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The only other objects that need be pointed out in this room, are some specimens of columns, capitals, &c. from some of the most celebrated temples of antiquity. What I would point out in particular, are those numbered from 44 to 47 inclusive.—T'he most remarkable of these is an exquisitely ornamented Ionic capital from the portico of the Erectheum-situated in the Acropolis of Athens. This is the temple which joins to, and forms a sort of moral as well as mechanical union with, that dedicated to Pandrosa, from which the Caryatis (42) was taken.
We now enter the fifteenth room, containing the marbles from the Parthenon--perhaps the most beautiful religious temple that ever was erected by human hands, and that ever will be ; and also that which was most celebrated among the ancients themselves, and has been most talked of, visited, and written about, by the moderns.—Let us proceed at once to place ourselves before the noblest fragment which time and the Turks have left us of this exquisite ruin—for such, unhappily, the Parthenon has been for the last hundred and forty years; that is to say, since the explosion of a powder magazine, which took place in it during the siege of Athens by the Venetians, in the year 1687.—The fragment to which I allude is that of Theseus-as it is now pretty generally called (No. 71)—which occupied that triangular portion of the temple situated immediately above the entrance. This figure wants the hands and feet; and all the superficial part of the head and face has been destroyed by the effect of exposure to the weather. But, notwithstanding all this, I would ask the spectator to contemplate this statue from any point of view he pleases, and then to say if it is possible to stand before it, or even to think of it afterwards, without a sentiment of mingled surprise and delight, with which no other external object whatever is capable of inspiring him. There is an easy yet dignified elevation of character, which seems, as it were, to emanate from this noble work as a whole, added to an absolute truth, purity, and simplicity in all the various details, which perhaps does not belong to any other statue known to be in existence. And yet this, be it remembered, did but form one of an immense variety of figures, all executed with a corresponding, if not an absolutely equal degree of excellence, and all forming merely the external ornaments of a publie building, and placed at a distance of between forty and fifty feet from the eyes of the spectator !-Of what then must have consisted the interior ornaments of the sacred places of such a temple?-I fear the answer to this question must go nigh to indicate that Art, at the era alluded to, was on the extreme verge from which it must descend when once it arrives there : for it cannot remain stationary at any point. The mere skill of the Greek sculptors at the period in question, was so fertile in its effects, and at the same time reached such absolute perfection, that mere skill was not sufficient to satisfy the appetites to which it was destined to administer. Accordingly, we find that the statue of the Goddess of the Parthenon, which was placed in the interior of the temple, was composed of ivory and gold !--From this period, the arts of Greece began to degenerate. And no wonder ; for the taste which is not satisfied with absolute and intrinsic beauty of effect, unless it be allied to variety and costliness of material, is not a taste that can support art at the highest point of its perfection---that is to say, at the point where
it reaches, without passing beyond, the purity and truth of that nature on which it is founded.
Next in value and beauty to the Theseus is a figure, (No. 70) which about a hundred and fifty years ago occupied a portion of the western pediment, but had disappeared, and was considered to be entirely lost, until Lord Elgin recovered it by purchasing a house which had been built close to the spot, and digging where it was likely to have fallen. This figure is now considered to represent Ilissus, the god of the river of that name which formerly ran through the plain of Athens. The peculiar attitude of this figure, which is that of rising by a forcible action from the ground on which it is lying, prevents it from being so striking in its effect on the general spectator as the statue of Theseus. But perhaps this attitude adds to the value of the figure as a perfect achievement of art, because it increases, in a very great degree, the knowledge and skill required for that achievement. This figure is also more mutilated than its rival and companion. Nevertheless, with all the disadvantages under which it is seen, the Ilissus must be regarded as one of the most astonishing, if not the most striking and effective, works of art in existence. If the reader is scientifically versed in the construction of the human form, let him, if possible, make himself acquainted with the anatomical effect of the action in which this figure is engaged,--that of rising from the ground, while the whole weight of the body rests on one hand and arm; and then let him point out, if he can, a single error in the detail, from whatever point of view he may regard the figure.
Of the various other fragments of figures which occupied places in the two pediments, I must forego any detailed description, on account of the extremely imperfect state of their preservation. But I would recommend every one of them to the spectator's marked attention and admiration, if it were only on account of the noble draperies that enfold the greater part of them. But in fact, there is a certain air of simple and severe grandeur pervading these fragments, which nothing can deprive them of, so long as any marks of their maker's hand is left upon them. The two most striking of these fragments are, that of a group of two females immediately on the left, as you enter the room (No. 63); and another group of a similar description, on the right (No. 77). Both of these groups are magnificent in the highest degree. There is also another draped fragment which should be pointed out, on account of the extraordinary effect of motion which is given to it by means of the arrangement of the drapery. This figure is marked No. 74; and is said to represent Iris, the messenger of the deities, going on an errand connected with the story represented in the sculpture of the east pediment, from which it is taken. The only other fragment that I shall mention from this department of the temple, is the Horse's Head, marked No. 68. This has always struck me as being, if not the most valuable, perhaps the most extraordinary object in this whole collection. However inferior it may be to some others in the intellectual power which it evinces, in mere power of hand it perhaps surpasses them all. There never before was such absolute vitality communicated to dead stone--such living and breathing fire struck out of such a piece of “cold obstruction.”
We must now turn to the other departments of this sculpture; that which was introduced into the exterior frieze of this temple, above
the colonnade which surrounded it; and that which formed a continued sculptural picture in low relief, continuing all round the upper part of the wall which that colonnade immediately enclosed.of the metopes, or square slabs which were placed at equal distances along the frieze of the external entablature of the temple, there are fitteen specimens, ranged against the upper part of the wall on each side of the room. The whole of these are in an extremely imperfect state—so much so as to require a very careful and practised eye to discover their beanties. But though, from the surface being almost entirely gone, the mere beauty of them is greatly impaired; the merit which they include is perhaps almost as conspicuous as it was when they were in a perfect state. There is, in fact, not one of them that is not, even now, instinct with a spirit and truth which cannot be overlooked. No. 1 is extremely beautiful; the anatomical expression of Nos. 2, 6, and 7 are astonishingly fine; 9 is in the most perfect state of any, though not so fine as some others; 11 is bighly animated and spirited, though the left leg of the centaur is bad ; and the involved action of 14 is very striking. But perhaps one of the most remarkable qualities displayed in this portion of the sculpture of the Parthenon, was the wonderful invention which could produce ninetytwo of these groups, each consisting of a single Centaur and a single Lapitha engaged in combat, and each group varying so entirely from all the rest, as to admit of all being placed on the same temple.
It only remains to speak of the sculptural frieze in low relief, which ran round the cella of the temple. Of this, there is a very considerable and valuable portion saved-no less than about fifty slabs, many of which are nearly in a perfect state, and offer unquestionably the most beautiful and valuable specimens in existence of this class of work. When the Louvre was in its glory, I remember to have seen there a single slab from this same frieze, which, though inferior to many in this collection, was then regarded as one of the most choice and valuable morceaux of that unrivalled Gallery of Art. And certainly nothing can be more beautiful, with reference to their intended effect, than many parts of this frieze. There is a still and severe sweetness about them, added to a sort of shadowy and retiring effect, which is most delightful. And the general style of the design and composition is pure,
and what must be called, for want of a better phrase, classical, in the highest degree. There can be little if any doubt, too, that the design was furnished by Phidias himself: which adds very greatly to their ertrinsic value and interest at least
It may be worth while to take a glance at the details of what remains of this beautiful composition, as we pass before it from the left extremity on entering ibe room ;--premising that it represents the procession in which all the Athenian people (hence called Panathenaic) joined once in every five years, in honour of Minerva, the goddess of the Parthenon. — The first two slabs, from 15 to 17, are very defective, and consist of draped female figures walking in procession towards a group, which seems to have been the central point of the whole, and towards which the procession moved from the right as well as the left. This group is said to consist of several of the celestial deities, and deified heroes. The attitude of one of them is for a deity, not a little remarkable. He is seated, with one of his knees elevated, and clasped between his inter
woven fingers: one of those positions which idlesse " is very cunning in"-and which every one of us is in the habit of assuming spontaneously, and without ever having seen it assumed by others, though it is one which premeditation would never have taught us. - - From 18 to 22, the draped figures, bearing offerings, &c. continue--but are in a very imperfect state. We now, from 23, all along the left side of the room, to 33—where the slab turns the corner--are presented with mounted horsemen, and charioteers. This part of the composition--from 25 to 30—is undoubtedly that which is most worthy of admiration—not only on account of its comparatively good state of preservation, but of the variety and elegance of the composition, and the astonishing life, spirit, and truth of the execution. From 25 to the end of this side of the room, the spirit and interest of the scene keep increasing; till at length there is scarcely an air or attitude which can be assumed by an accomplished horseman that we do not meet with. The whole, too, seem to crowd and press upon each other, with an effect of actual life and motion.- Just beyond the left angle, however, which occurs at this part of the room, there is a point in the picture which I cannot avoid noticing here; though it bas already been mentioned, in a work which appeared a short time ago, entitled “Letters on England." I allude to the grossly defective execution of the fore legs of a horse which is introduced here. It seems to have been occasioned, either by some necessary alteration in the arrangement of this part of the composition, or more probably from the work having been for a moment intrusted to some inferior and incapable hand. At all events, it is highly curious and interesting, occurring as it does in the midst of objects which might almost seem to have demanded more than human skill to produce them.- At about No. 33, the composition turns the corner, on the same slab of marble ; and then, during all the rest of its extent along the opposite side of the room, it is sadly injured and decayed ; until towards the extreme end, where the sacrifices, &c. commence. Here, if anywhere, the execution is perhaps somewhat inferior. In conclusion, the reader may be assured, that in standing before the best parts of this frieze, (those, for instance, which occupy the left side of the room) he looks upon the most beautiful and perfect work of its kind now in existence.
Spring danced along in beauty volatile,
And Summer cheer'd us with her flowery sınile,
And now is hush'd the joyous minstrelsy
Of-field and grove ; save the lone redbreast,-he
It is a fearful time; the conquering blast
In cloudy chariot through the sky o'ercast,
SPECIMENS OF THE GERMAN BALLAD.--NO. 1. The ballad has nowhere been so completely naturalized as in Germany. The German ballads are not, like the most of our own, mere imitations of the rude songs and traditions of antiquity. They combine in a wonderful degree the polish and refinement peculiar to an advanced state of civilization with the simplicity and nature of the older fragments of popular tradition. Almost all the great poets of Germany have occasionally descended from the severer labours of more elaborate composition to the delassement of ballad-writing ; and the consequence is that Germany is at this moment richer in this species of literature than all the rest of Europe (Spain excepted) put together.
We intend to present a few of these in an English dress, and shall begin with Goethe. This wonderful man, who has run through almost every department of science and literature, has displayed the same preeminence in the light and gay strains of the ballad, as in the magnificent creations of Faust and Tasso. Some of his ballads, such as Die Braut von Corinthus, are distioguished by a solemn supernatural effect; others, such as Die Spinnerinn, Der Müllerin Verrath, and Der Müllerinn Riche, by an exquisite archness and naiveté, and all of them by a captivating simplicity of language, which while it increases very much the effect of the original, presents a very formidable difficulty to the translator. That we have subjoined is versified nearly as literally as the differences of the language will permit.
A fishier sat beside ;
Beside the freshening tide :
The parted waters rose,
A water-maiden rose.
“ Why lur'st thou so my brood,
From out their native food ?
Our peaceful lives glide o'er,
To seek our happier shore.
The moon too in the sea;
More beautiful to see?
Within the waters blue,-
In that eternal dew?"
It reach'd his naked feet;
His bounding bosom beat ;
His short suspense is o'er ;--