Page images

a considerable increase of the difficulty, for it would throw back all the railway projects, derange additionally the money market, and put off for two or three more months the employment of the Irish poor on those works which will afford the best relief to their temporary distress. But sooner or later we must arrive at a general election, and the great question must be solved by the people themselves. We do not forget the infatuation under which destructive parliaments have been from time to time elected, but the question now at issue has been so long before the public mind that we hope there is less to be dreaded from popular delusion than on most former occasions.

We know that we—the advocates of protection—are the majority, the large majority of all the most important constituencies. We are satisfied that we have in our own energies the means of a certain triumph. The question must be clearly stated, and not embarrassed by personal divisions or theoretical distinctions. It is this:-is the whole system of protection to British Industry to be abandoned—not as to agriculture alone-but every branch of manufacture?

Are we to have not only Polish wheat-but German linens and woollens and cutlery-Saxon hosiery and muslinsBelgian cottons and cloths, and fire-arms-Dutch spirits, Swiss watches, American reprints, French china, gloves, shoes, silks, paper-besides an infinite variety of small articles which support a multitude of poor artisans, all of whom would be undersold by the foreigner?

We cannot believe, that if the real state of the case, the inevitable scope of the principle, be fully explained to the more intelligent of the manufacturing population, that even Manchester or Stockport would return advocates for a system which, even if confined to corn, has no object but to effect low wages, and which in its result would reduce nine-tenths of the manufacturers of England to downright unemployment and starvation. The short issue is

Protection or no protection ; protection to wages as well as rents-protection to cottons and woollens as well as wheat and oats-protection to the town as well as to the country-to the workshop as to the farm !-or RUIN TO ALL.




Art. 1.-1. Histoire de l'Art Moderne en Allemagne. Par le

Comte A. Raczynski. Berlin, 2 vols. 4to. 1811. 2. Die Düsseldorfer Mahler Schule. Von J. J. Scotti. Düssel

dorf. 1842. 3. Report from the Select Committee on Fine Arts. London, 1814. FOR several years an impression has been gaining ground I amongst us that the Germans are leaving us far behind in all that is most worthy of attainment in art. We hear of the loftiness of their subjects, the beauty of their conceptions. the fervour of their application. We are told that they have returned to the first principles of art — to severity of design, intensity of expression, simplicity of treatment—and, with the national absence of self-esteem which works in us so strongly for good and for evil, we are at once ready to draw disparaging comparisons and discouraging conclusions. We hear also of a patronage so munificent that, as Horace Walpole says, “Even merit has a chance of earning its bread;' and, true to ourselves again, we turn about and draw comparisons and conclusions more uncomfortable still. The first question is, not what the advantages of such patronage may be, but whether, with all this in their favour, the German artists be really so much in advance of others.

We must own to being sceptical about revivals in general. Raphael Mengs was compared with Raphael of Urbino during life, and buried next him after death. West was styled by his biographer the Shakspeare of painting; and Citoyen David was declared le vrai Lycurge des Arts. Where are they all now? It is not for us, however, to wonder with a kind of contempt that such revivals should have been hailed and followed by the hope and faith of the generation to which they belonged. Men's minds are too full of satisfaction at what is aimed at to be fair judges of what is done. They are too warmly possessed with the praiseworthiness of the effort, coolly to estimate the value of the result; and it is only when the halo of such an enthusiasm has passed away, and the works are seen by their own unassisted light, that the world can pronounce whether they



are real or sham. Then comes the reverse, as in the nature of things must be—what they pretended to be, from being their greatest virtue becomes their greatest sin, so that scarcely what they really are has a chance of being valued at its proper worth.

In such a mood of deification are the Germans now. They see the highest objects striven for with the most fervent zeal. They see men of intellect, education, and goodness devoted to the art; not from the thirst of gain, vanity of display, or ambition of fame, but, as much as in human nature lies, from the pure love of art itself. They see academies founded, exhibitions opened, public works carrying on; in short, all the outer paraphernalia of a great artistic period,- and believe, as is most natural, that great artists must be at the bottom of it. This we believe also in part, though by no means in their power of judging them; we believe that there are men of great capacity and fine feeling among these German painters, but we doubt whether there be one who will occupy the same place in the judgment of posterity as in the enthusiasm of the present day.

The taste of the Germans is doubtless much improved ; but they were for upwards of a century too mannered in their old school, not to become, and especially when the suddenness of the change is considered, somewhat so in their new one. Trick they still prefer to truth : though we grant it is the trick of a far better thing. They have sprung at one bound from affectation of the lowest kind, to affectation, we must say it, of the highest. To Nature they have not looked either for refreshment or reinforcement of their powers. The Munich School has not resorted to her at all: the Düsseldorf one has resorted to her in a totally false sense. The history of this new movement and of the formation of these schools is short, therefore we may trespass upon the patience of our readers to give it.

As regards Gernian art the last century presents a dull waste. Where academies had existed, there the semblance of them was still kept up-as, down to the present day among the Italians, and till within fifteen years ago among the Flemishthat is, either clinging to the insipidity of Mengs, or emulating the extravagance of David, and producing artists far worse than either. Angelica Kauffman may be called an exception, though she was sufficiently mannered, and belonged also more to Eng. land and to Italy than to her native Germany. But, if we make this exception, only one other name struggles through with the most distant claim to originality. This was Carstens, a native of Holstein, who studied the old masters, and thought for himself, and was consequently allowed to starve. In other re


spects, we own, he was bad enough for his age, being a wretched colourist, knowing nothing of aërial perspective, and painting chiefly mythological subjects. He lived long enough, however, to see Overbeck, Vogel, and others departing also from the beaten track, and with more success.

These young men had been expelled the Academy of Vienna, for the sole reason that they chose to swerve from the rules of that Academy in their mode of study. They had that in them which loathed the allegorical sentimentalities and mythological pomposities of that day; and though it was not to be expected that their unassisted native powers should open to them the true road, yet their resistance to the false one was sufficient proof that those powers were high. Such also as their new system was then, it has in the main continued. The improvement they aimed at has been developed; the errors they fell into have not been corrected. Their reason told them that the real truth and dignity of art consist in a thorough and profound conception of the subject treated; their taste led them to select subjects of the highest religious order. But they erred in depending too much on the inspiration of the abstract idea, too little upon the study of Nature; and this error stamps their whole subsequent career. With these aims, Overbeck, then only twenty years of age, came to Rome, where he was soon joined, among others, by Cornelius, Schadow, and Veit-the men who, with himself, have since exercised the greatest influence over the rising generation-all within a year of the same age.

Here they soon announced themselves in the most decided manner as the founders of some great change in art, and of one for the better. They were simple in habits, earnest in thought, unwearied in industry; and, what was still more significant, devoted with all the ardour of freshly awakened taste to the study of those old masters whom, for generations, the students from every country, except England, had looked upon with indifference. But the English had chosen the successors of Michael Angelo and Raphael as their models of study-Overbeck and his companions chose their predecessors. One reason is obvious. The English were ignorant, and had to acquire knowledge, and therefore resorted where it best pleased their taste; the Germans were wrong, and had to overthrow error, and therefore sought a corrective in the opposite extreme. In their horror of the false and flimsy paths they had escaped they could see nu alternative but that of removing to the utmost from them; and enamoured of that religious earnestness and simplicity which they found in the early masters, they became enamoured also of their technical defects.

2 2


« PreviousContinue »