« AnteriorContinuar »
tain and Ireland amounted to about nineteen from Grangemouth. Crowds of people flocked to millions, that is about geven millions three hun- the Calton Hill; and as this novel bark was seen dred thousand less than the population of last gliding on against the wind and heedless of the census in 1811. They had then the same cli- tide, “ walking the waters like a thing of life,” the mate, the same soil, and the same extent of sur- admiration of the spectators was unbounded. They face as now, and yet all the necessaries of life could not have viewed the ascent of a balloon with were as expensive, in as great request, and a pro- more intense curiosity; and even then they began portion of foreign supply was as necessary then, to anticipate thit hundreds of such“ ships of as at present. But if a pugnacious chimposition-a power” would soon crowd their shores. self-sufficiency of opinion-a want of taste in the
Thirty years ago, the British intellect was in its fine arts, and other national peculiarities, character- full vigour. The Scottish metaphysical school of ised the men of the last generation, let us see whe- deep thinking was in the wane, but there still linther they had not other qualities to counter-balance gered on the stage Dugald Stewart, Brown, Macthese. Let us see whether the long and disastrous intosh; while Hall, Foster, Southey, Gifford, Colediscipline of war had not sharpened their inven- ridge, excelled in their different departments. Imtions, aroused their energies, increased their indus- agination and fancy were in the ascendant, and try, and confirmed their feelings of national inde- Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Campbell, Coleridge, pendence and self-respect.
Moore, Montgomery, were at the height of their Thirty years ago the introduction of Macadam- poetic fame. Thirty years ago, the neglected ised roads throughout every corner of the coun- fragment of Waverley manuscript was unfolded try was thought a feat of the greatest conse- from the corner of a repository where it had long quence.
Before that period, a heavy stage coach slumbered in embryo, and became the parent of a plied between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the pas- series of the most popular imaginative writings sengers breakfasting and dining by the way, and that have ever appeared since the Iliad of Homer. reckoning themselves very fortunate if they arriv- Thirty years ago, the Edinburgh Review was rd at the end of a long and tedious day's journey, in all the glory of its blue and yellow, grasping to sup at either of those cities. When a four-in- down a still sharper and more poignant spear to hand light coach started), and made the journey cope with its drab rival, the Quarterly, which had in five hours, this was thought a feat worthy of recently entered the lists. These two mighty glacommemorating. It was the same throughout diators tilted before the nations, and led or repressEngland,-heavy waggons, or as heavy coaches ed public opinion at will. While the one bore'on slowly jogged over waving and rutted roads in a
its banner the representation of the people, the refive or six days' journey to the metropolis, so that dress of abuses, the free interchange of trade, the their adventures on the road, and their frequent other stood up for the venerated usages of former sojourns at inns during the night, afforded fertile times, the permanency of things as they were, and sources for the graphic pens of a Smollett and the perfect integrity of a circle which set bounds Fielding. Even when Palmer's ingenious plan of and limits to certain orders and opinions both mail coaches was introduced, the London mail took within and without its circumference. The one more than three days in its journey from London laboured to expand and emancipate, the other to to Edinburgh.
curb and restrain: while the one dreaded the evilsAbout thirty years ago (in the spring of 1817,) even the anticipated destinction, consequent upon gas-liglit was first generally introduced into liberty or licence, the other veprecated the corrupEdinburgh. The two shops on the North Bridge tions which they found to exist within a circle, which first exhibited this novel and brilliant however select and circumscribed, where, amid the light in the form of a star, became objects of engrossing pursuit of selfish aims, the centre of recgreat curiosity to crowds of spectators. The old titude was rarely aimed at. Yet thirty years have glimmering oil lamps,placed“ few and far between” brought these combatants, like two converging lines on the public streets, were tlien for the first time far separated at one extremity, nearly to a point at superseded by more brilliant luminaries. When last. Nearly all that was desired on one side, and all this idea was started of introducing a thin and that was opposed on the other, have been concedimpalpable air into tubes, and distributing it ed, and the lion of politics lies down with the kid. like water to every street and house of the city, But although thirty years ago there were giants old men shook their heads, and even wise men of literature in the land, the mass of the people laughed it to scorn; and now we would as soon were pigmies. Then was the day of two-guinea, think of losing the sun as losing the aid of gas. hot-pressed, large-margined quartos, read by some Thirty years ago, one of Bell's earliest steam
two thousand of the élite of Britain, but sealed boats, the Tug, constructed on the Clyde, was books to the millions. Among the serious part of brought into the Firth of Forth. It was a beautiful the people, a few yellow antique-looking copies of sunny day, with a slight breeze from the east, when the good old divines still circulated; among the this vessel was first descried with her lofty funnel multitude, the most ribald and senseless of trashy and long train of curling smoke, making her way pamphlets. Of the great mass of society, not one
-- ** Thirty years ago, the machine printing-press
out of ten either read or possessed books of almost The Chronicle has experienced the various phase3 any kind; now, every individual reads, and for a of that many-coloured life which it is its business few pence can command the best of works.
to record; if in some portions of the past it may Thirty years ago, Blackwood's Magazine arose have “suckled fools and chronicled small beer," as a luminary of wit, drollery, and sarcastic criti- it now, we hope, prospers in an enlarged sphere cism in the literary horizon, and astonished the na- of utility. The Post is the mirror of wit, charades, tions as if it had been a comet in the sky. The and Conservatism, with many a cornerful of exChaldee manuscript, a satirical sketch of the lite- cellent puns and bon-mots; but as it had not an rati of the day, convulsed the city, somewhat existence thirty years ago, the Post we must postlike a transient earthquake. For thirty years bas pone for the present. The Standard that erst was the current of its wit flowed, and sparkled, and so boldly unfurled has fled from the field of battle, frothed, and still it rolls on, if not with the might | though it cannot be said to have deserted its post, of its pristine vigour, yet with its original current but rather merged into it. The Witness remains reinforced by fresh streams of power from the faithful to the last. Two or three Literary Gamountains. The sprightliness of her younger sis- zettes recorded the works of the day, and endeater proved the death of an elder and venerable
voured to scatter abroad their knowledge among lady, the Scots Magazine, whose sober pages were the multitude; but it appeared that this knowledge oracles thirty years ago.
Tait's Magazine arose was either little worth or was rated too high, and out of the Schoolmaster, an hebdomadal of ceased to find votaries. Not so the celebrated much promise and no less performance. Journal of Chambers; while other works circuknow not why the worthy pedagogue wandered late by hundreds, it does so by thousands and too far abroad one Saturday, and never was seen
tens of thousands; while reams suffice for many, alive again. Some of his tales were worth a cart- it sends its weekly tons to enlighten the cottage load of much of the rubbish of the day.
as well as the castle. Thirty years ago, the newspaper press of Edinburgh had, par excellence, its Courant and Mer- was unknown. The then tedious hand-press was cury. These had taken their origin some two cen- one great restraint on the multiplication of copies. turies before in very diminutive forms and with The labour of throwing off ten thousand impressmall pretensions, but gradually rose into compe- sions of a sheet was then very great, and what is tent vehicles of information. The former, an em- now done in a few hours or days, would then blem of the national character, kept on its cau
have taken up as many months or years. The tious and sober way, civil to all parties, but es- printed sheets that issue from the periodical press pousing the direct cause of none; endeavouring to
of Great Britain daily and weekly, would, in a catch truth by sailing mid-way between extremes, year, be more than sufficient to wrap up the and always candid and intelligent, if not brilliant. whole earth like a Madeira orange. Millions on The Mercury, pursuing a more ambitious and pre
millions of words and wise sayings are poured out carious course, has met with more varied success; continually, and well might the son of Shirach but it still soars and glides in double panoply, with now exclaim, “ Of writing books there is no end." railway advertisements instead of wings at its
Thirty years ago the bench and the bar, with heels. The Star that twinkled thirty years ago
its subordinate staff of lawyers and writers, held has long since set. The Correspondent laid down the pre-eminence among Edinburgh coteries. The its pen to be an Observer; but, in its latter days, wit and the jests of the Parliament House flowed its eyes becoming dim, mistook or wavered in in full streams every day, and formed the amusetheir vision of events, and at last closed for ever. ment of tea and oyster parties. It was then a Amid the tameness of ancient days, the Scotsman usual resort of the public to flock to the lawsuddenly arose a giant, wielding his club against
courts to listen to Jeffrey's amusing volubility borough-mongering and every local and general of eloquence—to Cockburn's deep pathos—to abuse. A giant he still remains, though his brow
Cranston's Attic wit and acumen, and to John is now smooth, and his smile is more frequent
Clark's broad humour and drollery. Strangers than his frown. The Beacon made its appearance from all quarters then visited the “Inner House" for a time amid troubled waters, but it neither to gaze on the silent and half-sleeping Sir Walter guided its friends nor warned its foes, and soon Scott yawning in his usual corner, or perhaps abfoundered.
sorbed with a proof sheet of some of his novels, It needs not our pen to advertise the Advertiser. and quite regardless of the buzz and bustle around It has ever been consistent in opposing what it him. deems wrong in the politics of either Church or Thirty years ago our city churches, which then State. The Journal rose into favour under the numbered less than one-third of what they do at fostering genius of the “Great Unknown," and its present, were more than half-deserted; while the pages swelled with the spirited remonstrances of pier of Leith on a Sunday afternoon was crowde:l Malachi Malagrowther, but it has now returned to
with hundreds and thousands of visitors from the the common-place jottings of every-day existence. city. The sermons read in churches were essays
on the beauty of vir tue; but the congregations these are digested and assimilated into fabrics of seemed not to catch the flame or be much en- all forms and textures, and again disgorged to beamoured of this lovely personification, for listless come converted into capital, which is anon exlanguor was too frequently manifested. While the pended on more raw material for similar producchurches were thus left half empty, the theatres tions in the same ceaseless round. These manuwere doubly crowded.. On the announcement of factures are distributed over the whole world, and some great theatrical “star” places were secured the net produce returns as accumulated wealth to a fortnight before, and imuiense crowds besieg- our shores. ed the yet unopened doors of the theatre. On In thirty years the extension and improvements the elder Kean's first
appearance in Glasgow, doz- of every kind of agriculture have been such, that ens of amateurs posted there by coach to witness as already remarked, seven additional millions of his performances. It must be remarked, however, human beings are supported on the same soil as bethat it was the dramas of Shakespeare and Jonson fore, for the surplus supply of imported food is little that drew the crowds then; not as now, “Jack Shep
different now from what it was thirty years ago, pard,” or some sulphureous, red-fired melo-drama. while the corn laws were enforced then as at present.
Thirty years ago dissent was looked upon as In thirty years the mind of the average mass of something low and vulgar, and as necessarily as- society has been greatly elevated. Education, in sociated with disaffection to the state; now, two- its highest acceptance, has done much to enlighten thirds of the country range under this category. and polish-though much yet remains to be done. Dr Inglis was supreme in the councils of the A taste for reading, music, the useful and ornaChurch, and Dr Andrew Thomson almost alone mental arts,- for rational and social intercourse, stood up as the champion of a reform of her abuses. instead of the wild orgies, debasing excesses, and Thirty years ago Dr Chalmers began to stir up brutal sports of the olden time is evidently exthe minds of the people, and thousands rushed to tending more and more throughout all classes of hear his striking and energetic eloquence. From society. The grovelling nature of men too is bea small and lonely parish in the country, and from ginning to give way somewhat. They fix not a life hitherto of quiet and meditative study, he their eyes for ever upon the earth, or bestow not arose suddenly, and with a singular energy roused one single passing glimpse beyond the horizon of men from their slumbers, and began that great their selfish and earthly gratifications; the gaze movement of the day which still “cries sleep no is now sometimes turned upward, and the searchmore to all the house."
ing question sometimes rises in the breast," from Thirty years ago Wilberforce could scarce ob- whence came we and whither are we bound.” tain an impatient hearing in a British House of There never perhaps was a state of society in Commons to tell them that human slavery was an the world like the present. Locomotion both by accursed thing. The same benevolent individual, sea and land is brought to such a degree of perfecin conjunction with Hannah More, had experi- tion that man becomes like a bird; he can fly to enced great difficulty in establishing their first every corner of the globe, and make all that naSunday schools for the young poor, then wretch- ture and art produce available to his wants or edly ignorant ; their chief opponents being the
desires. clergy of the parishes.
Though there must be many exceptions, yet, on Thirty years ago, missionary societies, though the whole, the social comforts of the mass of socherished by the few, were scouted and ridiculed ciety are more complete, or at all events more over every part of Britain by the many, both high
diffused than we can conceive ever was the case and low.
in any past period; while the press, the school, Thirty years ago the religion of the Catholic and the pulpit, carry instruction and mental trainwas held in abhorrence, while his claim to the ing to the most distant cottage. equal exercise of civil rights was selfishly denied. Society, from its very remotest recesses, is roused Now, his religion is in high quarters met more up physically and mentally-the mind of the giant than half-way. And whereas we are enjoined to million is in a state of incessant excitementlove our neighbour as ourselves, the fancy of the there are now no leaden slumbers,-no“waiting a day is to treat the Catholic better than ourselves. wee,” we canna be fashed,”—no treading in the
Having thus swept in thought over the past, identical shoe-tracks of one's father, grandfather, we now take a glance of the present. In thirty and great-great-grandfather-every one chalks out years the progress of the mechanic and useful arts a new path for himself; and if some old heredihas been prodigious. Our manufacturing towns tory possessor should object to let you cross his. are like huge animated machines, smoking, and fields, aye, or even his opinions, parliament will gleaming, and clanking, and burring, and moving soon, in spite of him, run a railroad through his sitto and fro incessantly day and night. Huge rows, ting parlour, root out his most cherished ideas, and bales, and ship and waggon loads of raw ma- and make the way patent for all and sundry. terials are poured in daily and hourly into their What is to be the result of all this? This is a capacious maws, and in the twinkling of an eye question which a few words cannot settle; besides,
SIR CHARLES BELL ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF EXPRESSION AS
CONNECTED WITH THE FINE ARTS.
This was the first and the last work of a pure and whose mind was more uniformly attuned to grateful elegant mind, imbued from birth with a sense of the happiness."* beautiful and true, both in art and philosophy. At a
How characteristic of his taste was the closing scene very early age, Sir Charles Bell seems to have been of his life! In a declining state of health he had taken alive to the beauty of external form.
“ While yet a
advantage of a recess in his professional duties, to rechild,” says he, “ I remember Allan Ramsay, the Scot- visit his friends in England. He had spent a part of tish artist, as a kind and facetious old gentleman, but the day in the open air, and in sketching a country chiefly because he gave me drawings to copy, and called church, and gazing on its quiet burial ground, where, me 'Brother Brush.'” Sir Charles was the youngest with a prophetic anticipation, he even expressed a wish son of a Scottish clergyman of the Episcopal Church.
that his bones might be laid in their last repose; and, He made choice of the same profession as his elder returning to bed, was found there in the morning a still brother John, an eminent surgeon in Edinburgh; and
and lifeless corpse.
The first edition of his Anatomy of Expression was after an assiduous course of study, he removed at an early age to London, as a larger field for the exercise of published in 1806; a second appeared in 1824; but he his talents. His labours there,--his beautiful and ori- resisted every call for a new impression, until he should ginal discoveries regarding the nervous system,-and
have had an opportunity of verifying in Italy the prinhis enthusiastic pursuit of his profession, both at home ciples of criticism in art by the study of the works of and on the battle field abroad, are well known. Amid the great masters in painting and sculpture. He acall these labours, his mind seems never to have lost cordingly made out this visit in 1840, and on his reits original taste for art, for, indeed, he called in
turn he recomposed the whole work for a new edition, his knowledge of it on all occasions, to illustrate his introducing his notes and observations which he had theories and his demonstrations; but on glancing over made while abroad. These are interspersed through his career, one cannot fail to regret that the anxieties the work, and impart to it a lively and additional in
terest. and responsibilities of an arduous profession left him far too little undisturbed leisure to cherish his darling
As his opinion of art was high, he, on every occatastes, and pursue his calm and contemplative philoso- sion, takes the opportunity of inculcating on the artist phy. One cannot help feeling regret to think, that
the necessity of high and comprehensive attainments. while this fine and sensitive spirit was struggling hard “ The painter,” says he, “must not be satisfied to with the common-place exertions of the world, many a copy and represent what he sees; he must cultivate dull and sycophantic drone was indolently dozing over
this talent of imitation merely as bestowing those faci
lities which are to give scope to the exertions of his some snug sinecure or ill-awarded preferment. Well
genius; as the instruments and means only which he may Britain be called a cold and niggardly foster
to employ for communicating his thoughts, and presentmother to her talented sons! It is true, in his latter ing to others the creations of his fancy; it is by his days, he got an empty title, and his own alma mater did creative powers alone that he can become truly a paintall that was in her power to bestow upon him; but how
er; and for these he is to trust to original genius, cul
tivated and enriched by a constant observation of nagratifying would it have been to have had to record
ture. Till he has acquired a poet's eye for nature, and that honours and rewards had met him in an earlier
can seize with intuitive quickness the appearances of day, and that the evening of his life had passed in that passion, and all the effects produced upon the body hy “ retired and learned leisure," which he, no doubt, the operations of the mind, he has not raised himself could have so admirably filled up and so highly enjoy
above the mechanism of his art, nor does he rank with ed. For, in the words of fraternal affection," he was
the poet or historian.
It is a happy characteristic of the present times a true lover of nature; and to trace the proofs of per
that a love of the fine arts is becoming more and more fection and design in all the works of the Creator, was prevalent among the affluent; but still, rich furniture, to him a source of ever new delight. Constantly he mere ornamental painting and gilding, usurp the place had some useful, some noble purpose in view, whether
of art properly so called. The mansion of an English
nobleman and that of a Roman of the same rank, prein following up some scientific inquiry, or in enthusi
sent a singular contrast.
The former exhibits carpets, astically pursuing nature or art. Those who knew him
silk hangings, lamps, mirrors, china, and perhaps best, and had seen him in the most trying circumstances of life, were most sensible, that there never was a man
* Preface to 3d Edition of Philosophy of Expression, 1845.
SIR CILIRLES LELL ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF EXPRESSION.
I woks. The palazzo, on the other hand, in its general : espect, may betray antiquity and decay; yet respect
for ancestry retains on its walls the proofs of former grandeur and taste; there hang many pictures, each of which would purchase an English villa, or furnish a London mansion in all the extravagance of fashion. "Vulgar curiosity may seek admittance to the finery of the one, while princes are gratified by admission to the other.”
He illustrates this by an anecdote, which we are afraid would be yet too characteristic of Britain:
“ I cannot withhold the following instance of public feeling in England. When Lord Elgin brought to London the figures of the beautiful frieze from the Parthenon of Athens, and while they remained in his court-yard in Piccadilly, he proposed a great treat to his friends. He had entertained an ingenious notion that, by exposing the natural figures of some of our modern athletics in contrast with the marbles, the perfection of the antique would be felt, and that we should see that the sculptors of the best time of Greece did not deviate from nature. The noblemen and gentlemen whom he conceived would take an interest in this display were invited. He had the boxers, the choice men of what is termed “the fancy. They stripped and sparred before the ancient statues, and for one instant it was a very fine exhibitiou; but no sooner was the bulky form of Jackson, no longer young, opposed to the fine elastic figure of the champion of all England, than a cry arose, and “the ring pressed forward, and ancient art and the works of Phidias were forgotten. Such I fear is the feeling of even the better part of the English public. Let not the young sculptor be too sanguine of support."
and prone to the expression of the finer emotions; representing them, either as still and unperturbed, or as indicating a superiority to the things of this lower world. In the Apollo, there is such a stillness of features, that every one follows his faney, and thinks he sees in the statue what is really in his own mind. In the Venus, the form is exquisite and the face perfect, but there is no expression there. The authoress of an agreeable work on Rome is disturbed because she has seen women, real living women, almost as beautiful as the Venus, and far more interesting.'” So also thought Byron:
* I've seen much prettier wen en ripe and real
Than all the lost of th: ir stone idral." We should find more of her way of thinking, if all would confess their first impressions. This, however, cannot detraet from the perfection of a statue, which has been admired in all times, as now. It only points to the purity of the design, the high aim of the artist, and his successful execution. Had the Helen of Zeuxis been preserved, I can imagine that it would have been of a more feminine and seducing beauty than the Venus. But we must bear in mind that all individuality was studiously avoided by the ancient sculptors, in the representation of divinity; they maintained the beauty of form and proportion, but without expression, which, in their system, belonged exclusively tu humanity."
After describing the sympathy of the heart with the muscles of respiration, we have this account of
BLUSHING: “ The sudden flushing of the countenance in blushing belongs to expression, as one of the many sources of sympathy which bind us together. This suffusion serves no purpose of the economy, whilst we must acknowledge the interest which it excites as an indication of mind. It adds perfection to the features of beauty.
The colour which attends exertion, or the violent passiens, as of rage, arises from general vascular excitement, and differs from blushing. Blushing is too -udden and too partial to be traced to the hearts action. That it is a provision for expression may be inferred from the colour extending only to the surface of the face, neck, and breast, the parts most exposed. It is not acquired; it is from the beginning. It is unlike the effect of powerful, depressing emotions, which influence the whole body. The sudden conviction of the criminal is felt in every pore; but the colour caused by blushing gives brillianey and interest to the expression of the face. In this we perceive an advantage possessed by the fair family of mankind, and which must be lost to the dark; for I can hardly believe that a blush may be seen in the negro.
We think of blushes as accompanying shame; bui it is indicative of excitement. There is no shame when lively feeling makes a timid youth break through the restraint which inodesty and reserve lave imposed. It is becoming in youth, it is seemly in more advanced years in women. Blushing assorts well with youthful and with cffcminate features; whilst nothing is more hateful than a dog. face, that exhibits no token of sensibility in the variations of colour."
His advice to artists is to have continual recourse to
THE STUDY OF NATURE.
“ If a painter entertains the idea that there is some undefined beauty, distinct from nature, which is in his own mind, his works will want that variety which is in nature, and we shall see in his paintings the same
ontinually reproduced. We are informed that Raphael, in painting the head of Galatea, found no beauty deserving to be his model; he is reported to have said, that there is nothing so rare as perfect beauty in woman; and that he substituted for nature a certain idea inspired by his own fancy. This is a mistake: painters have nothing in their heads but what has been put there. There is no power in us to disengage ourselves from material things, and to rise into a sphere of intellectual ideas,' and least of all in what regards man. In the Palazzo Farnesina, there are frescoes by Raphael and his scholars, demonstrating to me the nature of those studies which enabled him to compose, not to copy, the beautiful Galatea; that he first drew from what he saw, and finally avoided imperfections, and combined excellencies.”
His observations on the comparative expressions of the brute and human face are interesting, and marked by his usual acuteness; so also are those on
EXPRESSION OF THE EYE.
THE GREEK IDEAL.
“ It is happy for philosophy, science, history, poetry, and eloquence, that the Greeks were a superior people, and happy for our subject, that they were an eminently beautiful people. The artists of Greece certainly did not follow a vague line of beauty. They rather imitated some acknowledged beautiful form of age or sex. They even combined the beauty of both
With them the highest effort of art was to represent man deified; as it were, purified from the grosser characters of nature. This they did by exaggerating whatever is proper to the human form: by increasing what gives dignity, and bestowing features, capable
“ The eye is the most lively feature in the countenance; the first of our senses to awake, and the last to cease motion. It is indicative of the higher and the holier emotions—of all those feelings which distinguish man from the brutes.
A large eye is not only consistent with beauty, but necessary to it. The eye of the eagle, even of the ox, is familiar in the similes of poets.
The Arab expresses his idea of a woman's beauty, by saying, that she has the eye of the gazelle; it is the burthen of their songs. The timidity, gentleness, and innocent fear, in the eye of the deer tribe, are compared with the modesty of a young girl.
* Let her be as the loving hind, and plea