The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction / Volume 10, No. 266, July 28, 1827

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Transcriber’s note:  In “A Churchyard Scene” the word “iugrate” occurs in the original text. This was probably a typographical error, and the correct word was likely “ingrate.”


THE MIRROR
OF
LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.


Vol. 10, No. 266.]SATURDAY, JULY 28, 1827.[PRICE 2d.

CROYDON PALACE.

The palace of Croydon is a building of great antiquity, and was for several centuries the magnificent abode of the haughty dignitaries of Canterbury. At the period of the Conquest, Lanfranc resided here, and most of the decrees and audits of his successors were issued from, and held at, this palace. It was here that Archbishop Parker entertained his queen, Elizabeth and her august court, with great splendour and festivity; as also did the celebrated Whitgift, who refused to accept of the high office of lord chancellor. Courtney received his pall here with great solemnity and pomp in the presence of the chief nobility of the realm; and Chichley, Stafford, Laud, Juxon, Wake, and Herring, made it their frequent residence, and were liberal contributors to its architectural beauties. The remains of this interesting fabric are, with the exception of the hall, composed entirely of brick, occupying a considerable space on the south-west side of Croydon church, and are in some points peculiarly striking in local appearance; but on account of their unconnected state, with the intervening screens of garden walls, &c. the view is confined and partial.

The grand hall is a lofty imposing structure, and at a casual computation appears to contain an area of eight hundred square yards; between which and the cornice, at the height of about fifteen feet, a moulding or frieze is carried over the surface of each wall, from whence, resting their bases on angels bearing, shields variously blazoned, issue in the alternate spaces of twelve feet, five ligneous pillars, supporting immense beams traversing the intervening distances of the confronting sides. The roof is formed of large solid pieces of timber, running diagonally to a point; the upper compartment of which (springing from perpendicular posts), is ribbed so as to make it have the appearance of a polygonal ellipsis.

On the right of the southern entrance an escutcheon, surmounted by a canopy, is fixed at a considerable height from the pavement, and must have had formerly a splendid appearance, as faint traces even now of its original pomp are discernible in the faint glittering of the gilding, and the exquisite symmetry of its execution. The bearings appeared to me as—party per pall,—dexter division.—Sapphire a cross gules ensigned with fleur de lis between six martlets topaz.—Sinister—quarterly sapphire and ruby, first and third, three fleur de lis; topaz, second and fourth, three lions passant gardant of the same, supported by two angels, and surmounted by a coronet; the whole resting on an angel bearing a scroll with a motto in old English text, but illegible.1

This hall is now occupied by a carpenter, and is almost filled with old furniture and timber; other parts of the building are appropriated for charity-schools, and the trade of bleaching is practised in its precincts.

SAGITTARIUS.


FINE ARTS


ENGLISH ACADEMIES FOR PAINTING ANTERIOR TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY IN LONDON.

The first attempt to form an academy for the encouragement of the fine arts in this country was made in Great Queen-street, in the year 1697. The laudable design was undertaken by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and by the most respectable artists of the day, who endeavoured to imitate the French Academy founded by Lewis XIV. Their undertaking, however, was wholly without success; jealousies arose among the members, and they were ultimately compelled to relinquish the project as fruitless. Sir James Thornhill, a few years afterwards, commenced an academy in a room he had built for the purpose at the back of his own residence, near Covent-garden theatre; but his attempt, likewise, proved abortive. Notwithstanding these failures, Mr. Vanderbank, a Dutchman, headed a body of artists, and converted an old Presbyterian meeting-house into an academy. Besides plaster figures, Mr. Vanderbank and his associates procured a living female figure for study, which circumstance tended to gain a few subscribers; but, in a very short space of time, for want of money sufficient to defray the necessary expenses, all the effects belonging to the establishment were seized for rent, and the members, in disgust, accordingly separated.

On the demise of Sir James Thornhill, in 1734, the celebrated William Hogarth became possessed of part of his property.2 Although much averse to the principles on which academies were generally founded, Mr. Hogarth considered that one conducted wisely would probably be of great advantage to the public, as well as to the artists in general. He, therefore, proposed, that a body of artists should enter into a subscription for the purchase of a house sufficiently large and capacious to admit thirty or forty persons to draw from a naked figure. This proposition being unanimously agreed to, a place was forthwith taken in St. Martin’s-lane; and Hogarth, to forward the undertaking as far as he could, lent them the furniture, &c. formerly belonging to Sir James Thornhill’s academy.

The failure of all preceding attempts to form an academy was attributed by Mr. Hogarth to the principal members assuming too much authority over their brother artists; he, therefore, proposed, that every member should contribute an equal sum of money to the establishment, and should have an equal right to vote on every question relative to the society. He considered electing presidents, directors, and professors, to be a ridiculous imitation of the forms of the French Academy, and liable to create jealousies.3 Under Hogarth’s guidance, the Academy continued for thirty years, with little alteration, to the high satisfaction of its several members, and the public in general.

On ascending the British throne, George III. evinced so much interest for the arts, that most of the members of the academy (though contrary to the wishes of their leader, who possessed a most independent spirit,) solicited the royal patronage to a plan they had in view of establishing an academy for painting, sculpture, and architecture. The success of this appeal is too well known to English readers to need much comment. His majesty was pleased to appropriate those very splendid apartments in Somerset-house for the use of artists, who shortly formed a new society, over which, by his majesty’s special command, the great Sir Joshua Reynolds presided.

G.W.N.


VOLCANOES.

(For the Mirror.)

To describe the awful grandeur and terrific phenomena of volcanic eruptions in an adequate manner, is perhaps beyond the power of language. The number of volcanoes now known is about four hundred; nearly all of them are situated a small distance from the sea, and many appear to have been burning from time immemorial.

A certain mixture of sulphur, steel-filings and water, buried a short depth from the ground, will exhibit a kind of miniature volcano; and hence some philosophers have concluded, that in the bowels of burning mountains there are various sorts of bodies which probably ferment by moisture, and being thus expanded, at last produce eruptions and explosions. The mouth or chimney of a burning mountain is, in many instances, upwards of a mile across! from which, in an eruption, are emitted torrents of smoke and flame, rivers of lava, (consisting chiefly of bitumen and melted metal,) and clouds of cinders, stones, &c. to an immense distance. The wonderful quantity of these materials thrown out from the orifice almost exceeds belief; the lava rushes like a fiery torrent at a very rapid pace,—ravages the labours of agriculture, overthrows houses, and in a few seconds utterly destroys the hopes of hundreds of families—the toils of hundreds of years. Nothing impedes its awful course; when interrupted by stone walls, or even rocks, it collects in a few moments to the height of eight or ten feet; its immense heat and violent pressure quickly batter down the obstacle, which is literally made rotten by the fire, and the whole mass seems to melt together into the lava, which again continues its progress until exhausted by the distance of its destructive march.

An English traveller, who was at Naples during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, on the 10th of September, 1810, thus describes the scene:—

“Curious to witness the volcano as near as possible, I set out for Portici, where I arrived at eight in the evening; from thence to the summit of the mountain the road is long and difficult; having procured a guide about the middle of the distance, we had to climb a mountain of cinders, every step nearly knee-deep; this made it near midnight when we reached the crater, which we approached as near as the heat would permit. The fire of the mountain served us for a beacon, and we set light to our sticks in the lava, which slowly ran through the hollows of the crater. The surface of the inflamed matter nearly resembles metal in a state of fusion, but as it flows it carries a kind of scum, which gradually hardens into scoria and rolls like fire-balls to the bottom of the mountain. We thought ourselves pretty secure in this spot, and had no wish to retire; but shortly a most terrific explosion which launched to an inconceivable height in the air, immense fragments of burning rocks, &c. reminded us of our dangerous situation. We lost not a moment in retreating, and driven on by fear almost with miraculous speed, cleared in about five minutes, a space we had taken two hours to climb; we had hardly gained this spot when a second explosion more terrible, if possible, than the former was heard. The volcano in all its fury vomited forth some thousands of cart-loads of stones and burning lava. As the projection was nearly vertical, the greater part fell back again into the mouth of the mountain and this was again vomited forth as before. On the 11th and 12th, the fury somewhat abated, but on the 13th a fresh eruption commenced, and burning matter flowed down all the sides of the volcano;—all Vesuvius itself seemed on fire,—not a vestige of property for miles could be discovered, and thousands of families were ruined.”

JACOBUS.


A CHURCHYARD SCENE.

How sweet and solemn, all alone,
With reverend steps, from stone to stone,
In a small village churchyard lying,
O’er intervening flowers to move!
And as we read the names unknown
Of young and old to judgment gone,
And hear in the calm air above
Time onwards softly flying,
To meditate, in Christian love,
Upon the dead and dying!
Across the silence seem to go
With dream-like motion, wavery, slow,
And shrouded in their folds of snow,
The friends we loved long, long ago!
Gliding across the sad retreat,
How beautiful their phantom feet!
What tenderness is in their eyes,
Turned where the poor survivor lies
‘Mid monitory sanctities!
What years of vanished joy are fanned
From one uplifting of that hand
In its white stillness! when the shade
Doth glimmeringly in sunshine fade
From our embrace, how dim appears
This world’s life through a mist of tears!
Vain hopes! blind sorrows! needless fears!

Such is the scene around me now:
A little churchyard on the brow
Of a green pastoral hill;
Its sylvan village sleeps below,
And faintly here is heard the flow
Of Woodburn’s summer rill;
A place where all things mournful meet,
And yet the sweetest of the sweet,
The stillest of the still!
With what a pensive beauty fall
Across the mossy, mouldering wall
That rose-tree’s clustered arches! See
The robin-redbreast warily,
Bright through the blossoms, leaves his nest:
Sweet iugrate! through the winter blest
At the firesides of men—but shy
Through all the sunny summer-hours,
He hides himself among the flowers
In his own wild festivity.
What lulling sound, and shadow cool
Hangs half the darkened churchyard o’er,
From thy green depths so beautiful
Thou gorgeous sycamore!
Oft hath the holy wine and bread
Been blest beneath thy murmuring tent,
Where many a bright and hoary head
Bowed at that awful sacrament.
Now all beneath the turf are laid
On which they sat, and sang, and prayed.
Above that consecrated tree
Ascends the tapering spire, that seems
To lift the soul up silently
To heaven with all its dreams,
While in the belfry, deep and low,
From his heaved bosom’s purple gleams
The dove’s continuous murmurs flow,
A dirge-like song, half bliss, half woe,
The voice so lonely seems!


ANECDOTES AND RECOLLECTIONS

Notings, selections,
Anecdote and joke:
Our recollections;
With gravities for graver folk.

SHERIDAN.

It was at the strongly contested election for Westminster, when Sheridan was opposed by Sir Francis Burdett and Lord Cochrane, that the latter, in allusion to the orator’s desire of ameliorating his situation on the poll by endeavouring to blend his cause with that of the baronet, characteristically observed, “that the right honourable gentleman sought to have his little skiff taken in tow by the line of battle ship of Sir Francis.” Sheridan, in whom the metaphor had awakened the remembrance of the remarkable and successful influence of his speech in the House of Commons on the occasion of the mutiny at the Nore, in calming the irritation of the rebels and reducing them to obedience, in reply to his lordship, bade him “to recollect that it was that little skiff which once brought the whole navy of England safely into port.”

The election drew towards its termination, but all the efforts of his friends had proved unavailing to secure Sheridan’s return, although his minority was any thing but formidable. The interest that attended the contest had, at its close, become intense; and every spot, whence the candidates might be seen or heard, was crowded in the extreme. A sailor, anxious to acquire a view of the scene of action, after all his exertion to push his way through the crowd had proved fruitless, resorted to the nautical expedient of climbing one of the poles which supported a booth directly in front of the hustings, from the very top of which Jack was enabled to contemplate all that occurred below. As the orator commenced his speech, his eye fell on the elevated mariner, whom he had no sooner observed than he rendered his situation applicable to his own, by stating that “had he but other five hundred voters as upright as the perpendicular gentleman before him, they would yet place him where he was—at the head of the pole.”

Often were his addresses to his constituents interrupted by the tumult that arose from the anxiety of the public to get within hearing of him. A person, mounted on horseback, had penetrated to the very centre of the crowd, with more regard for himself than consideration towards others, as the animal he rode, affrighted by the noise, became equally annoying and dangerous to those by whom he was surrounded. The outcry was excessive, and, while some strove to appease the clamour, others urged Sheridan to proceed. “Gentlemen,” replied he to the latter, “when the chorus of the horse and his rider is finished, I shall commence.”

His good humour was at no time disturbed during the election, although the observations of his noble Caledonian opponent manifested no amicable disposition towards the orator. As it terminated, a mutual friend of the rival candidates expressed a hope that, with the contest, all animosity should cease; and that the gallant officer should drown the memory of differences in a friendly bottle. “With all my heart,” said Sheridan, “and will thank his lordship to make it a Scotch pint.”

His treatment of Coleridge, the poet, who had submitted a tragedy to his managerial decision, was wholly unmerited by the author, the success of whose piece subsequently so well justified the better claims it had on Sheridan’s attention. In the cavern scene, where the silence of the place is presumed to be only broken by the slow dropping of the water from its vault, Sheridan, in reading it to his friends, repeated the words of one of the characters, in a solemn tone, “Drip! drip! drip!” adding, “Why, here’s nothing but dripping:” but the story is told by Coleridge himself, in the preface to his tragedy, with that good humour and frankness becoming one sensible of his powers, and conscious that the witty use of an unfortunate expression (were it such) could but little affect the real and numerous beauties of the production.

An author, whose comedies, when returned upon his hands, were generally reduced, by the critical amputation of managers, from the fair proportion of five acts to two, or even one, with the ordinary suggestion of “necessary alteration,” &c. complained in wrath and bitterness to Sheridan, who, it is said, attempted to console him, by saying, “Why, my good fellow, what I would advise you is, to present a comedy of a score of acts, and the devil will be in it if five be not saved.”

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