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With regard to the birds of North America, I cannot doubt from what I saw and heard that as songsters they are inferior to our own. This is the testimony of Mrs. Grant, of Laggan, who was familiar with both. It is a curious circumstance that between one Canadian bird and the corresponding species at home, the ouly difference I could detect was that the American species was silent, whilst our own is always talking. I refer to that charming bird the common Sandpiper (Totanus hypoleucus), abounding on the banks of every stream and lake in the Highlands. Its American cousin (Totanus macularius) is equally abundant on all the rivers of Canada ; but whilst at home its call notes are incessant, and the male bird has even a continuous and most lively song, I did not hear a solitary sound from the Sandpiper of Canada. This, however, may have been an accident, and the Sandpipers are nowhere reckoned among the Birds of Song. One hears the Migratory Thrush (Robin) everywhere, in the midst of the gardens and villas of towns and cities, and in every little clearing of forest on the outskirts of human habitation. It is a pleasant song, but decidedly inferior to any one of its cousins in Britain. It is inferior in power to the Missal Thrush, in variety to our common
Mavis,' in melody to the Blackbird. Near Niagara I heard one very broken and interrupted song of fine tone, and of considerable power. But although I was in the woods and fields of Canada and of the States in the richest moment of the spring, I heard little of that burst of song which in England comes from the Blackcap and the Garden Warbler, and the Whitethroat, and the Reed Warbler, and the common Wren, and (locally) from the Nightingale. Above all, there is one great want which nothing can replace. The meadows of North America were to my eye thoroughly English in appearance, the same rich and luxuriant grass—the same character of wild flowers and even the same weeds. The skies of America are higher and wider, and more full of sunshine. But there is no Skylark to enjoy that “glorious privacy of light.' “The sweetest singer in the Heavenly Father's choir ?? is wanting in the New World. I cannot help thinking that it might be introduced. course the winters of Canada and of the Northern States would compel it to follow almost all the other birds which summer there, and to retire with them until the return of spring to Virginia or the Carolinas. It would be an interesting experiment. I do not know whether it has been tried. If not, I would suggest it to my American friends as one worth trying. It would he a happier introduction than that of the London sparrow.'
I cannot conclude this very hasty sketch of my first impres
? I quote this line from some verses of great beauty published in a little volume of poems, ' Songs of the Rail,' by Alexander Anderson, a surface-man on one of our Scotch railways, Some of these verses on the Skylark appear to me to compare not unfavourably with these which have beer, written on the same subject by several of the masters of English seng. (Lomon: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.
sions of the New World without thanking the many friends and countrymen both in the States and in the Dominion who offered their hospitality, or otherwise testified their kindness. Circumstances compelled me to avoid society, and to find my occupations in the woods and on the waters. But I saw enough to assure me that even the most insignificant services in their great and now triumphant cause is never forgotten in the American Union. In Canada I had abundant evidence that old hereditary associations are not less strong than at home. It was a real joy to see the vast regions of hospitable soil which afford there an inexhaustible outlet for the increase of our people, and to feel that the facilities of communication which are every year extending will tend more and more to keep up the attachment of the colonists to the land of their fathers. ARGYLL
A TYPE OF THE RENAIssa NCE.
N the Pitti Gallery in Florence are two small pictures which, though not specially remarkable in themselves, are very suggestive as to the conditions of art at the time they were produced. They represent scenes from the history of Joseph, and were painted by Andrea del Sarto, in 1523, as decorative panels for a bridal chamber, on the occasion of the marriage of Pier Francesco Borgherini with Margherita Acciaiuoli. They furnish an instance of the way in which art in those days lent its charm to the surroundings of every-day life and was associated with all the events of family history; a familiar guest domesticated by the hearth, instead of, as in the present day, an alien, estranged from all connection with the common facts that make up the sum of human existence. The pliability of the genius of the Renaissance lent itself to all uses, nor did its giants disdain to make of the lowliest objects ‘a joy for ever. Michael Angelo was all the greater, if he could not only hang in air his mighty cupola, but invent a new form for common window bars," and plan a livery for the Pope's Guard as well as a monument for the Pope's tomb. Benvenuto Cellini was not lowered when he turned from the casting of the Perseus to the moulding of a saltcellar; nor Raphael's genius profaned by designing those famous patterns for tapestry which are now amongst the most prized artistic treasures of this country. Painters and sculptors did not then think it beneath them to work in divers miscellaneous capacities; in contriving novel and startling carnival pageants, or in constructing temporary arches and façades for the adornment of the streets on occasions of public festivity. It would be now thought derogatory to the dignity of art if one of the chiefs of the pre-Raphaelite school were to revert to Raphael's practice by furnishing designs for crewel-work, or if the President of the Royal Academy were to superintend the bringing out of a Christmas pantomime. Yet the wonderful vitality of art in its palmy days was doubtless owing in great measure to its association with practical utility, and its subsequent decline to its abandonment of the homely sphere of daily use for the illusory dignity of aimless production. For beauty in the works of man is relative, not absolute, and has no existence apart from fitness and harmony with surroundings; sought for its own sake alone, it eludes the perception of its votary, and leads him a Will-o'-the-wisp chace, ending either in the abstractions of meagre idealism, or in the tasteless exaggeration of mindless muscle. Thus art has only twice touched its meridian, and each time in its subsidiary or decorative capacity—in Greek sculpture and in Italian painting, both alike having for their primary motive the enrichment of architectural design. The Hellenic genius bore its aloe-blossom of perfection in the exquisite reliefs of the Pagan temple; the Italian in the glowing decoration of the Christian church; and the frieze of the Parthenon still testifies to the triumph of the one, as the vault of the Sistine, the Stanze of the Vatican, and the cathedral of Orvieto do to that of the other. Wall fresco is the nurse of painting, and it is scarcely too much to say that apart from it no great school can long subsist, unless, perhaps, in portraiture, which has a special mission and a value of its own. Art requires some definite purpose besides its own perfection, and the painter's genius is stimulated, not fettered, by the choice of an object for its exercise, from the embellishment of the ceiling of a palace, to a lady's fan or a fop's snuff-box. Limitation of space is to him what the restrictions of rhyme and metre are to the poet, or the exigencies of his libretto to the operatic composer, a stimulus to his invention from the constructive ingenuity called into play in adaptation to the prescribed conditions. His fancy, which remains comparatively cold and sluggish before a vague surface of paper or canvas, is quickened by concentration within given limits, and sets to work to people the void thus defined. Show him the lunette above a door— it will suggest a group of figures whose recumbent attitudes shall harmonise with its low vaulting; the dead wall at the end of a narrow chapel—he will see it filled by a lofty vision, with celestial and divine apparations enthroned above an agitated human crowd; the blank side of a convent refectory—his fancy will shadow forth on its background the long table with seated figures, henceforward to be the typical representation of the Last Supper; and posterity will have gained Andrea's Madonna del Sacco, Buonarotti's Last Judgment, and the Cenacolo of Leonardo da Vinci. In that golden prime of art, when these things were done, Florence was one great and busy workshop, where hand and brain wrought with a harmony never seen before, amid an atmosphere of universal appreciation—of passionate sympathy with their strivings—not less conducive to artistic productiveness than the efforts of individual genius. The sense of beauty was brought home to all, and interwoven into every detail of life, while the ornamentation lavished broadcast on the commonest objects developed to the full the versatility of the creative fancy. Thus, on missal page and cloistered wall, on coffer-lid and wayside shrine, the artist's designs gained an added charm of appropriateness from adaptation to their purpose, and painting, aspiring to be nothing but a common handicraft, and disdaining no work of helpful simplicity, attained its supreme triumph in humility. With it were associated, more or less intimately, a great many sister trades, or cabinet makers, who furnished chests and caskets, tabernacles and triptychs, accurately fashioned and smoothed to receive the designs of the masters; of the stucco workers, who moulded the ornaments in relief used as a vehicle for gilding; of the skilled plasterers required to attend on the fresco painters, to prepare the fresh surface of intonaco for each day's work; of the armourers and saddlers, whose wares were not forgotten in the general profusion of decoration, but embellished with many a fair device, from the knight's targe and breastplate, dagger and sword-hilt, to the housings of his saddle and the trappings of his horse.” The workers in wood and metal were still more closely associated with the painters' craft; they, too, belonged to the Company of St. Luke, established in Florence in 1349, and their workshops were the great schools of design where many of the masters served their apprenticeship. All these various branches of art vied with each other in activity and in the desire to compete for public favour, animated by the spirit of commercial enterprise so rife in Florence, and directed by the Renaissance into a new channel of aesthetic productiveness. In those days trade was not fraud, as in our own age of progress, and the great masters, like the great merchants, were either too conscientious or too far-sighted to sacrifice their reputation and future prospects to the blind greed of immediate gains. They did honest work for honest wages, thinking, no doubt, little of posterity, which thinks so much of them, but a great deal of present good name among their fellow-citizens; and the shrewd, hardworking, often close-fisted Florentine artisans, who kept their shops near the Duomo or the Mercato Vecchio, and called them simply botteghe, who toiled form morning to night among their apprentices, without a dream of being other than master artisans, consciously guided in their work by commercial honour, and unconsciously by heaven-born genius, became the heroes of all time and the wonder of all generations. For it must be remembered that painting in Florence, however much honoured and esteemed, was, and always remained, abourgeois profession, and that, while the other great Tuscans whose names have become household words in the history of literature, of science, and of song, were almost without exception of noble birth, like Dante, Galileo, and Machiavelli, the masters of the brush were, for the most part, of such obscure lineage that their patronymics are generally merged in familiar nicknames. Painting was then a plebeian trade, while commerce was rather a badge of aristocratic birth; and it is in this sense that Andrea del Sarto, sprung from the people, as his pseudonym implies, represents one of the most characteristic types of the Renaissance epoch. He was the greatest of those artist-tradesmen who then abounded in Florence, and who, inspired in their own vocation, yet retained amid all its ennobling associations as much innate vulgarity of soul as
* Those of the graceful outward curving form, still the commonest in Florence, were of his design, as was also the fantastic red and yellow uniform of the Papal