Page images
PDF
EPUB

ling, was in continual requisition among his friends for several years.

When he returned from a recent excursion to the same place, it was natural that a still greater demand should be made upon his kindness; and he foresaw much trouble in superintending its circulation. Nothing could be more obvious than the suggestion of giving it at once to the public. “In my embarrassment,” says he, “I recollected to have heard of an honest Quaker, who resided in the back settlements of America, and who, finding himself absolutely eaten up by transient passengers, set up the sign of the Dun Cow; after which, though he made no profit, he enjoyed the comforts of a quiet house. Upon this hint I have committed both my journals to the press. If any thing more than what accrued to the American accrues to me, 'Lucro apponam.'P. vii.

A work of this kind, putting forth no pretensions beyond those of a Diary actually kept for the traveller's own use, to point the accuracy of his observations, and record matters of information, or recall agreeable recollections, ought in fairness to be judged according to those professions. Is it a good journal-apparently the work of a sensible and accomplished man—such as no well educated man need be ashamed of, if it by accident were found in his repositories, and perused by a stranger-calculated to serve its primary purposes with respect to the author, and to render future travellers a reasonable share of assistance in their journeys and observations? This is the fit question to be put; and we are enabled confidently to answer it in the affirmative; with the addition, which is not required of such a work, that it contains everywhere the traces of a vigorous mind, at once shrewd and bold, and of feelings and principles equally candid and pure. Political dis. cussions, indeed, seem to be rather avoided than courted; nothing approaching to violence can be discerned; we might even say that the writer's impartiality is carried far enongh to make his political bias on the questions which incidentally come in his way a matter of uncertainty.

Mr. Shepherd's object, in first visiting the French capital, was wholly unconnected with party, or with political matters, except in so far as these must necessarily claim part of every man's observation. His principal object was the study of those wonderful monuments of ancient and modern genius which the conquests of France had enabled her to collect in one rich assemblage, such as never before existed within the same space. He was desirous of viewing the pictures and marbles, and of examining the manuscript treasures of the libraries, principally with a reference to the favourite study of his leisure hours—the revival of letters in Europe after the dark ages. Formerly it was necessary to elimb the Alps, and wander over whole provinces, in order to gratify this learned and dignified curiosity: The spoils of Italy are now brought together almost under the same roof, and there thrown open to the whole world. Justice may indeed complain ; nor is it easy to repress a regret, not wholly romantic or sentimental, that the French did not rest satisfied with opening the road to the mine, and thus enabling each curious one to explore for himself the treasures, perhaps more precious while fixed in their native soil, and surrounded as it were with the delightful associations of the spot But the prodigious gain, in point of ease and convenience, which has resulted from the pillage, not to the despoilers only, but to the transalpine world at large, cannot admit of a doubt, how little soever it may be received as an excuse for the deed. The question of restoration lately excited some attention. Granting, however, that such a wound could safely have been inflicted upon the national feelings of the French people, in circumstances eminently critical ; enormous, we may say inextricable, difficulties would have presented themselves in the detail of such a measure. Nor can any reasonable doubt remain, that a portion of the treasures would have been destroyed unavoidably in the removal, while a portion was wilfully spoiled by the conquered party; and, perhaps, a portion would have found its way to other places than those they had been taken from. Probably their remaining in Paris was a matter of necessity, as the only tolerably certain means of preserving them, independently of the political obstacles to that restoration which justice prescribed.

The correct taste everywhere exhibited in this journal, makes us regret that Mr. Shepherd treats so sparingly of the details of the galleries. In his first journey, he dismisses the pictures with a single sentence, and does not enter at all into the particulars of his examination. He seems, indeed, to have experienced, as we believe every visiter of the Louvre does, a sort of distraction in his first visit, which does not allow a minute inspection; and a satiety from the immensity of the banquet served up all at once, so as to prevent the enjoyment of any of the individual luxuries. All persons who have frequented those rich collections, either in Italy or France, feel the desire strongly grow upon them, of singling out a few prime specimens of art, and poring over them separated from the rest. Every one who has travelled must have felt how much more exquisitely he relished a visit to some place, where a single first-rate picture was to be seen-some church, or convent, or chateau, remarkable only for this solitary jewel, than a surfeiting morning spent in devouring the richer wonders of a collection; in every compartment of which might be found pieces of transcendent merit-possibly as fine as the single ornament of the obscure altar, the distant refectory, or the

comfortless and half-ruined chateau. We the rather ascribe our author's slight notice of the paintings, in his first tour, to some such feelings ; because, in his second, when from the novelty being past, he had leisure and self-command to pursue the plan of taking a few studies each time he visited the gallery, be enters somewhat more into detail. Still, however, we could have wished for a much fuller statement;-he might at least have told us what he felt-and his remarks on the masterpieces, if not those of an artist, or a professed connoisseur, would have borne the stamp of a vigorous, original mind, and a just taste. In his first visit, the statues seem to have struck him still more forcibly than the pictures.

“Here," says he, “when I found myself surrounded by the works of Phidias, Praxitiles, and Xeuxis—works which, for so many centuries before the Christian era, had excited the enthusiastic admiration of enlightened Greece, and which the bold spirit of the Romans durst not aspire to emulate I could hardly persuade myself of the reality of the scene which was exhibited to my view :-And when I gazed with minute attention on the Apollo, the Laocoon, the Mirmillo-moriens, and the other pieces of sculpture with which the engravings and casts that I had consulted in the course of my classical studies had made me familiar—I soon found that no copy was adequate to represent the spirit of the august originals. What a lesson does this collection give on the instability of human things! These breathing marbles were the splendid fruits of the victories gained by the armies of Rome over the degenerate Greeks. The Romans have degenerated in their turn; and the prize of valour has been wrested from their feeble hands, by the descendants of those Gauls whom they once compelled to submit to the yoke of slavery. Who can deem it an impossible supposition, that, in the course of revolving years, it may be transferred by the hand of victory from the Seine to the Neva-from Paris to Petersburgh.” P. 50, 51.

The concluding sentence contains a singular anticipation, though certainly an accidental one, of an event, which, twelve years afterwards, was undoubtedly very near taking place. Before quitting the galleries, it is fair to remark with what praiseworthy liberality they are made accessible to the world. They are open, without any fee or reward, to strangers every day from ten to four, and to the Parisians three days in the week; a distinction which, however necessary, would not, in this country, be very well relished, nor, indeed, very patiently submitted to.

With the curiosity respecting such subjects natural to all travellers, but peculiarly appropriate in an ecclesiastic, our author visits attentively the places of worship wherein he goes, and informs himself respecting the state of his clerical brethren-which is certainly far from brilliant, and their estimation among the people, which is, we are sorry to observe, somewhat in proportion to their worldly condition. In the following account of a Sunday, and the most awful solemnity of the Romish church, perhaps we are not at liberty to remark the difference between a protestant and catholic observer-between Mr. Eustace and the pastor of Gateacre : for a Sunday in Paris in 1802, and high mass in Bonaparte's principal church, will probably not be allowed to present the real picture of a catholic sabbath and sacrament. Nevertheless, we suspect that had Mr. Eustace been at Paris, his emotions would have clothed the scene with somewhat more imposing colours ; and of this we are pretty sure, that the reader will easily recognise, not merely the protestant, but the sturdy presbyterian, in some parts of our author's remarks. With these, it is unnecessary to observe, we are prepared to sympathize in an especial manner, in this land of the solemn league and covenant.

“ On Sunday morning the 27th, we went to hear high mass in the church at Notre-Dame. On our way to this venerable gothic edifice, we observed one half of the shops open, and the other half shut. If our observation was correct, it would of course ascertain the opi. nion of the burgeois of Paris on the reverence due to the sabbath. I was amused with a sort of compromise which some shop-keepers seemed to make between religion and avarice, by shutting their windows, and exposing their goods at their doors. On the whole, there was little of the outward and visible signs of Sunday. One distinguishing symptom was wanting—the ringing of bells. I presume these noisy annunciations of prayers and curses, joy and sorrow, wedding and death—were all melted into coin during the revolution. When we arrived at the church, the procession of the host was moving up one of the side aisles. Penetrating the crowd which was assembled in the nave, we proceeded to the choir, and ascended into a gallery, where we had a full view of the whole extent of the church. Our attention was attracted by the procession, preceded by a number of boys, dressed in white vestments, and bearing tapers. These were followed by eight or ten priests, who moved on in slow and solemn state, singing as they walked;-then appeared the distributers of incense, who dispensed it from silver urns, suspended from their waists by a silver chain. The elegance and grace with which they inanaged these sacred vases, well entitle them to the appellation of ele rical Vestrises. In the centre was the canopy which covered the host. This canopy was surrounded by ecclesiastics, and followed by pious votaries, who chanted the service as they went along. The chorus which they formed was rendered more solemn by the sound of an instrument like a bassoon ;~the voices of the priests were in tune with this instrument:—and the barmony which they produced had a very fine effect. The procession was flanked by a party of soldiers; who, I presume, attended for the purpose of protecting the ceremony

« PreviousContinue »