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Miss SABRINA BARROW TO Miss Fanny FADE
Webb Hall on Average Crops.-A Vision.--Mrs. Elizabeth Carter.—Tattooing
among the Cherokeer.—Bhies past and present. - A Trip to Burlington-street in Medea's Car.-Readings.-King Lear and his Daughters. Mrs. Bartley.-Baroness Baulk in the Straw. Joanna Southcot.-Announcement of Visiters.-Blue Babel.—“Chaos come again."-Dame Carter dips into Ovid.--Dragons fly back to New York.–Finale from John Bunyan.
As I lately studied, in Eastbourn's back shop,
Now, Goneril, turn the old King out of doors."
King Lear now deposed, and the muffle torn down,
Then enter'd full thirty abjurers of man, Each borne in a bibbetty-bobbing sedan; Whose tongues from non-use were not suffer'd to rust, All subjects were touch'd upon-none were discussed. "You've seen the Laplanders.- Where's Mathews?-Poor Perry! “Scott wrote them: I know it: Who told you so? Terry.
A song: Mr. Broadhurst: hush: 'Silent O'Moyle,' “I'm told that they really dine on train oil.“ Have you sold out your Fives? No, I'm not in a hurry. “Me adsum qui feci : Lord Byron to Murray:"Lady Crimson, you've got something black on your cheek. “Camporesi and Ronzi de Begni don't speak! “What's o'clock ?-Hampton Court: Yes: we dined at the Toy. “I don't like the Pirate so well as Rob Roy. “Dear me! how excessively pretty! Red candles ! “Is Lillibullero Rossini's? No: Handel's. “I'll hold by the brass balustrades.-So will I. “Not going? Yes!-When? Glad to see you.-Good b'ye."
Amid this chaotic exhaustion of lungs,
The tides of half London then ran in one channel,
LETTERS FROM ENGLAND.
BY M. DE ST. FOIX.
London, Wednesday, Oct. 8th, 1817. I have just come from seeing St. Paul's Cathedral. I had been reading something about it last night, and this morning I by accident found myself on the bridge of Blackfriars, from which, as I have learned since, there is the best view of it that can be had any where; though even from that point it is seen to great disadvantage, as the whole of its lower order is concealed by the surrounding buildings. I have not, of late, been very apt to be surprised; but I was so, and with a very fine effect, by the first unexpected view of this most stupendous temple. I had passed half over the bridge before I saw the Cathedral, or knew that it was in sight; but turning on the left hand to look at the scenery on the banks of the Thames, it stood before me with a look of grandeur and beauty of which I had formed no previous idea. After having passed all the rest of the day in examining it from every point of view, I do not hesitate to tell you that, as a whole which can be taken in the eye at once, I think the Cathedral of the city of London must be the finest thing in the world ! Perhaps the finest that ever has been in the world. In saying this, I do not forget that the Parthenon once existed, and that St. Peter's still does exist.
Though I would not venture to decide, even for myself, without seeing St. Peter's, yet I am disposed to rank the Cathedral of London before it; for it is quite possible to carry mere size too far--and I think this must have been done in St. Peter's. It must be too large for all its parts to conduce to one general effect.
With respect to the Parthenon, I should think that for beauty-pure, chaste, affecting beauty--arising from the entire symmetry, consistency, and simplicity of all its parts, and the marvellous skill and character of its sculptural ornaments, that temple must have been the most perfect work that was ever produced by the hands of man. But that beauty was to be attributed chiefly to its comparative smallness; which justified the architect in bestowing so much labour on the details, because it enabled the spectator to appreciate them ;-and also to the simplicity of its form, which from any one point of view produced all its effects immediately and at once. But then the inferior size of the Parthenon, and the extreme simplicity of its form, prevented it from producing those elevated and elevating feelings, which are the grandest achievements of works of art; and which are (at least in architecture) the results of vastness of size, and variety and consistency of parts so combined as to produce unity of effect.
The praisers of the Parthenon overlay it with all kinds of incongruous epithets. They call it sublime, and beautiful, and awful, and I know not what besides,-as if it were possible for all these attributes to belong to any one thing at one and the same time! The truth is, the Parthenon was beautiful-beautiful even to absolute perfection-but nothing else. Or if it might be said to have a character of majesty, it was that majesty which accompanies perfect beauty-precisely the majesty of a beautiful human face. I will venture to compare the Parthenon to the Venus, and St. Paul's to the Apollo. If I am entitled to judge of the Parthenon merely from an acquaintance with its archi. tectural parts through the medium of descriptions and engravings, and from seeing the fragments which exist of its sculptural ornaments, I should think the effect produced by it as a whole must have been precisely of the same character with that produced by the Venus : a feeling in which art, as art, has no connexion whatever. In that work, art has reached that consummate point of perfection—that acmè, at which it ceases to be art, and becomes nature. We do not admire the Venus. We do not think of it as of a work of art, any more than we think of a beautiful human form as a work of art. It stands before us in all the shrinking loveliness of a living woman-in all the breathing beauty of a glorious human creature. We love it with the real affections that belong to flesh and blood; because it never carries us beyond ourselves—because we perpetually feel a kindred with it. The Venus is one among the examples which prove that Nature triumphs every where: even in the very centre of the domains of Art itself. The Parthenon is another of these examples. What I mean by saying that in these two works Nature has triumphed in the midst of Art, is, that the real admirers of them would never for an instant cease gazing at their beauty, in order to exclaim on the wondrous skill which produced them.
I am wandering as usual; but you know how apt one fine thing is to lead me among the images of a host of others. Five minutes ago I was in modern London; and now I have been luxuriating in ancient Athens, till I hardly know my way back again.
St. Paul's, I repeat, is perhaps a finer work, with reference itself, than the Parthenon was. The effects resulting from the contemplation of the modern building, are certainly less difficult to produce than those from the ancient one; but, when produced, they are more valuable. I should think the Parthenon was looked at with one single feeling of intense but tranquil pleasure-a full, total, unmixed delight. St. Paul's calls up feelings of a more elevated, a more impressives and a more lasting character. Those feelings vary from time to time as you continue looking, till at last they resolve themselves into a lofty, but indefinite admiration; which lifts you above yourself and the earth, and the things of it; and inspires you with a moral assurance of the possibility of something infinitely greater, better, and happier. It is with reference to its power of suggesting such feelings as these, that I
have ventured to compare St. Paul's to the Apollo. But let it not be forgotten that in standing before St. Paul's and the Apollo, we never forget that they are works of art; in gazing on the Parthenon and the Venus we never remember it: and this alone, with reference to the skill of the artists who produced them, places the latter in a higher class of art than that of the former.
You see I cannot help sometimes speaking and thinking of the Parthenon as if it still existed. In fact it has so long been the favourite image of my contemplation among works of art, and I have taken such pains, or rather pleasure, in making myself acquainted with all its parts, separately and together,—that I can now, without any difficulty, call it up before me, as it stood before Pericles twenty-three centuries ago, in all its matchless beauty.
I cannot help being amused at fancying what the Londoners would say to my praises of their Cathedral. I am sure they would think them quite extravagant, if they did not say so. They do not seem to have an idea even of its comparative size. I dare say not ten among the tens of thousands who pass by it every day, have ever looked at it at all;—and those who have, seem to want either taste to perceive its beauties, or enthusiasm to admire them. They go to Paris and stare at every thing in stupid wonder, and then come back and pass by their own magnificent Cathedral, without seeming to know it stands there; though Paris contains nothing of the same kind that can approach to a comparison with it. There is, to be sure, one excuse for this: St. Paul's is so hideously clogged up on all sides with houses, that it may be passed without being observed, if it is not looked for. It would certainly be worth while to establish a despotic monarchy in this country for one twelvemonth, if one could be sure the holder of it, would have taste enough to employ part of the time in battering down all the buildings that stand within a few hundred yards of St. Paul's, on every side. I cannot think of any mischief he would be able to do in the rest of the time for which this would not compensate. Adieu.
London, Oct. 8, 1817. You'll say it was not without reason that I warned you not to pay too much attention to my first impressions. Indeed, first impressions are valuable only when they are duly appreciated as such. I told you that I hated London: and afterwards, that the more I saw of it, the more I hated it:—but no:v that I have seen still more of it, I begin to think it a very fine place indeed. I believe, after all, the only way to judge, or to communicate our judgment properly, on any subject, is to put down our impressions about it exactly in the order and degree in which they occur, and then to balance and decide on those impressions :-not to suffer the various and contending feelings that we experience on almost every subject to arrange and amalgamate themselves (as they inevitably will do, if left to themselves,) into a crude and shapeless mass, which can never afterwards be separated, or applied to any good purpose, either for ourselves or others.
I have now seen enough of London to be able to give you my impressions about it as a whole; but I find that, from the necessarily indistinct nature of those impressions, I can only give them to you Vo L. III. No. 17.-1822.