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If a young man without the natural requisites for success, voluntarily enters on the career of an artist, the country is certainly not called on to indemnify him for his miscalculation of his powers. But, from the system pursued by the public guardians and fosterers of art, a few leaders in the particular branches have an exclusive certainty of employment, and allow, in the indolence even of genius, much of their powers to remain dormant. If invitations for designs for the next required monumental group were extended to all Europe, we should either produce amongst ourselves something of perfect beauty, or we should be the means of introducing such sculpture as might originate a new school in England. Something of this kind should be done, to save us from the laughter of the Continent. Our painters, whose art is more difficult, have completely outstripped the architect and sculptor. They introduce with a superior effect the modern female face, and on the neck of a goddess or a Virtue it is appropriately placed. But if they acted like our sculptors, we might expect to see the combatants in the Peninsular battles in Roman or Greek caparison, as well as a British King.
Speaking of battles brings me to the third illustration of my premises. The Directors of the National Academy have given a sum of public money for the most rhapsodical picture that ever adorned the walls of an exhibition-room. The picture is entitled “The Triumph of England.” Of course, allegory is largely employed ;not classical allegory, but the wildest fantastical expression is given to dreams, which could have sprung alone from the oppression of the incubus. The composer of this picture is, by declaration, and all previous study, an animal-painter, and unsurpassed as such; but in this instance, when the noblest embodying of idea was requisite to give a conception of the proudest era of the British monarchy, the competition should have been thrown open to the world. We wanted to illustrate a crowd of splendid achievements, and should not have been restrained in the gratification of that wish by the narrow and quite unnecessary care of attending to the interests of a well-established artist. The British School of Painting in a rapid state of advancement) owes its best success to private patronage ; but the hitherto existing ordinances and rules of its academic direction have not much benefited it. Let the Directors of the Academy reject all designs that possess incongruities. Let us no longer see buildings disfigured by unprecedented orders; nor a Greek structure surmounted by a spire ; nor a female with Greek features introduced in the same group with a male figure of Roman lineament: when those faults are avoided, architecture and sculpture may derive improvement from national encouragement, and painting be prevented from degenerating into wild imagination. But, to succeed, the competition must be thrown open to all England; and occasionally, according to the importance of the subject, to all Europe. The talent of the British artist should alone procure him the monopoly in the market. When England produces the best artists, it will be against our interest any longer to encourage those of the Continent. Is
the most justly cherished branch of painting the portrait, who thinks of employing an Italian?
Finally, as the most abundant exercise of sculpture is in the field of monumental commemoration, we ought, in common fairness, to consider what might be the fleeting and self-inspiring reflections of some of those men who are the sculptor's subjects, if they were alive. Would not Picton think his memory neglected, if he saw it only perpetuated by a busti Did Crauford lead in at Rodrigo’s breach, and M Kinnon over its mine, and think only to be clustered in the same wretched medallion or tablet? Did Le Marchant charge for immortality, to be handed to posterity in profile? If we do not correct these matters, let us renounce our pretensions to a share in the encouragement of judicious art, and remain a commercial people. But if we would still make the attempt to unite taste to the other parts of the national character, let the field of Art be as the Olympic, open to all comers. Propose the prize for excel. lence to all the Continent, and England may become the field of all competition, the arena of European talent, the emporium of the fine arts; and it may before long be her’s to boast her Milo. Why not act, in respect of the fine arts, as we would in the sciences? If we require the solution of a problem in astronomy or mechanics, do we not propose the prize of discovery and elucidation to all the talented of every country? Did we limit the proposal of reward for the chronometer to the native of England ? If we thought the naval architecture of another state superior to that of our own, whether ought we to adopt the foreigners, or lavish our patronage on the less skilful native constructor's? Had the principles which at present direct us in the mode of encouraging the Fine Arts always swayed public opinion, England could not have been the favoured country of Holbein, Vandyke, and Kneller; nor should we have had a Reynolds, or a Lawrence, and portrait-painting would have been as imperfect as some other departments of the art.
W. W. W.
Written on visiting the spot where the earlier years of the Writer were passed.
Loved haunt of guiltless hearts and golden hours!
Home of my youth, and theme of youthful song!
My thoughtless boyhood chased its days along!
May many a sweet rose in the desert find
Home of my youth! like that I left behind.
Breathe the deep dirge of hopes and pleasures fled;
May people vacancy, and list the dead:
LETTERS ON A TOUR IN SWITZERLAND.
Ev'n now where Alpine solitudes ascend,
I sit me down a pensive hour to spend. Goldsmith. We arrived at Orbe, from Dijon, by way of Salins and Pontarlier -a road full of beauty, and a worthy introduction to this lovely Pays de Vaud. A few.leagues from Dijon, about Auxonne, as we drove along the plains near the Saone, we first saw the bold blue outlines of the Jura; and at Salins we entered into one of its deep valleys, with all the picturesque accompaniments of fir forests and impending mountains. We had now fairly turned our backs on the tame mediocrity of French landscape, and though the post-book told us we were in the Departement du Jura, the forests, the mountains, the glens, the streams, the pastoral cottages, assured us we were on the verge of Switzerland. Nothing can be finer than the drive from Pontarlier to Orbe. Pontarlier is situated in a rich plain of pasture watered by the Doubs. The wooded barrier of the Jura rises majestically above the town, and the high road runs through a pass between perpendicular rocks so narrow as to have been formerly shut in by gates, the posts of which still remain. On the cliff on, one side is perched the fortress of Joux beetling over the road. Here Toussaint L'Ouverture was confined by Napoleon, and died of cold, hunger, and grief. The rock is almost inaccessible, and admirably adapted for the site of a frontier fortress. Nothing but a refinement in oppressive cruelty could select the fortress for a state prison. A soft green valley, sunk deep between mountains rising abruptly and richly clothed with the deep green of the fir, now afforded us a passage through the chain of the Jura. At the village of Balaigne we passed the frontier. An inspection of our passports by one of the Gendarmerie Vaudoise, with a sabre by his side, and Liberté et Patrie, the motto of the Canton, glittering on his helmet, somewhat disturbed the romantic illusions of the scene, and the associations connected with a pastoral republic. The drive by Balaigne and Montcharand to Orbe is one of the most lovely that can be conceived. Here it is that you first command a Swiss prospect, with all its luxuriant variety of mountain, forest, orchards, valleys, lakes, alps, and snows. The Lake of Geneva was obscured by the mists of the evening, but the lake of Neufchatel lay bright and glittering below us. Orbe, though not a pretty town in itself, is one of the most pleasing that I know. The character of the neighbouring scenery has a smiling loveliness, and a teeming fertility, which I never saw equalled. I'he neatness of the villages, the cleanly respectability, of the people, their large well-built cottages and farms, the beautiful pastures, vineyards, orchards that slope down to the romantic river Orbe, which alternately roars in cascades through rocks, and meanders through an expanse of meadow, the town with its steeples and old Roman towers on a vine-covered eminence above the river, the upland pastures of the Jura covered with flocks of cows and goats and studded with white chalets-add to this scene of beauty the black fir-clad ridge of the Jura above, the
glittering lakes in the plains below, and the white broken majestic Alps glittering in the far horizon; and, perhaps, Nature can hardly supply a more enchanting scene of beauty and all-varied grace and luxuriance. A tone of retired peace and primitive repose reigns throughout the place. The old Swiss warrior of the 13th century, who stands on the fountain in the little market-place, looks as if he had lifted his stone sword without molestation for centuries. A fine beech-tree luxuriates on the walls of the gate of entrance, and the cascade formed by the Orbe, under the picturesque stone bridge, murmurs in harmony with the beauties of nature and the tranquil spirit of the place. The day after our arrival we went to dine with one of the old families of the country. The dinner was at one o'clock. The house and establishment had an air of respectability, and, without any indications of wealth or luxury, a certain air of gentlemanlike simplicity. Its inhabitants we found hospitable, simple, and well-informed. A veteran Swiss gentleman, an officer of rank in the Swiss guards, was particularly pleasing. Though his life had been half spent with his regiment at Paris, he was perfectly Swiss in character and manners; plain, unaffected, loyal, and sensible, attached in every thing to the old regime, eloquent on all matters of rural economy, crops, vintages, seasons, &c. much like an English country squire, with the exception of more of polish in his manners, and less of shrewdness in his conversation. In the evening (that is, at six o'clock) we accompanied our hospitable friends to a soirée dansante, at the house of a Juge de paix for the district-an officer of modern introduction since the suppression of the old aristocratic jurisdiction of Bailifts, and the erection of the Pays de Vaud into an independent republican canton. Here we saw united all the beau monde of Orbe and the neighbourhood. Coffee, tea, liqueurs, delicious fruit, and home-made confectionary, were handed about in great abundance—not by liveried lacqueys, but by the neat handed Phyllises of the establishment. The old family-nurse, of portly dimensions, and adorned with a stately well-starched mob-cap, presided over the refectory and its administrators. A bright galaxy of Swiss mothers and daughters, dressed with simplicity and taste, encompassed the saloons; while the gentlemen, without any of the English display of silk stockings and pumps, occupied the centre of the rooms in clusters, as they used of yore to do in London, and still do, we believe, in card-parties at two days' journey from the inetropolis. A spacious temporary saloon was lighted up as a salle de danse, where waltzing, in all its varieties, was kept up with great spirit. The ladies appeared to be passionately fond of dancing, and many more married women, and women of “a certain age,” were among the couples than are seen in an English ball. The Juge de paix was among the most conspicuous waltzers; and members of the “Grand Conseil,” and Deputies to the Diet, did not disdain the pleasures of a ball. A rational, unpretending, and sociable mirth reigned in the entertainment, with an absence of all luxury and costly preparation which I never saw equalled in any society of equal rank in other countries. We took leave at midnight-no crush of carriages and servants blocked up the gateway. The moon had risen high above the Jura, and was glittering on the river Orbe which flowed close by the house; and the fair dancers regained their homes, after their simple amusement, by the lights of nature and a fine climate, without the aid of lamps or prancing horses.
We drove the other day to Val Orbe, three leagues from Orbe. No traveller who visits this part of Switzerland should neglect seeing this beautiful village, and the singular and lovely source of the Orbe in its neighbourhood. In our way we visited a cascade formed by the river Orbe, near the village of Ballaigne. The exquisite limpidness of the water, the grandeur of the rocks fringed and tufted with luxuriant brush-wood and beech saplings, the sequestered shades which embosom the foaming torrent, render this one of the most interesting waterfalls I have seen. At Ballaigne we left the carriage, and put ourselves under the guidance of a sturdy Swiss peasant, to conduct us to the cascade. The man was dressed in a greasy plush jerkin, a large straw hat, loose trowsers, no stockings, and shoes not weather-tight. He appeared civil and intelligent; and a Swiss gentleman, who accompanied us, seemed to pay him some deference. On returning from the cascade, and wishing him good morning, I begged him to take three francs for his trouble, which he declined with a civil and dignified bow. I soon learned my mistake, when our Swiss friend informed us that our Cicerone was no less a personage than a member of the Grand Council of the Canton de Vaud -a modern Cincinnatus, who mingles the labours of the field with the dignified functions of the senate. We had forgotten that we were now under a pastoral government. How far the crook and the forensic toga consort advantageously together, may perhaps be a question.
The village of Val Orbe, with its neat and well-roofed cottages, its picturesque spire embosomed in poplars and orchards, stands by the side of the Orbe in one of the most romantic and lovely valleys of the Jura. The Orbe has its singular source a mile higher in the valley. Leaving the village, we followed the windings of the stream through the richest meadows, the valley gradually narrowing, the majestic fir-clad mountains on each side growing bolder and more perpendicular, and finally enclosing, with their gloomy wooded bar. rier, the lovely glen through which the stream flows and murmurs. Dark funereal pines and delicate larches shade the rocky precipices, and overhang the stream. The scene is wild, sequestered, and filled with a solitary and shady stillness. We began to wonder whence the stream could issue, till we at last found its source, and beheld it, with delight and astonishment, gliding forth in all its pellucid beauty, from a lofty wall of rock amidst the shade of these sylvan recesses. The stream is seventeen feet in width, and four or five in depth at its issuing from the rocks. It flows forth from the rock without an ripple, and at first glides and waves over the most green and
graceful moss, till masses of rock, detached from the heights above, interrupt its course, and break its waters into murmuring eddies and cascades. It is impossible to conceive any thing more romantic than the whole scene; and no one who has visited it can wonder that poets should have peopled the fountains and streams of the woods with Naiads and Undines. Saussure prefers the source to that of Vaucluse, for beauty and interest. Its singularity is not less remarkable than its beauty. The water is furnished by the small