One of the greatest pleasures that an author can have is to record the delight which he has derived from other authors; after a long career of intellectual enjoyment, to pay the due tribute of gratitude to those writers of an antecedent period who have laid the foundations of his taste, and stimulated him in that career which has made his happiness. This is always an act of love, an act of reverence and regard, which is full of its own peculiar pleasure. But how much is this pleasure augmented, when this tribute can he paid to the living; to one who preceded us, and yet is still amongst us; to the teacher of the past, to the patriarch of the present. Of the writers, and especially the poets, who charmed our young and inexperienced spirits, how few are those whose works will bear the test of time; how few to whom we can turn at a mature age, and find them all that we ever believed them to be! Mr. Rogers is one of this rare class. Amongst the very earliest literary pleasures which I can remember, was that of reading, and that time after time, his Pleasures of Memory: and the reading of this poem is now, after nearly half a century, not only one of my pleasures of memory, but on reperusal is equally fresh, equally true to nature, and equally attractive by the soundness and the beauty of its sentiments. Mr. Rogers stands amongst us, if not the very oldest living literary man, yet by far the oldest of our poets; and it is a welcome testimony to the good sense and feeling of the age, that he stands amongst us with all the affectionate respect and the honour which he has so well won. Mr. Rogers, I believe, has never met with that species of Mohawk criticism, that scalping and scarifying literary assault and battery, which so many of his cotemporaries have had to undergo. There was a gentleness and a calm suavity about his writings which disarmed the most eager assailant of merit. There was in him an absence of that militant and antagonistic spirit which provokes the like animus. There was felt only the purity of taste, the deep love of beauty in art and nature, the vivid yet tender sympathy with humanity which put every one dreadfully in the wrong who should attempt to strike down their possessor. The very first line of criticism applied to the writings of Mr. Rogers was in the Monthly Review, on his Ode to Superstition, with some other Poems, published by Cadell in 1786, and was this — "In these pieces we perceive the hand of a master."
The master thus discovered in the first essay of his power, has never ceased since to be acknowledged. In 1792, or six years afterwards, he published the Pleasures of Memory, which was received with universal and delighted acclamation. It took hold, at once, of the English heart; and became, and remains, and is likely to remain, one of the classic beauties of our national poetry. From that day to so late a period as 1830, Mr. Rogers at leisurely but tolerably regular intervals, has gone on adding to the riches of our hoards of taste and genius. In 1798, or in another six years, he published his Epistle with other Poems in 1812, or fourteen years afterwards, The Voyage of Columbus; two years after that, Jacqueline, i.e. in 1814; five years later, or in 1819, Human Life; and finally, in 1830, or when he was sixty-seven years of age, his Italy.
These works have steadily extended his fame; and amid the truest enjoyment of that fame, Mr. Rogere has lived a long, and honoured and singularly, for a poet, fortunate life. His wealth and position in society, not less than his wealth and position in the world of mind, have drawn around him all the distinguished characters of his time; and his house, filled from top to bottom with evidences of his taste and of his means of indulging it, has been the resort of most of those who have given its intellectual stamp to the age. Amid the great struggles and events of that period, the wars, the revolutions, and the social contests which have communicated their fiery elements to the spirit of genius, and produced works of a like extreme character, the mind of Rogers, calm and self-balanced, has pursued its course, apparently uninfluenced by all that moved around him. With human nature and human life in general he sympathized, but the love of the true and the beautiful in it has prevailed over the contagion of the vast and violent; he has dealt rather with the pure and touching incidents of existence than with the passionate and the tragic. Many, on this account, have been disposed to attribute to him a want of power and greatness, forgetting that the predominating character of his taste has inevitably decided the character of his subjects, and that to these subjects he has given all the power and beauty which they were capable of. Mr. Rogers is a great master in his own department. In him taste lives as strongly as genius. He is a poetic artist. The beautiful and the refined mingle themselves with the structure as inseparably as with the material of his compositions. He knows that there is greatness in the broad champaign, with its woods and towns, as well as in the huge and splendid mountain; in the lofty but pure and placid sky, as well as in the stormy ocean. It is not the creator only of the Laocoon in all his agonies, that is a great artist — the Apollo Belvedere, and the Venus de Medicis, and the Mourning Psyche, calm in most perfect repose, or depressed with grief, equally demonstrate the hand of a master. There is often the most consummate display of genius in the stillest statue. Poussin or Claude are not the less admirable because they do not affect the robust horrors of Rubens or the wildness of Salvator. In Rogers, the true, the pathetic, all those feelings, and sentiments, and associations that are dear to us as life itself, are evolved with a skill that is unrivalled; and the language is elaborated to a perfection that resembles the finish of a beautiful picture, or the music to inimitable words. If we need the excitement of impetuous emotions, we would turn to Byron; if the influence of calm, and soothing, and harmonizing ones, we would sit down to Rogers. Each is eminent in his own department, each will exercise the supremacy of his genius upon us.
In the Pleasures of Memory we are forcibly reminded of Goldsmith and the Deserted Village. We feel how deeply the genius of that exquisite writer had affected the mind of Rogers in his youth. There is a striking similarity of style, of imagery, and of subject. It is not a deserted village, but a deserted mansion which is described, and where we are led to sympathize with all that is picturesque in nature, and dear to the heart in domestic life.
Mark yon old mansion peering through the trees,
Whose hollow turret woos the whistling breeze.
That casement, arched with ivy's brownest shade,
First to these eyes the light of heaven conveyed.
The mouldering gateway shows the grass-grown court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport;
When nature pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew.
See, through the fractured pediment revealed,
Where moss inlays the rudely sculptured shield,
The martin's old hereditary nest—
Long may the ruin spare its hallowed guest!
As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
Oh haste, unfold the hospitable hall!
That hall, where once in antiquated state,
The chair of justice held the grave debate.
Now stained with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung,
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung;
When round yon ample board in due degree,
We sweetened every meal with social glee.
The heart's light laugh pursued the exciting jest;
And all was sunshine in each little breast.
'Twas here we traced the slipper by the sound,
And turned the blindfold hero round and round.
'Twas here, at eve, we formed our fairy ring;
And Fancy fluttered on her wildest wing.
Giants and genii chained each wondering ear;
And orphan sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wandered in the wood,
Or viewed the forest feats of Robin Hood.
Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,
With startling step we scaled the lonely tower,
O'er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murdered by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep.
Ye household Deities! whose guardian eye
Marked each pure thought we registered on high;
Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground,
And breathe the soul of inspiration round,
As o'er the dusky furniture I bend,
Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend.
The storied arras, source of fond delight,
With old acheivement charms the wildered sight;
And still with heraldry's red hues impressed,
On the dim window glows the pictured crest;
The screen unfolds its many-coloured chart;
The clock still points its mural to the heart—
That faithful monitor 'twas heaven to hear,
When soft it spoke a promised pleasure near;
And has its sober hand, its simple chime,
Forgot to trace the feathered feet of Time?
That massive beam with curious carvings wrought,
Whence the caged linnet soothed my pensive thought;
Those muskets cased with venerable rust,
Those once-loved forms still breathing through their dust,
Still from the frame in mould gigantic cast,
Starting to life — all whisper of the past!
This is so exquisite and old-English that it will continue to charm as long as there are hearts and memories. The whole of the first part of the poem is of the like tone and feature; the old garden, the old school and its porch, the gipsy group, the old beggar, the village church and churchyard—
On whose gray stone, that fronts the chancel door,
Worn smooth by tiny feet now seen no more,
Each eve we shot the marble through the ring,
When the heart danced, and life was in the spring.
As it advances, however, it takes a wider range, and gradually embraces higher topics and more extensive regions. History, and death, and eternity, all swell into its theme.
A new element of style also marks the progress of this poem. There are more animated invocations, and a greater pomp of versification. It looks as if the muse of Darwin had infused its more ambitious tone, without leading the poet away from his purely legitimate subjects. By whatever passing influences, or what processes of thought, this change was produced, there it is. This local, and this peculiar style of versification, soon caught the ear and fascinated the mind of Campbell when a very young man, and out of the Pleasures of Memory sprung the Pleasures of Hope. The direct imitation of both style, manner, subject, and cast of subject, by Campbell, is one of the most striking things in the language; the peculiarities of the style and phraseology only, as was natural by an enthusiastic youth, much exaggerated. In Campbell, that which in Rogers is somewhat sounding and high-toned, becomes with all its beauty turgid, and often bordering on bombast.
The very epithets are the same. "The wild bee's wing," — "the war-worn courser," and "pensive twilight in her dusky car," continually in the Pleasures of Hope remind you of the Pleasures of Memory.
Hark, the bee winds her small but mellow horn,
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn.
O'er thymy downs she bends her busy course,
And many a stream allures her to its source.
'Tis noon, 'tis night. That eye so finely wrought,
Beyond the reach of sense, the soar of thought,
Nor vainly asks the scenes she left behind:
Its orb so full, its vision so confined!
Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell?
Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell?
With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue
Of summer scents, that charmed her as she she flew?
Hail, Memory, hail! thy universal reign
Guards the least link of being's glorious chain.—
In the disciple the manner is reproduced, and yet modified as in these lines:—
Auspicious Hope! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe;
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour,
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bower;
There as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring!
What viewless forms th' Eolian organ play,
And sweep the furrowed lines of conscious thought away.
How the master and the scholar may be again recognized in the following passages!—
So, when the mild TUPIA dared explore
Arts yet untaught, and worlds unknown before;
And with the sons of science wooed the gale,
That rising, swelled their strange expanse of sail
So when he breathed his firm, yet fond adieu,
Borne from his leafy hut, his carved canoe,
And all his soul best loved, such tears he shed
While each soft scene of summer beauty fled.
Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast,
Long watched the streaming signal from the mast;
Till twilight's dewy tints deceived his eye,
And fairy forests fringed the evening sky. — Rogers.
And such thy strength-inspiring aid, that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore,—
In horrid climes where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'Twas his to mourn misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourged by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn and search again
The famished haunts of solitary men;
Whose race, unyielding as their native storm,
Know not a trace of nature but the form;
Yet at thy call the hardy tar pursued,
Pale, but intrepid, sad, but unsubdued;
Pierced the deep woods, and hailing from afar
The moon's pale planet, and the northern star;
Paused at each dreary cry unheard before,
Hyenas in the wild, and mermaids on the shore;
Till led by thee o'er many a cliff sublime,
He found a warmer world, a milder clime,
A home to rest, or shelter to defend,
Peace and repose, a Briton and a friend! — Campbell.
Into every form of expression the scholar follows his master: —
When Dioclesian's self-corrected mind
The imperial fasces of a world resigned,
Say, why we trace the labours of his spade
In calm Salona's philosophic shade?
Say, when contentious Charles renounced a throne,
To muse with monks unlettered and unknown,
What from his soul the parting tribute drew,
What claimed the sorrows of a last adieu? — Rogers.
And say, when summoned from the world and thee,
I lay my head beneath the willow tree,
Wilt thou, sweet mourner! at my stone appear,
And soothe my parting spirit lingering near? — Campbell.
But the likeness is found everywhere — in phrase, in imagery, in topics, and in tone. When, after a lapse of twenty-seven years, Mr. Rogers produced his poem of Human Life, what a change of manner, what a transformation of style had taken place in him! No longer the grandiloquent invocations were found; no longer the sounding style, no longer the easy recurrence of the cadence, pausing on the caesura and falling at the close of the line. Here the whole rhythm and construction were of a new school and a new generation. The style was more simple and more vigorous. The sentences marched on with a rare recurrence of the caesura, the cadence did not fall with the end of the line, but oftener far in the middle of it, and the verse abounded with triplets.
He reads thanksgiving in the eyes of all—
All met as at a holy festival!
—On the day destined for his funeral
Lo! there the friend, who, entering where he lay,
Breathed in his drowsy ear — "Away, away!
Take thou my cloak — Nay, start not, but obey!
Take it, and leave me."
What a total revolution is here! The old chime is gone, the old melody is exchanged for a new. All depends on entirely new principles, and seeks to give pleasure through an utterly fresh medium. But the poem itself is one of the most beautiful things in any language. It is human life from the cradle to the tomb, with all its pleasures, aspirations, trials, and triumphs. Everything which clings round the spirit of man as precious, everything which wins us onward, and sustains us in sorrow, and soothes us under the infliction of wrong, — the glory of public good, and the hallowed charm of domestic affection, is thrown into this poem, with the art of a master and the great soul of a sanctified experience. Never either were the varied scenes of English life more sweetly described. The wedding and the burial, the village wake and the field sports, the battle and the victory, all are blended inimitably into the great picture of existence, and at times the aged minstrel rises into a strain of power and animation, such as rebuke the doubters of those attributes in him.
Then is the age of admiration—
Then Gods walk the earth, or beings more than men;
Who breathe the soul of inspiration round,
Whose very shadows consecrate the ground!
Ah! then comes thronging many a wild desire,
And high imagining, and thought of fire!
Then from within, a voice exclaims — "Aspire!"
Phantoms, that upward point, before him pass,
As in the rave athwart the wizard's glass;
They, that on youth a grace, a lustre shed,
Of every age, the living and the dead!
Still this poem of Human Life is but the life of one section of our fellow-men — that of the gentry. It is curious, that it does not descend into the midst of the multitude, and give us any of those deep and sombre shades which abound so much in Crabbe. The reason is obvious. Crabbe had seen it and felt it. He had been born amongst it, and had himself to struggle. Rogers has gone on that easy path of life that is paved with gold, and "the huts where poor men lie," therefore, probably never for a moment protruded themselves through the charmed circle of his poetic inspiration. Happily for him his are fully the Pleasures of Memory. Yet it is not the less true, or less honourable, that in actual life, there is no man who has remembered the struggling more sympathetically, nor has held out so generous a hand to the aid of unfriended merit.
From the Voyage of Columbus the following extract will afford an example of the beautiful description and rich imaginative power which abound in that poem.
THE NEW WORLD.
Long on the deep the mists of morning lay,
Then rose, revealing, as they rolled away,
Half-circling hills, whose everlasting woods
Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods:
And say, — when all to holy transport given,
Embraced and wept as at the gate of Heaven,
When one and all of us, repentant, ran,
And on our faces, blessed the wondrous man,—
Say, was I thus deceived, or from the skies
Burst on my ear seraphic harmonies?
"Glory to God!" unnumbered voices sung,
"Glory to God!" the vales and mountains rung—
Voices that hailed Creation's primal morn,
And to the shepherds sung a Saviour born.
Slowly, bareheaded, through the surf we bore
The sacred cross, and kneeling, kissed the shore.
But what a scene was there? Nymphs of romance!
Youths graceful as the fawn, with eager glance
Spring from the glades, and down the alleys peep;
Some headlong rush, hounding front steep to steep,
And clap their hands, exclaiming as they run,
"Come and behold the children of the sun!"
When hark, a signal-shot! The voice it came
Over the sea, in darkness and in flame!
They saw, they heard; and up the highest hill,
As in a picture, all at once were still!
Creatures so fair, in garments strangely wrought,
From citadels, with Heaven's own thunder fraught,
Checked their light foot steps — statue-like they stood,
As worshipped forms, the Genii of the Wood!
At length the spell dissolves! the warrior's lance
Rings on the tortoise with wild dissonance!
And see, the regal plumes, the coach of state!
Still, where it moves, the wise in council wait!
See now borne forth the monstrous masks of gold,
And ebon chair of many a serpent fold;
These now exchanged for gifts that thrice surpass
The wondrous ring, and lamp, and horse of brass.
What long-drawn tube transports this gazer home,
Kindling with stars at noon the ethereal dome?
'Tis here and here circles of solid light
Charm with another self the cheated sight;
As man to man another self disclose,
And now with terror starts, with triumph glows!
Italy, Mr. Rogers's last published poem of any length, is a fine production, full of that glorious land, and abounding with the finest subjects for the painter and the sculptor; but we must not be tempted to speak further of it here.
The changes of Mr. Rogers's life, or of his abodes, have not been many. He was born at Newington-green, in 1763, and is, consequently, eighty-three years of age. Newington-green, his birth-place, has all the marks of an old locality. In this neighbourhood the Tudor princes used to live a good deal. Canonbury, between this green and Islington, was a favourite hunting seat of Elizabeth, and no doubt the woods and wastes extended all round this neighbourhood. There is Kingsland, now all built on, there is Henry VIII's walk, and Queen Elizabeth's walk, all in the vicinity; and this old quiet green seems to retain a feeling and an aspect of those times. It is built round with houses, evidently of a considerable age. There are trees and quietness about it still. In the centre of the south side is an old house standing back, which is said to have been inhabited by Henry VIII. At the end next to Stoke Newington stands an old Presbyterian chapel, at which the celebrated Dr. Price preached, and of which, afterwards, the husband of Mrs. Barbauld was the minister. Near this chapel De Foe was educated, and the house still remains. In this green lived, too, Mary Wolstoncroft, being engaged with another lady in keeping a school. Samuel Rogers was born in the stuccoed house at the south-west corner, which is much older than it seems. Adjoining it is a large old garden. Here his father, and his mother's father, lived before him. By the mother's side he was descended from the celebrated Philip Henry, the father of Matthew Henry, and was therefore of an old Nonconformist family. Mr. Rogers's grandfather was a gentleman, pursuing no profession, but his father engaged in banking. Mr. Rogers continued to reside in this house till after his father's death, and wrote and published here his Pleasures of Memory, which appeared a short time before his father's decease.
On quitting Newington-green, Mr. Rogers took chambers in the Temple, where he continued to reside five years, or till about 1800, when he removed to his present house; so that he has occupied his present abode the greater part of half a century. In this house, 22, St. James's-place, he has not only written every one of his chief poems, except the Pleasures of Memory, but he has been visited in it by a vast number of the most celebrated men of his time, amongst them Byron, Scott, Moore, Crabbe, Fox, Campbell, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, etc.
At an early period of his life he was anxious to purchase an estate in the country, not too far from London, where he could build a house after his own taste. He pitched on Fredley farm, in Norbury park, near Mickleham, in Surrey, which was to be disposed of. By some means it escaped him, and disappointed in his object, he seems to have given up the search for another situation, and contented himself with building his house on paper.
The result was the abode described in his Epistle to a Friend, published in 1798. His villa is placed in a rustic hamlet, has few apartments, but is not without its library and cold bath, and is furnished with prints after the best painters, and casts from the antique. The whole of this poem breathes the love of the country, of simplicity of life, and condemns the pomp and the follies of London fashionable life. Its accompaniments, its exterior and interior, are all of the same unostentatious character, — it is an abode that any man of taste might possess without any great wealth.
Still must my partial pencil love to dwell
On the home-prospects of my hermit-cell:
The mossy pales that skirt the orchard green
Here hid by shrub-wood, there by glimpses seen;
And the brown pathway that with careless flow
Sinks, and is lost among the trees below.
Still must it trace, the flattering tints forgive,—
Each fleeting charm that bids the landscape live.
Oft o'er the mead, at pleasing distance pass,
Browsing the hedge by fits, the panniered ass;
The idling shepherd-boy with rude delight,
Whistling his dog to mark the pebble's flight;
And, in her kerchief blue, the cottage maid,
With brimming pitcher from the shadowy glade.
Far to the south a mountain vale retires,
Rich in its groves, and glens, and village spires;
Its upland lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung,
Its wizard stream, nor nameless nor unsung.
And through the various year, the various day,
What scenes of glory burst and melt away!
His interior embellishment shall be my last extract:—
Here no state chambers in long line unfold,
Bright with broad mirrors, rough with fretted gold;
Yet modest ornament, with use combined,
Attracts the eye to exercise the mind.
Small change of scene, small space his home requires,
Who leads a life of satisfied desires.
What though no marble breathes, no canvas glows,
From every point a ray of genius flows!
Be mine to bless the more mechanic skill,
That stamps, renews, and multiplies at will;
And cheaply circulates through distant climes
The fairest relics of the purest times.
Here from the mould to conscious being start
Those finer forms, the miracles of art;
Here chosen gems, impressed on sulphur shine,
That slept for ages in the secret mine;
And here the faithful graver dares to trace
A Michael's grandeur and a Raphael's grace!
Thy gallery, Florence, gilds my humble walls,
And my low roof the Vatican recalls.
But Mr. Rogers had the power to procure the originals; and therefore the same taste put him in possession of them. He was destined to spend his life in London, and only premising that the front of his house overlooks the Green park, and possesses a gateway into it, I shall present the account of its interior or rather of its treasures of art, from the pen of the well-known Professor Waagen of Berlin, knowing from the poet himself that it is accurate.
"By the kindness of Mr. Solly, who continues to embrace every opportunity of doing me service, I have been introduced to Mr. Rogers the poet, a very distinguished and amiable man. He is one of the few happy mortals to whom it has been granted to be able to gratify, in a worthy manner, the most lively sensibility to everything noble and beautiful. He has accordingly found means, in the course of his long life, to impress this sentiment on everything about him. In his house you are everywhere surrounded and excited with the higher productions of art. In truth one knows not whether more to admire the diversity or the purity of his taste. Pictures of the most different schools, ancient and modern sculptures, Greek vases, alternately attract the eye, and are so arranged, with a judicious regard to their size, in proportion to the place assigned them, that every room is richly and picturesquely ornamented, without having the appearance of a magazine from being over-filled as we frequently find. Among all these objects none is insignificant; several cabinets and portfolios contain, besides the choicest collections of antique ornaments in gold that I have hitherto seen, valuable miniatures of the middle ages, fine drawings by the old masters, and the most agreeable prints of the greatest of the old engravers, Marcantonio, Durer, etc., in the finest impressions. The enjoyment of all these treasures was heightened to the owner by the confidential intercourse with the most eminent, now deceased, English artists, Flaxman and Stothard; both have left him a memorial of their friendship. In two little marble statues of Cupid and Psyche, and a mantel-piece, with a bas-relief representing a muse with a lyre and Mnemosyne by Flaxman, there is the same noble and graceful feeling which has so greatly attracted me from my childhood in his celebrated compositions after Homer and Aeschylus. The hair and draperies are treated with great, almost too picturesque softness. Among all the English painters, none, perhaps, has so much power of invention as Stothard. His versatile talent has successfully made essays in the domains of history, or fancy and poetry, of humour, and lastly, even in domestic scenes, in the style of Watteau. To this may be added much feeling for graceful movements, and cheerful, bright colouring. In his pictures, which adorn a chimney-piece, principal characters from Shakspeare's plays are represented with great spirit and humour; among them Falstaff makes a very distinguished and comical figure. There is also a merry company, in the style of Watteau; the least attractive is an allegorical representation of Peace returning to the earth, for the brilliant colouring approaching to Rubens cannot make up for the poorness of the heads and the weakness of the drawing.
"As there are among the pictures some of the best works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, fine specimens of the works of three of the most eminent British artists of an earlier date are here united.
"Besides portraits, properly so called, Sir Joshua Reynolds was the happiest in the representation of children, where he was able, in the main, to remain faithful to nature, and in general an indifferent but naive action or occupation alone was necessary. In such pictures, he admirably succeeded in representing the youthful bloom and artless manners of the fine English children. This it is which makes his celebrated strawberry girl, which is in this collection, so attractive. With her hands simply folded, a basket under her arm, she stands in her white frock, and looks full at the spectator, with her fine large eyes. The admirable impasto, the bright golden tone, clear as Rembrandt, and the dark landscape background, have a striking effect. Sir Joshua himself looked upon this as one of his best pictures. A sleeping girl is also uncommonly charming, the colouring very glowing; many cracks in the painting, both in the background and the drapery, show the uncertainty of the artist in the mechanical processes of the art. Another girl with a bird does not give me so much pleasure. The rather affected laugh is, in this instance, not stolen from nature, but from the not happy invention of the painter; in the glowing colour there is something specky and false. Puck, the merry elf in Shakspeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, called by the English Robin Goodfellow, represented as a child, with an arch look, sitting on a mushroom, and full of wantonness, stretching out arms and legs, is another much-admired work of Sir Joshua. But though this picture is painted with much warmth and clearness, the conception does not at all please me. I find it too childish, and not fantastic enough. In the background, Titania is seen with the ass-headed weaver. Psyche with the lamp, looking at Cupid, figures as large as life, is of the most brilliant effect, and, in the tender greenish half tints, also of great delicacy. In the regard for beautiful leading lines, there is an affinity to the rather exaggerated grace of Parmeggiano. In such pictures by Sir Joshua, the incorrect drawing always injures the effect. I was much interested at meeting with a landscape by this master. It is in the style of Rembrandt, and of very strong effect.
"Of older English painters there are here two pretty pictures by Gainsborough, one by Wilson; of the more recent, I found only one by the rare and spirited Bonington, of a Turk fallen asleep over his pipe, admirably executed in a deep harmonious chiaro-oscuro. Mr. Rogers's taste and knowledge of the art are too general for him not to feel the profound intellectual value of works of art in which the management of the materials was in some degree restricted. He has therefore not disdained to place in his collection the half figures of St. Paul and St. John, and fragments of a fresco painting from the Carmelite church at Florence, by Giotto; Salome dancing before Herod, and the beheading of St. John, by Fiesole; a coronation of the Virgin, by Lorenzo de Condi, the fellow-scholar and friend of Leonardo da Vinci, whose productions and personal character were so estimable. Next to these pictures is a Christ on the Mount of Olives, by Raphael, at the time when he had not abandoned the manner of Perugio. This little picture was once a part of the predella to the altar-piece which Raphael painted in the year 1505 for the nuns of St. Anthony, at Perugio. It came with the Orleans gallery to England, and was last in the possession of Lord Eldin, in Edinburgh. Unhappily it has been much injured by cleaning and repairing, but in many parts, particularly in the arms of the angel, there are defects in the drawing, such as we do not find in Raphael even at this period. So that, most probably, the composition alone should be ascribed to him, and the execution to one of the assistants, who painted the two saints belonging to the same predella now in Dulwich college.
"From the Orleans gallery, Mr. Rogers has Raphael's Madonna, well known by Flipart's engraving, with the eyes rather cast down, on whom the child standing by her fondly leans. The expression of joyousness in the child is very pleasing. The grey colour of the under-dress of the virgin, with red sleeves, forms an agreeable harmony with the blue mantle. To judge by the character and drawing, the composition may be of the early period of Raphael's residence at Rome. In other respects, this picture admits of no judgment, because many parts have become quite fiat by cleaning, and others are painted over. The landscape is in a blue-greenish tone, differing from Raphael's manner.
"Of the Roman school I will mention only one more. Christ bearing his cross, by Andrea Sacchi, a moderate-sized picture from the Orleans gallery, is one of the capital pictures of this master, in composition, depth of colouring, and harmony.
"The crown, however, of the whole collection, is Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene, by Titian. It was formerly in the possession of the family of Muselli at Verona, and afterwards adorned the Orleans gallery. In the clear, bright, golden tone of the flesh, the careful execution, the refined feeling, in the impassioned desire of the kneeling Magdalene to touch the Lord, and the calm, dignified refusal of the Saviour, we recognise the earlier time of this master. The beautiful landscape, with the reflection of the glowing horizon upon the blue sea, which is of great importance here, in proportion to the figures, proves how early Titian obtained extraordinary mastery in this point, and confirms that he was the first who carried this branch to a higher degree of perfection. This poetic picture is, on the whole, in very good preservation; the crimson drapery of the Magdalene is of unusual depth and fulness. The lower part of the legs of Christ have, however, suffered a little. The figures are about a third the size of life.
"The finished sketch for the celebrated picture, known by the name of La Gloria di Tiziano, which he afterwards, by the command of Philip II. king of Spain, painted for the church of the convent where the emperor Charles V. died, is also very remarkable. It is a rich, but not very pleasing composition. The idea of having the coffin of the emperor carried up to heaven, where God the Father and Son are enthroned, is certainly not a happy one. The painting is throughout excellent, and of a rich, deep tone in the flesh. Unfortunately it is not wanting in re-touches. The large picture is now in the Escurial.
"As the genuine pictures of Giorgione are so very rare, I will briefly mention a young knight, small, full-length, noble and powerful in face and figure; the head is masterly, treated in his glowing tone; the armour with great force and clearness in the chiaro-oscuro.
"The original sketch of Tintoretto, for his celebrated picture of St. Mark coming to the assistance of a martyr, is as spirited as it is full and deep in the tone.
"The rich man and Lazarus, by Giacomo Bassano, is, in execution and glow of colouring, approaching to Rembrandt, one of the best pictures of the master.
"There are some fine cabinet pictures of the school of Carracci: a Virgin and Child, worshipped by six saints, by Lodovico Carracci is one of his most pleasing pictures in imitation of Corregio. Among four pictures by Domenichino, two landscapes, with the punishment of Marsyas, and Tobit with the fish, are very attractive, from the poetry of the composition and the delicacy of the finish. Another likewise very fine one of Bird-catching, from the Borghese palace, has unfortunately turned quite dark. A Christ, by Guido, is broadly and spiritedly touched in his finest silver tone.
"There is an exquisite little gem by Claude Lorraine. In a soft evening light, a lonely shepherd, with his peaceful flocks, is playing the pipe. Of the master's earlier time; admirable in the impasto, careful and delicate, decided and soft, all in a warm golden tone. In the Liber Veritatis, marked No. 11. Few pictures inspire like this a feeling for the delicious stillness of a summer's evening.
"A landscape by Nicolas Poussin, rather large, of a very poetic composition and careful execution, inspires, on the other hand, in the brownish silver tone, the sensation of the freshness of morning. There is quite a reviving coolness in the dark water and under the trees of the foreground.
"Two smaller historical pictures by Poussin, of his earlier time, class among his careful and good works.
"Of the Flemish school there are a few, but very good, specimens.
"There is a highly interesting picture by Rubens. During his residence in Mantua, he was so pleased with the triumph of Julius Caesar, by Mantegna, that he made a fine copy of one of the nine pictures. His love for the fantastic and pompous led him to choose that with the elephants carrying the candelabra; but his ardent imagination, ever directed to the dramatic, could not be content with this. Instead of a harmless sheep, which in Mantegna is walking by the side of the foremost elephant, Rubens made a lion and a lioness, which growl angrily at the elephant. The latter, on his part, is not idle, but, looking furiously round, is on the point of striking the lion a blow with his trunk. The severe pattern which he had before him in Mantegna has moderated Rubens in his usually very full forms, so that they are more noble and slender than they generally are. The colouring, as in all his earlier pictures, is more subdued than in the later, and yet powerful. Rubens himself seems to have set much value on this study; for it was among the effects at his death. During the revolution, Mr. Champernowne brought it from the Balbi palace, at Genoa. It is 3 ft. high and 5 ft. 5 in. wide.
"The study for the celebrated picture, the Terrors of War, in the Pitti palace at Florence, and respecting which we have a letter in Rubens's own hand, is likewise well worth notice. Rubens painted this picture for the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Venus endeavours, in vain, to keep Mars, the insatiable warrior, as Homer calls him, from war; he hurries away to prepare indescribable destruction. This picture, 1 ft. 8 in. high and 2 ft. 6 1/2 in. wide, which I have seen in the exhibition of the British Institution, is, by the warmth and power of the colouring, and the spirited and careful execution, one of the most eminent of Rubens's small pictures of this period.
"Lastly, there is a Moonlight by him. The clear reflection of the moon in the water, its effect in the low distance, the contrast of the dark mass of trees in the foreground, are a proof of the deep feeling for striking incidents in nature, which was peculiar to Rubens. As in another picture the flakes of snow were represented, he has here marked the stars.
"I have now become acquainted with Rembrandt in a new department; he has painted in brown and white a rather obscure allegory on the deliverance of the United Provinces from the union of such great powers as Spain and Austria. It is a rich composition, with many horsemen. One of the most prominent figures is a lion chained at the foot of a rock, on which the tree of liberty is growing. Over the rock are the words, 'Solo Deo gloria.' The whole is executed with consummate skill, and the principal effect striking.
"His own portrait, at an advanced age, with very dark ground and shadows, and, for him, a cool tone of the lights, is to be classed, among the great number of them, with that in the Bridgewater Gallery; only it is treated in his broadest manner, which borders on looseness.
"A landscape, with a few trees upon a hill, in the foreground, with a horseman and a pedestrian in the background, a plain with a bright horizon, is clearer in the shadows than other landscapes by Rembrandt, and therefore, with the most powerful effect, the more harmonious.
"Among the drawings I must at least mention some of the finest.
"RAPHAEL. The celebrated Entombment, drawn with the utmost spirit with the pen. From the Crozat collection. Mr. Rogers gave £120 for it.
"ANDREA DEL SARTO. Some studies in black chalks, for his fresco paintings in the Chapel del Scalzo. That for the young man who carries the baggage in the visitation of the Virgin is remarkably animated.
"LUCAS VAN LEYDEN. A pen drawing, executed in the most perfect and masterly manner, for his celebrated and excessively rare engraving of the portrait of the Emperor Maximilian I. This wonderful drawing has hitherto been erroneously ascribed to Albert Durer.
"ALBERT DURER. A child weeping. In chalk, on coloured paper, brightened with white; almost unpleasantly true to reality.
"Among the admirable engravings, I mention only a single female figure, very delicately treated, which is so entirely pervaded with the spirit of Francisco Francia, that I do not hesitate to ascribe it to him. Francia, originally a goldsmith, is well known to have been peculiarly skilled in executing larger compositions in niello. How easily therefore might it have occurred to him, instead of working as hitherto in silver, to work with his graver in copper, especially as in his time the engraving on copper had been brought into more general use in Italy, by A. Mantegna and others; and Francia had such energy and diversity of talents, that in his mature age he successfully made himself master of the art of painting, which was so much more remote from his own original profession. Besides this, the fine delicate lines in which the engraving is executed, indicate an artist who had been previously accustomed to work for nielloplates, in which this manner is usually practised. The circumstance, too, that Marcantonio was educated in the workshop of Francia, is favourable to the presumption that he himself had practised engraving.
"Among the old miniatures, that which is framed and glazed and hung up, representing, in a landscape, a knight in golden armour, kneeling down, to whom God the Father, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim, appears in the air, while the damned are tormented by devils in the abyss, is by far the most important. As has been already observed by Passavant, it belongs to a series of forty miniatures, in the possession of Mr. George Brentano, at Frankfort-on-Maine, which were executed for Maitre Etienne Chevalier, treasurer of France under King Charles VII, and may probably have adorned his prayer-book. They are by the greatest French miniature painter of the fifteenth century, Johan Fouquet de Tours, painter to King Louis XI. In regard to the admirable spirited invention, which betrays a great master, as well as the finished execution, they rank uncommonly high.
"An antique bust of a youth, in Carrara marble, which in form and expression resembles the eldest son of Laocoon, is in a very noble style, uncommonly animated, and of admirable workmanship. In particular, the antique piece of the neck and the treatment of the hair are very delicate. The nose and ears are new; a small part of the chin, too, and the upper lip, are completed in a masterly manner in wax.
"A candelabrum in bronze, about ten inches high, is of the most beautiful kind. The lower part is formed by a sitting female figure holding a wreath. This fine and graceful design belongs to the period when art was in its perfection. This exquisite relic, which was purchased for Mr. Rogers, in Italy, by the able connoisseur Mr. Millingen, is unfortunately much damaged in the epidermis.
"Among the elegant articles of antique ornament in gold, the earrings and clasps, by which so many descriptions of the ancient poets are called to mind, there are likewise whole figures beat out in thin gold leaves. The principal article is a golden circlet, about two and a half inches in diameter, the workmanship of which is as rich and skilful as could be made in our times.
"Of the many Greek vases in terra cotta, there are five, some of them large, in the antique taste, with black figures on a yellow ground, which are of considerable importance. A flat dish, on the outer side of which five young men are rubbing themselves with the strigil, and five washing themselves, yellow on a black ground, is to be classed with vases of the first rank, for the gracefulness of the invention, and the beauty and elegance of the execution. In this collection, it is excelled only by a vase, rounded below, so that it must be placed in a peculiar stand. The combat of Achilles with Penthesilia is represented upon it, likewise in red figures. This composition, consisting of thirteen figures, is by far the most distinguished, not only of all representations of the subject, but in general of all representations of combats which I have hitherto seen on vases, in the beauty and variety of the attitudes, in masterly drawing, as well as in the spirit and delicacy of the execution. It is in the happy medium between the severe and the quite free style, so that in the faces there are some traces of the antique manner."
It remains only to add, that Mr. Rogers has embellished his works with the same exquisite taste as his house. They are splendid specimens of typography, and are rich in the most beautiful designs by Stothard and Turner, from the most celebrated burins of the day. I believe more than fifty thousand copies of them have been circulated.