i00bost.

Favorite authors in prose and poetry online

. (page 62 of 66)
Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 62 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the productions of his art ; and how they endeavored to
purchase the pictures, great and small, and ever} thing that
was in the house, at any price ; for everybody seems assured
that his august majesty will so treat his Apelles that he
will no longer condescend to exercise his pencil except to
oblige him."

Years passed on, and seemed to have no power to quench
the ardor of this wonderful old man. He was eighty-one
when he painted the Martyrdom of St. Laurence, one of
his largest and grandest compositions. The Magdalen, the
half-length figure with uplifted streaming eyes, which lie
sent to Philip II., was executed even later ; and it was not
till he was approaching his ninetieth year that he showed
in his works symptoms of enfeebled powers ; and then it
seemed as if sorrow rather than time had reached him and
conquered him at last. The death of many friends, the
companions of his convivial hours, left him "alone in his
glory." He found in his beloved art the only refuge from
grief. His son Pomponio was still the same worthless
profligate in age that he had been in youth. His son Orazio
attended upon him with truly filial duty and affection, and
under his father's tuition had become an accomplished artist ;
but as they always worked together, and on the same can-
vas, his works are not to be distinguished from his father's.
Titian was likewise surrounded by painters who, without
being precisely his scholars, had assembled from every part
of Europe to profit by his instructions. The early morning
and the evening hour found him at his easel ; or lingering
in his little garden (where he had feasted with Aretino and
Sansovino, and Bembo and Ariosto, and " the most gracious
Virginia," and " the most beautiful Violante "), and gazing



TWO OF THE OLD MASTERS. 259

on the setting sun, with a thought perhaps of his own long
and bright career fast hastening to its close ; not that such
anticipations clouded his cheerful spirit, buoyant to the
last! In 1574, when he was in his ninety-seventh year,
Henry III. of France landed at Venice on his way from
Poland, and was magnificently entertained by the Republic.
On this occasion the King visited Titian at his own house,
attended by a numerous suite of princes and nobles. Titian
entertained them with splendid hospitality; and when the
King asked the price of some pictures which pleased him,
he presented them as a gift to his Majesty, and every one
praised his easy and noble manners and his generoua
bearing.

Two years more passed away, and the hand did not yet
tremble nor was the eye dim. When the plague broke
out in Venice, the nature of the distemper was at first mis-
taken, and the most common precautions neglected ; the
contagion spread, and Titian and his son were among those
who perished. Every one had fled, and before life was
extinct some ruffians entered his chamber and carried off,
before his eyes, his money, jewels, and some of his pictures.
His death took place on the 9th of September, 1575. A
law had been made during the plague that none should be
buried in the churches, but that all the dead bodies should
be carried beyond the precincts of the city ; an exception,
however, even in that hour of terror and anguish, was made
in favor of Titian. His remains were borne with honor to
the tomb, and deposited in the Church of Santa Maria do*
Frari, for which he had painted his famous Assumption.
There he lies beneath a plain black marble slab, on which
is simply inscribed,

"TIZIANO VECELLIO."

In the year 1794 the citizens of Venice resolved to erect
a noble and befitting monument to his memory. Canova



260 MRS. JAMLSON.

made the design ; but the troubles which intervened, and
the extinction of the Republic, prevented the execution of
this project. Canova's magnificent model was appropriated
to another purpose, and now forms the cenotaph of the
Archduchess Christina, in the Church of the Augustines
at Vienna.

This was the life and death of the famous Titian. He
was pre-eminently the painter of nature ; but to him nature
was clothed in a perpetual garb of beauty, or rather to him
nature and beauty were one. In historical compositions
and sacred subjects he has been rivalled and surpassed,
but as a portrait painter never ; and his portraits of cele-
brated persons have at once the truth and the dignity of
history.



THE POET'S HEART



BY FREDERICK TENNYSON.



WHEN the Poet's heart is dead,
That with fragrance, light, and sound,
Like a Summer-day was fed,

Where, O, where shall it be found,
In Sea, or Air, or underground ?



ii.

It shall be a sunny place ;
An urn of odors ; a still well,

Upon whose undisturbed face

The lights of Heaven shall love to dwell,
And its far depths make visible.



m.

It shall be a crimson flower

That in Fairyland hath thriven ;

For dew a gentle Sprite shall pour
Tears of Angels down from Heaven,
And hush the winds at morn and even.



262 FREDERICK TENNYSON.

IV.

It shall be on some fair morn

A swift and many-voiced wind,
Singing down the skies of June,
And with its breath and gladsome tune
Send joy into the heart and mind.

v.

It shall be a fountain springing,
Far up into the happy light,
With a silver carol ringing,
With a magic motion flinging
Its jocund waters, starry-bright.

VI.

It shall be a tiny thing

Whose breath is in it for a day,

To fold at Eve its weary wing,
And at the dewfall die away
On some pure air, or golden ray,

VII.

Falling in a violet-bloom ;

Tombed in a sphere of pearly rain ;

Its blissful ghost a wild perfume
To come forth with the Morn again,
And wander through an infant's brain ;

VIII.

And the pictures it should set
In that temple of Delight

Would make the tearless cherub fret
With its first longing for a sight
Of things beyond the Day and Night.



THE POET'S HEART. 263

IX.

But one moment of its span

Should thicker grow with blissful things
Than any days of mortal Man,
Or his years of Sorrow can,

Though beggars should be crowned kings,

x.

It shall be a tuneful voice
Falling on a Lover's ear,

Enough to make his heart rejoice
For evermore, or far, or near,
In dreams that swallow hope and fear.

XI.

It shall be a chord divine

By Mercy out of Heaven hung forth,

Along whose trembling, airy line
A dying Saint shall hear on earth
Triumphant songs, and harped mirth !

XII.

It shall be a wave forlorn

That o 'er the vast and fearful Sea

In troubled pride and beauty borne
From winged storms shall vainly flee
And seek for rest where none shall be.

XIII.

It shall be a mountain Tree,

Thro' whose great arms the winds shall blow
Louder than the roaring Sea,

And toss its plumed head to and fro ;

But a thousand flowers shall live below



264 FREDERICK TENNYSON.

XIV.
It shall be a kingly Star

That o'er a thousand Suns shall burn
Where the high Sabaoth are,
And round its glory flung afar

A mighty host shall swiftly turn.

xv.

All things of beauty it shall be

All things of power of joy of fear ;
But out of bliss and agony
It shall come forth more pure and free,
And sing a song more sweet to hear.

XVI.

For methinks, when it hath passed

Thro' wondrous Nature's world- wide reign,

Perchance it may come home at last,
And the old Earth may hear again
Its lofty voice of Joy and Pain.



CHARACTER OF FRA ANGELICO.

BY GIORGIO VASARL

FRA ANGELICO was a man of the utmost simplicity
of intention, and was most holy in every act of his
life. It is related of him, and it is a good evidence of his
simple earnestness of purpose, that being one morning invited
to breakfeast by Pope Nicholas V., he had scruples of con-
science as to eating meat without the permission of his prior,
not considering that the authority of the pontiff was super-
seding that of the prior. He disregarded all earthly advan-
tages ; and, living in pure holiness, was as much the friend
of the poor in life as I believe his soul now is in heaven.
He labored continually at his paintings, but would do noth-
ing that was not connected with things holy. He might
have been rich, but for riches he took no care ; on the con-
trary he was accustomed to say, that the only true riches
was contentment with little. He might have commanded
many, but would not do so, declaring that there was less
fatigue and less danger of error in obeying others, than in
commanding others. It was at his option to hold places of
dignity in the brotherhood of his order, and also in the
world ; but he regarded them not, affirming that he sought
no dignity and took no care but that of escaping hell and
drawing near to Paradise. And of a truth what dignity
can be compared to that which should be most coveted by
all Churchmen, nay, by every man living, that, namely,
12



266 GIORGIO VASARI.

which is found in God alone, and in a life of virtuous
labor ?

Fra Angelico was kindly to all, and moderate in all his
habits, living temperately, and holding himself entirely apart
from the snares of the world. He used frequently to say,
tLat he who practised the art of painting had need of quiet,
and should live without cares or anxious thoughts ; adding,
that he who would do the work of Christ should perpetually
remain with Christ. He was never seen to display anger
among the brethren of his order ; a thing which appears to
me most extraordinary, nay, almost incredible ; if he admon-
ished his friends, it was with gentleness and a quiet smile ;
and to those who sought his works, he would reply with the
utmost cordiality, that they had but to obtain the assent of
the prior, when he would assuredly not fail to do what they
desired. In fine, this never sufficiently to be lauded father
was most humble, modest, and excellent in all his words
, and works ; in his painting he gave evidence of piety and
devotion, as well as of ability, and the saints that he painted
have more of the air and expression of sanctity than have
those of any other master.

It was the custom of Fra Angelico to abstain from re-
touching or improving any painting once finished. He
altered nothing, but left all as it was done the first time,
believing, as he said, that such was the will of God. It is
also affirmed that he would never take the pencil in hand
until he had first offered a prayer. He is said never to
have painted a Crucifix without tears streaming from hi?
eyes, and in the countenances and attitudes of his figures i^
is easy to perceive proof of his sincerity, his goodness, and
the depth of his devotion to the religion of Christ.

He died in 1455, at the age of sixty-eight.



SONGS.



BY WILLIAM BLAKE.



I GIVE you the end of a golden string

Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven's gate,

Built in Jerusalem wall.



I.

MY SILKS AND FINE ARRAY:

MY silks and fine array,
My smiles and languished air,
By love are driven away.

And mournful, lean Despair
Brings me yew to deck my grave :
Such end true lovers have.

His face is fair as heaven

When springing buds unfold ;

O, why to him was 't given,
Whose heart is wintry cold?

His breast is Love's all-worshipped tomb

Where all love's pilgrims come.

Bring me an axe and spade,
Bring me a winding-sheet ;



268 WILLIAM BLAKE.

When I my grave have made,

Let winds and tempests beat :
Then down I '11 lie, as cold as clay.
True love doth pass away !



n.

THE FIRST SONG OF INNOCENCE,

PIPING down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child,

And he, laughing, said to me :

" Pipe a song about a Lamb ! "
So I piped with merry cheer

" Piper, pipe that song again " ;
So I piped : he wept to hear

" Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe :
Sing thy songs of happy cheer ! "

So I sang the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.

" Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."

So he vanished from my sight,
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,

And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.



SONGS. 269

m.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOY.

MY mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O, my soul is white.

White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereaved of light

My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And, sitting down before the heat of day,

She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And, pointing to the East, began to say :

" Look on the rising sun : there God does live,
And gives this light, and gives His heat away ;

And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

" And we are put on earth a little space,

That we may learn to bear the beams of love ;

And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

" For when our souls have learned the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice,

Saying, * Come out from the grove, my love and care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' "

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me,

And thus I say to little English boy :
When I from black, and he from white cloud free,

And round the tent of God like lambs we joy ;



270 WILLIAM BLAKE.

I '11 shade him from the heat till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee ;

And then I '11 stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.



IV.
THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER.

WHEN my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry, " Weep ! weep ! weep ! weep ! "
So your chimneys I sweep and in soot I sleep.

There 's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved ; so I said,
" Hush, Tom ! never mind it, for when your head 's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet, and that very night,

As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight ;

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,

Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and set them all free ;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind ;
And the angel told Tom, if he 'd be a good boy,
He 'a have God for his father, and never want joy.



SONGS. 271

^.nd so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work :
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm :
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.



V.
THE DIVINE IMAGE.

To mercy, pity, peace, and love,
All pray in their distress,

And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For mercy, pity, peace, and love,
Is God our Father dear ;

And mercy, pity, peace, and love,
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart ;

Pity, a human face ;
And Love, the human form divine ;

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine :
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew ;

Where mercy, love, and pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.



272 WILLIAM BLAKE.

VI.

ON ANOTHER'S SORROW,

CAN I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too ?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share ?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled ?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear ?
No ! no ! never can it be !
Never, never can it be !

And can He, who smiles on all,
Hear the wren, with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear ?

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring Pity in their breast ?
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear ?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away ?
O, no ! never can it be !
Never, never can it be !



SONGS. 273



He doth give his joy to all :
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by :
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

O, He gives to us his joy,
That our griefs He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone,
He doth sit by us and moan.



vn.

THE TIGER.

TIGER, Tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Framed thy fearful symmetry ?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burned that fire within thine eyes ?
On what wings dared he aspire ?
What the hand dared seize the fire ?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart ?
When thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand formed thy dread feet ?
12* u



274 WILLIAM BLAKE.

What the hammer, what the chain,
Knit thy strength and forged thy brain ?
What the anvil ? What dread grasp
Dared thy deadly terrors clasp ?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see ?
Did He who made the lamb make thee ?



VIII.
A LITTLE BOY LOST.

" NOUGHT loves another as itself,

Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought

A greater than itself to know.

" And, Father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more ?

I love you like the little bird

That picks up crumbs around the door."

The Priest sat by and heard the child ;

In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,

And all admired the priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,

" Lo ! what a fiend is here," said he,

" One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy Mystery."



SONGS. 2/0

The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain.

They stripped him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place

Where many had been burned before ;

The weeping parents wept in vain.

Are such things done on Albion's shore ?



IX
SMILE AND FROWN.

THERE is a smile of Love,

And there is a smile of Deceit,

And there is a smile of smiles
In which the two smiles meet

And there is a frown of Hate,
And there is a frown of Disdain,

And there is a frown of frowns

Which you strive to forget in vain ;

For it sticks in the heart's deep core,
And it sticks in the deep backbone.

And no smile ever was smiled
But only one smile alone.

(And betwixt the cradle and grave
It only once smiled can be,)

That when it once is smiled
There 's an end to all misery.



276 WILLIAM BLAKE

X.

OPPORTUNITY.

HE who bends to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy ;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.



UPON GROWING OLD.

BY J. HAIN FRISWELL.

JOHN FOSTER, (he who sprung into celebrity from
one essay, Popular Ignorance,) had a diseased feeling
against growing old, which seems to us to be very prevalent
He was sorry to lose every parting hour. " I have seen a
fearful sight to-day," he would say, "I have seen a butter-
cup." To others the sight would only/give visions of the
coming spring and future summer ; to' 1 him it told of the
past year, the last Christmas, the days which would never
come again, the so many days nearer the grave. Thack-
eray continually expressed the same feeling. He reverts
to the merry old time when George the Third was king.
He looks back with a regretful mind to his own youth.
The black Care constantly rides behind his chariot. " Ah,
my friends," he says, " how beautiful was youth ! We are
growing old. Spring-time and summer are past. We near
the winter of our days. We shall never feel as we have
felt. We approach the inevitable grave." Few men, in
deed, know how to grow old gracefully as Madame de Stael
very truly observed. There is an unmanly sadness at leav-
ing off the old follies and the old games. We all hate fo-
geyism. Dr. Johnson, great and good as he was, had a touch
of this regret, and we may pardon him for the feeling. A
youth spent in poverty and neglect, a manhood consumed
in unceasing struggle, are not preparatives to growing old in



278 J. HAIN FEISWELL.

peace. "We fancy that, after a stormy morning and a lower-
ing day, the evening should have a sunset glow, and, when
the night sets in, look back with regret at the " gusty, bab-
bling, and remorseless day " ; but if we do so, we miss the,
supporting faith of the Christian and the manly cheerful-
ness of the heathen. To grow old is quite natural ; being
natural, it is beautiful ; and if we grumble at it, we miss
the lesson, and lose all the beauty.

Half of our life is spent in vain regrets. When we are
boys we ardently wish to be men ; when men we wish as
ardently to be boys. We sing sad songs of the lapse of
time. We talk of " auld lang syne," of the days when we
were young, of gathering shells on the sea-shore and throw-
ing them carelessly away. We never cease to be senti-
mental upon past youth arid lost manhood and beauty. Yet
there are no regrets so false, and few half so silly. Per-
haps the saddest sight in the world is to see an old lady,
wrinkled and withered, dressing, talking, and acting like a
very young one, and forgetting all the time, as she clings to
the feeble remnant of the past, that there is no sham so
transparent as her own, and that people, instead of feeling
with her, are laughing at her. Old boys disguise their foi-
bles a little better ; but they are equally ridiculous. The
feeble protests which they make against the flying chariot
of Time are equally futile. The great Mower enters the
field, and all must come down. To stay him would be im-
possible. We might as well try with a finger to stop
Ixion's wheel, or to dam up the current of the Thames with
a child's foot.

Since the matter is inevitable, we may as well sit down
and reason it out. Is it so dreadful to grow old ? Does old
age need its apologies and its defenders ? Is it a benefit or
a calamity ? Why should it be odious and ridiculous ? An
old tree is picturesque, an old castle venerable, an old cathe-
dral inspires awe, why should man bo worse than his
works ?



UPON GROWING OLD. 279

Let us, in the first place, see what youth is. Is it so
blessed and happy and flourishing as it seems to us?
Schoolboys do not think so. They always wish to be
older. You cannot insult one of them more than by tell-
iug him that he is a year or two younger than he is. He
fires up at once: "Twelve, did you say, sir? Xo, I'm
fourteen." But men and women who have reached twenty-
eight do not thus add to their years. Amongst schoolboys,
notwithstanding the general tenor of those romancists who
see that everything young bears a rose-colored blush, mis-
ery is prevalent enough. Emerson, Coleridge, Wordsworth,
were each and all unhappy boys. They all had their re-
buffs, and bitter, bitter troubles ; all the more bitter because
their sensitiveness was so acute. Suicide is not unknown
amongst the young ; fears prey upon them and terrify them ;
ignorances and follies surround them. Arriving at manhood,
we are little better off. If we are poor, we mark the differ-
ence between the rich and us ; we see position gains all the
day. If we are as clever as Hamlet, we grow just as philo-
sophically disappointed. If we love, we can only be sure of
a brief pleasure, an April day. Love has its bitterness.
" It is," says Ovid, an adept in the matter, " full of anxious
fear." We fret and fume at the authority of the wise
heads; we have an intense idea of our own talent. We
believe calves of our own age to be as big and as valuable
as full-grown bulls ; we envy whilst 1 we jest at the old.
We cry, with the puffed-up hero of the Patricians Daugh-
ter

" It may be by the calendar of years
You are the elder man ; but 't is the sun
Of knowledge on the mind's dial shining bright,
And chronicling deeds and thoughts, that makes true time."

And yet life is Avithal very unhappy, whether we live
amongst the grumbling captains of the clubs, who are ever
seeking and not finding promotion ; amongst the strug-



280 J. HAIN FRISWELL.

gling authors and rising artists who never rise ; or among
the young men who are full of riches, titles, places, and
honor, who have every wish fulfilled, and are miserable
because they have nothing to wish for. Thus the young
Romans killed themselves after the death of their emperor,
not for grief, not for affection, not even for the fashion of
suicide, which grew afterwards prevalent enough, but from
the simple weariness of doing everything over and over
again. Old age has passed such stages as these, landed on
a safer shore, and matriculated in a higher college, in a



Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 62 of 66)