Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

fluence, and their education, had not been a Resident Gentry! and if there is one illuminated page in the dark story of Ireland's misery! one pause in her sufferings! it belongs to this proud and blessed moment, when her people and their chiefs were armed, morally and physically, in her defence ; when her senate resounded to an eloquence as pure and as patriotic as the Forum ever echoed; when the private society of the capital became proverbial for its wit and festivity; and when all tended to, if it did not reach, the term of national prosperity and national glory.

But alas! this moment of promise and splendour was transient as a dream, and the bright effulgence of Irish patriotism, brilliant as the midnight meteor, was as suddenly succeeded by a midnight darkness. Causes on which it is now beside the purpose to dwell, paralyzed the virtues, and marred the hopes of the honest and the brave. Engines were put into play, and agents into activity, to destroy or to sap the foundations of national independence. Corruption and injustice recommenced their suicidal career; the rebellion and the Union were got up, and succeeded beyond the hopes of their authors; and from that epoch every evil which can afflict humanity and degrade a nation has gathered to a foul and purulent head; every sad succeeding year has been marked by some new step towards social disorganization and national extinction.

“ Scarcely had the law passed ratifying that great mischief—the Union (says one of the ablest and, what is yet more, one of the honestest and most uncompromising writers on Irish affairs, of the present or of any age) when Absenteeism, the predominant calamity of Ireland, was fearfully accelerated The chief proprietors fled from the metropolis, as from an invading army; and the country affording neither interest nor expectation, they expatriated themselves in shame, in disgust, in anguish, in despair. A category of evils beset the land.—Those who had entertained fair hopes soon found their prospects darker, and a long night close the transient day. To infatuation succeeded self-torment. A Chief Judge died of a broken heart because he had participated in that signal treachery-another Judge asked pardon of God and his country, for sanctioning it with his vote. Pitt, the machinist, perished amidst the misfortunes of the Empire—and Castlereagh, in his pride and power, became his own executioner. The noble delinquents and their race perish together. Twenty-four Irish Peerages hare become extinct since the Union in January 1801, exclusive of Peerages under a superior title, but continued in an inferior honour--and while I write, another of the noble order which stands between the prerogative and the people, as hounds between the huntsman and the hare, is extinguished. Thus nature takes vengeance on the exalted traitors to their country. The Union cannot subsistSin and Death have fixed their peremptory seal of doom upon it. Not all the vices of Ferdinand to his parentage, and family, and country-not all the deeds of the magnanimous Allies and the Holy Alliance to Spain, Germany, and Italy--no, not the repeated partitions of Poland by the Royal Robbers, the Austrian, and Frederic, and Catherine, equalled altogether the dreadful sum of sinning by the English Ministry, in preparing, prosecuting, and accomplishing that sad catastrophe-the Incorporate Union of Ireland with Great Britain.-G. Ensor's Address to the People of Ireland.

Previously to the Act of Union, Absenteeism, though encouraged by the geographical position of the country, and promoted by some inveterate habits derived from ancient abuse, was principally confined, among the native Irish, to a few individuals whose ill understood vanity tempted them to seek for a consequence abroad, which is ever denied io the un

connected stranger, a consequence which no extravagant expence can purchase. With a few exceptions, therefore, the malady was confined to the great English proprietors of forfeited estates, whose numbers must in the progress of events have been diminished, by the dissipations inseparable from unbounded wealth, and the growth of commercial and manufactural fortunes. It might, in some cases, indeed, be both a vice, and a ridicule, in the absent ; but had the nation in other respects been well used and well governed, it would have been of no serious evil to those who remained at home. But the Act of Union, whatever may be its other operations, meritorious or vicious, at once converted a local disease into a national pestilence. The centre of business and of pleasure, the mart of promotion, and the fountain of favour, were by this one fatal act at once removed into a foreign land; ambition, avarice, dissipation and refinement, all combined to seduce the upper classes into a desertion of their homes and country: and as each succeeding ornament of the Irish capital abandoned his hotel, as each influential landlord quitted his castle in the country, or his house in the city, a new race of vulgar up-, starts of uneducated and capricious despots, usurped their place, spreading a barbarous morgue over the once elegant society of the metropolis, and banishing peace and security from the mountain and the plain. Many whom temptation could not hitherto seduce from home, were now forced by fear to fly; and every passion, every motive combined to drive from the unhappy land, all those who were possessed of the means of fight. It is in vain that patriotism struggles and conscience arrests the departing step of those who yet linger behind in painful vacillation. Self-preservation must and will in the end prevail. Whatever is educated, whatever is tasteful, whatever is liberal, will too pro-, bably fly a land, where the insolence of official rank supplies the amenity of an admitted aristocracy, and where vulgar wealth, acquired by political subserviency, and too frequently unaccompanied by knowledge, holds talent at at arms’ length, and rejects wit from its coteries as dangerous to its own dull supremacy and hostile to the repose of its own fat contented ignorance." The philanthropist, disgusted with the perpetual spectacle of hopeless wretchedness and irredeemable despair, will seek relief by flying the misery he cannot mitigate; the enlightened and the liberal will turn with horror from the country where laws of exception have been adopted into the permanent code, and where recessitated violence is only met by judicial severity and legal murder. The landholder, wearied by his contests with the clergy, and intimidated by the armed and masked opposition of his tenantry, will be contented to purchase repose by abandoning at once the soil and its produce, to the proc. tors, the police-men and their chiefs. The sbirri of Ireland will alone find in a land, thus every way accursed, the elements congenial to their existence, as the reptiles and insects subsist in that putrefaction, wbich spreads disease and death among the nobler animals. In the present political prospect of Ireland, the eye of philosophy and of philanthropy turns on

every side in search of a principle of regeneration, and turns in vain. On every side a circle of recurrent cause and effect, like the mystic emblem of the Egyptians, points to an eternity of woe, and to endless cycles of misyovernment and resistance. As long as the actual

system continues, (as long as every cause is forced to concur in rendering Ireland uninhabitable) so long will it be impossible to organize any plan for civilizing, tranquillizing and enriching the country. It is an empty and an idle boast in the British House of Commons, that it devotes its successive nights to the debating Irish affairs, so long as the religious division of the people and the proconsular government founded

upon that division are to be recognized as sound policy or Christian charity. The half measures which have hitherto been adopted, far from proving beneficial, and composing the contentions of hostile factions, have served only to increase discontent and disarm inquiry.* Nor can the ministers be entitled to any praise for generosity who dare not, in the first place, be just. In spite, therefore, of all their professions of zeal and compassion for the national distress; in spite of all their parliamentary tamperings with the national abuses, they must still remain answerable for the greater part of the absenteeship which they so strenuously hold up as the giant ill, over which they have no control, and for the existence of which they imagine themselves not responsible. The grand principle of " divide et impera" has produced both the religious question and the question between landlords and tenants, which are the hinges on which all the misfortunes of Ireland turn. To commence the work of regeneration in earnest, that principle must be fairly and honestly abandoned: when this is done, and not before, absenteeship, with every other evil which has grown out of the monstrous and anarchical system, that has so long subsisted, will gradually disappear; and proprietors in Ireland as in other countries, will inhabit their country, when their country becomes inhabitable—Ubi bene, ibi patria" is a maxim not altogether unreasonable; and, surely, if in any circumstances it is entitled to toleration, it is in that land, where the greater the patriotism and virtue, the less chance is there of social comfort and rational happiness. To the ABSENTEES themselves we would willingly appeal with every invocation that can bind the conscience or awaken the heart. But the appeal were worse than idle, it would in fact be injurious, by pointing to effects and disengaging the attention from causes. In the present instance ABSENTEEISM is a necessitated evil!! In the absentees it is less a crime than a misfortune; and with respect to the government it is so far îrom being a justification of its acts, that it has become a pregnant and a pointed conclusion of its ignorance of all sound principle or its heartless indifference to all those interests which the unhappy destiny of "the most unhappy country under Heaven," has committed to its charge.

* These half measures are, however, in the present state of affairs almost inevitable. A divided cabinet founded upon a divided state of public opinion, opposes an insuperable barrier to a frank and honest reform : and oscillations of principle and of practice must attend the effort to manage factions so nicely balanced.

BO.

BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART.-NO. XII.

The Fitzwilliam Gallery at Cambridge. There are few tasks pleasanter, and still fewer more useful, than that of pointing out beauties which might otherwise remain but partially known: and to describe the Fitzwilliam Gallery of Paintings will be in some measure to fulfil a task of this nature. I do not mean that the whole beauties of these works can possibly remain concealed from the actual spectator of them, however careless or uncultivated his taste for such objects may be ; but I do believe that, from various causes, which we must not now touch upon, the existence of this collection, as a public gallery, is but little known, and its extraordinary value still less

On this presumption, I shall proceed at once to describe it, as much at length as my limits will permit; which, however, I foresee, will afford me but a very inadequate opportunity of doing justice to those various objects which present almost equal claims to attention. It is only necessary to premise that the works now to be described formed the private gallery of the late Earl Fitzwilliam, and were by him bequeathed to the University of Cambridge of which he had been a member; and that they came into the possession of the University on his death in the year 1816; and are now deposited in a temporary receptacle, until the splendid gallery-for the erection of which he also bequeathed ample funds can be provided for them. That eight years should have elapsed without a single step having been made towards this provision, is a fact I shall merely glance at in passing, and couple it with another, that the building which the exquisite works in question at present occupy is in every respect unfitted for their reception.

The pictures, together with various other objects of art and virtû which accompanied them in the bequest, are at present contained in two very confined apartments. We will begin in the first of these apartments, and with the first picture, which hangs over the door of entrance. It is a three-quarter portrait, by Rembrandt, of a Dutch officer; and of all the works in this country by that extraordinary master, there is unquestionably no one which displays a more consummate taste in colouring. In fact, it is of itself sufficient to prove that Rembrandt wanted nothing but the will to make him as great a colourist as Titian ; and that when he was not so, it was because he aimed at something which he considered to be beyond mere colouring, if not incompatible with it. His favourite object was to create extraordinary and unlooked-for effects, by means of embodying light. In the instance before us, however, he has attempted no such thing; but merely to banquet the eye by means of placing before it a rich union of colours, every one of which shall at once act by itself, and in conjunction with all the others-each being made to heighten, and, as it were, bring out the flavour of each ; and the whole producing an impression of absolute unity, resulting from the strict and entire union and communion between all the parts. This splendid portrait represents an officer, in a loose outer dress of crimson stuff, with a body armour of steel, holding a sword in the left hand, and leaning the elbow on a pedestal, and having the right placed on the hip. On his head he has à Spanish-shaped hat and feathers, and he is looking out of the picture

VOL. XI. NO, XLIV.

N

with a quiet gravity of aspect, that finely harmonizes with the intended impression of the colouring. This latter I can compare to nothing but that particular portion of the evening-sky on which the descended sun has flung its last glories, after having withdrawn them from all the rest of the surrounding hemisphere. Or, if I am to compare it with any other object of art, it must be with the two celebrated Titians at Cleveland-house-the rich depth and the glowing harmony of which are scarcely superior to those of the admirable work before us.

Glancing at these pictures in the numerical order in which they are at present placed, we meet with a fine bit of chiaro-scuro by Castiglione, of Abraham journeying to the land of Canaan (2);-an clegant little composition by Paul Panine, introducing a classical incident into an Italian scene (3); and a pleasing, but not very spirited or characteristic landscape, by Zuccharelli (4); and then we arrive at a magnificent specimen of Titian's finest class of works, in which he blends nearly all the best qualities of his style. This is a large gallery-picture, including portraits of Philip the Second of Spain, and his mistress the Princess d'Eboli

. The latter is a naked figure, in the character of a nymph or Venus, attended by a winged Cupid, who is crowning her with a flower-wreath, while Philip is represented with his back to the spectator, playing on a lute, and turning his face towards his mistress, to gaze on her as she lies. These two figures are placed on a couch which occupies nearly all the lower part of the canvass ; and above this, through a lifted curtain, is seen a grand landscape, extending to a distance. Great part of the front of this picture, with the exception of the female figure, is dark almost to blackness; and the curtain which occupies the sides and upper part is the same.

The effect of this on the principal figure, as well as on the landscape, is very powerful; and the more so as the flesh includes more carnations than usually occur in this artist's works. The extremities of the female figure are exquisite in this respect, as well as in their design and finishing; and in fact the whole figure is one piece of glowing vitality. The expression of the face, too, is very quick and full of life; but the form is deficient in refinement and delicacy, though not in elegance. The male figure in this picture is, as is usual with Titian, kept in entire subservience to the female one : for the only sovereignty he admitted, in objects of art, was that of Beauty. This fine picture is from the Orleans gallery.

After a portrait of Lady Fitzwilliam, by Lely (6), and a small landscape, hung almost entirely out of sight, by G. Poussin (7), we come to an excellent specimen of Vandervelde—a Storm at Sea (8). If there is less transparency in the water than this artist frequently gave, there is great spirit in the handling of it, and great force and truth in the management of the clouds. Three vessels are seen at different distances, labouring before the gale, with their cordage straining till you can almost hear it creak, and the little flags at their top-gallant masts ready to fly in pieces with struggling to escape from their places. The effect of the lightning, breaking out from behind the black clouds in the centre, is also very fine.

The next picture in succession (9) is well worthy attention, as a specimen of Annibal Caracci's vigorous, natural, and altogether unideal mode of treating even ideal subjects. It is a small picture (probably a

« ZurückWeiter »