« VorigeDoorgaan »
The Lion of the Punjaub died at a very critical moment for the interests and influence of the English in India. We had entered upon our insane expedition to Cabul, and were already involved in difficulties which seem most unaccountably to have taken us by surprise, when the old man, feeling his end approach, gathered the whole of his principal officers about him and caused them, in his presence, European as well as native, to take the oath of allegiance to his son, Kurruk Singh. This ceremony took place on the 28th of June, 1839, and in a few days subsequently the Maha Rajah expired. Now Kurruck Singh was a very weak man, altogether incapable of sustaining the burden of such an empire as was thus laid upon his shoulders, and though he received it peacably enough, but a short time elapsed ere difficulties began to gather round him. He found in office men whom his father had trusted, Rajah Dhejan Singh, with his son the Rajah Mera Singh, and his brothers Goolab Singh and Soochet Singh, and naturally gave to them the confidence which they appear never in the previous reign to have abused. But though able men and sprung from a good family, they had been born poor, and worked their way from the station of private troopers in one of Runjeet's regiments of regular cavalry. Success appears to be as fruitful of animosities among the Sikhs as among ourselves, and the four adventurers, envied at every stage, now found that they were hated. Other great men conspired to supplant them in their master's councils, and succeeded. They were wroth, and entered, without delay, into schemes of vengeance. They found also in Noo Nehal Singh, the son of the new sovereign, and a brave and clever youth, a not unwilling instrument wherewith to work. Under the pretext of forcing the Maha Rajah from the presence of a dangerous favorite, they broke into the palace with armed men, slew their rival, Cheyt Singh, in the king's presence, and cast into prison a whole family of nobles. Then followed a proclamation, which set forth that Kurruck Singh was, from mental imbecility, incapable of carrying on the af. fairs of government. Then was Noo Nehal laced as regent on the throne, and Rajah era Singh, though he conceded to his father the foremost place in regard to rank, became, in the exercise of a paramount influence in the palace, at once a rival and eye-sore to his nearest of kin.
We have already explained that, from the moment that the Sikhs devoted themselves “to steel,” all the humane and pure moral teaching of Nanac Shah ceased to be remembered. Instead of abjuring war, they waged it incessantly, and indulged besides in vices of every sort, as well those which brutalize amid their tendency to render the perpetrator effeminate, as in crimes of violence and an utter disregard to human life. The court of Noo Nehal soon became a persect sink of debauchery, while his father was understood to be wasting away in his seclusion by a disease which common report attributed to poison. At last the ill-fated Kurruck Singh died, and his body was, with great pomp, consumed to ashes. But Noo Nehal reaped no accession to his honors from the event, for, returning on his elephant from his father's obsequies, the animal backed against the gateway of the palace and brought down a mass of brickwork upon the head of its rider. An unworthy favorite, who occupied the same houdah with him, was killed upon the spot, while the skull of Noo Nehal received so severe a fracture that, after lingering a few hours insensible, he expired.
So sudden a death to the young monarch occasioned a great sensation among the Sikhs. It dissolved, moreover, the whole frame-work of society, for there was no direct heir to claim the throne—none, at least, possessing personal weight enough to ensure a ready acquiescence in the demand. As far as England is concerned, however, the probabilities are that the death of Noo Nehal is not much to be regretted. He never made any secret of his hatred of us, and had planned, and would have doubtless, sooner or later, carried it out, a project for involving us simultaneously in a war with the Punjaub, with Nepaul, Birmah, and Cabul. At the same time, there is no denying that his death has precipitated the struggle. The revolutions which followed it in the Punjaub, fruitful as they have been of evil to the natives of that state, never shook the hatred where with the chiefs and soldiery regard us. Indeed, so implacable is this feeling, that the refusal of his temporary successor, Shere Singh by name, to fall upon the rear of General Pollock's army and cut off its convoys, cost the individual his life. But we are anticipating.
When Noo Nehal's fate was announced to the minister Dhejan Singh, he cast his eyes at once upon Shere Singh, one of twin sons whom Mehtab, one of Runjeet's wives, had borne, but of whom the old Lion never would acknowledge the legitimacy. Shere Singh was a man of considerable energy of character, and proceeded at once from his retirement near Umretzur to assume the reins of government; but the widow of Kurruck Singh opposed him, giving out that her daughter-in-law, the relic of Noo Nehal, was enceinte, and that it was her duty to act as regent till the child should be born. At first the tale was credited, so both Shere Singh and Dhejan Singh withdrew again from the capital; but the falsehood came to light as soon as men recalled to their remembrance that the interesting lady numbered no more than eight years of age. Accordingly, Shere Singh took the field again and prevailed. But these claims and counter-claims, as they could not be maintained without constant appeals to the troops, so they soon converted the Sikh army into a body as disorganized and mercenary as were the Praetorian bands of Rome. Rivals bid for their services, and were served and betrayed alternately. Thus Shere Singh having gained his end by largesses, kept his place only till he forgot to be profuse among his troops, and was murdered at a review, the very minister who raised him to the throne being a party to the deed. Other assassinations and military riots followed, till, in the end, all government, or semblance of a government, ceased, and the army, after existing by plunder as long as it could be had on the Sikh side of the Sutlej, advanced towards the river and threatened the protected principalities. Here, then, we stop for the present. Before we meet our readers again, the results of the operations which have been carried on in the neighborhood of Loodiana will have transpired; and as soon as we feel ourselves in a position to deal fairly by so important a subject, we will not fail to give a sketch both of them and of the circumstances which shall appear to have led to them and arisen out of them.
From Frazer's Magazine.
MURILLO, OR THE PAINTER witHout AMBITION.
It is through the assistance of the fine arts that we are better acquainted with two of the most striking epochs in the history
of Europe than with any other period in history. We allude, first, to that of the Reformation, the reign of Henry VIII., and Cardinal Wolsey, in England, with its corresponding period in Italy and Germany, the reign of the Emperor Charles W., extending to Spain, to that of his successor and son, Philip II., the husband of our Queen Mary. The second period alluded to in the history of Europe, arrived a hundred years after; it extends over about fifty years of the seventeenth century, comprising the ministries of Cardinal Richelieu and his successor Mazarin in France, corresponding in England with the reign of Charles I., the Rebellion, and the restoration of the Stuarts to power. It is especially to painters that we are indebted for our knowledge of the cardinal ministers of both France and Spain, of their sovereigns, their friends, their enemies, and the courts that they so despotically governed. The state of the fine arts in Europe at both these periods (the Reformation and the Rebellion) was glorious. At the time of the Reformation, Holbein resided in England; Albert Durer flourished in Germany; Titian, Tintoret, Georgione, and Paul Veronese were protected by the Emperor Charles W.; Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Janet, and Prismaticcio, by Francis I.; Michael Angelo was rather persecuted than protected by the different successive popes; and Pierin del Wago, along with several other artists, worked at Genoa for the great and generous Andrea Doria. Richelieu and Mazarin were equally in their day surrounded by a halo of glory in painting, owing to their enormous wealth; commissions were sent to Italy on a large scale, which laid the foundation of all the collections of France; and, notwithstanding the poverty and the bad fortune of the sovereigns of England and Spain, they protected, as well as their ministers, the fine arts, and both loved and understood painting. Accordingly, Rubens, Vandyke, Welasquez, and Murillo, along with the famous miniature painters, Oliver, Petitot, and Cooper, having transmitted to posterity the likenesses of all those by whom they were surrounded, we know the air and countenance, the figure and costume of the most celebrated persons of Europe; and thus are we become intimately acquainted with the beauties and wits, and the military and political leaders of the day. We know the peculiar expression of the unfortunate Charles; the grace of Henrietta Maria; the portly grandeur of her mother, Mary of Medecis; the sternness of Wallstein, according so exactly with Schiller and Coleridge's description of that extraordinary man; the warrior looks of the great commander, Spinola; the fatuity of Buckingham, so exactly in accordance with his character and conduct; and the vulgarity of feature of the minister of Spain, Olivares, joined to his expression of stern good sense. It is to be regretted that the last great painter of Europe, Murillo, left but few portraits behind him of persons known to posterity. Murillo appears to have been as great in portrait-painting as he was in ideal or religious art. The portraits he has left are perfect in point of truth and nature, but Murillo was an unambitious man. He neither sought the society, the approbation, nor the patronage of kings or ministers. In his character of a mild and gentle nature, there was a sighing and struggling for independence of mind as well as habits, that was the marked characteristic of his life. His representations of himself more portray this spirit of independence than his contemplative and poetical nature, and there is more energy, vivacity, and animal life expressed, than would be expected in the gentleness and love of quiet and retirement that belonged to Murillo's character. There are two portraits of Murillo at Paris; one is reckoned the chef d' acuvre of the Spanish gallery in the Louvre, the other belongs to Louis Philippe. Both have been engraved, and are well known in England through the engravings. The one belonging to the king represents him older and more grave in character than the former. The former would suit the character of Columbus; it represents boldness, acuteness, and sagacity. The latter is more religious in feeling and intent on his art. Another portrait, by and of Murillo, is said to belong to Don Berardo de Friate in Spain, was engraved there, and the engravings sold in London; and a fourth portrait is known in Holland and Belgium, and has been engraved in those countries. There are also portraits in the Louvre of Murillo's mother and of his servant; but the most celebrated portrait by the hand of Murillo is now in England, and belongs to Lord Lansdowne, who bought it from Mr. Watson Taylor. It was brought to England by a Frenchman, but was seen, in 1806, in its original place, that is, hanging
up in the repertory of the Hospital de los Venerables at Seville. It represents the superior, Don Justino Francisco Neve, the dear friend and patron of Murillo, in whose arms he died. It is a whole length of an ecclesiastic, sitting in his arm-chair, and very perfect as portraiture. There is also in the Louvre the portrait of Don Andreas de Antrade, with his dog, a whole-length. Of this picture there are several repetitions in England. One of these repetitions belongs to the queen; another is at Longford Castle in Wiltshire. However, Murillo's portraits are rare. He painted many abbots, bishops, monks, and generals of monastic orders in Spain, for whose convents and chapter-houses he had commissions for large works of a religious nature. Of these persons, few are known out of Spain, and even in Spain their very names and histories are unknown or forgotten. Murillo's reputation as a painter rests on the ideal in which he soared—on the earthly nature of the Spaniard raised by his imagination and traced to a heavenly nature— on a poetical feeling which came not forth in words, but that went direct from the mind to the hand ; at the same time his art was so entirely national, that the most ignorant can immediately distinguish his pictures from those of any of the Italian school. The religious feeling of his faith and creed is expressed in every performance. We read in his divine pictures the history of Spain and of the Spaniards; the strong and fiery passions of the South, held down by the Inquisition; and the gloom and superstition of its kings and nobles. In Murillo's compositions may be read many a well-known story in Spanish life, and of the greatest individuals of the nation; the wisdom of Ferdinand and Isabella, the gloom and intellect of the Emperor Charles W., the crime and superstition of Philip II., the sagacity and wisdom of Ximenes and Olivares, and even the weakness of the inbecile Charles II., that monarch who so much appreciated Murillo's paintings, that he passed a law prohibiting their exportation out of Spain, thus showing sense and feeling enough to estimate their merit. Alongside of the national characteristics of the Spaniards expressed in Murillo's composition, is a coloring that tells of the brilliancy of a fine climate; it is the beautiful on earth, in air and vegetation, allied to faith in God and in the saints; all these deeply imbued with the ferocity of the early religious wars, which made and created those same saints and martyrs. The moral gloom with which Murillo was surrounded only cleared off now and then under the influence of a bright sun by day, as a clear, starry firmament by night.
Like Spagnoletto, Murillo's representations of our Saviour are disagreeable in the extreme. They express human nature, not divine nature; Spaniards in feature, passions, and countenance. Of all the great painters, it is Titian who has best combined the divine and human nature of our Lord, blended and mingled as Scripture has authorized our belief. It must be rather to the pictures of the Virgin Mary and the martyred saints that we must turn to become acquainted with Murillo. See the Madonnas in Marshal Soult's gallery, the way that they float in air on the canvass. They are evidently painted at the hour of setting sun in the south of Europe, and not in the street of a crowded metropolis, under the influence of a chilling easterly wind, or a November fog. The play of coloring in these pictures is so harmonious, that the idler lingers long before them, scarcely able to tear himself away, and yet not able to explain why he is so attracted there. One might suppose that Milton had contemplated the crowd of sunny cherubims in which the figure of the Madonna is encircled, those lovely beings
“In the color of the rainbow live, And play in the plighted clouds.”
It is but Murillo, Correggio, and Guido, that can paint cherubims.
But it is difficult to bring the mind to a belief that the same artist who painted these heavenly visions, and thus represented assumptions and martyrdoms, could have excelled in low life in the manner in which Murillo, as a painter, is classed in the gallery at Munich. There he is known but as the painter of real life. The ragged beggar-boys of Seville are there depicted, devouring grapes and melons, and playing at cards as eagerly as if they staked thousands. All objects are represented with a truth that has caused it to be said, with regard to these paintings, “that the indifference to the external and the internal freedom amidst rags and poverty, raises these same paintings of beggar children to all that art can depict or express.”
Painting began at once in Spain; not like the schools of Italy, gradually and successively, but dividing immediately into the
schools of Seville and Madrid. That of Madrid owed its origin to El Mudo (Navarette), having belonging to it the families of Italian origin of Castillo, Carducci, and others, who formed Sanchez Coello (the favorite painter of Philip II.), Pareda, Collantes, and others. The school of Seville owed its origin to Luis de Vargas, and Pietro Campana, both of whom were formed and educated in Italy, and this same school continued with Alonzo Cano, Zurbaran, Velasquez, &c., and ended with Murillo. Murillo, like Velasquez his contemporary and master, was born at Seville; and baptized on the 1st of January, 1618, under the name of Bartolomé Esteban. His parents were of humble origin, his youth was passed in obscurity, without education, without pleasures, without resource; “a most melancholy youth,” as one of his biographers remarks of him, often leads to greatness. At last Juan de Castillo, a distant relation, took the boy out of compassion and charity to his home, whose reputation, destined to be so celebrated in the history of art, was to carry down the name of the master to posterity. Castillo drew correctly, but could only instruct the youth in the dry and cold coloring of a professor of Seville; and Murillo shortly left him to go to Cadiz, where, as it may be said, he became selftaught. The poor boy, deprived of all instruction, of all study, had to gain his daily bread by his pencil, of which he scarcely knew the use, and could not make great proficiency in an art which he used but as the means of procuring daily food and clothing. He sold his religious paintings (painted on wood) by the dozen, to persons going to America, and to the newly converted population of Peru and Mexico; but in painting these daubs, he acquired the habit of handling a paint-brush, managing his colors, and nothing more. Murillo had attained the age of twentysour, when, fortunately for him, an enthusiastic Spanish painter, Pietro de Moya, passed through Seville, to which town Murillo had returned. Moya had been in London, and had been instructed by Wandyke, and brought with him, on his revisiting Spain, the brilliant coloring and the good taste with which Vandyke inspired his admirers. At the sight of Moya's paintings, Murillo fell into an ecstacy of delight; he was touched with the spark which sets the fire of genius into a flame. But what could he
do? He had neither money nor patronage; and soon after Moya's visit to Seville, Wandyke died, so that it would have been useless to have gone to England; a journey to Italy was too expensive to think of undertaking; and Moya himself, then but a scholar, was going to Granada. In a fit of despair, Murillo took a desperate resolution; he bought a large canvass, cutting it into small pieces, which he covered with little figures of the Madonna, of the Infant Saviour, with cherubims and garlands of flowers; and after disposing of these trifles at the fair at Seville, with a few pence in his pocket, neither asking advice nor taking leave of any one, he set out on foot for Madrid. It was in the year 1643. Arrived at Madrid, he presented himself to Velasquez, then in all the glory of his reputation and his good fortune. The king's favorite painter received the young artist kindly, encouraged him, promised him work, gave him the means of studying the works of the great Italian masters in the palaces and at the Escurial, and in his own studio Velasquez finally instructed and advised him. Murillo passed two years in studying the great colorists. The masters he preferred were Titian, Rubens, and Vandyke, Spagnoletto, and Velasquez. Less anxious for renown than for independence he left Madrid, notwithstanding Velasquez's wish to retain him in that city, and returned to Seville in 1645. It was said that Murillo took a disgust to courts and cities, in consequence of the disgrace of the prime minister Olivares, which happened in 1643. He was a great patron of the arts, and was sent into exile, where he shortly after died. His loss was deeply deplored by Velasquez; and it
is probable that the pure and simple-minded
Murillo may have taken a disgust to Madrid in consequence of this public event. No persuasions of Velasquez could get him to profit by the king's bounty, or recommendations to pursue his studies at Rome. Painters are as excitable as patriots or poets. Hardly had Murillo's absence been noticed in his native town; but the astonishment was great when the following year he painted for the Convent of San Francisco three pictures, one was “The Death of Saint Claire,” a picture that formed the principal ornament latterly of the Aguado Gallery at Paris. Every one inquired where Murillo could have learned this noble and attractive style, which partook of the manner of Spagnoletto, Wandyke, and Velasquez, and that was thought from its variety
to be superior to all that they had produced. Notwithstanding the envy which generally follows success, notwithstanding the rivalry and hatred of Waldez Leal, of Herrera the younger, whom Murillo had dethroned from being at the head of their profession as painters, he soon rose from indigence and obscurity to renown; and, in 1648, he was in a position good enough to obtain in marriage the hand of a rich and noble lady, Doña Beatrix de Cabrera y Sotomajor. From the year that Murillo returned to Seville (1645), until his death in 1682, he rarely left his native place, nor indeed scarcely his studio; spending there thirtyseven years in constant and incessant employment, and by that means producing the enormous number of pictures that were the work of his pencil. Given up to his art, he sought neither the patronage of the great nor the applause of the multitude, but made his happiness in placing his talent at the disposal of those persons who pleased himself in indulging his taste for composing his pictures in retirement, and for being completely independent in his daily habits of life. The chapters, the monasteries, and the grandees of Spain sent incessant requests and orders to the artist of Seville; and there were few cathedrals, sacristies, or convents, that did not possess some representation of their patron saint by his hand. Most of the illustrious and ancient families of Spain also aspired to the portrait of some ecclesiastic, friend, or relation painted by him. The Convent of Capuchins at Seville at the beginning of this century, possessed nineteen first-rate pictures painted by Murillo, and the Hospital de la Claridad had in its little church eight of his most famous compositions. He received from the hospital for the painting of “Moses Striking the Rock,” 13,300 réaux de vellon; for the “Miracle of the loaves in the Desert,” 15,975; and for all the eight pictures together, 32,000 réaux de vellon, a sum amounting to about 850l. of our money—a large sum for those days, and for Spain. The most laborious and productive time of his life was from his fiftieth to his sixtieth year; proving in art as in literature, that the greatest works of a man of genius are towards his decline, when he can unite experience and habit to invention and imagination. Murillo is, of all the Spanish masters, the one who possessed the most of the