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The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II, No. 8, June 1858 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

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also to be observed that there is in the Christian cemeteries on the
whole a remarkable absence of heathen imagery,--less by far than
might have been expected in the works of those surrounded by heathen
modes of thought and expression. The influence of Christianity,
however, so changed the current of ideas, and so affected the
feelings of those whom it called to new life, that heathenism became
to them, as it were, a dead letter, devoid of all that could rouse
the fancy, or affect the inner thought. A great gulf was fixed
between them and it,--a gulf which for three centuries, at least,
charity alone could bridge over. It was not till near the fourth
century that heathenism began, to any marked extent, to modify the
character and to corrupt the purity of Christianity.

And with this is connected one of the most important historic facts
with regard to the Art of the catacombs. In no one of the pictures
of the earlier centuries is support or corroboration to be found of
the distinctive dogmas and peculiar claims of the Roman Church. We
have already spoken of the pictures that have been supposed to have
symbolic reference to the doctrine of the Real Presence in the
Eucharist, and have shown how little they require such an
interpretation. The exaltation of St. Peter above the other Apostles
is utterly unknown in the works of the first three centuries; in
instances in which he is represented, it is as the companion of St.
Paul. The Virgin never appears as the subject of any special
reverence. Sometimes, as in pictures of the Magi bringing their gifts,
she is seen with the child Jesus upon her lap. No attempt to
represent the Trinity (an irreverence which did not become familiar
till centuries later) exists in the catacombs, and no sign of the
existence of the doctrine of the Trinity is to be met with in them,
unless in works of a very late period. Of the doctrines of Purgatory
and Hell, of Indulgences, of Absolution, no trace is to be found. Of
the worship of the saints there are few signs before the fourth
century,--and it was not until after this period that figures of the
saints, such as those spoken of heretofore, in the account of the
crypt of St. Cecilia, became a common adornment of the sepulchral
walls. The use of the _nimbus_, or glory round the head, was not
introduced into Christian Art before the end of the fourth century.
It was borrowed from Paganism, and was adopted, with many other
ideas and forms of representation, from the same source, after
Romanism had taken the place of Paganism as the religion of the
Western Empire. The faith of the catacombs of the first three
centuries was Christianity, not Romanism.

In the later catacombs, the change of belief, which was wrought
outside of them, is plainly visible in the change in the style of Art.
Byzantine models stiffened, formalized, and gradually destroyed the
spirit of the early paintings. Richness of vestment and mannerism of
expression took the place of simplicity and straightforwardness. The
Art which is still the popular Art in Italy began to exhibit its
lower round of subjects. Saints of all kinds were preferred to the
personages of Scripture. The time of suffering and trial having
passed, men stirred their slow imaginations with pictures of the
crucifixion and the passion. Martyrdoms began to be represented; and
the series--not even yet, alas! come to an end--of the coarse and
bloody atrocities of painting, pictures worthy only of the shambles,
beginning here, marked the decline of piety and the absence of
feeling. Love and veneration for the older and simpler works
disappeared, and through many of the ancient pictures fresh graves
were dug, that faithless Christians might be buried near those whom
they esteemed able to intercede for and protect them. These graves
hollowed out in the wall around the tomb of some saint or martyr
became so common, that the term soon arose of a burial _intra_ or
_retro sanctos_, _among_ or _behind the saints_. One of the most
precious pictures in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, precious from
its peculiar character, is thus in some of its most important parts
utterly destroyed. It represents, so far as is to be seen now, two
men in the attitude of preaching to flocks who stand near them,--and
if the eye is not deceived by the uncertain light, and by the
dimness of the injured colors, a shower of rain, typical of the
showers of divine grace, is falling upon the sheep: on one who is
listening intently, with head erect, the shower falls abundantly; on
another who listens, but with less eagerness, the rain falls in less
abundance; on a third who listens, but continues to eat, with head
bent downward, the rain falls scantily; while on a fourth, who has
turned away to crop the grass, scarcely a drop descends. Into this
parable in painting the irreverence of a succeeding century cut its
now rifled and forlorn graves.

But the Art of the catacombs, after its first age, was not confined
to painting. Many sculptured sarcophagi have been found within the
crypts, and in the crypts of the churches connected with the
cemeteries. Here was again the adoption of an ancient custom; and in
many instances, indeed, the ancient sarcophagi themselves were
employed for modern bodies, and the old heathens turned out for the
new Christians. Others were obviously the work of heathen artists
employed for Christian service; and others exhibit, even more
plainly than the later paintings, some of the special doctrines of
the Church. The whole character of this sculpture deserves fuller
investigation than we can give to it here. The collection of these
first Christian works in marble that has recently been made in the
Lateran Museum affords opportunity for its careful study,--a study
interesting not only in an artistic, but in an historic and
doctrinal point of view.

The single undoubted Christian statue of early date that has come
down to us is that of St. Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto, which was
found in 1551, near the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Unfortunately, it
was much mutilated, and has been greatly restored; but it is still
of uncommon interest, not only from its excellent qualities as a
work of Art, but also from the engraving upon its side of a list of
the works of the Saint, and of a double paschal cycle. This, too, is
now in the Christian Museum at the Lateran.

Another branch of early Christian Art, which deserves more attention
than it has yet received, is that of the mosaics of the catacombs.
Their character is widely different from that of those with which a
few centuries afterwards the popes splendidly adorned their favorite
churches. But we must leave mosaics, gems, lamps, and all the lesser
articles of ornament and of common household use that have been
found in the graves, and which bring one often into strange
familiarity with the ways and near sympathy with the feelings of
those who occupied the now empty cells. Most of these trifles seem
to have been buried with the dead as the memorials of a love that
longed to reach beyond death with the expressions of its constancy
and its grief. Among them have been found the toys of little children,--
their jointed ivory dolls, their rattles, their little rings, and
bells,--full, even now, of the sweet sounds of long-ago household
joys, and of the tender recollections of household sorrows. In
looking at them, one is reminded of the constant recurrence of the
figure of the Good Shepherd bearing his lamb, painted upon the walls
of these ancient chapels and crypts.

It was thus that the dawn of Christian Art lighted up the darkness
of the catacombs. While the Roman nobles were decorating their
villas and summer-houses with gay figures, scenes from the ancient
stories, and representations of licentious fancies,--while the
emperors were paving the halls of their great baths with mosaic
portraits of the famous prize-fighters and gladiators,--the
Christians were painting the walls of their obscure cemeteries with
imagery which expressed the new lessons of their faith, and which
was the type and the beginning of the most beautiful works that the
human imagination has conceived, and the promise of still more
beautiful works yet to be created for the delight and help of the

[To be continued.]

* * * * *


How was I worthy so divine a loss,
Deepening my midnights, kindling all my morns?
Why waste such precious wood to make my cross,
Such far-sought roses for my crown of thorns?

And when she came, how earned I such a gift?
Why spend on me, a poor earth-delving mole,
The fireside sweetnesses, the heavenward lift,
The hourly mercy of a woman's soul?

Ah, did we know to give her all her right,
What wonders even in our poor clay were done!
It is not Woman leaves us to our night,
It is our earth that grovels from her sun.

Our nobler cultured fields and gracious domes
We whirl too oft from her who still shines on
To light in vain our caves and clefts, the homes
Of night-bird instincts pained till she be gone.

Still must this body starve our souls with shade;
But when Death makes us what we were before,
Then shall her sunshine all our depths invade,
And not a shadow stain heaven's crystal floor.


"The sense of the world is short,--
Long and various the report,--
To love and be beloved:
Men and gods have not outlearned it;
And how oft soe'er they've turned it,
'Tis not to be improved!"--EMERSON.

Mr. Vane and Mr. Payne both were eagerly describing to me their
arrangements for an excursion to the Lake. I did not doubt it would
be charming, but neither of these two gentlemen would be endurable
on such a drive, and each was determined to ask me first. I stood
pushing apart the crushed flowers of my bouquet, in which all the
gardener's art vindicated itself by making the airy grace of Nature
into a flat, unmeaning mosaic.

In the next room the passionate melancholy of a waltz was mocked and
travestied by the frantic and ungrateful whirl that only Americans
are capable of executing; the music lived alone in upper air; of men
and dancing it was all unaware; the involved cadences rolled away
over the lawn, shook the dew-drooped roses on their stems, and went
upward into the boundless moonlight to its home. Through all, Messrs.
Vane and Payne harangued me about the splendid bowling-alley at the
Lake, the mountain-strawberries, the boats, the gravel-walks! At
last it became amusing to see how skilfully they each evaded and
extinguished the other; it was a game of chess, and he was to be
victor who should first ask me; if one verged upon the question, the
other quickly interposed some delightful circumstance about the
excursion, and called upon the first to corroborate his testimony;
neither, in Alexander's place, would have done anything but assure
the other that the Gordian knot was very peculiarly tied, and quite

Presently Harry Tempest stood by my side. I became aware that he had
heard the discussion. He took my bouquet from my hand, and stood
smelling it, while my two acquaintance went on. I was getting
troubled and annoyed; Mr. Tempest's presence was not composing. I
played with my fan nervously; at length I dropped it. Harry Tempest
picked it up, and, as I stooped, our eyes met; he gave me the fan,
and, turning from Messrs. Vane and Payne, said, very coolly,--

"The Lake is really a charming place; I think, Miss Willing, you
would find a carriage an easier mode of conveyance, so far, than
your pony; shall I bring one for you? or do you still prefer to ride?"

This was so quietly done, that it seemed to me really a settled
affair of some standing that I was to go to the Lake with Mr. Tempest.
Mr. Vane sauntered off to join the waltzers; Mr. Payne suddenly
perceived Professor Rust at his elbow and began to talk chemistry. I
said, as calmly as I had been asked,--

"I will send you word some time tomorrow; I cannot tell just now."

Here some of my friends came to say good night; my duties as hostess
drew me toward the door; Harry Tempest returned my bouquet and
whispered, or rather said in that tone of society that only the
person addressed can hear,--

"Clara! let it be a drive!"

My head bent forward as he spoke, for I could not look at him; when
I raised it, he was gone.

The music still soared and floated on through the windows into the
moonlight; one by one the older part of my guests left me; only a
few of the gayest and youngest still persevered in that indefatigable
waltz, the oval room looking as if a score of bubbles were playing
hop and skip,--for in the crinoline expansions the gentlemen's black
pen-and-ink outlines were all lost. At length even these went; the
music died; its soul went up with a long, broken cry; its body was
put piecemeal into several green bags, shouldered by stout Germans,
and carried quite out of sight. The servants gathered and set away
such things as were most needful to be arranged, put out the lights,
locked the doors and windows, and went to bed. Mrs. Reading, my good
housekeeper, begged me to go up stairs.

"You look so tired, Miss Clara!"

"So I am, Delia!" said I. "I will rest. Go to bed you, and I shall
come presently."

I heard her heavy steps ascend the stairs; I heard the door of her
room close, creaking. How could I sleep? I knew very well what the
coming day would bring; I knew why Harry Tempest preferred to drive.
I had need of something beside rest, for sleep was impossible; I
needed calmness, quiet, enough poise to ask myself a momentous
question, and be candidly answered. This quiet was not to be found
in my room, I well knew; every bit of its furniture, its drapery,
was haunted, and in any hour of emotion the latent ghosts came out
upon me in swarms; the quaint mandarins with crooked eyes and fat
cheeks had eyed me a thousand times when Elsie's arm was clasped
over my neck, and with her head upon my shoulder we lay and laughed,
when we should have been dressing, at those Chinese chintz curtains.
Elsie was gone; if she had been here, I had been at once counselled.
Rest there, dead Past!--I could not go to my bedroom.

The green-house opened from the large parlor by a sash-door. At this
season of the year the glazed roof and sides were withdrawn or
lowered, but at night the lower sashes were drawn up and fastened,
lest incursive cats or dogs should destroy my flowers. The great
Newfoundland that was our guard slept on the floor here, since it
was the weakest spot for any ill-meaning visitors to enter at.

I drew the long skirt of my lace dress up over my hair, and quietly
went into the green-house. The lawn and its black firs tempted me,
but there was moonlight on the lawn, and moonlight I cannot bear; it
burns my head more fiercely than any noon sun; it scorches my eyelids;
it exhausts and fevers me; it excites my brain, and now I looked for
calm. This the odor of the flowers and their pure expression
promised me. A tall, thick-leaved camellia stood half-way down the
border, and before it was a garden-chair. The moonlight shed no ray
there, but through the sashes above streamed cool and fair over the
blooms that clung to the wall and adorned the parterres and vases;
for this house was set after a fashion of my own, a winter-garden
under glass; no stages filled the centre. It was laid out with no
stiff rule, but here and there in urns of stone, or in pyramidal
stands, gorgeous or fragrant plants ran at their own wild will, while
over all the wall and along the woodwork of the roof trailed
passion-flowers, roses, honeysuckles, fragrant clematis, ivy, and
those tropic vines whose long dead names belie their fervid
luxuriance and fantastic growth; great trees of lemon and orange
interspaced the vines in shallow niches of their own, and the languid
drooping tresses of a golden acacia flung themselves over and across
the deep glittering mass of a broad-leaved myrtle.

As I sat down in the chair, Pan reared his dusky length from his mat,
and came for a recognition. It was wont to be something more
positive than caresses; but to-night neither sweet biscuit nor
savory bit of confectionery appeared in the hand that welcomed him;
yet he was as loving as ever, and, with a grim sense of protection,
flung himself at my feet, drew a long breath, and slept. I dared not
yet think; I rested my head against the chair, and breathed in the
odor of the flowers: the delicate scent of tea-roses; the Southern
perfume, fiery and sweet, like Greek wine, of profuse heliotropes,--a
perfume that gives you thirst, and longing, and regret. I turned my
head toward the orange-trees; Southern, also, but sensuous and tropic,
was the breath of those thick white stars,--a tasted odor. Not so
the cool air that came to me from a diamond-shaped bed of Parma
violets, kept back so long from bloom that I might have a succession
of them; these were the last, and their perfume told it, for it was
at once a caress and a sigh. I breathed the gale of sweetness till
every nerve rested and every pulse was tranquil as the air without.

I heard a little stir. I looked up. A stately calla, that reared one
marble cup from its gracious cool leaves, was bending earthward with
a slow and voluntary motion; from the cup glided a fair woman's shape;
snowy, sandalled feet shone from under the long robe; hair of
crisped gold crowned the Greek features. It was Hypatia. A little
shiver crept through a white tea-rose beside the calla; its delicate
leaves fluttered to the ground; a slight figure, a sweet, sad face,
with melancholy blue eyes and fair brown hair, parted the petals. La
Valliere! She gazed in my eyes.

"Poor little child!" said she. "Have you a treatise against love,

The Greek of Egypt smiled and looked at me also. "I have discovered
that the steps of the gods are upon wool," answered she; "if love
had a beginning to sight, should not we also foresee its end?"

"And when one foresees the end, one dies," murmured La Valliere.

"Bah!" exclaimed Marguerite of Valois, from the heart of a rose-red
camellia,--"not at all, my dear; one gets a new lover!"

"Or the new lover gets you," said a dulcet tone, tipped with satire,
from the red lips of Mary of Scotland,--lips that were just now the
petals of a crimson carnation.

"Philosophy hath a less troubled sea wherein to ride than the stormy
fluctuance of mortal passion; Plato is diviner than Ovid," said a
puritanic, piping voice from a coif that was fashioned out of the
white camellia-blooms behind my chair, and circled the prim beauty
of Lady Jane Grey.

"Are you a woman, or one of the Sphinx's children?" said a stormy,
thrilling, imperious accent, from the wild purple and scarlet flower
of the Strelitzia, that gradually shaped itself into gorgeous
Oriental robes, rolled in waves of splendor from the lithe waist and
slender arms of a dark woman, no more young,--sallow, thin, but more
graceful than any bending bough of the desert acacia, and with eyes
like midnight, deep, glowing, flashing, melting into dew, as she
looked at the sedate lady of England.

"You do not know love!" resumed she. "It is one draught,--a jewel
fused in nectar; drink the pearl and bring the asp!"

Her words brought beauty; the sallow face burnt with living scarlet
on lip and cheek; the tiny pearl-grains of teeth flashed across the
swarth shade above her curving, passionate mouth; the wide nostrils
expanded; the great eyes flamed under her low brow and glittering
coils of black hair.

"Poor Octavia!" whispered La Valliere. Lady Jane Grey took up her
breviary and read.

"After all, you died!" said Hypatia.

"I lived!" retorted Cleopatra.

"Lived and loved," said a dreamy tone from the hundred leaves of a
spotless La Marque rose; and the steady, "unhasting, unresting" soul
of Thekla looked out from that centreless flower, in true German
guise of brown braided tresses, deep blue eyes like forget-me-nots,
sedate lips, and a straight nose.

"I have lived, and loved, and cut bread and butter," solemnly
pronounced a mountain-daisy, assuming the broad features of a

Cleopatra used an Egyptian oath. Lady Jane Grey put down her breviary
and took up Plato. Marguerite of Valois laughed outright. Hypatia
put a green leaf over Charlotte, with the air of a high-priestess,
and extinguished her.

"Who does not love cannot lose," mused La Valliere.

"Who does not love neither has nor gains," said Hypatia. "The dilemma
hath two sides, and both gain and loss are problematic. It is the
ideal of love that enthralls us, not the real."

"Hush! you white-faced Greek! It was not an ideal; it was Mark Antony.
By Isis! does a dream fight, and swear, and kiss?"

"The Navarrese did; and France dreamed he was my master,--not I!"
laughed Marguerite.

"This is most weak stuff for goodly and noble women to foster,"
grimly uttered a flame-colored hawk's-bill tulip, that directly
assumed a ruff and an aquiline nose.

Mary of Scotland passed her hand about her fair throat. "Where is
Leicester's ring?" said she.

The Queen did not hear, but went on. "Truly, you make as if it was
the intent of women to be trodden under foot of men. She that
ruleth herself shall rule both princes and nobles, I wot. Yet I had
done well to marry. Love or no love, I would the house of Hanover
had waged war with one of mine own blood; I hate those fair, fat

"Love hath sometimes the thorn alone, the rose being blasted in bud,"
uttered a sweet and sonorous voice with a little nasal accent, out
of the myrtle-boughs that starred with bloom her hair, and swept the
hem of her green dress.

"Sweet soul, wast thou not, then, sated upon sonnets?" said Mary of
Scotland, in a stage aside.

"Do not the laurels overgrow the thorn?" said La Valliere, with a
wistful, inquiring smile.

Laura looked away. "They are very green at Avignon," said she.

Out of two primroses, side by side, Stella and Vanessa put forth
pale and anxious faces, with eyes tear-dimmed.

"Love does not feed on laurels," said Stella; "they are fruitless."

"That the clergy should be celibate is mine own desire," broke in
Queen Elizabeth. "Shall every curly fool's-pate of a girl be turning
after an anointed bishop? I will have this thing ended, certes! and
that with speed."

Vanessa was too deep in a brown study to hear. Presently she spoke.
"I believe that love is best founded upon a degree of respect and
veneration which it is decent in youth to render unto age and

"Ciel!" muttered Marguerite; "is it, then, that in this miserable
England one cherishes a grand passion for one's grandfather?"

The heliotrope-clusters melted into a face of plastic contour, rich
full lips, soft interfused outlines, intense purple eyes, and heavy
waving hair, dark indeed, but harmonized curiously with the narrow
gold fillet that bound it. "It is no pain to die for love," said the
low, deep voice, with an echo of rolling gerunds in the tone.

"That depends on how sharp the dagger is," returned Mary of Scotland.
"If the axe had been dull"----

From the heart of a red rose Juliet looked out; the golden centre
crowned her head with yellow tresses; her tender hazel eyes were
calm with intact passion; her mouth was scarlet with fresh kisses,
and full of consciousness and repose. "Harder it is to live for love,"
said she; "hardest of all to have ever lived without it."

"How much do you all help the matter?" said a practical Yankee voice
from a pink hollyhock. "If the infinite relations of life assert
themselves in marriage, and the infinite I merges its individuality
in the personality of another, the superincumbent need of a passional
relation passes without question. What the soul of the seeker asks
from itself and the universe is, whether the ultimate principle of
existent life is passional or philosophic."

"Your dialectic is wanting in purity of expression," calmly said
Hypatia; "the tongue of Olympus suits gods and their ministers only."

"Plato hath no question of the matter in hand," observed Lady Jane
Grey, with a tone of finishing the subject.

"I know nothing of your questions and philosophies," scornfully
stormed Cleopatra. "Fire seeks fire, and clay, clay. Isis send me
Antony, and every philosopher in Alexandria may go drown in the Nile!
Shall I blind my eyes with scrolls of papyrus when there is a goodly
Roman to be looked upon?"

From the deep blue petals of a double English violet came a delicate
face, pale, serene, sad, but exceeding tender, "Love liveth when the
lover dies," said Lady Rachel Russell. "I have well loved my lord in
the prison; shall I cease to affect him when he is become one of the
court above?"

"You are cautious of speech, Mesdames," carelessly spoke Marguerite.
"Women are the fools of men; you all know it. Every one of you has
carried cap and bell."

They all turned toward the hawk's-bill tulip; it was not there.

"Gone to Kenilworth," demurely sneered Mary of Scotland.

A pond-lily, floating in a tiny tank, opened its clasped petals; and
with one bare pearly foot upon the green island of leaves, and the
other touching the edge of the marble basin, clothed with a rippling,
lustrous, golden garment of hair, that rolled downward in glittering
masses to her slight ankles, and half hid the wide, innocent, blue
eyes and infantile, smiling lips, Eve said, "I was made for Adam,"
and slipped silently again into the closing flower.

"But we have changed all that!" answered Marguerite, tossing her
jewel-clasped curls.

"They whom the saints call upon to do battle for king and country
have their nature after the manner of their deeds," came a clear
voice from the fleur-de-lis, that clothed itself in armor, and
flashed from under a helmet the keen, dark eyes and firm, beardless
lips of a woman.

"There have been cloistered nuns," timidly breathed La Valliere.

"There is a monk's-hood in that parterre without," said Marguerite.

The white clematis shivered. It was a veiled shape in long robes,
that hid face and figure, who clung to the wall and whispered,

"There are tales of saints in my breviary," soliloquized Mary of
Scotland; and in the streaming moonlight, as she spoke, a faint
outline gathered, lips and eyes of solemn peace, a crown of blood-red
roses pressing thorns into the wan temples that dripped sanguine
streams, and in the halo above the wreath a legend, partially
obscured, that ran, "Utque talis Rosa nulli alteri plantae adhaereret"----

"But the girl there is no saint; I think, rather, she is of mine own
land," said a purple passion-flower, that hid itself under a black
mantilla, and glowed with dark beauty. The Spanish face bent over me
with ardent eyes and lips of sympathetic passion, and murmured,
"Do not fear! Pedro was faithful unto and after death; there are some

Pan growled! I rubbed my eyes! Where was I? Mrs. Reading stood by me
in very extempore costume, holding a night-lamp:--

"Goodness me, Miss Clara!" said she, "I never was more scared. I
happened to wake up, and I thought I see your west window open
across the corner; so I roused up to go and see if you was sick; and
you wasn't in bed, nor your frock anywhere. I was frighted to pieces;
but when I come down and found the greenhouse door open, I went in
just for a chance, and, lo and behold! here you are, sound asleep in
the chair, and Pan a-lying close onto that beautiful black lace frock!
Do get up, Miss Clara! you'll be sick to-morrow, sure as the world!"

I looked round me. All the flowers were cool and still; the calla
breathless and quiet; the pond-lily shut; the roses full of dew and
perfume; the clematis languid and luxuriant.

"Delia," said I, "what do you think about matrimony?"

Mrs. Reading stared at me with her honest green eyes. I laughed.

"Well," said she, "marriage is a lottery, Miss Clara. Reading was a
pretty good feller; but seein' things was as they was, if I'd had
means and knowed what I know now, I shouldn't never have married him."

"May-be you'd have married somebody else, though," suggested I.

"Like enough, Miss Clara; girls are unaccountable perverse when they
get in love. But do get up and go to bed. A'n't you goin' to the
Lake to-morrow?"

That put my speculation to flight. Up I rose and meekly followed
Delia to my room; this time she staid to see me fairly disrobed. But
I had had sleep enough. I was also quiet; I could think. The future
lay at my feet, to be planned and patterned at my will; or so I
thought. I had not permitted myself to think much about Harry Tempest,
from an instinctive feeling of danger; I did not know then that.

"En songeant qu'il faut oublier
On s'en souvient!"

I was young, rich, beautiful, independent; I came and went as I would,
without question, and did my own pleasure. If I married, all this
power must be given up; possibly I and my husband would tire of each
other,--and then what remained but fixed and incurable disgust and
pain? I thought over my strange dream. Cleopatra, the enchantress,
and the scorn of men: that was not love, it was simple passion of
the lowest grade. Lady Jane Grey: she was only proper. Marguerite de
Valois: profligate. Elizabeth: a shrewish, selfish old politician.
Who of all these had loved? Arria: and Paetus dying, she could not
love. Lady Russell: she lived and mourned. I looked but at one side
of the argument, and drew my inferences from that, but they
satisfied me. Soon I saw the dawn stretch its opal tints over the
distant hills, and, tinge the tree-tops with bloom. I heard the
half-articulate music of birds, stirring in their nests; but before
the sounds of higher life began to stir I had gone to sleep, firmly
resolved to ride to the Lake, and to give Harry Tempest no
opportunity to speak to me alone. But I slept too long; it was noon
before I woke, and I had sent no message about my preference of the
pony, as I promised, to Mr. Tempest. I had only time to breakfast
and dress. At three o'clock he came,--with his carriage, of course.
So I rode to the Lake!

It's all very well to make up one's mind to say a certain thing; it
is better if you say it; but, somehow or other,--I really was
ashamed afterward,--I forgot all my good reasons. I found I had taken
a great deal of pains to no purpose. In short, after due time, I
married Harry Tempest; and though it is some time since that happened,
I am still much of Eve's opinion,--


* * * * *


There is as absolute an instinct in the human mind for the definite,
the palpable, and the emphatic, as there is for the mysterious, the
versatile, and the elusive. With some, method is a law, and taste
severe in affairs, costume, exercise, social intercourse, and faith.
The simplicity, directness, uniformity, and pure emphasis or grace
of Sculpture have analogies in literature and character: the terse
despatch of a brave soldier, the concentrated dialogue of Alfieri,
some proverbs, aphorisms, and poetic lines, that have become
household words, puritanic consistency, silent fortitude, are but so
many vigorous outlines, and impress us by virtue of the same
colorless intensity as a masterpiece of the statuary. How
sculpturesque is Dante, even in metaphor, as when he writes,--

"Ella non ci diceva alcuna cosa;
Ma lasciavane gir, solo guardando,
A guisa di leon quando si posa."

Nature, too, hints the art, when her landscape tints are covered
with snow, and the forms of tree, rock, and mountain are clearly
defined by the universal whiteness. Death, in its pale, still, fixed
image,--always solemn, sometimes beautiful,--would have inspired
primeval humanity to mould and chisel the lineaments of clay. Even
New Zealanders elaborately carve their war-clubs; and from the
"graven images" prohibited by the Decalogue as objects of worship,
through the mysterious granite effigies of ancient Egypt, the brutal
anomalies in Chinese porcelain, the gay and gilded figures on a
ship's prow,--whether emblems of rude ingenuity, tasteless caprice,
retrospective sentiment, or embodiments of the highest physical and
mental culture, as in the Greek statues,--there is no art whose
origin is more instructive and progress more historically significant.
The vases of Etruria are the best evidence of her degree of
civilization; the designs of Flaxman on Wedgwood ware redeem the
economical art of England; the Bears at Berne and the Wolf in the
Roman Capitol are the most venerable local insignia; the carvings of
Gibbons, in old English manor-houses, outrival all the luxurious
charms of modern upholstery; Phidias is a more familiar element in
Grecian history than Pericles; the moral energy of the old Italian
republics is more impressively shadowed forth and conserved in the
bold and vigorous creations of Michel Angelo than in the political
annals of Macchiavelli; and it is the massive, uncouth sculptures,
half-buried in sylvan vegetation, which mythically transmit the
ancient people of Central America.

We confess a faith in, and a love for, the "testimony of the rocks,"--
not only as interpreted by the sagacious Scotchman, as he excavated
the "old red sandstone," but as shaped into forms of truth, beauty,
and power by the hand of man through all generations. We love to
catch a glimpse of these silent memorials of our race, whether as
Nymphs half-shaded at noon-day with summer foliage in a garden, or
as Heroes gleaming with startling distinctness in the moonlit
city-square; as the similitudes of illustrious men gathered in the
halls of nations and crowned with a benignant fame, or as prone
effigies on sepulchres, forever proclaiming the calm without the
respiration of slumber, so as to tempt us to exclaim, with the
enamored gazer on the Egyptian queen, when the asp had done its work,--

"She looks like sleep,
As she would catch another Antony
In her _strong toil of grace_."

Although Dr. Johnson undervalued sculpture,--partly because of an
inadequate sense of the beautiful, and partly from ignorance of its
greatest trophies, he expressed unqualified assent to its
awe-inspiring influence in "the monumental caves of death," as
described by Congreve. Sir Joshua truly declares that "all arts
address themselves to the sensibility and imagination"; and no one
thus alive to the appeal of sculpture will marvel that the
infuriated mob spared the statues of the Tuileries at the bloody
climax of the French Revolution,--that a "love of the antique" knit
in bonds of life-long friendship Winckelmann and Cardinal Albani,--
that among the most salient of childhood's memories should be
Memnon's image and the Colossus of Rhodes,--that an imaginative girl
of exalted temperament died of love for the Apollo Belvidere,--and
that Carrara should win many a pilgrimage because its quarries have
peopled earth with grace.

To a sympathetic eye there are few more pleasing tableaux than a
gifted sculptor engaged in his work. How absorbed he is!--standing
erect by the mass of clay,--with graduated touch, moulding into
delicate undulations or expressive lines the inert mass,--now
stepping back to see the effect,--now bending forward, almost
lovingly, to add a master indentation or detach a thin layer,--and so,
hour after hour, working on, every muscle in action, each perception
active, oblivious of time, happy in the gradual approximation, under
patient and thoughtful manipulation, of what was a dense heap of
earth, to a form of vital expression or beauty. When such a man
departs from the world, after having thus labored in love and with
integrity so as to bequeathe memorable and cherished trophies of
this beautiful art,--when he dies in his prime, his character as a
man endeared by the ties of friendship, and his fame as an artist
made precious by the bond of a common nativity, we feel that the art
he loved and illustrated and the fame he won and honored demand a
coincident discussion.

Thomas Crawford was born in New York, March 22, 1813, and died in
London, October 16, 1857. His lineage, school education, and early
facilities indicate no remarkable means or motive for artistic
development; they were such as belong to the average positions of
the American citizen; although a bit of romance, which highly amused
the young sculptor, was the visit of a noble Irish lady to his studio,
who ardently demonstrated their common descent from an ancient house.
At first contented to experiment as a juvenile draughtsman, to gaze
into the windows of print-shops, to collect what he could obtain in
the shape of casts, to carve flowers, leaves, and monumental designs
in the marble-yard of Launitz,--then adventuring in wood sculptures
and portraits, until the encouragement of Thorwaldsen, the nude
models of the French Academy at Rome, and copies from the
Demosthenes and other antiques in the Vatican disciplined his eye
and touch,--thus by a healthful, rigorous process attaining the
manual skill and the mature judgment which equipped him to venture
wisely in the realm of original conception,--there was a thoroughness
and a progressive application in his whole initiatory course,
prophetic, to those versed in the history of Art, of the ultimate
and secure success so legitimately earned.

If Rome yields the choicest test, in modern times, of individual
endowment in sculpture, by virtue of her unequalled treasures and
select proficients in Art,--Munich affords the second ordeal in
Europe, because of the cultivated taste and superior foundries for
which that capital is renowned; and it is remarkable that both the
great statues there cast from Crawford's models by Mueller inspired
those impromptu festivals which give expression to German enthusiasm.
The advent of the Beethoven statue was celebrated by the adequate
performance, under the auspices of both court and artists, of that
peerless composer's grandest music. When, on the evening of his
arrival, Crawford went to see, for the first time, his Washington in
bronze, he was surprised at the dusky precincts of the vast arena;
suddenly torches flashed illumination on the magnificent horse and
rider, and simultaneously burst forth from a hundred voices a song
of triumph and jubilee: thus the delighted Germans congratulated
their gifted brother, and hailed the sublime work,--to them typical
at once of American freedom, patriotism, and genius. The king warmly
recognized the original merits and consummate effect of the work;
the artists would suffer no inferior hands to pack and despatch it to
the sea-side; peasants greeted its triumphal progress;--the people
of Richmond were emulous to share the task of conveying it from the
quay to the Capitol hill; mute admiration, followed by ecstatic
cheers, hailed its unveiling, and the most gracious native eloquence
inaugurated its erection.

Descriptions of works of Art, especially of statues, are
proverbially unsatisfactory; only a vague idea can be given in words,
to the unprofessional reader; otherwise we might dwell upon the eager,
intent attitude of Orpheus as he seems to glide by the dozing
Cerberus, shading his eyes as they peer into the mysterious
labyrinth he is about to enter in search of his ravished bride;--we
might expatiate on the graceful, dignified aspect of Beethoven, the
concentration of his thoughtful brow, and the loving serenity of his
expression,--a kind of embodied musical self-absorption, yet an
accurate portrait of the man in his inspired mood; so might he have
stood when gathering into his serene consciousness the pastoral
melodies of Nature, on a summer evening, to be incorporated into
immortal combinations of harmonious sound;--we might descant upon
the union of majesty and spirit in the figure of Washington and the
vital truth of action in the horse, the air of command and of
rectitude, the martial vigor and grace, so instantly felt by the
popular heart, and so critically praised by the adept in statuary
cognizant of the difficulties to be overcome and the impression to
be absolutely evolved from such a work, in order to make it at once
true to Nature and to character;--we might repeat the declaration,
that no figure, ancient or modern, so entirely illustrates the
classic definition of oratory, as consisting in action, as the
statue of Patrick Henry, which seems instinct with that memorable
utterance, "Give me liberty or give me death!" The inventive
felicity of the design for one of the pediments of the Capitol might
be unfolded as a vivid historic poem; and it requires no imagination
to show that Jefferson looks the author of the Declaration of
Independence. The union of original expression and skill in statuary
and of ingenious constructiveness in monumental designs, which
Crawford exhibited, may be regarded as a peculiar excellence and a
rare distinction.

Much has been said and written of the limits of sculpture; but it is
the sphere, rather than the art itself, which is thus bounded; and
one of its most glorious distinctions, like that of the human form
and face, which are its highest subject, is the vast possible
variety within what seems, at first thought, to be so narrow a field.
That the same number and kind of limbs and features should, under the
plastic touch of genius, have given birth to so many and totally
diverse forms, memorable for ages and endeared to humanity, is in
itself an infinite marvel, which vindicates, as a beautiful wonder,
the statuary's art from the more Protean rivalry of pictorial skill.
If we call to mind even a few of the sculptured creations which are
"a joy forever," even to retrospection,--haunting by their pure
individuality the temple of memory, permanently enshrined in
heartfelt admiration as illustrations of what is noble in man and
woman, significant in history, powerful in expression, or
irresistible in grace,--we feel what a world of varied interest is
hinted by the very name of Sculpture. Through it the most just and
clear idea of Grecian culture is revealed to the many. The solemn
mystery of Egyptian and the grand scale of Assyrian civilization are
best attested by the same trophies. How a Sphinx typifies the land
of the Pyramids and all its associations, mythological, scientific,
natural, and sacred,--its reverence for the dead, and its dim and
portentous traditions! and what a reflex of Nineveh's palmy days are
the winged lions exhumed by Layard! What more authentic tokens of
Mediaeval piety and patience exist than the elaborate and grotesque
carvings of Albert Duerer's day? The colossal Brahma in the temple of
Elephanta, near Bombay, is the visible acme of Asiatic superstition.
And can an illustration of the revival of Art, in the fifteenth
century, so exuberant, aspiring, and sublime, be imagined, to
surpass the Day and Night, the Moses, and other statues of Angelo?--
But such general inferences are less impressive than the personal
experience of every European traveller with the least passion for
the beautiful or reverence for genius. Is there any sphere of
observation and enjoyment to such a one, more prolific of individual
suggestions than this so-called limited art? From the soulful glow
of expression in the inspired countenance of the Apollo, to the
womanly contours, so exquisite, in the armless figure of the Venus
de Milo,--from the aerial posture of John of Bologna's Mercury, to
the inimitable and firm dignity in the attitude of Aristides in the
Museum of Naples,--from the delicate lines which teach how grace can
chasten nudity in the Goddess of the Tribune at Florence, to the
embodied melancholy of Hamlet in the brooding Lorenzo of the Medici
Chapel,--from the stone despair, the frozen tears, as it were, of all
bereaved maternity, in the very bend of Niobe's body and yearning
gesture, to the _abandon_ gleaming from every muscle of the Dancing
Faun,--from the stern brow of the Knife-grinder, and the bleeding
frame of the Gladiator, whereon are written forever the inhumanities
of ancient civilization, to the triumphant beauty and firm, light,
enjoyable aspect of Dannecker's Ariadne,--from the unutterable joy
of Cupid and Psyche's embrace, to the grand authority of Moses,--how
many separate phases of human emotion "live in stone"! What greater
contrast to eye or imagination, in our knowledge of facts and in our
consciousness of sentiment, can be exemplified, than those so
distinctly, memorably, and gracefully moulded in the apostolic
figures of Thorwaldsen, the Hero and Leander of Steinhaueser, the
lovely funereal monument, inspired by gratitude, which Ranch reared
to Louise of Prussia, Chantrey's Sleeping Children, Canova's Lions
in St. Peter's, the bas-reliefs of Ghiberti on the Baptistery doors
at Florence, and Gibson's Horses of the Sun?

Have you ever strolled from the inn at Lucerne, on a pleasant
afternoon, along the Zurich road, to the old General's garden, where
stands the colossal lion designed by Thorwaldsen, to keep fresh the
brave renown of the Swiss guard who perished in defence of the royal
family of France during the massacre of the Revolution? Carved from
the massive sandstone, the majestic animal, with the fatal spear in
his side, yet loyal in his vigil over the royal shield, is a grand
image of fidelity unto death. The stillness, the isolation, the
vivid creepers festooning the rocks, the clear mirror of the basin,
into which trickle pellucid streams, reflecting the vast proportions
of the enormous lion, the veteran Swiss, who acts as _cicerone_, the
adjacent chapel with its altar-cloth wrought by one of the fair
descendants of the Bourbon king and queen for whom these victims
perished, the hour, the memories, the admixture of Nature and Art,
convey a unique impression, in absolute contrast with such white
effigies, for instance, as in the dusky precincts of Santa Croce
droop over the sepulchre of Alfieri, or with the famous bronze boar
in the Mercato Nuevo of Florence, or the ethereal loveliness of that
sweet scion of the English nobility, moulded by Chantrey in all the
soft and lithe grace of childhood, holding a contented dove to her

Even as the subject of taste, independently of historical diversities,
sculpture presents every degree of the meretricious, the grotesque,
and the beautiful,--more emphatically, because more palpably, than
is observable in painting. The inimitable Grecian standard is an
immortal precedent; the Mediaeval carvings embody the rude Teutonic
truthfulness; where Canova provoked comparison with the antique, as
in the Perseus and Venus, his more gross ideal is painfully evident.
How artificial seems Bernini in contrast with Angelo! How minutely
expressive are the terra-cotta images of Spain! What a climax of
absurdity teases the eye in the monstrosities in stone which draw
travellers in Sicily to the eccentric nobleman's villa, near Palermo!
Who does not shrink from the French allegory and horrible melodrama
of Roubillac's monument to Miss Nightingale, in Westminster Abbey?
How like Horace Walpole to dote on Ann Conway's canine groups! We
actually feel sleepy, as we examine the little black marble Somnus
of the Florence Gallery, and electrified with the first sight of the
Apollo, and won to sweet emotion in the presence of Nymphs, Graces,
and the Goddess of Beauty, when, shaped by the hand of genius, they
seem the ethereal types of that:

----"common clay ta'en from the common earth,
Moulded by God and tempered by the tears
Of angels to the perfect form of woman."

Yet the distinctive element in the pleasure afforded by sculpture is
tranquillity,--a quiet, contemplative delight; somewhat of awe
chastens admiration; a feeling of peace hallows sympathy; and we
echo the poet's sentiment,--

"I do feel a mighty calmness creep
Over my heart, which can no longer borrow
Its hues from chance or change,--those children of to-morrow."

It is this fixedness and placidity, conveying the impression of fate,
death, repose, or immortality, which render sculpture so congenial
as commemorative of the departed. Even quaint wooden effigies, like
those in St. Mary's Church at Chester, with the obsolete peaked
beards, ruffs, and broadswords, accord with the venerable
associations of a Mediaeval tomb; while marble figures, typifying
Grief, Poetry, Fame, or Hope, brooding over the lineaments of the
illustrious dead, seem, of all sepulchral decorations, the most apt
and impressive. We remember, after exploring the plain of Ravenna on
an autumn day, and rehearsing the famous battle in which the brave
young Gaston de Foix fell, how the associations of the scene and
story were defined and deepened as we gazed on the sculptured form
of a recumbent knight in armor, preserved in the academy of the old
city; it seemed to bring back and stamp with brave renown forever
the gallant soldier who so long ago perished there in battle. In
Cathedral and Parthenon, under the dome of the Invalides, in the
sequestered parish church or the rural cemetery, what image so
accords with the sad reality and the serene hope of humanity, as the
adequate marble personification on sarcophagus and beneath shrine,
in mausoleum or on turf-mound?

"His palms infolded on his breast,
There is no other thought express'd
But long disquiet merged in rest."

In truth, it is for want of comprehensive perception that we take so
readily for granted the limited scope of this glorious art. There is
in the Grecian mythology alone a remarkable variety of character and
expression, as perpetuated by the statuary; and when to her deities
we add the athletes, charioteers, and marble portraits, a realm of
diverse creations is opened. Indeed, to the average modern mind, it
is the statues of Grecian divinities that constitute the poetic
charm of her history; abstractly, we regard them with the poet:--

"Their gods? what were their gods?
There's Mars, all bloody-haired; and Hercules,
Whose soul was in his sinews; Pluto, blacker
Than his own hell; Vulcan, who shook his horns
At every limp he took; great Bacchus rode
Upon a barrel; and in a cockle-shell
Neptune kept state; then Mercury was a thief;
Juno a shrew; Pallas a prude, at best;
And Venus walked the clouds in search of lovers;
Only great Jove, the lord and thunderer,
Sat in the circle of his starry power
And frowned 'I will!' to all."

Not in their marble beauty do they thus ignobly impress us,--but calm,
fair, strong, and immortal. "They seem," wrote Hazlitt, "to have no
sympathy with us, and not to want our admiration. In their faultless
excellence they appear sufficient to themselves."

In the sculptor's art, more than on the historian's page, lives the
most glorious memory of the classic past. A visit to the Vatican by
torchlight endears even these poor traditional deities forever.

On lofty ceilings vivid frescoes glow,
Auroras beam,
The steeds of Neptune through the waters go.
Or Sibyls dream.

As in the flickering torchlight shadows weaved
Illusions wild,
Methought Apollo's bosom slightly heaved
And Juno smiled.

Aerial Mercuries in bronze upspring,
Dianas fly,
And marble Cupids to the Psyches cling
Without a sigh.

To this variety in unity, this wealth of antique genius, Crawford
brought the keen relish of an observant and the aptitude of a
creative mind. His taste in Art was eminently catholic; he loved the
fables and the personages of Greece because of this very diversity
of character,--the freedom to delineate human instincts and passions
under a mythological guise,--just as Keats prized the same themes as
giving broad range to his fanciful muse. A list of our prolific
sculptor's works is found to include the entire circle of subjects
and styles appropriate to his art--first, the usual classic themes,
of which his first remarkable achievement was the Orpheus; then a
series of Christian or religious illustrations, from Adam and Saul
to Christ at the Well of Samaria; next, individual portraits; a
series of domestic figures, such as the "Children in the Wood," or
"Truant Boys"; and, finally, what may be termed national statuary,
of which Beethoven and Washington are eminent exemplars. Like
Thorwaldsen, Crawford excelled in _basso-rilievo_, and was a
remarkable pictorial sculptor. Having made early and intense
studies of the antique, he as carefully observed Nature; few
statuaries have more keenly noted the action of childhood or
equestrian feats, so that the limbs and movement of the sweetest of
human and the noblest of brute creatures were critically known to him.
In sculpture, we believe that a great secret of the highest success
lies in an intuitive eclecticism, whereby the faultless graces of the
antique are combined with just observation of Nature. Without
correct imitative facility, a sculptor wanders from the truth and
the fact of visible things; without ideality, he makes but a
mechanical transcript; without invention, he but repeats
conventional traits. The desirable medium, the effective principle,
has been well defined by the author of "Scenes and Thoughts in Europe":--
"Art does not merely copy Nature; it _cooeperates_ with her, it makes
palpable her finest essence, it reveals the spiritual source of the
corporeal by the perfection of its incarnations." That Crawford
invariably kept himself to "the height of this great argument" it
were presumptuous to assert; but that he constantly approached such
an ideal, and that he sometimes seized its vital principle, the
varied and expressive forms yet conserved in his studio at Rome
emphatically attest. He had obtained command of the vocabulary of
his art; in expressing it, like all men who strive largely, he was
unequal. Some of his creations are far more felicitous than others;
he sometimes worked too fast, and sometimes undertook what did not
greatly inspire him; but when we reflect on the limited period of his
artist-life, on the intrepid advancement of its incipient stages
under the pressure of narrow means and comparative solitude, on the
extraordinary progress, the culminating force, the numerous trophies,
and the acknowledged triumphs of a life of labors, so patiently
achieved, and suddenly cut off in mid career,--we cannot but
recognize a consummate artist and the grandest promise yet
vouchsafed to the cause of national Art.

Shelley used to say that a Roman peasant is as good a judge of
sculpture as the best academician or anatomist. It is this direct
appeal, this elemental simplicity, which constitutes the great
distinction and charm of the art. There is nothing evasive and
mysterious; in dealing with form and expression through features and
attitude, average observation is a reliable test. The same English
poet was right in declaring that the Greek sculptors did not find
their inspiration in the dissecting-room; yet upon no subject has
criticism displayed greater insight on the one hand and pedantry on
the other, than in the discussion of these very _chefs-d'oeuvre_ of
antiquity. While Michel Angelo, who was at Rome when the Laocooen was
discovered, hailed it as "the wonder of Art," and scholars
identified the group with a famous one described by Pliny, Canova
thought that the right arm of the father was not in its right
position, and the other restorations in the work have all been
objected to. Goethe recognized a profound sagacity in the artist:
"If," he wrote, "we try to place the bite in some different position,
the whole action is changed, and we find it impossible to conceive
one more fitting; the situation of the bite renders necessary the
whole action of the limbs";--and another critic says, "In the group
of the Laocooen, the breast is expanded and the throat contracted to
show that the agonies that convulse the frame are borne in silence."
In striking contrast with such testimonies to the scientific truth
to Nature in Grecian Art was the objection I once heard an American
back-woods mechanic make to this celebrated work; he asked why the
figures were seated in a row on a dry-goods box, and declared that
the serpent was not of a size to coil round so small an arm as the
child's, without breaking its vertebrae. So disgusted was Titian with
the critical pedantry elicited by this group, that, in ridicule
thereof, he painted a caricature,--three monkeys writhing in the
folds of a little snake.

Yet, despite the jargon of connoisseurship, against which Byron,
while contemplating the Venus de Medici, utters so eloquent an
invective, sculpture is a grand, serene, and intelligible art,--more
so than architecture and painting,--and, as such, justly consecrated
to the heroic and the beautiful in man and history. It is predominantly
commemorative. How the old cities of Europe are peopled to
the imagination, as well as the eye, by the statues of their
traditional rulers or illustrious children, keeping, as it were, a
warning sign, or a sublime vigil, silent, yet expressive, in the
heart of busy life and through the lapse of ages! We could never
pass Duke Cosmo's imposing effigy in the old square of Florence
without the magnificent patronage and the despotic perfidy of the
Medicean family being revived to memory with intense local
association,--nor note the ugly mitred and cloaked papal figures,
with hands extended, in the mockery of benediction, over the beggars
in the piazzas of Romagna, without Ranke's frightful picture of
Church abuses reappearing, as if to crown these brazen forms with
infamy. There was always a gleam of poetry,--however sad,--on the
most foggy day, in the glimpse afforded from our window, in
Trafalgar Square, of that patient horseman, Charles the Martyr. How
alive old Neptune sometimes looked, by moonlight, in Rome, as we
passed his plashing fountain! And those German poets,--Goethe,
Schiller, and Jean Paul,--what to modern eyes were Frankfort,
Stuttgart, and Baireuth, unconsecrated by their endeared forms? The
most pleasant association Versailles yielded us of the Bourbon
dynasty was that inspired by Jeanne d'Arc, graceful in her marble
sleep, as sculptured by Marie d'Orleans; and the most impressive
token of Napoleon's downfall we saw in Europe was his colossal image
intended for the square of Leghorn, but thrown permanently on the
sculptor's hands by the waning of his proud star. The statue of Heber,
to Christian vision, hallows Calcutta. The Perseus of Cellini
breathes of the months of artistic suspense, inspiration, and
experiment, so graphically described in that clever egotist's memoirs.
One feels like blessing the grief-bowed figures at the tomb of
Princess Charlotte, so truly do their attitudes express our sympathy
with the love and the sorrow her name excites. Would not Sterne have
felt a thrill of complacency, had he beheld his tableau of the Widow
Wadman and Uncle Toby so genially embodied by Ball Hughes? What more
spirited symbol of prosperous conquest can be imagined than the
gilded horses of St. Mark's? How natural was Michel Angelo's
exclamation, "March!" as he gazed on Donatello's San Giorgio, in the
Church of San Michele,--one mailed hand on a shield, bare head,
complete armor, and the foot advanced, like a sentinel who hears the
challenge, or a knight listening for the charge! Tenerani's
"Descent from the Cross," in the Torlonia Chapel, outlives in
remembrance the brilliant assemblies of that financial house. The
outlines of Flaxman, essentially statuesque, seem alone adequate to
illustrate to the eye the great Mediaeval poet, whose verse seems
often cut from stone in the quarries of infernal destiny. How grandly
sleep the lions of Canova at Pope Clement's tomb!

It is to us a source of noble delight, that with these permanent
trophies of the sculptor's art may now be mingled our national fame.
Twenty years ago, the address in Murray's Guide-Book,--_Crawford, an
American Sculptor, Piazza Barberini_,--would have been unique; now
that name is enrolled on the list of the world's benefactors in the
patrimony of Art. Greenough, by his pen, his presence, and his chisel,
gave an impulse to taste and knowledge in sculpture and architecture
not destined soon to pass away; no more eloquent and original
advocate of the beautiful and the true in the higher social economies
has blest our day; his Cherubs and Medora overflow with the poetry
of form; his essays are a valuable legacy of philosophic thought.
The Greek Slave of Powers was invariably surrounded by visitors at
the London World's Fair and the Manchester Exhibition. Palmer has
sent forth from his isolated studio at Albany a series of ideal busts,
of a pure type of original and exquisite beauty. Others might be
named who have honorably illustrated an American claim to
distinction in an art eminently republican in its perpetuation of
national worth and the identity of its highest achievements with
social progress.

Facility of execution and prolific invention were the essential
traits of Crawford's genius. For some years his studio has been one
of the shrines of travellers at Rome, because of the number and
variety as well as excellence of its trophies. The idea has been
suggested, and it is one we hope to see realized, that this complete
series of casts should be permanently conserved in such a temple as
Copenhagen reared to the memory of her great sculptor. It was on
account of this facility and fecundity that Crawford advocated
plaster as an occasional substitute for bronze and marble, where
elaborate compositions were proposed. He felt capable of achieving
so much, his mind teemed with so many panoramic and single
conceptions,--historical, allegorical, ideal, and illustrative of
standard literature or classical fable,--that only time and expense
presented obstacles to unlimited invention. Perhaps no one can
conceive this peculiar creativeness of his fancy and aptitude of hand,
who has not had occasion to talk with Crawford of some projected
monument or statue. No sooner was he possessed of the idea to be
embodied, the person or occasion to be commemorated, than he
instantly conceived a plan and drew a model, invariably possessing
some felicitous thought or significant arrangement. His sketch-book
was quite as suggestive of genius as his studio. The "Sketch of a
Statue to crown the Dome of the United States Capitol"--a photograph
of which is before us as we write, dated two years ago--is an
instance in point. A more grand figure, original and symbolic,
graceful and sublime, in attitude, aspect, drapery, accessories, and
expression, or one more appropriate, cannot be imagined; and yet it
is only one of hundreds of national designs, more or less mature,
which that fertile brain, patriotic heart, and cunning hand devised.
We are justified in regarding the appropriation by the State of
Virginia, for a monument to Washington by such a man, as an epoch in
the history of national Art. Crawford hailed it as would a confident
explorer the ship destined to convey him to untracked regions, the
ambitious soldier tidings of the coming foe, or any brave aspirant a
long-sought opportunity. It is one of the drawbacks to elaborate
achievement in sculpture, that the materials and the processes of
the art require large pecuniary facilities. To plan and execute a
great national monument, under a government commission, was
precisely the occasion for which Crawford had long waited. Happening
to read the proposals in a journal, while on a visit to this country,
he repaired immediately to Richmond, submitted his views, and soon
received the appointment.

The absence of complexity in the language and intent of sculpture is
always obvious in the expositions of its votaries. In no class of
men have we found such distinct and scientific views of Art. One
lovely evening in spring, we stood with Bartolini beside the corpse
of a beautiful child. Bereavement in a foreign land has a desolation
of its own, and the afflicted mother desired to carry home a statue
of her loved and lost. We conducted the sculptor to the chamber of
death, that he might superintend the casts from the body. No sooner
did his eyes fall upon it, than they glowed with admiration and
filled with tears. He waved the assistants aside, clasped his hands,
and gazed spellbound upon the dead child. Its brow was ideal in
contour, the hair of wavy gold, the cheeks of angelic outline.
"How beautiful!" exclaimed Bartolini; and drawing us to the bedside,
with a mingled awe and intelligence, he pointed out how the rigidity
of death coincided, in this fair young creature, with the standard
of Art;-the very hands, he declared, had stiffened into lines of
beauty; and over the beautiful clay we thus learned from the lips of
a venerable sculptor how intimate and minute is the cognizance this
noble art takes of the language of the human form. Greenough would
unfold by the hour the exquisite relation between function and beauty,
organization and use,--tracing therein a profound law and an
illimitable truth. No more genial spectacle greeted us in Rome than
Thorwaldsen at his Sunday-noon receptions;--his white hair, kindly
smile, urbane manners, and unpretending simplicity gave an added
charm to the wise and liberal sentiments he expressed on Art,--
reminding us, in his frank eclecticism, of the spirit in which
Humboldt cultivates science, and Sismondi history. Nor less
indicative of this clear apprehension was the thorough solution we
have heard Powers give, over the mask taken from a dead face, of the
problem, how its living aspect was to modify its sculptured
reproduction; or the original views expressed by Palmer as to the
treatment of the eyes and hair in marble. During Crawford's last
visit to America, we accompanied him to examine a portrait of
Washington by Wright. It boasts no elegance of arrangement or
refinement of execution; at a glance it was evident that the artist
had but a limited sense of beauty and lacked imagination; but, on
the other hand, he possessed what, for a sculptor's object,--namely,
facts of form and feature,--is more important,--conscience.
Crawford declared this was the only portrait of Washington which
literally represented his costume; having recently examined the
uniform, sword, etc., he was enabled to identify the strands of the
epaulette, the number of buttons, and even the peculiar seal and
watch-key. A man so faithful to details, so devoted to authenticity,
Crawford argued, was reliable in more essential things. He remarked,
that one of his own greatest difficulties in the equestrian statue
had been to reconcile the shortness of the neck in Stuart's portrait
and Houdon's statue (the body of which was not taken from life) with
the stature of Washington,--there being an anatomical incongruity
therein. "I had determined," he continued, "to follow what the laws
of Nature and all precedent indicate as the right proportion,--
otherwise it would be impossible to make a graceful and impressive
statue; but in this picture, bearing such remarkable evidence of
authenticity, I find the correct distance between chin and breast."

American travellers in Italy will sometimes be repelled by a certain
narrowness in the critical estimate of modern sculptors; though of
all arts sculpture demands and justifies the most liberal eclecticism.
Thus, a broad line of demarcation has been arbitrarily drawn between
high finish and prolific invention, originality and superficial skill;
as if these merits could not be united, or were incompatible with
each other,--and that, invariably, works of "outward skill elaborate"
are "of inward less exact" A Boston critic denominates Powers
"a sublime mechanic," as if there were only physical imitation in
his busts, and no expression in his figures. The insinuation is
unjust. By exquisite finish and patient labor he makes of such
subjects as the Fisher-boy, the Proserpine, and Il Penseroso
charming creations,--in attitude and feature true to the moment and
the mood delineated, and not less true in each detail; their
popularity is justified by scientific and tasteful canons; and his
portrait busts and statues are, in many instances, unrivalled for
character as well as execution. A letter to one of his friends lies
before us, in which he responds to an amicable remonstrance at his
apparent slowness of achievement. The reasoning is so cogent, the
principle asserted of such wide application, and the artistic
conscience so nobly evident, that we venture to quote a passage.

"It is said, that works designed to adorn buildings need not be done
with much care, being only architectural sculptures. This is quite a
modern idea. The Greeks did not entertain it, as is proved by those
gems which Lord Elgin sawed away from the walls of the Parthenon. I
cannot admit that a noble art should ever be prostituted to purposes
of mere show. They do not make rough columns, coarse and uneven
friezes, jagged mouldings, etc., for buildings. These are always
highly finished. Are figures in marble less important? But speed,
speed, is the order of the day,--'quick and cheap' is the cry; and
if I prefer to linger behind and take pains with the little I do,
there are some now, and there will be more hereafter, to approve it.
I cannot consent to model statues at the rate of three in six months,
and a clear conscience will reward me for not having yielded to the
temptation of making money at the sacrifice of my artistic reputation.
Art is, or should be, poetry, in its various forms,--no matter what
it is written upon,--parchment, paper, canvas, or marble. Milton
employed his daughter to write his 'Paradise Lost,' not to compose it;
her hand was moved by his soul; she was his modelling-tool,--nothing
more. But to employ another to model for you, and go away from him,
is not analogous. He then composes for you; modelling is composition.
And whom did Shakspeare get to do this for him? Whom did Gray employ
to arrange in words that immortal wreath set with diamond thoughts
which he has thrown upon a country churchyard? Whom did Michel
Angelo get to model his Moses? How many young men did Ghiberti employ
during the forty years he was engaged upon the Gates of Paradise? I
cannot yield my convictions of what is proper in Art. I will do my
work as well as I know how, and necessity compels me to demand ample
payment for it."

We have sometimes wondered that some aesthetic philosopher has not
analyzed the vital relation of the arts to each other and given a
popular exposition of their mutual dependence. Drawing from the
antique has long been an acknowledged initiation for the limner, and
Campbell, in his terse description of the histrionic art, says that
therein "verse ceases to be airy thought, and sculpture to be dumb."
How much of their peculiar effects did Talma, Kemble, and Rachel owe
to the attitudes, gestures, and drapery of the Grecian statues! Kean
adopted the "dying fall" of General Abercrombie's figure in St.
Paul's as the model of his own. Some of the memorable scenes and
votaries of the drama are directly associated with the sculptor's art,--
as, for instance, the last act of "Don Giovanni," wherein the
expressive music of Mozart breathes a pleasing terror in connection
with the spectral nod of the marble horseman; and Shakspeare has
availed himself of this art, with beautiful wisdom, in that melting
scene where remorseful love pleads with the motionless heroine of the
"Winter's Tale,"--

"Her natural posture!
Chide me, dear stone, that I may say, indeed,
Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she
In thy not chiding: for she was as tender
As infancy and grace."

Garrick imitated to the life, in "Abel Drugger," a vacant stare
peculiar to Nollekens, the sculptor; and Colley Cibber's father was
a devotee of the chisel and adorned Chatsworth with free-stone

Crawford's interest in portrait-busts was secondary, owing to his
inventive ardor; the study he bestowed upon the lineaments of
Washington, however, gave a zest and a special insight to his
endeavor to represent his head in marble, and, accordingly, this
specimen of his ability, which arrived in this country after his
decease, is remarkable for its expressive, original, and finished
character. For ourselves, in view of the great historical value,
comparative authenticity, and possible significance and beauty of
this department of sculpture, it has a peculiar interest and charm.
The most distinct idea we have of the Roman emperors, even in regard
to their individual characters, is derived from their busts at the
Vatican and elsewhere. The benignity of Trajan, the animal
development of Nero, and the classic rigor of young Augustus are
best apprehended through these memorable effigies which Time has
spared and Art transmitted. And a similar permanence and
distinctness of impression associate most of our illustrious moderns
with their sculptured features: the ironical grimace of Voltaire is
perpetuated by Houdon's bust; the sympathetic intellectuality of
Schiller by Dannecker's; Handel's countenance is familiar through
the elaborate chisel of Roubillac; Nollekens moulded Sterne's
delicate and unimpassioned but keen physiognomy, and Chantrey the
lofty cranium of Scott. Who has not blessed the rude but
conscientious artist who carved the head of Shakspeare preserved at
Stratford? How quaintly appropriate to the old house in Nuremberg is
Albert Duerer's bust over the door! Our best knowledge of Alexander
Hamilton's aspect is obtained from the expressive marble head of him
by that ardent republican sculptor, Ceracchi. It was appropriate for
Mrs. Darner, the daughter of a gallant field-marshal, to portray in
marble, as heroic idols, Fox, Nelson, and Napoleon. We were never
more convinced of the intrinsic grace and solemnity of this form of
"counterfeit presentment" than when exploring the Bacioechi _palazzo_
at Bologna. In the centre of a circular room, lighted from above,
and draped as well as carpeted with purple, stood on a simple
pedestal the bust of Napoleon's sister, thus enshrined after death
by her husband. The profound stillness, the relief of this isolated
head against a mass of dark tints, and its consequent emphatic
individuality, made the sequestered chamber seem a holy place, where
communion with the departed, so spiritually represented by the
exquisite image, appeared not only natural, but inevitable. Our
countryman, Powers, has eminently illustrated the possible
excellence of this branch of Art. In mathematical correctness of
detail, unrivalled finish of texture, and with these, in many cases,
the highest characterization, busts from his hand have an absolute
artistic value, independent of likeness, like a portrait by Vandyck
or Titian. When the subject is favorable, his achievements in this
regard are memorable, and fill the eye and mind with ideas of beauty
and meaning undreamed of by those who consider marble portraits as
wholly imitative and mechanical. Was there ever a human face which
so completely reflected inward experience and individual genius as
the bust which haunts us throughout Italy, broods over the monument
in Santa Croce, gazes pensively from library niche, seems to awe the
more radiant images of boudoir and gallery, and sternly looks
melancholy reproach from the Ravenna tomb?

"The lips, as Cumae's cavern close,
The cheeks, with fast and sorrow thin,
The rigid front, almost morose,
But for the patient hope within,
Declare a life whose course hath been
Unsullied still, though still severe,
Which, through the wavering days of sin,
Kept itself icy chaste and clear."

National characters become, as it were, household gods through the
sculptor's portrait; the duplicates of Canova's head of Napoleon
seem as appropriate in the _salons_ and shops of France, as the
heads of Washington and Franklin in America, or the antique images
of Scipio Africanus and Ceres in Sicily, and Wellington and Byron in

There is no phase of modern life so legitimate in its enjoyment and
so pleasing to contemplate as the life of the true artist. Endowed
with a faculty and inspired by a love for creative beauty, work is
to him at once a high vocation and a generous instinct. Imagine the
peace and the progress of those years at Rome when Crawford toiled
day after day in his studio,--at first without encouragement and for
bread, then in a more confident spirit and with some definite triumph,
and at last crowned with domestic happiness and artistic renown,--his
mind filled with ideal tasks more and more grand in their scope, and
the coming years devoted in prospect to the realization of his
noblest aspirations. From early morning to twilight, with rare and
brief interruptions, he thus designed, modelled, chiselled,
superintended, every day adding something permanent to his trophies.
This self-consecration was entire, and in his view indispensable. Few
and simple were the recreative interludes: a reunion of
brother-artists or fellow-countrymen and their families,--an
occasional journey, almost invariably with a professional intent,--a
summer holiday or a winter festival; but, methodical in pastime as
in work, his family and his books were his cherished resources.
Often so weary at night that he returned home only to recline on a
couch, caress his children, or refresh his mind with some agreeable
volume provided by his vigilant companion,--the best energies of his
mind and the freshest hours of life were absolutely given to Art.
This is the great lesson of his career: not by spasmodic effort, or
dalliance with moods, or fitful resolution, did he accomplish so much;
but by earnestness of purpose, consistency of aim, heroic decision of
character. There is nothing less vague, less casual in human
experience, than true artist-life. Rome is the shrine of many a
dreamer, the haunt of countless inefficient enthusiasts. But there,
as elsewhere, will must intensify thought, action control imagination,
or both are fruitless. Those melancholy ruins, those grand temples
of religion, the immortal forms and hues that glorify palace and
chapel, square, mausoleum, and Vatican, the dreamy murmur of
fountains, the aroma of violets and pine-trees, the pensive relics
of imperial sway, the sublime desolation of the Campagna, the mystery
of Nature and Art, when both are hallowed by time, the social zest
of an original brotherhood like the artists, the freedom and
loveliness, the ravishment of spring and the soft radiance of sunset,
all that there captivates soul and sense, must be resisted as well
as enjoyed;--self-control, self-respect, self-dedication are as
needful as susceptibility, or these peerless local charms will only
enchant to betray the artist. Crawford carried to Rome the ardor of
an Irish temperament and the vigor of an American character.
Hundreds have passed through a like ordeal of privation, ungenial
because conventional work, and slow approach to the goal of
recognized power and remunerated sacrifice; but few have emerged
from the shadow to the sunshine, by such manly steps and patient,
cheerful trust. It was not the voice of complaint that first
attracted towards him intelligent sympathy,--it was brave achievement;
and from the day when a remittance from Boston enabled him to put
his Orpheus in marble, to the day when, attended by his devoted
sister, he paid the last visit to his crowded studio, and looked,
with quivering eyelids, but firm heart, on the silent but eloquent
offspring of his brain and hand, the Artist in him was coincident
with the Man,--clear, unswerving, productive, the sphere extending,
the significance multiplying, and the mastery becoming more and more
complete through resolute practice, vivid intuition, and candid
search for truth.

In the fifteenth century, and earlier, the lives of artists were
adventurous; political relations gave scope to incident; and Michel
Angelo, Salvator Rosa, and Benvenuto Cellini furnish almost as many
anecdotes as memorials of genius. In modern times, however,
vicissitude has chiefly diversified the uniform and tranquil
existence of the artist; his struggles with fortune, and not his
relations to public events, have given external interest to his
biography. It is the mental rather than the outward life which is
fraught with significance to the painter and sculptor; consciousness
more than experience affords salient points in his career. How the
executive are trained to embody the creative powers, through what
struggles dexterity is attained, and by what reflection and earnest
musing and observant patience and blest intuitions original
achievements glimmer upon the fancy, grow mature by thought, correct
through the study of Nature, and are finally realized in action,--
these and such as these inward revelations constitute the actual
life of the artist. The mere events of Crawford's existence are
neither marvellous nor varied; his early love of imitative pastime,
his fixed purpose, his resort to stone-cutting as the nearest
available expedient for the gratification of that instinct to copy
and create form which so decidedly marks an aptitude for sculpture,
his visit to Rome, the self-denial and the lonely toil of his
novitiate, his rapid advancement in both knowledge and skill, and
his gradual recognition as a man of original mind and wise
enthusiasm are but the normal characteristics of his fraternity.
Circumstances, however, give a singular prominence and pathos to
these usual facts of artist-life. When Crawford began his
professional career, sculpture, as an American pursuit, was almost
as rare as painting at the time of West's advent in Rome; to excel
therein was a national distinction, having a freshness and personal
interest such as the votaries of older countries did not share; as
the American representative of his art at Rome, even in the eyes of
his comrades, and especially in the estimation of his countrymen, he
long occupied an isolated position. The qualities of the man,--his
patient industry,-the new and unexpected superiority in different
branches of his art, so constantly exhibited,--the loyal, generous,
and frank spirit of his domestic and social life,--the freedom, the
faith, and the assiduity that endeared him to so large and
distinguished a circle, were individual claims often noted by
foreigners and natives in the Eternal City as honorable to his
country. It was remembered there, when he died, that the hand now
cold had warmly grasped in welcome his compatriots, shouldered a
musket as one of the republican guard, and been extended with
sympathy and aid to his less prosperous brothers. At the meeting of
fellow-artists, convened to pay a tribute to his memory, every
nation of Europe was represented, and the most illustrious of living
English sculptors was the first to propose a substantial memorial to
his name. What his nativity and his character thus so eminently
contributed to signalize, the offspring of his genius, the manner of
his death, solemnly confirmed. By no sudden fever, such as
insidiously steals from the Roman marshes and poisons the blood of
its victims,--by no violent epidemic, like those which have again
and again devastated the cities of Europe,--by no illusive decline,
whereby vital power is sapped unconsciously and with mild gradations,
and which, in that soft clime, has peopled with the dust of
strangers the cemetery which the pyramid of Cestius overshadows and
the heart of Shelley consecrates,--by none of these familiar gates
of death did Crawford pass on; but, in the meridian of his powers
and his fame, in the climax of his artistic career, in the noontide
of his most genial activity, a corrosive tumor on the inner side of
the orbit of the eye encroached month by month, week by week, hour
by hour, upon the sources of life. Medical skill freed the brain
from its deadly pressure, but could not divert its organic affinity.
The mind's integrity was thus preserved intact; consciousness and
self-possession lent their dignity to waning strength; but the alert
muscles were relaxed; the busy hands folded in prayer; what Michel
Angelo uttered in his eighty-sixth Crawford was called upon to echo
in his forty-fifth year:--

"Wellnigh the voyage now is overpast,
And my frail bark, through troubled seas and rude,
Draws nigh that common haven where at last,
Of every action, be it evil or good,
Must due account be rendered. Well I know
How vain will then appear that favored art,
Sole idol long, and monarch of my heart;
For all is vain that man desires below."

The cheerful voice was often hushed by pain; but conjugal and
sisterly love kept vigil, a long, a bitter year, by that couch of
suffering in the heart of multitudinous Paris and London; hundreds
of sympathizing friends, in both hemispheres, listened and prayed
and hoped through a dreary twelvemonth. With the ripe autumn closed
the quiet struggle; and "in the bleak December" the mortal remains
were followed from the temple where his youth worshipped, to the
snow-clad knoll at Greenwood; garlands and tears, the ritual and the
requiem, eulogy and elegy, consecrated the final scene. By a singular
coincidence, the news of his decease reached the United States
simultaneously with the arrival of the ship in James River with the
colossal bronze statue of Washington, his crowning achievement.

One would imagine, from the eagerness and intensity exhibited by
Crawford, that he anticipated a brief career. Work seemed as
essential to his comfort as rest is to less determined natures. He
was a thorough believer in the moral necessity of absolute
allegiance to his sphere; and differed from his brother-artists
chiefly in the decisive manner in which he kept aloof from extrinsic
and incidental influences. If Art ever made labor delectable, it was
so with him. He seemed to go through with the ordinary processes of
life with but a half consciousness thereof,--save where his personal
affections were concerned. One of the first works for which he
expressed a sympathetic admiration was Thorwaldsen's "Triumph of
Alexander,"--one of the most elaborate and suggestive of modern
friezes. He early contemplated an entire series of illustrations of
Ovid. He alternated, with infinite relish, between the extreme phases
of his art,--a delicate Peri and a majestic Colossus, an extensive
array of basso rilievo figures, a sublime ideal of manhood and an
exquisite image of infancy. His alacrity of temper was co-equal with
his steadiness of purpose; and the cheerfulness of an active mind,
sanguine temperament, and great nervous energy did not abandon him,
even in the state of forced passivity so intolerable to such habitude;
for hilarious words and, once or twice, the old ringing laugh
startled the fond watchers of his declining hours. The events of his
life are but a few expressive outlines; his works embody his most
real experience; and the thoughts and feelings, the observation and
the sentiment, not therein moulded or sketched, happily found
adequate record in the ample and ingenuous letters he wrote to his
beloved sister, from the time of his first arrival in Europe to that
of his last arrival in America,--embracing a period of twenty-two
years. Each work he conceived and executed, each process of study,
the impressions he gained and the convictions at which he arrived in
relation to ancient and modern art,--each journey, achievement, plan,
opinion,--what he saw, and imagined, and hoped, and did,--was
frankly and fondly noted; and the time may come when these epistles,
inspired by love and dictated by intelligent sympathy and insight,
will be compiled into a priceless memorial of artist-life.


Who put together the machinery of the great Indian revolt, and set
it going? Who stirred up the sleeping tiger in the Sepoy's heart,
and struck Christendom aghast with the dire devilries of Meerut and

Asirvadam the Brahmin!

Asirvadam is nimble with mace or cue; at the billiard-table, it is
hinted, he can distinguish a kiss from a carom; at the sideboard
(and here, if I were Mr. Charles Reade, I would whisper, in small
type) he confounds not cocktails with cobblers; when, being in trade,
he would sell you saltpetre, he tries you with flax-seed; when he
would buy indigo, he offers you indigo at a sacrifice. Yet, in
Asirvadam, if any quality is more noticeable than the sleek
respectability of the Baboo, it is the jealous orthodoxy of the
Brahmin. If he knows in what presence to step out of his slippers,
and when to pick them up again with his toes, in jaunty dandyisms of
etiquette, he also makes the most of his insolent order and its
patent of privilege, and wears the rue of his triple cord with a
demure and dignified difference. High, low, or jack, it is always
"the game" with him; and the game is--Asirvadam the Brahmin,--free
tricks and Brahmins' rights,--Asirvadam for his caste, and
everything for Asirvadam.

The natural history of our astute and accomplished friend is worth a
page or two. And first, as to his color. Asirvadam comes from the
northern provinces, and calls the snow-turbaned Himalayas cousin;
consequently his complexion is the brightest among Brahmins. By some
who are uninitiated in the chemical mysteries of our metropolitan
milk-trade, it has been likened to chocolate and cream, with plenty
of cream; but the comparison depends, for the idea it conveys, so
much on the taste of the ethnological inquirer, as to the proportion
of cream, and still so much more, as in the case of Mr. Weller's
weal pies, on the reputation of "the lady as makes it," that it will
hardly serve the requirements of a severe scientific statement.
Copper-color has an excess of red, and sepia is too brown; the tarry
tawniness of an old boatswain's hand is nearer the mark, but even
that is less among man-of-war's men than in the merchant-service,
and is least in the revenue marine; it varies, also, with the habits
of the individual, and the nature of his employment for the time
being. The flipper of your legitimate shiver-my-timbery old salt,
whose most amiable office is piping all hands to witness punishment,
has long since acquired the hue of a seven-years' meerschaum; while
the dandy cockswain of a forty-gun frigate lying off the navy-yard,
who brings the third cutter ship-shapely alongside with a pretty
girl in the stern-sheets, lends her--the pretty girl--a hand at the
gangway, that has been softened by fastidious applications of
solvent slush to the tint of a long envelope "on public service."
"Law sheep," when we come to the binding of books, is too sallow for
this simile; a little volume of "Familiar Quotations," in limp calf,
(Bartlett, Cambridge, 1855,) might answer,--if the cover of the
January number of the "Atlantic Monthly" were not exactly the thing.

Simplicity, convenience, decorum, and picturesqueness distinguish
the costume of Asirvadam the Brahmin. Three yards of yard-wide fine
cotton cloth envelope his loins, in such a manner, that, while one
end hangs in graceful folds in front, the other falls in a fine
distraction behind. Over this, a robe of muslin, or silk, or pina
cloth--the latter in peculiar favor, by reason of its superior purity,
for high-caste wear--covers his neck, breast, and arms, and descends
nearly to his ankles. Asirvadam borrowed this garment from the
Mussulman; but he fastens it on the left side, which the follower of
the Prophet never does, and surmounts it with an ample and elegant
waistband, beside the broad Romanesque mantle that he tosses over
his shoulder with such a senatorial air. His turban, also, is an
innovation,--not proper to the Brahmin,--pure and simple, but, like
the robe, adopted from the Moorish wardrobe, for a more imposing
appearance in Sahib society. It is formed of a very narrow strip,
fifteen or twenty yards long, of fine stuff, moulded to the orthodox
shape and size by wrapping it, while wet, on a wooden block; having
been hardened in the sun, it is worn like a hat. As for his feet,
Asirvadam, uncompromising in externals, disdains to pollute them
with the touch of leather. Shameless fellows, Brahmins though they be,
of the sect of Vishnu, go about, without a blush, in thonged sandals,
made of abominable skins; but Asirvadam, strict as a Gooroo when the
eyes of his caste are on him, is immaculate in wooden clogs.

In ornaments, his taste, though somewhat grotesque, is by no means
lavish. A sort of stud or button, composed of a solitary ruby, in
the upper rim of the cartilage of either ear,--a chain of gold,
curiously wrought, and intertwined with a string of small pearls,
around his neck,--a massive bangle of plain gold on his arm,--a
richly jewelled ring on his thumb, and others, broad and shield-like,
on his toes,--complete his outfit in these vanities.

As often as Asirvadam honors us with his morning visit of business
or ceremony, a slight yellow line, drawn horizontally between his
eyebrows, with a paste composed of ground sandal-wood, denotes that
he has purified himself externally and internally, by bathing and
prayers. To omit this, even by the most unavoidable chance to appear
in public without it, were to incur a grave public scandal; only
excepting the reason of mourning, when, by an expressive Oriental
figure, the absence of the caste-mark is accepted for the token of a
profound and absorbing sorrow, which takes no thought even for the
customary forms of decency. The disciple of Siva crossbars his
forehead with ashes of cow-dung or ashes of the dead; the sectary of
Vishnu adorns his with a sort of trident, composed of a central
perpendicular line in red, and two oblique lines, white or yellow.
But the true Brahmin knows no Siva or Vishnu, no sectarian
distinctions or preferences; Indra has set no seal upon his brow, nor
Krishna, nor Devendra. For, ignoring celestial personalities, it is
the Trimurti that he grandly adores,--Creation, Preservation,
Destruction triune,--one body with three heads; and the right line
alone, or _pottu_, the mystic circle, describes the sublime
simplicity of his soul's aspiration.

When Asirvadam was but seven years old, he was invested with the
triple cord, by a grotesque, and in most respects absurd, extravagant,
and expensive ceremony, called the _Upanayana_, or Introduction to
the Sciences, because none but Brahmins are freely admitted to their
mysteries. This triple cord consists of three thick strands of cotton,
each composed of several finer threads; these three strands,
representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, are not twisted together, but
hang separately, from the left shoulder to the right hip. The
preparation of so sacred a badge is entrusted to none but the purest
hands, and the process is attended with many imposing ceremonies.
Only Brahmins may gather the fresh cotton; only Brahmins may card
and spin and twist it; and its investiture is a matter of so great
cost, that the poorer brothers must have recourse to contributions
from the pious of their caste, to defray the exorbitant charges of
priests and masters of ceremonies.

It is a noticeable fact in the natural history of the always
insolent Asirvadam, that, unlike Shatriya, the warrior, Vaishya, the
cultivator, or Soodra, the laborer, he is not born into the full
enjoyment of his honors, but, on the contrary, is scarcely of more
consideration than a Pariah, until by the Upanayana he has been
admitted to his birthright. Yet, once decorated with the ennobling
badge of his order, our friend became from that moment something
superior, something exclusive, something supercilious, arrogant,
exacting,--Asirvadam, the high Brahmin,--a creature of wide strides
without awkwardness, towering airs without bombast, Sanscrit
quotations without pedantry, florid phraseology without hyperbole,
allegorical illustrations and proverbial points without
sententiousness, fanciful flights without affectation, and formal
strains of compliment without offensive adulation.

When Asirvadam meets Asirvadam in the way, compliments pass: each
touches his forehead with his right hand, and murmurs twice the
auspicious name of Rama. But the passing Vaishya or Soodra elevates
reverently his joined palms above his head, and, stepping out of his
slippers, salutes the descendant of the Seven Holy Penitents with
_namaskaram_, the pious obeisance. _Andam arya_! "Hail, exalted
Lord!" he cries; and the exalted lord, extending the pure lilies of
his hands lordliwise, as one who condescends to accept an humble
offering, mutters the mysterious benediction which only Gooroos and
high Brahmins may bestow,--_Asirvadam_!

The low-caste slave who may be admitted to the distinguished
presence of our friend, to implore indulgence, or to supplicate
pardon for an offence, must thrice touch the ground, or the honored
feet, with both his hands, which immediately he lays upon his
forehead; and there are occasions of peculiar humiliation which
require the profound prostration of the _sashtangam_, or abasement of
the eight members, wherein the suppliant extends himself face
downward on the earth, with palms joined above his head.

If Asirvadam--having concluded a visit in which he has deferentially
reminded me of the peculiar privilege I enjoy in being admitted to
social converse with so select a being--is about to withdraw the
light of his presence, he retires backward, with many humbly gracious
salaams. If, on the other hand, I have had the honor to be his
distinguished guest at his garden-house, and am in the act of taking
my leave, he patronizes me to the gate with elaborate obsequiousness,
that would be tedious, if it were not so graceful, so comfortable,
so gallantly vainglorious. He shows the way by following, and spares
me the indignity of seeing his back by never taking his eyes from
mine. He knows what is due to his accomplished friend, the Sahib,
who is learned in the four Yankee Vedas; as to what is due to
Asirvadam the Brahmin, no man knoweth the beginning or the end of

When Asirvadam crosses my threshold, he leaves his slippers at the
door. I am flattered by the act into a self-appreciative complacency,
until I discover that he thereby simply puts me on a level with his
cow. When he converses with me, he keeps respectful distance, and
gracefully averts from me the annoyance of his breath by holding his
hand before his mouth. I inwardly applaud his refined breeding,
forgetting that I am a Pariah of Pariahs, whose soul, if I have one,
the incense of his holy lungs might save alive,--forgetting that he
is one to whose very footprint the Soodra salaams, alighting from
his palanquin,--to whose shadow poor Chakili, the cobbler, abandons
the broad highway,--the feared of gods, hated of giants, mistrusted
of men, and adored of himself,--Asirvadam the Brahmin.

"They, the Brahmin Asirvadam, to him, Phaldasana, who is obedient,
who is true, who has every faithful quality, who knows how to serve
with cheerfulness, to submit in silence, who by the excellent
services he renders the Brahmins has become like unto the stone
Chintamani, the bringer of good, who by the number and variety and
acceptableness of his gifts shall attain, without further trials, to
the paradise of Indra: _Asirvadam_!

"The year Vikarj, the tenth of the month Phalguna: we are at Benares
in good health; bring us word of thine. It shall be thy privilege to
make sashtangam at the feet--which are the true lilies of Nilufar--
of us the Lord Brahmin, who are endowed with all the virtues and all
the sciences, who are great as Mount Meru, to whom belongs
illustrious knowledge of the four Vedas, the splendor of whose
beneficence is as the noon-flood of the sun, who are renowned
throughout the fourteen worlds, whom the fourteen worlds admire.

"Having received with both hands that which we have abased ourself
by writing to thee, and having kissed it and set it on thy head,
thou wilt read with profound attention and execute with grateful
alacrity the orders it contains, without swerving from the strict
letter of them, the breadth of a grain of sesamum. Having hastened
to us, as thou art blessed in being bidden, thou shalt wait in our
presence, keeping thy distance, thy hands joined, thy mouth closed,
thine eyes cast down,--thou who art as though thou wert not,--until
we shall vouchsafe to perceive thee. And when thou hast obtained our
leave, then, and not sooner, shalt thou make sashtangam at our
blessed feet, which are the pure flowers of Nilufar, and with many
lowly kisses shalt lay down before them thy unworthy offering,--ten
rupees, as thou knowest,--more, if thou art wise,--less, if thou

"This is all we have to say to thee. _Asirvadam_!"

In the epistolary style of Asirvadam the Brahmin we are at a loss
which to admire most,--the flowers or the force, the modesty or the

Among the cloistral cells of the women's quarter, which surround the
inner court of Asirvadam's domestic establishment, is a dark and
narrow chamber which is the domain of woman's rights. It is called
"the Room of Anger," because, when the wife of the bosom has been
tempted by inveigling box-wallahs with a love of a pink coortee, or
a pair of chased bangles, "such darlings, and so cheap," and has
conceived a longing for the same, her way is, without a word
beforehand, to go shut herself up in the Room of Anger, and pout and
sulk till she gets them; and seeing that the wife of the bosom is
also the pure concocter of the Brahminical curry and server of the
Brahminical rice, that she is the goddess of the sacred kitchen and
high-priestess of pots and pans, it is easy to see that her success
is certain. Poor little brown fool! that twelve feet square of
curious custom is all, of the world-wide realm of beauty and caprice,
that she can call her own.

When the enamored young Asirvadam brought to her father's gate the
lover's presents,--the ear-rings and the bangles, the veil and the
loongee, the attar and the betel and the sandal, the flowers and the
fruits,--the lizard that chirped the happy omen for her betrothal
lied. When she sat by his side at the wedding-feast, and partook of
his rice, prettily picking from the same leaf, ah! then she did not
eat,--she dreamed; but ever since that time, waiting for his leavings,
nor daring to approach the board till he has retired to his pipe,
she does not dream,--she feeds.

Around her neck a strange ornament of gold, having engraved upon it
the likeness of Lakshmee, is suspended by a consecrated string of
one hundred and eight threads of extreme fineness, dyed yellow with
saffron. This is the Tahli, the wife's badge,--"Asirvadam the Brahmin,
his chattel." They brought it to her on a silver salver garnished
with flowers, she sitting with her betrothed on a great cushion; and
ten Brahmins, holding around the happy pair a screen of silk,
invoked for them the favor of the three divine couples,--Brahma with
Sarawastee, Vishnu with Lakshmee, Siva with Paravatee. Then they
offered incense, to the Tahli, and a sacrifice of fire, and they
blessed it with many mantras, or holy texts; and as the bride turned
her to the east, and fixed her inmost thought on the "Great Mountain
of the North," Asirvadam the Brahmin clasped his collar on her neck,
never to be loosened till he, dying, shall leave her to be burned,
or spurned.

No man, when he meets Asirvadam the Brahmin, presumes to ask,
"How is the little brown fool today?" No man, when he visits him,
ventures to inquire if she is at home; it is not the etiquette.
Should the little brown fool, having a mind of her own, and being
resolved not to endure this any longer, suddenly make Asirvadam
ridiculous some day, the etiquette is to hush it up among their

As Raja, the warrior, sprang from the right arm of Brahma, and
Vaishya, the cultivator, from his belly, and Soodra, the laborer,
from his feet,--so Asirvadam the Brahmin was conceived in the head
and brought forth from the mouth of the Creator; and he is above the
others by so much as the head is above arms, belly, and feet; he is
wiser than the others, inasmuch as he has lain among the thoughts of
the god, has played with his inventions, and made excursions through
the universe with his speech. Therefore, if it be true, as some say,
that Asirvadam is an ant-hill of lies, he is also a snake's-nest of
wisdom, and a beehive of ingenuity. Let him be respected, for his
rights are plain.

It is his right to be taught the Vedas and the mantras, all the
tongues of India, and the sciences; to marry a child-wife, no matter
how old he may be,--or a score of wives, if he be a Kooleen Brahmin,
so that he may drive a lively business in the way of dowries; to
peruse the books of magic, and perform the awful sacrifice of the
Yajna; to receive presents without limit, levy taxes without law,
and beg with insolence.

It is his duty to study diligently; to conform rigorously to the
rules of his caste; to honor and obey his superiors without question
or hesitation; to insult his inferiors, for the magnifying of his
office; to get him a wife without loss of time, and a male child by
all means. During his religious minority he is expected to bathe and
sacrifice twice a day, to abstain from adorning his forehead or his
breast with sandal, to wear no flowers in his hair, to chew no betel,
to regard himself in no mirrors.

Under Hindoo law, which is his own law, Asirvadam the Brahmin pays no
taxes, tolls, or duties; corporal punishment can in no case be
inflicted upon him; if he is detected in defalcation or the taking
of bribes, partial restitution is the worst penalty that can befall
him. "For the belly," he says, "one will play many tricks." To smite
his cheek with your leathern glove, or to kick him with your shoe,
is an outrage at which the gods rave; to kill him would draw down a
monstrous calamity upon the world. If he break faith with you, it is
as nothing; if you fail him in the least promise, you take your
portion with Karta, the Fox, as the good Abbe Dubois relates,

"Karta, Karta!" screamed an Ape, one day, when he saw a fox feeding
on a rotten carcass, "thou must, in a former life, have committed
some dreadful crime, to be doomed to a new state in which thou
feedest on such garbage."

"Alas!" replied the Fox, "I am not punished more severely than I
deserve. I was once a man, and then I promised something to a Brahmin,
which I never gave him. That is the true cause of my being
regenerated in this shape. Some good works, which I did have, won for
me the indulgence of remembering what I was in my former state, and
the cause for which I have been degraded into this."

Asirvadam has choice of a hundred callings, as various in dignity
and profit as they are numerous. Under native rule he makes a good
cooly, because the officers of the revenue are forbidden to search a
Brahmin's baggage, or anything that he carries. He is an expeditious
messenger, for no man may stop him; and he can travel cheaply for
whom there is free entertainment on every road. "For the belly one
will play many tricks"; and Asirvadam, in financial straits, may
teach dancing to nautch-girls; or he may play the mountebank or the
conjurer, and with a stock of mantras and charms proceed to the
curing of murrain in cattle, pip in chickens, and short-windedness
in old women,--at the same time telling fortunes, calculating
nativities, finding lost treasure, advising as to journeys and
speculations, and crossing out crosses in love for any pretty dear
who will cross the poor Brahmin's palm with a rupee. He may engage
in commercial pursuits; and in that case, his bulling and bearing at
the opium-sales will put Wall Street to the blush. He may turn his
attention to the healing art; and allopathically, homoeopathically,
hydropathically, electropathically, or by any other path, run a muck
through many heathen hospitals. The field of politics is full of
charms for him, the church invites his taste and talents, and the
army tempts him with opportunities for intrigue; but whether in the
shape of Machiavelisms, miracles, or mutinies, he is forever making
mischief. Whether as messenger, dancing-master, conjurer,
fortune-teller, speculator, mountebank, politician, priest, or Sepoy,
he is ever the same Asirvadam the Brahmin,--sleekest of lackeys, most
servile of sycophants, expertest of tricksters, smoothest of
hypocrites, coolest of liars, most insolent of beggars, most
versatile of adventurers, most inventive of charlatans, most
restless of schemers, most insidious of jesuits, most treacherous of
confidants, falsest of friends, hardest of masters, most arrogant of
patrons, cruelest of tyrants, most patient of haters, most
insatiable of avengers, most gluttonous of ravishers, most infernal
of devils,--pleasantest of fellows.

Superlatively dainty as to his fopperies of orthodoxy, Asirvadam is
continually dying of Pariah roses in aromatic pains of caste. If in
his goings and comings one of the "lilies of Nilufar" should chance
to stumble upon a bit of bone or rag, a fragment of a dish, or a
leaf from which some one has eaten,--should his sacred raiment be
polluted by the touch of a dog or a Pariah,--he is ready to faint,
and only a bath can revive him. He may not touch his sandals with
his hand, nor repose in a strange seat, but is provided with a mat,
a carpet, or an antelope's skin, to serve him for a cushion in the
houses of his friends. With a kid glove you may put his
respectability in peril, and with your patent-leather pumps affright
his soul within him. To him a pocket-handkerchief is a sore offence,
and a tooth-pick monstrous. All the Vedas could not save the Giaour
who "chews"; nor burnt brandy, though the Seven Penitents distilled
it, purify the mouth that a tooth-brush has polluted. Beware how you
offer him a wafered letter; and when you present him with a copy of
your travels, let it be bound in cloth.

He has the Mantalini idiosyncrasy as to dem'd unpleasant bodies; and
when he hears that his mother is dead, he straight-way jumps into a
bath with his clothes on. Many mantras and much holy-water, together
with incense of sandal-wood, and other perfumery, regardless of
expense, can alone relieve his premises of the deadness of his wife.

For a Soodra even to look upon the earthen vessels wherein his rice
is boiled implies the necessity of a summary smash of the infected
crockery; and his kitchen is his holy of holies. When he eats, the
company keep silence; and when he is full, they return fervent
thanks to the gods who have conducted him safely through a
complexity of dangers;--a grain of rice, falling from his lips, might
have poisoned his dinner; a stain on his plantain-leaf might have
turned his cake to stone. His left hand, condemned to vulgar and
impolite offices, is not admitted to the honor of assisting at his
repasts to the right alone, consecrated by exemption from indecorous
duties, belongs the distinction of conducting his happy grub to the
heaven of his mouth. When he would quench his thirst, he disdains to
apply the earth-born beaker to his lips, but lets the water fall
into his solemn swallow from on high,--a pleasant feat to see, and
one which, like a whirling dervis, diverts you by its agility, while
it impresses you by its devotion.

It is easy to perceive, that, if our friend Asirvadam were not one
of the "Young Bengal" lights who do not fash themselves with trifles,
his orthodox sensibilities would be subjected to so many and gross
affronts from the indiscriminate contacts of a mixed community, that
he would shortly be compelled to take refuge in one of those
Arcadias of the triple cord, called _Agragramas_, where pure
Brahmins are met in all the exclusiveness of high caste, and where
the more a man rubs against his neighbor the more he is sanctified.
True, the Soodras have an irreverent saying, "An entire Brahmin at
the Agragrama, half a Brahmin when seen at a distance, and a Soodra
when out of sight"; but then the Soodras, as everybody knows, are
saucy, satirical rogues, and incorrigible jokers.

There was once a foolish Brahmin, to whom a rich and charitable
merchant presented two pieces of cloth, the finest that had ever
been seen in the Agragrama. He showed them to the other Brahmins,
who all congratulated him on so fortunate an acquisition; they told
him it was the reward of some deed that he had done in a previous
life. Before putting them on, he washed them, according to custom,
in order to purify them from the pollution of the weaver's touch,
and hung them up to dry, with the ends fastened to two branches of a
tree. Presently a dog, happening to pass that way, ran under them,
and the Brahmin could not decide whether the unclean beast was tall
enough to touch the cloth, or not. He questioned his children, who
were present; but they were not quite certain. How, then, was he to
settle the all-important point? Ingenious Brahmin! an idea struck him.
Getting down on all fours, so as to be of the same height as the dog,
he crawled under the precious cloths.

"Did I touch it?"

"No!" cried all the children; and his soul was filled with joy.

But the next moment the terrible conviction took possession of his
mind, that the dog had a turned-up tail; and that, if, in passing
under the cloths, he had elevated and wagged it, their defilement
must have been consummated. Ready-witted Brahmin! another idea. He
called the cleverest of his children, and bade it affix to his
breech-cloth a plantain-leaf, dog's-tail-wise, and waggishly. Then
resuming his all-fours-ness, he passed a second time under the cloth,
and conscientiously, and anxiously, wagged.

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