Caspar David Friedrichs Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog
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The Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog - The Most (And Least) Romantic Painting By Caspar David Friedrich
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He studied in Copenhagen until , before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality. This shift in ideals was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J. Turner and John Constable sought to depict nature as a "divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization". Friedrich's work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape".
The early 20th century brought a renewed appreciation of his work, beginning in with an exhibition of thirty-two of his paintings in Berlin. By the s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists , and in the s and early s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work. The rise of Nazism in the early s again saw a resurgence in Friedrich's popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, interpreted as having a nationalistic aspect.
His mother, Sophie, died in when he was seven. Friedrich began his formal study of art in as a private student of artist Johann Gottfried Quistorp at the University of Greifswald in his home city, at which the art department is now named Caspar-David-Friedrich-Institut  in his honour. Quistorp took his students on outdoor drawing excursions; as a result, Friedrich was encouraged to sketch from life at an early age. Four years later Friedrich entered the prestigious Academy of Copenhagen , where he began his education by making copies of casts from antique sculptures before proceeding to drawing from life. These artists were inspired by the Sturm und Drang movement and represented a midpoint between the dramatic intensity and expressive manner of the budding Romantic aesthetic and the waning neo-classical ideal.
Mood was paramount, and influence was drawn from such sources as the Icelandic legend of Edda , the poems of Ossian and Norse mythology. Friedrich settled permanently in Dresden in During this early period, he experimented in printmaking with etchings  and designs for woodcuts which his furniture-maker brother cut. By he had produced 18 etchings and four woodcuts; they were apparently made in small numbers and only distributed to friends.
With the exception of a few early pieces, such as Landscape with Temple in Ruins , he did not work extensively with oils until his reputation was more established. He executed his studies almost exclusively in pencil, even providing topographical information, yet the subtle atmospheric effects characteristic of Friedrich's mid-period paintings were rendered from memory. His reputation as an artist was established when he won a prize in at the Weimar competition organised by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. At the time, the Weimar competition tended to draw mediocre and now-forgotten artists presenting derivative mixtures of neo-classical and pseudo-Greek styles. The poor quality of the entries began to prove damaging to Goethe's reputation, so when Friedrich entered two sepia drawings— Procession at Dawn and Fisher-Folk by the Sea —the poet responded enthusiastically and wrote, "We must praise the artist's resourcefulness in this picture fairly.
The drawing is well done, the procession is ingenious and appropriate Friedrich completed the first of his major paintings in , at the age of Cross in the Mountains , today known as the Tetschen Altar , is an altarpiece panel said to have been commissioned  for a family chapel in Tetschen , Bohemia. The panel depicts a cross in profile at the top of a mountain, alone, and surrounded by pine trees. According to art historian Linda Siegel, Friedrich's design was the "logical climax of many earlier drawings of his which depicted a cross in nature's world. Although the altarpiece was generally coldly received, it was Friedrich's first painting to receive wide publicity.
The artist's friends publicly defended the work, while art critic Basilius von Ramdohr published a long article challenging Friedrich's use of landscape in a religious context. He rejected the idea that landscape painting could convey explicit meaning, writing that it would be "a veritable presumption, if landscape painting were to sneak into the church and creep onto the altar". Following the purchase of two of his paintings by the Prussian Crown Prince, Friedrich was elected a member of the Berlin Academy in The move was not expected; the Saxon government was pro-French, while Friedrich's paintings were seen as generally patriotic and distinctly anti-French.
On 21 January , Friedrich married Caroline Bommer, the twenty-five-year-old daughter of a dyer from Dresden. Around this time, he found support from two sources in Russia. In , the Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich , at the behest of his wife Alexandra Feodorovna , visited Friedrich's studio and returned to Saint Petersburg with a number of his paintings, an exchange that began a patronage that continued for many years. For decades Zhukovsky helped Friedrich both by purchasing his work himself and by recommending his art to the royal family; his assistance toward the end of Friedrich's career proved invaluable to the ailing and impoverished artist.
Zhukovsky remarked that his friend's paintings "please us by their precision, each of them awakening a memory in our mind. Friedrich was acquainted with Philipp Otto Runge , another leading German painter of the Romantic period. He was also a friend of Georg Friedrich Kersting , and painted him at work in his unadorned studio, and of the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl — Dahl was close to Friedrich during the artist's final years, and he expressed dismay that to the art-buying public, Friedrich's pictures were only "curiosities".
They did not see Friedrich's faithful and conscientious study of nature in everything he represented". During this period Friedrich frequently sketched memorial monuments and sculptures for mausoleums , reflecting his obsession with death and the afterlife; he even created designs for some of the funerary art in Dresden's cemeteries. Some of these works were lost in the fire that destroyed Munich 's Glass Palace and later in the bombing of Dresden. Friedrich's reputation steadily declined over the final fifteen years of his life. As the ideals of early Romanticism passed from fashion, he came to be viewed as an eccentric and melancholy character, out of touch with the times.
Gradually his patrons fell away. In June , Friedrich suffered his first stroke , which left him with minor limb paralysis and greatly reduced his ability to paint. Although his vision remained strong, he had lost the full strength of his hand. Yet he was able to produce a final 'black painting', Seashore by Moonlight —36 , described by Vaughan as the "darkest of all his shorelines, in which richness of tonality compensates for the lack of his former finesse". Symbols of death appeared in his other work from this period. During the mids, Friedrich began a series of portraits and he returned to observing himself in nature. As the art historian William Vaughan has observed, however, "He can see himself as a man greatly changed.
He is no longer the upright, supportive figure that appeared in Two Men Contemplating the Moon in He is old and stiff By , he was capable only of working in a small format. He and his family were living in poverty and grew increasingly dependent for support on the charity of friends. Friedrich died in Dresden on 7 May , and was buried in Dresden's Trinitatis-Friedhof Trinity Cemetery east of the city centre the entrance to which he had painted some 15 years earlier.
The simple flat gravestone lies north-west of the central roundel within the main avenue. By the time of his death, his reputation and fame were waning, and his passing was little noticed within the artistic community. While the close study of landscape and an emphasis on the spiritual elements of nature were commonplace in contemporary art, his work was too original and personal to be well understood. After his death, Carl Gustav Carus wrote a series of articles which paid tribute to Friedrich's transformation of the conventions of landscape painting. However, Carus' articles placed Friedrich firmly in his time, and did not place the artist within a continuing tradition.
What the newer landscape artists see in a circle of a hundred degrees in Nature they press together unmercifully into an angle of vision of only forty-five degrees. And furthermore, what is in Nature separated by large spaces, is compressed into a cramped space and overfills and oversatiates the eye, creating an unfavorable and disquieting effect on the viewer. The visualisation and portrayal of landscape in an entirely new manner was Friedrich's key innovation.
He sought not just to explore the blissful enjoyment of a beautiful view, as in the classic conception, but rather to examine an instant of sublimity , a reunion with the spiritual self through the contemplation of nature. Friedrich was instrumental in transforming landscape in art from a backdrop subordinated to human drama to a self-contained emotive subject. He often used the landscape to express religious themes. During his time, most of the best-known paintings were viewed as expressions of a religious mysticism. Friedrich said, "The artist should paint not only what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him.
If, however, he sees nothing within him, then he should also refrain from painting that which he sees before him. Otherwise, his pictures will be like those folding screens behind which one expects to find only the sick or the dead. Though death finds symbolic expression in boats that move away from shore—a Charon -like motif—and in the poplar tree, it is referenced more directly in paintings like The Abbey in the Oakwood —10 , in which monks carry a coffin past an open grave, toward a cross, and through the portal of a church in ruins. Dal II secolo d. La vecchia forma libraria a rotolo scompare in ambito librario. In forma notevolmente differente permane invece in ambito archivistico.
Questo mezzo, permettendo l'accelerazione della produzione delle copie di testi contribuisce alla diffusione del libro e della cultura. Altri suoi distici rivelano che tra i regali fatti da Marziale c'erano copie di Virgilio , di Cicerone e Livio. Le parole di Marziale danno la distinta impressione che tali edizioni fossero qualcosa di recentemente introdotto. Sono stati rinvenuti "taccuini" contenenti fino a dieci tavolette.
Nel tempo, furono anche disponibili modelli di lusso fatti con tavolette di avorio invece che di legno. Ai romani va il merito di aver compiuto questo passo essenziale, e devono averlo fatto alcuni decenni prima della fine del I secolo d. Il grande vantaggio che offrivano rispetto ai rolli era la capienza, vantaggio che sorgeva dal fatto che la facciata esterna del rotolo era lasciata in bianco, vuota. Il codice invece aveva scritte entrambe le facciate di ogni pagina, come in un libro moderno. La prima pagina porta il volto del poeta. I codici di cui parlava erano fatti di pergamena ; nei distici che accompagnavano il regalo di una copia di Omero , per esempio, Marziale la descrive come fatta di "cuoio con molte pieghe".
Ma copie erano anche fatte di fogli di papiro. Quando i greci ed i romani disponevano solo del rotolo per scrivere libri, si preferiva usare il papiro piuttosto che la pergamena. I ritrovamenti egiziani ci permettono di tracciare il graduale rimpiazzo del rotolo da parte del codice. Fece la sua comparsa in Egitto non molto dopo il tempo di Marziale, nel II secolo d. Il suo debutto fu modesto. A tutt'oggi sono stati rinvenuti 1. Verso il d. I ritrovamenti egiziani gettano luce anche sulla transizione del codex dal papiro alla pergamena.
Sebbene gli undici codici della Bibbia datati in quel secolo fossero papiracei, esistono circa 18 codici dello stesso secolo con scritti pagani e quattro di questi sono in pergamena. Non ne scegliemmo alcuno, ma ne raccogliemmo altri otto per i quali gli diedi dracme in conto. Il codex tanto apprezzato da Marziale aveva quindi fatto molta strada da Roma. Nel terzo secolo, quando tali codici divennero alquanto diffusi, quelli di pergamena iniziarono ad essere popolari.
In breve, anche in Egitto , la fonte mondiale del papiro , il codice di pergamena occupava una notevole quota di mercato. Sono tutti di pergamena, edizioni eleganti, scritti in elaborata calligrafia su sottili fogli di pergamena. Per tali edizioni di lusso il papiro era certamente inadatto. In almeno un'area, la giurisprudenza romana , il codex di pergamena veniva prodotto sia in edizioni economiche che in quelle di lusso. La caduta dell'Impero romano nel V secolo d.
Il papiro divenne difficile da reperire a causa della mancanza di contatti con l' Antico Egitto e la pergamena , che per secoli era stata tenuta in secondo piano, divenne il materiale di scrittura principale. I monasteri continuarono la tradizione scritturale latina dell' Impero romano d'Occidente. La tradizione e lo stile dell' Impero romano predominavano ancora, ma gradualmente emerse la cultura del libro medievale. I monaci irlandesi introdussero la spaziatura tra le parole nel VII secolo.
L'innovazione fu poi adottata anche nei Paesi neolatini come l'Italia , anche se non divenne comune prima del XII secolo. Si ritiene che l'inserimento di spazi tra le parole abbia favorito il passaggio dalla lettura semi-vocalizzata a quella silenziosa. Prima dell'invenzione e della diffusione del torchio tipografico , quasi tutti i libri venivano copiati a mano, il che li rendeva costosi e relativamente rari. I piccoli monasteri di solito possedevano al massimo qualche decina di libri, forse qualche centinaio quelli di medie dimensioni. Il processo della produzione di un libro era lungo e laborioso.
Infine, il libro veniva rilegato dal rilegatore. Esistono testi scritti in rosso o addirittura in oro, e diversi colori venivano utilizzati per le miniature. A volte la pergamena era tutta di colore viola e il testo vi era scritto in oro o argento per esempio, il Codex Argenteus. Per tutto l'Alto Medioevo i libri furono copiati prevalentemente nei monasteri, uno alla volta.
Il sistema venne gestito da corporazioni laiche di cartolai , che produssero sia materiale religioso che profano. Questi libri furono chiamati libri catenati. Vedi illustrazione a margine. L' ebraismo ha mantenuto in vita l'arte dello scriba fino ad oggi. Anche gli arabi produssero e rilegarono libri durante il periodo medievale islamico , sviluppando tecniche avanzate di calligrafia araba , miniatura e legatoria. Col metodo di controllo, solo "gli autori potevano autorizzare le copie, e questo veniva fatto in riunioni pubbliche, in cui il copista leggeva il testo ad alta voce in presenza dell'autore, il quale poi la certificava come precisa". In xilografia , un'immagine a bassorilievo di una pagina intera veniva intagliata su tavolette di legno, inchiostrata e usata per stampare le copie di quella pagina.
Questo metodo ebbe origine in Cina , durante la Dinastia Han prima del a. I monaci o altri che le scrivevano, venivano pagati profumatamente. I primi libri stampati, i singoli fogli e le immagini che furono creati prima del in Europa, sono noti come incunaboli. Folio 14 recto del Vergilius romanus che contiene un ritratto dell'autore Virgilio. Da notare la libreria capsa , il leggio ed il testo scritto senza spazi in capitale rustica. Leggio con libri catenati , Biblioteca Malatestiana di Cesena. Incunabolo del XV secolo. Si noti la copertina lavorata, le borchie d'angolo e i morsetti. Insegnamenti scelti di saggi buddisti , il primo libro stampato con caratteri metallici mobili, Le macchine da stampa a vapore diventarono popolari nel XIX secolo.
Queste macchine potevano stampare 1. Le macchine tipografiche monotipo e linotipo furono introdotte verso la fine del XIX secolo. But when my teacher presented me with a canary, my cup of happiness overflowed. Little Tim was so tame that he would hop on my finger and eat candied cherries out of my hand. Miss Sullivan taught me to take all the care of my new pet. Every morning after breakfast I prepared his bath, made his cage clean and sweet, filled his cups with fresh seed and water from the well-house, and hung a spray of chickweed in his swing. One morning I left the cage on the window-seat while I went to fetch water for his bath. When I returned I felt a big cat brush past me as I opened the door. At first I did not realize what had happened; but when I put my hand in the cage and Tim's pretty wings did not meet my touch or his small pointed claws take hold of my finger, I knew that I should never see my sweet little singer again.
THE next important event in my life was my visit to Boston, in May, As if it were yesterday I remember the preparations, the departure with my teacher and my mother, the journey, and finally the arrival in Boston. How different this journey was from the one I had made to Baltimore two years before! I was no longer a restless, excitable little creature, requiring the attention of everybody on the train to keep me amused.
I sat quietly beside Miss Sullivan, taking in with eager interest all that she told me about what she saw out of the car window: the beautiful Tennessee River, the great cotton-fields, the hills and woods, and the crowds of laughing negroes at the stations, who waved to the people on the train and brought delicious candy and popcorn balls through the car. On the seat opposite me sat my big rag doll, Nancy, in a new gingham dress and a beruffled sunbonnet, looking at me out of two bead eyes. Sometimes, when I was not absorbed in Miss Sullivan's descriptions, I remembered Nancy's existence and took her up in my arms, but I generally calmed my conscience by making myself believe that she was asleep.
As I shall not have occasion to refer to Nancy again, I wish to tell here a sad experience she had soon after our arrival in Boston. She was covered with dirt—the remains of mud pies I had compelled her to eat, although she had never shown any special liking for them. The laundress at the Perkins Institution secretly carried her off to give her a bath. This was too much for poor Nancy.
When I next saw her she was a formless heap of cotton, which I should not have recognized at all except for the two bead eyes which looked out at me reproachfully. When the train at last pulled into the station at Boston it was as if a beautiful fairy tale had come true. The "once upon a time" was now; the "far-away country" was here. We had scarcely arrived at the Perkins Institution for the Blind when I began to make friends with the little blind children. It delighted me inexpressibly to find that they knew the manual alphabet. What joy to talk with other children in my own language! Until then I had been like a foreigner speaking through an interpreter. In the school where Laura Bridgman was taught I was in my own country.
It took me some time to appreciate the fact that my new friends were blind. I knew I could not see; but it did not seem possible that all the eager, loving children who gathered round me and joined heartily in my frolics were also blind. I remember the surprise and the pain I felt as I noticed that they placed their hands over mine when I talked to them and that they read books with their fingers. Although I had been told this before, and although I understood my own deprivations, yet I had thought vaguely that since they could hear, they must have a sort of "second sight," and I was not prepared to find one child and another and yet another deprived of the same precious gift.
But they were so happy and contented that I lost all sense of pain in the pleasure of their companionship. One day spent with the blind children made me feel thoroughly at home in my new environment, and I looked eagerly from one pleasant experience to another as the days flew swiftly by. I could not quite convince myself that there was much world left, for I regarded Boston as the beginning and the end of creation. While we were in Boston we visited Bunker Hill, and there I had my first lesson in history. The story of the brave men who had fought on the spot where we stood excited me greatly. I climbed the monument, counting the steps, and wondering as I went higher and yet higher if the soldiers had climbed this great stairway and shot at the enemy on the ground below.
The next day we went to Plymouth by water. This was my first trip on the ocean and my first voyage in a steamboat. How full of life and motion it was! But the rumble of the machinery made me think it was thundering, and I began to cry, because I feared if it rained we should not be able to have our picnic out of doors. I was more interested, I think, in the great rock on which the Pilgrims landed than in anything else in Plymouth. I could touch it, and perhaps that made the coming of the Pilgrims and their toils and great deeds seem more real to me.
I have often held in my hand a little model of the Plymouth Rock which a kind gentleman gave me at Pilgrim Hall, and I have fingered its curves, the split in the centre and the embossed figures "," and turned over in my mind all that I knew about the wonderful story of the Pilgrims. How my childish imagination glowed with the splendour of their enterprise! I idealized them as the bravest and most generous men that ever sought a home in a strange land. I thought they desired the freedom of their fellow men as well as their own. I was keenly surprised and disappointed years later to learn of their acts of persecution that make us tingle with shame, even while we glory in the courage and energy that gave us our "Country Beautiful.
Among the many friends I made in Boston were Mr. William Endicott and his daughter. Their kindness to me was the seed from which many pleasant memories have since grown. One day we visited their beautiful home at Beverly Farms. I remember with delight how I went through their rose-garden, how their dogs, big Leo and little curly-haired Fritz with long ears, came to meet me, and how Nimrod, the swiftest of the horses, poked his nose into my hands for a pat and a lump of sugar. I also remember the beach, where for the first time I played in the sand.
It was hard, smooth sand, very different from the loose, sharp sand, mingled with kelp and shells, at Brewster. Endicott told me about the great ships that came sailing by from Boston, bound for Europe. I saw him many times after that, and he was always a good friend to me; indeed, I was thinking of him when I called Boston "The City of Kind Hearts. I was delighted, for my mind was full of the prospective joys and of the wonderful stories I had heard about the sea. My most vivid recollection of that summer is the ocean. I had always lived far inland, and had never had so much as a whiff of salt air; but I had read in a big book called "Our World" a description of the ocean which filled me with wonder and an intense longing to touch the mighty sea and feel it roar.
So my little heart leaped with eager excitement when I knew that my wish was at last to be realized. No sooner had I been helped into my bathing-suit than I sprang out upon the warm sand and without thought of fear plunged into the cool water. I felt the great billows rock and sink. The buoyant motion of the water filled me with an exquisite, quivering joy. Suddenly my ecstasy gave place to terror; for my foot struck against a rock and the next instant there was a rush of water over my head. I thrust out my hands to grab some support, I clutched at the water and at the seaweed which the waves tossed in my face. But all my frantic efforts were in vain. The waves seemed to be playing a game with me, and tossed me from one to another in their wild frolic. It was fearful!
The good, firm earth had slipped from my feet, and everything seemed shut out from this strange, all-enveloping element—life, air, warmth, and love. At last, however, the sea, as if weary of its new toy, threw me back on the shore, and in another instant I was clasped in my teacher's arms. Oh, the comfort of the long, tender embrace! As soon as I had recovered from my panic sufficiently to say anything, I demanded: "Who put salt in the water? After I had recovered from my first experience in the water, I thought it great fun to sit on a big rock in my bathing-suit and feel wave after wave dash against the rock, sending up a shower of spray which quite covered me.
I felt the pebbles rattling as the waves threw their ponderous weight against the shore; the whole beach seemed racked by their terrific onset, and the air throbbed with their pulsations. The breakers would swoop back to gather themselves for a mightier leap, and I clung to the rock, tense, fascinated, as I felt the dash and roar of the rushing sea! I could never stay long enough on the shore. The tang of the untainted, fresh and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought, and the shells and pebbles and the seaweed with tiny living creatures attached to it never lost their fascination for me. One day, Miss Sullivan attracted my attention to a strange object which she had captured basking in the chilly water. It was a great horseshoe crab—the first one I had ever seen.
I felt of him and thought it strange that he should carry his house on his back. It suddenly occurred to me that he might make a delightful pet; so I seized him by the tail with both hands and carried him home. This feat pleased me highly, as his body was very heavy, and it took all my strength to drag him half a mile. I would not leave Miss Sullivan in peace until she had put the crab in a trough near the well where I was confident he would be secure.
But the next morning I went to the trough, and lo, he had disappeared! Nobody knew where he had gone, or how he had escaped. My disappointment was bitter at the time; but little by little I came to realize that it was not kind or wise to force this poor dumb creature out of his element, and after awhile I felt happy in the thought that perhaps he had returned to the sea. IN the Autumn I returned to my Southern home with a heart full of joyous memories. As I recall that visit North I am filled with wonder at the richness and variety of the experiences that cluster about it.
It seems to have been the beginning of everything. The treasures of a new, beautiful world were laid at my feet, and I took in pleasure and information at every turn. I lived myself into all things. I was never still a moment; my life was as full of motion as those little insects which crowd a whole existence into one brief day. I had met many people who talked with me by spelling into my hand, and thought in joyous symphony leaped up to meet thought, and behold, a miracle had been wrought! The barren places between my mind and the minds of others blossomed like the rose. I spent the autumn months with my family at our summer cottage, on a mountain about fourteen miles from Tuscumbia.
It was called Fern Quarry, because near it there was a limestone quarry, long since abandoned. Three frolicsome little streams ran through it from springs in the rocks above, leaping here and tumbling there in laughing cascades wherever the rocks tried to bar their way. The opening was filled with ferns which completely covered the beds of limestone and in places hid the streams. The rest of the mountain was thickly wooded.
Here were great oaks and splendid evergreens with trunks like mossy pillars, from the branches of which hung garlands of ivy and mistletoe, and persimmon trees, the odour of which pervaded every nook and corner of the wood—an illusive, fragrant something that made the heart glad. In places, the wild muscadine and scuppernong vines stretched from tree to tree, making arbours which were always full of butterflies and buzzing insects.
It was delightful to lose ourselves in the green hollows of that tangled wood in the late afternoon, and to smell the cool, delicious odours that came up from the earth at the close of day. Our cottage was a sort of rough camp, beautifully situated on the top of the mountain among oaks and pines. The small rooms were arranged on each side of a long open hall. Round the house was a wide piazza, where the mountain winds blew, sweet with all wood-scents. We lived on the piazza most of the time—there we worked, ate and played.
At the back door there was a great butternut tree, round which the steps had been built, and in front the trees stood so close that I could touch them and feel the wind shake their branches, or the leaves twirl downward in the autumn blast. Many visitors came to Fern Quarry. In the evening, by the campfire, the men played cards and whiled away the hours in talk and sport. They told stories of their wonderful feats with fowl, fish, and quadruped—how many wild ducks and turkeys they had shot, what "savage trout" they had caught, and how they had bagged the craftiest foxes, outwitted the most clever 'possums, and overtaken the fleetest deer, until I thought that surely the lion, the tiger, the bear, and the rest of the wild tribe would not be able to stand before these wily hunters.
The men slept in the hall outside our door, and I could feel the deep breathing of the dogs and the hunters as they lay on their improvised beds. At dawn I was awakened by the smell of coffee, the rattling of guns, and the heavy footsteps of the men as they strode about, promising themselves the greatest luck of the season. I could also feel the stamping of the horses, which they had ridden out from town and hitched under the trees, where they stood all night, neighing loudly, impatient to be off. At last the men mounted, and, as they say in the old songs, away went the steeds with bridles ringing and whips cracking and hounds racing ahead, and away went the champion hunters "with hark and whoop and wild halloo!
Later in the morning we made preparations for a barbecue. A fire was kindled at the bottom of a deep hole in the ground, big sticks were laid crosswise at the top, and meat was hung from them and turned on spits. Around the fire squatted negroes, driving away the flies with long branches. The savoury odour of the meat made me hungry long before the tables were set. When the bustle and excitement of preparation was at its height, the hunting party made its appearance, struggling in by twos and threes, the men hot and weary, the horses covered with foam, and the jaded hounds panting and dejected—and not a single kill!
Every man declared that he had seen at least one deer, and that the animal had come very close; but however hotly the dogs might pursue the game, however well the guns might be aimed, at the snap of the trigger there was not a deer in sight. They had been as fortunate as the little boy who said he came very near seeing a rabbit—he saw his tracks. The party soon forgot its disappointment, however, and we sat down, not to venison, but to a tamer feast of veal and roast pig. One summer I had my pony at Fern Quarry. I called him Black Beauty, as I had just read the book, and he resembled his namesake in every way, from his glossy black coat to the white star on his forehead. I spent many of my happiest hours on his back.
Occasionally, when it was quite safe, my teacher would let go the leading-rein, and the pony sauntered on or stopped at his sweet will to eat grass or nibble the leaves of the trees that grew beside the narrow trail. On mornings when I did not care for the ride, my teacher and I would start after breakfast for a ramble in the woods, and allow ourselves to get lost amid the trees and vines, and with no road to follow except the paths made by cows and horses. Frequently we came upon impassable thickets which forced us to take a roundabout way. We always returned to the cottage with armfuls of laurel, goldenrod, ferns, and gorgeous swamp-flowers such as grow only in the South.
Sometimes I would go with Mildred and my little cousins to gather persimmons. I did not eat them; but I loved their fragrance and enjoyed hunting for them in the leaves and grass. We also went nutting, and I helped them open the chestnut burrs and break the shells of hickory-nuts and walnuts—the big, sweet walnuts! At the foot of the mountain there was a railroad, and the children watched the trains whiz by. Sometimes a terrific whistle brought us to the steps, and Mildred told me in great excitement that a cow or a horse had strayed on the track.
About a mile distant, there was a trestle spanning a deep gorge. It was very difficult to walk over, the ties were wide apart and so narrow that one felt as if one were walking on knives. I had never crossed it until one day Mildred, Miss Sullivan and I were lost in the woods, and wandered for hours without finding a path. Suddenly Mildred pointed with her little hand and exclaimed, "There's the trestle! I had to feel for the rails with my toe; but I was not afraid, and got on very well, until all at once there came a faint "puff, puff" from the distance.
I felt the hot breath from the engine on my face, and the smoke and ashes almost choked us. As the train rumbled by, the trestle shook and swayed until I thought we should be dashed to the chasm below. With the utmost difficulty we regained the track. Long after dark we reached home and found the cottage empty; the family were all out hunting for us.
Once I went on a visit to a New England village with its frozen lakes and vast snow fields. It was then that I had opportunities such as had never been mine to enter into the treasures of the snow. I recall my surprise on discovering that a mysterious hand had stripped the trees and bushes, leaving only here and there a wrinkled leaf. The birds had flown, and their empty nests in the bare trees were filled with snow.
Winter was on hill and field. The earth seemed benumbed by his icy touch and the very spirits of the trees had withdrawn to their roots, and there, curled up in the dark, lay fast asleep. All life seemed to have ebbed away, and even when the sun shone the day was. Then came a day when the chill air portended a snowstorm. We rushed out-of-doors to feel the first few tiny flakes descending. Hour by hour the flakes dropped silently, softly from their airy height to the earth, and the country became more and more level.
A snowy night closed upon the world, and in the morning one could scarcely recognize a feature of the landscape. All the roads were hidden, not a single landmark was visible, only a waste of snow with trees rising out of it. Around the great fire we sat and told merry tales, and frolicked, and quite forgot that we were in the midst of a desolate solitude, shut in from all communication with the outside world. But during the night, the fury of the wind increased to such a degree that it thrilled us with a vague terror. The rafters creaked and strained, and the branches of the trees surrounding the house rattled and beat against the windows, as the winds rioted up and down the country.
On the third day after the beginning of the storm the snow ceased. The sun broke through the clouds and shone upon a vast, undulating white plain. High mounds, pyramids heaped in fantastic shapes, and impenetrable drifts lay scattered in every direction. Narrow paths were shoveled through the drifts. I put on my cloak and hood and went out. The air stung my cheeks like fire. Half walking in the paths, half working our way though the lesser drifts, we succeeded in reaching a pine grove just outside a broad pasture. The trees stood motionless and white like figures in a marble frieze. There was no odour of pine-needles. The rays of the sun fell upon the trees, so that the twigs sparkled like diamonds and dropped in showers when we touched them.
So dazzling was the light, it penetrated even the darkness that veils my eyes. As the days wore on, the drifts gradually shrunk, but before they were wholly gone another storm came, so that I scarcely felt the earth under my feet once all winter. At intervals the trees lost their icy covering, and the bulrushes and underbrush were bare; but the lake lay frozen and hard beneath the sun. Our favourite amusement during that winter was tobogganing. In places the shore of the lake rises abruptly from the water's edge.
Down these steep slopes we used to coast. We would get on our toboggan, a boy would give us a shove, and off we went! Plunging through drifts, leaping hollows, swooping down upon the lake, we would shoot across its gleaming surface to the opposite bank. What joy! What exhilarating madness! For one wild, glad moment we snapped the chain that binds us to earth, and joining hands with the winds we felt ourselves divine! IT was in the spring of that I learned to speak.
I used to make noises, keeping one hand on my throat while the other hand felt the movements of my lips. I was pleased with anything that made a noise, and liked to feel the cat purr and the dog bark. I also liked to keep my hand on a singer's throat, or on a piano when it was being played. Before I lost my sight and hearing, I was fast learning to talk, but after my illness it was found that I had ceased to speak because I could not hear. I used to sit in my mother's lap all day long and keep my hands on her face because it amused me to feel the motions of her lips; and I moved my lips, too, although I had forgotten what talking was. My friends say that I laughed and cried naturally, and for awhile I made many sounds and word-elements, not because they were a means of communication, but because the need of exercising my vocal organs was imperative.
There was, however, one word the meaning of which I still remembered, water. I pronounced it "wa-wa. I stopped using it only after I had learned to spell the word on my fingers. I had known for a long time that the people about me used a method of communication different from mine; and even before I knew that a deaf child could be taught to speak, I was conscious of dissatisfaction with the means of communication I already possessed. One who is entirely dependent on the manual alphabet has always a sense of restraint, of narrowness.
This feeling began to agitate me with a vexing, forward-reaching sense of a lack that should be filled. My thought would often rise and beat up like birds against the wind; and I persisted in using my lips and voice. Friends tried to discourage this tendency, fearing lest it would lead to disappointment. But I persisted, and an accident soon occurred which resulted in the breaking down of this great barrier—I heard the story of Ragnhild Kaata. In Mrs. Lamson, who had been one of Laura Bridgman's teachers, and who had just returned from a visit to Norway and Sweden, came to see me, and told me of Ragnhild Kaata, a deaf and blind girl in Norway who had actually been taught to speak. Lamson had scarcely finished telling me about this girl's success before I was on fire with eagerness.
I resolved that I, too, would learn to speak. I would not rest satisfied until my teacher took me, for advice and assistance, to Miss Sarah Fuller, principal of the Horace Mann School. This lovely, sweet-natured lady offered to teach me herself, and we began the twenty-sixth of March, Miss Fuller's method was this: she passed my hand lightly over her face, and let me feel the position of her tongue and lips when she made a sound.
Miss Fuller gave me eleven lessons in all. I shall never forget the surprise and delight I felt when I uttered my first connected sentence, "It is warm. My soul, conscious of new strength, came out of bondage, and was reaching through those broken symbols of speech to all knowledge and all faith. No deaf child who has earnestly tried to speak the words which he has never heard—to come out of the prison of silence, where no tone of love, no song of bird, no strain of music ever pierces the stillness—can forget the thrill of surprise, the joy of discovery which came over him when he uttered his first word. Only such a one can appreciate the eagerness with which I talked to my toys, to stones, trees, birds and dumb animals, or the delight I felt when at my call Mildred ran to me or my dogs obeyed my commands.
It is an unspeakable boon to me to be able to speak in winged words that need no interpretation. As I talked, happy thoughts fluttered up out of my words that might perhaps have struggled in vain to escape my fingers. But it must not be supposed that I could really talk in this short time. I had learned only the elements of speech. Miss Fuller and Miss Sullivan could understand me, but most people would not have understood one word in a hundred. Nor is it true that, after I had learned these elements, I did the rest of the work myself.
But for Miss Sullivan's genius, untiring perseverance and devotion, I could not have progressed as far as I have toward natural speech. In the first place, I laboured night and day before I could be understood even by my most intimate friends; in the second place, I needed Miss Sullivan's assistance constantly in my efforts to articulate each sound clearly and to combine all sounds in a thousand ways. Even now, she calls my attention every day to mispronounced words. All teachers of the deaf know what this means, and only they can appreciate the peculiar difficulties with which I had to contend.
In reading my teacher's lips, I was wholly dependent on my fingers: I had to use the sense of touch in catching the vibrations of the throat, the movements of the mouth and the expression of the face; and often this sense was at fault. In such cases I was forced to repeat the words or sentences, sometimes for hours, until I felt the proper ring in my own voice. My work was practice, practice, practice.
Discouragement and weariness cast me down frequently; but the next moment the thought that I should soon be at home and show my loved ones what I had accomplished, spurred me on, and I eagerly looked forward to their pleasure in my achievement. I used to repeat ecstatically, "I am not dumb now. It astonished me to find how much easier it is to talk than to spell with the fingers, and I discarded the manual alphabet as a medium of communication on my part; but Miss Sullivan and a few friends still use it in speaking to me, for it is more convenient and more rapid than lip-reading.
Just here, perhaps, I had better explain our use of the manual alphabet, which seems to puzzle people who do not know us. I place my hand on the hand of the speaker so lightly as not to impede its movements. The position of the hand is as easy to feel as it is to see. I do not feel each letter any more than you see each letter separately when you read. Constant practice makes the fingers very flexible, and some of my friends spell rapidly—about as fast as an expert writes on a typewriter.
The mere, spelling is, of course, no more a conscious act than it is in writing. When I had made speech my own, I could not wait to go home. At last the happiest of happy moments arrived. I had made my homeward journey, talking constantly to Miss Sullivan, not for the sake of talking, but determined to improve to the last minute. Almost before I knew it, the train stopped at the Tuscumbia station, and there on the platform stood the whole family. My eyes fill with tears now as I think how my mother pressed me close to her, speechless and trembling with delight, taking in every syllable that I spoke, while little Mildred seized my free hand and kissed it and danced, and my father expressed his pride and affection in a big silence. It was as if Isaah's prophecy had been fulfilled in me, "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands!
THE winter of was darkened by one cloud in my childhood's bright sky. Joy deserted my heart, and for a long, long time I lived in doubt, anxiety, and fear. Books lost their charm for me, and even now the thought of those dreadful days chills my heart. Anagnos, of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, was at the root of the trouble. In order to make the matter clear, I must set forth the facts connected with this episode, which justice to my teacher and to myself compels me to relate.
I wrote the story when I was at home, the autumn after I had learned to speak. We had stayed up at Fern Quarry later than usual. While we were there, Miss Sullivan described to me the beauties of the late foliage, and it seems that her descriptions revived the memory of a story, which must have been read to me and which I must have unconsciously retained. I thought then that I was "making up a story," as children say, and I eagerly sat down to write it before the ideas should slip from me.
My thoughts flowed easily; I felt a sense of joy in the composition. Words and images came tripping to my finger ends, and as I thought out sentence after sentence, I wrote them on my braille slate. Now, if words and images came to me without effort, it is a pretty sure sign that they are not the offspring of my own mind, but stray waifs that I regretfully dismiss. At that time I eagerly absorbed everything I read without a thought of authorship, and even now I cannot be quite sure of the boundary line between my ideas and those I find in books. I suppose that is because so many of my impressions come to me through the medium of others' eyes and ears.
When the story was finished, I read it to my teacher, and I recall now vividly the pleasure I felt in the more beautiful passages, and my annoyance at being interrupted to have the pronunciation of a word corrected. At dinner it was read to the assembled family, who were surprised that I could write so well. Some one asked me if I had read it in a book. The question surprised me very much; for I had not the faintest recollection of having had it read to me.
I spoke up and said, "Oh, no, it is my story, and I have written it for Mr. Accordingly I copied the story and sent it to him for his birthday. I carried the little story to the post office myself, feeling as if I were walking on air. I little dreamed how cruelly I should pay for that birthday gift. Anagnos was delighted with "The Frost King" and published it in one of the Perkins Institution reports. This was the pinnacle of my happiness, from which I was in a little while dashed to earth. Canby, had appeared before I was born in a book called "Birdie and His Friends. It was difficult to make me understand this; but when I did understand I was astonished and grieved. No child ever drank deeper of the cup of bitterness than I did. I had disgraced myself; I had brought suspicion upon those I loved best.
And yet how could it possibly have happened? I racked my brain until I was weary to recall anything about the frost that I had read before I wrote "The Frost King;" but I could remember nothing, except the common reference to Jack Frost, and a poem for children, "The Freaks of the Frost," and I knew I had not used that in my composition. At first Mr. Anagnos, though deeply troubled, seemed to believe me. He was unusually tender and kind to me, and for a brief space the shadow lifted. To please him I tried not to be unhappy, and to make myself as pretty as possible for the celebration of Washington's birthday, which took place very soon after I received the sad news.
I was to be Ceres in a kind of masque given by the blind girls. How well I remember the graceful draperies that enfolded me, the bright autumn leaves that ringed my head, and the fruit and grain at my feet and in my hands, and beneath all the gaiety of the masque the oppressive sense of coming ill that made my heart heavy. The night before the celebration, one of the teachers of the Institution had asked me a question connected with "The Frost King," and I was telling her that Miss Sullivan had talked to me about Jack Frost and his wonderful works.
Something I said made her think she detected in my words a confession that I did remember Miss Canby's story of "The Frost Fairies," and she laid her conclusions before Mr. Anagnos, although I had told her most emphatically that she was mistaken. Anagnos, who loved me tenderly, thinking that he had been deceived, turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of love and innocence. He believed, or at least suspected, that Miss Sullivan and I had deliberately stolen the bright thoughts of another and imposed them on him to win his admiration. I was brought before a court of investigation composed of the teachers and officers of the Institution, and Miss Sullivan was asked to leave me. Then I was questioned and cross-questioned with what seemed to me a determination on the part of my judges to force me to acknowledge that I remembered having had "The Frost Fairies" read to me.
I felt in every question the doubt and suspicion that was in their minds, and I felt, too, that a loved friend was looking at me reproachfully, although I could not have put all this into words. The blood pressed about my thumping heart, and I could scarcely speak, except in monosyllables. Even the consciousness that it was only a dreadful mistake did not lessen my suffering, and when at last I was allowed to leave the room, I was dazed and did not notice my teacher's caresses, or the tender words of my friends, who said I was a brave little girl and they were proud of me.
As I lay in my bed that night, I wept as I hope few children have wept. I felt so cold, I imagined I should die before morning, and the thought comforted me. I think if this sorrow had come to me when I was older, it would have broken my spirit beyond repairing. But the angel of forgetfulness has gathered up and carried away much of the misery and all of the bitterness of those sad days. Miss Sullivan had never heard of "The Frost Fairies" or of the book in which it was published.
With the assistance of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, she investigated the matter carefully, and at last it came out that Mrs. Hopkins had a copy of Miss Canby's "Birdie and His Friends" in , the year that we spent the summer with her at Brewster. Hopkins was unable to find her copy; but she has told me that at that time, while Miss Sullivan was away on a vacation, she tried to amuse me by reading from various books, and although she could not remember reading "The Frost Fairies" any more than I, yet she felt sure that "Birdie and His Friends" was one of them.