Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a col

would have been lessened, and it would A reluctance is expressed at removhave looked as blank as a huge frame ing that tall round-I cannot find a out of which one of Raphael's divinest a name for it-called Nelson's Monu. productions had been cut. Your cor. ment. Who, in the name of taste, respondent may however turn round considers that inelegant and unmeanon me with the assurance that he in- ing mass an ornament? yet it exprestended not to present this empty ses the national admiration of our Doric cup to the thirsty lips of his naval hero as visibly and sensibly 'countrymen-that he wished to fill it as the column of Antonine without brimful, not with a heathen but a Chris sculpture, can ever be compelled to tian spring, or to drop metaphor, that do. I cannot help wondering at the he felt his Doric temple was imperfect sweeping wholesale manner of your without the powerful and necessary aid correspondent; he casts down Admiral of sculpture; but even should he feel Nelson's windmill, but he atones for and express all this, the unblushing disturbing this laboured quarry above adoption of the Athenian temple will ground, by proposing to impress 'a avail him little. Certainly he does soldier into the sea service-to seize not mean to press Theseus, and Illi. the column of the divine Antonine, sus, and Minerva, and the Centaurs; and compel it to acknowledge, in and the naked youths of Attica, into the streets of Edinburgh, the glory the service of the Kirk of Scotland. of Alexandria and Trafalgar. How Still should he push them from their will he accomplish this stools, he must select some other umn, though it reaches the clouds, beings to succeed them--some designs means nothing of itself-the columns must be sought for in which British of Trajan and Antonine were the mere glory, and Christianity has a share vehicles of sculpture; the pegs on and here he embarks in an ocean of which history hung her achievements. expense, and what will alarm him as Deprive them of their sculpture, and much, a call will be made for original they are columns to any one's fame. designs, unless with the same love of Here, again, your correspondent forimitation as in the building, he advises gets the principle and exalts the auxius to transfer the cartoons of Raphael liary-tells the value of the picture to our walls, cut out in good gray frame, and forgets that of the picture, stone, and as these will by no means Now he has filled the Calton Hill go round them, caļl in Reubens and and St Andrew's Square with the Michael Angelo as auxiliaries. Should cumbrous splendour of two unadornhe, however, have the weakness to ed edifices--two Samsons shorn of wish for sculptural designs-illustrate their locks of strength-this he calls ing Scottish glory-expressing the o- rivalling Athens and Rome. Having acriginal character of the nation—and complished this, what does he propose commemorating us in every point of to do—to consecrate the temple of our fame as warriors, patriots, poets, Minerva, and turn her niche into a divines, philosophers, and so on, hé pulpit ? And here he seems sensible must not hope to conjure them up by that the genius of the age must have an article in your Magazine, or ex. something conceded to appease it ; and tract them like a new made Parthe- the compliment he pays Messrs Elliot non from the portfolio of good master and Playfair is a dexterous one-a stab what's-his-name. They must be the under the fifth rib.“ Here (says he) fruit of much meditation, the une here is a square, two hundred feet long wearied labour of years, and what is and sixty feet high, for your genius to more, they will devour all your cor- revel in there is nothing to prevent respondent's original sum of £40,000. your fancy and taste from running The simple stateliness of the Doric east, and west, and north, and south, was enriched by the sculpture--the but stone walls, and nothing to curb massive plainness of the "pediments you over head but a stone arch. (At and extensive friezes was adorned, what period did the Greeks arch their while concealed by the splendour of temples ?) And there is an ample historical enrichment without sculp- field for 'exerting yourselves ; I have ture it will be inferior to its proto. given the smoky and dirty exterior to type, and will no more have the effect Phidias ; but the interior, the glorious of the Parthenon than a prentices cap interior, I have reserved for you-let will look like a bonnet of gold sparke your genius be measured with the ling with precious stones,

genius of antiquity, and let the victor bear off the prize." Really I would est of all architectural critics. When give tenpence, for I am miserably a fish learns to swim with fins of lead, poor, to know the name of the man an eagle to soar with shorn wings, and who wrote this. He crowns Phidias a man to outstrip the deer in fleetness, king of infinite space, and confines with two half hundred weight, or a Elliot and Playfair in an augre's bore Number of Constable's Magazine at -and this he calls rivalry—a fair each heel, then may you hope that free field for rivalry; by this he pro- genius will most curiously adapt its poses to arouse the free spirit of ge- original feelings to the line and the niusand truly it deserves never to level of other men-seize on their unrise, unless, like the strong man in finished works with all the fervour of scripture, it starts up and snaps the new and unabated thought-warm itbonds with which it is now proposed self up to the same teinper with which to constrain it. And if (saith the the original design was conceived same inspired authority) by thus give and, conjured into the inagic circle of ing you the interior, we secure to you Phidias, drudge at his behests with a the victory, and you outrival the ex. visible and impassable limit before it, terior by Phidias, we will rejoice at and rest amid the terrors of the sore the triumph of modern over ancient cerer's wand. art." And so thou mayest, thou fair.

A JOURNEYMAN Mason.

ON THE ANÁLOGY BETWEEN THE GROWTH OF INDIVIDUAL AND NATIONAL

GENIUS,

There is a natural inclination in men's exerted—a sympathy of no ordinary minds to wish that the impulses under moment. If we consider what the 'which the genius of a people acts, high exertion of those faculties must should be derived essentially from their be, we shall perceive that the subject own mind; and many may have ex- of our regard is nothing less than a perienced the feeling who scarcely re- spiritual agent in freedom of its power, cognise it in formal enunciation; for satisfying its own native desires out of undoubtedly there is a very general the means which its union with life and deep-felt admiration of those works may yield it; for life is different to of genius in every kind, which bear every mind, according to its own conimpressed on them the character of stitution—to that of the bodily frame the people among whom they have in which it breathes and feels, and to arisen, and which seem native, as it the thousand-fold contingencies which were, to their soil. There is felt, make up to it the circumstances and in like manner, a certain repulsive course of the individual being. But chillness investing those works of art, whatever is thus brought into

the soul which, though elaborate and fair, are of pleasure and of pain ;-whatever imitated merely from the art of another the affections of the mind, modified, as nation. They want natural interest; they thus are, into peculiar character; and they always give back the impres- -whatever the sense and the intellision of a timid genius, which will ra- gence, thus moulded or endowed for ther forego the pleasure and pride of peculiar discernment, may gather up its inherent power, than risk the peril from the world of life, for joy or sorof relying upon it. There is a re- row-for delight and awe-for knowproach that lies even on the imitator's ledge infinitely diversified for selfname, in which all sympathize, though springing conceptions of unsleeping they may have taken no account with thought ;-whatever life itself, by its themselves of the feeling in which they beauty, powers, destinies--its passions, participate.

hopes, privileges its multiplied relaa This natural impression, which al- tions and ceaseless change-can yield lows so much virtue to the workings to the intellectual and sensitive soul for of a native spirit in the breast of ge- feeling and thought,- these are the nius, may be itself of more virtue than materials, the means, which its union we are apt to conceive. It is a just with being brings before it for the exerand true sympathy in common men, cise of its faculties, according to the with that condition of the mind in tendencies, the impulses, the desires which its highest faculties are best of its own peculiar nature, If-that mind, then, has but lived in freedom creations. It is the expression of his of its powers—if the act of its facul- own individual being, the colouring of ties, in the continual progress of life, life derived through his own senses to has been impelled from within--if it his work, that makes the impress of has trusted itself to feel, and rejoiced genius on the productions of his art. to know, as its nature led--if it has On the productions of a nation's been true to itself, and cherishing its genius, it may be presumed there will own inward discernment, and guarding be read the same character that this the fountain of light within itself-has collective genius will express itself, been able to shed from that source a will mark its own act, its own work, pure unfailing light upon its own with the seal of its own individual thought and its own motion,-if it has character; and it may be apprehendused intelligence and feeling as gifts ed, that this expression of an indivimade immediately to itself, for its own dual character in a people, will imply, strength and guidance it will, in its as in the individual, some extraormaturity of

thought and power, and in dinary self-communion in the spirit of the season of productivegenius, perform the people. the works of its great conception in For the spirit of a people, as that of the spirit in which it has lived-it a single being, entering upon the will bring into being, by its operative world of life it is to possess, Hinds al art, substantial expression and like lotted to itself its own peculiar and inness of those peculiar and individual dividual condition of existence, disforms of feeling and thought which it tinguishing it from all others. A race has entertained and cherished within ito of men entering upon a land to dwell self in its long communion with being; there, bring with them the spirit of and that peculiar impress on its works, power which is to animate and rule may be regarded as the symbol of an over their existence during the long individual nature unfolded in the mind course of its coming ages; but the life as evidence of an unoppressed spirit they are to lead dawns on them as of life in the soul-of a mind main, they set foot on its soil. The earth taining its endowed powers entire in itself, and the sky, to which their their native liberty,

existence from that hour is committed, The character, therefore, of original are the groundwork of that arising genius, pure and entire, on the pro

life. Mountains, and waters, and ductions of art, is by no means of an woods, and soil, and the climate, which importance limited within the plea- overhangs them all, give the first desures of taste. It has a far higher termination to their existence, allotsignificance, referring directly to the ting many of their avocations, and entire courses of life in the mind, and holding in themselves the numberless to the entire condition of the mind in influences which are to be showered all action, of whatever importance, continually from the countenance and that springs from itself. It is not to be the hand of nature on their progressive imagined, therefore, that the sympathy existence. The same change of their of ordinary men, with that condition, place of abode, has drawn around however it may be to a certain degree them, still farther, new circumstances unconscious and unintelligent, can be of life, allotting to their society its reunimportant to themselves.

lations with other societies of men. It is an essential quality of genius Still more, it has begun, to that sociein the individual mind, perhaps its ty of their own, a new internal social distinctive and most constituent qualilife-as among themselves their own ty, that it draws its powers from sources relations begin necessarily to change, within itself-that its faculties are but and new forms to grow up out of the organs, as it were, of a deeper their new condition. Their manners spirit, residing in, and blended with, its alter to their avocations—their laws own deepest nature. The man him- relax, or strengthen, or multiply self, the living being, with all his sen- their bonds with the changing necessibilities, recollections, loves, powers

sities of their life ; and the powers of with all his experience and all his ca- men over men, and the affections that pacities of life--is the deep and exê mingle with those relations, change baustless source from which his ge, the whole aspect and being of socienius draws the materials of its con- ty. The memory of their anteriception—the elements of its ceaseless or being soon dies away into faint,

broken, and doubtful reminiscences; ter to recognise the workings of the but passion cleaves to the memory of genius that has unfolded its strength. the new life they have begun, and the Men's observation of men is made invigour of enjoyment, and the ardour telligent, often not by their power of of growing power, shew, in the strong searching investigation, but by their youth of the people, the preparation quick true sympathy; and in virtue of their powerful manhood. The ages of that sympathy, and the light of inroll on ; and whatever their appointed telligence which it brings, they read life may be, it unfolds itself before with strong and just interest, the chathem under the power of their spirit; racters of men, singly or in nations, while the power itself of their spirit is and behold in their works and in their unfolding in the midst of their changlives the discovery of their inward peing life. The men to whom they give culiar spirit. The strong, deep, general birth, who rise up in their endowed interest with which all the memorials strength among them, to perform con- of men are considered, that bear strongspicuously the offices of ordinary exist- ly impressed a peculiar and specific ence who in war, in the government character, could not be explained, if of men, in the wisdom or sanctity of we were to ascribe the intelligence of their lives, in the walks of peaceful character to faculties purely intelleca genius—who by their achievements, tual; but it may be understood, if we their endurance, or their great affec- can ascribe it to the faculties of sentitions, signalize the power of human ment- if we may say, for explanation, nature, or the peculiar character of that what we call character subsists their people, all these, whensoever essentially in relations of the spirit to they appear, springing forth, as they that life in which all participate, and do, out of the heart of the nation, are in so much, is matter of that universal no other than energies of its own- sympathy in which alone men’s condiunfoldings, as it were, of their own tion of existence is discoverable to one spirit in their own life-shewings forth another-if we are at liberty to comof their mind in realized act; and prehend, by character, no more than from them, therefore, redounds upon peculiar modification of our common the people, from whom they have nature ; and by genius itself, not simarisen, deep-reaching and lasting ener- ply the high endowment of intellecgy, of the same quality which has tual powers, but the blending of inbeen so highly manifested in those tellectual powers, whatever their departicular men. So, too, and in yet gree, with the tendencies and workhigher degree, what the collective peo- ings of each individual nature. ple themselves have achieved, or suf- The individual mind, as was obfered, or greatly felt, in enterprise, in served, will produce its own character calamity, in peril, in change or revo- in its works, only if that character has lution is to themselves at once both been duly unfolded; only if those a part of that national life of which properties which were strongly imthey are fulfilling the course, and an planted by nature, have received due act of the national spirit, strengthen- nourishment and free developement ing and exalting itself by its own great from the courses of life. But such acts, and gathering future sentiment nourishment must be self-nourishand thought from all that it passes ment; such developement must be through. That the spirit which a self-developement. Life can do no people bring with them to the land more than lay open its fields before of their dwelling that the life to the mind, which must find its own which they are given up, and its nourishment, and make itsown growth. manifold events, should form for But the essential principle of selfthem a peculiar character, as well as nourishment and self-developement is à peculiar history, seems easily to be strong self-consciousness, maintained understood. It is for the sake of uniform to itself. It is, that the mind examples of these courses of nature, having once falt, retains that feeling; that we read the history of the world. that the pleasure it has felt, from that We can often trace, in remarkable time belongs to itself, and will recur; ways, this formation of character-this that the pain it has felt, from that time growth of the genius of a people. But belongs to itself, and will recur. There what we are better able to do is to ob- is a personal identity begun and carserve the results to know the charac. ried on in these uniform recurrences

of sensation or emotion. The objects sideration, the same argument might which present themselves to the mind be held, that it must be self-nourished are continually varying their aspect, by a reflective consciousness. Can we and so far tending to perplex their conceive otherwise of that beautiful own impressions. The weaker mind character of the patriotism of the is overcome by this variableness of im- Swiss, which we suppose to blend the pression, and loses $s self-consistency; love of their native land with the imaa but the spirit of stronger quality is gery of its scenes.

The love that is able to maintain its own uniformity of felt in its mountain-vales is a feeling feeling and belief in the midst of much that has filled all the years of life. It variation, and by that means forms its has returned upon every bosom ten own strength, making its inherent thousand and ten thousand times the qualities more and more predominant peaceful benediction of each successive over the impressions, by which they day that has risen and set upon the are continually called into play. But mighty land, -love swelling the heart, that continual recollection and recovery and drawing from torrent and rock, upon itself of former emotion, affec- from green pasture, and shaggy wood, tion, and sensation, by which alone this and naked sky-piercing peak, the superiority to present impression can sights and sounds of its continual be maintained, is of the nature of a nourishment. self-communion; it is a reflection of The heart filled with its affections, the mind upon itself; it is a self-con- and the intellectual spirit, have both sciousness prolonged or reproduced ; it but one law from nature, by which they is an internal repetition, with consci- may form their strength ;-it must be ousness of its own emotion, to which self-cherished. it attaches itself more and more.

The character, the genius of a peoLike this, perhaps, is the formation ple, if it be great and beautiful, is the of character in a people. There may result of a life of ages, in which the be assigned to their spirit such a life great and beautifulqualities of their spias will quench and destroy it; but if rit have been exercised and nourished it find a happier lot, if the ways of with continual ministries from natural life that are opened before it are such life, and continual indulgence of selfas strengthen its great qualities and delight. In that character subsists solicit its gentler ones to gentle action, the record of the virtue and happiness then the growth of character will take of successive generations of innumerplace by uniformity of emotion. If able men. That vast immeasurable there be a lofty magnanimity in the flood of life has rolled into night, unspirit, war will strengthen and unfold beheld, for the greater part, even while it. If that property were less deeply the sun shone upon it, and now enfixed, the exceeding hazards and the gulphed in forgetfulness; but a power disasters of war would oppress it; but remains from it-its spirit inhabits the if it be indeed in the nature, it rises earth, quickening the countless profrom them more glorious. The spirit geny of life in continual renovation. has derived from the accidents of life If we are able to bear sympathy to its occasion of strength, but it has the departed multitudes of a people, if been by subjugating those accidents to the imagination or belief of their viritself. That proud and stately sa- tues, their powers, their loves, be any tisfaction in its own greatness, by thing to us who now walk on their which its fortitude is sustained, is not soil, - then the aspect of the genius, a feeling known only and produced at and the character which from them yet the time of need; it must be a habit subsists amongst us, will be great and ual temper of the spirit, continually dear to us, for the sake of that which nourished in the ordinary process of has disappeared and left no other me. life. There is implied a conscious and morial. Even the works of skilful thoughtful grandeur-a mind turned art, small as their importance may back in reflection on former deeds, de- seem to be, when compared with the liberately knowing its own greatness living happiness of the millions of a and, with deliberate purpose, choosing people, will, for their sake, be no longthe virtue of which it has already made er unimportant, when they bear imexperience.

pressed on them that character, which Whatever quality of the spirit of a the life of those millions has brought people might be brought under con- into being. The works of art of a

7

« ZurückWeiter »