The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 12, No. 341, November 15, 1828 online

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VOL. XII, NO. 341.] SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1828. [PRICE 2d.



Sermons in stones
And good in every thing. - SHAKSPEARE.

What means the mysterious circle of stocks and stones on the other
side? Such will be the question of many a lover of fun, novel,
fiction, and romance; and though we cannot settle their origin with
the quickness or the humour of Munden's _Cockletop_, we will try to
let our inquirer into the secret with the smallest show of mysticism

Our engraving represents the Temple of Abury, the most extensive of
all the ruins in Wiltshire, attributed to the Druids. Such was its
original state, before the Vandalism of modern times destroyed and
levelled much of its monumental grandeur. It consisted of a grand
circle, containing two minor circles. The outer circle contained
upwards of 28 acres, and was surrounded by a ditch. There was a circle
within each of the two circles, contained within the circumvallation;
and according to Dr. Stukely, the antiquarian, the original was thus
composed: -

Outward circle, within the vallum 100 stones
Northern Temple, outward circle 30 -
Ditto, inward circle 12 -
Cove, or cell 3 -
Southern Temple, outward circle 30 -
Ditto, inward circle 12 -
Central Obelisk 1 -
Ring Stone 1 -

The Temple occupied a spot to which there is a gradual and
imperceptible ascent on all sides, and was approached by two avenues
of two hundred stones each. Its general form was that of a snake, in
by gone ages, the symbol of eternity and omniscience. "To make the
form still more elegant and picture-like, the head of the snake is
carried up the southern promontory of _Hack_pen Hill - and the very
name of the hill is derived from this circumstance."[1]

[1] Dr. Stukely, who says, that _acan_ in the Chaldee signifies
a serpent, and _hac_ is no other than a snake. In Yorkshire
they still call snakes _hags_; and in the British language
_pen_ denotes a head.

The whole figure thus represented the circle, snake, and wings. By
this the founders meant to picture out the nature of the Divinity;
the circle meant the supreme fountain of all being, the Father; the
serpent, that divine emanation from him, which was called the Son; the
wings imported that other divine emanation from them, which was called
the Spirit, the _Anima Mundi_. That the Temple was of a _religious_,
and not of a warlike nature, is proved by its ditch being withinside
the agger of earth, contrary to the mode adopted in works of defence.

Of the devastation and decay of Abury, the following data will afford
some idea:

The grand total of stones, included in the temples and avenues, was
650; in the original temples, 188.

In Aubrey's time, A.D. 1663 73 stones
In Dr. Stukeley's time, A.D. 1722 29 -
In 1815 17 -

Of very late years, says Sir Richard Colt Hoare, I do not imagine the
dilapidations of the temple have been very great.

It should, however, be mentioned, that the tracing of the _snake form_
is due to Dr. Stukeley; for his predecessor Aubrey mentions the avenue
as "a solemn walk leading to a monument upon the top of the hill,
without any allusion to the supposed design or its connexion with the
Grand Temple at Abury."

It is a matter of greater speculation than we can here enter into,
as to the _date and founders of Abury_; and their history is as
dislocated as are the masses of its ruins. Antiquarians agree on the
purpose for which it was founded, viz. for the performance of the
religious ceremonies of the Druids. Sir R. Colt Hoare illustrates this
point by supposing the flat ledge projecting from the vallum, to have
been intended for the accommodation of sitting, to the spectators who
resorted hither to the public festivals; and adds he, what a grand and
imposing spectacle must so extensive and elevated an amphitheatre
have presented, the vallum and its declivities lined with spectators,
whilst the hallowed area was preserved for the officiating Druids, and
perhaps the higher order of the people!

Gentle Reader! be ye lordling or lowlier born, once more _turn back to
the engraving_. We have a subject of yesterday rife and ready for you,
on the next page; but _turn to the engraving_. Look again at those
circles, and the fantastic forms that compose them, and think of the
infatuated thousands that were wont to assemble round them, and of the
idolized sons of power that once stood within their hallowed area.
Think of those days of sacrifice and superstition - those orgies of
ignorance and barbarism - and contrast them with the happy, happy
age of religious liberty in which it is your boast and blessing to
live - and then you may read "sermons in stones," to the masterminds of
your own time. To us, the stones of Abury are part of the poetry of
savage life, and of more interest than all the plaster toys of these
days. But they may not be so with you and "FINIS." We were once
compensated for missing Fonthill and its finery, by witnessing
day-break from Salisbury Plain, and associating its glories with the
time-worn relics of STONEHENGE!

The _engraving_ and data are from Mr. Higgins's Celtic Druids, for
the loan of which and a portion of this article, we thank our friend
"JAMES SILVESTER," whose valuable note on "_Circular Temples_" must
stand over for our next.

* * * * *

We had penciled for our Supplement the following beautiful lines from
Mr. Watts's "Literary Souvenir," but they will be more in place here.
_Silbury_ is an immense mound adjoining the road to Devizes, and
opposite Abury; Sir R.C. Hoare thinks it part of Abury; but H. and
many others think it the sepulchre of a King or Arch-Druid.


Grave of Cunedha, were it vain to call
For one wild lay of all that buried lie
Beneath thy giant mound? From Tara's hall
Faint warblings yet are heard, faint echoes die
Among the Hebrides: the ghost that sung
In Ossian's ear, yet wails in feeble cry
On Morvern: but the harmonies that rung
Around the grove and cromlech, never more
Shall visit earth: for ages have unstrung
The Druid's harp, and shrouded all his lore,
Where under the world's ruin sleep in gloom
The secrets of the flood, - the letter'd store,
Which Seth's memorial pillars from the doom
Preserved not, when the sleep was Nature's tomb.


* * * * *


(_For the Mirror_.)

* * * * *

"The way to be an excellent painter is to be an
excellent man - and these united, make a character
that would shine even in a better world

The sister arts of _Painting and Engraving_ have been making great
progress in England for some time past, and we are disposed to think
this a subject of congratulation and importance to all classes of the

The literature of the Fine Arts is likewise becoming more and more
popular every day. They form a prominent feature in every new literary
project, and not unfrequently literature, to use a hackneyed phrase,
is made their vehicle - like the namby-pamby of an English opera
for the strains of Rossini or Weber. The public are contented with
excellence in one department and mediocrity in the other; they cannot
be constantly admiring - that is out of the question - and it is
probably on this account that much of what appears _below par_ is
tolerated and even encouraged.

We will not go the length of assenting to the proposal of converting
Sir Joshua Reynolds's Lectures into Sermons, by the mere alteration of
the terms of art into scriptural phraseology; but we venture to assert
that much national good is likely to result from these advances of
art, and its constant introduction into all our amusements. That it
promotes the growth of virtue is too old an axiom to be refuted:

- - Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.

"The Italians commonly call a taste for the fine arts, or skill in
them, by the name of Virtue. They term the productions of artists
objects of virtue; and a person who has a taste for such things is
denominated _a virtuoso_, that is, a virtuous man." Such is the
language of the _Edinburgh Review_, in commencing an article on a
recently-published translation of Lanzi's _History of Painting in
Italy_, in six octavo volumes - and what a delightful relief is this
from the party declamations which usually occupy so large a portion of
that "critical journal." But this is not singular, for it is now no
uncommon thing to see a large letter column of a newspaper, and a
similar proportion of a printed sheet published at twopence, alike
occupied by "the Fine Arts."

Patronage, royal and noble, has already achieved much for painting,
and even the _reported_ project for a National Gallery does much to
foster the art. It keeps the study afloat and uppermost in the public
mind; and the immense increase of exhibitions, not only in London, but
in provincial towns, serves to prove that patronage now consists in
something more substantial than tutelar notice, and unpaid promises.
Artists need no longer journey to the metropolis to find sale for
their works, for their genius is nourished on its native soil by the
liberality and good taste which abound in the neighbourhood of every
important town in the empire. It may be as well to keep up the hue and
cry about the folly of portrait-painting, if it be only to keep down
the vanity of wealth; but the munificent rewards which painters
receive for this branch of their art will enable them to devote a
greater portion of their leisure to higher studies. _Their taste_
will not thus be impugned; for Cooke, the actor, is known to have
entertained the meanest opinion of his own performance of Richard
the Third, as an historical portrait, notwithstanding it was the
corner-stone of his fame. We do not invite the comparison; but Mr.
Hayden began with history - his want of patronage is well known; he
then tried portraits - but his want of success was reserved for the
style of his Mock Election pictures, and, in all probability, they
will turn out the philosopher's stone for his future life.

But it is to the splendid union of Painting, Engraving, and Literature
that much of these beneficial effects may be traced. In every branch
of the fine arts and literature, what a powerful influence will this
triple advancement produce. Only compare the topographical works of
Mr. Britton with those of his predecessors - his highly-finished
line engravings, excellent antiquarian pieces on wood, and erudite
descriptions, with the wretched prints and the quaintnesses of old
topographers - or even with the lumber of some of our county
histories. With this improvement, and that of map-work, painting has
comparatively but little to do; and yet how evident is the progress of
the literature of these works.[2]

It would be easy to adduce hundreds of instances of the recent union
of painting and engraving. About five years ago, a plan was started
for illustrating the Bible from pictures of the old masters. Upwards
of two hundred of them were transferred to wood-blocks; but the scheme
did not repay the ingenious originator - partly from their small size,
uncertainty of _effect_ to be produced on _wood_, and partly from the
very cheap rate at which the engravings were sold - the whole series
being purchaseable for three or four shillings.[3] But a similar
design is now in progress on metal, being the idea of _La Musée_ in
little. It consists of beautiful outline copies of the great
masters, published at so cheap a rate as to be within the reach of
a school-boy. Within the present year, also, two series of Views in
Great Britain, one of Views in London, and another of Paris, have been
publishing at the rate of threepence for each view; and when we see
among their artists the names of Westall, Pugin, and Pye, we have a
sufficient voucher for their excellence.

A passing notice of a few of the more splendid works of art, (for the
above are among the cheap and popular projects of the day,) and we
must conclude.

[2] The only place in which they do not progress mutually is the
theatre. Look at the scenery of our patent theatres, and compare
it with the vulgar daubs even of John Kemble's time. Some of the
scenes by Stanfield, Roberts, Grieve, and Pugh, are "perfect
pictures." Yet the language of the stage is at a stand, and
insipid comedy, dull tragedy, and stupid farce are more abundant
than before the "march of mind".

[3] While on the subject of _wood-engraving_, perhaps we may he
allowed to mention our own humble plan of illustrating a sheet
of letter-press for twopence. Of course, perfection in the
engraving department would have ruined all parties concerned;
for each of our subjects (as the miniature painters tell you of
their works) might be _worked up_ to "any price". It is now six
years since the MIRROR was commenced, and as we are not speaking
of ourselves, individually, we hope we may refer to the
progressive improvement of the _graphic_ department without any
charge of vanity.

It would be tedious to enumerate even a small portion of the fine
pictures which have been engraved during the last two years; the
mention of two or three will answer our purpose. Every printseller's
window will attest the fact. Only let the reader step into Mr.
Colnaghi's parlours, in Cockspur-street, and we might say the spacious
print gallery in Pall Mall. There let him turn over a few of the host
of fine portraits which have been transferred from the canvass to the
copper - the excellent series of royal portraits - and of men whose
names will shine in the history of their country, when their portraits
shall be gathered into the portfolios of a few collectors. Among
portraits, we ought, however, to recollect Mr. Lodge's invaluable
collection of historical characters, the originals of which were
exhibited a few months since, previous to their republication in a
more economical form. The Temple of Jupiter, published a few months
since, is perhaps one of the proudest triumphs of the year. Martin's
Deluge, too, has lately appeared, and we look forward to the
publication of his last splendid picture, the Fall of Nineveh, with
high hopes.

In the SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER[4] _(published with the present)_ we have
noticed in detail a few of the many superb engravings which embellish
the Christmas presents for the ensuing year, as well as their literary
talent, by a string of extracts like

"Orient pearls at random strung."

The success of these elegant works has benefited our artists to the
sum of twelve thousand pounds, in their preparation for 1829. A
fortnight since we mentioned the cost of the plates of the Literary
Souvenir to be 100_l._ and upwards for each subject. Another work,
still more splendid, (being nearly double the price,) is under the
direction of Mr. Charles Heath, whose masterly hand is visible in some
of the finest engraving ever submitted to the world - equalled only by
a rival in its first year - one of the best proofs of the patronage
these works enjoy. It would be invidious to particularize - but we must
mention the transference of two of Martin's designs - Marcus Curtius
(in the Forget Me Not) and Christ Tempted on the Mount - as two of the
most surprising efforts of genius we have ever witnessed. Our readers
need not be told that all the engravings are _on steel_; and were it
not for the adoption of this lasting metal, the

[4] The engraving is from Prout's exquisite picture of the
magnificent city of _Vicenza_ - for which we recollect our
obligation to the "_Forget Me Not_."

cost of half the engravings would exceed that of the whole work: all
we hope is, that the public patronage may be as lasting as the metal;
then it will be no idle vaunt to call this the march, or even race, of
genius. In conclusion, we recommend all our lady friends (who have
not done so) to place on their drawing-room table a _Print Album_, or
_Scrap Book_, to be supported "by voluntary contributions." They may
then form a pretty correct estimate of the taste of their visiters;
and if taste in the fine arts be a test of virtue and integrity, they
may even settle the claims of any two rival aspirants by this fair and
unerring method, which should admit of no appeal.

* * * * *


(_For The Mirror_.)

Christina was the only child of the great Gustavus Adolphus, who
succeeded to the throne of her father in 1632, when she was but five
years of age. The young queen, at an early age, discovered but little
taste for the society and occupations of her sex. When young, she was
capable of reading the Greek historians. At the age of eighteen she
assumed the reins of government. Several princes of Europe aspired
to her hand; but she rejected them all. To prevent a renewal of
applications on this subject, she solemnly appointed Gustavus her
successor, but without the smallest participation in the rights of
the crown during her own life. During her minority, Sweden enjoyed
internal repose, but was involved in a long war with the German
empire. She was crowned with great splendour in the year 1650. From
this time she entertained a philosophical contempt for pomp and
parade, and a kind of disgust for the affairs of state. She invited to
her court men of the first reputation in various studies. She was a
great collector of books, manuscripts, medals, paintings, &c. In 1654,
when she was only in her 28th year, Christina abdicated the crown,
in order that she might live a life of freedom. With her crown, she
renounced the Lutheran and embraced the Catholic religion. In quitting
the scene of her regal power, she proceeded to Rome, where she
intended to fix her abode. Some disgust which she received at Rome,
induced her, in the space of two years, to determine to visit France.
Here she was treated with respect by Louis XIV., but the ladies were
shocked with her masculine appearance and demeanour, and the unguarded
freedom of her conversation. Apartments were assigned her at
Fontainbleau, where she committed an action, which has indelibly
stained her memory, and for which, in other countries, (says her
biographer,) she would have paid the forfeit of her own life. This was
the murder of an Italian, Monaldeschi, her master of the horse, who
had betrayed some secret intrusted to him. He was summoned into a
gallery in the palace; letters were then shown to him, at the sight of
which he turned pale, and entreated for mercy; but he was instantly
stabbed by two of her own domestics in an apartment adjoining that in
which she herself was. The French court was justly offended at this
atrocious deed; yet it met with vindicators, among whom was Leibnitz,
whose name was disgraced by the cause which he attempted to justify.
Christina was sensible that she was now regarded with horror in
France, and would gladly have visited England, but she received no
encouragement for that purpose from Cromwell. She returned to Rome,
and resumed her amusements in the arts and sciences. In 1660, on the
death of Charles Gustavus, she took a journey to Sweden to recover her
crown; but her ancient subjects rejected her claims, and submitted to
a second renunciation of the throne; after which she returned to Rome.
Some differences with the pope made her resolve, in 1662, once more
to return to Sweden; but the conditions annexed by the senate to her
residence there were now so mortifying, that she proceeded no farther
than Hamburgh. She went back to Rome, and cultivated a correspondence
with the learned men there, and in other parts of Europe, and died in
1689, leaving behind her many letters, a "Collection of Miscellaneous
Thoughts or Maxims," and "Reflections on the Life and Actions of
Alexander the Great."


* * * * *


(_For The Mirror_.)

Persons desirous of ascertaining the true state of their lungs, are
directed to draw in as much breath as they conveniently can; they are
then to count as far as they are able, in a slow and audible voice,
without drawing in more breath. The number of seconds they can
continue counting must be carefully observed; in a consumption, the
time does not exceed ten, and is frequently less than six seconds; in
pleurisy and pneumonia, it ranges from nine to four seconds. When the
lungs are in a sound condition, the time will range as high as from
twenty to thirty-five seconds.


* * * * *


* * * * *



(_For The Mirror_.)

I saw a picture not long since, in Edinburgh, copied from an engraving
in Boydell's Shakspeare; subject, - "Lear (and suite) in the storm,"
but coloured according to the imagination and taste of the artist; its
name ought assuredly to have been _Redcap and the blue-devils_, for
the venerable and lamented monarch had fine streaming locks of the
real _carrot hue_, whilst his very hideous companions showed _blue_
faces, and blue armour; and with their strangely contorted bodies
seemed meet representatives of some of the infernal court. - In a
highly adorned prayer book, published in the reign of William
III., the engravings of which are from _silver-plates_, one print
illustrates our Lord's simile of the mote and beam, by a couple of men
aiming at each other's visual organs, ineffectually enough, one having
a great _log of wood_ growing from his eye, and the other being blind
in one eye from a _cataract_; at least, though I think I do not err
in saying, a _moat_ and castle, in it - I have seen an old edition of
Jeremy Taylor's "Life and Death of Christ," illustrated with many
remarkably good engravings. Of one of these the subject is, the
Impotent Man at the Pool of Bethesda; the fore ground is occupied by
our Saviour, the cripple, and other invalids; and in the distance
appears a small _pond_ palisaded by slender pilasters; over it hovers
an angel, who, with _a long pole_, is, to the marvel of the beholders,
dexterously "troubling the waters." In the same volume, some of the
figures are clad in the garb of the time when drawn, and St. Jude is
reading the _New Testament_ in a _pair of spectacles_! - In Holyrood
House, and in one of the rooms added in the days of Charles II., is a
panel-painting of "the Infant Hercules strangling the serpents;" and
leaping up in front of the cradle, appears one of those pretty and
rare spaniels called _King Charles's breed_. In the same palace, and
in one of the chambers, once occupied by the unfortunate Mary, is
a very old painting, intended, as the guide assures visitors, to
represent St. Peter's vision of the great sheet; it may be, but if so,
_one_ archangel in _military sandals_, holding in his hands a _small
towel_, represents (by a _figure_ in _painting_ I presume,) St. Peter,
the sheet, and its innumerable living contents. He must have taken a
hint, from the artist who painted for the passage through the Red Sea
nothing but ocean, assuring his employer, that the Israelites could
not be seen, because they were all gone over, and the Egyptians were
every one drowned! - "I once saw," writes a friend, "a full length
portrait of _Wordsworth_, in a modern painting of 'Christ riding into
Jerusalem;' it was amongst a group of Jews, and next to a likeness
of _Voltaire_. I believe the painter intended to contrast the
countenances of the Christian and infidel poets, and thus pay a
handsome compliment to the former; but the taste that placed the
ancients and moderns together, remind me of a fine old painting of the
Flemish school; a 'David with Goliah's head,' in the fore-ground of
which were a number of fat _Dutchmen_, dressed in _blue coats and
leather breeches_, with _pipes_ in their mouths." - "Raphael," says a
little French work on painting, in my possession, speaking of _unity_

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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 12, No. 341, November 15, 1828 → online text (page 1 of 4)