Page images

do so to afford Ottilie an opportunity common people from worshipping her of supplying the place of the child she relics. A dark cloud of sorrow and has been the means of losing, with regret settles heavily over the castle ; another of whom Edward may be fond. and at last Edward is found dead. And with this answer the Captain be. To the very last, sir, the diseased takes himself to his principal.

moral sense of Goethe and his admirOttilie, however, has some con ers sees no impropriety in the whole science left, and objects to marry Ed. transaction. The lovers are lamented ward, though her love to him is great as if their attachment had been as as ever. Many pages, and much fine innocent as that of Paul and Virginia, writing are bestowed on the heroism and the strange eventful history conof her behaviour. She has a meeting cludes, after describing the burial of with Edward at an inn, where she Edward, next to his beloved in these stops, on her way back to the board. words : “ So the lovers rest near each ing-school, where she had resolved to de- other! Peace hovers over the scene vote herself to the education of young of their repose. Bright-clothed angel ladies-on what principles it is need forms look down on them from the less to enquire. The consequence of vault, and oh! what a blessed moment this interview, which consisted of vows will that be when they shall awaken and protestations on one side, and of together!” absolute silence on the other, is, that What do you think now, of what I she gets into the carriage in which she began with, Mr North? But, before came, and returns to the castle, Ed. you decide, remember, my dear sir, ward following her on horseback ; and that the state of manners described so, after an absence of more than a here is the same exactly as we trace year, the dramatis persone are re- in all the works of the same author. united in the scene of their first ap. His Wilhelm Meister_his Young Werpearance.

ther-all agree in representing the And now comes the death scene; a most appalling laxity of morals as unisubject which seems peculiarly agree versal in the land. In heaven's name, able to Goethe, and which he there is the mana libeller of his father-land as fore describes with all his heart. well as a corrupter of youth? But no, Think, Mr North, of the eloquence of sir, the universal popularity of his noCharlotte and the Captain conjoined vels, the herd of imitators he has given to the prayers and entreaties of Ed. rise to, the silence of his own country. ward himself, being of no avail against men on the subject of his false reprethe inflexible resolution of the pure sentations of life and manners, are too and innocent Ottilie! She persists, in convincing proofs that he holds the spite of all they can say, in maintain. mirror up to nature. ing a profound silence; and in eating On this occasion, I have said no. in her own room; the mention of thing of the absurdly exaggerated which peculiarity suggests dim images claims which are made every day on of coming evil to the attentive reader. behalf of German originality. What In fact, she starves herself to death, I have limited myself to, has been the except that the finishing blow is struck character of the people, as seen in their by a meddling old gentleman deliver. every day literature. - And, what a ing in her presence a very inopportune view we have had! - Phaugh!- I lecture on the sanctity of the seventh must have an “eke" just to put the commandment. The whole neigh. taste out of my mouth. Sugar, if bourhood is struck dumb with grief you please ;-hold-hold-and now, at the death of the youthful saint, and Mr North, I will favour you with a great care is required to hinder the song.-Hear, hear, hear!



Any one unacquainted with the pe on these, at once may be recognised culiarities of ancient art, and not ac- the cause of the permanency, and of customed to take those particular the fluctuations of art,-permanency, trains of thought and sentiment into as related to the constitution of man, consideration which gave birth to which produces its constant renovathem, placing himself before the tion at different epochs,-fluctuations, picture of the Last Judgment by that result from the direction which Michael Angelo, in all probability is given to the operations of that confinds many of his preconceptions stitution, amid those great changes rudely shocked, and the impression of which sweep, in continual revolution, its power enforced amidst the confu. the mind and condition of the human sion of his scattered notions. But he race ;-with such recurring tides, that expects a representation of the “ Judg. it would almost appear, that the limits ment of the Great Day," produced of the atmosphere of our globe, not according to modes, and embracing only bound a circumscribed portion of purposes, which were altogether fo. visible and of tangible being, but also reign to the general intention and to of intellectual, and moral being. the individual character of its great Of those changes which pass like author, to the age in which his stu. the cloud or the sunshine over the pendous work was executed, and field of human speculation, the history hence, to the method pursued in the of art exhibits much, and in their pe. enunciation and expression of its sub. culiar phases, the particular charac. ject.

ter of its productions must be looked Change must be recognised to be for. It is now recognised, that in In. the fate of the arts. It has been held dia and in Egypt, the ultimate aim of by some that their progress may, or art, was placed in very different obrather must, be unlimited by others, jects from those which were influenthat they can now only experience de. tial in Greece and in more modern cay; but their sensuous character, times; and wonder must have ceased, and dependence upon emotion, pre- at what had been considered to be unvent either of these results from tak, accountable in its history in those ing place; on the one hand, by limit. countries--that continued practice for ing their progression; on the other, by hundreds, or, if their chronologies preventing all possibility of their ex- are admitted, for thousands of years, tinction.* The passions and senti. should not have exbibited a similar ments of man, although continually result to Grecian art, or to that of the up-furrowed by moral and physical revival in the fourteenth century : changes, which so alter the appear. each of which present widely different ance of society, that its product pre features throughout the various pe. sents widely different characteristics riods of their cultivation,-features at different times, in their grand which forcibly exemplify the closely features they remain as immutable as interwoven connexion of art with the the senses themselves. A discovery general state of society ; which, in in science, or the recognition of a po. many instances, it may be said to renlitical principle, may give variety to der positive and visible, and to the the exertions of man; but the continual operations of which it is the principal renewal of his race, is the continual means of giving perpetuity. renewal of the same desires, hopes Of this connexion, the great fresco and fears,-love, grief, and joy are of the Last Judgment is a distinct exconstantly re-born; and it is only a ample, it is eminently a portion of truism to assert, that in the passions the time in which it was produced are the foundations of art laid. Based the commencement of the sixteenth

• The dread of the extinction of art (to use the term in its widest sense, embracing poetry, music, &c.) is a hypochondriac interpretation of the effects of a utilitarianism; not even a true corollary of its tendency.


century. The arts and sciences had dominating during the times with which arisen in Europe, amidst a junction of they are connected, and which directthe influence exerted by the cultivated ed their conception. Grecian genius remains of Grecian refinement-by had elucidated the combination of the that of the wild energy and warlike imaginative and the reasoning powers; habits of the northern nations-and of the Gothic, or northern genius, had the more gentle and elevated spirit of raised mystery and superstition to Christianity. The awful mythologies their highest. Homer envelopes his of the north had altogether fled ; but heroes in a cloud, when it is necessary their severe forms had left a sombre that they should disappear; the northimpress on its character. The strug- erns gift theirs with an invisible cap, gle of civilization with barbarism and which produces effects, that, in the lefeudal ignorance, which had been gend of the saint, would have been atmaintained throughout centuries, like tributed to faith, or the belief of powers the throes of one awakening from directly conferred by God upon man. temporary stupefaction, begot a depth Man had become associated with supe. of emotion, and a triumph of moral rior existences. A new element had power, altogether distinct from what been universally recognised in his had influenced previous æras of civi- being. The experience of former lization - by which the literature efforts was to be brought to his aid, and fine arts of modern Europe are and a renewed life imparted to his strikingly distinguished-more parti exertions by novelty, and the great cularly from those of Greece, and revolutions that had passed over his (in this respect) its imitator, ancient stage. From the moral tumulus thus Rome. With the sentiment of the heaped up was the resurrection of art Easterns, they have more in common; to take place. but the warmth of oriental imagination, But, distinct from these causes, that carried into the north by the different were wide and general in their in. tides of population, was to be rendered fluence, the particular state of Euromore intense and vigorous_less luxu- pean society, and the forms and gorious by being brought from under the vernment of the Church of Rome, influence of a more genial sun (to bask immediately connected with the period beneath the rays of which seems to at which the revival of art took place, induce that satisfaction in mere animal strikingly modified its character. life, which may, in some measure, ac- Religion and war had, for a number count for the permanency of the insti. of centuries, almost entirely occupied tutions of some Asiatic and southern Europe. In so far as the cultivation nations, and also for certain charac. of the mind extended, it was directly teristics of their art), into a more connected with the Churcb. Religious troubled and darker atmosphere ; ceremonies, bearing a doctrinal signiwhence it was again precipitated upon fication, were blended even with the hothe spreading influence of that system liday sports of the people, in a manner which had already overcome and ab- that frequently has the appearance of sorbed both the philosophy and exote. absurdity. Their gests, chronicons, ric mythologies of Greece and Rome, and mysteries, were filled with reliand under which was to be brought gious allusions, and were most fre.

forth that combination of intellectual quently founded on scripture histories. · power, passion, and imagination, which But these made a scanty addition to

is displayed in the painting, and poetry, the limited literature of those ages, and other arts of Europe. Grecian which consisted principally of the invention feigned Orpheus to have theological disquisitions of the schotamed savage animals with the music lastic doctors--that mixture of the of his lyre; that of the north made logic and metaphysical speculations of Odin, by his harp, draw the ghosts of the ancients with the doctrines of the departed warriors around him ; the Christian Church, the subtle character Christian legend tells that Saint Ce of which Abelard must have tested, cilia, more powerful than either, when he used the scholo. Aristotelian * Drew an angel down,"

philosophy of the sesophic doctors : at

one time as an offensive weapon against to listen : inventions in which may be Christianity, and, at another, found it recognised the modes of thought pre- equally powerful when applied to its support; and which, after the esta- came formed over the surface of blishinent of universities throughout thought. An abstract, typical, and Europe, mingled with and overwhelm- allegoric peculiarity of style was ed the simpler character of the earlier generally diffused; which, addressing literature, which, in its first dawn, had itself to the limited understanding and been more varied and impassioned. narrow comprehension of the parIn strong contrast, however, to the tially civilized and untutored portion sophisticated polemics of these periods of the population, necessarily became was their military spirit; and, between not unfrequently allied to a very conthe cross and the sword, there was tradictory want of refinement, or of small vantage ground for the growth delicacy, and not seldom to igno. of what was not more or less connected rance. with either. The mass of the lay po. Of this mixture, which predomipulation, divided betwixt agricultural nated for centuries,-art strongly labour and war, wholly under the con- partook : and thus there is much in trol of their ecclesiastical and feudal the productions of these times (inde. superiors, and at the command of both, pendently of those peculiarities of handling either the spear or the ox- mode and of intention which will goad, as their schemes or their neces. afterwards come to be noticed) that sities directed, were in the condition now appears, on a partial considera and ignorance of slaves. Nor were tion, to be anomalous. And what, their baronial lords much in advance in the instance of painting, caused this in knowledge and intelligence ; to in a very marked degree, was its whom Plutarch's character of the having been made a medium through Baotians—that they were of gross wit which the people might be addressed and coarse, quite the constitution of by the Church ; of which, in its reheroes would well apply. Might birth, it was strictly the servant. It was the law of right. The discrimi- was immediately brought into connec. nations of reason were left to questions tion with the most mystical and abwherein the immediate and personal stract subjects; and its embodiments feelings and interests of men were not in the greater number of instances, involved ; and force was the arbiter of were little else than pictured repetievery difficulty that assumed the nature tions of ceremonies, and representaof a dispute, unless overawed by the tions of characters, which bore an mysteries of religion, which hung over ulterior, or typical signification. Its this perturbed spirit with a command. efforts were devoted to the illustraing power; and its dogmas, wielded tion and enforcement of the docamid the subtleties with which they trines, history, and services of the were surrounded by the schoolmen, Church: the latter of which, at an probably became the more impressive early period, had gradually become the less that they were really under expressive of the two former, and stood.

had assumed an absorbing importance, The contrast of the ecclesiastical in the form of a vast congregation of and the military spirit of these times dramatic ceremonies, of which Rome presents reason united to forms of the was the grand theatre, and which, in utmost tenuity of thought, opposed their consecutive round of obserto the gross animal nature that found vance, may be said still annually to its most refined pursuits in the attack present a mighty drama, of the life, of the pel, or the wolf, or boar hunt. death, and resurrection of Christ. A “ The humanities” were left to the variation of the same form--the dracultivation of those belonging to the matic- which had been employed in religious orders; and the method of Greece to vindicate the rule of Jove explaining and illustrating the doc. or Fate (in relation with which purtrines of the Church-subtle, allegori. pose, it had held a somewhat similar cal, and figurative-became almost en- connexion with ancient art), bad betirely the only form in which thought come subservient to the exposition of was expressed. Even the most mate. Christian faith and doctrine. This rial of the sciences-chemistry, in may probably have ari:en from obserthe hands of the alchymists became vations having been originally grafttransmuted into allegories of the Holy ed, as it has been supposed many Virgin and ber Son. It may be said were, on the ancient festivals, during that a beaten road of expression, be- the early stages of Christianity. But,

in both instances, the desire itself Commedia. Masaccio had improved of actual repetition; and impersona- dramatic expression and style, which tion, being felt to be an obvious and Ghiberti and Donatello in sculpture, effective means of elucidating senti- and in painting Ghirlandajo and the ment and opinion, readily accounts greater Frate Bartolomeo had imfor the extensive adoption of the dra. mensely advanced. Andrea Mantegna matic form, which was invariably had exhibited an irritable vitality of regulated by a mode of expression genius, and had profited by the study afterwards to be noticed, as having all of the antique, and attempted subalong obtained, both in the art of the jects of a classical character ; while ancients and in that of more modern Pietro Perugino, the Bellini, and times-in poetry and in religious others, without much seeming conceremony.*

nexion, had, each in his own sphere, But more than a century before prepared the way for those who were the time of Michael Angelo, art and to consummate the particular departliterature, from being bound in the ments to which they devoted their Egyptian-like swaddlings, which had labours. The materials of the fabric restrained the one under the ferula of art were accumulated and partially of the schools, and the other to an upreared; but, like the completion of almost purely symbolic form, had the mighty dome of St Peters (one of arisen into vigorous life and freedom. the greatest of his works), yet remainDante, Petrarcha, and Boccaccio, with ed to be raised to the highest elevaothers in literature, and, somewhat tion, in this period of its history, by later, numerous eminent names in the powerful genius of Michael An. painting and sculpture, had appeared: gelo. in their works evolving a mixture The relative connexion of painting of power, beauty, and imperfection, with those causes which operated tomingled with classical forms and wards the general state of society and Gothic irregularity. Of these works of mental culture, which have been the greatest-the Divina Commedia thus rapidly glanced at the only of Dante Alighieri-exhibits a confu- mode of bringing works in art under sion of religious opinion and political consideration, that can lead to their rancour with immense poetic genius, being satisfactorily understood, must, displayed in the creation of a heaven in some measure, have anticipated the and of a hell, partaking of the spirit character, and peculiar features of the and materials of ancient mythology, picture of Michael Angelo, which Gothic superstition, and Christian they have been brought forward to il. belief; imagined for the reward or lustrate. The Last Judgment is in the punishment of kings, popes, petty many respects, in painting, the most princes, and their partisans, to whom eminent exemplification of the operabliss or misery are distributed with tion of various of these causes, and the violence of passion rather than also of various of the most important the solemn might of justice. But, principles of art. In it, an abstract contrasted with the severity and greatness, conventional modes of ex. strength of Dante, were the beauty pression, a typical style, and the influand tender delicacy of Petrarcha, and ence of classical example, are brought the mixed pathos and facetiousness of together and united to the intense Boccaccio ; while, in the arts of paint passion, elevated sentiment, and power ing and sculpture, a corresponding, over the materials of art, with rigid though, from the slow growth of faci. harmony in their connexion, which lity and correctness in the exercise constitute the individual genius of its of their medium, not an equally well author; and it is before this combinaexpressed variety of sentiment, had tion, some of the component parts of been attempted. Andrea Orcagna which, if not regarded in connexion and Luca Signorelli, had made the with the purposes of the work, the final reward and punishment of man audience to whom it was addressed, the subject of various works that and the period in which it was proreiterate the sentiments of the Divina duced, appear so inexplicable, that

* Ceremony of every kind is a species of imitation or art; being a representation of sentiment hy particular signs.

« PreviousContinue »