Imatges de pàgina

unriddled. It is given up in despair. Yet will he see, in the worst of these And although all are ready to cry lanes, children playing in their courts, out “De gustibus non est disputan- and merry epongh; so that he will be dum," disputes continue without convinced there are enjoyments which end." Quot homines tot sententiæ." are to him the cabala of nature. So So that as good a definition of our might he find the grown inmates innature as any, may be, that man is dulging their tastes. No human creaa disputing animal. And what is ture lives without something deservstrangest, he disputes most about his ing the name of amusement; and in desires, his appetites, and tastes. such amusement lies the recipient's Here is the great difference between taste. Sairah Gamp, and her invisible him and all other creatures. That friend Mrs Harris, how little would there is “no disputing," or rather no they understand of the society at end of “disputing about taste,” is only Almack's. If daily thoughts could be true of him. All the rest are severally duly registered, those of the Premier guided by their one instinct, and think and the chimney-sweep, if shaken in alike (if philosophers will admit think any bag, would never mix well, and ing at all), and act alike, according to come out together. The poetic lover, their species; and it is singular, that and the brutal man who, unprovoked, if there be seeming differences in any thrusts his fist into the face of a delispecies, they exist in those which are cate woman—they are as unlike each brought most directly under the other as wolves and doves; yet they human influence; and there, indeed, have their tastes, and seek their daily they sometimes do appear to partake pleasures from them: “trahit sua of human uncertainty—as is the case quemque voluptas." And doubtless in dogs and horses. Dogs most (for we must apply this, my poststrikingly occasionally show symp- Raphaelite friend, to the Arts) every toms of a kind of conscience. They grade of life would understand and know when they do wrong; they feel pleasure in pictures of some kind learn both bad and good moral ways,

or other. Take Raphael's chaste, and positively have what no other of divinely sentimental St Catharine the brute world have, a sense of shame; from our National Gallery, and offer it but, as to all other creatures, species for sale, or to be looked at, in Petticoat scarcely differ more from species than Lane. Do you think you would find does one man from another. Hence admirers — not to say purchasers ? is the common saying, “What is one The various markets lie in districts man's meat is another's poison." So as marked as the appropriate territogreat, indeed, and so many, are these ries of a varied creation. Michael differences, that when different sorts Angelo at Billingsgate would not be of people are brought into contact, rated at a cod's head and shoulders. all they understand of each other Now, are the Fine Arts supposed to is their language, and not always be caterers for all these wonderfully that. As far as their tastes and diversified tastes ? Verily they will habits go, they are a constant puz- have enough to do, if so much be rezle. Their natures are as strange to quired of them! No wonder if, like each other, as viewed through their the old man and his son with the ass habits, as are the natures, in their in the fable, they cannot please all. innermost detail, of hippopotamuses Then there must be other Arts besides or kangaroos. We only know a few the Fine Arts. But then comes the broadly-marked propensities. Let the puzzle ;-by general consent there highly educated, the nicely cultivated seems to be no separation allowed. gentleman quit for a few hours his They shall be the Fine Arts—the whole elegantly furnished house, his conser- Fine Arts-and nothing but the Fine vatory, or his library, and make an Arts; and they must and shall be such excursion with a detective officer into as to please the public. The publicthe purlieus of crime—amid dens of the public, and none but the public iniquity that shock every delicate -- shall have a National Gallery, a sense-he will have but little con- Royal Academy - demand especial ception of the items which make up legislation, committees of taste, to the daily pleasures of the inhabitants. tell tbis public what it wants, which it

ought to know very well of itself, if case of table-moving and ball-sway, the said public hath any individual ing, the impulse is given by the hand bodily existence. Who then shall be that holds. I have heard people very the " arbiter elegantiarum," and what lately turn up their noses at a Reyelegantiæ will please the public? Yet nolds, who, two years ago, thought a pleased the public must be, and are ; couple of thousand pounds, or some but how, or why, or who leads them ? such sum, quite nothing for a few there is the mystery. This has been hours' work by his masterly hand. an incomprehensible thing since the Oh, you Proteus Public ! how often world bas been a world in England. have you changed your shapes! Yet Ever since I was young there has no Proteus either; for he delivered his been a cry and a craving, " tell us dictum only by bonds and compulsion, what we are to admire.” For lack whereas you rush forward willingly of a little of this proper and definite to commit in the face of the world knowledge, this Public bas made your false prophecies, and his were very great and very palpable blanders. not false. I have no faith in you; I What it has loved one day as above know not what you will admire toall price, the next it casts off, “spernit morrow. You had, indeed, a now et odit.” To take a modern instance defunct ancestry, who recorded, as or two. Poor Wilson could scarcely with one consent, the same opinions. get in his day four, five, or six guineas I believed them. They are to be for pictures, which subsequently sold found in many books still preserved for more, much more, than as many in libraries; and essays and treabundreds. Smith of Chichester won tises, true and learned, were written the prize against him—had his picture upon the works they loved. I was, engraved, exhibiting its multiplied perhaps foolishly enough, led to belittlenesses, witnesses of bis present lieve, when as yet I could scarcely triumph, and satiric upon the world's feel, that there were days in art when judgment. Morland's pigs, admitted there were giants, and I looked and into drawing rooms and galleries, admired till I loved, and I studied the grunted defiance to framed saints and principles in the works; and the more family portraits. Where are they I studied, the more astonishment and wallowing now? In time they say admiration grew. But, if I have any all things find their level, and 'swine modesty, I ought to acknowledge that naturally go to the gutter. Don't I was all in the wrong-my time misyou remember the account you gave spent-energies and admiration only me of the crowding to get a sight of expended to beget prejudices. There West's large pictures, his last “Sa- is, however, benevolence abroad. A cred Subjects," as they were called ? new school is opened for the ignorant and how devotees of advanced age and the perverse to begin again, where shuffled and pushed their way with the first lessons, and long ones too, breathless eagerness ? "Am I too will be to unlearn. It is a hard thing, late to subscribe for a proof engrav- at my time of life--and you well know ing?” Then there was the competition, it - you, my post-Raphaelite com. and the daily advancing offers for the panion-to unlearn anything. I tried originals, up to many thousands. The -I studied the verbose lectures till I President intended them, and thought was almost mad—to understand what they would be sure to immortalise his with the utmost effort I could not unfame and themselves. O the vanity ravel, till, like a defeated schoolboy, of human wishes ! That great man I could have kicked the master; but, of bis day, in his gallery-embodi- finding too many of us as ignorant ment, has to fight for a place and and uncomprehending as myself, I rivalry with Angelica Kauffman; and took courage, shut the book, and to those who notice either, the victory won't be taught any more. In disis still doubtful—the feminine scale gust, we agreed to vote the teacher a rather weighs down the President, like coxcomb, and his grammar, his maxDarius, “fallen, fallen from his high ims, his sections and dissections, little estate.” But, notice, the scales are better than impudent nonsense, when held by the public band, when any stript of their mass of verbiage. The weighing takes place; and, as in the man, we said, who really knows a thing, can write plainly and simply their hand ? There was little difficulty about it. To such a one the "melliti in setting about it. Every quack was verborum globuli" never present them- an example ;-abuse all the old and selves; they are only for him who the regular bred of the faculty. Do knows nothing of what he writes as a celebrated one did;-rub a good about. It is well put by the author itching disorder into the backs of peoof the Pursuits of Literature—“The ple, and tell them boldly that's the farther I proceed, the more I learn to way to get health and a sound taste. distrust swelling men, and swelling There must be the usual pretension ; words, and swelling ideas." You and the best leg must be put foremost. I, post-Raphaelite as you are, cannot If possible, be " a graduate," and be abide the seeing a commonplace truth sure to repeat the title upon every that everybody knows, disguised, in occasion. It may be advantageously illustration after illustration without done in a note, thus—“ By-the-by, end, in an involved variety of words, the next time J. B. takes upon him to all conveying but one idea, and that speak of any one connected with the not worth the rubbish wardrobe of the universities, he may as well first aslanguage. It is tiresome, indeed, to certain the difference between a Graunfold the hieroglyphic wrappings of duate and an under-Graduate.” The mummies, and find nothing better be- capital G in both words. This gives neath the bandages than the bones of a notoriety-is equivalent to walking a kitten or an ape. Old teeth do not about with a bachelor's hood, or perlike the cracking blind nuts, that fill haps may equally imply the attainthe mouth with dust or a maggot. ment of Master of Arts-a very sugWho cares for a literary sublimity gestive title for one who constitutes which he cannot comprehend ? He himself the only true legitimate maswho writes upon Arts should try to ter and professor of all the Fine Arts. be intelligible, and not make it a The graduate," setting up for the point to leave it on record, as a law- sole enlightener of the world, naturally yer would do-whose business is to took a great fancy to “ lamps," of make confusion worse confounded which he boasted to have the very that an unintelligible style is a virtue, best assortment of new ones. He -as it is pithily put by the author I would exchange with the public the have above quoted :-" I pretend not new for old, with the laudable intent to comprehend this passage in all its and desire to break the old to pieces, sublimity, but upon one principle, as things that could enlighten the which, it appears to me, is the grand, dark world of taste no longer. There though secret design of Mr H. to are two lamps he is almost ready to leave upon record to his brethren: it give away for the diffusion of light, is this—That a lawyer who writes yet, singular to say, they are adverso clearly as to be understood, is an tised with a very odd recommendation, avowed enemy to his profession."" of rather adverse qualities—for the

I showed you how the baby-Proteus one, he tells us, has considerable Public took up and threw away its “ feebleness of light, while the piercplaythings, and thought nothing of ing light of the other's eye exceeds the cost of all it broke to pieces. It that of the eagle." The one we may was time to teach it something—and imagine to be a bull's-eyed dark-laneducation, like everything else now- tern—the other a real revolver, shoota-days, must be new. The boy-pub- ing out its multiplied lightnings in all lic must be taught the “ Liberal Arts" directions. He speaks thus of two of apon an entirely new system. The his human “lamps":knowing and the prudent disdained “I have supposed the feebleness of every advertisement. They knew sight in the last, and of invention in the boy had had masters enough, but the first painter, that the contrast was wilful, and took a dislike to old between them might be more striking; heads. There began to be a great but, with very slight modification, talking about the Fine Arts. It was both the characters are real. Grant a tempting time for ambitious igno. to the first considerable inventive rance. If the knowing had failed to power, with exquisite sense of colour; instruct, why should not others try and give to the second, in addition to but I,

all his other faculties, the eye of an veal to men the mysteries of his unieagle, and the first is John Everett verse-standing, like the great angel Millais—the second, Joseph Mallard of the Apocalypse, clothed with a William Turner."-Pre-Raphaelitism, cloud, with a rainbow upon his head, 1851. This will remind you of the and with the sun and stars given into sign-painter who could paint nothing his hand." but a red lion, and having to do the Now, do not, my dear Post-Raphaelsign of the lamb, said, “ The lamb if ite, imagine that I have fabricated an yon like it, but I warn you beforehand absurdity, to make the author of Mothat it will be as like a red lion as dern Painters ridiculous; as ridiculous, possible.” The author's lion is, and indeed, as would such an image, and so ever was, the late Mr Turner: al- clothed, of the late Mr Turner be, figured though, therefore, the title of the little upon any stage set up to exbibit his pamphlet is Pre - Raphaelitism, the apotheosis. Look to his book, “dabe magic words “ Joseph Mallard Wil- TO Bubalov,"—you will find the pasliam Turner" no sooner drop from his sage, and fifty as befooled and befoolpen, than the fit of his passion comes ing as the frenzy of utterance could on, and be froths in panegyric to the make them. If this frenzy had not end-the only wonder being that he been catching, and Mr Ruskin's sound comes to an end; for our pre-Raphael. had not run away with other people's ite anthor has yet a very difficult sense, I would not now say a word knowledge to acquire, which is best about his errors and defects; conveyed in the words of Swift - and you, and such as we, are really “To say the truth, no part of know. put upon our defence, to defend the ledge seems to be in fewer hands than very principles upon which, during that of discerning when to bave done.” not a very short period, our tastes

It surely cannot be necessary to pay have been founded. It is rather probere a tribute to Mr Turner's genius. voking to have our young Ruskinised That he was a man of great abilities, moderns looking contemptuously upon none deny; but it must not be thought us as old fools, because we did and ungracious to deny that he was the do believe that Gaspar Poussin and all-in-all of the Fine Arts; and few Claude were landscape - painters sober-minded critics will be found to Vandervelde, a marine-painter-and accept his latter vagaries as examples that Salvator Rosa did verily know of his powers. Yet, strange to say, something about rocks. You and I these very vagaries have been trum. thought that there have been men who peted about as his almost exclusively “well and truly," without prevaricaexcellent performances; and, in this tion, represented trees, and that Turdelirium of his praise, the bewildered ner was rather deficient in this part world of taste has been led strangely of bis art ;—that his usual practice astray, and given thereby a tendency was to put in a tree to the right of to perpetuate a very false style. his picture, of a very nondescript Humanum est errare. The Graduate, character, and that he had no other. therefore, has laboured to deify Mr But no! Turner alone painted all Turner-to make him the mirror of and everything. He was the only idolatry, wherein all future artists are artist over every province and to look, and dress themselves and territory of art supreme

the rex their works thereby. You will not denique regum.

I should not care think the word " deify” too strong, if so much about defending my own you remember some of the numerous taste; but it is an object to point out extravagant passages in the volume of the absurdity of abusing such painters Modern Painting; but one extract will as Claude, Poussin, Salvator Rosa, and be enough, which I hope is nonsense, Vandervelde; and in so doing, I hope to for, if not, it is poetico-prosaic blas- disabuse the bewildered public, and to phemy. “And Turner, glorious in bring them back to a pleasure which conception, unfathomable in know they assuredly lose, if they are made ledge, solitary in power— with the ele- blind to the excellence of the works ments waiting upon his will, and the of these great men. But to do credit night and the morning obedient to his to Turner, in his bright days he knew call-sent as a prophet of God to re- better. He did not depreciate the



painters which the author of Pre- them away for ever, and a new dawn Raphaelitism affects to despise. Of rose over the rocks of the SiebengeClaude especially Mr Turner was a birge." decided imitator, more or less, in most A new dawn over the rocks of the of his pictures : even in his composi- Siebengebirge"! Many & humble tions — in which, by the by, Claude scholar, recovering from the magic of did not excel, though he seldom posi- the mouthful word, may be bold to tively offended— Turner never seemed inquire, And pray where is Siebengequite to forget his master. Gaspar birge, this “Open Sesame" to so wonPoussin and Salvator Rosa were less drous a dawn?—with the astonishment to his taste. He had not the learning of the poor old village dame, who, of either in composition. Those being told the King of Prussia was Italian landscape - painters, in that dead, lifted up her hands and said, branch of the art, were perhaps the " Is a indeed! And who is a ?” But best the world has yet seen. They this dawn over Siebengebirge, though were, especially Gaspar Poussin, per- a very fine-sounding novelty, was not fect masters of lines. They were never one for the painter. If you would at a loss to bring the parts of a pic- say the “dawn" was in the mind of ture together, either by the acquired Mr Turner, then I wish the author (and if so, learned is not an inapt would write intelligibly. But Turner epithet), or by an instinctive know. was original, as well as a copyist; he ledge of the effect of lines upon each invented the art, and perfected it, of other. But of all this we suspect the “View "-making. He knew admir“Graduate” author to be entirely ably how to throw an interest over ignorant; and, as is usual with pre- very commonplace subjects, by maksumptuous ignorance, he condemns ing prominent their characteristics. what he does not understand. The Especially I allude to his views of account he gives of Mr Turner's cast- towns: his management of their dising off his admiration for the old mas- tances, and separation of parts, were ters is so absurd that no one will be- contrived with the utmost skill. I lieve it to be true. It was in 1800, speak of his drawings, and of the enupon seeing a sunset on the Rhine- gravings. He was great in this semias if he had never till then seen such poetical treatment of actual views; a common sight—"the colours of the but of the other poetry of art—the Continental skies" did the business. invention without fact - I should If there were a “ Burchell” among doubt if it could be said truly that he painters, he would, in the author's had any. I do not remember seeing presence, cry Fudge! nonsense! The an attempt of this kind that was not # Continental skies !" There are as spoilt by vulgarities, and even littlefine sunsets, and as fine skies, taking nesses. into consideration all the hours of the If the delineations of objects stored day, in this our England as in any in the portfolio make up the artist's part of the Continent. “The time vocabulary, Turner's range was too was come for perfecting his art, and limited. In such his dictionary of the first sunset which he saw on the art, he could turn to little under the Rhine taught him that all previous head Trees. He had scarcely more landscape art was vain and valueless” than one, which served him for all (then it taught him to be a fool, which purposes. Either the deep hollows in he was not); "that, in comparison shady foliage, the graceful bendings with natural colour, the things that of leafage—and in minor parts of nahad been called paintings were mere ture's landscapes, the endless variety, ink and charcoal ; and that all prece- and perfect freedom of all the green dent and authority must be cast away garniture, of shrub and branch and at once, and trodden under foot. He weed-were not sufficiently noted and cast them away; the memories of studied, or were found incompatible Vandervelde and Claude were at once with the style of subject he adopted. weeded out of the great mind they But in many of his pictures there is an had encumbered; they, and all the absolute poverty of detail as to foliage, rubbish of the schools together with which beggars his subject. I would them. The waves of the Rhine swept instance the “ Tivoli," engraved, a

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