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Turkish soldier, whose perils and fatigues he freely shared, as devotedly attached to the sovereign, who withholds his pay frequently for two years, irresistible in the field when properly led, and wonderfully selfsacrificing. Russian ambition he shows at work everywhere, making the Christians uneasy under Turkish rule, kindling fanaticism, stimulating bloody outbreaks, everywhere provoking the Christian slave against the Moslem slave, the Reformed against the Asiatic Turk, race against race, and even different Christian sects against one another. The picture is certainly as highly colored as it is ill-omened for the future.
The Servians seem almost unimprovable, apathetic, irreligious, uneducated, conceited, destroying their forests, flogging their women, despising their clergy; not only degraded, but satisfied with degradation ; unable to become that head of a Slavonic kingdom to which they aspire ; gaining nothing from European protection but blind presumption on the part of the rulers, and stupid security, conceit, and decay in the ruled. 761 X
ART, POETRY, AND ROMANCE. The completion of so remarkable a work as Schnaase's History of Art * deserves more than a simple notice. At once the most thorough and the most philosophical effort to illustrate the progress of art, as determined by the culture of the ages which it moulded, which Germany has yet produced, it seems to us also to open the way to investigations into the expression of thought in art profounder and more fruitful than any with which the German writers, thus far the most original and the most successful in these fascinating inquiries, have surprised or instructed us. With the handbooks of Kugler, which bave helped us so long, it comes into no competition and provokes no comparison. “My task,” says Schnaase, “is wholly different from Kugler's. That the art of every age is the expression of its physical and spiritual, of its moral and intellectual characteristics, is a fact the general truth of which no one doubts. But more than that, a work of art is not to be understood fully, it seems to me, without an insight into the conditions of its origin. A history of art, therefore, must necessarily enter upon the nature of those conditions, and exhibit the process by which all the elements of culture are penetrated by the esthetic
Moreover, the art of the different nations seems to me to represent a permanent and continuous tradition, which must be understood in order to appreciate rightly the single epochs of art. . . Art is the central activity of nations, in which all efforts and feelings, spiritual, moral, material, meet to limit as well as most profoundly to infuence one another.”
But first a word as to the personal history of the writer. Born in Danzig in 1798, where his father was a successful jurist, he entered the University at Heidelberg in 1816, and remained there till 1818, when, fascinated by the philosophy of Hegel, he followed him to Ber
* Geschichte der bildenden Künste. Von Dr. CARL Schnasse. Sechster Band. Düsseldorf: Verlagshandlung von Julius Buddeus. 1861.
lin. But a visit to Dresden seems to have been of use in recalling him from the study of abstract philosophy to that into which history must pass if it will seek to unfold the causes or the results of human activity. Looking, however, for a career in the practice of the law, it was only his leisure that he could devote to the study of art. From 1819 to 1825 he held various offices in Danzig and Königsberg, and then went to Italy, where, amidst the ruins of the ancient and the wonders of the modern art, he conceived the design and set himself to the task of exploring the origin and unfolding the progress of both. Returning home in 1826, he was again appointed to judicial office, and in 1848 was made Obertribunalrath in Berlin. To one of the many excursions with which in the prosecution of his private studies he filled the intervals of public duties, we are indebted for his interesting work entitled Niederländische Briefe (Stuttgart, 1834). In 1843 appeared the first two volumes of the great work on the history of art which has suggested these remarks. The first volume is taken up with the art of the East in those distant ages which preceded the brilliant creations of Greece, the remains of which, however valuable as historic records, are hardly more to us in themselves, as Goethe insisted, than mere curiosities ; while the second is devoted to the art of the Greeks and of the Romans. Though very well written, comprehensive without obscurity and critical without diffuseness, it is not to be compared, it seems to us, either in style or learning, with Thiersch's “ Epochs of Art among the Ancients.” Schnaase's proper field was the Middle Age, upon which he entered in his third volume, published in 1844, in which he treats of the Early Christian and Mohammedan Art. In the fourth volume, of which the first part was published in 1850 and the second in 1854, he applies himself to the Middle Age properly so called. The fifth volume, published in 1856, depicts the origin and development of the Gothic style; while the sixth, which appeared in 1861, embraces the Later Period of the Middle Age, down to the culmination of the school of Van Eyck. As is evident from the successive periods at which these volumes were published, the work is a growth, and not a manufacture. In its philosophical conception of the historical development of art, it is claimed to be without a rival in Germany. Written from the fulness of knowledge, with a love which grows into reverence, it combines the investigation of the scholar with the insight of the artist and the originality of the thinker. Church and state, the new knighthood and the rising democracy, nominalism and realism, the spreading mysticism undermining the old scholasticism, festivals and pilgrimages, armor, dress, music, and the dance, — there is nothing which may not instruct him in the character and temper of the age. Its folly and vice, its piety and superstition, all the elements of progress and all the causes of decline which mingle in the undercurrents of a people's life, find expression, first and plainest always, in a people's art.
Next to the literature of the ancient, the art of the mediæval time is perhaps the most precious possession which the ages have transmitted to us. But more than the ancient literature, the mediæval art connects itself with modern uses, with the faith of the present and the hopes of
the future. And if it be an embodiment to us, on the one hand, of that phase of Christianity in which dogmas stood for religion, it is on the other not less a stimulus to that reverent love and that absorbing faith without which religion is but a form or a hinderance, a refuge for the godless or a snare to the pious. Yet to define with exactness the period when the old worship ceased, not indeed to possess a legal sanction, but to exercise its ancient influence, more sinister because more secret as it receded from the old life and philosophy and modes of thought, is as difficult, perhaps as useless, as to attempt to put a date to that rising spirit of free inquiry, to that quicker circulation of thought, to the birth of that new conviction, deepening with the years, that the human mind in its investigation of laws, as in its use of forces, is to know no limit or control, - which more than art or philosophy, even more, it might be claimed, in some respects than religion itself, separates the modern from the ancient world, and stamps it with the promise of the highest and last development of humanity.
But though we may not define the limits, we can fail as little to understand the origin or to appreciate the character of the mediæval art, as to mistake its tendency or cease to wonder at its results. Christianity, though a divine institution, was to make its progress in a human way. To the ancient mind, accustomed to symbols and steeped in a love for the outward beauty of form, the simplicity of the new religion was ascetic severity, its inner spiritual beauty without charm or effect. Hence, though it prevailed slowly, and at cost of much suffering and many martyrs in attaining after three centuries a legal sanction, it may not after thirty centuries finally destroy that tendency of the ancient mind to ally itself with visible forms, which, in the tremendous reaction of the Middle Age against the demands of the primitive Christianity, again asserted itself in the temples and statues, in the carvings and paintings which crowd and hallow for us all the lands of Europe, making of them at once a school of the highest art and the profoundest, if most perverted faith. Thus, apart from its origin or its tendency, the spirit of the mediæval art, as it breathes upon us from the walls of great galleries or the aisles and chapels of great cathedrals, is something in itself to be thoughtfully studied and reverently treasured, in entire contrast as it is, in its repose and its symbolism, with the fervid life and the material pursuits, with the daring speculation and the restless inquiry, which are driving us we know not whither in this search for the real, in this struggle to compass the possible, in this wide, deep rooting of the human in the infinite, which characterize the present age, and are making over anew the present civilization.
But though we cannot understand the creations of the mediæval art without reference to the character of the mediæval life, - a life which narrows and degenerates the closer we examine it, isolated, fanatical, idolatrous, ill concealing, with its polish of chivalry, its substance of barbarism, - it is never to be forgotten that, by thus surviving the decay of the institutions from which it sprang, the mediæval art was invested with a purer meaning and another office. What was for others an element of political power and a source of religious unity, is to be for us a consolation and a promise and a joy forever.
The only two great schools of art which the world knows, the Greek and the mediæval, had their origin in those religious influences which they were dedicated to maintain. And without some art indeed, as without some religion, no civilized nation can long exist; but there come sometimes periods when, from various causes, more than all from the profound consciousness of a different office to fulfil in this long education of the race, a nation forgets its art in the spread of its religion, or loses sight of both together in the pursuit of science, or the accumulation of wealth. The latter case is perhaps ours. For art and religion there are enlightenment and civilization, not as results to rest in, but as means to greater progress and larger conquests. The tendency of the age is to audacity of purpose, and to ceaseless concentration of effort, and neither is favorable to the repose or the grace, the charity or the simplicity, in which lie the fascination of art and the power of religion. Wholesome is it, therefore, for us to turn away at times from this political strife and this intellectual ferment into which we have been born, to the remembrance of other lands, and the sweet voices of other ages;
to stroll with Dürer in the quaint old streets of Nuremberg, or to sit with Raphael in the stately palaces of Rome; to kneel with Titian by the altars of St. Mark, or, in the shadow of Brunnelleschi's dome, to gaze with Michael Angelo at the tower of Giotto and the gates of Ghiberti; to linger again amidst the solemn memories of Westminster Abbey; or, while to ear and eye fades for us the last May service in the Cathedral of Cologne, to be touched once more, as with sacred unction, by the strange earnestness and the pure devotion, by the tender love and the reconciling grace, of the mediæval art and the believing ages.
7, 76, How far a man may unveil to the public eye his private struggles and sorrows, and the secret things of his spiritual history, is among the unsettled questions of moral æsthetics. No intimacy of personal revelation, when a poet's life is past, and his passionate griefs lie in the still realm of history, is too confidential to forfeit the respect or tire the interest of his fellow-men, — provided, always, that the revelation is made unwittingly, from a record not meant for public gaze. A certain pudicity holds us back from entire commendation, whenever a living person, for purposes of art, exhibits the nakedness of very sacred and intimate experiences in such simple drapery of gauze as does not in part hide their outline and disguise their personality. The names of Rousseau and Lamartine, in the French republic of letters, illustrate what we mean. The two conditions on which.we pardon such unveilings are, first, that the experience should be, in truth, so completely past that it can be looked at ideally and calmly; and, secondly, that it should be wrought out in consummate forms of art. The “ Vita Nuova,” so charming in its quaint naïveté of narrative and its highly wrought poetic stanzas, was written after the death of Beatrice, and before the invention of printing. Tennyson’s “ In Memoriam” is the most perfect type of absolute conformity with those conditions we have named. Its friendship is purely intellectual and ideal; its vein
of thought contains a philosophy of the spiritual nature of exquisite subtilty and completeness; its poetic form is, as it were, carved in opal.
It is the misfortune of Bayard Taylor's new volume,* that in each of its main features it directly invites comparison with Tennyson, - the consummate master in this line of art. If we could look at the experience it records as purely dramatic, and independent of the writer; or if we could forget the prototype which it constantly suggests, as well in its contrast as in its likeness, we should regard it as a book of genuine and beautiful poetry, true in its emotion, pathetic and sweet in its expression, faultless in melody, and containing, often, a high order of moral as well as poetic thought. The very peculiar and intimate nature of the experience recorded in the “ Journal,” however, will not suffer us to so regard it simply. The writer seems to be making us his confidant in a region where those more reticent would almost repel even sympathy. The dearest domestic grief, sharpened by harsh struggles of the spirit, then softened by distance, then lost in new and yet dearer delights the personal history that reaches from the loss of the bride of youth to the ripening of new loves and the joy of a father in his infant child — is told with all seeming nobleness and sincerity; and in the telling, it may do much to soothe and heal the like griefs of other hearts. It is only as matter of art that we find any abatement of our enjoyment in it. The difference in effect we speak of is enhanced, moreover, by the great variety of rhyme and rhythm — almost as if it were a study of poetic melodies so contrasted with the severe monotone of “In Memoriam." The comparison follows us beyond the “Journal,” into the other half of the volume; where (as in “ Passing the Sirens ") the topic and treatment are still suggestive of Tennyson, while the poetic form is more varied, dramatic, and free. Once clear of the comparison, — which we mention not by way of disparagement, but to convey more clearly what we mean, we find a volume of poems varied, melodious, and interesting, much beyond the average degree of merit in such books.
Mr. Brooks's translation of Titan* may be counted one of the heroisms of literature. The very conception of such an undertaking implies a mind in love with difficulties.
His own countrymen find Richter a puzzle, and the Titan his knottiest as well as his greatest work. The rendering of that work into English is a feat which redounds to the credit of American scholarship,
no Englishman having, so far as we know, undertaken as yet the difficult task.
Few scholars, American or English, are better qualified for such an enterprise than Mr. Brooks, the translator of Faust, who, besides a competent knowledge of German, — and, what is more, a long familiarity with the Jean-Paul-ese, its most difficult dialect, — brings to the work a true appreciation of the exquisite humor and pathos, the intel
* The Poet's Journal. By Bayard Taylor. Boston : Ticknor and Fields. † Titan: a Romance. From the German of JEAN PAUL FRIEDRICH Rich.
Translated by CHARLES T. BROOKS. Boston : Ticknor and Fields. 1862.