Изображения страниц

sanity of mind ; it is a wonderful tonic in the midst of riotous prosperity. At any rate the Bishop died of a very painful disease which had long troubled him, in the sixty-fifth year of his age; he died at his own dear Oxford, and was buried in the chapel of his college, where he had first practised the piety that made his life so wholesome all along. A quaiDt and pompous epitaph there describes him as "Angel of the Church of Worcester, afterwards Angel of the Church of Sarum, and now Angel of the Church Triumphant. (Ecclesice Angelus Vigornensis, postmodo Sarisburiensis, jam triumphaiilis.)"

At Salisbury, in the Palace, there is no portrait of him, but there is one at Westminster; and in a Wiltshire farm-house, not far from Sarum, there are portraits, rude and ill-drawn, of himself and his wife. This lady is buried in a little churchyard, Stratford-sub-Castle, that lies below the huge embanked mound of Old Sarum, overshadowed by a pleasant avenue of limes. It was still rather an unpopular thing for a bishop to marry. Hardly more thanhalf-a-century before, Abbot, a predecessor of Earles at Sarum, had been so scolded and threatened by his actual as well as spiritual brother, the Primate, for marrying when in Episcopal Orders, that he died of a broken heart. Earles was not so severely handled : we hear little of the marriage, except that he was happy in it. His wife lived and died unnoticed: in those days, bishops' wives were made even less of than they are now. He himself took no prominent place; it is probable that he was unconsciously drawn into the tide of practical affairs. At any rate for some reason he left next to nothing behind him besides the little book aforesaid; he wrote a few epitaphs and dedications, translated the "Icon Basilike" into Latin, and had nearly finished translating Hooker's "Polity" into the same language, when he died. The latter was lost through the carelessness of servants, who threw it into a waste-paper bin, and used it to wrap

up butter and cheese. And perhaps one may be excused for saying that it was not a very inappropriate ending for it; why a man of brisk and original mind should ever have engaged in this dismal hack-work is the real problem. His contemporaries echo the loss with a howl of dismay that could hardly have been greater had Hooker's original manuscript itself been lost. Perhaps the Bishop wished to correct the impression he had created by his earlier book,—as Maurice used to buy up copies of "Eustace Conway,"—and so engaged in a graver and more appropriate work; he could hardly have selected one which could have been at once so decorous and so dull. Anyhow, the destruction of this document will be received by the modern student with, to say the least, equanimity.

We may now turn to a closer study of the book by which he still deserves to be well known, "The Microcosmography," or, to give a free rendering, "Jottings from the Note-book of a Minute Philosopher."

This kind of writing was a favourite with the age; men were beginning to turn from the solemn impersonalities of chivalry and from the restricted limitations of the drama, to a more minute analysis of character, to a spectatorial interest in the more unpleasing types of which humanity affords such numerous instances. It was the foreshadowing of the modern novel; but it is of course a somewhat elementary form of delineation of character. Its elementariness consists in the fact that the characters are labelled and classified : there can be no mistake about the effects intended to be produced, and the success of such work would depend upon the humour, the verisimilitude, the liveliness of the portraiture. There is consequently a great want of that complexity which is at once the delight and the despair of the draughtsman of human character, and such sketches are therefore as inferior to fine creations of character, as studies of expression like Le Brun's, where the whole skill of the artist is directed to the production of a single effect, are inferior to a noble portrait.

The aim of the Microcosmographist is to add touch after touch, every one of which shall indicate in different phases, from different points of view, the same actual characteristic; just as the physiognomist in imaginary portraits endeavours to make eyes, ears, mouth and brow all bear the same stamp and illustrate the same expression. It is a concentration of effects as opposed to a combination of causes. Theophrastus, of course, and Aristotle are the fathers of the art; besides Earles, Hall and Overbury are the best of the English School.

What will at once strike the reader is the exceedingly miscellaneous and at the same time humorous nature of the contents. Under the general designation of character we have " A Childe, a meere dull Physitian, an Alderman, a younger Brother, a Tavern, an old College Butler, a Potpoet, a Baker, The Common Singing Men, a Bowie-alley, a She-precise Hypocrite, a Trumpeter, a meere Complemental man, Paul's Walk, a Stayed Man," &c.; still the charactersketches formed by far the most considerable parts of these.

As instances of Earles' humour take the following extract.

The Antiquary. Hee will go you forty miles to see a Saint's well, or ruined Abbey; and if there be but a Crosse or a stone footstool in the way hee'll be considering it so long till he forget his journey. . . . His very attire is that which is the eldest out of fashion, and you may pick a criticism out of his Breeches. He never looks upon himself till he is grey-haired, and then he is pleased at his own antiquity. His grave does not fright him, because he has been us'd to sepulchers, and he likes Death the better, because it gathers him to his fathers.

Or the following, from "A Plaine Country-Fellow."

He seems to have the judgment of Nebuchadnezar; for his conversation is among beasts, and his tallons none of the

shortest, only he eats not grasse, because he loves notSallets [salads]. He expostulates with his Oxen very understandingly, and speaks Gee and Ree better than English. His mind is not much distracted with objects, but if a good Fat Cow come in his way, he stands dumb and astonisht, and though his haste be never so greate, will fix here half an houre's contemplation.

Or this, from "A Universitie Dunne."

He is like a rejected acquaintance, hunts those that care not for his company, and he knows it well enough; yet he will not away. The sole place to supply him is the Buttery, where he takes grievous use upon your name, and he is one much wrought upon with good Beere and Rhetorick.

This may illustrate his penetration and sagacity of observation.

It shall goe hard whether you will be spoke but nips shall have him go with some twenty stung and gall'd, the occasion than

A Suspicious Man. but you must abuse him or no. Not a word can him somewhere. . . You fretting out of company quarrels to every man, and no man knows less they that have given it.

Or this, from "The Blunt Man."

He is exceeding in love with his Humour, which makes him always profess and proclaim it; and you must take what he says patiently, because he is a plaine man ; his nature is his excuse still and other men's Tyrant, for he must speake his mind, and that is his worst, though he love to teach others he is teaching himself.

"The Scepticke in Religion," a habit of mind with which Earles had little sympathy, is well drawn.

The Fathers jostle him from one side to the other ; now Sosinas and Vorstius afresh torture him, and he agrees with none worse than himself. He puts his foot into Heresies tenderly, as a cat in the water, and pulls it out again, and still something unanswered delays him ; yet he bears away some parcell of each, and you may sooner pick all Religions out of him than one. He cannot think so many wise men can be in error, nor so many honest men out of the way, and his wonder is doubled when he sees these oppose one another. In summe his whole life is a question and his salvation a greater, which death only concludes, and then he is resolved.

But there is, beside these sharp stinging sentences, a lovely view of gentle tenderness in his writing. "A Childe," which opens the series, is one of the most exquisite and feeling delineations in literature.

His father has writ him as his own little story wherein he reads those days of his life that he cannot remember; and sighs to see what innocence he has outlived. The elder he grows he is a stair lower from God, and like his first parent much worse in his breeches. Could he put off his body with his little coat, he had got eternity without a burthen, and exchanged one heaven for another.

But it would be easy to quote and quote and give no real idea of the fertility, the wit, the pathos of the man. All humanity is before him, and must be handled tenderly because he is a part of it himself, and because faults, like ugly features, are sent us

to be modified, perhaps; to be eradicated, no 1

The one strain in character which throughout afflicts him most, and for which he reserves his most distilled contempt, is the strain of unreality— the affectation whose sin is always to please, and which fails so singularly of its object. Hypocrisy, pretension, falseness—against everything which has that lack of simplicity so fatal to true life he sets his face. For the rest he can hardly read the enigma he only states it reverently. Like the old Persian poet, he seems to say:

Oh Thou, who Man of baser earth didst

make, And e'en with Paradise devise the Snake: For all the Sin wherewith the face of

Man Is blacken'd—Man's forgiveness give—and



Visitoes who go to Italy to study Italian art make a great mistake in devoting themselves solely, or even mainly, to picture-galleries. Two of the principal facts about the great Italian painters, and those just the facts which make their work most interesting, cannot so be learned. Italian art, alike in its motives and in its models, was a reflection of Italian life. "It is a constant law," says Mr. Puskin, "that the greatest men, whether poets or painters, live entirely in their own age,"—and, he might have added, in their own land. The old Italian masters painted their everrecurring cycle of religious subjects, because those were the subjects in which the people around them were vitally interested. And we in a later age can only enter into the spirit of the old pictures by placing ourselves at the old point of view. Similarly with the types of beauty which the Italian masters selected for the setting of their sacred legends. They painted the fair faces and the beautiful scenery that they saw round them. They represented the Madonna not as a Jewish maiden but as an Italian contadina; and the hills beneath which their Holy Families took their repose were not the mountains that stand round about Jerusalem, but those that encircle Florence or rise from the horizon of Venice. But all these things can be seen better in the reality than in the painted imitation, and it is only after inhaling, as it were, the Italian atmosphere, that one can properly appreciate and enjoy Italian art. In the matter of landscape most travellers would readily admit this fact. Every one sees, for instance, that the proper preparation for enjoying Titian's canvases is a drive through Titian's country in the Dolomites. The everlasting

hills are the same now as then, and one may stand to-day at the very point of view—at Caverzano, near Belluno— from which Titian took the mountain forms and effect of evening light in that picture of the "Repose" which now hangs in our National Gallery.

The religious sentiment and the facial type of the Italian peasantry are not so easily discernible, but they may still occasionally be found in native purity, and they are then seen to be not less constant to the old configuration than are the hills and valleys of their home. We had a pretty instance of this fact the other day, when we chanced to be witnesses of a Passion Play in the lake district of Italy. It was a very humble audience and a very primitive play. The time was not the tourist's season, and there was no cause or desire on any side to play to the stranger's gallery. It was a purely native function; and at every turn we, who were chance spectators of it, were reminded of old pictures at Florence or Venice, to the inner meaning of which we had often sought in vain to find the clue. Here, in the graceful figures and soft faces of the peasant players, we recognised the models of the Italian masters; and here, in the sentiment of the play and its reception by the audience, we saw a living instance of the religious feeling which was the motive of early Italian art. In the pictures the motive is often hard to find and still harder to entirely understand. It is so naive sometimes that it seems less than religious, and yet so sincere, that it seems more than childish. Who that recalls the "Adams and Eves,' the "Creations," the "Last Judgments," which he has seen in collections of early Italian pictures, will not admit that they have more often offended than interested him, more often amused than impressed 1 But one comes to such pictures with a better understanding and a fuller sympathy after seeing them transferred, as it were, from canvas to the real life of the peasantry themselves. And, perhaps, here and there another visitor will find some help towards the enjoyment of old Italian art in this simple record of a Passion Play among the Italian lakes.

We had landed one day in the early spring at the principal inn (and, indeed, there are not many to boast of) in the little town of Orta, on the lake of that

That speck of white just on its marge Is Pella ; see, in the evening-glow,

How sharp the silver spear-heads charge, When Alp meets heaven in snow!

But for all Mr. Browning's pretty poem, Orta is still little known to the general body of tourists. Even the railway that was opened last year has not spoiled the solitude of the spot. The long range of Monte Motterone, which separates the lake of Orta from the Lago Maggiore, still wards off the travelling locusts on the north; the hill, surmounted by the ancient tower of Buccione, dividing the lake from "the waveless plain of Lombardy," still forms a barrier on the south. The town of Orta itself, standing on the most inaccessible of promontories, has a curious old-world look about it compared with Baveno and Pallanza. Here are none of the barracks of Bellaggio or palaces of Cadenabbia. The old inn stands on the little marketplace or piazza (it must be a poor town indeed that has not self-respect enough to christen its open space piazza), and sees all the life of the village, or, indeed, of the commune, transacted underneath its windows. Oleanders and southern plants stand between the pillars of its portico. Some of the gardens of Orta are indeed a wonder. We have passed great hedge-rows of banksia rose, and of glorious yellow tea-roses on our way; and now that we have come upon the Albergo S.

Giulio, it is a patch of sunshine after the narrow overhanging street. The landlord welcomes us with old-fashioned courtesy, and we enter the weatherworn old stone courtyard, built round a square open to the sky, where, as you look up, hanging pots of creepers and twining plants seem to frame the blue. Here, we thought, if anywhere still in Italy, we should see some traces of the old Italian life; and we had not long to wait. Outside, in the sunny piazza, a gipsy encampment had just alighted from three gaily-painted green and yellow vans, hung with lace curtains and containing perfect nests of families, like the conjurors' magic boxes. The tiny olive-skinned children tumbled about in the dust with a litter of puppies, which also formed part of the cavalcade. As our windows looked directly on to the piazza, and as the gipsies took up their abode here for several days, we had ample opportunities for becoming acquainted with them.

All the domestic arrangements of the company were conducted in public, and they were a most merry, sunnytempered crew, ever exchanging a laugh or a joke with the passers-by. But it was two or three days before we learnt that the gipsies were strolling players, and that a grand dramatic representation was preparing. The excitement of market day had come and gone, and that great weekly festival had almost cast the gipsies into shade; but now we observed the men very busily erecting a marquee at one side of the piazza, under the linden trees close to the lake. They stopped often, like all Italian workmen, for a chat, or a doze, or a laugh; but still the tent progressed, and by nightfall it was all overhung with rough oil-paintings of wonderful description, and of bold, not to say brilliant, colouring. On one of these was depicted a woman with a tiger about to spring on her; on another a man being pierced with four spears at once (the drawing reminding us somewhat of Margaritone); but the masterpiece was Judas writhing in the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »