7's tVEIJ, Fragments of Italy and the Rhine-Land. By the Rev. T. FL White, M.A.. of Ifni. versity College, Oxford; Chaplain to the Most Honourable the Marquis of Down. shire Pickering. Letters and Notes on the Manners. Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. ByGeorge Catlin. Written during eight years' travel among the wildest Tribes of Indians in North America; in 1832. 33.34. 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39. Ia two volumes; with four hundred illustrations, carefully engraved from his original Paintings. Vol. II Catlin, Egyptian Hall. Iltsroar, A History of the Life of Richard Carur-de.Lion, King of England. By G. P. R. James, Esq., Author of "The History of Charlemagne," "-Life of Edward the Black Prince," &c. Vol.. I. and II Saunders and Otley.
WHITE'S FRAGMENTS OF ITALY AND THE R MINE-LAND.
THIS is the most charming volume of impressions of travel that has appeared since BECKFORD 'gave to the world his Italy, and Alcubaca and Batalha. With a well-stored memory, a fertile ima- gination, a fine eye for the beautiful, and a disposition inclined to be pleased, but an independence of mind which will not admire at the dictum of authority, the Reverend T. H. WHITE visits Gibral- tar and Malta, sails thence to Naples, and after running through Italy, descends the Rhine on his return home. In common hands, the mere narrative of a tour over such frequented ground would have involved the tediousness of an often-told tale. But Mr. WHITE is not a common traveller; nor is his book a mere narrative. Its form is a series of extracts from a diary or letters, in which those things alone are noticed that make a strong impression on the writer's mind ; a mode of composition that not only gives Fragments of Italy and the Rhine-Land an advantage-over a com- mon book of travels, but even over BECKFORD'S Letters. On the other hand, the character of Mr. WarrE's subjects—landscape, buildings, and the fine arts—are somewhat monotonous, and want the relief of manners and society to vary the interest. By the time the author is out of Italy, the reader begins to weary; not from any deficiency of spirit in the writer, or perhaps from any inferiority in the topics, but 'simply because a work whose staple is impressions, occasionally varied by description, can only sustain an interest for a short period. Perhaps another source of tedium, in a continuous perusal, arises from the very nature of the work. A description or criticism, based on principles, instructs as well as describes; not only giving an account of the particular subject, but enabling the reader to form a judgment on things of a similar kind. A mere impression is wanting in this larger utility. Its colour and character depend not merely on the individual frame of mind, but on the frame of mind the individual may happen to be in at the time. It is not only possible that the great majority of Mr. WHITE'S readers might receive a different impression from some of the things that inspire him to rhapsody, but that he him- self might view them differently under different circumstances.
An example of this may be found in Gibraltar ; which some people describe as a mere garrison-town, hot and dull, but which Mr. Wrung, fresh apparently from the winter of England, found all that was lovely and enchanting.
GIBRALTAR IN JANUARY.
And now, my dear —, what shall I say to you of this wonderful rock? Nothing can exceed the beauty and variety of the vegetation with which its mighty bosom is all over embroidered. What think ye, at this season, of clusters of the white and odoriferous narcissus-polyanthus, and whole beds of lavender- flowers of the deepest purple and most aromatic fragrance ? Every five yards you encounter beautiful shrubs, of which I know not even the names ; and the broad rough stems and fan-like foliage of the palmetto mingle in wild abund- ance with the gigantic leaves of the aloe and the uncouth and unwieldy bunches of the prickly-pear. Some parts are all blue with periwinkles ; and here and there the wild tulip shows half its bulb, about the size of a turnip, among tufts of the most delicious herbs. Lower down are almond and dasmascene trees in fall blossom, and here and there a noble old pine waves in gloomy majesty side by side with the light and feathery cork-tree., The atmosphere—it is indeed Paradise to breathe it! All is fragrance, verdure, and bloom. The inde- scribably beautiful Aluaeyda, with its geranium hedges and gorgeous coloured flowers, occupies the broad esplanade at the base; while the blue surface of the Mediterranean, backed by the solemn outline of the Granada and Barbary hills, finishes the picture. You have no idea what a nice, little, clean, pretty, bustling town, Gibraltar is. The fortifications are a source of astonishment and delight to me. Their ex- tent, size, and beauty, must be seen to be appreciated. And as for the streets— there you behold a daily masquerade of nations ! You are absolutely bewildered with the incessant variety of feature, complexion, and costume, which you en- counter at every step. The noble countenance of the Spaniard, shadowed by his black steeple-hat ; the turbaned Moor, with his clear olive cheek and large eye ; the scarlet scull cap of the handsome Greek ; the African Jew, with his hideous cowl of striped cloth ; the Turk, the Negro, the Italian, and, though last not least, the well-fed fair and comely Englishman, mingle in the varie- gated gala of this romantic town.
Malta, again—" sirocco, sun, and sweat," with the countless troubles of quarantine—seems to many a large oven. Mr. WHITE, in February, found the sun glaring, and the general country bare of vegetation ; but he took refuge in the charms of the Governor's garden.
"The gardens of San Antonio, the Governor's country palace, form a de- lightful oasis in this nnpleasing shadeless tract. There you enjoy a cool shelter in the airy corridors filled with geraniums and every rare exotic, and their arcades hung with the most graceful parasitical plants ; while in the orange and lemon groves, of a size rivalling our apple and cherry-orchards, you are per- mitted to quench your burning thirst with the most delicious fruit, just as in England you would pull gooseberries. It was in these gardens that, among a thousand rare shrubs, I first saw the caontchouc, or India-rubber plant : it was of the size of a timber-tree, its leaves enormous, forming a perfect parasol ; and by piercing its bark, from whence issues a white milky liquor, we soon ascertained its affinity to that substance which, in my childhood, I implicitly believed to be manufactured out of the hide of the rhinoceros. In less than two minutes it became tough and elastic. Some
magnificent fountains were also set playing here ; and, combined with"the lax- nriant shadows of the golden fruit-trees, formed a most grateful antidote to the jntense heat of these blue and glowing skies. There are several gazelles allowed Ito rove at liberty in these noble gardens ; and I fed one of these beautiful crea- tures with rose-leaves, which the graceful and gentle animal munched with much avidity out of my hand. It appeared to be passionately fond of them; and as each successive handful was consumed, it turned up to me its large soft eye with such a look of fondling entreaty as I found to be utterly irresistible."
Mr. WHITE is a clergyman, apparently with leanings towards the Puseyite doctrines, yet with a considerable distaste to Romanism, and no small dislike of Radicalism, which he obtrudes sometimes needlessly and sometimes foolishly. He is not, however, an an- chorite or an ascetic. He visits the theatre ; he quotes SMOLLETT and he assisted at the Papal shows of Easter-week. "Well, the Holy Week, with all its elaborate pomps and ceremonies, is begun I Yesterday being Palm Sunday, I had my first view of his Holinese in the act of blessing the pains-branches and delivering them to the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Princes' &c., who were to bear them in procession. He had on his silver mitre ; and much resembled a muddled old woman. He is a bloated- looking person, with a very disagreeable physiognomy ; and when mounted on his canopied litter, in his white mitre with lappets like those of a nightcap, his eyes shut, and his face drawn into a peculiar grimace, which might be either laughing or crying, the effect was so purely ludicrous that nothing but con- siderations for the sanctity of the place enabled me to keep my countenance. "Nevertheless, my passion for magnificent costumes and gorgeous colours was completely satiated. Never did my eye behold, or even my imagination picture, any thing approaching the costliness, beauty, and splendour, emblazed upon the ceremonial robes of the higher ecclesiastics. Cloth of gold and cloth of silver, their splendid tissue interwoven with silk of Tyrian purple, scarlet, violet, light blue, crimson, and yellow—satins, damasks, and velvets, em- broidered with golden branchwork, brocades so massive that their wearers seem to be sheathed as in a panopoly—floated down the nave of St. Peter's in a blaze i of pomp to which the rainbow s a faint simile. And where the sun, streaming down upon the gorgeous gloom of the cathedral, kindles this chaos of colours into living light, the dazzling display absolutely bewilders one. But there ends (at least, it did with me) the effect produced by this
• Heavy lightness, serious vanity.'
Not one thrill of devotional awe, not the least impulse of veneration, not the slightest effect upon the heart, is even for a moment produced by all this glitter- ing ostentation. It is the sense of seeing only that is gratified to satiety ; and I for one, who had been led to imagine that my soul was to be stormed through my senses, was surprised to discover myself more than once in a state of yawn- ing listlessness. Indeed I had now witnessed the Roman ceremonial in all its forms; and confess myself at a loss to conceive what people can mean by styling it so very imposing. If my travels had produced no other good effect, they have at least succeeded in stripping this overweening hierarchy of all that prestige with which my imagination had enrobed her revolting superstitions. I am now riveted in my veneration and love for our own beautiful and stately Church, walking, as she does, majestically in her white and comely attire, equally removed from the fig-leaf nakedness of Geneva on the one hand and the trumpery over-dressing of Rome on the other." Two things, however, impressed upon our clerical traveller the greater religious advantage of the Roman over the Anglican
Church—the ever-open gates of the churches, and the absence of
pews. "The Basilica of St. Peter's eminently deserves the title Temple of the Uni- verse; not so much from its:mighty and magnificent dimensions, as because her everlasting doors are always lifted up,' and because her glorious altars are for ever open, with indiscriminate welcome, to the king and the beggar. Go when you will, no jealously-revolving gate regulates with hireling tenacity your ad- mission to the aisles of this empress of cathedrals. You may see the sun kindle upon her gorgeous pillars with the joyous sparkle of the morning, and you may linger among the enchantments of painting, sculpture, architecture, the gigantic graces of her penetralia, until daylight in coloured shadows takes its pensive leave. Surrounded by every object that can enlarge the heart and en- noble the intellect—eye and soul filled with the most vivid illustrations of the vast, the beautiful, the splendid, and the sublime—you are at full leisure either to indulge the gratification of taste in the variety of those masterpieces which surround you, or to pour out your heart in that tone of devotion to which those objects have attuned its chords, in adoration of that Great Unseen from whom alone all that is great and glorious can be derived, and in whose honour all are here displayed.
"While thus engaged, you will probably perceive at your side a poor labourer, his brow still beaded with the sweat that earns his daily bread, a pale woman, with scanty and worn if not tattered raiment, or a child scarcely old enough to be acquainted with all the sin and misery to which he is heir, kneeling in Simple adoration ; and you are disposed to forget that their orisons are addressed to dead men, and that they are obstructed instead of forwarded by that pha- lanx of human intercessors which they have placed between themselves and that God who has said,
• I Am the Lord: that is My Name; and My glory will I not give to another. nei- ther My praise to graven images I '
" These two eminent features of genuine Catholicity, universal opportunity for daily prayer and universal equality in the house of prayer—these two chief jewels of ancient Christianity—are, alas, wanting to the otherwise beautiful garments of the Anglican Church.
As regards the brat of these' the too prevalent cry in the present day is who will show us any good' in daily prayer? * *
"But the other breach of Catholicity in the Church of England is too glaring to be shielded by the most obstinate prejudice. What painful thoughts, for instance, are suggested to every affectionate son of that pure and apostolical branch of Christ's holy Catholic Church, by a comparison of the aristocratic divisions in cathedral-stalls, or the curtained sanctity of the squire's pew in the village-fane, with the ever-open and impartial area of a Roman Catholic church.
"The one abashing and mortifying the poor Christian with the spectacle of his rich brother's superiority forced upon him, even in the very house and in the immediate presence of Him who is the Maker of them all; the other ele- vating the poor man's estimate of his importance in the scheme of salvation, when he beholds all difference (elsewhere so striking) between the wise, the wealthy, the noble, and himself, here entirely obliterated, and feels a foretaste of that which remains for him when all the glories of the temple and its worshipers shall be as if they had never existed."r
Abstractedly speaking, this is just and true ; but the deeper truth seems to have escaped the divine, that religion both in its dogmas and its forms, must follow the national character as well as the social necessities of the time. The splendid ceremonials that attract the eye and charm the mind of the more ignorant and imaginative Southern nations are seen to be unreal and use- less, and therefore look theatrical, to the cold and inquiring Northern. The Southern blood is more impulsive : it stabs a man on a sudden caprice, and then pops down on its knees to pray. The more methodical and reasoning Northern not only doubts the use of these sudden alternations of crime and prayer, guilt and penitence, but attaches something incongruous to the intermixture of secular and religious doings : it would pro- nounce that a porter had better deliver his load before pausing on his journey to pray. In very advanced nations, where every one is hurried along in an unpausing current, time, and what is more than time, the -numbers who depend upon the punctuality of ons, become a bar to the bulk of the population turning aside from their avocations to visit a church : the man who did so would be deemed by his fellows as well as his employer more lazy than reli- gious. The pews are resolvable into a similar feeling of the national sense or prejudice of what is fit : it is probable that an Italian does not feel at all elevated, or an English peasant degraded, b‘cause the lord of one kneels on the same pavement with himself and the landlord of the other performs his genuflexions in a cushioned pew. In a Catholic church, too, it may be remembered, there is one great distinction—that of the laity and the anointed clergy. It may be questioned whether Catholic equality is the equality of Christ, or of the successor of St. Peter ; and whether it does not resemble the equality to which a despotism reduces all, rather than the equality to which a republic raises all.
Enough of the clerical. Let us give a specimen of Mr. Wans's descriptive opinions in matters of art.
"I saw this morning, in the Church of San Gaetano, the most affecting pic- ture of the Martyrdom of St. Laurence; which, from the tone of colouring and the touching expression of the young Deacon's fine countenance, I should attri- bute to Guercino. It is quite a departure from the general representations of this very favourite subject ; where you mostly see the sufferer stark naked, and tossed about in true beef-steak style, on a most accurate gridiron, by one or two ruffians with fiery red skins and two-pronged pitchforks: but here the dreadful but somewhat culinary engine of punishment is kept back, and is scarcely de- noted by a bar, beneath which a dull smouldering red is kindling from the torch of an executioner ; two others have seized and thrown down the martyr, and are stripping him : as usual, he is represented in the gorgeous vestments of his order; and though, doubtless, his attire was in fact of a far more simple de- scription, yet the gorgeous cloth of gold and purple, and the exquisite texture of the white shirt which the tormentors are draggiog downwards, form with their dishevelled splendours a fine contrast to the upper part of the martyr's person, of which the arms and breast are naked, and where one knows not whe- ther more to admire the exquisite delineation of the flesh or the masculine beauty of its mould. It is his face, however, which engrosses one's attention: in those upturned features there is no saintly grimace—it is the expression of a manly spirit glowing with affectionate faith, shaded, not shaken, by the cer- tainty that he is about to undergo the most horrible torture that nature could sustain. It is a most poetical picture indeed ! "
The description of the approach to Rome, in its spirit and con- densation almost rises to poetry ; and the aqueducts strike us as a new feature— "Prom Terracina you enter the dismal, the interminable Pontine Marshes long, straight, dull avenue of poor-looking trees, forming for thirty miles your only screen from the dreary and pestilent Campagna. lhe inhabitants of this fatal region painfully attest its deadly climate. Squalid, haggard, stunted, and torpid, it makes one's very heart ache to see them. In fact, the entire ap- proach to Rome on this side affects one with profound melancholy. For miles before you enter the gates, you traverse an extent of bleak and barren turf, studded with every variety of ruin : tombs, towers, temples, and aqueducts, ex- pose their forms of swarthy brick-work, naked and grim as ghosts upon the shores of Styx, without a single tree to wave over their storm-stricken walls, a tuft of feahlrlubs to fill up their rugged chasms, or a mantle of ivy to veil them as they "If, however, Rome needed a herald to proclaim her majestic wonders, and usher the stranger, with feelings somewhat corresponding with her paramount magnificence into her towery gates, her aqueducts alone would answer that pur- pose. Extending their endless colonnades of arches, tier upon tier, range after range, until their proud sweep dwindles in the distant horizon—rivallmg the ramparts of Aurelian in height, and resembling, in their architecture, the porticos of a palace, (supposing the Titans to have ever built a palace,) the im- perial aqueducts of Rome form an admirable epitome of that insatiable luxury which made even convenience a tributary to taste, and compelled even the ne- cessaries of life to participate in the spread of its ostentatious grandeur."
At Venice, as may be imagined, Mr. WHITE lingered long, and pretty well exhausted not merely its regular shows but its more secluded features, which present less to the eye than to the memory or the imagination. Here is an instance of one of his exploring- excursions,—analogous to a walk through the alleys and by-ways of the City, or Southwark before Southwark was improved. "I thence directed my gondolier to row under the Bridge of Sighs, through the intricacies of the interior canals: and if ever a man wished to be fed to the full with solemn, ay, appalling gloom, he may. be gratified by following my ex- ample. From the weltering surface of a labyrinth of channels, let him look up, till it wearies him, to the awful roofs of the mansions, whose walls of immea- surable height and scarfed with black masses of shadow and glaring moonlight, seem to close over his head and to barricade his path, as they interlace and con- found each other in endless circuits; and he will have quite enough to kindle the torch of his darker imagination, even if he did not know those tremendous gulfs of masonry to be Venice, and those heart-sinking portals and windows of barbaric sculpture, the homes of her inexorable oligarchy. Yes, you may anti- cipate Naples, you may picture to yourself Rome, and Florence may have ful- filled much of your previous fancies; but no conceptions can prepare you for Venice."
The public traces of the Foscari, and a visit to the dilapidatet family palace, excited our author's romance ; but an inspection of the hero's portrait dissipated it all- " I have seen today a portrait of that unhappy Doge Foscari ; and am reluct- antly forced to confess that it has gone far toward dispelling the hallowed pres- tige with which his fate invested him. Gorgeously arrayed with such a robe and bonnet of crimson cloth of gold embroidery as these degenerate days can- not expect to look upon, either in the massive substance of its flaming web or the vast branchwork of its flowered pattern, old Foscari has a fat foolish face, with ponderous flabby dewlaps, and an eye which, as far as the wrinkles of fat will permit it, twinkles with selfish fatuity, while the mouth (that decisive feature of every face) is most unquestionable as to its expression of timid, time-serving weakness. There is not one single elevated trait in the whole countenance. It is a regular corporation-face; and if hung up in half the Town-Councils in the Isle oithe Blest, might be identified with as many Mayors. It is, in short, just such a sensual, heartless, mean physiognomy-, as one would attribute to the chief magistrate, who, yielding to the intimidation of his tyrant subjects, suf- fered himself to preside over the torture of his own son; and who, when even that horrible acquiescence in injustice, that violation of nature, that compro- mise of principle, proved insufficient to secure him in his paltry supremacy, died because the corno was taken from those imbecile temples which it should never have adorned. I am reconciled to his fate; he did not deserve the euthanasia."
In the course of his journey, Mr. WHITE contrives by a few touches to convey a striking idea of the reduced condition of the present Italian nobility : but had any foreigner exhibited so much of the privacy of a decayed English gentleman as our author dis- plays of the last representatives of the Foscari, in his visit to their palace, we suspect an outcry would have been raised throughout the land as to the indelicacy of the disclosures.