صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

to afford him, I remember to have occasionally picked up, in my rambles through the woods which surrounded the house, some very minute shells, under the moss and in other secluded situations, which did not escape the exploring eyes and fingers of childhood. These, on my return home, I carried to my father ; and some chance time I was delighted to observe that he would select one or two, with which he seemed greatly pleased, and that he put them carefully away in his collection. Doubtless they supplied some deficient link in the chain.

How many fond recollections crowd upon my mind, as I am carried back to those early days, when the family circle was yet unbroken, and the sweet and holy sympathies of nature were all unblighted and unchanged! What a numerous and what a happy group was then gathered around one hearth! What endless sports and pastimeswhat fairy hopes and sinless pleasures-and, above all, what cordiality of love and union brightened the dawning of existence! And yet how brief was its duration ! how evanescent were all its best enjoyments! It is gone like a morning dream, and has left nothing behind it but a shadowy remembrance.

When mem'ry weaves her chain o'er me,

And tells of other years,
Like some forgotten melody,

The sound of home appears ;

That household hearth, where oft we sate,

In joyous circle round,
And parents, sisters, brothers, met,

And songs were heard resound.

That holy hearth is dark and chill;

No sounds of mirth are there,
Nor mother's blessed form, to fill

The long disused chair,

Those matron eyes are veiled in death,

That wept and watched o'er me,
And silent her melodious breath

Sweet nature's minstrelsy!

Ah! where are all her nurseling train,

And he, the sire of all ?
What links are broken? what remain,

The lost ones to recal?

Like hardier flowers in winter time,

Some scattered ones are left,
To tell of life's departed prime,

And holiest ties bereft.

'Tis past away! the golden dream

Of youth, and youth's delight !
A fairy ray, a misty beam,

Just dawns upon the sight;

And those who died in battle-field,

Or wore with slow decay,
Come back to me, in dreams reveal’d,

Or some peculiar day.
Yet still the early lost, the loved,

Are indistinct through years ;
We see them but as stars removed,

And dimly through our tears.
So wisely the Eternal's mind

Has fashioned human grief;
Earth still has treasures left behind,

And moments sweet, though brief.

We hear and read a great deal at present of the Americans, and “ one swallow does not make a summer ;” but certainly one of the most excellent, accomplished, and delightful women I ever knew, was a native of Canada. She was the widow of the Reverend Doctor Keith, who, in the earlier period of their union, conducted an academy there. Her present Majesty's father, the late Duke of Kent, was in Canada at the time with his regiment, and formed an acquaintance with Doctor Keith. I have heard Mrs. Keith say, that, with the kindness and condescension peculiar to his illustrious family, his royal highness would sometimes walk into the school-room, and, after exchanging compliments with the doctor, take a seat, and assist him for an hour or two in hearing the pupils their lessons, which he did with the greatest good temper and urbanity imaginable. These visits were hailed by the boys with great delight, as they generally ended in the duke's obtaining for them a holiday. Occasionally he honoured Doctor and Mrs. Keith with his company at dinner ; and he further testified his friendly feelings towards them, by offering himself a sponsor for one of their children, who was named Edward after him, and in whose future welfare he kindly promised to interest himself. Doctor and Mrs. Keith subsequently removed to this country; and after remaining some little time at the village of St. George's, Bristol, they ultimately settled at Hammersmith, where the doctor kept a large academy. It was here that the last sad separation between Mrs. Keith and her husband took place, under circumstances doubly afflicting to her, both as a wife and mother. I think it was in the winter of 1814 that the scarlet fever was unfortunately brought to the establishment by one of the pupils. Mrs. Keith herself escaped the infection; but the doctor and some of their children took it in a severe and dangerous form. The cold happened to be intense at the time, and reminded her of a winter in her native Canada. The physician did not allow any fires in the apartments of the suffering patients; and Mrs. Keith said, that in dropping the medicine for them, it actually froze as it fell. All her tender and unremitting assiduities were unhappily in vain. Her husband and two of her children sunk under the malignity of the disease, and they were all buried in one grave. This threefold shock was indeed a severe one. Mrs. Keith was thus left a widow, with six surviving children, the eldest, a girl of only fifteen, and with extremely limited and inade

Oct, 1838,--VOL. XXIII.--NO. xc.

[ocr errors]

quate means for the support and education of her orphan family. However, she did not permit herself to despond; but, with a firm religious trust, she looked up to that gracious Being, who has promised to be a friend and protector to the widow and the fatherless.

As soon as Mrs. Keith had arranged her late husband's affairs, she quitted Hammersmith, and set sail with her family for Canada, on a visit to her own friends. She did not settle there; but, after remaining about a year, returned with her children to England, and took up her abode once more (alas ! under what altered circumstances !) in the neighbourhood of St. George's, where she had formerly spent so many happy days, and where her amiable and truly excellent qualities had acquired for her some valuable and attached friends. One estimable family in particular, with whom I had the happiness of being at that time acquainted, had formed a sincere regard for Mrs. Keith, and endeavoured in every way, and not unsuccesfully, to alleviate the trials and afflictions through which it was her lot to pass. Her eldest daughter, Mary, an amiable girl, had married, during their recent visit to Canada, at the early age of sixteen; and the young couple accompanied Mrs. Keith on the voyage back to England. On landing at Bristol

, her son-in-law had occasion to visit Liverpool, for the purpose, as he informed them, of arranging some business, and receiving a sum of money. Within about a week from the time of his departure, Mary received a letter from the landlord of the inn at Liverpool, where her husband was staying, which conveyed the unexpected and afflicting intelligence that he was dead, and (which appeared most extraordinary, and, as some thought, even suspicious) that he was then actually buried. They had no means of ascertaining from whom it was that he had expected to receive the money, or whether indeed he ever had received it; and the matter did not undergo any investigation. Poor Mary thus became a widow before she had completed her seventeenth year, and resumed her place in that family circle which it could hardly be said that she had ever quitted.*

* To be continued.

VENICE AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. 1

ness.

Canova, the immortal sculptor, has left a work of his chisel in the arsenal. The monument erected to the memory of Admiral Emo is composed of a basso-relievo, which is crowned by a genius, while Fame writes his name on the pedestal. This marble is most precious in the eyes of all lovers of the arts and of the glory of Italy, for it was by this that Fortune opened to Canova the path to celebrity and great

Born of humble parents, in an obscure burg on the mainland, he gave early proofs of uncommon talent as a pupil in the schools of masters of mediocrity; but disliking their affected style, he betook himself to the imitation of nature, and quickly attained nobleness of conception and some accuracy of execution. But Venice was not the city in which the art of Phidias was to be studied. All the models were wanting from which its fundamental rules could be learnt, and it was to Rome, in which he had once stayed for a short time, that the young artist ardently desired to be transported. The monument of Emo, which was generally approved, and procured for him more than one powerful Mecænas, won him from the senate the means of gratifying his most ardent ambition, happily for art and for the honour of his country

Canova in Rome was in his proper element; her air was the only one in which he was able to respire freely; nor was he ever able to remain long absent from it, however great the rewards and honours offered to him by the most powerful monarchs, however tempted by love of country, by whatever, in short, the earth offers of most powerful or seductive. Happy city, to have been so dear to this great man! Embellished by his chisel, it is indebted to him for being still the depository of the most valuable works of art, either ancient or modern —for remaining still the wonder of the universe ! Nothing more was needed than the strong love which he bore to the seat of the ancient glories of Italy, to arouse all the generous thoughts and best exertions of Canova on her behalf, when the arms of the stranger had left her squalid and a widow !

I will give a slight sketch of the other works of this surpassing sculptor, with which Venice is enriched, from Cicognava’s celebrated work “ Della Sculptura.” The Hebe recals vividly to my recollection a young English girl whom I knew in Paris, the youngest and most beautiful of three graceful sisters.

“ This goddess is about to descend from the sky, and is in divinely light and easy movement, while pouring out a cup of ambrosia for the father of the gods. Balancing herself forwards, she cuts the air with velocity in her rapid flight, and the drapery is naturally carried backwards, leaving her form plainly delineated beneath. This display of the form is perfected by the arm being raised to pour the liquor from the amphora, though the whole figure is draped with extreme decency; it breathes all the first freshness of youth. The hair is knotted sim1 Continued from vol. xxi. p. 336.

ply behind the head; the gentle breath seems to escape from the slightly-opened lips; in the left hand she carries the golden cup, in the right the amphora.

“ The Academy of the Fine Arts possesses the original models in plaster of two of his groups. The first is Theseus, who has vanquished a centaur. The hero presses down the monster with his knee, who awaits only the fatal blow to draw his last breath ; and the club in the strong uplifted right hand leaves no doubt of the fate of the unfortunate monster. Nobleness is in all the well-proportioned and agile limbs of Theseus ; the whole figure is majestic, martial, and vigorous, but not of Herculean mould. The force of the strong efforts which the centaur makes to release himself is so full of nature, and, at the same time, a work so difficult in art, that the sculptor could never have attained it in marble without a series of repeated studies of nature. Ancient art does not possess models from which he could have gathered that force and contraction of muscle and sinew, at once so expressive and so true.

“ The head of the centaur is a model of beauty in its kind. Though it wears the expression of the extremes of grief, agony, and rage, the artist has divested it of the character which they give of nobleness and sublimity, which would be here out of place. The hair is in disorder, the eyes turbid and uneasy, the chest panting; the muscular and hairy arms already droop with weakness; and the terrible expression of the whole contrasts admirably with the tranquil demeanour of the victor, in which we read the satisfaction of triumph and the extinction of anger.”

But the Hercules Furens is the unsurpassable, the almost divine work of Canova.

6. Occulto tossico d'incesa clamide

Le membra atletiche arde e dilania;
Ignaro dono e credulo

Di femminile insania !
Come sal vertice d'Oeta ombrifero

Volve te torbide setose ciglia!
Già Leia investe, e afferralo

Ai piedi, e l'accapiglia:
E qual pieghevole ramo di frassino

A lungo ci l'agita e lo bilancia,
E ne' marosi euboici

Precipita lo slancia.”
These lines of Melchior Missirini describe, in part, the action of
the hero; he has seized Lycas by the foot with his left hand, and the
arm which is about to whirl the youth round in the air is thrown back-
wards over the left shoulder, from which Lycas hangs head down-
wards—the most daring position ever attempted by an artist. The
wretched victim has no means of defence or protection ; in vain he
stretches his hands convulsively towards the earth ;-the demigod,
who unites Herculean vigour with colossal proportions, makes the lit-
tleness and fragility of the un py mortal more apparent by contrast
with himself, and the muscles of the arm and shoulder, about to be
called into action in whirling him violently round, are developed in
their greatest amplitude.

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »