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Journal, started on the 4th of January, 1752, by “Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knight”), and who afterwards united himself with George Colman in the Connoisseur, commenced January 31st, 1754, “by Mr. Town Critic and Censor General;” Dr. William King, of the Dreamer, in 1754; and the much-belauded Alderman Beckford, the City patriot, who projected the Monitor in 1755. Most of these were only essay-papers, treading, at a very respectful distance, in the footsteps of the Tatler, but a few copied it in publishing brief items of news. On the 6th November, 1756, the Test first appeared in opposition to Pitt; it was edited by Arthur Murphy, but only ran to the 9th of July, 1757, baving had a formidable antagonist in the Cow-Test.
It seems strange that men accustomed to reflection, exercising themselves in the daily study of mankind, and practised in the tracing of its actions to their motives, and its feelings to their sources, should so often have been moved by surprise at the growth of an affection for news among the inhabitants of the most important city of the world. Strange would it have been, indeed, if, on the contrary, the citizens of London had exhibited an indifference to what was going on abroad, and an apathy to events which must influence their prosperity—strange if they, so jealous of their rights and privileges, should have turned a deaf ear to those who were the organs of asserting them--strange, too, surveying the subject from lower ground, if gossip, or even scandal, appealed to the attention of the town in vain. Yet we have found men at different periods of the growth of the newspaper press-shrewd, reflective, and thinking menapparently staggered and puzzled by the phenomenon of its increase in numbers and importance. Ben Jonson, Burton, and Addison have all in turn been quoted as astonished at the “ thirst for news,” and, as late as 1758, we find Dr. Johnson still mentioning the fact with a tone of surprise :
“ No species of literary men has lately been so much multiplied as the writers of news.
Not many years ago the nation was content with one Gazette, but now we have not only in the metropolis papers for
every morning and every evening, but almost every large town has its weekly historian, who regularly circulates his periodical intelligence, and fills the villages of his district with conjectures on the events of the war, and with debates on the true interests of Europe.”* He accounts for it, somewhat clumsily, we think, by the presumption that idleness finds an easy employment in the perusal of the papers—"reading without the fatigue of close attention;" and the world, therefore, swarms with writers, “ whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read.” If so, the state of things had very much and very rapidly changed, for we have all along heard of the earnestness with which men read the newspapers, and entered into their arguments. The hot and angry politicians of the coffee-house, who were ready to support the views of their favourite writers, either with tongue or sword; the tradesman, who ran out from his shop to get an early sight of the paper, and made himself master of geographical knowledge with great pains and labour, in order to follow the march of an army; the statesman, who thought it worth his while to scatter gold broad-cast among the newspaper writers, seem to tell a different tale. In a previous numbert he
Idler, No. 30, November 11th, 1758.
Ibid. No. 7, May 27th, 1758.
had had his sneer at the newspaper writers, who, bad as they undoubtedly were at this time, seem to have been the
satirist and writer hung his ridicule, but he grudgingly yields the admission that newspapers may be of service in the state:
“ All foreigners remark that the knowledge of the common people of England is greater than that of any other vulgar. This superiority we
. undoubtedly owe to the rivulets of intelligence which are continually trickling among us, which every one may catch, and of which every one partakes." Still, he never has any enlarged foreshadowing of what newspapers may become, or be made; it seems singularly to have escaped him that the press might in time obtain a leverage upon the nation's mind.
For this reason, possibly, he felt no pride in his own connexion with the press; in fact, it was a connexion not calculated to awaken agreeable feelings, for it was one of necessity, not choice; and the series of papers which we have been quoting was itself written and sold to garnish a newspaper-appearing in the Universal Chronicle, or Weekly Gazette, a paper projected by Newberry, of St. Paul's Churchyard, in 1758, of 'which the « occurrences of the week were not sufficient to fill the columns.”
In the previous year, too, he had written the preliminary discourse to the London Chronicle, of Dodsley, for the “humble reward" of a guinea. *
AN ITALIAN SKETCH-1855.
III. PERUGIA is a wonderful old place : scarcely one street is level, and all the houses look as if not a brick had been touched since the middle
ages. It is the most consistently ancient city I ever saw; more 80 even than quaint Verona, a modern capital compared with the frowning, tumble-down aspect of Perugia. The very latest fashions date back three hundred years, and one feels quite relieved while contemplating something light in the gothic palaces, after seeing the stupendous antiquity of the Etruscan walls, which certainly must have been raised by the Titans themselves long before their disgrace, somewhere in the time of Deucalion or Nox.
I proceeded from the hotel into the grand piazza, where stands the Duomo, a bold, grand pile of gothic splendour, raised majestically on a flight of marble steps. In the centre is a beautiful fountain of exquisite
* Note by Murphy. (Works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.)
workmanship, where a little river gushes forth to descend into the spacious basin beneath. Opposite is the Palazzo Comunale—an immense doublefronted gothic pile, partly standing in the Piazza, and partly in the great street that opens from it. Here is an abundance of all the elaborate tracery and luxuriant fancy of that picturesque age. Heavily groined arched windows, solid, yet graceful, occupy the grand story; while below, a vast portal, ornamented with every elaboration of mediæval grotesqueness, opens into gloomy halls and staircases. At the far end of the Piazza there is a dark old archway, and a descending flight of steps going Heaven knows where--down to unknown depths in the lower town. What a brave old square it is! Not an object but is in keeping.
I ascended the steps and entered the Duomo, where the coup d'ail is very imposing, the pervading colour being of that warm yellow tint so charming to the eye. The pillars of the nave, and, in fact, the whole interior, struck me as very graceful. It is one of those buildings one can neither call large nor small, from the admirable proportions of the whole, where no inequality betrays the precise scale. Frescoes there are all over the roof, and a few choice pictures; one in particular, a deposition by Baroccio, in a chapel near the door, painted, it is said, while he was suffering from poison given him, out of envy, at Rome. This picture has the usual visiting-card, common to all good paintings, of having made the journey to Paris.
Here, too, in a chapel, is preserved the veritable wedding-ring of the Virgin, which came, I suppose, flying through the air like her house at Loretto, and various other relics, all more or less fond of locomotion. In the sacristy, or winter choir, is a lovely picture, a Sposalizio by Luca Signorelli; in front of the figures is a tumbler of water with some carnations, painted with that delicacy of which only the old masters were capable.
The more I walked about, the more I became charmed with Perugia ; up and down we went, under old archways, and through narrow streets, each more quaint than the other. Whenever there was any opening, such views appeared-mountains tossed as if by an earthquake, deep valleys, great walls built on rocky heights, massive fortifications-all romantic beyond expression. We reached at last a distant spot, called the Frontone, planted with trees, situated at the very edge of a stupendous cliff. The sun was just dissipating the morning mist over one of the grandest views on which the eye ever rested. Mountains, hills, rocks there were, of every shape and size, piled one over the other, terrace-like; while to the right lay the blue lake of Thrasimene, spreading like a glassy plain in the midst of the chaotic confusion around. High mountains shut in the view behind; in front, the rays of the sun were condensed into a golden mist, obscuring all nearer objects in its brilliant vapour. To the left lay a vast plain, fat and fertile, a land flowing with milk and honey, where uprose the city of Assisi, sparkling in the sunshine, seated on a height, also backed by the lofty Apennines.
Close by this glorious panorama stands the curious church of San Pietro, desolate and lonely, yet full of interesting pictures. Its form is the perfect Basilica ; the space over the columned nave is covered with
In the sacristy are some most interesting pictures-delicate Sassoferratos, elegant Pinturiccios (an artist, by the way, one learns to
esteem properly at Perugia), and some Peruginos that might well pass
for the works of Raphael, so clear is the colouring and so admirable the drawing. One little picture of Christ and St. John, as children, painted by Raphael in bis youth, is very interesting. Pale and dirty as it is, the forms are full of elegance.
After we left this church, we walked up a hill so steep, I decidedly expected never to get my breath again. There was a grand view before us, as everywhere near the walls, from the exceedingly elevated situation of the city. At last we came to the Porta Augusta, one of the grandest Etruscan monuments in the world. It is of immense size, and formed of stones actually gigantic; the walls of Fiesole are nothing to it: I cannot describe the solemn grandeur of this portal of unknown, almost fabulous antiquity, frowning down on the pigmy erections of later ages. There it stands in its glorious solidity until the day of judgment; nothing short of a universal convulsion can shake it. Over the arch are the letters “ Augusta Perugia,” looking at a distance like some cabalistic charm; on the left is an open gallery, and two massive towers surmount the centre. There is actually an awful look about it, like something seen in a hideous dream.
Hard by is the College of the Belle Arti, containing the most curious Etruscan relics, wonderfully fresh and sharp in outline. Rooms there are filled with stone tombs, small, of course, in size, as the custom of burning the dead prevailed. All have some recumbent figure reposing on the lid, as invariably seen in the sepulchral remains of this people; vases, too, there are by hundreds; and a pillar in the centre of one room marvellously fresh. In an upper gallery are a few pictures, but of 10 peculiar interest. Below, a lonely botanical garden, planted with laurels, stretches out, terrace-like, over the walls-a place in which to ineditate on the strange destiny of a people capable of such wonderful achievements in the various branches of art, leaving not a restige of their history to enlighten posterity.
But I was obliged to rush away without any ceremony; and, taking a brusque leave of the Etruscan monuments, found myself suddenly turn up in the cinque-cento Sala del Cambio, covered with beautiful frescoes by Perugino. Here are depicted prophets, philosophers, and warriors, in an odd jumble; as well as the Nativity and the Transfiguration. I confess, I was not much interested in this apartment, reserving all my admiration for the chapel beyond, where there are some exquisite frescoes by Raphael - sybils and angels, of a grace and refinement marking them as beings of an order he alone could
create, amid the most exquisite arabesque ornaments and fanciful devices. The ceiling being low, one can entirely enjoy these charming works. Here also are paintings by Perugino and Spagnoletto; but all sink into insignificance beside the fairy pencil of the great master.
After seeing something of the paintings at Perugia, one can estimate the influence exercised by the Umbrian schools over Italian art generally. The admiration of classical subjects, and the fall of the Romanesque school, caused by the obscurity and troubles of the middle ages, and the deplorable condition of Rome, the mistress of all civilisation—then degraded to a provincial city under the mistaken policy of the Eastern emperors—superinduced the progress of the Byzantine style all over Italy. Success in this branch of art required no creative genius, there being an accepted type for every subject which it would have been scandalous not to follow. Art was cramped and confined into certain patterns, without drawing, form, or nature - long, lank, wo-begone spectres, whose only merit in our eyes is their extreme grotesqueness and antiquity. When art seemed degraded to a mere tradition, the impulse given to painting by the Tuscan school, in the persons of Cimabue, Giotto, and their immediate followers--whom we may call Naturalisti, from their simple imitation of nature, as contradistinguished to the Byzantine disregard for aught save servile copying--at last produced a more healthy tone, and gave an impulse to art in the right direction. But the naturalistic tendency of this school caused, in progress of time, a move in an opposite direction, and from the over-appreciation of nature, and a tendency to reduce the holiest mysteries—nay, the very representation of the Trinity-into forms too common-place, arose the school of Umbria. These artists are distinguished for a certain deep and fervid piety, expressed in every lineament of the holy personages they portray. Like the blessed Fra Angelico du Frisole, they seem to have devoted their talents entirely to God, and to have made painting the subject of earnest prayer, as he is said to have done ; never retouching his pictures, under the impression that he was inspired while painting.
The retired and secluded position of Umbria, -—the small traffic her cities carried on beyond their own sphere (so unlike the busy life of Florence or Venice, where carnal tendencies soon were developed),--the immediate vicinity of Assisi and her enthusiastic inmates, followers of that mystical visionary St. Francis, all tended to strengthen and develop this religious tendency. None can look at the paintings of Pietro Perugino, Sassoferrato, or Pinturiccio, without perceiving their deep mysterious enthusiasm. They are, par excellence, devotional pictures; the subjects of their pencil are ideal in expression, bearing, indeed, the common human stamp, but entirely sanctified. This school reached its climax in Raphael, the pupil of Perugino, who created beings of another and a more celestial race--around whom seemed to hover the very airs of heaven-beings too pure for either the passions or the temptations of humanity. Still
, to a certain degree, this was a false tendency. What his powerful genius could command at pleasure sank with him, and soon became among his followers but tame and maudlin affectation. All that is not nature must fall; and any school of painting, however charming, not founded on this great principle, is fated as prevenient to decay. Its very merit of extreme ideality and spiritualisation contains the germs of its destruction.
Even the most cursory view of the pictures at Perugia must verify these remarks, and show the peculiar characteristic of the school of which this city formed the centre. "It would be easy to spend at least a week in this most interesting place, divided between the Etruscan antiquities, the exquisite scenery, and the paintings, where Raphael first developed that surprising genius which still astonishes the nineteenth, as it did the sixteenth century
I was extremely grieved to leave Perugia so soon, but there was no help for it; the hardest part of our journey through the