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A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP (8)

2006-09-08 20:01

    HE

    OXFORD, June  The Angel.

    I have done it, and if I hadn't been a fool and a coward I might have done it a week ago, and spared myself a good deal of delicious torment. I have just given two hours to a sketch of Addison's Walk and carried it to aunt Celia at the Mitre. Object, to find out whether they make a long stay in London (our next point), and if so where. It seems they go directly through. I said in the course of conversation, "So Miss Schuyler is willing to forego a London season? Marvelous self-denial!"

    "My niece did not come to Europe for a London season," replied Miss Van Tyck. "We go through London this time merely as a cathedral town, simply because it chances to be where it is geographically. We shall visit St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, and then go directly on, that our chain of impressions may have absolute continuity and be free from any disturbing elements."

    Oh, but she is lovely, is aunt Celia!

    LINCOLN, June  The Black Boy Inn.

    I am stopping at a beastly little hole, which has the one merit of being opposite Miss Schuyler's lodgings. My sketch-book has deteriorated in artistic value during the last two weeks. Many of its pages, while interesting to me as reminiscences, will hardly do for family or studio exhibition. If I should label them, the result would be something like this:

    Sketch of a footstool and desk where I first saw Miss Schuyler kneeling. . Sketch of a carved-oak chair, Miss Schuyler sitting in it. . "Angel Choir." Heads of Miss Schuyler introduced into the carving. . Altar screen. Full length figure of Miss Schuyler holding lilies. . Tomb of a bishop, where I tied Miss Schuyler's shoe. . Tomb of another bishop, where I had to tie it again because I did it so badly the first time. . Sketch of the shoe; the shoe-lace worn out with much tying. . Sketch of the blessed verger who called her "madam," when we were walking together. . Sketch of her blush when he did it the prettiest thing in the world. . Sketch of J. Q. Copley contemplating the ruins of his heart. "How are the mighty fallen!" SHE LINCOLN, June  At Miss Brown's, Castle Garden.

    Mr. Copley HAS done something in the world; I was sure that he had. He has a little income of his own, but he is too proud and ambitious to be an idler. He looked so manly when he talked about it, standing up straight and strong in his knickerbockers. I like men in knickerbockers. Aunt Celia doesn't. She says she doesn't see how a well-brought-up Copley can go about with his legs in that condition. I would give worlds to know how aunt Celia ever unbent sufficiently to get engaged. But, as I was saying, Mr. Copley has accomplished something, young as he is. He has built three picturesque suburban churches suitable for weddings, and a state lunatic asylum.

    Aunt Celia says we shall have no worthy architecture until every building is made an exquisitely sincere representation of its deepest purpose,——a symbol, as it were, of its indwelling meaning. I should think it would be very difficult to design a lunatic asylum on that basis, but I didn't dare say so, as Mr. Copley seemed to think it all right. Their conversation is absolutely sublimated when they get to talking of architecture. I have just copied two quotations from Emerson, and am studying them every night for fifteen minutes before I go to sleep. I'm going to quote them some time offhand, just after morning service, when we are wandering about the cathedral grounds. The first is this: "The Gothic cathedral is a blossoming in stone, subdued by the insatiable demand of harmony in man. The mountain of granite blooms into an eternal flower, with the lightness and delicate finish as well as the aerial proportion and perspective of vegetable beauty." Then when he has recovered from the shock of this, here is my second: "Nor can any lover of nature enter the old piles of Oxford and English cathedrals without feeling that the forest overpowered the mind of the builder, and that his chisel, his saw and plane, still reproduced its ferns, its spikes of flowers, its locust, elm, pine, and spruce."

    Memoranda: Lincoln choir is an example of Early English or First Pointed, which can generally be told from something else by bold projecting buttresses and dog-tooth moulding round the abacusses. (The plural is my own, and it does not look right.) Lincoln Castle was the scene of many prolonged sieges, and was once taken by Oliver Cromwell.

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