« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
which is the enactment of some statute—as where Mr. Justice Erle objects to s. 110 respecting • Legal Liability, and omits to consider that the phrase is used in an act only passed three years ago, on which that whole section is framed-14, 15 Vict. c. 11, s. 1. If such criticisms make nothing against the Bill, as little, we are anxious to add, does it tell against the learned Judge. Of the vast mass of legislation which is annually added to the Statute Book, a large part can only be considered by the Bench as occasions arise for its application. A most distinguished and careful judge, a man thoroughly awake to the times he lives in, has been heard to say, 'I know pretty well what the law was ten years ago, but I am not quite so confident what it is now.'
Before closing these remarks upon the very important subject of the Digest and the answers of the learned Judges, it is necessary in justice both to those eminent persons and to the framers of the document, that the course unfortunately pursued by the Lord Chancellor should be borne in mind. Not only did his Lordship promulgate the answers of the Judges without the reply and explanations of the Commissioners, but having submitted to the Judges the Digest in some important articles unfinished, their remarks, valuable as they would have proved* in aid of the House of Lords when putting the last hand to the work, were not reserved for that stage of the proceeding, but made public immediately. Thus it happens that several matters of great moment being purposely left for further and final consideration, nay in some instances, alternative enactments being actually given in the margin, the observations of the Judges are given upon one alternative, or upon matter professedly still under consideration, and a condemnation apparently pronounced as if the ultimate resolutions of the Lords had been formed. Most clearly the commentaries of the Judges should have been regarded as themselves hypothetical and intended for the use of those about to be engaged in completing the work, instead of being promulgated so as to render that completion more difficult, by enlisting against the whole scheme the prejudices so naturally raised when judicial authority seemingly, not really, was interposed. This course so unhappily taken has led to the publication of the reply to which we are desirous of giving all possible publicity ; for if the story told of Alexander that on a complaint being made to him, he stopped one ear with his finger, saying that he kept it to hear the other side, is seldom acted upon in ordinary matters, there is no chance that it would prevail in a case in which the Judges had been supposed to have pronounced an authoritative decision upon a question of criminal law.
* The remarks of Mr. Justice Coleridge are peculiarly valuable. Mr. Justice Cresswell's have also great merit.
Art. VI.--Treasures of Art in Great Britain ; being an Account
of the chief Collections of Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Illuminated Manuscripts, &c. By Dr. Waagen, Director of the Royal Gallery of Pictures at Berlin. 3 vols. London. 1854. THERE is no greater mistake than to suppose that con
noisseurship in the formative arts is a knack or an instinct with which favoured individuals are born, or which they acquire in some manner not to be clearly accounted for. On the contrary, if there be any study in life in which the gift of ardent enthusiasm will do little without unwearied diligence, sound sense, and true humility, it is pre-eminently the study of that outward form of a mysterious inward poetry now-a-days talked and written about, with more or less truth and eloquence, ignorance, folly, and bad temper, under the hacknied but ever glorious name of Art. The education of the professed critic in art is essentially the same as that of the student in the exact sciences. Nothing is left to feeling, predilection, or wish—his stand must be taken upon a slowly gathered accumulation of facts, each one resting securely on that beneath it. Works of art must be treated as organic remains, subservient to some prevailing law, which it is the critic's task to find out and classify by a life of observation and comparison. For though not to be compared with the works of nature in invariability of system, yet every master has a certain prevailing hand-writing, inseparable from his individual temperament, though influenced by the schools he passes through and the course he runs, the signs and secrets of which a critic has to explore with a care and modesty analogous to that exercised by a Davy, or an Owen. And the comparison does not end here ; for, as the inquirer into one physical science must bring to the task the knowledge of many others, so he who aspires to be a true connoisseur of art must come furnished with stores of collateral information, to which it would be presumptuous to assign limits. All forms of knowledge minister to this one—the highest and the lowest--history and poetry-truth and romance— languages and manners -mechanical materials and chemical processes : no student can have his scale too full, or his grasp too wide; the workman's tools must be as familiar to him as the poet's feeling and the scholar's lore. Our readers will perhaps suspect that, under all this superstructure, the enthusiasm we put first on the list will be fairly stifled. But there is no fear of any such result. Nothing indeed save that alone, which in its pure and engrossing character stands only second in the human heart to the natural affections, will keep the professional connoisseur steady in his path, for the toil is great and the disappointments many. And nothing but this, after all his labour-for here art and science part company-will lead him safely to his goal. In this, indeed, consists the line of demarcation between the true connoisseur and the mere dealer. The latter is a safe guide for signs and molemarks, elaborated with patience and registered with care ; but there are occasions when he goes no further, and will lead you in triumph to a work of art which contains all these in undeniable abundance, but lacks that higher something of the master which the heart alone can recognise. Far be it from us to mean the slightest reflection upon the class ; many a dealer is guided by the truest and most refined feeling—and even when he is not, it is no reproach-he does his part, and the labourer is worthy of his hire. They want nothing more, and certainly deserve nothing inore, who purchase a picture merely on such grounds.
The work before us we unhesitatingly pronounce to contain more of the essence of true connoisseurship than any other of the same class that has yet come before the public. Dr. Waagen's name is too familiar to the art-world to require any introduction. He graduated, it may be said, like his friend and fellowlabourer M. Passavant, in that wonderful school which the Paris of 1814 afforded. A young volunteer in the war of liberation, the service brought him to the then teeming capital, where our embryo connoisseur drained his slender pocket to pay substitutes to mount guard while he spent his hours diligently in the Louvre. Since then the ceaseless researches of his life are evidenced in his writings ; while the Museum of Berlin--the peculiar interest and instructiveness of which surpasses that of many galleries of greater extent and value-owes much of these qualities to the labours of its Director.
As a writer, too, addressing himself exclusively to the English public--for the work is only published in its translated formDr. Waagen is peculiarly adapted to suit our prejudices and principles. Too solid to be a dreamer, and too humorous to be a pedant, he steers clear of faults we are prone to attribute to our German brethren; and, what is perhaps more important still, he steers equally clear of faults we are sure to find at home; for, be the subject what it may, the vindication of new friends, or the demolition of old idols, his opinion is given with a simplicity, distinctness, and temperance of language particularly refreshing after the violence and dogmatism, the flippant and fine writing, with which the criticism and philosophy of art has of late been treated among
we omit another merit which has struck us agreeably in the perusal of this work. The higher types and forms of art lie in very sacred ground, and
the connoisseur can hardly enter into any description of them without touching the most solemn chord of a Christian's heart. The manner in which he performs this--the most interestingportion of his task—is a test of no common kind. Dr. Waagen has done what was right. Without parading uncalled-for sentiments, he approaches these subjects with unaffected reverenceon some occasions even rising into a high strain of devout emotion, which elevates the whole character of his criticism.
"The Treasures of Art in Great Britain,' justly so called, have long needed numeration, analysis, and valuation. Our riches are now no longer limited to a few great galleried mansions, but one general auriferous district seems to be spreading gradually over the country. It was in 1835 that Dr. Waagen began that task of exploring, the results of which he gave us in his ' Art and Artists in England.' Parts of that work are incorporated in the present, which, however, may be said to supersede, rather than continue the first. His researches this time have been of a far more comprehensive character. Those galleries of wondrous invention, and frequently exquisite execution, which lie concealed on bookshelves and in portfolios, no less than those displayed on our walls, are here opened to us. The old illuminated manuscripts, drawings, and engravings, have poured forth their treasures, showing us metal of quaint and strange workmanship, but guinea-gold notwithstanding--progenitors, especially the miniatures, however humble, of the glorious full forms of art with which our eyes are more familiar, and for which they supply many an early link in the chain of genealogy. Who shall say how remotely that chain begins? It is comparatively easy to define the date of a work, but not that of the thought that quickens it. The early schools of Christian art; however rude, retained at all events that wise law transmitted from the Greeks, by which every invention pronounced to be beautiful and appropriate was in its essential points adhered to, being repeated only with increasing beauty and freedom, or leading to new ideas invented in the same spirit. Invention, for invention's sake, was held no merit then, and borrowing no disgrace. The chain of artistic descent does indeed lose itself in the very fountain head of art, for Dr. Waagen expresses his conviction, à propos of some Greek vases in the British Museum, that many a thought of the Greek painters is embodied in the finest forms of beauty we possess.'
It is to the miniatures that we must look as the great storehouse in which these thoughts lay for centuries embalmed often mummy-like, it is true, in their calligraphic deadness and disfigurement, but still holding fast the true tradition, till the
sun of art rose again and made the dry forms live. And again, as art attained its meridian, the fresh thoughts of great masters were in their turn faithfully laid up in the miniatures of the day. Speaking of a MS. in the possession of Professor Johnson at Oxford, Dr. Waagen says, • Were the works of Michael Angelo and Sebastian del Piombo lost to us, we should obtain through this MS. a complete idea of the last named painter, and become acquainted with various ideas from the first.' this in one of its miniatures of particular beauty—the Visitation,-taken from the picture by Sebastian del Piombo, the fragments of which, formerly in the Fesch gallery, were exhibited last year in the British Institution by Mr. Davenport Bromley, of whom they were purchased by the Duke of Northumberland. The finest early masters also, both Flemish and Italian, were miniature painters themselves. Whoever has had the good fortune to look through the miniatures by Memling in Cardinal Grimani's Breviary in the Ducal Palace at Venice, has experienced pleasures as refined, and laid by reminiscences as exquisite, as any gallery could afford. The feeling of Giotto, of Sandro Botticelli, and of Orcagna, are seen more clearly in this shape than in the stained and mouldering remains of their frescoes and tempera pictures. Doubtless the Arundel Society is doing the wiser part in securing records of such fast vanishing remains—for the miniatures are in better preservation-but still it does seem surprising that the new editions and translations of old works have not been enriched from this source of adornment. What could better illustrate Mr. Pollock's admirable re-translation of Dante than facsimiles of the interesting pen-drawings in the MS. of La Divina Commedia,' at Hamilton Palace; many of them by the hand of Sandro Botticelli, and, as Dr. Waagen truly says, the finest and most original with which Dante has ever been illustrated. Nor is there any fear in proper hands of their being modernised in the process; no one would preserve their true and quaint spirit more faithfully than Mr. George Scharf.
The chief object of Dr. Waagen's researches among the illuminated MSS. in this country, was to ascertain the course and characteristics of our native pictorial art, which, we may broadly assert, has, during the space of above a thousand years, left us scarcely any records but those preserved in MSS., and but scantily even in this shape, for the fury of the reformers fell
upon them no less than upon the more ostentatious forms of artistic skill. Our first art, it would seem, we received, as we did our first learning and religion, through the Irish, and to them also we are, perhaps, remotely indebted for the humour