Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/248

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204
AUDUBON

the best of all ways to spend an evening for délassement. I often find myself when there laughing or crying like a child.

January 11. Scarce daylight at half-past seven, but I was up and away with a coal porter and his cart into the country. I wanted some large, rough stones for my foreground; this was my reason for my excursion. I passed a small, dirty, and almost lost building, where the union between Scotland and England was ratified. At one o'clock Professor Russell called in his carriage with Mr. Lizars, then we went to see a picture of the famous Hondekoeter. To me the picture was destitute of life; the animals seemed to me to be drawn from poorly stuffed specimens, but the coloring, the finish, the manner, the effect, was most beautiful, and but for the lack of Nature in the animals was a picture which commanded admiration and attention. Would that I could paint like Hondekoeter! At eight I went to the Phrenological Society, and may safely say that never before was I in such company; the deepest philosophers in this city of learning were there, and George Combe read an essay on the mental powers of man, as illustrated by phrenological researches, that astounded me; it lasted one and a half hours, and will remain in my mind all my life.

January 12. My painting has now arrived at the difficult point. To finish highly without destroying the general effect, or to give the general effect and care not about the finishing? I am quite puzzled. Sometimes I like the picture, then a heat rises to my face and I think it a miserable daub. This is the largest piece I have ever done; as to the birds, as far as they are concerned I am quite satisfied, but the ground, the foliage, the sky, the distance are dreadful. To-day I was so troubled about this that at two o'clock, when yet a good hour of daylight remained, I left it in disgust, and walked off to Dr. Bridges. I passed on my way the place where a man was murdered the night