Obrazy na stronie

Miletus; and as we, to praise our fine women, call them Grecian beauties, the European Greeks were accustomed to call their mistresses Ionian beauties, xaλas To Iavixov. Besides, the difficulty would be by no means resolved by this difference of form, even were it granted in its fullest extent; for I imagine there are few who will deny, that the difference between our most handsome men and the most handsome Athenian, is much less consider able than the difference between our most beautiful statues and the master pieces of the Greeks. Moreover, the Greeks had no models in nature for their architectural monuments: never theless, the same character,—the evident product of the very same principles, is displayed in their temples as in their statues; and, equally as in them, it is to be seen in their vases,in their furniture-and in the most common of their utensils.

3. The same remarks may, with a very little variation, be applied to their religion, and to the facility of seeing the naked figure. It was the virgins of Sparta who were so much celebrated for displaying their charms in the public festivals, and yet the Spartans were no lovers of the arts. Shut up within the impenetrable walls of their apartments, the women of the other Grecian states did not appear even at the Olympic games, and courtezans were the only models of the artists. Our artists, on the other hand, who see every day, without restraint, heads and hands of the most exquisite elegance, well worthy of the finest days of Miletus or of Sparta, produce neither heads nor hands which can bear the most remote comparison with the antique. As for the spirit of religion, I confess I am greatly inclined to banish it altogether from the number of those influences which were favour able to the arts of Greece. Easily excited, and disposed for unquestioning admiration, it is little fitted for the exercise of a severe judgment; it becomes every day more and more attached to its ancient idols, and adores in them less that which it sees in reality than what it believes is to be seen. The devout Greek, who bowed himself at Olympus before the Jupiter of Phidias, revered at Argos, at Thespis, and even in the bosom of Athens, fiures of J uno, of Venus, of the Graces, and of Love, which were nothing more

than rude masses of stone, or ill-fashioned pieces of timber. He adored, at Mount Elaius, a horse-headed Ceres; at Phygalia, an Eurynome, who was half woman and half fish, like the idol of the barbarians of Gath; and at the temple of Ephesus itself, which was one of the seven wonders of the world, a gigantic or hieroglyphical monster, with nine or ten tiers of breasts. Civil usages and manners, and the general taste, had happily more effect on the religion of Greece than that religion had upon them. But for the revolution which national genius, taste, and the arts themselves, operated in the creed of the Greeks, that people, so celebrated for the beauty of their gods, would have remained prostrate before the monsters of the Nile, under the despotism of their priests. The religion of the Greeks, moreover, is far from being the only one which has attributed to deities the forms of men. If this religion, by the poetical mystery which it involved, favoured the perfection of the arts, and lifted the imagination of the artists above the sphere of the senses, why is it that the Christian religion produces no similar effects? Did the poetry or the religion of the Greeks contain any thing more lofty and more imposing than the imagery of the Scriptures? The beauty of Angels is all that imagination can represent as most admirable and most divine. Martyrs, Prophets, and Apostles, are at least equal in dignity with Philosophers, Fauns, and Pentathletæ. The dying resignation of the holy Stephen is surely as good a subject as the expiring shudder of a hireling gladiator. Moses found lying among the bulrushes by the daughter of Pharoah, is as picturesque an incident as the discovery of Edipus by the shepherds of Citharon. Samson was as strong as Milo; and many beauties are recorded in the Bible, who were at least as worthy of the chisel of a Phidias, as the Laises and the Elpinices of an Athenian brothel.

4. With regard to political liberty, we see in Greece, as every where else, free people, who have rejected the arts; and others, ruled by despots, who have cultivated them with the greatest success. Did the arts languish at Sicyon, under Aristatus and the Cypselides; at Athens, under Hippias; at Samos, under Polycrates; at Syra

cuse, under Dionysius or Gelon? or were the Spartans enslaved at the time when they banished Timotheus? and was it not from a free republic that Plato proposed to exclude both Homer and Phidias? But there are other causes, concerning the power of which there can be less matter of dispute. The abundance and the beauty of the fruits of the earth are the reward of the labours and the wisdom of the cultivator, and the very same rule holds concerning the productions of genius.

5. It is an ancient maxim, written in every page of the history of the world, that honours are the food of the arts. But honours, properly so called, that is, recompenses accorded to artists, are far from being of themselves sufficient to conduct the arts to perfection. The arts require subjects of exertion capable of inspiring noble ideas, and a sane inflexible theory, which the general taste has sanctioned and protects, and which is above being altered or impaired by the fluctuation of individual opinion. In order to appreciate the causes of their progress and of their decline, and most of all those of their absence, in climates the most favourable-in the midst ofriches, of intelligence, and even of liberty itself-we must principally examine whether, in the countries under our present observation, they were so honoured and protected, or altogether abandoned to their own exertions; whether they were enslaved or left at liberty; whether they were reduced to flatter the tastes of private frivolity, or directed by the government itself to the public utility, and the glory of the state. These causes are more powerful than climate, or riches, or peace, or liberty; but these causes are dependent on the will of legislatures. It becomes then matter of the highest interest, to examine by what motives certain legislatures of Greece were induced to make the arts the subject of their most anxious solicitude, while among so many of their neighbours they were altogether neglected or proscribed.

In the first place, the Greeks are not more celebrated for the masterpieces of art, than for the unequalled series of their political dissensions. That spirit of rivalship, which had so long agitated their petty hordes in the first ages of their history, lost nothing of

its energy in the midst of those numerous states which had succeeded them. Their legislators had wished to make use of this dangerous principle of emulation-none of them seems even to have endeavoured to destroy it. The laws of the different states were different. Their characters, determined by those laws, were, in many instances, little similar, except in the jealousy and hatred with which they were mutually agitated against each other. But this very spirit of rivalship, which entailed upon them so many calamities, gave birth at the same time to those prodigies of genius and art with which the world has so long been astonished. Every thing had a definite character-every thing was great in a little space-because every human faculty was developed by the contending passions of the Greeks. We see wars by land and wars by se armies and fleets rapidly destroyed and incessantly renewed victories at which we cannot too much wonder-and historians still more wonderful. It seems to us, in reading the history of Attica, Boeotia, and the Peloponnesus, that we are occupied with that of some immense territory, or rather of the whole world.

One great line of distinction among the Greeks was that, never altogether forgotten, of their various origination. The Dorians and the Ionians never ceased to regard each other as different people. The one were proud of their ancient conquest-the other of their yet more ancient liberty and civilization. Sparta was the patroness of the Doric states, and of oligarchy; Athens of the Ionians, and democracy. These unhappy divisions, fomented by internal ambition and external violenceby Persia in the first instance, next by Macedon, and last of all by the treacherous policy and the overwhelming force of Rome-seemed to increase in strength as Greece advanced in her decline, and never terminated but in her ruin. It is evident, that in this constant opposition of spirits and of interests, the arts could by no means be every where appreciated in the same manner. Aristotle reckons up no less than one hundred and fifty-eight various forms of government, which had existed, or which still existed, in Greece in his own days. It is evident, that the arts, not being equally neces

sary in all these governments, could not possibly receive in them all the same degree of favour.

Again-the difference of local position divided the Greeks into two classes; those who applied themselves to commerce, and those who did not. The one honoured it because it was necessary to their existence; the other despised it as useless to themselves, and exaggerated the inconveniences which sometimes attend its extension. Commerce would never have been adapted for the haughty Thessalians, Boeotians, and Spartans. It was not the detail of commerce alone which these men condemned, but commerce in its most general and liberal form as the parent of factitious and dangerous wealth. The states whose territory was poor, looked on commerce as a mean of increasing their power; those, again, which were favoured by nature, could see in it only a principle of danger and destruction. It seems to be a very general opinion, that commerce and the fine arts are inseparately connected: nevertheless, in reviewing the history of the most celebrated commercial cities, it is impossible not to observe, that these two sources of wealth have by no means been in every instance united. Commerce, in fact, when left to follow its own proper inclinations, is little attentive to the fine arts,-or rather appears to be wholly ignorant of the important benefits which may be derived from their cultivation. The interests which occupy the mind of the trader, are too important to admit of any such participation. Surrounded by his merchandise and his ledgers, it is not always an easy matter for him to lift his view towards the higher regions of taste and intellect. Who, besides, would be willing to devote himself to long and painful studies, -to labours which are little lucrative, and as little esteemed, when he has so many means of fortune in his power, and sees every day the comparative promptitude and facility, with which commercial wealth is realized? If the arts then prosper in commercial cities, they are far from doing so by the mere effect of the refinement of commercial men. The particular vigilance, on the contrary, and unremitting care of the legislature, are necessary; and these, not unfrequently, in total opposition to the


general spirit of the people.
merce is the parent of many evils, to
which antidotes must be discovered.
It instigates to luxury; it polishes
the manners, and it corrupts them.
Rich in moveable property, its ten-
dency is to make all men cosmopo-
lites. Such, at least, was the opinion
of the Greek philosophers, and the
severity of their doctrines on this head
is well known. The arts, said they,
are necessary in commercial countries,
not only in respect to their manufac-
tures, for the enlightening and direc-
tion of the taste,-but, in a moral
point of view, for the animation of
virtue and of patriotism. To decorate
our native country with superb monu-
ments of art-to embellish the pub-
lic festivals-to immortalize illustrious
actions-and to place before the eyes
of the people the true and undegraded
images of purity and beauty,-is at
once to ennoble the ideas of men,-to
excite and nourish national pride and
enthusiasm,—and to plant the most
generous of passions in the room of
meanness and cupidity.

Plato rejected from his republic both commerce and the arts; but it was with a very important restriction. "If commerce must be introduced into our republic," says he, "it is necessary that the arts come with it; that so, by beholding every day the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture, full of grace and purity in all their proportions, dispositions least inclined for the perception of elegance may be, as it were, removed into a purer and more healthy atmosphere,-and learn, by degrees, a taste for the beautiful-the becoming-and the delicate. They will learn to observe, with accuracy, what is lovely or defective in the works of art and of nature; and this happy rectitude of judgment will become a second nature to their souls."* But in what regards governments, the same favour will be granted to the fine arts-there only where the same benefits are expected to accrue from their cultivation. Their object is to make men love their country by the attraction of honourable recompenses; how then can they be useful in an oligarchy? If they are there employed, it is always with regret. Immense edifices are sometimes built; but there are

De Rep. L. viii.

few statues or pictures. The patriotism of the nobles is excited by interests too powerful to require any subordinate assistance. If the government be founded on justice and virtue, the danger of luxury is apprehended; -if it be tyrannical, the still greater danger of intelligence and discontent. Honours, in which the artist is partaker with the hero, if they become necessary in such a government as this, announce the feebleness of its laws, and give presage of its ruin. Cato refused the honour of a statue, -this might perhaps be pride in him, but it was also the effect of his system: -in the opinion of Cato, he did no more in rejecting the statue than fulfil a duty incumbent on every patri


On the other hand, all the fine arts harmonize well with the monarchical form of government. The throne cannot be too much adorned. The power of the prince is increased by the splendour of the arts with which he is surrounded. What have they not done for the majesty of Francis, Leo, and Lewis? If the influence of particular tastes does not always permit them to enjoy durable success, it is nevertheless true, that the well-directed favours of a few princes have, at some remarkable periods, ensured to them the admiration of every succeeding age.

With regard to democracy-I mean those governments in which the democratical principle is predominantthe political liberty enjoyed by the artists under such a form of polity, has been too often confounded with the importance it sometimes attaches to the fine arts, with the occasion and the means which it affords for deliberate improvement, and maturity of excellence. A state governed in this manner, may be rich or poor, commercial or without commerce. If it be poor,-of small extent,-far from the sea,-and happy in its simplicity, the inhabitants of this fortunate land will have no need of adventitious and empassionating aids. But if, on the other hand, it is desired to unite commerce with liberty, and riches with morality,-the attempt is assuredly a bold one,-its success the masterpiece of legislative genius. It is necessary to inspire with love to his country, not the rich man alone, the noble, or the merchant, but

n who knows not riches, but to feel

that he is deprived of them-nor honours, but in those which he accords to other men; who, far from public offices, but too easily forgets the public interest, and almost always considers it as something separated from his own ; whose carelessness, in fine, is yet more dangerous than either his errors or his impetuosity. The true objects for which the arts are fostered by such a government as this, is to impose on his imagination by majestic and imperishable monuments-to feed his enthusiasm by statues and picturesby the commemoration of the illustrious deeds and the national grandeur, with the glory and the antiquity of the common ancestors of the people ;to immortalize for him the history of his country-to create magnificent public possessions for those who are poor in personal goods-to inspire and to nourish that national pride, which is one of the most unfailing signs of good laws, and one of the best omens of political endurance. The importance of their destination under such a government as this, calls down on the arts the anxious benevolence of the legislature. They find, moreover, yet another cause of perfection in the necessity of placing works intended for such purposes under the eyes of the public; and consequently, in order to save the glory of the whole nation,— they are obliged to follow no guide but the general taste. The union of these two causes in Athens, gave rise to the most brilliant and durable successes; and the motto at the head of this paper is a fair transcript of those feelings of romantic admiration with which every Athenian regarded the beauties and the magnificence of his native land.

But is it really true, that liberty would not be sufficient of herself alone to ensure the prosperity of the arts? The best way to answer this question is, to review the facts by which I conceive the theory I have laid down is to be supported. We have seen that the Greek people were divided into two classes, those who cultivated commerce, and those who did not. The arts followed the same division; in general, the commercial states were more favourable to the arts, and the uncommercial less. Among those which had no sort of application to commerce, whatever the form of government might be, the arts were ne

glected, or even prohibited and banished. Among those trading states which were oligarchical in their government, the arts took little root, and never reached above the secondary rank of excellence. Among those commercial states again, which were governed by kings, and yet more constantly among those which were governed by a democracy, they attained the summit of perfection. Among these last, the masterpieces which excite our wonder were for the greater part produced. From these facts we may, I apprehend, extract a proportional scale, by which we may measure the progress, not of the Greeks alone, but of all ancient nations-and even of the moderns themselves. To enter minutely into this part of the subject would require a volume. The justice of my general positions will, I trust, be sufficiently manifest to any one who throws even a hasty glance over the names and the history of the ancient states ;—of Achaia, ever poor and ever virtuous, but ever destitute of the arts;-of rude and mountainous Phocis, where even the presence of all the treasures, and all the masterpieces of Delphos, could not work any change on the natural habits of the people;-of Macedon,-of Sparta, of Crete, of Thebes ;-and above all, of Corinth and of Carthage-two states which, as they were the most favourably situated for commercial speculations, so they gave themselves up with the least restriction to the influence of the pure commercial spirit, -whose legislatures, in short, at no time sought to superadd to their solid prosperity the embellishment and refinement of the arts.

Rome, in fine, which, in spite of the turbulence of her tribunes, was ever governed by the senate, whose proud and haughty spirit loaded the banks of the Tiber with edifices the most extensive and imposing, received with difficulty the painting and the sculpture of the Greeks. Towards the fall indeed of the republic, and under the emperors, these became a subject of amusement and ostentation; but that legislation which had done every thing for their victories, had by no means disposed the spirit of the Romans for the appropriation of the arts, and accordingly the habit of seeing them cultivated by conquered nations, made them view them at all times us the

occupation of slaves. Cicero himself found it proper to affect in public a contempt for the arts, as well as for philosophy,* although we well know that both formed the chief ornament and delight of his retirement. Sallust -the attic Sallust, in describing the corruption of the army led by Sylla into Greece, places the taste which the soldiers there acquired for the fine arts, in the same rank with their drunkenness and their debauchery.† Virgil told the Romans, that to animate brass and marble was an object little worthy their ambition; and Seneca (even in the days of Nero, himself an artist), inspired with some remnant of the spirit of a vir consularis, asks contemptuously by what right the unmanly arts of painting, sculpture, and fiddling, are entitled to the appellation of liberal?

If, on the other hand, we recall to our remembrance those states in which the arts have been carried to the summit of excellence, we shall find every where the confirmation of the same theory. Argos, constantly governed by a democracy, and sharing in the advantages of commerce much less than those states which were her rivals, was as much celebrated as any of them for the excellence of her artists, although far from being distinguished by the number of her monuments. The same was the case at Samos, Sicyon, Rhodes, Agrigentum, and Syracuse, as well as in Athens herself, and her colonies.Every where we find the arts flourishing most in those commercial states which were governed in the most democratical manner, or where the democracy was scarcely ever interrupted, except by the short-lived reigns of a few princes who owed their elevation altogether to the favour of the people.

Nothing was the product of chance. Every where the state of the arts corresponded to the will of the legislature. It would be in vain to trust to commerce, or even to liberty herself, for carrying them to perfection; commerce and liberty are of use to them, only because they tend to procure for them the particular favour of the legislature,—and it is to that favour alone, however obtained, that they always owe any thing which de

* Cic. iii. Verr. passim. + De bello Cat. c. ii.

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