Monday, September 17, 2012
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 … in his Journals, Eugène Delacroix once 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.