« AnteriorContinuar »
Few words will tell their history.
No chain can bind affection — least of all
One that hath links of gold. They met, they loved —
But' Invi• is for the free;' and she, the slave
Of an unhappy bondage, might not bend
To gather of its flowers. She was not one
To stoop to shame: her crown of purity
Was not a bauble, which the first light breath
Might rend like gossamer— but a diadem,
Before the splendor of whose beaming front
Sin crouched abashed: and his was love
That would as soon have plotted 'gainst her life,
As wooed her to dishonor. Oh! for such
Love's watchword is ' Farewell!'
A voluntary exile forth he roamed,
'!lle (vides?) pur&juvenis qui niiinir liasii
When Horatio Greenough shall have filled the measure of his promise, after he shall have added renown to an already interesting name, his biography will be written; and that biography will be read, while the lives of our presidents and great politicians will lie, dust-laden, upon the shelves of posterity. They have sought a near fame, and are conspicuous in station, and sonorous in the mouths of the multitude. But there is a distant fame which urges him on, who, satisfied that he is performing some great good, the effects of which cannot be felt in his own time, labors for the benefit of future and more enlightened generations; and this is the fame the sculptor works for. His contemporaries may applaud his designs, and commend his execution; he will receive near fame; but when ages shall have passed, and the usefulness of his art shall be acknowledged, in the stone that hands down to a people the image of some great benefactor of their country, or of the world, then will he receive the crown of his deserts; and though he be beyond the reach of popular favor, the expectation of such posthumous reputation may well dignify his thoughts, and lift up his spirit to any sacrifices.
The desire of near fame is selfish, subservient, and truckling. It often goes to form the character of the public officer. It admits of short-lived subterfuges, shallow paints, and flimsy varnishes; it gives neither dignity to the character, nor disinterestedness to the deeds of the man who seeks it. He is of the earth, earthy; and when dead, the people shed no tears over his grave; no memory remains of him, except as associated with acts complicated and heterogeneous; the reminiscence of him is jostled among a crowd of impressions of like personages, though he may obtain the dubious honor of having his bare name and office recorded in a history of ten volumes octavo.
Grand, indeed, must be the construction of that mind which looks with enthusiasm upon such an art as sculpture — one so laborious, slow, and Herculean — for its chief pleasure. The poet is one who knows and feels all that other men know and feel, and still something beyond; for he carries out more largely, and penetrates more deeply, the common sources of happiness and beauty that are every where about the world: and it is this faculty that constitutes him a poet. Equally general is the field from which the painter reaps his sustenance. He revels amid scenes, either domestic, simple, or sublime. But the sculptor loves mountains, snowy peaks, lofty columns, and ruined temples — something that tells of time, either past or future. He may like other things, but if there be any such test as consistency of character, that mind that makes the hard marble speak, that hews out living forms from the insensate rock, will prefer the durable, the majestic, the terrific even, to the evanescent, the delicate, or the voluptuous.
Sculpture is the pyramid of the arts; it has length, breadth, and thickness; it is indebted to no illusion for its effects; there is no shading, and coloring, and throwing into the back-ground; it is not dependent upon good light, but all stands out — confessed. It forms things as they are, not represents them as they appear. It is the earliest and most direct effort of imitation —simple from its very obviousness, but severe in its simplicity, admitting of no compromises, exacting the whole truth, or it will none of it.
The imitative arts originated in man's desire of immortality for himself, or for something pertaining closely to him; as among ancient nations did their country's honor and glory. Since the invention of printing, and the founding of libraries, this desire can be indulged at less cost and labor: hence the reason why the arts have not progressed with literature, although so closely blended with it. Most men, now, prefer a written picture to a painted one. Good scholars are not ashamed to acknowledge that they do not even know the technical vocabulary of criticism upon the imitative arts. The number is few of those who aspire to be amateurs in such matters. This state of public feeling acts upon the artist; and, beside, the same causes that produce this indifference in the public, lessen the enthusiasm of the student. The truth may be, that there is not now the strong necessity, the ardent patriotism — the passion—for patriotism has enlarged into philanthropy — that once summoned out the skill of the painter and sculptor. Once it was the reverence of his gods, or the achievements of his friend, that inspired him — now it is, for the most part, the love of his art. The real ground, the necessity, of the imitative arts has vanished in the literary progression of the world. When few comparatively could read,* pictures were used as incentives to devotion; fear and reverence were cultivated by statues; the example of great deeds was kept fresh and vivid in the minds of the people, by representations on canvass and in stone. Now, every purpose of piety or politics is answered by a printed sermon or speech. But this is not all true of painting, which has passed from a national to a domestic art; perpetuating the expression of those we love; reminding us in age of what we were in youth; enabling us to carry friends next our very hearts, when seas or lands, death or accidents, separate them from us.
• Most of the Grecians in the time of Demosthenes, and the greater part of the Romans in the time of Augustus, were entirely uneducated. North American Rnicw.
Then what is sculpture, and what is it that feeds the soul of its student' He loves it as a part of the history of the world; it has upon it the venerable stamp of antiquity; it belongs to the age of the greatest orator and poet. 'In contemplating antiquity, his mind itself becomes antique.' Like Pomponius Lxtus, he may be seen 'wandering amidst the vestiges of the throne of the world: there, in many a reverie, as his eye rests on the mutilated arch, and the broken column, he stops to muse, and drops tears in the ideal presence of Rome and of the Romans.'
Once too, perhaps, in a century, a man may live like our Washington, who not only must be embalmed in the choicest garb of poetry, and the truest touches of the pencil, but also in the noblest statue of the sculptor. He must not merely live in the hearts of the people, but he must be made to stand out, in propria persona, for the eyes of all coming generations to dwell upon. Yes, he must stand in the capitol, himself the very corner-stone. God will raise up a sculptor for such a man — and he has.
It is upon such subjects the sculptor lives, and realizes the divine excellence of his art. But it can never be a common art: first, from its difficulty, and next, from the fact that few cases can occur, where being put up in stone would not be ridiculous. Its field is circumscribed, not admitting of common subjects. It is too dignified to descend to trifles. What would be thought, for instance, of a statue of Sam. Patch or Daniel Lambert?
As, then, it can only deal in very great characters, and as very great men are rare, how can it hope to be a common art? What is to support it in our country? Painting draws its support from private vanity, or real affection, and immortalizes itself by scriptural and historical pieces; but sculpture has no such fund to draw upon, and beside, a few works are the employment of a life. It can only be supported by government patronage, which must be small in republics like ours, where so many men are great, but not singly great, like Washington; where factitious distinctions are unknown, and where greatness bestows itself around to others, producing an elevated republican equality, until it is hard to discover the original stock from which it proceeded. But we have noticed all these obstacles to the art, only to show the originality and perseverance of Horatio Greenough, who, in a manner highly honorable to himself and useful to his country, has worked against all these disadvantages, until he has fought out a laudable name for the talent of his native land. We cannot highly enough estimate that genius, which had the daring, the intellectual energy, to fix upon so high a mark, with so little sympathy about him, so little encouragement as any young man would receive in such an undertaking. The glory of Columbus consists, not in the fearlessness with which he encountered the tempests, in his search for a western continent, but in the invention of his theory, and his remaining in it and nobly upholding it through want, disappointment, and neglect. Intrepidity in danger is manly, but such traits cannot be compared with the moral courage that dares to stem the accumulated prejudices of centuries. Any man who engages in a new and hazardous enterprise, and arrives successfully at his result, is entitled to unusual honor: and such we esteem the art of sculpture to have been to an American.
But whatever the prejudices of the time, whatever its apparent inutility, the sculptor acknowledges no perpetuity but in the creations of his art. He is carried along by a steady enthusiasm. He looks to the olden times, rather than the new, for his counsels, his sympathies, and companionships. He can own no communion with the bustle of modern improvement. His life is secluded, devoted, and often foreign; for he can only breathe freely in Italy. How many minds can rise to this training? Where are the students to come from, who, alone and unassisted, will carve out for themselves such a path as Greenough did, when but a boy? If each century to come can produce one great American sculptor, it is more than can reasonably be hoped for.
Greenough was born a sculptor; that is, he was born with a temperament and disposition to nourish some noble design, some definite purpose, for the benefit of his age. Endowed with a remarkable delicacy of character, even in boyhood, he shunned society, to devote himself to his darling pursuits. At school, at college, this was the single object before his mind — it absorbed his whole heart. He undoubtedly felt then, that he possessed a treasure which he must not tarnish with other interests.
We have put the name of Horatio Greenough at the head of our remarks upon his art, because we like the name; it is one of fine associations. There is inspiration, too, in writing under such a title, (albeit we may fail, still, reader, wait until you see us uninspired, and you may acknowledge it.) We do not wish to draw into an indelicate position an artist whose great work — the statue of Washington — is yet on the stocks; we would not forestall his reputation. But he has already done enough to endear him to every American. We would cheer him on in his pilgrimage, and send our voice across the wide Atlantic to tell him, that his countrymen are mindful of him, and waiting his rich return — rich, not in gold and merchantable stuffs, but rich in a name that shall be the pride of his descendants, and a jewel to his country. j. N. B.
ADDRESSED TO A LADY ON HER BIRTH-DAT.
Long may'st thou live! and long be blest
With every joy that life endears;
And Hope make rainbows of thy tears.
Friends fall like leaves in autumn's bower,
A withered, lonely, joyless flower.
No! Lady — rather may'st thou die,
When sympathy thy pangs can sooth,
And love thy dying pillow smooth:
Ere thou death's bitter cup shall quaff:
Nor live to write thine epitaph!
In the definition of words, the most important part of lexicography, the defects and inaccuracies of the English dictionaries are too numerous to be specified. Dr. Johnson, indeed, made great improvements in this department of English lexicography; but he also made many mistakes, or left many definitions very imperfect. This is not surprising, considering his infirmities, and the defect of his researches into the origin and affinities of the language.
But it is remarkable, that among all the compilers of dictionaries who have borrowed his vocabulary of words, ana abridged his definitions, not one, whose work is yet published, has, to any extent, corrected his mistakes, or supplied his defects. Almost all the errors of Johnson are copied into later dictionaries, both in Great Britain and the United States; and in various abridgments, they find their way into our families and schools.
Observe the different definitions of the following words, in the different books:
Speculation. 1. Examination by the eye; view.
2. Examiner; spy. This word is found no where else, (except in a passage of Shakspeare) and probably is here misprinted for speculator. (The passage is omitted.)
3. Mental view; intellectual examination; contemplation.
4. A train of thoughts formed by meditation. 5. Mental scheme not reduced to practice.
6. Power of sight. Not in use.
These are copied without improvement into the dictionaries of Sheridan, Walker, Jones, and Jameson.
In abridgments for schools in this country, we find the following:
Act of speculating; view; spy, examination; contemplation; scheme.— Worcester.
The same in the abridgment of Walker, published in Boston.
From Webster's American Dictionary.
Speculation. Examination by the eye, view. (lAttle used.)
2. Mental view of any thing in its various aspects and relations; contemplation: intellectual examination. The events of the day afford matter of serious speculation to the friends of Christianity.
3. Train of thoughts formed by meditation.
4. Mental scheme j theory; views of subjects not verified by fact or practice.
This globe, which was round only in speculation, has been circumnavigated. The application of steam to navigation is no longer a matter of mere speculation.
6. Power of signs. (Not in use.)
6. In commerce, the act or practice of buying land or goods, etc., in expectation of a rise of price and of selling them at an advance; as distinguished from a regular trade, in which the profit expected is the difference, between the retail and wholesale prices, or the difference of price in the place where the goods are purchased, and the place to which they are carried for market. In England, France and America, public stocks are the subject of continual speculation. In the United States, a few men have been enriched, but many have been ruined, by speculation.