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and practical skill have been brought into existence under the most marvellous circumstances; and when we consider that out of a natural substance, originally of unapparent value, productions have emanated, intrinsically worth more than if they had been formed of the precious metals, we may well conclude that a practical knowledge of, and a judicious taste for, the exquisite ceramic specimens dispersed throughout Europe, are not an unimportant result of civilization. Therefore let not the collector of so-termed bric-à-brac halt in his researches; the pursuit brings pleasure to himself, oft-times profit, and is one of the least egotistical of tastes, as it also gives pleasure, instruction, and profit to others. Come with me, as many who love the treasures of art, and let us wander over Europe. I shall at times take you to odd places, and tell you strange stories; but you will be ever learning and never regretting. Come!
Böttcher, Harring, Morin, Lucca del Robbia, and Palissy, are my constant companions. Ay, and how full of interest is their society! how faithfully they recall the memory of past ages! and how fully they convince us that, despite all the go-ahead and vulgar money presumption of the day in which we live, they may have rivals, yet have no equals either in taste or manipulation !
Alas for the ceramic taste of the world of socalled fashion (odious name) in which we live; it is not the beauty or the fine art, but the pure eccentricity which rules the market.
HINTS TO BRIC-A-BRAC HUNTERS.
“ There is no more potent antidote to low sensuality than the adoration of the beautiful.
“All the higher arts of design are essentially chaste, without respect to the object.
“ They purify the thoughts as tragedy purifies the passions. Their accidental effects are not worth consideration ; there are souls to whom even a vestal body is not holy."-SCHLEGEL.
CHOULD my readers agree with me in the w sentiments thus written, many of them will be the more inclined to follow in my footsteps, or join me in many a ramble, replete with incident, in search of that which may be justly termed art treasures in other lands; if so be not precisely in the hope of obtaining objects of higher art, to which I confess my heart has longed and hungered in vain, yet at least in search of the beautiful and attainable.
In days lang syne, when those who had the means and inclination were wont to visit foreign lands, the knowledge necessary in search for bric
à-brac was confined to a limited circle. Moreover, the taste was by no means evinced as it is by very many in the present day. Thus, pictures were purchased at high prices, and brought home as Murillos or Raphaels, Rubens or Titians, solely because they were purchased in Italy or Spain by those who had probably much more money than taste or discrimination; at all events, little knowledge of pure art, or that refined and correct eye, granted by God and nurtured by practice, which could alone guide them. It is almost inconceivable what an amount of rubbish thus found its way to the rural homes of England and to the picture-marts of the metropolis. It is true that a few possessing the requisite knowledge obtained prizes, while others made fortunes; but in those days they had a fine field, and little opposition. To-day such good fortune is rare indeed, and happy is the man who chances to meet with a gem. Porcelain was also purchased from every capital of Europe and the East, neither purchaser nor seller having much appreciation or knowledge of what they bought or sold; and thus, while now
and then a charming specimen was obtained for a sum insignificant in reference to its real value, some worthless object was often purchased at a price given for a perfect example of Sèvres or Capo di Monte. Alas, is it not so now !
Then, travellers went their way rejoicing in wellspringed comfortable English carriages, driven by postilions in heavy quaint boots and long pigtails, content with what was, admiring all they saw, paying all that was asked of them, eating everything, and pronouncing it good because it was foreign, and gratefully acknowledging the wellpaid-for civilities and courtesies they received—if they did receive them.
Many a high-titled nobleman of our fatherland, many a possessor of broad acres, with a courier and interpreter in the rumble of his easy-going carriage, rushed from city to city, from river to lake, from snow-clad mountain to luxurious vale,
-here, there, everywhere,—scarcely enjoying the beauties of nature granted by God, ignorant of one word of the language of the country through which he travelled. Having decided on the termi