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its import to be spoken in jest. But when he took her by
the hand, and said, " Will you, dear Deborah ? " with a pres-
sure, and in a tone that left no doubt of his earnest meaning,
she cried, " Father, what am I to say ? speak for me ! "
" Take her, my friend ! " said Mr. Bacon. " My blessing be
upon you both. And, if it be not presumptuous to use the
words, let me say for myself, * Lord, now lettest thou thy
servant depart in peace ! ' "



IN the month of April, 1761, the Doctor brought home
his bride to Doncaster. Many eyes were turned upon her
when she made her appearance at St. George's Church.
The novelty of the place made her less regardful of this
than she might otherwise have been. Hollis Pigot, who
held the vicarage of Doncaster thirty years, and was then
in the last year of his incumbency and his life, performed
the service that day. I know not among what description
of preachers he was to be classed ; whether with those who
obtain attention, and command respect, and win confidence,
and strengthen belief, and inspire hope, or with the far more
numerous race of Spintexts and of Martexts. But if he


had preached that morning with the tongue of an angel,
the bride would have had no ears for him. Her thoughts
were neither upon those who on their way from church
would talk over her instead of the sermon, nor of the ser-
vice, nor of her husband, nor of herself in her new charac-
ter, but of her father, and with a feeling which might
almost be called funereal, that she had passed from under
his pastoral as well as his paternal care.



If thou hast read all this book, and art never the better, yet catch thia
flower before thou go out of the garden, and peradventure the scent
thereof will bring thee back to smell the rest


DEBORAH found no one in Doncaster to supply the place
of Betty Allison in the daily intercourse of familiar and
perfect friendship. That indeed was impossible ; no after-
math has the fragrance and the sweetness of the first crop.
But why do I call her Deborah? She had never been
known by that name to her new neighbors ; and to her very
father she was now spoken of as Mrs. Dove. Even the
Allisons called her so in courteous and customary usage, but
not without a melancholy reflection, that when Deborah
Bacon became Mrs. Dove, she was in a great measure lost
to them.

friendship, although it ceases not
In marriage, is yet at less command
Than when a single freedom can dispose it.*

Doncaster has less of the Rus in Urbe now than it had in
those days, and than Bath had when those words were



placed over the door of a lodging-house, on the North
Parade. And the house to which the Doctor brought home
his bride, had less of it than when Peter Hopkins set up
the gilt pestle and mortar there as the cognizance of his
vocation. It had no longer that air of quiet respectability
which belongs to such a dwelling in the best street of a
small country town. The Mansion House, by which it was
dwarfed and inconvenienced in many ways, occasioned a
stir and bustle about it, unlike the cheerful business of a mar-
ket day. The back windows, however, still looked to the
fields, and there was still a garden. But neither fields nor
garden could prevail over the odor of the shop, in which, like

Hot, cold, moist and dry, four champions fierce,

in Milton's Chaos, rhubarb and peppermint, and valerian, and
assafoetida, " strove for mastery," and to battle brought their
atoms. Happy was the day when peppermint predomi-
nated; though it always reminded Mrs. Dove of Thaxted
Grange, and the delight with which she used to assist Miss
Allison in her distillations. There is an Arabian proverb
which says, "The remembrance of youth is a sigh."
Southey has taken it for the text of one of those juvenile
poems in which he dwells with thoughtful forefeeling upon
the condition of declining life.

Miss Allison had been to her, not indeed as a mother, but
as what a stepmother is, who is led by natural benevolence
ami a religious sense of duty, to perform as far as possible
a mother's part to her husband's children. There are more
such stepmothers than the world is willing to believe, and
they have their reward here as well as hereafter. It was
impossible that any new friend could fill up her place in
Mrs. Dove's affections, impossible that she could ever feel
for another woman the respect, and reverence, and grati-
tude, which blended with her love for this excellent person.
Though she was born within four miles of Doncaster, and


had lived till her marriage in the humble vicarage in which
she was born, she had never passed four-and-twenty hours
in fhat town before she went to reside there ; nor had she
the slightest acquaintance with any of its inhabitants, except
the few shopkeepers with whom her little dealings had lain,
and the occasional visitants whom she had met at the

An Irish officer in the army, happening to be passenger
in an armed vessel during the last war, used frequently to
wish that they might fall in with an enemy's ship, because
he said, he had been in many land battles, and there was
nothing in the world which he desired more than to see
what sort of a thing a sea-fight was. He had his wish,
and when after a smart action, in which he bore his part
bravely, an enemy of superior force had been beaten off,
he declared with the customary emphasis of an Hibernian
adjuration, that a sea-fight was a mighty sairious sort of

The Doctor and Deborah, as soon as they were be-
trothed, had come to just the same conclusion upon a very
different subject. Till the day of their engagement, nay,
till the hour of proposal on his part, and the very instant
of acceptance on hers, each had looked upon marriage,
when the thought of it occurred, as a distant possibility,
more or less desirable, according to the circumstances which
introduced the thought, and the mood in which it was enter-
tained. And when it was spoken of sportively, as might
happen, in relation to either the one or the other, it was
lightly treated as a subject in which they had no concern.
But from the time of their engagement, it seemed to both
the most serious event of their lives.

In the Dutch village of Broek, concerning which, singu-
lar as the habits of the inhabitants are, travellers have re-
lated more peculiarities than ever prevailed there, one
remarkable custom shows with how serious a mind some of


the Hollanders regard marriage. The great house-door is
never opened but when the master of the house brings
home his bride from the altar, and when husband "and
wife are borne out to the grave. Dr. Dove had seen that
village of great baby-houses ; but though much attached
to Holland, and to the Dutch as a people, and disposed to
think that we might learn many useful lessons from our
prudent and thrifty neighbors, he thought this to be as pre-
posterous, if not as shocking a custom, as it would be to
have the bell toll at a marriage, and to wear a winding-
sheet for a wedding garment.

We look with wonder at the transformations that take
place in insects, and yet their physical metamorphoses are
not greater than the changes which we ourselves undergo
morally and intellectually, both in our relations to others
and in our individual nature. Chaqtie individu, considers
separement, dijfere encore de lui-meme par Fejfet du terns;
il devient un autre, en quelque maniere, aux diverses epoques
de sa vie. Uenfant, fhomme rait, le vieillard, sont comme
autant detrangers unis dans une seule personne par le lien
mysterieux du souvenir.* Of all changes in life, marriage is
certainly the greatest, and though less change in every re-
spect can very rarely be produced by it in any persons
than in the Doctor and his wife, it was very great to
both. On his part it was altogether an increase of hap-
piness; or rather, from having been contented in his sta-
tion he became happy in it, so happy as to be exper-
imentally convinced that there can be no "single bless-
edness" for man. There were some drawbacks on her
part, in the removal from a quiet vicarage to a busy
street; in the obstacle which four miles opposed to that
daily and intimate intercourse with her friends at the
Grange, which had been the chief delight of her maiden
life ; and above all, in the separation from her father, for

* Necker


even at a distance which may appear so inconsiderable, such
it was : but there was the consolatory reflection, that those
dear friends and that dear father concurred in approving
her marriage, and in rejoicing in it for her sake ; and the
experience of every day and every year made her more and
more thankful for her lot. In the full liturgic sense of the
word, he worshipped her, that is, he loved and cherished and
respected and honored her; and she would have obeyed
him cheerfully as well as dutifully, if obedience could have
been shown where there was ever but one will.



TIS not the dropping of the flower,
The blush of fruit upon the tree,
Though Summer ripens, hour by hour.
The garden's sweet maternity :

'T is not that birds have ceased to build,
And wait their brood with tender care ;

That corn is golden in the field,
And clover balm is in the air ;

Not these the season's splendor bring,
And crowd with life the happy year,

Nor yet, where yonder fountains sing,
The blaze of sunshine, hot and clear.

In thy full womb, O Summer ! lies

A secret hope, a joy unsung,
Held in the hush of these calm skies,

And trembling on the forest's tongue.

The lands of harvest throb anew

In shining pulses, far away ;
The Night distils a dearer dew,

And sweeter eyelids has the Day.


And not in vain the peony burns

In bursting globes, her crimson fire,
Her incense-dropping ivory urns

The lily lifts in many a spire :

And not in vain the tulips clash

In revelry the cups they hold
Of fiery wine, until they dash

With ruby streaks the splendid gold !

Send down your roots the mystic charm
That warms and flushes all your flowers,

And with the summer's touch disarm
The thraldom of the under powers,

Until, in caverns, buried deep,

Strange fragrance reach the diamond's home,
And murmurs of the garden sweep

The houses of the frighted gnome !

For, piercing through their black repose,

And shooting up beyond the sun,
I see that Tree of Life, which rose

Before the eyes of Solomon :

Its boughs, that, in the light of God,

Their bright, innumerous leaves display,

Whose hum of life is borne abroad
By winds that shake the dead away.

And, trembling on a branch afar,

The topmost nursling of the skies,
I see my bud, the fairest star

That ever dawned for watching eyes.


Unnoticed on the boundless tree,
Its fragrant promise fills the air;

Its little bell expands, for me,
A tent of silver, lily-fair.

All life to that one centre tends ;

All joy and beauty thence outflow ;
Her sweetest gifts the summer spends,

To teach that sweeter bud to blow.

So, compassed by the vision's gleam,
In trembling hope, from day to day,

As in some bright, bewildering dream,
The mystic summer wanes away*



WITHIN a short period of about thirty years, that
is, between 1490 and 1520, the greatest painters
whom the world has yet seen were living and working
together. On looking back, we cannot but feel that the
excellence they attained was the result of the efforts and
aspirations of a preceding age ; and yet these men were so
great in their vocation, and so individual in their greatness,
that, losing sight of the linked chain of progress, they
seemed at first to have had no precursors, as they have
since had no peers. Though living at the same time, and
most of them in personal relation with each other, the direc-
tion of each mind was different was peculiar; though
exercising in some sort a reciprocal influence, this influence
never interfered with the most decided originality. These
wonderful artists, who would have been remarkable men in
their time, though they had never touched a pencil, were
Lionardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Correggio,
Giorgione, Titian, in Italy ; and in Germany, Albert Durer,
Of these men, we might say, as of Homer and Shakespeare,
that they belong to no particular age or country, but to all
time, and to the universe. That they flourished together
within one brief and brilliant period, and that each carried
out to the highest degree of perfection his own peculiar
aims, was no casualty ; nor are we to seek for the causes of
this surpassing excellence merely in the history of the art as


such. The causes lay far deeper, and must be referred to the
history of human culture. The fermenting activity of the
fifteenth century found its results in the extraordinary devel-
opment of human intelligence in the commencement of the
sixteenth century. We often hear in these days of " the
spirit of the age " ; but in that wonderful age three mighty
spirits were stirring society to its depths : the spirit oi
bold investigation into truths of all kinds, which led to the
Reformation ; the spirit of daring adventure, which led men
in search of new worlds beyond the eastern and the western
oceans ; and the spirit of art, through which men soared even
to the " seventh heaven of invention."


LIONARDO DA VINCI seems to present hi his own person a
resume of all the characteristics of the age in which he lived.
He was the miracle of that age of miracles. Ardent and
versatile as youth ; patient and persevering as age ; a most
profound and original thinker ; the greatest mathematician
and most ingenious mechanic of his time ; architect, chemist,
engineer, musician, poet, painter ! we are not only astound-
ed by the variety of his natural gifts and acquired knowl-
edge, but by the practical direction of his amazing powers.
The extracts which have- been published from MSS. now
existing in his own handwriting show him to have antici-
pated, by the force of his own intellect, some of the greatest
discoveries made since his time. These fragments, says Mr.
Hallam, " are, according to our common estimate of the age
in which he lived, more like revelations of physical truths
vouchsafed to a single mind, than the superstructure of its
reasoning upon any established basis. The discoveries which
made Galileo, Kepler, Castelli, and other names illustrious
the system of Copernicus the very theories of recent
geologists, are anticipated by Da Vinci within the compass


of a few pages, not perhaps in the most precise language,
or on the most conclusive reasoning, but so as to strike us
with something like the awe of preternatural knowledge.
In an age of so much dogmatism, he first laid down the
grand principle of Bacon, that experiment and observation
must be the guides to just theory in the investigation of
nature. If any doubt could be harbored, not as to the right
of Lionardo da Vinci to stand as the first name of the fif-
teenth century, which is beyond all doubt, but as to his
originality in so many discoveries which probably no one
man, especially in such circumstances, has ever made, it
must be by an hypothesis not very untenable, that some parts
of physical science had already attained a height which
mere books do not record."

It seems at first sight almost incomprehensible that, thus
endowed as a philosopher, mechanic, inventor, discoverer,
the fame of Lionardo should now rest on the works he has
left as a painter. We cannot, within these limits, attempt
to explain why and how it is that as the man of science he
has been naturally and necessarily left behind by the onward
march of intellectual progress, while as the poet-painter he
still survives as a presence and a power. "We must proceed
at once to give some account of him in the character in
which he exists to us and for us, that of the great artist.

Lionardo was born at Vinci, near Florence, in the Lower
Val d'Arno, on the borders of the territory of Pistoia.
His father, Piero da Vinci, was an advocate of Florence,
not rich, but hi independent circumstances, and possessed of
estates in land. The singular talAts of his son induced
Piero to give him, from an early age, the advantage of the
best instructors. As a child, he distinguished himself by
his proficiency in arithmetic and mathematics. Music he
studied early, as a science as well as an art He invented
a species of lyre for himself, and sung his own poetical com-
positions to his own music, both being frequently extempo-
11 p


raneous. But his favorite pursuit was the art of design in all
its branches ; he modelled in clay or wax, or attempted to
draw every object which struck his fancy. His father sent
him to study under Andrea Verrocchio, famous as a sculp-
tor, chaser in metal, and painter. Andrea, wh was ah ex-
cellent and correct designer, but a bad and hard colorist,
was soon after engaged to paint a picture of the Baptism of
our Saviour. He employed Lionardo, then a youth, to exe-
cute one of the angels. This he did with so much softness
and richness of color that it far surpassed the rest of the pic-
ture ; and Verrocchio from that time threw away his palette,
and confined himself wholly to his works in sculpture and
design ; " enraged," says Vasari, " that a. child should thus
excel him."

The youth of Lionardo thus passed away in the pursuit of
science and of art. Sometimes he was deeply engaged in
astronomical calculations and investigations ; sometimes ar-
dent in the study of natural history, botany, and anatomy ;
sometimes intent on new effects of color, light, shadow, or
expression, in representing objects animate or inanimate.
Versatile, yet persevering, he varied his pursuits, but he
never abandoned any. He was quite a young man when he
conceived and demonstrated the practicability of two magnifi-
cent projects. One was, to lift the whole of the Church of
San Lorenzo, by means of immense levers, some feet higher
than it now stands, and thus supply the deficient elevation ;
the other project was, to form the Arno into a navigable
canal, as far as Pisa, which would have added greatly to the
commercial advantages %f Florence.

It happened about this time that a peasant on the estate
of Piero da Vinci brought him a circular piece of wood, cut
horizontally from the trunk of a very large old fig-tree>
which had been lately felled, and begged to have something
painted on it as an ornament for his cottage. The man
being an especial favorite, Piero desired his son Lionardo


to gratify his request ; and Lionardo, inspired by that wild-
ness of fancy which was one of his characteristics, took the
panel into his own room, and resolved to astonish his fathor
by a most unlooked-for proof of his art. He determined to
compose something which should have an effect similar to
that of the Medusa on the shield of Perseus, and almost
petrify beholders. Aided by his recent studies in natural
history, he collected together from the neighboring swamps
and the river-mud all kinds of hideous reptiles, as adders,
lizards, toads, serpents ; insects, as moths, locusts ; and other
crawling and flying, obscene and obnoxious things ; and out
of these he compounded a sort of monster, or chimera, which
he represented as about to issue from the shield, with eyes
flashing fire, and of an aspect so fearful and abominable that
it seemed to infect the very air around. When finished, he
led his father into the room in which it was placed, and the
terror and horror of Piero proved the success of his at-
tempt. This production, afterwards known as the Rotello
del Fico, from the material on which it was painted, was sold
by Piero secretly for one hundred ducats, to a merchant,
who carried it to Milan, and sold it to the duke for three
hundred. To the poor peasant thus cheated of his Rotello,
Piero gave a wooden shield, on which was painted a heart
transfixed by a dart ; a device better suited to his taste and
comprehension. In the subsequent troubles of Milan, Lion-
ardo's picture disappeared, and was probably destroyed, as an
object of horror, by those who did not understand its value
as a work of art.

The anomalous monster represented on the Rotello was
wholly different from the Medusa, afterwards painted by
Lionardo, and now existing in the Florence Gallery. It
represents the severed head of Medusa, seen foreshortened,
lying on a fragment of rock. The features are beautiful
and regular ; the hair already metamorphosed into ser-


" which curl and flow,
And their long tangles in each other lock,
And with unending involutions show
Their maile'd radiance."

Those who have once seen this terrible and fascinating pic
ture can never forget it. The ghastly head seems to expire,
and the serpents to crawl into glittering life, as we look
upon it.

During this first period of his life, which was wholly
passed in Florence and its neighborhood, Lionardo painted
several other pictures, of a very different character, and de-
signed some beautiful cartoons of sacred and mythological
subjects, which showed that his sense of the beautiful, the
elevated, and the graceful, was not less a part of his mind,
than that eccentricity and almost perversion of fancy which
made him delight in sketching ugly, exaggerated caricatures,
and representing the deformed and the terrible.

Lionardo da Vinci was now about thirty years old, in the
prime of his life and talents. His taste for pleasure and
expense was, however, equal to his genius and indefatigable
industry ; and, anxious to secure a certain provision for the
future, as well as a wider field for the exercise of his various
talents, he accepted the invitation of Ludovico Sforza il
Moro, then regent, afterwards Duke of Milan, to reside in
his court, and to execute a colossal equestrian statue of his
ancestor Francesco Sforza. Here begins the second period
of his artistic career, which includes his sojourn at Milan,
that is, from 1483 to 1499.

Vasari says that Lionardo was invited to the court of
Milan for the Duke Ludo vice's amusement, k ' as a musician
and performer on the lyre, and as the greatest singer and
improvisators of his time " ; but this is improbable. Lio-
nardo, in his long letter to that prince, in which he recites
his own qualifications for employment, dwells chiefly on his
skill in engineering and fortification, and sums up his pre-


tensions as an artist in these few brief words : " I under-
stand the different modes of sculpture in marble, bronze,
and terra-cotta. In painting, also, I may esteem myself
equal to any one, let him be who he may." Of his musical
talents he makes no mention whatever, though undoubtedly
these, as well as his other social accomplishments, his hand-
some person, his winning address, his wit and eloquence,
recommended him to the notice of the prince, by whom he
was greatly beloved, and in whose service he remained for
about seventeen years. It is not necessary, nor would it be
possible here, to give a particular account of all the works
in which Lionardo was engaged for his patron, nor of the
great political events in which he was involved, more by his
position than by his inclination ; for instance, the invasion
of Italy by Charles VIII. of France, and the subsequent in-
vasion of Milan by Louis XII., which ended in the destruc-
tion of the Duke Ludovico. We shall only mention a few
of the pictures he executed. One of these, the portrait of
Lucrezia Crivelli, is now in the Louvre (No. 1091). An-
other was the Nativity of our Saviour, in the imperial
collection at Vienna ; but the greatest work of all, and by
far the grandest picture which, up to that time, had been
executed in Italy, was the Last Supper, painted on the wall
of the refectory, or dining-room, of the Dominican convent
of the Madonna delle Grazie. It occupied the painter about
two years. Of this magnificent creation of art only the
mouldering remains are now visible. It has been so often
repaired, that almost every vestige of the original painting
is annihilated ; but, from the multiplicity of descriptions,
engravings, and copies that exist, no picture is more uni-

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 60 of 66)