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THE MAGDALEN OF CORREGGIO.
This exquisite little picture, one of the most esteemed works of the master, was formerly the property of the Princes of the House of Este, and used to be exhibited by them in a silver frame, studded with precious stones. It hung, on ordinary occasions, in their bedchamber; but so chary were they of its safety, that when they travelled they invariably took it with them in their carriage. This, from the size of the picture (which is only eighteen by fourteen inches), they were enabled to do without inconvenience. It was probably in emulation of the enthusiasm of these distinguished amateurs, that Sir George Beaumont was accustomed to carry his Claudes about with him in the same manner. From the custody of the family of Este, the Reading Magdalen subsequently passed into that of the King of Poland; and now forms a chief attraction of the celebrated Gallery at Dresden. It is painted upon copper, and is exhibited under a glass, which is usually kept locked. The body of the Magdalen is covered with blue drapery, not very gracefully
disposed. The back-ground appears to have deepened into one mass of shadow, so dark as to render the objects of which it is composed almost imperceptible. Several critics have fallen into the error of supposing this picture to represent the Mary Magdalen to whom our Saviour re-appeared after death, on account of the introduction of the vase; but there seems little doubt that the painter intended to represent the sinful and penitent woman alluded to by the Evangelist, but no where spoken of by name, who poured ointment on the feet of our Saviour. The surname of Mary Magdalen is said to have been derived from Magdalen, the city of the Lake of Genezareth, of which she was an inhabitant.
The Reading Magdalen has been engraved by Raphael Morghen, Longhi, Daullé and Niquet, and partially (the head and shoulders in an oval), by our own Strange. The copy from Correggio's picture, from which the present plate has been engraved, was made some years ago, by Mr. Henry Thomson, R. A., and was pronounced, by the late Benjamin West, to have been the best facsimile of the picture he had ever met with. It has been obligingly lent for the purposes of the LITERARY SOUVENIR, by its possessor, William Bragge, Esq., of Oxford.
OR, THE YOUNG MERCHANT OF BAGDAD.
I was a wealthy grocer in the city, and as fortunate as diligent; but you know there are women. One in particular came to my shop, who I wished might, but I was afraid never would, become a grocer's wife.
Letter of Jeremy Comfit.-Spectator: No. 534.
In the reign of the good Caliph Almaimoun, there lived at Bagdad a young man named Obeidollah, whose father, a dealer in gold stuffs, and other such costly merchandize, died in the prime of life, and left his son, a youth of nineteen, in possession of a long-established and flourishing trade. In addition to his hereditary advantages, young Obeidollah possessed a comely person, engaging and liberal manners, and an industry, and punctuality beyond his years. No wonder, then, that his shop sbould attract more customers than any other in the bazaar; or that the handsome young merchant should become the favourite of his fair customers, and the model and envy of his rivals, to a degree beyond what was good for him. So, at least, his better genius thought; who, accordingly, devised for him the following whimsical but salutary humiliation.
It is an ancient and praiseworthy custom of the merchants of Bagdad, to inscribe over their doors, in letters of blue and gold, some religious sentence from the Koran, or pithy maxim from one of the ancient poets. Now, whether the youth himself, as is the manner of many young men, delighted in sarcasm and satire upon the fair sex; whether, according to his wont in such cases, he had asked the advice of his friend Saleh the barber, who was somewhat of a dry humourist; or whether, as others tell the story, the place in question had been theretofore tenanted by an old and crabbed person, whom men called Hassan the woman-hater, and by whom the obnoxious inscription had been set up;—so it was, that over the front of Obeidollah's popular establishment there appeared in broad and blazing characters, as though it were a flag of defiance to one half of his customers, the following sentence from the seven hundred and seventy-seven true sayings of Al Motanabbi. VERILY, THERE IS NO CUNNING LIKE UNTO THAT OF MAN, SEEING THAT IT SURPASSETH EVEN
THE CUNNING OF WOMAN. Now it happened one day, that a young lady of great beauty, who had been sent by her aunt to the bazaar to purchase some rich stuffs for dresses, against the opening of the Caliph's new mosque, while waiting till the press of customers should subside, noticed the unlucky inscription. She paused for a while, as if in deliberation; then with a half-playful, half-malicious smile, ‘Now, by my veil,' said she, “I will compel this despiser of our sex to alter his arrogant inscription, or there is no wit in woman.' . So saying, and composing her features to their duty, she entered Obeidollah's shop, and seating herself in a corner, waited tranquilly until the remaining customers should disperse.
As soon as this took place, she stepped forward, and explained the immediate object of her commission, which our young merchant executed with his usual grace and courtesy. ' Instead, however, of retiring when her purchases were completed, she still lingered, with an air as though she had something on her mind more important than silks and embroidery, yet knew not how to put it into becoming words. At length, after a proper interval of delicate embarrassment, 'You see my person,' said she; ‘can any one presume to say that I am humpbacked?' The young merchant had scarcely recovered from the astonishment into which this unexpected address had thrown him, when the lady, raising the border of her veil, resumed — Surely my neck is not as the neck of the raven, or as the ebony idols of Ethiopia.' Obeidollah, between delight and surprise, bowed his assent. 'Nor is my chin double,' lifting her veil somewhat higher ; * nor my lips thick, like those of a Tartar.'—A smile of