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DAVID BREWSTER, L. L. D. F.R.S.
waith the assistance of
GENTLEMEN EMINENT IN SCIENCE AND LITERATURE.
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION,
Corrected and improved by the addition of numerous articles relative to
THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE AMERICAN CONTINENT,
ITS GEOGRAPHY, BIOGRAPHY, CIVIL AND NATIONAL HISTORY, AND TO VARIOUS DISCOVERIES IN
SCIENCE AND THE ARTS.
IN EIGHTEEN VOLUMES,
The principle of imitation is founded deep in the discovered arising from a constitutional distinction in nature of man-in nations—as in the individual early their common and animating principle. To those beginning to manifest a decided and happy influence of one class, embracing poetry, music, and architecIn the fine arts, this principle supplies at once the ture, may be appropriated the name "imitative arts;” source of inspiration, and, to a certain extent, the while painting and sculpture may not improperly be standard of excellence. Viewed in their general ten- distinguished as “ the arts of design.” These terms dency and design, poetry, painting, sculpture, archi- appear sufficiently expressive of the essential differtecture, and even music-all contemplate one end, ence between the two divisions—the associated imnamely, to awaken associated emotion; while each pression in the former depending upon general imitaemploys the same means of direct, or of less obvious tion only, while the latter requires a faithful delineaimitation.
tion of perfect, doubtless, yet of living nature. In the In none of the arts now mentioned, however, is imi- following pages, the appellation of " fine arts” is extation the final object or criterion of the exalted and clusively applied to those of the second class. most refined efforts of the artist. In all, imitation is Painting and Sculpture, although thus assimilated merely the instrument of accomplishing high and pe as constituting one of the grand divisions of art, and culiar effects; neither in the varied application of the consequently exhibiting a certain resemblance in their common means does the individuality or essential cha- leading principles, are yet discriminated by marked racter of each reside.
and peculiar characters. In the latter, form and exThese positions conduct to important conclusions. pression constitute the only legitimate objects of imiIt is not seldom assumed, that not only is imitation fation; in the former, the representation includes evethe origin of all art, but that the sole difference between ry attribute of external nature. Extent, in the first, its various branches lies in the manner of imitating. always in one, frequently in every direction, is proIn short, that "painting is silent poetry--poetry, a
duced by rules of art, abstractly upreal, though true speaking picture;" or, generally, that the abstract idea in effect; in the second, dimension and irregularity of or image formed in the mind is identical in all, although superficies are actually exhibited in absolute or prosite modes of expression. This theory is partial and ple, and veracious; Painting more animated and varied, erroneous. In each of the arts, a distinction exists though illusory and conventional in its modes. This not in the manner alone, but still more essentially in imitates, that represents. Though from the addition the objects and extent of imitation; as also in the fa- of colour, as a third element of design, the imitation cility to be preserved of tracing the sensible archi- be more lively, and generally more pleasing than the types or primitive thoughts, on which the associated representation; yet, in respect to intellectual gratififeeling is engrafted. The creations by which the poet cation, it may be justly questioned whether the invenbonuses our sympathies, or sways our affections, often tions of sculpture do not afford the nobler and more but saintly reflect living nature. Architecture, again, refined enjoyment. fills the mind with awe or delight, from recalling ab
These arts have likewise their points of union as stract and undefined perceptions of the majesty or well as of contrast. They happily illustrate the obserthough sweet and powerful in effect, is still more vague different provinces of human pursuit. In the chart corporeal with the intellectual universessothese arts tion of each division is strongly marked, but the diseventbus placed widely remote from the direct imaras tant confines melt into each other, nor is it casy to tions and definite aims of painting, and oli rectl pruite: ascercarifi with precision the exaer boundary. Thus v om fola division of the arts o imitation in these in sculpture, the previo approaches the varied composi
tion and illusive effects of painting and perspective, operation of external causes the advance of genius while in simple chiar'oscuro, painting adds nothing, was very unequal in the two countries. Surely then save fiction, to the elements of the sister art.
it is little less unphilosophical to maintain, that the important distinction is here to be remarked. While latter must have been a copyist of the former, than it the painter derives power from borrowing the sim- would be to assert that the wigwam, on the shores of plicity and learned outline of sculpture, even should the Maragnon or the Illinois, must have been borrowed" his works, like those of the Roman masters and from the same plan as the aboriginal hut which subsefathers of the art, thus acquire a degree of harshness; quently rose into the temple and the portico on the yet the sculptor cannot transplant one charm peculiar banks of the Eurotas or Cephisus. The hut and the to painting which does not become a meretricious or- wigwam are antitypes of each other, because both are nament, detracting equally from the unity and dignity · the same primordial rudiment of an art having its of his composition.
scanty origin in necessity, before exalted by taste into Sculpture, or the actual representation of form by a source of beauty and of grandeur. The idols of the its tangible properties, being the more obvious in ap- Hindoos, the carvings of the South Sea islanders, are plication, and the easier in execution, was most proba- not unlike to descriptions of the early images of bly the earlier cultivated of the arts of design. Greece, sculptured by the predecessors of Phidias
Respecting its origin, much has been written, great and of Praxiteles. Does this resemblance arise from ingenuity displayed, and authors have claimed for reciprocal imitation, from a common instructor? various favourite nations the praise of invention. The Consistency would require an affirmative reply. But same remark applies equally to all the arts. But here with equal probability might it be assumed, that the theory appears to be not more judiciously applied, harmonious language and no mean strains of the Mathan would be speculations on the priority of invent- lay bard, are derived from Ionia and from Homer. * ing sight or hearing. Poetry and music-sculpture All these kindred arts owe their birth to the same and painting, each has its spring in a law of human law of necessity—necessity of ministering—not to the nature, whose necessary operation is to create desires wants of the body, but to the more ardent aspirations which point to the respective objects of these arts. of the heart and of the affections—to piety, to påtriotThe imagination only requires to be stimulated by ism, to friendship. In this view, though with excusdesire, whether natural or artificial, quickly to disco- able vanity they assigned to their own country the ver the means of gratification. Accordingly, we shall earliest knowledge of those delightful pursuits, the find it more agreeable to fact, as it certainly is the Greeks evinced a true feeling of their native original, simpler and more philosophical view, to regard every" by veiling these claims in beautiful allegory. To love, art as arising insensibly among different nations, and under which name every noble emotion was included, as cultivated independently, though with unequal suc the ancient poets attributed the gift of the arts. cess, from the earliest period. Nor is similarity of The historian of Sculpture, therefore, who desires style evidence of continuous imitation. In the infancy to render his labours useful, will, with judicious huof society, men in all countries resemble cach other mility, limit inquiry to a simple endeavour to trace very closely; their wants are the same, their means the progress and improvement of the art among the of supplying these at first but little varied, and the different nations of antiquity. To amuse with theoprogress from the naked and uninformed savage, to ries of its origin, however ingenious or profound these the possessor of some degree of knowledge and of may appear, is in reality to stop short with a partial social comfort, is marked by nearly similar gradations. view of facts, when a general law is within reach. The primitive efforts of invention among every peo- But in one respect is observed a very marked distincple, as compared with those of other and distant na tion in the claims of separate states. In the relative tions, will consequently present little of diversified or degrees of excellence attained there is found a strikpeculiar, character. The first statues of Egypt and ing diversity; as also in the length of time passed in of Greece exhibit almost identical lineaments, and realizing the same advances. This inequality it will even corresponding attitude,-simply because each be especially requisite to notice, while an attempt to had to contend against the same difficulties, with explain the cause may lead to results of utility in the nearly equal facilities of surmounting them. If im- philosophy of art, exhibiting the union which exists perfect instruments, unyielding materials, and inex. between moral improvement and the lofty exercises perience of hand, obliged the Egyptian artist to re- of genius, as depending on the political happiness and present his figures in a constrained posture, with the condition of man. knees pressed together, arms hanging down and close In arranging the historical details of any art also, to the sides, and this not even in the earliest state of or of any intellectual pursuit, the simple order of the art; the same restraints imposed a similar mode time will generally be found most congenial with the of representation on the Grecian, although from the connection of events, and the most instructive to the
* The Malayese, instead of being the most cruel of cannibals, as long represented, are now known, when treated as human beings, to be exceedingly docile and affectionate in disposition. They delight in the exercises of music and poetry, and speak a language which, from its elegance and harmony, has been styled “ the Italian of the East."
The early and lamented death of the late William Jack, Esq. H. E. C. S. the chosen friend and companion of the enlightened and patriotic Sir J. Stamford Raffles, with the subsequent loss of his numerous manuscripts on board the Fame, has deprived Europe of rare and valuable information on the inhabitants, productions, and literature of the Eastern Archipelago. To the causes of public and private regret for genius and worth removed in the prime of manhood, this is no small addition; for to this most interesting and novel subject, with many advantages, Mr. Jack is known to have applied, with wonted ardour, the brilliant and varied powers of his acconiplished mind. The press, both of Europe and of Asia, has, on this mournful subject, already expressed a sympathising homage; yet it is to be hoped that some memorial more generally accessible may appear-not for the sake of the departed, whose virtues and talents are recorded in the congenial bosoms he most loved, but to be an example and encouragement to the living