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children on an English cliff, and near them some lambs are ox struggles for the bank, on which a dead goat lies; on the nibbling at the herbage that grows within the lips of a cor- other side is a hare trying to scratch a hole in the thatch. roded cannon long since disused. In the distance a steamer Unfortunately the figure of the old man is badly drawn, and is seen ploughing the blue channel waters. There was a the whole is very cold and dim. broad epical power about these contrasted scenes that bore down all criticism.
THE ORNAMENTAL ART COLLECTIONS AT THE In 1851, this painter, always versatile and ambitious and
KENSINGTON MUSEUM. laborious, exhibited his Scene from the Midsummer Night's On the close of the mighty century of the classic reviral, Dream,-in spite of Fuseli and others, the best rendering of which swept away the civilization of the middle ages, the the scene where Titania bids the fairies minister to the spirit of beauty, after her intense effort, seemed to fall asleep. wishes of Bully Bottom with the ass's head. Some little The fine arts sank gradually into a state of lethargy and detouches of poetry in this picture delighted the public, and gradation, which endured through two whole centuries. After a special white rabbit in the centre carried away the bell; the the peace of 1815, the gay and meretricious production of coat, of a soft fluffy velvet, was wonderfully manipulated, and France gave the norm to all European countries. In Roman with an enjoyment that only true power and knowledge could Catholic lands the deep-seated awe which alone can give have felt.
birth to great schools of religious art was no more. Pro. It should be one of the greatest blessings of success that testant countries asked for no religious art, and desired to it enables an author or artist to do as he likes, and to refuse apotheosis of the state. Nobility of form and chasteness of to do what he does not like ; yet the wealthy man becomes colour had fled, seemingly for ever. But while all seemed often more timid than the poor man, and more subservient to most dead the awakening took plaee. It was not, however, the caprices of rich patrons; but such subserviency meets a new life ; it was but a growing susceptibility to the beauties with its own certain punishment. A task done to order can of past epochs of industry. Pare Greek forms were the first never have the dash and glow of a spontaneous work. This thrust prominently forward. Numberless buildings in Eng. subserviency is doubly short-sighted, too; for the public, | land and Germany bear witness to the wide prevalence of when it cannot lead, is obliged to follow. Landseer's order what has been termed the Greek mania. Greek forms still pictures have not been successful, and their failure does maintain a strong hold in Germany, but in this country they credit to his originality and love of freedom. The patron have almost disappeared before the vigour of the so-called should never order, he should buy what he sees, and hear mediæval revival. This revival, which began to spread some what the artist is wishing to paint. Of these orders, large thirty years ago, is a return to the principles which actuated in pretensions and not very triumphant, we may mention Van the art products of the middle ages. It must be borne in Amburgh and his Animals, a mere catalogue subject, a com- mind that both the Greek and mediæval art-revivals have mission for the great Duke of Wellington, who knew as gone hand in hand with a wide-spread study of Greek and much about art as he did about conic sections. Nor was mediæval literature and archeology. the Dialogue at Waterloo more successful, though com- The new art-tendencies have originated with a few learned missioned by Mr. Vernon; the duke, stiff, cold, and a little and enthusiastic minds, and not with the popular instinct. fogy-fied, a lady and some Belgian peasants, made but a bald It was with a laudable desire to develop and popularize picturo, though thoughtful in its meaning and intention. these beneficial tendencies that our government, in the year Still worse, because tame in treatment and pale in colour, 1838, founded in London the first school of design. Many was the Queen's commission of Royal Sports on Hill and others soon followed in the provinces, all subsidized by the Dale (1854), a feeble picture sent to the Royal Academy state. At that time the cause of pure taste was being urged unfinished; the little interest that it had it derived from the by the few amid the impassiveness of the many. A few fact of its conveying to a curious public some conception of leading men, at whose head stood Pugin, had caught the the life that the Royal Family led in the Highlands.
spirit of mediæval design; they taught that the works of the The critics were unanimous in praising Landseer's portrait time were corrupt in design and vicious in colour. It was a of his father, exhibited in 1848; a masterly bit of realism, startling thing to hear an ethical technology applied to buildmuch enhanced by the artist having a fine characteristic head ings and manufactures. The advocates of mediæval princi. to treat. Always popular and petted, Landseer had no ples told us that the old age of their own style was debased, party spring of struggle and neglect to sour or crab orand that in its youth it was most severe and most pure. But harden. Only Lawrence is said to have surpassed him in they were as yet in a minority, for most men of taste seemed income; in a monopoly of print-shop windows, only Wilkie to incline rather to a return to the purer epochs of classic and equalled him. Yet though always successful, Landseer, like Italian art. From the conflict of these two parties arose other men, has had his beginnings. For the copyright of the what is now called the war of the styles. The schools of Highland Drover, his first successful picture, he received design were founded chiefly to train in right principles young only two hundred guineas; but since that day publishers designers for textile fabrics, which should henceforth rival in have wrangled for his copyright, and for the Peace and War beauty, as well as in quality, the productions of the continent, Mr. Graves paid him three thousand guineas in addition to and preserve our superiority in the world's markets. The the twelve hundred paid by Mr. Vernon, and another three teachers of the head school by no means biassed the students thousand for the Dialogue at Waterloo.
in choice of style ; they insisted only that every design should But how can we conclude this biographical sketch of this be true to its professed style. There were some.who deemed great painter, who has elevated the animal kingdom, yet not the school, as then constituted, successful. There was no lowered his own species, without mentioning Sir Edwin's lack of lustre or of clever students, while three popular latest pictures, the Maid and the Magpie, and the Inundation academicians were the teachers. Yet design, the object of in the Highlands. The first, though showing some decline the institution, did not flourish. By designing in the spirit of power and uncertainty of hand, was remarkable for a of the schools men could not live; neither manufacturers nor pretty face, and for wonderful textural imitation. The latter, public could take the required leap in taste, and only a few with some serious defects, is a work of great power, and á men of pure art-feeling cared for their productions. broad grand feeling and large-minded force pervades every In 1851 came the splendid international show. The dis. inch of it.
tinguishing peculiarity of this country was its marked tendency The moment chosen is one of those rare periodical devasta- towards medievalism. It was patent in its houses of partions that ravage the Highlands, sweeping away cattle in liament, its cathedral restorations, in every new church, droves, breaking down cottages, and frequently destroying life. in street-houses, in the commonest patterned fabric. Indeed, The Highland family Sir Edwin represents has been driven on where this style was not, we failed in competition with the the roofs, below which one sees the yellow flood boiling along, foreigner. sweeping down all before it. The central group of figures At the close of that year a change of direction befell the consist of an old Highland grandfather, two boys, and an schools of design. Mr. Cole became their working chief. agonized mother and child. The family pets, too, are there; This gentleman's energy in the matter of the great exhibition the faithful collie, the eat, and some fowls. Below, a dying had been remarkable, and his talent seemed late in his life
to have first found its special scope. With him was asso-fantastic ornament; the early, though often graced by a conciated Mr. Redgrave, R.A.; and soon after, upon the junction ventional ornamentation, unrivalled in subtle feeling save by of Dr. Playfair and a scientific section, the whole scheme was early Greek work, yet rests its merit on its exquisite proporplaced under the supervision of the Council of Education, with tions, and everywhere affects the impression of height. Westthe title of Department of Science and Art.
minster Abbey and the Temple Church are instances of the Then all the art schools were reorganized. The original unsculptured building art of this syle. Wells, Lincoln, Lichidea of creating a class of designers was abandoned, the field, and Llandaff offer examples of the exquisitely graceful schools must form henceforth but a section of the general and slender ornament. It is a pity that our architects in scheme of education. Each school of art must become a centre their capitals prefer the stunted ornament of foreign countries of wide-spread parochial teaching, so that the children of to the slender grace of the early English. every national school might be taught the elements of drawing. And now as to the wonderful figural sculpture, which flowers
It was resolved to make the schools self-supporting. The so magnificently on the cathedrals of France. Great schools of students' fees and district subscriptions were to stand in stead sculpture were well nigh in their decline in the north, ere the of the state subsidy. This step has been severely called in Pisani began in Italy the revival of the art on classic precedent. question. Support fluctuates; art is a tender thing. Its The ridicule cast on the grotesque productions of the later schools need foundations equally with colleges and grammar middle ages is ill applied to these early gigantic works. schools. A nobler scheme had been the institution of free Nothing in the whole range of antiquity can rival the subschools wholly supported by the state, on the continental limity of many of the figures which throng the portals of system, at least in our large cities. However, the event will Rheims. test the soundness of present experiments.
Why these great schools degenerated into a fantastic and The idea was at the same time conceived of forming a odd caricaturing of nature, so utterly unlike the voluptuous museum that should teach by examples the principles of pure but nature-true development of the corresponding Greek art. A large number of beautiful works purchased at the schools, remains one of the most curious problems ever great exhibition, and the magnificent Soulages collection, presented to criticism. We would ask our carvers to study the formed a fitting nucleus. The museum was opened out at unaffected, grand, and simple figures of the thirteenth Marlborough House in 1852. It ostensibly displayed only century. Our figure carving is far behind many other works worthy of imitation; but annexed to it was a room which branches of revived art: more especially as that early and quickly gained the title of "the chamber of horrors," replete majestic treatment of drapery is neglected and untaught in with specimens of fabrics reprehensible in design. This was all the art schools. The dress of the time, which was faithtoo bad. The manufacturers were up in arms. Mr. Owen fully imitated, and which bore much resemblance to Greek Jones had been a forward expositor of the new art theories, costume, was highly favourable to artistic treatment. A the eloquent champion of principles imbibed during a life-long tunic for men, women, and angels, reaching from neck to study of so-called Alhambra ornament, one of the most splen. foot, mostly girt about the waist. The outer garment of the did of the mediæval schools. His name and Marlborough men, a lengthened chlamys, i.e. a cloak clasped on the right House became terms of opprobrium. The public, led by a shoulder, or a plain mantle, an oblong bit of stuff some three great writer, held up the new doctrines to ridicule. The yards by one, thrown round the body and shoulders. The department quietly unlearnt its new way of public instruction, women wore mostly a similar mantle, partly covering the and teaching by satire was given up. Years have passed since head and falling to the ground, or a cloak joined across tho then, and gradually all branches of manufacture have felt the bosom by a cord. But despite this similarity in plan to influence of the principles which this department must have Greek costume, the effect is very different. The Greek aim the credit of first thrusting into notoriety.
was the apotheosis of the human form ; that form to whose In 1857 the museum and the whole department removed to perfecting all their institutions tended. Their men are Brompton, where it seems likely to remain. The whole insti- mostly naked, and although a deep reverence for modesty tution may be conveniently regarded in three grand sections: constrained their early artists to drape their females, yet they the science division, which is lavishly represented in the make the drapery to express the action of every limb. In museum building by scientific and educational collections ; this the slightness of the material aided them. Moreover, the training school and central school of art, located in build they seem to have wrought the countless folds peculiar tó ings adjoining the museum ; and the collection of fine art Greek sculpture to form a half tint which should act as a foil examples, which will be the theme for our ensuing remarks. to the softness of the flesh. All is quite different in Gothic
We shall first consider the gallery of architectural examples, work. This affects in drapery that breadth which it loses by which form the first grade of art study here. The general | the absence of fleshy masses. The drapery has much indepublic pass upeasily through this gallery, these chipped and pendent play, and expresses generally but the main action of dusty casts being as much a mystery to them as were the dry the figure. It eschews all creasing, puckering, twistings of bones to the prophet. In the student they awaken a regret bundles of folds, and broken splays; and especially delights that this mediæval collection is not confronted with the gal. | in a broad, daring treatment of that feature of drapery which leries of the British Museum. We hope the day is not far off is formed by the angular fall between any two points. It when the gods and sarcophagi of Egypt and the sculpture of contains, too, the secret of the choice of worthy parts and conAthens shall here stand side by side with the strange beauties trast of breadth and detail. of mediæval architecture. The works of antiquity are here At the end of this gallery is a collection of British sculpunrepresented save by a few models of temples and such casts ture. Our sculptors deserve much sympathy. We all know of specimens of ancient art as are dealt out to the different that great sculpture has always been religious or historical. schools for copies. But this gallery is a mediæval display of The unsensuousness of Protestantism has herotofore forgreat interest, rich in sculptured ornament of Romanesque bidden the former. The apathy of governments and the ignoand the three divisions of Gothic architecture. There is a bleness of our costume check the latter. But, since they are fair number of photographs of French cathedrals here ; but restrained to individual personification, do they, in choice of the Romanesque domes of Germany, and the beautiful though subject, do their skill justice ? Must our best sculptor give small cathedrals of our own land, are not represented, nor us à fleshy Venus as his masterwork? Are there no ideas are the built marvels of the East here illustrated.
in the Greek creed touching more closely on our own? or One cannot help reflecting on the steady regress which we were there no strange creations in the wild mythology of the have made during the last few years through the late and north ? Are wind-perplexed girls at the sea-side worthy middle Gothic to the early Gothic style, which is the one subjects of the severe art? Are there no women in Dante, now in vogue, and whose freshest examples are the Oxford Shakspeare, Æschylus ? Our sculptors have a praise,--they Museum and All Saints' Church, Margaret-street, London. totally reject French voluptuousness. Few people estimate aright the great gulf of separation On the ground floor, in one of the north rooms, lie various which there is between this style and its successors. The pieces of carving, bought last year in Italy, and among them later styles array themselves in paint; the early seeks the far-famed singing gallery of S. Maria Novella, Florence. for coloured material. The later styles revel in natural or We congratulate the good fraternity for ejecting it from their
shurch, on the charge of incongruity, and the museum care to see such master-works must go to St. Denis and authorities for purchasing a fine specimen of technical skill, Bourges. These great works are purely decorative in character, which Italy can very well spare. The chiselling is perfect in conformity with the material, and do not, like later glass, in spirit. There is an altar-piece by Feracci, which is a usurp the province of mural painting. The queer strained clever work,-like most of the sculpture of the time, lacking action of the figures is a fruitful source of modern mirth, but devotional feeling, but here and there, as in the little figures, much of it may be regarded as a strenuous effort to express that teeming with all the floating graces of good Italian carving. exuberance of gesture which is peculiar to all early ages, and There are four little statues by one of the Pisani, interesting which is utterly unknown in modern England. All the win. only for their antiquity.
dows of the middle ages are made up of pieces of glass stained There are many interesting works of sculpture in the in the making, and merely shaded afterwards ; but in modern central court. There are the busts of two popes, magnificent times enamel painting, i.e. painting on the colours, has been in spirit and execution. There is a curious Flemish altar. sometimes adopted, of which art there are two beautiful specipiece of carved and painted wood, which, though in handi. here from Sèvres and Munich (Nos. 2,038, 2,039), but ita oraft clever enough, yet, by dint of ugliness of feature, mean. expense and inferior brightness render it unsuitable for its ness of the figures, and idolatrous sentiment, is well adapted purpose as a transmitter of light. to make the mediæval arts stink in this country. Nor have In a corridor on the west side of the building will be found these later works, with all their barbarity of form and colour, some materials thrown together, illustrative of the course of the look of divinity by which the rude earlier works are the very popular art of wood-engraving. Here shine the distinguished. There is more real art, and certainly mar. splendid works of Dürer and Burgkmair. The draughtsmen vellous invention, in the French stone retable (No. 16), for our periodicals should note the delicate precision and although grotesque silliness everywhere abounds in it. It knowledge of these old works: these are not a maze of mere is a treat to turn to the contemporaneous exquisite low reliefs scratches : there are clothes on the figures, which fold and of the Italian masters, whose subtle feeling and delicate crease according to certain fixed laws of form. The figures manipulation remain unrivalled. In this court stands a cast in modern woodcuts seem garnished with straws; and when of Michael Angelo's colossal statue of David,-a wonderful actual rendering is attempted, it is often spoiled by following display of the new science which Vesalius was just giving to accidents of the folds which weaken and often hide completely the world, but which can enter into no sort of rivalry with the main law. Modern wood-cutting, too, is not honest in the majestic colossi of antiquity. The great sculptor has attempting feats of execution which belong rightfully to broken the very trite rule in art, that the grander the scale of metal plates. This little gallery will probably become one of subject the more subdued should be the detail. The head is the most important and practical sections of the whole museum, too big; the mouth absurdly small, which has induced a and we hope that it may be plentifully contributed to. narrowing of the jaw, and childishness of the lower part of Very interesting is the collection of textile fabrics, ancient the face, quite inconsistent with the grim power of the frontal and modern. The chaste and beautiful silk stuffs of the early region. Connoisseurs cannot but look with pleasure into the middle ages we owe to the art-loving industry of the Sarscens, cases containing the clay sketches, where the learning and the vast extent and artistic worth of whose silk manufactures feeling of the great masters appear in all the freshness of may not be known to many of our readers. For complete first touches. They may be advantageously studied in con information on this point and mediæval fabrics generally, we junction with the beautiful sketches in the flat, in the gallery cannot but refer them to Bock's work on liturgical vestments, of photographs.
now publishing in parts in Germany, wherein the whole de There is a good deal of fine furniture about this court: velopment of the silk manufacture is thoroughly investigated. ancient and modern examples in close contrast : the former There is but little in the museum as yet to give an idea of chiefly of the time of the Renaissance, the latter specimens the knightly garb or ecclesiastical garments of the middle bought at the two great exhibitions. If smoothness, fine ages. We remark, in No. 9,792, a beautifully wrought altar finish, and exuberance of decoration, make up the intrinsic frontal of the thirteenth century, displaying a grace of draw. worth of furniture, the modern has no cause to fear compari. ing astonishing for the time and fabric, and an intense son with the old; but to those who look for nobility of earnestness of expression. On turning to the Indian stuffs ensemble, and fitness to purpose, new work must be most bere exhibited, and marking their close connexion with unsatisfactory. The main virtue of the old furniture lies in ancient Saracenic works, one fully feels the conservatism of intelligent arrangement of parts,—which modern works, with eastern art. The same rigid laws of colour and of form dis. all their pretence to design, sadly lack,—and in inappropriate tribution remain changeless through ages. We notice their decoration : but in the execution also there is a certain rough, exact conformity to what are now termed mediæval princi. dogged look, which is very fascinating, and which is quite ples in their harmony of colour, and conventional form perabsent from modern work. Moreover, the extent to which suit- fectly defined, and following the natural principle of growth. able ornamentation was formerly carried, -exemplified, for It is gratifying to notice the gradual progress of the westen instance, in the large coffers, -contrasts strangely with the nations in these esthetical principles during the last few miserable plainness of our own time. Furniture is a matter years, not now too proud to learn from people and epochs in which one would think that a home-loving people would long deemed simply barbarous. take special pride and interest, and it was not therefore Perhaps the most distinguished feature of the museum is gratifying to find ourselves herein excelled by strangers in its splendid show of pottery. There are here the means for our great exhibition, save in a Gothic style, which cannot a complete study of this beautiful art, which, more than any soon prevail in modern dwelling-houses. There are three of other perhaps, demands initiation. The processes of other the best specimens here of the London and Paris exhibitions, arts are comparatively simple and above board, but this is an viz., Crace's, Barbetti's, and Fourdinois' cabinets.
art essentially connected with the once mystic science of All our readers must be aware of the stained glass mania chemistry,—an art possessing secrets whose owners are dow raging in this country. It happens to be a species of jealous of them, and sometimes have taken them with them pictorial representation which is gladly welcomed where to the grave. The art has been prolific of manias, and we mural painting would be deemed a religious outrage. The need to carefully question its claims to our admiration. extreme interest now taken in this subject renders it desirable The famous pottery of antiquity is simply unglazed terrathat good specimens should find their way into the museum. cotta, ornamented with monochromatic designs. The worth of There are very few specimens here at all, and most of these these red vases lies in shape-beauty, and in the life and ere but poor, giving no idea of what stained glass, as a deco- quaint grace with which the beautiful myths of Greece are rative means, really is. It is certainly difficult now to procure depicted. Vain are all attempts to revive this manufacture ; old glass, so carefully is it treasured up, but specimens might the quaint and often grim feeling and half-impatient artistic be deposited here of new work by our best modern glass skill are not attainable by modern workmen. houses, which tread closely on the heels of our ancestors in In the early middle ages enamelled terra-cotta ware, glitShe latter manner of work. The vast and solemn harmonies tering with many colours, was produced in great abundance of early glass are little likely to be imitated, and those who by the Saracens in Spain. This old Moresque ware is much
prized for its lustre and its beautiful ornamentation. The tiful animated whole nations. It is our noble and useful manufacture of this ware passing over into Italy appears work to gather the beauties of the past into public collecunder the title of Majolica, se termed after the island of tions, where they may instruct and purify the taste of the Majorca, a chief seat of Saracen industry. At the close of the present. fifteenth century it is found attaining perfection in central Much has been done already, but far more remains to do; Italy. Called also Faenza and Raphael ware, the Majolica we here behold numerous facts falling in disorderly,-tho became soon one of Italy's proudest glories. It became authorities, disclaiming any pretence to scientific arrangeespecially splendid under Maestro Giorgio da Gubbio, who ment, desiring the whole to be judged as a scheme in transi. wrought in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The tion. There is as yet no grouping in our art-knowledge, no museum contains, perhaps, the finest collection of his works subordination. Art is far behind most of the sciences in this extant. They are famed for their many-hued lustres, and a respect. It is true that canons and standards of art are gorgeous gold ruby colour, whose secret seems lost by the subjects of continuous strife, and that wars of styles are middle of the century. Great artists then began to paint waged by hot partizans with a bitterness incomprehensible and draw for this fabric, lavishing on it all the luxuriance of to the outer world. This constant strife certainly hinders renaissance ornament. Their works are admired for artistic the learned in these matters from joining in a great effort to invention, fancy of decoration, and freedom of execution, marshal our art-knowledge, by gathering under one roof all sometimes approaching sheer carelessness; but the earlier our abundant but scattered materials. The day should not wares are the delight of connoisseurs for effects of hue, be far distant when the grand ancient art collections of the which are the glory of the material, and which too soon, as British Museum shall be congregated under one roof with in the case of stained glass, gave way to skilful drawing. the varied collection of the arts of medieval and modern Modern attempts to revive this art are unsuccessful; the Europe now at Brompton, and the former edifice become execution lacks the old racy freedom, and beside the rougher simply the national bookcase. The same concentrative splendours of the old material modern smoothness is mean. conrse might well be followed in regard to our scientific col. The secrets of the art seemed to have been lost in Italy by lections. the end of the seventeenth century: in part, perhaps, dying
The union of science and art in the Brompton museum with their jealous owners, partly falling into oblivion before wears, to say the least, a motley complexion. But even as the rage for the newly-introduced Chinese porcelain. This things go, the influence of the art-museum has been great, fair and delicate fabric, mingling clay and glass,—the pride and it has been an important auxiliary in the wide-spreading of China, -was only first perfectly produced in Europe by art-movement which is one of the most striking features of Böttcher, in Germany, in 1709, and for years remained our age. No one can look at our many manufactures, stuffs, jealously guarded in that country; but about 1770 it began carpets, papers, what you will, --and not perceive the steady to be made at Sèvres, near Paris, which soon gained the pre- progress of its purifying influence, and the gradual prevaeminence among European factories. Beautiful examples of lence of the sound principles which it embodies. Sèvres ware are to be found in the museum, in which antique It is a school for the public and the art workman alike. It and modern tendencies of art are made to harmonize admi. should excite emulation, render toil no longer a subject of rably. Our own high-clags pottery is meritorious, but it is dislike, but one of delight and pride. The workman's heart rather the honour of our manufacturers to infuse beauty into should be in his work, and this can only be by rekindling a our every-day ware. The museam contains many excellent love of beauty, and purging our age of its confessed ugliness. specimens of the reptile-strewn works of Bernard Palissy, But our artists and workmen need cheering. They must not whom we cannot help admiring more as a man than an artist, be too much depressed by the saddening eloquence of the in spite of the curious skill lavished on his productions. great art critic who heads their cause, who sees art hand in
It is in the working of metal, in the absence of pottery, that hand with superstition, and around whose heart sorrow seems the middle ages stand pre-eminent. Gold and silver vessels, to thicken as it must do around the hearts of all true critics. often beautifully adorned with enamelling, attain the acme of Let our artists and workmen with sound and reverent mind grace and beauty. The church chalices, especially the earlier move on beneath the fair banner of hope, believing the splen. ones, display a ravishing loveliness of shape, and a proportion dour of their country to be but in the bud, and more eagerly 80 exquisite, that one is led to conjecture, --comparing other seizing than heretofore the valuable teaching which an insti. branches of synchronous art,--that some system was regu. tation like this spreads out before them. larly followed, whose secret is lost. The comparative simplicity of ornament is remarkable on the early chalices, as is
SLOP-SHOP LITERATURE. the prodigality of figural decoration. A passion for the human The title at the head of this paper, without much stretching, figure pervades early mediæval art quite as much as it did could be made to include a very broad area of literature. It the early Greek, and altogether dominates over mere orna- would take in those very learned, neatly printed, and proment, which itself partakes in both arts in some sort of the fusely illustrated trade histories, which are only published subtleties and grace of human form, and expresses but the for the purpose of advertising a particular business. Waxend spring and elasticity of vegetable life; but when it has come on the Human Foot, Daniel Lambert on Corns, and Sleeveto imitate the externals rather than the main law of this life, board on the Roman Toga, are not authors wishing to make the ideal treatment of the human figure seems also to cease, their fellow.creatures more learned, and to secure for themand the new art epoch too often grasps but the body, missing selves the immortality of the British Museum Library, but the actuating thought. The two grand and perfect epochs, shoemakers anxious to sell a particular boot, and tailors when figure and ornament attained together their highest interested in the sale of paletôts and sixteen-shilling trowsers. majesty, were the age of Phidias, and of the cathedral We have most of us seen a treatise upon umbrellas, a history builders of the thirteenth century. Both epochs have their of boots and shoes, another of the cocoa-nut palm, and a disterrors and their tenderness lettered in the writings of course upon teeth, which point with unerring constancy to the Æschylus and Dante, and we believe that, missing the study shops of their masters. A few of us may have noticed a very of one or both these sublime epochs, none can reach the costly, gilt-edged bistory of wool and woollens, written, so the highest pinnacle of art.
title-page asserts, by Messrs. Samuel Brothers. Moses and We have now glanced at the leading features of this splen. Son have long kept a poet of no mean ability in their estabdid museum. Picture galleries are of old date, but museums lishment; but the clothiers of Ludgato-bill, so it seems, are of ornamental art are new things. The mind cannot but more ambitious. The task of writing the history of their revert to epochs which, actuated by a single living idea, were, trade was one that could not be entrusted to hireling hands, in the impetuous onflow of their own life, too eagerly pro- so the inventors of the “Sydenham trowsers” became themducing to busy themselves with the works of gone by ages; selves the Hume and Smollett of their raw material. About but modern nations seem almost to have reached the bourne eighteen months ago a similar volume was issued under the of the production of forms, and our present decorative efforts somewhat inflated title of “ Commercial Enterprise and Social are confined to an eclectic imitation of great past ones, made Progress ; or, Gleanings in London, Sheffield, Glasgow, and in times when a special outdouring of the spirit of the beau. Dublin." The “gleanings." appeared to consist chiedy of advertisements of second-rate firms, and the descriptions were man can understand thoroughly more than one subject, and all written with a palpable advertising object.
yet he is called upon to pass judgment upon twenty. Lord This, however, is not the kind of slop-shop literature to Brougham, great and exceptional as he undoubtedly is, has twhich I wish to direct attention ; as I am not fond of ex. an encyclopædical reputation only among encyclopædical Hosing adulterations in every other trade but my own. The men; and when a writer who has devoted himself to one slop-shop literature of which I speak is that which is written branch of human knowledge tests him upon that branch, an as literature, published as literature, and bought and read as exposure of his lordship's superficial acquirements naturally literature. The people who write it and put it together are follows. If Lord Brougham, and wonders of his class, are called "authors” and “literary men,” and the people who not infallible at all times upon all subjects, how shall the sell it are called "publishers.” The English language is nameless critic's opinions upon everything be regarded ? very elastic, and those who use it often stretch it to the Sound common-sense, a logical head, and a stock of wellutmost.
defined principles may uphold a writer upon "all things and The first place amongst real slop-shop literature ought to many others” to a certain extent, but they can never preserve be given to the modern British drama. It claims a position him from exposing his weakness to the initiated when he in the world of letters to which it has not been entitled for writes upon subjects he knows little about. If he is not years. The clever tradesmen who have discovered how much content to manufacture agreeable articles out of books he is easier it is to take the product of a Frenchman's wit and incapable of analyzing, he is sure to do an injustice to the ingenuity, and turn it into English, than to invent a coherent authors, and to injure the property of the publishers. He plot, and fill it up with natural characters, may be complimented will fall into the dogmatic cant of ignorant criticism, which for their shrewdness, but for nothing else. Six easy lessons any literary slop-worker can easily assume; and instead of in the French language, and a good French and English presenting the readers of his journal with the condensed dictionary, are all the modern dramatic author requires to contents of the volumes before him, he will point out errors start him fairly in business. The managers look upon him that have no existence, and make suggestions that can never with favour, and open their doors to him, because he brings be followed. Those uninquiring minds that are entirely them nothing possessing any dangerous originality. The governed by the “opinions of the press” will at once see cost of producing a piece is ten times the "author’s” fee for how superior the reviewer is to the author, and will duly pity translating it; and, therefore, the conductors of London the ignorance of the latter, as directed. theatres are cantioas in selecting their ventures. A drama Not one of the so-called “critical journals" is so managed that has been successful in Paris has been tried and not found that each book is invariably sent to the right man and to no wanting, and the theatrical speculator welcomes its appear. other. When an important volume is announced,-a volume ance in an English dress because he can produce it with less that will excite much discussion and interest, and become a risk than would attend the production of an original piece. landmark of that particular publishing “season,”—a critic is
All this is very clever trading on the part of both manager sought for whose researches have been carried on in the and "author," but nothing more. Even when the translator same workings as the author. It would be dangerous to aspires to become an "adapter,"'
--a softener down of French place such a book in any other hands than those of a special manners for the English market, a man who has sufficient reviewer, and, for once, an article appears whose verdict, talent to turn the Italian Boulevard, Paris, into Regent-street, favourable or unfavourable, is uttered with a voice of real London, and the gardens of the Tuileries into St. James's authority. This is the exception, however, and not the rule; Park,-he is still nothing more than a slop-shop author. He and nine-tenths of the books which appear every year are cut may take his wages as a crafty middleman, he may flatter open, tasted, and marked with black or white brands (the himself, in his secret heart, that Shakspeare borrowed his whitey-brown or medium brand is almost unknown in such plots and characters in the same unscrupulous way; but he noticing ') by a small knot of slop-shop reviewers. must be kept down to his proper level in the world of litera- Another obtrusive branch of slop-shop literature is the ture. If he turns virtuous after a long and profitable career, newspaper“ leader.” It has been manufactured for years on and writes books with not over clean hands, like the Eighth a certain mechanical and unvarying plan. It must nearly Commandment by Mr. Charles Reade, it shall not absolve always be of a certain length, no matter what may be its him from his original sin. His motto must still be the subject matter; and its writers must generally be men with trading principle that has always governed him :-"Gentle. very dormant, elastic, or negative opinions. A writer who is men's own materials made up."
not cast in this mould is soon disposed of as an impracticable A slop-shop drama produces a slop-shop order of criticism, man,—a grit that is always getting into the very sensitive for no journal cares to devote much space or capital to the machinery of a daily organ. Some honourable exceptions analysis of mere“ amusements.” What was formerly treated there are, both amongst editors and contributors, to this as an art by actors, upheld as an art by managers, and melancholy rule,-men who respect each other, and neither jealously preserved as an art by literary critics, like William write, nor cause to be written, that which is not meant; but Hazlitt, is now chiefly watched over by reporters and“ general they are very few. The Swiss, the free lances,-with the writers." The literature of the stage is "noticed,” not ready pen and unquestioning mind, are those who provide criticized; and in the leading literary organs the record of its most of the daily thinking material for those who only think productions is stuffed away in a lumber-corner for para- they think. Such writers are shielded from observation, and graphs. No able editor cares a straw about it, but devotes speak only through the brazen head. Their morality is on a his attention to telegrams and universal politics. An attempt par with that of the outcasts of the street, but no "midnight was made, about two years ago, in the daily press, by Mr. meeting” is ever held to reform them. John Oxenford, to alter the system of scribbling long criti. Apart from the principles which animate most leadercisms upon plays in a hurried hour after the performance, by writers, it is curious to examine the construction of their artipresenting a weekly digest instead. This would have given cles. The fixed length, or frame work, which they have to time for reflection and careful writing on the part of the fill up, imposes on them a style of composition which is somecritic, but the T'imes declined to adhere to the suggestion, what monotonous. The middle of their articles contains and it fell to the ground. It was the only symptom of a all they really have to say, the introduction and peroration “ revival” in rcal dramatic criticism, that we have seen for being mostly devoted to ornament. The kernel of a leader some years past; but it was not strong enough to overthrow can generally be extracted from a few lines near the centre, and the established slop-shop plan.
nothing will ever be lost by passing over the first two or three If dramatic criticism shows symptoms of degeneracy and paragraphs. The learning which the cheap press often dis. even of approaching extinction, the censorship of general plays is very encouraging to those who wish well to such literature is in no healthier condition. A hundred books on organs. If you want Greek, Latin, French, Johnsonian all subjects, --science, art, and politics : works of imagination words, and scraps of pedantry from all quarters of the globe, and collections of facts, will flow in weekly to an important you can have it in any quantity for the small charge of $ literary journal; and flow out to three, six, or at the most to penny. Although most of these leaders, social and political, a dozen " reviewers," as they are called. No one ordinary which the common people try to read and digest, undoubtedly