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a scholar of eminence, and a great portion of her embassies were confided to that class of men. The States of Holland, when enjoying their greatest degree of freedom, pursued the same policy, with regard to Grotius, and other distinguished writers; and Rubens was charged with more than one important embassy by these famous republics.
Compare the sums of money received by the distinguished writers and artists of the present age, in England, with the rewards of those who enjoyed the patronage of kings, princes, and nobility. The former had no patrons but a liberal and enlightened public, through whose munificence they received a far more liberal remuneration, independent of the degradation of individual patronage, than any king of England, France, or Spain, or any prince or pope of Italy, ever bestowed. In illustration of this, it is only necessary to cite the examples of Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Mr. Moore, and many minor names, who received their thousands for single works, certainly not superior to those of Dante and Tasso, both in turn the objects and victims of princely patronage and oppression.
On the other hand, let us turn to the long and dismal array of names which, in the days of royal and noble patronage, lived a life of poverty, and perished in despair. To cite them, would fill a volume, and savor of the records of a parish poor-house. But since the period when genius become emancipated from all other patronage but that of an enlightened public, we hear no more of its perishing for want, or pining in hopeless obscurity. Poverty is no more its reproach or opprobrium, and the old joke of living in garrets, is no longer applicable. The voice of their countrymen calls them forth from oblivion, its munificence rewards their exertions, and men of unquestionable talents in literature and the arts are only required to exercise that degree of industry and prudence which is necessary in all other pursuits of life, to attain to competency if not wealth.
With regard to the fine arts, the result is the same. It is true that Vandyke was invited over to England by King Charles, and knighted when knighthood was the jest of the poets and dramatic writers. But it is now known, from documents lately brought to light, that he was obliged to paint portraits for the king at a less price than he received from others. Our countryman West also tasted the sweets of royal patronage, and spent a good portion of his life in painting pictures for which he was never paid.
We should never have done, were we to undertake to cite all the examples of royal and princely patronage. They will most of them readily occur to the general reader, and such is their numbers and celebrity, that their united weight is sufficient to overwhelm all the empty boasts of the munificence of kings, princes, and nobility.
Turning our eyes toward our own free country, which labors under the ban of aristocracy, and is considered little better than a barren waste in which neither literature nor the arts can find either soil or sustenance, there is nothing which indicates that she will not in good time attain to eminence in both, without paying for them more than they are worth, in the sacrifice of liberty. If we do not err, she is destined in good time to vindicate them from the foul slander of being the grovelling satellites of corruption, the abject followers and dependents of despotism. It is in the rich soil of rational freedom, which, while it gives scope and license to all the vigorous efforts of genius, at the same time affords peace and security, as well as rewards to its exertions, that all the higher qualities have attained their greatest perfection. It is there that genius and virtue find their most appropriate home, and their noblest field of exercise, because they have nothing to hope from base prostitution, and nothing to fear from jealous despotism.
We hear it every day confidently asserted, as if it were a fact challenging denial, that the rewards bestowed on literature and the fine arts in the United States, have not equalled those they received in Italy and other countries of Europe. We deny this, and appeal to the proof in the examples already brought forward. Did we ever hear of any respectable artist in the United States being rewarded by a sack of corn for a first rate picture ? Is there an instance of one perishing like the inimitable Corregio, from carrying the price of a picture in copper coin on his shoulders ? Or admitting there is one capable of producing a picture equal to the St. Jerome of Dominichino, would he find, in the wide circuit of these United States, a gentleman who would debase himself by offering such a price as the Italian artist received ? On the contrary, we know that Colonel Trumbull received eight thousand dollars a piece, from the Congress of the United States, for four pictures, neither of them certainly equal to the Communion of St. Jerome, the Flight into Egypt, or the Assumption of the Virgin. We know too, that the same distinguished body has lately voted a similar sum for a similar number of pictures of native artists, to be placed in the rotunda of the capital for the contemplation of future ages; and we also know that a company of gentlemen in Boston has contracted with Mr. Washington Alston for a picture, for which he is to receive ten thousand dollars, if it is ever finished, of which we believe there is some doubt. Other instances might be adduced of American artists making four, six, and even twelve thousand dollars a year. We put the question to those who assail our institutions and government on this ground, whether they know of any potentate of Europe, who, within the same period, has offered such inducements to living artists ? No. They give enormous prices for the works of dead artists, and leave the living ones to take their chance with the public.
Our artists need no longer go abroad to earn a livelihood, or gain a name. Those who have talents and industry, meet with employment and liberal compensation. They receive quite as much, and sometimes a great deal more, than is given for similar productions in Europe; they also receive equal, if not greater attention, and their society is courted by the first people in the land. We know that that distinguished sculptor, and most amiable, intelligent gentleman, Mr. Horatio Greenough, whom his country delights, and ought to delight, to honor, when he left this city, a few days since, carried with him engagements to the amount of seventeen thousand dollars, and that others to a large amount have since been forwarded to him. We also know that he has ascertained there is a sufficiency of marble in this country, superior for all purposes of statuary to that of Car. rara, and that when he has finished his statue of Washington, he
means to come home and devote himself to the establishment of a school of statuary. We shall then see whether it requires the patronage of kings, the distinctions of ranks, the monopoly of wealth, and the sacrifice of liberty, to make the arts flourish in our great republic.
Our literary men and artists need no longer go abroad, we again repeat, to earn a livelihood or gain a reputation. The period is fast approaching, when they will address themselves to fifty, and by and by a hundred, millions of their countrymen, all speaking the same language, all advancing abreast with equal steps, and forming a solid phalanx of mind and purpose, such as the world never saw before. Is there not here a sphere adequate to the most vaulting ambition ? And why, therefore, should they look abroad for the stinted praise of foreign hireling critics, when they can implant their names deep in the soil of a country, wider than any homogeneous empire that the world ever saw, and where they will live in ages to come, when peradventure the fate of Europe may follow that of the other quarters of the old world.
Let them appeal to the feelings and pride of this great and growing nation, instead of those of foreigners, and consecrate their genius at the shrine of patriotism. Let them strike the right chord, and if it does not promptly respond to the touch, then let them complain, and let the imputation we have been contesting be acknowledged as the truth. Then let them repeat the old sing-song about the incompatibility of freedom with the perfection of the arts, and the necessity of patronage, servitude and degradation to a Michael Angelo, a Raphael, a Corregio, a Claude, a Titian, a Canova, a Thorwalsden, or a Greenough. Until they have made this trial, silence, study, effort and industry, would better become them, than complaint and despondency. Let them read the lives of these illustrious artists, whose fame now illuminates the civilized world, and learn by what a succession of labors, anxieties, disappointments, and mortifications, they at length gained the summit of their art. They will then see, that the highest rewards are only the meed of the greatest efforts, and that the exertions of a whole life are necessary to live hereafter.
Let them also recollect, that all the artists of Italy are not equally celebrated. The names of thousands and tens of thousands, during the period in which the arts flourished in that country in their greatest splendor, now rest in the repose of oblivion, or are only recorded in dictionaries. Thousands and tens of thousands have also attained but a small portion of the fame of these illustrious masters, who, though nearly cotemporary with each other, seem to have been the product of centuries. Ages preceded and succeeded them, without producing their equals, and who knows but that in which the old world has failed, may be achieved by the new ?
Without doubt, many a bright genius of whom the world has never heard, during the age of these great masters, pined away in neglect and obscurity, notwithstanding the patronage of kings and nobility, and what is more, in spite of that of the illustrious merchants and mechanics of Florence. A still greater number of artists, without genius or industry, were left to combat with their own imbecility, and, we dare say, were loud in their complaints of the neglect of their countrymen. It is the lot of mediocrity and inferiority to
complain, and it is equally so, for men of the highest genius to meet with disappointments in their pursuits. In the great game of human life, few win and many lose, nor is the race always to the swift, or the battle to the strong.
If, then, it should happen, as it most undoubtedly will, that among the present or any future race of artists, who start in the great sweepstakes for fame and fortune, some, nay, very many, should break down, some give out, and some be distanced, while but a few arrive at the goal, let them not, in a spirit of querulous complaint, lay their failure at the door of our free institutions. Let them refrain from joining the hue and cry, that the fine arts are incompatible with the general diffusion of rights, property, and intelligence, and that to have fine pictures and statues, men must once more become slaves. If such indeed be the case, then we say, let us dispense with Saints and Madonna Venuses and Apollos, and cling to the Goddess of Liberty. If it must be so, let us sacrifice the arts to freedom, remembering that in the language of the poet Lucan, ' Libertas ultima mundi quo steterit fericnda loco.'
A PASSAGE OF LIFE.
I SLEEP --- but 't is to dream — though I have pray'd
There is no midnight to me - - the long bell
I gaze upon this bright machinery
And tell their glorious history in the storm |
The request of his father, my own inclination, and a sense of duty, combined to render me particularly attentive to the interests and welfare of my well-meaning but giddy friend, Jack Volatile. One half of his time was spent in getting into difficulties, and the other half in getting out of them. He was thoughtless, generous, unsuspicious, and inexperienced — trusting less to principle than to feeling; more to impulse than to judgment: no wonder, then, that he was frequently the prey of the designing. He was very susceptible. It did not require a union of extraordinary charms to light a fire in his heart. A single good feature was sufficient. He was ready to die for a little milliner, because she had a pretty ancle, and lavished half his fortune on a confectioner's girl, because she had red hair, like Titian's Flora. I threatened to carry him to the Lunatic Asylum, but the man was perfectly incorrigible. For this reason I at first refused to accompany him to the theatre, when the famous danseuse, M'lle Angelique L'Amour was about to make her first appearance in the literary emporium.
• Volatile,' said I, you will fall in love with her, you know - and why should you wish me to be a spectator of your vagaries ?
My dear Frank, I'll behave like a gentleman.'
• That you always do — but sometimes like a most erratic one. Promise that you will not fall in love with M’lle L'Amour.'
* Francis Fidget,' replied Volatile, 'I solemnly promise I will not adore her.'
* Remember, Volatile, your word is pledged. You are not to yell • bravo !' like a madman you 're not to throw your hat into the pit — you 're not to act Romeo for the especial admiration of the galTery; but you are to take your pleasure soberly,' like Lady Grace; to applaud moderately, if pleased, and to say nothing, if dissatisfied.'
• Agreed ! agreed !' cried Volatile, impatiently : 'and now for M’lle Angelique.'
We went to town. The theatre was full and fashionably attended: Strange perversion of taste ! We turn a deaf ear to the horrid declamations of native genius, but to the 'declamation des jambes' we give the profoundest attention. Les gens n'éconte que le ballet,' was the complaint of a beautiful Italian singer. But I wander from my tale.
The entrance of M'lle Angelique was heralded by ravishing music, that stole upon the ear like the sweet south.' In the midst of a most harmonious prelude, there bounded into view a young, glad creature, with light drapery floating round her, like a veil of mist.
The scenic roses that bloomed upon the canvass seemed to borrow a new and touching grace from the splendor of her Angelique adapted her movements to the music with remarkable precision. Now, while the strain was low and soft, the beautiful girl