THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.
VOL. VIII.—JULY, 1861.—NO. XLV.
Weave no more silks, ye Lyons looms, To deck our girls for gay delights! The crimson flower of battle blooms, And solemn marches fill the nights.
Weave but the flag whose bars to-day Drooped heavy o'er our early dead, And homely garments, coarse and gray, For orphans that must earn their bread!
Keep back your tunes, ye viols sweet, That pour delight from other lands! Rouse there the dancer's restless feet,— The trumpet leads our warrior bands.
And ye that wage the war of words With mystic fame and subtle power, Go, chatter to the idle birds, Or teach the lesson of the hour!
Ye Sibyl Arts, in one stern knot Be all your offices combined! Stand close, while Courage draws the lot, The destiny of humankind!
And if that destiny could fail, The sun should darken in the sky, The eternal bloom of Nature pale, And God, and Truth, and Freedom die!
AGNES OF SORRENTO.
THE DAY AT THE CONVENT.
The Mother Theresa sat in a sort of withdrawing-room, the roof of which rose in arches, starred with blue and gold like that of the cloister, and the sides were frescoed with scenes from the life of the Virgin. Over every door, and in convenient places between the paintings, tests of Holy Writ were illuminated in blue and scarlet and gold, with a richness and fancifulness of outline, as if every sacred letter had blossomed into a mystical flower. The Abbess herself, with two of her nuns, was busily embroidering a new altar-cloth, with a lavish profusion of adornment; and, from time to time, their voices rose in the musical tones of an ancient Latin hymn. The words were full of that quaint and mystical pietism with which the fashion of the times clothed the expression of devotional feeling:—
"Jesu, corona virginum, Quem mater illa concepit, Quae sola virgo parturit, Haec vota clemens accipe.
"Qui pascis inter lilia Septus choreis virginum, Sponsus decoris gloria Sponsisque reddens praemia.
"Quocunque pergis, virgines Sequuntur atque laudibus Post te canentes cursitant Hymnosque dulces personant[A]."
"Jesus, crown of virgin spirits, Whom a virgin mother bore, Graciously accept our praises While thy footsteps we adore.
"Thee among the lilies feeding Choirs of virgins walk beside, Bridegroom crowned with glorious beauty Giving beauty to thy bride.
"Where thou goest still they follow Singing, singing as they move, All those souls forever virgin Wedded only to thy love."]
This little canticle was, in truth, very different from the hymns to Venus which used to resound in the temple which the convent had displaced. The voices which sang were of a deep, plaintive contralto, much resembling the richness of a tenor, and us they moved in modulated waves of chanting sound the effect was soothing and dreamy. Agnes stopped at the door to listen.
"Stop, dear Jocunda," she said to the old woman, who was about to push her way abruptly into the room, "wait till it is over."
Jocunda, who was quite matter-of-fact in her ideas of religion, made a little movement of impatience, but was recalled to herself by observing the devout absorption with which Agnes, with clasped hands and downcast head, was mentally joining in the hymn with a solemn brightness in her young face.
"If she hasn't got a vocation, nobody ever had one," said Jocunda, mentally. "Deary me, I wish I had more of one myself!"
When the strain died away, and was succeeded by a conversation on the respective merits of two kinds of gold embroidering-thread, Agnes and Jocunda entered the apartment. Agnes went forward and kissed the hand of the Mother reverentially.
Sister Theresa we have before described as tall, pale, and sad-eyed,—a moonlight style of person, wanting in all those elements of warm color and physical solidity which give the impression of a real vital human existence. The strongest affection she had ever known had been that which had been excited by the childish beauty and graces of Agnes, and she folded her in her arms and kissed her forehead with a warmth that had in it the semblance of maternity.
"Grandmamma has given me a day to spend with you, dear mother," said Agnes.
"Welcome, dear little child!" said Mother Theresa. "Your spiritual home always stands open to you."
"I have something to speak to you of in particular, my mother," said Agnes, blushing deeply.
"Indeed!" said the Mother Theresa, a slight movement of curiosity arising in her mind as she signed to the two nuns to leave the apartment.
"My mother," said Agnes, "yesterday evening, as grandmamma and I were sitting at the gate, selling oranges, a young cavalier came up and bought oranges of me, and he kissed my forehead and asked me to pray for him, and gave me this ring for the shrine of Saint Agnes."
"Kissed your forehead!" said Jocunda, "here's a pretty go! it isn't like you, Agnes, to let him."
"He did it before I knew," said Agnes. "Grandmamma reproved him, and then he seemed to repent, and gave this ring for the shrine of Saint Agnes."
"And a pretty one it is, too," said Jocunda. "We haven't a prettier in all our treasury. Not even the great emerald the Queen gave is better in its way than this."
"And he asked you to pray for him?" said Mother Theresa.
"Yes, mother dear; he looked right into my eyes and made me look into his, and made me promise;—and I knew that holy virgins never refused their prayers to any one that asked, and so I followed their example."
"I'll warrant me he was only mocking at you for a poor little fool," said Jocunda; "the gallants of our day don't believe much in prayers."
"Perhaps so, Jocunda," said Agnes, gravely; "but if that be the case, he needs prayers all the more."
"Yes," said Mother Theresa. "Remember the story of the blessed Saint Dorothea,—how a wicked young nobleman mocked at her, when she was going to execution, and said, 'Dorothea, Dorothea, I will believe, when you shall send me down some of the fruits and flowers of Paradise'; and she, full of faith, said, 'To-day I will send them'; and, wonderful to tell, that very day, at evening, an angel came to the young man with a basket of citrons and roses, and said, 'Dorothea sends thee these, wherefore believe.' See what grace a pure maiden can bring to a thoughtless young man,—for this young man was converted and became a champion of the faith."
"That was in the old times," said Jocunda, skeptically. "I don't believe setting the lamb to pray for the wolf will do much in our day. Prithee, child, what manner of man was this gallant?"
"He was beautiful as an angel," said Agnes, "only it was not a good beauty. He looked proud and sad, both,—like one who is not at ease in his heart. Indeed, I feel very sorry for him; his eyes made a kind of trouble in my mind, that reminds me to pray for him often."
"And I will join my prayers to yours, dear daughter," said the Mother Theresa; "I long to have you with us, that we may pray together every day;—say, do you think your grandmamma will spare you to us wholly before long?"
"Grandmamma will not hear of it yet," said Agnes; "and she loves me so, it would break her heart, if I should leave her, and she could not be happy here;—but, mother, you have told me we could carry an altar always in our hearts, and adore in secret. When it is God's will I should come to you, He will incline her heart."
"Between you and me, little one," said Jocunda, "I think there will soon be a third person who will have something to say in the case."
"Whom do you mean?" said Agnes.
"A husband," said Jocunda; "I suppose your grandmother has one picked out for you. You are neither humpbacked nor cross-eyed, that you shouldn't have one as well as other girls."
"I don't want one, Jocunda; and I have promised to Saint Agnes to come here, if she will only get grandmother to consent."
"Bless you, my daughter!" said Mother Theresa; "only persevere and the way will be opened."
"Well, well," said Jocunda, "we'll see. Come, little one, if you wouldn't have your flowers wilt, we must go back and look after them."
Reverently kissing the hand of the Abbess, Agnes withdrew with her old friend, and crossed again to the garden to attend to her flowers.
"Well now, childie," said Jocunda, "you can sit here and weave your garlands, while I go and look after the conserves of raisins and citrons that Sister Cattarina is making. She is stupid at anything but her prayers, is Cattarina. Our Lady be gracious to me! I think I got my vocation from Saint Martha, and if it wasn't for me, I don't know what would become of things in the Convent. Why, since I came here, our conserves, done up in fig-leaf packages, have had quite a run at Court, and our gracious Queen herself was good enough to send an order for a hundred of them last week. I could have laughed to see how puzzled the Mother Theresa looked;—much she knows about conserves! I suppose she thinks Gabriel brings them straight down from Paradise, done up in leaves of the tree of life. Old Jocunda knows what goes to their making up; she's good for something, if she is old and twisted; many a scrubby old olive bears fat berries," said the old portress, chuckling.
"Oh, dear Jocunda," said Agnes, "why must you go this minute? I want to talk with you about so many things!"
"Bless the sweet child! it does want its old Jocunda, does it?" said the old woman, in the tone with which one caresses a baby. "Well, well, it should, then! Just wait a minute, till I go and see that our holy Saint Cattarina hasn't fallen a-praying over the conserving-pan. I'll be back in a moment."
So saying, she hobbled off briskly, and Agnes, sitting down on the fragment sculptured with dancing nymphs, began abstractedly pulling her flowers towards her, shaking from them the dew of the fountain.
Unconsciously to herself, as she sat there, her head drooped into the attitude of the marble nymph, and her sweet features assumed the same expression of plaintive and dreamy thoughtfulness; her heavy dark lashes lay on her pure waxen cheeks like the dark fringe of some tropical flower. Her form, in its drooping outlines, scarcely yet showed the full development of womanhood, which after-years might unfold into the ripe fulness of her countrywomen. Her whole attitude and manner were those of an exquisitively sensitive and highly organized being, just struggling into the life of some mysterious new inner birth,—into the sense of powers of feeling and being hitherto unknown even to herself.
"Ah," she softly sighed to herself, "how little I am! how little I can do! Could I convert one soul! Ah, holy Dorothea, send down the roses of heaven into his soul, that he also may believe!"
"Well, my little beauty, you have not finished even one garland," said the voice of old Jocunda, bustling up behind her. "Praise to Saint Martha, the conserves are doing well, and so I catch a minute for my little heart."
So saying, she sat down with her spindle and flax by Agnes, for an afternoon gossip.
"Dear Jocunda, I have heard you tell stories about spirits that haunt lonesome places. Did you ever hear about any in the gorge?"
"Why, bless the child, yes,—spirits are always pacing up and down in lonely places. Father Anselmo told me that; and he had seen a priest once that had seen that in the Holy Scriptures themselves,—so it must be true."
"Well, did you ever hear of their making the most beautiful music?"
"Haven't I?" said Jocunda,—"to be sure I have,—singing enough to draw the very heart out of your body,—it's an old trick they have. Why, I want to know if you never heard about the King of Amalfi's son coming home from fighting for the Holy Sepulchre? Why, there's rocks not far out from this very town where the Sirens live; and if the King's son hadn't had a holy bishop on board, who slept every night with a piece of the true cross under his pillow, the green ladies would have sung him straight into perdition. They are very fair-spoken at first, and sing so that a man gets perfectly drunk with their music, and longs to fly to them; but they suck him down at last under water, and strangle him, and that's the end of him."
"You never told me about this before, Jocunda."
"Haven't I, child? Well, I will now. You see, this good bishop, he dreamed three times that they would sail past those rocks, and he was told to give all the sailors holy wax from an altar-candle to stop their ears, so that they shouldn't hear the music. Well, the King's son said he wanted to hear the music, so he wouldn't have his ears stopped; but he told 'em to tie him to the mast, so that he could hear it, but not to mind a word he said, if he begged 'em ever so hard to untie him.
"Well, you see they did it; and the old bishop, he had his ears sealed up tight, and so did all the men; but the young man stood tied to the mast, and when they sailed past he was like a demented creature. He called out that it was his lady who was singing, and he wanted to go to her,—and his mother, who they all knew was a blessed saint in paradise years before; and he commanded them to untie him, and pulled and strained on his cords to get free; but they only tied him the tighter, and so they got him past,—for, thanks to the holy wax, the sailors never heard a word, and so they kept their senses. So they all got safe home; but the young prince was so sick and pining that he had to be exorcised and prayed for seven times seven days before they could get the music out of his head."
"Why," said Agnes, "do those Sirens sing there yet?"
"Well, that was a hundred years ago. They say the old bishop, he prayed 'em down; for he went out a little after on purpose, and gave 'em a precious lot of holy water; most likely he got 'em pretty well under, though my husband's brother says he's heard 'em singing in a small way, like frogs in spring-time; but he gave 'em a pretty wide berth. You see, these spirits are what's left of old heathen times, when, Lord bless us! the earth was just as full of 'em as a bit of old cheese is of mites. Now a Christian body, if they take reasonable care, can walk quit of 'em; and if they have any haunts in lonesome and doleful places, if one puts up a cross or a shrine, they know they have to go."
"I am thinking," said Agnes, "it would be a blessed work to put up some shrines to Saint Agnes and our good Lord in the gorge, and I'll promise to keep the lamps burning and the flowers in order."
"Bless the child!" said Jocunda, "that is a pious and Christian thought."
"I have an uncle in Florence who is a father in the holy convent of San Marco, who paints and works in stone,—not for money, but for the glory of God; and when he comes this way I will speak to him about it," said Agnes. "About this time in the spring he always visits us."
"That's mighty well thought of," said Jocunda. "And now, tell me, little lamb, have you any idea who this grand cavalier may be that gave you the ring?"
"No," said Agnes, pausing a moment over the garland of flowers she was weaving,—"only Giulietta told me that he was brother to the King. Giulietta said everybody knew him."
"I'm not so sure of that," said Jocunda. "Giulietta always thinks she knows more than she does."
"Whatever he may be, his worldly state is nothing to me," said Agnes. "I know him only in my prayers."
"Ay, ay," muttered the old woman to herself, looking obliquely out of the corner of her eye at the girl, who was busily sorting her flowers; "perhaps he will be seeking some other acquaintance."
"You haven't seen him since?" said Jocunda.
"Seen him? Why, dear Jocunda, it was only last evening"—
"True enough. Well, child, don't think too much of him. Men are dreadful creatures,—in these times especially; they snap up a pretty girl as a fox does a chicken, and no questions asked."
"I don't think he looked wicked, Jocunda; he had a proud, sorrowful look. I don't know what could make a rich, handsome young man sorrowful; but I feel in my heart that he is not happy. Mother Theresa says that those who can do nothing but pray may convert princes without knowing it."
"May be it is so," said Jocunda, in the same tone in which thrifty professors of religion often assent to the same sort of truths in our days. "I've seen a good deal of that sort of cattle in my day; and one would think, by their actions, that praying souls must be scarce where they came from."
Agnes abstractedly stooped and began plucking handfuls of lycopodium, which was growing green and feathery on one side of the marble frieze on which she was sitting; in so doing, a fragment of white marble, which had been overgrown in the luxuriant green, appeared to view. It was that frequent object in the Italian soil,—a portion of an old Roman tombstone. Agnes bent over, intent on the mystic "Dis Manibus" in old Roman letters.
"Lord bless the child! I've seen thousands of them," said Jocunda; "it's some old heathen's grave, that's been in hell these hundred years."
"In hell?" said Agnes, with a distressful accent.
"Of course," said Jocunda. "Where should they be? Serves 'em right, too; they were a vile old set."
"Oh, Jocunda, it's dreadful to think of, that they should have been in hell all this time."
"And no nearer the end than when they began," said Jocunda.
Agnes gave a shivering sigh, and, looking up into the golden sky that was pouring such floods of splendor through the orange-trees and jasmines, thought, How could it be that the world could possibly be going on so sweet and fair over such an abyss?
"Oh, Jocunda!" she said, "it does seem too dreadful to believe! How could they help being heathen,—being born so,—and never hearing of the true Church?"
"Sure enough," said Jocunda, spinning away energetically, "but that's no business of mine; my business is to save my soul, and that's what I came here for. The dear saints know I found it dull enough at first, for I'd been used to jaunting round with my old man and the boys; but what with marketing and preserving, and one thing and another, I get on better now, praise to Saint Agnes!"
The large, dark eyes of Agnes were fixed abstractedly on the old woman as she spoke, slowly dilating, with a sad, mysterious expression, which sometimes came over them.
"Ah! how can the saints themselves be happy?" she said. "One might be willing to wear sackcloth and sleep on the ground, one might suffer ever so many years and years, if only one might save some of them."
"Well, it does seem hard," said Jocunda; "but what's the use of thinking of it? Old Father Anselmo told us in one of his sermons that the Lord wills that his saints should come to rejoice in the punishment of all heathens and heretics; and he told us about a great saint once, who took it into his head to be distressed because one of the old heathen whose books he was fond of reading had gone to hell,—and he fasted and prayed, and wouldn't take no for an answer, till he got him out."
"He did, then?" said Agnes, clasping her hands in an ecstasy.
"Yes; but the good Lord told him never to try it again,—and He struck him dumb, as a kind of hint, you know. Why, Father Anselmo said that even getting souls out of purgatory was no easy matter. He told us of one holy nun who spent nine years fasting and praying for the soul of her prince, who was killed in a duel, and then she saw in a vision that he was only raised the least little bit out of the fire,—and she offered up her life as a sacrifice to the Lord to deliver him, but, after all, when she died he wasn't quite delivered. Such things made me think that a poor old sinner like me would never get out at all, if I didn't set about it in earnest,—though it a'n't all nuns that save their souls either. I remember in Pisa I saw a great picture of the Judgment-Day in the Campo Santo, and there were lots of abbesses, and nuns, and monks, and bishops too, that the devils were clearing off into the fire."
"Oh, Jocunda, how dreadful that fire must be!"
"Yes," said Jocunda. "Father Anselmo said hell-fire wasn't like any kind of fire we have here,—made to warm us and cook our food,—but a kind made especially to torment body and soul, and not made for anything else. I remember a story he told us about that. You see, there was an old duchess that lived in a grand old castle,—and a proud, wicked old thing enough; and her son brought home a handsome young bride to the castle, and the old duchess was jealous of her,—'cause, you see, she hated to give up her place in the house, and the old family-jewels, and all the splendid things,—and so one time, when the poor young thing was all dressed up in a set of the old family-lace, what does the old hag do but set fire to it!"
"How horrible!" said Agnes.
"Yes; and when the young thing ran screaming in her agony, the old hag stopped her and tore off a pearl rosary that she was wearing, for fear it should be spoiled by the fire."
"Holy Mother! can such things be possible?" said Agnes.
"Well, you see, she got her pay for it. That rosary was of famous old pearls that had been in the family a hundred years; but from that moment the good Lord struck it with a curse, and filled it white-hot with hell-fire, so that, if anybody held it a few minutes in their hand, it would burn to the bone. The old sinner made believe that she was in great affliction for the death of her daughter-in-law, and that it was all an accident, and the poor young man went raving mad,—but that awful rosary the old hag couldn't get rid of. She couldn't give it away,—she couldn't sell it,—but back it would come every night, and lie right over her heart, all white-hot with the fire that burned in it. She gave it to a convent, and she sold it to a merchant, but back it came; and she locked it up in the heaviest chests, and she buried it down in the lowest vaults, but it always came back in the night, till she was worn to a skeleton; and at last the old thing died without confession or sacrament, and went where she belonged. She was found lying dead in her bed one morning, and the rosary was gone; but when they came to lay her out, they found the marks of it burned to the bone into her breast. Father Anselmo used to tell us this, to show us a little what hell-fire was like."
"Oh, please, Jocunda, don't let us talk about it any more," said Agnes.
Old Jocunda, with her tough, vigorous organization and unceremonious habits of expression, could not conceive the exquisite pain with which this whole conversation had vibrated on the sensitive being at her right hand,—that what merely awoke her hard-corded nerves to a dull vibration of not unpleasant excitement was shivering and tearing the tenderer chords of poor little Psyche beside her.
Ages before, beneath those very skies that smiled so sweetly over her,—amid the bloom of lemon and citron, and the perfume of jasmine and rose, the gentlest of old Italian souls had dreamed and wondered what might be the unknown future of the dead, and, learning his lesson from the glorious skies and gorgeous shores which witnessed how magnificent a Being had given existence to man, had recorded his hopes of man's future in the words—Aut beatus, aut nihil; but, singular to tell, the religion which brought with it all human tenderness and pities,—the hospital for the sick, the refuge for the orphan, the enfranchisement of the slave,—this religion brought also the news of the eternal, hopeless, living torture of the great majority of mankind, past and present. Tender spirits, like those of Dante, carried this awful mystery as a secret and unexplained anguish; saints wrestled with God and wept over it; but still the awful fact remained, spite of Church and sacrament, that the gospel was in effect, to the majority of the human race, not the glad tidings of salvation, but the sentence of immitigable doom.
The present traveller in Italy sees with disgust the dim and faded frescoes in which this doom is portrayed in all its varied refinements of torture; and the vivid Italian mind ran riot in these lurid fields, and every monk who wanted to move his audience was in his small way a Dante. The poet and the artist give only the highest form of the ideas of their day, and he who cannot read the "Inferno" with firm nerves may ask what the same representations were likely to have been in the grasp of coarse and common minds.
The first teachers of Christianity in Italy read the Gospels by the light of those fiendish fires which consumed their fellows. Daily made familiar with the scorching, the searing, the racking, the devilish ingenuities of torture, they transferred them to the future hell of the torturers. The sentiment within us which asserts eternal justice and retribution was stimulated to a kind of madness by that first baptism of fire and blood, and expanded the simple and grave warnings of the gospel into a lurid poetry of physical torture. Hence, while Christianity brought multiplied forms of mercy into the world, it failed for many centuries to humanize the savage forms of justice; and rack and wheel, fire and fagot were the modes by which human justice aspired to a faint imitation of what divine justice was supposed to extend through eternity.
But it is remarkable always to observe the power of individual minds to draw out of the popular religious ideas of their country only those elements which suit themselves, and to drop others from their thought. As a bee can extract pure honey from the blossoms of some plants whose leaves are poisonous, so some souls can nourish themselves only with the holier and more ethereal parts of popular belief.
Agnes had hitherto dwelt only on the cheering and the joyous features of her faith; her mind loved to muse on the legends of saints and angels and the glories of paradise, which, with a secret buoyancy, she hoped to be the lot of every one she saw. The mind of the Mother Theresa was of the same elevated cast, and the terrors on which Jocunda dwelt with such homely force of language seldom made a part of her instructions.
Agnes tried to dismiss these gloomy images from her mind, and, after arranging her garlands, went to decorate the shrine and altar,—a cheerful labor of love, in which she delighted.
To the mind of the really spiritual Christian of those ages the air of this lower world was not as it is to us, in spite of our nominal faith in the Bible, a blank, empty space from which all spiritual sympathy and life have fled, but, like the atmosphere with which Raphael has surrounded the Sistine Madonna, it was full of sympathizing faces, a great "cloud of witnesses." The holy dead were not gone from earth; the Church visible and invisible were in close, loving, and constant sympathy,—still loving, praying, and watching together, though with a veil between.
It was at first with no idolatrous intention that the prayers of the holy dead were invoked in acts of worship. Their prayers were asked simply because they were felt to be as really present with their former friends and as truly sympathetic as if no veil of silence had fallen between. In time this simple belief had its intemperate and idolatrous exaggerations,—the Italian soil always seeming to have a fiery and volcanic forcing power, by which religious ideas overblossomed themselves, and grew wild and ragged with too much enthusiasm; and, as so often happens with friends on earth, these too much loved and revered invisible friends became eclipsing screens instead of transmitting mediums of God's light to the soul.
Yet we can see in the hymns of Savonarola, who perfectly represented the attitude of the highest Christian of those times, how perfect might be the love and veneration for departed saints without lapsing into idolatry, and with what an atmosphere of warmth and glory the true belief of the unity of the Church, visible and invisible, could inspire an elevated soul amid the discouragements of an unbelieving and gainsaying world.
Our little Agnes, therefore, when she had spread all her garlands out, seemed really to feel as if the girlish figure that smiled in sacred white from the altar-piece was a dear friend who smiled upon her, and was watching to lead her up the path to heaven.
Pleasantly passed the hours of that day to the girl, and when at evening old Elsie called for her, she wondered that the day had gone so fast.
Old Elsie returned with no inconsiderable triumph from her stand. The cavalier had been several times during the day past her stall, and once, stopping in a careless way to buy fruit, commented on the absence of her young charge. This gave Elsie the highest possible idea of her own sagacity and shrewdness, and of the promptitude with which she had taken her measures, so that she was in as good spirits as people commonly are who think they have performed some stroke of generalship.
As the old woman and young girl emerged from the dark-vaulted passage that led them down through the rocks on which the convent stood to the sea at its base, the light of a most glorious sunset burst upon them, in all those strange and magical mysteries of light which any one who has walked that beach of Sorrento at evening will never forget.
Agnes ran along the shore, and amused herself with picking up little morsels of red and black coral, and those fragments of mosaic pavements, blue, red, and green, which the sea is never tired of casting up from the thousands of ancient temples and palaces which have gone to wreck all around these shores.
As she was busy doing this, she suddenly heard the voice of Giulietta behind her.
"So ho, Agnes! where have you been all day?"
"At the Convent," said Agnes, raising herself from her work, and smiling at Giulietta, in her frank, open way.
"Oh, then you really did take the ring to Saint Agnes?"
"To be sure I did," said Agnes.
"Simple child!" said Giulietta, laughing; "that wasn't what he meant you to do with it. He meant it for you,—only your grandmother was by. You never will have any lovers, if she keeps you so tight."
"I can do without," said Agnes.
"I could tell you something about this one," said Giulietta.
"You did tell me something yesterday," said Agnes.
"But I could tell you some more. I know he wants to see you again."
"What for?" said Agnes.
"Simpleton, he's in love with you. You never had a lover;—it's time you had."
"I don't want one, Giulietta. I hope I never shall see him again."
"Oh, nonsense, Agnes! Why, what a girl you are! Why, before I was as old as you I had half-a-dozen lovers."
"Agnes," said the sharp voice of Elsie, coming up from behind, "don't run on ahead of me again;—and you, Mistress Baggage, let my child alone."
"Who's touching your child?" said Giulietta, scornfully. "Can't a body say a civil word to her?"
"I know what you would be after," said Elsie,—"filling her head with talk of all the wild, loose gallants; but she is for no such market, I promise you! Come, Agnes."
So saying, old Elsie drew Agnes rapidly along with her, leaving Giulietta rolling her great black eyes after them with an air of infinite contempt.
"The old kite!" she said; "I declare he shall get speech of the little dove, if only to spite her. Let her try her best, and see if we don't get round her before she knows it. Pietro says his master is certainly wild after her, and I have promised to help him."
Meanwhile, just as old Elsie and Agnes were turning into the orange-orchard which led into the Gorge of Sorrento, they met the cavalier of the evening before.
He stopped, and, removing his cap, saluted them with as much deference as if they had been princesses. Old Elsie frowned, and Agnes blushed deeply;—both hurried forward. Looking back, the old woman saw that he was walking slowly behind them, evidently watching them closely, yet not in a way sufficiently obtrusive to warrant an open rebuff.
Nothing can be more striking, in common Italian life, than the contrast between out-doors and in-doors. Without, all is fragrant and radiant; within, mouldy, dark, and damp. Except in the well-kept palaces of the great, houses in Italy are more like dens than habitations, and a sight of them is a sufficient reason to the mind of any inquirer, why their vivacious and handsome inhabitants spend their life principally in the open air. Nothing could be more perfectly paradisiacal than this evening at Sorrento. The sun had sunk, but left the air full of diffused radiance, which trembled and vibrated over the thousand many-colored waves of the sea. The moon was riding in a broad zone of purple, low in the horizon, her silver forehead somewhat flushed in the general rosiness that seemed to penetrate and suffuse every object. The fishermen, who were drawing in their nets, gayly singing, seemed to be floating on a violet-and-gold-colored flooring that broke into a thousand gems at every dash of the oar or motion of the boat. The old stone statue of Saint Antonio looked down in the rosy air, itself tinged and brightened by the magical colors which floated round it. And the girls and men of Sorrento gathered in gossiping knots on the old Roman bridge that spanned the gorge, looked idly down into its dusky shadows, talking the while, and playing the time-honored game of flirtation which has gone on in all climes and languages since man and woman began.
Conspicuous among them all was Giulietta, her blue-black hair recently braided and polished to a glossy radiance, and all her costume arranged to show her comely proportions to the best advantage,—her great pearl ear-rings shaking as she tossed her head, and showing the flash of the emerald in the middle of them. An Italian peasant-woman may trust Providence for her gown, but ear-rings she attends to herself,—for what is life without them? The great pearl ear-rings of the Sorrento women are accumulated, pearl by pearl, as the price of years of labor. Giulietta, however, had come into the world, so to speak, with a gold spoon in her mouth,—since her grandmother, a thriving, stirring, energetic body, had got together a pair of ear-rings of unmatched size, which had descended as heirlooms to her, leaving her nothing to do but display them, which she did with the freest good-will. At present she was busily occupied in coquetting with a tall and jauntily-dressed fellow, wearing a plumed hat and a red sash, who seemed to be mesmerized by the power of her charms, his large dark eyes following every movement, as she now talked with him gayly and freely, and now pretended errands to this and that and the other person on the bridge, stationing herself here and there, that she might have the pleasure of seeing herself followed.
"Giulietta," at last said the young man, earnestly, when he found her accidentally standing alone by the parapet, "I must be going to-morrow."
"Well, what is that to me?" said Giulietta, looking wickedly from under her eyelashes.
"Cruel girl! you know"——
"Nonsense, Pietro! I don't know anything about you"; but as Giulietta said this, her great, soft, dark eyes looked out furtively, and said just the contrary.
"You will go with me?"
"Did I ever hear anything like it? One can't be civil to a fellow but he asks her to go to the world's end. Pray, how far is it to your dreadful old den?"
"Only two days' journey, Giulietta."
"Yes, my life; and you shall ride."
"Thank you, Sir,—I wasn't thinking of walking. But seriously, Pietro, I am afraid it's no place for an honest girl to be in."
"There are lots of honest women there,—all our men have wives; and our captain has put his eye on one, too, or I'm mistaken."
"What! little Agnes?" said Giulietta. "He will be bright that gets her. That old dragon of a grandmother is as tight to her as her skin."
"Our captain is used to helping himself," said Pietro. "We might carry them both off some night, and no one the wiser; but he seems to want to win the girl to come to him of her own accord. At any rate, we are to be sent back to the mountains while he lingers a day or two more round here."
"I declare, Pietro, I think you all little better than Turks or heathens, to talk in that way about carrying off women; and what if one should be sick and die among you? What is to become of one's soul, I wonder?"
"Pshaw! don't we have priests? Why, Giulietta, we are all very pious, and never think of going out without saying our prayers. The Madonna is a kind Mother, and will wink very hard on the sins of such good sons as we are. There isn't a place in all Italy where she is kept better in candles, and in rings and bracelets, and everything a woman could want. We never come home without bringing her something; and then we have lots left to dress all our women like princesses; and they have nothing to do from morning till night but play the lady. Come now?"
At the moment this conversation was going on in the balmy, seductive evening air at the bridge, another was transpiring in the Albergo della Torre, one of those dark, musty dens of which we have been speaking. In a damp, dirty chamber, whose brick floor seemed to have been unsuspicious of even the existence of brooms for centuries, was sitting the cavalier whom we have so often named in connection with Agnes. His easy, high-bred air, his graceful, flexible form and handsome face formed a singular contrast to the dark and mouldy apartment, at whose single unglazed window he was sitting. The sight of this splendid man gave an impression of strangeness, in the general bareness, much as if some marvellous jewel had been unaccountably found lying on that dusty brick floor.
He sat deep in thought, with his elbow resting on a rickety table, his large, piercing, dark eyes seeming intently to study the pavement.
The door opened, and a gray-headed old man entered, who approached him respectfully.
"Well, Paolo?" said the cavalier, suddenly starting.
"My Lord, the men are all going back to-night."
"Let them go, then," said the cavalier, with an impatient movement. "I can follow in a day or two."
"Ah, my Lord, if I might make so bold, why should you expose your person by staying longer? You may be recognized and"——
"No danger," said the other, hastily.
"My Lord, you must forgive me, but I promised my dear lady, your mother, on her death-bed"——
"To be a constant plague to me," said the cavalier, with a vexed smile and an impatient movement; "but speak on, Paolo,—for when you once get anything on your mind, one may as well hear it first as last."
"Well, then, my Lord, this girl,—I have made inquiries, and every one reports her most modest and pious,—the only grandchild of a poor old woman. Is it worthy of a great lord of an ancient house to bring her to shame?"
"Who thinks of bringing her to shame? 'Lord of an ancient house'!" added the cavalier, laughing bitterly,—"a landless beggar, cast out of everything,—titles, estates, all! Am I, then, fallen so low that my wooing would disgrace a peasant-girl?"
"My Lord, you cannot mean to woo a peasant-girl in any other way than one that would disgrace her,—one of the House of Sarelli, that goes back to the days of the old Roman Empire!"
"And what of the 'House of Sarelli that goes back to the days of the old Roman Empire'? It is lying like weeds' roots uppermost in the burning sun. What is left to me but the mountains and my sword? No, I tell you, Paolo, Agostino Sarelli, cavalier of fortune, is not thinking of bringing disgrace on a pious and modest maiden, unless it would disgrace her to be his wife."
"Now may the saints above help us! Why, my Lord, our house in days past has been allied to royal blood. I could tell you how Joachim VI."—
"Come, come, my good Paolo, spare me one of your chapters of genealogy. The fact is, my old boy, the world is all topsy-turvy, and the bottom is the top, and it isn't much matter what comes next. Here are shoals of noble families uprooted and lying round like those aloes that the gardener used to throw over the wall in spring-time; and there is that great boar of a Caesar Borgia turned in to batten and riot over our pleasant places."
"Oh, my Lord," said the old serving-man, with a distressful movement, "we have fallen on evil times, to be sure, and they say his Holiness has excommunicated us. Anselmo heard that in Naples yesterday."
"Excommunicated!" said the young man,—every feature of his fine face, and every nerve of his graceful form seeming to quiver with the effort to express supreme contempt. "Excommunicated! I should hope so! One would hope through Our Lady's grace to act so that Alexander, and his adulterous, incestuous, filthy, false-swearing, perjured, murderous crew, would excommunicate us! In these times, one's only hope of paradise lies in being excommunicated."
"Oh, my dear master," said the old man, falling on his knees, "what is to become of us? That I should live to hear you talk like an infidel and unbeliever!"
"Why, hear you, poor old fool! Did you never hear in Dante of the Popes that are burning in hell? Wasn't Dante a Christian, I beg to know?"
"Oh, my Lord, my Lord! a religion got out of poetry, books, and romances won't do to die by. We have no business with the affairs of the Head of the Church,—it's the Lord's appointment. We have only to shut our eyes and obey. It may all do well enough to talk so when you are young and fresh; but when sickness and death come, then we must have religion,— and if we have gone out of the only true Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, what becomes of our souls? Ah, I misdoubted about your taking so much to poetry, though my poor mistress was so proud of it; but these poets are all heretics, my Lord,—that's my firm belief. But, my Lord, if you do go to hell, I'm going there with you; I'm sure I never could show my face among the saints, and you not there."
"Well, come, then, my poor Paolo," said the cavalier, stretching out his hand to his serving-man, "don't take it to heart so. Many a better man than I has been excommunicated and cursed from toe to crown, and been never a whit the worse for it. There's Jerome Savonarola there in Florence—a most holy man, they say, who has had revelations straight from heaven—has been excommunicated; but he preaches and gives the sacraments all the same, and nobody minds it."
"Well, it's all a maze to me," said the old serving-man, shaking his white head. "I can't see into it, I don't dare to open my eyes for fear I should get to be a heretic; it seems to me that everything is getting mixed up together. But one must hold on to one's religion; because, after we have lost everything in this world, it would be too bad to burn in hell forever at the end of that."
"Why, Paolo, I am a good Christian. I believe, with all my heart, in the Christian religion, like the fellow in Boccaccio,—because I think it must be from God, or else the Popes and Cardinals would have had it out of the world long ago. Nothing but the Lord Himself could have kept it against them."
"There you are, my dear master, with your romances! Well, well, well! I don't know how it'll end. I say my prayers, and try not to inquire into what's too high for me. But now, dear master, will you stay lingering after this girl till some of our enemies hear where you are and pounce down upon us? Besides, the troop are never so well affected when you are away; there are quarrels and divisions."
"Well, well," said the cavalier, with an impatient movement,—"one day longer. I must get a chance to speak with her once more. I must see her."
* * * * *
SUN-PAINTING AND SUN-SCULPTURE;
WITH A STEREOSCOPIC TRIP ACROSS THE ATLANTIC.
There is one old fable which Lord Bacon, in his "Wisdom of the Ancients," has not interpreted. This is the flaying of Marsyas by Apollo. Everybody remembers the accepted version of it, namely,—that the young shepherd found Minerva's flute, and was rash enough to enter into a musical contest with the God of Music. He was vanquished, of course,—and the story is, that the victor fastened him to a tree and flayed him alive.
But the God of Song was also the God of Light, and a moment's reflection reveals the true significance of this seemingly barbarous story. Apollo was pleased with his young rival, fixed him in position against an iron rest, (the tree of the fable,) and took a photograph, a sun-picture, of him. This thin film or skin of light and shade was absurdly interpreted as being the cutis, or untanned leather integument of the young shepherd. The human discovery of the art of photography enables us to rectify the error and restore that important article of clothing to the youth, as well as to vindicate the character of Apollo. There is one spot less upon the sun since the theft from heaven of Prometheus Daguerre and his fellow-adventurers has enabled us to understand the ancient legend.
We are now flaying our friends and submitting to be flayed ourselves, every few years or months or days, by the aid of the trenchant sunbeam which performed the process for Marsyas. All the world has to submit to it,—kings and queens with the rest. The monuments of Art and the face of Nature herself are treated in the same way. We lift an impalpable scale from the surface of the Pyramids. We slip off from the dome of St. Peter's that other imponderable dome which fitted it so closely that it betrays every scratch on the original. We skim off a thin, dry cuticle from the rapids of Niagara, and lay it on our unmoistened paper without breaking a bubble or losing a speck of foam. We steal a landscape from its lawful owners, and defy the charge of dishonesty. We skin the flints by the wayside, and nobody accuses us of meanness.
These miracles are being worked all around us so easily and so cheaply that most people have ceased to think of them as marvels. There is a photographer established in every considerable village,—nay, one may not unfrequently see a photographic ambulance standing at the wayside upon some vacant lot where it can squat unchallenged in the midst of burdock and plantain and apple-Peru, or making a long halt in the middle of a common by special permission of the "Selectmen."
We must not forget the inestimable preciousness of the new Promethean gifts because they have become familiar. Think first of the privilege we all possess now of preserving the lineaments and looks of those dear to us.
"Blest be the art which can immortalize,"
said Cowper. But remember how few painted portraits really give their subjects. Recollect those wandering Thugs of Art whose murderous doings with the brush used frequently to involve whole families; who passed from one country tavern to another, eating and painting their way,—feeding a week upon the landlord, another week upon the landlady, and two or three days apiece upon the children; as the walls of those hospitable edifices too frequently testify even to the present day. Then see what faithful memorials of those whom we love and would remember are put into our hands by the new art, with the most trifling expenditure of time and money.
This new art is old enough already to have given us the portraits of infants who are now growing into adolescence. By-and-by it will show every aspect of life in the same individual, from the earliest week to the last year of senility. We are beginning to see what it will reveal. Children grow into beauty and out of it. The first line in the forehead, the first streak in the hair are chronicled without malice, but without extenuation. The footprints of thought, of passion, of purpose are all treasured in these fossilized shadows. Family-traits show themselves in early infancy, die out, and reappear. Flitting moods which have escaped one pencil of sunbeams are caught by another. Each new picture gives us a new aspect of our friend; we find he had not one face, but many.
It is hardly too much to say, that those whom we love no longer leave us in dying, as they did of old. They remain with us just as they appeared in life; they look down upon us from our walls; they lie upon our tables; they rest upon our bosoms; nay, if we will, we may wear their portraits, like signet-rings, upon our fingers. Our own eyes lose the images pictured on them. Parents sometimes forget the faces of their own children in a separation of a year or two. But the unfading artificial retina which has looked upon them retains their impress, and a fresh sunbeam lays this on the living nerve as if it were radiated from the breathing shape. How these shadows last, and how their originals fade away!
What is true of the faces of our friends is still more true of the places we have seen and loved. No picture produces an impression on the imagination to compare with a photographic transcript of the home of our childhood, or any scene with which we have been long familiar. The very point which the artist omits, in his effort to produce general effect, may be exactly the one that individualizes the place most strongly to our memory. There, for instance, is a photographic view of our own birthplace, and with it of a part of our good old neighbor's dwelling. An artist would hardly have noticed a slender, dry, leafless stalk which traces a faint line, as you may see, along the front of our neighbor's house next the corner. That would be nothing to him,—but to us it marks the stem of the honeysuckle-vine, which we remember, with its pink and white heavy-scented blossoms, as long as we remember the stars in heaven.
To this charm of fidelity in the minutest details the stereoscope adds its astonishing illusion of solidity, and thus completes the effect which so entrances the imagination. Perhaps there is also some half-magnetic effect in the fixing of the eyes on the twin pictures,—something like Mr. Braid's hypnotism, of which many of our readers have doubtless heard. At least the shutting out of surrounding objects, and the concentration of the whole attention, which is a consequence of this, produce a dream-like exaltation of the faculties, a kind of clairvoyance, in which we seem to leave the body behind us and sail away into one strange scene after another, like disembodied spirits.
"Ah, yes," some unimaginative reader may say; "but there is no color and no motion in these pictures you think so life-like; and at best they are but petty miniatures of the objects we see in Nature."
But color is, after all, a very secondary quality as compared with form. We like a good crayon portrait better for the most part in black and white than in tints of pink and blue and brown. Mr. Gibson has never succeeded in making the world like his flesh-colored statues. The color of a landscape varies perpetually, with the season, with the hour of the day, with the weather, and as seen by sunlight or moonlight; yet our home stirs us with its old associations, seen in any and every light.
As to motion, though of course it is not present in stereoscopic pictures, except in those toy-contrivances which have been lately introduced, yet it is wonderful to see how nearly the effect of motion is produced by the slight difference of light on the water or on the leaves of trees as seen by the two eyes in the double-picture.
And lastly with respect to size, the illusion is on the part of those who suppose that the eye, unaided, ever sees anything but miniatures of objects. Here is a new experiment to convince those who have not reflected on the subject that the stereoscope shows us objects of their natural size.
We had a stereoscopic view taken by Mr. Soule out of our parlor-window, overlooking the town of Cambridge, with the river and the bridge in the foreground. Now, placing this view in the stereoscope, and looking with the left eye at the right stereographic picture, while the right eye looked at the natural landscape, through the window where the view was taken, it was not difficult so to adjust the photographic and real views that one overlapped the other, and then it was shown that the two almost exactly coincided in all their dimensions.
Another point in which the stereograph differs from every other delineation is in the character of its evidence. A simple photographic picture may be tampered with. A lady's portrait has been known to come out of the finishing-artist's room ten years younger than when it left the camera. But try to mend a stereograph and you will soon find the difference. Your marks and patches float above the picture and never identify themselves with it. We had occasion to put a little cross on the pavement of a double photograph of Canterbury Cathedral,—copying another stereoscopic picture where it was thus marked. By careful management the two crosses were made perfectly to coincide in the field of vision, but the image seemed suspended above the pavement, and did not absolutely designate any one stone, as it would have done, if it had been a part of the original picture. The impossibility of the stereograph's perjuring itself is a curious illustration of the law of evidence. "At the mouth of two witnesses, or of three, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one he shall not be put to death." No woman may be declared youthful on the strength of a single photograph; but if the stereoscopic twins say she is young, let her be so acknowledged in the high court of chancery of the God of Love.
Some two or three years since, we called the attention of the readers of this magazine to the subject of the stereoscope and the stereograph. Some of our expressions may have seemed extravagant, as if heated by the interest which a curious novelty might not unnaturally excite. We have not lost any of the enthusiasm and delight which that article must have betrayed. After looking over perhaps a hundred thousand stereographs and making a collection of about a thousand, we should feel the same excitement on receiving a new lot to look over and select from as in those early days of our experience. To make sure that this early interest has not cooled, let us put on record one or two convictions of the present moment.
First, as to the wonderful nature of the invention. If a strange planet should happen to come within hail, and one of its philosophers were to ask us, as it passed, to hand him the most remarkable material product of human skill, we should offer him, without a moment's hesitation, a stereoscope containing an instantaneous double-view of some great thoroughfare,—one of Mr. Anthony's views of Broadway, (No. 203,) for instance.
Secondly, of all artificial contrivances for the gratification of human taste, we seriously question whether any offers so much, on the whole, to the enjoyment of the civilized races as the self-picturing of Art and Nature,—with three exceptions: namely, dress, the most universal, architecture, the most imposing, and music, the most exciting, of factitious sources of pleasure.
No matter whether this be an extravagance or an over-statement; none can dispute that we have a new and wonderful source of pleasure in the sun-picture, and especially in the solid sun-sculptures of the stereograph. Yet there is a strange indifference to it, even up to the present moment, among many persons of cultivation and taste. They do not seem to have waked up to the significance of the miracle which the Lord of Light is working for them. The cream of the visible creation has been skimmed off; and the sights which men risk their lives and spend their money and endure sea-sickness to behold,—the views of Nature and Art which make exiles of entire families for the sake of a look at them, and render "bronchitis" and dyspepsia, followed by leave of absence, endurable dispensations to so many worthy shepherds,—these sights, gathered from Alps, temples, palaces, pyramids, are offered you for a trifle, to carry home with you, that you may look at them at your leisure, by your fireside, with perpetual fair weather, when you are in the mood, without catching cold, without following a valet-de-place, in any order of succession,—from a glacier to Vesuvius, from Niagara to Memphis,—as long as you like, and breaking off as suddenly as you like;—and you, native of this incomparably dull planet, have hardly troubled yourself to look at this divine gift, which, if an angel had brought it from some sphere nearer to the central throne, would have been thought worthy of the celestial messenger to whom it was intrusted!
It seemed to us that it might possibly awaken an interest in some of our readers, if we should carry them with us through a brief stereographic trip,—describing, not from places, but from the photographic pictures of them which we have in our own collection. Again, those who have collections may like to compare their own opinions of particular pictures mentioned with those here expressed, and those who are buying stereographs may be glad of some guidance in choosing.
But the reader must remember that this trip gives him only a glimpse of a few scenes selected out of our gallery of a thousand. To visit them all, as tourists visit the realities, and report what we saw, with the usual explanations and historical illustrations, would make a formidable book of travels.
Before we set out, we must know something of the sights of our own country. At least we must see Niagara. The great fall shows infinitely best on glass. Thomson's "Point View, 28," would be a perfect picture of the Falls in summer, if a lady in the foreground had not moved her shawl while the pictures were taking, or in the interval between taking the two. His winter view, "Terrapin Tower, 37," is perfection itself. Both he and Evans have taken fine views of the rapids, instantaneous, catching the spray as it leaped and the clouds overhead. Of Blondin on his rope there are numerous views; standing on one foot, on his head, carrying a man on his back, and one frightful picture, where he hangs by one leg, head downward, over the abyss. The best we have seen is Evans's No. 5, a front view, where every muscle stands out in perfect relief, and the symmetry of the most unimpressible of mortals is finely shown. It literally makes the head swim to fix the eyes on some of these pictures. It is a relief to get away from such fearful sights and look up at the Old Man of the Mountain. There stands the face, without any humanizing help from the hand of an artist. Mr. Bierstadt has given it to us very well. Rather an imbecile old gentleman, one would say, with his mouth open; a face such as one may see hanging about railway-stations, and, what is curious, a New-England style of countenance. Let us flit again, and just take a look at the level sheets of water and broken falls of Trenton,—at the oblong, almost squared arch of the Natural Bridge,—at the ruins of the Pemberton Mills, still smoking,—and so come to Mr. Barnum's "Historical Series." Clark's Island, with the great rock by which the Pilgrims "rested, according to the commandment," on the first Sunday, or Sabbath, as they loved to call it, which they passed in the harbor of Plymouth, is the most interesting of them all to us. But here are many scenes of historical interest connected with the great names and events of our past. The Washington Elm, at Cambridge, (through the branches of which we saw the first sunset we ever looked upon, from this planet, at least,) is here in all its magnificent drapery of hanging foliage. Mr. Soule has given another beautiful view of it, when stripped of its leaves, equally remarkable for the delicacy of its pendent, hair-like spray.
We should keep the reader half an hour looking through this series, if we did not tear ourselves abruptly away from it. We are bound for Europe, and are to leave via New York immediately.
Here we are in the main street of the great city. This is Mr. Anthony's miraculous instantaneous view in Broadway, (No. 203,) before referred to. It is the Oriental story of the petrified city made real to our eyes. The character of it is, perhaps, best shown by the use we make of it in our lectures, to illustrate the physiology of walking. Every foot is caught in its movement with such suddenness that it shows as clearly as if quite still. We are surprised to see, in one figure, how long the stride is,—in another, how much the knee is bent,—in a third, how curiously the heel strikes the ground before the rest of the foot,—in all, how singularly the body is accommodated to the action of walking. The facts which the brothers Weber, laborious German experimenters and observers, had carefully worked out on the bony frame, are illustrated by the various individuals comprising this moving throng. But what a wonder it is, this snatch at the central life of a mighty city as it rushed by in all its multitudinous complexity of movement! Hundreds of objects in this picture could be identified in a court of law by their owners. There stands Car No. 33 of the Astor House and Twenty-Seventh Street Fourth Avenue line. The old woman would miss an apple from that pile which you see glistening on her stand. The young man whose back is to us could swear to the pattern of his shawl. The gentleman between two others will no doubt remember that he had a headache the next morning, after this walk he is taking. Notice the caution with which the man driving the dapple-gray horse in a cart loaded with barrels holds his reins,—wide apart, one in each hand. See the shop-boys with their bundles, the young fellow with a lighted cigar in his hand, as you see by the way he keeps it off from his body, the gamin stooping to pick up something in the midst of the moving omnibuses, the stout philosophical carman sitting on his cart-tail, Newman Noggs by the lamp-post at the corner. Nay, look into Car No. 33 and you may see the passengers;—is that a young woman's face turned toward you looking out of the window? See how the faithful sun-print advertises the rival establishment of "Meade Brothers, Ambrotypes and Photographs." What a fearfully suggestive picture! It is a leaf torn from the book of God's recording angel. What if the sky is one great concave mirror, which reflects the picture of all our doings, and photographs every act on which it looks upon dead and living surfaces, so that to celestial eyes the stones on which we tread are written with our deeds, and the leaves of the forest are but undeveloped negatives where our summers stand self-recorded for transfer into the imperishable record? And what a metaphysical puzzle have we here in this simple-looking paradox! Is motion but a succession of rests? All is still in this picture of universal movement. Take ten thousand instantaneous photographs of the great thoroughfare in a day; every one of them will be as still as the tableau in the "Enchanted Beauty." Yet the hurried day's life of Broadway will have been made up of just such stillnesses. Motion is as rigid as marble, if you only take a wink's worth of it at a time.
We are all ready to embark now. Here is the harbor; and there lies the Great Eastern at anchor,—the biggest island that ever got adrift. Stay one moment,—they will ask us about secession and the revolted States,—it may be as well to take a look at Charleston, for an instant, before we go.
These three stereographs were sent us by a lady now residing in Charleston. The Battery, the famous promenade of the Charlestonians, since armed with twenty-four-pounders facing Fort Sumter; the interior of Fort Moultrie, with the guns spiked by Major Anderson; and a more extensive view of the same interior, with the flag of the seven stars, (corresponding to the seven deadly sins,)—the free end of it tied to a gun-carriage, as if to prevent the winds of the angry heaven from rending it to tatters. In the distance, to the right, Fort Sumter, looking remote and inaccessible,—the terrible rattle which our foolish little spoiled sister Caroline has insisted on getting into her rash hand. How ghostly, yet how real, it looms up out of the dim atmosphere,—the guns looking over the wall and out through the embrasures,—meant for a foreign foe,—this very day (April 13th) turned in self-defence against the children of those who once fought for liberty at Fort Moultrie! It is a sad thought that there are truths which can be got out of life only by the destructive analysis of war. Statesmen deal in proximate principles,—unstable compounds; but war reduces facts to their simple elements in its red-hot crucible, with its black flux of carbon and sulphur and nitre. Let us turn our back on this miserable, even though inevitable, fraternal strife, and, closing our eyes for an instant, open them in London.
Here we are at the foot of Charing Cross. You remember, of course, how this fine equestrian statue of Charles I. was condemned to be sold and broken up by the Parliament, but was buried and saved by the brazier who purchased it, and so reappeared after the Restoration. To the left, the familiar words "Morley's Hotel" designate an edifice about half windows, where the plebeian traveller may sit and contemplate Northumberland House opposite, and the straight-tailed lion of the Percys surmounting the lofty battlement which crowns its broad facade. We could describe and criticize the statue as well as if we stood under it, but other travellers have done that. Where are all the people that ought to be seen here? Hardly more than three or four figures are to be made out; the rest were moving, and left no images in this slow, old-fashioned picture,—how unlike the miraculous "instantaneous" Broadway of Mr. Anthony we were looking at a little while ago! But there, on one side, an omnibus has stopped long enough to be caught by the sunbeams. There is a mark on it. Try it with a magnifier.
Here are the towers of Westminster Abbey. A dead failure, as we well remember them,—miserable modern excrescences, which shame the noble edifice. We will hasten on, and perhaps by-and-by come back and enter the cathedral.
How natural Temple Bar looks, with the loaded coach and the cab going through the central arch, and the blur of the hurrying throng darkening the small lateral ones! A fine old structure,—always reminds a Bostonian of the old arch over which the mysterious Boston Library was said still to linger out its existence late into the present century. But where are the spikes on which the rebels' heads used to grin until their jaws fell off? They must have been ranged along that ledge which forms the chord of the arch surmounting the triple-gated structure. To the left a woman is spreading an awning before a shop;—a man would do it for her here. Ghost of a boy with bundle,—seen with right eye only. Other ghosts of passers or loiterers,—one of a pretty woman, as we fancy at least, by the way she turns her face to us. To the right, fragments of signs, as follow:
CO BR PR
What can this be but 229, Patent Combs and Brushes, PROUT? At any rate, we were looking after Front's good old establishment, (229, Strand,) which we remembered was close to Temple Bar, when we discovered these fragments, the rest being cut off by the limits of the picture.
London Bridge! Less imposing than Waterloo Bridge, but a massive pile of masonry, which looks as if its rounded piers would defy the Thames as long as those of the Bridge of Sant' Angelo have stemmed the Tiber. Figures indistinct or invisible, as usual, in the foreground, but farther on a mingled procession of coaches, cabs, carts, and people. See the groups in the recesses over the piers. The parapet is breast-high;—a woman can climb over it, and drop or leap into the dark stream lying in deep shadow under the arches. Women take this leap often. The angels hear them like the splash of drops of blood out of the heart of our humanity. In the distance, wharves, storehouses, stately edifices, steeples, and rising proudly above them, "like a tall bully," London Monument.
Here we are, close to the Monument. Tall, square base, with reliefs, fluted columns, queer top;—looks like an inverted wineglass with a shaving-brush standing up on it: representative of flame, probably. Below this the square cage in which people who have climbed the stairs are standing; seems to be ten or twelve feet high, and is barred or wired over. Women used to jump off from the Monument as well as from London Bridge, before they made the cage safe in this way.
"Holloa!" said a man standing in the square one day, to his companion,—"there's the flag coming down from the Monument!"
"It's no flag," said the other, "it's a woman!"
Sure enough, and so it was.
Nobody can mistake the four pepper-boxes, with the four weathercocks on them, surmounting the corners of a great square castle, a little way from the river's edge. That is the Tower of London. We see it behind the masts of sailing-vessels and the chimneys of steamers, gray and misty in the distance. Let us come nearer to it. Four square towers, crowned by four Oriental-looking domes, not unlike the lower half of an inverted balloon: these towers at the angles of a square building with buttressed and battlemented walls, with two ranges of round-arched windows on the side towards us. But connected with this building are other towers, round, square, octagon, walls with embrasures, moats, loop-holes, turrets, parapets,—looking as if the beef-eaters really meant to hold out, if a new army of Boulogne should cross over some fine morning. We can't stop to go in and see the lions this morning, for we have come in sight of a great dome, and we cannot take our eyes away from it.
That is St. Paul's, the Boston State-House of London. There is a resemblance in effect, but there is a difference in dimensions,—to the disadvantage of the native edifice, as the reader may see in the plate prefixed to Dr. Bigelow's "Technology." The dome itself looks light and airy compared to St. Peter's or the Duomo of Florence, not only absolutely, but comparatively. The colonnade on which it rests divides the honors with it. It does not brood over the city, as those two others over their subject towns. Michel Angelo's forehead repeats itself in the dome of St. Peter's. Sir Christopher had doubtless a less ample frontal development; indeed, the towers he added to Westminster Abbey would almost lead us to doubt if he had not a vacancy somewhere in his brain. But the dome of the London "State-House" is very graceful,—so light that it looks as if Its lineage had been crossed by a spire. Wait until we have gilded the dome of our Boston St. Paul's before drawing any comparisons.
We have seen the outside of London. What do we care for the Crescent, and the Horseguards, and Nelson's Monument, and the statue of Achilles, and the new Houses of Parliament? The Abbey, the Tower, the Bridge, Temple Bar, the Monument, St. Paul's: these make up the great features of the London we dream about. Let us go into the Abbey for a few moments. The "dim religious light" is pretty good, after all. We can read every letter on that mural tablet to the memory of "the most illustrious and most benevolent John Paul Howard, Earl of Stafford," "a Lover of his Country, A Relation to Relations" (what a eulogy and satire in that expression!) and in many ways virtuous and honorable, as "The Countess Dowager, in Testimony of her great Affection and Respect to her Lord's Memory," has commemorated on his monument. We can see all the folds of the Duchess of Suffolk's dress, and the meshes of the net that confines her hair, as she lies in marble effigy on her sculptured sarcophagus. It looks old to our eyes,—for she was the mother of Lady Jane Grey, and died three hundred years ago,—but see those two little stone heads lying on their stone pillow, just beyond the marble Duchess. They are children of Edward III.,—the Black Prince's baby-brothers. They died five hundred years ago,—but what are centuries in Westminster Abbey? Under this pillared canopy, her head raised on two stone cushions, her fair, still features bordered with the spreading cap we know so well in her portraits, lies Mary of Scotland. These fresh monuments, protected from the wear of the elements, seem to make twenty generations our contemporaries. Look at this husband warding off the dart which the grim, draped skeleton is aiming at the breast of his fainting wife. Most famous, perhaps, of all the statues in the Abbey is this of Joseph Gascoigne Nightingale and his Lady, by Roubilliac. You need not cross the ocean to see it. It is here, literally to every dimple in the back of the falling hand, and every crinkle of the vermiculated stone-work. What a curious pleasure it is to puzzle out the inscriptions on the monuments in the background!—for the beauty of your photograph is, that you may work out minute derails with the microscope, just as you can with the telescope in a distant landscape in Nature. There is a lady, for instance, leaning upon an urn,—suggestive, a little, of Morgiana and the forty thieves. Above is a medallion of one wearing a full periwig. Now for a half-inch lens to make out the specks that seem to be letters. "Erected to the Memory of William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, by his Brother"—That will do,—the inscription operates as a cold bath to enthusiasm. But here is our own personal namesake, the once famous Rear Admiral of the White, whose biography we can find nowhere except in the "Gentleman's Magazine," where he divides the glory of the capture of Quebec with General Wolfe. A handsome young man with hyacinthine locks, his arms bare and one hand resting on a cannon. We remember thinking our namesake's statue one of the most graceful in the Abbey, and have always fallen back on the memory of that and of Dryden's Achates of the "Annus Mirabilis," as trophies of the family.
Enough of these marbles; there is no end to them; the walls and floor of the great, many-arched, thousand-pillared, sky-lifted cavern are crusted all over with them, like stalactites and stalagmites. The vast temple is alive with the images of the dead. Kings and queens, nobles, statesmen, soldiers, admirals, the great men whose deeds we all know, the great writers whose words are in all our memories, the brave and the beautiful whose fame has shrunk into their epitaphs, are all around us. What is the cry for alms that meets us at the door of the church to the mute petition of these marble beggars, who ask to warm their cold memories for a moment in our living hearts? Look up at the mighty arches overhead, borne up on tall clustered columns,—as if that avenue of Royal Palms we remember in the West India Islands (photograph) had been spirited over seas and turned into stone. Make your obeisance to the august shape of Sir Isaac Newton, reclining like a weary swain in the niche at the side of the gorgeous screen. Pass through Henry VII.'s Chapel, a temple cut like a cameo. Look at the shining oaken stalls of the knights. See the banners overhead. There is no such speaking record of the lapse of time as these banners,—there is one of them beginning to drop to pieces; the long day of a century has decay for its dial-shadow.
We have had a glimpse of London,—let us make an excursion to Stratford-on-Avon.
Here you see the Shakspeare House as it was,—wedged in between, and joined to, the "Swan and Maidenhead" Tavern and a mean and dilapidated brick building, not much worse than itself, however. The first improvement (as you see in No. 2) was to pull down this brick building. The next (as you see in No. 3)—was to take away the sign and the bay-window of the "Swan and Maidenhead" and raise two gables out of its roof, so as to restore something like its ancient aspect. Then a rustic fence was put up and the outside arrangements were completed. The cracked and faded sign projects as we remember it of old. In No. 1 you may read "THE IMMORTAL SHAKESpeare ... Born in This House" about as well as if you had been at the trouble and expense of going there.
But here is the back of the house. Did little Will use to look out at this window with the bull's-eye panes? Did he use to drink from this old pump, or the well in which it stands? Did his shoulders rub against this angle of the old house, built with rounded bricks? It a strange picture, and sets us dreaming. Let us go in and up-stairs. In this room he was born. They say so, and we will believe it. Rough walls, rudely boarded floor, wide window with small panes, small bust of him between two cactuses in bloom on window-seat. An old table covered with prints and stereographs, a framed picture, and under it a notice "Copies of this Portrait" ... the rest, in fine print, can only be conjectured.
Here is the Church of the Holy Trinity, in which he lies buried. The trees are bare that surround it; see the rooks' nests in their tops. The Avon is hard by, dammed just here, with flood-gates, like a canal. Change the season, if you like,—here are the trees in leaf, and in their shadow the tombs and graves of the mute, inglorious citizens of Stratford.
Ah, how natural this interior, with its great stained window, its mural monuments, and its slab in the pavement with the awful inscription! That we cannot see here, but there is the tablet with the bust we know so well. But this, after all, is Christ's temple, not Shakspeare's. Here are the worshippers' seats,—mark how the polished wood glistens,—there is the altar, and there the open prayer-book,—you can almost read the service from it. Of the many striking things that Henry Ward Beecher has said, nothing, perhaps, is more impressive than his account of his partaking of the communion at that altar in the church where Shakspeare rests. A memory more divine than his overshadowed the place, and he thought of Shakspeare, "as he thought of ten thousand things, without the least disturbance of his devotion," though he was kneeling directly over the poet's dust.
If you will stroll over to Shottery now with me, we can see the Ann Hathaway cottage from four different points, which will leave nothing outside of it to be seen. Better to look at than to live in. A fearful old place, full of small vertebrates that squeak and smaller articulates that bite, if its outward promise can be trusted. A thick thatch covers it like a coarse-haired hide. It is patched together with bricks and timber, and partly crusted with scaling plaster. One window has the diamond panes framed in lead, such as we remember seeing of old in one or two ancient dwellings in the town of Cambridge, hard by. In this view a young man is sitting, pensive, on the steps which Master William, too ardent lover, used to climb with hot haste and descend with lingering delay. Young men die, but youth lives. Life goes on in the cottage just as it used to three hundred years ago. On the rail before the door sits the puss of the household, of the fiftieth generation, perhaps, from that "harmless, necessary cat" which purred round the poet's legs as he sat talking love with Ann Hathaway. At the foot of the steps is a huge basin, and over the rail hangs—a dishcloth, drying. In these homely accidents of the very instant, that cut across our romantic ideals with the sharp edge of reality, lies one of the ineffable charms of the sun-picture. It is a little thing that gives life to a scene or a face; portraits are never absolutely alive, because they do not wink.
Come, we are full of Shakspeare; let us go up among the hills and see where another poet lived and lies. Here is Rydal Mount, the home of Wordsworth. Two-storied, ivy-clad, hedge-girdled, dropped into a crease among the hills that look down dimly from above, as if they were hunting after it as ancient dames hunt after a dropped thimble. In these walks he used to go "booing about," as his rustic neighbor had it,—reciting his own verses. Here is his grave in Grasmere. A plain slab, with nothing but his name. Next him lies Dora, his daughter, beneath a taller stone bordered with a tracery of ivy, and bearing in relief a lamb and a cross. Her husband lies next in the range. The three graves have just been shorn of their tall grass,—in this other view you may see them half-hidden by it. A few flowering stems have escaped the scythe in the first picture, and nestle close against the poet's headstone. Hard by sleeps poor Hartley Coleridge, with a slab of freestone graven with a cross and a crown of thorns, and the legend, "By thy Cross and Passion, Good Lord, deliver us."[A] All around are the graves of those whose names the world has not known. This view, (302,) from above Rydal Mount, is so Claude-like, especially in its trees, that one wants the solemn testimony of the double-picture to believe it an actual transcript of Nature. Of the other English landscapes we have seen, one of the most pleasing on the whole is that marked 43,—Sweden Bridge, near Ambleside. But do not fail to notice St. Mary's Church (101) in the same mountain-village. It grows out of the ground like a crystal, with spur-like gables budding out all the way up its spire, as if they were ready to flower into pinnacles, like such as have sprung up all over the marble multiflora of Milan.
[Footnote A: Miss Martineau, who went to his funeral, and may be supposed to describe after a visit to the churchyard, gives the inscription incorrectly. See Atlantic Monthly for May, 1861, p. 552. Tourists cannot be trusted; stereographs can.]
And as we have been looking at a steeple, let us flit away for a moment and pay our reverence at the foot of the tallest spire in England,—that of Salisbury Cathedral. Here we see it from below, looking up,—one of the most striking pictures ever taken. Look well at it; Chichester has just fallen, and this is a good deal like it,—some have thought raised by the same builder. It has bent somewhat (as you may see in these other views) from the perpendicular; and though it has been strengthened with clamps and framework, it must crash some day or other, for there has been a great giant tugging at it day and night for five hundred years, and it will at last shut up into itself or topple over with a sound and thrill that will make the dead knights and bishops shake on their stone couches, and be remembered all their days by year-old children. This is the first cathedral we ever saw, and none ever so impressed us since. Vast, simple, awful in dimensions and height, just beginning to grow tall at the point where our proudest steeples taper out, it fills the whole soul, pervades the vast landscape over which it reigns, and, like Niagara and the Alps, abolishes that five- or six-foot personality in the beholder which is fostered by keeping company with the little life of the day in its little dwellings. In the Alps your voice is as the piping of a cricket. Under the sheet of Niagara the beating of your heart seems to trivial a movement to take reckoning of. In the buttressed hollow of one of these palaeozoic cathedrals you are ashamed of your ribs, and blush for the exiguous pillars of bone on which your breathing structure reposes. Before we leave Salisbury, let us look for a moment into its cloisters. A green court-yard, with a covered gallery on its level, opening upon it through a series of Gothic arches. You may learn more, young American, of the difference between your civilization and that of the Old World by one look at this than from an average lyceum-lecture an hour long. Seventy years of life means a great deal to you; how little, comparatively, to the dweller in these cloisters! You will have seen a city grow up about you, perhaps; your whole world will have been changed half a dozen times over. What change for him? The cloisters are just as when he entered them,—just as they were a hundred years ago,—just as they will be a hundred years hence.
These old cathedrals are beyond all comparison what are best worth seeing, of a man's handiwork, in Europe. How great the delight to be able to bring them, bodily, as it were, to our own firesides! A hundred thousand pilgrims a year used to visit Canterbury. Now Canterbury visits us. See that small white mark on the pavement. That marks the place where the slice of Thomas a Becket's skull fell when Reginald Fitz Urse struck it off with a "Ha!" that seems to echo yet through the vaulted arches. And see the broad stains, worn by the pilgrims' knees as they climbed to the martyr's shrine. For four hundred years this stream of worshippers was wearing itself into these stones. But there was the place where they knelt before the altar called "Beckets's Crown." No! the story that those deep hollows in the marble were made by the pilgrims' knees is too much to believe,—but there are the hollows, and that is the story.
And now, if you would see a perfect gem of the art of photography, and at the same time an unquestioned monument of antiquity which no person can behold without interest, look upon this,—the monument of the Black Prince. There is hardly a better piece of work to be found. His marble effigy lies within a railing, with a sounding board. Above this, on a beam stretched between two pillars, hang the arms he wore at the Battle of Poitiers,—the tabard, the shield, the helmet, the gauntlets, and the sheath that held his sword, which weapon it is said that Cromwell carried off. The outside casing of the shield has broken away, as you observe, but the lions or lizards, or whatever they were meant for, and the flower-de-laces or plumes may still be seen. The metallic scales, if such they were, have partially fallen from the tabard, or frock, and the leather shows bare in parts of it.
Here, hard by, is the sarcophagus of Henry IV. and his queen, also inclosed with a railing like the other. It was opened about thirty years ago, in presence of the dean of the cathedral. There was a doubt, so it was said, as to the monarch's body having been really buried there. Curiosity had nothing to do with it, it is to be presumed. Every over-ground sarcophagus is opened sooner or later, as a matter of course. It was hard work to get it open; it had to be sawed. They found a quantity of hay,—fresh herbage, perhaps, when it was laid upon the royal body four hundred years ago,—and a cross of twigs. A silken mask was on the face. They raised it and saw his red beard, his features well preserved, a gap in the front-teeth, which there was probably no court-dentist to supply,—the same the citizens looked on four centuries ago
"In London streets that coronation-day, When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary";
then they covered it up to take another nap of a few centuries, until another dean has an historical doubt,—at last, perhaps, to be transported by some future Australian Barnum to the Sidney Museum and exhibited as the mummy of one of English Pharaohs. Look, too, at the "Warriors' Chapel," in the same cathedral. It is a very beautiful stereograph, and may be studied for a long time, for it is full of the most curious monuments.
Before leaving these English churches and monuments, let us enter, if but for a moment, the famous Beauchamp Chapel at Warwick. The finest of the views (323, 324) recalls that of the Black Prince's tomb, as a triumph of photography. Thus, while the whole effect of the picture is brilliant and harmonious, we shall find, on taking a lens, that we can count every individual bead in the chaplet of the monk who is one of the more conspicuous reliefs on the sarcophagus. The figure of this monk itself is about half an inch in height, and its face may be completely hidden by the head of a pin. The whole chapel is a marvel of workmanship and beauty. The monument of Richard Beauchamp in the centre, with the frame of brass over the recumbent figure, intended to support the drapery thrown upon it to protect the statue,—with the mailed shape of the warrior, his feet in long-pointed shoes resting against the muzzled bear and the griffin, his hands raised, but not joined,—this monument, with the tomb of Dudley, Earl of Leicester,—Elizabeth's Leicester, —and that of the other Dudley, Earl of Warwick,—all enchased in these sculptured walls and illuminated through that pictured window, where we can dimly see the outlines of saints and holy maidens,—form a group of monumental jewels such as only Henry VII.'s Chapel can equal. For these two pictures (323 and 324) let the poor student pawn his outside-coat, if he cannot have them otherwise.
Of abbeys and castles there is no end, ago No. 4, Tintern Abbey, is the finest, on the whole, we have ever seen. No. 2 is also very perfect and interesting. In both, the masses of ivy that clothe the ruins are given with wonderful truth and effect. Some of these views have the advantage of being very well colored. Warwick Castle (81) is one of the best and most the interesting of the series of castles; Caernarvon is another still more striking.
We may as well break off here as anywhere, so far as England is concerned. England is one great burial-ground to an American. As islands are built up out of the shields of insects, so her soil is made the land of Burns, and see what one man can do to idealize and glorify the common life about him! Here is a poor "ten-footer", as we should call it, the cottage William "Burness" built with his own hands, where he carried his young bride Agnes, and where the boy Robert, his first-born, was given to the light and air which he made brighter and freer for mankind. Sit still and do not speak,—but see that your eyes do not grow dim as these pictures pass before them: The old hawthorn under which Burns sat with Highland Mary,—a venerable duenna-like tree, with thin arms and sharp elbows, and scanty chevelure of leaves; the Auld Brig o' Doon (No. 4),—a daring arch that leaps the sweet stream at a bound, more than half clad in a mantle of ivy, which has crept with its larva-like feet beyond the key-stone; the Twa Brigs of Ayr, with the beautiful reflections in the stream that shines under their eyebrow-arches; and poor little Alloway Kirk, with its fallen roof and high gables. Lift your hand to your eyes and draw a long breath,—for what words would come so near to us as these pictured, nay, real, memories of the dead poet who made a nation of a province, and the hearts of mankind its tributaries?
And so we pass to many-towered and turreted and pinnacled Abbotsford, and to large-windowed Melrose, and to peaceful Dryburgh, where, under a plain bevelled slab, lies the great Romancer whom Scotland holds only second in her affections to her great poet. Here in the foreground of the Melrose Abbey view (436) is a gravestone which looks as if it might be deciphered with a lens. Let us draw out this inscription from the black archives of oblivion. Here it is:
In Memory of Francis Cornel, late Labourer in Greenwell, Who died 11th July, 1827, aged 89 years. Also Margaret Betty, his Spouse, who died 2'd Dec'r, 1831, aged 89 years.
This is one charm, as we have said over and over, of the truth-telling photograph. We who write in great magazines of course float off from the wreck of our century, on our life-preserving articles, to immortality. What a delight it is to snatch at the unknown head that shows for an instant through the wave, and drag it out to personal recognition and a share in our own sempiternal buoyancy! Go and be photographed on the edge of Niagara, O unknown aspirant for human remembrance! Do not throw yourself, O traveller, into Etna, like Empedocles, but be taken by the camera standing on the edge of the crater! Who is that lady in the carriage at the door of Burns's cottage? Who is that gentleman in the shiny hat on the sidewalk in front of the Shakspeare house? Who are those two fair youths lying dead on a heap of dead at the trench's side in the cemetery of Melegnano, in that ghastly glass stereograph in our friend Dr. Bigelow's collection? Some Austrian mother has perhaps seen her boy's features in one of those still faces. All these seemingly accidental figures are not like the shapes put in by artists to fill the blanks in their landscapes, but real breathing persons, or forms that have but lately been breathing, not found there by chance, but brought there with a purpose, fulfilling some real human errand, or at least, as in the last-mentioned picture, waiting to be buried.