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ever it may have been, has ceased to be the characteristic of English living in France. The contrary, indeed, is the prevailing disposition. France is crowded from one end to the other with English economists; and the custom they have now learned, of bargaining for every thing before-hand, even with the guides and porters that reply with a “ Ce que vous voulez, Monsieur, "-" What you please" -gives an appearance of parsimony and suspicion rather than that of carelessness and prodigality. The French tradesmen find it no longer easy to put the English under contribution; and even when they did, they had a very good excuse. There is twice as much extortion on the English side of the channel, without an atom of the civility that might render it palatable. Let our countrymen then not say in a double stock of suspicion, when they purpose visiting the Continent—they will no where find more rogues than they have left at home. There is not, in any country in Europe, one sixteenth part of the petty larceny that is committed in London alone. I never heard of an Englishman who lost even a pockethandkerchief in the streets of Paris.
Another of the generally received and erroneous opinions entertained here, is the cheapness of amusements in Paris; of which but one word. The price of admittance to theatres is of no consideration but to thorough play-goers, that is, to the occupiers of the pit. Now in Paris, although the parterre or pit be cheaper, yet it is farther removed from the stage than ours—it is the cheapest and least respected part of the house, answering to our upper galleries-in short, it is not where our critics would choose to sit.
Next of all, the French do not seem to me a jot more polite than other people, and this is a quality on all hands allowed them. The guides and others that one will have to pay, are undeniably extremely civil; but not in our barbarous metropolis do we ever meet with the intentional rudeness and brusquerie experienced at every turn in the French capital. The only difference between the nations in this point is, that where we bow, they take off their hats, and where we anxiously seek tidings and news of the health, happiness of friends, &c. they find time to pay a compliment. The politeness of society is another thing--at present, I only busy my. self with the erroneous prejudices, both in our favour and the contrary, with which we regard the nations of the Continent; and of the actual state of their society among themselves, the generality of us neither know 'nor care any thing.
The levity of French women is a necessary part of John Bull's creed, and the part in which he is most completely mistaken. That the prejudice originated in truth is likely; but if the French had a Duc de Richelieu, we have had Lord Rochester. Their own writers allow that the Revolution has destroyed the French gallantry, and gallantry may be here taken in its most comprehensive sense. There are no women more modest and well-behaved than the Parisians--the eyes of females in London are fully as busy and impudent. And the female peasants of the country parts of France are much more reserved than any of the pretty villagers of Great Britain.
Another of our horrors is a French Sunday; nevertheless, I understand that, at present, we have full as much shop-keeping and sale here upon that day. The theatres being open on the sabbath is the custom that most shock us, and no wonder-a London theatre is, indeed, a place of profane amusement. But the aspect of the Parisian houses is totally different--there is no dress, no show, no indecorum in the boxes. The men are silent, and the women muffled-all attentive, sober, and at home, as if they listened to a tea-table conversation in our holy city. John Knox himself could never persude me that a French theatre was the habitation of Satan; and, if we may judge by those sentiments and passages which they mark with applause, there never was a people in whom the feel. ings of patriotism and moral principle were stronger. If their enemies deny the assertion, it only proves them to be honester people at the theatre than any where else, which surely is not a proof of its being a bad school.
Two or three pictures neglected and faded,
ON THE STATE AND IMPROVEMENT OF THE FINE ARTS IN
ENGLAND. If we admit that a successful cultivation of the Fine Arts not only demonstrates, but promotes, the refinement of a nation, it cannot but awaken considerable regret, that, remote as we are from perfection, we should not have even made any evident progress towards it in those latter years, which have afforded such facilities for the study of Art.
It is neither to be wondered at, nor objected, that the nation at large is not much interested in the success or reputation of artists; for notwithstanding the occasional aids from Parliament, and the distinguished encouragement by individuals, but little has been produced in the higher walks of Art of which we can be justly proud. Yet many of our artists have travelled, have visited the reliques of Greece and Italy, and been the welcomed and privileged visiters of the richest galleries. The consequence of this is, that the most favourable moments ever possessed by England for the attainment of excellence in matters of taste are elapsing without being profited by; and that, when the present race of Continental travellers (who see what painting has been, what architecture and sculpture are in the actual hour,) shall have passed away, we shall sink into a Gothic oblivion of the nobler models, and shall be thrown upon and de. pendent on the untalented efforts of the English school. In no country has Nature given the mind more of the creative faculty; and manual aptitude is every where, and in every occupation, evinced; but either the course of instruction is faulty, or true genius is repressed, or the nationally-charged arrogance of self-opi. nion directs the labours of the architect and the sculptor, and even too often of the painter; and so communicative are their ill-judged decisions, that I heard an Englishman, while looking at the Thesean Temple at Athens, say, “ that he much wondered that some of those buildings had not spires;" similarly tasteless ideas are the general ones of the country. I had been at this period absent for many years from England, and on my way to it, was delayed for some time at Rome. I met there several English young men of great promise, actively employed in copying from the Italian school, and exacting, by the excellence of their specimens, the praises of the most qualified judges. As the Continent had been accessible for nearly seven years, I expected to see, in some of the fine arts in England, an evident and decided purity of design, and ability in execution. I have not yet discovered the one or the other; and taking the three last performances in the sister arts as examples, I believe that I shall have no difficulty in proving my assertion.
The most public performance and cheapest to see, (for they still demand entrance-money at St. Paul's) and first in dignity, is the line of new buildings intended to ornament the City, and calculated, as the Laureat thinks, to throw Athens into the shade. To the architectural student the entire range may form an admirable study and spot of reference, for it contains every style, from the Athenian to the London-a tissue of incongruity, non-descript and nonsensical ; and the only pile that can atone in some degree for Vol. III. No. 1.-1822.
the mass of unharmoniousness, is, from situation, less in a thoroughfare than the rest of the deformed quantity.
But the general opinion has been strongly expressed, and we must hope that, when renewed, it may be in better taste; for it happily is of so perishable a construction, that in some few years
The United Service Club-house, the Fire-office,
Nor leave a house behind. I was in the habit of reading in the journals accounts of the sums voted by Parliament for the sculptured commemoration of the illustrious men that have bled for their country, and I have pointed out these accounts to the foreigners whom I have met, with pride at such a judicious and grateful application of the public funds. I have soinetimes added, “Here is, indeed, what may be called patronage; here is the true field for sculpture. The sentiment thrown around the sepulchral monument must give it a superiority over your Hebes, your Bacchus, and your Faun; for there is something in the subject to inspire—to call forth the magnificence of design." With all the predisposition to be charmed, I entered St. Paul's. The interior of this superb church was in a state of complete neglect; but it was not until I commenced the perusal of the monuments that I saw the policy of the dirt. I am now convinced that it has been allowed to accumulate at the request of the sculptors ; and I am glad to see it, for modesty is the promise of amendment. I will not make remarks on masses of marble that are not of recent erection; but there is a wretched national penury in the spirit that clusters the names of two or three gallant officers on the same beggarly-looking slab of marble. If these things are proposed as encouragement for the living, the Legislature must think that human exertion is easily bribed. In the latest monument that, by a more liberal grant, has been produced on a more elaborate scale, we will notice the design as it is, and the incongruity visible in it, as in every other group where allegory is attempted. Sir Thomas Picton was acknowledgedly one of the first generals of the British army, After a series of the most brilliant subordinate services rendered to the country, he fell in the most distinguished battle of modern times; and Sir Thomas Picton's monument exbibits not the form of a General of division, nor a full length of an expiring bero, buta bust;-and so placed, that it requires an opera-glass to observe it well. Now, as General Picton's figure, in the artist's opinion, would not do for sculpture, he has given us three that he thinks may answer better. A Victory, or an England, (I forget which) with a Grecian face, handing a wreath for Picton's brow to a Roman Legionary (who cannot reach to Picton's bust), and who is to represent to the spectator the most appropriate emblem of Valour. Now, we think that a British soldier is as emblematical of valour as any Roman can be. And knowing that there was not a single Italian corps in the army at Waterloo, any soldier of the 5th or 88th regiments, who used to lead in Picton's storming-parties, on visiting this monument, will puzzle his memory to think to what regiment of the division this fellow belonged. Next, to keep all female visi. ters at a distance, stands a naked youth (gracefully sculptured, I allow), who represents Genius. The naked truth every one hears of, though it is rarely exhibited; but this genius might have had clothes on, for in the cold cavity of St. Paul's the boy looks as if freezing. Is there not generally a committee appointed to decide on the designs, and if nothing more in character was submitted to them, did it not become their duty, with only the wish to honour the memory of Picton, a regard for sculpture, and a disregard as to the country of the artist, to have procured a design, such at least as would have led the spectator into the secret—that a soldier of the 19th century was thus honoured by the gratitude of his country? A free trade is as judicious in the Fine Arts as in those which are necessary to existence.*
The object of the public is to have fine structures and monuments. There is, in fact, scarcely a composition in St. Paul's that would not be in Italy broken up to make cement; and yet every one knows that these things might have been procured, of elegant conception and high finish, at an inferior expense. If one of these monuments could show itself, in its Italian quarry, in its new British shape, “ 'twould make the stones of Rome to rise and mutiny,” ere they would submit to embarkation for England.
Another monument lately erected, standing near the door of entrance, is actually better, though the artist might have made the figures in relief more effective and graceful. The principal figure is of General Hay, who is dressed in uniform, and the effect of the costume is not ungraceful as might be supposed. In these things we have been too much slaves to old ideas." If a man of the present day looks dignified in existence and becoming in modern costume, does he not give the idea of more active and manly power than the philosopher in his cumbrous robe ? and, ephemeral as the fashion is, should he not be represented as he lived? How comes it that the painter alone has stepped over this narrowness of taste? Our nobles stand in the frame in their official dresses, or in the common costume, our military as British military; allegory is not crowded into the painting containing the modern portrait. And what artist would pencil but the bust, surrounded by the personified attributes of the mind ?
Now we may inquire what is the course most likely to succeed in eliciting a better taste for the arts, and in the artists themselves. First, as to the obligation entailed on the Country, to disgrace the appearance of its religious edifices, in particular, by the exclusive patronage of native art. The profession of the Fine Arts is of optional adoption, because the student, before he can feel necessity, must incur expenditure, and pass much time without emolument.
• I do not deny the skill of the sculptor in what he has done (the lion not being sculptured), but I assert that a parliamentary grant is not to be given for copies or ideas of antique figures, when the country wanted the full represen. tation of a contemporary personage. Bad as the composition and workmanship of many other monuments are, still, where the principal figure of the subject is presented in the principal representation, we experience some feeling of satisfaction.