« PredošláPokračovať »
Belshazzar, wherein the queen is placed at the table with the king.
9. Though some hands have failed, yet the draught of St. Peter in the prison is properly designed by Rubens, sleeping between two soldiers, and a chain on each arm; and so illustrateth the text, that is, with two chains fastened unto his arms, and the one arm of each of the soldiers, according to the custom of those times, to fasten the prisoner unto his guard or keeper; and after which manner St. Paul is conceived to have had the liberty of going about Rome.
10. In the picture of our Saviour sleeping in the ship, while in many draughts he is placed not far from the middle, or in the prow of the vessel, it is a variation from the text, which distinctly saith "at the poop," which being the highest part, was freest from the billows. Again, in some pieces he is made sleeping with his head hanging down; in others, on his elbow; which amounteth not unto the textual expression, "upon a pillow," or some soft support, or at least (as some conceive that emphatical expression may imply) some part of the ship convenient to lean down the head. Besides, this picture might properly take in the concurrent account of the Scripture, and not describe a single ship, since the same delivereth that there went off other naviculæ, or small vessels with it.
11. Whilst the text delivereth that the tempter placed our Saviour (as we read it) upon the pinnacle of the temple, some draughts do place him upon the point of the highest turrets; which, notwithstanding, Josephus describeth to have been made so sharp that birds might not light upon them; and the word repúуtov signifying a pinna,2 or some projecture of the building, it may probably be conceived to have been some plain place or jetty, from whence he might well cast himself down upon the ground, not falling upon any part of the temple; if there were no wing or prominent part of the building peculiarly called by that name.
12. That piece of the three children in the fiery furnace, in several draughts, doth not conform unto the historical
2 the word, &c.] Unquestionably it could not have been any thing like a turret or pinnacle. Some commentators (Le Clerc) consider it a projecting portion of the building outside the parapet. Others (Rosenmüller) call it the flat roof of a portico.
accounts: while in some they are described naked and bareheaded; and in others with improper coverings on their heads. Whereas the contrary is delivered in the text, under all learned languages, and also by our own, with some expositions in the margin: not naked in their bodies, (according to their figure in the Roma Sotterranea of Bosio, among the sepulchral figures in the monument of St. Priscilla), but having a loose habit, after the Persian mode, upon them, whereby it might be said that their garments did not so much as smell of the fire; nor bare on their heads, as described in the first chamber of the cemetery of Priscilla, but having on it a tiara, or cap, after the Persian fashion, made somewhat reclining or falling agreeable unto the third table of the fifth cemetery, and the mode of the Persian subjects; not a peaked, acuminated, and erected cap, proper unto their kings, as is set down in the medal of Antoninus, with the reverse, Armenin. A standard direction for this piece might probably be that ancient description set down in the calendar used by the Emperor Basilius Porphyrogenitus, and by Pope Paul the Fifth, given unto the Vatican, where it is yet conserved.4
3 Roma, &c.] Jacques Bosio, Roma Sotterranea; left imperfect by him, but published by his executor, Aldrovandini, fol. 1632; since translated into Latin, and reprinted several times, with additions.-Gr.
4 Numerous additions might yet further be made to our author's collection of pictorial inaccuracies, if such were fairly within our province. It may be allowed to us, at least, to give one or two references to such additions. John Interian de Avala, a Spanish monk, who died at Madrid, in 1770, published a work on the errors of painters in representing religious subjects; it is entitled Pictor Christianus Eruditus, fol. 1720.
In the European Magazine, for 1786, vol. ix. p. 241, is noticed a very curious work (little known), by M. Phil. Rohr, entitled Pictor Errans, which was abridged by Mr. W. Bowyer. Mr. Singer, in his Anecdotes of Spence, and Mr. D'Israeli, in his Curiosities of Literature, have given some very amusing collectanea of the kind. In the Monthly Magazine for 1812, are noticed several singular absurdities in costume; and undoubtedly many other such examples would reward a diligent forage through our numerous periodical publications :-but it is only requisite to compare the Illustrations which are constantly issuing from the hands of our artists, with the works they are intended to illustrate, in order to be frequently reminded of the proverbial conclusion of the whole matter;"it is even as pleaseth the painter."
Compendiously of many popular Customs, Opinions, &c. viz. of an Hare crossing the High-way; of the ominous appearing of Owls and Ravens ; of the falling of Salt; of breaking the Egg-shell of the True Lovers' Knot; of the Cheek Burning or Ear Tingling; of speaking under the Rose; of Smoke following the Fair; of Sitting cross-legged; of hair upon Moles; of the set time of pairing of Nails; of Lions' heads upon Spouts and Cisterns; of the saying, Ungirt, Unblest; of the Sun dancing on Easter-day; of the Silly-how; of being Drunk once a Month; of the appearing of the Devil with a Cloven hoof.
If an hare cross the high-way,5 there are few above threescore years that are not perplexed thereat; which notwithstanding is but an augurial terror, according to that received expression, Inauspicatum dat iter oblatus lepus. And the ground of the conceit was probably no greater than this, that a fearful animal passing by us, portended unto us something to be feared: as upon the like consideration, the meeting of a fox presaged some future imposture; which was a superstitious observation prohibited unto the Jews, as is expressed in the idolatry of Maimonides, and is referred unto the sin of an observer of fortunes, or one that abuseth events unto good or bad signs; forbidden by the law of Moses; which notwithstanding sometimes succeeding, according to fears or desires, have left impressions and timorous expectations in credulous minds for ever.
2. That owls and ravens are ominous. appearers, and pre
share.] When a hare crosseth us, wee thinke itt ill lucke shee should soe neerely escape us, and we had not a dog as neere to catch her.-Wr.
6 ravens.] The raven, by his accute sense of smelling, discerns the savour of the dying bodyes at the tops of chimnies, and that makes them flutter about the windows, as they use to doe in the searche of a carcasse. Now bycause whereever they doe this, itt is an evident signe that the sick party seldome escapes deathe: thence ignorant people counte them ominous, as foreboding deathe, and in some kind as causing deathe, whereof they have a sense indeed, but are noe cause at all. Of owles there is not the same opinion, especially in country-men, who thinke as well of them in the barne as of the cat in the house: but in great cityes where they are not frequent, their shriking and horrid note in the night is offensive to women and children, and such as are weake or sicklye.—Wr.
On the owl, as an ominous bird, see The Queen Bee, ii. 22.—Jeff.
signifying unlucky events, as Christians yet conceit, was also an augurial conception. Because many ravens were seen when Alexander entered Babylon, they were thought to preominate his death; and because an owl appeared before the battle, it presaged the ruin of Crassus. Which, though decrepit superstitions, and such as had their nativity in times beyond all history, are fresh in the observation of many heads, and by the credulous and feminine party still in some majesty among us. And therefore the emblem of superstition was well set out by Ripa,* in the picture of an owl, an hare, and an old woman. And it no way confirmeth the augurial consideration that an owl is a forbidden food in the law of Moses; or that Jerusalem was threatened by the raven and the owl, in that expression of Isa. xxxiv. ; that it should be a court for owls, that the cormorant and the bittern should possess it, and the owl and the raven dwell in it;" for thereby was only implied their ensuing desolation, as is expounded in the words succeeding; "He shall draw upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness."8
3. The falling of salt is an authentic presagement of illluck, nor can every temper contemn it; from whence not* Iconologia de Cæsare.
7 the battle.] With the Parthians near Charræ.
emptiness.] It is rather singular that the cuckoo is not honoured with a place here. "Plinie writeth that if, when you first hear the cuckoo, you mark well where your right foot standeth, and take up of that earth, the fleas will by no means breed, either in your house or chamber, where any of the same earth is thrown or scattered!" Hill's Natural and Artificial Conclusions, 1650. In the North, and perhaps all over England, it is vulgarly accounted an unlucky omen, if you have no money in your pocket, when you hear the cuckoo for the first time in a season. Queen Bee, ii. 20.-Jeff.
It would perhaps be rather difficult to say under what circumstances most people would not consider such a state of pocket an unlucky
It is a still more common popular divination, for those who are unmarried to count the number of years yet allotted to them of single blessedness, by the number of the cuckoo's notes which they count when first they hear it in the spring.
9 salt.] Where salt is deare, 'tis as ill caste on the ground as bread. And soe itt is in France, where they pay for every bushel 40s. to the king; and cannot have itt elsewhere: and soe when a glass is spilt 'tis ill lucke to loose a good cup of wine.-Wr.
withstanding nothing can be naturally feared; nor was the same a general prognostick of future evil among the ancients, but a particular omination concerning the breach of friendship. For salt, as incorruptible, was the symbol of friendship, and, before the other service, was offered unto their guests; which, if it casually fell, was accounted ominous, and their amity of no duration. But whether salt2 were not only a symbol of friendship with man, but also a figure of amity and reconciliation with God, and was therefore observed in sacrifices, is an higher speculation.3
4. To break the egg-shell after the meat is out, we are taught in our childhood, and practise it all our lives; which nevertheless is but a superstitious relique, according to the judgment of Pliny; Huc pertinet ovorum, ut exsorbuerit quisque calices protinus frangi, aut eosdem cochlearibus perforari; and the intent hereof was to prevent witchcraft ;4
For salt, &c.] The hospitality most liberally shown by Mr. Ackerman of the Strand, to the Cossack veteran, Alexander Zemlenuten, in 1815, was highly estimated by the stranger, who in describing his generous reception used the exclamation, "He gave me bread and SALT.' This is mentioned in the 41st vol. of the Monthly Magazine—and illustrated by a sketch of the opinions and feelings of the ancients respecting this "incorruptible symbol of friendship."-Leonardo da Vinci, in his picture of the last supper, has represented Judas Iscariot as having overturned the salt.-Jeff.
Captain M'Leod, in his voyage of the Alceste, says that in an island near the straits of Gaspar, "salt was received with the same horror as arsenic."
2 But whether salt, &c.] First added in 2nd edition.
3 also a figure, &c.] In the first vol. of Blackwood's Magazine will be found a paper on the symbolical uses of salt, p. 579. In the same volume also occur several papers on the use made formerly of the salt-cellar (which was often large, ornamented and valuable, and placed in the centre of the table) as a point of separation between guests of higher and lower degree.-To drink below the salt was a condescension; to attain a seat above it, an object of ambition.-See Bishop Hall's Satires, No. vi. b. 28.
Among the regalia used at the king's coronation, is the salt of state, to be placed in the centre of the dinner table, in the form of a castle with towers, richly embellished with various coloured stones, elegantly chased, and of silver, richly gilt. This, it is said, was presented to King Charles II. by the City of Exeter.-Jeff.
to prevent witchcraft.] "To keep the fairies out," as they say in Cumberland.-Jeff.