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and wife, sufficiently unfashionable to live much together. Their views, both physical and moral, may be said to be bounded on three sides by desert, and on the fourth by the wide-stretching sea. They are either fishermen, or dealers in the products of the pine-woods'; and a few leagues, by land or water, seem the limits of their intelligence. The aspect of the place is wild and flat, yet not unpleasing. At that period of the day when the tide is full in, it is delightful to gaze on the placid lake of Arcachon, for such is the name of the horse-shoe excavation, on the deepest ridge of which the town is built. But when the waves recede, and for three miles out nothing is to be seen but a sedgy exposure, it is not easy to imagine a more unattractive landscape. It has none of the sublimities of ocean, for the great Biscayan Gulf is too far out to be visible from this part of the shore. There is, however, one remarkable feature in the prospect, which is not without beautythe accumulation of those sand-heaps far to the right of the lake, which shine in the sun-beams with a dazzling brilliancy, and for a parallel to which we must travel to another portion of the globe. On the left stretches a thick forest, close up to which the waves reach at high tide, when a long circuit must be taken to approach it; but the strand at low water is quite uncovered, and permits those who love the shady solitudes of the wood to reach them by a walk of about half a league.
Separating myself and my adventures (which are, as I before hinted, reserved for another occasion) from the scene around me, I must beg the reader to place himself beside me, in the heart of the forest, and admire the beautiful and simple marble monument erected by the present King of France to the memory of Monsieur Brumontier, the man who, after all the baffled efforts of his predecessors to stop the progress of those moving sand-hills, the fabled accessories of which were more terrible than the winged dragon of Triptolemus, or the flying-horse of Michael Scot, succeeded in giving freedom to the soil and hope to the inhabitants, by the simple expedient of planting those woods, in the heart of which his memory is thus fittingly enshrined. But by far the greatest curiosity of these wilds, and one, indeed, of the greatest any where, is the Chapel of St. Thomas Iliricus, originally built by the contributions of the fishermen of those parts, and dedicated to the Virgin, in gratitude for a miraculous favour conferred upon their neighbourhood in the lifetime of the saint, and somewhat about the year 1521, if the traditionary records of the old people (the only chronicle of the La Testians) be a sufficiently accurate voucher for the date. The venerable Thomas was celebrated, in his time, as a great preacher, and for having exerted his uncommon eloquence against the heretical encroachments, then creeping in upon religion in France; and after sermonizing and anathematizing for some time to little purpose-for the impious work of enlightening the human mind gained ground in spite of his forensic hostility, he resolved on withdrawing from the world, before the vexatious ripening of intellect, which was then in the bud, should overpower, in its blossoming odour, the fragrance of his own sanctity. He, in pursuance of this sage and saintly resolution, turned his steps towards the west.
"The world was all before him where to choose,"
and, passing through the hamlet of La Tête de Buche, the original appellation of La Teste, he arrived on the borders of the Lake of Arcachon, where he scooped himself a hut, the site of which is still marked out by the pious visitations of many a pilgrim. Thomas was fond of a solitary ramble, which formed, in spite of time or tide, his daily exercise for body and mind. One evening, while pursuing his favourite walk during the continuance of a tempest, that would probably have driven him to his hut, had not a secret inspiration urged him still to keep abroad, he discovered a vessel far out at sea, in great distress and apparently on the eve of perishing. Not being able to render the least possible assistance otherwise than by his prayers, he betook himself to his knees, and had scarcely commenced an impassioned invocation, when the little vessel, as if it had been possessed of the powers of mortal vision, perceived him, and instantly turned its prow towards the spot where he knelt, and with a rush of sail that belonged not to any human management, it cut through the mountain-billows, and in an instant traced its frothy path from the utmost verge of the horizon to the edge of the strand on which the anchorite was placed. He, bewildered and fixed in admiration of the miracle, lost all power of speech, for he beheld upon the prow a bright form robed in white, and surrounded by a radiance that he knew to be of Heaven. The hands of this celestial being were raised above its head, as if something was suspended in them. Its bright wings fluttered a moment in the foam of the waves which sparkled in the sunny tints--an instant more and all was a blank. The vessel had totally disappeared; whether it sunk in the furious element, or "vanished into thin air," the monk by no means could divine; and all that he heard to give him a clue for unravelling the miracle, was the flapping of wings above him, and a strain of exquisite melody, that seemed to die away in the upper regions of the heavens. Thomas arose from his posture of devotion, and gazed with a holy wonder on the scene around him. The waves were in a moment still the wind was hushed-the sun darted from the clouds, which were scattered across the firmament in a thousand beautiful and fantastic forms of brightness-the roaring of the surge was changed to the gentle murmur of the tide, as it flowed in upon the sand, and seemed to sink into it, as if in repose from its recent agitation. At the feet of the monk lay a small image of the Virgin. He approached it with a mixture of devotion and awe; when, to his delight and admiration, it sprang up into his arms, where he folded it with a rush of overpowering sensation that may be better imagined than described. He brought the heaven-sent relic to his hut, where he erected a rude altar to its honour; but the rustic inhabitants, thinking such a shrine unworthy the miraculous image, built him a little chapel around the spot. The overflowing of the lake, in one of its accustomed inundations a short time afterwards, levelled the little building to the ground; and when, wonderful to tell, the pious erectors attempted to move the little image from its shrine, which the waves had no power to overthrow, it resisted the efforts of dozens of men to remove it; and it was only by the powerful prayers of Thomas that forty pair of the strongest oxen had force sufficient to effect that object. The image, be it known, is full twelve inches in height! Another chapel was built, and another catastrophe was at hand. It was utterly cast down by one of the moving
sand-hills, which spared not in its impious progress the holy place, but the image defied its rage. It stood erect amid the desolation, and was seen in the morning after the tempest, perched on the topmost point of the mound that covered the ruin. Once more a fitting receptacle was prepared, and that is the present chapel, the simple elegance of whose outward construction, and whose richly-ornamented interior, are remarkable specimens of good taste and gorgeousness blended together with surprising harmony. The desolate wilds around-the profound seclusion of its site-the deep-embowering woods-the superstitious veneration of the simple souls who there offer up their orisons-all the union, in fact, of natural solemnity and religious enthusiasm, give to the place an indescribable and irresistible charm. There is a Hermitage close by, inhabited in the summer season by a good and enlightened curate, who is looked on with a veneration more than common, as the direct descendant of the holy Thomas. But it is on the 25th of March, when the fete of the village is held, that the traveller, who enjoys such primitive and touching scenes, should place himself at the porch of the chapel, to witness the ceremony of devoting the earliest fish of the season to the Virgin, from whom the image is believed to have been directly sent from Heaven. They believe that it descended directly from Heaven, like Palladium of the Trojans-or like the Liafail, the enchanted stone brought to Ireland by the first settlers, from which the island received the name of Innisfail.
To the North Star.
FAIR Star, 'mid changes, all unchangeable,
In Heaven's blue dome, with thy pale pensive flame!
That seem to herald only scenes of light,
Lead men to northern skies, and flowerless streams,
Lelia, 'mid changes, all unchangeable,
In loveliness and virtue, still the same
Alas, why art thou fairest! why so well
Since, beauteous as in mien and mind thou art,
Thou winn'st us but to know thy cold and loveless heart.
BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART.
Mr. Angerstein's Gallery in Pall Mall.
IN commencing a series of papers on the above fertile and interesting subject, I should, perhaps, beg the reader's forbearance on more than one account. But, at all events, I must ask him not to expect from me what I have probably not the means, but certainly not the intention, of offering to him. Much as the subject is susceptible of a critical and technical treatment, and useful as such a kind of treatment of it might unquestionably be made, I have no thought of supplying that desideratum; and have even no ambition either to be, or to be thought, capable of supplying it. The little regular study I have given to art has been prompted by the spontaneous love I have always borne to it; and thus my knowledge, such as it is, has sprung from much love, not my love from much knowledge. From this it follows, that the opinions I may from time to time have to express will usually grow out of feelings, not the feelings out of opinions; and the latter will always be kept in subjection to the former. In short, unlike "honest Iago" (whom one would wish to resemble in as few particulars as possible), "I am nothing, if critical;" on the contrary, I strenuously hold to the exact converse of Horace's nil admirari maxim, especially as it is rendered by Pope, after the example of Creech:
"Much to admire, is all the art I know,
To make men happy, or to keep them so.”
Admiration, then, will be my cue, as it is my delight; and the true and legitimate sources of it my constant search and theme, to the almost entire exclusion of subjects of an opposite character. If, in noting down the particular contents of a collection of pictures, I find a bad one hanging by the side of a good one, there let it hang for me; or, at worst, I shall use it but as a foil to heighten the effect of its neighbour thus shewing that I have lived long enough in the world to be able to find "good in every thing"-even in a bad picture! In fact, to criticise the works of Raphael, of Rembrandt, of Titian, of Correggio, of Claude, &c. may be safely left to Royal Academicians and makers of "Catalogues Raisonnées :" in any one else it is, at this time of day, a mere impertinence. It will be my object to make the reader acquainted with the riches of the old masters, not their poverty;-to point out instances of the beauty, the grandeur, and the power that attended them, not of their errors and deficiencies :-in short, to heighten and extend the light of their fame where it already exists, and to push that light into recesses which it has, perhaps, not hitherto reached, instead of seeking to confine and repress it within such sober practical limits as may suit the paltry interests, and still more paltry envies, of portrait-painters and exhibitionists.
On the other hand, it will not be part of my plan to make comparisons. These are "odious" when instituted between the living; but between the living and the dead they are as intolerable as they are unfair, the fame of the one necessarily depending on the bad as well as the good that may be found in their works, while the others are judged of chiefly by the latter. In short, it is with the old masters,
and the élite of their works, that I propose to concern myself in these papers; and, perhaps, if they serve but as a record or an index directing the student where those works are to be found, and thus facilitate his study of them, I may not have undertaken the task in vain, as it regards others; as it regards myself, it is one which includes its own reward.
I shall commence these papers by noticing Mr. Angerstein's Gallery in Pall Mall; and, if I am tempted to mention all the pictures this small but admirably chosen collection contains, this will of course not be taken as an example of the papers which are to follow. But the truth is, that every picture of the old masters in this Gallery would claim particular and individual notice, wherever it might be found.
The first picture I shall mention is one of the two Rembrandt's,―The Woman taken in Adultery. Rembrandt was the eagle of his art. Light was the element in which his spirit seemed " to move and have its being." His senses seemed delighted to bathe themselves in floods of it, and never to be thoroughly at ease, or to feel their power in its fulness, but when they were either communing with its source, the sun, or transferring solid portions of it to canvass, to dazzle the senses of other people. I say, the senses-for Rembrandt felt light as well as saw it, and made the spectator of his works feel it too. The Woman taken in Adultery is one of the very finest and most extraordinary of these works. The power displayed in it of embodying light, and of making it tell upon the senses and imagination as if it were a material thing, is prodigious. I would point out in particular, as a remarkable instance of what I mean, the right hand of the man who is unveiling and pointing to the culprit. As a piece of finishing, let it be contrasted with the left hand of the Saviour, and in this respect it will be found that there is no comparison between them-the latter being exquisitely wrought out. But, in point of effect, the hand I am alluding to is infinitely beyond the other: it is a stroke of genius. A hundred painters could have produced the one, but no one that ever lived, except Rembrandt, could have produced the other: and yet the one, perhaps, cost Rembrandt himself a whole day's labour, and the other was done by three strokes of the pencil. Such is the difference between a work of art (I mean in its literal sense) and a work of genius. Another instance (but not so striking a one) of his extraordinary power in this way, is the head of the Rabbi, with the flat cap and long white beard, on the right of the centre group. It strikes me that the conception of one of the figures in this picture (the Saviour) is exceedingly fine and poetical; and the execution of it is correspondent. The characteristic effect to which I allude seems to be brought about by the peculiar arrangement of the drapery and the hair, added to the unusual height and position of the figure. It is perfectly upright and still; while all the other figures are either bending downwards or forwards, or moving in some way or other. And the drapery and hair hang plumb down to the earth, as if weights were fixed to them. I scarcely know how to describe what I mean, so as to be intelligible to those who have not seen the picture; but to me this arrangement of the drapery, added to the arrowy uprightness of the figure, and its unusual height, give an impression as if it were straining upwards to the heavens, but yet were held down to the earth by a still stronger temporary influence. There