Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of character, the liberties of their industry, for the permission to live idly, a weakness always attractive to the human disposition; and in that idleness they have lived from generation to generation, until habits of sloth have become constitutional. Why the lords of the soil permitted such a state of things to grow up may be easily accounted for!

Captain Rose writes :

“The people bear their hardships very well, and are too high-spirited to whine and complain, though conscious of the wretched prospect before them, and too thoughtful to undervalue it. They are lazy, however, and sadly want the persevering energy of the Anglo-Saxon race.'

Sir Edward Coffin himself, no apologist for their faults, speaks of their indisposition to honest industry as, perhaps, less a reproach to them than to their superiors; and adds with true consideration'to a half-civilized man, which is the real present condition of the Highland cottars, toil and its recompense united appear in the form of a penalty rather than of a boon.'

We do not say that there is not something in the pure Celt that contrasts unfavourably with the aspiring vigour of the Saxon nature. But there are points in the Highland character which might be made the foundation of much that is amiable and noble. There is a self-respect in all circumstances of apparent degradation, and an uncomplaining endurance of all evils, which seem to us capable of being reared into a manly feeling of independence and a steady, resoluie encounter of toil. But it is unsafe to theorise about the natural inferiority of races, and most unjust to act upon such theories. After all, if we look back only a hundred years, the condition of the remoter low countries of Scotland for example, those marked Anglian settlements, Buchan and Moraywas not higher in the scale of advancement than the West Highlands and Isles now are. How they have thriven since, we have endeavoured to show. May the inhabitants of the opposite coasts follow in their footsteps! In the hand of a good Providence the fearful calamity that has fallen upon them may be the means of improving their social condition. The attention of the public as well as of their landlords is now turned to this interesting and long-neglected race; and if they escape the evils but too generally incident to almsgiving, there is reason to hope for an improvement not only in their physical circumstances but in their moral training. By the census of 1841 the whole population of Scotland was 2,620,000. The population of the districts we have just been speaking of—even adding the Orkney and Shetland Isles, the latter of which suffer from somewhat of the same causes-does not, according to Sir John M.Neill, exceed 200,000—a number so manageable that the least sanguine can have no excuse for slarinking from exertion.

As

As to the rest of Scotland-her beautiful pastoral border-the garden-like fields of Lothian-her broad eastern coast, studded with busy towns and happy villages-her midland valleys—it would be difficult to commend too warmly the efforts of the last century. Her landlords and tenants—the employer and the employed— have hitherto done their duty towards each other; and we have said that a better feeling prevails between the different ranks than in other realms more favoured by nature. But now is a turning point in her destinies. A general poor-law has been created or brought into force over the whole country; and it will require very great care on all sides to guard against the dangers involved in this perhaps inevitable change; lest the humbler classes part with that old feeling of self-respect which has hitherto secured for them the respect of others; lest the hereditary habits of mutual attachment and protection be lost—and with them the most rare and estimable of the national characteristics.

May we crave pardon for one word more of warning. We said something in a late Number of the growing interest felt by Englishmen in the noble sports of the Scotch Highlands. We ventured to foretell much good that might result from it-to the young sportsman training up in a hardy and independent and not unpoetical existence, and to the poor Highlanders who turn their peculiar qualities to account in their service. We spoke of the taste as free from the serious inconveniences and mischiefs of the game-laws of England; and so, if enjoyed with moderation, it might surely be. But of late, some mighty Nimrods have shut up the old accustomed paths through the wilderness, and barred the way to the wandering botanist, as well as to the country clergyman and the native shepherd of the hills. We do not inquire into their legal right. Holding them to have the power, and admitting even that an outlying deer may now and then be scared by a rare visitor of these solitudes—we say the thing is not like the act of English gentlemen. It savours of petty tyranny, and should be amended.

It gives us pleasure to repeat that some of the accounts in the New Statistical’ are written with proper care and sufficient learning ; but it would, we feel, be unjust to make selections, inferring censure on those omitted, without a more careful revision than we have as yet been able to bestow. We have not scrupled to point out such faults of author or editor as most struck us; but we cannot be blind to the vast value of such a sum of National Statistics, impressed with the stamp of locality and actual eye-witnessing. The perusal of the volumes at the present time is attended with some painful and melancholy reflections. Already not a few of the writers are dead—and very many VOL. LXXXII. NO. CLXIV.

2D

estimable

estimable men, who drew up these descriptions of their parishes as the established ministers, are now preachers in dissenting congregations. When another half-century shall call for a new Statistical Account of Scotland, will the Ministers of the Kirk be more fitted for such a task? Whoever has duly appreciated their many excellent qualities and services, must hope so; but we can say no more. The same poverty in many of the just_attainments of the scholar and the divine which disfigures these Reports, has ever since the Revolution, but more and more markedly within the last sixty or seventy years, deprived them (with happy exceptions, no one will doubt) of their proper place and influence among the educated classes. The tendency of a recent regulation, forbidding any man who holds a parish living to hold also an academical chair, must be to increase this mischief : that rash measure ought surely to be repealed. But the clergy are at this day in danger of losing also their former strength-the confidence and attachment of the people. As yet, however, it can hardly be too late for them to stay this evil; and probably their best chance with the people, too, will be in raising the standard of erudition and accomplishment among themselves. The Scotch peasant is much belied if he will not appreciate real sound learning ; we hope we are correct in saying that there are even now some symptoms of a longing after a higher education for the clergy; and the hostile energy of the great new body of dissenters, with rival schools of study, may tend to promote it. The old Episcopalian Church of Scotland, moreover, was never, since her statutory downfall, in so flourishing a condition as now-she is every day extending her converts-she is fast raising and filling chapels in districts where but a few years ago the resurrection of Archbishop Leighton in the flesh would have seemed as probable ;she, too, is founding her new institutions of education. If ihe Established Clergy neglect the signs of the times, let them look to it.

Art. III.--1. Materials for a History of Oil Painting. By

Charles Lock Eastlake, R.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., Secretary to the Royal Commission for promoting the Fine Arts in Connexion with the Rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, &c. &c.

London, 1847. 2. Theophili, qui et Rugerus, Presbyteri et Monachi, Libri III.

de Diversis Artibus : seu Diversarum Artium Schedula. (An Essay upon Various Arts, in Three Books, by Theophilus,

called

[ocr errors]

THE siranger in Florence who for the first time passes through

called also Rugerus, Priest and Monk, forming an Encyclopedia
of Christian Art of the Eleventh Century. Translated, with
Notes, by Robert Hendrie.) London, 1847.
THE
the iron

gate
which
opens

from the Green Cloister of Santa Maria Novella into the Spezieria, can hardly fail of being surprised, and that perhaps painfully, by the suddenness of the transition from the silence and gloom of the monastic enclosure, its pavement rough with epitaphs, and its walls retaining, still legible, though crumbling and mildewed, their imaged records of Scripture History, to the activity of a traffic not less frivolous than flourishing, concerned almost exclusively with the appliances of bodily adornment or luxury. Yet perhaps, on a moment's reflection, the rose-leaves scattered on the floor, and the air filled with odour of myrtle and myrrh, aloes and cassia, may arouse associations of a different and more elevated character ; the preparation of these precious perfumes may seem not altogether unfitting the hands of a religious brotherhood--or if this should not be conceded, at all events it must be matter of rejoicing to observe the evidence of intelligence and energy interrupting the apathy and languor of the cloister; nor will the institution be regarded with other than respect, as well as gratitude, when it is remembered that, as to the convent library we owe the preservation of ancient literature, to the convent laboratorý we owe the duration of mediæval art.

It is at first with surprise not altogether dissimilar, that we find a painter of refined feeling and deep thoughtfulness, after manifesting in his works the most sincere affection for what is highest in the reach of his art, devoting himself for years (there is proof of this in the work before us to the study of the mechanical preparation of its appliances, and whatever documentary evidence exists respecting their ancient use. But it is with a revulsion of feeling more entire, that we perceive the value of the results obtained—the accuracy of the varied knowledge by which their sequence has been established- and above all, their immediate bearing upon the practice and promise of the schools of our own day.

Opposite errors, we know not which the least pardonable, but both certainly productive of great harm, have from time to time possessed the masters of modern art. It has been held by some that the great early painters owed the larger measure of their power to secrets of material and method, and that the discovery of a lost vehicle or forgotten process might at any time accomplish the regeneration of a fallen school. By others it has been asserted that all questions respecting materials or manipu2 v 2

lation

lation are idle and impertinent; that the methods of the older masters were either of no peculiar value, or are still in our power ; that a great painter is independent of all but the simplest mechanical aids, and demonstrates his greatness by scorn of system and carelessness of means.

It is evident that so long as incapability could shield itself under the first of these creeds, or presumption vindicate itself by the second; so long as the feeble painter could lay his faults on his pallet and his panel; and the self-conceited painter, from the assumed identity of materials proceed to infer equality of power(for we believe that in most instances those who deny the evil of our present methods will deny also the weakness of our present works)- little good could be expected from the teaching of the abstract principles of the art; and less, if possible, from the example of any mechanical qualities, however admirable, whose means might be supposed irrecoverable on the one hand, or indeterminate on the other, or of any excellence conceived to have been either summoned by an incantation, or struck out by an accident. And of late, among our leading masters, the loss has not been merely of the system of the ancients, but of all system whatsoever: the greater number paint as if the virtue of oil pigment were its opacity, or as if its power depended on its polish; of the rest, no two agree in use or choice of materials; not many are con sistent even in their own practice; and the most zealous and earnest, therefore the most discontented, reaching impatiently and desperately after better things, purchase the momentary satisfaction of their feelings by the sacrifice of security of surface and durability of hue. The walls of our galleries are for the most part divided between pictures whose dead coating of consistent paint, laid on with a heavy hand and a cold heart, secures for them the stability of dullness and the safety of mediocrity; and pictures whose reckless and experimental brilliancy, unequal in its result as lawless in its means, is as evanescent as the dust of an insect's wing, and presents in its chief perfections so many subjects of future regret.

But if these evils now continue, it can only be through rashness which no example can warn, or through apathy which no hope can stimulate, for Mr. Eastlake has alike withdrawn licence from experimentalism and apology from indolence. He has done away with all legends of forgotten secrets; he has shown that the masters of the great Flemish and early Venetian schools possessed no means, followed no methods, but such as we may still obtain and pursue ; but he has shown also, among all these masters, the most admirable care in the preparation of materials and the most simple consistency in their use; he has shown that

« ZurückWeiter »