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after vespers, the French and English were all at it, ding-dong." And then calls of business intervening, the bells have to give up their private jangle, resume their professional duty, and sing their hourly chorus out of Dinorah.
What a prodigious distance those bells can be heard ! I was awakened this morning to their tune, I say. I have been hearing it constantly ever since. And this house whence I write, Murray says, is two hundred and ten miles from Antwerp. And it is a week off ; and there is the bell still jangling its shadow dance out of Dinorah. An audible shadow you understand, and an invisible sound, but quite distinct ; and a plague take the tune!
UNDER THE BELLS.—Who has not seen the church under the bells? Those lofty aisles, those twilight chapels, that cumbersome pulpit with its huge carvings, that wide gray pavement flecked with various light from the jewelled windows, those famous pictures between the voluminous columns over the altars, which twinkle with their ornaments, their votive little silver hearts, legs, limbs, their little guttering tapers, cups of sham roses, and what not? I saw two regiments of little scholars creeping in and forming square, each in its appointed place, under the vast roof; and teachers presently coming to them. A stream of light from the jewelled windows beams slanting down upon each little squad of children, and the tall background of the church retires into a grayer gloom. Pattering little feet of laggards arriving echo through the great nave. They trot in and join their regiments, gathered under the slanting sunbeams. What are they learning? Is it truth? Those two gray ladies with their books in their hands in the midst of these little people have no doubt of the truth of every word they have printed under their eyes. Look, through the windows jewelled all over with saints, the light comes streaming down from the sky, and heaven's own illuminations paint the book! A sweet, touching picture indeed it is, that of the little children assembled in this immense temple, which has endured for ages, and grave teachers bending over them. Yes, the picture is very pretty of the children and their teachers, and their bookbut the text ? Is it the truth, the only truth, and nothing but the truth? If I thought so, I would go and sit down on the form cum parvulis, and learn the precious lesson with all my heart.
BEADLE.—But I submit, an obstacle to conversions is the intrusion and impertinence of that Swiss fellow with the baldric -the officer who answers to the beadle of the British Islands, and is pacing about the church with an eye on the congregation. Now the boast of Catholics is that their churches are open to all ; but in certain places and churches there are exceptions. At Rome I have been into St. Peter's at all hours : the doors are always open, the lamps are always burning, the faithful are forever kneeling at one shrine or the other. But at Antwerp not so. In the afternoon you can go to the church, and be civilly treated ; but you must pay a franc at the side gate. In the forenoon the doors are open, to be sure, and there is no one to levy an entrance fee. I was standing ever so still, looking through the great gates of the choir at the twinkling lights, and listening to the distant chants of the priests performing the service, when a sweet chorus from the organ-loft broke out behind me overhead, and I turned round. My friend the drum-major ecclesiastic was down upon me in a moment. “: Do not turn your back to the altar during divine service,” says he, in very intelligible English. I take the rebuke, and turn a soft right-about face, and listen awhile as the service continues. See it I cannot, nor the altar and its ministrants. We are separated from these by a great screen and closed gates of iron, through which the lamps glitter and the chant comes by gusts only. Seeing a score of children trotting down a side aisle, I think I may follow them. tired of looking at that hideous old pulpit with its grotesque monsters and decorations. I slip off to the side aisle ; but my friend the drum-major is instantly after me--almost I thought he was going to lay hands on me. “You mustn't go there,” says he ; "you mustn't disturb the service.” I was moving as quietly as might be, and ten paces off there were twenty children kicking and clattering at their ease. I point them out to the Swiss. They come to pray,” says he.
" You don't come to pray, you“When I come to pay,
says I, “I am welcome, and with this withering sarcasm, I walk out of church in a huff. I don't envy the feelings of that beadle after receiving point blank such a stroke of wit.
LEO BELGICUS.—Perhaps you will say after this I am a prejudiced critic. I see the pictures in the cathedral fuming under the rudeness of that beadle, or, at the lawful hours and prices, pestered by a swarm of shabby touters, who come behind me chattering in bad English, and who would have me see the sights through their mean, greedy eyes. Better see Rubens anywhere than in a church. At the Academy, for example, where you may study him at your leisure. But at church-I would as soon ask Alexandre Dumas for a sermon. Either would paint you a martyrdom very fiercely and picturesquelyw.ithing muscles, flaming coals, scowling captains and executioners, swarming groups, and light, shade, color, most dexter ously brilliant or dark; but in Rubens I am admiring the performer rather than the piece. With what astonishing rapidity he travels over his canvas ; how tellingly the cool lights and warm shadows are made to contrast and relieve each other; how that blazing, blowsy penitent in yellow satin and glittering hair carries down the stream of light across the picture ! This is the way to work, my boys, and earn a hundred florins a day. See! I am as sure of my line as a skater of making his figure of eight! and down with a sweep goes a brawny arm or a flowing curl of drapery. The figures arrange themselves as if by magic. The paint-pots are exhausted in furnishing brown shadows. The pupils look wondering on, as the master careers over the canvas. Isabel or Helena, wife No. I or No. 2, are sitting by, buxom, exuberant, ready to be painted; and the children are boxing in the corner, waiting till they are wanted to figure as cherubs in the picture. Grave burghers and gentlefolks come in on a visit. There are oysters and Rhenish always ready on yonder table. Was there ever such a painter? He has been an ambassador, an actual Excellency, aild what better man could be chosen ? He speaks all the languages. He earns a hundred forins a day. Prodigious! Thirty-six thousand five hundred florins a year. Enormous ! He rides out to his castle with a score of gentlemen after him, like the Governor. That is his own portrait as St. George. You know he is an English knight? Those are his two wives as the two Maries. He chooses the handsomest wives. · He rides the handsomest horses. He paints the handsomest pictures. He gets the handsomest prices for them. That slim young Van Dyck, who was his pupil, has genius too, and is painting all the noble ladies in England, and turning the heads of some of them. And Jordaens—what a droll dog and clever fellow ! Have you seen his fat Silenus? The master himself could not paint better. And his altar-piece at St. Bavon's? He can paint you anything, that Jordaens can-a drunken jollification of boors and doxies, or a martyr howling with half his skin off. What a knowledge of anatomy! But there is nothing like the master-nothing: He can paint you his thirty-six thousand five hundred florins' worth a year. Have you heard of what ne has done for the French Court? Prodigious! I can't look at Rubens' pictures without fancying I see that handsome figure swaggering before the canvas. And Hans Hemmelinck at Bruges? Have you never seen that dear old hospital of St. John, on passing the gate of which you enter into the fifteenth century? I see the wounded soldier still lingering in the house, and tended by the kind gray sisters. His little panel on its easel is placed at the light. He covers his board with the most wondrous, beautiful little figures, in robes as bright as rubies and amethysts. I think he must have a magic glass, in which he catches the reflection of little cherubs with many-colored wings, very little and bright. Angels, in long crisp robes of white, surrounded with haloes of gold, come and Autter across the mirror, and he draws them. He hears mass every day. He fasts through Lent. No'monk is more austere and holy than Hans. Which do you love best to behold, the lamb or the lion ? the eagle rushing through the storm, and pouncing mayhap on carrion ; or the linnet warbling on the spray?
By much the most delightful of the Christopher set of Rubens to my mind (and ego is introduced on these occasions, so that the opinion may pass only for my own, at the reader's humble service to be received or declined,) is the “ Presentation in the Temple :" splendid in color, in sentiment sweet and tender, finely conveying the story. To be sure, all the others tell their tale unmistakably — witness that coarse “Salutation,” that magnificent “ Adoration of the Kings” (at the Museum), by the same strong downright hands; that wonderful “ Communion of St. Francis,” which, I think, gives the key to the artist's faire better that any of his performances. I have passed hours before that picture in my time, trying and sometimes fancying I could understand by what masses and contrasts the artist arrived at his effect. In many others of the pictures parts of his method are painfully obvious, and you see how grief and agony are produced by blue lips, and eyes rolling bloodshot with dabs of vermilion. There is something simple in the practice. Contort the eyebrow sufficiently, and place the eyeball near it,by a few lines you have anger or fierceness depicted. Give me a mcuth with no special expression, and pop a dab of carmine at each extremity-and there are the lips smiling. This is art if you will, but a very naïve kind of art: and now you know the trick, don't you see how easy it is?
Tu QUOQUE.-Now you know the trick, suppose you take a canyas and see whether you can do it? There are brushes, tried, my
you tried ?
palettes, and gallipots full of paint and varnish. Have you
dear sir-you, who set up to be a connoisseur? Have
I have—and many a day. And the end of the day's labor? O dismal conclusion! Is this puerile niggling, this feeble scrawl, this impotent rubbish, all you can produceyou, who but now found Rubens commonplace and vulgar, and were pointing out the tricks of his mystery? Pardon, O great chief, magnificent master and poet ! You can do. We critics, who sneer and are wise, can but pry, and measure, and doubt,
Look at the lion. Did you ever see such a gross, shaggy, mangy, roaring brute ? Look at him eating lumps of raw meat-positively bleeding, and raw and tough-till, faugh! it turns one's stomach to see him—() the coarse wretch! Yes, but he is a lion. Rubens has lifted his great hand, and the mark he has made has endured for two centuries, and we still continue wondering at him, and admiring him. What a strength in that arm! What splendor of will hidden behind that tawny beard, and those honest eyes! 'Sharpen your pen, my good critic. Shoot a feather into him ; hit him, and make him wince. Yes, you may hit him fair, and make him bleed, too; but, for all that, he is a lion-a mighty, conquering, generous, rampagious Leo Belgicus—monarch of his wood. And he is not dead yet, and I will not kick at him.
Sir ANTONY.—In that “ Pietà” of Van Dyck, in the Museum, have you ever looked at the yellow-robed angel, with the black scarf thrown over her wings and robe ? What a charming figure of grief and beauty! What a pretty compassion it inspires ! It soothes and pleases me like a sweet rhythmic chant. See how delicately the yellow robe contrasts with the blue sky behind, and the scarf binds the two! If Rubens lacked grace, Van Dyck abounded in it. What a consummate elegance! What a perfect cavalier! No wonder the fine ladies in England admired Sir Antony. Look at
Here the clock strikes three, and the three gendarmes who keep the Musée cry out, “ Allons ! Sortons ! Il est trois heures ! Allez! Sortez'!” and they skip out of the gallery as happy as boys running from school. And we must go too, for though many stay behind-many Britons with Murray's handbooks in their handsome hands—they have paid a franc for entrancefee, you see: and we knew nothing about the franc for entrance until those gendarmes with sheathed sabres had driven us out of this Paradise.
But it was good to go and drive on the great quays, and see