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such as recalled the past,—the deep emotions of youth and yet unslaked curiosity, which I once experienced (alas! sixteen mortal years ago) most intensely on this very spot.
After gazing upon those pictures and the cathedral for a long time after every body, but a few straggling votaries of saints about their images, or penitents in the confessionals, had left it a vast solitude, I betook me to another object of profound interest to me, not only because it is so grand in itself, but also because it has been before my eyes and in my ears from my earliest childhood, and, with occasional absences, as of late, continually since,--the sea and its tributary waters. Long and rapturously did I saunter about, in deep musing, upon the noble quays looking towards that vast opening, through which the Scheldt bears his here mighty flood to the ocean in which it is to be mingled with that of our still mightier streams, and dreaming that I could feel the influence of the soft pure air that breathes from the face of the great deep, and hear the mysterious voice that has always spoken to my heart from its ever restless and unfathomable waters, and seems now to speak of my home.
At five o'clock, the hour of the Salut, I returned to the cathedral to hear the music of that sweet office, and nurse within my bosom the deep religious poetry that had possessed it for some hours. It was at that service that, in the month of August, in the year 1919, then just turned of twenty-two, I for the first time experienced the sublime and touching character of the Catholic ritual. Never have I forgotten the impression made upon me by the strains I then listened to,-strains of a melody as soft and celestial as the light of the evening, with which they seemed to me to be mingling, to express the gratitude and the love of universal nature for its great Protector, at that most touching moment of transition from the serenity of the bright departing day to the repose and the stillness of the approaching night, in which man was to abandon himself once more, in weariness and helplessness and darkness, to the merciful care of heaven. After the Salut I returned to my hotel, where I dined alone, and received, in the evening, a visit from my most respected countryman, our consul, Mr. Patterson of New-York.
On Monday, the 4th May, I visited, after breakfast, the celebrated ship-dock, as well as the fortification thrown up at its mouth, to defend it against an enemy's fleet. This latter completely commands the approach to the town up the Scheldt, and is a most formidable battery. This dock, although I had been so often at Antwerp, I had never visited before. It is an imperial work. Near it stands an immense building, on whose façade is the inscription, "Domus Hansæ Teutonicæ, 15 or 16" After this stroll, I called on Mr. Patterson, and, having appointed 3 o'clock for a visit to Wapper's great unfinished historical
piece,--the tearing up the Prince Frederick of Orange's proclamation in the Grande Place at Brussels, on the second of the four days of Sept., 1930,-I returned to my lodgings to repose a little. At the hour appointed we call at Mr. Wapper's house, and get a card of admittance to his atelier in the Temple. This curious old building is the home and fortress of the Knights Templars in this venerable city, and is built in the style of those times, with towers at the corners, etc. By a steep, narrow, winding stone stair-case, without any thing to hold on by to help the ascent, we mounted up in darkness to Wapper's apartment, where we saw three éléves studying and copying, and two pictures, one already exhibited at Brussels (the Burgomaster of Leyden refusing the supplications of the starving people, that he should give up the town), and the new piece. It is (this latter) very far from being finished, and I am not connoisseur enough to predict what will be its effect when completed. The subject seems to me well chosen for a great national painting, to be hung up in the Palais de la Nation, and well treated. The wife, the father, the sister, bending over a wounded youth, brought in from the combat, and exposed to the view of his infuriated fellow-citizens, made still more furious by the sight of their young and bleeding martyr,—the tumult of the press about this group,—the crowd above it, tearing to pieces the last mandate of their late masters, and scattering it in fiery derision and defiance to the winds,- here are certainly materials for a great work. I shall be curious to see it finished. The wife is a true Bruxelloise,--with fair hair and soft features, stamped with the deepest grief; the father's tears are scarcely suppressed while he appeals to his countrymen for vengeance; but the sister is still marvellously indifferent, in my opinion, and if she is intended to represent a silent, statue-like sorrow, great changes will have to be made in her face.
I dined with Mr. Patterson and spent the evening with him, and find myself better than I have been for eighteen months past; a divine sensation, which none that have not suffered long under ill health know how to appreciate, and, still less, to be thankful for.
Tuesday, 5th May. This is a great day at Brussels, and for all Belgium, especially Antwerp,--the rail-road, intended to connect the Scheldt with the Rhine, and now finished from Malines to Brussels, is to be opened with great solemnity. Many people are gone and going hence to assist at the spectacle.
After a walk upon the Boulevard for exercise, to help my health, which I find every moment better and better, I call at Mr. Patterson's to go with him to the Museum, which contains a splendid collection of Rubens', Vandykes, etc., etc. There are
three, among the former, that are quite remarkable even among master-pieces--the "Breaking of the Legs," the "Adoration of the Magi," and the original, in miniature, from which the great artist painted the "Descent of the Cross", in the cathedral. This last is the most delicious piece (of colouring, especially) I ever saw. If an angel had laid on the colours, or drawn the shapes, they could not liave been brighter or more exquisite. Two of the Marys at the foot of the cross, with their golden locks and soft, silken drapery, are perfectly celestial. The picture, though in other respects an exact copy of the great painting in the cathedral, seems to ine, if possible, superior to it. I have no idea that the art can go beyond this vision of beauty in delicacy or vividness of tints. I gazed at it again, as I had done formerly, with devouring eyes, and regretted that I was ever to leave it. I remember I thought, when I first saw it, that, if any thing could tempt me to commit theft, it would be this little gem. The breaking of the legs of the thieves crucified with the Saviour is of frightful power. One of them, in his terror at the approaching blow, has torn one of his feet loose from the nail with which it had been fastened to the cross, and the contortions of his body in its agony, as well as the hyena grin upon his face, while the blood is trickling from his perforated instep, make you almost imagine the wretch howling in anguish and despair before your eyes. The Adoration of the Magi seems to me a less remarkable, tho' very fine painting. But Vandyke,not the peerless portrait painter, though there are here several works of his in that kind that cannot be too highly praisedbut the rival of Rubens in historical painting,—what shall I say of his two lovely “Christs upon the Cross”, which adorn this Museum. One of them is in miniature. The other is all that it should be, -except the cursed little Cupid at the foot of the cross, so utterly out of place. But the Redeemer himself, as he sleeps in deep, majestic repose upon that instrument of ignominious punishment, henceforth the symbol of universal triumph and immortal hopes,-one feels that it is the crucifixion of a God! Then the mater dolorosa, pale, fainting, almost dead with grief, as she supports herself upon the fatal tree, and embraces His feet. Yet, how gentle a form of womanhood in its devotedness,--how graceful and beautiful in her world-forgetting wo. The outstretched arms of the only other person in the piece,--the noble air and attitude as of prophetic inspiration addressing its prayers, not unmixed with imprecations, to the omnipotent sufferer. Then the heavens veiled in darkness and the troubled sky. I felt, more than ever, that Vandyke is the Sophocles of painters, and bears the same relation to Rabens as that pure Attic artist to the gigantic, though rude, author of the Prometheus and the Againemnon.
I say nothing of the numerous other paintings that adorn the walls of this interesting Museum,--except to remark, that a Titian,-a genuine Titian which it contains,-certainly shows to disadvantage, in point of colouring, by the side of the Rubens' I have mentioned.
Wednesday, 6th May. It being rainy, uncomfortable weather, I do not go out to-day, but amuse myself with writing these hasty notes to send to my mother and sister. Continue well. Dine with Mr. P.
Thursday, 7th May. After reading an hour in bed, (my German grammar,) I rise at a quarter before 8. Then my toilette, shaving, etc., consumes, as usual, another hour. At 9, I go out to take a walk. Enter the cathedral in passing, --no service in the Chœur, and only some side-bar devotions to some one of the Catholic saints. Return to my lodgings at 10, and breakfast. Amuse myself with reading Tombleson's Rhine Ufer,-a topographical and historical account of all that interests a traveller on the storied Rhine. As I propose going immediately hence to Cologne and Bonn, I find in this book at once an incentive and a preparation.
Friday, Sth May. Visit once more the church of St. James. Another "Christ upon the Cross" by Vandyke-in miniature. A beautiful picture : in very much the same style as the two already mentioned. Mr. Patterson pronounces it the best of all the works of his favorite artist; but, like Rubens', Vandyke's master-pieces are all best.
This church is wonderfully rich in fine marbles, curiously and richly carved wooden images, etc., statues, (one of the Flagellation particularly remarkable)-in short, I do not believe there is any thing at all, on this side the Alps, to be compared with it in this respect. The eye of the visiter is dazzled and perplexed by the variety and richness of the innumerable works of art, which give so much gorgeousness to the whole interior of the building. I did not see, this time, because I had often seen before, the famous picture over the tomb of Rubens, behind the high altar, in which he is represented in the midst of his three wives, with his child, etc.
Walk, in the evening, two hours on the wharf.
Saturday, 9th May. Do nothing, to-day, but walk about the ramparts and read newspapers. See that Mr. Livingston has embarked, on board the Constitution, for the United States. Dine, for the last time during this visit, at Mr. Patterson's.
Sunday, 10th May. Go out, at S, to the cathedral. Look at the Descent and the Elevation. No service going on. Proceed to the wharves, where I walk about half an hour, and return to the cathedral. This time see the church full, and take my stand under the organ, and immediately as you enter the church by the principal door, so that I have a view of the picture of the “Assumption over the high altar, at the distance of many hundred feet, the whole length of the quire and nave. The priest, going through some silent devotions, "shows scarce so gross as a beetle.” His form is absolutely lost in the immensity around him.
Cologne, 21st May, 1835. I arrived in this venerable old city, this evening, at a quarter past 7 o'clock, in a sort of hack, of which great use is made in these parts, (for I met I know not how many on the road,) and which I hired at Aix la Chapelle for four rix thalers (15f).
My return to Brussels from Antwerp, on Sunday evening, 10th inst., was extremely opportune. I found a dispatch from the government waiting my arrival and demanding my immediate attention. Besides this paper, which came to me through the Legation at London, there were, within the nine days I passed at Brussels, no less than three different packets arrived at Havre, by which, after a long interval, I received letters from America, and lots of newspapers. I stayed much longer at Brussels than was my intention on returning to it, for I purposed proceeding immediately to Aix la Chapelle and the Rhine. But I had public business to occupy me, and it was not until I had written and received several letters to and from Mr. Patterson, and sent two dispatches to the department, that I felt myself once more at liberty to go, for a few weeks, in quest of health. Hélas ! I stood in need of continuing mes courses. I thought myself quite restored at Antwerp, but, in travelling to Brussels, as the weather was particularly bright and genial, I left the inside of my carriage and took my seat upon the coachman's place. It was all very well for some time; but, towards evening, I found the wind cold, and descended quite chilled from my exposed elevation. The next day I felt a slight sore throat, which continuing, I rather inconsiderately took a severe dose, or rather doses, of medicine. What with the remedy, and what with the disease, I was very much pulled down in a few days; relapsed into my old dejection and blue devils, and felt that, à tout prix, I must change the air.
By way of having nothing to think of, and getting over the ground as rapidly as I chose, I determined to leave my own carriage at home in Brussels, and to take my place for Liège in the coupé of a diligence. I left town, accordingly, on Tuesday,