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that interfered with superstition would have been strangled in their birth, and their authors burned at the stake by a council of churchmen from pure l'amour de Dieu.
Poetry, being the first step among barbarous nations towards refinement, made way for civilization ; while in later times princes and courts loved and encouraged poets, and writers of romance were deemed almost divine. But the regard for literature is now more strong among the people. Modern princes have not kept pace with the advancement of their people, because taste and knowledge cannot increase hereditarily; they must therefore be content to follow, with their courts, the current of public
opinion, and be in this respect on a level with the rest of the nation. Few modern princes will wish to show an isolated condition of mind, pretending to despise that which they cannot comprehend. Nor will they, because their subjects are become more refined, affect the vulgar feeling of Louis XIV. when he said to the Duke de Vivonne, who was a healthy ruddy-looking personage, “ Mais à quoi sert de lire ?" and got the following reply, " Sire, la lecture fait à l'esprit ce que vos perdrix font à mes joues. There seems to be no affectation, however, in the Emperor of Austria on this head ; his intellects, indeed, are naturally weak, and his notions feudal. Else, while he trampled upon Italy, he would not have doomed Pellico, the young, the charming poet of that country, to wear out life in chains and in a dungeon, merely on suspicion of being a friend to his native land. Pellico, to his misfortune, was not slave enough in spirit. Had he been a slave, he had breathed the pure air of Heaven-he had now seen the sun that will probably never again shed its beams upon him!
The direct communication of dry facts would not improve mankind unless all were able to reason impartially and well-alas, how few can! The best relation of the life of a virtuous man, accurately given in cold narrative, would not do balf as much in the cause of virtue as a fictitious character of suffering goodness, worked up with the graces of style and the embellishments of eloquence, and written to touch the passions. Every-day examples would not move us towards what is excellent. There is something more than bare truth by which men are to be affected. A stimulant must be applied to the mind as well as the body. We must contemplate ideal goodness, if we would avoid retrograding. We must follow a route trackless as the eagle's, and, rising above a real, keep hope alive by.contemplating an invisible creation. The reign of poetry and romance is one of spirit engendering enthusiasm and inspiration, the quality that makes a hero of a soldier, an artist of a mechanic, and a martyr of a saint. It cannot be enjoyed without a temporary abstraction from what is around us, but must rise above the impure tainted atmosphere of common life. The air-woven delicate visions of poetical inspiration will not appear in the clouded, foggy, dense climate of every-day routine; they must float in "gaily gilded trim” beneath unclouded skies, and in the full glory of the sunbeam, in fields of ether, and amid the rich hues of the rainbow. But for scenes of imagination, those cities of refuge to which the mind may fly now and then from the toil, dulness, and weary repetitions of morning, noon and night, and night, noon and morning, what careworn wretches should we be! So far from valuing works of fancy less as we advance in civilization, we shall love them more, because we fly to them with more enjoyment from the fatigue of professional pursuits and the right-angled formalities of daily avocations, which multiply around us, as luxury increases our wants. No; let the author of Waverley write on ; let poets pour forth their strains ; let the Radcliffes of the time lead us into the horrors of romance, and let the empire of imagination live for ever! Let the plodding lawyer worship his fee, confound right and wrong, and entangle his clients as he may, scoffing at the splendours of fiction. Let the physician look wise and considerate, and shake his head, while his patient suffers nothing but
consumption of purse." Let the merchant traffic, and the tradesman truck : let the Jew cheat, and the attorney inveigle: let earthquake and plague devastate: let man be cruel and oppressive to fellow-man, sell
his blood and muscle, or butcher him in war for the sake of a hogshead of sugar, a roll of tobacco, or the dreamy right of some king divine to "govern wrong:" let dulness and impudence prosper, and merit remain in obscurity: let ignorance and incapacity fill the seat of justice, while common sense is pilloried : let all these things be daily, and go their roundabout as matters-of-course:- whither can we turn from them ? where can we go aside from observing them with repulsion and disgust, but to the empire of imagination ? Sick. ened with such objects as constitute the greater part of our realities, we may meditate on forms of female beauty like the Juliet of Shakspeare, or the Rebecca of Ivanhoewe may solace ourselves with “mask and antique pageantry," and
“Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream :" with the deeds of Roncesvalles, or of British Arthur; or
him that left half told The story of Cambuscan bold, of Camball and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife :"we may visit scenes and beings of a purer world than our own; and when forced to return to every-day things, return to them with renovated spirits, and the hope that the delightful creations in which we have been revelling, may at some future time be realized to our senses, if not in this world, in another.
When Love's delicious spring is dawning,
That wakes the early smile of morning;
When doubt the thrill of bliss enhances ;
Yet tell their hopes by silent glances.
The heart to rosy joys beguiling,
And Life's gay scene is fair and smiling;
When wrapt in Fancy's waking trances,
And told their hopes by silent glances.
BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART.-NO. VII.
Knowle Park, the seat of the Duchess of Dorset. Ir the searcher after the riches of Art expects to find, in every British Gallery, a storehouse like some of those which we have had occasion to explore in several of our previous papers under the above title, he will be grievously disappointed ;--and moreover his being disappointed will prove that he deserves to be so. The votarist who is not content to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of one saint, but must have a whole calendar to attract him, has mistaken his calling, and may turn critic as soon as he pleases-for he has no true love for that about which he professes to concern himself. Those who are accustomed to lament that the Battle of Waterloo ever took place, either forget, or do not attach a proper value to, the fact, that it caused to be dispersed all over the civilized world those miracles of Art which were collected within the walls of the Louvre : and if it did no other good but this, it was worth all that it cost. It is not in human nature duly to appreciate that which it obtains with ease, or can have by asking for ; or that which it cannot help seeing if it would. This is one reason why the French artists and critics have not made one progressive step in Art during the last five-and-twenty years. Not that they did not sufficiently admire the works of the old masters that were collected in the Louvre ; for they thought many of them nearly equal to their own David's! They admired, without being able to appreciate them. Another reason for this, and one which makes the French artists and critics more excusable, is that, in point of fact, beauty, of whatever kind it may be, does in a great degree counteract itself, when it is present in several different objects in nearly the same degree of perfection. As two perfect negatives in our language destroy the effect of each other, so do two perfect beauties. Two such sights under the same roof as the Venus and the Transfiguration, is what "no mortal can bear,” to any good effect; not because their influence is too much, but because it is none at all. They kill each other, like ill-assorted colours. And this is not a matter of taste, of habit, or even of feeling—as far as consciousness is concerned ; it is a matter of nature, and therefore of necessity. True lovers of nature love the sun, the moon, and the stars, each with a perfect love. But if all were to appear together, they could love neither, except as a part of the whole. And thus it was with the Louvre. As a convocation of all beauty and power in Art, it was duly appreciated, even by the French. It was adequately admired as The Louvre. But in this general admiration all detail was merged and lost; and of consequence, all the effect of detail was lost too : for it is not galleries that make artists—but pictures. Individual efforts alone can produce individual efforts-like can alone engender like. Great national collections of pictures may produce good, on the same principle,—by engendering their like, and thus collaterally aiding high art, by giving it that encouragement without which it cannot extend itself and flourish. But it is greatly to be feared that, even in this point of view, they are upon the whole mischievous rather than beneficial; since they are more calculated to diffuse than concentrate the efforts which they may call forth, and thus lose in quality more than they gain in quantity. It is to private collections alone that the lover of Art should perhaps look for the true encouragement which Art needs, and without which it cannot support its due claims to the attention and admiration of mankind : and these can never, like the late collection at the Louvre, counteract their natural and proper effect, by growing to an inordinate and unnatural size, and (like Aaron's rod), swallowing ир
all the rest. But this brings me home to my subject ; from which I was led away by the consideration that, if the interesting spot I am now about to describe does not possess such distinguished objects of attraction, in the
way of mere excellence in art, as many of its rivals do, it is not on that account unworthy to be included in these desultory and informal notices; since it does possess several objects well worthy of attention, and has in the way of portraits an attraction peculiar to itself; besides being one of the oldest collections of the kind, and therefore very probably the origin of many of its more youthful and ambitious competitors. In choosing the subjects of these papers, I must also not forget that they are intended to be popular and amusing, rather than didactic, and must therefore occasionally fix on one in which natural objects and associated circumstances claim at least an equal degree of attention with mere works of art; and in this respect Knowle Park is well fitted to my purpose.
At the extremity of the pleasant town of Seven Oaks, in Kent, exactly opposite to the nice old church, stands a plain unpretending gate, which opens at the touch of every comer, and leads out of the public road into a thickly-set plantation of young trees, rising on each side the carriage way, and thus forming a dark overshadowed grove even in the fullest sunshine. This way leads down windingly to two neat stonebuilt lodges, joined to each other by another set of gates ; and
on passing these second gates you emerge upon the park itself. Immediately you pass the lodges, there rises before you, at a distance of about a hundred yards, a noble mass of foliage, consisting of oaks, beeches, and chesnut trees, finely blended and contrasted together in point of shade and colour, but wearing the appearance of a solid impenetrable body, rising like a green wall, to shut out all intruders from the imaginary scene beyond. The bright gravel-road,—which intersects the rich turf between this mass of trees and the spot where you enter the park,-branches into two, just as it reaches the trees, and pierces into the thick of them in opposite directions. In passing along this road the visitor will do well to pay“ homage due” to a beautiful company of beeches, eight in number, that stand on the right, detached from any others, and seem to form, as they rise on their solid pillar-like stems, one happy family,--having so perfectly adapted themselves to each other that they seem to bend but as one form to the breeze, sigh but with one voice, or smile but with one happy face in the sunshine. The manner in which trees thus conform themselves to each other, and to the circumstances about them, offers one of the most beautiful analogies to our moral nature that I am acquainted with ; and one that is too little observed and attended to.-Nearly opposite to the point where this beautiful family of beeches stands, a lovely glade stretches away into the distant part of the domain, bounded on either side by other forest-trees of almost equal height and beauty. Immediately on pass
ing this glade on the one side, and stately company of beeches on the other, you take the right branch of the road where it separates, and, winding through the dark solemn grove formed by the great mass of trees I have before mentioned, in the space of about another hundred yards you again emerge upon another part of the park, and the venerable front of the mansion rises before you, beautiful in the unadorned dignity of its grey old age. Approaching it, across the thick elastic turf which clothes the whole park, the visitor should seat himself for a moment beneath the handsome sycamore that stands opposite to the gate of entrance, and contemplate this finely preserved monument of grey antiquity. This principal front, looking on the park, consists of a high gate of entrance, flanked by two square embattled towers, rising considerably above the rest of the building, and wings of equal extent and similar appearance stretching out on each side. These wings consist of a plain wall of grey stone, rising, at it were, immediately out of the turf, pierced with three stories of triple-arched windows, and embattled at top in the ogée manner. This front, though in a state of perfect preservation, presents not the slightest appearance of ornament-not even in the form of a tree or shrub to take off the bare nakedness of its aspect. And I believe it may be regarded as one of the purest as well as best-preserved pieces of antiquity that can be seen; being apparently of the same age with the front of University College, Oxford, and greatly resembling that reputed eldest daughter of Alma Mater, in style and general appearance—the manner in which it is embattled, the form of the windows, &c. being nearly the same. On entering the gate, too, (which we will now do) we find ourselves in a plain quadrangle exactly like many of the University ones, with the apartments ranged at the four sides of it in like manner ; and, opposite to the entrance, another gate leading to a second court, of similar form and dimensions with the first.
On reaching the interior of the building, the first apartment in which we find ourselves is the old baronial hall; and before turning for good to the works of art which we are now to seek for, it will be well to direct the visitor's attention to the admirable taste, or rather feeling, with which every thing he has hitherto seen, and will see throughout the place, (and particularly in this hall) is preserved in its pristine state
- for to preserve all things in the state that they were four hundred years ago, seems to have been the sole object of its possessors in the alterations they have from time to time been compelled to make. They have altered things always with a retrospective eye-never with a prospective one. Accordingly, with the exception of Warwick Castle, I know not where can be found so pure and unfaded a picture of the olden time, as it respects architecture, internal arrangement, furniture, and the habits and customs which these illustrate and recall.
The first object of Art that strikes the observer, on entering this fine old Hall, is a noble antique statue of some Greek orator or philosopher -said to be Demosthenes, and not unworthy to represent that splendid example of Greek genius. It is a whole-length figure, as large as life, elevated on a pedestal; and is among the finest and most perfect remains of antiquity. It represents an aged man, of commanding aspect and deportment, holding a scroll in his hand, which he is con