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beyond presiding at the annual dinner, and taking the chair at a few council meetings, we are not informed; and recommend that he should receive an amount of income very far exceeding that which is now bestowed.' For our own part, we should have no objection to Sir Charles Eastlake's receiving any amount of income the Academy may find it convenient to pay, provided in return he would devote his whole time to the onerous duties of the post, and leave the directorship of the National Gallery, and the secretaryship of the Fine Arts Commission, or any office of that kind, to be otherwise disposed of. But the proposal of the Commissioners to constitute the Academy, with its richlyendowed President, and two VicePresidents, and a newly-infused 'lay element,' into a sort of standing Committee of Taste, or 'permanent council of advice and reference in all matters relating to the Fine Arts, public monuments, and buildings,' is one to which we must express our most decided opposition. In the first place, the very limited sphere of the Academy's art-culture being chiefly restricted to painting, and sculpture and architecture being almost wholly neglected by it, would alone be sufficient to disqualify them for such a duty; and beyond this is the still greater peril of jobbery and dilettanteism from which the arts of the country have suffered enough already, and which could only be frightfully increased by the proposed associations of artists and amateurs having their own or their protégés' interests prominently in view, in every disposition of public patro
nience which the Academy experiences from want of space, and the importance of making better provision for it, with the least possible delay,' they say: 'It has been found impossible for us to consider this question without at the same time reviewing the position of the National Gallery.' The circumstances of the long occupancy by the Royal Academy of public buildings rent free, whether at Trafalgar Square or Somerset House, the Commissioners take, in the form of some official correspondence and memoranda handed in by Sir Charles Eastlake, being just such as the Academy authorities thought best suited to serve their case, without any attempt to elucidate matters further by oral examination, nor apparently any very close scrutiny of the documents themselves. The result is that the Academy being found in old occupancy of a part of the National Gallery, having 'no legal,' but only a moral claim to apartments at the public expense,' and the present site in Trafalgar Square being the most convenient that could possibly be found for general public use, they recommend that the whole building should be handed over to the Academy, and that the nation's Gallery be removed to the less convenient site of Burlington House. This recommendation coming from a Commission, two of the members of which (Lord Elcho and Mr. Danby Seymour) had distinguished themselves during many years as the champions of public right, and had moved again and again the summary ejectment of the Academic intruders from the national premises, must be pronounced rather
strong.' What potent spells to produce this remarkable conversion may have been used at the Academy banquets, to which in two successive years these Commissioners were invited guests, it is not for us to surmise. More important is it to bear in mind that the National Gallery is again in danger, its former defenders now leading the attack. No doubt the battle will be fought over again in the ensuing session of Parliament, with a result which must mainly depend upon the ex
pression of public opinion in the interim. John Bull will have himself to thank if he allows himself to be turned out of his own house on what Sir Robert Peel called 'the finest site in Europe,' without remonstrance. Reserving our 'own fire’ till the occasion arrives, we propose to conclude the present article with a few brief observations upon the whole question of The Position of the Royal Academy in relation to the Fine Arts,' as well as that of the position of the Fine Arts in relation to the country, which the contents of this Report, added to the results of a previous long and careful observation, suggest to our mind.
In the first place, we consider the continuance of the Royal Academy in the exercise of its three several functions, as dispenser of honours, art teacher, and exhibition proprietor, to be inconsistent with the true interests and becoming position of art in this country. Let it therefore restrict itself to the firstnamed and most dignified capacity; let it be self-elected, as it now is; let its members boast the title of 'esquire' and other distinctions prescriptively attached to their degree; let them enjoy honour and have honourable entertainment of the state, as is their due; let them even have pensions, if they stand in need of them ;-for all these purposes the accumulated funds standing in the names of the masters of the Academy would probably be sufficient, and if not, more should be provided by the state.
Secondly, therefore, let ample means for properly exhibiting the art products of the country-Fine Art in all its ramifications, as well as applied Art-be provided by the state; to be governed by a commission, in which the Academy shall have a consultative, but not a sole or controlling authority. Let this exhibition establishment be free to all the exhibiting societies and artists of London, of Britain, of the whole world; all appearing in their works on equal terms-the R.A., the A.R.A., and the numberless aspirants to those distinctions all according to their desert; the Academy being thus continually put upon its
trial, and its honours brought to a fair test of marketable value; and the relative position of every working artist established irrespective of prescription or authority.
As it would be unworthy the dignity of the nation to make a profit out of the display of the works of its gifted artists, and as the contemplation of works of art is recognized as an essential element of popular education, the exhibition should be free, at any rate on certain days in the week, a money payment being fixed for the other days more in the interests of the visitors, to regulate the pressure, than for the purposes of income; and let such income, whatever it may be, be applied to the purchase of pictures from the exhi-. bition for the National Gallery.
Finally, let schools of Fine Art, of the most efficient kind, and upon the most liberal footing, be established by the nation, with headquarters in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, and branches according to requirement, but chiefly for probationary courses, throughout the land. The Academy, or some deputed number of its members might properly constitute a portion of the Council of Education superintending these schools, and more particularly in the award of the prizes at the annual examinations. In order to give still greater efficacy to the scheme of art-culture thus established, it should be endeavoured to extend its influence beyond the circle of professional, or intending professional, artists-namely, to the public, who are to be the future patrons of art, and whose 'Taste' is in some degree to react upon and influence the art of the age. The want of some such chain of sympathy between the art-producer and his patrons at present is well understood and acknowledged by many of our rising artists-some still rising, though old on the lists, who frankly admit to have been kept to a lower class of subjects, and a lower style of performance than they would otherwise have aimed at, simply out of regard to the low state of public taste.
Such is the brief outline of the very simple scheme which we would
venture to throw out for the consideration of the Government and the artistic world at this interesting crisis. Of course it is hardly to be supposed that it should at once meet with general acceptance, particularly from the Royal Academy itself, and the other exhibiting societies, who have all exhibition galleries
more or less profitable, and enjoy a certain degree of monopoly of their own. But there would be no permanent or valid resistance from any of these quarters. Let the Government do what is due to the art of the country, and the art of the country will acknowledge the boon and improve upon it with beneficial results. H. O.
LECKING the western grey
That tops all the darker sea,
To me, on this wearisome shore,
Who stand 'twixt a fool and a knave:
It is phrased in an elder tongue;
It is toned in a full deep tone;
And it speaks, as I think, of another world
The world of the bright Beyond,
Which never mapped out can be ;
But is whispered at times to ears that hear,
In the dark of the rock-bound lakes,
In the mirth of the dancing seas,
Thence, splendour of limner's dye,
Its echoes are quickening words,
When he sings of a higher, a better life
Of love, not bought by gold,
Of valour when none are by,
Of kind deeds done in return for ill,
Oh! that up from this wearisome shore,
FREDERICK H WHYMPER.
THE POETRY OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
NE great advantage possessed
more regular author is, that a perfectly rounded and matured theory is not of necessity demanded from him. Availing ourselves of this license, we propose for the present to do no more than submit to our readers certain reflections of our own upon a topic than which few in English literature are of greater interest and importance, rather with the view of reviving controversy on the points raised than with any aspiration after giving it a final blow. While the Lake school of poetry was still struggling to establish itself against the bitter assaults of the best-known critics of the age, it was not to be expected that any calm and impartial revision of the cause at issue should be attempted. But that contest has long been over. Wordsworth and Keats and Tennyson are as firmly fixed on their thrones as the House of Hanover is upon the throne of these realms. The result is, that during the last thirty years various efforts have from time to time been made to determine the relative merits of the old and new styles of poetry in a much more impartial spirit than was possible in the last generation; and that younger critics, while preserving unstained their allegiance to the literary revolution, have nevertheless been influenced by a reaction in favour of that class of poetry of which Pope is the representative. It is worthy of observation that even De Quincey, who in his essay upon Pope founded on Roscoe's edition of 1824 had displayed the utmost severity towards that poet, did, in 1838, when writing his life for the Encyclopædia Britannica,* adopt much milder language, and pay a much less reluctant tribute to the fire of his genius. There is no doubt, we say, that the opinion of critics has been gradually modified with regard to the position which Pope ought to occupy in literature. But little has as yet been done towards determining its precise level.
And it is still quite common to hear men of taste and culture, whose opinions on such points deserve the utmost consideration, deny that Pope has written poetry; or at least that they can discover it to be poetry by the application of the only tests in which they themselves place confidence.
By some reflection on the difficulty thus presented to us we have arrived at a conjecture-for we can call it by no better name— that a revolution of opinion may be in store for the critical world, reaching down to the very foundations of the art of criticism. The more we ponder on the question of whether Pope was a poet, the more are we driven back upon another question, which takes precedence of all similar inquiries, and must ere long be fully reconsidered; we mean, What is poetry? The reader may perhaps smile at the apparent simplicity—to say nothing of the apparent vanity, of such a question. But if he will seriously take himself to task he will find it not so very simple. One distinguishing faculty of the true poet is supposed to be the inventive or creative faculty. This shows itself in the creation of imaginary persons, be they men or supernatural beings, and of circumstances and language which shall be as like as possible to real creatures and actual events. The two forms in which this faculty chiefly manifests itself are the drama and the epic; in the one having a tendency to make character predominate over incident, and in the other incident over character. Characters of course cannot very well be set in motion without events; but events can be described without the introduction of persons, or at least without display of motives. Under these conditions poetry takes the form of ballads, odes, and narrative poems in general, lyrical or otherwise, which it is unnecessary for our present purpose to classify more closely. Again, as we may take events without actors, so in turn may we take na
*Collected Works, Second Edition, 1863, vol. xv.
ture without events. Then we have either the simplest and earliest form of such poetry, which is technically called pastoral, and which treats of nature almost exclusively as she affects the eye; or another kind, which treats of her rather as she affects the heart and mind; and this being the newest development of poetry, has as yet received no distinctive name. We might easily enlarge the list; but as we think the reader will acknowledge when he sees our drift, the above is amply sufficient.
The question now to be asked is this-why are these kinds of writing poetry? Are they so in virtue of some one quality which they all possess in common, or in virtue of the respective subjects with which they deal, and the peculiar intellectual powers which they call into play? It is easy to see that neither of the two latter constitute their differentia. The novelist deals with heroes and villains, with passion and crime, with the beauties of nature, and the mysteries of life and death, as freely and boldly as the poet. The faculties of creation and invention are as conspicuous in Fielding and Scott as they are in Shakspeare and Milton. There are descriptive passages in Macaulay which stir the blood as briskly as the finest ballads. There are pictures of natural scenery in Ruskin as good as any pastoral poetry which the world has yet produced. The utmost splendour of imagination to be found in metrical writers scarcely exceeds that which irradiates the prose of De Quincey. No one of those great qualities in which the world has hitherto recognised the constituent elements of poetry has not been exhibited in prose. This current conception of poetry is mainly due to causes which have long since disappeared: the bequest of a remote antiquity wherein prose literature played a far humbler part than it has vindicated for itself among ourselves. All fiction, all passion, all beauty, all that makes written composition an art, was anciently reserved for poetry. To amuse, arouse, inflame, was the unquestioned province of the minstrel. Hence it is
VOL. LXIX. NO. CCCCIX.
that the creative and inventive faculties came to be exclusively associated with metrical expression; and the formal distinction has survived long after the substance has departed. A slovenly phrase which has been for some time in use in English proves, however, that this truth is beginning to force itself on critics. When we describe any piece of composition as 'a prose poem,' we confess that the old vocabulary of criticism has become totally inadequate to the necessities of modern literature.
What then are we to accept as the distinction between prose and poetry? or are we after all to recur to the simplest of all distinctions, the natural gift of clothing thought with numbers? While at once expressing our conviction that the last-mentioned gift has been left too much out of sight by the criticism of the present day, we cannot take that alone for the desired line of demarcation. And here of course our real difficulty commences. metre is by itself an insufficient test, and if men gifted with the peculiar endowments which have been supposed to constitute the poet have long ago demonstrated that prose no less than verse is capable of expressing their conceptions; if 'thoughts that breathe and words that burn' are constantly presented to us out of that regular livery which was intended to distinguish them; what is the critic to do? If it is impossible any longer to make the distinction between prose and verse do duty for the distinction between prose and poetry, where are we to look for some new principle of order? And certainly it is only by finding out some real distinction in lieu of that which has become antiquated, that we can ever hope to do justice to the poets of the eighteenth century.
Perhaps if we dismiss from our minds all conventional ideas upon the subject, and ask ourselves honestly what it is that we feel to be poetry when we take up a new book, we shall find it easier to come to some conclusion. Is not the general impression left upon our minds by such writing as creates this feel