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that point? And what was Edmund Kean's justifies his plain mistrust of her, an odious, imreading ? They come to the play with us, when modest, dishonest creature, than whom Shakeit is a great play, and the actors are great actors, speare drew no more unpleasant character, and to or approaching greatness, and is not that the sur- whom one always grudges the loveliest love-lines vival of fame? Of all plays, “The Merchant of that ever were spoken, especially when it is borne Venice " is that one which the spectator would, in mind that the speaker, Lorenzo, was at best a we fancy, go to see with the “ historical ” asso- receiver of stolen goods. Mr. Irving's Shylock is ciation most strongly in his mind, and also that a being quite apart from his surroundings. When one in which the actors of the great parts would he hesitates and questions with himself why he be most pressed and overshadowed by the tra- should go forth to sup with those who would dition of their predecessors. That was, how- scorn him if they could, but can only ridicule ever, no “historical” Shylock which Mr. Irving him, while the very stealthy intensity of scorn of set before the closely-packed audience assem- them is in him, we ask, too, why should he? He bled on last Saturday evening to see Shake- would hardly be more out of place in the “wilspeare's finest comedy put upon the stage of the derness of monkeys," of which he makes his sad Lyceum as it has certainly never previously been and quaint comparison, when Tubal tells him of put upon any stage, and acted as it has not often that last coarse proof of the heartlessness of his been acted. Probably, to every mind, except daughter “wedded with a Christian "—the barthat of Shakespeare himself—in which all poten- tering of his Leah's ring. What mean, pitiful tial interpretations of his Shylock, as all poten- beings they all are, poetical as is their language, tial interpretations of his Hamlet, must have had and fine as are the situations of the play, in coma place—the complex image which Mr. Irving parison with the forlorn, resolute, undone, baited, presented to a crowd more or less impressed with betrayed, implacable old man, who, having pernotions of their own concerning the Jew whom sonified his hatred of the race of Christians in Shakespeare drew, was entirely novel and unex- Antonio, whose odiousness to him, in the treble pected; for here is a man whom none can de- character of a Christian, a sentimentalist, and a spise, who can raise emotions both of pity and reckless speculator, is less of a mere caprice than of fear, and make us Christians thrill with a ret- he explains it to be! He reasons calmly with the rospective sense of shame. Here is a usurer dullards in the court concerning this costly whim indeed, but no more like the customary modern of his, yet with a disdainful doubt of the justice rendering of that extortionate lender of whom that will be done him ; standing almost motionBassanio borrowed “moneys” than the mer- less, his hands hanging by his sides—they are an chants dei Medici were like pawnbrokers down old man's hands, feeble, except when passion Whitechapel way; a usurer indeed, and full of turns them into griping claws, and then that pas“thrift,” which is rather the protest of his dis- sion subsides into the quivering of age, which is dain and disgust for the sensuality and frivolity like palsy—his gray, worn face, lined and hollow, of the ribald crew, out of whom he makes his mostly averted from the speakers who move him “ Christian ducats,” than of his own sordidness; not, except when a gleam of murderous hate, a usurer indeed, but, above all, a Jew! One of sudden and deadly, like the flash from a pistol, the race accursed in the evil days in which he goes over it, and burns for a moment in the lives, but chosen of Jehovah in the olden time tired, melancholy eyes! Such a gleam there wherein lie his pride, and belief, and hope—the came when Shylock answered Bassanio's palliabest of that hope being revenge on the enemies tive commonplace with of himself and all his tribe, now wearing the badge of sufferance, revenge, rendered by the

“Hates any man the thing he would not kill ? " stern tenets of a faith which teaches that “the At the wretched gibes of Gratiano, and the Lord, his God, is a jealous God, taking ven- amiable maundering of the Duke, the slow, cold geance," not only lawful, but holy. A Jew, in smile, just parting the lips and touching their intellectual faculties, in spiritual discipline, far in curves as light touches polished metal, passes advance of the time and the country in which he over the lower part of the face, but does not touch lives, shaken with strong passion sometimes, but the eyes or lift the brow. This is one of Mr. Irfor the most part fixed in a deep and weary dis- ving's most remarkable facial effects, for he can dain. He is an old man, but not very aged, so pass it through all the phases of a smile, up to that the epithet “old ” used to him is not to be surpassing sweetness. Is it a fault of the actors mistaken for anything but the insolence it means; or of ours that this Shylock is a being so absoa widower — his one pathetic mention of his lutely apart that it is impossible to picture him as “Leah " was as beautiful a touch as ever has a part of the life of Venice, that we can not been laid upon the many-stringed lyre of human think of him “on the Rialto” before Bassanio feeling—the father of a daughter who amply wanted “moneys,” and Antonio had “plunged,"

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like any London city-man in the pre-“ depres- passions. Both are present always, and his last sion” times, that he absolutely begins to exist effort to clutch the gold when the revenge has with the “Three thousand ducats—well!” These escaped his grasp, his cunning, business-like are the first words uttered by the picturesque Give me my principal, and let me go," is an personage to whom the splendid and elaborate admirable point. Throughout the entire perscene, whose every detail we have previously been formance the actor's best qualities are at their eagerly studying, becomes merely the back- best, and his characteristic faults are hardly apground. He is wonderfully weird, but his weird- parent. The picturesqueness of his appearance ness is quite unlike that of any other of the im- is largely assisted by the grave, flowing robe and personations in which Mr. Irving has accustomed shawl-girdle which he wears; his self-restraint us to that characteristic; it is impressive, never fails not before his Christian foes; Shylock's pasfantastic—sometimes solemn and terrible. There sionate agony is in soliloquy, or when only Tubal, was a moment when, as he stood in the last a Jew, like him, who understands him and their scene with folded arms and bent head, the very common holy faith, and what dogs these Chrisimage of exhaustion, a victim, entirely convinced tians are, as well as Father Abraham " himself of the justice of his cause, he looked like a Span. understands it, is with him. In the scene with ish painter's “ Ecce Homo.” The likeness passed Tubal, the sentence, “ The curse never fell upon in an instant, for the next utterance is:

our nation till now-I never felt it till now!” is

as finely delivered as Mr. Irving's “I know, I “My deeds upon my head. I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond."

know-I was a dauphin myself once,” in his

“Louis XI.” There was a fine effect-and it, In the opinion of the present writer, his Shy- too, thrilled the house—in the third scene of the lock is Mr. Irving's finest performance, and his first act. In the striking of the terrible bargain final exit is its best point. The quiet shrug, the between Antonio and the Jew, Shylock touches glance of ineffable, unfathomable contempt at the Christian lightly on the breast; Antonio rethe exultant booby Gratiano, who, having got coils, and Shylock, without breaking his discourse, hold of a good joke, worries it like a puppy with bows low, in apologetic deprecation of his own a bone, the expression of defeat in every limb daring and the merchant's indignation, while his and feature, the deep, gasping sigh as he passes face is alight for an instant with a gleam of haslowly out, and the crowd rush from the court tred and derision truly devilish. to hoot and howl at him outside, make up an ef- All those liberties which Mr. Irving has taken fect which must be seen to be comprehended. with the text of the play are not only allowable, Perhaps some students of Shakespeare, reading but welcome. It is to be wished that his good the Jew's story to themselves, and coming to the taste had suggested just one more alterationconclusion that there was more sentiment than only one, for we suppose the heavy fooling of legality in that queer, confused, quibbling court, Launcelot Gobbo must remain, like those detestawhere judge and advocate were convertible terms, ble rhymes in “Hamlet," on pain of accusation may have doubted whether the utterer of the of treason against Shakespeare, who was, no most eloquent and famous satirical appeal in all doubt, proud of his bad puns. That one is the dramatic literature, whose scornful detestation of omission of Gratiano's horrid jest when Shylock his Christian foes rose mountains high over what is whetting his knife on the edge of his shoethey held to be his ruling passion, drowning ava- “Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, rice fathom-deep in hatred, would have gratified thou mak'st thy knife keen.” Could not this flathose enemies by useless railing, and an exhibi- grant vulgarity be discarded ? tion of impotent rage. But there is no "tradi- Of Miss Ellen Terry's Portia, it is almost sution” for this rendering, in which Mr. Irving puts perfluous to speak, for it has been long and well in action for his Shylock one sense of Hamlet's known to be of an excellence without rival or words—“The rest is silence !” The impression compeer. Probably no more beautiful sight than made by this consummate stroke of art and touch the “casket scenes" has ever been beheld on of nature upon the vast audience was most re- any stage, with this consummate actress, in her markable; the thrill that passed over the house golden-hued, gold-fringed, satin robes, with her was a sensation to have witnessed and shared. beautiful face, her sweet, flexible voice, her grace

Although Mr. Irving sinks the usurer in the ful, exquisitely appropriate movements and gesJew in a quite novel manner, he does not do so tures, her sweet, womanly perplexity, girlish fun, too entirely, departing from Shakespeare's inten- swiftly growing passion, and gracious wifely surtion arbitrarily; he only reverses the general es- render, amid surroundings which are almost timate of the intensity of Shylock's two master ideally perfect.

The Spectator.

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

THE

system in order to carry on the ordinary business of the PROPOSED FEDERATION OF THE BRIT. country. Nor would this rearrangement require that ISH EMPIRE.

any violence should be done to the English Parliamen

tary system ; it would not introduce any new principle 'HE “Westminster Review” has discussed in such as would be the case if a large part of the empire recent numbers the urgency and the feasibility suggested; it would simply be to adopt the confedera

were to be represented by an advisory board, as has been of a federation of the British Empire. It is pro- tion system that has been found to work so smoothly in posed to create an Imperial Parliament, in which Germany and the United States. A scheme of this narepresentatives from the colonies are to sit, and to ture to facilitate the dispatch of Parliamentary business separate local from imperial measures by forming was put forward some years ago by Earl Russell, and a local House of Parliament for the consideration the fact that so experienced a Parliamentarian as he of the former, leaving the Imperial House to deal favored the idea is somewhat of a guarantee that it is

not impracticable. exclusively with matters that pertain to the empire at large. Local colonial Legislatures would re

It will be recalled by many of our readers that main much as at present. An Irish local Parlia

numerous English critics have condemned our Amerment is suggested, but the writer's plan seems to ican federal system as cumbersome; they have even suppose that the English local House would in- laughed at the notion that in order to carry on the clude Scotland in its jurisdiction. Apart from many business of the country there must exist nearly forty direct advantages that would arise from the pro- different legislative bodies and as many executives. posed plan, is the consideration that the present These critics did not consider the tremendous stress Parliament is burdened with business beyond its Congress would be under if all local questions that power to transact. Every year, it is affirmed, nu

arise in our extended country were brought to its merous measures are shelved without, from lack of chambers; and now all at once we find our system time, having been considered at all

. But this evil is gravely held up as a guide and example. The partly due to the fact that on certain popular questions « Westminster” even supposes the creation of a - the time of the House is utterly wasted in listen- sort of under-executives—its plan, for either Enging to the repetition ad nauseam of the same ideas land or Ireland, being as follows: and opinions, by members who feel it to be their duty to make speeches, in order to have them read The country would be under a Viceroy or Governor, by their constituents"—which shows that Buncombe appointed by the Queen in Council. The advisers of is a power at Westminster as well as at Washington. the Viceroy would be drawn from the members of the This is an evil which is likely rather to increase than local House, and the relations of the Viceroy to his Minotherwise, and hence a remedy must be found for it, to her Ministers. All measures passed by the local

isters would be precisely analogous to those of the Queen which the “Westminster Review" thinks is secured House would require the assent of the Viceroy before in its proposed plan:

they could become law. But any measure of doubtful

constitutionality could be “reserved” by the Viceroy, in The gain to Parliamentary legislation by this course which case the bill would be remitted for the considerawould be immediate and direct. The local House would tion of the Queen in Council, and either passed or vetoed. be of manageable and compact proportions ; its mem- Also any measure passed by the local House, and asbers would be able to devote their time and energies to sented to by the Viceroy, could be annulled if vetoed by the proper treatment and consideration of various local the Queen in Council within two years from the time of questions; the dissatisfaction caused at present through- assent. These provisions have been adopted in Canada out the country by the constant burking of local measures

as between the Governor-General and the Lieutenantwould be allayed; and we might even hope that the Governors, and as between the Queen and the GovernorIrish difficulty would be set at rest, perhaps by the for- General, so as to preserve a proper control over provinmation of an Irish local Parliament, but in any case, by cial or local legislation. Copies of all bills assented to reason of the House being able to devote proper time by the Viceroy would be immediately forwarded to the and attention to the consideration of Irish grievances. Secretary of State for her Majesty's consideration. In a similar manner, the Imperial House would be much reduced in bulk and proportionately increased in activity It will doubtless be a long time before we shall and vitality. Its time would be occupied in the consid- see as radical a change as this in the English Parliaeration of imperial questions; its energy would not then mentary system ; but it is easy for us at this distance be frittered away upon petty local matters ; nor would to see the advantages that would arise from such a the business of the House be obstructed by members scheme, and difficult to understand what rational obanxious to force the consideration of some local griev- jection there can be to it. Such a system would asance.

Such a rearrangement of the Parliamentary system suredly bind the colonies closer to the mother-counwould expedite public business to a degree that could not try, without overthrowing her supremacy; for, accordbe attained by any other system ; and, considering the ing to a schedule laid down in the “Westminster" arconstant and steady growth of Parliamentary business, ticle, in a House of three hundred members, one hunit would seem that recourse must be had to some such dred and eighty-five members would be allotted to

a

England, twenty-five to Scotland, forty to Ireland, and fifty to the colonies. The immense advantages I claim for art that by it alone can the whole of man's that would arise from the greater dispatch of business nature be expressed ; and that in all great works of art ought of itself to compensate for whatever minor the three elements of the intellectual, the emotional, and evils a federation of the empire would lead to-if the spiritual are to be found. I maintain further that such evils are possible.

the vital quality in all fine art is the presence of this spiritual element, this deeper insight which endows with new meaning whatever it touches. And regarding this

element as the highest in man's nature, I consider that to THE SPIRITUAL IN ART.

be the highest art in which the proportion of the spiritual A WRITER in the last “Cornhill,” in an article insight to the intellectual meaning and the sensuous per

ception is the greatest. entitled “ The Apologia of Art," attempts to account for the existence of art in all its forms. He says: The air is full of criticism similar to the above, If we look back through the records of past ages,

although it is not always so cogently and eloquently back even to the very dawn of civilization, we find one

expressed ; and hence we are disposed to inquire fact of human life continually presenting itself : this is,

whether the whole assumption of a spiritual element the need of man for expression-his overmastering de- in art is not a vague sentiment, a piece of transcensire not only to enjoy, but to show that he enjoys—not dental ecstasy. That art exercises great power over only for conquest, but also for triumph. There seems to our emotional susceptibilities is not to be denied ; be some inherent tendency which compels mankind to but it is no new thing to imagine that our sensuous record their sorrows and their joys, to leave upon the emotions have their birth in the spirit, and that they earth some trace of their presence. The earliest traces

are nothing less than a form of divine exaltation. we can find of art show us that its birth was due to this impulse ; the rhythmic song of the savage was raised in Now it is doubtless quite impossible to explain how moments of rejoicing or mourning; the adorning of his it is that beauty and harmony exercise their great face with paint, and his head with feathers, was but an

sway over us; how and why “measured sound" and other way of expressing his joy in battle and his confi- the “harmonies of color and line" should thrill us dence in victory. However the idea first dawned in the and fill us with delightful and indescribable sensa. world, to whatever accident it was due, it can hardly be tions; but to assume that a spiritual element in doubted that even among savage tribes the power of these forms of expression is the source of their measured sound is recognized to be expressive of some

power seems to us to jump the whole matter. It is feelings in their nature which can not otherwise find vent, This I believe to be the fundamental fact concerning the quite possible, indeed, that, if the spirit of man were origin of art-namely, that it gave expression to a new

wholly freed from the influences and seductions of element in man's nature.

the senses, color and sound would cease to agitate it,

or physical beauty have any meaning for it. We do If we grant, then, that it was owing to its power of not find the races with whom or the epochs in which giving adequate representation to the whole nature of spiritual life has been the most exalted falling under man that art became the exponent of his emotions, we the dominion of art ; nor do we see persons of the may well be asked, Why it was that only in harmonies finest spiritual strain show either the need or much of of color and sound would this whole nature be shown ? the influence of art. “ After four hundred years of Why is it that language can not give the same degree of contest with the Church,” says the writer from whom meaning? To this I can only suggest a possible an

we have been quoting, “the force of nature was too swer. For our definite thoughts and emotions, we can find words which shall paint them with far greater clear- strong for the force of the priesthood, and, though ness than art can ever do ; the emotion of poets, for in- still consecrated to the service of religion, Art be. stance, can be analyzed and detailed in prose to a far

came free to represent her subjects in her own way, greater extent than would be possible in either a picture and began that great forward movement that culmi. or a poem, though in the latter we might give an instance nated in the Renaissance. From the time of Giotto of the passion that should light up our prose analysis to the time of Raphael, Art, as it were, took the vows with a fuller meaning. But when the spiritual element of the Church, and so in narrowed but perhaps deephas to be grasped in words, we find ourselves compara- ened channels passed into being the sole exponent tively powerless; our instrument is not subtile enough of the overmastering religious emotions of the age." for the tune we wish to play upon it-words are too hard, cold, and definite to express the feeling we would We apprehend that art conquered the Church only put into them. Here it is that Art steps in to our rescue,

as the spiritual earnestness of its worshipers detalking to us, as it were, in two languages at once, sup- clined, and that the “overmastering religious emoplementing the deficiencies of language by the harmonies tions,” of which art became the exponent, was far of color and line. The subject and its correct drawing more a passion for the sensuous form of religion than may well be compared to language expressing the emo- for its spiritual bliss—for the pomp, the music, the tion and the thought; the combinations of line and col- color, the splendor of a grand pictorial worship, or, by which the artist expresses his idea, stand in the rather than for inner light and grace. If the Rerelation of the spiritual element to the rest of the picture. naissance was a grand revival of art, the ReforAnd as it is true that the vital power of any scene or beauty is one which we alone can not put into words, so

mation was a general spiritual awakening, in the the vital power of any work of great art is that spiritual heat of which art and all the emotions that art ex. element which has unconsciously to itself breathed its cites were consumed. We do not sympathize with influence over the master's mind and his hands' work. that form of religious fervor that fortifies the sensi. bilities against beauty; but there is no denying the that laymen unacquainted with the principles at work fact that intense spiritual life renders everything else have found it so difficult to understand the ground in the world valueless ; it rises to a plane to which of approval among critics. They have found the art with all its manifold seductions can not rise. dreariest and most uninteresting paintings exalted And this is also true of pure intellectual life. Sound to the skies, and any question of the verdict they and color have very little fascination for the mind might utter denounced as ignorance. They have engrossed in the study of great problems or deeply been ignorant in one sense-ignorant of the studio concerned in any pursuit of an engrossing char. point of view, which may be attained with utter inacter. Neither great reformers nor great thinkers sensibility to genuine beauty and natural laws. If have exhibited much susceptibility to art, at least the authority of academic art were deposed, how in its forms of painting and sculpture.

many of the innumerable canvases that encumber Let us admit, however, that art has great control the galleries of Europe would longer be imposed on over the human heart. Has it more than beauty in the credulity of the world? And is it not strange nature has ? Are the emotions that it awakens in that a critic should tell us with so much eloquence any way different? When we look upon the ravish- of the spiritual beauty of art, when, according to his ing beauty of a “maiden in her flower," can it be own confession, art, with a very few exceptions, has pretended that the sensations thus awakened-diffi- been merely exemplifications of pedantry and techcult as they are to analyze or to comprehend—are in nical skill? And then the current defiances of acaany wise more than a delight of the senses—an in- demic law that we see are almost invariably in the diexplicable emotion which color and contour, fresh- rection of pure sensuous art, its mission being, acness and grace, have the power to excite? Does cording to one of its disciples, to represent a land loveliness in marble awaken emotions other than "where perfect women, with their feet on perfect those that loveliness in flesh stimulates, unless it be flowers, move across our fancy as in twilight.” the single one of admiration for the skill of the copy- In another place our writer delivers himself as ist? It is a great temptation, no doubt, to remand follows: the strange agitations of the senses to the spirit ; they are certainly subtile and profound enough to To penetrate the mark of commonplace circumstance escape dissection ; but we exalt ourselves by illusions and familiar indifference that spreads between the rich if we fall into the habit of thinking that the delights and the poor; to show them governed by the same pasof the senses, so often enjoyed at the cost of spiritual sions, subject to the same needs, and crushed by the same

sorrows, as their more fortunate brethren ; to find in the purity, are really identical with the felicities of the death of a vagrant as great an element of pathos as in soul.

that of a Cæsar ; in a word, to show that the same heart Our writer in the course of his article has the beats beneath frieze, fustian, and broadcloth coats—this, following to say in regard to academic art :

at any rate, is a legitimate sphere for art, and one in

which its very highest qualities may find fitting exerAcademic art may be briefly defined as the endeavor cise. to paint actions in a way which could never have taken place, with the idea of thereby creating a pleasing effect Here it is our pleasure to cordially agree with upon the eye of the beholder. The creed of those who him. But, then, nine tenths of the painters would adhere to this school is this : A picture is not to be stigmatize this as the literary notion of art, the wonjudged by any other rules than those of pictures that is derful purpose of which is not to be pathetic, or huto say, you must not blame a picture for being unnatural, or uninteresting, or meaningless, or even absurd, or all man, or even interesting, but to fill us with spirit. or any of these ; but you must simply notice whether the ual ideas by stimulating the color nerves ! effect produced by the lines upon the eye is a pleasing one, whether the figures are arranged in obedience to the laws of composition, whether the light and shade are evenly distributed and skillfully opposed, whether the

ADORNING THE CITY. figures have dignity of gesture and form, and so on.

It is reported that a movement is on foot in Bos. Plainly stated, this sounds as if it were a burlesque, but it is strictly and literally the creed of academists, though ton to form a society for promoting the adornment they would probably hesitate to write it as clearly as I and improvement of that city. If this rumor prove have done.

to be true, Boston is to be congratulated; but we If this be the end and aim of art, I confess myself a must claim for ourselves priority in suggesting the “* Philistine" at once; better never have another picture organization of societies for the purpose described. in the world, and then go on adding absurdity to absur. It is now fully eight years ago since we first broached dity and thinking it to be art. How long will it be, I in “Appletons' Journal” the idea of a metropolitan wonder, ere all the dreary formulas of the schools cease to be heard among us; when a picture will be judged, moting the erection, of statues, monuments, foun

art association for the purpose of erecting, or pronot by its accordance with empirical rules, but in accordance with established truth ; when our students are

tains, towers, or other objects of a purely art chartaught to put thought as well as drawing, feeling as well acter, and we have several times since urged the idea as color, into their work ?

upon the public. If Boston anticipate New York

in the formation of such an association, it will not But this academic method has been very largely be because no such notion has ever been promul. the end and aim of art; and it is because of this gated here ; and Boston will surely anticipate the

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