Reprinted Pieces HTML version
The Ghost of Art
I AM a bachelor, residing in rather a dreary set of chambers in the Temple. They are
situated in a square court of high houses, which would be a complete well, but for the
want of water and the absence of a bucket. I live at the top of the house, among the tiles
and sparrows. Like the little man in the nursery-story, I live by myself, and all the bread
and cheese I get - which is not much - I put upon a shelf. I need scarcely add, perhaps,
that I am in love, and that the father of my charming Julia objects to our union.
I mention these little particulars as I might deliver a letter of introduction. The reader is
now acquainted with me, and perhaps will condescend to listen to my narrative.
I am naturally of a dreamy turn of mind; and my abundant leisure - for I am called to the
Bar - coupled with much lonely listening to the twittering of sparrows, and the pattering
of rain, has encouraged that disposition. In my 'top set' I hear the wind howl on a winter
night, when the man on the ground floor believes it is perfectly still weather. The dim
lamps with which our Honourable Society (supposed to be as yet unconscious of the
new discovery called Gas) make the horrors of the staircase visible, deepen the gloom
which generally settles on my soul when I go home at night.
I am in the Law, but not of it. I can't exactly make out what it means. I sit in Westminster
Hall sometimes (in character) from ten to four; and when I go out of Court, I don't know
whether I am standing on my wig or my boots.
It appears to me (I mention this in confidence) as if there were too much talk and too
much law - as if some grains of truth were started overboard into a tempestuous sea of
All this may make me mystical. Still, I am confident that what I am going to describe
myself as having seen and heard, I actually did see and hear.
It is necessary that I should observe that I have a great delight in pictures. I am no
painter myself, but I have studied pictures and written about them. I have seen all the
most famous pictures in the world; my education and reading have been sufficiently
general to possess me beforehand with a knowledge of most of the subjects to which a
Painter is likely to have recourse; and, although I might be in some doubt as to the
rightful fashion of the scabbard of King Lear's sword, for instance, I think I should know
King Lear tolerably well, if I happened to meet with him.
I go to all the Modern Exhibitions every season, and of course I revere the Royal
Academy. I stand by its forty Academical articles almost as firmly as I stand by the