste be pleasant or dis- 
agreeable. — It is dressed for the palate of uninitiated people, and 
not alone for the disciples of Dr. Kitchener and Mr. Ude. But it 
needs a cook to tell one why it is bad ; that there is a grain too much 
of this, or a drop too much of t'other — that it has been boiled rather 
too much, or stewed rather too little — these things, the wherefores, 
as 'Squire Western would say, I require an artist to tell me, — but 
the point in debate — the worth or the bad quality of the painting 
or potage, I am as well able to decide upon as any he who ever 
brandished a pallet or a pan, a brush or a skimming-ladle. 

357 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

To go into the higher branches of the art — the poetry of painting 
— I deny still more peremptorily the exclusiveness of the initiated. 
It might be as well said, that none but those who could write a play 
have any right to sit on the third row in the pit, on the first night of 
a new tragedy. Nay, there is more plausibility in the one than the 
other. No man can judge of poetry without possessing in some 
measure a poetical mind. It need not be of that degree necessary 
to create, but it must be equal to taste and to analyze. Now in 
painting there is a directly mechanical power required to render those 
imaginations, to the judging of which the mind may be perfectly 
competent. I may know what is a just or a beautiful representation 
of love, anger, madness, despair, without being able to draw a straight 
line — and I do not see how that faculty adds to the capability of so 
judging. A very great proportion of painting is mechanical. The 
higher kinds of painting need first a poet's mind to conceive : — Very 
well, but then they need a draughtsman's hand to execute. Now he 
who possesses the mind alone is fully able to judge of what is pro- 
duced, even though he is by no means endowed with the mechanical 
power of producing it himself. I am far from saying that any one 
is capable of duly judging pictures of the higher class. It requires 
a mind capable of estimating the noble, or touching, or terrible, or 
sublime subjects which they present — but there is no sort of necessity 
that we should be able to put them upon the canvas ourselves. 

There is one point, even, on which painters usually judge worse 
of pictures than the general spectator ; I say usually, for there are 
some painters who are too thoroughly intellectual to run into the error 
of which I am about to speak. I mean that they are apt to overlook 
the higher and more mental parts of a picture, in their haste to 
criticise its mechanical properties. They forget the expression, in 
being too mindful of what is more strictly manual. They talk of 
such a colour being skilfully or unskillfuUy put in opposition to 
another, rather than of the moral contrast of the countenances of a 
group. They say that the flesh-tints are well brought out, before 
they speak of the face which the flesh forms. To use a French 
term of much condensation, they think of the physique before they 
bestow any attention on the morale. 

I am the farthest in the world from falling into the absurdity of 
upholding that painters should neglect the mechanical parts of their 
profession ; for without a mastery in them it would be impossible to 
body forth any imaginations, however strong or beautiful. I only 
wish that they should not overlook the end to which these are the 
means — and give them an undue preference over that end itself. Still 
more I object to their arrogating to the possessors of these qualities 

3S8 



THE VATICAN 

of hand and eye all power of judging that which is conveyed through 
the physical vision into the inward soul. 

On looking over what I have written, I find that I have used 
some expressions with regard to painters as a body which may make 
it appear that I hold them in light esteem ; whereas no one can 
admire tlieir art, or appreciate their pursuit of it, more highly than 
I do. Of what I have said, however, with regard to their paltry 
denial of each other's merits, I cannot bate them an ace. I appeal 
to all those who are in the habit of associating with painters to say 
whether my assertion be not correct. And why should they do 
this ? — surely the field is wide enough. Haydon and Wilkie can 
travel to fame together without ever jostling each other by the way. 
Surely there are parallel roads which may be followed, each leading 
to the same point — but neither crossing or trenching upon one 
another. 

The Art of Painting is one equally delightful to the eye and to 
the mind. It has very nearly the reality of dramatic exhibition, 
and has permanence, which that is wholly without. We may gaze 
at a picture, and pause to think, and turn and gaze again. The art 
is inferior to poetry in magnitude of extent and succession of detail — 
but its power over any one point is far superior : it seizes it, and 
figures it forth in corporeal existence if not in bodily life. It gives 
to the eye the physical semblance of those figures which have floated 
in vagueness in the mind. It condenses indistinct and gauzy visions 
into palpable forms — as, in the story, the morning mist gathered into 
the embodying a spirit. But shall it be said that the enchanter alone 
can judge of the enchantment — that none shall have an eye to see, 
and a heart to feel, unless he have also a hand to execute ? Alas, 
our inherent perceptions give the lie to this. As I used to go to 
the Louvre, day after day, to glut myself and revel in the con- 
gregated genius of pictorial ages, would any one convince me that 
it was necessary to be able to paint that I might duly appreciate a 
picture ? 

THE VATICAN 

L. The Vatican did not quite answer your expectation ? 

H. To say the truth, it was not such a blow as the Louvre ; but 
then it came after it, and what is more, at the distance of twenty 
years. To have made the same impression, it should have been 
twenty times as fine ; though that was scarcely possible, since all that 
there is fine in the Vatican, in Italy, or in the world, was in the 
Louvre when I first saw it, except the frescoes of Raphael and 

. 3S9 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

Michael Angelo, which could not be transported, without taking the 
walls of the building, across the Alps. 

L. And what, may I ask (for I am curious to hear,) did you 
think of these same frescoes ? 

H. Much the same as before I saw them. As far as I could 
judge, they are very like the prints. I do not think the spectator's 
idea of them is enhanced beyond this. The Raphaels, of which you 
have a distinct and admirable view, are somewhat faded — I do not 
mean in colour, but the outline is injured — and the Sibyls and 
Prophets in the Sistine Chapel are painted on the ceiling at too great 
a height for the eye to distinguish the faces as accurately as one 
would wish. The features and expressions of the figures near the 
bottom of the ' Last Judgment ' are sufficiently plain, and horrible 
enough they are. 

L. What was your opinion of the ' Last Judgment ' itself? 

H. It is literally too big to be seen. It is like an immense field of 
battle, or charnel-house, strewed with carcases and naked bodies : or 
it is a shambles of Art. You have huge limbs apparently torn from 
their bodies and stuck against the wall : anatomical dissections, backs 
and diaphragms, tumbling ' with hideous ruin and combustion down,' 
neither intelligible groups, nor perspective, nor colour ; you dis- 
tinguish the principal figure, that of Christ, only from its standing in 
the centre of the picture, on a sort of island of earth, separated from 
the rest of the subject by an inlet of sky. The whole is a scene of 
enormous, ghastly confusion, in which you can only make out quantity 
and number, and vast, uncouth masses of bones and muscles. It has 
the incoherence and distortion of a troubled dream, without the 
shadowiness ; everything is here corporeal and of solid dimensions. 

L. But surely there must be something fine in the Sibyls and 
Prophets, from the copies we have of them ; justifying the high 
encomiums of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of so many others. 

H. It appears to me that nothing can be finer as to form, attitude, 
and outline. The whole conception is so far inimitably noble and 
just ; and all that is felt as wanting, is a proportionable degree of 
expression in the countenances, though of this I am not sure, for the 
height (as I said before) baffles a nice scrutiny. They look to me 
unfinished, vague, and general. Like some fabulous figure from the 
antique, the heads were brutal, the bodies divine. Or at most, the 
faces were only continuations of and on a par with the physical form, 
large and bold, and with great breadth of drawing, but no more the 
seat of a vivifying spirit, or with a more powerful and marked 
intelligence emanating from them, than from the rest of the limbs, the 
hands, or even drapery. The filling up of the mind is, I suspect, 

360 



THE VATICAN 

wanting, the divinie particula aura : there is prodigious and mighty 
prominence and grandeur and simplicity in the features, but they are 
not surcharged with meaning, with thought or passion, like Raphael's, 
' the rapt soul sitting in the eyes.' On the contrary, they seem only 
to be half-informed, and might be almost thought asleep. They are 
fine moulds, and contain a capacity of expression, but are not bursting, 
teeming with it. The outward material shrine, or tabernacle, is 
unexceptionable ; but there is not superadded to it a revelation of the 
workings of the mind within. The forms in Michael Angelo are 
objects to admire in themselves : those of Raphael are merely a 
language pointing to something beyond, and full of this ultimate 
import. 

L. But does not the difference arise from the nature of the subjects ? 

H. I should think, not. Surely, a Sibyl in the height of her 
phrensy, or an inspired Prophet — * seer blest ' — in the act of receiving 
or of announcing the will of the Almighty, is not a less fit subject for 
the most exalted and impassioned expression than an Apostle, a Pope, 
a Saint, or a common man. If you say that these persons are not 
represented in the act of inspired communication, but in their ordinary 
quiescent state, — granted ; but such preternatural workings, as well as 
the character and frame of mind proper for them, must leave their 
shadowings and lofty traces behind them. The face that has once 
held communion with the Most High, or been wrought to madness 
by deep thought and passion, or that inly broods over its sacred or its 
magic lore, must be • as a book where one may read strange matters,' 
that cannot be opened without a correspondent awe and reverence. 
But here is ' neither the cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night : ' 
neither the blaze of immediate inspiration nor the hallowed radiance, 
the mystic gloomy light that follows it, so far as I was able to 
perceive. I think it idle to say that Michael Angelo painted man in 
the abstract, and so left the expression indeterminate, when he painted 
prophets and other given characters in particular. He has painted 
them on a larger scale, and cast their limbs in a gigantic mould to give 
a dignity and command answering to their situations and high calling, 
but I do not see the same high character and intensity of thought or 
purpose impressed upon their countenances. Thus, nothing can be 
nobler or more characteristic than the figure of the prophet Jeremiah. 
It is not abstracted, but symbolical of the history and functions of the 
individual. The whole figure bends and droops under a weight of 
woe, like a large willow tree surcharged with showers. Yet there is 
no peculiar expression of grief in one part more than another ; the 
head hangs down despondingly indeed, but so do the hands, the 
clothes, and every part seems to labour under and be involved in a 

361 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

complication of distress. Again, the prophet Ezra is represented 
reading in a striking attitude of attention, and with the book held 
close to him as if to lose no part of its contents in empty space : — all 
this is finely imagined and designed, but then the book reflects back 
none of its pregnant, hieroglyphic meaning on the face, which, though 
large and stately, is an ordinary, unimpassioned, and even unideal one. 
Daniel, again, is meant for a face of inward thought and musing, but 
it might seem as if the compression of the features were produced by 
external force as much as by involuntary perplexity. I might extend 
these remarks to this artist's other works ; for instance, to the Moses, 
of which the form and attitude express the utmost dignity and 
energy of purpose, but the face wants a something of the intelligence 
and expansive views of the Hebrew legislator. It is cut from the 
same block, and by the same bold sweeping hand, as the sandals or 
the drapery. 

L. Do you think there is any truth or value in the distinction 
which assigns to Raphael the dramatic, and to Michael Angelo the 
epic department of the art ? 

H. Very little, I confess. It is so far true, that Michael Angelo 
painted single figures, and Raphael chiefly groups ; but Michael 
Angelo gave life and action to his figures, though not the same 
expression to the face. I think this arose from two circumstances. 
First, from his habits as a sculptor, in which form predominates, and 
in which the fixed lineaments are more attended to than the passing 
inflections, which are neither so easily caught nor so well given in 
sculpture as in painting. Secondly, it strikes me that Michael 
Angelo, who was a strong, iron-built man, sympathised more with 
the organic structure, with bones and muscles, than with the more 
subtle and sensitive workings of that fine medullary substance called 
the brain. He compounded man admirably of brass or clay, but did 
not succeed equally in breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, of 
thought or feeling. He has less humanity than Raphael, and I think 
that he is also less divine, unless it be asserted that the body is less 
allied to earth than the mind. Expression is, after all, the principal 
thing. If Michael Angelo's forms have, as I allow, an intellectual 
character about them and a greatness of gusto, so that you would 
almost say ' his bodies thought ; ' his faces, on the other hand, have 
a drossy and material one. For example, in the figure of Adam 
coming from the hand of his Creator, the composition, which goes on 
the idea of a being starting into life at the touch of Omnipotence, is 
sublime : — the figure of Adam, reclined at ease with manly freedom 
and independence, is worthy of the original founder of our race ; and 
the expression of the face, implying passive resignation and the first 

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THE VATICAN 

consciousness of existence, is in thorough keeping — but I see nothing 
in the countenance of the Deity denoting supreme might and majesty. 
The Eve, too, lying extended at the foot of the Forbidden Tree, has 
an elasticity and buoyancy about it, that seems as if it could bound up 
from the earth of its own accord, like a bow that has been bent. It 
is all life and grace. The action of the head thrown back, and the 
upward look, correspond to the rest. The artist was here at home. 
In like manner, in the allegorical figures of Night and Morn at 
Florence, the faces are ugly or distorted, but the contour and actions 
of the limbs express dignity and power, in the very highest degree. 
The legs of the figure of Night, in particular, are twisted into the 
involutions of a serpent's folds ; the neck is curved like the horse's, 
and is clothed with thunder. 

L. What, then, is the precise difference between him and Raphael, 
according to your conception ? 

H. As far as I can explain the matter, it seems to me that Michael 
Angelo's forms are finer, but that Raphael's are more fraught with 
meaning ; that the rigid outline and disposable masses in the first are 
more grand and imposing, but that Raphael puts a greater proportion 
of sentiment into his, and calls into play every faculty of mind and 
body of which his characters are susceptible, with greater subtilty 
and intensity of feeling. Dryden's lines — 

' A fiery soul that working out its way 
Fretted the pigmy body to decay, 
And o'er-inform'd the tenement of clay ' — 

do not exactly answer to Raphael's character, which is mild and 
thoughtful rather than fiery ; nor is there any want either of grace or 
grandeur in his figures ; but the passage describes the 'o'er-informing ' 
spirit that breathes through them, and the unequal struggle of the 
expression to vent itself by more than ordinary physical means. 
Raphael lived a much shorter time than Michael Angelo, who also 
lived long after him ; and there is no comparison between the 
number, the variety, or the finished elegance of their works. ^ 
Michael Angelo possibly lost himself in the material and instrumental 
part of art, in embodying a technical theory, or in acquiring the 
grammar of different branches of study, excelling in knowledge and in 
gravity of pretension ; whereas Raphael gave himself up to the 
diviner or lovelier impulse that breathes its soul over the face of 

^ The oil-pictures attributed to Michael Angelo are meagre and pitiful 5 such as 
that of the Fates at Florence. Another of Witches, at Cardinal Fesch's at Rome, 
is like what the late Mr, Barry would have admired and imitated — dingy, coarse, 
and vacant. 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

things, being governed by a sense of reality and of general truth. 
There is nothing exclusive or repulsive in Raphael ; he is open to all 
impressions alike, and seems to identify himself with whatever he saw 
that arrested his attention or could interest others. Michael Angelo 
studied for himself, and raised objects to the standards of his con- 
ception, by 2l formula or system : Raphael invented for others, and 
was guided only by sympathy with them. Michael Angelo was 
painter, sculptor, architect ; but he might be said to make of each 
art a shrine in which to build up the stately and gigantic stature of 
his own mind : — Raphael was only a painter, but in that one art he 
seemed to pour out all the treasures and various excellence of nature, 
grandeur and scope of design, exquisite finishing, force, grace, 
delicacy, the strength of man, the softness of woman, the playfulness 
of infancy, thought, feeling, invention, imitation, labour, ease, and 
every quality that can distinguish a picture, except colour. Michael 
Angelo, in a word, stamped his own character on his works, or recast 
Nature in a mould of his own, leaving out much that was excellent : 
Raphael received his inspiration from without, and his genius caught 
the lambent flame of grace, of truth, and grandeur, which are reflected 
in his works with a light clear, transparent and unfading. 

L. Will you mention one or two things that particularly struck 
you? 

H. There is a figure of a man leading a horse in the Attila, which 
I think peculiarly characteristic. It is an ordinary face and figure, 
in a somewhat awkward dress : but he seems as if he had literally 
walked into the picture at that instant; he is looking forward with 
a mixture of earnestness and curiosity, as if the scene were passing 
before him, and every part of his figure and dress is flexible and in 
motion, pliant to the painter's plastic touch. This figure, so un- 
constrained and free, animated, salient, put me in mind, compared 
with the usual stiffness and shackles of the art, of chain-armour used 
by the knights of old instead of coat-of-mail. Raphael's fresco 
figures seem the least of all others taken from plaster-casts ; this is 
more than can be said of Michael Angelo's, which might be taken 
from, or would serve for very noble ones. The horses in the same 
picture also delight me. Though dumb, they appear as though they 
could speak, and were privy to the import of the scene. Their 
inflated nostrils and speckled skins are like a kind of proud flesh ; or 
they are animals spiritualised. In the Miracle of Bolsano is that 
group of children, round-faced, smiling, with large-orbed eyes, like 
infancy nestling in the arms of affection ; the studied elegance of the 
choir of tender novices, with all their sense of the godliness of their 
function and the beauty of holiness ; and the hard, liny, individual 

364 



THE VATICAN 

portraits of priests and cardinals on the right-hand, which have the 
same life, spirit, boldness, and marked character, as if you could have 
looked in upon the assembled conclave. Neither painting nor popery 
ever produced anything finer. There is the utmost hardness and 
materiality of outline, with a spirit of fire. The School of Athens is 
full of striking parts and ingenious contrasts ; but I prefer to it the 
Convocation of Saints, with that noble circle of Prophets and 
Apostles in the sky, on whose bent foreheads and downcast eyes you 
see written the City of the Blest, the beatific presence of the Most 
High and the Glory hereafter to be revealed, a solemn brightness 
and a fearful dream, and that scarce less inspired circle of sages 
canonised here on earth, poets, heroes, and philosophers, with the 
painter himself, entering on one side like the recording angel, smiling 
in youthful beauty, and scarce conscious of the scene he has embodied. 
If there is a failure in any of these frescoes, it is, I think, in the 
Parnassus, in which there is something quaint and affected. In the 
St. Peter delivered from prison, he has burst with Rembrandt into 
the dark chambers of night, and thrown a glory round them. In the 
story of Cupid and Psyche, at the Little Farnese, he has, I think, 
even surpassed himself in a certain swelling and voluptuous grace, as 
if beauty grew and ripened under his touch, and the very genius of 
ancient fable hovered over his enamoured pencil. 

L. I believe you when you praise, not always when you condemn. 
Was there anything else that you saw to give you a higher idea of 
him than the specimens we have in this country ? 

H. Nothing superior to the Cartoons for boldness of design and 
execution ; but I think his best oil pictures are abroad, though I had 
seen most of them before in the Louvre. I had not, however, seen 
the Crowning of the Virgin, which is in the Picture-gallery of the 
Vatican, and appears to me one of his very highest-wrought pictures. 
The Virgin in the clouds is of an admirable sedateness and dignity, 
and over the throng of breathing faces below there is poured a stream 
of joy and fervid devotion that can be compared to nothing but the 
golden light that evening skies pour on the edges of the surging 
waves. ' Hope elevates, and joy brightens their every feature.' The 
Foligno Virgin was at Paris, in which I cannot say I am quite 
satisfied with the Madonna ; it has rather a precieuse expression ; but 
I know not enough how to admire the innumerable heads of cherubs 
surrounding her, touched in with such care and delicacy, yet so as 
scarcely to be perceptible except on close inspection, nor that figure 
of the winged cherub below, offering the casket, and with his round, 
chubby face and limbs as full of rosy health and joy, as the cup is 
full of the juice of the purple vine. There is another picture of his I 

365 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

will mention, the Leo x. in the Palace Pitti, ' on his front engraven 
thought and public care ; ' and again, that little portrait in a cup in the 
Louvre, muffled in thought and buried in a kind of mental chiaro 
scuro. When I think of these and so many other of his inimitable 
works, ' scattered like stray-gifts o'er the earth,' meeting our thoughts 
half-way, and yet carrying them farther than we should have been able 
of ourselves, enriching, refining, exalting all around, I am at a loss 
to find motives for equal admiration or gratitude in what Michael 
Angelo has left, though his Prophets and Sibyls on the walls of the 
Sistine Chapel are thumping make-weights thrown into the opposite 
scale. It is nearly impossible to weigh or measure their different merits. 
Perhaps Michael Angelo's works, in their vastness and unity, may 
give a greater blow to some imaginations and lift the mind more out 
of itself, though accompanied with less delight or food for reflection, 
resembling the rocky precipice, whose ' stately height though bare ' 
overlooks the various excellence and beauty of subjected art. 

L. I do not think your premises warrant your conclusion. If 
what you have said of each is true, I should give the undoubted pre- 
ference to Raphael as at least the greater painter, if not the greater 
man. I must prefer the finest face to the largest mask. 

H. I wish you could see and judge for yourself. 

L. I prythee do not mock me. Proceed with your account. 
Was there nothing else worth mentioning after Raphael and Michael 
Angelo ? 

H. So much, that it has slipped from my memory. There are the 
finest statues in the world there, and they are scattered and put into 
niches or separate little rooms for effect, and not congregated together 
like a meeting of the marble gods of mythology, as was the case in 
the Louvre. There are some of Canova's, worked up to a high 
pitch of perfection, which might just as well have been left alone — 
and there are none, I think, equal to the Elgin marbles. A bath of 
one of the Antonines, of solid porpyhry and as large as a good-sized 
room, struck me as the strongest proof of ancient magnificence. The 
busts are innumerable, inimitable, have a breathing clearness and 
transparency, revive ancient history, and are very like actual English 
heads and characters. The inscriptions alone on fragments of antique 
marble would furnish years of study to the curious or learned in that 
way. The vases are most elegant — of proportions and materials 
unrivalled in taste and in value. There are some tapestry copies of 
the Cartoons, very glaring and unpleasant to look at. The room 
containing the coloured maps of Italy, done about three hundred years 
ago, is one of the longest and most striking ; and the passing through 
it with the green hillocks, riverS, and mountains on its spotty sides, is 

366 



ENGLISH STUDENTS AT ROME 

like going a delightful and various journey. You recall or anticipate 
the most interesting scenes and objects. Out of the windows of 
these long straggling galleries, you look down into a labyrinth of 
inner and of outer courts, or catch the Dome of St Peter's adjoining 
(like a huge shadow), or gaze at the distant amphitheatre of hills 
surrounding the Sacred City, which excite a pleasing awe, whether 
considered as the haunts of banditti or from a recollection of the 
wondrous scene, the hallowed spot, on which they have overlooked 
for ages. Imperial or Papal Rome, or her commonwealth, more august 
than either. Here also in one chamber of the Vatican is a room 
stuffed full of artists, copying the Transfiguration, or the St. Jerome 
of Domenichino, spitting, shrugging, and taking snuff, admiring their 
own performances and sneering at those of their neighbours ; and on 
certain days of the week the whole range of the rooms is thrown open 
without reserve to the entire population of Rome and its environs, 
priests and peasants, with heads not unlike those that gleam from the 
walls, perfect in expression and in costume, and young peasant girls 
in clouted shoes with looks of pleasure, timidity and wonder, such as 
those with which Raphael himself, from the portraits of him, might 
be supposed to have hailed the dawn of heaven-born art. There is 
also (to mention small works with great) a portrait of George the 
Fourth in his robes (a present to his Holiness) turned into an outer 
room ; and a tablet erected by him in St. Peter's, to the memory of 
James iii. Would you believe it ? Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine, 
when he saw the averted looks of the good people of England as 
they proclaimed his Majesty James in. in any of the towns through 
which they passed, would not have believed it. Fergus Maclvor, 
when in answer to the crier of the court, who repeated ' Long live 
King George ! ' he retorted, ' Long live King James ! ' would not 
have believed it possible ! 

L. Hang your politics. 

H. Never mind, if they do not hang me. 



ENGLISH STUDENTS AT ROME 

' No wiier so besy a man as he ther n'as, 
And yet he semed besier than he was.' 

prologue to the Canterbury Tales, 

Rome is of all places the worst to study in, for the same reason 
that it is the best to lounge in. There is no end of objects to divert 
and distract the mind. If a person has no other view than to pass 
away his time, to fill his portfolio or common-place book, or to 

367 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

improve his general taste and knowledge, he may find employment 
and amusement here for ever : if ever he wishes to do any thing, he 
should fly from it as he would from the plague. There is a species 
of malaria hanging over it, which infects both the mind and the body. 
It has been the seat of too much activity and luxury formerly, not to 
have produced a correspondent torpor and stagnation (both in the 
physical and moral world) as the natural consequence at present. If 
Necessity is the mother of Invention it must be stifled in the birth 
here, where every thing is already done and provided to your hand 
that you could possibly wish for or think of. You have no stimulus 
to exertion, for you have but to open your eyes and see, in order to 
live in a continued round of delight and admiration. The doors of a 
splendid banquet of all that is rare and rich in art stand ready open 
to you, you are invited to enter in and feast your senses and your 
imagination gratis ; and it is not likely that, under these circumstances, 
you will try to earn a scanty meal by hard labour, or even to gain an 
appetite by wholesome exercise. The same thing occurs here that is 
objected to the inhabitants of great cities in general They have 
too many objects always passing before them, that engage their 
attention and fill up their time, to allow them either much leisure or 
inclination for thought or study. Rome is the great metropolis of 
Art ; and it is somewhat to be feared that those who take up their 
abode there will become, like other cockneys, ignorant, conceited, 
and superficial. 

The queen and mistress of the ancient and the modern world claims 
such a transcendant superiority over the mind, that you look down as 
it were from this eminence on the rest of mankind ; and from the 
contempt you feel for others, come to have a mighty good opinion of 
yourself. The being at Rome (both from the sound of the name and 
the monuments of genius and magnificence she has to show) is of 
itself a suflacient distinction without doing anything there. After 
viewing some splendid relic of antiquity, the efforts of contemporary 
art sink into insignificance and nothingness : but we are disposed to 
occupy the vacant space, the clear ground thus created, with our own 
puny pretensions and aspiring fancies. As this indulgence of alternate 
enthusiasm and reflected self-complacency is a never-failing source of 
gratification, and a much less laborious one than the embodying our 
vain imaginations in practice, we easily rest in the means as the end ; 
and without making any farther progress, are perfectly satisfied with 
what others have done, and what we are to do. We indeed wear 
the livery, and follow in the train of greatness ; and, like other livery- 
servants, despise the rabble, growing more lazy, affected, luxurious, 
insolent, trifling, and incapable of gaining an honest livelihood every 

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ENGLISH STUDENTS AT ROME 

hour. We are the dupes of flattering appearances and of false com- 
parisons between ourselves and others. We think that a familiarity 
with great names and great works is an approach to an equality with 
them ; or fondly proceed to establish our own pretensions on the 
ruins of others, not considering that if it were not what we do, but 
what we see, that is the standard of proficiency, thousands of spec- 
tators might give themselves the same airs of self-importance on the 
same idle score, and treat us as barbarians and poor creatures, if they 
had our impertinence and presumption. We stand before a picture 
of some great master, and fancy there is nothing between him and us : 
we walk under the Dome of St. Peter's, and it seems to grow larger 
with a consciousness of our presence and with the amplitude of our 
conceptions. All this is fine as well as easy work ; nor can it be 
supposed that we shall be in any haste to exchange this waking 
dream for the drudgery of mechanical exertion, or for the mortifying 
evidence of the disparity between our theory and our practice. All 
the great names and schools of art stand proxy for us, till we choose 
to take the responsibility on our own shoulders ; and as it happens in 
other cases, we have no objection to make our faith in the merits of 
others a convenient substitute for good works and zealous exertions 
in the cause. Yet a common stone-mason or sign-painter, who 
understands the use of his tools and sticks close to his business, has 
more resemblance to Raphael or Michael Angelo, and stands a 
better chance of achieving something great, than those who visit the 
Corridors of the Vatican or St. Peter's once a day, return home, 
spend the evening in extolling what they have witnessed, begin a sketch 
or a plan and lay it aside, and saunter out again the next day in search 
of fresh objects to dissipate ennui and kill the time without being obliged 
to draw for one instant on their own resources or resolution. 

Numberless are the instances of those who go on thus, while vanity 
and indolence together are confirmed into an incurable disease, the 
sleek, pampered tone of which they mistake for the marks of taste 
and genius. What other result can be expected ? If they do any thing, 
it is all over with them. They not only strip off the mask from their 
own self-love, but expose themselves to the pity and derision of their 
competitors, whom they before affected to despise. Within ' the 
vast, the unbounded ' circle of pretension, of vapouring, and inuendo, 
they are safe : the future would-be Raphaels, Correggios, &c. have 
nothing to dread from criticism while they hatch their embryo 
conquests and prepare a distant triumph : no one can apply Ithuriel's 
spear to detect what is confessedly a shadow. But they must waive 
this privilege when they descend into the common lists ; and in 
proportion as they have committed themselves in conversation or in 

VOL. IX. : 2 A 369 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

idle fancy, they are ashamed to commit themselves in reality, because 
any thing they could do at first must unavoidably fall short of that 
high standard of excellence, which (if at all) can only be attained by 
the labour and experience of a whole life. Their real incapacity 
shrinks from the pomp of their professions. The magnificence of 
the air-drawn edifice of their reputation prevents them from laying the 
first stone in downright earnest ; and they have no other mode of 
excusing the delay, and the indecision it betokens, than by assuming 
still greater delicacy of taste and loftiness of ambition, and by thus 
aggrandising their unfounded schemes, rendering their execution more 
hopeless and impossible. Should they begin something, a new 
thought strikes them, and they throw aside a very promising sketch 
to enlarge their canvass and proceed upon a scale more worthy of 
them : to this enlarged design some object is indispensably necessary, 
which is unluckily wanting : — thus time is gained, a new lease of 
credit is granted, and instead of putting the last hand to the original 
sketch, they take merit to themselves for the enlargement of their 
views and the determined pursuit of the higher walk of art. Mean- 
time, the smaller picture stands unfinished on the easel, and nominal 
commissions pour in for new and more extended projects. Then 
comes a new secret of colouring, a new principle of grouping, a new 
theory, a new book — always something to draw off the attention from 
its proper object, and to substitute laborious idleness for true pains 
and profitable study. Then a picture is to be copied as a preparation 
for undertaking a given subject, or a library to be ransacked to 
ascertain the precise truth of the historical facts or the exact concep- 
tion of the characters ; and after a year thus lost in desultory and 
scrupulous researches, the whole plan is given up, either because no 
one comes forward effectually to patronise it, or because some more 
tempting prospect is opened into the realms of art and high renown. 
Then again friends are to be consulted ; some admire one thing, 
some another ; some recommend the study of nature, others are all 
for the antique ; some insist on the utmost finishing, others explode 
all attention to minuti^ ; artists find one fault, the uninstructed spectator 
another; and in going backwards and forwards from one to another, 
listening to new reasons and new objections, in reconciling all parties 
and pleasing none, life is passed in endless doubts and difficulties, 
and we discover that our most valuable years have fled in busy 
preparations to do — nothing. It is then too late, and we consume 
the remainder in vain regrets and querulous repinings, as we did the 
flower and marrow of our time in fanciful speculation and egregious 
trifling. The student should of all things steer clear of the character 
of the dilettanti — it is the rock on which he is most likely to split. 
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ENGLISH STUDENTS AT ROME 

Pleasure, or extravagance, or positive idleness, are less dangerous ; 
for these he knows to be fatal to his success, and he indulges in them 
with his eyes open. But in the other case, he is thrown off his guard 
by the most plausible appearances. Vanity here puts on the garb of 
humility, indecision of long-sighted perseverance, and habitual sloth 
of constant industry. Few will reproach us, while we are accumu- 
lating the means of ultimate success, with neglecting the end ; or 
remind us that though art is long, life is short. It is true, that art is 
a long and steep ascent, but we must learn to scale it by regular, 
practical stages, and not by a hasty wish or still more futile calcula- 
tions and measurements of the height. We can only indeed be 
sensible of its real height by the actual progress we have made, and 
by the glorious views that gradually dawn upon us, the cheerers of 
our way, and the harbingers of our success. It is only by attempting 
something that we feel where our strength lies, and if we have what 
travellers call a forte journee to perform, it is the more indispensable 
that we should set out betimes and not loiter on the road. What is 
well done is the consequence of doing much — perfection is the reward 
of numberless attempts and failures. The chief requisites are a 
practised hand and eye, and an active imagination. Indolent taste 
and passive acquirements are not enough. They will neither supply 
our wants while living, nor enable us to leave a name behind us after 
we are dead. Farther, the brooding over excellence with a feverish 
importunity, and stimulating ourselves to great things by an abstract 
love of fame, can do little good, and may do much harm. It is, no 
doubt, a very delightful and enviable state of mind to be in, but 
neither a very arduous nor a very profitable one. Nothing remarkable 
was ever done, except by following up the impulse of our own minds, 
by grappling with difficulties and improving our advantages, not by 
dreaming over our own premature triumphs or doating on the achieve- 
ments of others. 

If it were nothing else, the having the works of the great masters 
of former times always before us is enough to discourage and defeat 
all ordinary attempts. How many elegant designs and meritorious 
conceptions must lie buried under the high arched porticoes of the 
Vatican ! The walls of the Sistine Chapel must fall upon the head 
of inferior pretensions and crush them. What minor pencil can 
stand in competition with the 'petrific mace' that painted the Last 
Judgment ? What fancy can expand into blooming grace and 
beauty by the side of the Heliodorus ? What is it ive could add, or 
what occasion, what need, what pretence is there to add anything to 
the art after this ? Who in the presence of such glorious works does 
not wish to shrink into himself, or to live only for them ? Is it not a 

371 



ESSAYS ON THE FINE ARTS 

profanation to think he can hope to do any thing like them ? And 
who, having once seen, can think with common patience or with 
zealous enthusiasm of doing aught but treading in their footsteps ? 
If the artist has a genius and turn of mind at all similar, they baulk 
and damp him by their imposing stately height : if his talent lies in a 
different and humbler walk, they divert and unsettle his mind. If he 
is contented to look on and admire, a vague and unattainable idea of 
excellence floats before his imagination, and tantalises him with 
equally vain hopes and wishes. If he copies, he becomes a mechanic; 
and besides, runs another risk. He finds he can with ease produce 
in three days an incomparably finer effect than he could do with all 
his efforts, and after any length of time, in working without assistance. 
He is therefore disheartened and put out of countenance, and returns 
with reluctance to original composition : for where is the sense of 
taking ten times the pains and undergoing ten times the anxiety to 
produce not one hundredth part of the effect ? When I was young, 
I made one or two studies of strong contrasts of light and shade in 
the manner of Rembrandt with great care and (as it was thought) 
with some success. But after I had once copied some of Titian's 
portraits in the Louvre, my ambition took a higher flight. Nothing 
would serve my turn but heads like Titian — Titian expressions, Titian 
complexions, Titian dresses ; and as I could not find these where I 
was, after one or two abortive attempts to engraft Italian art on 
English nature, I flung away my pencil in disgust and despair. 
Otherwise I might have done as well as others, I dare say, but from 
a desire to do too well. I did not consider that Nature is always the 
great thing, or that ' Pan is a god, Apollo is no more ! ' — Nor is the 
student repelled and staggered in his progress only by the degree of 
excellence, but distracted and puzzled by the variety of incompatible 
claims upon his ingenuous and sincere enthusiasm. While any one 
attends to what circumstances bring in his way, or keeps in the path 
that is prompted by his own genius (such as it may be), he stands a 
fair chance, by directing all his efforts to one point, to compass the 
utmost object of his ambition. But what likelihood is there of this 
from the moment that all the great schools, and all the most precious 
chef-d'auvres of art, at once unveil their diversified attractions to his 
astonished sight ? What Protestant, for instance, can be properly 
and permanently imbued with the fervent devotion or saint-like purity 
of the Catholic religion, or hope to transfer the pride, pomp, and 
pageantry of that detested superstition to his own canvass, with real 
feeling and con amore ? What modern can enter fully into the spirit 
of the ancient Greek mythology, or rival the symmetry of its naked 
forms ? What single individual will presume to unite ' the colouring 
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ENGLISH STUDENTS AT ROME 

of Titian, the drawing of Raphael, the airs of Guido, the learning of 
Poussin, the purity of Domenichino, the correggiescity of Correggio, 
and the grand contour of Michael Angelo,' in the same composition ? 
Yet those who are familiar with all these different styles and their 
excellences, require them all. Mere originality will not suffice, it is 
quaint and Gothic — common-place perfection is still more intolerable, 
it is insipid and mechanical. Modern Art is indeed like the fabled 
Sphinx, that imposes impossible tasks on her votaries, and as she 
clasps them to her bosom pierces them to the heart. Let a man have 
a turn and taste for landscape, she whispers him that nothing is truly 
interesting but the human face : if he makes a successful debut in 
portrait, he soon (under the same auspices) aspires to history; but if 
painting in its highest walks seems within his reach, she then plays 
off the solid forms and shining surfaces of sculpture before his eyes, 
urging him to combine the simple grandeur of the Antique with 
Canova's polished elegance ; or he is haunted with the majestic effects 
and scientific rules of architecture, and ruined temples and broken 
fragments nod in his bewildered imagination ! What is to be done in 
this case ? What generally is done — Nothing. Amidst so many 
pretensions, how is choice possible ? Or where all are equally objects 
of taste and knowledge, how rest satisfied without giving some proofs 
of our practical proficiency in all ? To mould a clay-figure that if 
finished might surpass the Venus ; to make a pen-and-ink drawing 
after a splendid piece of colouring by Titian ; to give the picturesque 
effect of the arch of some ancient aqueduct as seen by moonlight ; 
some such meagre abstractions and flimsy refinements in art are among 
the spolia opima and patch-work trophies offered to the presiding 
Goddess of spleen, idleness, and affectation! — 

Nothing can be conceived more unpropitious to ' the high endeavour 
and the glad success,' than the whole aspect and character of ancient 
Rome, both what remains as well as what is lost of it. Is this the 
Eternal City? Is this she that (araazon or votaress) was twice 
mistress of the world ? Is this the country of the Scipios, the 
Cincinnati and the Gracchi, of Cato and of Brutus, of Pompey and 
of Sylla, is this the Capitol where Julius Csser fell, where Cicero 
thundered against Catiline, the scene of combats and of triumphs, and 
through whose gates kings and nations were led captive by the side 
of their conquerors' chariot-wheels I All is vanished. The names 
alone remain to haunt the memory : the spirits of the mighty dead 
mock us, as we pass. The genius of Antiquity bestrides the place 
like a Colossus. Ruin here sits on her pedestal of pride, and reads a 
mortifying lecture to human vanity. We see all that ages, nations, 
a subjected world conspired to build up to magnificence, overthrown 

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or hastening fast into decay ; empire, religion, freedom, Gods and 
men trampled in the dust or consigned to the regions of lasting 
oblivion or of shadowy renown ; and what are we that in this mighty 
wreck we should think of cultivating our petty talents and advancing 
our individual pretensions ? Rome is the very tomb of ancient great- 
ness, the grave of modern presumption. The mere consciousness of 
the presence in which we stand ought to abash and overawe our 
pragmatical self-conceit. Men here seem no better than insects 
crawling about: everything has a Lilliputian and insignificant appear- 
ance. Our big projects, our bloated egotism, shrink up within the 
enormous shadow of transitory power and splendour : the sinews of 
desire relax and moulder away, and the fever of youthful ambition is 
turned into a cold ague-fit. There is a languor in the air ; and the 
contagion of listless apathy infects the hopes that are yet unborn. — As 
to what remains of actual power and spiritual authority, Hobbes said 
well, that ' Popery was the ghost of the Roman Empire, sitting upon 
the ruins of Rome.' The only flourishing thing in Rome (and that 
is only half flourishing) is an old woman ; and who would wish to be 
an old woman ? Greatness here is greatness in masquerade — one 
knows not whether to pity or laugh at it — and the Cardinals' red legs 
peeping out like the legs of some outlandish stuflTed bird in a Museum, 
excite much the same curiosity and surprise. No one (no English- 
man at least) can be much edified by the array of distinctions, that 
denote a consummation of art or weakness. Still, perhaps, to the 
idle and frivolous there may be something alluring in this meretricious 
mummery and splendour, as moths are attracted to the taper's blaze, 
and perish in it ! 

There is a great deal of gossiping and stuflF going on at Rome. 
There are Conversationes, where the Cardinals go and admire the fair 
complexions and innocent smiles of the young Englishwomen ; and 
where the English students who have the entree look at the former 
with astonishment as a sort of non-descripts, and are not the less taken 
with their pretty countrywomen for being the objects of attention to 
Popish Cardinals. Then come the tittle-tattle of who and who 's 
together, the quaint and piquant inter-national gallantries, and the 
story of the greatest beauty in Rome said to be married to an English 
gentleman — how odd and at the same time how encouraging ! Then 
the manners and customs of Rome excite a buzz of curiosity, and the 
English imagination is always recurring to and teazed with that luck- 
less question of cicisbeism. Some aff^ect to be candid, while others 
persist in their original blindness, and would set on foot a reform of 
the Roman metropolis — on the model of the British one ! In short, 
there is a great deal too much tampering and dalliance with subjects, 

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with which we have little acquaintance and less business. All this 
passes the time, and relieves the mind either after the fatigue or in 
the absence of more serious study. Then there is to be an Academy 
Meeting at night, and a debate is to take place whether the Academy 
ought not to have a President, and if so, whether the President of 
the Academy at Rome ought not (out of respect) to be a Royal 
Academician, thus extending the links in the chain of professional 
intrigue and cabal from one side of the Continent to the other. A 
speech is accordingly to be made, a motion seconded, which requires 
time and preparation — or a sudden thought strikes the more raw and 
heedless adventurer, but is lost for want of words to express it — Vox 
fauclbus hasii, and the cast of the Theseus looks dull and lumpish as the 
disappointed candidate for popular applause surveys it by the light of 
his lamp in retiring to his chamber, Sedet infdix Theseus, &c. So 
the next day Gibbon is bought and studied with great avidity to give 
him a command of tropes and figures at their next meeting. The 
ar