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hosts of would-be critics and historians-people who do not feel. Whether it is more agreeable to enwrite guide-books to art, art manuals, dissertations counter the Philistinism that does not feel, or the on the old masters, and what not, performances that counterfeit that pretends to feel, we leave each read. solemnly and ponderously echo the stale ecstasies er to decide for himself. of enthusiastic but undiscriminating admirers.
Art writers who manufacture admiration for the market are commonly discreet enough not to betray
TAXING SAVINGS BANKS. themselves by glaring mistakes, but many persons in society who rave about High Art and the Old In the early part of the century a device known Masters are very apt, like untrained claqueurs, to as banks for savings came into existence in all the applaud in the wrong place. A great many old principal cities of Great Britain. The genesis of paintings are admired by artists solely because of these institutions had been a plan on the part of an their technical qualities—the arrangement of lines, English gentlewoman to encourage her tenantry in the balance of parts, the harmony of tints, the mas- habits of industry and economy, by promising a tery of difficulties in drawing, but which are admitted bounty on Christmas-day to all who would each to be inferior in their literary quality, that is, in the week deposit in her hands, for safe-keeping, a cerconception and vraisemblance of the scene depicted. tain proportion of their earnings. A Scotch clergyBut your imitator does not discern this difference, man, the Rev. Mr. Duncan, took up the idea and and admires, through thick and thin, good qualities extended it, organizing the first plan of an institution and bad qualities alike. In truth, it is only by com- for savings. The sole purpose was a benevolent one, prehending the artist's point of view that old art being simply to encourage the poor to save for future generally has any valuable significance whatever. emergencies a part of their earnings by paying them The Scriptural subjects especially, that so abound in a bounty for doing so. This bounty was not paid Europe, are for the most part simply repellent to from interest derived from investments of the funds every discerning mind not under subjection to cur- deposited, but from contributions of the benevolent. rent notions, not attitudinizing for the sake of effect, A little later we find savings banks organized under or not in the position of a student who sees in them laws of Parliament, which paid a stipulated interest, indications of growth or record of changes in the the Government guaranteeing subsidies sufficient for history of art. Beautiful they commonly are not the purpose. Under this plan banks multiplied, unInspiring they are not. In any right sense, adequate til at last the Government bounty was withdrawn, or effective reproductions of the times or the events leaving them wholly to their own resources. They they are not. Full of absurdities, puerile in idea, went on prosperously nevertheless, and, although melodramatic and sensational, they often are ; but ceasing to be eleemosynary institutions, their moral some noted critics have found some special things in and benevolent character was still acknowledged and them to praise, and as a consequence intellectual recognized. Savings banks were not organized in apes everywhere fall down and worship them with- our own country until they had reached in England out reservation.
their fully developed form. Here they were from But sham admiration in art is by no means con- the beginning self-supporting and independent infined to those who prostrate themselves before old stitutions, organized under charters from the State, productions. There is another class that reverse the but in no way depending upon public bequests. But process and manufacture raptures over everything that, this fact, instead of lessening their primary benevobeing new, is also outré. In the school of painting lent character, simply increases it; for it is assuredly that this class admires, everything that is established better that institutions should confer the good they is worthless, and nothing commendable but extrava- do without public expenditure than by means of it. gance and novelty. It has set up ugliness instead But the fact that savings banks do not now depend of beauty, the meaningless instead of meaning, in- upon State bounties has led many people to overcompleteness instead of completeness, rude slap-dash look their fundamental character, and has absolutely instead of masterly method ; and all these things are brought about schemes for taxing them. The State indiscriminately praised by a disorderly camp of fol- supports prisons and almshouses, and bestows large lowers.
sums upon charitable institutions of all kinds; but a It is not easy, doubtless, for one to maintain a system of savings which reduces the number of canjust and discreet ground in these things-to respect didates for almshouses and prisons, and renders the authority without surrendering one's independence service of the charitable less imperative, is looked to it; to distrust one's own knowledge and suscep- upon in the same light as a whisky-still, a tobaccotibilities without blindly following the lead of others; shop, or a dance-house, and is taxed. Now, what is to try honestly to appreciate everything we are called it that the State proposes to tax? The slowly accuupon to admire, but bestowing praise only when we mulated savings of hard-working sewing-women; the genuinely feel it-it is doubtless difficult to hit this mite which widows put aside for their little ones in golden mean, but the main difficulty is, we do not time of sickness; the small savings which the illcommonly want to hit it. People are too often dog- paid artisan manages by strict self-denial to bring matic and self-sufficient, and refuse their franchise together; the innumerable small sums that sober from pure insensibility or from pure obstinacy; or and abstemious living withholds from the alehouse else they affect an appreciation which at heart they and the gin-palace; the little beginnings of capital
that industry brings together after desperate effort tempt for sentimentalism so far as to exclude sentias the foundation of better things in the future; the ment, and in their delight in rude strength have humble consecrated products of prudence, temper- forgotten that the real purpose of art is the illustraance, energy, thrift and wise forethought. These tion of beauty. “ Among the best gifts bestowed are the elements of the wealth that a great State upon us is the sense of beauty, and first among the lays its hands upon for the purpose of taxation! To servants of beauty is art,” declares a recent writer on state the fact is to establish the rank injustice of the art; and he adds, “The picture that does not fan proposition. The State does not tax churches, al. into a glow our sense of beauty, whether as connected though churches represent a good deal of wealth; with charm or glory, has no sufficient reason for exit does not tax schools, nor hospitals, nor asylums, istence." The italics here are our own. nor charitable guilds—it aids and encourages them of the paintings produced by the artists of the new all; but it proposes to tax savings banks, which are school will stand this test? No doubt this question as beneficent in their practical operation as any or can also be asked of the pictures in the Academy all of these institutions. The savings banks of New Exhibition, but at least we see recognition there of York are not business schemes. They are not or- the prime necessity of beauty, and occasionally a ganized for profit. They do not issue stock and do painting may be said to have attained it. But our not pay dividends to stockholders. They are not in younger men seem to deny the principle. They any particular money-making devices, but are dis- produce works that are sometimes interesting in tinctly institutions of trust, and should be exempted technique, but they do not conceive things or paint from taxation as well as trust companies. It is, in- things that even touch our sense of beauty, let alone deed, impossible to understand why trust companies, “fan it into a glow.” In truth, they appear to conwhich are depositories for specific purposes of funds ceive things and paint things that shall purposely belonging to the richer classes, are not taxed, while deny the principle of beauty in art, that shall be ser. savings banks, which are depositories of funds be- vants of ugliness rather than servants of the elements longing to the poorer classes, should be expected that charm and delight. But these gentlemen will to pay taxes. The scheme to tax our savings banks find their ground permanently untenable. Mutual may, ere this reaches our readers, have been con- admiration may hold them together for a time, but summated, or may have come to naught, but the at Mutual Admiration Societies are tolerably sure to tempt must in either case be characterized as emi- ultimately degenerate into societies of mutual disnently unwise and unjust.
gust. Artists can not flourish except by their hold on human sympathies and susceptibilities, by their
power to move the public heart. Judged by this THE SPRING EXHIBITIONS.
test, we do not see that the new school has made any
advance over last year. They still persist in disThe annual spring exhibitions of pictures are daining finish, imagining that brush-marks are acoccasions when we may properly take note of the ceptable instead of textures. Their flesh rarely looks progress or the variations that mark the course of like flesh, but commonly like fresh layers from the our national art. In using the term “national art,” palette. They are fond of painting turbulent skies, we are well aware that art in this country is gener- but it is whirls of paint and not sweep of clouds ally declared to be utterly without national character; that they give us. Their canvases, however, are al. but, whether this is true or not, the question momen. ways vigorous, and are valuable as giving unqualifiedly tarily before us relates to those indications of move- the artist's own impressions, rather than artificial and ment and those manifestations of taste that pertain studied pretense. Their work, in its extreme forms, to our American group of painters, and consequently can never stand, but as a protest against opposite the subject has sufficient national significance to extremes of smoothness and lifeless imitation it will justify the use of the term.
do some good, and force freshening ideas into conThe exhibitions of the National Academy of De- ventional methods—advancing art just as pre-Raphasign and of the Society of American Artists are pecu- elitism advanced it, but, like pre-Raphaelitism, failliarly indicative of current artistic tendencies, the ing as a distinct method. latter embodying the latest and the most revolu- The Academy Exhibition is very large, and has tionary ideas in art, and the first displaying the con- more reputable pictures than usual, but the only servative principles of established methods, with striking subjects are four or five landscapes, and such modifications as current theories have produced. perhaps as many portraits. We can not say that the The old and the new school for the most part oc- portraits exhibit any new characteristics, but in some cupy hostile camps, and yet they manifestly need of the landscapes there is a distinct indication of each other. All reactionary movements go too far, modern thought. This is specially manifest in a just as all conservatism is too tenacious. The artists painting by Mr. Swain Gifford, representing a windof the new society are inspired by some very just swept plain on the coast, on which stands one solitary ideas. They have a great contempt for mere pretti- twisted tree. The subject is nothing, but the paint. ness, for emasculated art in all its forms, for senti- ing is everything; it shows that landscape art does mentalism and feebleness, for mere smoothness and not really consist, as once supposed, in selecting polish, and they paint with great directness, simpli- place and picturesque conditions, but in method of city, and vigor. But they have carried their con- treatment, by means of sky and clouds and atmosphere and light (conditions found everywhere), beginning. The museum occupies a building that is painting a picture full of strange and subtile fascina- only a twelfth part of the structure as it will appear tions. This is the most important and significant when completed, and, although the spectacle that revelation, as it seems to us, that recent art has opens to the visitor as he enters the main hall is not made, and, Mr. Gifford's picture being an excellent strikingly extensive, it yet impresses him as a noble exemplification of it, we for this reason select it for segment of a large and promising whole. A great special mention. We could wish that the exhibi. museum can not be built up in a day nor in a gen.
а tion gave us in other directions fresh suggestions; eration. The Metropolitan Museum starts with the but, for the most part, while there is much to please, Cesnola collections of Cypriote antiquities, which in there is little that is bold or new. “ It should be themselves are of almost priceless value; it has a expected from the artist,” says a writer, “ that the large collection of Flemish paintings; a collection of sentiments, requirements, and aspirations of his coun- Oriental porcelain that is very noticeable; there are try should find worthy expression in the character ancient glass from Cyprus and old Venetian glass ; of his work." This expectation has little realization a collection of old lace and embroideries; and some in anything that our artists are doing. A good many examples of modern sculpture. In addition to these painters show advance in technical skill, and there there are many objects lent to the museum-statuary, are indications of larger artistic knowledge ; but bronzes, porcelain, carved ivories, old books, and a there is almost no evidenee that art beyond its mere very extensive collection of modern paintings. The decorative form is coming into closer relations with loan-collection of pictures is of itself of immense inthe people, or is even attempting to reflect the long- terest, and gives New York the best permanent galings, sympathies, and emotions of the great turbulent lery it has ever had. We say permanent, because life that lies all around us.
the present collection will remain on exhibition until next October, and we may depend, judging by the past,
on the generosity of collectors and private owners to THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
maintain the loan-gallery at its present standard. The opening of the Metropolitan Museum of This museum has been projected on a large scale. Art in its new building in Central Park occurred on It has been planned with the ultimate expectation the ist of April, certain notable official ceremonies that it will reach the dimensions of the great mutaking place two days earlier. Our citizens and visi- seums abroad, and attain a reputation in no wise in. tors to New York have long known the museum as ferior. This in itself is a satisfaction ; but, while we it stood in its temporary quarters in Fourteenth are glad that the scheme is a comprehensive one, it Street, but its installation in its present permanent is a pleasure to know that the part carried out has place must be, and will be, looked upon as the real its measure of completeness, which, so far as it goes, beginning of its career, It is a noble and worthy is of profound interest.
all the reasons for regret furnished by the
If this loss was but slightly repaired by Earl
Lord Macaulay left his “ History of England,” per- history, the regret which it causes will hardly be dishaps none has been so keenly felt or so frequently sipated by the “History of the Reign of Queen expressed as that caused by the reflection that his Anne,” which Dr. John Hill Burton, the historian pen dropped from his nerveless fingers when he was (and historiographer-royal) of Scotland, has just just at the threshold of what must necessarily have published.* To read a chapter of Burton immedibeen the culminating feature of his great work—the ately after a chapter of Macaulay is like passing story of the reign of Queen Anne. No one before from the brilliant sunshine and purple magnificence him was ever so qualified as he to give an adequate of the East to the foggy atmosphere and arid wastes and satisfactory account of that most brilliant and of an English down unreclaimed and scarcely enmomentous epoch in the modern history of England ; croached upon by the civilizing hand of art. Dr. and in the nature of things it can hardly.be expected Burton's theory of history is that it should be “a that another writer with his peculiar qualifications plain, undecorated statement of well-ascertained for it will again address himself to the task. The facts"; but, while it will be candidly acknowledged vivid imagination and graphic pen which have given that he has gotten rid of the “decorations,” the immortal interest to the battle of the Boyne and the reader will hardly admit that the statements of fact siege of Londonderry would have found still more are thereby rendered "plain "—the truth being that congenial employment in describing the campaigns Dr. Burton's style is as pedantic and laboriously inof Marlborough ; and, when one thinks of the manner in which he could and would have treated the
* A History of the Reign of Queen Anne. By John Augustan age of English literature, the loss becomes Hill Burton, D.C. L. Edinburgh: William Blackwood almost too grievous to contemplate.
& Sons. Three Voluines. 8vo. Pp. 350, 352, 338.
volved as if he consciously avoided that directness inspired it and the steps which led to it were curiand simplicity of statement which a writer should ously destitute of either magnanimity or dignity. aim at who is so hostile to “rhetoretic effects." The No community of blood or kindred, no memories of following passage is a fair example of his average the past or aspirations for the future shared in comstyle, selected because it is at once short and com- mon, no generous resolve to bury old wrongs in a plete in itself:
new career of mutual helpfulness, no reciprocal senThe army had made all arrangements for departure, timents of friendship or kindness, brought the two whether to fight elsewhere or to return home. The heavy peoples together : the Act of Union was simply a siege-artillery had been embarked. It is not distinctly hard and reluctant bargain between two trading naknown whether the commander [Marlborough) arranged tions, each trying to get the better of the other, and all this as a deep strategem, or, on the other hand, struck each grudging the other every shilling of possible by an appearance of favorable conditions, he at once profit that might be made out of the transaction. abandoned a fixed intention to depart. Whichever al- Scotland demanded as the price of union a share in ternative we adopt, we see a man who must have pos- the lucrative trade monopolies enjoyed by the then sessed, for giving effect to it, two great qualities—the
rapidly expanding English commerce: England one a supreme capacity for manipulating the movement grumblingly paid the price under the conviction that of troops, the other a clearness of judgment and percep it was cheaper to grant a share in the trade than to tion impervious to confusedness or unsteadiness of nerve.
risk losing it all in the dubious and costly alternative Forbidding as the style is, however, this is not of war. A really significant event in the history of the worst defect that can be alleged against the the world was probably never brought about by palwork. The simplest record of the events of Queen trier motives or marked by meaner incidents; and, Anne's reign, provided it were tolerably complete, though he deals with it at great length, Dr. Burton could hardly fail to possess both interest and value, is constrained to admit that “the interest is not of a and these qualities can not be altogether denied to kind to hold its intensity through after-generations." Dr. Burton's history; but, while the arbitrary ar- Another topic, which is treated at a length altorangements dictated by chronology must be carefully gether disproportionate to its relative importance, is avoided by the historian who aims at being some- “The Sacheverell Commotions." Two long chapthing more than a mere annalist, yet it is no less ters are devoted to these, and the trial of Sacheverell important that the proper sequence of events should is rehearsed with a minuteness of detail that would be preserved than that their relation to each other hardly be justified if the work were five times as should be pointed out. And it is in this regard that extensive as it really is. This disproportion is the Dr. Burton's work is most open to criticism. His more noticeable, because the influence which the grouping of subjects is intelligible enough, and on Sacheverell “persecution” had in discrediting the the whole helpful; but, in his treatment of them, Whigs and changing the Queen's policy and advisers the different groups are so completely detached from is by no means rendered clear by Dr. Burton. each other that it is impossible for the reader either But the most conspicuous defect of the work in to gather from them a general impression of the this regard is the closing chapter on “ Intellectual reign as a whole, or to learn what occurrences in the Progress." Next to Marlborough's victories, the several groups were contemporaneous with each thing that gives its most distinguishing feature to the other. This is due partly to the scanty use of dates reign of Queen Anne is the literature then produced ; and to the curious inexactness of those which are and the very first question which an historian, proposused; but, it is due much more decidedly to the ing to deal with that reign, should ask himself should method of treatment adopted by the author, which be, whether he is competent to deal with that literarenders his chapters separate and complete essays ture. The task is certainly one that might discourrather than closely interlinked parts of one organic age the most adventurous, and little surprise would whole. All sense of the progression or sequence of be caused by a failure to do it complete justice; but events is completely lost, and, when one of the in- Dr. Burton's method of getting over the difficulty is frequent dates is encountered, the reader will be surely the very worst that could possibly have been quite as likely to be perplexed as assisted by it. A adopted. In point of fact, he does not get over the slight experiment has convinced us that, for one who difficulty at all, or even make an attempt to do so ; desires really to study the period, it would be quite he simply evades it. He begins his chapter by sayworth while to go over the book once, inserting co- ing that “it would be a discourtesy to suppose that pious marginal dates, and then reperuse it with spe- any reader requires to be informed about” Pope, cial attention to the significance of these dates. Addison, Arbuthnot, Steele, and the more important
Even when we confine our examination to the works of Defoe ; and, accordingly, of the fifty-three separate topics to which special prominence is given, pages devoted to literature, eleven are devoted to the result is scarcely more satisfactory. Far too “ Tom Brown" (not Sir Thomas Browne, but a formuch space is used in detailing the causes and cir- gotten scribbler of that name), ten to Defoe's “Recumstances of the Union between England and view" (the least important of all his publications, Scotland. This was undoubtedly an event of the and only interesting to Dr. Burton because of its first importance not only in the history of England rarity), seventeen to showing that Swift was a vain, but in the history of Europe ; but, while its results fussy, ambitious, pushing, and heartless màn, and an were of the utmost consequence, the motives which indecent writer, five to the “ Law of Libels," one to the newspaper press, three to copyright, and two to tions he may already have established with them. the study of classical literature. Neither Addison The parallel, indeed, is closer than may at first sight nor Steele is mentioned, Pope is dismissed in a page appear; for, as to the play-goer the character of and a half, Gay in half a page (while Brome, whom “Hamlet" is the main attraction of the play, so, to Gay is thought to have imitated, gets three times as many students of the reign of Queen Anne, its literamuch), Arbuthnot and Parnell in half a page each. ture is incomparably more interesting than any other
The objections to such a method are so numerous feature of the time. and obvious that it would be a "discourtesy to the Less important than this, but still requiring notice reader" to attempt to mention them all; but it may at our hands, is the inexactness in the matter of dates. be worth while to point out the fact that a consistent The mistakes here are so numerous that they can be application of the author's rule would have curtailed explained more easily on the supposition of carelesshis narrative in a similar degree throughout. A larger ness than of lack of knowledge ; but this can not apnumber of readers, doubtless, know that Marlborough ply to such a slip as calling Madame de Maintenon a was the hero of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet, “concubine” of Louis XIV. Somehow, the adroit than are familiar with the characters, works, and and wily Widow Scarron takes a feebler hold upon literary qualities of the group of authors named; our sympathies than do the frail sisters who really therefore the author has betrayed “discourtesy to the deserved the epithet ; but few facts relating to the reader" in narrating those battles in full, instead of private life of the Grand Monarch are now better confining himself to digging out from the rubbish. established than that Madame de Maintenon was his heap of forgotten history an account of the minor honestly-married wife, and no serious historian should skirmishes and marches that marked the campaigns. permit himself either to remain ignorant of this or to Every reader of history knows the significance and ignore it. results of the Treaty of Utrecht; hence, in accord- When engaged in fault-finding, it is incumbent ance with his rule, Dr. Burton should have excused upon the critic to state his reasons and marshal his himself from treating that, and refreshed our recollec- evidence ; but, in the pleasanter task of according tions with a minute account of the abortive Confer- praise, it is permitted to him to be brief: so we may ence of Gertruydenberg, which preceded it, and say in a concluding paragraph that, in spite of the which the world has totally forgotten. The truth is, grave defects which we have pointed out, Dr. Bur. however, that, if such a doctrine were accepted as ton's history is not without interest for the reader and valid, the historian would be excluded from every value for the student. The preference of the author field or subject that had been treated before him in for what is curious and obscure has enabled him to such a way that a well-informed reader might fairly bring to light many facts and suggestive details that be supposed to be acquainted with it; and no long had been overlooked or rejected by previous workers time would elapse before this entire department of in this field ; and, however arid the text may be at letters would be fenced off and prohibited to all fu- times, the notes, in which many of these details are ture intruders.
embodied, are nearly always entertaining. MoreIt can not be denied, of course, that there are over, it can not be denied that Dr. Burton has really both reason and plausibility in the doctrine of Pro- contributed something to the understanding of the fessor Seeley and his school, that history proper has characters of Queen Anne, of Marlborough, and of nothing to do with literature, the arts, industry, sci- the mighty Duchess, Sarah. During the period cov. ence, social progress, and the like; and a writer ered by this history, Marlborough was enacting the could hardly be blamed who, having accepted this most brilliant scenes of his long and checkered career; doctrine, should write a history of the reign of Queen and, in the splendid figure of the conquering general Anne without attempting to deal with its literature. and all-powerful diplomatist, one hardly recognizes But this, it will have been seen, is not the position the treacherous hypocrite of Macaulay's earlier narraof Dr. Burton. He acknowledges the obligation to tive. The general effect of Dr. Burton's work is to deal with literature as one of the most significant make us think more favorably than heretofore of all phenomena of the period of which he treats; and, those who were conspicuous upon the great stage of since he recognizes the obligation, his manner of ful- politics and war; and it seems strange that, with his filling it becomes, of course, a legitimate subject of amiable disposition to take a lenient view of most criticism. This being so, the inadequacy of his faults and frailties, he should deal so harshly with method of treatment can hardly be emphasized too Swift, the self-torturing cynic whose sufferings so far strongly. An audience collected for the purpose of outweighed his mistakes of judgment and infirmities seeing “Hamlet,” who, on the rising of the curtain, of temper. should be calmly informed by the manager that, To many readers, perhaps, in first taking up the owing to their presumed familiarity with the leading new volume of the “International Scientific Series,” character, it would be omitted in order to secure it will seem surprising that a scientist so eminent as prominence for the minor and less familiar róles, Professor Huxley should devote an entire book to a would hardly have better reason to complain than creature so common, and so low in the scale of life, would the reader of a history of the age of Anne, as the crayfish ; but such readers will speedily diswho, on coming to the chapter on Intellectual cover that not only is the volume “An Introduction Progress,” should find Pope, Addison, Steele, Swift, to the Study of Zoology," as the author says, but Defoe, and Arbuthnot, calmly confided to the rela- that it will serve for the general reader as a most