« ZurückWeiter »
ministers of the Church of which we are members from conviction as well as by birth, and to which we are most strongly and affectionately attached. For ourselves, so keenly do we feel the danger threatening, on the one hand, from the Ro. manising teaching of such institutions as the National So.. ciety's Training College at St. Mark's, Chelsea, and that which is about to be opened at East Brent under the auspices of Mr. Denison--and on the other, from such godless proposals as that which has emanated from the National Public School Association-that we are deeply grateful for the suggestion of a plan, which, while it steers clear of both these fearful rocks, seems more likely than any as yet brought forward to lead to a practical solution of the hitherto insoluble problem of a really National Education—such as, while it does no violence to the rights of conscience, is based upon the only sure foundation--the written word of God. From the bottom of our hearts, therefore, do we wish the Local Education Bill of the Municipal Boroughs of Manchester and Salford God-speed. One of the brightest pages in the ample code of the English law is that on which is inscribed a permanent provision, by rate, for the relief of the bodily necessities of the poor. The duty and the privilege of making a similar provision for the spiritual necessities of the labouring classes can, therefore, as appears to us, admit of no question. Had her reign been in no other way rendered illustrious, the enactment of the poor law would of itself have been sufficient to emblazon the name of Queen Elizabeth in letters of gold upon the pages of her country's history; and the widow and the orphan, and the sick and feeble and aged, yet unborn, would have had reason, as they now have reason, to bless her name. The yet brighter glory of making a similar provision for the sound, religious, moral, and intellectual training of her people, has been reserved for one whose reign, with God's blessing, bids fair to eclipse even that of her maiden predecessor; and it is with no small amount of pride and satisfaction, coupled with deep gratitude to Almighty God, that we hail the glorious prospect of the poorrate of Queen Elizabeth finding a suitable companion in the education-rate of Queen Victoria. .
Art. III.-1. Handbook to the Antiquities in the British Mu
seum: Being a Description of the Remains of Greek, Assyrian, Egpytian, and Etruscan Art preserved there. By W. S. W. Vaux, M.A., F.S.A., Assistant in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum. With Numerous Illustrations.
London: John Murray, Albemarle-street. 1851. 2. The Museum of Classical Antiquities : A Quarterly Jour
nal of Architecture, and the Sister Branches of Classic Art. Edited by EDWARD FALKENER, Architect, J. W. Parker. Parts II, and III. Large Octavo.
IT is a prejudice deeply rooted in our scholars of the last century to admit no sculpture or architecture to be classical except that which belongs to a certain period of a certain Greek State —a condemnation of art almost as sweeping as that of Rome, which accounted all beyond the confines of Latium, except the Greeks, barbarians. We are far from concurring with these scholars of days gone by, whose views in the present age are as antiquated as themselves or the subjects of which they treat; and who forgetting that, had the treasures of ancient art which we now possess been extant in the days of their Latin grammar, they would scarce have failed to take their place among those classical antiquities which now enjoy a monopoly of admiration ; for, assuming more modern discoveries to be inferior to those known at an earlier period, they forget that it is out of these former that taste was developed, which has formed the norm of art, and fixed a standard for our artists, sculptors, and architects of the present time, and thus become identified with our tastes; hence that, conceding them all the beauties which every one must feel them to possess, it is most unfair and absurd to refuse them a place among the classical treasures of our museums. Yet we know most certainly that, had it not been for the strong opinion of younger and less bigotted scholars, the trustees would willingly have objected to the Ninevite sculptures having any communion with the old school. Yet it is ridiculous to suppose that the Egyptians and Assyrians had not their Pheidias, their Apelles, their Ictinus, and their Callicrates; although it may fairly be inferred that these artists were fettered by the conventional idea of beauty and symmetry belonging to their age, In the present century we have no style except that borrowed from ancient types; and even when some sculptor bolder than his fellows ventures to represent the prince he is engaged to immortalise in bronze, in stone, or in marble, in the dress and attitụde of life, he is persecuted by the ignorant zeal of the halfeducated. King George III., with a pig-tail and in the uniform he really wore, taking off his hat to the militia-a very unsoldierlike proceeding it is true, but his wont nevertheless—is depreciated; yet, so long as that statue exists, posterly has a clearer idea of the personality of the King than they have even now of his son, sitting upon his horse, like a sack, wrapped in a blanket, the picture rather of a curly-headed miller roused from his sleep by the bursting of his mill-dam than of an elegant sovereign; the chief feature of which is the glaring anachronism of exposing one over scrupulous as to his dress to the public in this seminude state. Would it not be as absurd to represent George IV. as a Roman consul-senator, or conventional Roman, as to represent Julius Cæsar in top-boots and a pig-tail ? We, therefore, contend that there is an Assyrian and Egyptian style as classical and possessing as many beauties in its own way as those to be found in Grecian sculpture: indeed, Grecian art can never be satisfactorily and fundamentally studied without reference to the Egyptian and Assyrian prototypes, and by tracing the transition which the original style underwent in the progress of ages, resulting from the various influences of language, religion, climate, locality, and manners.
The Egyptian artist was obliged by custom to depict the King in colossal proportions, and his chief warriors gigantic in comparison to the vanquished. To the uneducated class this, doubtless, gave a most clear conception of the importance of the respective personages--infinitely more so than the most exquisitely proportioned sculpture or painting. The Assyrians adopted the like plan; the Greeks never adopted this conventionality, and repudiated the system which grouped collossal statues with others the size of life. Nor is this to be attributed to a republican form of government; the gods or heroes might have been so represented without shocking democratic policy or irritating oligarchical jealousy. Following in other respects their oriental neighbours, they repudiated this, possibly in some measure on account of the more general prevalence of education; but, perhaps, more on account of their being free from conventional anomalies, but most of all " parceque ce n'était pas beau.”
Except deep and experienced scholars few are capable, on visiting the British Museum, of understanding the various antiquities which claim their observation, and, indeed, it may be asked, how should they ? More information respecting these archæological remains is required than the mere sight of the object. The result of the collective and successive researches of scholars and antiquarians is requisite and in most cases indispensable; and these researches, drawn from the sources to be relied upon, have been collected by Mr. Vaux, each department being prefaced by such historical and ethical remarks as may at once serve as an introduction and elucidation. The whole is preceded by a table of the most celebrated artists of that period--a most useful prefix to an index raisonné and critique as the work may justly be termed-and, without having perused which or some similar glossary, no end can be attained by the ordinary visiter of the Museum beyond the gratification of a little idle curiosity. For such people, we say emphatically, the British Museum is not intended, and we sincerely hope they may find so few charms in it that they may not be tempted to impede those who really visit it for improvement.
It is scarcely to be expected that those who do not devote their undivided attention to classical archæology will be able to devote the time necessary to prepare themselves for a useful visit to the Museum, scattered as the information is over znany pages of writers in the dead languages and an infinitely greater number of commentaries. Nevertheless, a man of liberal education may, by the assistance of a manual, reburnish a rusty armoury of classical lore; and one of less original knowledge be enabled to obtain as much information as may give him an appetite for further research, or at least furnish him with the outline of a science which he may not be at liberty, from want of time or opportunity, to follow up.
In tracing the progress of art in its various branches of architecture, sculpture, and painting, it is undoubtedly necessary that a chronological system be adopted. Egypt will, therefore, first claim attention ; between which and Greece another epoch, that of Assyria, has now been intercalated; and lastly Rome, formerly the third, will now form the fourth in chronological order.
The characteristics of Egyptian art are boldness, massiveness, simplicity, finish, and decision. The art of Assyria is wanting in the second position; while that of Greece may be said to consist rather in delicacy, simplicity, elegance, and fine finish. Roman art exhibits a want of these ingredients of perfection, and may be said generally to exhibit an imperfect imitation of the best style, intrinsically inferior to the Egyptian in its want of boldness, and to the Greek in simplicity and nature.
Nothing has hitherto been imagined by the mind of man so magnificent and majestic as the Egyptian architecture-no style so well calculated to resist the ravages of time and impress the beholder; yet these stupendous buildings are copied from the simplest forms in nature. The largest column is but an exaggeration of its architype—the lotus or the palm ; and the elegant form of the capital is borrowed froin the flower or bud of that simple plant which it was coloured to represent. Here we see then the direct imitation of nature, and we cannot but admire the magnitude of the conception which exalted a humble plant into a column unequalled for its imposing effect. Nor is the locality a mean ingredient in this colossal style of architecture. Placed in a level plain, the building formed a point of interruption for the eye, where a Greek edifice, standing on an eminence, from the smallness of its proportions, would have been lost in the landscape, and have appeared out of proportion with the boundless plain around it: thus, what would have been overpowering in the hilly Greece, sunk into true symmetry in the expansive level of a champagne country. Where there is little herbage, no bushy trees or forests, a simplicity of architecture is appropriate-a florid style destructive of effect. To this circumstance must be attributed the absence of finely sculptured ornaments and reliefs in Egyptian architecture, for the nature of the locality is suggestive of the style. Again : where the general aspect of the country is brown, the aid of colour must be called in to heighten the effect and relieve the eye; and, further, the colours must be deep and bright to have their due effect in a climate in which a cloudless sky and a warm natural tint would kill the fainter or less vivid colours.
Mr. Vaux shortly alludes to this part of the subject :
“A knowledge of the religious creed of a nation or race, the language they spoke, the ordinary life they led, are almost essential requisites in tracing out the course of their artistic history. On sculptured monuments, alike in Egypt and in other lands, we observe the forms of animals and of plants which were subservient to their daily and domestic use, or honoured for some real or supposed virtues ; while, in the geological or the natural productions of their country, we discern and test the ability and the judgment with which they handled the materials they had at their command.”
Before commerce had brought the various nations of the earth into connexion, agriculture formed the sole occupation of each individual people (and we have seen that an excess of production over the actual requirements of mankind induced that exchange of commodities which we term “ commerce")-the study of agriculture, considered as a science, involved a knowledge of the planetary system; and as Egypt was, and still might be from its local advantages, the most eminently agricultural comtry of the globe, so it follows that the Egyptians were the first astronomers. Egypt possessed a class of educated men and a class of peasants. To gain admission into this privileged class ordeals were required, as a safeguard, more nearly resembling that of our present freemasonry than aught else. That the