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"Your object was truly praiseworthy," replied the good old man, "but perhaps you did not rest your issues on a specie basis."
"As much of a specie basis," I rejoined, "as half the banks in the country can boast of. And even the best of them, as you know, Deacon, for every dollar they issue on such a basis, issue two without any. Where is the difference between their issues and mine? My notes performed all the functions of a circulating medium as well as theirs." Aye, aye, my child, but perhaps you had not a charter for your doings. This is a country of laws, and actions which are identical in principle, are innocent or criminal, according to the way in which, and the men by whom they are performed.”
I need not relate all the arguments the Deacon had recourse to, to expose the sophistry with which Snooks and I had beguiled ourselves. This Christian philanthropist never desisted from his labor of love till he had fully instructed us in the principles of modern morality. Nor did his kind offices cease here, for, finding us, as he said, now well qualified to be useful members of society, he exerted his influence in our behalf so well, that we were released from confinement with out being subject to the ignominy of a public trial.
bly made especially in my own favor, and that of my associates. My money manufactories are now carried on under charters, and I have the pleasure of adding to the circulating medium of the country, according to law. Still I cannot but regard myself as A MUCHWRONGED MAN.
There was, for example, "the Specie Circular." At the time this was issued, I had an interest in several western banks, and was engaged with some of my associates in exchanging bales of paper for square miles of territory. The business was both pleas, ing and profitable, and would have been more so, if government had not interfered with us, by refusing to receive our money at the land offices. In vain did we cry out that all we wanted of government was, to "let us alone," and not be "tampering with the currency." Its impertinent intermeddling with our affairs, in refusing to receive our notes in payment for public lands, did me and my associates much injury.
Immediately afterwards I joined the church, and my life since has been so much like that of other respectable people, that I need not give it in detail. I am now fulfilling the true end of my being. I am living without labor and without economy, and in the enjoyment of all that respect which is accorded to great wealth when united with great piety. For years past I have had the benefit of acts of Assem
Then came the suspension of specie payments, and government did further injury to me and mine, in refusing to receive our notes in payment of postages. As the Hon. Abbot Lawrence said, in substance, on that occasion, at a public meeting in Boston, "I firmly believe that this is the most despotic, most oppressive government, and the most injurious to the welfare of the people, of any on the face of the earth." Oh, the immense amount of money I have had to pay for specie to satisfy the demands of this tyrannic government for duties and postages.
Then government, not satisfied with this, must do further injury to me and mine, by compelling us to resume specie payments.
Then Government has done me further wrong, in refusing to assume the State Debts. I have large amounts of Illinois, Indiana, and other State stocks, which are now nearly worthless, but which would soon receive their full value, if the United States Government would only assume the duty of paying them.
Then there is my factory interest. On nothing which I am engaged in manufacturing, do I enjoy higher protective duty than one hundred and fifty per cent., while my rival manufacturers in other countries, are pro
THOMAS COLE is unquestionably the most gifted landscape painter of the present age. In our own opinion, none superior to him have ever existed, when we consider, in connection with his felicity of artistic execution, the poetic genius which his productions display. Having for years been a student of his art, and a warm lover of his pictures, we propose in the present paper to describe and comment upon some of the imaginative works of this Poet-Painter. First, however, a few words about the man himself.
Thomas Cole was born in England, but brought to this country in childhood. As his parents, before his birth, had resided in the United States, it is with the fullest propriety that he is called an American painter. At any rate, his attachment to this country is so strong, that he has been heard to remark: "I would give my left arm, could I but identify myself with America, by saying that I was born here." The incidents of his youth and manhood, as recorded in "Dunlap's History of the Arts of Design," are among the most interesting things of the kind, and it is with reluctance that we refrain from inserting them in this place. Let it suffice, however, to state that the genius which was born with him, was fostered by intimate and long continued acquaintance
with the scenery of the Western States, when as yet they were a comparative wilderness. While toiling for a repu tation, he resided for a few years at a time in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Chillicothe, Steubenville, and New York city; and, having visited Europe a number of times, established his repu tation, and married a wife, he retired to the beautiful town of Catskill, on the Hudson, where he now resides, one of the most amiable of men, the best of husbands and fathers, and the most talented of living landscape painters.
The number of his imaginative paintings is about twenty, and his actual views somewhere between fifty and a hundred. Out of the former, we intend to select our especial favorites, of which we shall attempt to convey the best idea in our power for the benefit of those readers denied the privi lege of access to them—namely, The Course of Empire, The Departure and Return, Dream of Arcadia, Past and Present, and The Voyage of Life. On these alone are we willing to base our previous assertion, that no landscape painter superior to Cole has ever lived. Of his other productions we shall say nothing, only giving the names of those which we have seen, by way of making the reader acquainted with the character of his subjects. They are as follows: The Architect's
Dream, Paradise, Scene from Manfred, Expulsion from Eden, Angels appearing to the Shepherds, Heroic Composition, Notch of the White Mountains, Italian Scenery, View of Florence, View in Rome, Schroon Mountain, Tornado in an American Forest, Mount Holyoke after a Storm, A Roman Aqueduct, Niagara, Mount Etna, Lake George, New England Scenery, Distant View of the Catskill Mountains, and a number of smaller views among the mountains.
second picture we have the Simple or Arcadian State of Society. The time of day is a little before noon, and the season early summer. The "untracked and rude" has been tamed and softened. Shepherds are tending their flocks; a solitary ploughman, with his oxen, is turning up the soil; and in the rude vessels passing into the haven of a growing village, and in the skeleton of a barque building on the shore we perceive the commencement of Commerce. From a rude temple on a hill the smoke of sacrifice is ascending to the sky, symbolizing the spirit of Religion. In the foreground, on the left hand, is seated an old man, who, by describing strange figures in the sand, seems to have made some geometrical discovery, demonstrating the infancy of Science. On the right hand is a woman with a distaff, about crossing a stone bridge; beside her, a boy is drawing on a stone the figure of a man with a sword; and beyond these, ascending the road, a soldier is partly On seen. Under some noble trees, in the middle distance, are a number of peasants dancing to the music of pipe and timbrel. All these things show us that society is steadily progressing in its march of usefulness and power.
The Course of Empire is a series of five paintings, representing the History of a Scene-an epitome of that of Man. None but a great mind would have dared to choose so vast a subject, requiring the united attributes of poet, philosopher, and painter; and very few could have accomplished it so successfully.
In the first picture we have a perfectly wild scene of rocks, mountains, woods, and a bay of the ocean, reposing in the luxuriance of a ripe Spring. The clouds of night are being dissipated by the beams of the rising sun. the opposite side of the bay rises a lofty promontory, crowned by a singular isolated rock, which would ever be a conspicuous landmark to the mariner. As the same locality is preserved in each picture of the series, this rock identifies it, although the position of the spectator changes in the small pictures. The chase being the most characteristic occupation of savage life, in the foreground we see an Indian clothed in skin, pursuing a wounded deer, which is bounding down a narrow ravine. On a rock, in the middle ground, are other Indians, with their dogs, surrounding another deer. On the bosom of a little river below are a number of canoes passing down the stream, while many more are drawn up on the shore. On an elevation beyond these is a cluster of wigwams, and a number of Indians dancing round a fire. In this picture we have the first rudiments of society. Men are already banded together for mutual aid in the chase. In the canoes, huts, and weapons, we perceive that the useful arts have commenced, and in the singing which usually accompanies the dance of savages we behold the germs of music and poetry. The Empire is asserted, to a limited degree, over sea, land, and the animal kingdom.
Ages have passed away, and in the
Ages have again passed away, and in the third picture we have a magnificent city. It is now midday, and early Autumn. The Bay is now surrounded by piles of architecture, temples, colonnades, and domes. It is a day of rejoicing. The spacious harbor is crowded with vessels, war-galleys, ships, and barques, their silken sails glistening in the sunshine. Moving over a massive stone bridge, in the foreground, is a triumphal procession. The conqueror, robed in purple, is mounted on a car drawn by an elephant, and surrounded by captives and a numerous train of guards and servants, many of them bearing pictures and golden treasures. As he is about to pass the triumphal arch, beautiful girls strew flowers in his path; gay festoons of drapery hang from the clustered columns; golden trophies glitter in the sun, and incense rises from silver censers. Before a Doric temple, on the left, a multitude of white-robed priests are standing around on the marble steps, while before them a religious ceremony is being performed before a number of altars. The statue of Miner
va, with a Victory in her hand, stands above the building of the Caryatides, on a columned pedestal, near which is a company of musicians, with cymbals, "trumpets also, and shawms." From the lofty portico of a palace, an imperial personage is watching the procession, surrounded by her children, attendants, and guards. Nations have been subjugated, man has reached the summit of human glory. Wealth, power, knowledge, and taste have worked together and accomplished the highest meed of human achievement and Empire.
Another change-and lo! in the fourth picture, the Vicious State, or State of Destruction. Behold the consequences of luxury, in the weakened and debased condition of mankind. A savage enemy has entered the once proud and happy city; a fierce tempest is raging; walls and colonnades are lying in the dust, and temples and palaces are being consumed by the torch of the incendiary. The fire of vengeance is swallowing up the devoted city. An arch of the bridge over which the triumphal procession had before passed, has been battered down, and broken pillars, ruins of war-engines, and the temporary bridge which has been thrown over, indicate that this has been the scene of direst contention. Now there is a terrible conflict on the bridge, whose insecurity accelerates the horror of the conflict. Horses, and men, and chariots are precipitated into the raging waves. War-galleys are contending; others in flames; and others still, sinking beneath the power of a superior foe. Smoke and flames are issuing from the falling and prostrate edifices; and along the battlements and in the blocked-up streets the conflict is dreadful indeed. The foreground is strewed with the bodies of the dead and dying. Some have fallen into the basin of a fountain, tinging the water with blood. One female is sitting in mute despair over the dead body of her son; another leaping over a battlement, to escape the grasp of a ruffian soldier; and other soldiers drag a woman by the hair down the steps that form the pedestal of a mutilated colossal statue, whose shattered head lies on the pavement below. A barbarous enemy has conquered the city; Carnage and Destruction have asserted their frightful Empire.
The last and most impressive picture of this series is the scene of Desolation. The sun has just departed and the moon is ascending the twilight sky over the ocean, near the place where the sun rose in the first picture. The shades of evening are gradually stealing over the shattered and ivy-grown ruins of that once great city. A lonely column rises in the foreground, on whose capital a solitary heron has built her nest, and at the foot of it her mate is standing in the water, both of them apparently conscious of being a living mockery. The Doric temple and triumphal bridge may still be identified among the ruins which are laved by the waters of the tranquil sea. But though man and his works have perished, the steep promontory with its isolated rock, still rears itself against the sky, unmoved, unchanged. Time has consumed the works of man, and art is resolving into its elemental nature. The gorgeous pageant has passed, the roar of battle has ceased, the multitude has mingled with the dust, the Empire is extinct.
The first, second and last of these paintings are considered the best of Mr. Cole's productions, not only in the poetry they portray, but in their execution. The style is more varied and natural, and has less the appearance of paint than in many of his late productions. As to the third and fourth paintings, the conception of both is exceedingly fine and poetical, but deficient in execution. The architecture is admirably done, but the numerous figures which it was necessary to introduce are poorly drawn and arranged. It would be, perhaps, too much to ask that an artist should be a great painter of scenery and also a master of the human figure. As a whole, the Course of Empire is a work of art worthy of any nation or any painter of woman born. These pictures were painted for the late Luman Reed, at a cost of eight thousand dollars. Surely it were a blessing to the Fine Arts in this country were such patrons a little more frequently found.
The Departure and Return exhibit a poetical representation of the Feudal times. The Departure represents early morning in spring. As you look upon the picture, you can almost hear the fall of waters, and feel the pleasant breeze of the hour and season. In the
distance is seen a church, whose spire is gilded by the beams of the rising sun; and in the foreground is a magnificent castle, looming to the sky, the seeming lord and guardian of the world. Coming forth from one of its massy gates is a band of mounted cavaliers, who are going to the wars, full of life and hope and gladness. The leader, in a splendid dress, is mounted on a noble charger, whose flashing eye and extended nostrils show that he is impatient for the fight. Turn your eyes away, and they are gone.
Imagine that months have passed, and look upon the Return. It is now evening, the season autumn, but the same section of country. The castle is now in the distance, and the church in the foreground. Toil-worn, a few only are returning home by a woodland path; and their leader, dying or wounded, is conveyed home upon a litter carried by men. His steed, with heavy step, is following behind. As they approach the church a party of monks are seen coming out, and are taken by surprise, to meet the small remnant of brave warriors just returned from a long and tedious campaign.
How simple and yet how complete is the story here revealed! As these are among the artist's early pictures, they are distinguished for their truth and unmannered style; and as compositions, are unsurpassed.
The "Dream of Arcadia" is the perfect personification of the sweetest dream of poetry and romance. It is composed of temples, vine-clad mountains, streams, cascades, trees, shepherds and minstrels, everything in fact which poets have described as making Arcady the most beautiful land under the sun.
The "Past and Present" consists of two pictures. The first is a tournament near a castle. The second is the same spot, but with the castle gone to decay. On the field where we beheld the brave deeds of chivalry, a single shepherd boy is tending his sheep. The first of these we think poorly managed, but the last is without a single fault, it is superb.
The "Voyage of Life" is a series of fine pictures, allegorically portraying the prominent features of man's life, viz., childhood, youth, manhood and old age. The subject is one of such universal interest, that it were almost 76
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impossible to treat it in an entirely original manner, but no one can deny that the conception of the painter displays a high and rare order of poetical power.
In the first we behold the dawn of a summer morning. A translucent stream is issuing from an unknown source out of a deep cavern in the side of a mountain. Floating gently down the stream is a golden boat made of the sculptured figures of the Hours, while the prow is formed by the present hour holding forth an emblem of Time. It is filled with flowers, and on these a little child is seated, tossing them with his upraised hands, and smiling with new-born joy, as he looks upon the unnumbered beauties and glories of this bright world around him; while a guardian angel is at the helm, with his wings lovingly and protectingly extended over the child. Love, purity and beauty emanate like incense from the sky, the earth and water, so that the heart of the gazer seems to forget this world and lose itself in a dream of heaven.
A few fleeting years are gone, and behold the change! The Stream of Life is widened, and its current strong and irresistible, but it flows through a country of surpassing loveliness. The Voyager, who is now a youth, has taken the helm into his own hands, and the dismissed angel stands upon the shore looking at him with "a look made of all sweet accord," as if he said in his heart, "God be with thee, thoughtless mortal!" But the youth heeds not his angel, for his eyes are now riveted by an airy castle pictured against the sky, dome above dome reaching to the very zenith. The phantom of worldly happiness and worldly ambition has absorbed the imagination and the eager gaze of the wayward voyager, and as he urges his frail bark onward, he dreams not of the dangers which may await him in his way. To the boat, only a few flowers are now clinging, and on closer observation we perceive that the castle in the air, apparently so real, has only a white cloud for its foundation, and that ere long the stream makes a sudden turn, rushing with the fury of a maddened steed down a terrible ravine. The moral of the picture it is needless for us to attempt to elucidate.
Another change, and lo! the verge of