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THE HAPPINESS OF A COUNTRY LIFE.
This drawing was made as a frontispiece to the second book of the large edition of the Georgics, published by Didot. The subject is taken from Virgil's animated description of the pleasures of a country life, beginning,
О fortunatos nimium, sua si bona nôrint,
Agrícolas, quibus ipsa, procul discordibus armis,
Fundit humo facilem victum justissirna tellus!
Si non ingentem foribus doraus alta superbis
Manfe salutantum totis vomit asdibus undam
Nec varios inhiant pulchrâ testudine postes
Illusasque auro vestes, Ephyreïaque жга;
Alba necque Assyrio fucatur lana veneno,
Nec casiâ liquidi corrumpitur usus olivi;
At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita,
Dives opum variarum; at latis otia fundis,
Speluncae, vivique lacus; at frígida Tempe,
Mugitusque boûm, mollesque sub arbore somni
Non absunt; illic sal tu ь ас lustra ferarum,
Et patiens operum, exiguoque assueta juventus;
Sacra Deûm, sanctique patres: extrema per illos
Justifia excedens terris vestigia fecit. &c. V. 457.
From this celebrated passage, the artist has exhibited a domestic scene, replete with naïveté, and expression. The effect of the chiaro-scuro is admirable; all the figures
THE HAPPINESS OF A COUNTRY LIFE, are in demi tint; the little portion of light they receive,, from the rays of the setting sun, issues from the window. This pastoral subject, in the hands of an artist so able as Gerard, has produced a delightful picture.
HERCULES KILLING THE HYDRA.
The Hydra, a monstrous serpent, bom of Typhon and Echidna, ravaged the plains in the neighbourhood of Lerna, and devoured the flocks and cattle. It had seven heads, according to Apollodorus, fifty according to Simonides, and an hundred, according to Diodorus. As one was beaten to pieces, another immediately sprang up. Its venom was so subtile, that an arrow infected with it occasioned instant death. Hercules overcame the monster, steeped his arrows in his blood, in order to render his wounds mortal, which produced the most dreadful effect.
The fable of the Hydra is an allegory, under which the ancients have transmitted to us the commemoration of a real event. A number of serpents infested the marshes of Lerna, adjoining Argos: they appeared to generate as fast as they were destroyed. Hercules, assisted by his companions, cleared the country entirely of them, by setting fire to the rushes of the marshes, the ordinary retreat of these reptiles, and rendered the place habitable. Other historians relate, with a greater appearance of truth, that from these marshes flowed several streams that inundated the country; to remove which Hercules dug ditches, projected canals to drain off the water, and made the land fit for the purposes of agriculture.