Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fit Two, Page 11, Panel 1 … Tingle-Bell Rock

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
That the Captain they trusted so well

Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,

And that was to tingle his bell.

Apropos of nothing in particular … Eugène Delacroix pooh-poohed maritime disasters and English literature, both of them subjects dear to my heart …

"… I have been reading the story of a shipwreck by Edgar Allan Poe, where the survivors remain in the most horrible and desperate situation for fifty pages on end — nothing could be more boring. Here we have an example of foreign bad taste. The English, German and other non-Latin peoples have no literature because they have no taste or proportion … they drown one beneath a flood of detail that takes away all the interest."

Later that same evening, over a beaker of pure rainwater, he tossed off this observation:

"Lord Byron praised gin as his Hippocrene, because it made him bold … happy are they who, like Voltaire and other great men, can reach a state of inspiration on fresh water and plain living."

So, you want fresh water and plain living with no details? Very well! Get on this sinking raft, Eugène! You did it for Théodore Géricault, you can do it for me! Down there in front, behind the Bellman with your arms outstretched and quit your whining, this ain't no alexandrine hémistichery — this here's Lewis Carroll! Tingle that bell!


NB. I have increased the mineral content of Delacroix's head to compensate for his natural Gallic bouyancy and to highlight his affinity for impersonating an Easter Island moia.


  1. Funny, clever and naughty. But I could forgive Eugène for anything. Come on, he was not so narrow-minded! Do you know he was amongst the first painters to use sometimes photography instead of having models to pause for long hours? I love your comparison with the moia, it's so obvious now that you're telling me!

  2. Funny & clever & naughty is seldom truthful, you are quite right about Eugène, he was not narrow-minded at all … his tastes in art were very sophisticated & subtle.

    I am quoting from his Journals, which I have always admired. He had an immense intellect & a very generous spirit!

    I did not know about the photography use, it gives him another link to Lewis Carroll.

    It's funny, now that I look back, this blog & the Snark drawings are becoming more & more involved with French art & literature, less & less English. Too much poutine and cheap red plonk!