« ZurückWeiter »
receive in corresponding, at a distance, with a man of sense and virtue.
Though you are not a divine, according to the established forms of ordination; yet I ask your permission to appoint you my casuist and confessor. In the execution of my judicial office, I must own, that I sometimes feel a struggle between two different principles even in cases where the law has given the magistrate no choice. The statute commands me to punish, and a kind of softness in my nature inclines me to pardon, the offender. An overseer this morning brought a woman before me, for a crime which I must allow to be very heinous-It is no less than that of having obeyed the call of nature, without having first obtained the sanction of the national law. The unrelenting officer demands the rigorous punishment of a statute of James the First,* which is 12 months imprisonment, hard labour, and constant correction. What say you to that, my good friend? How would you act in this situation? Let me have your opinion, which in all probability will determine my resolution.
I forgot to tell you, in my last. that, since I came hither, I have had a fit of the gout. It is true, I am a Stoic in profession. But, alas! my dear Jacob, what is profession? All ny philosophy, this idle speculative philosophy, was not able to suppress a single groan or sigh. I roared out in the extremity of pain, and bore the torture with as little patience, as if I had never been initiated in the principles and doctrine of the Porch. What a poor creature is your friend! help hin if you can, and help him by some prescription of your own, which I shall esteem more than any which are to be found in the schools of Zeno, Plato, or Aristotle.
As our intimacy rises higher and higher, I must now take a liberty of giving you a piece of advice. Why do you condescend to that custom of ending your letter to a friend with the declaration of being what you really are not? You are not, and you shall not hereafter profess yourself to be,
My most obedient humble servant,” This custom was unknown to the Greeks and Romans, those truly polite people. They had too high a notion of liberty, to subscribe themselves slaves to any inan; and they had better sentiments of friendship, than to imagine that union could be supported without a perfect equality. Be assured, this paltry submissive phrase is of Gothic original.
Your sincere friend,
* 7 J. C. 4.
June 27, 1753. THE continuance of your correspondence will always yield me fresh delight: nor can the communication of your sentiments ever bring satiety along with them. No apology can ever be needful to accompany your letters. Whenever therefore you are in the humour of writing, impart your thoughts without reserve: when you are not so disposed, I shall not blame your forbearance, but silently wish that the liberality of your genius may not be long dormant.
The poor whore's fate was undetermined when your letter arrived: and the softness of your nature has influenced that of your friend. By your favour, she walks at large, enjoying freedom and sunshine: the putative father is gone into exile, and the parish maintains the child.
You are really too modest in disclaiming the merits of an Atticus, at the time when you would make a Cicero of your friend. You have indeed neither the rank nor fortune of that Roman; but I will aver, that you have as clear an understanding as he could boast, and some better endowments than were attributed to him. Had you been in his circumstances and situation, you would have been a more useful man.
A proper distribution of his immense wealth might have prevented the fall of Rome. I think that I am able to support this assertion.
Since I'made the inquiry about the invention of writing, I was informed in a dream that Moses (whom the heathens called Cadmus) was the man, into whose head that glorious art was first inspired. I confess no arguments were suggested to confirm that declaration ; but what need is there of reasoning, when the authority is divine? For dreams are undoubtedly from heaven. · So said Homér:* and so
all the orthodos, sacred and profane.
The gout has left me, and I enjoy perfect health. The writers upon Natural Evil you have rallied with a spirit that is no less judicious than it is pleasant and facetious. I have never met with any of them that have contributed to remove my perplexities. But I remember a conversation with a certain acquaintance of mine upon Blackheath, that gave me more satisfaction than all the volumes I had perused. “ Pain," said he, " is a natural consequence of imperfection,
* Οναρ εκ Διο; εειν.
and imperfection there must be, if there be a gradation of beings. But if there had not been such a scale of existe ences, there would have been a great void left, which would have been an argument of less benevolence in the deity, than to have created beings only in high perfection. This system then could not be without pain and distress: they are necessary defects in a constitution which is good upon the whole." I think, this is the substance of what you then said, and it operated with great force upon my mind.
Yours most affectionately, 1784, May.
XXXV. Mr. Rogers to Dean Milles, on Two Ancient Pictures.
Me. URBAN, You receive herewith a letter from the late Charles Rogers, Esq. to the Rev. Dr. Milles, Dean of Exeter, and late President of the Society of Antiquaries; read at a meeting of that learned body, Feb. 18, 1779; but not inserted in any of their publications.
May 17, 1778. I TAKE the liberty to lay before you two small pictures of an old Greek master, which I purchased in 1765, at the sale of some of the valuable effects of Ebenezer Mussel, Esq. a fellow of this Society, and which may merit some regard on account of their antiquity.
They were accompanied with a memorandum of their being supposed to have been painted about the tenth century, of having been brought from Sinyrna, and been of the collection of Edward Earl of Oxford, out of which Mr. Mussel acquired them in 1741-2.
Their outward appearance is of a book 6: inches high, 4s wide, and if thick. The covers in which they are painted are of wood, with their edges and corners of brass; ihey are opened on hinges, fastened together with a claspi and had two rings on the upper edges, by which they might be hung up. This shape gives us reason to conjecture, that they were intended for a portable or pocket altar-piece.
The subjects painted on the inside of the covers are the Trinity and the Annunciation.
That of the Trinity fronts the left-hand of the spectator, and is represented by God the Father, with Jesus Christ sitting at his right-hand, and the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove with extended wings, over them; and flying round them are the heads of Cherubins, whose ruddy countedances glow with divine ardour.
God the Father is figured as the Ancient of Days, the hair of whose head was like the pure wool,* and with a white heard falling on his breast. His right-hand reclines on a globe which is between him and Jesus, and with his left he is giving his benediction; not in the Roman manner, with his fore and middle fingers erect, and the thumb with the other fingers depressed, but in that practised by the Greek church, with the fore and middle fingers joined together, and extended strait, except a little bending of the middle finger, with the thumb touching the third finger and with the little finger bent also somewhat inwards.
The intention of this disposition of the fingers I shall beg leave to transcribe from “A Collection of Prints in Imitation of Drawings,” &c. lately presented to your Society, tome I. p. 44.
* S. Gregorius Nissenus insinuates, that among the Greek priests the custom prevailed of giving their blessings with their fingers lifted up in such a manner that by them they might express the name of Jesus Christ: the demonstration of which is thus given from Bishop Nicolaus. The second finger of the right-hand,” [but in the painting before us it is the left] “ and the third joined to the second, are extended strait, although the third be a little bent in the middle; which disposition of the hand effectually denotes, and, as by an image, expresses the name of Jesus; for the second finger extended strait denotes the letter I, the third a little bent describes C; which letters joined together signify Jesus. Besides, the thumb joined to the fourth finger, and crossing it a little obIiquely, forms the letter X, and the little finger bent inwards C [being the first and last letters of the words IHEOTC KPICTOC.) Thus the name of Jesus Christ is described in the hand of the Bishop; and as Jesus conferred grace and benediction on the Apostles, so the Bishop,
* Daniel vii, 9.
strengthened with the name of Christ, diffuses his benedic
The inscriptions on these pictures are partly in Greek, but chiefly in Russian characters; which Mr. Peters, a studious gentleman who resided some years at Petersburgh, has very obligingly interpreted for me. Those on each side and over the head of this figure are,
of Sabaoth. Jesus is represented with a beard and hair so dark as to be almost black; his right hand rests on a book (containing probably the prophecies of the coming of Christ), which is supported by his knee, and his left holds the Cross of Salvation over the Globe, an emblem of his being “ Salvator Mundi." Over and on each side his head are written,
Holy Trinity have Mercy upon us.
Visitation of the Holy Mother of God.. In this the Virgin Mary sits on a seat richly carved, with her head a little inclined, and her right hand on her bosom, receiving the joyful tidings with great humility. She is with her neck and breast covered, and expresses a modesty becoming the Queen of Heaven, in the manner Luigi Scaramuccia, a painter of Perugia, prescribes to modern artists; and in which, he observes, the old Greeks drew her (although in their plain style) as is even at this time seen in their representations of her in the houses of the devout.
A book is open before her, lying on a table covered with a cloth of gold embroidery, in which is written,
“ And thou, Virgin, shalt conceive a Son in thy womb, and his name shall be Nure."
* Numiemata Sum. Pontificum a P. Philippo Bonamai Societatis Jesu. Fol. 1699. Tom. I. p 356. + Le Fivezze de' Pennelli Italiani, p. 210.