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lief, .... and his VIRGINS ! And my imagination, which you dwell upon, what avails it? Comes also Raphael, his expression, grace, and prolific imagination! Why was I born so late? What can I now effect ?
Imitate nature! Every one has altered it, some to embellish, others to degrade it. Paint her as she is, with her divine beauty, her imposing majesty, which she received from the Most High; with her capricious defects, her strong and decided tints; as she is, without straying from her, without addition ; and thy imagination, thy brush, will do the rest. And then, then hope for glory! But deceive not thyself; not for happiness! No; if thou pausest, if thou fearest envy and persecution, if thou hesitatest to change happiness for glory, thou wert not born to be an artist! Break thy pencil!'
No!' cried the youth with enthusiasm, agitated as with a whirlwind by the old man's words ; 'no! I do not hesitate. Let but fame be mine; let me but achieve immortality, and I fear not trouble nor suffering. Let them come; I defy them!' And he reared his head proudly, and seemed to anticipate success, as if his voice possessed a talismanic power; as if his words were spells which had evoked those stirring hopes.
• Thus I love to see thee, my son!' the old man said; thou art worthy the gift which Heaven has bestowed upon thee. Ah! had I but thy wonderful brush, thy enchanting art, the world would speak of me, ... and I should have been less unfortunate! Look upon my face: are there not a thousand sorrows written on it? I live in a world which cannot comprehend me. I was unhappy; I had naught but to consume my own soul, my genius, because I could not translate it upon canvass, nor carve it into marble. I had to live and eat, but my fiery soul needed space to breathe or be consumed. Military glory is attractive to youth; so it promiseth itself honors and fame without end,' he continued, with a proud and martial smile. I was a soldier, and I vowed to God that I would do nothing of which I might afterward be ashamed; but He willed that the road should be closed to me; that life which moderated and expanded the fire of my soul. See! and he showed the young painter a large wound and a mutilated limb: Thou seest I was forced to resign the sword. But I could write; my pen was my pencil, and I painted pictures with a coloring as strong, and an expression as correct, as thine !'
* And what glorious pictures, too!' the youth admiringly exclaimed.
• Thou hast not seen my master-piece,' continued the old man: • Look! here it is, on my heart! It shall be buried with me! It was considered libellous ; they persecuted me. Hence the source of all my sorrows. But I love it the more for the pain and the labor it has cost me!'
He brought forth carefully a roll of uncorrected, blotted manuscript, and began to unfold before the painter that huge mass of paper. A kind of cloth, enamelled as a carpet with a border of fresh histories, aërial and fragrant as the flowers in a garden; a thousand extravagances, a thousand follies, with all their attributes of grace and jokes commingled; a medley of a thousand fantastic arabesques, with sentiments most profound and philosophical, of judgment and sound sense, of imaginary and ridiculous love passages, and visions born of vapory hallucination; a medley of candor and tenderness, episodes of innocent and devoted, fortunate and unfortunate love, tears and sweet sighs, the smiles of pleasure and the blush of modesty, glees and elegies ; life, with its fancies and visions, its smiles and tears, its pains and pleasures, and its myriad characteristics altering from day to day; a flowery surface, which evinced a fantastic but fresh existence; a novel tableau, sublime, and never before imagined; a profusion of jokes and extravagances, capable of making even a sepulchre smiling!
And the painter had forgotten his despondency, his depression, his enthusiasm, and was all intent on listening when his companion concluded reading.
• Now,' said the old man, enjoying more the feeling expressed in the eyes of his youthful friend than the applause of a multitude, 'now paint!'
* And what shall I paint, after hearing such a work? And that demi-tint !
Paint nature-pure, without alteration--and thou wilt be original, and the world shall speak of thee! That demi-tint, 80 worked at and altered,' he continued, looking at the torn and dirty canvass, 'I promise that thou shalt overcome it. But swear thou wilt obey my instructions !
•I swear!' exclaimed the youth, carried away by the superiority of genius. He opened the window, prepared his palette, arranged a clean canvass on the easel, mixed his colors, took his brushes, placed himself before his work, and only then it occurred to bim to ask: •And what am I to paint ?
The old man stood near the window which opened on the street. He gazed out, upon hearing the question, and without hesitation answered:
Yon aged man ! and he pointed at an old water-carrier with sunburnt skin, who was then engaged in serving the cool element to some thirsty pedestrians.
The youth hesitated.
• Have I not said it is nature? It matters not that the subject is vile or vulgar. God asks a divine worship; a crown of fire and angel wings should raise us into Heaven; but thought is enough for genius, without fire, wings, or worship.'
The sentiment was somewhat heterodox for the age, but passed as an axiom with those two artists, without observation or contradiction.
Young man, think not! Paint him as he is, looking with those hard eyes, with that rude soul. Put all this on canvass, and then I will say. Thou art a god! I will adore thee !
In an instant the young imagination of the painter was imbued with the subject, and he sketched it hurriedly, roughly, but ardent as a volcano. The soldier searched for his purse, took out, after some time spent in searching it, some small copper pieces, his day's allowance, and gave them to the boy Andrew, the same who had acted as model for the unlucky painting of the previous day. He made a sign, and the intelligent, active lad went out and returned with the water-carrier, who without a word stationed himself before the painter, who, absorbed in the depth of his thoughts, thanked not his aged friend, save with a smile. But what need of more? He had understood him.
Both were silent: not a word on either side. Ah, how the brush flew over the canvass ! how the most capricious tints were rapidly mingled on the palette, were united on the canvass, and expressed all the variations of the light. Thus, without a raising of the head, passed hour after hour, until six had been consumed. The nearer the completion of the picture, the more was the old man interested, and the more agitated as his attention became more concentrated. Ah, how they are reproduced! with what truth! the angular shapes, the green tints, the abrupt shadows of that strongly-marked countenance ! How start out upon the canvass the bony hands, the sun-burnt skin of the peasant!
Andrew even shared in the admiration and enthusiam which the divine work inspired. He abruptly placed himself before the man, in the act of lifting the bucket, and his master, without a word, committed to canvass the boy's idea, who with his astute countenance aped innocence in vain.
The hours flew by; the work went on. Sometimes the enthusiastic old man involuntarily exclaimed : · Well done! There is nothing to be desired!
The piece was on the point of being finished. Now the young artist smiled, but in an instant his countenance grew dark : 'I swear to ! Cursed demi-tint! it always mars!' He seized the brush. He was in the act of touching it again, when the old man cast himself upon him.
Voto à brios !' he exclaimed; I will not allow it while I am alive! Look! thou hast already got it !
But the young painter struggled with him : • Let me go! Unhand me, for God's sake! Do not balk me, Sir! Let me do it while my fancy is warm with the subject !
• Remember the oath !
• What oath care I to remember, when my immortal existence is at stake? Let me go! he cried, exasperated to fury.
Sooner shalt thou kill me, old as I am!' And, infirm and shattered as he was, yet with a strength which belied his years, he prevented the painter from getting to the picture.
Señor! Señor !' said the youth, gnashing his teeth, “let me, I tell you, finish it the best way I can!
• Dost thou not see that thou wilt ruin it, insensate? Give rest unto thy sight!
But the youth heard him not, and still struggled to be free; and as some time was thus consumed, when he had succeeded in getting loose and approached the easel, he paused as if petrified before the canvass. The demi-tint, so difficult — that rock to his efforts—had disappeared! The work was done. It was a master-piece. The old man smiled.
.See,' he said, “if I was right! Art thou satisfied that this mist, the light shadow thou sawest, was only a cloud before thy vision, wearied with looking at the model? Was I not right in insisting upon thy turning away thy eyes ? Tell me what lacks the picture ? Touch it no more! What thou mayest gain in softness thou wilt lose in genius and
animation. Look upon thy work, and tell me, did I not rightly promise thee eternal fame? Seize, secure it, that thy name may pass through ages to the end of the world!
And the youth, with a smile of gratitude and satisfaction, his face hot with enthusiasm and pleasure, his hand tremulous with agitation and joy, put at the bottom : VELASQUEZ, PINXIT.'
Thou shalt be immortal, Diego Velasquez de Silva!' said the old man.
Velasquez strained him in his arms, weeping with joy, and exclaimed: • And thou also, MIGUEL CERVANTES SAAVEDRA ! What thou hast read me shall be eternal !'
SPRING'S FIRST SMALL FLOWERS.
BY J. 1. BIXBY.
I DEARLY love the first small flowers of spring
It cheers my spirit like the voice of Hope
Winter has lingered sadly; rural life,
Still dark and cold,
Royalton, (.V. Y.)