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Warning to the blind and deaf,
Of power and of comeliness.
These presents be the hostages
BREEZY softness in the air That clasped the gentle hand of spring, And yet no brooklet's voice did sing, And all was perfect silence there, Unless the soft light foliage waved; Those boughs were clothed in shining green, Through which ne'er angry tempests raved, And sunlight shone between. Beneath an oak a palmer lay, Upon the green sward was his bed, And rich luxuriance bound the gray, The silver laurel round his head. A picture he of calm repose, A dateless monument of life, Too placid for the fear of woes, Too grateful to be worn by strife ; I should have passed, - he bade me stay, And tranquilly these words did say. “O curtain of the tender spring ! Thy graces to my old eyes bring, The recollection of those years, When sweet are shed our early tears ; Those days of sunny April weather, Changeful and glad with everything, When youth and age go linked together, Like sisters twain and sauntering Down mazy paths in ancient woods, The garland of such solitudes."
NOTES ON ART AND ARCHITECTURE.
(Note. A few sheets have fallen into our hands, which contain such good sense on the subject of architecture, that we shall not be deterred by their incomplete method from giving them to our readers, in the hope that they will come to the eye of some person proposing to build a house or a church, in time to save a new edifice from some of the faults, which make our domestic and what we call our religious architecture insignificant.)
There are three periods of art. First, when the thought is in advance of the execution. Second, when the expression is adequate to the thought. And third, when the expression is in advance of the thought. The first is the age of the Giottos and Cimabues; the second, of Raphaels and Michel Angelos. The third is the only one we know by experience. How inexpressibly interesting are those early works, where art is only just able to shadow forth dimly the thought the master was burdened with. They seem to suggest the more, because of their imperfect utter
True art is an expression of humanity, and like all other expressions, when it is finished, it cannot be repeated. It is therefore childish to lament the absence of good painters. We should lament the absence of great thoughts, for it is the thought that makes the painters.
Art is the blossoming of a century-plant. Through hundreds of years the idea grows onward in the minds of men, and when it is ripe, the man appears destined to gather it. It was not Raphael who painted, but Italy, Greece, and all antiquity painting by his hand, and when that thought was uttered, the flowers dropped. The aloe blossomed in the Gothic Architecture of the middle ages; — and Bach and Beethoven have in their art unfolded its wondrous leaves.
In this belief may we find consolation when all around us looks so cheerless. The noble plant whose blossoms we would so fain see, must have its root, must have its slow ! growing, massive leaves, must have its cold and retarding spring, its green growth of the stalk, that it may in summer
bring forth its flowers. Shall we not then honor earth, root, leaves, flower-stalk, nay, shall we repine that we must perhaps by our destiny be one of these, since these are part of the flower, and the flower of them, the flower is the sum of their united force and beauty transfigured, glorified.
The artist who is fast-grounded in this pure belief is beyond the reach of disappointment and failure. If he truly loves art, he knows that he is bearing on his shoulders one stone for that stately future edifice, not the keystone, perhaps, but a necessary stone, and silently and faithfully he works, perfecting as he may his talent, not looking to outward success, but to inward satisfaction. Such a man knows that to advance the edifice at which he labors, are needed not gorgeous successes apparent, but conscientiousness, severity, truth. What would Angelico da Fiesole have done, had some devil tempted him to work out effects, instead of painting from his heart. These men who laid the foundation of the great Italian art were religious men,- men fearing God, and seeing his hand at work even in the mixing of their colors, – men who painted on their knees. Such too were the forerunners of the great German musicians, such the Greeks, --- such men have laid the foundations of greatness everywhere.
What architecture must a nation situated as we are adopt? It has no indigenous architecture, it is not therefore a matter of religion with us, but a matter of taste. We may and must have all the architectures of the world,
may ennoble them all by an attention to truth, and a contempt of litileness. Nay, is not our position, if we will use our advantages properly, the more fortunate, inasmuch as we are not by the force of circumstance or example, bound to be or to build in this or that particular way, but all ways are before us to choose. If our position is unfavorable to a speedy development of national taste, it is most adapted to give fair play to individual.
The crowning and damning sin of architecture with us, nay, that of bad taste everywhere, is, the doing of unmeaning, needless things. A Friends' meeting sits silent till one
has something to say; so should a man always,– so should the building man never presume to do aught without rea
To adorn the needful, to add a frieze to life, this is Art.
Rightly does the uninstructed caviller ask, when he sees a fine house, for what purpose is this balustrade, or that screen, these windows blocked up, and so on. man of good sense say to himself what sort of a house he would have for convenience, supposing him to have the space to build it on; then let him frame and roof these rooms, and if he has made his house truly convenient, its appearance cannot be absurd.
Well, but he says, my house is plain, I want it to be beautiful, — I will spend what you
choose upon it, but it shall be the most beautiful in the country. Very good, my friend. We will not change a single line, but we will ornament these lines. We will not conceal but adorn your house's nakedness; delicate mouldings shall ornament every joint; whatever is built for convenience or use, shall seem to have been built for beautiful details; your very doorlatch and hinges shall be beautiful. For house, say church; for the purposes of daily life, say the worship of God, and behold we have the history of architecture.
There is nothing arbitrary in true architecture, even to the lowest detail. The man, who should for the first time see a Greek temple of marble, would indeed ask and with reason, what meaning there was in triglyph, and metope, and frieze ; but when he is told that this is a marble imitation of a wooden building, a reproduction in a more costly material of a sacred historical form, he then sees in the triglyph the end of the wooden beam, with the marks of the trickling water drops, in the metope the flat panel between. 'But, says our modern builder, there is no reason that I should use triglyphs and metopes. I have no historical recollection to beautify them ; what shall I use for ornaments? My friend, what form has ever struck you as beautiful ? He answers, Why, the form of every living thing, of every tree and flower and herb. And can you ask then what ornaments you shall use? If your cornice were a wreath of thistles and burdocks curiously carved or cast, can you not see how a hundred mouths would proclaim its superiority over yonder unmeaning layer of plaster ?