« ElőzőTovább »
shun disputes, and believe that almost all religions are good;' (3) on the supreme fitness of the idolatries of India 'to call forth the ideal perfections of art, by expanding and exalting the imagination of the artistor (4) upon the exceptional and pre-eminent capacity of the Hindoos to become 'the most virtuous and happy of the human race,' but for that one solitary misfortune which cursed them with a priesthood.*
The Inquiry into Symbolism was, at first, printed only for private circulation, in 1818. It was afterwards reprinted in the Classical Journal, with some corrections by the author. It was again reprinted, after his death, as an appendix to the second volume of the Specimens of Ancient Sculpture.
To the first volume of that work Mr. Payne Knight had already prefixed his Preliminary Dissertation on the Progress of Ancient Sculpture. After showing that of Phoenician art we have no real knowledge other than that
* That my needful abridgment, in the text, of Mr. Payne Knight's words may not misrepresent his meaning, I subjoin the whole of the passage:—' Had this powerful engine of influence' [namely, loss of caste] 'been employed in favour of pure morality and efficient virtue, the Hindoos might have been the most virtuous and happy of the human race. But the ambition of a hierarchy has, as usual, employed it to serve its own particular interests instead of those of the community in general. .... Should the pious labours of our missionaries succeed in diffusing among them a more pure and more moral, but less uniform and less energetic system of religion, they may improve and exalt the character of individual men, but they will for ever destroy the repose and tranquillity of the mass The prevalence of European religion will
be the fall of European domination The incarnations which
form the principal subject of sculpture in all the temples of India, Tibet, Tartary, and China, are, above all others, calculated to call forth the ideal perfections of the art, by expanding and exalting the imagination of the artist, and exciting his ambition to surpass the simple imitation of ordinary formB, in order to produce a model of excellence, worthy to be the corporeal habitation of the Deity. But this no nation of the East, nor indeed of the Earth, except the Greeks and those who copied them, ever attempted.'—Analytical Inquiry, &c, p. 80.
which is to be derived from the study of coins, and that Book Ii, thence it may be learnt that the Phoenicians had artisans, cuwioii but not artists, he goes on to survey Greek art in its sue- o,"",'*'^0" cessive phases. That art, at its best, finds, he thinks, a typical expression, or summary, in the saying ascribed to Lysippus: 'It is for the sculptor to represent men as they seem to be, not as they really are.' He dates the culmination of Greek sculpture as ranging between the years B.C. 450 and 400, and as due to the national pride and energy which were excited by the defeat of Xerxes and the events which followed. He thinks that what was gained, by the artists of the next half-century, in ideal grace, and in the fluent refinements of workmanship, was obtained only by a loss of energy, of characteristic expression, and of originality—the tOog of art. In the works of Lysippus and his school (B.C. 350-300), he sees a brief resuscitation of the vigour of the former period, combined with much more than the grace of the latter, to be followed only too swiftly by those desolating wars 1 in which the temples were destroyed, their treasures of art pillaged, and artists, for the first time, saw their works perish before themselves.'
In the 'Dissertation,' as in the 'Inquiry,' there are many statements and many reasonings to which subsequent discoveries have brought a tacit correction. The passage in M«.patbe
. 1 ° Knight A.\u
the former about the Elgin Marbles had to be corrected by The Elgin the evidence of the author's own eyesight. His examination 'A1U"'J!S before the Commons' Committee of 1816 was an amusing scene. The key-note was struck by the witness's first words. To the question 'Have you seen the marbles brought to England by Lord Elgin?' he replied, ' Yes. I have looked them over.' But on this point, enough has been said already in a previous page.
Boo* n, Both to the Edinburgh Review and to the Classical Classical Journal Mr. Knight was a frequent and valuable contrin"iTTM And" butor. It was in the latter periodical that his Prolegomena Exploskhs. t0 Homer were first given to the world, although he had printed a small edition (limited to fifty copies) for private circulation, as early as in the year 1808.* His latest poetical work, the Romance of Alfred, I have never had the opportunity of reading.
Richard Payne Knight died on the twenty-fourth of April, 1824, in the 75th year of his age. He bequeathed his whole Collections to the British Museum, of which he had long been a zealous and faithful Trustee. He made no conditions, other than that his gift should be commemorated by the addition to the Trust of a perpetual Knight 'Family Trustee.'
For this purpose a Bill was introduced into Parliament by Lord Colchester on the eighth of June. It received the royal assent on the seventeenth.
The addition of Mr. Knight's Greek Coins made the British Museum superior, in that department, to the Royal Museum of Paris; the addition of his bronzes raised it above the famous Museum of Naples. By the most competent judges it has been estimated that, if the Collection had been sold by public auction, Mr. Knight's representatives would probably have obtained for it the sum of sixty thousand pounds.
* Carmina Homerica Uias et Odyssea a rapsidorum interpolationibus repurgata, et in pristinam formam .... redacta; cum notis ac prolegomenis, .... opera et studio Richardi Payne Knight. 1808, 8vo.
A GROUP OF BOOK-LOVERS AND PUBLIC
* If wc were to take away from the Museum Collection
'Considering the British Museum to be a National Library for research, its utility increases in proportion with the very rare and costly books, in preference to
modern books' I think that scholars have a right
to look, for these expensive works, to the Government of
'I want a poor student to have the same means of in-
'When you have given a hundred thousand pounds,—in ten or twelve years,—you will begin to have a library worthy of the British Nation.'—
Aktonio Paxizzi—Evidence before Select Committee
on British Museum, 7th June, 1836. (Q. 4785—4795.)
Notices of some early Donors of Books.—The Life and Collections of Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode.— William Petty, first Marquess of Lansdoione, and his Library of Manuscripts.—The Literary Life and Collections of Dr. Charles Burney.—Francis Hargrave and his Manuscripts.—The Life and Testamentary Foundations of Francis Henry Egerton, Ninth Earl of Bridyewater.
The Reader has now seen that, within some twelve or *°°Kj^ fifteen years, a Collection of Antiquities, comparatively small Bookand insignificant, was so enriched as to gain the aspect of a PuTMA National Museum of which all English-speaking men might *0TMEFAC Book Ii, be proud, and mere fragments of which enlightened Foreign Book. Sovereigns were under sore temptation to covet. He has Pubtm*1tm seen> also> that the praise of so striking a change was due, To^"ac *n ^e mam» to the public spirit and the liberal endeavours of a small group of antiquarians and scholars. They were, most of them, men of high birth, and of generous education. They were, in fact, precisely such men as, in the jargon of our present day, it is too much the mode to speak of as the antitheses of ' the People,' although in earlier days men of that strain were thought to be part of the very core and kernel of a nation.
But if it be undeniably true that the chief and primary merit of so good a piece of public service was due to the Hamiltons, Towneleys, Elgins, and Knights of the last generation, it is also true that the Public, through their representatives, did, at length, join fairly in the work by bearing their part of the cost, though they could share neither the enterprise, the self-denial, nor the wearing toils, which the work had exacted.
Now that the story turns to another department of the National Museum, we find that the same primary and salient characteristic—private liberality of individuals, as distinguished from public support by the Kingdom—still holds good. But we have to wait a very long time indeed, before we perceive public effort at length falling into rank with private, in the shape of parliamentary grants for the purchase of books, calculated even upon a rough approximation towards equality.
As Cotton, Sloane, Harley, and Arthur Edwards, were the first founders of the Library, so Birch, Mcsgrave, Tyrwhitt, Cracherode, Banks, and Hoare, were its chief augmentors, until almost ninety years had elapsed since the Act of Organization. Of the Collections of those