« AnteriorContinuar »
garded with superstitious feelings, just as the Pickle is a cognate word. In Devon a Laps and the Gubbins were. As these were fungus (Lycoperdon giganteum) is called "pixytransformed into Gnomes and Goblins the Picts puff," because it was supposed a fairy seat. became Pixies. From their name probably “Pixy-seats," again, are the tangles that get came “Puck," no doubt a mischievous, dwarf-into horses' manes, where fairies were believed ish Pict and an eminent Pixy. The “Picts' to ride. “Pixy-rings" are curious round cirHouses," in which this ancient folk lived under-cles of lichens-like ring-worms on the earth ground, gave rise to the belief that the fairies or stone--which were regarded as circles for lived in the earth. The belief has had a great fairy dances. It is still declared that cattle many ramifications, and has formed a vocabu- will not graze in fields where these are found. lary of its own. In one of his notes I see that Puck may sometimes be surprised within Hawthorne derived the word “asphyxia" from pixy, the idea being that one so stricken was
“Those rings and roundelayes bewitched. It is quite likely that “pox" also
...... which yet remaine
On many a grassy plaine." refers to the theory that it was the work of Puck. Similarly derived, though this is not
The belief in the “Pixies”-otherwise called certain, may be "pyx,” the Roman Catholic
"Little People"-may yet be frequently found shrine for consecrated wafers. The Romanists
in the rural districts of Devon, Cornwall, and derive their “pyx" from the Greek múšos, "a
| Wales. “They lived there before any human cup;" but there is at least equal authority to
beings came into the country." A Welsh drivbelieve that it was so called by the British na
er told me, lowering his voice at the time, that tives from the belief that some kind of magic
there “ used to be a great many, and they could was in it. Clobery (1650) writes of “The
be heard under the ground in every field; but pixie-led in popish piety." An old Devon MS.
they were leaving the country." It was evihas the following definition :
dent that he, for one, did not desire that they "PIXIE-LED: to be in a maze; to be bewildered, as if should stand on the order of their going. And led out of the way by a hobgoblin, or Puck, or one
thus, in the myths of one age and the lowest of the fairies. The cure is to turn one of your garments the inside outward, which gives a person superstitions of another, the once powerful natime to recollect himself. The way to prevent it, tion of Roderic disappears from history, to live some say, is for a woman to turn her cap inside still, however, in the blood and the language outward, that the pixies may have no power over
of the race which absorbed the quality and her: and for a man to do the same with some of his clothes."
I strength of every enemy it conquered.
CHARLES LORING ELLIOTT. 1.-HIS EARLIER ARTISTIC LIFE.* nited charcoal into a small bedroom on the On the morning of the twelfth anniversary ground-floor of a plain but comfortable dwell
of the conflagration of Moscow, a stinging ing-house, which was situated near the centre winter day, while the boys were sliding down of the afore-mentioned village, then and since hill, and the sleigh-bells were merrily ringing celebrated for its two well-regulated instituthrough the beautiful village of Auburn (New tions, the State Prison and the Theological York), a youngster—who must have been, ac- Seminary, intended by legislators and pious cording to the records of the parish church of people to be the balance - wheels of society. Scipio, if said records were properly kept, about When the urchin had safely deposited his furten years old — might have been seen, but nace on the floor of the apartment he left it in probably was not, taking a clay furnace of ig- haste for the kitchen, and soon reappeared with
a broomstick, which, on entering his bedroom * This first portion was written in 1850 (mainly as once more, he forced through the door-latch, it now appears), at the suggestion and request of that he might be able to prosecute his undersome intimate friends of Elliott, for the purpose of
taking without fear of interruption from any preserving an authentic account of his earlier artistic life. After it had been emended and finished to our unwelcome visitors. The reader will soon dissatisfaction we had a limited number of copies printed
cover that these formidable preparations betokfor special circulation. This was nearly twenty years
ened an enterprise of no little magnitude. He ago. It is hardly possible that a sketch so entirely authentic and sharply minute could be prepared at must first be enlightened in regard to several this period.
c. E. L. matters which were more or less intimately con
nected with the events of that particular day. I it only as a mechanic; while he himself went So leaving the urchin to his solitude, we may to work on his ideal—a horse in motion, in any briefly glance at his previous history, which attitude ; for the innocent young soul thought will be likely to cast the light of probable con- one attitude as easy to draw as another. He jecture upon his present design.
| had done a great thing, however, in beginning His father was an architect of considerable to draw as an artist, little as he knew what he mechanical genius, and many of “the princi- was doing. He had been making the horse his pal men” of the neighborhood were indebted study, and not any particular horse in one parto his taste and skill for the somewhat imposing ticular attitude. The difference was as great mansions which drew the attention of passing between him and his rival as between the dunce travelers. Like all good fathers, when they who learns by rote to scan the first book of the can, he sent his boy regularly to the district neid glibly and the scholar who reads Tacischool.
tus with delight and Horace with enthusiasm. He had at a very early period displayed a The one was overcoming only the difficulties of taste for artistic mechanism, and most of his imitating a stiff, hard, unyielding form ; the leisure hours and lolidays were spent in his fa- other was learning principles of art which would ther's work-shop, from which he had sent forth enable him to master all forms. But the dear sleds, wagons, wind-mills, and saw - mills, of boy knew not that he had begun as Giotto bemany different sizes, but of very beautiful work- gan: to draw the forms of the sheep he watched manship, which gave him a reputation among on the sunny slopes of the Tuscan hills; to repthe young folks of being the most consummate resent life by lines without color. He was "out operator of this kind in the village. But a of patience with himself for his stupidity!" dangerous rival had appeared in the school, Long afterward he learned that he had lost his who threatened by his skill as a draughtsman patience because he could not do in his tenth of horses on the slate-to eclipse the fame of year what cost the old masters so much toil. the hitherto unrivaled constructor. But this But light began to break in on the path of artist's genius seemed to have a somewhat lim- his studies. Gleam after gleam came out from ited range, since he always made the same his pencilings. He could at last draw a horse horse, although, by dint of hard practice, he hitched to a post, or chafing under the spur, had succeeded in representing that particular with swelling veins, snorting nostrils, and prancanimal in a very respectable state ; and since ing feet. At last “it mattered little to him the versatility of his talent was not brought in what his horse must do." He could make him question by his critics, he was luxuriating in do one thing as well as another. He had passed the wealth of his fame.
the Rubicon of Art, although he still knew so The architect's son began to feel the stirrings little what he had done. But judging of himof ambition, and he secretly determined to dis- self as he judged his rival, he “thought his tance his rival on his own field. He collected horse could pass muster." Having now, as paall the pictures of horses he could lay his hands tiently as he could, endured the reproach of deon, and began his studies on the slate. A feat for several weeks, the time which he had common observer, however, could make little bided had at last come. more out of these first attempts than oblong One evening he drew a fine, prancing horse, bodies with four uprights, evidently intended to full of mettle, with flowing mane and tail, and represent horses' legs. But he gradually im- laying his slate up carefully on the kitchen proved, until, with all his drawings, he began mantle-piece he went to bed. All night long to draw on his rival. Not satisfied, however, squadrons of prancing horses danced on his with his success, he kept his secret and obsti- vision. In the morning he took down his slate, nately persevered, trying his subject in one po- and hurrying off to school before the usual hour, sition for a while, and then in another ; but he showed his drawing to one of his little friends, grew less and less satisfied with his perform- who had taken his part from the beginning, and ances, and thinking he had “gone to work at asked him privately “how he liked it." The the wrong end," he cast aside all his picture-noble little sympathizer's eyes (we have always models and began to study from life. He had a liking for that boy since we heard the watched horses as they passed in the streets, story) grew as large as saucers-tiny ones. He went to the stables to examine their limbs and could hardly trust his senses. He gazed inproportions; but he still found it “no easy tensely on the picture, seized the slate, and matter to draw a good horse." “Why is it,” when he could contain himself rushed across he said, “that I can't draw one good horse in a the school-room, and thrusting it triumphantly month, while that fellow can draw fifty in a before the face of the still-horse boy, said, day?"
“Now, old feller, make a horse like that-you The mystery was not completely solved by can't do it." There was no retreat; he was in him for years, for the good reason that its solu- the lists with his rival. He was to have one tion opens the whole arcana of art. Long after-day to copy the prancing horse. He tried and ward he discovered that while his rival had, by failed. “Well," said the hitherto unrivaled dint of sheer manipulation, succeeded in copy- draughtsman of still-horses, “now let him try ing a horse standing still, without life or action, my horse. I can't do his'n, and he can't do and succeeded commendably well, he had done mine." This, too, was fair play. His antago
nist also was to have a day. He did it during tion for a boy of his age, who had received no the ten minutes the school were at play. At instruction whatever in art, and who had never noon the still-horse was shown. Even the still before attempted to paint in oil. Elliott said horse boy acknowledged that “ he had done it." | of it: “It couldn't, of course, have been any Thus ended the conflict, and after that day great thing as a picture, but it was generally young Elliott had as many horses to draw for acknowledged that it made an excellent firehis comrades as he had hitherto had of sleds, board." wagons, and wind-mills.
It is pretty evident that ideas of art were We have told this story in all its detail be- now growing into shape in the mind of the box, cause it is a miniature history of the life of every and we are not much surprised that he "made true artist. We find such things in the lives up his mind that, for better or worse, he would of all great painters. But we must return to be a painter"-a resolution he seems to have the youngster in bis bedroom (which occurred adhered to pretty obstinately, until he has won some time later than the horse trial"), for the for himself a reputation in the acquisition of chances are that before now his enterprise has which any man may have considered himself got under way, nor should we be surprised if fortunate had it cost him a lifetime of unceasthe furnace of ignited charcoal had already be- / ing toil. gun to work.
About this time his father had employed two The boy shut up in that bedroom we need men of doubtful genius in that line "to landhardly say is the one who made so many labo- scape" the parlor of a house he was finishing, rious slate-studies on the horse. He had dis- and they had gone on daubing the walls by the tanced all competitors in horses, and begun to yard with all sorts of enormities in the shape of extend the field of his operations. He aban-woods, waters, and animals, without much redoned the slate for India ink and crayons. At gard to the laws which the Almighty originally last he resolved to make an essay in oil-paint- intended should control the animal, mineral, or ing. Keeping his own counsels, “that no one vegetable kingdoms. While these worthies were might laugh at him," he procured a rather huge gone to dinner one day, Charlie, who was sure canvas, with the requisite utensils, and we now to know what was going on in the limits of the find him shut up in that little bedroom, on that narrow artistic world around him, entered the “bitter cold day," attempting to copy a picture room, and seizing up one of the pallets, sketched in the History of England—“The Conflagration a bridge with a man walking over. He “worked of Moscow." But this expedition to Moscow quick and fled.” When the men returned they was likely to become to the young painter even honestly expressed their amazement and demore fatal than it had proved to Napoleon him- light, and to their immortal honor “they alself. The dinner hour came round, but he did lowed the bridge to stand, with the walking not show himself. Some time passed, and his man." It may have been a no very great mother became anxious. A search was made for thing, and probably was so considered by the him every where. Having occasion to visit the next proprietor of the mansion, for he had all bedroom, his mother found the door fastened. the wall embellishments decently covered over She ran to the outside window, through which with paper, not excepting “the bridge and the she saw her son sitting in his chair, his head man walking over it”—which may be carefully fallen down on his breast, apparently asleep. uncovered some day. Stranger things have She rapped on the window and called, but re- happened. ceived no answer. She forced the window open, Charles L. Elliott used to talk with his young when a sight of the charcoal furnace explained friends about art and artists (these associates the mystery to the frightened mother, who still remember it all), and “what would be the “supposed that her Charlie was dead.” She end of all this” they could not tell. Some of sprang through the window, and rushing to his them, in a certain way, entered into his feelings, side, shook him violently; but he showed no but many of his hours and days were left withsign of life. And there on the chair before out sympathy, and he was driven to books for him stood “Moscow Burning," a rude but comfort and company.” He became a great bold sketch, in which the idea of the artist was reader, especially of two kinds—those that denot to be mistaken. By his side on a little scribed battles, and those which spoke about stand lay the open History of England, from artists. After exhausting his father's library he which he had copied-his pallet and brushes used to borrow from neighbors. Chance put fallen from his hands; and to all appearances him in possession of a large Biographical Dicthe young artist had painted his first and last tionary, and he hunted all through its thousand qil-picture. But the rush of winter air soon re- pages in his eleventh year, and read a great vived him, and in a few hours he was as well as many times over its accounts of painters and ever.
sculptors, engineers and engravers, who had This narrow escape was far enough from become famous in past ages. The miscarriage curing the boy of his passion for painting; but of his “charcoal picture" had not cured him of it taught him how much better is charcoal for great subjects. He was fond of “battle-pieces, sketching than for breathing. He afterward Scripture scenes, and heroic subjects." He finished “The Conflagration," and a good judge copied in oil many of the pictures in the old who saw it said it was an astonishing produc- Family Bible. “Ahasuerus and Esther" was of no little merit; it is still in the artist's pos- of some importance in this narrative is, that this session.
| picture was what the painter long afterward Some good instruction in art would now have spoke of as “my first sober attempt at delineabeen a world to him. But Auburn at that pe- tion from nature, strictly speaking.” riod had no artist's studio, and he had to work. The academician went home, and found his his way on in the dark, as West, the father of father in a different state of mind. No change painting in this country, did, with only nature had perhaps taken place in his mind about the to help him. In his fifteenth year Elliott's fa- profitableness of painting pictures; but, like ther removed to Syracuse, which was then (1827) other sensible men, he “ made the best of it,” but a hamlet with a handful of people. Heavy and was prepared to negotiate. Nothing more forest trees were then growing where churches, was said about “dry-goods and groceries" or villas, and groaning warehouses now stand. “ academies." These offensive subjects were The site of the great railway dépôt was then not even brought up; and therefore something "an irredeemable marsh." But a spirit of civ- was likely to be done, since both “the high ilized bustle was beginning, and Clinton's canal contracting parties” met on terms of equality. would do the rest. Elliott's father had never And here let us not be misunderstood. In all troubled himself much about his son's paints these trials and tests to which the father suband brushes. He considered it “a freak of jected the son he not only displayed true afboyhood that would give way to better things fection, but true common-sense. There is no when the time came.” But finding the freak error more fatal, nor one into which spirited likely to last longer than he “calculated” he boys so often fall, as to think they are born for determined to put a stop to it, or at all events something better than the common business of train up the lad to some occupation more likely life. The world staggers under the curse of to keep him out of the poor-house.
incompetency in all its high places. We have So “Charles" was put behind the counter of a hundred pettifoggers where we have one lawa dry-goods and grocery store, in which his fa- yer-a hundred daubers to one painter. It was ther was a partner. “Now, Charles, you may a thousand to one that Mr. Elliott would not inake up your mind to give up your picture busi- find in his son the all-excelling portrait painter. ness.” But it happened that “of all things in So we find no fault with Mr. Elliott. And it the wide world that was the very thing he had was donbtless the best thing for the boy-it was determined never to do-poor-house or palace part of his training. If a young man has in him -come what might." Mr. Elliott père happen the passion for art too deep to be eradicated by ed to be more proprietor of the dry-goods and opposition-an enthusiasm too blood-felt to be groceries than he was of the painter; and cus- chilled by ridicule, rebuke, or rebuff-he will tomers who wanted to make careful inquiries on work his way. If he can not withstand and *the prices of Bohea tea, starch, cut-nails, New finally surmount such obstacles his blade is not England rum, molasses, and Webster's spelling- made of Damascus steel.. books, and sich like," were left to solve their Young Elliott's best and fairest test was now own problems, while Charlie retired to some coming. His father had large contracts for garret, or out of the way nook or corner of building. Architectural drawing was an imSyracuse, to copy an engraving of Inman's portant branch of the business, and when he “Fisher-Boy."
made known to his son his desire to have his Things were now going on badly. In about best assistance, it was faithfully pledged. The three months Mr. Elliott informed the young compact was fairly entered into, and honorably gentleman that he inust enter the store of a fulfilled on both sides. Partly as a necessary Yery worthy Scotchman, where, as the father had facility to his progress, and partly to gratify bis no interest, the son “would be obliged to walk taste, he was sent to a select school for two Spanish." He entered; but in about another years, where he was contented, because he could three months the worthy Scotch merchant took follow congenial studies, and when his father Mr. Elliott père aside, and quietly expressed wanted any help, artistic and well-executed “ some, yes, serious doubts about his son's ever drawings were always furnished by the willing making a very great merchant." Mr. Elliott artist. Discerning the irremediable bent of his himself finally began to fear that “those paints genius, and wishing to divert it exclusively to and brushes” would prove too strong for him, architecture, he procured for him elaborate and and he sent his son to an academy of some re-costly works in that range of art, and so accupute in Onondaga Hollow. Here he had to go rate and beautiful was every design and combinathrough “a routine not much more to his taste tion the builder called for executed he became than dry-goods and groceries,” particularly when proud of his son's talent, and was happy in the he had some great picture" on hand—and once fact that he could turn these gifts to advantage. inore a three months' trial had turned out a “ Art seemed now not to be squinting quite so failure. His father became “ satisfied that even straight to the poor-house." academies were not the thing." "Charles had. During this period Elliott made a profound studied very little, and painted a great deal; but study of architecture and drawing in their aphe had painted a landscape, embracing the acad- plication to practical use in common edificesemy, which pleased us all.” This clause in the in chastening the proportions of dwellings, elabreport of Charlie's term had its effect. A point orating, and refining, and embellishments of