« PoprzedniaDalej »
pered in his ear and wrought up into a crime, that demanded blood. Bull, of course, insisted upon reparation; and all the protestations of the harmless jester served more to irritate, than pacify. A fool, if he saith he will have a crab, he will not take an apple. My friend although he was principled against duelling (which was very customary among the haut ton), and had as niggardly an opinion of fashionable honour, as honest jack Falstaff himself, yet after having failed in overtures, he resolved for once, to follow the bleating of Jeroboam's calf in Dan and Bethel.
The combatants met. Bull was boiling over with wrath, whilst Honeysuckle remained as cool as a cucumber in midsummer, or as Julius Cæsar at the battle of Pharsalia. Every preliminary arranged, the signal was given for battle, when the challenger discharged his pistol; but giving it too much elevation, the ball lodged in the hollow of a sycamore tree, about four feet above the head of his antagonist. A screech-owl, which had been a tenant of the aforesaid hollow, from time immemorial, ,
at that period performing incubation. Alarmed and wounded, she attempted to fly; her strength however, was too much exhausted, and she came in a diagonal line, plump against the face of the redoubtable Bull. Never until that moment, did his mind misgive him. He imagined that he was pinked in the diaphragm, and that the king of terrors was at hand, to take advantage of the breach. Under the pressure of this thought, he sunk pale as ashes, and lifeless as marble, upon the earth. Honeysuckle, (who, by the by, had not touched his trigger) ran quickly up to him, and after rubbing his temples for a good while, restored him from the lethargy of fear.
Thus much I have thought necessary to give of Lyttelton Honeysuckle, who will frequently hereafter appear in The Salad.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO THE FINE ARTS. MR. EDITOR,
I HAVE just finished reading in your valuable miscellany the excellent discourse delivered by Mr. Hopkinson before the Academy of Fine Arts, and most heartily do I subscribe to his sentiments with regard to the importance of such institutions to our rising country, and the necessity of affording them every aid and encouragement. I hope his appeal to the patronage and liberality of his fellow citizens will not prove to have been unavailing, and that in a reasonable time such support will be derived to the infant establishment in your city, as to do away the fears of its friends for its ultimate success. I congratulate them and the United States at large on the circumstance of its foundation, as an event which promises more than any other to promote the advancement of our country in the road to good taste, and to wipe away the undeserved stain affixed by conceited and ignorant foreigners upon our national character. The indignation displayed by Mr. Hopkinson at the unfounded as well as ungenerous aspersions of the European pedant, and fastidious dilettanti, and his just vindication of American talent and taste, entitle him to the thanks of his countrymen.
We labour however under some disadvantages with respect to the means of cultivating the fine arts, which do not exist in the older countries of Europe, where superior wealth and greater opportunity have, in the progress of time, collected and preserved monuments in every branch of art, which serve as models for imitation or comparison from age to age, and consequently contribute in a considerable degree to the formation of the general taste. The first essays of the early Italian painters were rude and ungraceful; and it was only by dint of imitating the correct design found in the remains of Roman and Grecian sculpture, that a just taste was formed. It was in this
that Raphael first corrected the dry and stiff manner which he had caught from his master Perrugino, and afterwards, by studying the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo, still fura
ther improved his style, 'till having acquired all the knowledge that human skill could give, he relied on his own genius and invention for the rest, and at once carried his art to perfection. The history of painting and sculpture abounds with similar proofs of the observation, that good models will do more than any thing else towards the improvement of the public taste and the advancement of the young student. With this view of the subject, I should apprehend that, till your Academy shall be furnished with excellent paintings as it is now with casts from the best specimens of sculpture, the progress made by the students in colouring and composition (both essential to perfection) will not be so rapid as the friends of the Academy could desire.
The obstacle to this progress appears to me however not insurmountable, and the deficiency in paintings may be supplied without taxing the funds of the institution, provided its reai friends will take a little pains to promote a plan for the purpose, both by their influence and example. The plan I would recommend is feasible; and though it might not immediately supply the young artist with the finest work of the best master, yet it will go far towards advancing the object in view. If you will give me leave I will suggest a few hints on the subject, which better digested and improved by some of your academicians may lead to the end proposed.
From the circumstance of there not being in our country those immense fortunes which in Europe enter into competition for the possession of valuable works of art, we might almost despair of sceing them in our private houses, admitting the taste to select and the desire to possess them to exist-On the contrary, when valuable paintings, at least considered such here, are offered for sale, the competition is not on the side of the purchasers, but on that of the sellers to find a purchaser; and I believe it will be admitted by those who have had any opportunity of remarking it, that of all the good, not to say fine, paintings thrown into this country by the French Revolution, few remain in it, and scarcely one that was sold brought its real value; it might to be sure be called its value here, because no more could be obtained for it; but, in many instances, charity alone
prompted the purchase. There have been at times good pictures for sale, but they seldom changed their owner if his circumstances allowed him to hold thein at what might be deemed their value
-How else can you account for Mr. Trumbull being obliged to carry with him his very fine collection (not to speak of his own works, which it would have been patriotic to have kept in the country)? some of these pictures would have been considered as desirable acquisitions to any cabinet or gallery in Europe:
If our means then will not allow us at this time to procure the chef d'œuvres of art, we must content ourselves with good copies, and good originals within the reach of an American purse. This will be facilitated by checking the too prevailing desire to have a collection, a cabinet, or a gallery-It would be id mark of good taste and sounder judgment if an amateur sacrificed a whole collection to obtain one picture of superior mevit, it would be permanently useful as a model for imitation, and appreciate in value in the hands of its owner-Were each of your young gentlemen who visit Europe actuated by a sincere desire to serve the institution, they would soon accomplish the object, by making the sacrifice of some of the expensive and unprofitable baubles, which every one thinks it necessary to return home with, and apply the same money to the purchase of the best picture or statue (and only one) they could obtain, they would render a service to their country and add to the pleasure of themselves and friends through lifc. Suppose every young traveller to do this (and there are few who have not the means of doing it), what an advantage and an ornament to your city would it be! In almost every house there would be at least one good picture worth a travelling American's attention, and once a year the whole of these, or a selection from them should be deposited in the gallery of the Academy for exhibition and imitation, where they should remain at least one month. The copies which would be made, would soon find purchasers, and thereby doubly benefit the young student, by improving him in his art, and furnishing the means to prosecute his studies. And were the opiu-, bent of your city to appropriate, each, as large a sum as he could conveniently afford, and commit it to the charge of some young
friend visiting Europe, or to his correspondent there, to be applied in the same manner, under the direction of some artist or connoisseur, whose judgment could be relied on, as many pictures would in a few years be collected, of undoubted merit and genuine execution, as would form an exhibition important enough to attract visitors from the remotest parts of the continent, whither also the good copies would be carried. I need not enlarge on the advantages that in a pecuniary point of view would result to the Academy as well as to the city: They are sufficiently obvious. I also take it for granted that our countryman, Mr. West, would make no small exertion, if properly applied to, to direct the purchasers to proper objects, were pictures to be bought in England. But I would prefer procuring the works of the best Italian mästers, from Italy itself, where it can be done without difficulty, and at half the expense. Money laid out in this way, would be more valuably invested than in a profusion of plate and expensive jewelery, which neyer appreciate in value; whereas pictures are not only the handsomest orna. ment of a house, however splendidly it may be furnished in other respects, but descend with increasing value to remote generations.
Should it be objected that in public exhibitions of an Academy of Arts, new pictures only are allowed I will grant that this is the case in old countries, and for obvious reasons There does not exist the necessity of exhibiting pictures of the old masters, as collections of them are found everywhere, to which access can readily be had for a mere trifle. This may be the case herè in process of time, particularly if my plan of introducing good pictures into the country should take effect, and then these will only be scen in the annual exhibitions of original works which will no doubt mark the rapid progress of our artists, and lay the foundation of the American School. It is flattering to look forward to such a state of improvement, when in the same manner as we now exchange the natural productions of our various climate, for those of other countries, and to our national advantage, we may hope to see the balance of our com