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paint them yourself?' and on her modest profession of inability, he continued, You no able? you try, and you paint better.'
The establishment of the National Portrait Gallery under the auspices of Earl Stanhope and the discriminating superintendence of Mr. Scharf, and the Exhibition at South Kensington, have enabled us to take stock, as it were, of our possessions in this line of art, and to determine with tolerable certainty which of our earliest portraits may be accepted as authentic, i. e., as paintings from the life. The oldest known in our time was the portrait of Edward III. in St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster. This was destroyed by fire in 1834, but careful copies were fortunately taken from it for the Society of Antiquaries in 1812. The oldest extant of recognised authenticity is the portrait of Richard III. in Windsor Castle, where, however, there is a portrait of Edward IV. which good judges (including Mr. Scharf) are inclined to think genuine. They are not so sure of her Majesty's portrait of Henry IV., although some put faith in it, relying on the features and costume. The earliest of the genuine pictures in the National Portrait Gallery is a Richard III., next in quality and equal in genuineness to the one at Windsor. The second earliest in that collection is a Cardinal Wolsey. The earliest at South Kensington are the portraits of Sir John Donne by Memling (No. 18) and Edward Grimston by Petrus Christus (No. 17); both by artists of considerable distinction in the history of art.
We can abandon with comparative indifference any small remains of faith we may have cherished in the traditional likenesses of barbaric kings or popes, but it is a very different matter when we are required to believe that no trustworthy images of the heroes, statesmen, poets, orators, and philosphers of classical antiquity have descended to us; that the busts of Alexander, Cæsar, Pompey, Hannibal, Pericles, Homer, Virgil, Horace, Demosthenes, Cicero, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, with a host of others which we have been wont to admire or venerate, are apocryphal. The primâ facie argument is rather favourable to many of them. Fame is more lasting than brass, are perennius, but brass, bronze, and marble are lasting enough to have endured to our time, and retain a faithful reflex of form and features, of character and mind. We know that the ancients were never tired of multiplying statues of their great men, and that the highest genius was employed on the greatest: Phidias, on Pericles, Socrates,
and Alcibiades; Praxiteles, on Demosthe. nes; Lysippus, on Alexander and Aristotle, and so on. Alexander issued a decree reserving the right of reproducing his image to three artists: Apelles, for painting; Pyrgoteles, for stone engraving; Lysippus, for statuary in bronze. The more statues, the more honour, and the number erected to the popular favourites was immense. Unluckily they were knocked down as eagerly as they had been set up when the tide turned. No sooner had the news of the battle of Pharsalia reached the capital, than all Pompey's statues were thrown down and mutilated. Augustus began his reign by destroying all the busts and images of the assassins of Cæsar. At the same time he set about forming a collection of the triumphal statues of the great men who had contributed to the power of Rome; and the imperial city at that time boasted many private galleries rich with the spoils of Greece. If Mummius burnt Corinth with most of its inestimable treasures of art that same Mummius who gave the well-known caution to the carriers of what he saved - Sylla thanked the gods for having granted him two signal favours: the friendship of Metellus Pius, and the good fortune of having taken Athens without destroying it.
But independently of the risks of removal, and the increased difficulty of identification, the accumulation of all the finest productions of art in one place, and that place the capital of the world which ambition or sedition periodically converted into a battle-field, was one main cause of their being wholly lost, or of their descending in an unsatisfactory condition to posterity. Furor arma ministrat: anything or everything, sacred or profane, becomes a weapon in a deadly conflict when the blood is up. 'I expect little aid from their hand,' said Front de Bœuf, alluding to the stone images in his chapel, unless we were to hurl them from the battlements on the heads of the villains. There is a huge lumbering Saint Christopher yonder, sufficient to bear a whole company to the earth.' The Roman warriors thought and acted like the rude Norman baron. When Titus Flavius Sabinus, the brother of Vespasian, was besieged in the burning capitol by the troops of Vitellius, he repaired breaches and formed barricades with the statues of the Temple of Jupiter. Fire and earthquake co-operated with civil war and barbaric conquest to complete the work of devastation; whatever was left unbroken or distinguishable lay buried under heaps of ruin; and when the superincumbent mass of rubbish was
cleared away after the lapse of agès, the grand difficulty arose of appropriating the proper names to the best preserved images, and of duly assorting the arms, legs, heads and noses of the mutilated.
This difficulty was aggravated by a known practice of the ancients, which may have suggested to Sir Roger de Coverley the notion of transforming by a few touches of the brush the sign of The Knight's Head,' set up in his honour, into The Saracen's Head!' When the Rhodians decreed the honour of a statue to a general, he was desired to choose which he liked amongst the existing votive statues, and the dedication was altered by the insertion of his name. The prevalence and antiquity of this method of substitution are proved by Plato's proposed law for compelling the statuary to form each statue out of a single block; and instances abound of the change of heads from vanity, caprice, or accident. A striking passage in Statius charges Cæsar with the incredible folly of cutting off the head of an equestrian statue of Alexander by Lysippus, and replacing it by a gilded effigy of himself. Tacitus states that Tiberius decapitated a statue of Augustus to make room for his own head; and the gods of Greece, including the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias, were similarly treated by Caligula with a view to his own deification. There is a statue of Pompey at Rome reputed to be the very one at whose base, which all the time ran blood, great Cæsar fell.' But, objects M. Feuillet de Conches, we must have recourse to some anecdote, suspicious as ingenious, to be persuaded that the head, very badly, restored, is really the original head. Rome is full of antiquity-mongers, who will supply any number of consuls' or emperors' heads and noses to order.
Napoleon was a great admirer of Hannibal, and one day, during a visit to the Louvre, he stopped before the bust which bears the name of his hero, and inquired of M. Visconti, the distinguished antiquary, wheth er it was authentic. It is possible,' was the reply; the Romans erected his statue in three public places of a city within the bounds of which, alone among the enemies of Rome, he had cast a javelin. Caracalla, who ranked him among the great captains, also raised several statues to him; but all this is much posterior to Hannibal.' This effigy,' rejoined Napoleon, has nothing Af rican about it. Besides, Hannibal was blind of one eye, and this is not. Are there any medals of the time confirmatory of this bust? There are medals, also long
posterior. Then it has been done après coup. I do not believe in it.'
Although the inference from the eye may not be deemed conclusive by connoisseurs, that drawn from the want of contemporary medals carries weight. When medals and gems fail, the deficiency is not unfrequently supplied by inscriptions or books. The fine bust of Cicero at the Vatican is authenticated by a passage in Livy as well as by medals. There are no well-authenticated busts, medals, or gems of Virgil or Horace; although the biographers of Virgil do not hesitate to describe him as tall and dark, with long, flowing hair, whilst the personal peculiarities of Horace may be collected from his writings. The best bust of Plato is apocryphal, which is probably the reason why Mr. Grote's last great work, Plato and the other Companions of Socrates,' appears without a frontispiece. This range of subjects is inexhaustible; and our immediate object is simply to skim the cream of a semiclassical, semi-artistic causerie. We will now suppose the conversation turning on some other singularities of classical antiquity, which throw light on its intellectual or secret history, and suggest parallels or contrasts with modern life and manners.
We can hardly persuade ourselves that we are not listening to the story of an English or French collector, when we are told of Libanius of Antioch hearing that an Iliad and an Odyssey of prodigious antiquity were about to be sold at Athens, and commissioning a friend to purchase them. On receipt of the coveted treasures, he sends a fine copy of the Iliad, more recent but correct, in acknowledgment of the friend's services. He next learns that a copy of the Odyssey which seemed contemporary with Homer, is for sale, and purchases it. But he is so ill-advised as to lend it, and as it is not returned, we find him complaining and lamenting, very much like Evelyn when he denounced the carelessness or dishonesty of the two Scot borrowers, or the French gentleman who was done out of the Malebranche's letters by the philosopher. Why, asks M. Feuillet de Conches, did he not act like the Faculty of Paris who held out against Louis XII., all absolute as he was, and refused to lend him an Arabian manuscript without a deposit of a hundred gold pieces, and would not abate a livre on seeing the royal treasurer forced to sell a part of his own plate to make up half of the security?
The greatest private collection of autographs at Rome is said to have been that of
The conceit of compressing the greatest quantities of writing into a given space was carried to excess by the Romans. Cicero speaks of the entire Iliad having been written on just so much skin or parchment as was contained in a nutshell-in nuce inclusam. This tour de force was rivalled by the poet, mentioned by Pliny, who con
Mucianus, the friend of Pliny the Elder. | careless of profaning or defacing them as He especially rejoiced in the possession of modern travellers or bagmen. M. Letroune the reputed letter of Sarpedon to Priam, found the names of Hadrian, Marcus Aurewhich he had discovered in a temple whilst lius, and Lucius Verus, inscribed on the he was governor of Lycia. Among other statue of Memnon at Thebes. He might celebrated autographs in which the Greek also have copied from it, had he thought fit, and Roman collectors put faith, may be Pierre Giroux le grand vainqueur, grenadier named the letters of Artaxerxes and Dem- de la deuxième demi-brigade, division Desaix, ocritus to Hypocrates, the correspondence passait par Thèbes, le 7 Messidor, An VII, of Alexander and Aristotle, the letter of pour se rendre aux cataractes du Nil.' Zenobia to Aurelian in the handwriting of Longinus, and the letters of Titus to Josephus, testifying to the trustworthiness of his history of the Jews. It might safely be taken for granted, without evidence of the fact, that the autographs of Livy, Cicero, Horace, Virgil, &c. &c., were as eagerly sought after and as highly prized in ancient times as those of the corresponding celebri- trived to inclose a distich in letters of gold ties in our own. But we are not left to con- within the husk of a grain of corn, an exjecture. Pliny speaks of having seen auto-ploit which may pair off with that of the graphs of Cicero and Virgil. Quintilian Frenchman who wrote the four canonical mentions manuscripts of Cicero, Virgil, Au- prayers on his nail. M. Feuillet de Conches gustus and Cato the Censor, apropos of cer- has discovered a marked analogy between tain differences and singularities of orthog- the French bureaucracy and the Roman raphy which the copyists had not preserved. scribes, who formed a corporation of which Cicero refers to an autograph of Ennius Horace was a member. They had gradualfor the same purpose. Aulus Gellius had ly grown into considerable importance, and seen a manuscript of the Georgies, corrected must not be confounded with the copyists, by the author, as well as a manuscript of masters and journeymen, who answered the second book of the Eneid which passed to our printers and booksellers. The Sosii for the original, or at least came from the were the Murrays and Longmans of the house and the family of Virgil. The first Augustan age of Rome. The patricians known use of the word autograph is in Sue- were not ashamed to compete with them in tonius, Litera Augusti Autographe. this peculiar line of business. The house of Atticus is described as an immense establishment in which skilful workmen, mostly slaves, were busied in copying, pressing, and binding for the book-market. One amongst them, named Tiron, highly commended by Cicero, turned out copies that took rank like Elzevirs.
A great variety of materials were employed for writing by the Romans, besides the waxed tablets, without which no Roman of condition ever went abroad. For epistolary correspondence they used a fine papyrus called Augustan; the second quality was called Livian; the third, Claudian. They had also (adds M. Feuillet de Conches) great eagle paper' like ourselves. Curious points of analogy abound in this portion of his book. The ancients had ingenious cyphers for their secret despatches, and sent private orders to their commanders or ambassadors which could not be opened, so as to be legible, without a peculiar contrivance or the key. Cæsar's usual method was to write by agreement the fourth letter of the alphabet for the first; for example, D for A, and so on, varying the arrangement occasionally. The Romans had also short-hand writers, a chosen number of whom were employed by Cicero to take down a speech of Cato. Martial and Ausonius bear testimony to the surprising skill of some of them. We find emperors and consuls scribbling on monuments, and as
Women were much employed as copyists, and occasionally as scribes or secretaries. We have heard, prior to the abolition of serfdom, of white slaves in Russia embarked in commerce or eminent in art, vainly offering enormous sums for enfranchisement; and cases of the same kind were of frequent occurrence in Greece and Rome. An actor was prepared to give a sum equivalent to seven or eight thousand pounds sterling for his liberty. One Canisius Sabrinus (mentioned by Seneca) a man of enormous wealth who wished to shine as a diner-out in spite of his natural dulness, procured a dozen slaves who were made to learn by heart select passages from the popular poets and instructed how to prompt him when he broke down or had nothing to say. As the required duty implied memory and tact, the slaves
are said to have cost him, on the average, a hundred thousand sesterces (about 800.) apiece.
Mural and monumental inscriptions apart, the oldest specimens of Roman writing extant are those discovered in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Next in order of antiquity to these stand a Terence of the fourth century and a Virgil of the fifth, both on parchment, now in the Vatican. How happens it that, out of the multitude of manuscripts in general circulation for several centuries later, not a single known original, and hardly one perfect copy, of an eminent classic author has survived the dark ages? The best solution will be found in the neverceasing war waged against learning and knowledge, by bigotry and ignorance, from the decline of civilisation to its revival or new birth. The Romans,' says Disraeli the elder, 'burnt the books of the Jews, of the Christians, and of the philosophers; the Jews burnt the books of the Christians and the Pagans; the Christians burnt the books of the Pagans and the Jews.' Take, for instance, the fate of Livy, of whom we have only thirty-five books, and those incomplete, out of one hundred and forty. Independently of the long chapter of accidents common to all, he was honoured by the senseless enmity of Caligula, who ordered his works, along with those of Virgil and Homer, to be cast out of all the libraries. Livy was afterwards treated much in the same fashion by Gregory the Great, who placed him in the Index. This same Pope (says Disraeli) ordered that the library of the Palatine Apollo, a treasury of literature formed by successive emperors, should be committed to the flames. He issued this order under the notion of confining the attention of the clergy to the Holy Scriptures. From that time all ancient learning which was not sanctioned by the authority of the Church has been emphatically distinguished as profane in opposition to sacred. This pope is said to have burnt the works of Varro, the learned Roman, that Saint Austin might escape from the charge of plagiarism, being deeply indebted to Varro for much of his great work, The City of God.'
had destroyed it to conceal the fraudulent use made of the contents for his treatise De Exsilio, many pages of which (to borrow a simile from the Critic) lie upon the surface, like lumps of marl on a barren moor, encumbering what they cannot fertilise. Leonard Aretin, believing himself the sole possessor of a manuscript of Procopius on the War of the Goths, translated it into Latin, and passed for the author until another copy turned up. The Causeur relates a similar anecdote of Augustin Barbosa, Bishop of Ugento, who printed a treatise De Officio Episcoporum. His cook had brought home a fish wrapped in a leaf of Latin manuscript. The prelate had the curiosity to read the fragment. Struck with the subject, he ran to the market, and ransacked the stalls till he had discovered the book from which the leaf had been torn. It was the treatise De Officis, which, adding very little of his own, he published among his works, to the greater glory of God.' This was a bolder stroke for fame than that of an Irish bishop, still living, who incorporated a brother divine's sermon in his charge. Plagiarism, however, was not esteemed so heinous au offence as it is at present, and our actual stores of thought and knowledge have been enriched by it. Thus, Sulpicius Severus, the Christian Sallust, is believed to have copied his account of the capture of Jerusalem from the lost books of Tacitus.
This is not the only irreparable loss that has been attributed to plagiarism. Cicero's treatise De Gloria was extant in the fourteenth century and in the possession of Petrarch, who lent it, and it was lost. Two centuries later it was traced to a convent library, from which it had disappeared under circumstances justifying a suspicion that the guardian of the library, Pierre Alegonius,
How little comparative value was attached for some time after the revival of letters to the classic masterpieces, may be inferred from the confession of Petrarch, that he had seen several in his youth of which all trace had subsequently been lost; among others, the Second Decade of Livy. Its fate was curious, although perhaps not singular. The tutor of a Marqius de Ronville, playing at tennis near Saumur, found that his racket was made with a leaf of old parchment containing a fragment of this Decade. He hurried to the racket-maker to save the remains: all had passed into rackets.
Tacitus had a better chance than Livy; for his imperial namesake, after supplying all the public libraries with his works, ordered ten fresh copies to be executed annually; yet thirty books were lost, and the manuscript of what are saved escaped by a miracle; a single copy in a state of rapid decomposition having been discovered in a convent in Westphalia.
We have lingered with pleasure over this classical causerie, which is just such as may be supposed going on at Earl Stanhope's,
Dean Milman's, Mr. Gladstone's, or Mr. Grote's, when the late Sir George Lewis and Lord Macaulay were alive to join in it. Decies repetita placebit; and although many of the details may not be new to the accomplished bibliophile- to the Duc d'Aumale or M. Van der Weyer - we are not afraid of falling under the sarcasm levelled in Gil Blas at the pedant who solemnly narrated that the Athenian children cried when they were whipped; a fact of which, but for his vast and select erudition, we should have remained ignorant.'
We shall pass more rapidly over the chapters devoted to China. But although the gloss of novelty has been taken off by recent travellers, there is still a good deal left in the Celestial Empire for the philosophical inquirer to glean and speculate upon. The respect paid by the Chinese to paper or parchment on which written or printed characters have been impressed, contrasts strikingly with the European mode of thinking, ancient and modern. Martial's friend, Statius, tells him that his book has all the air of paper in which Egyptian pepper and Byzantian anchovies are to be packed; and the same vein of pleasantry may be traced in a letter from Hume to Robertson: I forgot to tell you that two days ago I was in the House of Commons, where an English gentleman came to me and told me he had lately sent to a grocer's shop for a pound of raisins which he received wrapped up in a paper that that he showed me. How would you have turned pale at the sight! It was a leaf of your History, and the very character of Queen Elizabeth which you had laboured so finely, little thinking it would soon come to so disgraceful an end.' After stating that the publisher, Millar, had come to him for information to trace out the theft, he adds: In vain did I remonstrate that this was, sooner or later, the fate of all authors serius, ocyus, sors exitura. He will not be satisfied and begs me to keep my jokes for another occasion.'
To the Chinese, who regard the art of speaking to the eyes by marks or signs as a gift from on high, handwriting and printing, means for the reproduction of thoughts, are sacred. The trade of ink-making is esteemed honourable for the same reason. Hence in China a scrap of printed paper or writing is never wittingly trodden under foot or used as a wrapper: it is carefully picked up; and in the vestibule of each house is a perfuming-pan destined to receive and burn all waste papers of the kind. Tea and other objects of commerce,' adds
M. Feuillet de Conches are always packed in blank paper. Thus, too, pocket-handkerchiefs being in China an object of show and luxury, every great dignitary is followed by a valet, who, on visits of ceremony, carries his spitting-box and presents him with small pieces of paper every time he wishes to blow his nose. These pieces of paper are blank, never printed or written.
The same veneration for writing was professed by a Christian saint, François d'Assise, who flourished in the thirteenth century. If his eye fell on any scrap of writing in his walks, he scrupulously picked it up, for fear of treading on the name of the Lord or any passage treating of things sacred. When one of his disciples inquired of him why he picked up with equal care the writings of pagans, he replied, My son, it is with the letters of these writings that we form the most glorious name of God.'
A religious respect for the staff of life, bread, is not confined to the Chinese. We are told of a janissary dropping out of a procession at Aleppo, and dismounting to remove a piece of bread, lest it should be profaned by the horses' hoofs. During the great fire of London, popularly attributed to the Catholics, a member of the Portuguese Embassy was apprehended on a charge of throwing fireballs into houses. On examination it was proved that he had simply picked up a piece of bread, and placed it on the ledge of a window; an act which he explained by stating that, according to a feeling prevalent among his countrymen, to have left it on the pavement would have been a sin. To return to the Chinese: it stands to reason that they attach the highest value to the handwriting of their rulers and worthies
in other words, to autographs. Even facsimiles are held in high esteem, and the interior of temples are adorned with them, posted like advertising bills against the walls. The great pagoda of Canton boasts no other decoration; neither does the great temple of Confucius at Pekin. By some fatality no manuscript from the actual hand of this philosopher has been preserved. autographs have disappeared, although autographs are extant of the two preceding centuries.
The use of red ink is reserved to the emperors, so that it would be neither easy nor safe to counterfeit their autographs, which are carefully deposited in the state archives when the immediate purpose has been served. The signature of the Mongol emperors consisted merely of the impress of the forefinger and thumb. The first-class