« PreviousContinue »
cuse, under Dionysius or Gelon? or its energy in the midst of those numewere the Spartans enslaved at the time rous states which had succeeded them. when they banished Timotheus ? and Their legislators had wished to make was it not from a free republic that use of this dangerous principle of Plato proposed exclude both Homer emulation-none of them seems even and Phidias ? But there are other to have endeavoured to destroy it. causes, concerning the power of which The laws of the different states were there can be less matter of dispute. different. Their characters, determine The abundance and the beauty of the ed by those laws, were, in many infruits of the earth are the reward of stances, little similar, except in the the labours and the wisdom of the cul- jealousy and hatred with which they tivator, and the very same rule holds were mutually agitated against each concerning the productions of genius. other. But this very spirit of rival
5. It is an ancient maxim, written in ship, which entailed upon them so every page of the history of the world, many calamities, gave birth at the that honours are the food of the arts. saine time to those prodigies of genius But honours, properly so called, that and art with which the world has so is, recompenses accorded to artists, long been astonished. Everything are far from being of themselves suffi- had a definite character-every thing cient to conduct the arts to perfec- was great in a little space—because tion. The arts require subjects of every human faculty was developed exertion capable of inspiring noble by the contending passions of the ideas, and à sane inflexible theory, Greeks. We see wars by land and which the general taste has sanctioned wars by seemarinies and fleets rapidly and protects, and which is above being destroyed and incessantly renewedaltered or impaired by the fluctuation victories at which we cannot too much of individual opinion.. In order to wonder—and historians still more wonappreciate the causes of their progress derful. It seems to us, in reading the and of their decline, and most of all history of Attica, Bæotia, and the Pelthose of their absence, in climates the oponnesus, that we are occupied with most favourable—in the midst ofriches, that of some immense territory, or raof intelligence, and even of liberty it- ther of the whole world. self-we must principally examine One great line of distinction among whether, in the countries under our the Greeks was that, never altogether present observation, they were so hon- forgotten, of their various origination. oured and protected, or altogether The Dorians and the Ionians never abandoned to their own exertions ; ceased to regard each other as different whether they were enslaved or left at people. The one were proud of their liberty; whether they were reduced ancient conquest-the other of their to flatter the tastes of private frivolity, yet more ancient liberty and civilizaor directed by the government itself to tion. Sparta was the patroness of the the public utility, and the glory of the Doric states, and of oligarchy; Athens state. These causes are more powers of the Ionians, and democracy. These ful than climate, or riches, or peace, unhappy divisions, fomented by interor liberty; but these causes are depen- nal ambition and external violencedent on the will of legislatures. It by Persia in the first instance, next becomes then matter of the highest by Macedon, and last of all by the interest, to examine by what motives treacherous policy and the overwhelmcertain legislatures of Greece were in- ing force of Rome seemed to increase duced to make the arts the subject of in strength as Greece advanced in her their most anxious solicitude, while decline, and never terminated but in among so many of their neighbours her ruin. It is evident, that in this they were altogether neglected or pro- constant opposition of spirits and of scribed.
interests, the arts could by no means In the first place, the Greeks are not be every where appreciated in the more celebrated for the masterpieces of same manner. Aristotle reckons up no art, than for the unequalled series less than one hundred and fifty-eight of their political dissensions. That various forms of government, which spirit of rivalship, which had so long had existed, or which still existed, in agitated their petty hordes in the first Greece in his own days. It is evident, ages of their history, lost nothing of that the arts, not being equally neces
sary in all these governments, could not general spirit of the people. Compossibly receive in them all the same merce is the parent of many evils, to degree of favour.
which antidotes must be discovered. Again-the difference of local posi- It instigates to luxury; it polishes tion divided the Greeks into two class- the manners, and it corrupts them. es ; those who applied themselves to Rich in moveable property, its tencommerce, and those who did not. dency is to make all men cosmopoThe one honoured it because it was lites. Such, at least, was the opinion necessary to their existence ; the other of the Greek philosophers, and the despised it as useless to themselves, severity of their doctrines on this head and exaggerated the inconveniences is well known. The arts, said they, which sometimes attend its extension.
are necessary in commercial countries, Commerce would never have been not only in respect to their manufacadapted for the haughty Thessalians, tures, for the enlightening and direcBoeotians, and Spartans. It was not tion of the taste,-but, in a moral the detail of commerce alone which point of view, for the animation of these men condemned, but commerce virtue and of patriotism. To decorate in its most general and liberal form our native country with superb monuas the parent of factitious and dan- ments of art—to embellish the pub
The states whose lic festivals—to immortalize illustrious territory was poor, looked on com actions—and to place before the eyes merce as a mean of increasing their of the people the true and undegraded power; those, again, which were fa- images of purity and beauty,—is at voured by nature, could see in it only once to ennoble the ideas of men,--to a principle of danger and destruction. excite and nourish national pride and
It seems to be a very general opi- enthusiasm,--and to plant the most nion, that commerce and the fine arts
generous of passions in the room of are inseparately connected: neverthe
meanness and cupidity. less, in reviewing the history of the Plato rejected from his republic both most celebrated commercial cities, it commerce and the arts; but it was is impossible not to observe, that these with a very important restriction. “If two sources of wealth have by no commerce must be introduced into our means been in every instance united. republic,” says he, “it is necessary that Commerce, in fact, when left to follow the arts come with it ; that so, by beits own proper inclinations, is little holding every day the masterpieces of attentive to the fine arts,-or rather painting, sculpture, and architecture, appears to be wholly ignorant of the full of grace and purity in all their important benefits which may be de- proportions, dispositions least inclined rived from their cultivation. The in- for the perception of elegance may terests which occupy the mind of the be, as it were, removed into a purer Trader, are too important to admit of and more healthy atmosphere, -and any such participation. Surrounded learn, by degrees, a taste for the by his merchandise and his ledgers, it beautiful—the becoming--and the deis not always an easy matter for him licate. They will learn to observe, to lift his view towards the higher with accuracy, what is lovely or de-regions of taste and intellect. Who, fective in the works of art and of nabesides, would be willing to devote
ture; and this happy rectitude of himself to long and painful studies, judgment will become a second nature
-to labours which are little lucrative, to their souls.”* But in what reand as little esteemed, when he has
gards governments, the same favour so many means of fortune in his
will be granted to the fine arts—there power, and sees every day the com- only where the same benefits are exparative promptitude and facility, pected to accrue from their cultivawith which commercial wealth is re- tion. Their object is to make men alized ? If the arts then prosper in love their country by the attraction commercial cities, they are far from
of honourable recompenses; how then doing so by the mere effect of the re
can they be useful in an oligarchy? finement of commercial men. The If they are there employed, it is alparticular vigilance, on the contrary, ways with regret. Immense edifices and unremitting care of the legislature, are sometimes built; but there are are necessary; and these, not unfrequently, in total opposition to the
* De Rep. L. viii.
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 alinost 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 imınortalize 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 sinall 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 gohim 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.+ 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 unmanly 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 testriction 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-liv. Rome, in fine, ich, 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. üi. Verr. passim. them view them at all times Es the
+ De bello Cat. c. ii.
STATE OF THE
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 forin 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 froin 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, ur 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 marmore contra mare posuere cura« blockade of Venice by our navy. The