[103] Blunderbussiana.

IT is with difficulty we can ascertain the place or even the country where this artist was born; but we have most reason to imagine it was in Dalmatia, towards the confines of Croatia. Rouzinski Blunderbussiana, father of him whose adventures will be the subject of the following pages, was captain of some banditti, for many years the terror of Dalmatia and the neighbouring countries. This formidable band exercised the most unlimited depredations, and as they were very numerous, nothing but an army could oppose them. Finding, however, security in defiles amongst the moun- [104] tains, known but to themselves, the Venetian and Hungarian soldiery attempted their extirpation in vain. Rouzinski, their leader, was one of the haughtiest of mankind; his uncommon stature, matchless intrepidity, and wonderful success, had raised him to the despotic command of these brave savages, to whom no enterprize seemed impossible, and who executed their projects almost as soon as they were conceived. The caves in which they resided were hollowed in the rocks, forming the summit of a mountain in the wild province of the Morlakes, which they had in a manner subdued; no one daring to approach the spot where they had established their habitations. The peak of this mountain, seen from afar, was regarded by the Dalmatians with horror. Had they [105] known what scenes it concealed, they would have trembled indeed. The plan of this work will not admit a particular description of this mountain and its caves, or else I should certainly have lain before my readers some particulars concerning the residence of these banditti, which, perhaps, might have been worthy their attention; but at present I must confine myself merely to what relates to the life of Blunderbussiana. His father returning with a rich booty from Turkey, brought with him a lady of some distinction, who had fallen unfortunately into his hands. He conveyed her to his cave, attempted to amuse her with the sight of those magazines (immense grottos) which contained his treasures, and by degrees falling deeply in love with her, laid them all at her feet.
The young Turk, who had seen but little of the world, was charmed with the manly aspect of her admirer, and dazzled by his liberality, after some time forgot the disgust his savage profession inspired. She at length consented to make him happy; and our hero sprung from this connection, which was celebrated with tumultuous festivity throughout all the subterraneous empire. Blunderbussiana's first ideas, caught from the objects around, cannot be supposed of the gentlest nature. He beheld gloomy caverns hollowed in craggy rocks, which threatened every instant to fall upon his head. He heard each night dreadful relations of combats which had happened in the day, and often, when wandering about the entrance of the caves, he spied his father and his companions stripping the [107] slain, and letting down their bodies into pits and fissures which had never been fathomed. Being long inured to such ghastly sights, he by degrees grew pleased with them, and his inclination for painting first manifested itself in the desire he had of imitating the figures of his father's warriors.
Rouzinski, as soon as his son was able to dart a javelin or bear a musket, led him to the chace, and exulted in the activity with which he pursued the boar, and the alacrity with which he murdered the trembling stag. After he had spent a year in these sanguinary amusements, his father thought him worthy to partake his expeditions, and led him first to the rencounter of a pretty large body of Turks, who escort- [107] ed some Hungarian merchants. "Such for the future must be your game," said the ruthless robber to his son, who performed prodigies of cruelty and valour. But let me draw a veil over such frightful pictures. Though the truth forbids me entirely to conceal them, humanity pleads strongly for the abridgment of their relation. Two summers passed away in continual rapines and eternal scenes of active oppression. The winter was the season of repose, and the young Rouzinski employed it in recollecting the adventures of the summer months and fixing them by his pencil. Sometimes he read a treatise upon painting, found amongst the spoils of some Italians, which assisted him infinitely. They much recommended the study of anatomy, and he did not hesitate to fol- [109] low the advice they gave. His father's band frequently bringing bodies to their caves, he amused himself with dissecting and imitating the several parts, till he attained such a perfection in muscular expression as is rarely seen in the works of the greatest masters. His application was surprizing; for his curiosity to examine the structure of the human frame being inflamed, he pursued the study with such eagerness as those who are not amateurs cannot easily imagine. Every day discovered some new artery, or tendon to his view; every hour produced some masterly design, and though without any person to guide him, he made a progress which would have done credit to the most eminent artists. He now began to put his figures together in a great manner, and to group them with judgment; [110] but colours were wanting, and without materials, Michael Angelo would have conceived the dome of St. Peter's in vain. He had read in his treatise of the works of Italian painters, which he languished to behold, and was determined, if possible, in the ensuing summer, to escape from his father and fly to a country, where he might indulge his inclinations; however, for the present he was charmed with the opportunities of perfecting himself in anatomy, and that occupation diverted his intention of taking flight for some time. In the spring he used early in the morning to quit his cave, and frequently trussing a body over his shoulders, repaired to a wood, and delighted himself in exploring it. Instead of carrying with him, in his walks, a nice pocket edition of some Elzevir classic, [111] he never was without a leg or an arm, which he went slicing along, and generally accompanied his operations with a melodious whistling; for he was of a chearful disposition, and, if he had had a different education, would have been an ornament to society.
Summer came, and he was called to attend his father and a select detachment of the band, on an expedition into the Hungarian territories; but some regular troops being aware of their intentions, lay in ambush for their coming, sallied upon them, and left the old Rouzinski, with thirty of his comrades, dead upon the field. Blunderbussiana escaped, and made the best of his way thro' forests deemed impenetrable, and mountains, where he subsisted on wild fruit [112] and the milk of goats. When he reached the borders of cultivation, his savage mien and the barbarous roll of his eyes, frighted every villager that beheld him; and so strange was his appearance, that some said he could be nothing but the Antichrist, and others believed him to be the Wandering Jew. After having experienced innumerable hardships, which none but those accustomed from their infancy to fatigues could have sustained, he arrived at Friuli; where he was employed in cutting wood, by a Venetian surgeon, who had retired there to enjoy an estate which had been lately bequeathed him. One day, after he had worked very hard, he seized a cat that was frisking about near him, and, by way of recreation, dissected the animal with such skill, that his master, [113] who happened to pass by, was quite surprized, and mentioned this circumstance to several of his friends at dinner, amongst whom the famous Joseph Portal chanced to be present. This painter, who was a great admirer of anatomy, wished to see the young proficient, and being struck with his uncouth figure, began to sketch out his portrait on some tablets be carried about him. Blunderbussiana was in raptures during the performance, and begging earnestly to examine it more narrowly, snatched the pencil from Porta's hand, and in a few strokes corrected some faults in the anatomy with such boldness and veracity, as threw the painter into amazement. Happening to want a servant at this time, Porta desired his friend to permit Blunderbussiana's returning with him to [114] Venice; a request he granted without delay, and the young man joyfully accompanied him. He did not long remain with his master as a servant, being soon considered in the light of a disciple. All possible advantages were procured him, and after a year's study he gave several pieces to the public, in which the clair obscure was finely observed. The scenes of his former life were still fresh in his memory, and his pictures almost always represented vast perspective caverns red with the light of fires, around which banditti were carousing; or else dark valleys between shaggy rocks strewed with the spoils of murder'd travellers. His father, leaning on his spear, and giving orders to his warriors, was generally the principal object in these pieces, characterised by a certain horror, [115] which those ignorant of such dreadful scenes fancied imaginary. If he represented waters, they were dark and troubled; if trees, deformed and withered. His skies were lowering, and his clair obscure in that style the Italians called sgraffito (a greyish melancholy tint) which suited the gloominess of his subjects. It might be conjectured from this choice of subjects, that Blunderbussiana was a very dismal personage. On the contrary, he was, as we hinted before, of a social disposition, and much relished by those with whom he spent the hours he dedicated to amusement. His pleasures, to be sure, were singular, and probably will not be styled such by many of our readers. For example: after a chearful repast, which he never failed to enliven by his sallies, he would [116] engage some of his friends to ramble about at midnight, and leading them slily to some burying grounds, entice them, by way of frolick, to steal some of the bodies, which he bore off with the greatest glee; exulting more than if he had carried alive in his arms the fairest ladies in the environs. This diversion proved fatal to him at length; for he caught a violent fever in consequence of a drinking match, which was to precede one of these delicious excursions. The disorder, attacking his robust constitution, reduced him in two days to a very critical situation; and, burning with heat, he plunged into a cold bath, out of which he was taken delirious, and being conveyed to his bed, began to rave in a frightful manner. Every minute he seemed to behold the man- [117] gled limbs of those he had anatomized, quivering in his apartment. "Haste, give me my instruments," cried he, "that I may spoil the gambols of three cursed legs, that are just stalked into the room, and are going to jump upon me. Help! help! or they will kick me out of bed. There again; only see those ugly heads, that do nothing but roll over me! - Hark! what a lumbering noise they make! now they glide along as smoothly as if on a bowling- green.-Mercy defend me from those goggling eyes! - Open all the windows, set wide the doors,let those grim cats out that spit fire at me and lash me with their tails. O how their bones rattle! - Help! - Mercy! - O!" – The third day released him from his torments, and his body, according to his desire, was deli- [118] vered, with all his anatomical designs, to the college of surgeons. Such was the end of the ingenious Blunderbussiana, whose skeleton the faculty have canonized, and whose paintings, dispersed in most of the Venetian palaces, still terrify the tender-hearted.

Aldrovandus Magnus
::: Andrew Guelph, and Og of
Basan, Disciples of Aldrovandus Magnus
Sucrewasser of Vienna
::: Blunderbussiana ::: Watersouchy