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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 134.djvu/706

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picture must be seen to be understood at its full value, and for this engravings are scarcely any help. All the pictures are plays upon the word "Cristofero," who was the patron saint of the guild of arquebusiers, from whom Rubens bought a piece of land for a house. They stipulated for a picture of St. Christopher in payment, and in his princely magnificence he presented them with five altogether for the backs of the two flaps are painted also.

Color as a means of expression takes new character in the Netherlands it is like a new language, or rather like a new mode of expression, by symphonies of harmonious hues.

In Rembrandt this is arrived at by contrast, almost by negations, and a brilliant piece of harmony is produced almost without positive hues at all the warm glow of a deep, dark background makes a blue or green appear so by juxtaposition; a dull red tells like a jewel on a neutral tint or the flesh-tints, those most indescribable of hues, become living, in the great chefs d'œuvre of portrait-painting, the "Five Syndics," or the "Burogomaster Six" and his wife.

Color, however, seems to be an instinct more than a science; a half-naked Hindoo squatting among his piles of wool, dyeing them with herbs chosen by himself, and not knowing any reason why, will compose a marvel of harmony which all the kingdoms of Europe, with all their art-schools combined, cannot approach. Here and there a single painter arises, in an isolated place, some Sir Joshua, with his almost magic loveliness of delicate harmonies some Gainsborough, old Crome, or Turner, but it is not carried on. In France the specimens are quite as rare. Meissonier is too artificial. E. Frere is very tender and charming, though a little dim in his key of hues. Color, however, is now as dead in the Low Countries as in the wretched daubs of modern Italy, and the painful cold greys of the German modern school. The secret, the knack, the feeling, has died out with them of the old time, as may be seen almost more distinctly in the painted glass the magnificent walls of color, as they may almost be called, thirty and forty feet high, which adorn quite insignificant churches in both Belgium and Holland. Comparing them with the much-cried-up Munich windows at Cologne, or the horrors perpetrated at Westminster Abbey and some other of our cathedrals, it seems almost inexplicable how, with the old models before the eyes of those who seek, the poverty, the rawness which sets one's teeth on edge in most modern glass could have been perpetrated.

At Gouda, a few miles from the Hague, are some gorgeous specimens equal to those given by Charles V. and his sisters to St. Gudule at Brussels, splendid in design as in richness of dark hues. All these form pictures in stained glass, which theoretically hardly appears to be its legitimate province of work, intended as it is to be seen against the light and therefore semi-transparent, but the effect is too grand to think of anything but such a result.

When we steamed away from Amsterdam the flat world was blotted out by rain and mist — nothing was to be seen but perspectives of straight lines of earth, trees, and water, each cut short by fog. Every field was not only like a sponge full of water, but looked so rotten with ooze that it seemed as if the cows must sink down through the bogs towards the centre of the earth. They were on the point of being taken under shelter for the winter, as it would be impossible for cattle to live in the open in such a climate; yet they thrive and give ample produce. Both men and beasts, indeed, look healthy and well-doing all over a country which feels like a raft, floating only just so as to keep its head above that water which it requires the almost superhuman efforts of its inhabitants to resist and make use of.

It is a grand thing to see the theatre where such great deeds, both moral and material, have been performed by man, but it must require the constitution of a Dutchman to be able to live there in bad weather.F. P. Verney.

From Nature.


The important rôle played by electricity in modern warfare affords an excellent example of the influence which science has of late exerted in naval and military affairs. It is no isolated example of scientific warfare that we have here to deal with, for the electric fluid has in a great measure changed our whole practice of war, and bids fair to revolutionize it still more in the future. Every soldier or sailor, if he desires to make his mark, must be something of an electrician, for there seems to be no limit to the useful applications of the galvanic spark in battle. Broadly, we may divide these applications