« AnteriorContinuar »
with that heavenly face of the other female, who is looking upon the poor boy with such indescribable feeling!
In making these remarks, we must be understood as speaking relatively. We are far from asserting that the picture is altogether devoid of expression. It affords abundant evidence that the author knew what ought to be done. Every one of the figures indicates the right intention, but in none of them is the deed as good as the will. The impression which they are designed to produce is true, as far as it goes, but it is weak at the moment of reception, and liable soon to be effaced. It is but just also to acknowledge, that although the colouring of West is usually defective, instances could be shown in some of his works of an excellence in that respect, which might be deemed worthy of Titian.
"Death on the Pale Horse," is esteemed the loftiest effort of West, and it must indeed be a noble production, in which he has surpassed himself, if what is said of it be true. In it, according to Cunningham, he has more than approached the masters and princes of the calling. The Battle of La Hogue, and the Death of Wolfe, are the best of his historic pieces, and esteemed the best of that kind of the English school, which, however, they might easily be, without possessing half their merit.
In estimating the rank of West, it should be recollected, that although he is not the first in his department of the art, that department is the first; and that to attain the distinction in it which he did, a rarer combination of qualities was requisite, than is demanded for superiority in an inferior branch. The vast number of his compositions, also, almost all of which are at least respectable, should be taken into consideration, manifesting as they do, a wonderful fertility of invention and rapidity of ex
ecution. One circumstance should be recorded to his lasting honour, that he never prostituted his pencil to a subject on which the most delicate mind could not dwell, which could have been a source of the smallest regret upon his bed of death,
When morning dawns, and the blest sun again
Then through our woodbines, wet with glittering dews,
Sips with inserted tube, the honeyed blooms,
BY G. M. WHARTON.
If there be one attribute of man, which, more than any other, establishes the supremacy of his nature, it is that of oratory. The pleasures of sight, however varied or enticing; all the illusions of the eye; even the enchanting strains of music; are feeble in their effects upon the imagination, compared to the soul-inspiring, spirit-stirring emanations of "eloquence divine." The first are but the impressions of the external world-the next, however imposing or delightful, convey no stamp of intellect; but the latter mark triumphantly the mind within. It is the better part of man-his spirit-gleaming through his clay, and attesting his claim to something higher than a material world. Eloquence is the mightiest engine with which man can act upon his fellow-its effects, whether for good or ill, have been attested from the fearful moment when the seductive tongue of the "arch-enemy" darkened the fortunes of our first parents; and the glorious results of its impassioned voice, when exerted in the cause of the violated rights of our race, stand prominent on the page of history. We have almost all felt, and some of us have beheld it, in the suppressed breath, the heaving chest, the lightning of the eye. The history of eloquence (we refer now to the theatre for its display), is a subject of the deepest interFrom the rude eloquence of the savage-man
speaking to man with the voice of pure and unaffected nature, and rich with her imagery-to the debates of popular assemblies among nations we have been accustomed to venerate as classical, and yet, in many respects, rude; upward to the contests of argument, wit, refinement, and passion, which have graced the deliberative assemblies of Britain and our own country-every step in the progress teems with instruction and interest. We behold in such a picture the advance of mind—the play and the strife of the intellect. It is a field eminently free for talent to put forth her strength-unaided by factitious importance-unimpeded by the cobwebs of fashon. Native genius at once assumes her propor rank she wields a weapon, against which no armour yields protection, and from which no subtlety can escape. If there be a spectacle in this world more imposing than another, it is the victory of talent in a contest with which physical power is entirely disconnected, and where the forces and the arms are wholly intellectual.
With some splendid exceptions of individual efforts, even national partiality must admit, that the British Parliament has been the body the most graced by oratorical display. For a long series of years, the halls of St. Stephen's have resounded with the voice of eloquence. It has been a great arena, where the wit, the sarcasm, and the feeling of the British nation have contended for superiority. It has been a mighty school, where the youthful talents for debate of her aspiring citizens have been developed and disciplined; where proud presumption has been humbled; and overweening arrogance taught a useful lesson: and where, in fine, hearty and unfeigned applause has ever been bestowed upon successful exertion. British oratory would seem to have attained the utmost height to which eloquence can reach : polished, nervous,