Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

guished name among these, of which Americans may well be proud. The Rev. James Beresford, author of the “ Miseries of Human Life," a work, in the opinion of the writer of this article, one of the most original in its conception of any that has appeared for the last half century, is a native of South Carolina, where his family were long settled, and possessed immense estates. Mr. Beresford went, while yet a boy, to England, where he has ever since resided; but his elder brother, Mr. Richard Beresford, who was a member from Carolina of the convention that framed the constitution of the United States, and was also distinguished in his native state as an accomplished scholar, remained in this country, and died but a few years back in Charleston. The Rev. James Beresford, in addition to the “Miseries of Human Life," published a trans

tion of Virgil in blank verse, which has been greatly admired for its fidelity, and beauty of language. The translation of the celebrated episode of Nysus and Euryalus, was particularly applauded by the reviews of the day, and was pronounced the best version that had ever appeared of that beautiful portion of the Eneid. The “ Miseries of Human Life” has, as every body knows, given rise to innumerable imitations ; but none of them have succeeded in rivalling the playful wit and admirable humour of their model. This multitude of copyists is, at least, a strong attestation to the originality of the work ; for there must ever be something strikingly peculiar, eit her in the thoughts or the manner of that author who has the good or bad fortune to attract them in any considerable number. I would suggest, that complete justice has never been done to that production, so unique in its conception, and so felicitous in its execution; and that, like many other works of American genius, it is yet to receive the full measure of its fame. Mr. Richard Beresford, brother of the preceding, put forth several publications in Charleston, some of which the writer of this

One was a small collection of poems, entitled Nuge Canore, which contains several pieces of merit. He also commenced a periodical work called “The Vigil," on the plan of the Spectator, but did not proceed beyond six or seven numbers. There is also in the Charleston Library, another work from his pen, entitled “ A Plea for Literature;" but I am not acquainted with its merits. This gentleman was not a little distinguished for his eccentricities, and united to considerable talents, a high sense of honour, bordering on the romantic, which along with a somewhat irritable temper, occasioned his being involved in several duels, and acquired him the character of a dangerous companion, though he was greatly respected,

has seen.

both in public and private, for his worth and acquirements. I have understood that the Rev. James Beresford has lately published a work that had long lain in MS. written by his father, but with its nature or merits I have not the fortune to be acquainted. It has been said that the father of these gentlemen was the person who introduced the rice culture into South Carolina. He planted it on the high lands, in which situations it was long cultivated, until a Col. Wilkinson of that state transferred it to the swamps, where it is now produced with such success. Such are the particulars which I have been enabled to collect of two writers, who, though of unequal merit, yet both deserve a place in our literary annals, and whose ancestor appears to have conferred an equal benefit upon our country, by having introduced into it one of the most valuable of our agricultural staples.

Lysis.

THE RETURN OF AUTUMN.

The smile of heaven again is shed

On those who till the teeming soil ;
The fear of sterile fields is fled,

And plenty cheers the home of toil.
Earth yields her annual gifts again,

And every grateful heart reveres
That earliest art whose equal reign

Recalls the pure primæval years.
Though nature, far in eastern climes,

Rich plains and blooming valleys shows,
Yet freedom's hand, in coming times,

Shall dress a fairer spot than those :
For well has time's dark record shown

That man, enslaved, and taught to bow
Before a tyrant's gorgeous throne,

Can never venerate the plough.
But here shall art with ploughmen talk,

And science wear the wheaten crown,
And here the undying genius walk

Of him who drew the lightning down :
And here shall nature's wealth o'erspread

The earth, as erst in nature's morn,
White flocks in fragrant pastures fed,

And grassy meads, and golden corn.

C.

LETTER FROM AN ARTIST IN ITALY.

[We insert with great pleasure, and with many thanks to the contributor, the following very interesting Letter from a Gentleman who has resided in Italy during the greater part of the last half-century.]

Florence, 8th April, 1825. My Dear Sir,

I HAVE to acknowledge the receipt of your kind favours of the 10th of July, and 10th of December of last year; the latter, along with the several accoinpanying papers, brought by Mr. Weir, a very amiable young man, who, from what little I have seen, promises, I think, to make a figure some day in the art. I thank you, particularly, for Mr. Verplanck's Discourse, which I read with much pleasure, and know of no amateur who could compose so sensible and elegant a one on the subject. Were there a number of such in every country, it would go a great way to promote and elevate the arts. I should have been glad to have had a catalogue of your exhibition, and hope you will favour me with one of some other, marking the works that possessed most merit. I oughtto have answered your letter of the 10th of July by the same vessel, but as she went to another port to load, there were but a few days for that purpose, and they were lost in waiting for a letter from Benvenuti, who wished to write to the Academy; but being so much taken up with his work for the Pitti palace, he put it off from day to day, until it was too late. Artists in general, you know, are but negligent correspondents. The diploma for Trentanove (not Thorwaldsen, as you say in your last,) was forwarded to him by a Genoese artist, a friend of his, who was then on his return to Rome. I am glad to hear that things have taken so favourable a turn for the academy, and that your collection of casts bas been so much increased, and hope the young students will profit by it, for it appears to me, that like the English, they get to painting too soon, before they are founded in drawing; and it is difficult to go back to it afterwards. The opposite extreme is run into in Italy, where they draw too much, and paint too little. But the greatest misfortune of all, in my opinion, is, that the practice of every young man putting bimself under some master is entirely abolished, in consequence of which, the

young student is in the same state with those in the infancy of the art, where every thing was to be discovered by the sagacity of the individual; and the best part of life is spent in discovering and acquiring the practical part of execution which a few lessons from a master of eminence, and seeing him paint, would soon overcome. Add to this, that the stu

dent had an opportunity of seeing the whole progress of a great work from the beginning to the end, and even of executing part of it under the direction of his master, who had, on his part, the advantage of shortening his labour by the assistance of his scholars. By this method, the student became a proficient in execution before the years of manhood, and when he afterwards became a master himself, and had to paint his own inventions, the practical part followed without difficulty or exertion. How different it is now, I believe every one will acknowledge, who has been left to his own direction in the art. For myself, I remember well how I was puzzled when I began to paint, and after going over a head two or three times, I was no farther advanced than at the beginning. I had no idea of glazing or finishing with light touches or scumbling, and went on embroiling myself more and more with my body-colour, and the farther I went on the more it was muddled and heavy.-Of late years, the Academy in Italy, sensible of this inconvenience, have appointed a professor of painting, who has an apartment in the Academy, and is to instruct the students in the practice of painting; but the consequence of this is, that all become the disciples of but one master, and consequently all paint in his manner, whereas in the good olden time every one chose a master according to his particular taste, and thus in every great city, a greater variety of manners was produced. Besides this, in former times the students were constantly with their masters as inmates in their houses, and were employed in assisting them in their works; but at present, all that is required, is, to look now and then at what they are doing, and giving them instructions in its progress, whilst he is carrying on his own work from beginning to end in his private study, without, perhaps, their ever seeing it till it is finished, depriving thus both himself and them of the mutual advantage which might be derived from a more intimate union.Academies are certainly of use in procaring the materials of study, (especially out of Italy;) but they have thisin convenience, that they foster the idea that a young man may acquire the art at no expense, whereas by prolonging his studies to two or three times as much as would be required under a good master, they in fact cost more than by paying a sum to learn it, and the best part of life is spent before the artist is in a way of procuring a livelihood. There is no example, I believe, of any ancient painter having acquired the art without a master.

I have to thank you for having procured me the acquaintance of Mr. Rogers, who, after staying here some time, went on to Rome, and as I have not seen him since, I suppose he took anVol. 1.

51

other route on his return. He is a gentlemanly well-informed young man.

The sum you mention of $40,000 for the equestrian statue of Washington (if colossal) appears too small, for here the casting merely would cost that sum.

Florence, 91h April, 1825. * * * As I have here the advantage of a spacious apartment, I mean to attempt something, on a scale, larger (at least as to composition) than any thing I have hitherto executed, and shall probably afterwards confine myself to small works, as I cannot expect, at my age, to be much longer able to go through the fatigue of longer ones. My exertions have of late been much interrupted by indisposition, which, though not serious, has retarded my progress considerably. As this climate is too severe during a great part of the year for my age and constitution, I mean to return to Rome in a year or two, where I shall have little occasion for those local conveniences. I enjoy bere, and which are there more difficult to be got, from the immense concourse of artists that renders good and commodious painting-rooms scarce and of comparatively high rents. Here the artists live much more secluded from each other, than at Rome, and seem actuated by a little mean jealousy, which prevents that sociability and communication of ideas serving to unbend the mind of an artist, whilst they improve it. Finding therefore so little of this kind of society, and mixed companies, where nothing interests me, rather a fatigue than relaxation, I live very retired, and amuse myself chiefly by painting during the day, and reading at night. 'We have, however, some British families, whom I visit occasionally. Having so little acquaintance with the artists, I know but little of their works. Benvenuti is decidedly the first for composition and drawing, but of late, he seems to have paid less attention to colouring than formerly, and having been for several years occupied on a work in fresco, in the Pitti palace, (containing the life of Hercules,) this mode of painting, though it is of great service in giving a facility and quickness of execution, is, I think, detrimental to colouring, as it is there less necessary, than in oil, though there are examples of some who have coloured equally well in fresco, as in oil, particularly Guercino and Pietro da Cortona, the first of whom I look upon as the greatest fresco painter, for effect and colour, that ever lived.-Benvenuti is paid 10,000 Florentine crowns for this work, which is something more than as many dollars.

« ZurückWeiter »