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and beautiful things, had never passed to or from his business without stopping at the print-shop windows, and seeing a little of what was there.
On one of these occasions he was smitten to the heart with the beauty of an autumn landscape, where the red maples and sumachs, the purple and crimson oaks, all stood swathed and harmonized together in the hazy Indian-summer atmosphere. There was a great yellowchestnut-tree, on a distant hill, which stood out so naturally that John instinctively felt his fingers tingling for a basket, and his heels alive with a desire to bound over on to the rustling hill-side and pick up the glossy brown nuts. Everything was there of autumn, even to the goldenrod and purple asters and scarlet creepers in the foreground.
John went in and inquired. It was by an unknown French artist, without name or patrons, who had just come to our shores to study our scenery, and this was the first picture he had exposed for sale. John had just been paid a quarter's salary; he bethought him of boardbill and washerwoman, sighed, and faintly offered fifty dollars.
To his surprise he was taken up at once, and the picture became his. John thought himself dreaming. He examined his treasure over and over, and felt sure that it was the work of no amateur beginner, but of a trained hand and a true artist-soul. So he found his way to the studio of the stranger, and apologized for having got such a gem for so much less than its worth. "It was all I could give, though," he said; "and one who paid four times as much could not value it more." And so John took one and another of his friends, with longer purses than his own, to the studio of the modest stranger; and now his pieces command their full worth in the market, and ho works with orders far ahead of his ability to execute, giving to the canvas the traits of American scenery as appreciated and felt by the subtile delicacy of the French mind, —our rural summer views, our autumn glories, and the dreamy, misty del
icacy of our snowy winter landscapes. Whoso would know the truth of the same, let him inquire for the modest studio of Morvillier, at Maldeu, scarce a bow-shot from our Boston.
This picture had always been the ruling star of John's house, his main dependence for brightening up his bachelorapartments; and when he came to the task of furbishing those same rooms for a fair occupant, the picture was still his mine of gold. For a picture, painted by a real artist, who studies Nature minutely and conscientiously, has something of the charm of the good Mother herself, — something of her faculty of putting on different aspects under different lights. John and his wife had studied their picture at all hours of the day: they had seen how it looked when the morning sun came aslant the scarlet maples and made a golden shimmer over the blue mountains, how it looked toned down in the cool shadows of afternoon, and how it warmed up in the sunset, and died off mysteriously into the twilight; and now, when larger parlors were to be furnished, the picture was still the tower of strength, the rallying-point of their hopes.
"Do yon know, John," said the wife, hesitating, "I am really in doubt whether we shall not have to get at least a few new chairs and a sofa for our parlors? They are putting in such splendid things at the other door that I am positively ashamed of ours; the fact is, they look almost disreputable, — like a heap of rubbish."
"Well," said John, laughing, "I don't suppose all together sent to an auctionroom would bring us fifty dollars, and yet, such as they are, they answer the place of better things for us; and the fact is, Mary, the hard impassable barrier in the case is, that there really is no money to get any more."
"Ah, well, then, if there is n't, we must soe what we can do with these, and summon all the good fairies to our aid," said Mary. "There 's your little cabinetmaker, John, will look over the things, and furbish them up; there 's that broken arm of the chair must be mended, and everything revarnished; then I have found such a lovely re/i, of just the richest shade of maroon, inclining to crimson, and when we come to cover the lounges and armchairs and sofas and ottomans all alike, you know they will be quite another thing."
"Trust you for that, Mary! By-theby, I 've found a nice little woman, who had worked on upholstery, who will come in by the day, and be the hands that shall execute the decrees of your taste."
"Yes, I am sure we shall get on capitally. Do you know that I 'm almost glad we can't get new things? it's a sort of enterprise to see what we can do with old ones."
"Now, yon see, Mary," said John, seating himself on a lime-cask which the plasterers had left, and taking out his memorandum-book, "you see, I've calculated this thing all over; I 've found a way by which I can make our rooms beautiful and attractive without a cent expended on new furniture." "Well, let 'shear." "Well, my way is short and simple. We must put things into our rooms that people will look at, Bo that they will forget to look at the furniture, and never once trouble their heads about it. People never look at furniture so long as there is anything else to look at; just as Napoleon, when away on one of his expeditions, being told that the French populace were getting disaffected, wrote back, 'Gild the dome de.t Invalides,' and so they gilded it, and the people, looking at that, forgot everything else."
"But I 'm not clear yet," said Mary, "what is coming of this rhetoric."
"Well, then, Mary, I 'll tell you. A suit of new carved black-walnut furniture, severe in taste and perfect in style, such as I should choose at David and Saul's, could not be got under three hundred dollars, and I Lave n't the three hundred to give. What, then, shall we do? We must fall back on our resources; we must look over our treasures. We have
our proof cast of the great glorious head of the Venus di Milo; we have those six beautiful photographs of Rome, that Brown brought to us; we have the great German lithograph of the San Sisto Mother and Child, and we have the two angelheads, from the same; we have that lovely golden twilight sketch of Heade's; we have some sea-photographa of Bradford's; we have an original pen-and-ink sketch by Billings; and then, as before, we have 'our picture.' What has been the use of our watching at the gates and waiting at the doors of Beauty all our lives, if she has n't thrown us out a crust now and then, so that we might have it for tame of need? Now, you see, Mary, we must make the toilet of our rooms just as a pretty woman makes hers when money runs low, and she sorts and freshens her ribbons, and matches them to her hair and eyes, and, with a bow here, and a bit of fringe there, and a button somewhere else, dazzles us into thinkirtg that she has an infinity of beautiful attire. Our rooms are new and pretty of themselves, to begin with; the .tint of the paper, and the rich coloring of the border, corresponding with the furniture and carpets, will make them seem prettier. And now for arrangement. Take this front-room. I propose to fill those two recesses each side of the fireplace with my books, in their plain pine cases, just breast-high from the floor: they are stained a good dark color, and nobody need stick a pin in them to find out that they are not rosewood. The top of these shelves ou either side to be covered with the same stuff as the furniture, finished with a crimson fringe. On top of the shelves on one side of the fireplace I shall set our noble Venus di Milo, and I shall buy at Cicci's the lovely Clytie, and put it the other side. Then I shall get of Williams and Everett two of their chromo - lithographs, which give you all the style and charm of the best English water-color school. I will have the lovely Bay of Amalfi over my Venus, because she came from those suns and skies of Southern Italy, and I will hang Lake Como oyer my Clytie. Then, in the middle, over the fireplace, shall be 'our picture.' Over each door shall hang one of the lithographed angel - heads of the San Sisto, to watch our going-out and coming-in; and the glorious Mother and Child shall hang opposite the Venus di Milo, to show how Greek and Christian unite in giving the noblest type to womanhood. And then, when we have all our sketches and lithographs framed and hung here and there, and your flowers blooming as they always do, and your ivies wandering and rambling as they used to, and hanging in the most graceful ways and places, and all those little shells and ferns and vases, which you are always conjuring with, tastefully arranged, I 'll venture to say that our rooms will be not only pleasant, but beautiful, and that people will oftener say, 'How beautiful!' when they enter, than if we spent three times the money on new furniture."
In the course of a year after this conversation, one and another of my acquaintances were often heard speaking of John Merton's house. "Such beautiful rooms, — so charmingly furnished,—you must go and see them. What does make them so much pleasantcr than those rooms in the other house, which have everything in them that money can buy?" So said the folk, — for nine people out often only feel the effect of a room, and never analyze the causes from which it flows: they know that certain rooms seem dull and heavy and confused, but they don't know why; that certain others seem cheerful, airy, and beautiful, but they know not why. The first exclamation, on entering John's parlors, was so often, "How beautiful!" that it became rather a by-word in the family. Estimated by their mere moneyvalue, the articles in the rooms were of very trifling worth; but as they stood arranged and combined, they had all the effect of a lovely picture. Although the statuary was only plaster, and the photographs and lithographs such as were all within the compass of limited means, yet every one of them was a good thing of
its own kind, or a good reminder of some of the greatest works of Art. A good plaster cast is a daguerreotype, so to speak, of a great statue, though it may be bought for five or six dollars, while its original is not to be had for any namable sum. A chromo-lithograph of the best sort giv.es all the style and manner and effect of Turner or Stanfield, or any of the best of modern artists, though you buy it for five or ten dollars, and though the original would command a thousand guineas. The lithographs from Raphael's immortal picture give you the results of a whole age of artistic culture, in a form within the compass of very humble means. There is now selling for five dollars at Williams and Everett's a photograph of Cheney's crayon drawing of the San Sisto Madonna and Child, which has the very spirit of the glorious original. Such a picture, hung against the waH of a child's room, would train its eye from infancy; and yet how many will freely spend five dollars in embroidery on its dress, that say they cannot afford works of Art!
There was one advantage which John and his wife fouud in the way in which they furnished their house, that I have hinted at before: it gave freedom to their children. Though their rooms were beautiful, it was not with the tantalizing beauty of expensive and frail knickknacks. Pictures hung against the wall, and statuary safely lodged on brackets, speak constantly to the childish eye, but are out of the reach of childish fingers, and are not upset by childish romps. They are hot like china and crystal, liable to be used and abused by servants; they do not wear out; they are not spoiled by dust, nor consumed by moths. The beauty once there is always there; though the mother be ill and in her chamber, she has no fears that she shall find it all wrecked and shattered. And this style of beauty, inexpensive as it is, compared with luxurious furniture, is a means of cultivation. No child is ever stimulated to draw or to read by an Axminster carpet or a carved centre-table; but a room sup
rounded with photographs and pictures I will write another on the moral and in
and fine casts suggests a thousand inqui- tellectual effects of house-furnishing. ries, stimulates the little eye and hand.
The child is found with its pencil, draw- "I have proved my point, Miss Jennie,
ing; or he asks for a book on Venice, or have I not? In house-furnishing, nothing
wants to hear the history of the Roman w more economical than beauty." Forum. "Yes, papa," said Jennie; "I give it
But I have made my article too long, up."
THE BLACK PREACHER.
At Carnac in Brittany, close on the bay,
They show you a church, or rather the gray
Ribs of a dead one, left there to bleach
With the wreck lying near on the crest of the beach;
Rooffess and splintered with thunder-stone,
'Mid lichen-blurred gravestones all alone,
T is the kind of ruin strange sights to see
That may have their teaching for you and me.
Something like this, then, my guide had to tell,
Perched on a saint cracked across when he fell.
But since I might chance give his meaning a wrench,
He talking his patois and I English-French,
I 'll put what he told me, preserving the tone,
In a rhymed prose that makes it half his, half my own.
An abbey-church stood here, once on a time,
Built as a death-bed atonement for crime:
'T was for somebody's sins, I know not whose;
But sinners are plenty, and you can choose.
Though a cloister now of the dusk-winged bat,
T was rich enough once, and the brothers grew fat,
Looser in girdle and purpler in jowl,
Singing good rest to the founder's lost soul.
But one day came Northmen, and lithe tongues of fire
Lapped up the chapter-house, licked off the spire,
And left all a rubbish-heap, black and dreary,
Where only the wind sings miserere.
Of what the monks came by no legend runs,
At least they were lucky in not being nuns.
No priest has kneeled since at the altar's foot,
Nor sound of service is ever heard,
Abbots, monks, barons, and ladies fair
Hear the dull summons and gather there:
No rustle of silk now, no clink of mail,
Nor ever a one greets his church-mate pale;
No knight whispers love in the ch&telaine's ear,
His next^door neighbor this five hundred year;
No monk has a sleek benedicite
For the great lord shadowy now as he;
Nor needeth any to hold his breath,
Lest he lose the least word of Doctor Death.
He chooses his text in the Book Divine,
Tenth verse of the Preacher in chapter nine: —
"' Whatsoever thy hand shall find thee to do,
That do with thy whole might, or thou shalt rue;
For no man is wealthy or wise or brave
In that quencher of might-bes and would-bes, the grave.'
Bid by the Bridegroom, ' To-morrow,' ye said,
And To-morrow was digging a trench for your bed;
Ye said, ' God can wait; let us finish our wine';
Ye had wearied Him, fools, and that last knock was mine!"
But I can't pretend to give yon the sermon,
Or say if the tongne were French, Latin, or German;
Whatever he preached in, I give you my word
The meaning was easy to all that heard;
Famous preachers there have been and be,
But never was one so convincing as he;
So blunt was never a begging friar,
No Jesuit's tongue so barbed with fire,
Cameronian never, nor Methodist,
Wrung gall out of Scripture with such a twist.
And would yon know who his hearers must be?