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any infant whose healthy appearance had attracted the favourable notice of the party, while the exulting looks and the appropriating embrace of the real mother spoke a language which could not be misunderstood.
The population of St. Kilda, at present, is just ninety-three souls, of whom forty-one are males and fifty-two females. Not much of the land is arable, and of that which is attempted, the style of culture is very unskilful. They grow a species of long-bearded black oats, barley, and potatoes; but the crop of weeds far surpassed that of grain, showing at once the tolerable fertility of the soil and the negligence of its cultivators. Their chief food seems to be seafowl ; and their chief commodity of traffic the feathers of seafowl, which they catch very easily, and in great numbers, on the cliffs, with a long pole and a running noose. In this employment they consume the greater part of their time, which perhaps might be more profitably expended in the improvement of their habitations and the cultivation of the ground, if either their habits or their information should induce them to make the attempt. The church and parsonage are both respectable buildings, and their clergyman has resided among them some years ; yet it does not appear that they are progressing much in civilisation. Surely England, while claiming to be the leader in every kind of civilisation, and the very patroness of all benevolence, while sending missions of instruction and of mercy to the farthest limits of the world, will not permit an island so near her own shores, and owing allegiance to her own sovereign, to remain much longer in such a state of degradation and even barbarism. A very little effort on the part of the proprietor of the island, aided by other active friends of benevolence, might easily rescue these unfortunate people from their physical and moral lethargy; and I hope that efforts will not longer be wanting. Like all half-barbarous people, the islanders of St. Kilda are much subject to prejudices, and strongly attached to old customs; but these may be removed, or even made to co-operate, by skilful management, They are contented with their present miserable buts, and will not be at the trouble to make them more comfortable ; but they love their children, and if made to understand that the mortality of their infants is caused by the filth and stench of their houses, it would be easy to induce them to do their best to save the lives of their beloved offspring. The same master-feeling might be brought to bear on their style of cultivating their fields, as furnishing food of a more salubrious kind. These hints I would throw out for the consideration of those who may have it in their power to take some efficient steps towards ameliorating the condition of that small but interesting portion of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects.
When about to leave the island, a considerable number of the male inhabitants were brought on board our vessel ; and it was not a little amusing to see the simple and child-like curiosity and astonishment with which they gazed on the mirror and gildings in the cabin, and the machinery of the ship. They thought a vessel of such beauty and magnitude could belong only to the king, or might even be the production of a superhuman power. At length the party took leave of that simple-minded and warm-hearted little community, with feelings of deep interest and commiseration, hoping that the visit might be remembered in their annals as the commencing point in an era of improvement. Yet they could not altogether suppress their fears, that if à visit to St. Kilda should become a common occurrence in parties of pleasure, it might unfortunately happen, that the vices of civilised life would be imported to them sooner than its virtues and blessings. I thought of Cowper's beautiful apostrophe to the “ gentle savage,' Omai, on his return to his native bowers.
And thou hast found again
Their former charms.?”
I need not pursue my journal much further. Nothing deserving of particular attention occurred or was seen after we left St. Kilda till we reached Stornoway; and then it was so late that we could do little more than conjecture the form of the bay and the situation of the town. Next day we pursued our course for Staffa, along the shores of Skye and the mainland-often very beautiful and romantic-and reached that wonderful temple of nature. Thousands have seen Staffa, and thousands have described it, from the pen of Sir Joseph Banks down to that of Sir George Head. Few, however, have seen it by torch or candle light, and in this respect our party differed from most tourists. The shades of night were fast descending, and had settled on the still waves and the little group of islets called the Treshnish Isles, when our vessel approached the celebrated temple of the sea. We had light enough to discern its symmetry and proportions, but the colour of the rock-a dark gray—and the minuter graces of the columns, were undistinguishable in the evening gloom. The great face of the rock is the most wonderful production of nature I ever beheld. It reminded me of York or Lincoln Cathedral - a resemblance perhaps fanciful, though they excite similar feelings—especially when the minster is seen by moonlight. The highest point of Staffa at this view is about a hundred feet; in its centre is the great cave called Fingal's Cave, stretching up into the interior of the rock, a distance of more than two hundred feet. The sailors lighted a lantern and formed torches of ropes and tar, with which they completely illuminated the ocean-hall into which we were ushered. The complete stillness of the scene, excepting the low plashing of the waves, the fitful gleams of light thrown at first on the walls and ceiling-if I may so speak—as the men moved to and fro along the sides of the stupendous cave—the appearance of the varied roof, where different stalactites were visible --the vastness and the perfect art, or semblance of art, of the wholealtogether formed a scene the most sublime and impressive ever witnessed. All human works, in imagination, sank into insignificance before this great temple of nature, reared, as if in mockery of the structures of man, by that Almighty Power who laid “ the beams of his chambers in the waters, and who walketh upon the wings of the wind.”
THE SIGN PAINTER OF NAPLES.
BY JOSEPH PRICE.
“ This painting is my masterpiece," exclaimed Ribera, as he stepped back a foot or two, and examined, with an artist's pride, the canvass to which he was giving the last touches ; " yes, it is, indeed, a chef d'auvre, and Caravaggio must admit he has met with a superior. I will not touch it again.” And so saying, he flung from him his palette and his brushes, which flew to the other extremity of his apartment, and struck a half-finished female portrait, fixed upon an easel. But Ribera was too deeply absorbed in the contemplation of his performance to take any heed of the result of his impetuous thoughtlessness. With folded arms he stood gazing upon the picture; and, with all the unconscious naïveté of self-love, he noticed each of its details, and commented aloud upon its beauties. Any one who had seen him would have taken him for a cicerone, pointing out to an amateur some unrivalled specimen of genius, consecrated by the admiration of ages; and it is doubtful whether the exquisite designs of Raphael ever elicited from the crowds that gazed in ecstasy upon them praises more sincere and intense than those which the painter lavished upon
his own work.
Every now and then he intermitted his commendations of the picture to make some personal allusion to himself, equally exempt from the failing of too much modesty. “I knew very well," added he, striking his brow, “ that there was something here. Let me die now, my name will be redeemed from oblivion. But I trust God will yet spare me for many a year.
He has not decreed that I should hide in the grave that secret of painting consummately which he revealed to me in my cradle; he will permit me to enjoy my reputation. Before obtaining it, I have passed through every gradation of doubt of my own capabilities, of sorrow, and poverty. Often has the portico of a church, or the hollow of a rock among the mountains, been the only asylum for my head, aching and bursting with the visions of glory and the anticipations of success. Often have I pined with hunger, and, for want of canvass, have traced with my finger upon the sands of rivers figures which the wind and tide effaced; or I have embodied the thoughts which budded in my soul upon the walls of cities, or upon the doors of the palaces of the great, from whence they were washed off by sordid slaves at the order of their soul-less masters, who had not the wit or grace to comprehend that they were the mute solicitations of a proud but poor artist for alms, which he could not stoop to crave like a common mendicant. But, O my God! I do not complain of these hard trials; you put an aim and an object before my eyes, and
you blessed me with strength and energy to attain unto it, and faith to sustain me in my progress ; for those whom thou dost destine to march before the vulgar herd, ought first of all, like thy Christ, to bear their crown of thorns."
He had reached this stage of his sublimated enthusiasm when the door of his studio was opened, and his venerable housekeeper, Beatrice, stooping under the weight of years, and more wrinkled than a spider's web, entered the room. She placed before him a wooden platter, in which was his scanty repast ; but he took no notice of her entrance.
Perceiving his abstraction, she commenced the conversation. “ To hear you talking as I came up stairs, I fancied you must have been holding a parley with Satan in person. What ails you, to roar out in the way you did ? Either you must dream aloud and waking, or you must be conversing with your familiar demon. A fine progress, truly! for none but the evil one himself could have given you the idea of that abominable painting, which fairly makes my hair stand on end each time I look upon it, and on which you have been continually working for the last three months. And then, after wasting your time and talents upon such an abomination, you affect to be surprised that our viceroy, the Count de Montercy, does not patronise you! Who do
you think would wish to be the owner of such a picture?
It is frightful enough to make a woman miscarry!" Really, Beatrice,” said Ribera, patting her on the shoulder, “I am quite mortified that it does not give you satisfaction.”
“ What is more mortifying,” rejoined the old woman, " is the prospect of dying of hunger ; for, although your dinner to-day is mean enough, I only wish you may have as good a one to-morrow; but I must leave to you the care of procuring one, for I am fairly reduced to my last shift—and then, all this, when, if you chose, you might have as much money as any one. Why don't you finish the Countess de Venutta's portrait? She is a lady who would have covered her likeness with gold, and by her interest would have secured for you the protection of the viceroy. It was the very turn of your fortune; but no
---when she came you received her with an ungracious look, or ordered me to tell her you were not at home. God only knows what it cost me to repeat such abominable falsehoods! But come now, will you be more reasonable in future ?”
“ Do not speak to me of that woman again, Beatrice," exclaimed Ribera ; “ her features are insignificant, and her eyes expressionless ! I should have made her still uglier than she is naturally! Ah, if I but had for a model the young girl whom I met about three months ago, and whom I would not try and find out for fear her recollection and her image should distract and interrupt me in my solitude ! O, how I would have painted her con amore .!”.
Beatrice heard no more. When Ribera began excusing himself for his idleness by the homeliness of the countess, his old servant shrugged her shoulders. As she turned away, she noticed the luckless portrait upset on the floor. She hurried to it, and raised it." Jesu ! what is this ?” she asked. " Very fine !” she added ; " the devil has certainly been holding a revel here, and in his antics has knocked out one of the countess's
!” “ Ho !” exclaimed the artist, laughing, as he recollected the cause
of the accident; "i' faith, I was never more happily inspired, and I only wish my palette, in its chance flight, had done the same to the original. I should have got rid of this eternal countess; or, at all events, I should have had a better bargain, as she would have been taken in profile."
“ You are a fool," replied Beatrice; “ and you may thank your stars that some of your friends have preserved their senses, and still think of your interests. Why don't you dress yourself, and go to Christofero Panolfo's, where you are expected ?"
6 Who is the man?"
“ But he knows something of you. Some one has spoken to him about you; he has a great idea of your skill, and wishes to order a picture. It is a ready-money affair—will you refuse this time ?"
Certainly not, if this Panolfo is a connoisseur ; and if he will take the pains to come here, he can affix a price to this masterpiece.”
“ What! won't you go and see him ?”
At this inquiry Ribera turned on his heel, and began to whistle through his teeth
“ÕI" exclaimed Beatrice, advancing towards him with a threatening gesture, “ I tell you
to Signor Panolfo's, if I am forced to take you by the shoulder, and push you before me all the way.”
Ribera, who took pleasure in provoking her, shook his head.
“ Will you lay a wager that I do not force you to do as I wish ? Fiel your behaviour is unworthy of you, and proceeds from a bad heart, Ribera. Are you alone in the world to take upon you to act in this manner ? Our holy father, the pope, has given me a dispensation to eat flesh on account of my age, and you compel me to fast. When you are dying of hunger, do you think that I have had my fill? My dear child,” repeated the old woman, in a gentler tone, “ I know that you love me, and are willing to return the friendship I feel towards you. If I gave you offence just now, in speaking evil of your painting, you must forgive me and go at once to Panolfo's shop; here are your sword and cocked hat, which give you so gallant an air when you wear it thus—a little over the left ear; cover your threadbare doublet with your cloak; that's right; hold up your head, my child ; look boldly forward, and turn up the ends of your moustache. God confound me,
you have not the appearance and stride of the Emperor Charles the Fifth himself ! If there are any ladies at Panolfo's, show them your handsome face, and look at them tenderly. I was once young, and I know what I say."
While she was thus speaking, Beatrice led him towards the door ; and as he went down stairs she called after him, " When you are at the other end of the town, ask for Panolfo the merchant ; don't forget his name; he lives in the great square, nearly opposite the viceroy's palace. Good-by, good-by, and bring me back good news.”
CHAPTER II. When he was about a hundred yards from his lodging, Ribera, still irresolute whether he should find out the merchant or not, met