« AnteriorContinuar »
by the foul slaughter of the Cyclops
forgers of the thunderbolts, for which A LEGEND OF THE ANCIENTS.
thou art here a slave ; another such a
deed, and thou mayest taste my sting. GREAT was the lamentation and Ha! fair god! thou wouldst be a wailing throughout the palace of Ad. dainty morsel! ha! ha!" and the metus, king of Thessaly. On that foul monster impotently poised his day had the Fates ordered that the dart. queen, the young and beautiful Alces. But wrathful looked the eyes of tis, should die for her husband. Ad. Phoebus, and a gleam of the godhead metus had been doomed to death by came over him. the inexorable sisters; but at the in. “ Odious to mortals, and hated by stance of Apollo, who had been an the gods, dare not to threaten me inmate in the palace, had granted pass on, accursed one !" him another life, on the condition Death cowered at the awful voice ; that a willing victim should be found and when the god looked round, he to appease the infernal deities. beheld the priest of the dead gliding Throughout the kingdom not the noiselessly towards the inner chambers. lowest slave would undertake the The queen had commanded that dreary pilgrimage for his lord. The she should be brought into the light, aged parent of the king, though totter- and in a spacious chamber, gleaming ing to the grave, still clung to life ; with the sun's refulgence, lay the dybut his young and much-loved wife ing Alcestis. She was supported by claimed it as a boon.
her husband; two little children were Apollo stood against a marble pillar kneeling at her feet--they wept bein one of the halls of the palace, cause others wept-and around her close by the altar of Vesta. His were her weeping handmaids. countenance was bathed in sorrow, “O Sol !" she exclaimed ; “ thou and in his hand was an unstrung bów. light of day, let me again behold thee !
" Alas!” cried the god; "and is it And thou, green laughing earth-and thee, fair-haired daughter of Pelias, the fleet clouds—the palace roofson whom the blow has fallen? Did I and my bridal couch--the couch of avert the axe from the noble trunk my paternal Tolchos once more glad. that it should fall on the beautiful den my eyes ; for already do I see the branch? Weep, daughters of Thes- two-oared boat and Charon the dark saly, for the fairest among ye lies low! ferryman of the dead !" Prepare the lustral water and the The king bathed her brow, and his shorn hair, for never death had such tears fell fast upon her pale face. a victim! Ha! do I behold thee? “Dost thou love thy children, Monster! Art come so soon to claim Admetus ?”. thy prize?”
“ Dearer than light!" sighed the "What! wouldst thou a second time king. deprive me of my right ?” murmured "I have to beg a boon before I a hideous apparition. It was tall and die!". gaunt. Flesh it seemed to have none, “Name thy wish, and I will respect and the skin which encased its bones it as the command of the gods !" was dark and cadaverous. Long and “Admetus, when all others deserted grey was its scanty hair, and its voice thee, I alone was true. Thy aged seemed like a distant echo of sounds father, and thy mother feeble with past.
years, feared to end their lives with * " Would that I could, fell destroy- glory. But I, with the graces of er !” said the god; “but powerful as youth still fresh around me, have preI am, I cannot conquer Death. I envy served to the people their king, and thee not the aged—but the young.” to my children their father. For
“ Ha! ha!” cried Death; “ there this, I make of thee but one request. is my triumph-and beware, proud Say that, when I am gone, my babes immortal-beware again of the wrath shall have no second mother, and that of the mighty one-thy sire the om- in due time they shall be rulers in nipotent-once hast thou braved him these palaces."
" I swear it-by the right hand of “Twice have I conquered the children Jove !"
of Mars! What dares not the son of “ Take then the children from my Jove ?” and the hero looked around hands, and be to them father and him proudly. “I will bring back the mother both.” The king clasped the steeds ; yes, even if they breathe fire little children to his heart.
from their nostrils-I have said it !" “ My eyes grow dim—the dark. “But here comes Admetus, the browed Pluto gazes impatiently-Cha- king;” said the former speaker, obron's right arm is bare—he grasps serving the bereaved monarch advanhis oar-he beckons me—why do I cing slowly from the palace. delay? Farewell, my husband — my “Hail! great son of Jupiter, thou children-I come-ha! grim-visaged of the blood of Perseus," cried Admonster, thou art close upon me now, metus, the moment he beheld the new I see thee - I see thee poise thy comer. dart.” And uttering these broken “Hail to thee! Admetus, king of sentences at intervals, she sunk upon the Thessalians ;” replied the hero, the bosom of her husband, and with a “but what means this sad cutting of gentle sigh the good and beautiful thy hair-hast thou lost a child ? ' Alcestis died !
* They are both within," answered The news of the queen's death the king sorrowfully. quickly spread amongst the crowd. “If thy father-he hath numbered that thronged the court of the palace, many years." and lustral water was placed, and “He is well, O Hercules, and the shorn hair was strewn in the porch. mother that bore me; she who I . Whilst detached groups of the busy mourn is no relative to me by blood, crowd were whispering together, a but an orphan who hath been some stranger approached them. He was time in my palace. But enter and much taller than the tallest of men, refresh thyself, this is nought to thee." and his huge limbs. seemed to be of “I would thou hadst not been in bending steel, so hard were they, yet sorrow,” said the hero ; “let me seek so subtle. His hair was short and another roof." curling, and the expression of his “What! wouldst thou bring discountenance was stern, though not honour on my house?” exclaimed the gloomy. A huge lion-skin was wound king ; “never shall the gates of my around his loins and shoulders, and palace be closed upon an honoured in his hand he grasped a mighty friend-no, O Hercules; I have rooms club. He trod the earth majestically set apart for guests ; follow thou my in the consciousness of power.
officer-he will provide thee with "Good Thessalians, shall I find meats and wines, and all that can Admetus in his palace ?” enquired the cheer thee and support thy strength. stranger of one of the bystanders. I will perforın my rites; and when
“ The son of Pharos is in his pa. thou art refreshed we will converse, lace, o Hercules !” answered the for I have much to say." person addressed, with great reve. The mighty Hercules followed his rence. " But what brings thee to conductor into the palace. the land of the Thessalians?"
“And now, my friends, let us perform "I have made a vow to the Tiryn- our last sad duty to the remains of the thian Eurystheus to bring back with noblest and the best ;" said the king me the four-horsed chariot of the to those around him. “Let those Thracian Diomede.”
whom I govern mourn for her who is “ Ha! know you the labour you gone ; let them shear their hair and have undertaken? Know you that put on the black garment, and let they eat the flesh of men, and that pæans be sung to the implacable gods their mangers are soiled with blood!" below; and yoke together a four"I am doomed to labour!”
horsed chariot, and from the necks “But one man can put bit into their of the colts of the single-horsed chamouths-it is he who feeds them-he riots, cut the manes with a sword; is the son of Mars, the King of the and let there be neither sound of Autes Golden Thracian Buckler."
nor of lyres for twelve whole months.
O daughter of Pelias, for me dost carousing whilst they placed the beauthou inhabit the sunless dwelling, and tiful Alcestis in her tomb." He mused thou art worthy of all honour. Now awhile. “I will do it!" he at length raise the pæan to the infernal deities; exclaimed. “What dares not the son make known to Pluto, the black-baired of Jove?" and he seized his pondergod, and to the aged ferryman, who ous club, and poising it in the air, sits at his oar and rudder, that never swung it round and round until it has one before of such virtues crossed sounded like the rushing of a mighty the Acherontian lake in the two. wind. The slave fell upon his face oared boat."
for fear; and when he arose, the hero Before the sun went down, the sad had departed. procession moved on to the tomb.
In the evening Admetus was alone In the mean time he of the club in his palace, mourning his wife, and and lion-skin had taken the recom- sorrowful for the abrupt departure of mendation of his host to its fullest his honoured guest, when, behold ! extent. He had stretched his mighty the son of Jupiter entered, leading a limbs upon the soft couch, and be- veiled woman. His face was flushed, fore him were placed in quick success and triumph sat upon his brow. sion the luscious meats which as “King of Thessaly !” he exclaimed, quickly disappeared. The attendants, “I have been a victor, and have won though used to ample feasting, mar- this woman ; keep her here till I revelled much at the appetite of the turn with the Thracian horses, and guest. Forasmuch as he exceeded all have slain the tyrant!" men in strength and prowess, so did “O Hercules, do not ask me this," he in all things; and his silver goblet replied the king; “ I have sworn to was filled to the brim with the unmixed receive no woman within my walls." and sparkling juice of Chios, and was “Ha! and wilt thou not? but I drained often and filled again. He swear by the hand of Jove thou shalt." crowned the goblet with shoots of The brow of the king grew dark; myrtle, and bade the attendant bring but Hercules withdrew the veil which him garlands of flowers, and shouted concealed the face of the woman. such-like snatches of songs in praise “ Omnipotent! what do I behold ? of the vine :
My wife ! my Alcestis !” and the king
fell at her feet, thinking she was al“ Hail to the vine ! Great fount of joy :
ready immortal. She looked at him, Thou dost decoy
smiling, and her countenance beamed
like that of a goddess; but she spoke And in thine arms entwine The nimble-footed laughing Hours.
" Receive thy wife, Admetus,'' said With thee they glide along
the hero ; “ she is restored to thee. In mirth and song,
She is my captive; I won her from And dance on flowers !
Death! Yes,” he continued, “ I On flowers!
sought the monster at the tomb. He Hail to the vine !
was drinking the sacrificial wines be" But what ails thee, slave?-why fore he bore her to Hades. I sprung art thou sad?” asked the hero, seeing upon him, and we strove. He left his his attendant weeping.
prize, and fled shrinking away! But “ Mighty sir," answered he, “ we remember it is not lawful to hear have cause to be sad. The Thessalians her voice till the third day, when she have lost their queen!"
will be released from her obligations " What dost thou tell me?" ex- to the gods below. Farewell ! " claimed the mighty Hercules, starting “O noble son of the mighty Jupiter, to his feet. “ Alcestis dead?”. farewell,” exclaimed the king as the
The slave shrunk back, appalled at hero strode away; “ altars shall be his manner.
raised to thee, for thou hast conquered " I see it," he continued; "he Death and the Fates!" would not tell me, fearful I should leave his palace; and I have been
PORTRAIT PAINTING. ter. It is this that makes so many
worthy people break the commandPortRAITS ! portraits! portraits ! ment, and unthinkingly consign to nothing but portraits ! It is enough unpleasant regions a very noble art. to give a man a touch of misanthropy. It gets the better of their morality.
Some time ago it was discovered But the temperate blooded must by one of the wise men of Greece, excuse them. There is much to be and it has been exemplified in a va said in extenuation of such denuneiariety of ways since, that there were tions, especially if the weather be hot. many assertions made in this world We all know that patience is a virtue, not strictly founded in truth ; never- but there are limits; but really these theless, it may be pretty safely asse- constantly recurring “ Portraits of a verated and sworn to, that no decent Gentleman”-"another, and another, man walks through a modern exhibi- and another"-are rather unfavourtion of pictures without audibly or able to the exercise of the Christian quainaudibly execrating the art of copy- lities. What the deuce have the pubing the “human face divine," as lic to do with their mouths and noses? it has been, considering it in the Is not the inevitable sight of them in mass, somewhat courteously desig- every-day life, in the name of lonelinated. And, certes, he hath some ness, sufficient ? Certainly a man has reason. Yet is the art (despite of its a sort of right to exhibit the visage professors, and the public to back that nature has given him, be it what them) a very charming art-a right it may, before his fellow-creatures. noble art, when nobly and worthily He may walk up and down the streets used, redeeming as it does, grace and with it-he may carry it to the fabeauty from the grasp of time and shionable promenade-or take it to the mortality of the grave, and trans- the theatre, the concert-room, the mitting the lineaments of the good, tea-garden-in fact, submit it to pubthe great, and the gifted, to the anx- lic inspection at first hand as much as ious and enquiring gaze of unborn he pleases, and no great—no very generations. When we lay down the great harm done. But to sit coolly volume of a glorious poet, or study and deliberately down and call in the the works of a great artist, or read the assistance of art to obtrude a duplicate sayings and doings of heroes, sages, of it upon the world, is a different navigators, statesmen, and all who, by matter. It is not well done, it is deed or word, have raised themselves exceeding his natural privileges. The above the mediocrity of humanity- world is entitled to some considerathe dead level of common-place, we tion as well as his face. It is making naturally feel a portion of Lady Rosa. too much of a good (or indifferent) lind's curiosity-we wish to know thing. It is wrong; it is indecorous ; “ what manner of men they were'- it is indelicate : and should the man we wish to look upon the grand and happen to have any moral or physical expansive foreheads--the deep mys. obliquity about him-should he squint, terious eyes-the expressive mouths or have failed in business—it is both in fine, we want reverentially to gaze injudicious and unseemly-very. upon the exteriors of intellect. This They may say of portrait painting is laudable. It is but proper that the as they say of spirituous liquors, it is unborn world should know how Scott, not the use but the abuse thereof that and Byron, and Wordsworth looked, is pernicious; and certainly no art while moving in the flesh among the has been treated in so reprehensible a pismires of their day and generation. manner since, (as Burton says,) “ The But to have copies of all the ordinary enamoured daughter of Deburiades skulls, noses, eyes, and mouths of all the Sicyonian first introduced it to the Simpkinses, and Jenkinses of this notice, by taking the person of her “ work-day world,” unceremoniously lover, with charcoal, as the candle gave obtruded upon your notice, under the his shadow on the wall," up to the everlasting title of “Portrait of a present time, as this same art of porGentleman," is a very different mat. trait painting. Instead of being ap
propriated to emhalm beauty and pre- mark the resolute compression of his serve the externals of wit, wisdom, lip, and the fiery sparkle of his eye! genius, courage, and intelligence, half How fiercely intelligent he lookeththe Hobbses and Dobbses in creation in his own esteem! By his side have availed themselves of it to inflict hangs a fat, flabby face, enriched with upon the much-enduring public fac- " wreathed smiles” of the most dansimiles of their interesting physiog- gerous and insinuating character. One nomies. This is but an ill compliment gentleman affects a pensive thoughtto the memory of the fair Debüriades. fulness -- another, a commanding All the ill-usage principally proceeds frown! Some arch their eyebrows, from that sex who ought to have more and have their right hands deposited gallantry and good sense than wan in their left breast; others recline with tonly to bring the discovery of a lady their elbow resting on the book-covered into disrepute; for visit what exhibi. table, their fingers the while tapping tion of modern art you may, the their literary and scientific foreheads, numerical proportion of hirsute faces as much as to say, " what a world of over those of the more endurable sex, thought is here!” Again, a “gay is most grievous. Besides, the ladies young man” chooseth to be painted are in no case to be complained of. with a look of the most languid satiety, Almost anything in the semblance of or misanthropical indifference; while a woman, original or copied-is plea. some outrageous merchant's clerk, sant to the eye of man; and though who reads Byron, and hath an ill there may be some truth in honest digestion, is depicted with his hair John Webster's observation, when he thrown back from his “ pale” foresays
head, and his mouth screwed up to “ With what a compellid face a woman
that precise angle which denoteth that sits
he has imbibed While she is drawing! I have noted
That vital scorn of all, divers
As if the worst had fallen that could Either to feign smiles, or suck in their befall." lips
In short, instead of having their feaTo have a little mouth ; ruffle the
tures transcribed in a natural and uncheeks
assuming state of repose, the majority To have the dimple seen ; and so dis
of the gentlemen think proper to have order
some fleeting or transitory passion The face with affectation.”
fixed upon the canvass, thereby certi. Yet what are those trivial matters fying to the judicious observer the -the manoeuvring for a smile or a somewhat asinine qualities of the ori. dimple in that sex to whom affecta- ginals ; and it is not going too far to tion is at times so natural and easy as say, that there is more petty, paltry, to be almost becoming, to the horrible, repulsive affectation exhibited in the violent assumption of it by the he. portraits of any two dozen males, than creatures staring at you from the walls in those of all the women that were in every direction? You are in an ever painted. Truly, John Webster exhibition room. Well, just turn your might have spared his sneer. eye around, and note how uncommonly Portrait painting has one peculiar handsome, and noble, and graceful, virtue. It has a stronger claim upon and animated the gentlemen are all the AFFECTIONS than the noblest endeavouring to make themselves! branches of art; its dull, literal, matLook at the haughty sublimity of the ter-of-fact transcripts are more dear folded arms, and the easy propriety of to those with whom the fate of the the outstretched limbs! Observe the original are linked, than the brightest studied negligence of the attitude, and and loveliest beauties of ideal beauty. the “ admired disorder" of the adored Through its medium, friends and hair! Ah! incautious fair, turn, turn lovers gaze into each other's faces at away your gaze before it be too late! the uttermost ends of the earth. It Here stands an irresistible, spare young preserves to you unchanged by death man, with an infinity of whiskers: or decay, or the mutations of the