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Old World Memories
TN Trafalgar Square we are at the very heart 1 of the great city as a whole; and from a point on its southern side distances are measured on the maps in every direction. Two central postal districts of London – West Central and East Central — are surrounded by six others: North Western, Northern, and Eastern, to the north and east, and Western, South Western, and South Eastern, to the west and south, designated by their initial capital letters. On the eastern side of the Square rises the fine Greek portico of St. Martin's in-the-Fields, where once fields really were, when this was the royal parish and the largest in London; and in those fields lie buried the youthful and fascinating Nell Gwynne and a
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few others of note. At the north, on one of the finest sites in Europe, stands the National Gallery, -a building of little artistic merit, surmounted by a low dome, with the National Portrait Gallery behind and connected with it. Both have grown very rapidly, and both are free to all. Pictures are arranged by schools or periods; and the gallery excels in the nuinber of artists represented, in the work of the older Italian masters, and in that of Englishmen above all. The Tuscan, Umbrian, Venetian, and Lombard schools have large and adequate representation; and the Dutch and Flemish schools manifest here, as everywhere, their wonted and astonishing fecundity. The landscapes of Claude Lorrain and Poussin maintain the dignity of France. Ruskin asserts that Titian's "Bacchus" and Correggio's “Mercury instructing Cupid” are the finest in the gallery, and that Paul Veronese's “Family of Darius" is the most precious work of this master.
Space does not permit more than nere mention of individual paintings, and even that only now and again. Raphael is not unrepresented, since here, among other paintings of his, is the Madonna degla Ansidei, the most important work of his in Britain. For this picture the highest price ever given is said to have been paid to the Duke of Marlborough. A large collection of Turner's watercolors, catalogued by Ruskin, occupies much space in the basement story; but one hastens on to his work in oil, which places him at the head of English landscape artists. His characterizations of Carthage and of Venice, and of other historical subjects, allegorically treated, make powerful appeal to the imaginative faculty; while his “Death of Nelson” and “The Fighting Temeraire” attract many copyists, and crowds view them and others of their class with the pride of true Britons. But to us, after all, the chief charm of the gallery lay in the crowded groups of the British schools, old and new, from Sir Peter Lely and Hogarth to Rossetti; scores of whose subjects are as household gods by familiar reproduction through engraving and lithograph wherever English is spoken. Landseer's “ Dignity and Impudence," “ High and Low Life," and " A Member of the Royal Humane Society; ” Leslie's “ Sancho Panza” and “ Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman; ” Frith's “ Derby Day;" Gainsborough's “Mrs. Siddons; ”Roinney's “ Lady Hamilton;" Hogarth's “ Mar-, riage à la Mode” series; Reynolds's “Heads of Angels” and “The Three Graces and Hymen;" Etty's “ Youth and Pleasure; " Wilkie's “ Village Festival” and “ John Knox preaching;” Copley's “Siege of Gibraltar," and the “ Earl of Chatham dying;” Eastlake's “ Christ lamenting over Jerusalem ;” Constable's “Hampstead Heath;” Blake's “ Procession from Calvary” and “ Pitt guiding Behemoth;” and Maclise's “Malvolio,” “Hamlet,” and “Charles Dickens,” - this illustrious catalogue denotes the character of prints that have stamped their image on the child life of many a New World as well as English home. To find the originals here in all the freshness of their coloring was a satisfaction not unmixed with astonishment, and seemed like the handclasp of old friends. Even more keen was the delight which awaited us in the presence of Rosa Bonheur's “Horse Fair," whose splendid tints fairly glorify the superb anatomy and grouping which heretofore had alone filled the best reproductions with life for us. And I must not leave the great gallery without paying our earnest tribute to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the gifted English leader of the
pre-Raphaelites, whose wonderful coloring makes his “ Ecce Ancilla Domini ” and “ Beata Beatrix" to rank with the very chiefest of all its treasures.
But it is time to turn again to the famous square in front, every feature of which speaks of England's glory abroad. Havelock, the deliverer of Lucknow, Napier, the conqueror of Scinde, and Gordon, who perished at Khartoum, are fittingly commemorated here by statues; but the crowning object is the colossal statue of Lord Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, which surmounts the lofty Corinthian column at its centre. England's great naval savior from the invasion of Bonaparte, buried under the dome of St. Paul's, and again towering here in stone over all western London, might almost stand for London's patron saint. Bronze reliefs, made from captured French cannon, commemorate on the four sides his victories at Aboukir, St. Vincent, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. His last command, “ England expects every man will do his duty," is (rather inconspicuously) inscribed on the south face, beneath the death-scene on board the “Victory;” and Landseer's four colossal bronze lions, couchant around the base, magnificently in