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REMBRANDT AND HIS WORKS. I.
REMBRANDT is emphatically styled by Fuseli a METEOR in art; a term which at once conveys to the mind the idea of a genius of that order whose orbit and brilliancy belong not to the common course of natural events. "He was," says this severe critic, "a genius of the first class in whatever relates not to form. In spite of the most portentous deformity, and without considering the spell of his chiaroscuro, such were his powers of nature, such the grandeur, pathos, or simplicity of his composition, from the most elevated or extensive arrangement to the meanest and most homely, that the best cultivated eye, the purest sensibility, and the most refined taste dwell on them equally enthralled. He possessed the full empire of light and shade, and of all the tints that float between them. None ever like Rembrandt knew how to improve an accident into a beauty, or to give importance to a trifle."
Rembrandt van Rhyn was born on the 15th of December, 1606*, at his father's mill, situated in the vicinity of the Rhine between the villages of Leydendorp and Koukergen, not far distant from Leyden. His father's name was Herman Gerritze van Rhyn, and his mother's Willems van Zuitbroek. The postfix van Rhyn refers to the father's occupation as a miller.
That Rembrandt was "born an artist" seems evident from the utter dislike with which he is said to have regarded all pursuits except sketching. His uncommon talents, which began to be understood from an early age, encouraged his father in the hope of being able to make him a learned man; but his tastes and associations being all connected with the sphere of life in which his parents moved, he never seems to have desired better society, or the acquirements to fit him for it: even in after-life his habits were vulgar, and his companions the frequenters of the lowest public houses. But the enormous quantity of pictures, etchings, and drawings, now scattered over Europe prove that his greatest delight was in the exercise of his art.
In his youth Rembrandt was sent to a classical establishment at Leyden; but the attempt to acquire the rudiments of Latin was so intolerable that his father consented to his return home. We may suppose that some further persuasion was necessary to obtain his parent's consent to adopt painting as a profession. It was, however, obtained, and young Rembrandt was placed with Jacob van Zwaanenburg, (whose chief reputation is that of having been the first instructor of Rembrandt,) with whom the young artist passed three years, acquiring the first rudiments of art. His rapid progress astonished his master, but the pupil discovered long before the end of his term that a continued advance in his art must be sought elsewhere. Accordingly he sought the instructions of Peter Lastman, at Amsterdam, but after six months quitted him for the instructions of Jacob Pinas, with whom he did not continue long. Other accounts state that Pinas was his first master, and he is also said to have received instructions from Peter van Schooten. It must of course be a matter of opinion as to which of the abovenamed painters Rembrandt was most indebted for information and style; but from a comparison of their several works, Mr. Smith+ is disposed to name Lastman and Schooten as his most efficient instructors, there being in the works of both these masters sufficient to trace the origin of those peculiar characteristics which distinguish the school of Rembrandt. Thus although he was unquestionably a pupil of several, he was in
*This date is given on the authority of Houbraken, who is generally regarded as the most accurate of Rembrandt's biographers. Other writers name the 15th of June, 1606, as the date of his birth.
truth an imitator of no one; for, in common with all great artists, Rembrandt had a secret presentiment that nature was a safer and surer guide than the professors of the art. Having therefore acquired a knowledge of the rules of art, he retired to the sombre interior or
his father's mill, where he is supposed to have acquired his peculiar taste for a brilliant concentration of light from an appearance that he had been familiar with from his infancy, namely, a strong beam of light coming from a small and lofty aperture casting on the surrounding objects that peculiar tone which pervades most of his pictures. He was accustomed to manage the light in his own painting room in a similar manner, and while taking a portrait he generally attached a drapery behind the sitter of the same colour as the intended ground of the picture.
Thus removed, as it were, from the world, the young artist continued for some time in the endeavour to embody those principles which as yet were but dimly seen, or imperfectly appreciated. While thus multiplying pictures around him he was ignorant of his own merits, while his friends regarded him as a prodigy, and by one of them he was persuaded to take a newly finished production to a picture-dealer at the Hague. He did so, and to his surprise received a hearty welcome and one hundred florins, (about eight guineas,) for his picture. This sum nearly turned the head of the young artist. He had proceeded to the Hague on foot, but eager to acquaint his parents of his good fortune, he took his place in the diligence to return home. When the coach stopped on the road for the passengers to dine, Rembrandt was so much absorbed in his good fortune, that he did not get out; and the horses being neglected set out at a full gallop, arrived safely at Leyden, and entered the inn yard where they were accustomed to stop. The solitary traveller now hastily alighted, and without waiting to answer the questions with which he was assailed as to the fate of the coachman and the other passengers, hurried home to communicate his good fortune to his parents. This event occurred, according to Houbraken, about the year 1627 or 1628.
+ Mr. Smith has published a valuable Catalogue Raisonné of the pictures, etchings, and drawings of Rembrandt, to which are prefixed a carefully-written life, and a critical notice of the artist, forming altogether a complete guide to the works of Rembrandt. We have to acknowledge our obligations to it, as also to Descamps, Fiorello, and other writers on
Thus encouraged, he laboured with redoubled assiduity. duity. He undertook several portraits, which caused him often to visit Amsterdam. The success of these efforts induced him to establish himself in that city, which he did about the year 1628, (or, as some writers state, 1630.)
At this time the fine arts were well encouraged in Holland. The cities of that country could boast of numerous private collections, formed by wealthy merchants and amateurs, who were always seeking opportunities to increase the number of their pictures, by which means they most effectually encouraged talent. One of the earliest and most substantial patrons of Rembrandt was the distinguished Burgomaster Six, under whose patronage he soon found abundant employ ment, as is proved by the dates of numerous portraits of individuals, many of whose names are now interesting only because Rembrandt delineated their features.
His first important work at this time is a picture of the Presentation in the Temple, "a work replete with expression, as well as delicacy of finishing and effect." It is dated 1630. Mr. Smith supposes this to be the picture for which, with another referred to in the following letter, he charged 2000 florins to the Prince of Orange.
SIR,-At length I send you, by Lievensz, the two pieces [pictures], which I trust will be found of a quality, that his Highness will not award me less than 1000 florins each, but this I leave to the pleasure of his Highness; and if they do not merit those sums, he will give me less, according as he may think proper. Relying on the judgment and discretion of his Highness, I shall feel grateful and contented; and remain with respect and compliments, his and your affectionate servant, REMBRAND'
These pictures and sundry etchings mark the opening | it, only part of which is seen, and behind them is a woman of our artist's career in Amsterdam. During the fol- descending the road, leading a child by the hand. This lowing year he was chiefly occupied in painting a pic-simple scene is rendered singularly grand and imposing by ture for the Surgeons' Hall, representing the Professor the solemn twilight which pervades the landscape, the solid forms of which are opposed to the refulgent light of the Tulp, father-in-law of the Burgomaster Jan Six, giving departed sun, whose warm tints still glow on the western a lecture on a dead body to a company of eight mem- hemisphere, and are reflected on the surface of the limpid bers of the profession. It is finished throughout with stream. the most elaborate care, and is dated 1632. A further notice of this picture will be found in Saturday Maga zine, Vol. XXII., p. 120. This very beautiful production must have made a deep impression on the amateurs of art in his favour. During the progress of this work he appears to have made several etchings.
Rembrandt was now overwhelmed with commissions; pupils, eager for his instruction, were also numerous. To accommodate them, Rembrandt hired a large house in the Blomgracht, and gave to each pupil a separate room; he so arranged their studies as to make them most profitable to himself; he frequently retouched the copies which they made from his own works, and sold them as originals.
Being thus established, and in the receipt of a good income, Rembrandt chose a wife from among that class of society in which he had passed his early years: he married a handsome peasant girl, named Saskia van Uylenburg, a native of the village of Raarup, or Ransdorp, in Waterland, whose portrait he frequently introduced into his pictures. By this marriage Rembrandt had one son, whom he named Titus van Rhyn: the youth was brought up to his father's profession, but although he had so skilful a master, he never attained any eminence in the art, but contented himself with copying his father's works, and died in obscurity.
The pictures produced about this time are finished with considerable care, "which is frequently the characteristic of the early productions of genius, but in the present instance Rembrandt may have done it in conformity with the prevailing taste of the period, an attention to which was doubtless necessary in order to obtain public approbation; accession of orders, and, consequently, increased practice, enabled him gradually to quit this style for one of a higher order, and also better suited to his
During the years 1635 and 1636 he produced but few historical pictures, so that it is supposed that portraiture or some other pursuit, engaged his attention. He was probably occupied in attendance on his pupils. Some writers affirm that he visited Venice about this time; but there appears to be no other authority for the statement than the name of that city inscribed under some of his etchings, with the view, it is supposed, of enhancing their price. The only work of his pencil bearing date 1636 is a picture of Samson and Delilah, together with several etchings. In the year 1637 he reappeared with increased splendour, and produced an exquisitelywrought picture of "The Lord of the Vineyard paying his Labourers;" another of "The Angel departing from the family of Tobit;" and a capital portrait of a Burgomaster, together with several etchings. In 1638 and the year following, he produced no very important works.
This notice of Rembrandt will be continued in another article. The frontispiece to the present one is from a picture known as "Rembrandt's Mill." In the year 1798 it was in the Orleans collection, and valued at five hundred guineas. It was bought by William Smith, Esq., M.P., and exhibited in the British Gallery in 1815. It is now in the collection of the Marquis of Lansdowne, who is said to have paid eight hundred guineas for it.
This admirable picture is chiefly composed of a large hill, with a windmill and cottage on its summit, and a river flowing at its base. A road from the front affords an easy ascent up the hill, one side of which, being perpendicular, is fenced by a wall. The figures consist of a woman washing linen in the river, and a man standing in conversation with her; beyond these persons is a boat with one man in
IN IMITATION OF "NIGHT," BY MONTGOMERY.
MORN is the time to wake
The eye-lids to unclose
Spring from the arms of sleep, and break
The fetters of repose;
Walk with the dewy dawn abroad,
And hold sweet fellowship with God.
How lovely and how meet,
A blessing in our Master's name.
How charming 'tis to hear
And with that swelling anthem raise
The seeds of heav'nly truth,
And look to Thee, nor look in vain,
WHO emboldens the daffodil to venture abroad in February, and to trust her flowering gold, with inclement and treacherous skies? Who informs the various tribes of fruit-bearing blossoms, that vernal suns, and a more genial warmth, are fittest for their delicate texture? Who teaches the clove to stay, till hotter beams are prepared to infuse a spicy richness into her odours, and tincture her complexion with the deepest crimson? Who disposes these beautiful troops into such orderly bodies; retarding some, and accelerating others? Who has instructed them to file off, with such perfect regularity, as soon as the duty of their respective station is over? And when one detachment retires, who gives the signal for another immediately to advance? Who but that unerring Providence, which, from the highest thrones of angels, to the very lowest degrees of existence, orders all things in "number, weight, and measure. "-HERVEY.
WE obtained camel's milk for our tea, and found it richer and better than that of goats.-ROBINSON'S Palestine.
THE ART OF READING. I. ITS IMPORTANCE.
EDUCATION, as distinguished from mere instruction, consists in the general improvement of the individual in body, mind, and affections; the gradual formation of those habits, and of that character, which will cling to him through life. The education of a child has therefore commenced long before the ordinary period at which direct instruction is given; the most powerful agents for the formation of character being the example and the conversation of parents, of domestics, or of young companions.
But when the time has arrived for beginning the usual course of teaching, it will be found that each branch of instruction, if conducted aright, may be made the means of strengthening good habits and dispositions, as well as of developing the faculties, and cultivating the intellect. It is necessary ever to bear this in mind, and to aim at preserving a due balance in the character of the individual taught; otherwise the most valuable qualities may be sacrificed in the mere pursuit of knowledge; and the intellect be exalted at the expense of the heart.
Of all the branches of instruction to which this remark will apply, of none is it more strictly true than that of learning to read. Reading is of vast importance in the civilization of mankind; but perhaps it has not yet been made as powerful an auxiliary in education as it is fitted to be. To read with the lips, and with the understanding also, is indeed an acquirement of the highest consequence to every individual, and enables him to derive benefit from the works of the great and good of all ages, while it opens stores of amusement and delight which are hidden from the ignorant, or imperfectly instructed. To this power of appreciating written language may be applied some of the praise bestowed by Blair and others on the power of speech itself, or rather on the perfection at which spoken language has arrived. By means of reading, the most delicate and refined emotions of one mind can be transmitted, or transfused into another. Not only are objects described by their appropriate names, and thus brought distinctly before the imagination of the reader; but all the relations and differences among these objects are minutely marked, the invisible sentiments of the mind are described, the most abstract notions and conceptions are rendered intelligible, and all the ideas which science can discover, or imagination create, embodied in appropriate terms, are conveyed to the understanding. "Language [written, as well as spoken,] has been carried so far as to be made an instrument of the most refined luxury. Not resting in mere perspicuity, we require ornament also; not satisfied with having the conceptions of others made known to us, we make a farther demand, to have them so decked and adorned as to entertain our fancy; and this demand it is found very possible to gratify. In this state we now find language. The object is become familiar; and, like the expanse of the firmament, and other great objects which we are accustomed to behold, we behold it without wonder."
have been constructed on this principle, so that we may consider the ordinary sounds in nature as having contributed to the enlargement of the peculiar speech of nations, according to the different ideas with which they were listened to. The origin of language may be reasonably referred to divine teaching or inspiration, and is not at all affected by this supposition; for in this, as in other things, much was doubtless left to man's reason to enlarge, improve, and adorn.
In terms belonging to objects of sight, or expressive of moral ideas, it may seem impossible to employ sounds that shall bear any relation to them; yet many learned men have traced, in different languages, certain sounds which are appropriated to the expression of particular qualities, and which appear to bear some remote relation to them. Perhaps this idea has been carried too far; and, if allowed to be founded in truth, it can only be applied to language in its most simple and primitive state. But it may be interesting to such of our readers as have not yet attended to this subject, to give an illustration of our meaning. It has been noticed as a peculiar excellency of the English language, that it expresses the nature of the objects which it names, by employing sounds sharper, softer, stronger, weaker, more obscure, or more stridulous, according as the idea which is to be suggested, requires. Dr. Wallis gives the following examples of this fact. Words formed upon st, chiefly denote firmness and strength, analogous to the Latin sto; as stand, stay, staff, stop, stout, steady, stake, stamp, stately, &c. Words beginning with str, intimate violent force and energy, analogous to the Greek σrpwvvvμ; as strive, strength, strike, stripe, stress, struggle, stride, stretch, strip, &c. Thr implies forcible motion; as throw, throb, thrust, through, threaten, thraldom. Wr, obliquity or distortion; as wry, wrest, wreathe, wrestle, wring, wrong, wrangle, wrath, wrack, &c. Sw, silent agitation, or lateral motion; as sway, swing, swerve, sweep, swim, Sl, a gentle fall, or less observable motion; as slide, slip, sly, slit, slow, slack, sling. Sp, dissipation or expansion; as spread, sprout, sprinkle, split, spill, spring. Terminations in ash indicate something acting nimbly and sharply; as crash, gash, rash, flash, lash, slash. Terminations in ush, something acting more obtusely and dully; as crush, brush, hush, gush, blush. From these examples it is quite clear that the analogies of sound have had their influence in the formation of words, though it would be utterly vain to seek them throughout the whole construction of one of our modern languages. So far as they can be traced, however, they may be used as helps to reading.
Looking back to the time when this wondrous power of language was in its mere infancy; when written communications were unknown; and when speech was limited to the purposes of a rude and uncivilized state of existence, we cannot but agree in the opinion entertained by many eminent writers that the words employed to indicate different objects, were for the most part such as by their respective sounds expressed or imitated the nature of those objects. Nothing was more natural," says Blair, "than to imitate by the sound of the voice the quality of the sound or noise which any external object made; and to form its name accordingly. A certain bird is termed the cuckoo, from the sound which it emits. When one sort of wind is said to whistle, and another to roar; when a serpent is said to hiss, a fly to buzz, and falling timber to crash; when a stream is said to flow, and hail to rattle; the analogy between the word and the thing signified is plainly discernable." In all languages a multitude of words appears to
Simple as the art of reading may appear, it requires all the helps that can be made available to the purpose, ere it will be properly attained. Hundreds of persons go through the drudgery of learning to read, in the same way in which they would acquire any mechanical The freart, requiring little exertion of the intellect. quency of "bad reading" is continually remarked, even where superior advantages of education have been enjoyed; and where these are wanting, the case is often pitiable. Reading is not a mere exercise of the eye, and of the organs of speech. To read well requires a cultivated understanding, and a cultivated ear; and it is only necessary to listen to the droning voice of many a reader, to be certain that neither of these advantages can be claimed on his behalf. An anonymous writer who has lately given to the world some excellent thoughts on Habit and Discipline says on this subject, "What art is so general, and yet so seldom performed as it ought to be, as that of audible reading? Let a passage full of excellence, either in prose or verse, be read aloud in succession by several persons who have all enjoyed what is called a polite education. By most of them we shall hear it pronounced in a monotonous tone, with scarcely any regard to the pauses of the sentence, or to the modulation of the voice; and what is the consequence? An incapacity on our parts to attend to what is read-a tendency to wan
der away from the subject, or possibly to sleep, but none at all to listen. We might often be tempted to say to the reader, Understandest thou what thou readest?" and we might in truth suppose that the subject of the passage had found no place in his mind or intellect. By some one of the party, on the contrary, we shall have the same passage impressed on the ear, and through the ear, on the mind, in all its excellence. Its meaning will become so clear as not to be mistaken, its beauty so perceptible as not to be disregarded. The cause of this change is the simple fact that the present reader of the passage has thrown himself into the mind of its author, and by a due attention to pauses and modulation, has succeeded in presenting it to us in its native force."
It is therefore evident that good reading is the result of a right appreciation of what is read, arising from good education, which has prepared the mind to receive, and the voice to utter, the ideas of others as conveyed by their writings. So far we may say that this power of reading well depends upon general training more than upon particular instruction in the art of reading, but in the majority of cases the systematic training of the individual; the equal development of his whole being, which we understand by education, is entirely lost sight of, or by the unfortunate association of the child in early years, is miserably thwarted. An education in evil principles, mischievous propensities, and vicious habits at home, is more than sufficient to counterbalance all the routine instruction of the school, confined as it too frequently is to dry and formal lessons and wearisome
This leads to the interesting inquiry, can nothing be done for the sake of the thousands of uneducated children who are sent to gather the merest elements of knowledge at our large schools, by which we may render our instruction more suitable to their condition, more awakening to their faculties, more directly tending to their moral and intellectual welfare. This inquiry is happily on the lips of many influential persons in the present day, and already has it led to beneficial results. A better state of our schools begins to be apparent; schoolmasters are required to be something more than mere wielders of the cane, keeping their pupils in temporary subjection through fear of chastisement, and enforcing dry and irksome tasks. The demand which is now made for kind and intelligent teachers has already led, and will, it is to be hoped, to a greater extent, lead to the training of young men and women expressly for the purpose of introducing better methods of teaching, or of giving greater efficiency to those already in use. It still remains as a subject for investigation to review the means employed in large schools for communicating the elements of knowledge;
especially that most important branch which relates to the art of reading, and the acquirement of such a degree of intellectual activity and of general knowledge, as shall enable the pupil to understand what he reads. In some further notices on this subject we intend to give a brief view of two modes of teaching to read, with the results which have attended the application of them in large schools.
RATE OF TRAVEL IN THE DESERT.
DURING our journey we several times measured the ordinary rate of our camel's walk, and found it to be on an average nearest to two and a half English miles the hour, when in full progress. But there are always little delays; sometimes the animals browse more, or a load is to be adjusted, or an observation to be taken, so that the preceding estimate would be too high for a whole day's march. If therefore we assume the hour with camels at two geographical miles, or nearly two and one-third English miles, we shall obtain a near approximation to the truth, as well as a convenient
Ir is with the condor as with the Patagonian, and many other objects of natural history: the more they are examined the more they diminish in size.-HUMBOLDT.
THE WOODLARK. (Alauda arborea.)
TO A CAGED WOODLARK.
Thy notes are silenced, and thy plumage mewed;
"Voice will return,-I cannot choose but sing,
THE Woodlark has a somewhat inappropriate name, for
it is not so much an inhabitant of woods as of wilds.
Though pretty generally distributed throughout this kingdom, it is far less commonly known that the skylark. It is an inhabitant of Germany, Holland, Siberia, Poland, and Italy: it has also been seen in the neighbourhood of Paris, and in several other parts of France. In this country it is most frequently seen in our south and southwestern counties, but is not very numerous anywhere. Yarrell describes it as inhabiting Sussex, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and part of Cornwall. It is also found in Wales, and is partially distributed in Ireland. North of London it is found in Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, and Lancashire. At Carlisle it is very rare, and also in Northumberland. It is sometimes seen in Scotland, but does not appear to visit the Orkneys or Shetland. In Denmark, Sweden, and Russia it is a summer visitor only, appearing in March and leaving in September.
The woodlark bears a considerable resemblance to
the skylark, but it is one-third smaller. The feathers on the head are not so much produced; the colour is lighter, and more inclining to yellow; the breast somewhat reddish. The habits of the two species are also similar, but the woodlark sometimes perches, and pours forth its song from the summit of trees, which the skylark never does. The former is also more solitary than the latter, and instead of choosing cultivated ground for its nesting-place, it prefers the borders of woods in wild and unfrequented spots. It also keeps much to its own. wild localities, and does not assemble with its fellows in large flocks as the skylark does. It feeds and nestles on the ground, and it is evident, from the structure of its feet, that this must be more convenient than perching
The nesting-time of this bird varies in different parts often begin to built in March, and hatch their brood in of the country, but it is generally early. The birds May, but eggs have been found as early as May, and as late as July, therefore it is probable that the woodlark often produces two broods in the season. "As the young of the woodlark," says Yarrell, "are in great request to bring up as cage-birds, the late attempts of this species to obtain a brood may sometimes be the conse