Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

few statues or pictures. The patriot- that he is deprived of them—nor honism of the nobles is excited by inter- ours, but in those which he accords to ests too powerful to require any sub- other men; who, far from public offices, ordinate assistance. If the govern- but too easily forgets the public inment be founded on justice and virtue, terest, and almost always considers it the danger of luxury is apprehended; as something separated from his own ; --if it be tyrannical, the still greater whose carelessness, in fine, is yet more danger of intelligence and discontent. dangerous than either his errors or Honours, in which the artist is par. his impetuosity. The true objects for taker with the hero, if they become which the arts are fostered by such necessary in such a government as a government as this, is to impose this, announce the feebleness of its on his imagination by majestic and laws, and give presage of its ruin. imperishable monuments to feed his Cato refused the honour of a statue, enthusiasm by statues and pictures-this might perhaps be pride in him, by the commemoration of the illustribut it was also the effect of his system : ous deeds and the national grandeur, -in the opinion of Cato, he did no with the glory and the antiquity of more in rejecting the statue than ful- the common ancestors of the people ;fil a duty incumbent on every patri- to immortalize for him the history of cian.

his country—to create magnificent On the other hand, all the fine arts public possessions for those who are harmonize well with the monarchical poor in personal goods—to inspire and form of government.

The throne to nourish that national pride, which cannot be too much adorned. The is one of the most unfailing signs of power of the prince is increased by the good laws, and one of the best omens splendour of the arts with which he of political endurance. The importis surrounded. What have they not ance of their destination under such a done for the majesty of Francis, Leo, government as this, calls down on the and Lewis? If the influence of par- arts the anxious benevolence of the ticular tastes does not always permit legislature. They find, moreover, yet them to enjoy durable success, it is another cause of perfection in the nenevertheless true, that the well-directed cessity of placing works intended for favours of a few princes have, at some such purposes under the eyes of the remarkable periods, ensured to them public; and consequently, in order to the admiration of every succeeding save the glory of the whole nation,age.

they are obliged to follow no guide With regard to democracy-I mean but the general taste. The union of those governments in which the de- these two causes in Athens, gave rise mocratical principle is predominant, to the most brilliant and durable sucthe political liberty enjoyed by the cesses ; and the motto at the head of artists under such a form of polity, this paper is a fair transcript of those has been too often confounded with feelings of romantic admiration with the importance it sometimes attaches which every Athenian regarded the to the fine arts, with the occasion and beauties and the magnificence of his the means which it affords for deliber- native land. ate improvement, and maturity of ex But is it really true, that liberty cellence. A state governed in this man- would not be sufficient of herself alone ner, may be rich or poor, commercial or to ensure the prosperity of the arts ? without commerce. If it be poor,--of The best way to answer this question small extent,-far from the sea, -and is, to review the facts by which I conhappy in its simplicity, the inhabit- ceive the theory I have laid down is ants of this fortunate land will have to be supported. We have seen that no need of adventitious and empassion- the Greek people were divided into ating aids. But if, on the other hand, two classes, those who cultivated comit is desired to unite commerce with merce, and those who did not. The liberty, and riches with morality,—the arts followed the same division ; in attempt is assuredly a bold one,-its general, the commercial states were success the masterpiece of legislative more favourable to the arts, and the genius. It is necessary to inspire with uncommercial less. Among those love to his country, not the rich man which had no sort of application to alone, the noble, or the merchant, but commerce, whatever the form of go

o who knows not riches, but to feel vernment might be, the arts were ne

glected, or even prohibited and ban- occupation of slaves. Cicero himself ished. Among those trading states found it proper to affect in public a which were oligarchical in their go- contempt for the arts, as well as for vernment, the arts took little root, and philosophy,* although we well know never reached above the secondary that both formed the chief ornament rank of excellence. Among those and delight of his retirement. Sallust commercial states again, which were - the attic Sallust, in describing the governed by kings, and yet more con- corruption of the army led by Sylla stantly among those which were go- into Greece, places the taste which the verned by a democracy, they attain soldiers there acquired for the fine arts, ed the summit of perfection. Among in the same rank with their drunkenthese last, the masterpieces which ex ness and their debauchery.t Virgil cite our wonder were for the greater told the Romans, that to animate brass part produced. From these facts we and marble was an object little wormay, I apprehend, extract a propor thy their ambition ; and Seneca (even tional scale, by which we may mea in the days of Nero, himself an artist), sure the progress, not of the Greeks inspired with some remnant of the alone, but of all ancient nations and spirit of a vir consularis, asks contempeven of the moderns themselves. To tuously by what right the unmaniy enter minutely into this part of the arts of painting, sculpture, and fiddling, subject would require a volume. The are entitled to the appellation of liberal ? justice of my general positions will, I If, on the other hand, we recall to trust, be sufficiently manifest to any our remembrance those states in which one who throws even a hasty glance the arts have been carried to the sumover the names and the history of the mit of excellence, we shall find every ancient states ;-of Achaia, ever poor where the confirmation of the same and ever virtuous, but ever destitute theory: Argos, constantly governed of the arts ;-of rude and mountain- by a democracy, and sharing in the ous Phocis, where even the presence advantages of commerce much less of all the treasures, and all the master- than those states which were her pieces of Delphos, could not work any rivals, was as much celebrated as any change on the natural habits of the of them for the excellence of her people ;-of Macedon,—of Sparta, - artists, although far from being disof Crete,-of Thebes ;-and above all, tinguished by the number of her of Corinth and of Carthage-two monuments. The same was the case states which, as they were the most at Samos, Sicyon, Rhodes, Agrigenfavourably situated for commercial tum, and Syracuse, as well as in speculations, so they gave themselves Athens herself, and her colonies.up with the least restriction to the in- Every where we find the arts flourfluence of the pure commercial spirit, ishing most in those commercial —whose legislatures, in short, at no states which were governed in the time sought to superadd to their solid most democratical manner, or where prosperity the embellishment and re the democracy was scarcely ever infinement of the arts.

terrupted, except by the short-live Rome, in fine, which, in spite of the ed reigns of a few princes who owed turbulence of her tribunes, was ever their elevation altogether to the favour governed by the senate, whose proud of the people. and haughty spirit loaded the banks Nothing was the product of chance. of the Tiber with edifices the most Every where the state of the arts extensive and imposing, received with corresponded to the will of the ledifficulty the painting and the sculp- gislature. It would be in vain to ture of the Greeks. Towards the fall trust to commerce, or even to liberty indeed of the republic, and under the herself, for carrying them to perfecemperors, these became a subject of tion; commerce and liberty are of use to amusement and ostentation; but that them, only because they tend to prolegislation which had done every thing cure for them the particular favour of for their victories, had by no means the legislature,-and it is to that fadisposed the spirit of the Romans for vour alone, however obtained, that the appropriation of the arts, and they always owe any thing which deaccordingly the habit of seeing them cultivated by conquered nations, made

* Cic. iii. Verr. passim. them view them at all times us the

of De bello Cat. c. ii.

PRESENT STATE OF THE CITY OF

VENICE.

[ocr errors]

serves the name of more than a mere tores aquarum.” This truly colossal temporary triumph. Such, as we have rampart passes through a morass, from seen, is the picture every where pre- l'Isle di Chiusa on the west, along sented to us by the history of the arts l'Isle di Murassi, to the Bocca del among the ancients; at Sparta, at Porto on the east, being an extent Rome, at Marseilles, the republican nearly of three miles. Towards the austerity rejected them; at Carthage land side, it is terminated by a wall commercial ignorance neglected them; about ten feet high and four feet at Athens they were encouraged from broad. If one stands on the top of motives of policy; and they prosper- this wall, the whole is seen slanting ed at Sicyon and Syracuse, by the on the other side till it majestically wisdom and magnificence of enlight- dips into the Adriatic; and the magened princes.

In all climates nature nitude of the undertaking forcibly fits men for the enjoyment of the arts; strikes the spectator's mind. The in every climate, and under every form slanting part of the work commences of government, their success is the re about two feet and a half below the sult of public munificence, and the fa- top of the wall, and descends towards vour of the laws.

Q. the water by two shelves or terraces.

A great part of the embankment is of
close stone-work: this vast piece of
solid masonry is about fifty feet broad,

measuring from the top of the wall For the following particulars res to the water's edge. The stones are pecting the present state of the city of squared masses of primitive limestone, Venice, and especially for the descrip- or “ solid marble ;” they are very tion of its great mole or pier, we are large, and are connected by Puzzulana indebted chiefly to the communication earth, brought from Mount Vesuvius. of a gentleman of this city, who lately Beyond this pile of masonry many visited that celebrated spot.

loose blocks of marble are placed, and Venice, it is well known, is built on extend a considerable way into the a cluster of islets, situated among the Adriatic. When very high tides ocshallows which occur near the head of cur, accompanied with wind, the waves the Adriatic Gulf. The houses and break over the whole pier ; and somespires seem to spring from the water ; times, on these occasions, part of the canals are substituted for paved streets, loose blocks are thrown up and lodged and long narrow boats, or gondolas, upon the level part of the rampart: for coaches. Some parts of the city it may be questioned, therefore, if this are elegant, exhibiting fine specimens exterior range of loose masses of stone of the architecture of Palladio ; but be not likely to prove rather detrimenthe splendid Place of St Mark is no tal than useful. Near to this pier, longer thronged by Venetian nobles; on the side next the sea, there is water the cassinos are comparatively desert- for vessels of considerable size. The ed; and the famed Rialto bridge has great object of the work is to guard ceased to be distinguished for its rich the Lagoon on its south and most shops and their matchless brocades. assailable point, “contra mare," as the The ancient brazen horses have re- inscription bears; and but for it, Veturned from their travels to Paris; but nice, it is thought, would by this time Venice has not been suffered to resume have been in ruins, from the gradual its consequence as the capital of an in- encroachments of the sea. It is kept dependent state ; the bucentaur is rot- in good order, and seems lately, during ten, and there is no longer any Doge the dominion of the French, to have to wed the Adriatic.

received extensive repairs. This magThe great mole is situated about nificent work is said to have excited seventeen miles to the south of Venice. even the admiration of Napoleon, It was begun so long ago as the year which he has marked by this inscrip1751, and it was not completed when tion : “ Ausu Romano, ære Veneto." the French revolution broke out. On It may be noticed, that the part of one part of the wall were inscribed the rampart next to the entrance of these words : “Ut sacra æstuaria, ure the harbour, was the scene of many bis et libertatis sedes, perpetuo con- combats between the French troops servetur, colosseas moles ex solido and the English sailors, during the armore contra mare posuere curablockade of Venice by our navy. The

[ocr errors]

rigour of this blockade is not gener man power have been extended, and ally known ; so effectual did it prove, the condition of the lower orders that numbers of the native inhabits of society ameliorated, a very .conants, particularly of the lower orders, spicuous place ought to be assigned such as gondoliers, absolutely perished to the establishment of Saving Banks. through famine.

They have originated in a spirit of On the Isle di Murassi, already pure benevolence-placed within the mentioned, are a number of houses, of reach of the lowest and most helpa pretty enough appearance at a dis- less portion of the community the tance, but miserable on a nearer view means of a secure and profitable de they are inhabited by fishermen, who, posite, of which they are now eagerly with their wretched and squalid wives availing themselves and in proporand children, flock around a stranger, tion as they are multiplied and exbegging with deplorable looks and tended, so must necessarily be the intones of penury and want. The great dustry, the frugality, the foresight, Laguna, or shallow lake, also already and the comparative independence, of mentioned, varies in depth from half the lower classes. What is no small a foot to three and four feet and more recommendation-no complicated or From the eastern termination of the expensive machinery is required for pier at the Bocco del Porto, the course either their formation or their manageof the deeper channel, accessible to ment; the time of the contributors very large vessels to the port of Ve needs not be wasted in discussions and nice, is marked out by wooden stakes, arrangements to which their knowor beacons, placed at short distances. ledge and habits are but ill adapted ;

The long continued blockade of the and no opportunity is afforded for English annihilated the commerce of combination. Every one may lodge the port, and proved very disastrous to and withdraw his little hoard ‘accordthe Venetian vessels, many of which be- ing to his convenience, instead of the came ruinous, and have been found time and amount being prescribed incapable of repair. For some days and enforced by penalties, by which during September last (1816), only the savings of many years may, withtwo vessels cleared out at the custom- out any delinquency which it was in house-one for Constantinople, and the contributor's power to avoid, be another for Corfu. About half a doz- suddenly transferred to his less needy en of small craft, Swedish, Danish, or more fortunate associates. Dutch, and Italian, were then lying facility and encouragement to the laat the births, waiting for cargoes, but bourer to save a little when it is in with little expectation of obtaining his power to save, with the most perthem. During the war, capital was fect liberty to draw it back, with inwasted, and mercantile spirit extin- terest, when his occasions require it, guished; it is not surprising, there- is the primary object, and ought to be fore, to find the commerce of Venice the sole object, of this institution. at the lowest ebb. The merchants are Much of the distress of the lower ornow endeavouring to obtain from the ders may thus come to be relieved Austrian government some advantages, from their own funds, instead of their at the expense of the rival ports of having recourse to poor rates or priLeghorn and Trieste, but with slender vate charity. hopes of success; and it is not perhaps It does not seem necessary to enter without reason, that the Venetians into the details of these establishments, have begun to despair of any signal which are now sufficiently numerous revival of the commerce of this ancient to furnish room for selection, whatand once celebrated emporium-to ever may be the local circumstances which Europe, it may be remarked, in which it

may

be proposed to introwas indebted for the invention of pub- duce them. Nor is it consistent with lic banks.

my present purpose, and the limits to which this letter must be confined, to examine the rules by which their business is conducted. Little, that is of

real utility on this head, can be added MR EDITOR,

to what has been already laid before Among the numerous modern dis- the public, in the numerous pamphlets coveries, by which the limits of hu- and reports which this interesting Vol. I.

с

To give

ON THE CONSTITUTION AND MORAL

EFFECTS OF BANKS FOR THE SAV
INGS OF INDUSTRY.

novelty has produced, and in the pe- tainly is, that to place the Lord Lieuriodical works in which their merits tenant, the Members of Parliament, have been discussed. What is want and the Sheriff of the county, for the ed, is not the knowledge of minute time being, among the honorary memparticulars regarding the plan and bers of so humble an institution as a conduct of the establishment, which bank for the savings of the labourers ought to be varied, perhaps, with any of a small district, is calculated to call considerable difference in the num- downridiculeon the wholeundertaking. ber and character of the contributors, But should these gentlemen, constiand in the tract of country over which tuted members of the bank merely in it is expected to extend. I shall there virtue of their official situations, choose fore content myself at present with a to interfere with the details of its busifew remarks on the nature and pur- ness, either directly or indirectly, withpose of Saving Banks in general, which out having first acquired by their perafter all that has been written on the sonal character, or the interest they subject, do not seem to be well under- may have taken in the prosperity of stood even by some of those who have the institution, the confidence of the made the most meritorious exertions great body of the depositors, there is in promoting them.

every reason to believe that the conIt cannot be too frequently recome sequences would be most pernicious. mended to those who may take the The lower classes would be ready to lead in establishing banks for save suspect, whether with or without reaings, to study to combine simplicity son is of little consequence, that the with security, and to give to them such knowledge of their circumstances, and a constitution as may not contain with the control over their funds, possessin itself the seeds of dissension and ed by these official characters, might party spirit. While the security of be employed in enforcing obnoxious the funds is not impaired, a preference measures of public policy. And on should always be given to what is sim- every occasion, when the popular feelple, and promises to be permanent, ing is opposed to the enactments of over what is artificial, of a remote or the legislature, how soon soever it may doubtful tendency, or merely calculat- subside, we might expect to see such a ed for producing a temporary effect. run made upon our Saving Banks, as Upon this principle I would venture happens on a larger scale of business, to suggest that a Saving Bank should whenever the creditors of individuals, approach as nearly as possible in its of societies, or of the public, begin to character to a Mercantile Bank--that lose confidence in the prudence or no inquiry into the character or con- ability with which the affairs of their duct of the depositors should be toler. debtors are conducted. Add to this, ated for a moment--that the choice the habitual jealousy which the lower of managers should not in general be classes have been taught to entertain vested in the depositors, nor the mana of their rulers, so frequently kindled gers themselves taken from that body, into phrenzy by the arts of the disafand that it should be kept entirely fected ; and it may be laid down as a distinct from Benefit So Annu- rule, that in these simple institutions, ity Schemes, Loan Banks; and its which ought to have no other object provisions strictly confined to its own than the ostensible one, every ground proper object of safe custody and for suspecting the influence of governprompt payment with interest. ment should be carefully excluded, as

In hazarding this opinion, it is not not only unnecessary, but likely to be necessary to deny the influence of great injurious. names on the list of honorary and ex With this impression, it is impostraordinary members, in giving a mo- sible not to feel some degree of alarm mentary eclat to a new institution, at the Bill introduced into Parliament and in inspiring the public with con- last Session by Mr Rose. As I do not fidence in its respectability. But it know the provisions of this Bill in its may well be doubted, whether after the amended form, I shall only venture to advantages of a Saving Bank have been observe, that the clause which requires generally understood, a parade of inef- the funds of the Saving Banks to be ficient officers will contribute much to invested in government securities, its permanency, and to its utility among ought on no account to be extended the lower classes. My own opinion cer to Scotland, where banks of the most

« PoprzedniaDalej »