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Translated by R.D. Boylan Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole - page 11 / 106





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me to the spot one fine afternoon, and I found it perfectly deserted. Everybody was in the fields except a little boy about four years of age, who was sitting on the ground, and held between his knees a child about six months old: he pressed it to his bosom with both arms, which thus formed a sort of arm-chair; and, notwithstanding the liveliness which sparkled in its black eyes, it remained perfectly still. The sight charmed me. I sat down upon a plough opposite, and sketched with great delight this little picture of brotherly tenderness. I added the neighbouring hedge, the barn-door, and some broken cart- wheels, just as they happened to lie; and I found in about an hour that I had made a very correct and interesting drawing, without putting in the slightest thing of my own. This con- firmed me in my resolution of adhering, for the future, en- tirely to nature. She alone is inexhaustible, and capable of forming the greatest masters. Much may be alleged in favour of rules, as much may be likewise advanced in favour of the laws of society: an artist formed upon them will never pro- duce anything absolutely bad or disgusting; as a man who observes the laws, and obeys decorum, can never be an abso- lutely intolerable neighbour, nor a decided villain: but yet,

say what you will of rules, they destroy the genuine feeling of nature, as well as its true expression. Do not tell me “that this is too hard, that they only restrain and prune superfluous branches, etc.” My good friend, I will illustrate this by an analogy. These things resemble love. A warmhearted youth becomes strongly attached to a maiden: he spends every hour of the day in her company, wears out his health, and lavishes his fortune, to afford continual proof that he is wholly de- voted to her. Then comes a man of the world, a man of place and respectability, and addresses him thus: “My good young

friend, love is natural; but you must love within bounds. Divide your time: devote a portion to business, and give the hours of recreation to your mistress. Calculate your fortune;

and out of the superfluity you may make her a present, only not too often, —on her birthday, and such occasions.” Pur- suing this advice, he may become a useful member of society, and I should advise every prince to give him an appointment; but it is all up with his love, and with his genius if he be an artist. O my friend! why is it that the torrent of genius so seldom bursts forth, so seldom rolls in full-flowing stream, overwhelming your astounded soul? Because, on either side


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