« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
doubt that such a union with Massachusetts would best promote the interests of the people of Plymouth, and was in accordance with their wishes. There is no evidence of the bad faith of Mather; and the letter of his associate was probably written under feelings of extreme disappointment. The union, at first, was bitter to the people of Plymouth. They felt, that they had lost their distinctive political character, and that, as the immediate descendants of the Pilgrims, their rights had not been sufficiently respected. These feelings did not entirely subside for a number of years ; but at lengih a common origin and common interesi made the people of the two colonies one in feeling, as they were one in their political organization ; and they now claim protection from the same free constitution of the Commonwealth, and feel a common pride and satisfaction in the heroic deeds, liberal views, and generous philanthropy of their fathers.
There was a distinction between the early settlers of the two colonies. Those of Plymouth were almost entirely English; and there is probably no portion of North America, which has at the present day a population of so purely English descent as that. They, however, had not the wealth, rank, or learning of many of the early settlers of Massachusetts. They were men of strong minds, and made a proper estimate of the value of their political and religious principles. They placed but little value on wealth or rank. They acted from higher motives than these afford, and regarded the promotion of the good and happiness of the whole as the great object of government. They had, however, among them some men of preäminent talents and character. As a civil magistrate, Bradford, the father of the colony, (sor Carver, who, chosen to set his name first to the charter, must be taken for the noblest Roman of them all,” died the first winter,) and for twenty-one years its governor, would, by his sound good sense and elevated patriotism, have done bonor to any age. To bis wisdom and discretion the colony owed much of its prosperity, and undoubtedly its prolonged political existence. Of the services of Brewster, we can hardly make too high an estimate. For twenty-four years he was the spiritual father and guide of the colony. He came with the Pilgrims, and with them he was willing to endure and suffer. Of the intrepid and courageous Standish, the leader in all military enterprises, whether against the Indians, the followers of Morton at Merry Mount, or their Dutch neighbours, it was as true as of the Trojan, that success was never to be despaired of, when he led the way. So the Winslows, Allerton, Alden, Hatherly, Prince, and Hinckley were all good men and true, who, in all their efforts and sacrifices, had no other object in view than their country's good, and the progress of truth and righteousness.
This colony was small and its duration short ; but its influence on the character and condition of this people, and ultimately of the human race, was destined to be most important. Never was there a more successful experiment of popular government, combining all the strength and vigor of a monarchy with all the freedom and security of a republic. During the whole seventy-one years of the colony's existence, there were but six governors ; and two of these were in office during thirtynine years of this period, – a period, too, not of repose and quiet, but of peril and excitement. In their intercourse with the Indians, the people of the colony present a bright example of humanity, and the same sense of justice is here witnessed, that pervaded all their public and private acts. foot of the soil was taken from the natives without their consent, nor without the payment of an equivalent. The treaty with Massassoit for a half century was most scrupulously observed ; and it was not their fault, or the fault of that faithful sachem, but of his treacherous son, that it was at last violated. In their conduct towards the Quakers they were comparatively mild and humane, preferring to let their errors be promulgated, and die unobserved, rather than make them martyrs by the prison or the gallows. Their loyalty was firm, yet it was a loyalty to their own government and principles rather than to any foreign power. It was a love of liberty, and an adherence to the rights of Englishmen.
None of the passengers of the Mayflower survived the colony. Most of them died within thirty or thirty-five years after their arrival. The last survivor was John Alden, who lived till 1686.
ART. III. - Exhibition of Pictures painted by Washington
Allston at Harding's Gallery, School Street. Boston: 1839. pp. 8.
The recent exhibition of Mr. Allston's paintings invites us to offer a few thoughts upon the works of the artist and the art which he adorns. In doing so, we stand in the same relation to the subject of our remarks which we should hold with regard to an author still living and writing in the midst of us ; being restrained in some degree from the license of eulogy, and withheld from the freedom allowed in speaking of those who have passed from the scene of their labors. Yet is this delicacy due rather to the reader and 10 ourselves, than to the artist. The mind of one who has for many years been following his own serene course, passing from land to land, and from school to school, but always irue to himself, and leaving traces of his history from time to tine in gentle images and harmonious colors, must of necessity look with slight emotion upon the opinions of the unjust, the incompetent, the over inquisitive, and even the over idolatrous.
The undisputed claim of Mr. Allston to the first place in the roll of American artists, without reference to any higher pretensions which may be asserted for him, is too barren a laurel to be worn with much sense of glory. When his name shall belong to the past, who then will wear it? Yet doubtless there are many, who think the whole debt of glory cancelled by the little word first, and criticism discharged of all her duties, when she has stamped it with her approval. We must speak more freely than only to echo the vote of the majority. One living man among us, and one only, has any right to be named in the highest walk of his art, as holding the pencil of a master. If we would learn how far his excellence extends, we must go elsewhere for our terms of comparison.
There can be no offence in these remarks; for the time has not come for art to have accumulated its treasures and formed the public taste among us.
For all the declamation about the sources of inspiration to be found in the grandeur of nature in our Western world, and the influences to be exerted by our free institutions, they have hitherto impressed a tendency to the useful, rather than the beautiful, upon the national mind. The mountains and cataracts, which were to have made poets and painters, have been mined for anthracite and dammed for water powers. It is probable, that much more will depend on the yet undetermined character of the race, which will by and by assume one or more distinct national types under the influence of the material and social peculiarities of existence in the new world, than upon the terms of our constitution or the magnificence of our landscapes. The national character may be Attic or Bæotian, of Spartan vigor or Athenian elegance; but it is safer to remember what we have accomplished than to predict what we shall do, while as yet we know so little of the direction to be given by circumstances to the mind and character of a new people, sprung from the mingling of as many races, as the first generation that grew up in Rome after the invasion of Alaric. Hitherto our masters in all the nobler paths of intellectual culture have been sought for in the old world ; and it is there we must look for the scale by which to measure any degree of excellence, that passes our ordinary standard of judgment.
If the subject of these remarks had any thing to fear from such sources, he might hold in dread two classes of critics. There are some who admire all pictures, especially if they are in richly ornamented frames. The strong primitive instinct for rich colors attracts them alike to the studio and the carpet warehouse, to the camera obscura and the kaleidoscope. In a great painting they are enraptured with some of those effects which belong to it in common with the most inferior work; nay, if it have any extravagance of coloring or conception, they will be most apt to fix on this very point as chiefly to be admired. Their remarks, whether in speech or print, are worse than valueless, for they persuade others that, as soon as they have learned to see with a superficial critic's eye, they have studied out, – approfondi, as the Frenchmen say, - all that the artist has in him.
There are many civil and pleasant creatures of this kind dangling about all picture galleries, as capable of judging of the nobler productions of genius, as they would be of criticizing the observations of Herschel, did they honor the firmament with a glance through their quizzing-glasses.
The other class of critics has been already described by Sir Joshua Reynolds. It consists of those, who, “not knowing what can or cannot be done, are very liberal of absurd praises in their descriptions of favorite works. They always find in them what they are resolved to find. They praise excellences that can hardly exist together; and, above all things, are fond of describing with great exactness the expression of a mixed passion, which more particularly appears to me out of the reach of our art."
Such are the two orders of umpires, that distribute fame among us with abundant liberaliiy and sparing judgment. The reason of it is not difficult to discover.
In this country we have but limited means of educating the eye and the taste to the just appreciation of the beautiful in art, as it has made itself familiar to all the cultivated classes in lands where centuries have been garnering up the tributes of generation upon generation. The great works of the great artists of the past may be said to be unknown among us. We educate ourselves upon what we find, and our standard becomes of course imperfect. The commonplace observer is readily pleased with a little glare and effect, and never acquires a relish for better qualities. The more enthusiastic and contemplative single out some master of loftier capacities, and break over him all their alabaster-boxes of sentiment and idealism. They remind us of the homely proverb, signifying that the bells ring in the tune that unwise heads are thinking of, — of the lady and the curate, one of whom saw whispering lovers, and the other cathedral spires, in the moon, – of Lord Peter, whose loaf of bread had in it the quintessence of roast beef, plum puddings, pies, and custards, and all this because, as good Sir Joshua said, “ they describe their own imaginations."
It is not invidiously, or with any assumption of superiority, that we make these remarks. It is because the standard of general taste must be considered, before we can truly feel how lonely is the summit that genius toils so long to gain. The eyes
follow its course so long as it moves lightly up the flowery slopes, and turn away when it reaches the steep and difficult ascents; a few are ever peering with telescopes of doubtsul transparency to see it reach some castle which they fancy in the clouds ; but fewer are they,