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CHAPTER V.-DEATI IN Song.
It was nearly a month after this that I was told he was dying, and wished to see me. As I entered the house, already consecrated to death, I was sensible of a feeling of unutterable stillness pervading. The muffled knocker, the whispering of the cautious-footed maid, and lastly the tall, silent figure of Mary, with finger on the lips, all spoke one word in a noiseless voice, and it was-hush!
He was sleeping when I came in, and his hand was clasping that of his eldest child, who was kneeling by the bedside. Presently he awoke, and faintly thanked me for coming. He was so exhausted that he could scarcely speak; he motioned me to his side, and spoke to me in a low voice. I cannot repeat what he said --gratitude to me, love to his wife and children, and all, were the burden of the low voice, and then he dozed awhile. Suddenly he rose up, apparently without effort, in his bed, and with a voice betraying no symptom of weakness he called us to draw around him.
"My dear friends," he said, turning from one to the other with calm eyes and loving smile, "a little strength is mine now, to speak to you for the last time, and to bid you adieu for a little while. I have but little to say, and little time to say it in; and with my last words I would wish to testify to the goodness of that God who has never deserted me here. Let me tell you once again, that it is my belief and experience that He will never take away aught, which he does not replace with a blessing as great; He took away from me the use of my feet, but He taught me to use my hands; He took away the use of my eyes, but He gave me resignation ; He took away my hands, but He gave
and now He taketh away my life, only to give me a better. Wife, children, friend, let us sing once more the dear old evening hymn.”
With choking voices, which gained strength by his example, we sang the first verse. At the second his voice seemed to grow weaker and weaker; still we kept on, his voice fading, fading gradually, and the children, with difficulty, restraining their sobs. At the close of the last verse his voice died away, and he sank back exhausted on his bed, still, however, motioning us to continue. I saw he was dying, and strove in vain to sing; his children wept pitcously ; but still his wife, with tearless eyes, and a voice that seemed to gather strength and sweetness in the struggle, bravely sang on, and the doxology rose loud and high. Su Idenly she stopt, with raised finger, and head turned as if listening, “Don't you hear ?" she whispered ; " don't you hear him? he is singing, singing among the heavenly host."
CHRISTIAN ART: PAINTED GLASS.
Of all the forms in which the poetry of Christian Art has found atterance, painted glass seems to be that which is the most generally pleasing and impressive. In old cathedral choir or college chapel, in crowded city or lonely village church, scholar and peasant, the most stolid and the most refined, alike recognize the charm of
“ Storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim, religious light.”
And it is that form which more, perhaps, than any other, has a distinct claim, alike in its origin and its application, to the title Christian. It was first employed in the church, and for centuries almost exclusively employed there. As we know from contemporary records, the painted windows were expressly erected for the instruction of the congregation. When few but ecclesiastics could read, and books were a luxury even with the wealthy, these windows set forth, in a manner which all could understand, the history and the lessons of Christianity. There, in forms and costume which suggested no anachronism to the uncritical eyes of those generations, were the Old Testament types and their fulfilment in the Gospel. In the Jesse window was shown the genealogy of the Saviour; in the Majesty, the risen Lord in glory. There were the acts and effigies of the apostles ; the sufferings of martyrs; and the dogmas of the church in legend and symbol: and they addressed the imagination as directly as the intellect. It hardly required the impassioned testimony of Milton to make us feel that it must often have seemed, in those simple times, when in the sublimer parts of the service the excited or the susceptible worshipper raised his eyes to the great eastern window, as though (as an old Italian writer has expressed it,) in its glorious colouring he beheld some faint foreshadowing of the blessings in store for those who lived, whilst here, a life of faith and duty.
In these later days the remarkable revival of glass painting—A revival co-incident and co-extensive with the revival of Gothic architecture-is an evidence that much of the old feeling remains. During the last few years much patient research, much acute inquiry, great practical knowledge, and many experiments have been brought to bear, both in this country and on the continent, upon the subject of painted glass. As a consequence its rise, progress, and decline, have been pretty clearly traced, and a good deal has been done towards placing its actual condition on a more satisfactory footing, as well as to render its principles better understood. What is here proposed is to glance over the history
of painting on glass as a necessary introduction to a few remarks on the present state of the art in this country.
Windows of painted glass are of much later date than windows of coloured or stained glass. There had, perhaps, been windows of coloured glass even in the old Roman times. In the early centuries of Christianity they were certainly in use in Byzantium, and possibly among the races farther east. The probability is that the Byzantine Greeks, cunning artificers in all kinds of decorative work, as well as leaders in the higher arts, carried to Venice, to Marseilles, and to other trading ports, and perhaps inland also, their coloured window-glass, and showed how dainty an appearance it made when set up in ornamental patterns. These were, however, still only windows the patterns of which consisted of a sort of Mosaic of coloured glass; what, in fact, we should now term stained glass windows. In character they were probably much like the stained-glass windows which have continued in use in Constantinople to the present day, the pattern being formed by the traceried frame-work in which the pieces of coloured glass are inserted. Windows of this kind are referred to in writings of the first half of the fifth century. Windows of painted glass are not mentioned till some three centuries later.
It is probable that painted-glass windows, like those of stained glass, were of Byzantine origin. One of the earliest definite notices of a painting on glass occurs in a contemporary account of an embassy from the Emperor Constantine VII. to the Arabic prince Abderhamman, at Cordova, in 949. But at this time, or shortly after, windows of painted glass were coming into use in Western Europe. In the treatise of the monk Theophilus, written in or about the tenth century, directions are given for painting on glass. There is extant evidence of a painted window having been set up in the abbey of Tegernsee, in Bavaria, in 999, and of five others having been presented to the same abbey between 1068 and 1091. The earliest which the Count de Lasteyrie has been able to trace in France was erected in the Abbey of Loroux, in 1121. A few years later, 1137-40, come the better-known examples in the apse of St. Denis, portions of which, including a portrait inscribed with the name of the Abbé Suger, the founder of the abbey, still remain. Suger, it may be mentioned, has himself left a curious account of these windows, and of the trouble they cost him. There can be little doubt that painted glass was employed not long after this last date in England, but the oldest known examples belong to the last quarter of the 12th century.
It may be assumed, then, that by the end of the 12th century glass painting was widely known, and that, at least in cathedrals and the more costly churches, the windows were not unfrequently of painted glass, though it was not till the following century that such windows came into general use. Indeed, as yet church windows were not genorally glazed at all. In Italian churches thin slices of talc, marble, or alabaster were frequently used; but in northern parts oiled paper, linen, in those belonging to religious houses vellum, served to keep out the dust and rain, without excluding the light. It may be that these last were the earliest pictured windows. Monks accustomed daily to painting miniatures on manuscripts and official documents, would be led, almost instinctively, to decorate, on a larger scale and in a bolder manner, the parchment they strained over their church windows; and the desire would quickly arise to repeat the pleasing effect thus produced on the coloured glass, when that came to supersede the parchment, and afforded a material so much more effective, artistically as well as economically. Be that, however, as it may : the point to be noticed here is, that the period when painted glass began to be adopted by the church architects in Europe, was the period when the pointed arch itself was coming into use; the commencement, in fact, of what is generally understood as Gothic architecture ; and it is worthy of remark, that Trench archæologists, who regard the Abbé Suger as the father of the French school of Gothic architecture, regard him also as in efiect the founder of glass-painting in France. The French were the great glass-painters of the middle ages.
The Germans and Flemings may have been in the field before them, but the French soon took the lead, and for a long series of years held it. At first the English windows were, most likely, usually painted by foreign artists; but a native school was soon formed, though, with the strong infusion of the foreign element in our priesthood and ecclesiastical establishments, foreign painters, no doubt, continued to be occasionally invited over. We had, however, a distinctive manner; and whilst all the northern glass-painting of the mediæval period bore a broad, general resemblance, that of England was sufficiently characteristic to entitle it to the rank of an independent school.
As Mr. Winston, our best authority on English glass, has shown, the artistic character of old English painted glass varied, with a sufficiently close approximation, both in time and spirit, to the changes in the style of pointed architecture, to make the classification which has been adopted for the one the most convenient which can be employed for the other. English painted glass, then, may be classed as Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular in style ; or-as these are in themselves certainly inappropriate terms-we may say, speaking in a general way, that there are three broadly defined styles, which belong respectively to the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th centuries. It will not, of course. be supposed to be meant that each of these styles sprang up precisely at the beginning, or died out at the end of its century. The earliest style came into existence in the latter part of the 12th century; the second
had fairly passed away before 1400; and the third lasted some time beyond 1500: and, again it must be understood that neither style really remained stationary unless for a very brief period. Like the styles of Gothic architecture each grew up slowly, but continuously, from its incipient to its perfect form, and then passed as gradually into that of its successor. Writers speak of Transition periods in each instance; but, in fact, every period was a period of transition. Always there was a putting off of the old fashion, a putting on of the new. Still it is strictly true that there were certain well-defined distinctions which belonged to each, and made each the characteristic style of its century: and this holds equally for France as for England. It may be useful to describe briefly the leading characteristics, at least of the English styles.
Painted windows of the Early English, or 13th century period, consisted, in the main, of a kind of mosaic groundwork, the pattern being formed of small pieces of coloured glass bound together by a leaden frame, which was supported at the back by an armature of iron, or saddle-bars as they are termed, so contrived as not to interfere with the design. The painted part consisted usually of small medallions of a trefoil, quatrefoil, or other regular form, occupying the central spaces of the window, and a light and playful border of foliage. On the medallions were depicted scriptural or ecclesiastical subjects. The painting was executed on the white or coloured glass by lines and slight shadings, with a vitreous or enamel brown, the only pigment employed by the glass painter; this was fixed, or burnt in, by firing in a mufjle or furnace. The heads, hands, etc., each consisted of a separate piece of glass, the drapery often of several pieces, the outline being formed by the lead mounting which was made to conform to the main outline of the picture. Very little white glass was used in this style. The coloured glass was chiefly pot-metal---that is, glass, the substanco of which is coloured throughout, the colouring matter being mixed with the ingredients of the glass in the melting-pot-whence the name. Of the other kind, flashed or coated glass—that is, white glass which has one face covered with a thin layer of coloured glass--ruby was the only description used.
Both as regards material and colour, the glass of this period is considered the best yet produced: its excellence was, however, duo rather to accident than intention; though as the artists in many cases made their own glass, we may be certain that they did their best to obtain it in all respects suitable to their purpose.
Of the pains taken to procure good glass and beautiful colours, many indicar
The Abbé Suger, for instance, relates that he not only diligently sought out the most skilful fabricators of glass, but supplied them, among other things, with a great abundance of sapphires, that