صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

With some Account of The Dance of Death. The celebrity of a subject which has been translated into Latiu and French, inz been distinguished by the labours of so the last of which languages there are great an artist as Holbein, and which some very ancient and very modern forms the subject of the embellishment editions. of this number, seems necessarily to. The earliest allusion, to the subject, demand some investigation of its origin. but whether to the above-mentioned

In the dark ages of monkish bigotry farce or to the paintings seenis uncerand superstition, the deluded people, tain, is in the following lines, from the terrified into a belief that the fear of Visious of Pierce the Plowman, who death was acceptable to the great Author wrote about 1350 : of their existence, had placed one of

Death came drivynge after, and all to dust their principal gratifications in contem pashed, plating it amidst ideas the most horrid Kynges and kaysers, knights and popes and disgusting: hence the frequent

Learned and lewde, he ne let no man stande

That be hitte even, he never stode after. descriptions of mortality in all its shapes Many a lovely ladie, ayd lemmans of knights amongst their writers, and the repre

Swooued and swelted for sorrow of death sentations of this kind, in their books of

dyntes. religious offices, and the paintings and When the arts of printing and en. sculptures of their ecclesiastic build- graving became established, various ings. They had altogether lost sight of copies of the Dance of Macaber made the consolatory doctrines of the Gospel, their appearance, particularly in the which regard death in no terrific point Hours, Breviaries, Missals, and other of view whatever; a discovery reserved service books of the church, few of for the discernment of modern and enlight. which were unaccompanied with a Dance ened Cbristians, who contemplate scenes of Death; and in these the designs somewhich excited gloom and melancholy in times varied. Many of our own service the minds of their forefathers, with the books for the use of Salisbury were thus gratification of philosophic curiosity. decorated, and the fashion at length lerSome exceptions, however, to this re minated in a book of Christian prayers, mark are not wanting, for we may yet printed more than once during the reign trace the imbecility of former ages in of Elizabeth, since which time nothing the decorations of many of our monu of the kind has appeared. In all these ments, tricked out in all the silly orna are to be found the same dull and ments of deaths' heads and marrow uniform representation of Death leading bones.

a single figure, without much attempt at The most favourite subject of the character or execution, until at length kind, however, was what is usually deno- there appeared, in 1538, a book, entitled minated the Dance of Death, or a repre « Les simulachres & historiees faces de la sentation of Death in the act of leading Mort, autant elegammeut pourtraictes, all ranks and conditions of men to the que artificiellement imaginees.” It was grave; with gesticulations not a little printed at Lyons by Melchior and bordering upon the grotesque, though Gasper Trechsel, and is accompanied probably without any view to provoke with forty-one of the most beautiful the mirth of the spectator in those times. groups of figures that can be well conThe origin is perhaps to be sought for ceived, both for their composition and in an ancient pageant, or religious farce, execution, being most delicately cut on invented by the clergy, for the purpose wood, and surpassing in this branch of of at once amusing and keeping the art almost every thing of the kind that people in ignorance. In this all ranks has appeared before or since. This work and conditions of life were personated was often republished, as well in the and mixed together in a general dance, French, as in the Latin and Italian in the course of which every one in his languages, and has been usually denoturn vanishes from the scene, to shew minated by most of the writers upon the that none were exempted from the stroke arts of painting and engraving, as well of death. This dance was performed as hy many travellers, Holbein's Dance in the churches, and can be traced back of Death. It is extremely clear, howas far as the year 1424*; it was called ever, that Holbein did not invent these the Dance of Macaber, from a German subjects, for it appears in a dedication, poet of that name, who first composed which is only to be found in the first some verses under the same title. Of edition of this work, that the painter was this person very little is known, but then dead, and that he had not lived to Fabricius thinks the poem more ancient finish some of the designs, which, how. than the paintings f. His work has ever, afterwards appeared in a subsequent * Glossar. Carpentier, tom. ii, 1103.

edition. The painter must therefore + Bibl, med, & infim, Ætat

have died before 1538, and it is well

[blocks in formation]


known that Holbein was at this time an intruder,-a listener, perhaps; and living, and continued so uutil 1555. that listeners hear no good of themselves, Unluckily no evidence whatever, nor is an adage twenty times as old as any even tradition, has been preserved re old woman that has made use of it for lating to this great artist, and it is feared the last century. Now, as I have an that he will ever remain undiscovered. insurmountable aversion to all old wo

After what has been said, it becomes men whom the courtesy of society may necessary to attempt at least to give include under the masculine gender, I some reason for the almost universal must beg to refute the infallibility of opinion, that these designs were the off- this long-established axiom. I really spring of Holbein's pencil. Most of did listen, and (I blush while I relate it) those writers who have described the did actually bear some good of myself, town of Basil, as well as the compilers “ Somebody is in the next room,” said of the lives of the painters, speak of a the afflicted girl, half suppressing her Dance of Death by Holbein, some re sorrow in the delicacy of innocent shame, ferring to the old Dance of Macaber, “Somebody is in the next room.” “ jí and others to the more modern one; but is only our new gentleman customer,” it is not difficult to see, that they have replied the mother soothingly; and I am but transcribed from each other, without sure, if we judge by his face, he is the taking pains to examine the subject. genteelest, and the kindest hearted”Certain it is, however, that Holbeiir did here there was a disciple of Lavater, paint a Death's Dance in its improved who had doubtless never heard of his state, and likewise more than once. name - a convincing proof that his Bishop Burnet, in his travels in Switzer- theory, however ridiculous it may land, speaks of a Dance of Death, appear, is yet founded on human nature, painted by Holbein, “ on the walls of a and has silent, unconscious supporters house where he used to drink,” which in every bosom. This was also suffi. was then so worn out, that very little cient practical experience to overturn was to be seen except shapes and pos- the prejudice against listeners for ever.

He then mentions the old Death's 1 silently acknowledged the conviction Dance at the Dominicans' convent *, with a smile, and as if fearful that some which, he says, was « so worn out after-shadow of opinion might give an

some time ago, that they ordered the unfavourable shade to the pleasing “best painter they had to lay new resemblance mine hostess bad begun to “colours on it; but this is so ill done, delineate, I stepped suddenly into the “that one had rather see the dead room, and whether it was the favourable « shadows of Holbein's pencil, (i. e. on

character 1 had previously obtained, or “ the walls of the house), than this coarse the spell of a vagrant tear which had * work."

gushed almost unconsciously from the This account is corroborated by heart, I will not attempt to decide ; but Keysler, who adds, that the painting on certainly a few minutes saw me seated the house was then entirely obliterated. between the parent and her weeping Patin, in his travels, also speaks of a child, with as much of the eager warmth house at Basil, curiously painted by and mutual confidence of friendship as Holbein, but does not mention the sub- if Time had enrolled us for old acquaintject; it was probably the same as Bur. ance in the annals of the village. These are the only travellers

We have heard much in our time of. who have spoken upon this subject with sympathy and antipathy: the latter, I any degree of accuracy, and fortunately know, is a very fashionable emotion, their testimony throws much light and every metaphyisician in the great

world will tell us it is a very natural •By mistake called the convent of the Augus. dresses, because their friends can afford

The ladies feel an antipathy to old tinians.

(or contrive) to sport new ones; to old THE FUGITIVE:

lovers, if richer ones make their appear

ance; and to old women, because with A SCENE FROM NATURE. the aid of cold cream, pearl powder, and By WILMINGTON FLEMI rouge, they presume to look as blooring No. II.

as their young friends, in despite of Sweet mutual love!

crows' feet, sunken eyes, and the very That smiles in tears, and yet the firmer clings troublesome recollections of some real In pain and sorrow.

old ladies, who have long memories I did not, however, proceed so lightly and still longer tongues. The gentleto the door of the apartment, as to pre men too have their antipathies : they vent the creaking of the polished oak hate an old friend with an old coat, boards from announcing the approach of certain indication that the world's kind

pet saw.

upon it.


ness has worn out before it. They also weary pilgrimage through the world, avoid a young one, after they have rioted The playmates of infancy, and the sweetin bis prosperity, and contributed to his hearts of childhood, soon matured into rujn! and they have at all times an in- ardent lovers at eighteen : during the vincible antipathy to prudence, advice, hours of rustic labour, Edward was never and reformation. The fashionable world far distant from his Ellen; at church have also their favourite sympathies, they read out of the same prayer-book, which cling instinctively to the forms of and the guileless love of their hearts wealth, and rank, and power: they de. gave a loftier wing to their devotion to light to sympathize in the joys of the Heaven. Arm in arm, they would return affuent, nay, even in their sorrows; for smiling after their venerable parents, they know that they will be enjoyed in who were discussing some obscure senall the elegant luxuries of grief, and tence in the sermon; and many a village only for the period prescribed by fashion; girl gave a sigh for ribbands so gay, and after which their dear attractive friends a handkerchief as clear,—for they were will be as thoughtless, as selfish, and as the gifts of Edward at the annual fair, at dissipated as ever.

the expence of the savings of several So much for fashionable impulses. I months; and at their evening gambols scarcely know how I became induced to on the 'green, they tripped over the mention them, for I am but a fugitivem smooth turf as light as fairies, and as an oddity, - in search of oddities of happy as love and innocence could make value; and knowing that the choicest them. flowers are not often found in the most They had quarrels sometimes, for il frequented path, nor the most estimable is impossible to enjoy the sweetness of diamond in the long-opened mine. I passion without them; and the maiden delight to wander along the bye-ways of would pout and look angry, until the the world, and feel my sensibility most kiss of contrition received the pledge of fondly attracted in those serene and se- pardon back again. Thus the hour of questered scenes of humble life, where silent sullenness only gave the brighter innocence sports like a lamb in her contrast to the joy of reconciliation, and native fold, and mirth, and health, and their hearts never felt half so light as peace, entwine a chaplet for the brows they did after those little peevish conflicts of age and virtue! Methinks I hear of erring nature : like the sudden wind some simpering young damsel of quality through the woodbine, that only breathes exclaim, “ Good heaven! what a taste!” a stronger gale of perfume; or the moon Read on, my dear madam, and recollect bid for a moment within the cloud, to I am but a fugitive.Ellen Watkins bad break forth again with purer lustre ! been long and tenderly attached to a But though quarrels often give a zest young man, the son of a neighbour, who, to the lover's felicity, they do not at all possessing a small freehold, was just en times terminate so happily. It happened, abled to live iu decent independence, and the day before my arrival at Oatvale to spare enough to rejoice with an old was that of the annual fair, to which for friend, or enable him humbly to assist the last three years the lovers had gone the distresses of those whose utmost with all that innocent anticipation of efforts could not keep the wolf from the heart, which gilds the hours of actual door.

Edward Morgan was an only enjoyment, when hope, young and child, and, as such, was the more ten- sportive as ourselves, disdains to break derly beloved; but rustic indulgence very the spell of happiness which surrounds rarely will corrupt a good heart; if pos- us, and innocence drinks sweetly from sible, it only adds stronger impulse to the cup of life, únconscious of the bitterthe bands of filial love and duty, and a ness of its dregs ! It seemed that Ellen nobler stimulus to exertions from the had fixed her heart upon going to this holy fervour of gratitude.

fair,"for there had never been such Edward and Ellen had been born on sights to be seen as now,”—a real firethe same day, and a few weeks after saw eater, -a lioness, — and a recruiting them received into the bosom of the party who had but lately arrived to Church, smiling like terrestrial cherubs beat up for heroes,—that is, recruits, beneath the dove-like wings of Chris- to spread carnage and desolation into tianity; and many a happy group, in distant lands,—while they leave anguish the innocent joy of their hearts, already and desolation at beme to leave the destined them for each other, and with a humble abodes of peace and domestic nod of conscious sagacity uttered some happiness, and the aged parents who had of those guileless predictions, without doated on their infancy, and gazed with which bope would sicken at the very proud delight on the sturdy props which ouset of life's journey, and leave us to a Nature had given to their declining

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

“I saw your

years, to renounce every hope, and with tears. There is no human misery every tie, and for what?-to spread so acute as that which we feel to have ravage, and blood, and Aame through brought upou ourselves. Ellen felt as if the earth, and offer up the bleeding she did not deserve pity: all she wished lamb of social happiness to the blood- to obtain was the truth, yet no one, not stained Moloch of ambition, while the even her parents, would tell her what had philosopher and moralist shrink aghast, happened. At length an old pedlar that Nature should rear such dæmons in called in for his pint of ale; and as Ellen her bosom.

had formerly been a customer of bis, he Ellen had never seen the soldiers, and took that opportunity of displaying some many a bleeding heart at that moment of the identical finery that had figured at would have given the world to be as the fair. Ellen could not look,--she ignorant ; so she was determined to go was ill,-very ill, and a tear at the with Edward, who had saved up a little moment told the complaint was at her store for the occasion, and also to have heart. All this was not lost upon the a new gowo to appear decent, a favourite 'itinerant dealer ;-and kindly (for be term with the fair sex, when they desire meant kindness,) pressing her hand, be to appear fine. But her father could see bade her take comfort : no reason why she could not go with an poor lover yesterday,”-added he,old one, as good as now; and to add to To before before—“What! gasped the her distress, her mother (perhaps from agonized girl—“before what!"_"Before economical reasons) thought the same he listed for a soldier." -The blood there was to be no new gown, and Ellen rushed wildly to her heart;--a cry of resolved she would not go without one. despair sunk to the heart of theaffrighted The morning came, and Edward appear-old man, and she fell senseless at his ed in his Sunday clothes with an anxious feet ! countenance, and a pleading tear in each It was just after her recovery from eye; but all to no purpose. The this trance of bitter feeling, that I introparents scolded, and the lover pleaded duced myself to the sorrowing Ellen : and wept ; still Ellen was inexorable,- her little history was sooa told, and on

go she would not.” The lover was but her mother's enquiry if there was any a man, and men will be desperate, so he hope, she fixed a look upon me, so tear bade her “ farewell for ever!” and went ful, and yet so pleadingly energetic, that sullenly by himself. Now Ellen did not I would have gone a pilgrimage to think he would go without her; and Loretto to recover her bosom's happi. even if he did, that he would soon return, ness. Yes! there was hope, and I lost and bring her some fairing to bribe her no time in setting out for the town where ill humour. All day she sat sullenly in the recruiting party had fixed their her chamber; and when evening came, quarters. Mine host offered to accomendeavoured to forget the agony of her pany me, which I refused. The afflicted repentance, in unnatural merriment, and father of poor Edward could not, for his more than usual bustle in the house- grief had laid him on his bed, from which hold.

he hoped never to arise, except to welcome Night came on: every one else had his unfortunate son. Accompanied by returned, but no Edward, and she re- blessings, and hopes and prayers, i marked too, that the young folks who proceeded on my journey, and surely a were her most intimate companions, man cannot have better travelling comnow endeavoured to avoid her, and looked panions ; for my heart felt light with the another way, as they passed the window buoyancy of hope, and the happiness it where she sat. Farewell for ever! now would be in my power to bestow. An struck like a death knell on her heart. hour's hard riding, brought me to the strings. “He is gone then,” she cried, military rendezvous. The noise of brutal and with that eager anxiety of mind mirth—loud oaths and vulgar songs which seeks the fatal intelligence that it led me to this disgraceful repository of dreads, she ran after the last couple that human victims: the serjeant and his had passed her. “ Where is Edward ?” confederates were endeavouring to drown “ We don't know.” “Have you seen every feeling of delicacy or repentance in him ?” “ Yes.” “Where?” “Don't ask the bosoms of their prey, by copious ns, Ellen, -Good night - God bless draughts of maddening liquor, which

« It is all over then," exclaimed heated them into frantic gaiety, or hapthe penitent; and she ran into the pier insensibility :-yet in some eyes I garden and wept.

could discover a tear mingling with the Morning at length dawned upon the excitement of inebriation, and the recola anxious girl, after a sleepless night, lections!(of home,_that home they had during which her pillow had been wet renounced for ever, -stealing like speça

you !".

tred shadows of former blessedness, amid in a sullen smile, or a flood of tears. A the misery of hope's wild ruin I looked palace, a church, or a theatre, we can around ;--Edward could not be there, contrive to pass with some degree where all was intemperance and mad- indifference ; but a garret, a place dening riot. This was vo place for the where Goldsmith flourished, and Chatweeping lover, the renegade from terton died, we can never presume to domestic bappiness,-misconduct's vic- enter without first paying a tribute of tim,—and yet virtue's child! I thought reverence to the presiding deity of the I should have known him in a single place. How venerable does it appear, glance;-I looked again.-Yes,—he was at least if it is a genuine garret, with its there : - remote from his boisterous angular projections, like the fractures in companions, in a solitary corner, sat the poor Goldsmith's face, its tattered and late happy Edward;- his hands were thread-bare walls like old Johnson's wig, clenched in mental agony; and his face, and its numberless “ loop holes of so lately blooming in health, was pale, retreat,” for the north wind to peep and wet with tears. He seemed to have through and cool the poet's imagination. no eye-no ear-all was solitude !-the The very forlornness of its situation desolation of a young fond heart, swėpt inspires elevated ideas in proportion to by the whirlwind of sudden passion, when its attitude, it seems isolated from the thought is misery, and conviction mad- world, and adapted solely to the intimate ness! I did not address him, to awaken connexion that genius holds with heaven. hopes which I might not be able to It was in a lonely garret far removed realize, until I had first intimated my from all connexion with mortality, that business to the commanding officer. He Otway conceived and planned his affectwas soon found, and a short arrangement ing tragedy of “ Venice Preserved;" and enabled me to restore young Edward to it was in a garret that he ate the stolen his home, his mistress, and himself. I roll, which ultimately terminated in his will not attempt the description of his death. It was in a garret that poor gratitude—his rapture: we were once Butler indited his inimitable Hudibras, more on the road to his native village, and convulsed the king and the court the scenes of his childhood, and the with laughter, while he himself writhed shrine of his heart: the sun shone in the gnawing pangs of starvation. brightly on its humble spire,—nay, even Some one has thus aptly alluded to the

The Silver Cow” was to be seen, as if circumstance: in welcome of his return. A group of

When Butler, needy wretch, was yet alive, villagers were fast advancing to receive

No generous patron would a dinner give. us,--and there was one that seemed more See him resolved to clay, and turned to dust, eager than the rest. Edward's heart

Presented with a monumental bust;

The poet's fate is here in emblem shown, knew that person well,- he ran to meet He asked for bread, and he received a stone. her; and as she exclaimed, “Are you safe? are you free?"-"Free! and only

A gentleman found Dryden in his old thine!” he sobbed aloud, and they rushed age exposed to the attacks of poverty, into each other's arms.

and pining in a garret, in an obscure

corner of London " If there are any that would not weep situation,” exclaimed the venerable poet

you weep for my at such a scene, as I did, I would not exchange feelings for the world !

on seeing him, “but never mind, my young friend, the pang will be over

He died a few days afterwards. GARRETS,

Poor Chatterton! “the sleepless boy who And Associations connected with them. perished in his pride,” overcome by the

pressure of poverty, and stung to the We never think of a garret, but an quick by the heartless neglect of a bigotinfinitude of melancholy and lanky asso ted aristocrat, commenced his immortality ciations of skin and bone, poets and in a garret in Shoreditch. For two days authors, come thronging on our imagi- previous to his death, he had eaten nations. All ideas of the sins of the nothing; his landlady pitying bis desoflesh evaporate on our entrance, for if late condition, invited him to sup with all the flesh that has ever inhabited a her, he spurned the invitation with garret were to be duly weighed in the contempt, and put an end to his existence balances, we are of opinion, that it would by poison. Crowds inflicted elegies on not altogether amount to a tun. In his memory, the length and breadth of walking up the steps that lead to this which filled volumes, while the subject domiciliary appendage of genius, we are of these doleful tributes lies buried in a wholly overcome by the sanctity of the common workhouse in Shoe-lane, unspot. We think of it as the resort of noticed by epitaph or eulogy. When a greatness, the cradle and grave of nobleman happened by chance to call departed intellect, and pay homage to it upon Johnson, he found this great author


« السابقةمتابعة »