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THE COMPLETE WOEKS

OF'

JOHN RUSKIN
VOLUME XV

THE EAGLE'S NEST


ARIADNE FLORENTINA
LOVE'S MEINIE

RUSKIN'S STUPV

rraktwoo]^

THE EAGLE'S NEST


TEN LECTURES
ON THE RELATION OF

NATURAL SCIENCE TO ART,


GIVEN BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD,
IN

LENT TERM,

1872.

CONTENTS.

LECTURE
February

8,

I.

1872.

PAGK

........*

THE FUNCTION
cofla

IN

ART OF THE FACULTY CALLED BY THE GREEKS

LECTURE
February

THE FUNCTION

IN SCIENCE OF

11.

10, 1872.

THE FACULTY CALLED BY THE GREEKS


15

aooia

LECTURE
February

III.

15, 1872.

.....

27

THE FUNCTION IN ART AND SCIENCE OF THE VIRTUE CALLED BY


THE GREEKS GUCppodvVTj

44

THE RELATION OP WISE ART TO WISE SCIENCE

LECTURE
February

17, 1872.

LECTURE
February

IV.

V.

22, 1872.

THE FUNCTION IN ART AND SCIENCE OF THE VIRTUE CALLED BY


THE GREEKS avrapKSia
.

LECTURE
February

VI.

24, 1872.

THE RELATION TO ART OF THE SCIENCE OF LIGHT


III

53

.67

IV

CONTENTS.

LECTURE
February

VII.

29, 1872.

PAGE

THE RELATION TO ART OF THE SCIENCES OF INORGANIC FORM

LECTURE
March

81

94

VIII.

2, 1872.

THE RELATION TO ART OF THE SCIENCES OP ORGANIC FORM

LECTURE
March

7,

IX.

1872.

INTRODUCTION TO ELEMENTARY EXERCISES IN PHYSIOLOGIC ART.


THE STORY OF THE HALCYON
109

LECTURE
March

X.

9, 1872.

INTRODUCTION TO ELEMENTARY EXERCISES IN HISTORIC ART.


HERALDIC ORDINARIES

THE
130

PEEFACE.
The

following Lectures have been written, not witli less

with less pains, than any in former courses, because


no labor could have rendered them exhaustive statements of
their subjects, and I wished, therefore, to take from them
every appearance of pretending to be so: but the assertions
I have made are entirely deliberate, though their terms are
unstudied and the one which to the general reader will appear most startling, that the study of anatomy is destructive
to art, is instantly necessary in explanation of the system
adopted for the direction of my Oxford schools.
At the period when engraving might have become to art
what printing became to literature, the four greatest pointdraughtsmen hitherto known, Mantegna, Sandro Botticelli,
DUrer, and Holbein, occupied themselves in the new industry.
All these four men were as high in intellect and moral sentiment as in art-power; and if they had engraved as Giotto
painted, with popular and unscientific simplicity, would have
left an inexhaustible series of prints, delightful to the most
innocent minds, and strengthening to the most noble.
But two of them, Mantegna and Diirer, were so polluted
and paralyzed by the study of anatomy that the former's best
works (the magnificent mythology of the Vices in the Louvre,
for instance) are entirely revolting to all women and children; while Diirer never could draw one beautiful female
form or face; and, of his important plates, only four, the
Melancholia, St. Jerome in his study, St. Hubert, and The
Knight and Death, are of any use for popular instruction,
because in these only, the figures being fully draped or armed,
he was enabled to think and feel rightly, being delivered from
care, but

the ghastly toil of bone-delineation.

PKEFACE.

VI

and Holbein studied the face first, and the limbs


and the works they have left are therefore (without exception) precious; yet saddened and corrupted by the
influence which the contemporary masters of body-drawing
exercised on them and at last eclipsed by their false fame.
Botticelli

secondarily

I purpose, therefore, in

my

next course of lectures, to ex-

plain the relation of these two draughtsmen to other masters

of design, and of engraving.

Brantwood,

Sept. 2d, 1872.

THE EAGLE'S
LECTUEE

NEST.

I.

OF WISDOM AND FOLLY

IIT

AET.^

8th February, 1872.

The

Lectures I have given hitherto, though, in the


matter of them conscientiously addressed to my undergraduate pupils, yet were greatly modified in method by
1.

my

which I wished
was indeed a somewhat imaginary one; and that,
I was addressing a mixed audience, in greater part

feeling that this undergraduate class, to

to speak,

in truth,

composed of the masters of the University, before whom it


was my duty to lay down the principles on which I hoped
to conduct,

schools,

or prepare the

way

for the conduct of, these

work of
and henceforward most

rather than to enter on the immediate

elementary teaching.

But

to-day,

we are to be engaged in definite, and, I trust,


continuous studies; and from this time forward, I address
myself wholly to my undergraduate pupils; and wish only
frequently,

that

my

Lectures

may

be serviceable to them, and, as far as

may admit of it, interesting.


And, farther still, 1 must ask even my younger hearers
to pardon me if I treat that subject in a somewhat narrow,
and simple way. They have a great deal of hard work to

the subject
2.

* The proper titles of these lectures, too long for page headings, are
given in the Contents.

THE eagle's nest.


do in other schools: in these, they must not think that I
underrate their powers, if I endeavor to make everything as
'No study that is worth pursuing
easy to them as possible.
seriously can be pursued without effort; but

make

we need never

the effort painful merely for the sake of preserving our

make my Lectures

Also, I shall

dignity.

What

shorter than here-

you I wish you to remember; and I do


not think it possible for you to remember well much more
I will promise
than I can easily tell you in half-an-hour.
that, at all events, you shall always be released so well within
the hour, that you can keep any appointment accurately for
tofore.

You

the next.

tell

will not think

me

say

week

me

indolent in doing this;

can assure you,

for, in the first place, I

to think over

what

it

it

sometimes takes

does not take a minute to

work of
Nay, most deeply
the study which I

and, secondly, believe me, the least part of the

any sound art-teacher must


also, it is to be wished that, with respect to
have to bring before you to-day, in its relation to art, namely,
natural philosophy, the teachers of it, up to this present
century, had done less work in talking, and more in observing:
and it would be well even for the men of this century, preeminent and accomplished as they are in accuracy of observation, if they had completely conquered the old habit of
considering, with respect to any matter, rather what is to be
said, than what is to be known.
3. You will, perhaps, readily admit this with respect to
science; and believe my assertion of it with respect to art.
You will feel the probable mischief, in both these domains
of intellect, which must follow on the desire rather to talk
than to know, and rather to talk than to do. But the third
be his talking.

domain, into the midst of which, here, in Oxford, science


and art seem to have thrust themselves hotly, like intrusive
rocks, not without grim disturbance of the anciently fruitful
plain

we

your

Kingdom

or

Princedom of Literature

for Science,

know;

ill

we

It

when men desire to talk rather than


when they desire to talk rather than

say,

for Art^

Can

carry our statement into a third parallelism, for that

is ill

to


I.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN ART.

Ill for Literature,

to do.

when thej

desire to talk

is it?

and rather than what else ? Perhaps you think that literathat the triple powers
ture means nothing else than talking ?
of science, art, and scholarship, mean simply the powers of
knowing, doing, and saying. But that is not so in any wise.
The faculty of saying or writing anything well, is an art,
just as much as any other and founded on a science as defiProfessor Max Miiller teaches you the
nite as any other.
science of language; and there are people who will tell you
that the only art I can teach you myself, is the art of it.
But try your triple parallelism once more, briefly, and see if
In science, you must not
another idea will not occur to you.
not talk before you
must
In
art,
you
know.
talk before you
you think.
before
talk
In literature you must not
do.
of Thought,
Kingdom
That is your third Province. The

or Conception.

And

it is

entirely desirable that

you should define

selves the three great occupations of

terms

men

to your-

in these following

Science

....

Art

The knowledge of

things, whether Ideal

or Substantial.

The modification

of Substantial things

by our Substantial Power.

LiTEEATUKE

The modification

of Ideal things

by our

Ideal Power.
4. But now observe.
If this division be a just one, we
ought to have a word for literature, with the Letter left
out of it.
It is true that, for the most part, the modification of ideal things by our ideal power is not complete till
it is expressed; nor even to ourselves delightful, till it is
communicated. To letter it and label it to inscribe and to
'

word

it

rightly

literature

this is a great task,

and

it

is

which can be most distinctly taught.

only the formation of


exist without the

its

body.

bodyj bat not at

And
all

the part of

But

the soul of

it

it

is

can

the body without the

THE EAGLETS
soul

for that

us or of us

^^

is

IsTEST.

true no less of literature than of

litera occidit, spiritus

I must

autem

all else

in

vivificat."

with our old


animature/ instead
.of literature
but 3^ou must not be content with the vulgar
interpretation of the word. Remember always that you come
or, at least, your fathers came,
to this University,
not to
N^evertheless,

We

word.

cannot say

content

be

spiriture

'

to-day

nor

learn

how

to say things, but

how

to think them.

5. ^' How to think them


but that is only the art of logic,''
you perhaps would answer. 'No, again, not at all: logic is
a method, not a power; and we have defined literature to
be the modification of ideal things by ideal power, not by
mechanical method. And you come to the University to get
that power, or develop it not to be taught the mere method
!

of using

it.

I say you come to the University for this; and perhaps


some of you are much surprised to hear it
You did not
know that you came to the University for any such purpose.
IN'ay, perhaps you did not know that you had come to a
University at all ? You do not at this instant, some of you,
Does it
I am well assured, know what a University means.
mean, for instance can you answer me in a moment, whether
a place where everybody comes to learn something
it means
or a place where somebody comes to learn everything ?
It
means or you are trying to make it mean practically and
at present, the first; but it means theoretically, and always,
the last; a place where only certain persons come, to learn
everything ; that is to say, where those who wish to be able
to think, come to learn to think not to think of matliematics
!

only, nor of morals, nor of surgery, nor chemistry, but of

everything, rightly.

I say you do not

6.

know

it

or not,

all

whether

know
.

and

this;

you desire

it

yet,

extent the everlasting fitness of the matter

conform

to

it.

For we have

whether you
to some

or not,

makes the

three kinds, in operation over the whole of England.

hav^

I name

it first,

facts

at present, observe, schools of

though, I

am

We

sorry to say, it is last


1.

in influence

WISDOM

AJSri)

FOLLY IK ART.

the body consisting of the Royal

Academy,

with the Institute of Architects, and the schools at Kensington, and their branches; teaching various styles of fine or
mechanical art. We have, in the second place, the Royal
Society, as a central body; and, as its satellites, separate

companies of

men

gating, classing,
try.

And

lastly

devoted to each several science: investi-

and describing facts with unwearied indusand chiefly, we have the great Universities,

with all their subordinate public schools, distinctively occuas I think you will at once admit,
pied in regulating,
not the language merely, nor even the language principally,
but the modes of philosophical and imaginative thought in
which we desire that youth should be disciplined, and age

informed and majestic.


range

the possibilities of

The methods of language, and


its

its

beauty, and the necessities for

upon the range and dignity


which
it is the function of these
of the unspoken conceptions
great schools of literature to awaken, and to guide.
Let us pause a
7. The range and dignity of conceptions!
minute or two at these words, and be sure we accept them.
First, what is a conception ? What is this separate object
of our work, as scholars, distinguished from artists, and
from men of science ?
We shall discover this better by taking a simple instance
its precision,

are all dependent

of the three agencies.

Suppose that you were actually on the plain of Psestum,


watching the drift of storm-cloud which Turner has here
engraved.* If you had occupied yourself chiefly in schools
of science, you would think of the mode in which the elecof the influence it had on the shape
tricity was collected
and motion of the cloud; of the force and duration of its
If you were
flashes, and of other such material phenomena.
an artist, you would be considering how it might be possible,
with the means at your disposal, to obtain the brilliancy of
Finally, if you were
the light, or the depth of the gloom.
;

* Educational Series, No.

8,

E.

a scholar, as distinguished

from either of

you would

these,

be occupied with the imagination of the state of the temple


in former times; and as you watched the thunder-clouds
drift past its columns,

and the power of the God of the

heavens put forth, as it seemed, in scorn of the departed


power of the god who was thought by the heathen to shake the
earth the utterance of your mind would become, whether in
''
actual words or not, such as that of the Psalmist
Clouds
and darkness are round about Plim righteousness and judg-

ment are the habitation of His throne.'' Your thoughts


would take that shape, of their own accord, and if they fell
also into the language, still your essential scholarship would
consist, not in your remembering the verse, still less in your
knowing that " judgment " was a Latin word, and ^' throne "
a Greek one but in your having power enough of conception,
and elevation enough of character, to understand the nature
;

of justice, and be appalled before the majesty of dominion.


8.

You

come, therefore, to this University, I repeat once

you may learn how to form conceptions of proper


range or grasp, and proper dignity, or worthiness. Keeping
then the ideas of a separate school of art, and separate school
You would learn
of science, what have you to learn in these ?
in the school of art, the due range and dignity of deeds or
(I prefer the word to " makings," as more general),
doings
and in the school of science, you would have to learn the
range and dignity of knowledges.
I^ow be quite clear about this be sure whether you really
again, that

agree with

me

or not.

You come to the School of Literature, I say, to learn the


range and dignity of conceptions.
To the School of Art, to learn the range and dignity of
deeds.

To

the School of Science, to learn the range and dignity

of knowledges.

Do you agree to that, or not? I will assume that you


admit my triple division but do you think, in opposition to
me, that a school of science is still a school of science, what;


WISDOM AND FOLLY IN ART.

.1.

and a school of art still a


and a school of
it teaches
a school of literature, whatever sort of notion

ever sort of knowledge


literature
it

teaches

Do you

My

it

teaches

whatever sort of deed

school of art,

still

think that

statement

for observe,

my

statement denies that.

you

that a school of literature teaches

is,

have one sort of conception, not another sort


do a particular sort of deed, not another sort
;

to

to

a school of art
;

a school of

science to possess a particular sort of knowledge, not another


sort.

me

some
Well then, let me go back a step.
You will all go thus far with me, that now taking the Greek
words the school of literature teaches you to have vou?, or
no conception of
conception of things, instead of cluoca,
I assume that you differ with

9.

of you certainly will.

on

this point

you r^x'^rj of things,


and the school of science IniazTiiiri^ instead
But, you recollect, Aristotle names
of aY)^oia or ignorantia.'
(ppoyr^fftc^ namely, and
\^\o other faculties with these three,
things

that the school of art teaches

instead of azzyAa

'

ffixpia.

voug

lie has altogether five,

t^/vt^,

iruarriiir^,

that is to say, in simplest English,

wnsdom, and

wit.

We

have got our

art,

we

aotpia^

<ppo'^ri(n^^

art, science, sense,

science,

and

wit,

you
you may not remain
But how of the sense, and
artless, scienceless, nor witless.
Do you think
belong
to these ?
domains
What
the wisdom ?
and that we
cinquefoil,
should
become
our trefoil division
and
Philosophia,
ought to have two additional schools one of
set

over their three domains; and

young ones

old people send

to those three schools, that

one of Philophronesia ? If Aristotle's division w^ere right it


would be so. But his division is wrong, and he presently
shows it is for he tells you in the next page, (in the sentence
;

I have so often quoted to you,) that

wisdom which

Now

that

is

the virtue of art

consists in the wit of

perfectly true

sion altogether.

^'

He

but

it

what

is

the

of course vitiates his divi-

divides his entire subject into

D, and E ; and then he


B which consists in C.

is

honorable."

^4, 2?,

0,

you that the virtue of A is the


E'ow you will continually find, in

tells

THE EAGLE'S NEST.

way, that Aristotle's assertions are right, but his divisions

this

consists in the wit of

virtue of science

same

wisdom
what is honorable but also the
the wit of what is honorable, and in the

It is quite true that the virtue of art is the

illogical.

which

is

sense, the virtue of

or wit

voD?,

being the wit or conception of what


therefore, is not only the

same

And

if

the

dpsTij

in

its

Iv4>ia,

but, in exactly the

incfftTj/j-rj?,

teach the vicious condition of


(To^ia is

riyyt)^^

honorable.

and in this sense, it is the


not governed by (To<pia, each school will

sense, the aptTfj

dperij voou.

dtpsTij

itself, consists
is

of

its

all three, so

own
pLotpta

As

special faculty.

will be the xaxta of

all three.

10.

me

'Now in

this,

pwpia

virtue,

is

me

whether you agree with

be at least sure you understand me.

Io4'ia<,

or not, let

I say,

is

the

the vice, of all the three faculties of art,

and literature. There is for each of them a negaand a positive side, as well as a zero. There is a nescience for zero* in science
with w^ise science on one side,
areyvia for zero in art, with
foolish science on the other
wise art on one side, foolish art on the other and a'^na for
zero in vo5?, with wise voD? on one side, foolish voD? on the
science,

tive

other.
11.

You

will smile at that last expression, ^foolish

Yet

it is,

We

continually complain of men,

reasoning

ill.

But

it

much more of women, for


how they reason, if

does not matter

they don't conceive basely,


is

^ot one person

in a hundred

capable of seriously reasoning; the difference between

and

man

voD?.'

of all foolish things, the commonest and deadliest.

is

man

in the quickness and quality, the accipitrine

Does he hawk
What you choose to grasp with your
the question;
not how you handle it afterwards.
What does it matter how you build, if you have bad bricks
to build with; or how you reason, if every idea with w^hich
you begin is foul or false ? And in general all fatal false
intensity, the olfactory choice, of his voD?.

game
mind is
at

or carrion?

reasoning proceeds from people's having some one false no-

1.

WISDOM AND

tlon in their hearts, with

S^OLLY IN AUT.

which they are resolved that their

reasoning shall comply.


But, for better illustration, I will
cial subject out of the three;

have, for

its zero,

now

my own

take

spe-

I have said that

r^/vij.

drepw, or artlessness

in Latin,

we

inertia,'

opposed to ars.' Well, then, we have, from that zero, wise


art on the one side, foolish art on the other; and the finer
^

the art, the

more

deadly defect.
art,

is

it

capable of this living increase, or

I will take, for example,

then a finer one

first,

a very simple

but both of them arts with which most

of you are thoroughly acquainted.


12.

One

of the simplest pieces of perfect art, which you

are yourselves in the habit of practicing,

We

oar given in true time.

is

the stroke of an

have defined art

to

be the wise

modification of matter by the body (substantial things by


substantial power, 3).

With

good oar-stroke you disSupposing

place a certain quantity of water in a wise way.

you missed your

stroke,

and caught a

crab,

you w^ould displace

a certain quantity of water in a foolish way, not only ineffectually, but in a

way

the reverse of

what you intended. The

perfectness of the stroke implies not only absolutely accurate

knowledge or science of the mode in which water resists the


blade of an oar, but the having in past time met that resistance repeatedly with greater and greater rightness of adaptation to the end proposed.
That end being perfectly simple,
the advance of the boat as far as possible with a given
expenditure of strength, you at once recognize the degree in
which the art falls short of, or the artlessness negatives, your
purpose.
But your being '^o^o?,' as an oarsman, implies
much more than this mere art founded on pure science. The
fact of your being able to row in a beautiful manner depends
on other things than the knowledge of the force of water, or

the repeated practice of certain actions in resistance to


It implies the practice of those actions

under a resolved

pline of the body, involving regulation of the passions.


signifies

it.

disci-

It

submission to the authority, and amicable concur-

rence with the humors, of other persons

and

so far as it is


THE eagle's nest.

lO
beautifully done at

and

last,

absolutely signifies therefore a moral

intellectual Tightness, to the necessary extent influencing

the character honorably and graciously.

This is the sophia,


most honorable, which is concerned in rowwithout which it must become no rowing, or the reverse

or wit, of what
ing,

is

of rowing.

Let us next take example in an art which perhaps you


(though I hope not) much inferior to rowing,
but which is in reality a much higher art dancing.
I
have just told you ( 11) how to test the rank of arts
namely, by their corruptibility, as you judge of the fineness
of organic substance.
The moria,* or folly, of rowing, is
only ridiculous, but the moria, or folly, of dancing, is much
worse than ridiculous; and, therefore, you may know that
its sophia, or wisdom, will be much more beautiful than the
wisdom of rowing. Suppose, for instance, a minuet danced
by two lovers, both highly bred, both of noble character, and
very much in love with each other.
You would see, in that,
an art of the most highly finished kind, under the government
of a sophia which dealt with the strongest passions, and most
exquisite perceptions of beauty, possible to humanity.
13.

will think

14.

For example of the contrary of

these, in the

same

art,

I cannot give you one more definite than that which I saw
I think, the Gaiety Theater

but

it

might have been

London theater now, two years ago.


The supposed scene of the dance was

at

Hell, which

at,

any

was

painted in the background with its flames.


The dancers
were supposed to be demons, and wore black masks, with
red tinsel for fiery eyes
as

the

coming out of their ears

same red
also.

light

was represented

They began

their dance

by ascending through the stage on spring trap-doors, which


threw them at once ten feet into the air; and its performance consisted in the expression of every kind of evil passion,
in frantic excess.
* If the English reader will pronounce the o in this word as in fold,
in sophia as in sop, but accenting the o, not the i, I need not any
more disturb my pages with Greek types.

and

I.

15.

You

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN ART.

11

will not, I imagine, be at a loss to understand

the sense in which the words sophia and moria are to be

same art. But


you who are in the habit of accurate thinking will

rightly used of these two methods of the

those of

at once perceive that I

my

have introduced a new element into

subject by taking an instance in a higher art.

The

folly

of rowing consisted mainly in not being able to row; but


this folly of

dancing does not consist in not being able to

dance, but in dancing well with evil purpose

and the better

the dancing, the worse the result.

And now
attention to

am

afraid I must tease you by asking your

what you may

at first think a

vain nicety in

and I hope throughbe so troublesome to you

analysis, but the nicety is here essential,

out this course of Lectures, not to


again.
16.
it

The mere negation

you say, in rowing,

is ridiculous.

less ridiculous in dancing.

lous

You mean

The contempt,

the

of the power of art


It

is,

zero of

of course, not

But what do you mean by

ridicu-

contemptible, so as to provoke laughter.

in either case,

is slight,

in ordinary society;

man may neither know how to row, or


dance, he may know many other things.
But suppose he
lived where he could not know many other things ?
By a

because, though a

stormy sea-coast, where there could be no fresco-painting, in


a poor country, where could be none of the fine arts connected
with wealth, and in a simple, and primitive society, not yet
reached by refinements of literature but where good rowing
was necessary for the support of life, and good dancing, one
of the most vivid aids to domestic pleasure.
You would
then say that inability to row, or to dance, was far worse than
ridiculous; that it marked a man for a good-for-nothing
;

fellow, to be regarded with indignation, as well as contempt.

'Now, remember, the inertia or zero of art always involves


this

kind of crime, or

at least, pitiableness.

The want of

opportunity of learning takes away the moral guilt of


ness

artless-

but the want of opportunity of learning such arts as are

THi: eagle's nest.

12

becoming in given circumstances, may indeed be no crime in


an individual, but cannot be alleged in its defense by a nation.

IN^ational ignorance of decent art is

unless in earliest conditions of society


17.

To

that extent,

kind of moria, or
ai't-power.
is

But the true

we need

always criminal,
and then it is brutal.

therefore, culpably or

folly, is

otherwise,

always indicated by the zero of

folly, or assuredly culpable folly,

in the exertion of our art

here

power in an

evil direction.

And

which I am afraid
Observe, first, and simply, that

the finesse of distinction,

will be provoking to you.

the possession of any art-power at all implies a sophia of


some kind. These demon dancers, of whom I have just
spoken, were earning their bread by severe and honest labor.

The

skill

they possessed could not have been acquired but

by great patience and resolute self-denial and the very power


with which they were able to express, with precision, states
of evil passion, indicated that they had been brought up in a
society which, in some measure, knew evil from good, and
which had, therefore, some measure of good in the midst of
J^ay, the farther probability is, that if you inquired into
it.
life
of these men, you would find that this demon dance
the
had been invented by some one of them with a great imaginative power, and was performed by them not at all in preference of evil, but to meet the demand of a public whose admiration was capable of being excited only by violence of
gesture, and vice of emotion.
18. In all cases, therefore, observe, where the opportunity
;

of learning has been given; the existence of the art-power


indicates sophia

and

its

absence indicates moria.

fact I endeavored to express to you,

two years

That great
since, in

my

In the present course I have


to show you the action of the final, or higher sophia, which
directs the skill of art to the best purposes and of the final,
or lower moria, which misdirects them to the worst.
And
the two points I shall endeavor to bring before you throughthird introductory Lecture.

out will be these

First, that the object of University teach-

1.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN AET.

13

not acquaint you with


give you a notion of what
nor
make you
meant by smithes work, for instance; but not
ing

is to

form your conceptions;


sciences.

arts,

to

It is to

is

to

It is to give you a notion of what is meant


blacksmiths.
by medicine, but not to make you physicians. The proper
academy for blacksmiths is a blacksmith's forge; the proper
academy for physicians is an hospital. Here you are to be
taken away from the forge, out of the hospital, out of all
special and limited labor and thought, into the Universitas
of labor and thought, that you may in peace, in leisure, in
calm of disinterested contemplation, be enabled to conceive
rightly the laws of nature, and the destinies of Man.
19. Then the second thing I have to show you is that over
these three kingdoms of imagination, art, and science, there
reigns a virtue or faculty, which from all time, and by all
great people, has been recognized as the appointed ruler and
guide of every method of labor, or passion of soul and the
most glorious recompense of the toil, and crown of the ambi" She is more precious than rubies, and all the
tion of man.
things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
Lay fast hold upon her; let her not go; keep her, for she is
'

thy

life.''

Are not these, and the innumerable words like to these,


which you remember as I read them, strange words, if
Aristotle's statement respecting wisdom be true; that it
never contemplates anything that can make men happy,
"

ij

fxh ycLp

(To<pia

obdiv OewptT k^ wv eazai sbdaiiiwv av0piu7To<^ " ?

When we

next meet, therefore, I purpose to examine what


which wisdom, by preference, contemplates what choice
she makes among the thoughts and sciences open to her, and to
what purpose she employs whatever science she may posit is

sess.

And

I will briefly

tell

you, beforehand, that the result of

the inquiry will be, that instead of regarding none of the


sources of happiness,

measures

all

she regards nothing else;

worthiness by pure felicity; that

we

that she
are per-

mitted to concQive h^r as the cause even of gladness to

God


14
" I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Hira/'

and that we are conimanded to know her as queen of the


populous world, " rejoicing in the habitable parts of the
Earth, and whose delights are with the sons of Men.''

LECTURE
-

II.

OF WISDOM AND FOLLY

IIS^

SCIENCE.

10th February, 1872.

20. In my last lecture I asserted the positive and negative


powers of literature, art, and science; and endeavored to
show you some of the relations of wise art to foolish art.
To-day we are to examine the nature of these positive and
negative powers in science it being the object of every true
school to teach the positive or constructive power, and by
all means to discourage, reprove, and extinguish the negative
;

power.
It is
of,

or

may

very possible that you


clearly

defined

to

not often have thought

yourselves,

this

destructive

or

deadly character of some elements of science.


You may
indeed have recognized with Pope that a little knowledge

was dangerous, and you have therefore striven to drink


deep you may have recognized with Bacon, that knowledge
might partially become venomous and you may have sought,
in modesty and sincerity, antidote to the inflating poison.
But that there is a ruling spirit or (To^ia, under whose
authority you are placed, to determine for you, first the
choice, and then the use of all knowledge whatsoever; and
that if you do not appeal to that ruler, much more if you
disobey her, all science becqmes to you ruinous in proportion to its accumulation, and as a net to your soul, fatal in
;

proportion to the fineness of

few of you, in the


still

its

thread,

this,

I imagine,

zeal of learning, have suspected,

and fewer

liave pressed their suspicion so far as to recognize or

believe.

16


16
21.

You must have

nearly

all

heard

some

seen, the singular paintings;

many must have


may have read the

of,

also

The impression

poems, of William Blake.

that his drawaway, though they


are not without noble merit.
But his poems have much more
than merit; they are written with absolute sincerity, with
infinite tenderness, and, though in the manner of them diseased and wild, are in verity the words of a great and wise
mind, disturbed, but not deceived, by its sickness nay, partly
exalted by it, and sometimes giving forth in fiery aphorism
some of the most precious words of existing literature. One

ings once

made

and

is fast,

justly, fading

of these passages I will ask you to remember;

it

will often

be serviceable to you
*'

It

Doth the Eagle know what is in the pit,


Or wilt thou go ask the Mole ? "

would be impossible

you in briefer terms


knowledge

to express to

the great truth that there

is

a different kind of

good for every different creature, and that the glory of the
higher creatures

what

in ignorance of

is

is

known

to the

lower.
22.

And, above

creature
lesson,

is

all,

this is true of

compelled by

its

and must centralize

But man has

man;

for every other

instinct to learn its


its

perception in

own appointed
own being.

its

the choice of stooping in science beneath him-

and striving in science beyond himself and the ^^ Know


thyself '' is, for him, not a law to which he must in peace
submit; but a precept which of all others is the most painful
to understand, and the most difficult to fulfill.
Most painful
to understand, and humiliating: and this alike, whether it
be held to refer to the knowledge beneath us, or above.
For,
singularly enough, men are always most conceited of the
meanest science:
self,

" Doth the Eagle

Or

know what

is

wilt thou go ask the Mole

in the pit,
"

WISDOM AND FOLLY

II.

who grope with

It is jnst those

the bat,
23. "

Il

SCIENCE.

ITC

the mole, and cling with

are vainest of their sight and of their wings.


Know thyself; " but can it indeed be sophia, can

who

Is
be the noble wisdom, which thus speaks to science?
not this rather, you will ask, the voice of the lower virtue
it

of prudence, concerning itself with right conduct, whether


Does not
for the interests of this world or of the future ?

sophia regard

by

so

much

all

as

that

we

above and greater than

is

mole's earth-heap, by so

much

ourselves towards the stars

Indeed,

it

would

man; and

are forbidden to bury ourselves in the


also, are

we

not urged to raise

at first

seem

so; nay, in the passage of

the Ethics, which I proposed to you to-day for question,

you are

distinctly told so.

There

are, it is said,

many

dif-

ferent kinds of phronesis, by which every animal recognizes

what

for

is

seek,

its

own

has his

and

own good and man,


:

like

separate phronesis telling

any other creature,

him what he

is

to

to do, for the preservation of his life: but above

forms of prudence, the Greek sage tells you, is the


sophia of which the objects are unchangeable and eternal,
the methods consistent, and the conclusions universal; and
this wisdom has no regard whatever to the things in which
the happiness of man consists, but acquaints itself only with
so that " we call
the things that are most honorable
Anaxagoras and Thales, and such others, wise indeed, but
not prudent, in that they know nothing of what is for their
own advantage, but know surpassing things, marvelous things,
difficult things, and divine things."
24. ISTow here is a question which evidently touches us
We profess at this day to be an especially prudent
closely.
nation
to regard only the things which are for our own
advantage; to leave to other races the knowledge of surpassing things, marvelous things, divine things, or beautiful
things; and in our exceeding prudence we are, at this moment, refusing the purchase of, perhaps, the most interesting
picture by Eaphaelin the world, and, certainly, one of the
most beautiful works ever produced by the art-wisdom of
all these

18

man, for five-and-twenty thousand pounds, while we are


debating whether we shall not pay three hundred millions
Americans, as a fine for selling a small frigate to
Captain Serames. Let me reduce these sums from thousands
of pounds, to single pounds you will then see the facts more
to the

(there is not one person in a million who knows what


a " million " means
and that is one reason the nation is

clearly

always ready to let its ministers spend a million or two in


cannon, if they can show they have saved twopence-halfpenny in tape). These are the facts then, stating pounds for
thousands of pounds you are offered a l^ativity, by Eaphael,
;

for five-and-twenty pounds, and cannot afford it; but

thought you

may

it

is

be bullied into paying three hundred thou-

sand pounds, for having sold a ship to Captain Semmes.


I
do not say you will pay it.
Still your present position is one
of deprecation and humility, and that is the kind of result
which you bring about by acting with what you call " prac-

common

sense,'' instead of Divine wisdom.


Perhaps you think I am losing Aristotle's notion of
common sense, by confusing it with our vulgar English one
and that selling ships or ammunition to people whom we
have not courage to fight either for or against, would not
by Aristotle have been held a phrenetic, or prudent proceeding.
Be it so; let us be certain then, if we can, what
Aristotle does mean.
Take the instance I gave you in the
last lecture, of the various modes of feeling in which a master
of literature, of science, and of art, would severally regard
the storm round the temples of Pa^stum.

tical

25.

The man

of science,

we

said,

thought of the origin of the

clouds, and the


power of Zeus and Poseidon.
There you have Episteme; Techne; and I^ous; well, now
what does Phronesis do ?
Phronesis puts up his umbrella, and goes home as fast
Aristotle's Phronesis at least does; having no
as he can.
regard for marvelous things.
But are you sure that Ariselectricity;

the artist of

its

light in the

scholar, of its relation to the

totle's

Phronesis

is

indeed the right sort of Phronesis

May

II.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN SCIENCE.

19

there not be a commonsense, as well as an art, and a science,

under the command of sophia

more

Let us take an instance of a

subtle kind.

Suppose that two young ladies, (I assume- in my


present lectures, that none are present, and that we may say
among ourselves what we like; and we do like, do we not,
to suppose that young ladies excel us only in prudence, and
not in wisdom ?) let us suppose that two young ladies go to
the observatory on a winter night, and that one is so anxious
to look at the stars that she does not care whether she gives
herself cold, or not but the other is prudent, and takes care,
and looks at the stars only as long as she can without catching
In Aristotle's mind the first young lady would properly
cold.
deserve the name of Sophia, and the other that of Prudence.
But in order to judge them fairly, we must assume that they
are acting under exactly the same conditions.
Assume that
they both equally desire to look at the stars; then, the fact
that one of them stops when it would be dangerous to look
longer, does not show that she is less wise,
less interested,
that is to say, in surpassing and marvelous things;
but it
shows that she has more self-command, and is able therefore
to remember what the other does not think of.
She is equally
wise, and more sensible.
But suppose that the two girls are
originally different in disposition and that the one, having
much more imagination than the other, is more interested in
these surpassing and marvelous things; so that the self-command, which is enough to stop the other, who cares little for
the stars, is not enough to stop her who cares much for them
^you would say, then, that, both the girls being equally
sensible, the one that caught cold was the wisest.
27. Let us make a farther supposition.
Returning to our
26.

first

condition, that both the girls desire equally to look at

the stars

let

us put

it

now that

both have equal self-command,

and would therefore, supposing no other motives were in their


minds, together go on star-gazing, or together stop star-gazing but that one of them has greater consideration for her
friends than the other, and though she would not mind
;

THE EAGLETS NEST.

20

catching cold for her

own

part,

fear of giving her mother trouble.

therefore; but should

first,

she was only

more

we

wonld mind it much for


She will leave the stars

be right

now

in saying that

sensible than her companion,

and not more

This respect for the feelings of others, this understanding of her duty towards others, is a much higher thing
It is an imaginative knowledge, not
than the love of stars.
wise

of balls of

fire

or differences of space, but of the feelings of

and of the forces of duty by which they


This is a knowledge, or perception, therefore,
of a thing more surpassing and marvelous than the stars themselves, and the grasp of it is reached by a higher sophia.
28. Will you have patience with me for one supposition
living creatures,

justly move.

more

We may

assume the attraction of the spectacle of


minds of
Supthe two girls, it may be entirely different in kind.
posing the one versed somewhat in abstract Science, and
more or less acquainted with the laws by which what she
?

the heavens to be equal in degree, and yet, in the

now

sees

may

be explained; she will probably take interest

chiefly in questions of distance

and magnitude, in varieties

Supposing the other not


of orbit, and proportions of light.
kind,
acquainted with the
this
but
versed in any science of
traditions attached

by the religion of dead nations

to the

figures they discerned in the sky: she will care little for

arithmetical or geometrical matters, but will probably receive


a much deeper emotion, from witnessing in clearness what
has been the amazement of so many eyes long closed; and
recognizing the same lights, through the same darkness, with
innocent shepherds and husbandmen, who knew only the

immeasurable vault, as its lights


mountains yet saw true miracle
in them, thankful that none but the Supreme Ruler could
bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of
I need not surely tell you, that in this exertion of
Orion.
the intellect and the heart, there would be a far nobler sophia
than any concerned with the analysis of matter, or the
measurement of space.
risings

and

settings of the

shone on their

own

fields or

n.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN SCIENCE.

29. I will not

ply

tell

21

weary you longer with questions, but sim-

you, what you will find ultimately to be true, that

form of thought, which makes common sense


unselfish,
art unselfish,
and wit
and imagination unselfish. Of all these, by themselves, it
is true that they are partly venomous; that, as knowledge
sophia

is

unselfish',

the

^l^nowledge

puffeth up, so does prudence

does

art

so

so does wit

but,

added to all these, wisdom, or (you may read it as an equivacharity, edifieth.


lent word), added to all these
word;
builds
forward,
or builds up, and
the
I^ote
30.
and
measured
foundation,
because
on
modest
builds securely
and
living
rock.
wide, though low, and in the natural
Sophia is the faculty which recognizes in all things their
bearing upon life, in the entire sum of life that we know,
bestial and human but, which, understanding the appointed
objects of that life, concentrates its interest and its power
on Humanity, as opposed on the one side to the Animalism
which it must rule, and distinguished on the other side from
the Divinity which rules it, and which it cannot imagine.
It is as little the part of a wise man to reflect much on
;

the nature of beings above him, as of beings beneath him.

immodest to suppose that he can conceive the one, and


degrading to suppose that he should be busied with the other.
It is

To

recognize his everlasting inferiority, and his everlasting

greatness

submit

to

know himself, and his place to be content to


God without understanding Him and to rule

to

the lower creation with sympathy and kindness, yet neither

sharing the passion of the wild beast, nor imitating the

this you will find is to be modest


towards God, gentle to His creatures, and wise for himself.
31. I think you will now be able to fasten in your minds,

science of the Insect;

the idea of unselfishness, and secondly, that of modesty,


component
as
elements of sophia and having obtained thus
much, we will at once make use of our gain, by rendering
more clear one or two points respecting its action on art,
that we may then see more surely its obscurer functiou iii
first

science.

22
It is absolutely unselfish, we say, not in the sense of being
without desire, or effort to gratify that desire; on the con-

trary,

it

longs intensely to see, or

interested in.

But

it

is

know

the things

it is

not interested specially in

rightly
itself.

In the degree of his wisdom, an artist is unconcerned about


concerned about it only in the degree
his work as his own
in which he would be, if it were another man's
recognizing
its precise value, or no value, from that outer standpoint.
I do not think, unless you examine your minds very attentively, that you can have any conception of the difficulty of
Absolutely to do it is impossible, for w^e are all
doing this.
intended by nature to be a little unwise, and to derive more
pleasure, therefore, from our own success than that of others.
But the intense degree of the difference is usually unmeasured by us. In preparing the drawings for you to use as
copies in these schools, my assistant and I are often sitting
beside each other; and he is at work, usually, on the more
important drawing of the two.
I so far recognize that
greater importance, when it exists, that if I had the power
of determining which of us should succeed, and which fail, I
should be wise enough to choose his success rather than my
own. But the actual effect on my own mind, and comfort,
If he fails, I am sorry,
is very different in the two cases.
on the contrary, perhaps a little pleased.
but not mortified
I tell him, indulgently, '^ he will do better another time,"
and go down with great contentment to my lunch. But, if /
fail, though I would rather, for the sake of the two drawings,
I
have had it so, the effect on my temper is very different.
but I can't eat
say, philosophically, that it was better so
any lunch.
32. I^ow, just imagine what this inherently selfish passion
unconquerable as you will find it by the most deliberate
and maintained efforts fancy what it becomes, when, instead
of striving to subdue, we take every means in our power
to increase and encourage it and when all the circumstances
around us concur in the deadly cultivation. In all base
;

schools of Art, the craftsman

is

dependent for his bread on

11.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN

23

SCIEITCE.

on finding in himself some fragment of isolated faculty, by which his work may be recogWe are ready
nized as distinct from that of other men.
enough to take delight in our little doings, without any such
what must be the effect of the popular applause
stimulus
which continually suggests that the little thing we can separately do is as excellent as it is singular and what the effect
of the bribe, held out to us through the whole of life, to
originality

that

is

to say,

produce it being also at our peril not to produce ^someIn all


thing different from the work of our neighbors ?
great schools of art these conditions are exactly reversed.

An

artist is praised in these,

not for what

is

different in

him

performance of singular work;


but only for doing most strongly what all are endeavoring;
and for contributing, in the measure of his strength, to some
great achievement, to be completed by the unity of multitudes,
and the sequence of ages.
33. And now, passing from art to science, the unselfish-

from

others, nor for solitary

ness of Sophia

is

shown by the value

every part of knowledge,

new

it

therein attaches to

or old, in proportion to

its

mankind, or largeness of range in creation.


The selfishness which renders sophia impossible, and enlarges
the elastic and vaporous kingdom of folly, is shown by our
caring for knowledge only so far as we have been concerned
in its discovery, or are ourselves skilled and admired in its
communication. If there is an art which " puffeth up,"
even when we are surrounded by magnificence of achievement of past ages, confessedly not by us to be rivaled, how
much more must there be a science which puffeth up, when,
by the very condition of science, it must be an advance on
the attainments of former time, and however slight, or however slow, is still always as the leaf of a pleasant spring
compared to the dried branches of years gone by? And,
for the double calamity of the age in which we live, it has
chanced that the demand of the vulgar and the dull for
originality in Art, is associated with the demand of a sensual
economy for originality in science; and the praise which is
real utility to

THE eagle's nest.

24

too readily given always to

discoveries that are new, is


enhanced by the reward which rapidity of communication
now ensures to discoveries that are profitable. What marvel
if future time shall reproach us with having destroyed the
labors, and betrayed the knowledge of the greatest nations
and the wisest men, while we amused ourselves with fantasy
in art, and with theory in science: happy, if the one was
idle without being vicious, and the other mistaken without
being mischievous.
Nay, truth, and success, are often- to
Perhaps no progress more
us more deadly than error.
triumphant has been made in any science than that of
Chemistry; but the pi*actical fact which will remain for
the contemplation of the future, is that we have lost the
art of painting on glass, and invented gun-cotton and nitro^'
glycerine.
Can you imagine," the future will say, ^' those
English fools of the nineteenth century, who went about
putting up memorials of themselves in glass which they could
not paint, and blowing their women and children to pieces
with cartridges they would not fight with ? "
34.

You may

when

all

am unjust
may imagine that

well think, gentlemen, that I

and prejudiced in such sayings;

^you

our mischievous inventions have done their worst,

and the wars they provoked by cowardice have been forgotten in dishonor, our great investigators will be remembered,

as

men who

laid first the foundations

of fruitful

knowledge, and vindicated the majesty of inviolable law.


In a little while, the
"Noy gentlemen; it will not be so.
discoveries of which we are now so proud will be familiar
The marvel of the future will not be that we should
to all.

have discerned them, but that our predecessors were blind


We may be envied, but shall not be praised, for
having been allowed first to perceive and proclaim what
But the misuse we made of
could be concealed no longer.

to them.

our discoveries will be remembered against us, in eternal


history; our ingenuity in the vindication, or the denial, of
species, will be disregarded in the face of the fact that we
destroyed, in civilized Evirope, every rare bird and secluded


11.

WISDOM AND FOLLY IN SCIENCE.

flower; our chemistry of agriculture

Avill

25

be taunted with

memories of irremediable famine; and our mechanical


contrivance will only make the age of the mitrailleuse more
the

abhorred than that of the guillotine.


35. Yes, believe me, in spite of our political liberality,
and poetical philanthropy; in spite of our almshouses,
hospitals,

and Sunday-schools; in

spite of our missionary

endeavors to preach abroad what we cannot get believed at


home and in spite of our w^ars against slavery, indemnified
;

by the presentation of ingenious bills, we shall be remembered in history as the most cruel, and therefore the most
unwise generation of men that ever yet troubled the earth
the most
the most cruel in proportion to their sensibility,
unwise in proportion to their science. No people, understanding pain, ever inflicted so much no people, understandYou execrate the
ing facts, ever acted on them so little.
name of Eccelin of Padua, because he slew two thousand
innocent persons to maintain his power and Dante cries out
against Pisa that she should be sunk in the sea, because, in
revenge for treachery, she put to death, by the slow pangs of
:

But we

starvation, not the traitor only, but his children.

men

of London,

we

of the

modern Pisa,

slew, a little while

hundred thousand men instead of hvo thousand


know my numbers) these wo
slew, all guiltless and these we slew, not for defense, nor for
revenge, but most literally in cold blood and these we slew,
simply
fathers and children together, by slow starvation
because, while we contentedly kill our own children in comsinc, five

(\ speak in official terms, and


;

petition for places in the Civil Service,

we never

ask,

when

once they have got the places, whether the Civil Service

is

done.
30.

Tliat

was our missionary work in Orissa, some three

or four years ago


assisted as

we

our Christian miracle of the

are in

its

five loaves,

performance, by steam-engines for

the threshing of the corn, and by railroads for carrying

and by proposals from English noblemen


trees in England, for better growing it.

to cut

down

all

it,

the

That, I repeat,

ia


THE eagle's nest.

26

what we did, a year or two ago what are we doing now ?


Have any of you chanced to hear of the famine in Persia?
Here, with due science, we arrange the roses in our botanic
With due
garden, thoughtless of the country of the rose.
art of horticulture, we prepare for our harvest of peaches;
;

might perhaps seriously alarm us to hear, next autumn,


But the famine of all
do you know of it, care
things, in the country of the peach
quaint famine that it is, in the fruitfulest, fairest,
for it:
richest of the estates of earth from which the Magi brought
it

of a coming famine of peaches.

their treasures to the feet of Christ

How much
ture, has

of your time, scientific faculty, popular litera-

been given, since this year began, to ascertain what


for the great countries under her command,

England can do

or for the nations that look to her for help

and how much


few

to discuss the chances of a single impostor's getting a

thousands a year?
Gentlemen, if your literature, popular and other

or your

popular and other; or your science, popular and other,


to be eagle-eyed, remember that question I to-day solemnly

art,
is

put to you will you hawk at game or carrion? Shall it


be only said of the thoughts of the heart of England
" Wheresoever the carcase is, thither shall the eagles be
gathered together

^'

LECTUKE

III.

THE EELATIOTT OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIENCE.


" The morrow after
37.
art

Our

and

task to-day

science,

is

to

St. Valentine's,'' 1872.

examine the relation between

each governed by sophia, and becoming

and definable relation to


Between foolish art and foolish science, there
may indeed be all manner of reciprocal mischievous influence
but between wise art and wise science there is essential relation, for each other's help and dignity.
You observe, I hope, that I always use the term science,'
capable, therefore, of consistent

each other.

'

merely as the equivalent of knowledge.' I take the Latin


word, rather than the English, to mark that it is knowledge
of constant things, not merely of passing events: but you
had better lose even that distinction, and receive the word
" scientia " as merely the equivalent of our English '^ knowledge," than fall into the opposite error of supposing that
^

science

means systematization or

discovery.

It is not the

arrangement of new systems, nor the discovery of new facts,


which constitutes a man of science; but- the submission to
an eternal system; and the proper grasp of facts already
known.

And, at first, to-day, I use the word " art " only of
that in which it is my special ofiice to instruct you graphic
imitation or, as it is commonly called. Fine art. Of course,
the arts of construction,
building, carpentering, and the
like, are directly dependent on many sciences, but in a manner which needs no discussion, so that we may put that part
of the business out of our way.
I mean by art, to-day,
only imitative art and by science, to-day, not the knowledge
27
38.

28
I do not mean by
knowledge that triangles with equal
bases and between parallels, are equal, but the knowledge
that the stars in Cassiopeia are in the form of a W.
Now, accepting the terms science and art under
these limitations, wise art is only the reflex or shadow of
wise science.
Whatever it is really desirable and honorable to know, it is also desirable and honorable to know as
completely and as long as possible; therefore, to present, or
re-present, in the most constant manner; and to bring again
and again, not only within the thoughts, but before the eyes
describing it, not with vague words, but distinct lines, and
true colors, so as to approach always as nearly as may be to
of general laws, but of existent facts.
science, for instance, the

the likeness of the thing


39.

Can anything

'

itself.

be more simple, more evidently or in-

disputably natural and right, than such connection of the

That you should desire to know Avhat you


worthy of your nature, and helpful to your
nothing less, nothing more; and to
life: to know that;
keep record and definition of such knowledge near you, in
the most vivid and explanatory form ?
ISTothing, surely, can be more simple than this; yet the
sum of art judgment and of art practice is in this. You
are to recognize, or know, beautiful and noble things
notable, notabilia, or nobilia; and then you are to give the
best possible account of them you can, either for the sake
of otliers, or for the sake of your own forgetful or apathetic
two powers ?
ought; what

self,

is

in the future.

you and asked you to remember without


an aphorism which embraced the law of wise knowledge, so, to-day, I will ask you to remember, without fail,
one, which absolutely defines the relation of w^ise art to it.
I have, already, quoted our to-day's aphorism to you, at the
end of my fourth lecture on sculpture. Read the few sentences at the end of that lecture now, down to
'Now

as I gave

failing,

" THE BEST,

IIS"

THIS

KIIS'D,

ARE BUT SHADOWS,"

III.

That

is

RELATION OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIEITCE.


Shakespeare's judgment of his

own

29

And

art.

b^;

strange coincidence, he has put the words into the

mouth

of the hero whose shadow, or semblance in marble,

admit-

tedly the most ideal and heroic

we

possess, of

is

man;

yet,

were granted
you to see the statue by Phidias, or the hero Theseus himself, you would choose rather to see the carved stone, or the
living King.
Do you recollect how Shakespeare's Theseus
concludes his sentence, spoken of the poor tradesmen's kindly
I need not ask you, whether of the two, if

offered art, in the "

The

Midsummer

Xight's

it

Dream

"

shadows and the worst


are no worse, if imagination amend them."
It will not burden your memories painfully, I hope, though
it may not advance you materially in the class list, if you will
learn this entire sentence by heart, being, as it is, a faultless
and complete epitome of the laws of mimetic art.
40. " But Shadows "
Make them as beautiful as you
can; use them only to enable you to remember and love
what they are cast by. If ever you prefer the skill of them
'^

best in this kind are but

them to the
power of the truth, you have fallen into that vice of folly,
(wliether you call her xaxca or p-ojpia,) which concludes the
subtle description of her given by Prodicus, that she might

to the simplicity of the truth, or the pleasure of

be seen continually

e^? ttjv kaurrj<s (rxtdv d.no^ki7:eiv


to look with
and exclusive wonder, at her own shadow.
41. There is nothing that I tell you with more eager desire
nothing with wider ground in my
that you should believe
experience for requiring you to believe, than this, that you
never will love art well, till you love what she mirrors better.
It is the widest, as the clearest experience I have to give
you for the beginning of all my own right art work in life,
(and it may not be unprofitable that I should tell you this,)
depended not on my love of art, but of mountains and sea.
All boys with any good in them are fond of boats, and of
course I liked the mountains best when they had lakes at the
bottom; and I used to walk always in the middle of the
loosest gravel I could find in the roads of the midland coun-

love,

30
that I might hear, as I trod on it, something like the
sound of the pebbles on sea-beach. I^o chance occurred for
some time to develop what gift of drawing I had; but I
would pass entire days in rambling on the Cumberland hillsides, or staring at the lines of surf on a low sand and Avhen
I Avas taken annually to the Water-color Exhibition, I used
ties,

to get hold of a catalogue before-hand,

mark

all

the Robsons,

which I knew would be of purple mountains, and all the


Copley Fieldings, which I knew would be of lakes or sea;
and then go deliberately round the room to these, for the
sake, observe, not of the pictures, in any wise, but only of
the things painted.

And

through the whole of following

life,

whatever power

of judgment I have obtained, in art, Avhich I


fident

my

on

pally,

am now

con-

and happy in using, or communicating, has depended


steady habit of always looking for the subject princi-

and for the

At

42.

first,

art,

as in

only as the means of expressing

youth one

is

it.

almost sure to be, I was

by my certainty of the Tightness of this principle


and provoked into its exclusive assertion by^ the pertinacity
with which other writers denied it: so that, in the first volled too far

ume

of "

Modern Painters,"

several passages occurred set-

ting the subject or motive of the picture so

much above

some of my more feebly


gifted disciples supposed they were fulfilling my wishes by
choosing exactly the subjects for painting which they were
But the principle itself, I maintain, now
least able to paint.
in advanced life, with more reverence and firmness than in
earliest youth and though I believe that among the teachers
who have opposed its assertion, there are few who enjoy the
mere artifices of composition or dexterities of handling so
much as I, the time which I have given to the investigation
of these has only farther assured me that the pictures were
noblest which compelled me to forget them.
43. Now, therefore, you see that on this simple theory,
you have only to ask what will be the subjects of wise
the

mode

of

its

expression, that

science

these also, will be, so far as they can be imitative!^

m.

31

UELATION" OF WISE ART TO WlsE SCIENCE.

or suggestively represented, the subjects of wise art: and


the wisdom of both the science and art will be recognized

by their

simple in their lan-

b'eing lofty in their scope, but

guage; clear in fancy, but clearer in interpretation; severe


in discernment, but delightful in display.
44.

For example's

sake, since

we have

just been listening

to Shakespeare as a teacher of science and art,

we

will

now

and art.
examine him
Suppose we have the existence and essence of Shakespeare
to investigate, and give permanent account of; we shall see
that, as the scope and bearing of the science become nobler,
art becomes more helpful to it; and at last, in its highest
as a subject of science

range, even necessary to

it

but

still

only as

its

minister.

We

examine Shakespeare, first, with the science of chemistry, which informs us that Shakespeare consists of about
seventy-five parts in the hundred of water, some twelve or
fifteen of nitrogen, and the rest, lime, phosphorus, and essenearthy

tial

We

salts.

next examine

him by

the science of anatomy, which

us (with other such matters,) that Shakespeare has seven


that his
cervical, twelve dorsal, and five lumbar vertebrae

tells

wide sphere of rotation; and that he differs


from other animals of the ape species by being more delicately prehensile in the fingers, and less perfectly prehensile
fore

arm has

in the toes.

We

next approach Shakespeare with the science of natural


which tells us the color of his eyes and hair, his

history,

habits of life, his temper,

There

and his predilection for poaching.

ends, as far as this subject is concerned,

science of substantial things.

of ideal things:

we

are told

first

by these that Shakespeare

Finally,

ascertain that he

we
is

our possible

take up our science

of passion, then of imagination; and

emotions, and of mastering or

modes.

Then we

take

is

capable of certain

commanding them

up our

in certain

science of theology,

and

in relation, or in supposed relation, with

such and such a Being, greater than himself.


45.

'Now

in all these successive stages of scientific de-

32

we

become powerful

an aid or record,
For chemistry, she can do scarcely anything: merely keep note of a
For anatomy, she can
color, or of the form of a crystal.
and for natural history, almost all
do somewhat more
things: while in recording passion, and affectionate intellect, she walks hand in hand with the highest science; and
to theology, can give nobler aid even than verbal expression
scription,

find art

as

in proportion to the importance of the inquiry.

of literature.

And

46.

in considering this

power of

hers,

remember

that

the theology of art has only of late been thought deserving

of attention: Lord Lindsay, some thirty years ago, was the


first to

recognize

its

importance; and when I entered upon

Tuscany in 1845, his " Christian


was the only guide I could trust. Even as
late as 1860, I had to vindicate the true position, in Christian science, of Luini, the despised pupil of Leonardo.
But
only assuming, what with general assent I might assume,
(or by its less frethat RaphaeFs dispute of the Sacrament
the study of the schools of

Mythology

''

quently given, but true

most perfect
ence, I

am

effort yet

name Raphael's Theologia,) is


made by art to illustrate divine

prepared hereafter

to

the
sci-

show you that the most


compared with that

finished efforts of theologic literature, as

piece of pictorial interpretation, have expressed less fully the

condition of wise religious thought

more dangerously
47.

Upon

to enter.

ence; and the exponent,


subject to your

first

own human

that life in past time


is to

and have been warped

these higher fields of inquiry

I shall endeavor for

the function of modest art, as

tion

into unwise religious speculation.

we

of the beauty of the creatures

life

and then of the history of

of which one chief source of illustra-

be found in the most brilliant, and in

character, hitherto the

Heraldry.

In natural

are not yet

some time only to show you


the handmaid of natural sci-

most practically

its

power on

effective of the arts

history, I at first intended to begin with the

lower types of life; but as the enlarged schools

now

give


III.

me
at

RELATION OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIENCE.

33

means of extending the use of our examples, we will


once, for the sake of more general service, take up ornithe

thology, of the uses of which, in general culture, I have one

or two grave words to say.

Perhaps you thought that in the beginning of my lecture to-day I too summarily dismissed the arts of construcBut it was not in disrespect to them and
tion and action.
I must indeed ask you carefully to note one or two points
respecting the arts of which an example is set us by birds
building, and singing.
The other day, as I was calling on the ornithologist whose
48.

collection

of birds

Europe,

(at once a

suppose,

is,

monument

altogether unrivaled in

of unwearied love of science,

and an example, in its treatment, of the most delicate and


Mr. Gould he showed me the nest of a
art)

patient

common English

bird

a nest which, notwithstanding his

knowledge of the dexterous building of birds in


world, was not without interest even to him, and

all

was

the
alto-

It was a bullfinch's
which had been set in the fork of a sapling tree, where
needed an extended foundation. And the bird had built

gether amazing and delightful to me.


nest,
it

with withered stalks of clematis


else.
These twigs it had interwoven lightly, leaving the branched heads all at the outside,
producing an intricate Gothic boss of extreme grace and
quaintness, apparently arranged both with triumphant pleasure in the art of basket-making, and with definite purpose of
obtaining ornamental form.
49. I fear there is no occasion to tell you that the bird
had no purpose of the kind. I say that I fear this, because
I would much rather have to undeceive you in attributing
too much intellect to the lower animals, than too little. But
I suppose the only error which, in the present condition
this first story of her nest

blossom; and with nothing

of natural history, you are likely to fall into,

of nervous
3

fiber,

is

that of sup-

merely a mechanical arrangement


covered with feathers by a chronic cuta-

posing that a bullfinch

is

34
neous eruption; and impelled by a galvanic stimulus to the
collection of clematis.
50. You would be in much greater, as well as in a more
shameful error, in supposing this, than if you attributed to
the bullfinch the most deliberate rivalship with Mr. Street's
The bird has exactly the degree of
prettiest Gothic designs.
emotion, the extent of science, and the command of art,
which are necessary for its happiness it had felt the clematis
twigs to be lighter and tougher than any others within its
reach, and probably found the forked branches of them conIt had naturally placed these outvenient for reticulation.
side, because it wanted a smooth surface for the bottom
of its nest; and the beauty of the result was much more
dependent on the blossoms than the bird.
51. Nevertheless, I am sure that if you had seen the nest,
much more, if you had stood beside the architect at work
upon it, you would have greatly desired to express your
admiration to her; and that if AVordsworth, or any otlier
simple and kindly person, could even wish, for a little
;

flower's sake,

" That to this mountain daisy's self were known


The beauty of its star-shaped shadow, thrown
On the smooth surface of this naked stone,"

much more you would have yearned


little

to

inform the bright

nest-builder of your sympathy; and to explain to her,

on art principles, what a pretty thing she Avas making.


52. Does it never occur to you, then, that to some of the
best and wisest artists among ourselves, it may not be always
possible to explain what pretty things they are making;
and that, perhaps, the very perfection of their art is in their
knowing so little about it ?
Whether it has occurred to you or not, I assure you that
it is so.

The

greatest artists, indeed, will condescend, occa-

sionally, to be scientific;
ally,

will labor,

somewhat systematic-

about what they are doing, as vulgar persons do; and

are privileged, also^ to enjoj

what the^ have made more than

III.

RELATION OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIENCE.

35

birds do; yet seldom, observe you, as being beautiful, but

very

much

bullfinch

which we may fancy the

in the sort of feeling

had

also,

that the

thing, whether pretty or ugly,

could not have been better done; that they could not have

made

it

otherwise, and are thankful

it is

And,

no worse.

own

assuredly, they have nothing like the delight in their

work which it gives to other people.


53. But putting the special simplicities of good
of question,
is

me

let

artists

out

ask you, in the second place, whether

it

not possible that the same sort of simplicity might be

mankind; and that we ought


human work which would appear better done
much above us, than it does to ourselves. Why

desirable in the whole race of

be doing

all to

to creatures

should

noj:

our nests be as interesting things to angels, as

bullfinches' nests are to us

You

will, probably,

both smile

at,

and shrink from, such

But

a supposition, as an insolent one.

to

my

thought,

it

That ive
on the contrary, the only modest one.
should be able to admire the work of angels seems to me the

seems,

impertinent idea

not,

at all, that

they should be able to

admire ours.

Under

54.

existing circumstances, I confess the difficulty.

imagined that either the back streets of our


manufacturing towns, or the designs of our suburban villas,
are things which the angels desire to look into: but it seems
to me an inevitable logical conclusion that if we are, indeed,
It cannot be

the highest of the brute creation,

much unconscious

we

should, at least, pos-

and build
and
may, perhaps, in the eyes of superior beings, appear more
sess as

nests

which

art as the lower brutes;

shall be, for ourselves, entirely convenient

beautiful than to our own.


55. " Which shall be, for ourselves, entirely convenient.''^
ISTote

the word;

ing.

We may

at all events,

becoming,

decorous, harmonious, satisfy-

not be able to build anything sublime

we

but,

should, like other flesh-invested creatures,

be able to contrive what w^? decent^ and

it

should be ^

THE EAGLE

36

human

privilege to think that

NEST.

we may be admired

in heaven

for our contrivance.

I have some difficulty in proceeding with what I want to

know you must

say, because I

partly think I

am

jesting with

I feel indeed some disposition to smile myself; not

you.

because I

but in the sense of contrast between what,

jest,

we must confess,
how quaint,

seems, ought to be; and what

logically, it

not jestingly, to be the facts.

IIow great

also,

the confusion of sentiment in our minds, as to this matter!

We

continually talk of honoring

we dare not

God with our

buildings;

His sight, we in
And admitthe least expect to honor ourselves by them
ting, though I by no means feel disposed to admit, that here
and there we may, at present, be honoring Him, by work
that is worthy of the nature He gave us, in how many
places, think you, are we offending Him by work that is
and

yet,

say, boldly, that, in

disgraceful to
56. Let

her nest.

it ?

me

return, yet for an instant, to

my

bird and

If not actually complacent and exultant in her

we may

architecture,

at

least

imagine that

she,

and her

mate, and the choir they join with, cannot but be complacent

and exultant in their song.

I gave you, in a former lecture,

the skylark as a type of mastership in music; and

bering
get,

to

some of you,

the saint to

whom

yesterday was dedicated,

you to-day some of the

prettiest

our natural feeling about such song


"

remem-

I suppose, are not likely soon to forlet

me

read

English words in which


is

expressed.

And anone, as I the day espide,


No lenger would I in my bed abide,
Bub unto a wood that was fast by,
went forth alone boldely,
And held the way downe by a brook

side,

to a laund of white and green,


one had I never in been.
The ground was green, ypoudred with daisie.
Till I

So

The

AU

came

faire

floures and the greves like hie,


greene and white, was nothing

els seene,

'^

111.

itELAtlOX OF WlSii AR'f TO WISE SCIENCE.

37

I downe among the faire flours,


the birds trip out of hir hours,
There as they rested Jieni all the night,
They were so joyful! of the dayes light,
Tliey began of May for to done honours.

There sat

And saw

They coud that service all by rote.


There was many a lovely note,
Some sang loud, as they had plained.
And some in other manner voice yfained,
And some all out with the full throte.

They proyned hem and made hem right gay,


And daunceden and lepten on the spray,
And evermore two and two in fere.
Right so as they had chosen hem to yere
In Feverere, upon saint Valentines day."

between
promise
which
the
the cuckoo and the nightingale, and the

You

recollect, perhaps, the dispute that follows

sweet singer makes to Chaucer for rescuing her.


"

And then came the Nightingale to me


And said Friend, forsooth I thanke thee
That thou hast liked me to rescue.
And one avow to Love make I now
That

all this

May,

I will

thy singer be.

I thanked her, and was right well apaied,


Yea, quoth slie, and be not thou dismaied,
Tho' thou have heard the cuckoo erst than

For,

if I live, it sliall

The next May,

"If

if I

I be not affraied.''

amended

me

be,

be not affraied."

Would

she not put the

"if'

more timidly now, in making the same promise to any of


you, or in asking for the judgment between her and her
enemy, which was to be past, do you remember, on this very
day of the year, so many years ago, and within eight miles
of this very spot
**

And this sliall be without any Nay


On the morrow after St. Valentine's

day,

Under a maple that is faire and green


Before the chamber window of the Queen
At Woodstoke, upon the greene lawn.

TJIE EAGLETS NEST.

58

She thanked them, and then her leave took


And into an hawthorn by that broke.
And there she sate, and sang upon that tree
Terme of life love hath withheld me
So loud, that I with that song awoke."
'

Terme of life love hath withheld me " Alas, how


men reversed this song of the nightingale so that
we
have
Terme of life, hatred hath withheld
onr words must be
57. "

^'

me.'^

This, then, w^as the old English science of the song of

and perhaps you are indignant with me for bringing


any word of it back to you ? You have, I doubt not, your
new science of song, as of nest-building: and I am happy to
think you could all explain to me, or at least you will be
able to do so before you pass your natural science examination, how, by the accurate connection of a larynx with a bill,
and by the action of heat, originally derived from the sun,
upon the muscular fiber, an undulatory motion is produced
in the larynx, and an opening and shutting one in the bill,
which is accompanied, necessarily, by a piping sound.
58. I will not dispute your statement; still less do I wish
You will
to answer for the absolute truth of Chaucer ^s.
find that the complete truth embraces great part of both;
and that you may study, at your choice, in any singing bird,
the action of universal heat on a marvelous mechanism, or
of individual life, on a frame capable of exquisite passion.
But the point I wish you to consider is the relation io this
lower creature's power, of your own human agencies in the
production of sound, where you can best unite in its harmony.
59. I had occasion only the other day to wait for half an
Standing as much out
hour at the bottom of Ludgate Hill.
of the way as I could, under the shadow of the railroad
bridge, I w^atched the faces, all eager, many anxious, and
some intensely gloomy, of the hurried passers by and listened to the ceaseless crashing, whistling, and thundering
sounds which mingled with the murmur of their steps and
And in the midst of the continuous roar, which
voices.
birds

IIELATION OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIEKCE.

lit.

SO

from that of the wildest sea in storm by its


its discordance, I was wondering, if the sum
of what all these people were doing, or trying to do, in the
conrse of the day, could be made manifest, what it would
come to.
00. The sum of it would be, I suppose, that they had all
contrived to live through the day in that exceedingly unpleasant manner, and that nothing serious had occurred to
^ay,
prsvcnt tliem from passing the following day likewise,
I knew also that what appeared in their way of life painful
to me, might be agreeable to them and it chanced, indeed,
a little while afterwards, that an active and prosperous man
differed only

complexity and

of business, speaking to one of

my

friends of the disappoint-

ment he had felt in a visit to Italy, remarked, especially,


that he was not able to endure more than three days at
Venice, because there was no noise there.
61. But, granting the

contentment of the inhabitants of

London in consistently producing these sounds, how shall


we say this vocal and instrumental art of theirs may compare,
in the scheme of Nature, with the vocal art of lower animals

We may

indeed rank the danger-whistle of the engines on

the bridge as an excruciating

human improvement on

that

of the marmot; and the trampling of feet and grinding of

human accentuation of the sounds produced


by the friction of their wings or thighs against

wheels, as the

by

insects,

their sides: but, even in this comparison,

some humiliation

it

may

cause us

and the cricket,


when pleased to sing in their vibratory manner, have leisure
to rest in their delight; and that the flight of the firefly is
silent.
But how will the sounds we produce compare with
the song of birds

men

to note that the cicada

This London

is

the principal nest of

and I was standing in the center of it. In


the shops of Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill, on each side of
me, I do not doubt I could have bought any quantity of
books for children, which by way of giving them religious,
as opposed to secular, instruction, informed them that birds
praised God in their songs.
Now, though, on the one hand.
in the world

40
yon may be very certain that birds are not machines, on the
other hand it is jnst as certain that they have not the smallest
intention of praising God in their songs and that we cannot
;

prevent the religious education of our children

more

utterly

might.be expected of
than by beginning it in lies. But
songs
we send up from
ourselves that we should do so, in the
our principal nest! And although, under the dome at the
top of Ludgate Hill, some attempt of the kind may be made
it

every seventh day, by a limited number of persons, we may


again reflect, with humiliation, that the birds, for better or
worse, sing all, and every day; and I could not but ask
myself, with momentarily increasing curiosity, as I endeavored to trace the emotions and occupations of the persons who
passed by me, in the expression of their faces what would

be the effect on them, if any creatures of higher order were


suddenly to appear in the midst of them with any such message of peace, and invitation to rejoicing, as they had all

been professing to commemorate at Christmas.


62.

Perhaps you

recollect, in the lectures

scape during the spring of this year,

my

given on landdirecting your

attention to a picture of Mantegna's in the loan exhibition,

representing a flight of twelve angels in blue sky, singing


that Christmas song.

I ought to

tell

you, however, that

one of our English artists of good position dissented from


my opinion about the picture and remarked that in England " we wanted good art, and not funny art." Whereas,
;

and architectural art of Ludgate Hill


which appears funny art; and not Mantegna^s. But I am
compelled to admit that could Mantegna's picture have been
realized, the result would, in the eyes of most men, have
been funnier still. Eor suppose that over Ludgate Hill the
sky had indeed suddenly become blue instead of black and
to me, it is this vocal

that a flight of twelve angels, " covered with silver wings,

and

their feathers with gold,"

had alighted on the cornice

of the railroad bridge, as the doves alight on the cornices


of St. Mark's at Venice; and had invited the eager

men

of

business below, in the center of a city confessedly the most


III.

RELATION OF WISE ART TO WISE SCIENCE.

prosperous in the world, to join them for

five

41

minutes in

singing the first five verses of such a psalm as the 103d


" Bless the Lord, oh mj^ soul, and all that is within me,"
(the opportunity now being given for the expression of their

most hidden feelings)


name, and forget not

all

all

mere suggestion,

thus, in

my now

as if

''

that

His

is

within me, bless His holy

benefits.''

Do you

not even

feel shocked at the thought,

reading the words were profane

and

Alid cannot

you fancy that the sensation of the crowd at so violent and


strange an interruption of trafiic, might be somewhat akin
to that which I had occasion in my first lecture on sculpture
the feeling attributed by Goethe to
to remind you of,

Mephistopheles at the song of the angels: '^Discord I hear,


and intolerable jingling " ?
63.

Nay,

farther, if indeed

none of the benefits bestowed


were to be forgotten,

on, or accomplished by, the great city,

were made, throughout its confines, into


might not the literal discord in the
words themselves be greater than the felt discord in the
sound of them ?
I have here in my hand a cutting from a newspaper,
which I took with me three years ago, to a meeting in the
interest of social science, held in the rooms of the Society
of Arts, and under the presidency of the Prime Minister of
England. Under the (so called)
classical
paintings of
Barry, representing the philosophy and poetry of the ancients, Mr. Gladstone was in the chair and in his presence
a member of the Society for the Promotion of Social Science
propounded and supported the statement, not irrelevant to

and

if

search

the results of its wealth,

'

our present inquiry, that the essential nature of man was


til at of a beast of prey.
Though, at the time, (suddenly
called upon by the author of " Tom Brown at Oxford,") I
feebly endeavored to contradict that Socially Scientific person, I do not at present desire to do so.

I have given

a creature of prey for comparison of knowledge.


the eagle

know what

of ours in London,

is
it

in the pit

and

"-

would be well

you

" Doth

in this great nest

if to all

our children

42

TlIE

EAGLE

NESf.

the virtue of the creature of prey were fulfilled, and that,

indeed, the stir and tumult of the city were


stirreth

^'

as the eagle

and fluttereth over her young." But


of paper I had then, and have now, in my hand,*

up her

the slip

nest

contains information about the state of the nest, inconsistent


with such similitude. I am not answerable for the juxtaposition of paragraphs in

building of a

The

it.

new church

first is

a proposal for the

in Oxford, at the cost of twenty

thousand pounds the second is the account of the inquest on


a woman and her child who were starved to death in the Isle
The bodies were found lying, without covering,
of Dogs.
on a bed made of heaped rags and there was no furniture in
the room but a wooden stool, on which lay a tract entitled
" The Goodness of God.^^ The husband, who had been out
;

mad two

and
was
being refused entrance at the workhouse because it
" full of mad people," was carried off, the ^' Pall Mall
of w^ork for six months, went

days afterwards

Gazette " says not where.


64. ]^ow, gentlemen, the question I

you to-day

whether the

is

wish

Wisdom which

to leave

with

rejoices in the

habitable parts of the earth, and whose delights are with

the sons of men, can be supposed, under circumstances such


as these, to delight herself in that

most closely and increas-

ingly inhabited portion of the globe which

dwell on

we

ourselves

now

and whether, if she cannot grant us to surpass the


art of the swallow or the eagle, she may not require of us
Or do you
at least, to reach the level of their happiness.
seriously think that, either in the life of Ludgate Hill,
or death of the Isle of Dogs in the art of Ludgate Hill, or
idleness of the Isle of Dogs; and in the science and sanity
of Ludgate Hill, or nescience and insanity of the Isle of Dogs,
we have, as matters stand now, any clear encouragement to
;

103d psalm, the three verses following the


named; and to believe in our hearts, as we say with
our lips, that we have yet, dwelling among us, unoffended,
repeat, in that
five I

God

^^

who

forgiveth

all

our iniquities, who healeth

* ' Pall Mall Gazette," January 29th, 1869.

all

m. RELATION

01?

WiSfi

ART TO WISE SCIENCE.

43

who redeemeth our life from destruction, who


crowneth us with loving-kindness and tender mercies, and
luho satisfieth our mouth with good things^ so that our youth
" ^
is RENEWED LIKE THE EAGLETS
our diseases;

LECTUEE

IV.

THE POWER OF MODESTY IN SCIENCE AND ART.


nth February,

1872.

65. I BELIEVE, gentlemen, that

been surprised,

and,

if

many ought

at the limitations I

to

have been sur-

asked you to admit with respect

idea of science, and the position which I asked you

to

t^

to

assign to

some of you must have


making my last

I succeeded in

lecture clearly intelligible,


prised,

it.

We

are so much,

by the chances of our

time, accustomed to think of science as a process of discovery,

that I

am

certed by

by

my

sure some of you must have been gTavely discon-

my requesting,

and will to-day be more disconcerted

firmly recommending, you to use the word, and reserve

the thought, of science, for the acquaintance with things long


since discovered,

and established as

true.

We

have the mis-

fortune to live in an epoch of transition from irrational dull-

and while once it was the


question
anything, it is now an
science
to
courage
of
highest
anything
unquestioned.
So that, unagony to her to leave
ness to irrational excitement

awares, we come to measure the dignity of a scientific person


by the newness of his assertions, and the dexterity of his
methods in debate; entirely forgetting that science cannot
become perfect, as an occupation of intellect, while anything
remains to be discovered nor wholesome as an instrument of
;

education, while anything

is

permitted to be debated.

66. It appears, doubtless, a vain idea to

should ever be put to discovery


sibility

merely

imperfect.

signifies

^N'evertheless,

you that an end

but remember, such impos-

that mortal science


in

many
44

must remain

directions, the limit to

POWER OF MODESTY

IV.

IN SCIENCE

AND AET.

45

practically useful discovery is rapidly being approached;

and you,

as students,

would do well

to

suppose that

it

has

To
been already attained.
for instance: I suppose you would have very little hope of
shooting a bird in England, which should be strange to any
master of the science, or of shooting one anywhere, which
take the science of ornithology,

under some species already described. And


life, and by the devotion of many
years to observation, some of you might hope to bring home
to our museum a titmouse with a spot on its tail which had
never before been seen, I strongly advise you not to allow
your studies to be disturbed by so dazzling a hope, nor your
In
life exclusively devoted even to so important an object.
astronomy, the fields of the sky have not yet, indeed, been
ransacked by the most costly instruments and it may be in
store for some of you to announce the existence, or even to
analyze the materials, of some luminous point which may be
seen two or three times in the course of a century, by any
one who will journey to India for the purpose and, when
But, for all practical purthere, is favored by the weather.
poses, the stars already named and numbered are as many
as we require to hear of; and if you thoroughly know the
visible motions, and clearly conceive the known relations,
even of those which can be seen by the naked eye, you will
have as much astronomy as is necessary, either for the occu-

would not

fall

although at the risk of

pation of thought or the direction of navigation.


67. But, if

you were discontented with the limit I promuch more, I imagine, you were

posed for your sciences,

doubtful of the ranks I assigned to them.


in your

modern system,

try, the science of atoms, lowest,

of Deity, highest

nay,

theology as a science at
suit,

in

subject,

many

many

know,

all,

separate

and theology, the science

of us have ceased to think of

but rather as a speculative pur-

from science; and

opposed to her.
Yet it can scarcely be necessary for
you, in so

It is not, I

the general practice to put chemis-

terms, that what

we

me

in

temper,

to point out to

call theology, if true,

THE eagle's nest.

46
is

a science

and

if false,

not theology

is

or that the dis-

and theology is illogical: for you might distinguish indeed between natural and
unnatural science, but not between natural and spiritual,
unless you had determined first that a spirit had no nature.
You will find the facts to be, that entirely true knowledge
is both possible and necessary
first of facts relating to matter, and then of the forces and passions that act on or in mattinction even between natural science

ter;

that, of all these forces, the noblest

we can know

is

the energy which either imagines, or perceives, the existence

of a living power greater than

its

own

and that the study

of the relations which exist between this energy, and the


resultant action of men, are as

much

as the curve of a projectile.

The

subjects of pure science


for instance,

effect,

upon

your temper, intellect, and conduct during the day, of your


going to chapel with or without belief in the efficacy of
prayer,

is

just as

much

a subject of definite science, as the

your breakfast on the coats of your stomach. Which


is the higher knowledge, I have, with confidence, told you;
and am not afraid of any test to which you may submit my

effect of

assertion.

68.

Assuming such

our knowledge

and such rank, for


what I have now, perhaps to

limitation, then,

assuming,

also,

your weariness, told you, that graphic art is the shadow,


or image, of knowledge,
I wish to point out to you to-day
the function, with respect to both, of the virtue called by
aotippoamri^
the Greeks
safeness of mind,' corresponding

to the

salus

of heart
w^ords

'

'

sanitas

'

mentis, of the Latins

perhaps, the best English

is,

mens,'

'

or

ate soul of the

'

A'^i'^?,

or

human

mens sana

fpp'^i^t^

if

we

health

receive the

as expressing the passion-

being, distinguished

from the

intel-

being possible to all of us, though


the contemplative range of height her wisdom may be above
our capacities; so that to each of us Heaven only permits
the ambition of being o-o^o?, but commands the resolution to
lectual

be

the

'

ffio<pp(ov'

69,

Andj without discussing the use of the word by

dif-

IV.

POWER OF MODESTY

ferent writers, I will


idea of the mental

tell

IN SCIENCE

you that the

state itself is to

AND ART.

clearest

and

47
safest

be gained from the repre-

by the words of ancient Christian religion,


and even from what you may think its superstitions. Without any discussion also as to the personal existence or traditional character of evil spirits, you will find it a practical
fact, that external temptations and inevitable trials of temper, have power against you which your health and virtue
depend on your resisting that, if not resisted, the evil energy
and
of them will pass into your own heart, ^'/Oi^V, or. At^yvt?
that the ordinary and vulgarized phrase ^' the Devil, or
betraying Spirit, is in him '' is the most scientifically accuYou
rate which you can apply to any person so influenced.
will find also that, in the compass of literature, the casting
sentations of

it

out

of,

or cleansing from, such a. state

is

best symbolized for

you by the image of one who had been wandering wild and
naked among tombs, sitting still, clothed, and in his right
mind, and that in whatever literal or figurative sense you
receive the Biblical statement of what followed, this is absolutely certain, that the herd of swine hastening to their
destruction, in perfect sympathy with each other's fury, is
the most accurate symbol ever given, in literature, of con-

summate human
*

aippoawt].

(The conditions of

4f

insanity,"^ delighting in scenes of death,

Avhich affect at the present time the arts of revolutionary

Europe, were illustrated in the sequel of this lecture: but


I neither choose to take any permanent notice of the ex-

amples I referred to, nor to publish any part of what I said,


until I can enter more perfectly into the analysis of the elements of evil passion wdiich always distorted and polluted
even the highest arts of Greek and Christian loyal religion
and now occupy in deadly entireness, the chambers of imagination, devastated, and left desolate of joy, by impiety, and
disobedience.
* I use this
in its

fwU

word always meaning

force,

it

to be understood literally,

an4

,48

In relation
cially of the

to the

gloom of gray color characteristic espe-

modern French revolutionary

school, I entered

some examination of the conditions of real temperance


and reserve in color, showing that it consisted not in refusing color, but in governing it; and that the most pure and
bright colors might be thus perfectly governed, while the
most dull were probably also the most violent and intemperate.
But it would be useless to print this part of the lecture
into

without the color-illustrations used.

Passing to the consideration of intemperance and immodesty in the choice even of landscape subjects, I referred
thus for contrast, to the quietude of Turner's " Greta and
Tees.'')

If you wish to feel the reserve of this drawing, look,

70.
first,

shops at their display of

into the

lithotints

see

how they

are

made up

common chromo-

of Matterhorns,

Monte

Rosas, blue glaciers, green lakes, white towers, magnificent


banditti, romantic peasantry, or always successful sportsmen

or fishermen in Highland costume

and then see what Turner


Matterhorns are needful, or even particularly pleasing to him. A bank, some eight or ten feet high,
of Yorkshire shale is enough. He would not thank you for
is

content with.

giving

be so

No

him all the giant forests of California


would not
much interested in them nor half so happy among
:

them, as he

is

here with a switch of oak sapling, which the

Greta has pulled down among the stones, and teased awhile,
and which, now that the water is lower, tries to get up again,
out of

He

its

way.

does not want any towers or towns.

Here you

are to

be contented with three square windows of a country gentle-

man's house.
He does not want resplendent banditti.
Behold here is a brown cow and a white one what w^ould
you have more ? And this scarcely-falling rapid of the Tees
here pausing to circle round a pool, and there laughing as
:

it

to

trips over a ledge of rock, six or seven inches high, is

him

infinitely

more

than would be

more

the whole colossal

drainage of Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, which Carlyle has

POWER OF MODESTY

IV.

AND ART.

1^ SCIENCE

.40

justly taken for a type of the ISTiagara of our national pre-

cipitous

a^pii(TO'>>ri.

I need not point out to you the true temperance of


how slightly green the trees are, how
color in this drawing
71.

softly blue the sky.

Kow

I put

.a

chromo-lithotint beside

it.

Simply because if you


yourselves
nobly, you will
discipline
and
work,
and
think,
will come to
not,
you
if
Tees;
Greta
and
come to like the
likes;
the other
man
strong
what
a
The one is
like this.
a/^w?,
of
full
true
is
modest,
what a w^eak one likes: that
aidw<;^
fear,
no
this has no
noble restraint, noble reverence
of
accumulation
no measure; not even purpose, except, by

why

Well,

is

that good, this

bad

Avhatever

public

it

can see or snatch, to move the vile apathy of the

acppoffmrj

into sensation.

The apathy of dcppoffw-Q note the expression! You


might think that it was aw<ppo<Twri which was apathetic, and
No the exact conthat intemperance was full of passion.
72.

trary

the fact.

is

It is death in ourselves

which seeks the

I must return for a moment


modern France.
The most complete rest and refreshment I can get, when
I am overworked, in London (for if I try to rest in the
fields, I find them turned into villas in the course of the
week before) is in seeing a French play. But the French
act so perfectly that I am obliged to make sure beforehand

exaggerated external stimulus.


to the art of

that all

end well, or
some real misery.

is to

present at

it

is

as

bad

as being helplessly

I was beguiled the other day, by seeing it announced as


"
Comedie," into going to see '' Frou-Frou.'' Most of you
a

probably

know

that the three first of

its

edy, or at least playful drama, and that

five acts are


it

com-

plunges down,

two last, to the sorrowfulest catastrophe of all conthough too frequent in daily life in which irretrioval)le grief is brought about by the passion of a moment,
and the ruin of all that she loves, caused by the heroic error
The sight of it
of an entirely good and unselfish person.

in the

ceivable

THE eagle's nest.

50

made me thoroughly

ill,

and I was not myself again for a

week.
But, some time afterwards, I was speaking of it to a lady
who knew French character well; and asked her how it
possible for a people so quick in feeling to endure the

was

them of a sorrow so poignant. .She said, ^' It


they are interis because they have not sympathy enough
ested only by the external scene, and are, in truth, at presMy own French maid went
ent, dull, not quick in feeling.
the other evening to see that very play when she came home,
and I asked her what she thought of it, she said it was charmAmused
ing, and she had amused herself immensely.'
action before

'

'

but

is

bien

not the story very sad

triste,

Frou

but

it

is

'

Oh

yes, mademoiselle,

it

is

charming; and then, how pretty Frou-

looks in her silk dress

''

'
!

French maid's mode of regarding the


you think of it, a most true image of the way

73. Gentlemen, the

tragedy

is,

if

which fashionable society regards the world-suffering, in


it can amuse itself, all seems
If the ball-room is bright, and the dresses pretty,
to it well.
what matter how much horror is beneath or around? Nay,
in

the midst of which, so long as

apathy checks us in our highest spheres of thought,


You know that I
our most solemn purposes.
never join in the common outcries against Ritualism yet

this

and

chills

it

too painfully manifest to

is

me

that the English

Church

has withdrawn her eyes from the tragedy of all churches,


perk
herself up anew with casement and vestment, and say
to
of herself, complacently, in her sacred TzotxcXia, ^^ How pretty
"
Frou-Frou is, in her silk dress
74. We recognize, however, without difficulty, the peril of
itself

and immodesty in the pleasures of Art. Less


more perilous, the insatiableness
and immodesty of Science tempts us through our very virtues.

insatiableness

recognized, but therefore

The

fatalest furies of scientific

d(ppo(Tuv7]

are consistent with

the most noble powers of self-restraint and self-sacrifice.


is

It

not the lower passions, but the loftier hopes and most

honorable desires which become deadliest when the charm

IV.

of them

is

POWER

01^

Modesty ik science and art.

exalted by the vanity of science.

of the wisest of Greek heroes never fails,

51

The patience
when the trial

by danger or pain; but do you recollect that, before


by the song of the Sirens, the sea becomes calm ?
And in the few words which Homer has told you of their song,
you have not perhaps yet with enough care observed that the
form of temptation is precisely that to which a man vicThe
torious over every fleshly trial would be likely to yield.
promise is not that his body shall be gratified, but that his
soul shall rise into rapture he is not urged, as by the subtlety of Comus, to disdain the precepts of wisdom, but invited, on the contrary, to learn,
as you are all now invited
by the difpoao^i^ of your age, better wisdom from the wise.
^*
For we know all '^ (they say) '' that was done in Troy
according to the will of the gods, and we know everythin{^
that is upon the all-nourishing earth.''
All heavenly and earthly knowledge, you see.
I will read
you Pope's expansion of the verses; for Pope never alters
is

his trial

idly,

but always illustrates when he expands.


"

(You

Oh stay, oh

pride of Greece

hear, they begin

by

flattery).

Ulysses, stay,

Oh

cease thy course, and listen to our lay.


Blest is tbe man ordained our voice to hear,

The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear.


Approach Thy soul shall into raptures rise
Approach and learn new wisdom from the wise.
!

We know whate'er

the kings of mighty name


Achieved at Ilion in the field of Fame,
Whate'er beneath the Sun's bright journey lies.
Oh, stay, and learn new wisdom from the wise."

Is

it

not singular that so long ago the danger of this

novelty of wisdom should have been completely discerned


Is
by,

it

not stranger

still

that three thousand years have passed

and we have not yet been able

to learn the lesson,

but

^2

THE eagle's nest.


eager to add to our knowledge, rather than to use

are

still

it

and every day more passionate

violent in competition,

in

discovering,

more

are every day more cold in ad-

miration, and more dull in reverence

Homer's Ulysses, hound to the mast,


Dante's Ulysses is bound to the mast in another
survives.
fashion.
He, notwithstanding the protection of Athena, and
after kll his victories over fate, is still restless under the
temptation to seek new wisdom. He goes forth past the pillars of Hercules, cheers his crew amidst the uncompassed
solitudes of the Atlantic, and perishes in sudden Charybdis
of the infinite sea. In hell, the restless flame in which he is
wrapt continually, among the advisers of evil, is seen^ from
the 'rocks above, like the firefly's flitting to and fro and the
waving garment of torture, which quivers as he speaks, and
aspires as he moves, condemns him to be led in eternal
temptation, and to be delivered from evil nevermore.
75. But, gentlemen.

LECTUKE

V.

THE POWER OF CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND AET.


32c?

MUST ask yon,

76. I

February, 1872.

in order to

make

these lectures of

any permanent use, to be careful in keeping note of the


main conclusion at which we arrive in the course of each,
and of the sequence of such results. In the first, I tried to
show you that Art was only wise when unselfish in her
labor; in the second, that Science was only wise when unselfish in her statement
in the third, that wise Art was the
visible
and in the
shadow, or
reflection, of wise Science
fourth, that all these conditions of good must be pursued
temperately and peacefully.
I have now farther to tell you
that they must be pursued independently.
77. You have not often heard me use that word " independence."
And, in the sense in which of late it has been
accepted, you have never heard me use it but with conFor the true strength of every human soul is to be
tempt.
dependent on as many nobler as it can discern, and to be
depended upon, by as many inferior as it can reach.
;

But to-day I use

word in a widely different sense. I


what amplification I was able to
idea of wisdom as an unselfish influence
the

think you must have


give you of the

felt, in

how the highest skill and knowledge were


founded in human tenderness, and that the kindly Artwisdom which rejoices in the habitable parts of the earth,
is only another form of the lofty Scientific charity, which

in Art and Science,

rejoices
to

know

in the tru4h.'

though

thyself

And

as the first order of

Wisdom is
known

the least creature that cau be

53

^4:

SO the first order of Charity is to be sufficient for thyself,


though the least creature that can be sufficed; and thus contented and appeased, to be girded and strong for the ministry
to others.
If sufficient to thy day is the evil thereof, how
much more should be the good
78. I have asked you to recollect one aphorism respecting Science, one respecting Art; let me
and I will ask no
more at this time of asking press you to learn, farther, by

Song of the Sirens:


not be a weariness to you

heart, those lines of the

Homer, I

trust, will
ov yap
TTpiv

TTCJ

Ttg rij(h Tzapj/T^aaE

ijfieQv jueXiyTjpvv cnro

six lines of

vrfi fielaivr),

an /xdruv

ott^

aKOvaai'

(ikV bye repipdfievog velrai, Koi irXeiova el66g.


I6fiev

yap

rot Tvavd', ba' eul Tlpoiri evpeir)

'Apynoi Tpueg re deuv


Idfiev

6\ baaa yevjjrai

IbrrjTL [ioyiiaav'
errl xf^ovl

Trovlu^oTeip'^,

HoM., Od.,

xii. 186.

" 'No one ever rowed past this way in his black ship, before he had listened to the honey-sweet singing of our lips.
But he stays pleased, though he may know much. For we
know all things which the Greeks and Trojans did in the

wide Trojan plain, by the will of the gods, and we know


what things take place in the much nourishing earth."
And this, remember, is absolutely true. Iso man ever went
obeying the grave and sad law of
past in the black ship,
life by which it is appointed for mortals to be victors on
the ocean,
but he was tempted, as he drew near that deadly
island, wise as he might be, (/.at. TzXewva sidd)^,) by the voices
of those who told him that they knew everything which had
been done by the will of God, and everything which took
place in earth for the service of man.
You are
79. IsTow observe those two great temptations.
will
has
been
done
by
the
of God:
everything
that
to know

and

to

know everything

that

to realize to yourselves, for a

is vital

little

in the earth.

while, the

way

And
in

try

which

these two siren promises have hitherto trijoibled the paths of

men.

Think of the books

that have been written in false


V.

CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND

55

ABT.

explanation of Divine Providence: think of the efforts that


have been made to show that the particular conduct which we
approve in others, or wish ourselves to follow, is according
Think what ghastly convulsions in
to the will of God.
thought, and vileness in action,, have been fallen into by the
sects which thought they had adopted, for their patronage,
Think of the vain research,
the perfect purposes of Heaven.
centuries
have tried to penetrate the
of
those
who
wasted
the
secrets of life, or of its support.

The

elixir vitse, the philoso-

pher's stone, the germ-cells in meteoric iron,


jSoTsiprj.^

But

at this day,

when we have

'

ir:}

)^Oim tzouXu-

loosed the last

band

and when, instead of plying


we row
the crew of Dante's Ulysses, and of our oars make wings

from the masts of the black

ship,

every oar to escape, as the crew of Homer's Ulysses,


like

for our foolish flight,


E, volta nostra poppe nel mattino
De' remi facemmo ale al fclle volo

the song of the sirens becomes fatal as never yet


in time.
to

know

We

think ourselves privileged,

the secrets of Heaven,

earth; and the result

been put

to

is,

shame by

and

first

fulfill the

it

has been

among men,
economy of

that of all the races that yet have


their false Avisdom

or false art,

which have given their labor for that which is not bread,
and their strength for that which satisfieth not, we have
most madly abandoned the charity which is for itself sufficing, and for others serviceable, and have become of all
creatures the most insufficient to ourselves, and the most
malignant to our neighbors. Granted a given degree of
knowledge granted the 'xat Tthtova eld(6?^ in science, in art,
and in literature, and the present relations of feeling between France and Germany, between England and America,
are the most horrible at once in their stupidity and malignity, that have ever taken place on the globe we inhabit, even
though all its great histories are of sin, and all its great songs,

of death.
80.

Gentlemen, I pray yon very solemnly

to

put

tliat

56
idea of

knowing

all

things in

Heaven and Earth out of your

little that we can ever know,


ways of Providence, or the laws of existence.
But that little is enough, and exactly enough to strive for
more than that little is evil for us; and be assured that beyond the need of our narrow being, beyond the range of
the kingdom over which it is ordained for each of us to rule
in serene abrdpxeta and self-possession, he that increaseth
toil, increaseth folly;
and he that increaseth knowledge,

hearts and heads.

It is

very

either of the

increaseth sorrow.
81.
to

My

endeavor, therefore, to-day will be to point out

you how

in the best wisdom, that there

advance, there must

first

may

be happy contentment

be happy
;

that,

in

one sense, we must always be entering its kingdom as a little child, and pleased yet for a time not to put away childAnd while I hitherto have endeavored only to
ish things.

show how modesty and gentleness of disposition purified Art


and Science, by permitting us to recognize the superiority of
to-day, on the contrary, I wish
the work of others to our own
to indicate for you the uses of infantine self-satisfaction
and to show you that it is by no error or excess in our nature,
by no corruption or distortion of our being, that we are dis-

posed to take delight in the little things that we can do ourselves, more than in the great things done by other people.

So only that we recognize the littleness and the greatness, it is


much a part of true Temperance to be pleased with the little \\Q know, and the little we can do, as with the little that
as

we

have.

On

the one side Indolence, on the other Covetous-

much

to be blamed, with respect to our Arts, as


our possessions and every man is intended to find an exquisite personal happiness in his own small skill, just as he is
intended to find happiness in his own small house or garden,
while he respects, without coveting, the grandeur of larger do-

ness, are as

mains.
82.

Nay, more than

this:

by the wisdom of Nature,

has been apj^ointed that more pleasure

may

it

be taken in

small things than in great^ and more in rude Art than iu

V.

CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND


Were

the finest.

it

otherwise,

AET.

57

we might be disposed

to

com-

plain of the narrow limits which have been set to the perfection of

human

skill.

I pointed out to you, in a former lecture, that the excellence of sculpture had been confined in past time to the
Athenian and Etrurian vales. The absolute excellence of
painting has been reached only by the inhabitants of a single
city in the whole world and the faultless manner of religious
;

architecture holds only for a period of fifty years out of six

We

thousand.

are at present tormenting ourselves with the

vain effort to teach

Athens, with

men everywhere

to rival

Venice and

the practical result of having lost the enjoy-

ment of Art altogether;

instead of being content

to

amuse

with the painting and carving which were possible once, and would be pleasant always, in Paris, and London, at Strasbourg, and at York.
I do not doubt that you are greatly startled at my say-

ourselves

still

is to be received from inferior Art


But what do you suppose makes all

ing that greater pleasure

than from the

men
gret,

finest.

look back to the time of childhood wath so


(if their

much

re-

childhood has been, in any moderate degree,

That rich charm, which the least


was in consequence of the poorness
of owY treasures.
That miraculous aspect of the nature
around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less.
Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness;
every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration and Death is at last appointed to take us from a
scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy
us, and no miracle surprise.
83. Little as I myself know, or can do, as compared with
any man of essential power, my life has chanced to be one of
gradual progress in the things which I began in childish
choice; so that I can measure with almost mathematical
exactitude the degree of feeling with which less and greater
healthy or peaceful)

possession

had for

us,

degrees of wealth or skill affect


I well

my

mind.

remember the delight with which, when I was

THE eagle's nest.

6S

beginning mineralogy, I received from a friend, who had


made a voyage to Peru, a little bit of limestone about the
size of a hazel nut, with a small film of native silver adhering
I was never weary of contemplating my
to its surface.
treasure, and could not have felt myself richer had I been

master of the mines of Copiapo.


I am now about to use as models for your rock drawings
stones which my yearns income, when I was a boy, would
But I have long ceased to take any pleasnot have bought.
ure in their possession and am only thinking, now, to whom
else they can be of use, since they can be of no more to me.
84. But the loss of pleasure to me caused by advance in
knowledge of drawings has been far greater than that induced
;

by

my

riches in minerals.

I have placed, in your reference series, one or two drawings of architecture,

made when

I was a youth of twenty,

with perfect ease to myself, and some pleasure to other people.


A day spent in sketching then brought with it no weariness, and infinite complacency.
I know better now what
drawing should be the effort to do my work rightly fatigues
me in an hour, and I never care to look at it again from that
;

day forward.
85. It is true that

men

of great and real power do the

you will never hear


them express the complacency which simple persons feel in
There is nothing to be regretted in this;
partial success.
it is appointed for all men to enjoy, but for few to achieve.

best things with comparative ease; but

And

do not think that I

am

ing on these simple moralities.

we must derive
That we must endeavor

stating

but what

is

easily

wasting your time in dwell-

From

the facts I have been

this great principle for

all

effort.

what is absolutely best,


within our power and adapted to our temto do, not

per and condition.


S6. In your educational series is a lithographic drawing,
by Prout, of an old house in Strasbourg. The carvings of
its woodwork are in a style altogether provincial, yet of
which the origin is very distant. The delicate Renaissance

V.

CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND

ART.

59

was affected, even in its finest periods,


throw out convex masses at the bases of its

architecture of Italy

by a tendency

to

16th century adopted this


element of ornamentation, and

pillars; the wood-carvers of the

bulged form as their


these

first

windows of Strasbourg are only imitations by the


type, you must seek

German peasantry of what, in its finest


as far away as the Duomo of Bergamo.

But the burgher, or peasant, of Alsace enjoyed his rude


it was, boldly and frankly to the size
of his house and the grain of the larch logs of which he built
it, infinitely more than the refined Italian enjoyed the floral
luxuriance of his marble; and all the treasures of a great
exhibition could not have given him the tenth part of the
exultation with which he saw the gable of his roof completed
over its jutting fret-work; and wrote among the rude intriimitation, adapted, as

cacies of its sculpture, in flourished black letter, that "

He

and his wife had built their house with God's help, and
prayed Him to let them live long in it, ^they, and their

children/'
87. But it is not only the rustic method of architecture
which I wish you to note in this plate it is the rustic method
of drawing also.
The manner in which these blunt timber carvings are drawn by Prout is just as provincial as
;

the carvings themselves.


Born in a far-away district of
England, and learning to draw,, unhelped, with fishing-boats
for his models making his way instinctively until he had
;

command

of his pencil enough to secure a small income by

drawing; and finding picturesque character


from which all the finest lines of their carving
had been effaced by time; possessing also an instinct in the
expression of such subjects so peculiar as to win for him a
lithographic

in buildings

satisfying popularity, and, far better, to enable

him

to derive

perpetual pleasure in the seclusion of country hamlets, and

the quiet streets of deserted cities,


Prout had never any
motive to acquaint himself with the refinements, or contend
with the difficulties, of a more accomplished art.
So far

from

this, his

manner of work was, by

its

very imperfection,

60

THE eagle's nest.

in the most perfect

sympathy with the subjects he enjoyed.


in which he has represented to us this

The broad chalk touches

house at Strasbourg are entirely sufficient to give true idea


its effect.
To have drawn its ornaments with subtlety of

of

Leonardesque delineation would only havo exposed their


and mocked their rusticity. The drawing would have
become painful to you from the sense of the time which it
had taken to represent what was not worth the labor, and to
direct your attention to what could only, if closely examined,
be matter of offense. But here you have a simple and provincial draughtsman happily and adequately expressing a
simple and provincial architecture; nor could either builder
or painter have become wiser, but to their loss.
.^
88. Is it then, you will ask me, seriously to be recom-.
mended, and, however recommendable, is it possible, that
men should remain contented with attainments which they
know to be imperfect ? and that now, as in former times,
large districts of country, and generations of men, should be
enriched or amused by the products of a clumsy ignorance ?
I do not know how far it is possible, but I know that wherever
Ignorance,
you desire to have true art, it is necessary.
which is contented and clumsy, will produce what is imperBut ignorance (discontented and
fect, but not offensive.
dexterous, learning what it cannot understand, and imitating
what it cannot enjoy, produces the most loathsome forms of
manufacture that can disgrace or mislead humanity. Some
years since, as I was looking through the modern gallery at
faults,

the quite provincial

fain to leave

all their

stay long before a


liis

dog out of a

German School
epic

little

and

was
might

of Diisseldorf, I

religious designs, that I

painting of a shepherd boy carving

bit of deal.

The dog was

sitting by,

with

the satisfied and dignified air of a personage about for the


first

time in his

life to

be worthily represented in sculpture

and his master was evidently succeeding to


expressing the features of his friend.
wliich, as

The

little

his

mind

in

scene was one

you know, must take place continually among the


who supply the toys of Nuremberg and Berne.

cottage artists


CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND

V.

61

ABT.

these! so long as, undisturbed by ambition, they


spend their leisure time in work pretending only to amuse,
yet capable, in its own way, of showing accomplished dexWe, in the hope of
terity, and vivid perception of nature.

Happy,

doing great things, have surrounded our workmen with Italian models, and tempted them with prizes into competitive
mimicry of all that is best, or that we imagine to be best, in
the

work of every people under the sun.

And

the result of our

we are able to produce, I am now


quoting the statement I made last May, " the most perfectly
and roundly ill-done things '' that ever came from human
instruction

is

only that

I should thankfully put upon my chimney-piece the


dog
cut by the shepherd boy but I should be willing
wooden
to forfeit a large sum rather than keep in my room the numthus described in its cataber 1 of the Kensington Museum
'^
Statue in black and white marble, of a l^ewfoundlogue
land dog standing on- a serpent, which rests on a marble

hands.

cushion

the pedestal ornamented with Pietra

Dura

fruits

in relief."
89.

my

You

will,

however, I fear, imagine

usual paradox,

have been making

when I

assure you that

me
all

indulging in
the efforts

we

surround ourselves with heterogeneous


means of instruction, will have the exactly reverse effect
from that which we intend; and that, whereas formerly
to

we were able only to do a little well, we are qualifying our^or is the result confined
selves now to do everything ill.
The introduction of French dexterity
to our workmen only.
and of German erudition has been harmful chiefly to our

most accomplished artists and in the last Exhibition of our


Royal Academy there was, I think, no exception to the
manifest fact that every painter of reputation painted worse
than he did ten years ago.
90.

Admitting, however, (not that I suppose you will at

once admit, but for the sake of argument, supposing,) that


this is true,

what,

we have

further to ask, can be done to

discourage ourselves from calamitous emulation, and with-

62

draw our workmen from the


of use to them

But

sight of

what

is

too good to be

this question is not

one which can be determined by

the needs, or limited to the circumstances of Art.

To

live

generally more modest and contented lives; to win the great-

pleasure from the smallest things; to do what

est possible
is likely to

seem

it

be serviceable to our immediate neighbors, whether

them admirable or not;

to

to

make no

pretense

of admiring what has really no hold upon our hearts; and

be resolute in refusing

to

we have

until

we have
able

ffoifia

we

art if
is

got

much

and

all

additions to our learning,

what learning
and laws, of unquestionwhich will indeed lead us up to fine
haye it fine; but will also do what

perfectly arranged and secured


these are conditions,

ffwifpoffwr,^

are resolved to
better,

make rude

art precious.

by any means necessary that provincial art should be rude, though it may be singular. Often
it is no less delicate than quaint, and no less refined in grace
91. It is not, however,

than original in character.


place

when

This

is

likely always to take

a people of naturally fine artistic

temper work

with the respect which, as I endeavored to show you in a


former lecture, ought always to be paid to local material and
circumstance.
I have placed in your educational series the photograph
of the door of a wooden house in Abbeville, and of the wind-

ing stair above; both so exquisitely sculptured that the real


vine-leaves

which have wreathed themselves about

lars, cannot, in the

carved foliage.

The

known

its

Yet

for art

by

their pil-

photograph, be at once discerned from the


latter,

quite as graceful, can only be

quaint setting.

this school of sculpture is altogether provincial.

It

could only have risen in a richly-wooded chalk country,

where the sapling


the

workman

cliffs

trees beside the brooks gave

example

to

of the most intricate tracery, and the white

above the meadows furnished docile material to his

hand.
92. I have

now,

to

my

sorrow, learned to despise the

V.

CONTEi^TMENT IN SCIENCE) AND ARf.

63

elaborate intricacy, and the playful realizations, of the Kor-

man designers; and can only be satisfied by the reserved


and proud imagination of the master schools. But the utmost pleasure I now take in these is almost as nothing, compared to the joy I used to have, when I knew no better, in
the fretted pinnacles of Rouen, and white lace, rather than
stonework, of the chapels of Reu and Amboise.
Yet observe that the first condition of this really precious
provincial work is its being the best that can be done under
the given circumstances and the second is, that though pro;

vincial, it is not in the least frivolous or ephemeral,

but as

and as permanent in
the work of the most learned academies

definitely civic, or public, in design,

the

manner

while

its

of

it,

as

execution brought out the energies of each

little state,

not necessarily in rivalship, but severally in the perfecting of


styles

which ]^ature had rendered

it

impossible for their

neighbors to imitate.

This civic unity, and the feeling of the workman


is performing his part in a great scene which is to
endure for centuries, while yet, within the walls of his city,
it is to be a part of his own peculiar life, and to be separate
from all the world besides, develops, together, whatever duty
he acknowledges as a patriot, and whatever complacency he
93.

that he

feels as

an

We now

artist.

by the rules of the AcadLondon and if there be a little original vivacity


or genius in any provincial workman, he is almost sure to
spend it in making a ridiculous toy. ^Nothing is to me
much more pathetic than the way that our neglected workmen thus throw their lives away. As I was walking the
other day through the Crystal Palace, I came upon a toy
Avhich had taken the leisure of five years to make; you
dropped a penny into the chink of it, and immediately a lit-

emy

tle

of

build, in our villages,


;

brass steam-engine in the middle started into nervously

hurried action; some bell-ringers pulled strings at the bot-

tom of

which had no top; two regiments


marched out from the sides, and maneuvered in

a church steeple

of cavalry

64
the middle and two well-dressed persons in a kind of operabox expressed their satisfaction by approving gestures.
In old Ghent, or Bruges, or York, such a man as the one
who made this toy, with companions similarly minded, would
have been taught how to employ himself, not to their less
amusement, but to better purpose and in their five years
of leisure hours they would have carved a flamboyant crown
for the belfry-tower, and would have put chimes into it that
would have told the time miles away, with a pleasant tune
for the hour, and a variation for the quarters, and cost the
passers-by in all the city and plain not so much as the dropping of a penny into a chink.
94. Do not doubt that I feiol, as strongly as any. of you
;

can

feel, the utter impossibility at

present of restoring pro-

vincial simplicity to our country towns.

My

despondency respecting this, and nearly all other matwhich I know to be necessary, is at least as great, it
than
in the decline of life,
is certainly more painful to me,
But what
that which any of my younger hearers can feel.
I have to tell you of the unchanging principles of nature, and
And if
of art, must not be affected by either hope or fear.
I succeed in convincing you what these principles are, there
are many practical consequences which you may deduce
from them, if ever you find yourselves, as young Englishmen
ters

are often likely to find themselves, in authority over foreign


tribes of peculiar or limited capacities.

Be

men

assured that you can no more drag or compress

into perfection than

you can drag or compress

plants.

If

ever you find yourselves set in a position of authority, and

modes of education, ascertain


what the people you would teach have been in the habit
Set no
of doing, and encourage them to do that better.
disturb
none
of
their
reverother excellence before their eyes
ence for the past do not think yourselves bound to dispel
are entrusted to determine

first

their ignorance, or to contradict their superstitions

teach

them only gentleness and truth; redeem them by example


from habits which you know to be unhealthy or degrading;

V.

CONTENTMENT IN SCIENCE AND

but cherish, above

65

ART.

and heredi-

all things, local associationSy

tary skill.
It is the curse of so-called civilization to

it

pretend to origi-

by the willful invention of new methods of

nality

quenches wherever

it

error, while

has power, the noble originality of

nations, rising out of the purity of their race,

and the love

of their native land.


95. I could say

much more, but I

think I have said enough'

what you might otherwise have


in
the
methods
I shall adopt for your exersingular
thought
to justify for the present

I shall indeed endeavor to write

cise in the drawing-schools.

you the laws of the art which is centrally best and


to exhibit to you a certain number of its unquestionable
standards: but your own actual practice shall be limited to
objects which will explain to you the meaning, and awaken
you to the beauty, of the art of your own country.
The first series of my lectures on sculpture must have
proved to you that I do not despise either the workmanship
or the mythology of Greece but I must assert with more

down

for

distinctness than even in

my

unfitness of all its results to be

earliest works,

made

the absolute

the guides of English

students or artists.

Every nation can

represent,

only the realities in which

it

with prudence, or success,


What you have with

delights.

you, and before you, daily, dearest to your sight and heart,

by the magic of your hand, or of your lips, you can


gloriously express to others and what you ought to have in
your sight and heart, what, if you have not, nothing else
is the human life of your own
can be truly seen or loved,
people, understood in its history, and admired in its presence.
And unless that be first made beautiful, idealism must be
false and imagination monstrous.
It is your influence on the existing world which, in your
studies here, you ought finally to consider and although it is
not, in that influence, my function to direct you, I hope
you will not be discontented to know that I shall ask no effort
from your art-genius^ beyond the rational suggestion of what
thatj

6Q

we may one day hope

to see actually realized in

England, in

the sweetness of her landscape, and the dignity of her people.

In connection with the subject of this lecture, I may menyou that I have received an interesting letter, requesting me to assist in promoting some improvements designed

tion to

in the city of Oxford.

But

as the entire

charm and educational power of the

city

of Oxford, so far as that educational power depended on


reverent associations, or on visible solemnities and serenities
of architecture, have been already destroyed

our own lives extend, destroyed, I


manufacturing suburb which heaps

may
its

am

and, as far as

by the

ashes on one side, and

the cheap-lodging suburb which heaps


other

say, forever,

its

brickbats on the

myself, either as antiquary or artist, absolutely

indifferent to

what happens next

except on grounds respect-

ing the possible health, cleanliness, and decency which


yet be obtained for the increasing population.

How

may

far cleanliness and decency bear on art and science,

its crowd of
partly
to
consider
in
connection
with
have
modern students, I
the subject of my next lecture, and I will reserve therefore
any definite notice of these proposed improvements in the
city, until the next occasion of meeting you.

or on the changed functions of the university to

LECTUKE VL
THE RELATION TO ART OF THE SCIENCE OF LIGHT.
24:th

96. I
tience,

February, 1872.

HAVE now, perhaps

to the exhaustion of

your pa-

but you will find, not without real necessity, defined

manner

in which the mental tempers, ascertained by


philosophy to be evil or good, retard and advance the parallel

the

and art.
and the two next following lectures I shall endeavor
to state to you the literal modes in which the virtues of art
are connected with the principles of exact science; but now,
remember, I am speaking, not of the consummate science of
which art is the image; but only of what science we have
actually attained, which is often little more than terminology
(and even that uncertain), with only a gleam of true science
here and there.
I will not delay you by any defence of the arrangement of
sciences I have chosen.
Of course we may at once dismiss
chemistry and pure mathematics from our consideration.
Chemistry can do nothing for art but mix her colors, and tell
her what stones will stand weather; (I wish, at this day, she
did as much;) and with pure mathematics we have nothing
whatever to do nor can that abstract form of high mathesis
stoop to comprehend the simplicity of art.
To a first wrangler at Cambridge, under the present conditions of his trial,
statues will necessarily be stone dolls, and imaginative work
studies of science

In

this

unintelligible.

We

have, then, in true fellowship with art,

only the sciences of light and form, (optics and geometry).


If j'ou will take the first syllable of the

67

word

'

georaetrv

'

tg

;
'

THE eagle's nest.

68

mean

form of flesh, as well as of clay, the two


words sum every science that regards graphic art, or of which
earth in the

graphic art can represent the conclusions.

To-day we are

speak of optics, the science of seeing


it may be, which (by Plato's definition), " through the eyes, manifests color to us."
97.

of

to

that power, whatever

Hold that definition always, and remember that light


means accurately the power that aifects the eyes of animals
with the sensation proper to them.
The study of the effect
^

of light on nitrate of silver


is

light to us

chemistry, not optics

and what

indeed shine on a stone; but is not light


The " fiat lux '' of creation is, therefore, in

to the stone.

the deep sense of

We cannot

is

may

it,

^^

fiat

anima.''

merely '^ fiat oculus," for the effect


of light on living organism, even when sightless, cannot be
separated from its influence on sight.
A plant consists essentially of two parts, root and leaf the leaf by nature seeks
light, the root by nature seeks darkness it is not warmth or
cold, but essentially light and shade, which are to them, as
to us, the appointed conditions of existence.
say that

it is

98.

And you

words "

fiat

are to

lux "

remember

mean

the power of the eye

still

indeed "

itself, as

more

fiat

such,

is

distinctly that the

anima," because even


in

its

animation.

You

do not see with the lens of the eye. You see through that,
and by means of that, but you see with the soul of the eye.
99. A great physiologist said to me the other day
it was
in the rashness of controversy, and ought not to be remem-

bered, as a deliberate assertion, therefore I do not give his


that sight was " altogether mechanstill he did say

name,
ical.''

The words simply meant,

that all his physiology

if they meant anything,


had never taught him the difference

between eyes and telescopes.


Sight is an absolutely spiritual
phenomenon accurately, and only, to be so defined and the
" Let there be light," is as much, w^hen you understand it, the
;

ordering of intelligence, as the ordering of vision.

appointment of change of what had been


ical efHuence

from things unseen

else

It is the

only a mechan-

to things unseeing,

from


VI.

:RELA'riON

To

OF SClEl^C^ OF LIGHT.

AllT

60

stars that did not shine to earth that could not perceive;

the change, I say, of that hlind vibration into the glory of the
sun and moon for human eyes ; so rendering possible also the

communication out of the unfathomable truth, of that portion


which is good for us, and animating to us, and is set
the day and night of our joy and sorrow.
over
rule
to
The
sun was set thus to rule the day.' And of late
100.
you have learned that he was set to rule everything that we
know of. You have been taught that, by the Sirens, as a
of truth

'

piece of entirely

We

new knowledge, much

to be exulted over.

some time acquainted


with the general look of the sun, and long before there were
who
Zoroastrian and other,
painters there were wise men,
had suspected that there was power in the sun but the Sirens
of yesterday have somewhat new, it seems, to tell you of his
painters, indeed, have been for

authority,

i-}

^0<vA

TtooXo[ioTeiprj.

random, from a ^recent

at

I take a passage, almost

scientific

work.

Just as the phenomena of water-formed rocks all owe


their existence directly or indirectly chiefly to the sun's en^^

ergy, so also do the

phenomena interwoven with

life.

This

has long been recognized by various eminent British and forin his memoir
eign physicists; and in 1854 Professor
on the method of palaeontology, asserted that organisms were
,

but manifestations of applied physics and applied chemistry.


puts the generalizations of physicists in a
Professor

He
few words When speaking of the sun, it is remarked
animal;
it
the
world,
through
vegetable
and
whole
rears the
the lilies of the field are his workmanship, the verdure of the
meadows, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. He forms
His
the muscle, he urges the blood, he builds the brain.
:

fleetness is in the lion's foot;

he springs in the panther, he

soars in the eagle, he slides in the snake.

He

builds the for-

and hews it down, the power which raised the tree and
"
that which wields the axe being one and the same.'
All this is exceedingly true; and it is new in one respect,
est

namely, in the ascertainment that the quantity of solar force


necessary to produce motive power

is

measurable, and, in

its

^0

I'Hil

EAGLETS NEST.

For the

sum, unalterable.

rest, it

was perfectly well known

in Homer^s time, as now, that animals could not move

they were

them

warm and
;

do so

to

the fact that the

is finally

warmth which

traceable to the sun,

till

enables

would have ap-

peared to a Greek physiologist, no more interesting than, to a


Greek poet, would have been the no less certain fact, that
" Tout ce qui se pent dire de beau est dans, les dictionnaires
il

n'y a que

les

mots qui sont transposes

that can be said,

is

''

in the dictionaries;

Everything
it

is

fine,

only that the

words are transposed.


Yes, indeed

but to the

in the transposition.
cist tells

comes he

Trofiyny?

The sun

the

gist

of the matter

you, unquestionably " slide in the snake


to

is

does, as the delighted physi;

" but

how

adopt that manner, we artists ask, of (literally)

transposition

The summer before

last, as I was walking in the


woods near the Giesbach, on the Lake of Brientz, and moving very quietly, I came suddenly on a small steel-gray serpent, lying in the middle of the path and it was greatly surprised to see me.
Serpents, however, always have complete
command of their feelings, and it looked at me for a quarter
of a minute without the slightest change of posture: then,
with an almost imperceptible motion, it began to withdraw
Without in the least hasitself beneath a cluster of leaves.
tening its action, it gradually concealed the whole of its body.
I was about to raise one of the leaves, when I saw what I
thought was the glance of another serpent, in the thicket at
the path side; but it was the same one, which having once
withdrawn itself from observation beneath the leaves, used
its utmost agility to spring into the wood; and with so instantaneous a flash of motion, that I never saw it leave the
covert, and only caught the gleam of light as it glided away

101.

into the copse.

102. Now, it was to me a matter of supreme indifference


whether the force which the creature used in this action was
derived from the sun, the moon, or the gas-works at Berne.
What was, indeed, a matter of interest to me, was just that

Delation to abt of science: of light.

VI.

which would have struck a peasant, or


calculating

a child

wisdom of

grace, strength,

Yl

namely, the

the creature's device and the exquisite


and precision of the action by which it was
;

accomplished.
103. I

was interested then, I

say,

more

creature, than in its source of motion.

pleased to hear, from

men

of science,

in the device of the


Il^evertheless, I

how

am

necessarily that

motion proceeds from the sun. But where did its device come
from ? There is no wisdom, no device in the dust, any more
than there is warmth in the dust.
The springing of the serpent
that

is

from the sun:

wisdom of

the

the serpent,

whence

104.

From

the sun also,

sible to physical science.

true, like the other,

up

is

the only answer, I suppose, pos-

It is not a false

to a certain point.

answer: quite
To-day, in the

strength of your youth, you may know what it is to have the


power of the sun taken out of your arms and legs. But when
you are old, you will know what it is to have the power of
the sun taken out of your minds also.
Such a thing may
happen to you, sometimes, even now; but it will continually
happen to you when you are my age. You will no more,
then, think over a matter to any good purpose after twelve
o'clock in the day.

much more,

It

may

be possible to think over, and,

to talk over, matters, to little, or to bad,

purpose

The members of your nawork, we know, by gaslight; but

after twelve o'clock in the day.

tional legislature do their

you don't suppose the power of the sun

is

in

any of their de-

Quite seriously, all the vital functions, and, like


the rest and with the rest, the pure and wholesome faculties
vices

and set with the sun your digestion and


dependent on its beams your thoughts, like
your blood, flow from the force of it, in all scientific accuracy
and necessity. Sol illuminatio nostra est Sol salus nostra
of the brain,

rise

intellect are alike

Sol sapientia nostra.

And

it is

ism, since

out

it

it

the final act and outcome of lowest national athe-

cannot deny the sun, at least to strive to do with-

to blast the

day in heaven with smoke, and prolong the

THE EAGLETS NEST.


dance, and the council, by night, with tapers, until at

Dixit

last, re-

non est Sol.


105. Well, the sliding of the serpent, and the device of the
The flight of the
serpent, we admit, come from the sun.
they
also
?
harmlessness,
and
do
its
dove,
The flight jes, assuredly. The Innocence ? It is a new
question.
How of that ? Between movement and non-movement nay, between sense and non-sense the difference rests,
we say, in the power of Apollo but between malice and innocence, where shall we find the root of that distinction?
106. Have you ever considered how much literal truth
^'
there is in the words
The light of the body is the eye.
If, therefore, thine eye be evil "
and the rest ? How can
the eye be evil ?
How, if evil, can it fill the whole body with

joicing

insipiens in corde suo,

darkness

What is

the

meaning of having

one's

body

full of darkness

mean merely being blind. Blind, you may fall in


if you move
but you may be well, if at rest.
But

It cannot

a ditch

to be evil-eyed, is not that

worse than to have no eyes

and

instead of being only in darkness, to have darkness in us,


portable, perfect,

and eternal

meaning we may, indeed,

107. Well, in order to get at the

now
many manner

How

appeal to physical science, and ask her to help us.


of eyes are there

dents should be able to

tell

You

in a vague way, the external aspect

We

see, as

we

try to

physical-science stu-

We only know,
and expression of eyes.

us painters that.

draw the endlessly-grotesque creatures

about us, what infinite variety of instruments they have

but

you know, far better than we do, how those instruments are
constructed and directed.
You know how some play in their
sockets

with

independent

revolution,

sightedness on pyramids of bone,


points of horns,
at the

up

project

into

near-

are brandished at the

studded over backs and

shoulders,

thrust

ends of antennae to pioneer for the head, or pinched

into tubercles at the corners of the lips.

creatures see out of

all

these eyes

But how do the

108. E"o business of ours, you

may

think?

Pardon me.

RELATION TO ART OF SCIENCE OF LIGHT.

VI.

^3

no Siren's question this is altogether business of


any of us should see partly in the same
manner. Comparative sight is a far more important quesIt is no matter, though we
tion than comparative anatomy.
sometimes walk and it may often be desirable to climb
like apes; but suppose we only see like apes, or like lower
I can tell you, the science of optics is an essencreatures ?
This

is

ours, lest, perchance,

tial

one to us; for exactly according to these infinitely groand multiplications of instrument you have

tesque directions

correspondent, not only intellectual but moral, faculty in the


Literally, if the eye be pure, the

soul of the creatures.


is

pure; but,

great

is

109.

if the light of

body

the body be but darkness, hoAV

that darkness

Have you

ever looked attentively at the study I gave

you of the head of the rattlesnake ? The serpent will keep


its eyes fixed on you for an hour together, a vertical slit in
each admitting such image of you as is possible to the rattleHow much of
snake retina, and to the rattlesnake mind.
you do you think it sees ? I ask that, first, as a pure physical
question.
I do not know it is not my business to know.
You, from your schools of physical science, should bring me
;

answer.

How much

of image of
in the iris

Make me
can judge

him

is

of a

man

can a snake see

through

man,

as far as

how much
touching this human

of speculation

the snake,

aspect

is

possible to

110. Or, if that seem too far beneath possible inquiry,

say you of a tiger's eye, or a cat's


;

yes

but can

beasts of prey never

it

see a king

seem

to

me

when

you

Then ask

can take place on the snake's retina.

yourselves, farther,

king

sort

the glazed blue of the ghastly lens

a picture of the appearance of a


it

What

received through that deadly vertical cleft

A
it

to looJc,

cat

may

looks at

how

look at a

him

in our sense, at

The
all.

Their eyes are fascinated by the motion of anything, as a


kitten's by a ball
they fasten, as if drawn by an inevitable
;

attraction,

on their food.

never looks at you.


paws, not

its eyes.'

But when

Its heart

seems

a cat caresses you,


to

be in

its

it

back and

It will rub itself against you, or pat

you

;;

THE eagle's nest.

74

with velvet tufts, instead of talons; but you may talk to it


an hour together, yet not rightly catch its eye. Ascend
higher in the races of being to the fawn, the dog, the horse

you

will find that, according to the clearness of sight, is in-

deed the kindness of sight, and that at last the noble eyes of
humanity look through humanity, from heart into heart, and
with no mechanical vision.
And the Light of the body is the
eye ^yes, and in happy life, the light of the heart also.
111. But now note farther: there is a mathematical power
in the eye which may far transcend its moral power.
When
the moral power is feeble, the faculty of measurement, or of
distinct delineation, may be supreme and of comprehension
none.
But here, again, I want the help of the physical science schools.
I believe the eagle has no scent, and hunts by
sight, yet flies higher than any other bird.
ISTow, I want to
know what the appearance is to an eagle, two thousand feet

up, of a sparrow in a hedge, or of a partridge in a stubblefield.

What kind

of definition on the retina do these

brown

spots take to manifest themselves as signs of a thing eatable

and

an eagle sees a partridge so, does it see everything else


And then tell me, farther, does it see only a square yard
so ?
at a time, and yet, as it flies, take summary of the square
yards beneath it ? When next you are traveling by express
sixty miles an hour, past a grass bank, try to see a grasshopper, and you will get some idea of an eagle's optical busiDoes
ness, if it takes only the line of ground underneath it.
it

if

take more

112. Then, besides this faculty of clear vision, you have

Neither an eagle,
to consider the faculty of metric vision.
nor a kingfisher, nor any other darting bird, can see things
with both their eyes at the same time as completely as you
and I can but think of their faculty of measurement as
compared with ours
You will find that it takes you months
of labor before you can acquire accurate power, even of
deliberate estimate of distances with the eye it is one of the
points to which, most of all, I have to direct your work. And
;

the curious thing

is that,

given the degree of practice, you

VI.

RELATION TO ART OF SCIENCE OF llGHT.

Y5

or well with the eye in proportion to the


quantity of life in you. No one can measure with a glance,
when they are tired. Only the other day I got half an inch
will

measure

ill

out of a foot, in drawing merely a coat of arms, because I


was tired. But fancy what would happen to a swallow, if it
was half an inch out in a foot, in flying round a corner
113. Well, that is the first branch of the questions which

we want answered by

optical science

the actual

distortion,

and other modification, of the sight of different


animals, as far as it can be known from the forms of their
Then, secondly, we ourselves need to be taught the
eyes.

contraction,

connection of the sense of color with health ; the difference in


the physical conditions which lead us to seek for gloom, or
brightness of hue and the nature of purity in color, first in
;

the object seen,

and then in the eye which prefers


*

-x-

it.

(The portion of lecture 'here omitted referred to illustrations of vulgarity and delicacy in color, showing that the
vulgar colors, even when they seemed most glaring, were in
reality impure and dull; and destroyed each other by conwhile noble color, intensely bright and pure, was
tention
nevertheless entirely governed and calm, so that every color
bettered and aided all the rest.)
;

114.

You

recollect

of lectures rather to

how
work

I urged 3^ou in

my

opening course

in the school of crystalline color

than in that of shade.


Since I gave that first course of lectures, my sense of the
necessity of this study of brightness primarily, and of purity
and gaiety beyond all other qualities, has deeply been confirmed by the influence which the unclean horror and impious

melancholy of the modern French school most literally the


I will
has gained over the popular mind.
school of death

not dwell upon the

evil frenzy to-day.

But

it is

in order

once to do the best I can, in counteraction of its deadly influence, though not without other and constant reasons, that
at

I give you heraldry, with

all its

splendor and

its

pride, its

THE EAGLETS NEST.

76

brightness of color, and honorableness of meaning, for your

main elementary

practice.

115. To-day I have only time left to press on your thoughts


the deeper law of this due joy in color and light.

On any morning

of the year,

how many pious

supplica-

do you suppose, are uttered throughout educated EuHow many lips at least pronounce the
rope for " light " ?
word, and, perhaps, in the plurality of instances, with some
tions,

distinct idea attached to


it

aphorical

If they

edge or -guidance,
this

it ?

It is true the speakers

But why

only as a metaphor.

mean merely

why

is

employ

their language thus met-

to ask for spiritual

knowl-

not say so plainly, instead of using

jaded figure of speech

'No boy goes to his father

when

he wants to be taught, or helped, and asks his father to give


him light.' He asks what he wants, advice or protection.
Why are not we also content to ask our Father for what we
^

want, in plain English

The metaphor, you


and

will answer,

felt to be a beautiful

is

put into our mouths,

and necessary one.

In your educational series, first of all examples


the best engraving I could find of the picture w^hich, founded on that idea of Christ's being the Giver
of Light, contains, I believe, the most true and useful piece
of religious vision which realistic art has yet embodied. But
why is the metaphor so necessary, or, rather, how far is it a
metaphor at all ? Do you think the words Light of the
World mean only Teacher or Guide of the World ?
When the Sun of Justice is said to rise with health in its
wings, do you suppose the image only means the correction
of error ?
Or does it even mean so much ? The Light of
Heaven is needed to do that perfectly. But what we are
to pray for is the Light of the World; nay, the Light " that
lighteth every man that cometh into the world/'
nor has it ever
116. You will find that it is no metaphor
I admit

of

modern

it.

art, is

'

'

'

'

been

To

so.

the Persian, the Greek, and the Christian, the sense of

the power of the

God

of Light has been one and the same.


VI.

RELATION TO ART OF SCIENCE OF LIGHT.

That power

is

not merely in teaching or protecting, but in

the enforcement of purity of body,


in the heart
justice

and

this, observe,

and of equity or justice

not heavenly purity, nor final

now, and here, actual purity in the midst of the


practical justice in the midst of the world's
And the physical strength of the organ of sight,

but,

world's foulness,
iniquity.

YY

the physical purity of the flesh, the actual love of sweet light

and stainless color, are the necessary signs, real, inevitable,


and visible, of the prevailing presence, with any nation, or
in any house, of the " Light that lighteth every man that
Cometh into the world."
117. Physical purity;
actual love of sweet light, and of
This is one palpable sign, and an entirely needfair color.
ful one, that we have got what we pretend to pray for every
morning.
That, you will find, is the meaning of Apollo's
war with the Python of your own St. George's war with the
dragon.
You have got that battle stamped again on every
sovereign in your pockets, but do you think the sovereigns are
helping, at this instant, St. George in his battle ?
Once, on
your gold of the Henrys' times, you had St. Michael and the
dragon, and called your coins
angels.'
How much have
they done lately, of angelic work, think you, in purifying the

earth

118. Purifying, literally, purging and cleansing.


That is
the first " sacred art " all men have to learn.
And the words

I deferred to the close of this lecture, about the proposed improvements in Oxford, are very few.
Oxford is, indeed,
capable of much improvement, but only by undoing the
greater part of what has been done to it within the last twenty
years and, at present, the one thing that I would say to wellmeaning persons is,
Por Heaven's sake literally for
Heaven's sake let the place alone, and clean it.' I walked
last week to Iffley
not having been there for thirty years.
I did not know the church inside I found it pitch-dark with
painted glass of barbarous manufacture, and the old woman
who showed it infinitely proud of letting me in at the front
;

door instead of the side one,

But

close

by

it^

not fifty yards

THE eagle's nest.

78

down

the

there

hill,

was

a little well

a holy well

it

should

have been; beautiful in the recess of it, and the lovely ivy
and weeds above it, had it but been cared for in a human
way; but so full of frogs that you could not have dipped a
cup in it without catching one.
What is the use of pretty painted glass in your churches

when you have

Egypt outside of them ?


Oxford by what was once
the most beautiful approach to an academical city of any in
Europe. ]^ow it is a wilderness of obscure and base buildYou think it a fine thing to go into Ifliey church by
ings.
and you build cheap lodging-houses over all
the front door
the plagues of

119. I walked back

from

Iffley to

the approach to the chief university of English literature!

That, forsooth,

is

your luminous

cloister,

and porch of Polyg-

notus to your temple of Apollo.

And

in the center of that

temple, at the very foot of the

dome

of the Radclyffe, be-

tween two principal colleges, the lane by which I walked

from

my own college half an hour ago, to this place, Brasen-nose


Lane is left in a state as loathsome as a back-alley in the
East end of London.
120. These, I suppose, are the signs of extending liberality, and disseminated advantages of education.
Gentlemen, if, as was lately said by a leading member of
your Government, the function of a university be only to examine, it may indeed examine the whole mob of England in
the midst of a dunghill but it cannot teach the gentlemen of
England in the midst of a dunghill no, nor even the people
How many of her people it ought to teach is a
of England.
question.
We think, now-a7days, our philosophy is to light
every man that cometh into the world, and to light every man

Well, when indeed you give up all other commerce


in this island, and, as in Bacon's " ISTew Atlantis,'' only buy

equally.

and

may

sell to

get God's

first

creature,

which was

light, there

But
be some equality of gain for us in that possession.
and we are very far from such a time the light
until then,

cannot be given

to all

men

equally.

Nay,

it

is

becoming

questionable whether^ instead of being equally distribute^ to

RELATION TO ART OF SCIENCE OF LIGHT.

VI.

all,

may

it

79

not be equally withdrawn from us all: whether

the ideas of purity

sanctify our peace,


battle, are not

and

justice,

and of

of loveliness which

justice

which

is

to

sanctify our

is to

vanishing from the purpose of our policy, and

even from the conception of our education.

The

and the desire, of seclusion, of meditation, of


and of correction are they not passing from us in
the collision of worldly interests, and restless contests of
mean hope, and meaner fear ? What light, what health, what
peace, or what security,
youths of England do you come
here now to seek ? In what sense do you receive
with what
sincerity do you adopt for yourselves
the ancient legend of
your schools, " Dominus illuminatio mea, et salus mea quern
uses,

restraint,

timebo "

Eemember

121.

that the ancient theory on

was founded,

versity

not

which

this uni-

the theory of any one founder,

observe, nor even the concluded or expressed issue of the

wisdom of many
and hope of

all

but the tacit feeling by which the work


were united and completed was, that Eng;

among

land should gather from


ber of purest and best,

num-

she might train to become, each

day of strength, her teachers and patterns in

in their
ligion,

whom

her children a certain

re-

her declarers and doers of justice in law and her

might

by their parents, in
the fond poverty of learning, or amidst the traditions and
leaders in battle.

Bred,

it

discipline of illustrious houses,

from

their youth up,

to

be,

in either

manner

their glorious offices

separate,

they

came

here to be kindled into the lights that were to be set on the


hills

of England, brightest of the pious, the loyal, and the

brave.

Whatever corruption

blighted, whatever worldliness

buried, whatever sin polluted their endeavor, this concep-

meaning remained

and was indeed so fulfilled in


passions were tempered,
and whose hearts confirmed, in the calm of these holy places,
you, now living, owe all that is left to you of hope in heaven,
and all of safety or honor that jci have to trust and defend
tion of its

faithfulness, that to the

on e^rth,

men whose


80

in folly, the leadership they inherited;

guilt, and many


and every man in

England now

is

Their children have forfeited, some by

eyes.

of

all

do and to learn what

is to

How much

need, therefore, that

what eyes are

right in his

we should

and what vision they ought

science of sight granted only to clearness of soul


in its fulness even to mortal eyes

worms may

own
first

to possess
;

but granted

for though, after the skin,

destroy their body, happy the pure in heart, for

they, yet in their flesh, shall see the Light of

know

learn

the will of God.

Heaven, and

LECTURE Vn.
I'HE RELATION^ TO

ART OF THE SCIENCES OF IlSTOEGANIO


FORM.
February

122. I DID not wish in

your attention

my

to the special

9th, 1872.

last lecture, after I

had directed

bearing of some of the principles

I pleaded for, to enforce upon you any farther general conBut it is necessary now to collect the gist of what I

clusions.

endeavored to show you respecting the organs of sight namely, that in proportion to the physical perfectness or clearness
of them is the degree in which they are raised from the per;

ception of prey to the perception of beauty and of affection.

The imperfect and brutal instrument of the eye may be vivid


with malignity, or wild with hunger, or manifoldly detective
with microscopic exaggeration, assisting the ingenuity of
insects with a multiplied and permanent monstrosity of all
things round them

but the noble

human

sight, careless of

prey, disdainful of minuteness, and reluctant to anger, becomes clear in gentleness, proud in reverence, and joyful in

And

love.

finally, the physical

splendor of light and color,

from being the perception of a mechanical force by a


mechanical instrument, is an entirely spiritual consciousness,
accurately and absolutely proportioned to the purity of the
moral nature, and to the force of its natural and wise affecso far

tions.

was the sum of what I wished to show you in


and observe, that what remains to me doubtand it is much I do not trouble you
ful in these things,
with. Only what T know that on experiment you can ascertain for yourselves, I tell you, and illustrate, for the time,
123. That

my

last lecture

81

THtJ EAGLETS NEST.

82

Experiments in

as well as I can.

years to try

you may

chemical analysis

art are difficult,

at first fail in

but in

all

and take

them, as you might in a

which in

the matters

this place

I shall urge on your attention I can assure you of the fial


results.

That, then, being the

sum

of what I could

tell

you with

certainty respecting the methods of sight, I have next to as-

sure you that this faculty of sight, disciplined and pure,


the only proper faculty which the graphic artist

His

his inquiries into nature.

ances
it

his duty

may

is to

office is to

know them.

is

use in

show her appearthough

It is not his duty,

be sometimes for his convenience, while

at his peril, that he

is to

knows more;

knows

it

is

always

the causes of ap-

pearances, or the essence of the things that produce them.

Once again,

124.

therefore, I

must limit

of the word science with respect to

my

application

I told you that I

art.

mean by science such knowledge as that triangles


on equal bases and between parallels are equal, but such
knowledge as that the stars in Cassiopeia are in the form of
did not

W.

'

But, farther

'

still, it is

not to be considered as science,

for an artist, that they are stars at


is

all.

What

he has to

know

that they are luminous points which twinkle in a certain

manner, and are pale yellow, or deep yellow, and may be


quite deceptively imitated at a certain distance by brassheaded nails. This he ought to know, and to remember acthe science, that is to say
curately, and his art knowledge
of which his art is to be the reflection, is the sum of knowledges of this sort; his memory of the look of the sun and
moon at such and such times, through such and such clouds

his
sea,

memory

of the look of the mountains,

of the look of

human

125. Perhaps you would not call that


is

of the look of

faces.

no matter what either you or I

call

it.

science

'

at all.

It

It is science of a

Two summers ago, looking from Versaw the mountains beyond the Lago di Garda
of a strange blue, vivid and rich like the bloom of a damson.
I never saw a mountain-blue of that particular quality before
certain order of facts.

ona

at sunset, I

VII.

SCIENCES OF INORGANIC FORM.

My science

SS

my knowing that
and in my perfect recollection that this particular blue had such and such a green
associated with it in the near fields.
I have nothing whatever to do with the atmospheric causes of the color: that
knowledge would merely occupy my brains wastefully, and
warp my artistic attention and energy from their point. Or
to take a simpler instance yet Turner, in his early life, was
sometimes good-natured, and would show people what he
was about. He was one day making a drawing of Plymouth
harbor, with some ships at the distance of a mile or two,
seen against the light. Having shown this drawing to a naval
officer, the naval officer observed with surprise, and objected
or since.

sort of blue

as

an

artist consists in

from every other

sort,

with very justifiable indignation, that the ships of the line


had no port-holes. " 'No/^ said Turner, " certainly not. If

you will walk up

to

against the sunset,

Mount Edgecumbe, and

you will

find

"Well, but," said the naval

know
know

you

look at the ships

can't see the port-holes.''

still indignant, "you


" Yes," said Turner, " I

officer,

the port-holes are there."

that well enough but my business is to draw what I


and not what I know is there."
126. Now, that is the law of all fine artistic work whatsoever; and, more than that, it is, on the whole, perilous to
you, and undesirable, that you should know what is there.
If, indeed, you have so perfectly disciplined your sight
that it cannot be influenced by prejudice;
if you are sure
that none of your knowledge of what is there will be allowed
to assert itself; and that you can reflect the ship as simply as
the sea beneath it does, though you may know it with the intelligence of a sailor,
then, indeed, you may allow yourself
the pleasure, and what will sometimes be the safeguard from
error, of learning what ships or stars, or mountains, are in
reality; but the ordinary powers of human perception are
almost certain to be disturbed by the knowledge of the real
nature of what they draw: and, imtil you are quite fearless
of your faithfulness to the appearances of things, the less
you know of their reality the better.
;

see,


S4

TitE eagle's nest.

And

and naive simplimost


If she knew anything of what she was
useful to science.
representing, she would exhibit that partial knowledge with
complacency; and miss the points beside it, and beyond it.
Two painters draw the same mountain the one has got unluckily into his head some curiosity about glacier marking;
and the other has a theory of cleavage. The one will scratch
the other split it to pieces; and both
his mountain all over;
useless for the purposes of honest
will
equally
be
drawings
127.

it

is

precisely in this passive

city that art becomes, not only greatest in herself, but

science.

128.

Any

of you wdio chance to

but be surprised at

on
do

art, I

my

know my books cannot

saying these things

suppose there

But

to physical science.

for, of all writers

no one who appeals so often as I

is

observe, I appeal as a critic of

Turner made drawings of mounI said,


tains and clouds which the public said were absurd.
on the contrary, thoy were the only true drawings of mountains and clouds ever made yet and I proved this to be so, as
only it could be proved, by steady test of physical science but
Turner had drawn his mountains rightly, long before their
and has
structure was known to any geologist in Europe
painted perfectly truths of anatomy in clouds which I challenge any meteorologist in Europe to explain at this day.
129. And indeed I was obliged to leave " Modern Painters '' incomplete, or, rather, as a mere sketch of intention, in
analysis of the forms of cloud and wave, because I had not
Just reflect for an inscientific data enough to appeal to.
stant how absolutely whatever has been done in art to represent these most familiar, yet most spectral forms of cloud
art,

never as a master of

it.

utterly inorganic, yet,

ness fair,

by

spiritual ordinance, in their kind-

and in their anger frightful,

how

all

that has yet

been done to represent them, from the undulating bands of


blue and white which give to heraldry its nebule bearing, to
the finished and deceptive skies of Turner, has been done
without one syllable of help from the lips of science.*
* Rubens' rainbow, in the Loan Exhibition this year, was

of

duU

VII.

SCIEJ^CES OF INORGANIC FORM.

85

The rain which flooded our fields the Sunday before


was followed, as you will remember, by bright days, of
which Tuesday the 20th was, in London, notable for the
splendor, towards the afternoon, of its white cumulus clouds.
There has been so much black east wind lately, and so much
fog and artificial gloom, besides, that I find it is actually
some two years since I last saw a noble cumulus cloud under
I chanced to be standing under the Victoria
full light.
Tower at Westminster, when the largest mass of them floated
and I was more impast, that day, from the north-west
pressed than ever yet by the awfulness of the cloud-form, and
130.

last,

its

unaccountableness, in the present state of our knowledge.

The Victoria Tower, seen against it, had no magnitude: it


was like looking at Mont Blanc over a lamp-post.
The
domes of cloud-snow were heaped as definitely their broken
flanks were as gray and firm as rocks, and the whole mountain, of a compass and height in heaven which only became
more and more inconceivable as the eye strove to ascend it,
was passing behind the tower with a steady march, whose
swiftness must in reality have been that of a tempest yet,
;

along

all

the ravines of vapor, precipice kept pace with preci-

and not one thrust another.


What is it that hews them out? Why is the blue sky
pure there, cloud solid here; and edged like marble: and
pice,

131.

why

does the state of the blue sky pass into the state of cloud,

calm advance ?
you can more or less imitate the forms of
cloud with explosive vapor or steam but the steam melts instantly, and the explosive vapor dissipates itself.
The cloud,
of perfect form, proceeds unchanged. It is not an explosion,
but an enduring and advancing presence.
The more you
think of it, the less explicable it will become to you.
in that

It is true that

blue, darker than the sky, in a scene lighted from the side of the rainbow. Rubens is not to be blamed for ignorance of optics, but for never
having so much as looked at a rainbow carefully and I do not believe
that my friend Mr. Alfred Hunt, whose study of rainbow, in the rooms
:

of the
truth,

Water Color Society last year, was unrivaled, for vividness an^
by any I know, learned how to paint it by studying optics,


THE eagle's nest.

86

132. That this should yet be unexplained in the

kingdom

however, no marvel, since aspects of a similar


kind are unexplained in the earth, which we tread, and in
of the air

is,

we drink and wash with. You seldom pass


day without receiving some pleasure from the cloudings
in marble; can you explain how the stone was clouded? You
certainly do not pass a day without washing your hands.
Can you explain the frame of a soap-bubble ?
133. I have allowed myself, by way of showing at once
what I wanted to come to, to overlook the proper arrangement of my subject, and I must draw back a little.
For all his own purposes, merely graphic, we say, if an
artist's eye is fine and faithful, the fewer points of science
he has in his head, the better. But for purposes more than
the water which
a

may

graphic, in order that he

towards things as he

feel

them as we should, he ought to know something about them and if he is quite sure that he can receive
the science of them without letting himself become uncandid
and narrow in observation, it is very desirable that he should
should, and choose
;

be acquainted with a
just as

much

as

may

without prejudicing

little

of the alphabet of structure,

quicken and certify his observation,

it.

Cautiously, therefore, and receiving

may venture to learn, perhaps


much astronomy as may prevent his carelessly putting the
new moon wrong side upwards; and as much botany as w^ill
it

as a perilous indulgence, he

as

prevent him from confusing, which I

am

sorry to say Turner

did, too often, Scotch firs with stone pines.

cede so

much

He may

con-

two equally picturrather than conceals the

to geology as to choose, of

esque view^s, one that illustrates

structure of a crag: and perhaps, once or twice in his


portrait painter might advantageously observe
skull is to a face.

And

for you,

who

how

life,

unlike a

are to use your draw-

ing as one element in general education, it is desirable that


physical science should assist in the attainment of truth

which a
134.

real painter seizes

For

this

by practice of

eye.

purpose I shall appeal to your masters in

science to furnish us, as they have leisure, with

some simple

VII.

87

SCIENCES OF INORGANIC FORM.

and readable accounts of the structure of things which we


have to draw continually. Such scientific accounts will not
usually much help us to draw them, but will make the drawing, when done, far more valuable to us.
at least, no
I have told you, for instance, that nobody
painter

can at present explain the structure of a bubble.

To know
but
I

you

draw sea-foam,

to

make you look at sea-foam with greater interest.


am not able now to watch the course of modern science,
will

it

and

that structure will not help

may

bubble

perhaps be in error in thinking that the frame of a


unexplained. But I have not yet met, by any

is still

chance, with an account of the forces which, under concussion,

arrange the particles of a fluid into a globular film;

though, from what I

know

of cohesion, gravity, and the

nature of the atmosphere, I can

make some

shift to guess

kind of action that takes place in forming a single


bubble. But how one bubble absorbs another without breaking it or what exact methods of tension prepare for the
change of form, and establish it in an instant, I am utterly
at the

at a loss to conceive.

one familiar matter which up to the


might condescendingly interpret for
The exhaustion of the film in preparation for its change

Here, I think, then,

is

possible point, science


us.

the determination of the smaller bubble to yield itself


the larger

the instantaneous flash into the

new

up

to

shape, and

the swift adjustment of the rectangular lines of intersection

marvelous vaulting all this I want to be explained


to us, so that, if we cannot understand it altogether, we may
at least know exactly how far w^e do, and how far we do not.
135. And, next to the laws of the formation of a bubble, I
want to sec, in simple statement, .those of the formation of a
in the

Namely^ the laws of its resistance to fracture, from


without and within, by concussion or explosion and the due
so that, putting
relations of form to thickness of material
the problem in a constant form, we may know, out of a given

l)ottle.

(piantity of material,

how

to

make the strongest


Tor instance,

given limitations as to shape.

bottle

^you

imder

have so

THE eagle's nest.

88

much

you your bottle is to hold two pints, to be


and so narrow and long in the neck that you
with your hand. What will be its best ultimate

glass given

flat-bottomed,

can grasp

form

it

136. Probably, if you thought

laugh

me

at

it

courteous,

selves that this art

problem

at least

needs no scientific investi-

gation, having been practically solved, long ago,

human

perative

But you

you would

just now; and, at any rate, are thinking to your-

by the im-

instinct for the preservation of bottled stout.

are only feeling now, gentlemen, and recognizing

what I tell you of all. Every scientific insame sense as this would be, useless to
To the soap-bubble, blower,
the trained master of any art.
and glass-blower, to the pot-maker and bottle-maker, if
dexterous craftsmen, your science is of no account; and the

in one instance,
vestigation

is,

in the

imp

of their art

may

be imagined as always looking trium-

phantly and contemptuously, out of


bottle,

its

successfully-produced

on the vain analysis of centrifugal impulse and

in-

flating breath.

137. Nevertheless, in the present confusion of instinct and

opinion as to beautiful form,

it is

desirable to have these two

more accurately dealt with. For observe what they


branch into. The colored segments of globe out of which
foam is constituted, are portions of spherical vaults conquestions

structed of fluent particles.

of spherical vaulting put in

You
more

cannot have the principles


abstract terms.

Then considering the arch as the section of a vault,


greater number of Gothic arches may be regarded as
two
Simple Gothic foliation

intersections of

the

the

spherical vaults.
is

merely the

triple,

quadruple,

or variously multiple repetition of such intersection.

And

the

beauty

(observe

this

carefully)

the

beauty

and of their foliation, always involves


reference to the strength of their structure but only to their
structure as self-sustaining ; not as sustaining superincumlent weight. In the most literal of senses, " the earth hath,
of Gothic arches,

bubbles ^s the water hath

and these are of them,"

VII.

138.

SCIENCES OF INORGANIC FORM.

What do you

think

89

made Michael Angelo

dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, saying,


will not build one, better than thee I cannot "

to the

'^

look back
Like thee I

To you

or

nothing in that dome different from hundreds


of you, who have been at Florence, can tell
me honestly he saw anything wonderful in it ? But Michael
Angelo knew the exact proportion of thickness to weight and

me

to

there

of others.

is

Which

it to stand as securely as a mountain


was only a film of clay, as frail, in
Over the massy war
bulk, as a sea shell.

curvature which enabled


of adamant, though

proportion to

its

towers of the city

it

it

floated, fragile, yet

" Bet-

without fear.

than thee I cannot."


Then think what the investigation of the bottle
branches into, joined with that of its necessary companion,
ter

139.

the cup.
the pure

There
Greek

is

sketch for you of the cup of cups,

xd'^Oapo<^,

which

is

always in the hand of

Dionusos, as the thunderbolt is in that of Zeus. Learn but


to draw that thoroughly, and you won't have much more to
learn of abstract form for the investigation of the kinds of
;

line that limit this will lead

you

into all the practical

geom-

etry of nature; the, ellipses of her sea-bays in perspective;

the parabolas of her waterfalls and fountains in profile

catenary curves of their falling festoons in front

the

the infinite

variety of accelerated or retarded curvature in every con-

mountain debris. But do you think mere science


can measure for you any of these things ? That book on the
table is one of the four volumes of Sir William Hamilton's
'^
Greek Vases." He has measured every important vase
vertically and horizontally, with precision altogether admirable, and which may, I hope, induce you to have patience
with me in the much less complex, though even more
scrupulous, measurements which I shall require on my own
examples.
Yet English pottery remains precisely where it
was, in spite of all this investigation. Do you fancy a Greek
workman ever made a vase by measurement ? He dashed it
from his hand on the wheel, and it was beautiful and a
Venetian glass-blower swept you a curve of crystal from the
dition of

90
end of his pipe and Reynolds or Tintoret swept you a curve
of color from their pencils, as a musician the cadence of a
;

note, unerring, and to be measured, if you please, afterwards,


wdth the exactitude of Divine law.
140. But, if the truth and beauty of art are thus beyond
attainment by help of science, how much more its invention ?

must defer what I have

chiefly to say on this head till next


but to-day I can illustrate, simply, the position of invention with respect to science in one very important group

lecture

of inorganic forms

those of drapery.

141. If you throw at

random over

a rod a piece of drapery

of any material which will fall into graceful folds, you will
get a series of sinuous folds in catenary curves: and any
given disposition of these will be nearly as agreeable as any

other; though, if you throw the stuff on the rod a thousand


times,

it

will not fall twice alike.

But suppose, instead of a straight rod, you take a


beautiful nude statue, and throAv the piece of linen over that.
You may encumber and conceal its form altogether you may
entirely conceal portions of the limbs, and show others; or
you may leave indications, under the thin veil, of the con142.

tours which are hidden

but in ninety-nine cases out of a

hundred you will wish the drapery taken off again you will
feel that the folds are in some sort discrepant and harmful,
and eagerly snatch them away. However passive the material, however softly accommodated to the limbs, the wrink;

lings will always look foreign to the form, like the drip of a

and will load themselves


will have to pull them
about to stretch them one way, loosen them in another, and
supply the quantity of government which a living person
would have given to the dress, before it becomes at all pleasheavy shower of rain falling

off

in the hollows uncomfortably.

it,

You

ing to you.
143. Doing your best, you will still not succeed to your
mind, provided you have, indeed, a mind worth pleasing.
'No adjustment that you can make, on the quiet figure, will
give any approximation to the look of drapery which has


YII.

SCIEiq^CES

OF INORGANIC FORM.

91

previously accommodated itself to the action which brought

which

the figure into the position in

it

living person, gracefully dressed, and

stays.

On

a really

who has paused from

again and again, arrangeadmire


but they will not remain
ments of fold which you can
If you
to be copied, the first following movement alters all.
had your photographic plate ready and could photograph
girls, like waves, as they
I don't know if it has been tried
move, you would get what was indeed lovely and yet, when
you compared even such results with fine sculpture, you
would see that there was something wanting; that, in the
deepest sense, all was yet wanting.
144. Yet this is the most that the plurality of artists can
They draw the nude figure with caredo, or think of doing.
ful anatomy they put their model or their lay figure into the
they arrange draperies on it to their
required position
mind, and paint them from the reality. All such work is
absolutely valueless,
worse than valueless in the end of it,
graceful motion, you will get,

blinding us to the qualities of fine work.

In true design it is in this matter of drapery as in all else.


There is not a fold too much, and all that are given aid the
expression, whether of movement or character.
Here is a
bit of Greek sculpture, with many folds; here is a bit of
Christian sculpture with few. From the many, not one could
be removed without harm, and to the few, not one could be
added. This alone is art, and no science will ever enable you
to do this, but the poetic and fabric instincts only.
145. Nevertheless, however far above science, your work
must comply with all the requirements of science. The first
thing you have to ask is, Is it scientifically right? That is
still nothing, but it is essential.
In modern imitations of
Gothic work the artists think it religious to be wrong, and
that Heaven will be propitious only to saints whose stoles or
petticoats stand or fall into incredible angles.

All that nonsense I will soon get w^ell out of your heads by

enabling you to
BO that

make

you may be

accurate studies from real drapery,

able to detect in a

moment whether

the


THE eagle's nest.

92

any design are natural and true to the form, or artiand ridiculous.
146. But this, which is the science of drapery, will never
do more than guard you in your first attempts in the art of
it.
Nay, when once you have mastered the elements of such
science, the most sickening of all work to you will be that in
which the draperies are all right, and nothing else is. In
the present state of our schools one of the chief mean merits
against which I shall have to warn you is the imitation of
what milliners admire nay, in many a piece of the best art I
shall have to show you that the draperies are, to some extent,
intentionally ill-done, lest you should look at them.
Yet,
through every complexity of desirableness, and counter-peril,
hold to the constant and simple law I have always given you
that the best work must be right in the beginning, and
folds in'
ficial

lovely in the end.

147. Finally, observe that what

simple forms of drapery

is

is

true respecting these

true of all other inorganic form.

must become organic under the artist's hand by his invenAs there must not be a fold in a vestment too few or
too many, there must not, in noble landscape, be a fold in a
mountain, too few or too many. As you will never get from
real linen cloth, by copying it ever so faithfully, the drapery
of a noble statue, so you will never get from real mountains,
copy them never so faithfully, the forms of noble landscape.
Anything more beautiful than the photographs of the Valley
of Chamouni, now in your print-sellers' windows, cannot be
conceived.
For geographical and geological purposes they
are w^orth anything; for art purposes, worth
a good deal
loss tlian zero.
You may learn much from them, and will
mislearn more.
But in Turner's " Valley of Chamouni "
the mountains have not a fold too much, nor too little. There
are no such mountains at Chamouni they are the ghosts of
eternal mountains, such as have been, and shall be, for everIt

tion.

more.
148. So
illustration;

now

in sum, for I

may have

confused you by

Vll.

I.

You

SCII5NCES OF INORGANIC FOBM.

are, in

drawing, to try only to represent the ap-

pearances of things, never what you

Those appearances you are

II.

03

know

the things to be.

by the appliance of
and to learn, by ac-

to test

the scientific laws relating to aspect;

curate measurement, and the most fixed attention, to represent with absolute fidelity.

III.

Having learned

to

represent

actual

appearances

you have any human faculty of your own,


visionary appearances will take place to you which will be
nobler and more tr'ue than any actual or material appearances; and the realization of these is the function of every
fine art, w^iich is founded absolutely, therefore, in truth, and
consists absolutely in imagination.
And once more we may
conclude w-ith, but now using them in a deeper sense, the
words of our master " The best in this kind are but shadfaithfully,

if

It

is to

be our task, gentlemen, to endeavor that they

be at least so much.

may

LECTURE

VIII.

THE RELATION TO ART OF THE SCIENCES OF ORGANIC


FORM.
March 2nd,
149. I

HAVE next

in order to speak of the relation of art

to science, in dealing Avith its

you

at

own

principal subject

And, as
once what I wish

form, as the expression of


ture, I will tell

1872.

life.

in

my

organic

former

uj)on you.

but

lec-

chiefly to enforce

have no time to dwell upon,


That the true power of art must be founded on a general
knowledge of organic nature, not of the human frame only.
Secondly.
That in representing this organic nature, quite
as much as in representing inanimate things, Art has nothing
First,

this I shall

to

do with structures, causes, or absolute facts

but only with

apj^earances.

Thirdly.
That in representing these appearances, she is
more hindered than helped by the knowledge of things which
do not externally appear; and therefore, that the study of
anatomy generally, whether of plants, animals, or man, is
an impediment to graphic art.

Fourthly.
tion

of the

That

especially in the treatment and concep-

human

anatomical structure

and farther

form, the habit of contemplating


is

its

not only a hindrance, but a degrada-

even the study of the external


form of the human body, more exposed than it may be
healthily and decently in daily life, has been essentially detion;

yet, that

structive to every school of art in

which

it

has been practised.

150. These four statements I undertake, in the course of

94


Vlll.

SCiEl^CES

O^"

ORGAI^lC PORM.

05

our future study, gradually fo confirm to you. In a single


lecture I, of course, have time to do little more than clearly

and explain them.


I tell you that art should take cognizance of all
living things, and know them, so as to be able to name, that
The
is to say, in the truest distinctive way, to describe them.
Creator daily brings, before the noblest of His creatures,
state

First,

Man

every lower creature, that whatsoever


the

name

calls

it,

may

be

thereof.

Secondly.

In

representing, nay, in thinking of,

and

car-

man

has to think of them essentially


He
with their skins on them, and with their souls in them.
feathwrinkled,
furred,
and
spotted,
how
they
are
is to know
ing for, these beasts,

ered

and what the look of them

is,

in the eyes

grasp, or cling, or trot, or pat, in their


is

paws and

and what

claws.

He

to take every sort of view of them, in fact, except one,

the Butcher's view.

and meat.

He

is

never to think of them as bones

Thirdly.
In the representation of their appearance, the
knowledge of bones and meat, of joint and muscle, is more a
hindrance than a help.
With regard to the human form, such knowledge
Lastly.
and even the study
is a degradation as well as a hindrance
of the nude is injurious, beyond the limits of honor and de-

cency in daily

life.

Those are my four positions. I will not detain you by


that we should know every sort of
dwelling on the first two
beast, and know it with its skin on it, and its soul within it.
What you feel to be a paradox perhaps you think an incredible and insolent paradox
is my telling you that you will
be hindered from doing this by the study of anatomy.
I address myself, therefore, only to the last two points.
151. Among your standard engravings, I have put that of
the picture by Titian, in the Strozzi Palace, of a little Strozzi
maiden feeding her dog. I am going to put in the Rudimentary Series, where you can always get at it (R. 125), this
much more delightful, though not in all points standard, pic-


THE eagle's nest.

OG
ture by Reynolds,
Third's, with her

of an

Skye

infant daughter of

George the

terrier.

I have no doubt these dogs are the authentic pets, given


in as true portraiture as their mistresses

and that the

little

Princess of Florence and Princess of England were both


shown in the company which, at that age, they best liked
;

the elder feeding her favorite, and the baby with her arms

about the neck of hers.

But the custom of putting either the dog, or some inferior


animal, to be either in contrast, or modest companionship,
with the nobleness of human form and thought, is a piece
of what may be called mental comparative anatomy, which
has its beginning very far back in art indeed. One of quite
the most interesting Greek vases in the British Museum is
that of which the painting long went under the title of '' Anacreon and his Dog."
It is a Greek lyric poet, singing with
lifted head, in the action given to Orpheus and Philammon

moments of

in their

highest inspiration

while, entirely im-

by and superior to the music, there walks beside him


a shar]3-nosed and curly-tailed dog, painted in what the exclusive admirers of Greek art would, I suppose, call an ideal
manner that is to say, his tail is more like a display of fireworks than a tail but the ideal evidently founded on the
material existence of a charming, though supercilious, animal not unlike the one which is at present the chief solace of
my labors in Oxford, Dr. Acland's dog Bustle. I might go
much farther back than this but at all events, from the time
of the golden dog of Pandareos, the fawn of Diana, and the
eagle, owl, and peacock of the great Greek gods, you find a
centralized in the Middle Ages,
succession of animal types
used in art either to
of course, by the hound and the falcon
In
symbolize, or contrast w^ith, dignity in human persons.
modern portraiture, the custom has become vulgarized by the
anxiety of everybody who sends their picture, or their children's, to the Royal Academy, to have it demonstrated to the
public by the exhibition of a pony, and a dog with a whip
aifected

in its mouth, that they live, at the proper season, in a coun-

VIII.

SCIENCES OF ORGANIC FORM.

97

But by tbe greater masters the thing is done always with a deep sense of the mystery of the comparative
existences of living creatures, and of the methods of vice and
Albert Diirer scarcely ever draws
virtue exhibited by them.
try bouse.

a scene in the life of the Virgin, without putting into the

foreground some idle cherubs at play with rabbits or kittens


and sometimes lets his love of the grotesque get entirely the
better of him, as in the engraving of the Madonna wdth the

monkey. Veronese disturbs the interview of the queen of


Sheba with Solomon, by the petulance of the queen of Sheba's
Blenheim spaniel, whom Solomon had not treated with sufficient respect and when Veronese is introduced himself, with
;

all his

own

family, to the Madonna, I

pet dog turns

its

back

to the

am

sorry to say that his

Madonna, and walks out of

the room.

152.

But among

all

higher masters, there

is

these symbolic playfulnesses of the

not one more perfect than this study

by Reynolds of the infant English Princess wdth her wirehaired terrier.


He has put out his whole strength to show
the infinite differences, yet the blessed harmonies, between
First, having a blue-eyed,'^
the human and the lower nature.
soft baby to paint, he gives its full face, as round as may
be, and rounds its eyes to complete openness, because somebody is coming whom it does not know. But it opens its
eyes in quiet wonder, and is not disturbed, but behaves as a
should.
Beside this soft, serenely-minded baby,
Reynolds has put the roughest and roughest-minded dog he
Instead of the full round eyes, you have
could think of.
only the dark places in the hair where you know the terrier's
and
eyes must be
sharp enough, if you could see them
very certainly seeing you, but not at all wondering at you,
princess

like the baby's.


For the terrier has instantly made up his
mind about you; and above all, that you have no business

and is growling and snarling in his fiercest manner,


though without moving from his mistress's side, or from unthere

* I have not seen the picture in the engraving the


would properly represent gray or blue,
:

tint of the eyes

THE eagle's nest.

98

You

have thus the full contrast between the


who '' thinketh no evil "
of you, and the uncharitable narrowness of nature in the
grown-up dog of the world, who thinks nothing but evil of
der her arm.

grace and true charm of the child,

But the

you.

dog's virtue and faithfulness are not told less

clearly; the baby evidently uses the creature just as

a pillow as a playmate;

buries

its

arm

in the

much

for

rough hair of

with a loving confidence, half already converting itself to


and baby will take care of dog, and dog of baby,
through all chances of time and fortune.
153. Now the exquisiteness with which the painter has
it

protection

applied

all his skill in

of pencil, and
to

all his

composition,

all his

dexterity in touch

experience of the sources of expression,

complete the rendering of his comparison, cannot, in any


but the first stej^s
it, be explained

of the finest subtleties of

may

and with little pains you


may see how a simple and large mass of white is opposed to
a rugged one of gray; how the child's face is put in front
light, that no shadow may detract from the brightness which
makes her, as in Arabian legends, ^^ a princess like to the full
moon " how, in this halo, the lips and eyes are brought out
in deep and rich color, while scarcely a gleam of reflection

of

science

its

be easily traced

is

allowed to disturb the quietness of the eyes;

rier's,

and

you

flash

feel,

would

glitter

back in shallow

thinking, and do not flash;)

with

its

enough,

fire;

if

(the

you could

ter-

see them,

but the princess's eyes are


the quaint cap surrounds,

how

not wholly painless formalism, the courtly and pa-

opposed to the rugged and undressed wild one;


soft limb and rounded neck is cast,
in repose, against the uneasily gathered up crouching of the
short legs, and petulant shrug of the eager shoulders, in the

tient face,

and how the easy grace of

ignobler creature.
154. JSTow, in his doing of

all this,

Sir Joshua was think-

and seeing, whatever was best in the creatures, within


and without. Whatever was most perfectl}^ doggish perfectly childish
in soul and body.
The absolute truth of
outer aspect^ and of inner mind^ he seizes infallibly; but
ing

of,


VIII.

there

SCIENCES OF ORGANIC FORM.

one part of the creatures which he never, for an intheir bones.


Do you suppose
from first to last, in painting such a picture, it would
is

stant, thinks of, or cares for,


that,

him

mind

ever enter Sir Joshua's

would look
to

99

.to

beside a baby's

like,

think what a dog's skull

The

quite essential facts

are those of which the skull gives no information

that the

baby has a flattish pink nose, and the dog a bossy


You might dissect all the dead dogs in the water

black one.

supply of London without finding out, what, as a painter, it


is here your only business precisely to know,
what sort of

shininess there

is

on the end of a

terrier's nose;

and for the

position and action of the creatures, all the four doctors to-

who

gether,

set Bustle's leg for

jumped out of

volunteers, could not have told

crouching terrier look ready to


child's

arm over

the other day, when he


window to bark at the
Sir Joshua how to make his
snap, nor how to throw the

him

a two-pair-of-stairs

its

neck in complete, yet not languid,

rest.

155. Sir Joshua, then, does not think of, or care for, anat-

omy, in

this picture; but if

harm? You may easily


drawn with the precision

he had, would

it

have done him

see that the child's limbs are not

that Mantegna, Diirer, or Michael


Angelo would have given them. Would some of their science not have bettered the picture ?
I can show you exactly the sort of influence their science
would have had.
In your Rudimentary Series, I have placed in sequence
two of Diirer's most celebrated plates (R. 65, R. 66), the
coat of arms with the skull, and the Madonna crowned by
angels; and that you may see precisely what qualities are,
and are not, in this last, I have enlarged the head by photography, and placed it in your Reference Series (117). You
will find the skull is perfectly understood, and exquisitely engraved, but the face, imperfectly understood and coarsely

engraved.

No man who

has studied the skull as carefully as

Diirer did, ever could engrave a face beautifully, for the perception of the bones continually thrusts itself upon him in

"wrong places^ and in trying to conquer or modifjj^

it,

be

dig-

THE EAGLE

100
torts the flesh.

Where

NEST.

the features are marked, and full of

character, he can quit himself of the impression; but in the

rounded contour of women's faces he is always forced to


and even in his ordinary work often draws
more of bones and hair, than face.
156. I could easily give you more definite, but very disagreeable, proofs of the evil of knowing the anatomy of the
human face too intimately: but will rather give you further
evidence by examining the skull and face of the creature who
think of the skull

has taught us so

Here

may

is

much

already,

the eagle.

a slight sketch of the skull of the golden eagle.

be interesting to you sometimes to

It

make such drawings

roughly for the sake of the points of mechanical arrangement

as here in the circular bones of the eye-socket; but don't


suppose that drawing these a million of times over will ever

help you in the least to draw an eagle


trary,

would almost

it

to a certainty

itself.

ticing the essential point in an eagle's head

saw, in

is

the con-

the projection

main work of the eagle's eye is, as we


looking down.
To keep the sunshine above from

of the brow.
teasing

On

hinder you from no-

it,

All the

the eye

is

put under a triangular penthouse, which

precisely the most characteristic thing in the bird's whole

hooked beak does not materially distinguish it


hooded eye does. But that projection is not accounted for in the skull and so little does the
anatomist care about it, that you may hunt through the best
modern works on ornithology, and you will find eagles drawn
with all manner of dissections of skulls, claws, clavicles, sternums, and gizzards but you won't find so much as one poor
falcon drawn with a falcon's eye.
15Y. But there is another quite essential point in an eagle's
head, in comprehending which, again, the skull will not help
aspect.

from

Its

a cockatoo, but its

us.

The

skull in the

human

creature fails in three essential

and lipless. It fails only in


an eagle in the two points of eye and lip for an eagle has
no nose worth mentioning; his beak is only a prolongation
pf his jaws, But he has lips very much worth mentioning,
points.

It is eyeless, noseless,

Vm.

SClEx^CES

OJ*

ORGANIC I^ORM.

101

" Here hung One misses themI


you
but from an

and of which his skull gives no account.

much from

human skull
I know not how

have kissed,
miss them more, for he

is

those lips that


eagle's

oft,"

distinct

with his own eagle's eye, a dog's

from other birds


lips,

in

having

or very nearly such

an entirely fleshy and ringent mouth, bluish pink, with a perpetual grin upon

it.

So that if you look, not at his skull, but at him, attentively


enough, you will precisely get ^Eschylus's notion of him,
essential in the Greek mind
Tmjvo? zowv
daxfiutvu<; ahro^
and then, if you want to see the use of his beak or- bill, as
distinguished from a dog's teeth, take a drawing from the
falconry of the Middle Ages, and you will see how a piece
of flesh becomes a rag to him, a thing to tear up,
diapraiiriffet
There you have it precisely, in a falcon
adiiiMTo^ ij.iya pdxo?.

I got out of ^Ir. Coxe's favorite fourteenth century missal.

^ow

look through your natural history books from end


end see if you can find one drawing, with all their anatomy, which shows you either the eagle's eye, his lips, or
this essential use of his beak, so as to enable you thoroughly
to understand those two lines of ^schylus then, look at this
Greek eagle on a coin of Elis, K. 50, and this Pisan one, in
marble, Edu. 131, and you will not doubt any more that it is
better to look at the living birds, than to cut them to pieces.
158. Anatomy, then,
I will assume that you grant, for
the moment, as I w^ill assuredly prove to you eventually,
will not help us to draw the true appearances of things.
But
may it not add to our intelligent conception of their nature ?
So far from doing this, the anatomical study which has,
to our much degradation and misfortune, usurped the place,
and taken the name, at once of art and of natural history,
has produced the most singularly mischievous effect on the
faculty of delineation with respect to different races of animals.
In all recent books on natural history, you will find
the ridiculous and ugly creatures done well, the noble and
beautiful creatures done, I do not say merely ill, but in no
wise.
You will find the law hold universally that apes, pigs,
to

102

THE EAGLETS NEST.

rats, weasels, foxes,

and the

drawn admirably; but not


not a lion;

like,

but

especially apes,

ard

a stag, not a lamb, not a horse,

the nobler the creature, the

more stupidly

it is

always drawn, not from feebleness of art power, but a far


deadlier fault than that
a total want of sympathy with the
noble qualities of any creature, and a loathsome delight in

their disgusting qualities.

And

this

law

is

so thoroughly

mammalia,
example of the highest of
the race, the most nearly bestial type he can find, human, in
the world.
Let no girl ever look at the book, nor any youth
who is willing to take my word let those who doubt me, look
at the example he has given of womankind.
159. But admit that this is only French anatomy, or illstudied anatomy, and that, rightly studied, as Dr. Acland,
for instance, would teach it us, it might do us some kind of
carried out that the great French historian of the
St. Hilaire, chooses, as his single

good.
I must reserve for my lectures on the school of Florence
any analysis of the effect of anatomical study on European
art and character; you will find some notice of it in my leetvire on Michael Angelo; and in the course of that analysis,
it will be necessary for me to withdraw the statement made
in the ^' Stones of Venice," that anatomical science was helpI am now
ful to great men, though harmful to mean ones.
certain that the greater the intellect, the more fatal are the
forms of degradation to which it becomes liable in the course
of anatomical studies; and that to Michael Angelo, of all
men, the mischief was greatest, in destroying his religious
passion and imagination, and leading him to make every
spiritual conception subordinate to the display of his knowlTo-day, however, I only wish to give you
edge of the body.
my reasons for v/ithdrawing anatomy from your course of

study in these schools.


160. I do so, first, simply with reference to our time, conIt has become a habit with
venience, and systematic method.
drawing-masters to confuse this particular science of anatomy

with their own art of drawing, though they confuse no other

Vill.

lOS

SCIENCES OF ORGANIC FORM.

draw a tree,
you should have a knowledge of botany: Do you expect me
Whatever I want you to know of
to teach you botany here ?
it I shall send you to your Professor of Botany and to the
I may, perhaps, give you a rough
Botanic Gardens, to learn.

Admit

science with that art.

that, in order to

sketch of the lines of timber in a bough, but nothing more.


So again, admit that, to draw a stone, you need a knowl-

I have told you that you do not, but admit

edge of geology.

Do you

it.

expect

me

to teach you, here, the relations be-

tween quartz and oxide of iron or between the Silurian and


Permian systems ? If you care about them, go to Professor
Phillips, and come back to me when you know them.
And, in like manner, admit that, to draw a man, you want
you do not but admit that you
the knowledge of his bones
here, to teach you the most
expect
me,
should
Why
you
do.
;

difficult

of

all

the sciences

If you

want

an hospital, and cut dead bodies to pieces


fied

then come to me, and

draw, even then

I'll

make

know

to

it,

go to

you are satisto teach you to

till

a shift

though your eyes and memory

will be full

which Heaven never meant you so much as


But don't expect me to help you in that ghastly
work any more than among the furnaces and retorts in Proof horrible things
a glance at.
:

fessor Maskelyne's laboratory.

161. Let us take one

more

step in the logical sequence.

You

do not, I have told you, need either chemistry, botany,


geology, or anatomy, to enable you to understand art, or pro-

duce

it.

But there

quainted with.

know

how

to

is

one science which you musi be ac-

You must very intensely and thoroughly


You cannot so much as feel the difbehave.

ference between two casts of drapery, between two tenden-

how much
but by your

between dignity and baseness


But,
dignity of character.
though this is an essential science, and although I cannot
teach you to lay one line beside another rightly, unless you
have this science, you don't expect me in these schools to teach
you how to behave, if you happen not to know it before!
162. Well, here is one reason, and a sufficiently logical

cies

of line,

of gesture,

less

own

10-4

one, as

EAGLETS

Tllli

you

will find

NESI^.

on consideration, for the exclusion


all drawing schools.
But there is

it

of anatomical study from

a more cogent reason than this for its exclusion, especially


from elementary drawing-schools. It may be sometimes de-

how very unlike


moment he may, without

sirable that a student should see, as I said,

a face a skull is;

much harm,

and

observe

ankles by which

it is

at the joints, will

But

at a leisure

the

equivocation between knees

contrived that his legs, if properly

and

made

only bend backwards, but a crane's for-

young boy, or girl, brought up fresh to


from the country, should be set to stare,
against every particle of wholesome grain in their natures,
at the Elgin marbles, and to draw them with dismal application, until they imagine they like them, makes the whole
youthful temper rotten with affectation, and sickly W'ith
strained and ambitious fancy.
It is still worse for young
wards.

that a

the schools of art

persons to be compelled to endure the horror of the dissectingroom, or to be made familiar with the conditions of actual
bodily form, in a climate where the restraints of dress must
for ever prevent the body from being perfect in contour, or

regarded with entirely simple feeling.


163. I have now, perhaps too often for your patience, told
you that you must always draw for the sake of your subject
never for the sake of your picture.
What you wish to see

you should make an effort


and statues; what you do not wish to

in reality, that

to

show, in pictures

see"

in reality,

you

should not try to draw.

But there is, I suppose,


mind of persons interested

very general impression on the

in the arts, that because nations

living in cold climates are necessarily unfamiliar with the

naked body, therefore, art should take it upon


show it them and that they will be elevated in
thought, and made more simple and grave in temper, by seeing, at least in color and marble, what the people of the
south saw in its verity.
sight of the

herself to

164. I have neither time nor inclination to enter at present into discussion of the various effects, on the morality of

Vlll.

SCli!NCs

61^ OllGiANlO

105

ITOHM.

more or less frank showing of the nude form.


no question that if shown at all, it should be shown
fearlessly, and seen constantly but I do not care at present
to debate the question: neither will I delay you by any
nations, of

There

is

my

expression of

reasons for the rule I

am

about to give.

Trust me, I have many and I can assert to you as a positive


and perpetual law, that so much of the nude body as in the
daily life of the nation may be shown with modesty, and
so much, and no more,
seen with reverence and delight,
ought to be shown by the national arts, either of painting or
;

What, more than

sculpture.

this, either art exhibits, will,

assuredly, pervert taste, and, in all probability, morals.

165. It will, assuredly, pervert taste in this essential point,

come to think the


exempt from the highest laws

that the polite ranks of the nation will


living creature

and

its

dress

man

of taste; and that while a

or

woman

must, indeed, be

seen dressed or undressed with dignity, in marble, they

may

be dressed or undressed, if not with indignitj, at least, with


Now the
less than dignity, in the ball-room, and the street.

law of

all

living art

decorous as

Thus

effect similitude of.

be the ideal one, perverts taste in

is to

dress; and the study of the

perverts
all

be

the idea of a different dress in art and reality,

of which that of art

much
Of

man and woman must

their pictures,

and gesture,
marble or color can
166.

that the

is

and their pictures as


the living man or woman and that real dress,
and behavior, should be more graceful than any

more beautiful than

nude which

is

rarely seen, as

taste in art.

pieces of art that I know, skilful in execution,

not criminal in intention

and

without any exception, quite the

most vulgar, and in the solemn sense of the word, most


abominable, are the life studies which are said to be the best
made in modern times, those of Mulready, exhibited as

models in the Kensington Museum.


167. IIow far the study of the seldom-seen nude leads to
perversion of morals, I will not, to-day, inquire; but I beg

you

to observe that

even

among

the people

where

it

was most

THE eagle's NEgf.

loo

it unquestionably led to evil far greater than


any good which demonstrably can be traced to it. Scarcely
any of the moral power of Greece depended on her admiraThe power of Greece
tion of beauty, or strength in the body.
involving severe
military
exercise,
depended on practice in
and continual ascetic discipline of the senses on a perfect
code of military heroism and patriotic honor; on the desire
to live by the laws of an admittedly divine justice; and on

frank and pure,

the vivid conception of the presence of spiritual beings.

The

mere admiration of physical beauty in the body, and the


arts which sought its expression, not only conduced greatly
to the fall of Greece, but were the cause of errors and crimes
in her greatest time, which must for ever sadden our happiest thoughts of her, and have rendered her example almost
useless to the future.

168. I have

named four

causes of her power; discipline of

senses; romantic ideal of heroic honor; respect for justice;

and belief in God.


all

There was a

fifth

the most precious of

the belief in the purity and force of life in

that true reverence for domestic

man; and

which, in the

affection,

strangest way, being the essential strength of every nation


under the sun, had yet been lost sight of as the chief element
of Greek virtue, though the Iliad itself is nothing but the
story of the punishment of the rape of Helen and though
every Greek hero called himself chiefly by his paternal name,
Pelides, rather than
Tydides, rather than Diomed
;

Achilles.

Among
you

the

new knowledges which

to pursue, the basest

and darkest

the
is

modern

sirens

tempt

the endeavor to trace

otherwise than in Love. Pardon me, thereyou a piece of theology to-day it is a science
much closer to your art than anatomy.
169. All of you who have ever read your Gospels carefully must have wondered, sometimes, what could be the
meaning of those words, " If any speak against the Son of

the origin of

life,

fore, if I give

Man

it

shall be forgiven

but

if

against the

shall not be forgiven, neither in this

Holy

Spirit, it

world nor in the next."


'!

SCIENCES

Vlll.

OI*

ORGANIC FORM.

lOT

The passage may have many meanings which I do not


know; but one meaning I know positively, and I tell you so
just as frankly as I would that I knew the meaning of a verse
in Homer.
Those of you who still go to chapel say every day your
creed; and, I suppose, too often, less and less every day believing

and,

Xow, you may

it.

admitting

But I can

You

tell

cease to believe two articles of

Christianity to be true,

you

^you

must not cease

still

it,

be forgiven.

to believe the third

begin by saying that you believe in an Almighty

Father.

you may entirely

Well,

lose

the

sense

of that

Fatherhood, and yet be forgiven.

You go on
may entirely

to say that

you believe in

a Saviour Son.

lose the sense of that Sonship,

given.

and yet be

You
for-

But

disbelieve if you dare


the third article
" I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life/*
Disbelieve that and your own being is degraded into the
;

by the wind; and the elements of dissoyour very heart and soul.
with one glory,
All Nature, with one voice
is set to
reverence
the
life
communicated
from
you
you
teach
for
to
song
their
plumThe
of birds, and
the Father of Spirits.
state of dust driven

lution have entered

age

the scent of flowers, their color, their very existence, are

in direct connection with the


life:

and

all

the strength, and

mystery of that communicated


all the arts of men, are meas-

ured by, and founded upon, their reverence for the passion,

and their guardianship of the purity, of Love.


170. Gentlemen,
the word by which I at this moment
address you
by which it is the first of all your duties
through life, to permit all men to address you with truth
that epithet of gentle,' as you well know, indicates the infor family dignity
tense respect for race and fatherhood
and chastity, which was visibly the strength of Rome, as
it had been, more disguisedly, the strength of Greece.
But
have you enough noticed that your Saxon word kindness

'


THE EAGLETS NESf.

108

has exactly the same relation to


^

kind/ that

'

Think out

much

as

gentle

it

either beasts,

times, indeed, as if they

'

little,

republicanism, are going to have

making of

kin/ and to the Chaucerian

gentilis

and you will find that


neither chemistry, nor anatomy, nor

that matter a

looks like

it

has to

'

it all

their

or gentlemen.

had got

as far as

own way in the


They look some-

two of the Mosaic

plagues, and manufactured frogs in the ditches, and lice on


the land

but their highest boasters will not claim, yet, so

much even
171.
give

up

My

as that poor victory.

friends, let

me

very strongly recommend you to

that hope of finding the principle of life in dead

pains to keep the life pure and holy


you have got; and, farther, not to seek
your national amusement in the destruction of animals, nor
your national safety in the destruction of men but to look
for all your joy to kindness, and for all your strength to
domestic faith, and law of ancestral honor.
Perhaps you
will not now any more think it strange that in beginning
your natural history studies in this place, I mean to teach
you heraldry, but not anatomy. For, as you learn to read
the shields, and remember the stories, of the great houses of
England, and find how all the arts that glorified them were
founded on the passions that inspired, you Avill learn assuredly, that the utmost secret of national power is in living
with honor, and the utmost secrets of human art are in gentleness and truth.
bodies; but to take

all

in the living bodies

LECTURE

IX.

THE STORY OF THE


March
172. I

MUST

7tli,

HALCYOI^".

1872.

to-day briefly recapitulate the purport

preceding lectures, as

we

are about

now

to enter

of.

the

on a new

branch of our subject.


I stated in the

wisdom of

first

two, that the

wisdom of

art

and the

science consisted in their being each devoted un-

selfishly to the service of

men;

in the third, that art

was

only the shadow of our knowledge of facts; and that the


reality

was always

to

be acknowledged as more beautiful

In the fourth lecture I endeavored to show


modesty of art and science lay in attaching
due value to the power and knowledge of other people, when
greater than our own; and in the fifth, that the wise selfsufficiency of art and science lay in a proper enjoyment of
our own knowledge and power, after it was thus modestly
The sixth lecture stated that sight was a disesteemed.
tinctly spiritual power, and that its kindness or tenderness
was proportioned to its clearness. Lastly, in the seventh and
than the shadow.
that the wise

eighth lectures, I asserted that this spiritual sight, concerned

with external aspects of things, was the source of all necessary knowledge in art; and that the artist has no concern
with invisible structures, organic or inorganic.
173.

No

concern with invisible structures.

But much

with invisible things; with passion, and with historical

as-

sociation.
And in these two closing lectures, I hope partly
to justify myself for pressing on your attention some matters
as little hitherto thought of in drawing-schools, as the exact
sciences have been highly, and, I believe, unjustly^ esteemed
mythology, namely, and heraldry.

1Q9


THE eagle's nest.

110

Your experience

I can but in part justify myself now.


of the interest

which may

sciences will be

my

be found in these two despised

best justification.

But to-day

(as

we

are

about to begin our exercises in bird-drawing) I think it may


interest you to review some of the fables connected with the
natural history of a single bird, and to consider what effect
the knowledge of such tradition

is

likely to have

on our mode

of regarding the animated creation in general.

174. Let us take an instance of the feeling towards birds

which

is

especially characteristic of the English temper at

freedom from superstition.


your Rudimentary Series (225), Mr.
Gould's plate of the lesser Egret, the most beautifiil, I sup-

this day, in its entire

You

will find in

pose, of all birds that visit, or, at least, once visited, our

English shores. Perfectly delicate in form, snow-white in


plumage, the feathers like frost-work of dead silver, exquisitely slender, separating in the wdnd like the streams of a
fountain, the creature looks a living cloud rather than a
bird.

may

It

The

be seen often enough in South France and Italy.

last (or last

but one

years ago, and this was

?)
its

known

of in

England came thirty


by the pres-

reception, as related

ent happy possessor of its feathers and bones


" The little Egret in my possession is a most beautiful
:

specimen: it was killed by a laborer with a stick, in Ake


Carr, near Beverley, about 1840, and was brought to me,
tied up in a pocket-handkerchief, covered with black wet mud
and blood, in which state it was sent to Mr, Reed, of Doncaster, and restored by him in a most marvelous manner."
175. l^ow, you will feel at once that, Avhile the peasant
this bird into a piece of bloody flesh with his
he could not, in any true sense, see the bird that he
had no pleasure either in the sight of that, or of anything
near it.
You feel that he would become capable of seeing it in
exact proportion to his desire not to kill it but to watch it

was beating
stick,

in iu

life,

IX.

Well, that

is

THE STOKY OF THE HALCYON.

Ill

a quite general law: in the degree in

you delight in the

life of

any creature, you can

which
no

see it;

otherwise.

And you would

feel,

would you

not, that if

you could

enable the peasant rightly to see the bird, you had in great

him

part educated
176.

of the

You would
way towards

certainly have gone, at least, the third

Then

educating him.

the next thing to

be contrived would be that he should be able to see a

man

understand and love what was


good in a man, so that supposing his master was a good
man, the sight of his master should be a joy to him. You
would say that he was therein better educated than if he
rightly, as well as a bird

wanted

Then

to

to

put a gun through a hedge and shoot his master.

by that beatitude of the pure in heart


of which I shall not speak to-day.
177.

whatever
seeing God

the last part of education will be

And

you observe,

is

meant

rightly,

main point,
and that a man

in all these phases of education, the


is

that

it

should be a beatitude

should learn " yaiptw SpOu)^ '' and this rejoicing is above
all things to be in actual sight you have the truth exactly in
:

Dante when he

is brought before Beatrice, in


heaven, that his eyes " satisfied themselves for their ten years'

the saying of

thirst."

This, then, I repeat,

is

the

sum

of education.

All litera-

ture, art, and science are vain, and worse, if they do not
enable you to be glad and glad justly.
And I feel it distinctly my -duty, though with solemn and
;

true deference to the masters of education in this university,

our modern methods of teaching, and


and frequent examination, to be absolutely opposed to this great end and that the
result of competitive labor in youth is infallibly to make men
know all they learn wrongly, and hate the habit of learning
so that instead of coming to Oxford to rejoice in their work,
men look forward to the years they are to pass under her
teaching as a deadly agony, from which they are faiu tQ
to say that I believe

especially the institution of severe

THE eagle's nest.

112

escape, and sometimes for their


method of sanitary frivolity.

178. I go back to

my

life,

must escape,

any

into

You

peasant and his egret.

all

think with some horror of this man, beating the bird to death,
as a brutal person.
lie is so; but how far are we English
gentlemen, as a body, raised above him ? We are more deli-

and shrink from the notion of bruising the


its feathers.
That is so far right, and
well.
But in all probability this countryman, rude and
cruel though he might be, had some other object in the rest
of his day than the killing of birds.
And very earnestly I
ask you, have English gentlemen, as a class, any other real
object in their whole existence than killing birds ?
If they
cately nurtured,

creature and spoiling

discern a duty, they will indeed do


the English aristocracy at this
their duty

And

human
that

this epoch,

to the dfeath

but have

clear notion of

I believe solemnly, and without jest, their idea

of their caste
ferior

it

moment any

is

is

that

lives,

its

life

should be, distinctly from in-

spent in shooting.

not an idea of caste with which England, at

can any longer be governed.

179. I have no time to-day to push

my

argument farther

but I have said enough, I think, to induce you to bear with


me in the statement of my main theorem that reading and
writing are in no sense education, unless they contribute to

this

end of making us

feel

kindly towards

all

creatures

that drawing, and especially physiologic drawing,

is

but

vital

education of a most precious kind.


Farther, that more good
would be done by any English nobleman who would keep his
estate lovely in its native wildness and let every animal live
upon it in peace that chose to come there, than will be done,
as matters are going now, by the talk of all the Lords in Parliament as long as we live to listen to them and I will even
venture to tell you my hope, though I shall be dead long before its possible fulfilment, that one day the English people
will, indeed, so far recognize what education means as to surround this university with the loveliest park in England,
;

twenty miles sc^uare; that they will forbid^ in that environ-

IX.

THE STOEY OF THE HALCYON.

113

ment, every unclean, mechanical, and vulgar trade and manufacture, as any man would forbid them in his own garden;
that they will abolish every base and ugly building, and

of vice and misery, as they would cast out a devil ;


that the streams of the Isis and Cherwell will be kept pure

nest'

and quiet among their fields and trees and that, within this
park, every English wild flower that can bloom in lowland
will be suffered to grow in luxuriance, and every living
creature that haunts wood and stream know that it has happy
;

refuge.

And now
180.

to

our immediate work.


history of anything, or of any creature,

The natural

divides itself properly into three branches.

We

have

first to collect

ing the thing, so that

and examine the traditions

we may know what

istence has hitherto been on the


at

our

about

We

command what
have secondly

its ex-

minds of men, and may have

data exist to help us in our inquiries

or to guide us in our

it,

respect-

the effect of

to

own thoughts

of

it.

examine and describe the thing, or

creature, in its actual state, with utmost attainable veracity

of observation.
Lastly, we have to examine under w^hat laws of chemistry
and physics the matter of which the thing is made has been
collected and constructed.
Thus we have first to know the poetry of it i.e., what it
has been to man, or what man has made of it.

Secondly, the actual facts of its existence.


Thirdly, the physical causes of these facts, if

we can

dis-

cover them.

181. ]^^ow,
to confine the

It _s

customary, and

term

of knowledge only.

may

natural history

'

be generally advisable,

to the last

I do not care what

we

two branches
call the first

branch; but, in the accounts of animals that I prepare for


my schools at Oxford, the main point with me will be the

mythology of them; the second, their actual state and aspect,


(second, this, because almost always hitherto only half
known) and the anatomy and chemistry of their bodies, I
;

114

THE EAGLETS NEST.


very rarely, and partially, as I told you, examine at

.shall

but I shall take the greatest pains to get at the creature's


habits of life and know all its ingenuities, humors, delights,
all

and intellectual powers. That is to say, what art it has, and


what affection and how these are prepared for in its external
;

form.
182. I say, deliberately and energetically,

prepared for/

modern philosophy,
developed by repetition of

in opposition to the idea, too prevalent in

of the form's being fortuitously

impulse.

It is of course true that the aspects

and characters

of stones, flowers, birds, beasts, and men, are inseparably con-

nected with the conditions under which they are appointed


to

have existence

itely varied

but the method of this connection

so far

from

fortuitous,

it

is infin-

appears grotesquely,

often terrifically arbitrary; and neither stone, flower, beast,

nor man can understand any single reason of the arbitrament, or comprehend why its Creator riiade it thus.
which happens
183. To take the simplest of instances,
also to be one of the most important to you as artists,
it is
appointed that vertebrated animals shall have no more than

and that, if they require to fly, the two legs in


front must become wings, it being against law that they
should have more than these four members in ramification
four

legs,

from the spine.


Can any law be conceived more
parently causeless

What

arbitrary, or

more

ap-

strongly planted three-legged ani-

mals there might have been what symmetrically radiant fivelegged ones what volatile six-winged ones what circumHad Darwinism been true, we
spect seven-headed ones
should long ago have split our heads in two with foolish
thinking, or thrust out, from above our covetous hearts, a
hundred desirous arms and clutching hands; and changed
ourselves into Briarean Cephalopoda. But the law is around
us, and within; unconquerable; granting, up to a certain
limit, power over our bodies to circumstance and will
be!

yond that
know,

limit,

eternal.

inviolable, inscrutable, and, so far as

we

IX.

184.

THE STORY OF THE HALCYOIT.

115

For every lower animal, similar laws are established;

under the grasp of these it is capable of change, in visibly


permitted oscillation between certain points; beyond which,
The adapaccording to present experience, it cannot pass.
tation of the instruments

possesses in its

it

members

to the

and occasionally beautiful but in the plurality of instances, partial, and involving
Some animals have to dig
painful supplementary effort.
with their noses, some to build with their tails, some to spin
with their stomachs their dexterities are usually few their
awkwardnesses numberless; a lion is continually puzzled
how to hold a bone and an eagle can scarcely pull the meat
conditions of

always

its life is

direct,

off one,

without upsetting himself.

185. Respecting the origin of these variously awkward,


imperfectly, or grotesquely developed phases of

power, you need not at present inquire


race of

man

is

form and

in all probability the

appointed to live in wonder, and in acknowl-

edgment of ignorance
secrets of his

own

but if ever he

is to

or of brutal existence,

it

know any

of the

will assuredly be

through discipline of virtue, not through inquisitiveness of


science.
I have just used the expression, " had Darwinism
been

true,''

implying

its

fallacy

more

positively than

is justi-

our knowledge; but very positively I can say to you that I have never heard yet one logical
argument in its favor, and I have heard, and read, many that
were beneath contempt. For instance, by the time you have
fiable in the present state of

copied one or two of your exercises on the feather of the

more

and
and you may,
perhaps, refer, in hope of help, to Mr. Darwin's account of
the peacock's feather.
I went to it myself, hoping to learn
some of the existing laws of life which regulate the local disposition of the color. But none of these appear to be known
and I am informed only that peacocks have grown to be peacocks out of brown pheasants, because the young feminine
brown pheasants like fine feathers. Whereupon I say to myself, " Then either there was a distinct species of brown
halcyon, you will be

interested in the construction

disposition of plume-filaments than heretofore

THE eagle's

116

NES-f.

pheasants originally "born with a taste for fine feathers


therefore with remarkable eyes in their heads,

be a

much more wonderful

and

which would

distinction of species than being

born with remarkable eyes in their tails, or else all pheasAnd I


ants would have been peacocks by this time "
trouble myself no more about the Darwinian theory.
When you have drawn some of the actual patterns of
plume and scale with attention, I believe you will see reason
!

may

to think that spectra of organic species

be at least as

distinct as those of metals or gases; but learn at all events

what they are now, and never mind what they have been.
186. Nor need you care for methods of classification any
more than for the origin of classes. Leave the physiologists
to invent names, and dispute over them your business is to
know the creature, not the name of it momentarily fashionWhat practical service you can
able in scientific circles.
get from the order at present adopted, take, without contention; and as far as possible, use English words, or be sure
you understand the Latin ones.
187. For instance, the order at present adopted in arranging the species of birds, is, as you know, founded only
on their ways of using their feet.
Some catch or snatch their prey, and are called '^ Snatch;

erS "

KAPTORES.
Some perch on branches, and are called

" Upon-sitters "

In-sitters,''

or

insessores.

Some climb and


ers "

^'

cling on branches, and are called " Climb-

SCANSOKES.

Some

"
scratch the ground, and are called " Scratchers

RASORES.

Some stand

or

wade

in shallow water, and, having long

"

legs, are called " Stilt-walkers

Some float, and make oars


" Swimmers "
natatores.
188. This classification

is

grallatores.
of their feet, and are called

unscholarly, because there are

who perch as well as the sitsit, when ashore, more

many

snatchers and scratchers

ters;

and many of the swimmers

THE STORY OF THE HALCYOIT.

IX.

117

neatly than the sitters themselves; and are most grave inalso, ^ insessor ' does
sessors, in long rows, on rock or sand
:

and it is awkward
Easor/ Still, the use of the feet is (on the
whole) characteristic, and convenient for first rough arrangement only, in general reference, it will be better to use plain
English words than those stiff Latin ones, or their ugly trans-

mean properly

not

to call a bird a

a sitter, but a besieger

lations.

Linnaius, for all his classes except the stilt-walkers,

used the

name

of the particular birds which were the best

types of their class

he called the snatchers

cipitres), the swimmers, geese,

fowls,

He

(Gallinae),
^^

''

Ac-

and the perchers, sparrows, (Passeres).


but he has one since omitted by

has no class of climbers

Cuvier,

hawks

''

(Anseres), the scratchers,

pies," which, for certain mythological reasons pres-

you to keep. This will give


be remembered and for each
take the name of its most representative bird.

ently to be noted, I will ask

you seven orders, altogether,

to

we will
The hawk has best right undoubtedly to stand for the snatchwe will have his adversary, the heron, for the stilters

of these

walkers; you will find this very advisable, no less than convenient; because some of the beaks of the stilt-walkers turn

down, and some turn up; but the heron's is straight, and so
Then, certainly, gulls
will better represent the swimmers than geese and pheasants
are a prettier kind of scratchers than fowls.
We will take
parrots for the climbers, magpies for the pies, and sparrows
he stands well as a pure middle type.

for the perchers.


rots,

Then take them

Hawks, parherons; and you can


For you have hawks at one end,
in this order

pies, sparrows, pheasants, gulls,

then easily remember them.

the herons at the other, and sparrows in the middle, with pies

on one side and pheasants opposite, for which arrangement

you will find there


rily

is

good reason; then the parrots necessa-

go beside the hawks, and the gulls beside the herons.

189. The bird whose mythic history I am about to read to


you belongs essentially and characteristically to that order
of pies, pica?, or painted birds, which the Greeks continually
opposed in their thoughts and traditions to the^inging birck/*

lis
representing the one by the magpie, and the other by the
nightingale.

The myth of Autolycus and Philammon, and

Pindar's exquisite story of the infidelity of Coronis, are the


centers of almost countless tradition^y all full of meaning,
dependent on the various Tzoixdia^ to eye and ear, of these opposed races of birds. The Greek idea of the Halcyon united

both these sources of delight.


of

it

I will read you what notices

I find most interesting, not in order of date, but of

brevity
190.

the simplest
^^

And

the

first.

King

of Trachis, the child of the

Morning

married Alcyone. And they perished, both of them,


through their pride; for the king called his wife, Hera; and
she her husband, Zeus but Zeus made birds of them (f^roJ)?
dTTujp'^iujffs), and he made the one a Halcyon, and the other a
Sea-mew." Appollodorus, i. 7, 4.
^'
When the King of Trachis, the son of Hesperus, or of
Lucifer, and Philonis, perished in shipwreck, his wife Alcyone, the daughter of ^olus and-^giale, for love of him,
who both, by the mercy of the
threw herself into the sea
These
gods, were turned into the birds called Halcyons.
birds, in the winter-time, build their nests, and lay their eggs,
and hatch their young on the sea and the sea is quiet in
Ilyginus,
those days, which the sailors call the Halcyonia."
Star,

Fab.

LXV.

191.

^'

IsTow the

King

of Trachis, the son of Lucifer, had

wife Ilalcyone. And he, wishing to consult the oracle of


Apollo concerning the state of his kingdom, w^as forbidden to
go, by Ilalcyone, nevertheless he went and perished by sliipto

wreck.

And when

his

body was brought

to his

wife Ilal-

Afterwards, by the

cyone, she threw herself into the sea.

mercy of Thetis and Lucifer, they were both turned into the
sea-birds called Halcyons.
And you ought to know that
Halcyone is the woman's name, and is always a feminine
noun; but the bird's name is Halcyon, masculine and feminine, and so also its plural, Ilalcyones.
Also those birds

make

their nests in the sea, in the middle of winter; in

which days the calm

is so

deep that hardly anything in the


IX.

THE STORY OF THE HALCYON".

sea can be moved.

Thence,

called Halcyonia."

"

JL92.

And

the days themselves are

also,

Servius, in Virg. Georg.

the pairing of birds, as I said,

part in spring time, and early

For the halcyon has

summer

399.

i.

for the most

is

except the halcyon's.

young about the turn of days

its

when

winter, wherefore,

119

in

those days are fine, they are called

seven, indeed, before the turn,


Halcyonine (fih.u6'^su)i)
and seven after it, as Simonides poetized, (^TrocV^erev).
*

'

when in the wintry month


Zeus gives the wisdom of calm to fourteen days,

As,

Then the people of the land call it


The hour of wind-hiding, the sacred
Nurse of the spotted Halcyon.'

"

And

in the

seven days the halcyon

first

is

said to lay

her eggs, and in the latter seven to bring forth and nourish
her young. Here, indeed, in the seas of Greece, it does not
always chance that the Halcyonid days are at the solstice;
the sethuia and

But

but in the Sicilian sea, almost always.

the laros bring forth their young, (two, or three)

rocks by the sea-shore


first

but the laros in summer,


and they

during the winter


for

it

is

And none
;

the

the sethuia in

spring, just after the turn of days

as other birds do.

est,

among

sit

on them

of these birds lie torpid in holes

but the halcyon

seen scarcely at

all,

is,

of

all,

seen the seldom-

except just at the setting

and turn of Pleias, and then it will but show itself once, and
away; flying, perhaps, once round a ship at anchor, and
then

it is

193. "
creature,

gone instantly."

Now we
and

Aristotle, Hist. Av., v. 8, 9.

are ready enough to extol the bee for a wise

to consent to the

yellow honey, because

laws by which

we adore

it

cares for the

the pleasantness and tickling

to our palates that is in the sweetness of that; but we take


no notice of the wisdom and art of other creatures in bringing
up their young, as for instance, the halcyon, who as soon as
she has conceived, makes her nest by gathering the thorns of
the sea-needle-fish and, weaving these in and out, and joining them together at the ends, she finishes her nest; round
iu the plan of it, and long, ia th^ proportion of a fisherman's
;


THE eagle's nest.

120
net

and then she puts

it

where

until the rough surface

And

is

all

it

will be beaten

by the waves,

made

fastened together and

becomes so hard that a blow with iron or stgne


will not easily divide it but, what is more wonderful still, is
that the opening of the nest is made so exactly to the size and
measure of the halcyon that nothing larger can get into it,
and nothing smaller! so they say; no, not even the sea itPlutarch: De Amove Prolis.
self, even the least drop of it.''
I have kept to the last Lucian's dialogue, '^ the Halcyon,"
close.

it

to

show you how the tone of Christian thought, and tradition

of Christ's walking on the sea, began to steal into heathen


literature.

Socrates
194. " Chaerephon.

came

to us

Chaekepiion.

What cry is
? how sweet

from the beach

which

Socrates,

that,
it

was what can

be

it

the things that live in the sea are all mute.


^^

Yet

Socrates.

a sea-creature, Chaerephon

it is

the bird

called Halcyon, concerning which the old fable runs that


she was the daughter of ^ohis, and, mourning in her youth

was winged by divine power, and now

for her lost husband,


flies

over the sea, seeking

throughout the earth.


" Chaerephon. And
never heard
is

it

yet

and

the bird, Socrates


*'

him whom

is

that indeed the Halcyon's cry

in truth

its nest, all

but

from the Gods, because of


ing

it is

How

very pitiful.

large

E'ot great

Socrates.

she could not find, sought

its

it

has received great honor

lovingness; for while

the world has the

it is

happy days which

mak-

it calls

halcyonidge, excelling all others in their calmness, though in

the midst of storm; of which

ever there was.

Look,

how

you

day is "one, if
and the sea wave-

see this very

clear the sky

is,

and calm, like a mirror!


" Chaerephon. You say truly, and yesterday was just such

less

another.

But

in the

name

of the Gods, Socrates,

how

is

one

to believe those old sayings, that birds were ever changed

IX.

THE STOKY OF THE HALCYON".

121

into women, or women into birds, for nothing could seem


more impossible ?
Ah, dear Chaerephon, it is likely that
195. '' Socrates.
we are poor and blunt judges of what is possible and not for
we judge by comparing to human power a power unknown
Many things, therefore,
to us, unimaginable, and unseen.
that are easy, seem to us difficult; and many things unattainable that may be attained; being thus thought of, some
through the inexperience, and some through the infantine
For in very deed every man may be
folly, of our minds.
:

thought of as a child even the oldest of us, since the full


time of life is little, and as a baby's compared to universal
time. And what should we have to say, my good friend, who
know nothing of the power of gods or of the spirits of Nature,

whether any of such things are possible or not ? You saw,


Chaerephon, what a storm there was, the day before yesterday ; it makes one tremble even to think of it again
that
lightning, and thunder, and sudden tempest, so great that one
would have thought all the earth falling to ruin and yet, in
a little while, came the wonderful establishing of calm, which
has remained even till now. Whether, then, do you think it
the greater work, to bring such a calm out of that tormenting
whirlwind, and reduce the universe to peace, or to change
the form of a woman into that of a bird?
For indeed we
see how very little children, who know how to knead clay, do
something like this also; often out of one lump they will
make form after form, of different natures: and surely to
the spirit-powers of E'ature, being in vast and inconjecturable
;

excess

beyond ours,

easy.

Or how much do you think heaven

can you

such things must be in their hands


greater than thyself

say, perchance?

" Chaerephon.
or

all

name any

Who

of men,

of these things

Socrates, could imagine

196. " Socrates.

Nay; do we not see also, in comparing


with man, strange differences in their powers and imbecilities? for complete manhood, compared with utter in-

man

fancy, as of a child five or ten days old, has difference in

THE EAGLETS NEST.

122

we may

power, which
see

man

excel

man

well call miraculous: and

so far,

what

shall

we say

when we

that the strength

whole heaven must appear, against ours, to those who


can see them together, so as to compare them? Also, to
you and me, and to many like us, sundry things are impos-

,of the

sible that are easy to other people

as singing to those ignor-

ant of music, and reading or writing to those ignorant of


letters;

more

impossible than to

make women

or

birds,

women. For Nature, as with chance throw, and


rough parable, making the form of a footless and wingless
beast in changeable matter; then putting on feet and wings,
and making it glitter all over with fair variegation and manibirds of

fold color, at last brings out, for instance, the Avise bee,

maker of the divine honey; and out of the


spiritless

egg she brings

many

voiceless

and

kinds of flying and foot-going

and swimming creatures, using besides (as runs the old


Logos) the sacred art of the great Aether.* We then, being
altogether mortal and mean, and neither able to see clearly
great things nor small, and, for the most part being unable
to help ourselves even in our own calamities,
what can w^e
have to say about the powers of the immortals, either over

halcyons or nightingales
fathers gave

it

But

to us, this, to

fame of fable such

the

my children, O

hymns and I myself


human love of thine, and

of sorrow, I will deliver concerning thy


will sing often of this religious and

of the honor thou hast for

it

as our

thou bird singing


:

from the Gods.

do likewise, O Chaerephon?
" Chaerephon. It is rightly due indeed,
there is two-fold comfort in this, both for

Wilt not thou

Socrates, for

men and women,

in their relations with each other.

" Socrates.

Shall

we not then

salute the halcyon,

go back to the city by the sands, for it is time ?


" Chaerephon.
Indeed let us do so."
19Y. The note of the scholiast on this dialogue

is

and

so

the only

passage in which I can find any approximately clear description of the


^ Note

Greek halcyon.

tliis

It is about as large,

he says, as a

sentence respecting the power of the creative Athena.


tX.

small sparrow

we must

THE STOKY OF THE HALCYOIT.


(the question

how

12

large a Greek sparrow

for the present allow to remain open;)

and

was
it is

mixed of green and blue, with gleaming of purple above, and


the beak is said to be " chloit has a slender and long beak
ros," which I venture to translate " green," when it is used
:

of the feathers, but

Then

it

may mean

anything, used of the beak.

follows the same account as other people's, of the nest-

building, except that the nest


dicinal gourd.

And

are tAvo species of halcyons


silent,

is

compared in shape

to a

me-

then the writ.er goes on to say that there

one

larger than the other, and

but the smaller, fond of singing

(v^^^^^')

the females of these are so true to their mates that,

and that

when

the

grow old, the female bird flies underneath them, and


carries them wherever they would like to go and after they
" And
die will not eat nor drink anything, and so dies too.
them,
which,
if
any
one
the
of
hear
kind
of
certain
there is a
latter

voice, it is

an altogether true sign

to

him

that he will die in

a short time."

'198.

You

will, I think, forgive

me,

if after

reading to you

these lovely fables, I do not distract you, or detain, with the


difficult investigation

on the not yet

of the degree in which they are founded

sufficiently

known

facts of the Kingfisher's

life.

much

rather that you should remain impressed


which the lovely color and fitful appearance
I may
of the bird have had on the imagination of men.
satisfy you by the assurance that the halcyon of England is
also the commonest halcyon of Greece and of Palestine;
and I may at once prove to you the real gain of being acquainted with the traditions of it, by reading to you two
stanzas, certainly among the most familiar to your ears in the
whole range of English poetry yet which, I am well assured,
will sound, after what we have been reflecting upon to-day,
almost as if they were new to you. Kote especially how Milton's knowledge that Halcyone was the daughter of the
"Winds, and Ceyx the son of the Morning Star, affects the

I would

with the

effect

course of his thought in the successive stanzas

THE eagle's nest.

124

" But peaceful was the night,


Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon earth began
The winds with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist.
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,

Who now
While
*'

hath quite forgot to rave.


cahn sit brooding on the charmed wave.

birds of

The

stars, with deep amaze,


Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence

And

will not take their flight.

all the morning light


Of Lucifer, that often warn'd them thence
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go."

For

199. I should also only weary you if I attempted to give


you any interpretation of the much-entangled web of Greek
fables connected with the story of Halcyone.

that in all these passages I have said

^'

King

You

observe
"

of Trachis

That is partly because I don't know h?)w


pronounce Ceyx either in Greek or English; but it is
chiefly to make you observe that this story of the sea-mew and
instead of Ceyx.

to

Halcyon, now known through


cry, has its origin in the

^'

all

the world, like the sea-mew's

Kough country,"

or crag-country,

under Mount (Eta, made sacred to the Greek mind by the


death of Heracles and observe what strange connection that
Heracles goes to this
death has with the Halcyon's story.
" Eough country " to seek for rest all the waves and billows
gone over him. But
of his life having
as he thinks now
;

he finds death.
far as I can form any idea of this " rough, or torn,
country " from the descriptions of Colonel Leake or any other

As

traveler,

it

must resemble

closely the limestone clifPs just

above Altorf, which break down to the valley from the ridge
of the Windgelle, and give source, at their foot, to faultlessly
clear streams,

You

green-blue among

the grass.

will find Pausanias noting the springs of Thermopylae

as of the bluest water he ever

saw 3 and

if

you fancy the Lake

IX.

THE STORY OF THE

125

HALCYOlsr.

Lucerne to be the sea bay running inland from Artemisium,


you will have a clear and useful, nor in any serious way, inaccurate, image of the scene where the Greeks thought their
You may remember also, with advanbest hero should die.
lies
the Thermopylae of Switzerland
tage, that Morgarten
by the little lake of Egeri, not ten miles from this bay of
Altorf and that the Heracles of Switzerland is born under
those Trachinian crags.
If, farther, you remember that the Halcyon would actually
be seen flitting above the blue water of the springs, like one
of their waves caught up and lighted by the sun; and the
sea-mews haunting the cliffs, you will see how physical circumstances modify the under-tone of the words of every
mythic tradition.
how more and more
I cannot express to you how strange
strange every day
it seems to me, that I cannot find a single
drawing, nor definite account, of scenes so memorable as this,
to point you to but must guess and piece their image together
for you as best I can from their Swiss similitudes. No English gentleman can pass through public school-life without
knowing his Trachinise yet I believe, literally, we could give
better account of the forms of the mountains in the moon,
than we could of (Eta. And what has art done to help us ?
How many Skiddaws or Benvenues, for one (Eta, if one!
And when the English gentleman becomes an art-patron, he
employs his painter-servant only to paint himself and his
house; and when Turner was striving, in his youth, to enforce the mythology, and picture these very scenes in Greece,
and putting his whole strength into the endeavor to conceive
them, the noble pictures remained in his gallery; and for
Hall, the seat of
Esquire,
bread, he had to paint
with the carriage drive, the summer-house, and the squire

going out hunting.


If, indeed, the squire would make his seat worth painting,
and would stay there, and would make the seats, or, shall we
call them, forms, of his peasantry, worth painting too, he
would be interpreting the fable of the Halcyon to purpose.


126

THE eagle's nest.

But you must,

and without any

at once,

how much

interpreter, feel

implied in those wonderful words


of Simonides
written six hundred years before Christ;
" when in the wild winter months, Zeus gives the wisdom
of
calm; " and how much teaching there is for us in the imaginafor yourselves

is

this dream-picture of what is true in days


and are to come, that perfect domestic love not
only makes its nest upon the waves, but that the waves will
be calm that it may.
200. True, I repeat, for all ages, and all people, that, indeed, are desirous of peace, and loving in trouble
But what
fable shall we invent, what creature on earth or sea shall we
find, to symbolize this state of ours in modern England ?
To

tion of past days,

that are,

sorrowful birds shall we be likened,

Vv^hat

cipal object of our lives dispeace,

who make

and unrest

the prin-

and turn our

wives and daughters out of their nests, to work for themselves

]^ay, strictly speaking,


nests to turn

them out

of.

we have

not even got so

much

as

I was infinitely struck, only the

other day, by the saying of a large landed proprietor (a good

man, who was doing


ing

new

all

he could for his tenantry, and build-

cottages for them), that the best he could do for

them, under present conditions of wages, and the like, was,


them good drainage and bare walls.
^'
I am obliged," he said to me, " to give up all thought of
anything artistic, and even then, I must lose a considerable

to give

sum on every
201. Kow,

cottage I build."

there is no end to the confused states of wrong


and misery which that landlord's experience signifies. In
the first place, no landlord has any business with building
cottages for his people.
Every peasant should be able to
build his OAvn cottage,
to build it to his mind
and to have
a mind to build it too.
In the second place, note the unhappy notion which has grown up in the modern English
mind, that wholesome and necessary delight in what is pleas-

ant to the eye,


of

it

all in

is artistic affectation.

You have

the exponent

the central and mighty affectation of the

Houses

IX.

STORY

Oi'

THE llALCYOn.

12Y

A number of English gentlemen get together

of Parliament.
to talk

THE5

they have no delight whatever in any kind of beauty

but they have a vague notion that the appointed place for
their conversation should be dignified

and ornamental'; and

they build over their combined heads the absurdest and emp-

were,
and,
which ever human beings disgraced

piece of filigree,

tiest

freestone,
ity by.

Well,

as

all that is

eternal foolscap in

it

their poster-

done, partly, and greatly, in

mere

jobbery; but essentially also in a servile imitation of the


Hotel-de-Ville builders of old time; but the English gentle-

man

has not the remotest idea that

built, the ville

enjoyed

its

hotel;

when

Hotels-de-Ville were

the town had

a real pride

and place of council, and the sculptures of


it had precious meaning for all the populace.
202. And in like manner, if cottages are ever to be wisely
built again, the peasant must enjoy his cottage, and be himShall cock-robins and yellowself its artist, as a bird is.
hammers have wit enough to make themselves comfortable,
and bullfinches peck a Gothic tracery out of dead clematis,
and your English yeoman be fitted by his landlord with four
dead walls and a drain-pipe? That is the result of your
spending 300,000L a year at Kensington in science and art,
then ? You have made beautiful machines, too, wherewith
you save the peasant the trouble of plowing and reaping, and
threshing; and after being saved all that time and toil, and
getting, one would think, leisure enough for his education,
you have to lodge him also, as you drop a puppet into a deal
box, and you lose money in doing it and two hundred years
in its

town

hall,

ago, without steam, without electricity, almost without books,

and altogether without help from ^' Cassell's Educator " or


morning newspapers, the Swiss shepherd could build himself a chalet, daintily carved, and with flourished inscriptions, and with red and blue and white noutkia
and the
burgess of Strasburg could build himself a house like this
I showed you, and a spire such as all men know and keep a
precious book or two in his public library, and praise God for
what are we good for, but to damage the
all; while we,

the

THE eagle's nest.

128

knock down half the houses, and burn the library,


and declare there is no God but Chemistry ?
203. What are we good for? Are even our machines of
destruction useful to us ? Do they give us real power ? Once,
indeed, not like halcyons, but like sea-eagles, we had our
homes upon the sea fearless alike of storm or enemy, winged
like the wave petrel; and as Arabs of an indeed pathless
Our
desert, we dwelt in the presence of all our brethren.
pride is fallen no reed shaken with the wind, near the little
singing halcyon's nest, is more tremulous than we are now
though we have built iron nests on the sea, with walls impregnable.
We have lost our pride but have we gained
spire,

Do we

peace

make

it ?

204.

even care to seek

Have you

it,

how much

less strive to

ever thought seriously of the

meaning of

People are always


expecting to get peace in heaven but you know whatever
peace they get there will be ready made. Whatever making
of peace they can be blest for, must be on the earth here:
not the taking of arms against, but the building of nests

that blessing given to the peacemakers

amidst, its " sea of troubles." Difficult enough, y5u think ?


Perhaps so, but I do not see that any of us try. We complain
of the want of many things
we want votes, we want liberty,
we want amusement, we want money. Which of us feels, or
knows, that he wants peace ?
205. There are two ways of getting it, if you do w^ant it.
The first is wholly in your own power; to make yourselves
nests of pleasant thoughts. Those are nests on the sea indeed,
but safe beyond all others; only they need much art in the
building. I^one of us yet know, for none of us have yet been
taught in early youth, what fairy palaces we may build of

beautiful

thought

proof

against

all

adversity.

Bright

fancies, satisfied memories, noble histories, faithful sayings,

treasure-houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care

cannot disturb, nor pain

from us
in.

houses

make gloomy, nor poverty

take

away

built without hands, for our souls to live

THE STORY OF THE HALCYOIT.

IX.

And

1206.
the

first

in actual life, let

wisdom

of calm,'

me

is to

129

assure you, in conclusion,


plan,

and resolve

to labor

comfort and beauty of a home such as, if we could obISTot a compartment of a


tain it, we would quit no more.
model lodging-house, not the number so-and-so of Paradise
for, the

Row

its

all of our own, with its little garden, its


surrounding fields, its neighboring stream,

but a cottage

pleasant view,

healthy

air,

Less than

this,

more than

this

sible, or

its

and clean kitchen, parlors, and bed-rooms.


no man should be content with for his nest;
few should seek but if it seem to you impos:

wildly imaginary, that such houses should ever be

obtained for the greater part of the English people, again believe me, the obstacles which are in the way of our obtaining
them are the things which it must be the main object now of
all true science, true art, and true literature to overcome.

Science does
the sun

its

duty, not in telling us the causes of spots in

but in explaining to us the laws of our

the consequences of their violation.

own

Art does

life,

and

duty, not

its

in filling monster galleries with frivolous, or dreadful, or

indecent pictures

but in completing the comforts and refin-

ing the pleasures of daily occurrence, and familiar service:

and

literature does its duty, not in wasting our hours in

political discussion,

or in idle fiction; but in raising our

fancy to the height of what


tous in actual life;

may

be noble, honest,

in giving us, though

and

we may

felici-

ourselves

be poor and unknown, the companionship of the wisest

fel-

and country, and in aiding the communication of clear thoughts and faithful purposes, among
distant nations, which will at last breathe calm upon the sea
of lawless passion, and change into such halcyon days the
low-spirits of every age

winter of the world, that the birds of the air


nests in peace,

and the Son of Man, where

may

to lay

have their

His head.

LECTUKE

X.

THE HERALDIC ORDINAEIES.


March

my

207. In"

last lecture, I

9th, 1873.

endeavored

to illustrate to

the use of art to the science of physiology.

introduce to you

its

science of history.

am

you

to-day to

elementary forms as an exponent of the


Which, speaking with perfect accuracy,

we ought

to call, also, " physiology,'' or natural history of

man

it

ought to be in truth the history of his Nature


and not merely of the accidents which have befallen him.
;

for

Do we

not too

much

confuse the important part of the science

with the unimportant ?


In giving the natural history of the lion, you do not care
materially v/here such and such a lion was trapped, or how
it had eaten.
You want to know what
shaped
creature
and
it is, or ought to be.
minded

many
all

sheep

our books of

human

has happened to men, and


in a manner, eaten,
^opot,

people-eaters;

sort of a

But in
tell what

we only care to
how many of each other they

history

when they
and we

are,

what Homer

scarcely

calls

understand,

have,
<5ry/io-

even

Nay, I am not sure


that even this art of heraldry, which has for its main object
the telling and proclamation of our chief minds and characters to each other, and keeping record of descent by race, as
far as it is possible, (or, under the present aspect of Darwin-

to this day,

how they

are truly minded.

ism, pleasant,) to trace it;

I am not sure

has always understood clearly what

very sure
208.

it

it

had

that even heraldry


to tell.

But I am

has not been understood in the telling.

Some

of

you have, I hope, looked

* Conversations on

War and
130

at this

General Culture,

book* of

X.

THE HERALDIC

131

ORDIITARIES.

Arthur Helps, on War and Culture/ about which I cannot


now say what I would, because he has done me the grace of
^

but you will find in it, directly bearing


it to me
on our present subject, this story about heraldry:
^^
A friend of mine, a physician, became entangled in the
crowd at Kennington on that memorable evening when a
dedicating

row was expected, and when Louis Napoleon


armed himself with a constable's staff to support the cause
My friend observed a young man of pleasant apof order.
pearance, Avho was very busy in the crowd, and appeared to
Gradually, by the pressure of
be a leader amongst them.
brought
near together, and the good
were
two
the crowd, the
They exthis
fiery partisan.
with
doctor had some talk
doctor
the
changed confidences; and to his astonishment,
found that this furious young Chartist gained his livelihood,
and a very good livelihood too, by heraldic painting by
painting the coats-of-arms upon carriages. IsTow, if you can
imagine this young man's darling enterprise to have been
successful, if Chartism had prevailed, what would have beI become of the painting of arms upon carriage-panels ?
great Chartist

lieve that

my

good doctor insinuated

young man, and

that

it

own, therefore, that the

this suggestion to the

was received with disdain.


utile,

must

even when brought home to

man's self, has much less to do with people's political opinand desires, than might at first be supposed. Indeed,
I would venture to maintain, that no great change has ever
been produced in the world by motives of self-interest. Sentiment, that thing which many wise people affect to despise, is
the commanding thing as regards popular impulses and popa

ions

ular action."

209. This last sentence would have been wholly true, had
Mr. Helps written no great living change.' The changes of
Dissolution are continually produced by self-interest,
for
instance, a great number of the changes in your methods of
life in England just now, and many of those in your moral
temper, are produced by the percentage on the sale of iron.
^

And

I should haye otherwise interpreted th^ heroism pf th^

132
and said that he was moved on the 10th of
that by overthrowing Lordship, he expected to get much more for himself than his salary as an heraldic painter; and that he had

young

Chartist,

April, hy a deep under-current of self-interest

sentiment enough, or

not, in painting his carriage-panels,

even sentiment at all.


" Paint me my arms,

him

"

said Giotto, as the youth threw

his white shield with that order

were one of the Bardi "


!

" he

Our English

speaks as

he

if

panel-painter had lost

the consciousness that there yet remained above him, so

much

as one, of the Bardi.

May

not that be somewhat the Bardi's fault

have not taught their Giottos,

lately, the

in that they

function of heraldry,

or of any other higher historical painting.

We
tion

have, especially, to-day, to consider

what that func-

is.

210. I said that the function of historical painting, in

what is best
and their forms so
also, in representing man, it is to record of man what has
been best in his acts and way of life, and fairest in his form.
representing animals,

is to

and most beautiful in

their

But

this

discern and record

ways of

life,

way of the life of man has been a long one. It


know it more difficult to judge; to do either

is difficult to

with complete equity is impossible; but it is always possible


to do it with the charity which does not rejoice in iniquity.
211. Among the many mistakes we have lately fallen into,
touching that same charity, one of the worst is our careless
habit of always thinking of her as pitiful, and to be concerned only with miserable and wretched persons; whereas

her chief joy

is

in being reverent,

Her

noble and venerable persons.

ing of pity; her highest


are

is

and concerned mainly with


poorest function

the giving of praise.

many men, who, however

fallen,

is

the giv-

For there

do not like to be pitied

men, however far risen, like to be praised.


212. I had occasion in my last lecture to express my regret that the method of education in this country has become
but

all

Q distinctly competitive,

It is necessary, however, to di-

X.

133

THI5 ilEIlALDiC ORDIKAHIES.

tinguish carefully between the competition which

is

for the

means of existence, and that which is for the praise of learnFor my own part, so far as they affect our studies here,
ing.
I equally regret both
solutely

money I regret abwhen it sets the reward

but competition for

competition for praise, only

and narrow a race. I want you to compete, not


what you know, but for the praise of what
become
and
to compete only in that great school, where
you
examiner,
the
and God the judge. For you will find,
death is
into
your
own hearts, that the two great delights,
if you look
in loving and praising, and the two great thirsts, to be loved
and praised, are the roots of all that is strong in the deeds of
men, and happy in their repose. We yet, thank Heaven, are
not ashamed to acknowledge the power of love; but we confusedly and doubtfully allege that of honor; and though we
cannot but instinctively triumph still, over a won boat-race, I
suppose the best of us would shrink somewhat from declaring that the love of praise was to be one of the chief
for too short

for the, praise of


;

motives of their future


213.

But

I believe

lives.

you

will find

it,

if

you think, not only

one of the chief, but absolutely the chief, motive of


action; nay, that love itself

human

in its highest state, the ren-

is,

and our EngSaxon word, love, is


connected, through the old French verb, loer, (whence
dering of an exquisite praise to body and soul

lish

tongue

is

very sacred in this

louange), with the Latin,

And you may sum

laus,'

for

not

its

amor.'

the duty of your life in the giving of

praise worthily, and being yourselves

worthy of

it.

214. Therefore in the reading of all history, your first

purpose must be to seek what


the rest

and in doing

so,

portant part of the history of

What he
is

actually does,

is

is to

be praised; and disdain

remember always

man

is

always in great part accidental

at best a partial fulfilment of his

The

real

purpose; and what

it

we

I said, merely a record of the external


which befall men getting together in large crowds.
history of mankind is that of the slow advance

call history is often, as

accidents

that the most im-

that of his imagination.


134

fUTA ijagle's nest.

of resolved deed following laboriously just thought: and


the greatest
is

men

possible for

live in their

them

all

purpose and effort more than

it

you would praise


for what they conceived and felt;
If

to live in reality.

them more worthily, it is


not merely for what they have done.
215. It

is

therefore a true historian's

separate the deed from the imagination

come

remember

inconsistent, to

cious at

all, is

little

literally true.

The

work

of the two

first

history of the

It is

be-

no matter how

books of Livy

Komans

is

may

be

the history of

the nation which could conceive the battle of the


lus.

diligently to

and when these

that the imagination, if pre-

indeed the most precious.

much, or how

Lake Regil-

I have rowed in rough weather on the Lake of the four

cantons often enough to

know

that the legend of Tell

is,

in

absurd: but the history of Switzerland is that


of the people who expressed their imagination of resistance
literal detail,

to injustice

by that legend,

so as to

animate their character

vitally to this day.

But in no part of history does the ideal separate itfrom the reality and in no part of it is the ideal
necessary and noble, as in your own inherited history

216.

self so far

so

that of Christian Chivalry.

For

all

English gentlemen this

is

the part of the tale of the

man which it is most essential for them


They may be proud that it is also the greatest part.

race of

hitherto has been achieved of best,

preparation instituted,

is

all

to

know.

All that

that has been in noble

begun in the period, and rooted

in the conception, of Chivalry.

You must always carefully distinguish that conception


from the base strength of the resultless passions which distort and confuse it.
Infinitely weaker, the ideal is eternal
and creative; the clamorous rages pass away, ruinous it
may

be,

prosperous

it

You

may

be, for their

time

but

insignifi-

and priests alike, always inventing expedients to get money you find kings and priests
alike, always inventing pretexts to gain power.
If you want
to write a practical history of the Middle Ages, and to trace
cant for ever.

find kings

X.

1S5

HERALDIC ORDINARIES.

THii

the real reasons of the things that actually happened, investigate first the history of the money and then of the quarrels
;

and territory. But the things that actually happened were of small consequence the thoughts that were

for office

developed are of infinite consequence.


I was walking back from Hincksey last evening,
discomfited
by the look of bad weather, and more in
somewhat
217.

As

myself, as I thought over this closing lecture, wondering

how

far you thought I had been talking idly to you, instead of


teaching you to draw, through this term, I stopped before
as it was intended every
Messrs. Wyatt's window; caught
And
one should be by this display of wonderful things.

I was very

unhappy

as I looked, for

could not but think the

little

it

seemed

I could show you

to

me you

how

to do

while here were produced, by mysteries of


craft which you might expect me at once to explain, brilliant
water colors in purple and gold, and photographs of seaquite valueless

waves, and chromolithotints of beautiful young ladies, and


exquisitely finished engravings of all

sorts

of interesting

and sublime personages: patriots, saints, martyrs,


all depicted with a
penitents, and who not and what not
dexterity which it has cost the workmen their life's best
energy to learn, an^ requires great cleverness thus to apply.
While, in your room for study, there are only ugly photographs of Diirers and Holbeins, and my rude outlines from
leaves, and you scarcely ever hear me say anything in praise
of that delightful and elaborate modern art at all.
218. So I bought this Madonna,* which was the prettiest
thing I saw and it will enable me to tell you why this modern art is, indeed, so little to be studied, even at its best. I
think you will all like the plate, and you ought to like it;
scenes,

but observe in Avhat


site line

its

beauty consists.

First, in very exqui-

engraving: against that I have nothing to say,

ing the greatest respect for the industry and skill

it

feel-

requires.

Next, in a grace and severity of action which we all are ready


but this is not the painter's own bestowing ; the
to praise
;

Now.

Ref. 104.

^J

^HE EAGLETS NEST.

186

Memling and Van Eyck, and otliei*


The covering of the
robe with jewels is plieasing to you but that is learned from
Angelico and John Bellini and if you will compare the
jewel-painting in the John Bellini (Standard No. 5), you
Then the
will find this false and formal in comparison.

trick of

men

it is

learned from

of the northern religious school.


;

face
is

is

much

by having a crown

dignified

set

on

it

which

copied from the ordinary thirteenth century form, and

ill

young German
mother's, and is only by the painter's want of skill made
conventional in expression, and formal in feature. It would
have been wiser and more difiicult to have painted her as
Eaphael or Eeynolds would, with true personal resemblance,

The

done.

face itself

is

studied from a

perfected in expression.

219. JSTevertheless,

But

lovely.

all things.

above

all,

in

derivative

its

I wish you to observe that

The

dress

is

the conception

way, this
it

is

very

is

derivative in

derivative; the action, derivative:


is

derivative altogether,

from that

great age of Christian chivalry, which, in art and thought


alike, surpassed the Greek chivalry, because it added to their
enthusiasm of patriotism the enthusiasm of imaginative love,
sanctified by this ruling vision of the Madonna, as at once
*
perfect maid and perfect mother.
And your study of the art of the middle ages must begin

how

men

them looked on Love


and how, from the
least thing to the greatest, the honoring of father and mother,
the noble esteem of children, and the sincere respect for race,
and for the courtesies and prides that graced and crowned
its purity, were the sources of all their virtue, and all their
in your understanding

the

of

as the source of all honor, as of life;

joy-

220.

From

is,

of, apparently, the least things

indeed, one of the greatest.

this

the least things, I say, to the greatest.

to speak to-day of one

How much

am

which

of the dignity of

Madonna, do you suppose, depends on the manner she

bears her dress, her crown, her jewels, and her scepter

In peasant and prince

alike,

you

will find that, ultimately,

X.

character
dress

is

HiiiiAtDlc

Tllfi

man

and flowers, but


Splendor observe, however,

as color to birds

splendor with more meaning.

word

in the true Latin sense of the


:

IS?

truly heralded in dress; and that splendor in

is

as necessary to

gaudiness

oRMNAMEg.

what I have been

will apply equally to color in dress

insolence and discord of

it,

brightness of color

you of

telling
:

not

color in pictures

vulgarity consists in the

not in brightness.

221. For peasant and prince alike, in healthy national

and beautiful arrangement of it


l^o indication of moral decline is more sure
are needful,
than the squalor of dress among the lower orders, and the

order, brightness of dress

fear or

shame of the higher

classes to bear their

proper

in-

signia.

Such fear and shame are singularly expressed, here in


The nobleman ceases to wear the
golden tassel in his cap, so accepting, and publicly heralding
Oxford, at this hour.

popular opinion of him that he has

his acceptance of, the

ceased to he a nobleman, or noteworthy person.*

members of the University,

generally, shrink

their academical dress, so accepting,


their

acceptance

may

else

of,

the

And

the

from wearing

and publicly heralding

popular opinion that everybody

On the other hand,


young men in bright costumes

be as good scholars as they.

I see continually in the streets

of blue and white; in such evidently proud heraldry pro-

claiming their conviction that the chief object of residence


in

Oxford

is

learning to row; the rowing itself being, I

imagine, not for real boat service, but for purposes of display.
222. All dress

is

thus heraldic; a soldier's dress only more

means to die as
from the beggar's rag

definitely so, in proclaiming the thing he

well as to live for


* "

Another

but

all is heraldic,

stride that has been taken appears in the perishing of


Whilst the privileges of nobility are passing to the middle
class, the badge is discredited, and the titles of lordship are getting
musty and cumbersome. I wonder that sensible men have not been
already impatient of them. They belong, w^ith wigs, powder, and
scarlet coats, to an earlier age, and may be advantageously consigned,
with paint and tattoo, to the dignitaries of Australia and Polynesia." R. W. Emerson (English Traits).

heraldry.

THE EAGLETS

138

diadem

to the king's

solently

it

may

ITESf.

be involuntarily,

but when the characters of

men

wise, their dress becomes heraldic reverently,


^'

Togam

e tugurio proferre

Edie Ochiltree's blue gown

it

may

be, in-

are determined, and

and in order.

uxorem Raciliam jubet " and


;

is

as honorably heraldic as a

knight's ermine.

223.
is,

The beginning of

heraldry, and of all beautiful dress,

however, simply in the wearing of the skins of slain ani-

You may

mals.

meaning of

discredit, as

much

that earliest statement,

as
'^

you choose, the literal


Unto Adam also, and

Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed


them " but the figurative meaning of it only becomes the
stronger. For if you think of the skins of animals as giving
leather, fur, wool, and
the four great materials of dress
down, you will see in this verse the summary of what has
ever since taken place in the method of the providence of the
Maker of Man and beast, for the clothing of the naked creature who was to rule over the rest.
224. The first practical and savage use of such dress was
that the skin of the head of the beast became a covering for
the head of its slayer the skin of its body his coat the skin
of the fore legs was knotted in front, and the skin of the hind
legs and tail became tassels, the jags of the cut edges forming
a kind of fringe here and there.
to his wife, did the
:

You have
mane

thus the

first

of the animal for

conception of a helmet with the

its crest

or plume, and the

first

ception of a cuirass variously fringed, striped, or spotted

con;

in

complete accouterment for war, you have to add spear, (or


arrow), and shield.' The spear is properly a beam of wood,
iron pointed

the shield a disk of leather, iron fronted.

And armed

strength for conflict

is

symbolized for

all fu-

ture time by the Greeks, under the two types of Heracles

and Athena

the one with the low lion's crest and the arrow,

the other with the high horse's crest and the spear; one with
the lion-skin, the other with the goat-skin;

round
225.

^both

with the

shield.

The

nebris

of Dionusos

and leopard-skin of the

X.

priests of

Egypt

THE

130

It:eitALDIC ORbilSfAKiES.

relate to astronomy, not

war and
;

the interest

bars, as variously symbolic, together with

in their spots

and

real pleasure

in their grotesqueness,

greatly modified the

Egyptian color-decoration. On the earliest


Greek vases, also, the spots and bars of the animals are carried out in spots or checkers upon the ground, (sometimes
representing flowers), and the delight in " divers colors of
needlework," and in fantasy of embroidery, gradually refine
and illumine the design of Eastern dress. But only the patterns derived from the colors of animals become classical in
heraldry under the general name of " furres,'' one of them
" vaire '' or verrey ("the variegated fur,") rudely figuring
the material composed of the skins of small animals sewn
together, alternately head to tail; the other, ermine, peculiarly honorable, from the costliness, to southern nations, of
entire system of

the fur

226.

it

represents.

The name of

lar origin

the principal heraldic color has a simithe " rams' skins dyed red " which were used

for the curtains of the Jewish tabernacle, were always one

of the principal articles of

west

in mediaeval Latin they

commerce between the east and


were called " gulae," and in the
that to be dressed in "gules"

French plural "gules," so


came gradually to mean being dressed in the particular red
of those skins, which was a full soft scarlet, not dazzling,
but warm and glowing. It is used, in opposition to darker
purple, in large masses in the fresco painting of later

Rome

dominant color of ornamental writing in the middle


ages (giving us the ecclesiastical term " rubric "), and asserts
itself finally, and most nobly, in the fresco paintings of
Ghirlandajo and Luini.
I have tried to represent very
closely the tint of it Luini has given to St. Catherine's mantle, in my study in your schools.
Titian keeps it also as the
is

the

keynote of his frescoes; so also Tintoret; but Raphael, Cor-

and Michael Angelo, all substituted orange for it in


and the entire scheme of color in the
Vatican frescoes is of orange and purple, broken by green and
white, on a ground of gray.
This orange and purple opreggio,

opposition to purple

THU eagle's

140

nest,

meaner hands became gaudy and feeble, and the


system of mediaival color was at last totally destroyed by it
the orange remaining to this day the favorite, and most distinctive, hue in bad glass painting.
227. The forms of dress, however, derived from the skins
of animals are of much more importance than the colors. Of
these the principal is the crest, which is properly the mane of
lion or horse. The skin of the horse was neither tough, nor of
convenient size for wearing; but the classical Greek helmet
position in

is

only an adaptation of the outline of

floating behind

many Etruscan

its

head, with the

helmets have ears

also,

mane
while

in mediaeval armor, light plates, cut into the shape of wings

of birds, are often placed on each side of the crest, which then

becomes not the mane of the animal merely, but the image
of the entire creature which the warrior desires to be re-

nowned
228.

for having slain.

The Heraldic meaning of


Knight

the crest

is

accordingly,

have prevailed over


the animal it represents and to be stronger than such a creature would be, therefore, against his human enemies. Hence,
gradually, he considers himself invested with the power and
character of the slain creature itself and, as it were, to have
taken from it, for his spoil, not its skin only but its strength.
that the

first,

asserts himself to
;

The

crest, therefore, is the heraldic indication of personality,

and

is

properly to be distinguished from the bearing on the

shield, because that indicated race; but the crest, personal

character and valor.


229. I have traced the practical truth which

is

the founda-

tion of this idea of the transmitted strength of the slain

creature becoming the inheritance of

its

count given of the coins of Camarina, in


Air."

But

it is

'^

strange and sad to reflect

victor,

in the ac-

The Queen of the


how much misery

has resulted, in the history of man, from the imaginative excuse for cruelty afforded by the adopted character of savage

animals and how many wolves, bears, lions, and eagles, have
been national symbols, instead of gentler creatures. Even
the heraldic symbol of Christ is in Italy oftener the lion.
;

X.

THE HERALDIC ORDINARIES.

141

"

than the lamb: and among the innumerable painters of his


Desert Prophet, only Filippo Lippi understood the full

meaning of the raiment of camel's

hair,

and made him wear

the camel's skin, as Heracles the Lion's.

230. Although the crest


of personal character,
the sign on shield

is

thus essentially an expression

and

practically becomes hereditary;

it

and helmet

is

commonly

the same.

But

shield has a system of bearings peculiar to itself, to

the

which

I wish especially to direct your attention to-day.

and the German schild mean the


covering thing,' that behind which you are sheltered, but
you must be careful to distinguish it from the word shell,
which means properly a scale or plate, developed like a fish's

Our word

shield

'

'

'

scale, for the protection of the

body.

There are properly only two kinds of shields, one round


and the other square, passing into oval and oblong; the
round one being for use in free action, the square one for
adjustment to ground or walls; but, on horseback, the lower
part of the shield must be tapered

off,

niently on the left side of the horse.


cally

you have two


on

one, for fighting

in order to fall conve-

And,

great forms of shield

the Greek round

foot, or in the chariot,

pointed one, for fighting on horseback.


motionless defence

therefore, practi-

is,

and the Gothic

The oblong one

for

however, almost always given to the

mythic figure of Fortitude, and the bearings of the Greek and


Gothic shields are always designed with reference to the
supposed figures of the circle and square.
The Greek word for the round shield is aspis.' I have no
doubt, merely a modification, of ^ apsis,' the potter's wheel
the proper word for the Gothic shield is ^ecu,' from the
Latin
scutum,' meaning a shield covered with leather.
From ecu you have ecuyer
from scutum scutiger,*
both passing into our English squire.'
231. The aspis of the Greeks might be much heavier than
the Gothic shield, because a Greek never rode fully armed;
his object was to allow both to his horse and to himself the
most perfect commawcl of limb compatible with protection;
^

'

'

THE EAGLETS NEST.

142
therefore, he

if,

was in

full armor,

and wanted his horse

to

carry him, he put a board upon wheels, and stood on that,


harnessing sometimes to it four horses of the highest breed

Of

abreast.

all

hitherto practiced exertions of

manual dex-

the driving thus at full speed over rough ground,

terity,

standing in the chariot,

is,

as far as I

know, the greatest ever

attained by general military discipline.


It

is

true that to do anything perfectly well

is

about

equally difficult; and I suppose that in a chariot race, a

tournament, or a modern game at cricket, the manual art


men would be almost equally fine
still, practically, in Gothic chivalry, the knight trusted more

of the most highly-trained

to his

weight and less to his skill than a Greek did nor could
under armor ever render precision of aim so
;

a horse's pace
difficult as at

unarmed

speed.

232. Another great difference of a parallel kind exists in


the knight's body armor.

Greek never hopes

to

turn a

lance by his cuirass, nor to be invulnerable except by en-

chantment, in his body-armor, because he will not have it


cumbrous enough to impede his movements; but he makes
his shield, if possible, strong
carries

it

as he

would

enough

to stop a lance,

a piece of wall: a Gothic knight,

and
on

make his coat armor invulnerable,


and carried the shield merely to ward thrusts on the left side,
never large enough to encumber the arm that held the reins.
the contrary, endeavored to

All fine design in Gothic heraldry

is

founded, therefore, on

form of a short, but pointed shield, convex enough to


throw the point of a spear aside easily; a form roughly extending from the beginning of the twelfth to the middle of
the fifteenth century, but of which the most beautiful types
are towards the end of the thirteenth.
233. The difference in method of device between the
Gothic and classic shields resulted partly from this essential

the

difference in form.

two

sides, like a

The pointed

shield,

having definitely

pointed arch, and a determined position,

naturally suggested an arrangement of bearings definitely


pil

Que side or the other^ or above^ or below the center, while

the

143

THE HERALDIC OKDINARIES.

X.

Greek shield had

its

main bearing,

boss, or its

in the

Farther,

center always, with subordinate decoration round.

the Gothic fineness of color-instinct seized at once on this


division of parts as an opportunity for inlaying or counter-

and finally, the respect for race, carried out


by registry of the remotest branches of noble families, compelled the Gothic heralds of later times to use these methods
of dividing or quartering in continually redoubled complexchanging colors

234. Essentially,
classic

shield,

therefore,

the Gothic one

as
is

distinguished

from the

parti-colored beneath its

definite bearings, or rather, bi-colored

for the tinctures are

never more than two in the main design of them and the
specific methods of arrangement of these two masses of color
have deeper and more ancient heraldic significance than,
I have
with few exceptions, their superimposed bearings.
arranged the twelve principal ones * in the 7th of your rudimentary exercises, and they will be entirely fixed in your
minds by once drawing it.
;

235. Observe respecting them.


1.

The Chiefe

a bar of color across the upper part of the

shield, signifies authority or chief -dom, as the source of all

order, power,
2.

The

and peace.

Cross, as an ordinary, distinguished

as a bearing, consists

from the

cross

simply of two bars dividing the shield

into four quarters; and, I believe, that

it

does not in this

form stand properly as a symbol of Christian faith, but only

The cross as a
as one of Christian patience and fortitude.
symbol of faith is terminated within the field.
3. The Fesse, a horizontal bar across the middle of the
shield, represents the knight's girdle, or anything that binds
* Charges which " doe peculiarly belong to this art, and are of ordinary use tlierein, in regard whereof they are called 'ordinaries.'"
See GuiLLiM, sect. ii. chap. iii. (Ed. 1638.)
" They have also the title of honourable ordinaries in that the court
armour is mucli honoured thereby." The French call them " pieces
Jjonorables."

THE EAGLE

144:

NEST.

The word is a corruption of


Drake received for arms from Queen
Elizabeth a Fesse waved between two pole-stars, where it
stands for the waved surface of the sea, and partly, also, to
signify that Sir Francis put a girdle round the earth; and
and

secures,

or continues.

Sir Francis

fascia.

Drummond carries three diminutive Fesses, or


waved, because their ancestor brought Queen Margaret
safe through many storms.
4. The Bend, an oblique bar descending from right to left
the family of

bars,

The

of the holder of the shield, represents the sword belt.

Latin balteus and balteum are, I believe, the origin of the


word. They become bendellus and bendellum then bandeau
and bande. Benda is the word used for the ribbon round the
;

neck of St. Etheldreda, in the account of her death quoted


by Du Cange. I believe, also, the fesse stands often for the
cross-bar of the castle gate, and the bend for its very useful diagonal bar: this

is

only a conjecture, but I believe as

likely to be true as the idea, certainly admitted in heraldry,

that the bend sometimes stands for a scaling ladder: so also

the next four most important ordinaries have all an architectural significance.

is

5. The Pale, an upright bar dividing the shield in half,


simply an upright piece of timber in a palisade. It signi-

fies

either defence or enclosure.

The Pile, a wedge-shaped space of color with the point


downwards, represents what we still call a pile; a piece of
timber driven into moist ground to secure the foundation of
any building.
6.

7. The Canton, a square space of color in either of the


upper corners of the shield, signifies the corner-stone of a
building.
The origin and various use of this word are very
interesting.
The Greek xa^Oo^^ used by Aristotle for the
corner of the eyes, becomes canto, and then cantonus.
The
French coin (corner), is usually derived from the Latin
cuneus but I have no doubt it is one corruption of canton
the mediaeval-Latin cantonus is either an angle or recess, or
;

four-s(juare

corner-stone,

The

heraldic

canton

is

the

';

THE HEJRALDIC

X.

145

OKDlNAlilES.

corner-stone of a building, and the

French cantonnier

is

road-mender, because the essential thing in repairing a road


is to

get

its

corner or edge firm.

The Chevron,

8.

band bent

at

an angle (properly a right

point upwards, represents the gable or roof

angle), with

its

of a house.

Thus the four last-named ordinaries represent

the four essentials of a fixed habitation: the pale,

sure within a given space of ground

enclo-

its

the pile, its foundation

and the chevron, its roof.


9. The Orle, a narrow band following the outline of the
shield midway between its edge and center, is a more definite
expression of enclosure or fortification by moat or rampart.
The relations of this word, no less than that of the canton,
are singular, and worth remembering.
Du Cange quotes
under it an order of the municipality of Piacenza, that always, in the custom-house where the salt-tax was taken, " a
the canton,

its

wall,

great orled disk " should be kept


i.

e.,

should be placed.
the

" dischus

magnus

orlatus,"

which every day fresh salt


Then note that the word disk is used in

a large plate, with a rim, in

Middle Ages, either for a

disk "

is

plate, or a table,

(the " holy

the patina of the sacrament), but most generally

whence you get the old German disch our dish,


French disner, diner; and our dinner. The disk cut out
into a ring becomes a quoit, which is the simplest form of
orle.
The word ^orle itself comes, I believe, from ora, in old
1
Latin, which took a diminutive, orula
or perhaps the
was put in merely to distinguish, to the ear, a margined
thing,
orlatus,' from a gilded thing,
auratus.'
It stands
for a table,

the

'

for the

hem

any margin

of a robe, or the
;

and

it is

fillet

of a crown, as well as for

given as an ordinary to such as have

afforded protection and defence, because

it defends what is
Reduced to a narrow band, it becomes a Tressure.'
If you have a sovereign of 1860 to 1870 in your
pocket, and look at the right hand upper corner of the
Queen's arms, you willsee the Scottish Lion within the tressure decorated with fleur-de-lys, which Scotland bears in

within

it.

memory
10

of her treaty with Charlemagne.

146

The Gjron,

10.

a triangular space of color with

in the center of the shield, derives

Latin gyro, a fold, " pars vestis qua laxior


parte contracta, in largiorem

The

heraldic

ence

to,

formam

its

name from

its

in

fit,

point

the old

et in superiori

imo

se explicat."

gyron,' however, also has a collateral refer-

and root

in, the

word ^gremium,' bosom

or lap

and

it

signifies properly the chief fold or fall of the dress either

over the bosom, or between the knees; and has whatever

symbolic expression

may

be attributed to that fold, as a sign

The

of kindness or protection.

by

influence of the lines taken

softly falling drapery in giving gentleness to the action of

figures

was always

felt

by the Gothic

artists as

one of the

chief elements of design; and the two constantly repeated

^gremium of His
and of the Madonna casting hers over suppliants, gave

figures of Christ holding souls in the


robe,

an inevitably recognized association

The Flasque,

'

to them.

by a curved
on each flank of the shield, derives its name from the
Lati.n flecto, and is the bearing of honor given for successful
embassy. It must be counted among the ordinaries, but is
11.

a space of color terminated

line

of rare occurrence in what groups of authentic bearings I

have examined.
12.

The

Saltire,

from

salir,

represents the securest

of machine for mounting walls;

form

has partly the same

it

sig-

nificance as the ladder of the Scaligers, but, being properly

an ordinary, and not a bearing, has the wider general meaning of successful ascent, not that of mere local attack. As a
bearing, it is the St. Andrew's Cross.
236. These twelve forms of ordinary then, or

first

color

divisions of the shield, represent symbolically the establish-

ment, defence, and exaltation of the Knight's house by his


Christian courage and are in this symbolism, different from
;

all

other military bearings.

They

are throughout essentially

founded on the "quartering " or division of the field into four


spaces by the sign of the cross and the history of the chivalry
of Europe is absolutely that of the connection of domestic
:

THE HERALDIC

X.

14Y

OEDHSTAEIES.

honor with Christian faith, and of the exaltation of these


two sentiments into the highest enthusiasm by cultivated
imagination.

The means of
falls,

pride,

this culture

by the

of the enthusiasm so excited

and

lust, in

finer arts
its

the errors, or

extinction by avarice,

the period of the (so called) Renaissance,

and the possibility of a true Renaissance, or Restoration, of


men in their homes and

courage and pure hope to Christian


industries,

must form the general subject of the study

into

which I have henceforth to lead you. In a future course of


lectures it will be my endeavor to show you, in the elementary forms of Christian architecture, the evidence of such
mental development and decline in Europe from the tenth to
the seventeenth century but remember that my power or any
one else's, to show you truths of this kind, must depend entirely on the degree of sympathy you have in yourselves with
what is decorous and generous. I use both these words advisedly, and distinctively, for every high quality of art conbecoming,
sists either in some expression of what is decent,
or disciplined in character, or of what is bright and gener;

ous in the forces of

human

life.

I need not say that I fear no

want of such sympathy in

you; yet the circumstances in which you are placed are in

many

respects adverse to

it.

237. I find, on returning to the University after a period


of thirty years, the scope of
the zeal of

its

its

teaching greatly extended,

masters certainly undiminished

I can judge, the feeling of the younger

and, as far as

members of the

University better, and their readiness to comply with all


sound advice, greater, than in my time. What scandals there
have been among us, I think have been in great part accidental,

and consequent

on the intense need for exis provoked by our restIn temper, in general amena-

chiefly

citement of some trivial kind, which

and competitive work.


and in their sense of the advantages
open to them, more may now be hoped than ever yet from the
students of Oxford
one thing only I find wanting to them
less

bility to right guidance,

altogether

distinctness of aim.

THE EAGLETS NEST.

148
238. In their

new

schools of science thej learn the

power

of machinery and of physical elements, but not that of the


soul

am

afraid, in our

new

learn rather to doubt their

schools of liberal religion they

own

faiths than to look with

patience or respect on those of others

and in our new schools

of policy, to efface the canons of the past, without having

formed any

distinct conception of those

which must regulate

the institutions of the future.

239. It

is

me

therefore a matter of very deep rejoicing to

that, in

bringing before your examination the best forms of

English

art, I

am

necessarily leading

you

to take interest in

the history of your country at the time when, so to speak,

became England.

You

it

how, in every college which is


now extending or renewing its buildings, the adopted style is
approximately that of the thirteenth century
it being felt,
see

and rightly

by a continually-extending instinct,
only then the national mind had unimpaired power of
conception.
Whatever else we may have advanced in,
is no dispute that, in the great arts, we have steadily,
that thirteenth century, declined and I have, therefore,
felt,

accepting this professorship, partly again taken up

my

doned idea of writing the story of that century, at


England of writing it, or, at all events, collecting
;

my

that
ideal

there
since
since

aban-

least in
it,

with

By myself,
I can do nothing; yet I should not ask them to help me if
I were not certain that at this crisis of our national existence

the help of

pupils, if they care to help me.

the fixing the minds of

young and

conception of chivalry

One

is

thing I solemnly desire to see

dience; and one to

all

upon the customs and

old

the best of all moral education.


all

children taught

persons entering into life

the

obe-

power

of unselfish admiration.
240.

The

Wallingford,

we

my fourth lecyear on the bridge of

incident which I have related in

ture on sculpture, seen by


is

a sufficient

me

last

example of the courtesies in which

now bringing up our peasant children. Do you think


any science or art we can teach them will make them

are

that

happy under such conditions

Nay,

in

what courtesy or iu

X.

what

affection are

above

we even now

14:9

carefully training ourselves

what form of duty or reverence to those to


our power of understanding even what duty
reverence means ? I warned you in my former lecture
all,

in

whom we owe
or

THE HERALDIC OBDINAKIES.

all

against the base curiosity of seeking for the origin of life in

how much more must


warn you against forgetting the true origin of the life that
is in your own souls, of that good which you have heard with
your ears, and your fathers have told you. You buy the picture of the Virgin as furniture for your rooms but you despise the religion, and you reject the memory, of those who
have taught you to love the aspect of whatsoever things and
creatures are good and pure: and too many of you, entering
the dust; in earth instead of heaven:

into life, are ready to think, to feel, to act, as the

men

bid

you who are incapable of worship, as they are of creation


whose power is only in destruction: whose gladness only in
disdain whose glorying is in their shame. You know well, I
should think, by this time, that I am not one to seek to conceal from you any truth of nature, or superstitiously decorate
for you any form of faith; but I trust deeply
(and I will
strive, for my poor part, wholly, so to help you in steadfast;

ness of heart)

that you, the children of the Christian chiv-

was led in England by the Lion-Heart, and in


France by Eoland, and in Spain by the Cid, may not stoop to
become as these, whose thoughts are but to invent new foulness with which to blaspheme the story of Christ, and to
destroy the noble works and laws that have been founded in
His name.
Will you not rather go round about this England and tell
the towers thereof, and mark well her bulwarks, and consider
her palaces, that you may tell it to the generation following ?
Will you not rather honor with all your strength, with all
your obedience, with all your holy love and never-ending
worship, the princely sires, and pure maids, and nursing
mothers, who have bequeathed and blest your life ?
that so,
for you also, and for your children, the days of strength, and
the light of memory, may bo long in this lovely land which
the Lord your God has given you.
alry which

ARIADNE FLORE^TINA.
SIX LECTUREvS

ON

WOOD AND METAL ENGRAVING


WITH APPENDIX.
GIVEN BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD,
IN

MICHAELMAS TERM,

1872.

CONTENTS.

LECTURE
DEFINITION OP THE ART OF ENGRAVING

LECTURE

I.

LECTURE

FLORENCE

PAGE
1

22

III.

42

IV.

.......

LECTURE
DESIGN IN THE GERMAN SCHOOLS

IN

....

LECTURE
THE TECHNICS OF METAL ENGRAVING

...

II.

THE RELATION OF ENGRAVING TO OTHER ARTS

THE TECHNICS OF WOOD ENGRAVING

61

V.

OF ENGRAVING (HOLBEIN AND

DURER)

81

LECTURE

VI.

DESIGN IN THE FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING (SANDRO BOTTICELLI)

108

APPENDIX.
ARTICLE
I.

II.

NOTES ON THE PRESENT STATE OF ENGRAVING IN ENGLAND

DETACHED NOTES

.157

143

LIST OF PLATES
Facing Page

Diagram

The Last Furrow

(Fig. 2).

The Two Preachers


I.

II.

IV.

V.

Star of Florence

Child's Bedtime

"He

that hath ears

simile

IX.

X.
XI.

XII

Mode

Fairness of the Sea and Air.

woodcut

Vin.

(Fig.

5(3

62
72

Nymph

In the

of Motion."

In Venice and Athens

hear

to

Fac-shnile

5).

let

him hear"

Grass of the Desert

Domino

The Coronation

voci

in the

(Fig. 6).

Garden

103

Fao
105

....

hominis"

95

.....
.....

of Ida

92

from Holbein";

beloved of Apollo (Michael Angelo)

Woods

" Obedienta

77

Florentine Natura

from Holbein's woodcut

For a time, and times


Tlie

48

Englisl:

the Springs of Parncissus"

" Heat considered as a

The

VII.

......
......
......
......

" At evening from the top of Fesole "

"By

47

Fac-simile from Holbein's woodcut

(Fig. 3).

Philosoi^hy

VI.

Fac-simile from Holbein's woodcut

Things Celestial and Terrestrial, as apparent to the

mind

III.

27

130

131
132
135

145
158

ARIADNE FLORENTINA.
LECTUEE
DEFIITITIOiq"

1.

The

year of

some of

at all

OF THE ART OF ENGEAVING.

entrance on

my
my

official

I.

my

duty for to-day begins the

fourtli

work in Oxford; and I donbt not

that

audience are asking themselves, very doubtfully


^what has been
events, I ask myself, very anxiously

done.

I anFor practical result, I have not much to show.


nounced, a fortnight since, that I would meet, the day before
yesterday, any gentleman who wished to attend this course

My

for purposes of study.

of

whom

three wish to be

rights, to be at

Oxford

minded, numbers four,


and ought not therefore, by
and the fourth is the last

class, so

artists,

at all;

had last year.


Yet I neither in this reproach myself, nor, if I could,
would I reproach the students who are not here. I do not
reproach myself; for it was impossible for me to attend
properly to the schools and to write the grammar for them
at the same time; and I do not blame the absent students
for not attending a school from which I have generally been
absent myself. In all this, there is much to be mended, but,

remaining unit of the

class I

2.

in true light, nothing to be regretted.

These three
I say, I had to write my school grammar.
volumes of lectures under my hand,* contain, carefully set
down, the things I want you first to know. 'None of my
writings are done fluently the second volume of " Modern
;

" Inaugural Series,"

^*

Aratra Pentelici," and " Eagle's Nest."


1

1.

Yi

DEFINITION OF

Painters " was

most of it, four times,


all of it written twice
and these lectures have been written, I don't know
how many times. You may think that this was done merely
To the vanity
in an author's vanity, not in a tutor's care.
I plead guilty,
no man is more intensely vain than I am;
but my vanity is set on having it hnown of me that I am
a good master, not in having it said of me that I am a smooth
author.
My vanity is never more wounded than -in. being
called a fine writer, meaning
that nobody need mind what

over;

I say.
3.

Well, then, besides this vanity, I have some solicitude

for your progress.

you choose, but

it

You may

me credit for it or not, as


And that your advance may

give

is sincere.

be safe, I have taken the best pains I could in laying

down

In these three years I have got my grammar


written, and, with the help of many friends, all working
instruments in good order and now we will try what we can
do.
E^ot that, even now, you are to depend on my presence
with you in personal teaching. I shall henceforward think
laws for

it.

of the lectures

less,

of the schools

more but
;

my

best

work for

the schools will often be by drawing in Florence or in Lancashire


4.

not

here.

I have already told you several times that the course

through which I mean every student in these schools should


pass, is one which shall enable thean to understand the
elementary principles of the finest art. It will necessarily
be severe, and seem to lead to no immediate result. Some of
you will, on the contrary, wish to be taught what is immediately easy, and gives prospect of a manifest success.
But suppose they should come to the Professor of Logic
and Rhetoric, and tell him they want to be taught to preach
like Mr. Spurgeon, or the Bishop of
He would say to them, I cannot, and if I could I would
not, tell you how to preach like Mr. Spurgeon, or the Bishop
Your own character will form your style; your
of
.

own

zeal will direct

limit or exaggerate

it
it

your own obstinacy or ignorance


but

my

business

is to

may

prevent, as far

THE AET OF ENGJBAViNG.

I can, your having any particular style and to teach you


ias
language, and the essential power of your own.
the laws of
;

all

which I propose to you in art,


you judgment and method in
future study, to establish to your conviction the laws of
general art, and to enable you to draw, if not with genius, at
least with sense and propriety.
In

like

manner,

this course,

will be calculated only to give

'

The

||^b

my

in

course, so far as

consists in practice, will be defined

it

And

Instructions for the schools.

with that practice


of the

first

is set

down

the theory connected

in the three lectures at the end

course I delivered

those on Line, Light,

and

Color.

You

will have, therefore, to get this book,*

and

it is

only one which you will need to have of your own,


others are placed, for reference,

the
the

where they will be accessible

to you.
5.

tical

In the 139th paragraph


study in these terms

it states

the order of your prac-

" I wish you to begin by getting

command

of line

that

to draw a steady line, limiting with


absolute correctness the form or space you intend it to limit
to proceed by getting command over flat tints, so that you may
be able to fill the spaces you have inclosed evenly, either with
shade or color, according to the school you adopt and, finally,
to obtain the power of adding such fineness of drawing, within
the masses, as shall express their undulation, and their characters of form and texture.''
And now, since in your course of practice you are first
required to attain the power of drawing lines accurately and
delicately, so in the course of theory, or grammar, I wish you
first to learn the principles of linear design, exemplified by
the schools which ( 137) you will find characterized as the
is to

say,

by learning

Schools of Line.
6. If I had command of as much time as I should like to
spend with you on this snbject, I would begin with the early

*
size

My

inaugural series of seven lectures (now published uniform in

with this edition.

1890).

DEFINITION OP

I.

forms of art which used the simplest linear elements of design.


But, for general service and interest, it will be better that I
should sketch what has been accomplished by the greatest
is more
and has developed into the vast industries of modern engraving, one of the most powerful existing
influences of education and sources of pleasure among civil-

masters in that manner; the rather that their work

or less accessible to

all,

ized people.

And

investigation,

this

far

so

from interrupting,

will

our examination of the history of the nobler arts.


will see in the preface to my lectures on Greek sculpture

facilitate

You

them to be followed by a course on architecture,


and that by one on Florentine sculpture. But the art of

that I intend

engraving

manifestly,

so

is

Florence,

at

though not

less

and

essentially elsewhere, a basis of style both in architecture

sculpture, that

it is

you in what the

absolutely necessary I should explain to

skill

of the engraver consists, before I can

accuracy that of more admired

define with

For

artists.

engraving, though not altogether in the method of which you


see

examples in the print-shops of the High Street,

is,

indeed,

a prior art to that either of building or sculpture, and

inseparable part of both,


7.

And

the arts,

mind

while

it

we

when they

thus examine the scope of this

will be necessary that

of the early practicers of

ourselves with the

of Florence.

great master

main

first

of

learn also the scope of

and accordingly acquaint

the temper

and meaning of one

lay the best, if not the only, foundation for

the understanding of all; and I shall therefore

leading aim

an

events in the biography of the schools

To understand
is to

we

it,

is

are rightly practiced.

make

it

the

of this course of lectures to remind you of what

knowable, of the life and


character of the greatest Florentine master of engraving,
is

known, and direct you

Sandro

to

what

is

Botticelli; and, incidentally, to give

you some idea

of the power of the greatest master of the German, or any

northern, school,

Hans

Holbein.

am using the word


" engraving " in a somewhat different, and, you may imagine^
8.

You must

feel,

however, that I

THE ART OF ENGEAVING.

which you are accustomed to attach


So far from being a wider sense, it is in reality a more
to it.
accurate and restricted one, while yet it embraces every cona wider, sense, than that

ceivable right application of the art.


first lecture, to

make

entirely clear to

And

I wish, in this

you the proper meaning

of the word, and proper range of the art of, engraving; in

my

next following lecture, to show you

and then, in due order, the place


our own, and in all schools.
schools,

9.

its

place in Italian

it

ought to take in

First then, to-day, of the Differentia, or essential qual-

Engraving, as distinguished from other arts.


to me, if I asked casually
what engraving was ? Perhaps the readiest which would
ity of

What answer would you make

occur to you would be, "

The

translation of pictures into black

and white by means admitting reduplication of impressions."


But if that be done by lithography, we do not call it engraving,
whereas we speak contentedly and continually of seal
engraving, in which there is no question of black and white.
And, as scholars, you know that this customary mode of
speaking is quite accurate; and that engraving means, primarily, making a permanent cut or furrow in something.
The central syllable of the word has become a sorrowful one,
meaning the most permanent of furrows.
10. But are you prepared absolutely to accept this limitation with respect to engraving as a pictorial art ? Will you
call nothing an engraving, except a group of furrows or cavi-

ties cut in a

hard substance

What

shall

we

say of mezzotint

engraving, for instance, in which, though indeed furrows and


cavities are

work

is

produced mechanically as a ground, the

in effacing

them

And when we

artist's

consider the power

and multiplying them,


and admire no effects of light and shade
except those which are visibly produced by dots or furrows ?
I mean, will the virtue of an engraving be in exhibiting these
imperfect means of its effect, or in concealing them ?
11. Here, for instance, is the head of a soldier by Dlirer,
a mere gridiron of black linQ9, Would this be better or worse

of engraving in representing pictures

are

we

to recognize

I.

engraving

and no

if it

were more

lines seen

now

DEFINITION OF

photograph or lithograph,
suppose, more like the head of Mr. Santlike a

and really quite deceptive in


and shade, when seen from over the way ? Do you think
Diirer's work would be better if it were more like that ? And
would you have mei, therefore, leaving the question of technical method of production altogether to the craftsman, conley,

in all the mnsic-shops,

light

sider pictorial engraving simply as the production of a light-

and-shade drawing, by some method permitting


cation for the public

you

12. This,

For

its

multipli-

observe,

is

a very practical question indeed.

instance, the illustrations of

my own

on sculpThere can

lectures

ture are equivalent to permxanent photographs.

be little doubt that means will be discovered of thus producing perfect facsimiles of artists' drawings so that, if no more
;

than facsimile be required, the old art of cutting furrows in


metal may be considered as, at this day, virtually ended.

And, indeed,

it is

said that line engravers cannot

any more

get apprentices, and that a pure steel or copper plate


likely to be again produced,

when once

of the bright field shall have been

is

not

the old living masters

all

laid in their earth-

furrows.

Suppose, then, that this come to pass; and more than


suppose that wood engraving also be superseded, and
that instead of imperfect transcripts of drawings, on wood13.

this,

blocks or metal-plates, photography enabled us to give, quite

cheaply, and without limit to number, facsimiles of the

ished light-and-shade drawings of artists themselves.

group of questions instantly


ditions; namely.

shade drawing
flat

wash

lines,

on these new conmeans for a light-and-

offers itself,

are the best

the pen, or the pencil, the charcoal, or the

That

lines, as old

gray

What

fin-

Another

is to say, the pen, producing shade by black


engraving did; the pencil, producing shade by

variable in

force;

smoky shadow with no lines in it,


ing a transparent shadow with no

the

charcoal,

or the

washed

lines in

it.

producing a
tint,

produc-

Which

of these

THE ART OF ENGRAVING.


methods

is

the best

or have

they, each

and

be separately studied, and distinctively applied


14.

See

how

all,

virtues to

curiously the questions multiply on us.

Is engraving to be only considered as cut work

2d,

1st,

For

present designs multipliable without cutting, by the sunshine,

what methods or instruments of drawing will be best ? And


now, 3dly, before we can discuss these questions at all, is
namely, what
there not another lying at the root of both,
a light-and-shade drawing itself properly is, and how it
differs, or should differ, from a painting, whether by mere
deficiency, or by some entirely distinct merit ?

15.

For

common

you know how confidently it is said, in


works are intelligible

instance,

talk about Turner, that his

and beautiful when engraved, though incomprehensible as


Admitting this to be so, do you suppose it is
because the translation into light and shade is deficient ii?
some qualities which the painting had, or that it possesses
some quality which the painting had not? Does it please
more because it is deficient in the color which confused a
feeble spectator, and offended a dogmatic one,
or because it
possesses a decision in its steady linear labor which interprets,
paintings.

or corrects, the swift penciling of the artist


16.

Do you notice

and Linear f

Decision,

again introducing the idea of cuts

or divisions, as opposed to gradations

massive or broad

Yet we use

the two words I have just used, Decision,

Linear, as opposed to

all

these words at different times in praise,

while they evidently

mark

inconsistent qualities.

Softness

and decision, breadth and delineation, cannot co-exist in


equal degrees.
There must surely therefore be a virtue in
the engraving inconsistent with that of the painting, and
vice versa.

I^ow, be clear about these three questions which

we have

to-day to answer.

A. Is

all

engraving

to

be cut work

need not be cut work, but only the reproduction


of a drawing, what methods of executing a light-andshade drawing will be best ?

B. If

it

DEFINITION OF

I.

C.

Is the shaded

drawing

itself to

be considered only as

a deficient or imperfect painting, or as a different

thing from a painting, having a virtue of its own,


belonging to black and white, as opposed to color ?
17. I will give

you the answers

at once, briefly,

and amplify

them afterwards.
A. All engraving must be cut work
that is its differentia.
Unless your effect be produced by cutting into some
;

solid substance,

not engraving at

it is

all.

B. The proper methods for light-and-shade drawing vary


according to subject, and the degree of completeness
desired,

some of them having much

in

common with

engraving, and others with painting.


C.

The

qualities of a light-and-shade drawing ought to


be entirely different from those of a painting. It is
not a deficient or partial representation of a colored

scene or picture, but an entirely different reading of

So that much of what is intelligible in a


painting ought to be unintelligible in a light-and-shade
either.

study,

and

vice versa.

You

have thus three


drawing, and painting.

arts,

engraving,

light-and-shade

Now I am not going to lecture, in this course, on painting,


nor on light-and-shade drawing, but on engraving only. But
I must
first

18.

tell

you something about light-and-shade drawing


remind you of what I have before told.

or, at least,

You

see that the three

elementary lectures in

my

first

volume are on Line, Light, and Color, that is to say, on


the modes of art which produce linear designs,
which produce effects of light, and which produce effects of color.

I must, for the sake of

new

students, briefly repeat the

explanation of these.

Here

is

the eye

is

an Arabian vase, in which the pleasure given to


no effect of light, or of color, is
attempted. Here is a moonlight by Turner, in which there
are no lines at all, and no colors at all.
The pleasure given
to the eye is only by modes of light and shade^ or effects pf
only by lines;

'

THE ART OF ENGRAVmC}.


light.

whatever; but

all

and variety of

an early Florentine painting, in


and no effect of light
the pleasure given to the eye is in gayety

here

Pinally,

which there are no

is

lines of importance,

color.

19. I say, the pleasure given to the eye.

The

lines

on

something; but the ornamentation produced


by the beautiful writing is independent of its meaning. So
the moonlight is pleasant, first, as light; and the figures,
this vase write

first, as color.
It is not the shape of the waves, but the light
on them not the expression of the figures, but their color, by
which the ocular pleasure is to be given.
These three examples are violently marked ones; but, in
preparing to draw any object, you will find that, practically,
you have to ask yourself. Shall I aim at the color of it, the
;

You can't have all three you


it ?
any two out of the three in equal strength.
The best art, indeed, comes so near nature as in a measure to
unite all.
But the best is not, and cannot be, as good as
nature; and the mode of its deficiency is that it must lose
some of the color, some of the light, or some of the delineation.
And in consequence, there is one great school which
says. We will have the color, and as much light and delineation as are consistent with it. Another which says, We will
have shade, and as much color and delineation as are consistent with it.
The third, We will have delineation, and
as much color and shade as are consistent with it.
20. And though much of the two subordinate qualities may
light of

it,

or the lines of

can't even have

in each school be consistent with the leading one, yet the


schools are evermore separate
ters,

one

man

says, I will

as is consistent

with

it;

have

as,

for instance, in other mat-

my

fee,

and

as

another, I will have

much honesty

my

honesty,

and as much fee as is consistent with it. Though the man


who will have his fee be subordinately honest, though the
man who will have his honor, subordinately rich, are they
not evermore of diverse schools ?
So you have, in art, the utterly separate provinces, thougH

in contact at their borders, of

10

DEFINITION

1.

The Delineators
The Chiaroscurists
The Colorists.

The Delineators

21.
to give

you

OB*

and

men on whom

are the

this course of lectures.

engravers, an engraved line being the


tion.

The Chiaroscurists

am

going

They are essentially


best means of delinea-

are essentially draughtsmen with

Many of them paint, but


Leonardo is the type of
pain.
and
always with some
of them, laboriconsists
school
them; but the entire Dutch

chalk, charcoal, or single tints.


effort

ously painting, without essential genius for color.


The Colorists are the true painters; and all the faultless

men's work can be so,) and consummate masters of art belong to them.
22. The distinction between the colorist and chiaroscurist
school is trenchant and absolute and may soon be shown you
(as far, that

is to

say, as

Here is a Florentine picture


by one of the pupils of Giotto, of very good representative
quality, and which the University galleries are rich in possessing.
At the distance at which I hold it, you see nothing but
so that

you

will never forget

it.

a checker-work of brilliant, and, as

it

happens, even glaring

you will find this patchwork


resolve itself into a Visitation, and Birth of St. John; but
that St. Elizabeth's red dress, and the Virgin's blue and
white one, and the bro^^^ posts of the door, and the blue
colors.

If you

come

neai*,

spaces of the sky, are painted in their

own

entirely pure

pale
colors, each shaded with more powerful tints of itself,
orange,
with
crimson,
yellow
blue with deep blue, scarlet with

and green with richer green.


The whole is therefore as much a mosaic work of brilliant
There is no effect
color as if it were made of bits of glass.
of light attempted, or so much as thought of you don't know
even where the sun is nor have you the least notion what
time of day it is. The painter thinks you cannot be so superfluous as to want to know what time of day it is.
23. Here, on the other hand, is a Dutch picture of good
:

average quality, also out of the University galleries.

It

THE)

ABT OF ENGRAVING.

represents a group of cattle, and a

And yon

herdsman watching them.

The snn
on the landscape, the

see in an instant that the time is evening.

is setting, and there


cattle,

11

is

and the standing

warm

light

figure.

any conspicuous way seem devoid


herdsman has a scarlet jacket,
which comes out rather brilliantly from the mass of shade
round it and a person devoid of color faculty, or ill taught,
might imagine the picture to be really a fine work of color.
But if you will come up close to it, you will find that the
herdsman has brown sleeves, though he has a scarlet jacket;
and that the shadows of both are painted with precisely the
same brown, and in several places with continuous touches
'Nor does the picture in

On

of color.

the contrary, the

of the pencil.

It

is

only in the light that the scarlet

is

laid on.

This at once marks the picture as belonging to the lower


you had not before recognized

or chiaroscurist school, even if


it

as such

by

its

pretty rendering of sunset effect.

You might

which showed
gTeater skill than that of the school .of Giotto. But the skill
The power of imagination is
is not the primary question.
the first thing to be asked about. This Italian work imagines,
and requires you to imagine also, a St. Elizabeth and St.
Mary, to the best of your power. But this Dutch one only
wishes you to imagine an effect of sunlight on cow-skin,
which is a far lower strain of the imaginative faculty.
Also, as you may see the effect of sunlight on cow-skin,
in reality, any summer afternoon, but cannot so frequently
24.

at first think

it

a painting

see a St. Elizabeth, it is a far less useful strain of the imagi-

native faculty.

And, generally speaking, the Dutch chiaroscurists are


all,
who, not being
able to get any pleasure out of their thoughts, try to get it

indeed persons without imagination at

out of their sensations; note, however, also their technical

connection with the Greek school of shade,

(see

my

sixth

inaugural lecture, 158,) in which color was refused, not


for the sake of deception, but of solemnity.


12

DEFINITION OF

I.

With

you are not now concerned;


and
noticing, the universal distinction between the methods of
treatment in which the aim is light, and in which it is color
and so to keep yourselves guarded from the danger of being
misled by the, often very ingenious, talk of persons who have
25.

these final motives

your present business

is

the quite easy one of knowing,

vivid color sensations without having learned to distinguish

them from what else pleases them in pictures. There is


an interesting volume by Professor Taine on the Dutch
school, containing a valuable historical analysis of the influ-

ences which formed

it

but full of the gravest errors, resultmind between color and tone,

ing from the confusion in his

in consequence of which he imagines the

Dutch painters

to

be colorists.
26. It

is so

important for you to be grounded securely in

these first elements of pictorial treatment, that I will be so

you one more instance of the relative


pure color and pure chiaroscuro
not in Dutch and Florentine, but in English art.

far tedious as to show

intellectual value of the


school,

Here is a copy of one of the lost frescoes of our Painted


Chamber of Westminster; fourteenth-century work, entirely conceived in color, and calculated for decorative effect.
There is no more light and shade in it than in a Queen of

wants
you to see is that the young lady has a white forehead, and
a golden crown, and a fair neck, and a violet robe, and a
crimson shield with golden leopards on it; and that behind
her is clear blue sky. Then, farther, he wants you to read
her name, " Debonnairete,'' which, when you have read,
Hearts in a pack of cards

all

that the painter at

first

he farther expects you to consider what it is to be debonnaire,


and to remember your Chaucer's description of the virtue
:

She was not brown, nor dun of hue,


But white as snowe, fallen new,
With ej^en glad, and browes bent,

Her

hair

And

she

down
was

to her heeles went.


simple, as dove on tree,

Full debonnair of heart

was

she.


THEi

You

27'.

see

ART

01^

13

ENGKAVING.

Chaucer dwells on the color just

as

much

as

the painter does, but the painter has also given her the
English shield to bear, meaning that good-humor, or debon-

maintained by self-indulgence; only by


''
eyen glad," and
fortitude. Farther note, with Chaucer, the
"
"
(high-arched and calm), the strong life, (hair
brows bent
down to the heels,) and that her gladness is to be without
nairete, cannot be

that is to say, without the slightest pleasure in any


form of advantage-taking, or any shrewd or mocking wit:
" she was simple as dove on tree " and you will find that
the color-painting, both in the fresco and in the poem, is in
the very highest degree didactic and intellectual; and distinguished, as being so, from all inferior forms of art.
Farther, that it requires you yourself first to understand the
nature of simplicity, and to like simplicity in young ladies
and to understand why the second of
better than subtlety
Love's five kind arrows (Beaute being the first)
subtlety,

Simplece ot nom, la seconde


Qui maint homme parmi le monde
Et mainte dame fait amer.

Nor must you leave

the picture without observing that there

another reason for Debonnairete's bearing the Koyal shield,


"
of all shields that, rather than another. ''De-bonne-aire
meant originally " out of a good eagle's nest," the " aire "

is

signifying the eagle's nest or eyrie especially, because


the Latin " area " being the root of all.

it is

flat,

And

this

coming out of

good nest

things, needfulest to give the strength


to be

good-humored

is

recognized

as,

of all

which enables people

and thus you have " debonnaire " form''


gentle " and " kind,"

ing the third word of the group, with


all first signifying " of good race."

You

will gradually see, as

I called

my

not fantastic in these


to

my
Now

mark
28.

we go

on,

more and more why

third volume of lectures Eagle's 'Nest


titles, as is

for I

am

often said; but try shortly

chief purpose in the book by them.


for

comparison with this old

art,

here

is

o-

14

DEFINITION OF

I.

modern engraving,

in

which color

is

entirely Ignored

light and shade alone are used to produce what

is

to be a piece of impressive religious instruction.

not a piece of religious instruction at

all

only

and

supposed

But

it is

a piece of

religious sensation, prepared for the sentimental pleasure of

young

ladies;

presence of

whom

many)

(since

am

honored to-day by the

I will take the opportunity of warning

This
against such forms of false theological satisfaction.
engraving represents a young lady in a very long and, though
plain, very becoming white dress, tossed upon the waves of
a terrifically stormy sea, by which neither her hair nor her
becoming dress is in the least wetted and saved from despair
in that situation by closely embracing a very thick and solid
stone Cross.
By which far-sought and original metaphor
young ladies are expected, after some effort, to understand the
;

recourse they

may

have, for support, to the Cross of Christ,

in the midst of the troubles of this world.


29.

As

those troubles are for the present, in all probability,

when they
put them into their work-boxes, the
concern they feel at the unsympathizing gayety of their companions,
or perhaps the disappointment at not hearing a
limited to the occasional loss of their thimbles

have not taken care

clergyman preach,

favorite

young

(for

will

not suppose the

ladies interested in this picture to be affected

chagrin at the loss of an invitation to a


liness,)

it

seems

to

me

my

by any

ball, or the like

world-

the stress of such calamities

might

be represented, in a picture, by
I can assure

to

less

appalling imagery.

fair little lady friends,

And

have any,
that whatever a young girl's ordinary troubles or annoyances may be, her true virtue is in shaking them off, as a roseleaf shakes off rain, and remaining debonnaire and bright in

spirits, or even,

troubles

and not

as the rose

would

if

still

be, the brighter for the

at all in allowing herself to

be either drifted

or depressed to the point of requiring religious consolation.

But

if

any

real

represent, fall

and deep sorrow, such as no metaphor can

upon

her, does she suppose that the theological

advice of this piece of

modern

art can be trusted?

If she

THE ART OF ENGRAViNO.


will take the pains to think truly, she will

remember

that

Christ Himself never says anything about holding by His

He speaks a good deal of bearing it; but never for


Cross.
an instant of holding by it. It is His Hand, not His Cross,
which is to save either you, or St. Peter, when the waves are
rough.

And

the utterly reckless

ious teachers,

whether in art or

way

in which

literature,

modern

relig-

abuse the metaphor

somewhat briefly and violently leant on by St. Paul, simply


prevents your understanding the meaning of any word which
Christ Himself speaks on this matter
So you see this popular art of light and shade, catching you by your mere thirst
!

of sensation,

is

not only undidactic, but the reverse of didactic

deceptive and

illusory.

This popular

30.

art,

you hear me

have told you, in some of


that all great art

my teaching

must be popular.

say, scornfully; and I


in " Aratra Pentelici,"

Yes, but great art

is

popular, as bread and water are to children fed by a father.

And

vile art is popular,

cheated by a confectioner.

as poisonous jelly

And

it is

is,

to children

quite possible to

make

any kind of art popular on those last terms. The color school
may become just as poisonous as the colorless, in the hands
of fools, or of rogues. Here is a book I bought only the other
day,
one of the things got up cheap to catch the eyes of
mothers at bookstalls, Puss in Boots, illustrated; a most
definite work of the color school
red jackets and white paws
and yellow coaches as distinct as Giotto or Raphael would
have kept them. But the thing is done by fools for money,
and becomes entirely monstrous and abominable.
Here,
again^ is color art produced by fools for religion: here is
Indian sacred painting,
a black god with a hundred arms,
with a green god on one side of him and a red god on the
other; still a most definite work of the color school.
Giotto
or Raphael could not have made the black more resolutely
black, (though the whole color of the school of Athens is
kept in distinct separation from one black square in it), nor
the green more unquestionably green.
Yet the whole is
pestilent and loathsome.


16

1.

31.

Now

DEFINITION OF

but one point more, and I have done with this

subject for to-day.

You must

not think that this manifest brilliancy and

Harlequin's-jacket character

is

essential in the color school.

The essential matter is only that everything should be of


its own definite color: it may be altogether sober and dark,
yet the distinctness of hue preserved with entire fidelity.

Here, for instance,

is

a picture of Hogarth^s,

one

of quite

the most precious things we have in our galleries. It repregentlemen of the


sents a meeting of some learned society
last century, very gravely dressed, but who, nevertheless, as

gentlemen pleasantly did in that day, you remember Goldwear coats of tints of dark
smith's weakness on the point
There are some thirty gentlemen in the
red, blue, or violet.
room, and perhaps seven or eight different tints of subdued
claret-color in their coats; and yet every coat is kept so

own proper claret-color,


know his master's.

distinctly of its

servant would

that each gentleman's

Yet the whole canvas is so gray and quiet, that as I now


it by this Dutch landscape, with the vermilion jacket,
you would fancy Hogarth's had no color in it at all, and that
the Dutchman was half-way to becoming a Titian; whereas
Hogarth's is a consummate piece of the most perfect colorist
school, which Titian could not beat, in its way; and the
Dutchman could no more paint half an inch of it than he
hold

could
32.

summon
Here

a rainbow into the clouds.

then,

you

see, are, altogether, five

the absolutely pure color school


1.

2.
3.

4.
5.

works,

all

of

One, English, to-day

Religious Art;
One, Florentine, Religious Art;
One, English, from Painted Chamber, Westminster,
Ethic Art;
One, English, Hogarth, Naturalistic Art

One, Indian,

sold in the

High

Street,

Cari-

caturist Art.

And

of these, the Florentine and old English are divine

17

THE AKT OF ENGRAVING.

work, God-inspired; full, indeed, of faults and innocencies,


but divine, as good children are.
Then this by Hogarth is entirely wise and right; but
worldly-wise, not divine.

While the old Indian, and

this,

with which we feed our

children at this hour, are entirely damnable art;


of

done by

it

ridiculous,

in

yet

body and

every

the direct inspiration of the devil,

bit

feeble,

mortally poisonous to every noble quality

soul.

now, I hope, guarded you sufficiently from the


danger either of confusing the inferior school of chiaroscuro
with that of color, or of imagining that a work must necessarily be good, on the sole ground of its belonging to the
higher group. I can now proceed securely to separate the
33. I have

third school, that of Delineation,


its

from both

and

to

examine

special qualities.
It begins (see "

Inaugural Lectures," 137) in the primand to color, and


nearly devoid of thought and of sentiment, but gradually
itive

work of

races insensible alike to shade

developing into both.

means likely to
work of art you can
What are the simplest means you can produce it

ISTow as the design

be primitive.
produce.

with

is

primitive, so are the

line is the simplest

Cumberland

lead-pencil is a

work of

art in itself, quite

Pen and ink

are complex and


and even chalk or charcoal not always handy.
But the primitive line, the first and last, generally the best
of lines, is that which you have elementary faculty of at your
the
fingers' ends, and which kittens can draw as well as you
a nineteenth-century

scholarly

machine.

scratch.

The
ingly,

first,

even

Permanent exceedmahogany tables, often more


But when studiously and honor-

I say, and the last of lines.


in flesh, or on

permanent than we desire.


ably made, divinely permanent, or delightfully
as on the
venerable desks of our public schools, most of them, now,
specimens of wood engraving dear to the heart of England,

18

DEFINITION OF

I.

34. Engraving, then,

in brief terms, tlie Art of Scratcli.

is,

It is essentially the cutting into a solid substance for the sake

ideas as permanent as possible, graven with


pen
in
the
Rock forever. Permanence, you observe,
an iron
that is quite an ^acciis the object, not multiplicability
dental, sometimes not even a desirable, attribute of engraving.
Duration of your work fame, and undeceived vision
of all men, on the pane of glass of the window on a wet
day, or on the pillars of the castle of Chillon, or on the
walls of the pyramids;
a primitive art,
^yet first and last
with us.

of

making your

Since then engraving,

we

say, is essentially cutting into

the surface of any solid; as the primitive design

or dots, the primitive cutting of such design


hole;

and scratchable

wood, metal,

we

is

in lines

is

a scratch or a

solids being essentially three

stone,

shall have three great schools of engraving

to investigate in each material.

35.

On

the

first

tablet of stone, on tablet of wood,

on tablet of

steel,

giving the law to everything; the second true

Athenian, like Athena's

first

statue in olive-wood,

making

the law legible and homely; and the third true Vulcanian,

having the splendor and power of accomplished labor.


]^ow of stone engraving, which is joined inseparably w^ith
sculpture and architecture, I am not going to speak at length
I shall speak only of wood and
metal engraving.
But there is one circumstance in stone
engraving which it is necessary to observe in connection with
the other two branches of the art.
in this course of lectures.

The

great difiiculty for a primitive engraver

scratch deep enough to be visible.

is to

Visibility

is

make

his

quite as

your fame as permanence and if you have only


your furrow to depend on, the engraved tablet, at certain
times of day, will be illegible, and passed without notice.
But suppose you fill in your furrow with something black,
then it will be legible enough at once and if the black fall
out or wash out, still your furrow is there, and may be filled
again by anvbody.

essential to


THE ART OF ENGRAVING.

19

engravers,

using marble to

Therefore, the noble


receive their furrow,

stone

that furrow with marble ink.

fill

And you have an engraved plate to purpose; with the


Look here the front of the church
whole sky for its margin
white marble with green serpenof San Michele of Lucca,
the steps of the Giant's Stair, with
tine for ink; or here,
lead for ink; or here,
the floor of the Pisan Duomo, with
!

porphyry for

ink.

Such

cutting, filled in with color or with

Florentine
mosaic on the one hand, niello on the other, and infinite minor
black, branches into all sorts of developments,

arts.

36.

Yet we must not make

our definition of engraving.


ness,

^'

to decorate a surface

accuratest terms,

plowed

this filling

with color part of

To engrave is, in final strictwith furrows."


(Cameos, in

are minute sculptures,

not engravings.)

purest type of such art; and

is, on
an exquisite piece of decoration.
Therefore it will follow that engraving distinguishes itself
from ordinary drawing by greater need of muscular effort.
The quality of a pen drawing is to be produced easily,
deliberately, always,* but with a point that glides over the
Engraving, on the contrary, requires always force,
paper.
and its virtue is that of a line produced by pressure, or by

field is the

hilly land,

blows of a

chisel.

It involves, therefore, always, ideas of

power and

but also of restraint; and the delight you take in


involve the understanding of the difficulty the

dexterity,
it

should

workman

dealt

You

perhaps doubt the extent to which this feeling


justly extends, (in the first volume of " Modern Painters,''

with.

Ideas of Power.")
But why is
any building grander than a small one ?
Simply because it was more difficult to raise it. So, also, an
engraved line is, and ought to be, recognized as more grand
than a pen or pencil line, because it was more difficult to
expressed under the head

^'

a large stone in

execute

In

it.

this

mosaic of Lucca front you forgive much, and admire


*

Compare Inaugural Lectures,

144,

20

I.

DEFINITION OF

much, because you see it is all cut in stone. So, in wood and
steel, you ought to see that every line has been costly; but
observe, costly of deliberative, no less than athletic or execThe main use of the restraint which makes
utive power.
the line difficult to draw, is to give time and motive for
deliberation in drawing it, and to insure its being the best in
your power.
37. For, as with deliberation, so without repentance, your
engraved line must be.
It may, indeed, be burnished or
beaten out again in metal, or patched and botched in stone;
but always to disadvantage, and at pains which must not be

And

incurred often.

there

a singular evidence in one of

is

Dlirer's finest plates that, in his time, or at least in his

manner of work, it was not


putes as to the meaning of

possible at
Dlirer's

Among

all.

the dis-

Knight and Death, you

sometimes suggested, or insisted, that the horse's


What has been
is going to fall into a snare.
fancied a noose is only the former outline of the horse's foot

will find

it

raised foot

and limb, uneffaced.

The engraved

line is therefore to be conclusive

'^

excellent

pen drawing

is

excellent in being tentative,

but through fullness of

opinions

not experi-

Much

in

be-

Indeterminate, not through want of mean-

ing expeo-imental.
ing,

I have determined this," says the engraver.

mental.

feeling

cautiously

it

halting wisely between two

after

opinions.

clearer

But

your engraver has made up his opinion. This is so, and


must forever be so, he tells you. A very proper thing for a
thoughtful man to say; a very improper and impertinent
thing for a foolish one to say.
Foolish engraving is con-

summately

foolish work.

Look,

-all

the world,

look

for

evermore, says the foolish engraver; see what a fool I have

been
lines

How many
upon

lines,

lines I

have laid for nothing!

with no precept,

much

How many

superprecept

less

38. Here, then, are two definite ethical characters in all


engraved work. It is Athletic and it is Eesolute. Add one
;

more; that it is Obedient; in their infancy the nurse, but


in their youth tho slave^ of the higher arts servile^ both iu
;

SI

THE ART OF ENGRAVING.


the

mechanism and labor of

preting

And

tlie

it,

and in

source of chief power in


;

function of inter-

schools of painting as superior to itself.

this relation to the higher arts

Florence

its

and

all

chiefly, as I said, in the

master, Sandro Botticelli.

we

will study at the

the normal skill of Christendom,

work of one Florentine

LECTUKE

II.

THE EELATION" OF EN^GKAVING TO OTHER ARTS IN FLORENCE.


39. From what was laid before you in my last lecture, you
must now be aware that I do not mean, by the word engraving/ merely the separate art of producing plates from which
'

black pictures

may

be printed.

I mean, by engraving, the art of producing decoration on


a surface

by

its

by the touches of a

chisel or a burin

and I mean

relation to other arts, the subordinate service of this

and in painting or
and repetition of painting.

linear work, in sculpture, in metal work,

in the representation

And

first,

therefore, I have to

map

out the broad relations

of the arts of sculpture, metal work, and painting, in Florence,

among themselves, during the period in which the art of


engraving was distinctly connected with them.*
40. You will find, or may remember, that in my lecture
on Michael Angelo and Tintoret I indicated the singular
importance, in the history of art, of a space of forty years,
between 1480, and the year in which Eaphael died, 1520.
Within that space of time the change was completed, from
the principles of ancient, to those of existing, art;
a mani-

fold change, not definable in brief terms, but most clearly

and easily remembered, as the change of conand didactic art, into that which proposes to itself
no duty beyond technical skill, and no object but the pleasure
Of that momentous change itself I do not
of the beholder.
characterized,
scientious

purpose to speak in the present course of lectures; but my


endeavor will be to lay before you a rough chart of the
* Compare " Aratra Pentelici," 154.

22


II.

RELATION OF ENGHAVlNG TO OTHER ARTS.

course of the arts in Florence

up

to the

time when

23
it

took

place; a chart indicating for you, definitely, the growth of


conscience, in

work which

is

the perfecting of expression

which

in that

41.

Means

is

distinctively conscientious, and


and means of popular address,

distinctively didactic.

of popular address, observe, which have become

singularly important to us at this day.

Nevertheless,

remem-

ber that the power of printing, or reprinting, black pictures,


practically contemporary with that of reprinting black

letters,

modified

the art of the draughtsman only as

it

modi*

Beautiful and unique writing, as

fied that of the scribe.

beautiful and unique painting or engraving, remain exactly

what they were; but other useful and reproductive methods


of both have been superadded.

Of

these, it is acutely said

by Dr. Alfred Woltmann,*


" A far more important part is played in the art-life of Germany by
the technical arts for the multiplying of works for Germany, while it
was the land of book-printing, is also the land of picture-printing.
Indeed, wood-engraving, which preceded the invention of book-printing, prepared the way for it, and only left one step more necessary for
it.
Book-printing and picture-printing have both the same inner cause
;

namely, the impulse to make each mental gain a comNot merely princes and rich nobles were to have the
privilege of adorning their private chapels and apartments with
beautiful religious pictures the poorest man was also to have his
delight in that which the artist had devised and produced. It was not
sufficient for him when it stood in the church as an altar-shrine, visible
to liim and to the congregation from afar he desired to have it as his
own, to carry it about with him, to bring it into his own home. The
grand importance of wood-engraving and copperplate is not sufficiently
estimated in historical investigations. They were not alone of use in
the advance of art they form an epoch in the entire life of mind and
culture. Tlie idea embodied and multiplied in pictures became like
that embodied in the printed word, the herald of every intellectual
movement, and conquered the world."
for their origin,

mon

blessing.

42.

^^

true,

is

Conquered the world " ? TTie rest of the sentence


but this, hyperbolic, and greatly false.
It should

"Holbein and His Time,"

book,) p. 17.

Italics

mine.

4to, Bentley, 1872,

(a very valuable

^4

II.

RELATION OF ENGRAVING

have been said that both painting and engraving have conquered much of the good in the world, and, hitherto, little
or none of the evil.
Nor do I hold it usually an advantage to art, in teaching,
that it should be common, or constantly seen.
In becoming
intelligibly and kindly beautiful, while it remains solitary
and unrivaled, it has a greater power. Westminster Abbey
is more didactic to the English nation, than a million of
popular illustrated treatises on architecture.
Nay, even that it cannot be understood but with some
difficulty,

and must be sought before

The

harm.

noblest didactic art

is,

as

it

can be seen,

it

were, set on a

is

no

hill,

and its disciples come to it.


The vilest destructive and
corrosive art stands at the street corners, crying, " Turn in
hither

come, eat of

my

bread,

and drink of

my

wine, which

I have mingled. '^

And

Woltmann has allowed himself too easily to fall


into the common notion of Liberalism, that bad art, disseminated, is instructive, and good art isolated, not so.
The
Dr.

question

is, first,

good or bad.
worse for you.
is

I assure you, whether what art you have got


If essentially bad, the more you see of

Entirely popular art

that

is all

is

it,

the

noble, in

the cathedral, the council chamber, and the market-place

not

the paltry colored print pinned on the wall of a private room.


43. I despise the poor

only despise the poor

do

I,

think you

who think them

Not

so.

They

better off with police

news, and colored tracts of the story of Joseph and Potiphar's


wife, than they were with Luini painting on their church
walls,

and Donatello carving the

pillars of their market-

places.

Nevertheless, the effort to be universally, instead of locally,


as you know, and in a
thousand ways varied, the earlier art of engraving: and the
development of its popular power, whether for good or evil,
came exactly so fate appointed at a time when the minds
of the masses were agitated by the struggle which closed in
the Eeformation in some countries, and in the desperate
didactic, modified advantageously,

25

TO OTHER ARTS.

The two greatest masters


were, both of them,
study,
lives
to
whose
we
are
engraving
of
Luther Botticelli
than
less
reformers
Holbein
passionate
no
refusal of Eeformation in others."^

no

than Savonarola.

less

44. Eeformers, I mean, in the full and, accurately, the


only, sense.

IN'ot

preachers of

new

doctrines; but witnesses

against the betrayal of the old ones, which were on the lips

of

all

men, and in the

lives of none.

I^ay, the painters are

indeed more pure reformers than the priests.

They rebuked
was

the manifest vices of men, while they realized whatever


loveliest in their faith.

Priestly reform soon enraged itself

mere contest for personal opinions while, without rage,


but in stern rebuke of all that was vile in conduct or thought,
into

in declaration of the always-received faiths of the Christian

Church, and in warning of the power of faith, and death,f


over the petty designs of men,
Botticelli and Holbein together fought foremost in the ranks of the Eeformation.

45. To-day I will endeavor to explain

how they

attained

Then, in the next two lectures, the technics of


their way of speaking and in the last two, what they

such rank.
both,

had got

to say.

First, then,

we

ask

how they

attained this rank;

who

taught them what they were finally best to teach ? How far
must every people how far did this Florentine people
teach its masters, before they could teach it?

Even

in these days,

when every man

is,

by hypothesis, as
to you ?

good as another, does not the question sound strange

You

recognize in the past, as you think, clearly, that national

advance takes place always under the guidance of masters, or


groups of masters, possessed of what appears to be some new
personal sensibility or gift of invention; and

we

are apt to

* See Carlyle, " Frederick," Book III., chap. viii.


believe I am taking too much trouble in writing these lectures.
This sentence, 44, has cost me, I suppose, first and last, about as many
hours as there are lines in it ; and my choice of these two words,
1 1

faith and death, as representatives of power, will perhaps, after


only puzzle the reader.

all,

26

n. RELATION OF ENGEAVINa

be reverent to these alone, as if the nation itself had been


unprogressive, and suddenly awakened, or converted, by the
genius of one man.
'No idea can be more superficial. Every nation must teach
its tutors, and prepare itself to receive them
but the fact on
which our impression is founded the rising, apparently
by chance, of men whose singular gifts suddenly melt the
multitude, already at the point of fusion or suddenly form,
and inform, the multitude which has gained coherence enough
to be capable of formation,
enables us to measure and map
the gain of national intellectual territory, by tracing first
;

the lifting of the mountain chains of

its

genius.

you that we have nothing to do at present


with the great transition from ancient to modern habits of
thought which took place at the beginning of the sixteenth
wdiere we
century. I only want to go as far as that point
shall find the old superstitious art represented finally by
Perugino, and the modern scientific and anatomical art repreAnd the epithet
sented primarily by Michael Angelo.
bestowed on Perugino by Michael Angelo, ^goffo nelP arte,'
being, as far as my knowledge
dunce, or blockhead, in art,
of history extends, the most cruel, the most false, and the
most foolish insult ever offered by one great man to another,
does you at least good service, in showing how trenchant
how
the separation is between the two orders of artists,*
46. I have told

exclusively

we may

follow out the history of all the

goftl

and write our Florentine Dunciad, and Laus


Stultitise, in peace; and never trench upon the thoughts or
ways of these proud ones, who showed their fathers' nakedness, and snatched their masters' fame.
nelP

arte,'

The Florentine dunces in art are a multitude; but I


know something about twenty of them.
Twenty! ^you think that a grievous number? It may,

47.

only want you to

* He is said by Vasari to have called Francia the like. Francia is


a child compared to Perugino but a finished working-goldsmith and
ornamental painter nevertheless and one of the very last men to be
called goffo,' except by unparalleled insolence.
;

"H-

+
(0

I'
o

.2

I:

-I

M-

3 ^

to'

rC

H
H

^
(11

2
A

(fl

'S

(U

^o

^ ^

C!

Ph O

TO OTHER ARTS.
perhaps, appease you a

little to

27

be told that

when you

really

have learned a very little, accurately, about these twenty


dunces, there are only five more men among the artists of
Christendom whose works I shall ask you to examine while
you are under my care. That makes twenty-five altogether,
an exorbitant demand on your attention, you still think?
And yet, but a little while ago, you were all agog to get me

to

go and look at Mrs. A's sketches, and

tell

you what was

to

IVe had the greatest difficulty to


keep Mrs. B's photographs from being shown side by side

be thought about them; and

with the Raphael drawings in the University galleries. And


you will waste any quantity of time in looking at Mrs. A's
sketches or Mrs. B's photographs; and yet you look grave,
because, out of nineteen centuries of European art-labor and
thought, I ask you to learn something seriously about the
works of five-and-twenty men!
48. It

is

hard upon you, doubtless, considering the quantity

of time you must nowadays spend in trying which can hit balls

So I will put the task into the simplest form I can.


the names of the twenty-five men,* and opposite
each, a line indicating the length of his life, and the position
of it in his century.
Tlie diagram still, however, needs a
few words of explanation. Very chiefly, for those who know
anything of my writings, there is needed explanation of its
farthest.

Here are

not including the names of Titian, Reynolds,

Velasquez,
Turner, and other such men, always reverently put before

you

at other times.

They
at these.

are absent, because I have no fear of your not looking

All your lives through, if you care about

art,

you

But while you are here at Oxford,


I want to make you learn what you should know of these
earlier, many of them weaker, men, who yet, for the very

will be looking at them.

reason of their greater simplicity of power, are better guides


for you, and of whom some will remain guides to all genera* The diagram used at the lecture is engraved on page 30 the reader
had better draw it larger for himself, as it had to be made incon;

veniently small for this size of leaf.

28

II.

RELATION OF ENGKAVING

And, as regards the subject of our present course, I


more weighty reason; Vandyke, Gainsborough,
Titian, Reynolds, Velasquez, and the rest, are essentially
portrait painters. They give you the likeness of a man they
tions.

have a

still

have nothing to say either about his future

life,

or his gods.

That is the look of him,' they say


here, on earth, we know
no more.'
49. But these, whose names I have engraved, have something to say generally much,
either about the future life
of man, or about his gods. They are therefore, literally, seers
^

False prophets,

or prophets.

it

may

be, or foolish ones; of

you must judge; but you must read before you can
judge; and read (or hear) them consistently; for you don't
know them till you have heard them out. But with Sir

that

Joshua, or Titian, one portrait


pretty lady, there a great lord

is

as another:

but speechless,

all

it
;

is

here a

whereas,

men, each picture or statue is not


merely another person of a pleasant society, but another

with, these twenty-five

chapter of a Sibylline book.


50.

For

this reason, then, I

do not want Sir Joshua or

Velasquez in my defined group and for my present purpose,


namely, three who
I can spare from it even four others:
have too special gifts, and must each be separately studied
and one who has no special
Correggio, Carpaccio, Tintoret
Cima.
This leaves
gift, but a balanced group of many
;

twenty-one for classification, of


hold thus.

You must

whom

I will ask you to lay

continually have felt the difficulty

caused by the names of centuries not tallying with their years

the year 1201 being


so on.

am

the

first

of the thirteenth century, and

always plagued by

it

myself,

much

as I have to

think and write with reference to chronology and I mean for


the future, in our art chronology, to use as far as possible a
;

different
51.

In

form of notation.
my diagram the

tens of years

vertical lines are the divisions of

the thick black lines divide the centuries.

date of each artist's

life.

The

you the length and


two
instances I cannot
one
or
In

horizontal lines, then, at a glance,

tell

TO OTHER ARTS.
in one or two more, of death and
then only the ascertained * period during

find the date of birth

the line indicates

which the artist worked.


And, thus represented, you see nearly all their lives run
through the year of a new century so that if the lines representing them were needles, and the black bars of the years
1300, 1400, 1500 were magnets, I could take up nearly all
the needles by lifting the bars.
52. I will actually do this, then, in three other simple
diagrams. I place a rod for the year 1300 over the lines of
life, and I take up all it touches.
I have to drop Niccola
Pisano, but I catch five. ISTow, with my rod of 1400, I have
dropped Orcagna indeed, but I again catch five. Now, with
my rod of 1500, I indeed drop Filippo Lippi and Verrocchio,'
but I catch seven. And here I have three pennons, with the
staves of the years 1300, 1400, and 1500 running through
;

them,

holding

the

names of nearly

all

study in easily remembered groups of

to

And

the

men

I w^ant you

and seven.
1300 group,

five, -Q-Yey

these three groups I shall hereafter call the

1400 group, and 1500 group.


53.

But why should four unfortunate masters be dropped

out?
Well, I want to drop them out, at any rate; but not in

In hope, on the contrary, to make you remember


them very separately indeed
for this following reason.
We are in the careless habit of speaking of men who form
a great number of pupils, and have a host of inferior satellites
round them, as masters of great schools.
But before you call a man a master, you should ask,
Are his pupils greater or less than himself? If they are
disrespect.

greater than himself, he

true teacher.

But

may have been

'

a master indeed;

if all his

he has been a

pupils are less than himself, he

a great maUy but in all probability has been

a bad master, or
*

is

no master.

Ascertained,' scarcely

any date ever

is,

The

quite satisfactorily.

diagram only represents what is practically and broadly


have to modify it greatly in detail.

true.

m9ky

so

U. BELATIOI^ OF ENGKAVINQ.

1300.

12401302

Cimabue

12501321

Giovanni Pisano

12321310

Arnolfo

12701345

Andrea Pisano

12761336

Giotto

1400.

13741438

Querela

13811455

Ghiberti

1377

1446

Brunelleschi

13861468

Donatello

14001481

Luoa

1500'

14311506

Mantegna

14571515

Botticelli

TO OTHER ARTS.

whom

men,

!N*ow these

31

I have signally left out of

my

groups, are true Masters.

Niccola Pisauo taught

who

own son,
much surpassed him.
him, down to Michael

Italy; but chiefly his

all

succeeded, and in some things very

Orcagna taught

And

Angelo.

all

Italy,

these two

after

Lippi, the religious schools, Ver-

rocchio, the artist schools, of their century.

Lippi taught Sandro Botticelli; and Verrocchio taught


Leonardo da Vinci, Lorenzo di Credi, and Perugino. Have
I not good reason to separate the masters of such pupils from
the schools they created
54.

out of

But how

my

pack

is it

that I can drop just the cards I

want

Well, certainly I force and fit matters a little: I leave


some men out of my list whom I should like to have in it
Benozzo Gozzoli, for instance, and Mino da Fiesole; but I
can do without them, and so can you also, for the present.
I catch Luca by a hair's-breadth only, with my 1400 rod;
but on the whole, with very little coaxing, I get the groups in
handy form. For see,
this memorable and quite literally
I write my lists of five, five, and seven, on bits of pasteboard
I hinge my rods to these and you can brandish the school of
1400 in your left hand, and of 1500 in your right, like railway signals; and I wish all railway signals were as clear.
Once learn, thoroughly, the groups in this artificially contracted form, and you can refine and complete afterwards at
your leisure.
55. And thus actually flourishing my two pennons, and
getting my grip of the men, in either hand, I find a notable
thing concerning my two flags. The men whose names I hold
in my left hand are all sculptors; the men whose names I
;

'

'

hold in

my

right are all painters.

You: will infallibly suspect me of having chosen them


thus on purpose.
I^o, honor bright!
I chose simply the

men, those I wanted to talk to you about.


I
arranged them by their dates I put them into three conclusive
pennons and behold what follows

greatest

32

RELATION OF ENGRAVING

II.

56.
five

Farther, note this: in the 1300 group, four out of the

men

are architects as well as sculptors and painters.

the 1400 group, there

In

one architect; in the 1500, none.


And the meaning of that is, that in 1300 the arts were all
united, and duly led by architecture; in 1400, sculpture

began

to

is

assume too separate a power

to herself; in 1500,

all.
From which,
with much other collateral evidence, you may justly conclude
that the three arts ought to be practiced together, and that

painting arrogated

they naturally are

my

could be a sculptor

who had

last,

betrayed

I long since asserted that no

so.

could be an architect

more and more of

and, at

all,

who was

not a sculptor.

As

business, I perceived also that no

who was not an

architect

that

man

I learned

is to

man
say,

and pleasure enough in


structural law, to be able to build, on occasion, better than a
mere builder. And so, finally, I now positively aver to you
not knowledge enough,

in the graphic arts,

that nobody,

master of anything,

The junction

57.

best times,

who

is

can be quite rightly a

not master of everything

of the three arts in men's minds, at the

shortly signified in these words of Chaucer.

is

Love's Garden,
Everidele

Enclosed was, and walled well


With high walls, embatailled,
Portrayed without, and well entayled

With many

The French
unison

original

rich portraitures.

is

better

still,

and gives four

arts in

Quant suis avant un pou ale


Et vy un vergier grant et le,
Bien cloz de bon mur batillie
Pourtrait dehors, et entaillie

Ou

(for au) maintes riches escriptures.

Read also carefully the description of the temples of


Mars and Venus in the Knight's Tale. Contemporary French
uses

form J

even of solid sculpture and of the living


and Pygmalion, as a perfect master, professes wood

entaille

'

TO OTHER ARTS.

33
K

carving, ivory carving,

waxwork, and iron-work, no

less tlian

stone sculpture;
Pimalion, uns entaillieres
Pourtraians en fuz * et en pierres,

En mettaux, en

os, et en cire,
Et en toute autre matire.

58. I

made

little

sketch,

when

last in Florence, of a

mbject which will fix the idea of this unity of the arts in
^our minds. At the base of the tower of Giotto are two rows
)f

hexagonal panels,

by unknown

filled

with

bas-reliefs.

Some

of these

hands,
rare
some by Andrea Pisano, some by
fLuca della Robbia, two by Giotto himself of these I sketched
^'the panel representing the art of Painting.
;

You have

in that bas-relief one of the foundation-stones

of the most perfectly built tower in Europe; you have that

own hand; you find, further,


and sculptor was the greatest painter of
his time, and the friend of the greatest poet; and you have
as
represented by him a painter in his shop, bottega,
stone carved

by

its architect's

;that this architect

symbolic of the entire art of painting.

In which representation, please note how carefully

59.

Giotto shows you the tabernacles or niches, in which the

paintings

are

to

be

placed.

independent

!N^ot

of

their

frames, these panels of his, you see

Have you ever considered, in the early history of painting,


how important also is the history of the frame maker ? It
is a

matter, I assure you, needing your very best considera-

For the frame was made before the picture. The


window is much, but the aperture it fills was thought
of before it. The fresco by Giotto is much, but the vatilt it
adorns was planned first.
Who thought of these; who
tion.

painted

built

Questions taking us far back before the birth of the shep* For fust, log of wood, erroneously

Compare the account


of the

Romance

of the works of

of the Rose.

f er

'

in the later printed editions.

Art and Nature, towards the end

34

11.

herd boy of Fesole


of painting only,

RELATION OF ENGRAVING

questions not

still less

to

be answered by history

of painting in Italy only.

And in pointing out to you this fact, I may once for


prove to you the essential unity of the arts, and show you
how impossible it is to understand one without reference to
60.

all

another.
that

Which

you may

I wish you to observe

all

the

more

closely,

use, without danger of being misled, the data,

of unequaled value, which have been collected by

Crowe and
which they have called a History of
Painting in Italy, but which is in fact only a dictionary of
details relating to that history.
Such a title is an absurdity
on the face of it.
For, first, you can no more write the
history of painting in Italy than you can write the history
of the south wind in Italy. The sirocco does indeed produce
certain effects at Genoa, and others at Rome but what would
be the value of a treatise upon the winds, which, for the honor
of any country, assumed that every city of it had a native
Cavalcaselle, in the book

sirocco

But,

further,

meteorologist

imagine

who should

what
set

success

himself to

would attend the


give an account of

the south wind, but take no notice of the north

And,

suppose an attempt to give you an account of


either wind, but none of the seas, or mountain passes, by
which they were nourished, or directed.
finally,

61. For instance, I am in this course of lectures to give


you an account of a single and minor branch of graphic art,
engraving. But observe how many references to local circumstances it involves. There are three materials for it, we
stone, wood, and metal.
said;
Stone engraving is the art
of countries possessing marble and gems; wood engraving,
of countries overgrown with forest; metal engraving, of
countries possessing treasures of silver and gold.
And the
style of a stone engraver is formed on pillars and pyramids
the style of a wood engraver under the eaves of larch cottages

the style of a metal engraver in the treasuries of kings.

Do

you suppose I could rightly explain to you the value of a


single touch on brass by Finiguerra, or on box by Bewick^

TO OTHER ARTS.

35

had grasp of the great laws of climate and country


and could trace the inherited sirocco or tramontana of thought
to which the souls and bodies of the men owed their existence ?
62. You see that in this flag of 1300 there is a dark strong
[line in the center, against which jou read the name of
'unless I

Arnolfo.

In writing our Florentine Dunciad, or History of Fools,


we possibly begin with a better day than All Fools' Day ?

jan

All Fools'

)n

Day

the

first, if

month of opening,
document making Arnolfo

pof the

he

dies, chief

this

you

like better so to call

in the year 1300,

a citizen of Florence,

is

and in 1310

master of the works of the cathedral there.

man, Crowe and Cavalcaselle give half

it,

signed the

To

a page, out of

three volumes of five hundred pages each.

But lower down in my flag, (not put there because of any


by order of chronology,) you will see a name
sufficiently familiar to you
that of Giotto and to him, our
historians of painting in Italy give some hundred pages,
under the impression, stated by them at page 243 of their
volume, that '^ in his hands, art in the Peninsula became
entitled for the first time to the name of Italian."
Yes, but what art?
Your
63. Art became Italian!
authors give a perspective
of the
or what they call such,
inferiority, but

were merely an accidental


occurrence of blind walls for Giotto to paint on
But how came the upper church of Assisi there? How

upper church of

came

it to

Assisi, as if that

be vaulted

asked to paint upon

The

to

be aisled

How

came Giotto

to

be

it ?

good or bad, must have been an Italian


could not have painted on the air.
Let us see how his panels were made for him.
64. This Captain
the center of our first group
Arnolfo,
has always hitherto been called Arnolfo di Lapo ;'
Arnolfo
the son of Lapo.
art that built

one, before Giotto.

it,

He

Modern

us

investigators

come down on us

Arnolfo was not the son of Lapo.

delightedly, to tell

In these days you will have half a dozen

doctors, writing

36

n. RELATION OF ENGRAVIKG

each a long book, and the sense of


the son of Lapo.

all will be,

Much good may you

Arnolfo wasn't

get of that

Well, you will find the fact to be, there was a great North-

man

who came down

builder, a true son of Thor,

into Italy

in 1200, served the order of St. Francis there, built Assisi,

taught Arnolfo

how to build, with Thor's hammer, and disapname uncertain Jacopo Lapo nobody

peared, leaving his

knows what.

who put

father,

man

Arnolfo always recognizes this


the soul-life into him; he

is

as his true

known

to his

Elorentines always as Lapo's Arnolfo.

That, or some likeness of that,

can get

is

You

the vital fact.

They

at the literal limitation of living facts.

never

disguise

themselves by the very strength of their life: get told again

and again in

different

ways by

all

manner

of people;

the

literalness of them is turned topsy-turvy, inside-out, over and


over again;
then the fools come and read them wrong side
upwards, or else, say there never was a fact at all. Nothing

delights a true blockhead so

much

as to prove a negative;

show that everybody has been wrong. Fancy the delicious


sensation, to an empty-headed creature, of fancying for a

to

moment
his own

that he has emptied everybody else's head as well as


!

nay, that, for once, his

own hollow

bottle of a

has had the best of other bottles, and has been


first to

65.

know

nothing.

Hold, then, steadily the

first

first

tradition

head

empty

about this

That his real father was called " Cambio " matters
That he never called himself Cambio's
to you not a straw.
Arnolfo that nobody else ever called him so, down to
Vasari's time, is an infinitely significant fact to you. In my
twenty-second letter in Fors Clavigera you will find some
Arnolfo.

account of the noble habit of the Italian artists to


selves

by

call

them-

their masters' names, considering their master as

their true father.

If not the

name

of the master, they take

that of their native place, as having

owed the character of

own family name


sometimes it is not even known, when best known, it is
The great Pisan artists, for instance,
unfamiliar to us.
their life to that.

They

rarely take their

TO OTHEE AETS.
never bear any other
five-and-twenty

name than

my

names in

'

37

the Pisan

list,

not above

'

among
six,

the other

I think, the

two German, with four Italian, are family names. Perugino,


(Peter of Perugia,) Luini, (Bernard of Luino,) Quercia,
(James of Quercia,) Correggio, (Anthony of Correggio,) are
named from their native places. E^obody would have underAmbrose Bondone
stood me if I had called Giotto,
or
;

'

Tintoret, Robusti; or even Raphael, Sanzio.

named from

Botticelli is

his master Ghiberti from his father-in-law and


Ghirlandajo from his work. Orcagna, who did, for a wonder,
;

name himself from

Andrea Cione, of Florence,


Angel by everybody else while
has been always called
Arnolfo, who never named himself from his father, is now
his father,
'

'

like to be fathered against his will.

Por

But, I again beg of you, keep to the old story.

it

however inaccurately in detail, clearly in sum, the


fact, that some great master of German Gothic at this time
came down into Italy, and changed the entire form of Italian
architecture by his touch.
So that while Niccola and Giovanni Pisano are still virtually Greek artists, experimentally
introducing Gothic forms, Arnolfo and Giotto adopt the entire
Gothic ideal of form, and thenceforward use the pointed arch
and steep gable as the limits of sculpture.
66. Hitherto I have been speaking of the relations of my
twenty-five men to each other.
But now, please note their
relations altogether to the art before them.
These twentyrepresents,

five

include,

say,

all

the

great

masters

of

Christian

art.

Before them, the art was too savage to be Christian

after-

wards, too carnal to be Christian.

Too savage

to be Christian

I will justify that assertion

you will find that the European art of 1200


includes all the most developed and characteristic conditions
of the style in the north which you have probably been
accustomed to think of as Noemak, and which you may
always most conveniently call so; and the most developed
conditions of the style in the south^ which^ formed out of
hereafter; but


38

EELATION OF ENGKAVINa

II.

Greek, Persian, and Roman tradition, you may, in


manner, most conveniently express by the familiar word
Byzantine. Whatever you call them, they are in origin
adverse in temper, and remain so up to the year 1200. Then
an influence appears, seemingly that of one man, Nicholas
the Pisan, (our first Master, observe,) and a new spirit
adopts what is best in each, and gives to what it adopts a new
energy of its own; namely, this conscientious and didactic
power which is the speciality of its progressive existence.
And just as the new-born and natural art of Athens collects
and reanimates Pelasgian and Egyptian tradition, purifying
their worship, and perfecting their work, into the living
heathen faith of the world, so this new-born and natural
art of Florence collects and animates the ITorman and
Byzantine tradition, and forms out of the perfected worship
and work of both, the honest Christian faith, and vital craftsmanship, of the world.
67. Get this first summary, therefore, well into your minds.
effete

like

The word

Norman

'

I use roughly for North-savage

roughly, but advisedly.

mean Lombard, Scandinavian,

Prankish; everything north-savage that you can think of,


(I have a reason for that exception; never
mind it just now.)*
except Saxon.

All north-savage I call

Byzantine

Nokman,

all

south-savage I call

dead native Greek primarily


then dead foreign Greek, in Rome; then Arabian
Persian Phoenician Indian all you can think of, in art
of hot countries, up to this year 1200, I rank under the one
term Byzantine. Now all this cold art Norman, and all this
Byzantine, is virtually dead, till 1200. It has no
hot art

this latter including

* Of course it would have been impossible to express in any accurate


terms, short enough for the compass of a lecture, the conditions of
opposition between the Heptarchy and the Northmen
between the
Byzantine and Roman
and between the Byzantine and Arab, wliich
form minor, but not less trenchant, divisions of Art-province, for subse;

quent delineation.

If

20 of its first chapter,

you can

refer to

m^

"Stones of Venice," see

TO OTHER ARTS,

conscience,

sense that

no didactic power;*
dreams are.

39
devoid of both, in the

it is

Then in the thirteenth century, men wake as if they heard


an alarum through the whole vault of heaven, and true human
life begins again, and the cradle of this life is the Val d'Arno.
There the northern and southern nations meet; there they
lay down their enmities; there they are first baptized unto
John's baptism for the remission of sins; there is born, and
thence exiled,
thought faithless for breaking the font of
baptism to save a child from drowning, in his bel San Gio-

vanni,'

the greatest of Christian poets; he

even for the

who had

pity

lost.

therefore, my whole history of Christian archiand painting begins with this Baptistery of Florence,
and with its associated Cathedral. Arnolfo brought the one
into the form in which you now see it he laid the foundation
of the other, and that to purpose, and he is therefore the
68.

Now,

tecture

Captain of our first school.


For this Florentine Baptistery f is the great one of the
world. Here is the center of Christian knowledge and power.
And it is one piece of large engraving. White substance,
cut into, and filled with black, and dark-green.

No more

work was afterwards done and I wish you


and irrevocably,
first, in order (as I told you in a previous lecture) to quit
yourselves thoroughly of the idea that ornament should be
perfect

to grasp the idea of this building clearly

* Again much too broad a statement not to be qualified but by a


length of explanation here impossible. My lectures on Architecture,
now in preparation ("Val d'Arno"), will contain further detail.
f At the side of my page, here, I find the following memorandum,
which was expanded in the viva-voce lecture. The reader must make
what he can of it, for I can't expand it here.
Sense of Italian Church plan.
Baptistery, to make Christians in house, or dome, for them to pray
and be preached to in bell-tower, to ring all over the town, when
they were either to pray together, rejoice together, or to be warned of
danger.
Harvey's picture of the Covenanters, with a shepherd on %h^ outlook,
:

^i

a campanile,

40

EELATION OF ENGRAVING

II.

decorated construction; and, secondly, as the noblest type of


the intaglio ornamentation, which developed itself into all

minor application of black and white to engraving.


69. That it should do so first at Florence, was the natural
sequence, and the just reward, of the ancient skill of Etruria

The

in chased metal-work.

produced in gold, either

effects

by embossing or engraving, were the


interest to his surfaces at the

direct

command

means of giving

of the

'

auri faber,'

and every conceivable artifice of studding, chiseling, and interlacing was exhausted by the artists in gold, who
were at the head of the metal-workers, and from whom the
ranks of the sculptors were reinforced.
The old French word orfroiz,' (aurifrigia,) expresses
essentially what we call frosted work in gold that which
or orfevre

'

'

resembles small

dew

'

or crystals of hoar-frost

coming from the Latin

frigus.

To

the

f rigia

chase, or enchase, is not

properly said of the gold; but of the jewel which

it

with hoops or ridges,

Then

(French,

'

e?ic.hasser ^').

secures

the

armorer, or cup and casket maker, added to this kind of


decoration that of

flat

inlaid enamel;

finding that the raised filigree

(still

and the silver-worker,


Genoa) only

a staple at

attracted tarnish, or got crushed, early sought to decorate a

surface which would bear external friction, with labyrinths


of safe incision.
70.

Of

the security of incision as a

means of permanent

decoration, as opposed to ordinary carving, here

is

a beautiful

instance in the base of one of the external shafts of the

Cathedral of Lucca

thirteenth-century work, which by this

would have been a shapeless remnant of indecipherable bosses.


But it is still as safe
as if it had been cut yesterday, because the smooth round
mass of the pillar is entirely undisturbed into that, furrows
are cut with a chisel as much under command and as powerful
time, had

it

been carved in

relief,

The effect of the design is trusted entirely to the


depth of these incisions here dying out and expiring in the
light of the marble, there deepened, by drill holes, into as
as a burin.

And

'

chassis,' a

wmdow

frame, or tracery.

TO OTHEK ARTS.
definitely a black line as if it

41

were drawn with ink; and

describing the outline of the leafage with a delicacy of touch

and of perception which no

man

will ever surpass,

and which

very few have rivaled, in the proudest days of design.


Yl. This security, in silver plates, was completed by

filling

which at once exhibited and


preserved them.
The transition from that niello-work to
modern engraving is one of no real moment: my object is to
make you understand the qualities which constitute the merit
And
of the engraving, whether charged with niello or ink.
this I hope ultimately to accomplish by studying with you
some of the works of the four men, Botticelli and Mantegna
in the south, Dlirer and Holbein in the north, whose names
I have put in our last flag, above and beneath those of the
three mighty painters, Perugino the captain, Bellini on one
the furrows with the black paste

side

Luini on

the other.

The four follbwing lectures* will contain data necessary


for such study you must wait longer before I can place before
you those by which I can justify what must greatly surprise
:

some of

my

tain's place

audience

among

72. But I do
monly thought

my

having given Perugino the cap-

the three painters.

so, at least

affected

primarily, because what

in his

design

is

is comindeed the true

remains of the great architectural symmetry which was soon


to be lost, and w^hich makes him the true follower of Arnolfo
and Brunelleschi and because he is a sound craftsman and
workman to the very heart's core. A noble, gracious, and
quiet laborer from youth to death,
never weary, never
impatient, never untender, never untrue,
l^ot Tintoret in
power, not Raphael in flexibility, not Holbein in veracity,
their gathered gifts he has, in balanced
not Luini in love,
and fruitful measure, fit to be the guide, and impulse, and
;

father of

all.

* This present lecture does not, as at present published, justify its


title
because I have not tliought it necessary to write the viva-voce
;

portions of

stance of

it

which amplified the 69th paragraph. I will give the subin better form elsewhere meantime the part of the

them

lecture here given

may

be in

its

own way

useful.

;
:

LECTUBE

III.

THE TECHNICS OF WOOD ENGRAVING.


73. I AM today to begin to tell you what it is necessary,
you should observe respecting methods of manual execution
in the two great arts of engraving. Only to begin to tell you.
There need be no end of telling you such things, if you care
The theory of art is soon mastered but dal
to hear them.
detto al fatto, v'e gran tratto
and as I have several times
told you in former lectures, every day shows me more and
more the importance of the Hand.
74. Of the hand as a Servant, observe, -^lot of the hand
as a Master. For there are two great kinds of manual work
one in which the hand is continually receiving and obeying
orders the other in which it is acting independently, or even
giving orders of its own. And the dependent and submissive
hand is a noble hand; but the independent or imperative
hand is a vile one.
That is to say, as long as the pen, or chisel, or other graphic
instrument, is moved under the direct influence of mental
attention, and obeys orders of the brain, it is working nobly
the moment it moves independently of them, and performs
some habitual dexterity of its own, it is base.
some right-handedness of its
75. Dexterity
I say
own. We might wisely keep that word for what the hand
sinisdoes at the mind's bidding and use an opposite word
for what it does at its own.
For indeed we want
terity,
such a word in speaking of modern art it is all full of sinisterity.
Hands independent of brains; the left hand, by
still
division of labor, not knowing what the right does,
less what it ought to do.
^

'

'

76. Turning, then, to our special subject.

42

All engraving,

in.

I said,

THE TfiCUNlCS Ot WOOD ENGRAVING.

But

intaglio in the solid.

is

the solid, in

4:3

wood engrav-

and in metal, a fine


Therefore, in general, you may be
substance, not easily.
prepared to accept ruder and more elementary work in one
than the other and it will be the means of appeal to blunter
ing, is a coarse substance, easily cut;

minds.
,

You

probably already

know

the difference between the

from wood
and metal but I may perhaps make the matter a little more
In metal engraving, you cut ditches, fill them with
clear.
In wood engraving,
ink, and press your paper into them.
you leave ridges, rub the tops of them with ink, and stamp
them on your paper.
The instrument with which the substance, whether of the
wood or steel, is cut away, is the same. It is a solid plowshare, which, instead of throwing the earth aside, throws it
up and out, producing at first a simple ravine, or furrow,
in the wood or metal, which you can widen by another cut,
This (Fig. 1) is the general
or extend by successive cuts.
actual methods of producing a printed impression
;

shape of the solid plowshare:

Fig.

but

it is

of course

furrow produced
ravine, already so

1.

made sharper
is

or blunter at pleasure.

The

wedge-shaped or cuneiform
dwelt upon in my lectures on Greek

at first the

much

sculpture.
77.

Since, then,

in

wood

printing,

you print from the

surface left solid; and, in metal printing, from the hollows


follows that if you put few touches on wood,
on a slate, with white lines, leaving a quantity
of black; but if you put few touches on metal, you draw
with black lines, leaving a quantity of white.

cut into

it,

you draw,

it

as

44

III.

'Now the eje


white, but

is,

is

THE TECHNICS OF

not in the least offended by quantity of

or ought to be, greatly saddened and offended by

Hence it follows that you must never


work on wood. You must not sketch upon it. You
may sketch on metal as much as you please.
" Are not all
78. '' Paradox,'' you will say, as usual.
our journals, and the best of them. Punch, par excellency,
full of the most brilliantly swift and slight sketches,
engraved on wood; while line-engravings take ten years to
"
produce, and cost ten guineas each when they are done ?
Yes, that is so but observe, in the first place, what appears
to you a sketch on wood is not so at all, but a most laborious
and careful imitation of a sketch on paper; whereas when
you see what appears to be a sketch on metal, it is one. And
quantity of black.

put

little

in the second place, so far as the popular fashion


to this natural method,

produce

so far as

effects of sketching in

our work

is

we do

is

contrary

in reality try to

wood, and of finish in metal,

wrong.

Those apparently careless and free sketches on the wood


to have been stern and deliberate; those exquisitely
toned and finished engravings on metal ought to have looked,
instead, like free ink sketches on white paper.
That is the
theorem -which I propose to you for consideration, and
which, in the two branches of its assertion, I hope to prove
to you; the first part of it, (that wood-cutting should be
ought

careful,)

in this present lecture; the second,

(that metal-

cutting should be, at least in a far greater degree than

now,

slight,

and

it is

free,) in the following one.

79. Next, observe the distinction in respect of thickness,

no

less

than number, of lines which

may

properly be used in

the two methods.

In metal engraving,

it

is

easier to lay a fine line than a

thick one; and however fine the line

in

wood engraving

it

leave a thin dark line, and

down by
engraving

when

a careless printer.
is to

may

be, it lasts;

but

requires extreme precision and skill to


left, it

will be quickly beaten

Therefore, the virtue of

wood

exhibit the qualities and power of thick lines

45

WOOD EKGRAVIKO.
and of metal engraving,

to exhibit the qualities

and power of

thin ones.

All thin dark lines, therefore, in wood, broadly speaking,


are to be used only in case of necessity; and thick lines, on
metal, only in case of necessity.
80. Though, however, thin dark lines cannot easily be
produced in wood, thin light ones may be struck in an instant.
JSTevertheless, even thin light ones must not be used, except

For observe, they are equally useless


and for expression of mass. You know how far
from exemplary or delightful your boy's first quite voluntary exercises in white line drawing on your slate w^ere ?
You could, indeed, draw a goblin satisfactorily in such
a round O, with arms and legs to it, and a scratch
method
under two dots in the middle, would answer the purpose;
but if you wanted to draw a pretty face, you took pencil or
not your slate. I^ow, that instinctive feelpen, and paper
For
ing that a white outline is wrong, is deeply founded.
light,
and concentrated
N^ature herself draws with diffused
with extreme caution.
as outline,

dark;

never,

except in storm or twilight, with diffused

dark, and concentrated light; and the thing


to see

drawn

the

human

face

we

all like

best

cannot be drawn with white

For the pupil and iris of the


and the lip are all set in dark
on pale ground. You can't draw a white eyebrow, a white
pupil of the eye, a white nostril, and a white mouth, on a dark
Try it, and see what a specter you get. But the
ground.
same number of dark touches, skillfully applied, will give the
idea of a beautiful face.
And what is true of the subtlest
subject you have to represent, is equally true of inferior ones.
^Nothing lovely can be quickly represented by white touches.
You must hew out, if your means are so restricted, the form
by sheer labor; and that both cunning and dextrous. The
Florentine masters, and Diirer, often practice the achievement, and there are many drawings by the Lippis, Mantegna,
and other leading Italian draughtsmen, completed to great

touches, but

by extreme

labor.

eye, the eyebrow, the nostril,

perfection with the white line; but only for the sake of

'

4a

111.

THJi TECHNICS

severest study, nor is their

And

work imitable by

such studies, however accomplished,

disposition to regard chiaroscuro too


too

OF
inferior men.
always mark a

much, and

local color

little.

We conclude, then, that we must never trust, in wood, to


our power of outline with white and our general laws, thus
far determined, will be
thick lines in wood; thin ones in
metal complete drawing on wood ; sketches, if we choose, on
;

metal.
81. But why, in wood, lines at all ?
Why not cut out
white spaces, and use the chisel as if its incisions were so
much white paint ? Many fine pieces of wood-cutting are
indeed executed on this principle.
Bewick does nearly all

and continually paints the

his foliage so;

light

his birds with single touches of his chisel, as if he

plumes of
were laying

on white.

But

this

is

not the finest method of wood-cutting.

It

implies the idea of a system of light and shade in which the

shadow

much

is totally

black.

in

less pleasant,

Now, no
which

light

all

and shade can be good,

the shade

is

stark black.

Therefore the finest wood-cutting ignores light and shade,


and expresses only form, and darJc local color. And it is convenient, for simplicity's sake, to anticipate what I should
otherwise defer telling you until next lecture, that fine
metal engraving, like fine wood-cutting, ignores light and
shade; and that, in a word, all good engraving whatsoever
does

so.

hope that my saying so will make you eager to interWhat Rembrandt's etchings, and Lupton's
me.
do you mean to tell
mezzotints, and Le Keux's line work,
us that these ignore light and shade ?
82. I

rupt

I never said that mezzotint ignored light and shade, or


ought to do so. Mezzotint is properly to be considered as
But I do mean to tell you
chiaroscuro drawing on metal.
that both Rembrandt's etchings, and Le Keux's finished linework, are misapplied labor, in so far as they regard chiar-

THE LAST FURROW.


(Fig. 2) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.

oseuro

WOOD
;

4?

ei^g:raving.

and that consummate engraving never uses

it

as a

primal element of pleasure.


83. We have now got our principles so far defined that I
can proceed to illustration of them by example.

Here are facsimiles, very marvelous ones,* of two of the


wood engravings ever produced by art, two subjects
You will probably like best
in Holbein's Dance of Death.
that I should at once proceed to verify my last and most

best

startling statement, that fine engraving disdained chiaroscuro.

This vignette (Fig. 2) represents a sunset in the open


mountainous fields of southern Germany. And Holbein is
so entirely careless about the light and shade, which a
Dutchman would first have thought of, as resulting from the
sunset, that, as he works, he forgets altogether where his
Here, actually, the shadow of the figure
light comes from.
is cast from the side, right across the picture, while the sun
is

in front.

And

there

is

not the slightest attempt to indicate

gradation of light in the sky, darkness in the forest, or

any

other positive element of chiaroscuro.

This
chooses.

is

not because Holbein cannot give chiaroscuro if he

He

is

twenty times a stronger master of

it

than

Rembrandt; but he, therefore, knows exactly when and how


to use it; and that wood engraving is not the proper means
for it. The quantity of it which is needful for his story, and
will not, by any sensational violence, either divert, or vulgarly
enforce, the attention, he will give; and that with an unrivaled subtlety. Therefore I must ask you for a moment or
two to quit the subject of technics, and look what these two
wood-cuts mean.
84. The one I have first shown you is of a plowman
plowing at evening. It is Holbein's object, here, to express
the diffused and intense light of a golden summer sunset, so
far as is consistent with grander purposes. A modern French
or English chiaroscurist would have covered his sky with
* By Mr. Burgess. The toil and skill necessary to produce a facsimile of this degree of precision will only be recognized by the reader
who has had considerable experience of actual work.


48

III.

THE TECHNICS OF

and relieved the plowman's hat and his horses


and put sparkling touches on the
furrows and grass. Holbein scornfully casts all such tricks
aside and draws the whole scene in pure white, with simple
fleecy clouds,

against

it

in strong black,

outlines.

And

85.

yet,

when I put

beside this second vignette,

it

(Fig. 3,) which is of a preacher preaching in a feebly lighted


church, you will feel that the diffused warmth of the one

and diffused twilight in the other, are complete;


and they will finally be to you more impressive than if they
had been wrought out with every superficial means of effect,
on each block.
For it is as a symbol, not as a scenic effect, that in each
case the chiaroscuro is given. Holbein, I said, is at the head
of the painter-reformers, and his Dance of Death is the most
energetic and telling of all the forms given, in this epoch,
subject,

preaching the new Gospel


no matter whether you are priest or layman, what you believe, or what you do: here is the end."

to the Rationalist spirit of reform,

of Death,

You

" It

is

shall see, in the course of our inquiry, that Botticelli,

manner, represents the Faithful and Catholic temper

in like

of reform.
86.

choly,

The teaching of Holbein

is

therefore always melan-

and entirely

for the most part purely rational;

furi-

who, either by actual


injustice in this life, or by what he holds to be false promise
of another, destroy the good, or the energy, of the few days
which man has to live. Against the rich^ the luxurious, the
ous in

its

indignation against

all

Pharisee, the false lawyer, the priest, and the unjust judge,

Holbein uses his


unjust

fiercest

mockery; but he

never caricatures or equivocates

is

never himself

gives the facts as

he knows them, with explanatory symbols, few and clear.


87. Among the powers which he hates, the pathetic and
ingenious preaching of untruth

is

as

German

critics

and it is
and reasoning,

one of the chief

curious to find his biographer, knowing

this,

nearly always do, from acquired knowl-

edge, not perception, imagine instantly that he sees hypocrisy

THE TWO PREACHERS.


(Fig. 3) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.

WOOD ENGRAVING.

^^

the face of Holbein's preacher.

Dr. Woltmann,

'^

how thoroughly
his countenance,

is

is

How

skillfully," says

the preacher propounding his doctrines

his hypocrisy expressed in the features of

and in the gestures of

at the cut yourself, candidly.

slightest

4:9

his hands."

But look

I challenge you to find the

of hypocrisy in either feature or gesture.

trace

It is not the hypocrite who has


Holbein knew better.
power in the pulpit. It is the sincere preacher of untruth
who does mischief there. The hypocrite's place of power
is in trade, or in general society; none but the sincere ever
get fatal influence in the pulpit. This man is a refined gentleman ascetic, earnest, thoughtful, and kind. He scarcely
comes aside out of it,
uses the vantage even of his pulpit,
as an eager man would, pleading he is intent on being underis understood; his congregation are delighted
you
stood
might hear a pin drop among them: one is asleep indeed,
who cannot see him, (being under the pulpit,) and asleep
just because the teacher is as gentle as he is earnest, and

speaks quietly.
88.

How

shrewd
there

face.

is

we to know, then, that he speaks in vain?


among all his hearers you will not find one
They are all either simple or stupid people:

are

First, because

one nice

representation had

woman

in front of

all,

(else Holbein's

been caricature,) but she is not a

shrewd

one.

The church is not in


gray twilight is over
everything, but the sun is totally shut out of it;
not a ray
comes in even at the window that is darker than tlie walls,Secondly, by the light and shade.

far

extreme darkness

from that

or vault.
Lastly, and chiefly, by the mocking expression of Death.
Mocking, but not angry. The man has been preaching what
he thought true. Death laughs at him, but is not indignant
with him.
Death comes quietly: I am going to be preacher now; here
is your own hour-glass, ready for me.
You have spoken
many words in your day. But " of the things which you

50

ni.

have spoken, this

and

Of

more

the sum,"

^your death-warrant, signed

There's your text for to-day.

sealed.

89.

far

is

THE TECHNICS OF

meaning is more plain, and


The husbandman is old and gaunt, and

this other picture, the

beautiful.

has passed his days, not in speaking, but pressing the iron
into the ground.

he

is

And

payment

the

for his life's

work

is,

clothed in rags, and his feet are bare on the clods

he has no hat

but

the

brim of a hat only, and

that

and

his long,

unkempt gray hair comes through. But all the air is full of
warmth and of peace; and, beyond his village church, there
His horses lag in the furrow, and his
It is
and fail: but one comes to help him.
but we'll get to the end of it
a long field,' says Death
to-day,
^you and I.'
is,

at last, light indeed.

own limbs

totter

90.

And now

that

we know

the meaning, w^e are able to

discuss the technical qualities farther.

Both of these engravings, you will find, are executed with


blunt lines but more than that, they are executed with quiet
;

lines, entirely steady.

Now,

here I have in

my

hand

a lively

wood-cut of the

good average type of the modern style of


wood-cutting, which you will all recognize.*
The shade in this is drawn on the wood, (not cut, but
drawn, observe,). at the rate of at least ten lines in a second:
present day

Holbein's, at the rate of about one line in three seconds.f


91. ]S'ow there are two different matters to be considered
with respect to these two opposed methods of execution. The
first, that the rapid work, though easy to the artist, is very
difficult to the

wood-cutter

so that

it

implies instantly a sepa-

ration between the two crafts, and that your wood-cutter has

ceased to be a draughtsman.

I shall return to this point.

on the other first; namely, the


more deliberate method on the drawing itself.

wish

to insist

effect of the

* The ordinary title-page of Punch.


\ In the lecture-room, the relative rates of execution were shown
I arrive at this estimate by timing the completion of two small pieces
the two methods,
of ^hadQ
;

WOOD ENGRAVING.

^B 92. When the hand moves


indeed under the
^B second,
^B the wrist and shoulder but

51

at the rate of ten lines in a

government of the muscles of


it cannot possibly be under the
I am able to do this
complete government of the brains.
it is

zigzag line evenly, because I have got the use of the hand
from practice and the faster it is done, the evener it will be.
But I have no mental authority over every line I thus lay:
chance regulates them. Whereas, when I draw at the rate of
two or three seconds to each line, my hand disobeys the mus;

cles a little

the mechanical accuracy

is

not so great; nay,

any appearance of dexterity at all. But


there is, in reality, more manual skill required in the slow
work than in the swift, and all the while the hand is
thoroughly under the orders of the brains. Holbein delibthere ceases to be

erately resolves, for every line, as

be so thick, so far from the next,

and stop

there.

And

he

quantity of meaning to

is

it,

it

goes along, that

that

it

it

shall

shall begin here,

deliberately assigning the utmost

that a line will carry.

93. It is not fair, however, to compare common work of


Here is a wood-cut of
one age with the best of another.
Tenniel's, which I think contains as high qualities as it is
possible to find in modern art.*
I hold it as beyond others
fine, because there is not the slightest caricature in it. -E^o

pushed beyond the degree of natural


possessed in life and in precision of
the drawing is equal to the art of
any time, and shows power which would, if regulated, be
quite adequate to producing an immortal work.
94. Why, then, is it not immortal?
You yourselves, in
compliance with whose demand it was done, forgot it the next
week.
It will become historically interesting; but no man
of true knowledge and feeling will ever keep this in his
cabinet of treasure, as he does these wood-cuts of Holface,

no

attitude, is

humor they would have


momentary expression,

bein's.

The reason
*

John

Surface.

is

that this

is

base coin,

alloyed gold.

There

with Sir Peter Teazle and Joseph


appeared in Punch, earl^ in 1863,

Bull, as Sir Oliver Surface,


It

52
is

in.

gold in

added

it,

THE TECHNICS OP

but also a quantity of brass and lead willfully


Holbein's is beaten
it fit for the public.

make

to

Of which commonplace
gold, seven times tried in the fire.
but useful metaphor the meaning here is, first, that to catch
so-called,
light and shade is
the vulgar eye a quantity of,

an ignorant eye, and is


ingeniously disposed; but it is entirely conventional and
false, unendurable by any person who knows what chiar-

added by Tenniel.

oscuro

It is effective to

is.

Secondly, for one line that Holbein lays, Tenniel has a


dozen.

There

are, for instance,

lines in Sir Peter Teazle's wig,

slight cross-hatching;

but the

hundred and

fifty-seven

without counting dots and

entire face

and flowing hair

of Holbein's preacher are done with forty-five lines, all told.

I^ow observe what a different state of mind the two


one, never in a hurry,
must be in on such conditions
never doing anything that he knows is wrong; never doing
a line badly that he can do better; and appealing only to the
feelings of sensitive persons, and the judgment of attentive
That is Holbein's habit of soul. What is the habit
ones.
of soul of every modern engraver ? Always in a hurry everywhere doing things which he knows to be wrong (Tenniel
knows his light and shade to be wrong as well as I do) continually doing things badly which he was able to do better;
and appealing exclusively to the feelings of the dull, and the
judgment of the inattentive.
Do you suppose that is not enough to make the difference
between mortal and immortal art, the original genius being
supposed alike in both ? *
95.

artists

96.

Thus

I pass next
between him and his subordinate, the wood-

far of the state of the artist himself.

to the relation
cutter.

* In preparing tliese passages for the press, I feel perpetual need of


qualifications

and

limitations, for

it is

impossible to surpass the humor,

or precision of expressional touch, in the really golden parts of Tenniel's works


and they may be immortal, as representing what is best
;

in their day.

WOOD ENGRAVING.
The modern

artist requires

him

to cut a

seven lines in the wig only,

the old

cut forty-five for the face,

and long

actual proportion

is

to tw^enty of cost in

53

hundred and

fifty-

him to
The
altogether.

artist requires

hair,

roughly, and on the average, about one

manual

labor, ancient to

modern,

the

twentieth part of the mechanical labor, to produce an immortal instead of a perishable

labor;

which

and

work,

the twentieth part of the


that
of

the greatest

is

difference

twentieth part, at once less mechanically

all

difiicult,

and more

mentally pleasant.
Mr. Otley, in his general History of
Engraving, says, " The greatest difficulty in wood engraving
occurs in clearing out the minute quadrangular lights " and
;

any modern wood-cut you will see that where the lines
of the drawing cross each other to produce shade, the white
interstices are cut out so neatly that there is no appearance
of any jag or break in the lines; they look exactly as if they
had been drawn with a pen. It is chiefly difficult to cut the
in

pieces clearly out

when they form

when

the lines cross at right angles

easier

oblique or diamond-shaped interstices; but

in any case some half-dozen cuts, and in square crossings as

many

as twenty, are required to clear one interstice.

Therewith my pen across other


six, I produce twenty-five interstices, each of which will need
at least six, perhaps twenty, careful touches of the burin to
clear out.
Say ten for an average and I demand two hundred and fifty exquisitely precise touches from my engraver,
to render ten careless ones of mine.
fore if I carelessly

draw

six strokes

97. ^N'ow I take

John

up Punch,

at his best.

The whole of

the

shadow on his kneebreeches and great-coat


the whole of the Lord Chancellor's
gown, and of John Bull's and Sir Peter Teazle's complexions, are worked with finished precision of cross-hatching.
These have indeed some purpose in their texture but in the
most wanton and gratuitous way, the wall below the window
is cross-hatched too, and that not with a double, but a treble
left side

of

Bull's waistcoat

the

line (Fig. 4).


54

THE TECHNICS OF

111.

There are about thirty of these columns, with


interstices each: approximately, 1,050

thirty-five

certainly not fewer

interstices to be deliberately cut clear,

to get that

Now
feel

the

two inches square of shadow.


or think enough to

calculate

the

of

impossibility

number

calculating

of wood-cuts used daily for

our popular prints, and

how many men

are night and day cutting 1,050 square


Fia.

4.

holes to the

pation of their manly

And

life.

square inch, as the occuMrs. Beecher Stowe and the

North Americans fancy they have abolished slavery!


98. The workman cannot have even the consolation of
pride

for his task, even in

really difficult,

the practice,

only
is

it

its finest

tedious.

as easy as lying.

witliout a purpose is easy

with a purpose, that

accomplishment,

is

not

\Yhen you have once got into

enough

is difficult,

To

cut regular holes

but to cut irregular holes

forever;

no

tricks of tool

or trade will give you power to do that.

The supposed
it

difficulty

takes time to learn,

like the other.

But

is

is to

the thing which, at all events,

cut the interstices neat, and each

there any reason, do you suppose, for

So far from it,


like the other?
if
they
were irregular,
times
prettier
twenty
would
be
they
old
wood-cutter,
other.
And
an
different
from
the
each
and
smooth
interstices
in
cutting
these
instead of taking pride
taking
irregular;
and alike, resolutely cuts them rough and
care, at the same time, never to have any more than are
their being neat,

and each

wanted, this being only one part of the general system of


intelligent manipulation, which made so good an artist of the
engraver that it is impossible to say of any standard old woodcut, whether the draughtsman engraved it himself or not.
I should imagine, from the character and subtlety of the
that every line of the Dance of Death had been
engraved by Holbein we know it was not, and that there can
be no certainty given by even the finest pieces of wood execution of anything more than perfect harmony between tho

touch,

WOOD ENGEATINO.

And

designer and workman.

mony demands
is

in the latter.

consider

Not

55

how much

that the

unintelligent in applying his mechanical skill

he greatly improves the drawing ; but

this har-

modern engraver
:

very often

we never could mistake

hand for Holbein's.


The true merit, then, of wood execution, as regards
this matter of cross-hatching, is first that there be no more
his

99.

crossing than necessary; secondly, that all the interstices be

and rough. You may look through the entire series


of the Dance of Death without finding any cross-hatching
whatever, except in a few unimportant bits of background,
so rude as to need scarcely more than one touch to each
interstice.
Albert Diirer crosses more definitely but yet, in
any fold of his drapery, every white spot differs in size from
every other, and the arrangement of the whole is delightful,
by the kind of variety which the spots on a leopard have.
On the other hand, where either expression or form can
be rendered by the shape of the lights and darks, the old
engraver becomes as careful as in an ordinary, ground he is

various,

careless.

The endeavor, with your own hand, and common pen and
ink, to

copy a small piece of either of the two Holbein woodand 3) will prove this to you better than any

cuts (Figures 2

words.
100. I said that, had Tenniel been rightly trained, there
might have been the making of a Holbein, or nearly a Holbein,
in him.
I do not know but I can turn from his work to
that of a man who was not trained at all, and who was,
;

without training, Holbein's equal.


Equal, in the sense that this brown stone, in
is

my

the equal, though not the likeness, of that in

left

hand,

my

right.

They are both of the same true and pure crystal but the one
is brown with iron, and never touched by forming hand;
;

the other has never been in rough companionship, and has


been exquisitely polished. So with these two men. The one
was the companion of Erasmus and Sir Thomas More. His
father was so good an artist that you cannot always tell their

56

III.

THE TECHNICS OP

But

drawings asunder.

the other

was a farmer's son; and

learned his trade in the back shops of Newcastle.

Yet the first book I asked you to get was his biography;
and in this frame are set together a drawing by Hans Holbein,
and one by Thomas Bewick. I know which is most scholarly
but I do not know which is best.
101. It is much to say for the self-taught Englishman
I
yet do not congratulate yourselves on his simplicity.
told you, a little while since, that the English nobles had left
the history of birds to be written, and their spots to be drawn,
but I did not tell you their farther loss
by a printer's lad
in the fact that this printer's lad could have written their own
histories, and drawn their own spots, if they had let him.
But they had no history to be written; and were too closely
maculate to be portrayed; white ground in most places
altogether obscured.
Had there been Mores and Henrys
to draw, Bewick could have drawn them; and would have
found his function. As it was, the nobles of his day left
him to draw the frogs, and pigs, and sparrows of his day,
which seemed to him, in his solitude, the best types of its
Nobility.
No sight or thought of beautiful things was ever
granted him
no heroic creature, goddess-born how much
less any native Deity
ever shone upon him. To his utterly
English mind, the straw of the sty, and its tenantry, were
abiding truth;
the cloud of Olympus, and its tenantry, a
child's dream.
He could draw a pig, but not an Aphrodite.
102. The three pieces of wood-cut from his Fables (the
two lower ones enlarged) in the opposite plate, show his
utmost strength and utmost rudeness. I must endeavor to
make you thoroughly understand both: the magnificent
;

artistic

power, the flawless virtue, veracity, tenderness,

the

infinite humor of the man; and yet the difference between


England and Florence, in the use they make of such gifts

in their children.

For the moment, however, I confine myself to the examinawe must follow our former

tion of technical points; and

conclusions a

little

further.

Things

Celestial

and Terrestrial, as appai*ent


Mind.

to the English

WOOD ENGRAVING.

57

103. Because our lines in wood must be thick, it becomes


an extreme virtue in wood engraving to economize lines,
not merely, as in all other art, to save time and power, but

because, our lines being necessarily blunt, we must make up


our minds to do with fewer, by many, than are in the object.
But is this necessarily a disadvantage ?
Ahsolutelyj an immense disadvantage,
a wood-cut never

r can be

good a thing as a painting, or line


But in its own separate and useful way, an

so beautiful or

engraving.

excellent thing, because, practiced rightly,

it

exercises in the

and summons in you, the habit of abstraction; that


is to say, of deciding what are the essential points in the
things you see, and seizing these; a habit entirely necessary
to strong humanity and so natural to all humanity, that it
leads, in its indolent and undisciplined states, to all the vulgar
artist,

amateur's liking of sketches better than pictures. The sketch


seems to put the thing for him into a concentrated and exciting form.

you from this error,


bad sketch is good for nothing; and that nobody can
make a good sketch unless they generally are trying to finish
104. Observe, therefore, to guard

that a

But the abstraction of the essential


by a line-master, has a peculiar
didactic value.
For painting, when it is complete, leaves it
much to your own judgment what to look at; and, if you are
a fool, you look at the wrong thing;
but in a fine wood-cut,
with extreme care.

particulars in his subject

the master says to you,

105.

^^

You

shall look at this, or at notliing.''

For example, here is a little tailpiece of Bewick's,


Frogs and the Stork.* He is, as I told

to the fable of the

you, as stout a reformer as Holbein,f or Botticelli, or Luther,


or Savonarola
left, at

and, as an impartial reformer, hits right and

lower or upper classes,

if

he sees them wrong.

frequently, he strikes at vice, without reference to class

Most
;

but

in this vignette he strikes definitely at the degradation of

mind which is incapable of being governed,


cannot understand the nobleness of kingship. He

the viler popular

because
*

it

From Bewick's

iEsop's Fables.

See ante, %

43,

58

III.

THE TECHNICS OF

has written

better than written, engraved, sure to suffer no

his legend under the drawing so that we know


meaning:
" Set them up with a king, indeed "
106. There is an audience of seven frogs, listening to a
speaker, or croaker, in the middle and Bewick has set himself to show in all, but especially in the speaker, essential
frogginess of mind
the marsh temper. He could not have
done it half so well in painting as he has done by the abstraction of wood-outline.
The characteristic of a manly mind,
or body, is to be gentle in temper, and firm in constitution
the contrary essence of a froggy mind and body is to be
angular in temper, and flabby in constitution.
I have
enlarged Bewick's orator-frog for you, Plate I. c, and I
think you will feel that he is entirely expressed in those
slip of

type

his

essential particulars.

This being perfectly good wood-cutting, notice especially


No scrawling or scratching, or cross-hatch-

its deliberation.

work of any sort. Most deliberate laying


down of solid lines and dots, of which you cannot change one.
The real difficulty of wood engraving is to cut every one of
these black lines or spaces of the exactly right shape, and not
at all to cross-hatch them cleanly.
107. Kext, examine the technical treatment of the pig,
above. I have purposely chosen this as an example of a white
object on dark ground, and the frog as a dark object on light
ground, to explain to you what I mean by saying that fine
engraving regards local color, but not light and shade. You
see both frog and pig are absolutely without light and shade.
The frog, indeed, casts a shadow but his hind leg is as white
as his throat. In the pig you don't even know which way the
But you know at once that the pig is white, and
light falls.
the frog brown or green.
ing,

or

free

'

108. There are, however, two pieces of chiaroscuro implied


It is assumed that his curly tail
would be light against the background dark against his own
rump. This little piece of heraldic quartering is absolutely

in the treatment of the pig.

59

WOOD ENGRAVING.

He would have been a white


necessary to solidify him.
ghost of a pig, flat on the background, but for that alternaSecondly:
tive tail, and the bits of dark behind the ears.
is necessary to suggest the position of his
given with graphic and chosen points of dark, as
few as possible; not for the sake of the shade at all, but of

Where

the shade

ribs, it is

the skin and bone.


109. That, then,

being the law of refused chiaroscuro,

We

observe further the method of outline.

were

to

have thick lines in wood,

thickness of black outline


chin,

and above

But

said that

Bewick has

left

we

Look what

if possible.

under our pig's

his nose.

all, you think ?


modern engraver would have made it one, and
prided himself on getting it fine. Bewick leaves it actually

'No;

that

is

not a line at

thicker than the snout, but puts all his ingenuity of touch to

vary the forms, and break the extremities of his white cuts,
so that the eye may be refreshed and relieved by new forms
at every turn.
The group of white touches filling the space
between snout and ears might be a wreath of fine-weather
clouds, so studiously are they grouped and broken.
And nowhere, you see, does a single black line cross another.
Look back to Figure 4, page 54, and you will know, henceforward, the difference between good and bad wood-cutting.
110. We have also, in the lower wood-cut, a notable instance
of Bewick's power of abstraction. You will observe that one
of the chief characters of this frog, which makes him humorous,
next to his vain endeavor to get some firmness into his
fore feet,
is his obstinately angular hump-back.
And you
must feel, when you see it so marked, how important a
general character of a frog it is to have a hump-back,
not

at the shoulders,

but the loins.

111. Here, then,

is

a case in

which you will

function that anatomy should take in

see the exact

art.

All the most scientific anatomy in the world would never

have taught Bewick,

much

less

you,

how

But when once you have drawn him,

to

draw a

frog.

or looked at him, so

60

THE TECHNICS OF WOOD ENGRAVING.

III.

as to

know

his points, it then becomes entirely interesting

why he has a hump-back. So I went myself


yesterday to Professor Eolleston for a little anatomy, just
as I should have gone to Professor Phillips for a little
to find out

geology; and the Professor brought me a fine little active


frog; and we put him on the table, and made him jump all

and then the Professor brought in a charming Squeme that he needed a projecting
bone from his rump, as a bird needs it from its breast, the
over

it,

lette

of a frog, and showed

one to attach the strong muscles of the hind


to attach those of the fore legs or wings.

leaping power of the frog

legs, as the other

So that the entire

in his hump-back, as the flying

is

power of the bird is in its breast-bone. And thus this Prog


Parliament is most literally a Eump Parliament everything depending on the hind legs, and nothing on the
brains which makes it wonderfully like some other Parliaments we know of nowadays, with Mr. Ayrton and Mr. Lowe
for their aesthetic and acquisitive eyes, and a rump of Rail-

way

Directors.

Now,

112.

to conclude, for

touched on the beginning of

I have but
understand

want of time only

my

subject,

clearly

and finally this simple principle of all art, that the best is that
which realizes absolutely, if possible. Here is a viper by Carpaccio you are afraid to go near it.
Here is an arm-chair by
Carpaccio you Avho came in late, and are standing, to my regret, would like to sit down in it.
This is consummate art
but you can only have that with consummate means, and
exquisitely trained and hereditary mental power.
With inferior means, and average mental power, you must
:

be content to give a rude abstraction ; but


is to

if

rude abstraction

be made, think what a difference there must be between

and a fool's and consider what heavy responsiupon you in your youth, to determine, among realities, by what you will be delighted, and, among imaginations,
by whose you will be led.
a wise man's

bility lies

LECTUEE
THE
113.

We

TECHIS^ICS

IV.

OF METAL ENGRAVIITG.

are to-daj to examine the proper methods for the

management of

the most perfect of the arms of preby the artist. For you will at once understand that a line cut by a finely-pointed instrument upon the
smooth surface of metal is susceptible of the utmost fineness
In
that can be given to the definite work of the human hand.
drawing with pen upon paper, the surface of the paper is
slightly rough necessarily, two points touch it instead of one,
and the liquid flows from them more or less irregularly, whatBut you cut a metallic surface
ever the draughtsman's skill.
with one edge only the furrow drawn by a skater on the surface of ice is like it on a large scale.
Your surface is polished, and your line may be wholly faultless, if your hand is.

technical

cision possessed

114.

And

because, in such material, effect^

duced which no penmanship could

rival,

may

think that a steel plate half engraves itself; that the


has no trouble with

be pro-

most people, I fancy,

workman

comipared to that of a pen draughts-

it,

man.

To test your feeling in this matter accurately, here is a


manuscript book written with pen and ink, and illustrated
with flourishes and vignettes.

You

will all, I think, be disposed, on examining it, to exIIow wonderful and even to doubt the possibility of
every page in the book being completed in the same manner.

claim,

A^ain, here are three of my own drawings, executed with the


pen, and Indian ink, when I was fifteen.
They are copies

from large lithographs by Prout and I imagine that most of


my pupils would think me very tyrannical if I requested
;

61


62

IV.

THE TECHNICS OF

them to do anything of the kind themselves. And yet, when


you see in the shop windows a line engraving like this,* or
this,* either of which contains, alone, as much work as fifty
pages of the manuscript hook, or

you look upon


never say

such drawings as mine,

fifty

effect as quite a

its

matter of course,

you

nor consider how you


by producing anything of the same

how wonderful

would

'

tliat

is,

like to have to live,


kind yourselves.
115. Yet you cannot suppose it is in reality easier to draw
a line with a cutting point, not seeing the effect at all, or, if
any effect, seeing a gleam of light instead of darkness, than
You
to draw your black line at once on the white paper ?
cannot really think f that there is something complacent, sym-

pathetic,

and helpful in the nature of

may

pen-and-ink sketch

steel

so that while a

always be considered an achievement

proving cleverness in the sketcher, a sketch on steel comes out


by mere favor of the indulgent metal; or that the plate is

woven like a piece of pattern silk, and the pattern is developed


by pasteboard cards punched full of holes ? l^oi so. Look
close at this engraving, or take a smaller and simpler one,
imagine it to be a drawing in
Turner's Mercury and Argus,
pen and ink, and yourself required similarly to produce its

parallel

Tj;ue, the steel point has the

one advantage of not

blotting, but it has tenfold or twentyfold disadvantage, in that

you cannot

slur,

nor

efface, except in a

rious way, nor play with

it,

very resolute and labo-

nor even see what you are doing

with it at the moment, far less the effect that is to be. You
must feel what you are doing with it, and know precisely what
you have got to do how deep, how broad, how far apart your
lines must be, etc. and etc., (a couple of lines of etceteras
would not be enough to imply all you must know). But sup;

* Miller's large plate of the

Grand Canal, Venice, after Turner and


The other examples referred to are
;

Goodall's, of Tivoli, after Turner.

the University Galleries.


This paragraph was not read at the lecture, time not allowing
it is part of what I wrote on engraving some years ago, in the papers
for the Art Journal, called the Cestus of Aglaia.
(Refer now to " On
the Old Road.")

left in
f

II.

The Star of FLORENCE.

METAL ENGKAYING.

pose the plate were only a pen drawing


finest

and

63
take your pen

your

just try to copy the leaves that entangle the

head

of lo, and her head itself ; remembering always that the kind

of work required here

mere

is

child's

play compared to that

Nevertheless, take a small magni-

of fine figure engraving.

count the dots and lines that gradate the


and the edges of the facial bone notice how the light
is left on the top of the head by the stopping, at its outline,
of the coarse touches which form the shadows under the
leaves; examine it well, and then
I humbly ask of you

fying glass to this

nostrils

of
yourself!
You
gentleman of geniusyou

try to do a piece

do

it

clever sketcher

it

young lady or
tante
you current writer of
seech you,

^you

eye-glassed dilet-

criticism royally plural,

be-

do the merely etched outline yourLook you, you hold your etching needle

yourself

no more.
way, as you would a pencil, nearly; and then, you
scratch with it it is as easy as lying.
Or if you think that

self, if

this

take

too difiicult, take an easier piece;-

either of the light

sprays of foliage that rise against the fortress on the right,


pass your lens over them

look how

their fine outline is first

drawn, leaf by leaf; then how the distant rock is put in between, with broken lines, mostly stopping before they touch
the leaf-outline and again, I pray you, do it yourself,
if
not on that scale, on a larger.
Go on into the hollows of the

distant rock,

count

traverse its thickets,

how many

in a casement

liberately

drawn

of an inch;

its

towers;

bush in an arch
or two hundred, de-

some hundred and fifty,


you will find, in every square quarter

lines,

say

skillful intentj

number

lines there are in a laurel

three thousand to the inch,

put in

its

place

each, wdth

and then consider what the

ordinary sketcher's work must appear, to the

men who

have

been trained to this


116. "

But might not more have been done by three thousand lines to a square inch ? '' you will perhaps ask. Well,
possibly.
It may be with lines as with soldiers: three hundred, knowing their work thoroughly, may be stronger than
three thousand less sure of their aim.

We

shall

have to press

64

IV.

close

home

ently;

numbers and purpose presSuppose certain results

this question about

it is

required,

THE TECHNICS OF

not the question now.

atmospheric

effects,

surface textures, transparen-

cies of shade, confusions of light,

done with

then,

There are engravings of

less.

more could not be


modern school,

this

of which, with respect to their particular aim,


truly, they " cannot be better done."

most

Here

is

one just finished,

of ordinary mortals, though

retouch

it;

Henry Jeens;

it

may

or, at least, finished to the

fastidious master

its

it

pure

line,

mean

eyes

means

quite pure line engraving, by Mr.


(in calling

be said,

to

Charles

that there

are no mixtures of mezzotint or

any mechanical tooling,


but all is steady hand- work,) from a picture by Mi*. Armytage, which, without possessing any of the highest claims to
admiration, is yet free from the vulgar vices which disgrace
most of our popular religious art and is so sweet in the fancy
of it as to deserve, better than many works of higher power,
;

the pains of the engraver to


is

meant

to help

make

it

common

possession.

It

us to imagine the evening of the day when

Christ had been seeking Him


through Jerusalem: they have come to a well where women
are drawing water St. Joseph passes on,
but the tired Madonna, leaning on the well's margin, asks wistfully of the
women if they have seen such and such a child astray. Now
will you just look for a while into the lines by which the expression of the weary and anxious face is rendered see how
unerring they are, how calm and clear and think how many
questions have to be determined in drawing the most minute
the father and mother of

portion of any one,

from the next,


where it ends.

its

its

curve,

its

thickness,

own preparation

its

distance

for ending, invisibly,

Think what the precision must be in these


that trace the edge of the lip, and make it look quivering with
disappointment, or in these which have made the eyelash
heavy with restrained

tears.

must be the case with many of my audience,


it is impossible for you to conceive the difficulties here overcome, look merely at the draperies, and other varied sub117.

Or

if,

as

METAL El^GRAVING.

65

see how silk, and linen, and


and pottery, and flesh, are all separated in texture, and
gradated in light, by the most subtle artifices and appliances
of which artifices, and the nature of the mechanical
of line,
labor throughout, I must endeavor to give you to-day a more
distinct conception than you are in the habit of forming.
But as I shall have to blame some of these methods in their
fgeneral result, and I do not wish any word of general blame
to be associated with this most excellent and careful plate by
Mr. Jeens, I will pass, for special examination, to one already in your reference series, whi(;h for the rest exhibits
more various treatment in its combined landscape, background, and figures the Belle Jardiniere of Eaphael, drawn
and engraved by the Baron Desnoyers.
You see, in the first place, that the ground, stones, and
other coarse surfaces are distinguished from the flesh and
Those broken lines
draperies by broken and wriggled lines.
cannot be executed with the burin, they are etched in the
early states of the plate, and are a modern artifice, never used
by old engravers partly because the older men were not masters of the art of etching, but chiefly because even those who
were acquainted with it w^ould not employ lines of this nature.
They have been developed by the importance of landscape in modern engraving, and have produced some valuable

stances represented in the plate

stone,

results in small plates, especially of architecture.

But they

are entirely erroneous in principle, for the surface of stones

and leaves

is

not broken or jagged in this manner, but consists

of mossy, or blooming, or otherwise organic texture, which

cannot be represented by these coarse lines

their general con-

sequence has therefore been to withdraw the


server

from

all

mind

of the ob-

beautiful and tender characters in foreground,

and eventually to destroy the very school of landscape engraving which gave birth to them.
Considered, however, as a means of relieving more deli-

some degree legitimate, being, in


kind of chasing or jagging one part of the plate surface
in order to throw out the delicate tints from the rough field,
cate textures, they are in
fact, a

66

THE TECHNICS OF

IV.

But the same effect was produced with less pains, and far
more entertainment to the eye, by the older engravers, who
employed purely ornamental variations of line thus in Plate
;

IV., opposite 137, the drapery is sufficiently distinguished


from the grass by the treatment of the latter as an ornamental

arabesque.
The grain of wood is elaborately engraved by
Marc Antonio, with the same purpose, in the plate given in

your Standard

Series.

you observe what difference of texture


and force exists between the smooth, continuous lines themselves, which are all really engraved.
You must take some
118. E^ext, however,

pains to understand the nature of this operation.

The

line is first cut lightly through its

whole course, by

absolute decision and steadiness of hand, which

you may

endeavor to imitate if you like, in its simplest phase, by


drawing a circle with your compass-pen and then, grasping
your penholder so that you can push the point like a plow,
;

describing other circles inside or outside of

it,

in exact

parallelism with the mathematical line, and at exactly equal


distances.

To approach,

gradated intervals,

may

or depart, with your point at finely

be your next exercise,

if

you

find

the first unexpectedly easy.


119.

When

the line

is

thus described in

its

proper course,

plowed deeper, where depth is needed, by a second


cut of the burin, first on one side, then on the other, the cut
being given with gradated force so as to take away most steel
where the line is to be darkest. Every line of gradated depth
it

is

in the plate has to be thus cut eight or ten times over at

with retouchings to smooth and clear all in the close.


Jason has to plow his field ten-furroAV deep, with his fiery
oxen well in hand, all the while.
When the essential lines are thus produced in their several
directions, those which have been drawn across each other,
so as to give depth of shade, or richness of texture, have
least,

to be farther enriched by dots in the interstices; else there


would be a painful appearance of network everywhere; and
these dots require each four or five jags to produce them; and

67

METAL ENaRAVlKG.

each of these jags must be done with what artists and engravthe sensibility, that is, of a hand
feeling/
ers alike call

'

completely under mental government.


look soft,
in,

and

like touches of paint;

So wTought, the dots


but mechanically dug

they are vulgar and hard.

shadow throughwhat quantity


Exactly the same
he will produce it.
and therefore the same depth of tint in

120. N"ow, observe, that, for every piece of

out the work, the engraver has to decide with

and kind of line


quantity of black,
general effect,

may

be given with six thick lines; or with

twelve, of half their thickness; or with eighteen, of a third

of the thickness.
eighteen,

may

or go between

The second

six,

second twelve, or second

cross the first six, first twelve, or first eighteen,

them

then the third six

and they may

may

cross at

any

be put between the

angle.
first

And

six,

or

In

between the second six, or across both, and at any angle.


the network thus produced, any kind of dots may be put in
And for any of the series
the severally shaped interstices.
of superadded lines, dots, of equivalent value in shade, may
(Some engravings are wrought in dots
be substituted.
altogether.)
Choice infinite, with multiplication of infinity,
is, at all events, to be made, for every minute space, from one
side of the plate to the other.

121.

The

excellence of a beautiful engraving

is

primarily

in the use of these resources to exhibit the qualities of the

method of transand the language of engraving, when once you begin

original picture, with delight to the eye in the


lation;
to

understand

it, is,

so ineffably subtle

quite easily

make

in these respects, so fertile, so ingenious,

grammar, that you may


the subject of your life's investigation,

and severe in
it

its

you would the scholarship of a lovely literature.


But in doing this, you would withdraw, and necessarily
withdraw, your attention from the higher qualities of art, precisely as a grammarian, who is that, and nothing more, loses
command of the matter and substance of thought. And the
exquisitely mysterious mechanisms of the engraver's method
as

have, in fact, thus entangled the intelligence of the careful

QS

IV.

draughtsmen of Europe;
this translator's power,

hand have

finest

THE TECHNICS OF

so that since the final perfection of


all

stayed

the

men

content

of finest patience and

with

it;

the

subtlest

draughtsmanship has perished from the canvas,* and sought


more popular praise in this labyrinth of disciplined language, and more or less dulled or degraded thought.
And,
in sum, I know no cause more direct or fatal, in the destruction of the great schools of European art, than the perfectness of

modern

line engraving.

122. This great and profoundly to be regretted influence I

and

will prove

object to-day

and above

illustrate to

is to

all to

you on another occasion.

My

explain the perfectness of the art itself;

request you, if you will not look at pictures

instead of photographs, at least not to allow the cheap merits

of the chemical operation to withdraAv your interest from the

human

splendid

labor of the engraver.

from Stothard, for

vignette

Here

is

a little

instance, in Rogers' ^poems, to

the lines,
" Soared in the swing, half pleased and half afraid,
'Neath sister elms, that waved their summer shade."

You would

think,

difficult things to

would you not? (and

rightly,) that of all

express with crossed black lines and dots,

the face of a young girl

you have the face of

must be the most

difficult.

Yet here

a bright girl, radiant in light, trans-

parent, mysterious, almost breathing,

her dark hair involved

and shade, her eyes full of joy and sweet


and all this done by the exquisite order and
playfulness,
gradation of a very few lines, which, if you will examine
them through a lens, you find dividing and checkering the
lip, and cheek, and chin, so strongly that you would have
fancied they could only produce the effect of a grim iron
mask. But the intelligences of order and form guide them
into beauty, and inflame them with delicatest life.
in delicate wreath

An

made

in France, by Meissonier, Gerome,


with marvelous collateral skill of engravers. The etching of Gerome's Louis XIV. and Moliere is one of
the completest pieces of skillful mechanism ever put on metal.

and

effort

has lately been

their school, to recover

it,


69

METAL ENGRAVING.

And

123.

do you see the size of this head? About as


Can you imagine the
bud of a forget-me-not
of the little pressures of the hand on the steel, in that

large as the
fineness
space,
its less

My

which at the edge of the almost invisible


or

more of smile

chemical friends,

lip,

fashioned

if

you wish ever

to

know anything

rightly concerning the arts, I very urgently advise

you

to

your vials and washes down the gutter-trap; and


if you will ascribe, as you think it so clever to do, in your
modern creeds, all virtue to the sun, use that virtue through
your ow^n heads and fingers, and apply your solar energies
to draw a skillful line or two, for once or twice in your life.
You may learn more by trying to engrave^ like Goodall, the
tip of an ear, or the curl of a lock of hair, than by photographing the entire population of the United States of America,
black, white, and neutral-tint.
And one word, by the way, touching the complaints I
hear at my having set you to so fine work that it hurts your
You have noticed that all great sculptors and most of
eyes.
began by being goldsmiths.
the great painters of Florence
Why do you think the goldsmith's apprenticeship is so fruitful ? Primarily, because it forces the boy to do small work,
and mind what he is about. Do you suppose Michael Angelo
learned his business by dashing or hitting at it? He laid
the foundation of all his after power by doing precisely what
copying German
I am requiring my own pupils to do,
And for your eyes you all sit up
engravings in facsimile
at night till you haven't got any eyes worth speaking of.
Go
to bed at half-past nine, and get up at four, and you'll see
something out of them, in time.
124. ISTevertheless, whatever admiration you may be
bi;ought to feel, and with justice, for this lovely workmanship,
the more distinctly you comprehend its merits, the more
distinctly also will the question rise in your mind. How is
it that a performance so marvelous has yet taken no rank
in the records of art of any permanent or acknowledged kind ?
throw

all

70

IV.

How

THE TECHNICS OF

from Stothard and Turner,*


from Tenniel, scarcely make the name of
the engraver known; and that they never are found side by
side with this older and apparently ruder art, in the cabinets
of men of real judgment ? The reason is precisely the same
as in the case of the Tenniel wood-cut.
This modern line
engraving is alloyed gold. Rich in capacity, astonishing in
attainment, it nevertheless admits willful fault, and misses
what it ought first to have attained.
It is therefore, to
a certain measure, vile in its perfection while the older work
is noble even in its failure, and classic no less in what it
deliberately refuses, than in what it rationally and rightly
prefers and performs.
is it

that these vignettes

like the wood-cuts

125. Here, for instance, I have enlarged the head of one

of Dlirer's
plates.f

Madonnas

You

think

afraid to think

so,

for

it

you out of one of

very ugly.

nor to say

so.

Well, so

his

most careful
Don't be

it is.

Frightfully ugly; vulgar

Dutch girl, with all the


There is not the least doubt about
that.
Don't let anybody force Albert Diirer down your
throats; nor make you expect pretty things from him.
Stothard's young girlin the swing, or Sir Joshua's Age of
Innocence, is in quite angelic sphere of another world, compared to this black domain of poor, laborious Albert. We
are not talking of female beauty, so please you, just now,
also.

It is the head, simply, of a fat

pleasantness left out.

gentlemen, but of engraving.

And

the merit, the classical,

* I

must again qualify the too sweeping statement of the text. I


some of these nineteenth century line engravings will become monumental. The first vignette of the garden, witli
the cut hedges and fountain, for instance, in Rogers' poems, is so consummate in its use of every possible artifice of delicate line, (note the
think, as time passes,

look of tremulous atmosphere got by the undulatory etched lines on


the pavement, and tlie broken masses, worked with dots, of the fountain foam,) tliat I think it cannot but, with some of its companions,
I find in like
survive the refuse of its school, and become classic.
manner, even with all their faults and weaknesses, the vignettes to

Heyne's Virgil to be real art-possessions.


f Plate XI., in the Appendix, taken from the engraving of the Virgin
sitting in the fenced garden, with two angels crowning her,

P
^B
^P

indefeasible,

with

immortal merit of

the beauty left out,

all

is

this

head of a Dutch

girl

in the fact that every line of

good, not with the


as engraving, is as good as can be;
mechanical dexterity of a watch-maker, but with the intellectual effort and sensitiveness of an artist who knows precisely what can be done, and ought to be attempted, with his
it,

assigned materials.

He

works

easily, fearlessly, flexibly

dots are not all measured in distance

71

METAL ENGRAVING.

matically parallel or divergent.

He

the

the lines not all mathe-

has even missed his

mark

at the mouth
But there are no petrified mistakes nor is the eye so accustomed to the look of the mechanical furrow as to accept it
The engraving is full of the painter's
for final excellence.
higher power and wider perception it is classically perfect,
because duly subordinate, and presenting for your applause

in one place, and leaves the mistake, frankly.


;

only the virtues proper to

its

own

sphere.

Among

these, I

must now reiterate, the first of all is the decorative arrangement of lines,
126. You all know what a pretty thing a damask tablecloth is, and how a pattern is brought out by threads running
one way in one space, and across in another. So, in lace, a
certain delightfulness is given by the texture of meshed lines.
Similarly, on any surface of metal, the object of the
engraver

is,

or ought to be, to cover

it

with lovely

lines,

form-

ing a lace-work, and including a variety of spaces, delicious


.to

the eye.

And

this

is

his

business,

matter can be thought

know

I told

you

of, his

primarily; before any other

work must be ornamental.

You

a sculptor's business is first to cover a surface

mean anything or not so


an engraver's is to cover it with pleasant lines, whether they
mean anything or not. That they should mean something,
and a good deal of something, is indeed desirable afterwards
but first we must be ornamental.
127. I^ow if you will compare Plate II. at the beginning
of this lecture, which is a characteristic example of good

with pleasant bosses, whether they

Florentine engraving, and represents the Planet and power


IV.

'T2

THE TECHNICS OF

of Aphrodite, with the Aphrodite of Bewick in the upper


division of Plate

I.,

you will

at once

understand the

dif-

ference between a primarily ornamental, and a primarily

The

requirement in the Florentine


arrangement of lines a pretty
thing upon a page. Bewick has a secondary notion of making
his vignette a pretty thing upon a page.
But he is overpowered by his vigorous veracity, and bent first on giving
you his idea of Venus. Quite right, he would have been,
mind you, if he had been carving a statue of her on Mount
Eryx; but not when he was engraving a vignette to ^sop's
fables.
To engrave well is to ornament a surface well, not
realistic,

work,

is

style.

that

it

first

shall be a lovely

to create a realistic impression.

I beg your pardon for

my

repetitions; but the point at issue is the root of the whole

and I must get it well asserted, and variously.


pass to a more important example.
128. Three years ago, in the rough first arrangement of
the copies in the Educational Series, I put an outline of the
top of Apollo's scepter, which, in the catalogue, was said to
be probably by Baccio Bandini of Florence, for your first
real exercise it remains so, the olive being put first only for
business,

Let

me

its

mythological rank.

The

series of engravings to

that exercise

is

which the plate from which

copied belongs, are part of a number, executed

from early designs of Sandro Botticelli, and


some in great part by his hand. He and his assistant, Baccio,
worked together; and in such harmony, that Bandini probably often does what Sandro wants, better than Sandro could
have done it himself; and, on the other hand, there is no
design of Bandini's over which Sandro does not seem to have
had influence.
And wishing now to show you three examples of the finest
work of the old, the renaissance, and the modern schools,
chiefly, I think,

of the old, I will take Baccio Bandini's Astrologia, Plate


III., opposite.

And

Of

the renaissance, Dlirer's

Adam

and Eve.

of the modern, this head of the daughter of Herodias,

engraved from Luini by Beaugrand, which

is

as affection-

K^ I Pv>JLCGJ>\NvA2A.iIIl
III.
'At,

ev'ning-

from the top of Fesole.

METAL ENGRAVING.

IS

and sincerely wrought, though in the modern manner,


any
plate of the old schools.
as
ately

129.

Now

observe the progress of the feeling for light

and shade in the three examples.


The first is nearly all white paper you think of the outline
;

as the constructive element throughout.

The second
light

whether of

The

flesh,

third

a vigorous piece of luhite

is

and shade,
is

and

not of

hlach.

for all the high lights are equally white,

or leaves, or goat's hair.

complete in chiaroscuro, as far as engraving

lean be.

]^ow the dignity and virtue of the plates

is

in the exactly

inverse ratio of their fullness in chiaroscuro.


Bandini's is excellent work, and of the very highest school.
[;Diirer's entirely

accomplished work, but of an inferior school,


and non-

.nd Beaugrand's, excellent work, but of a vulgar


ilassical school.

And

these relations of the schools are to be determined

the quality in the lines;

we

by

shall find that in proportion as

and shade is neglected, the lines are studied; that


those of Bandini are perfect; of Diirer perfect, only with a
low^er perfection but of Beaugrand, entirely f aultful.
130. I have just explained to you that in modern engraving the lines are cut in clean furrow, widened, it may be, by
successive cuts; but, whether it be fine or thick, retaining
the light

always, when printed, the aspect of a continuous line drawn


with the pen, and entirely black throughout its whole course.

E'ow we may increase the delicacy of this line to any


it in gray color instead of black.
I obtained some very beautiful results of this kind in the
Modern Painters,' with Mr. Armytage's
later volumes of
help, by using subdued purple tints; but, in any case, the
line thus engraved must be monotonous in its character, and

extent by simply printing

cannot be expressive of the finest qualities of form.


Accordingly, the old Florentine

workmen

go that

it

constructed the

minute touches,
became a chain of delicate links which could be

line itself, in important places, of successive


74

IV.

opened or closed

THE TECHNICS OF

at pleasure.'^

If you will examine through a

lens the outline of the face of this Astrology,


is

it

traced with

an exquisite

series

you

will find

of minute touches,

change absolutely at the


corresponding to the
finest conditions of a pencil line drawing by a consummate
master. In the fine plates of this period, you have thus the
united powers of the pen and pencil, and both absolutely
susceptihle

of

accentuation
and,

engraver's pleasure;

or

in result,

secure and multipliable.

am a little proud of having independently disand had the patience to carry out, this Florentine
method of execution for myself, when I was a boy of thirteen.
My good drawing-master had given me some copies
calculated to teach me freedom of hand; the touches were
rapid and vigorous,
many of them in mechanically regular
zigzags, far beyond any capacity of mine to imitate in the
bold way in Avhich they were done.
But I was resolved to
have them, somehow and actually facsimiled a considerable
portion of the drawing in the Florentine manner, with the
finest point I could cut to my pencil, taking a quarter of an
hour to forge out the likeness of one return in the zigzag
which my master carried down through twenty returns in
two seconds; and so successfully, that he did not detect my
artifice till I showed it him,
on which he forbade me ever
And it was only thirty years afterto do the like again.
wards that I found I had been quite right after all, and
working like Baccio Bandini
But the patience which
131. I

covered,

all

me

through that early effort, served me well through


the thirty years, and enabled me to analyze, and in a

carried

measure imitate, the method of work employed by every


master; so that, whether you believe me or not at first, you
* The method was first developed in engraving designs on silver
numbers of lines being executed with dots by the punch, for variety's
sake. For niello, and printing, a transverse cut was substituted for
the blow. The entire style is connected with the later Roman and
Byzantine method of drawing lines with the drill hole, in marble. See
above, Lecture

II,,

Section

70.

METAL ENGRAVING.
ill

find

what I

tell

you of

75

their superiority, or inferiority,

to be true.

132.

may

When

lines are studied

with this degree of care, you

room enough for you to


them and enjoy them, and not use any at random. All
the finest engravers, therefore, leave much white paper, and
use their entire power on the outlines.
133. Next to them come the men of the Renaissance
schools, headed by Diirer, who, less careful of the beauty and
refinement of the line, delight in its vigor, accuracy, and
complexity. And the essential difference between these men
and the moderns is that these central masters cut their line
for the most part with a single furrow, giving it depth by
force of hand or wrist, and retouching, not in the furrow
Such work can only be
itself, hut with others beside it.^
done well on copper, and it can display all faculty of hand
or wrist, precision of eye, and accuracy of knowledge, which
a human creature can possess. But the dotted or hatched line
is not used in this central style, and the higher conditions of
be sure the master will leave

see

beauty never thought

of.

In the Astrology of Bandini, and remember that the


Astrologia of the Florentine meant what we mean by Astronomy, and much more, he wishes you first to look at the
face: the lip half open, faltering in wonder; the amazed,
intense, dreaming gaze the pure dignity of forehead, undisNone of these things could
turbed by terrestrial thought.
be so much as attempted in Diirer's method he can engrave
flowing hair, skin of animals, bark of trees, wreathings of
metal-work, with the free hand; also, with labored chiaroscuro, or with sturdy line, he can reach expressions of sadness, or gloom, or pain, or soldierly strength,
but pure

beauty,

never.

134. Lastly,
lines

you have the Modern

school,

deepening

its

The instant consequence of the


method is the restriction of curvature;

in successive cuts.

introduction of this

* Tliis most important and distinctive character was pointed out to


Mr. Burgess.

me by

76

IV.

you cannot follow

THE TECHNICS OF
complex curve again with precision

through its furrow. If you are a dexterous plowman, you


can drive your plow any number of times along the simple
curve.
But you cannot repeat again exactly the motions

which cut a variable one.* You may retouch it, energize


it, and deepen it in parts, but you cannot cut it all through
again equally. And the retouching and energizing in parts
is a living and intellectual process but the cutting all through,
;

equally, a mechanical one.

The

difference is exactly such

between the dexterity of turning out two similar


moldings from a lathe, and carving them with the free
hand, like a Pisan sculptor.
And although splendid inteland
sensibility,
have
been spent on the produclect,
subtlest
tion of some modern plates, the mechanical element introduced by their manner of execution always overpowers both
nor can any plate of consummate value ever he produced in
the modern method.
135. E^evertheless, in landscape, there are two examples
in your Reference series, of insuperable skill and extreme
as that

beautj^

Miller's plate, before instanced, of the

Grand Canal,

and E. Goodall's of the upper fall of the Tees. The


men who engraved these plates might have been exquisite
artists but their patience and enthusiasm were held captive
in the false system of lines, and we lost the painters; while
the engravings, wonderful as they are, are neither of them
worth a Turner etching, scratched in ten minutes wdth the
point of an old fork and the common types of such elaborate
engraving are none of them worth a single frog, pig, or
puppy, out of the corner of a Bewick vignette.
136. And now, I think, you cannot fail to understand
clearly what you are to look for in engraving, as a separate
art from that of painting.
Turn back to the Astrologia as
a perfect type of the purest school.
She is gazing at stars,
and crowned with them. But the stars are black instead of
shining
You cannot have a more decisive and absolute proof
that you must not look in engraving for chiaroscuro.
Venice

'

* This point will be further examined and explained in the Appendix.

IV.
Bj'

the Springs of Parnassus."

evertheless, her

and she

EN(^RAV1K0.

body

half in shade, and her left foot

is

shadow, and there

casts a

11

METAL

is

a bar of shade behind

her.

All these are merely so

much

acceptance of shade as

may

and give value to the linear portions. The


face, though turned from the light, is shadowless.
Again. Every lock of the hair is designed and set in its
place with the subtlest care, but there is no luster attempted,
no mystery. The plumes of the wings are set
^no texture,
That
they, also, lusterless.
studiously in their places,
even their filaments are not drawn, and that the broad curve
embracing them ignores the anatomy of a bird's wing, are

relieve the forms,

conditions of design, not execution.

Of

these in a future

lecture.*

137.

The

'

Poesia,' Plate IV., opposite, is a

still

more

though not so generic, an example; its decorative


foreground reducing it almost to the rank of goldsmith's
ornamentation.
I need scarcely point out to you that the
flowing water shows neither luster nor reflection; but notice
that the observer's attention is supposed to be so close to
every dark touch of the graver that he will see the minute
dark spots which indicate the sprinkled shower falling from
severe,

the vase into the pool.

138. This habit of strict and calm attention, constant in


the artist, and expected in the observer,

makes

all

the differ-

ence between the art of Intellect, and of mere sensation.

every detail of this plate has a meaning,

understand
Castalia,

This

it.

which flows

not artless

is

if

For
you care to

Poetry, sitting by the fountain of

first

out of a formal urn, to show that

but the rocks of Parnassus are behind, and


on the top of them only one tree, like a mushroom with a
it is

thick stalk.

You

at

first

are inclined to say,

How

very

absurd, to put only one tree on Parnassus! but this one


tree is the

and

at

Immortal Plane Tree, planted by Agamemnon,

once connects our Poesia with the Iliad.


* See Appendix, Article

I.

Then, this

T8
is

THE TECHNICS

IV.

the

hem

of the robe of Poetry,

01*

this is the divine vegeta-

which springs up under her feet, this is the heaven and


earth united by her power,
this is the fountain of Castalia
flowing out afresh among the grass,
and these are the drops
with which, out of a pitcher. Poetry is nourishing the fountion

tain of Castalia.

may

All which you

find out if

you happen

to

know

any-

thing about Castalia, or about poetry; and pleasantly think

more upon,

But the poor dunces, Sandro and

for yourself.

^goffi nell' arte,' have no


hope of telling you all this, except suggestively. They can't
engrave grass of Parnassus, nor sw^eet springs so as to look
like water; but they can make a pretty damasked surface
with ornamental leaves, and flowing lines, and so leave you
something to think of if you will.

Baccio,

themselves but

feeling

many people won't, and a great many


and surely the finished engravings are much
delightful, and the only means we have of giving any

139.

more
more

But

can't

a great

idea of finished pictures, out of our reach.'

Yes,

matters
the best

not

now

true;

all that is

line engraving

upon

and when we examine the

for the present, let us be content with

work

and why

is,

effects of

taste in recent art, w^e will discuss these

press further

my cavils

knowing what

Although, however, I do

it is so.

at the

triumph of modern line

assign to you, in few words, the reason of

engraving, I must

Engravers complain that photography


recent decline.
and cheap wood-cutting have ended their finer craft. ISTo

its

complaint can be

own

less

grounded.

by vulgarizing

They themselves destroyed

Content in their beaumechanism, they ceased to learn, and to feel, as artists


they put themselves under the order of publishers and printsellers they worked indiscriminately from whatever was put
into their hands,
from Bartlett as willingly as from Turner,
and from Mulready as carefully as from Raphael. They
their

craft,

it.

tiful

filled the

windows of

print-sellers, the

pages of gift books,

with elaborate rubbish, and piteous abortions of delicate


industry.

They

w^orked cheap, and cheaper,

smoothly, and

METAL ENGRAVINa.

TD

they got armies of assistants, and sursiriootlily,


rounded themselves with schools of mechanical tricksters,
They
learning their stale tricks with blundering avidity.
had fallen before the days of photography into providers
I do not
of frontispieces for housekeepers' pocket-books.
know if photography itself, their redoubted enemy, has even

more

now ousted them from

that last refuge.

140. Such the fault of the engraver,

very pardonable;
Fault mainly of humilBut what has your fault been, gentlemen? what the
ity.
patrons' fault, who have permitted so wide waste of admirable

however

scarcely avoidable,

fatal.

labor, so pathetic a uselessness of obedient genius

was

It

yours to have directed, yours to have raised and rejoiced


the skill, the modesty, the patience of this entirely gentle

industrious race;
painter-copyists

and

their easels

pots, are,

too stupid to be painters,


real copyists

work
to

the

galleries

with

almost without exception, persons

and too lazy

men who can put

to

be engravers.

The

their soul into another's

employed at home, in their narrow rooms, striving


good work profitable to all men. And in their

are

make

The common

copyists with their heart.

who encumber our European

in,

and

their

submission to the public taste they are truly national servants


as

much

as

the nation

Prime Ministers

are.

They

fulfill

the

demand

of

what, as a people, you wish to have for possession

men

are ready to give you.


have you hitherto asked of them? Eamsgate
Sands, and Dolly Vardens, and the Paddington Station,
these, I think, ape typical of your chief demands; the carin art, these

And what

toons of Paphael

and, by

San

way

Sisto.

which you

don't care to see themselves

of a flight into the empyrean, the

And

literally, there are

Madonna

hundreds of

cities

di

and

which roof and wall are blazoned with


and philosophy ever imagined by
men and of all this treasure, I can, as far as I know, give
you not one example, in line engraving, by an English
hand!
Well, you are in the main matter right in this.
You want

villages in Italy in

the

noblest

divinity

80

IV.

essentially

THE TECHNICS

01?

METaL ENGllAVlNa.

Ramsgate Sands and the Paddington

Station, be-

cause there you can see yourselves.

Make yourselves, then, worthy to be seen forever, and let


English engraving become noble as the record of English
loveliness

and honor.

LECTUEE
BESIGIT

141.
;N"est/

By
you

IIT

V.

THE GERMAIT SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVII^G.

reference to the close of the preface to


will see, gentlemen, that I

meant these

'

Eagle's

lectures,

from the first, rather to lead you to the study of the characters
of two great men, than to interest you in the processes of a:
secondary form of art.
As I draw my materials into the
limited form necessary for the hour, I find my divided purpose doubly failing; and would fain rather use my time today in supplying the defects of my last lecture, than in opening the greater subject, which I must treat with still more
Nevertheless, you must not think it
lamentable inadequacy.
is for want of time that I omit reference to other celebrated
engravers, and insist on the special power of these two only.
Many not inconsiderable reputations are founded merely on
the curiosity of collectors of prints, or on partial skill in the
management of processes others, though resting on more secure bases, are still of no importance to you in the general
history of art whereas you will find the work of Holbein and
Botticelli determining for you, without need of any farther
;

range, the principal questions of

moment

in the relation of

Nay, a wider
method of inquiry would only render your comparison less acthe Northern and Southern schools of design.

curate in result.

It is only in Holbein's majestic

capacity,

and only

which his

art adorned, that the

range of

in the particular phase of Teutonic life

problem can be dealt with on


Northerns can advance no fairly comparable
antagonist to the artists of the South, except at that one moment, and in that one man. Rubens cannot for an instant
be matched with Tintoret, nor Memling with Lippi; while
fair terms.

We

81

82

V.

DESIGN IN THE

Reynolds only rivals Titian in what he learned from him.


But in Holbein and Botticelli we have two men trained independently, equal in power of intellect, similar in material
and mode of work, contemporary in age, correspondent in
disposition.
The relation between them is strictly typical of
the constant aspects to each other of the Northern and Southern schools.
142. Their point of closest contact
ing,

and

in the art of engrav-

is

this art is developed entirely as the servant of the

great passions which perturbed or polluted Euro2:)e in the

fif-

The impulses which it obeys are all new;


teenth century.
and it obeys them with its own nascent plasticity of temper.
Painting and sculpture are only modified by them; but
engraving is educated.
These passions are in the main three namely,
1. The thirst for classical literature, and the forms of
proud and false taste which arose out of it, in the posi;

2.

tion it had assumed as the enemy of Christianity.


The pride of science, enforcing (in the particular domain of Art) accuracy of perspective, shade, and anat-

omy, never before dreamed of.


sense of error and iniquity in the theological teaching of the Christian Church, felt by the highest intellects of the time, and necessarily rendering the formerly submissive religious art impossible.
To-day, then, our task is to examine the peculiar characters of the Design of the Northern Schools of Engraving, as
affected by these great influences.
design,'
143. I have not often, however, used the word
It
it.
which
I
now
use
in
define
the
sense
and must clearly
meant
as
if
it
often
art-parlance
is vaguely used in common
merely the drawing of a picture, as distinct from its color;
and in other still more inaccurate ways. The accurate and
proper sense, underlying all these, I must endeavor to make
3.

The

'

clear to you.

Design properly signifies that power in any art-work


^hich has a purpose other than of imitation, and which is
*

'


83

GERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

It implies

designed/ composed, or separated to that end.

some

the rejection of

things,

and the insistence upon

others,

with a given object.*

Here is a group of
Let us take progressive instances.
charmingly
painted by a
children,
peasant
prettily dressed
without
design, for
absolutely
very able modern artist not

he really wishes to show you how pretty peasant children can


be, (and, in so far, is wiser and kinder than Murillo, who

show how^ ugly they can be) also, his group is agreeits component children carefully chosen.
[N'evertheless, any summer's day, near any country village,
you may come upon twenty groups in an hour as pretty as
children in them
if you have eyes
this; and may see
likes to

ably arranged, and

twenty times prettier than these. A photograph, if it could


render them perfectly, and in color, would far excel the charm
of this painting; for in it, good and clever as it is, there is
nothing supernatural, and
i'44.

less

'

Beside this group

little

sense of the

country

word

much
of, in

girls,
'

artful

that

I will
'

is

subnatural.

every sense of the word,

little

now

set

country

one
girl,

art-

in the best
a sketch

by

Gainsborough.
You never saw her like before. N^ever will again, now
'No photography,
no science,
that Gainsborough is dead.

amuse the spectator by showing him


be to a bottle, you cannot be considered, in artphilosophy, as a designer. But if you paint the cork flying out of the
bottle, and the contents arriving in an arch at the mouth of a recipient
glass, you are so far forth a designer or signer probably meaning to
express certain ultimate facts respecting, say, the hospitable disposition
of the landlord of the house but at all events representing the bottle
and glass in a designed, and not merely natural, manner. Not merely
natural nay, in some sense non-natural, or supernatural. And all
great artists show both tliis fantastic condition of mind in their work,
and show that it has arisen out of a communicative or didactic purpose. They are the Signpainters of God.
I have added tins note to the lecture in copying my memoranda of
it here at Assisi, June 9th, being about to begin work in the Tavern,
or Tabernaculum, of the Lower Church, with its variously significant
four great signs,'
* If

how

you paint a

bottle only to

like a painting

may

84

V.

DESIGN IN THE

no industry, will touch or reach for an instant

You

naturalness.

for such a child.

will look vainly through the


^^

Nor up

fields

the lawn, nor by the wood,''

is

marvelous charm has come ?


knew, would not we all be Gainsboroughs ? This

Whence do you think

she.

this super-

summer

this

Alas if Ave
only you may practically ascertain, as surely as that a flower
will die if you cut its root away, that you cannot alter a single
touch in Gainsborough's work without injury to the whole.
Half a dozen spots, more or less, in the printed gOAvns of
!

whom

I first showed you, will not make


them nor a lock or two more or less
in their hair, nor a dimple or two more or less in their cheeks.
But if you alter one wave of the hair of Gainsborough's girl,
the child is gone.
Yet the art is so subtle, that I do not
expect you to believe this. It looks so instinctive, so easy, so
chanceux,'
the French word is better than ours.
Yes, and
in their more accurate sense, also,
II a de la chance.'
A
stronger Designer than he was with him.
He could not tell
you himself how the thing was done.
145. I proceed to take a more definite instance
this Greek
head of the Lacinian Juno. The design or appointing of the
these other children

the smallest difference to

forms now entirely prevails over the resemblance to ^Nature.


1^0 real hair could ever be drifted into these wild lines, which
mean the wrath of the Adriatic winds round the Cape of
Storms.

And

whether this be uglier or prettier than Gainsbor(and you know already what I think about it,
that no Greek goddess was ever half so pretty as an English
girl, of pure clay and temper,)
uglier or prettier, it is more
dignified and impressive.
It at least belongs to the domain
of a lordlier, more majestic, more guiding and ordaining art.
146. I will go back another five hundred years, and place
an Egyptian beside the Greek divinity. The resemblance to
I^ature is now all but lost, the ruling law has become all.
The lines are reduced to an easily counted number, and their
arrangement is little more than a decorative sequence of
in the upper part of their
pleasant curves cut in porphyry,
yet,

ough's child

OEEMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

85

contour following the outline of a woman's face in profile,

by that of a hawk, on a kind of pedestal. But


meant by his hawk, Immortality, and
by her pedestal, the House or Tavern of Truth, is of little
over-crested

that the sign-engraver

now

importance

to the passing traveler, not yet

preparing to

take the sarcophagus for his place of rest.

How many

147.

translations

questions are suggested to us by these

only through license

thought

lose in

forget

its

ends

Not so.
Look at

What we

and in what we add of

this piece of Sandro's

and normal

facile as Gainsborough's.

religion

it is

labor,

more and more

It is as ordered

and

and grace attainable


gain in language, shall we

Is beauty contrary to law,

work, the Libyan Sibyl.*

as the Egyptian's
It retains the

as graceful

majesty of old

invested with the joy of newly awakened child-

hood.

Mind, I do not expect you

do not wish you to enjoy


dark engraving as much as Gainsborough's aerial
sketch for due comparison of the men, painting should be
put beside painting. But there is enough even in this copy
Botticelli's
;

of the Florentine plate to show you the junction of the two


powers in it of prophecy, and delight.
148. Will these two powers, do you suppose, be united in
the same manner in the contemporary Northern art?
That
Northern school is my subject to-day and yet I give you, as
type of the intermediate condition between Egypt and England not Holbein, but Botticelli.
I am obliged to do this
because in the Southern art, the religious temper remains
unconquered by the doctrines of the Reformation. Botticelli
was what Lutlier wished to be, but could not be a reformer
still believing in the Church
his mind is at peace and his
art, therefore, can pursue the delight of beauty, and yet
remain prophetic. But it was far otherwise in Germany.
There the Reformation of manners became the destruction of
faith and art therefore, not a prophecy, but a protest.
It is

* Plate X., Lecture VI.

86

V.

BESlGI^r

IN

THE

'

the chief work of the greatest Protestant who ever lived,*


which I ask you to study with me to-day.
149. I said that the power of engraving had developed
(practically and
itself during the introduction of three new
elements, into the minds of men;
vitally new, that is to say)
elements which briefly may be expressed thus
1. Classicism, and Literary Science.
2. Medicine, and Physical Science.
3. Reformation, and Religious Science.

And
You

first

of Classicism.

feel,

do not you, in this typical work of Gainsbor-

ough's, that his subject as well as his picture


a lovely sense

nay, not only

artless,

is

artless

'

in

but ignorant, arid un-

You would

be afterwards re-

morseful, I think, and angry with yourself

the effect

scientific, in a beautiful

way ?

seeing

you were to ask this little lady to


Also, if you wished to know how
?
many times the sevens go in forty-nine, you would perhaps
wisely address yourself elsewhere.
On the other hand, you
do not doubt that this lady knows very well how many times
the sevens go in forty-nine, and is more Mistress of Arts than,
any of us are Masters of them.
produced on her face
spell a very long word

if

:j:

150.

and
.ness,

You

have then, in the one case, a beautiful simplicity,

a blameless ignorance; in the other, a beautiful artful-

and a wisdom which you do not dread, or, at least,


love.
But you know also that we may

even though dreading,


* I do not

mean

the greatest teacher of reformed faith

but the

greatest protestant against faith unreformed.

has become the permitted fashion among modern mathematicians,


scientific men,' as opposed to theologians, poets, and artists. They know their sphere to be
a separate one but their ridiculous notion of its being a peculiarly
scientific one ought not to be allowed in our Universities.
There is a
science of Morals, a science of Historj'-, a science of Grammar, a science
of Music, and a science of Painting and all these are quite beyond
comparison higher fields for human intellect, and require accuracies
of intenser observation, than either chemistry, electricity, or geology.
\ The Cumaean Sibyl, Plate VII., Lecture VI.
f It

chemists, and apothecaries, to call themselves

GERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

8?

remain in a hateful and culpable ignorance and, as I fear too


many of us in competitive effort feel, become possessed of a
;

hateful knowledge.

Ignorance, therefore,

may

is

not evil absolutely; but, innocent,

be lovable.

Knowledge

also is not

good absolutely

but, guilty,

may

be

hateful.

when I now repeat my former statement,


main opposition between the IS'orthern and

So, therefore,

that the first

Southern schools

is

in the simplicity of the one, and the

may imply sometimes


and sometimes of the South.

scholarship of the other, that statement


the superiority of the North,

You may have

a heavenly simplicity opposed to a hellish

and arrogant) scholarship; or you


and
presumptuous ignorance opposed
may have a barbarous
Ignorance opposed to
to a divine and disciplined wisdom.
(that is to say, a lustful

learning in both cases

but evil to good, as the case

may

be.

time I was standing before


Eaphael's arabesques in the Loggias of the Vatican, I wrote
down in my pocket-book the description, or, more modestly
151.

For instance: the

last

speaking, the inventory, of the small portion of that infinite

wilderness of sensual fantasy which happened to be opposite

woman's face, with serpents for hair,


with stumps for arms, ending in blue
butterflies' wings, the whole changing at the waist into a goat's
body, which ended below in an obelisk upside-down, to the
apex at the bottom of which were appended, by graceful
chains, an altar, and two bunches of grapes.
me.

It consisted of a

and a virgin's

breasts,

E^ow you know in a moment, by a glance at this design


beautifully struck with free hand, and richly gradated in
color,-^that the master was familiar with a vast range of art
and literature that he knew all about Egyptian sphinxes, and
Greek Gorgons about Egyptian obelisks, and Hebrew altars
about Hermes, and Venus, and Bacchus, and satyrs, and
goats, and grapes.
You know also or ought to know, in an instant, that all
this learning has done him no good that he had better have
^

'

88

DESIOK

V.

THE

known nothing than any of these things, since they were


be used by him only to such purpose and that his delight
;

to

in

armless breasts, legless trunks, and obelisks upside-down, has

been the

last effort of his

expiring sensation, in the grasp of

corrupt and altogether victorious Death.

And you

have thus,

in Gainsborough as compared with Raphael, a sweet, sacred,

and living simplicity,

set against

an impure, profane, and

paralyzed knowledge.
152. But, next, let us consider the reverse conditions.
Let us take instance of contrast between faultful and
treacherous ignorance, and divinely pure and fruitful knowledge.

In the place of honor at the end of one of the rooms of your


Royal Academy ^years ago stood a picture by an English
Academician, announced as a representation of Moses sustained by Aaron and Hur, during the discomfiture of Amalek.
In the entire range of the Pentateuch, there is no other scene
(in which the visible agents are mortal only) requiring so
much knowledge and thought to reach even a distant approximation to -the probabilities of the fact. One saw in a moment that the painter was both powerful and simple, after a
sort that he had really sought for a vital conception, and had
originally and earnestly read his text, and formed his concepAnd one saw also in a moment that he had chanced
tion.
upon this subject, in reading or hearing his Bible, as he might
have chanced on a dramatic scene accidentally in the street.
That he knew nothing of the character of Moses, nothing of

his law,

nothing of character of Aaron, nor of nature


nothing of meaning
event which
the

of a priesthood,

the

the

of the

he was endeavoring to represent, of the temper in which


would have been transacted by its agents, or of its relations

modern

life.

On

153.

it

to

the contrary, in the fresco of the earlier scenes in

the life of Moses, by Sandro Botticelli, you

know

not

'

in a

moment,' for the knowledge of knowledge cannot be so obtained but in proportion to the discretion of your own reading, and to the care you give to the picture, you may know,
;

GERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVING.


that here

is a

89

sacredly guided and guarded learning; here a

Master indeed, at whose feet you may sit safely, who can teach
you, better than in words, the significance of both Moses' law
and Aaron's ministry; and not only these, but, if he chose,
could add to this an exposition as complete of the highest
philosophies both of the Greek nation, and of his own; and
could as easily have painted, had it been asked of him, Draco,

herdsman of Jethro.
point to an opposition between
faultful, because insolent, ignorance, and virtuous, because
gracious, knowledge, so direct, and in so parallel elements, as
in this instance.
In general, the analysis is much more comor JSTuma, or Justinian, as the

154. It

is

rarely that

we can

It is intensely difficult to indicate the mischief of

plex.

involuntary and modest ignorance, calamitous only in a measure; fruitful in


to that

lower

When

its

field

lower

not by

I introduced

first

field,

yet sorrowfully condemned

but fate.

sin,

you

to

Bewick, we closed our too

partial estimate of his entirely magnificent powers with one

he could draw
Eminently he could
because which
rowfully
be concededhe liked the pig

a pig, but not a Venus.

sorrowful concession

so,

to

is still

best.

more

now

in your educational series a whole galaxy of pigs by

but,

hunting

all

sor-

I have put

him

the fables through, I find only one Venus,

and I think you will all admit that she is an unsatisfactory


Venus.* There is honest simplicity here; but you regret it;
you miss something that you find in Holbein, much more in

You

Botticelli.

see in a

moment

that this

man knows

ing of Sphinxes, or Muses, or Graces, or Aphrodites

noth-

and, be-

knowing nothing, he would have no liking for


ho saw them; but much prefers the style of a
English housekeeper with corkscrew curls, and a

sides, that,

them even
well-to-do

if

portly person.

155.

You

miss something, I said, in Bewick which you


But do you suppose Holbein himself, or

find in Holbein.

any other N'orthern painter, could wholly quit himself of the


like accusations

I told you, in the second of these lectures,


* Lecture

III.,

101.

90

DESIGN IN THE

V.

that

the

temper,

JsTorthern

refined

from savageness, and

the Southern, redeemed from decay, met, in Florence.

Hol-

bein and Botticelli are the purest types of the two races.

Holbein is a civilized boor; Botticelli a reanimate Greek.


Holbein was polished by companionship with scholars and
kings, but remains always a burgher of Augsburg in essential
nature. Bewick and he are alike in' temper; only the one is
untaught, the other perfectly taught. But Botticelli needs no
teaching.
He is, by his birth, scholar and gentleman to the
heart's core.
Christianity itself can only inspire him, ,jiot
refine him.
He is as tried gold chased by the jeweler, the

roughest part of him

the outside.

is

iNow how differently must the newly recovered scholastic


tell upon these two men.
It is all out of Holbein's
way foreign to his nature, useless at the best, probably cumlearning
;

brous.

But

Botticelli receives it as a child in later years

recovers the forgotten dearness of a nursery tale

and

is

more

himself, and again and again himself, as he breathes the air

own

of Greece, and hears, in his

Sibyl

murmur

156. It
race

as

is not,

who can

we have

thus receive

once a part of their being


the

more

utterly because

destroys Raphael
all

but

it

seen, every one of the

it.

graces

girl

dress brought to her,

them
it is

Southern
all; is at

to destroy,

so enters into their natures.

but

It

a part of him.

graces him.

And

does not grace

him

it

it

is

it

It

does

never

Raphael as with
who has a new and beautifully
which entirely becomes her, so

for an instant a part of him.

made

it

graces him, and

but destroys Mantegna

some charming young

But

destroys them, if

it

not hurt Holbein, just because


is

Italy, the lost voice of the

again by the Avernus Lake.

It is with

while, thinking of nothing

else, she bemuch, that in a little


comes it; and is only the decoration of her dress. But Avith
Holbein it is as if you brought the same dress to a stout farmer's daughter who was going to dine at the Hall and begged
her to put it on that she might not discredit the company.
She puts it on to please you looks entirely, ridiculous in it,
but is not spoiled by it, remains herself, in spite of it.
;

GERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

91

157. You probably have never noticed the extreme awkwardness of Holbein in wearing this new dress you would
the less do so because his own people think him all the finer
for it, as the farmer's wife would probably think her daugh;

ter.

Dr. Woltmann, for instance,

is

enthusiastic in praise of

the splendid architecture in the background of his Annuncia-

tion.

mess

fine

German maidens,

it

must have made in the minds of simple

in their notion of the Virgin at

home

cannot show you this Annunciation; but I have under my


hand one of Holbein's Bible cuts, of the deepest seriousness

and import his illustration of the Canticles, showing the


Church as the bride of Christ.

You

could not find a subject requiring more tenderness,

In this maid, symbolizing


you ask for the most passionate humility, the

purity, or dignity of treatment.

the Church,

most angelic beauty

Now

here

is

^'
:

Behold, thou art fair,

my

Holbein's ideal of that fairness; here

dove."
is

his

" Church as the Bride.''


I am sorry to associate this figure in your minds, even for
a moment, with the passages it is supposed to illustrate but
;

the lesson

is

too important to be omitted.

Remember, Hoi-


02

V.

DESIGN IN THE

He

bein represents the temper of i^orthern Reformation.

has

all the

He

represents, indeed, the revolt of

nobleness of that temper, but also

all its baseness.

German

truth against

Italian lies; but he represents also the revolt of

German

This figure of
animalism against Hebrew imagination.
Holbein's is half-way from Solomon's mystic bride, to
Rembrandt's wife, sitting on his knee while he drinks.
But the key of the question is not in this. Florentine animalism has at this time, also, enough to say for itself. But
Florentine animalism, at this time, feels the joy of a gentle-

man, not of
be

it

agant,

158.
is so

too

And

a churl.

a Florentine,

whatever he does,

virtuous or sinful, chaste or lascivious, severe or extravdoes

You

with a grace.

it

think, perhaps, that Holbein's Solomon's bride

ungraceful chiefly because she

many

feathers and jewels.

'No

is

and has
would have
and yet never

overdressed,

a Florentine

put any quantity of feathers and jewels on her,


You shall see him do it, and that to a fantaslost her grace.
tic

degree, for I have an

back,

first,

to

example under

hand.

modern

You

Look
can't

She complies with every

accuse her of being overdressed.


received

my

Bewick's Venus (Lecture III.).


principle of taste.

Sir Joshua's precept that

drapery should be ^' drapery, and nothing more," is observed


more strictly even by Bewick than by Michael Angelo. If
the absence of decoration could exalt the beauty of his Venus,
here had been her perfection.
ISTow look

back

to Plate II.

(Lecture IV.), by Sandro;

Venus in her planet, the ruling star of Florence. Anything


more grotesque in conception, more unrestrained in fancy of
ornament, you cannot find, even in the final days of the ReYet Venus holds her divinity through all; she
naissance.
will become majestic to you as you gaze; and there is not a
line of her chariot wheels, of her buskins, or of her throne,

which you may not

see

was engraved by a gentleman.

159. Again, Plate V., opposite,

engTaving of the same series

more extravagant iu

the

is

a facsimile of another

Sun

in Leo.

accessories than the Venus.

It is even

You

see

GEBMATq^ SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVIITG.

the Sun's epaulets before

jou

see the sun; the spiral scrolls

of his chariot, and the black twisted rajs of


as types of

form only are considered, be

modern

court-dress star, to be

all this

wild ornamentation

93

made

is,

might, so far

in diamonds.

you

if

it,

a design for

will

examine

some

And
it,

yet

more

purely Greek in spirit than the Apollo Belvedere.

You know
of Greece

I have told you, again and again, that the soul

her veracity; that what to other nations were

is

and symbolisms,

gods.

The

fall of

living
to her became living facts
Greece was instant when her gods again,

fables

The Apollo Belvedere is the work of a sculpApollonism


is merely an elegant idea on which
tor to
skill.
He does not himself feel for an into exhibit his own
became

fables.

whom

stant that the

handsome man in the

unintelligible attitude,^

with drapery hung over his left arm, as it would be hung to


dry over a clothes-line, is the Power of the Sun. But the
Florentine believes in Apollo with his whole mind, and is trying to explain his strength in every touch.

For instance
lets

I said just now,

before the sun."

Do you

^'

You

see the sun's epau-

Well, dont you, usually, as

it l-ises ?

not continually mistake a luminous cloud for

wonder where

it

Apollo Belvedere

is,

is

behind one

sits

or

agitated by anxiety, passion,

Is the sun's likely to be so, rising

This Prince

it,

Again, the face of the

crowned and calm

of the hand holding the scepter,

on the
:

evil

and pride.
and the good ?

look at the quiet fingers

at the restraint of the reins

merely by a depression of the wrist.


160. You have to look carefully for those fingers holding
the scepter, because the hand
which a great anatomist would
have made so exclusively interesting is here confused with
the ornamentation of the arm of the chariot on which it rests,

* I read somewhere, lately, a new and very ingenious theory about


the attitude of the Apollo Belvedere, proving, to the author's satisfaction, that the received notion about watching the arrow was all a
mistake.
The paper proved, at all events, one thing namely, the
statement in the text. For an attitude which has been always hitherto

taken to mean one thing, and

muyt be

is

in itself unintelligible.

plausibly asserted

now to mean another,

54

IN

V. DESIGN"

THE

fruit and leaves, abunBut look what the ornamentation is


A quite vulgar and
dant, in the mouth of a cornucopia.
Is it
meaningless ornament in ordinary renaissance work.
Are not the leaves and fruits of earth
so here, think you ?
in the Sun's hand ? *
;

You

thought, perhaps,

when

I spoke just

now

of the action

of the right hand, that less than a depression of the wrist

would stop horses such as those. You fancy Botticelli drew


them so, because he had never seen a horse or because, able
How fine it would
to draw fingers, he could not draw hoofs
;

be to have, instead, a prancing four-in-hand, in the style of


Piccadilly on the Derby-day, or at least horses like the real

Greek horses of the Parthenon


Yes and if they had had real ground to trot on, the Florentine would have shown you he knew how they should trot.
;

But

these have to

make

their

way up

the hill-side of other

example in your standard series, Hermes


You will find his motion among clouds repre-

Look

lands.

to the

Eriophoros.

sented precisely in this laboring, failing, half-kneeling

atti-

These forms, toiling up through the rippled


they are clouds themsands of heaven, are not horses;
selves, like horses, but only a little like.
Look how their

tude *of limb.

hoofs lose themselves, buried in the ripples of cloud

it

makes

one think of the quicksands of Morecambe Bay.


And their tails what extraordinary tufts of tails, ending
Yes but do you not see, nearly joining with
in points
them, what is not a horse tail at all but a flame of fire, kinAll the rest of the radiance about him
dled at Apollo's knee ?
But this is rendered up to him. As the
shoots from him.
fruits of the earth are in one of his hands, its fire is in the

And

other.

all

the warmth, as well as all the light of

it,

are

his.

We

had

a little natural philosophy, gentlemen, as well as

theology, in Florence, once

upon

a time.

161. l^atural philosophy, and also natural art, for in this


* It

who

is

may be asked, why

not corn also ?

equally one of the great gods.

Because that belongs to Ceres,

VI.
Fairness of the Sea and Air
In

VENICE and ATHENS.

GERMAIN SCHOOLS OF EN^GRAVIKG.

95

was a nobler creature than the Greek


had a wider force and warmer glow.
I have told jou that the first Greeks were distinguished from
the barbarians by their simple humanity; the second Greeks
are human more
these Florentine Greeks reanimate
strongly, more deeply, leaping from the Byzantine death at
And there
the call of Christ, " Loose him, and let him go."
is upon them at once the joy of resurrection, and the solemnity
the Greek reanimate

who had

died.

His

art

of the grave.

Of

this resurrection of the Greek, and the form of the


had
been buried in " those four days," I have to give
tomb he
you some account in the last lecture. I will only to-day show
you an illustration of it which brings us back to our immediate question as to the reasons why Northern art could not

162.

When, in the closing lecture of '^ Aratra


accept classicism.
*
I compared Florentine with Greek work, it was
Pentelici,"
you the eager passions of the first as opposed
formal legalism and proprieties of the other. Greek
work, I told you, while truthful, was also restrained, and
never but under majesty of law while Gothic work was true,
in the perfect law of Liberty or Franchise.
And now I give
you in facsimile (Plate VI.) the two Aphrodites thus compared the Aphrodite Thalassia of the Tyrrhene seas, and
to point out to

to the

the A'phrodite Urania of the Greek skies.

You may

not at

Tuscan best; and why she is the best, though


both are noble, again I must defer explaining to next lecture.
But now turn back to Bewick's Venus, and compare her with
the Tuscan Venus of the Stars, (Plate IL)
and then here,'
in Plate VI., with the Tuscan Venus of the Seas, and the
first like

the

(rreek

Venus of

the Sky.

Why

is

the English one vulgar

which makes them, if not beautiful, at least refined ?


every one of them designed and
drawn, indisputably, by a gentleman ?
I never have been so puzzled by any subject of analysis as,
for these ten years, I have been by this.
Every answer I
give, however plausible it seems at first, fails in some way, or

^Vliat is

it,

in the three others,

* " Aratra Pentelici," 181.

'

96

DESIGN IN THE

V.

is the point for you, more definitely


any of my former books; at present,
for want of time, I must leave it to your own thoughts.
163. II. The second influence under which engraving
developed itself, I said, was that of medicine and the physical
sciences.
Gentlemen, the most audacious, and the most valuable, statement which I have yet made to you on the subject

But

in some cases.

there

put, I think, than in

of practical art, in these rooms,

is

that of the evil resulting

from the study of anatomy. It is a statement so audacious,


that not only for some time I dared not make it to you, but
for ten years, at least, I dared not

indeed, that whoever studied

jured by
causes.

always.
that

make

it

to myself.

anatomy was in

I saw,

measure

in-

but I kept attributing the mischief to secondary


It cant be this drink itself that poisons them, I said
it

This drink

it .kills

when they have been


that changes

is

them, but
it

medicinal and strengthening: I see


must be because they drink it cold

it

hot, or

into poison.

they take something else with

The drink

itself

it

must be good.

Well, gentlemen, I found out the drink itself to be poison at

by the breaking of my choicest Venice glass. I could


not
it was that had killed Tintoret, and laid
it long to the charge of chiaroscuro.
It was only after my
thorough study of his Paradise, in 1870, that I gave up this
idea, finding the chiaroscuro, which I had thought exaggerated, was, in all original and undarkened passages, beautiful
and most precious. And then at last I got hold of the true
^'
clue
II disegno di Michel Agnolo."
And the moment I
had dared to accuse that, it explained everything and I saw
that the betraying demons of Italian art, led on by llichael
Angelo, had been, not pleasure, but knowledge not indolence,
but ambition and not love, but horror.
164. But when first I ventured to tell you this, I did not
know, myself, the fact of all most conclusive for its confirmation.
It will take me a little while to put it before you in its
total force, and I must first ask your attention to a minor
point.
In one of the smaller rooms of the Munich Gallery
is Holbein's painting of St. Margaret and St. Elizabeth of
last,

make out what

GERMAN SCHOOLS

Hungary,

standard of

photograph from the


a

97

Here

his early religious work.

Elizabeth

St.

French lithograph of

ENaEAVINa.

01?

I consider

it.

is

a"

and, in the same frame,


it

one of the most im-

portant pieces of comparison I have arranged for you, show-

ing you at a glance the difference between true and false sen-

Of

timent.

that difference, generally,

day, but one special result of

it

you are

we cannot

to observe

speak

to-

the omis-

French drawing, of Holbein's daring representawhich is one of the vital honors of the picture.

sion, in the

tion of disease,

Quite one of the chief strengths of

Koman

Elizabeth,

St.

in the

Catholic view, was in the courage of her dealing with

disease, chiefly leprosy.

'Now observe, I say

now

view, very earnestly just

am

not

Roman

at all

Catholic

sure that

it is

so in a Catholic view
that is to say, in an eternally Christian
and Divine view. And this doubt, very nearly now a certainty, only came clearly into my mind the other day after
many and many a year's meditation on it. I had read with

great reverence all the beautiful stories about Christ's appear-

ing as a leper, and the like and had often pitied and rebuked
myself alternately for my intense dislike and horror of disease.
I am writing at this moment within fifty yards of the
;

St. Francis, and the story of the likeness of his feelmine had a little comforted me, and the tradition of
his conquest of them again humiliated me and I was thinking very gravely of this, and of the parallel instance of Bishop

grave of
ings to

Hugo

of Lincoln, always desiring to do service to the dead, as

opposed

to

my own

of funerals

unmitigated and Louis-Quinze-like horror

when by chance, in

the cathedral of Palermo,

was thrown for me on the whole matter.


165. I was drawing the tomb of Frederick II., which is
shut off by a grating from the body of the church and I had,
in general, quite an unusual degree of quiet and comfort at
my work. But sometimes it was paralyzed by the unconscious interference of one of the men employed in some minor
domestic services about the church.
When he had nothing to
do, he used to come and seat himself near my grating, not to
look at njy work, Tthe poor wretch had no eyes, to speak of,)

new

light

.7.

'

98

V.

nor in any

DESIGN

way meaning

THE

be troublesome

to

His nose had been carried

his habitual seat.

loathsome of diseases

but there waf?


off

by the most

there were two vivid circles of scarlet

round his eyes; and as he

he announced his presence

sat,

every quarter of a minute (if otherwise I could have forgotten

it)

tion.

by

On

a peculiarly disgusting, loud,

and long expectora-

the second or third day, just I had forced myself

some forgetfulness of him, and was hard at my work, I


was startled from it again by the bursting out of a loud and
cheerful conversation close to me and on looking round, saw
a lively young fledgling of a priest, seventeen or eighteen
years old, in the most eager and spirited chat with the man
in the chair.
He talked, laughed, and spat, himself, companionably, in the merriest way, for a quarter of an hour;
into

evidently without feeling the slightest disgust, or being


serious for an instant,

made

by the aspect of the destroyed creature

before him.

His own face was simply that of the ordinary vulgar

166.

type of thoughtless young Italians, rather beneath than above


the usual standard

he was not at

all

the coolness with

and I was

my

supeiiior,

certain, as I

but very

inferior, in

me

so dreadful.

which he beheld what was

I was positive that he could look this

watched him, that

much my
to

man

in the face, pre-

cisely because he could not look, discerningly, at

ful or noble thing;

and that the reason I dared

cause I had, spiritually, as

much

any beautiwas be-

not,

better eyes than the priest,

as, bodily, than his companion.

much of clear evidence


was driven home for me a week

Having
ter, it

got so

the quay of ^Naples.


itself to

me was

Almost the

first

given

me

on the matlanded on

later, as I

thing that presented

the sign of a traveling theatrical company,

displaying the principal scene of the drama to be enacted on

Fresh from the theater of Taormina, I


was curious to see the subject of the Neapolitan popular
drama. It was the capture, by the police, of a man and his
wife who lived by boiling children.
One section of the police
was coming in, armed to the teeth, through the passage j
their classical stage.

C^ERMAN SCHOOLS

01^

ENGRAV1NG^.

99

another section of the police, armed to the teeth, and with

high feathers in

its

caps,

was coming up through a

trap-door.

In fine dramatic unconsciousness to the last moment, like the


clown in a pantomime, the child-boiler was represented as still
industriously chopping up a child, pieces of which, ready for
the pot, lay here and there on the table in the middle of the

The

picture.

was
had caught a

child-boiler^s wife, however, just as she

taking the top off the pot to put the meat

in,

glimpse of the foremost policeman, and stopped, as

much

in

rage as in consternation.
167. 'Now

it is

precisely the

same

feeling, or

want of

feel-

ing, in the lower Italian (nor always in the lower classes only)
which makes him demand the kind of subject for his secular
drama and the Crucifixion and Pieta for his religious drama.
The only part of Christianity he can enjoy is its horror and
even the saint and saintess are not always denying themselves
severely, either by the contemplation of torture, or the companionship with disease.
!N^evertheless, we must be cautious, on the other hand, to
allow full value to the endurance, by tender and delicate persons, of what is really loathsome or distressful to them in the
service of others and I think this picture of Holbein's indicative of the exact balance and rightness of his own mind in
this matter, and therefore of his power to conceive a true saint
also.
He had to represent St. Catherine's chief effort; he
;

paints her ministering to the sick, and,


leper

and finding

it

but to assert

is

thus his duty to paint leprosy, he coura-

geously himself studies


horror

among them,

it,

it

from the

to the

life.

Not

to insist

on

its

needful point of fact, which he

does with medical accuracy.

Now

here

is

just a case in

which

science, in a subordinate

and moral purpose.


Holbein does not shrink from it even in this
extreme case in which it is most painful.
168. If, therefore, you do find him in other cases not using
it, you may be sure he knew it to be unnecessary.
!Now it may be disputable whether in order to draw a living
degree,

is

And you

really required for a spiritual

find


100

V.

DESiaN IN THE

Madonna, one needs to know how many ribs she has but it
would have seemed indisputable that in order to draw a skeleton, one must know how many ribs it has.
Holbein is par excellence the draughtsman of skeletons.
His painted Dance of Death was, and his engraved Dance of
Death is, principal of such things, without any comparison or
;

He draws skeleton after skeleton, in every possible


He neither
but never so much as counts their ribs
knows nor cares how many ribs a skeleton has. There are
always enough to rattle.
Monstrous, you think, in impudence, Holbein for his
carelessness, and I for defending him!
Nay, I triumph in
him nothing has ever more pleased me than this grand neglidenial.

gesture

Nobody wants to know how many ribs a skeleton has,


any more than how many bars a gridiron has, so long as the
one can breathe, and the other broil and still less, when the
breath and the fire are both out.
169. But is it only of the bones, think you, that Holbein
Nay, incredible though it may seem to you,
is careless ? *
gence.

but, to me, explanatory at once of

much

of his excellence,

I told you in my Preface,f


he did not know anatomy at all
already quoted, Holbein studies the face first, the body secondarily; but I had no idea, myself, how completely he had
!

I showed you a

refused the venomous science of his day.

Can you match it with your


his, long ago.
academy drawings, think you ? And yet he did not, and
would not, know anatomy. He would not but Diirer would,
went hotly into it wrote books upon it, and upon
and did
dead Christ of

proportions of the

modern

human

body,'

recipes for painting flesh.

per his art

etc.,

How

etc.,

and

all

your

did his studies pros-

People are always talking of his Knight and Death, and


They
his Melancholia, as if those were his principal works.
* Or inventive
See Woltmann, p. 267. " The shinbone, or the
lower part of the arm, exhibits only one bone, while the upper arm
"
and thigh are often allowed the luxury of two
"
"
"
is
The Eagle's Nest."
The
preface
that
to
141.
t See ante,
!

101

GERMAN^ SCHOOLS OF ElTGKAVIITa.

are his characteristic ones,

and show what he might have been

without his anatomy; but they were mere by-play compared


t6 his Greater Fortune,

Here

and

Adam

and Eve.

Look at these.
male and

his full energy displayed; here are both

is

female forms drawn with perfect knowledge of their bones


and muscles, and modes of action and digestion, and I hope
you are pleased.
But it is not anatomy only that Master Albert studies.
He has a taste for optics also and knows all about refraction
and reflection. What Avith his knowledge of the skull inside,
and the vitreous lens outside, if any man in the world is to
draw an eye, here's the man to do it, surely! With a hand
which can give lessons to John Bellini, and a care which
would fain do all so that it can't be done better, and acquaintance with every crack in the cranium, and every humor in
the lens,
if we can't draw an eye, we should just like to

know who can


So having

thinks Albert.

to engrave the portrait of

Melanchthon, instead

of looking at Melanchthon as ignorant Holbein would have

been obliged to do, wise Albert looks at the room window;


and finds it has four cross-bars in it, and knows scientifically
that the light on Melanchthon's eye must be a reflection of the
window with its four bars and engraves it so, accordingly
and who shall dare to say, now, it isn't like Melanchthon ?
Unfortunately, however, it isn't, nor like any other person

madman looking at somebody who disWhile in this drawing of Holbein's, where


a dim gray shadow leaves a mere crumb of white paper,
in his senses

but like a

putes his hobby.


accidentally

it

seems, for

all

the fine scientific reflection,

an eye indeed, and of a noble creature.


170. What is the reason? do you ask me; and is

behold,

it is

common

No

not a syllable of

it is true.

Holbein

Diirer draws
sees.

scientific

the

is right,

not be-

more generally, but more truly, than Diirer.


what he knows is there but Holbein, only what
And, as I have told you often before, the really
artist is he who not only asserts bravely what ho

cause he draws

he

all

teaching about generalization of details true, then

102
does

V.

see,

not draw

DESIGN IN THE

but confesses honestly what he does not.


all the hairs in an eyelash not because it
;

to generalize them, but because

How many
count

but

it is

You must
is

sublime

impossible to see them.

hairs there are, a sign painter or anatomist

how few

of

them you can

see, it is

may

only the utmost

masters, Carpaccio, Tintoret, Reynolds, and Velasquez,

who

count, or know.

171.

Such was the

effect, then,

of his science upon Diirer's

ideal of beauty, and skill in portraiture.

What

effect had it
compared with
poor ignorant Holbein's
You have only three portraits, by
Diirer, of the great men of his time, and those bad ones;
while he toils his soul out to draw the hoofs of satyrs, the
bristles of swine, and the distorted aspects of base women and
vicious men.
What, on the contrary, has ignorant Holbein done for you ?
Shakespeare and he divide between them, by word and look,
the Story of England under Henry and Elizabeth.
172. Of the effect of science on the art of Mantegna and
Marc Antonio, (far more deadly than on Diirer's,) I must
tell you in a future lecture
the effect of it on their minds,
I must partly refer to now, in passing to the third head of my
general statement the influence of new Theology.
Eor
Diirer and Mantegna, chiefly because of their science, forfeited their place, not only as painters of men, but as servants
of God.
^N'either of them has left one completely noble or
completely didactic picture while Holbein and Botticelli, in
consummate pieces of art, led the way before the eyes of all
men, to the purification of their Church and land.
173. III. But the need of reformation presented itself to
these two men last named on entirely different terms.
To Holbein, when the word of the Catholic Church proved
false, and its deeds bloody when he saw it selling permission
of sin in his native Augsburg, and strewing the ashes of its
enemies on the pure Alpine waters of Constance, what refuge
was there for him in more ancient religion ? Shall he worship Thor again, and mourn over the death of Balder ?
He

on the temper and quantity of


!

his work, as

THE CHILD'S BEDTIME.


(Fig. 5) Facsimile from Holbein's
woodcut.

iGERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

(103

reads ^N'ature in her desolate and narrow truth,


teaches

him

the

Triumph

and she

of Death.

But, for Botticelli, the grand gods are old, are immortal.
priests may have taught falsely the story of the Virgin;

The

name of Artemis,
did they not
Cyprus?
name of Aphrodite,

also

lie,

in the

in the

at

Ephesus

^but shall, there-

at

Love be dead, or the full moon paler over


Heaven and Gods of Earth
shall these
perish because vain men speak evil of them!
Let us speak
good forever, and grave, as on the rock, for ages to come, the
glory of Beauty, and the triumph of Eaith.
174. Holbein had bitterer task.
Of old, the one duty of the painter had been to exhibit the
Holbein
virtues of this life, and hopes of the life to come.
had to show the vices of this life, and to obscure the hope of
" Yes, we walk through the valley of the shadow
the future.
of death, and fear all evil, for Thou art not with us, and Thy
rod and Thy staff comfort us not.'^ He does not choose this
task.
It is thrust upon him,
just as fatally as the burial
of the dead is in a plague-struck city.
These are the things
he sees, and must speak. He will not become a better artist
thereby; no drawing of supreme beauty, or beautiful things,
will be possible to him. Yet we cannot say he ought to have
done anything else, nor can we praise him specially in doing
fore. Chastity or

Arno

Saints of

It is his fate

this.

For

the fate of all the bravest in that day.

is no scene about which a shallow


and feeble painter would have been more sure to adopt the
commonplaces of the creed of his time than the death of a
child,
chiefly, and most of all, the death of a country child,
a little thing fresh from the cottage and the field.
Surely
for such an one, angels will wait by its sick bed, and rejoice
as they bear its soul away; and over its shroud flowers will
be strewn, and the birds will sing by its grave.
So your
common sentimentalist would think, and paint. Holbein
sees the facts, as they verily are, up to the point when vision

175.

instance, there

ceases.

The

He

speaks, then, no more.

countrjr laborer's cottage

the rain Qoming through

itg

'

104:

DESIGN IN THE

V.

roof, the claj crumbling from its partitions, tlie fire lighted
with a few chips and sticks on a raised piece of the mud floor,
such dais as can be contrived, for use, not for honor. The
damp wood sputters the smoke, stopped by the roof, though
the rain is not, coils round again, and down.
But the
mother can warm the child's supper of bread and milk so
holding the pan by the long handle and on mud floor though

and her child, and its brother,


if only they could be left so.
They shall not be left so the
young thing must leave them will never need milk warmed
for it any more.
It would fain stay,
feels
sees no angels
only an icy grip on its hand, and that it cannot stay.
Those
who loved it shriek and tear their hair in vain, amazed in
grief.
Oh, little one, must you lie out in the fields then, not
even under this poor torn roof of thy mother's to-night ?
176. Again: there was not in the old creed any subject
more definitely and constantly insisted on than the death of
a miser.
He had been happy, the old preachers thought,
till then: but his hour has come; and the black covetousness
of hell is awake and watching; the sharp harpy claws will
clutch his soul out of his mouth, and scatter his treasure for
others.
So the commonplace preacher and painter taught.
!N'ot so Holbein.
The devil want to snatch his soul, indeed!
]N'ay, he never had a soul, but of the devil's giving.
His
misery to begin on his death-bed! ]^ay, he had never an
unmiserable hour of life.
The fiend is with him now,
paltry, abortive fiend, with no breath even to blow hot with.
it be,

they are happy,

she,

'

He

supplies the hell-blast with a macliine.

It

is

winter,

and the rich man has his furred cloak and cap, thick and
heavy the beggar, bare-headed to beseech him, skin and rags
hanging about him together, touches his shoulder, but all
in vain there is other business in hand. More haggard than
the beggar himself, wasted and palsied, the rich man counts
;

with his fingers the gain of the years to come.

But of
nothing.

those years, infinite that are to be, Holbein says


^

know

not

I see not.

This only I

see,

on

very winter's day^ the low pale stumbling-block at your

this
feet^

'*HE

THAT HATH EARS TO

HEAR, LET HIM HEAR."


(Fiff. 6)

Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.

GERMAN SCHOOLS OF ENaRAVlNa.


the altogether
shall not. pass

105

You

by you unseen and forgotten Death.

him by on

the other side

here

is

a fasting figure

in skin and bone, at last, that will stop you; and for all the
hidden treasures of earth, here is your spade dig now, and
:

find them.'

177. I have said that Holbein


these things.

He was

was condemned

to teach

not happy in teaching them, nor

thanked for teaching them. ]^or was Botticelli for his lovelier teaching.
But they both could do no otherwise. They
lived in truth and steadfastness
and with both, in their
marvelous design, veracity is the beginning of invention, and
;

love its end.

I have but time to show you, in conclusion,

how

this affec-

from the chief


calamity of the G'erman temper, vanity, which is at the root of
all Dlirer's weakness.
Here is a photograph of Holbein's
In
portrait of Erasmus, and a fine proof of Diirer's.
Holbein's, the face leads everything; and the most lovely
qualities of the face lead in that.
The cloak and cap are
perfectly painted, just because you look at them neither more
nor less than you would have looked at the cloak in reality.
You don't say, How brilliantly they are touched,' as you
would with Rembrandt nor
How gracefully they are
How
neglected,' as you would with Gainsborough
nor
exquisitely they are shaded,' as you would with Leonardo;
nor How grandly they are composed,' as you would with
Titian.
You say only, Erasmus is surely there and what
tionate

self-forgetfulness

protects Holbein

a pleasant sight

'

You

don't think of Holbein at

all.

has not even put in the minutest letter H, that I can

He

see, to

remind you of him. Drops his H's, I regret to say, often


enough.
My hand should be enough for you what matters
my name ? But now, look at Diirer's. The very first thing
you see, and at any distance, is this great square tablet with
" The image of Erasmus, drawn from the life by Albert
^

'

Dlirer, 1526,"

and a great straddling a.d. besides. Then you see a cloak,


and a table, and a pot, with flowers in it, and a heap of books


106

DESIGN IN THE

V.

with

and all the little


gummed in to mark the places and last of all
Erasmus's face and when you do see it, the most of

all their

leaves

and

all their clasps,

bits of leather

you

see

wrinkles.

it is

All egotism and insanity,


use

much
lyze,

this,

gentlemen.

the details of a lifeless and ambitious precision,

many an Erasmus,

world
first

to

of Diirer's great genius abortive, and to this day para-

among

the student, no less than the artist, of


too

Hard words

but not too hard to define the faults which rendered so

is all

too

many

German blood. For


among them, the

a Diirer,

cloak and clasp, instead of face or book

object of their lives

is to

engrave their

and the

initials.

For us, in England, not even so much is at present to


and yet, singularly enough, it is more our modesty,
unwisely submissive, than our vanity, which has destroyed
1Y8.

be hoped

our English school of engraving.


At the bottom of the pretty line engravings which used to
represent, characteristically, our English skill, one saw

At the left-hand corner, ^' Drawn


so-and-so ;" at the right-hand corner, " Engraved by

always two inscriptions.

by

Only under the worst and cheapest plates for


Almanack, or the like one saw sometimes,
" Drawn and engraved by
so-and-so," which meant nothing
more than that the publisher would not go to the expense of
an artist, and that the engraver haggled through as he could.
(One fortunate exception, gentlemen, you have in the old
drawings for your Oxford Almanack, though the publishers,
I have no doubt, even in that case, employed the cheapest
But in general, no engraver thought
artist they could find.*)
himself able to draw; and no artist thought it his business
so-and-so."

the Stationers'

to engrave.

The drawings were made by Turner, and are now among the chief
tlie Oxford Galleries.
I ought to add some notice of
Hogarth to this lecture in the Appendix but fear I shall have no time
*

treasures of

besides,
I

though

have for Fielding,

their subjects.

profound respect for Hogarth, as, in literature,


can't criticise them, because I know nothing of

I liave

e}EBMAN SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.


179.

But the

fact that this

lOt

and the following lecture are

on the subject of design in engraving, implies of course that


in the work we have to examine, it was often the engraver
himself who designed, and as often the artist who engraved.

And jou

will observe that the only engravings

imperishable value are, indeed, in this kind.

which bear

It is true that,

in wood-cutting, both Diirer and Holbein, as in our own days


Leech and Tenniel, have workmen under them who can do
But in metal cutting it is not so. For, as I
all they want.
have told you, in metal cutting, ultimate perfection of Line
has to be reached; and it can be reached by none but a
master's hand nor by his, unless in the very moment and act
of designing.
N^ever, unless under the vivid first force of
imagination and intellect, can the Line have its full value.
And for this high reason, gentlemen, that paradox which
perhaps seemed to you so daring, is nevertheless deeply and
finally true, that while a wood-cut may be laboriously
finished, a grand engraving on metal must be comparatively
incomplete.
For it must be done, throughout, with the full
fire of temper in it, visibly governing its lines, as the wind
;

does the fibers of cloud.


180.

The value

hitherto attached to Rembrandt's etchings,

and others imitating them, depends on

mind

a true instinct in the

But etching

is an indolent
and blundering method at the best; and I do not doubt that
you will one day be grateful for the severe disciplines of
drawing required in these schools, in that they will have
enabled you to know what a line may be, driven by a master's
chisel on silver or marble, following, and fostering as it
foilow^s. the instantaneous strength of his determined thought.

public

for this virtue of line.

LECTUEE
DESIGTT
181.

ITT

VI.

THE FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

In the

first

of these lectures, I stated to you their

work of a group

subject, as the investigation of the engraved

of men, to

whom

was above

all precious,

engraving, as a means of popular address,

because their art was distinctively

didactic.

Some

of

my

hearers must be aware that, of late years, the

and
by the countless crowd of artists who have
represent, and of writers who have nothing to say

assertion that art should be didactic has been clamorously

violently derided

nothing to

that art consists only in

is

accepted, readily enough,

and that the contrary assertion


pretty colors and fine words,

by a public which rarely pauses

to look at a picture

with

attention, or read a sentence with understanding.

182. Gentlemen, believe me, there never was any great


advancing art yet, nor can be, without didactic purpose.

The

leaders of the strong schools are, and

must be always,

either teachers of theology, or preachers of the moral law.

I need not

tell

you that

it

was

as teachers of theology

on the

walls of the Vatican that the masters with whose names you
are most familiar obtained their perpetual fame.

But how-

ever great their fame, you have not practically, I imagine,

ever been materially assisted in your preparation for the

schools

either

philosophy

of

School of Athens,' by RaphaeFs

or

divinity

by

Raphael's

by Michael
Angelo's Judgment.' My task, to-day, is to set before you
some part of the design of the first Master of the works in
the Sistine Chapel and I believe that, from his teaching, you
will, even in the hour which I ask you now to give, learn
what may be of true use to you in all your future labor,
whether in Oxford or elsewhere.
108
*

Theology,'

or

100

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENORAVINO.

You have

183.

doubtless, in the course of these lectures,

been occasionally surprised by

my

speaking of Holbein and

Sandro Botticelli, as Reformers, in the

same tone of

respect,

and with the same


power and agency, with which it is usual to speak of Luther
and Savonarola. You have been accustomed, indeed, to hear
painting and sculpture spoken of as supporting or enforcing
Church doctrine; but never as reforming or chastising it.
Whether Protestant or Eoman Catholic, you have admitted
what in the one case you held to be the abuse of painting in
in the other, its amiable and
the furtherance of idolatry,
implied assertion of their intellectual

exalting ministry to the feebleness of faith.


recognized,

the Protestant his ally,

But neither has

or the Catholic his

enemy, in the far more earnest work of the great painters of


The Protestant was, in most oases, too
vulgar to understand the aid offered to him by painting and
the fifteenth century.

in all cases too terrified to believe in

it.

He

drove the gift-

bringing Greek with imprecations from his sectarian fortress,

him within it only on the condition that he should


no
word
of religion there.
speak
184. On the other hand, the Catholic, in most cases too
indolent to read, and, in all, too proud to dread, the rebuke of
the reforming painters, confused them with the crowd of his
old flatterers, and little noticed their altered language or
In a little while, finding they had ceased
their graver brow.
to be amusing, he effaced their works, not as dangerous, but
as dull and recognized only thenceforward, as art, the innocuous bombast of Michael Angelo, and fluent efflorescence of
Bernini.
But when you become more intimately and
impartially acquainted w^ith the history of the Reformation,
you will flnd that, as surely and earnestly as Memling and
Giotto strove in the north and south to set forth and exalt
the Catholic faith, so surely and earnestly did Holbein and

or received

Botticelli strive, in the north, to chastise, and, in the south,


to revive

it.

In what manner, I will try to-day

briefly to

show you.
185. I

name

these two

men

as the reforming leaders

there

110

Vl.

DESIGN IN tHlJ

were many, rank and file, who worked in alliance with


Holbein with Botticelli, two great ones, Lippi and Perugino.
But both of these had so much pleasure in their own pictorial
faculty, that they strove to keep quiet, and out of harm^s
way, involuntarily manifesting themselves sometimes, however; and not in the wisest manner. Lippi's running away
with a novice was not likely to be understood as a step in
;

Church reformation correspondent

to

Luther's marriage.*

'Nor have Protestant divines, even to this day, recognized the


real

meaning of

ticelli,

the pupil of the one,

held the truths they taught


joy; and he

infidelity.'

Bot-

and the companion of the

other,

the reports of Perugino's

is

'

him through sorrow

as well as

the greatest of the reformers, because he

preached without blame; though the least known, because


he died without victory.
I had hoped to be able to lay before you some better
biography of him than the traditions of Vasari, of which I
gave a short abstract some time back in Fors Clavigera
(Letter XXII.)
but as yet I have only added internal
evidence to the popular story, the more important points of
;

which I must review


I read,

instead

your time

It will not waste

briefly.

of merely giving you reference

to,

if

the

passages on which I must comment.


186. " His father, Mariano Filipepi, a Florentine citizen,

brought him up with care, and caused him to be instructed in


all such things as are usually taught to children before they
choose a calling.

But although

the boy readily acquired

was he constantly discontented; neither would he take any pleasure in reading,


writing, or accounts, insomuch that the father, disturbed by
whatever he wished

to learn, yet

the eccentric habits of his son, turned


*

him

over in despair

far Le Pere Hyacinthe


but the
that Lippi did, openly and bravely, what the
highest prelates in the Church did basely and in secret also he loved,
where they only lusted and he has been proclaimed therefore by them
and too foolishly believed by us to have been a shameful person.

The world was not then ready

real gist of the

matter

is

and the colors given to it, we will try to learn something tenable, before we end our work in Florence.
Of

his true

life,

;!

Ill

I'LOREN'flNE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

in,

to a gossip of his, called Botticello,

who was

a goldsmith,

and

considered a very competent master of his art, to the intent

might learn the same.''


took no pleasure in reading, writing, nor accounts "

that the boy

"

He

will find the same thing recorded of Cimabue; but it


more curious when stated of a man whom I cite to you as
typically a gentleman and a scholar. But remember, in those

You
is

days, though there were not so

many

entirely correct books

issued by the Keligious Tract Society for boys to read, there

many more pretty things in the world for boys


The Yal d'Arno was Pater-noster Eow to purpose;
their Father's Row, with books of His writing on the mountain shelves. And the lad takes to looking at things, and
were a great
to see.

thinking about them, instead of reading about them,


I

commend to you also, as much the more


To the end, though he knows all about

which

scholarly practice of

the two.

the celestial

letters, nor in his dialect.


through with a bit of his
Italian the other day.
Mr. Tyrwhitt could only help me by
suggesting that it was '' Botticelli for so-and-so." And one
of the minor reasons which induced me so boldly to attribute
these sibyls to him, instead of Bandini, is that the lettering

hierarchies, he

is

not strong in his

I asked Mr. Tyrwhitt to help

is so ill

done.

The engraver would assuredly have had

lettering all right,

through

and

it,

me

or

at

least

neat.

Botticelli

his

blunders

when he goes wrong:


no repentance in the engraver's

scratches impatiently out

as I told

you

there's

trade, leaves all the blunders visible.

may add

one fact bearing on this question lately


me.*
In the autumn of 1872 I possessed
communicated to
myself of an Italian book of pen drawings, some, I have no
doubt, by Mantegna in his youth, others by Sandro himself.
In examining these, I was continually struck by the comparatively feeble and blundering way in which the titles were
written, while all the rest of the handling was really superb
and still more surprised when, on the sleeves and hem of the
187. I

* I insert supplementary notes, when of importance, in the text of


the lecture, for the convenience of the general reader.

112

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

robe of one of the principal figures of women,

(" Helena
what seemed to be meant for
inscriptions, intricately embroidered; which nevertheless,
In copying
though beautifully drawn, I could not read.
Botticelli's Zipporah this spring, I found the border of her
robe wrought with characters of the same kind, which a
young painter, working with me, who already knows the
minor secrets of Italian art better than I,"^ assures me are
letters,
and letters of a language hitherto undeciphered.
188. ^' There was at that time a close connection and
almost constant intercourse between the goldsmiths and the
rapita da Paris/') I found

painters,

wherefore

Sandro,

who

possessed

considerable

ingenuity, and was strongly disposed to the arts of design,

beame enamored of painting, and resolved


entirely to that vocation.

once to his father

and the

He

to devote himself

acknowledged his purpose

latter,

who knew

at

the force of his

him accordingly

to the Carmelite monk,


most excellent painter of that time,
with whom he placed him to study the art, as Sandro himself
had desired. Devoting himself thereupon entirely to the
vocation he had chosen, Sandro so closely followed the directions,- and imitated the manner, of his master, that Fra
Filippo conceived a great love for him, and instructed him
so effectually, that Sandro rapidly attained to such a degree
in art as none would have predicted for him."
I have before pointed out to you the importance of training by the goldsmith. Sandro got more good of it, however,
than any of the other painters so educated, being enabled
by it to use gold for light to color, in a glowing harmony
never reached with equal perfection, and rarely attempted,

inclination,

took

Fra Filippo, who was

in the later schools.

T'o the last, his paintings are partly

work in niello and he names himself, in perpetual


Nevertheless, the
gratitude, from this first artisan master.
fortunate fellow finds, at the right moment, another, even
more to his mind, and is obedient to him through his youth,
treated as

as to the other through his childhood.

And

* Mr. Charles F. Murray.

this

master loves

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVING.

113

and instructs him so effectually/ in grinding colors,


suppose, only or in laying of lines only or in anyyou
do
thing more than these ?
189. I will tell you what Lippi must have taught any boy
whom he loved. First, humility, and to live in joy and
Nothpeace, injuring no man
if such innocence might be.
ing is so manifest in every face by him, as its gentleness and
Secondly, to finish his work perfectly, and in such
rest.
Iste
temper that the angels might say of it not he himself
perfecit opus.'
Do you remember what I told you in the
Eagle's Nest ( 53), that true humility was in hoping that
angels might sometimes admire our work not in hoping that
we should ever be able to admire theirs f Thirdly, a little
thing it seems, but was a great one,
love of flowers. No one
draws such lilies or such daisies as Lippi. Botticelli beat
him afterwards in roses, but never in lilies. Fourthly, due
Lippi is the only religious
honor for classical tradition.

him

'

painter

who

dresses

John Baptist

in the camelskin, as the

Greeks dressed Heracles in the lion's over the head. Lastly,


and chiefly of all, Le Pere Hyacinthe taught his pupil
certain views about the doctrine of the Church, which the boy
thought of more deeply than his tutor, and that by a great

and Master Sandro presently got himself

deal;

into such

question for painting heresy, that if he had been as hot-

headed as he was true-hearted, he would soon have come to


bad end by the tar-barrel. But he is so sweet and so modest,
that nobody is frightened; so clever, that everybody is
pleased: and at last, actually the Pope sends for him to
paint his own private chapel,
where the first thing my
young gentleman does, mind you, is to paint the devil in a
monk's dress, tempting Christ
The sauciest thing, out and
out, done in the history of the Reformation, it seems to me
yet so wisely done, and with such true respect otherwise
shown for what was sacred in the Church, that the Pope
didn't mind: and all went on as merrily as marriage bells.
190. I have anticipated, however, in telling you this, the
proper course of his biography, to which I now return,

114

yi.

" While

among

still

DESIGN IN THE

a youth he painted the figure of Fortitude,

those pictures of the

Virtues which Antonio and

Pietro Pollaiuolo were executing in the Mercatanzia,

or

Tribunal of Commerce, in Florence.


In Santo Spirito, a
painted
church of the same city, he
a picture for the chapel
of the Bardi family: this work he executed with great diligence, and finished it very successfully, depicting certain
olive and palm trees therein with extraordinary care."

by a beautiful chance that the first work of his,


by his Italian biographer, should be the Fortitude.*
Note also what is said of his tree drawing.
It is

specified

" Having, in consequence of this work, obtained

much

and reputation, Sandro was appointed by the Guild of


Porta Santa Maria to paint a picture in San Marco, the
subject of which is the Coronation of Our Lady, who is
surrounded by a choir of angels the whole extremely well
designed, and finished by the artist with infinite care.
He
executed various works in the Medici Palace for the elder
Lorenzo, more particularly a figure of Pallas on a shield
wreathed with vine branches, whence flames are proceeding:
A San Sebastiano was
this he painted of the size of life.
remarkable
of the works executed for
also among the most
Lorenzo. In the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Florence, is a Pieta, with small figures, by this master: this is
For different houses in various parts
a very beautiful work.
of the city Sandro painted many pictures of a round form,
with numerous figures of women undraped. Of these there
are still two examples at Castello, a villa of the Duke Cosimo,
credit

one representing

the birth of Venus,

who

is

borne to earth

by the Loves and Zephyrs; the second also presenting the


figure of Venus crowned with flowers by the Graces: she is
here intended to denote the Spring, and the allegory is
'^
expressed by the painter with extraordinary grace.
Our young Reformer enters, it seems, on a very miscellaneous course of study; the Coronation of Our Lady; St.
*

Some

Horning

notice of this picture

in Florence,

is

given at the beginning of mjr thir4

Before the Sol4an,'

PLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.

115

without figSebastian; Pallas in vine-leaves; and Venus,


teaching
Filippo's
seems
Calvinistic,
Era
wholly
]^ot
leaves.

been

to have
as he

was

All the better for the boy

being such

a boy

but I cannot in this lecture enter farther into

reasons for saying

my

so.

191. Vasari, however, has shot far ahead in telling us of

which

this picture of the Spring,

pletest

works.

is

one of Botticelli's comable to paint Greek

Long before he was

nymphs, he had done his best in idealism of greater

spirits

and, while yet quite a youth, painted, at Castello, the Assumption of Our Lady, with " the patriarchs, the prophets, the
apostles,

the

Imagine

the martyrs,

evangelists,

doctors, the virgins,

the

confessors,

the

and the hierarchies "


!

this subject

proposed to a young, (or even old)

British Artist, for his next appeal to public sensation at the

Academy
is

But do you suppose

that the

young British

artist

wiser and more civilized than Lippi's scholar, because his

only idea of a patriarch


a doctor, the
a virgin,

M.D. with

Miss

'Not that even

is

of a

man

with a long beard; of

the brass plate over the

of the

Sandro was

theater
able,

way and
;

of

according to Yasari's

report, to conduct the entire design himself.

The proposer of

him; and they made some modifications


so
in the theology, which brought them both into trouble
early did Sandro's innovating work begin, into which sub-

the subject assisted

jects

our gossiping friend waives unnecessary inquiry, as

follows.

But although this picture is exceedingly beautiful, and


ought to have put envy to shame, yet there were found certain malevolent and censorious persons who, not being able to
afiix any other blame to the work, declared that Matteo and
''

Sandro had erred gravely in that matter, and had fallen into
grievous heresy.
" N'ow, whether this be true or not, let none expect the

judgment of that question from me: it shall suffice me to


note that the figures executed by Sandro in that work are
entirely worthy of praise; and that the pains h^ topk iu


116

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

depicting those circles of the heavens must have been very


great, to say nothing of the angels
figures,

of the various

or

mingled with the other


all which are

foreshortenings,

designed in a very good manner.


" About this time Sandro received a commission to paint
a small picture

with figures three parts of a braccio high,

the subject an Adoration of the Magi.

" It

is

indeed a most admirable work

the composition, the

and the coloring are so beautiful that every artist who


examines it is astonished; and, at the time, it obtained so
great a name in Florence, and other places, for the master,
that Pope Sixtus IV. having erected the chapel built by him
in his palace at Rome, and desiring to have it adornied with
paintings, commanded that Sandro Botticelli should be
appointed Superintendent of the work."
design,

192. Vasari's

wrong.

It

words,

" about this time,"

evidently

are

must have been many and many a day

after he

painted Matteo's picture that he took such high standing in


Florence as to receive the mastership of the works in the
at Pome.
Of his position and doings there, I
you presently; meantime, let us complete the story

Pope's chapel
will tell

of his life.
" By these works Botticelli obtained great honor and repu-

among the many competitors who were laboring with


him, whether Florentines or natives of other cities, and re-

tation

ceived from the

Pope

a considerable

he consumed and squandered

Pome, where he

totally,

sum

of money ; but this


during his residence in

lived without due care, as

was

193. Well, but one would have liked to hear

his habit."

how he squan-

dered his money, and whether he was without care

of other

things than money.


It is just possible.

laid out his

money

Master Vasari, that


at higher interest

Botticelli

may

have

than you know of;

meantime, he is advancing in life and thought, and becoming


And at
less and less comprehensible to his biographer.
length, having got rid, somehow, of the money he received
from the Pope; and finished the work he had to do^ and

117

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENORAVINO.

uncovered

it,

free in conscience,

and empty in purse, he

being a sophistical person, he


made a comment on a part of Dante, and drew the Inferno,
and put it in engraving, in which he consumed much time;
^^

returned to Florence, where,

and not working for

brought infinite disorder into

this reason,

his affairs.''

194.

Unpaid work,

this engraving of Dante,

consuming much time


to be

work

this, in the

also,

you

and not appearing

perceive,

to

Vasari

It is but a short sentence, gentlemen,

at all.

old edition of Vasari, and obscurely worded,

totally incomprehensible.

But

the thing itself

is

him

very foolish person's contemptuous report of a thing to

out-and-

out the most important fact in the history of the religious art

of Italy.
I can show you its significance in not many more
words than have served to record it.
Botticelli had been painting in Eome; and had expressly
chosen to represent there, being Master of Works, in the
presence of the Defender of the Faith,
the foundation of
the Mosaic law; to his mind the Eternal Law of God,
that law of which modern Evangelicals sing perpetually their
own original psalm, " Oh, how hate I Thy law it is my
abomination all the day." Returning to Florence, he reads
Dante's vision of the Hell created by its violation.
He
knows that the pictures he has painted in Rome cannot be
understood by the people; they are exclusively for the best
trained scholars in the Church.
Dante, on the other hand,
can only be read in manuscript; but the people could and
would understand his lessons, if they were pictured in accessible and enduring form.
He throws all his own lauded work
aside,
all for which he is most honored, and in which his
now matured and magnificent skill is as easy to him as sing-

ing to a perfect musician.

and despised

labor,

failing him, infinite

And

his friends
^

disorder

'

he

sets

himself to a servile

mocking him,

his resources

getting into his affairs

of

this world.

195.

more.

Never such another thing happened


Botticelli

in

Italy any

engraved her Pilgrim's Progress for her,

118

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

it.
She would not read it
Kaphael and Marc Antonio were the theoloPretty Madonnas, and satyrs with
gians for her money.
abundance of tail, let our pilgrim's progress be in these
directions, if you please.
Botticelli's own pilgrimage, however, was now to be accomplished triumphantly, with such crowning blessings as Heaven
might grant to him. In spite of his friends and his disordered affairs, he went his own obstinate way; and found'
another man's words worth engraving as well as Dante's
not without perpetuating, also, what he deemed worthy of

putting himself in prison to do

when

done.

his own.

What would

you ? His chosen works


admired Madonnas in
Florence ? his choirs of angels and thickets of flowers ?
Some few of these- yes, as you shall presently see but " the
best attempt of this kind from his hand is the Triumph of
Faith, by Fra Girolamo Savonarola, of Ferraraj of whose
sect our artist was so zealous a partisan that he totally
abandoned painting, and not having any other means of
living, he fell into very great difficulties.
But his attachment
to the party he had adopted increased he became what was
then called a Piagnone, or Mourner, and abandoned all labor
insomuch that, finding himself at length become old, being
also very poor, he must have died of hunger had he not been
supported by Lorenzo de' Medici, for whom he had worked
at the small hospital of Volterra and other places, who
assisted him while he lived, as did other friends and admirers
196.

before

the

Pope

that be, think

in

Rome ?

his

of his talents."
197. In such dignity and independence

having employed

his talents not wholly at the orders of the dealer

died, a

poor bedesman of Lorenzo de' Medici, the President of that


high academy of art in Rome, whose Academicians werj
Perugino, Ghirlandajo, Angelico, and Signorelli; and whose
students, Michael Angelo and Raphael.
^

worthless, ill-conducted fellow

Yasari,

on the whole,' thinks

with a crazy fancy for scratching on copper.'

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.


Well, here are some of

scratches for

tlie

you

119

to see; only,

I must ask you seriously for a few

moments

to consider

what the two powers were, which, with

this iron

pen of

first,

his,

he has set himself to reprove.

Two

great forms of authority reigned over the en-

tire civilized

world, confessedly, and by name, in the Middle

198.

They reign over it still, and must


very far from confessed; and,

Ages.

forever, though

in most places,

at present

ragingly denied.

The

power

first

the Father

whom

'

that of the Teacher, or true Father;

is

in God.'

the

It

happy

may

the children to

be

and whose parents have


been their tutors. But, for the most part, it will be some one
else who teaches them, and molds their minds and brain.
All such teaching, when true, being from above, and coming
down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, is properly that of the holy
it is

Catholic

actual father also

KKXr]<TM,^

council, church, or papacy, of

in God, not of one.

erenced of
in

Eome,

all

many fathers

Eternally powerful and divine; rev-

humble and lowly

in Gaul, in England,

Jewry, in Greece,

scholars, in

and beyond

sea,

from Arctic

zone to zone.

The second authority is the power of National Law, enforcing justice in conduct by due reward and punishment. Power
vested necessarily in magistrates capable of administering

it

with mercy and equity; whose authority, be it of many or


few, is again divine, as proceeding from the King of kings,
and was acknowledged, throughout civilized Christendom,
as the power of the Holy Empire, or Holy Roman Empire,
because first throned in Rome but it is forever also acknowl;

edged, namelessly, or by name, by

and humble

hearts,

all loyal,

which truly desire

that,

or against them, the eternal equities and

should be pronounced and executed

and

obedient, just,

whether for them

dooms of Heaven
as the wisdom or

word of

their Father should be taught, so the will of their


Father should be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

199.

You

all

here

know what

contention,

first,

and then

ISO

DESIGN IN THE

VI.

what corruption and dishonor, had paralyzed these two powers


before the days of which we now speak. Reproof, and either
reform or rebellion, became necessary everywhere. The
northern Reformers, Holbein, and Luther, and Henry, and
Cromwell, set themselves to their task rudely, and, it might
seem, carried

and

it

The southern Reformers, Dante,


set hand to their task
seemed, did not by any means carry it

through.

Savonarola, and

reverently, and,

through.
200.

But

^ow

it

the end

Botticelli,

is

not yet.

I shall endeavor to-day to set before you the

of Botticelli, especially as exhibiting the modesty of

art

great imagination trained in reverence, which characterized

the southern Reformers; and as opposed to the immodesty

of narrow imagination, trained in self-trust, whic];i characterized the northern Reformers.

The modesty of great imagination; that is to say, of the


power which conceives all things in true relation, and not
only as they affect ourselves.
I can show you this most
definitely by taking one example of the modern, and
unschooled temper, in Bewick;* and setting it beside Botticelli's treatment of the same subject of thought,
namely,
the meaning of war, and the reforms necessary in the carrying on of war.
201. Both the men are entirely at one in their purpose.
They yearn for peace and justice to rule over the earth, instead of the sword but see how differently they will say what
^

'

is

in their hearts to the people they address.

war was more an absurdity than


seen battle-fields,
days.

He

!N'orman.

still less

it

had he read of them, in ancient

cared nothing about heroes,

What

To Bewick,

was a horror he had not

Greek,

Roman,

or

he knew, and saw clearly, was that Farmer

Hodge's boy went out of the village one holiday afternoon, a


* I

am bitterly

man whom

sorry for the pain which

of all English artists

whose

esteem, have given to one remaining

my

my partial references to the


histories I

member

have read,

most

of his family.

I liope

meaning may be better understood after she has seen the

close of

this lecture.

TLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVING.

121

young fellow, rather drunk, with a colored ribbon in


his hat; and came back, ten years afterwards, with one leg,
one eye, an old red coat, and a tobacco-pipe in the pocket of
That is what he has got to say, mainly. So, for the
it.
pathetic side of the business, he draws you two old soldiers
meeting as bricklayers' laborers; and for the absurd side of
line

he draws a stone, sloping sideways with age, in a bare


on which you can just read, out of a long inscription,
the words " glorious victory ;" but no one is there to read
it,

field,

them,

only

a jackass,

who

uses the stone to scratch himself

against.

202. 'Now compare with this Botticelli's reproof of war.

He had

seen

it,

and often and between noble persons


;

^knew

the temper in which the noblest knights went out to

knew

it;

the strength, the patience, the glory, and the grief of

it.
He would fain see his Florence in peace; and yet he
knows that the wisest of her citizens are her bravest soldiers.
''So he seeks for the ideal of a soldier, and for the greatest

glory of war, that in the presence of these he


reverently,

what he must speak.

his hero.

He

always right.

is

He

may

speak

does not go to Greece for

not sure that even her patriotic wars were

But, by his religious faith, he cannot doubt

the nobleness of the soldier

who put

the children of Israel in

and to whom the sign of


the consent of heaven was given by its pausing light in the
valley of Ajalon.
Must then setting sun and risen moon
stay, he thinks, only to look upon slaughter ? May no soldier
of Christ bid them stay otherwise than so ?
He draws
Joshua, but quitting his hold of the sword: its hilt rests on
his bent knee; and he kneels before the sun, not commands
and this is his prayer
it
" Oh, King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone rulest
always in eternity, and who correctest all our wanderings,
Giver of melody to the choir of the angels, listen Thou a
little to our bitter grief, and come and rule us, oh Thou
highest King, with Thy love which is so SAveet "
Is not that a little better, and a little wiser, than Bewick's
possession of their promised land,

122
jackass

DESIGN IN THE

VI.

Is it not also better,

and wiser, than the sneer of

modern science ?
What great men are we
we, forsooth,
can make almanacs, and know that the earth turns round.
Joshua indeed
Let us have no more talk of the old-clothes!

man.'
All Bewick's simplicity

is

in that

but none of Bewick's

understanding.

made by

203. I pass to the attack


guilt of wealth.

So I had

rather have written, the appeal


cruelty

of wealth,

maintained

The

then

Botticelli

at first written;

first

upon the

but I should

made by him

against the

attaining the power

it

has

to this day.

had been confined, until


with contempt and malediction, to the
profession, so styled, of usurers, or to the Jews.
The merchants of Augsburg introduced it as a convenient and
practice of receiving interest

this fifteenth century,

among Christians also; and insisted that


was decorous and proper even among respectable merchants.
In the view of the Christian Church of their day, they might
more reasonably have set themselves to defend adultery.*
However, they appointed Dr. John Eck, of Ingoldstadt, to
hold debates in all possible universities, at their expense, on
and as these Augsburgers had in
the allowing of interest
Venice their special mart, Fondaco, called of the Germans,
their new notions came into direct collision with old Venetian ones, and were much hindered by them, and all the more,
because, in opposition to Dr. Jolm Eck, there was preaching
on the other side of the Alps. The Eranciscans, poor themselves, f)i'eached mercy to the poor: one of them, Brother
Marco of San Gallo, planned the Mount of Pity ' for their
defense, and the merchants of Venice set up the first in the
The dispute burned
world, against the German Eondaco.
You perhaps have heard
far on towards our own times.
before of one Antonio, a merchant of Venice, who persistpleasant practice
it

ently retained the then obsolete practice of lending


gratis,

and of the

peril

it

money

brought him into with the usurers.

* Read Ezekiel xviii.

123

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVING.


But you perhaps did not before know why
-D,,

it

was the

flesh,

or

heart of flesh, in him, that they so hated.


204. Against this newly risen demon of authorized usury,
Holbein and Botticelli went out to war together. Holbein,
as we have partly seen in his designs for the Dance of Death,
struck with all his soldier's strength.* Botticelli uses neither
He turns altogether away from the
satire nor reproach.
criminals; appeals only to heaven for defense against them.
He engraves the design which, of all his work, must have
the Virgin praying
cost him hardest toil in its execution,

to her

Son in heaven

my

for pity

upon

the poor

'^
:

For these

Underneath, are the seven works


in
midst
of Mercy; and
the
of them, the building of the
Mount of Pity: in the distance lies Italy, mapped in cape
and bay, with the cities which had founded mounts of pity,
Venice in the distance, chief. Little seen, but engraved
with the master's loveliest care, in the background there is
a group of two small figures
the Franciscan brother kneeling, and an angel of Victory crowning him.
205. I call it an angel of Victory, observe, with assurance
although there is no legend claiming victory, or distinguishing this angel from any other of those which adorn with
crowns of flowers the nameless crowds of the blessed. For
Botticelli has other ways of speaking than by written legends.
I know by a glance at this angel that he has taken the action
of it from a Greek coin; and I know also that he had not,
in his own exuberant fancy, the least need to copy the action
are also

children."f

of any figure whatever.

So I understand, as well as if be
am an educated gentleman, to recognize this particular action as a Greek angel's;
and to know that it is a temporal victory which it crow^ns.
spoke to me, that he expects me, if I

206.

And now

farther, observe, that this classical learning

of Botticelli's, received by him, as I told you, as a native

element of his being, gives not only greater dignity and


* See also the account by Dr. Woltmann of the picture of the Triumph
Holbein and his Time,' p. 352.
t These words are engraved in the plate, as spoken by the Virgin,

of Riches.

'

124:

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

Reformafrom the cruel Jew to the poor


Gentile, so he asks for pity from the proud Christian to the
untaught Gentile. I^ay, for more than pity, for fellowship,
and acknowledgment of equality before God. The learned
men of his age in general brought back the Greek mythology
as anti-Christian.
But Botticelli and Perugino, as pregentleness, but far wider range, to his thoughts of
tion.

As he

asks for pity

nor only as pre-Christian, but as the foundation of


But chiefly Botticelli, with perfect grasp of
the Mosaic and classic theology, thought over and seized the
harmonies of both and he it was who gave the conception of
that great choir of the prophets and sibyls, of which Michael
Christian

Christianity.

Angelo, more or

less

ignorantly borrowing

it

in the Sistine

Chapel, in great part lost the meaning, while he magnified


the aspect.
207. For, indeed, all Christian and heathen mythology had
alike

become

to

Michael Angelo only a vehicle for the

dis-

own powers of drawing limbs and trunks: and


having resolved, and made the world of his day believe,

play of his

that all the glory of design lay in variety of difficult attitude,

he flings the naked bodies about his ceiling with an upholsterer's ingenuity of appliance to the corners they could fit,
but with total absence of any legible meaning. ]^or do I
suppose that one person in a million, even of those

who have

some acquaintance with the earlier masters, takes patience


But
in the Sistine Chapel to conceive the original design.
Botticelli's mastership of the works evidently was given to
him as a theologian, even more than as a painter; and the
moment when he came to Rome to receive it, you may hold
for the crisis of the Reformation in Italy. The main effort to
save her priesthood was about to be made by her wisest
Reformer, face to face with the head of her Church, not
in contest with him, but in the humblest subjection to him;
and in adornment of his own chapel for his own delight, and
more than delight, if it might be.
208. Sandro brings to work, not under him, but with

him, the three other strongest and worthiest

men

be knows,

125

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENQKAVING.

There is eviPerugino, Ghirlandajo, and Luca Signorelli.


dently entire fellowship in thought between Botticelli and
Perugino.

They two

together plan the whole

and

Botticelli,

though the master, yields to Perugino the principal place,


the end of the chapter, on which is to be the Assumption of the
It was Perugino's favorite subject, done with his
Virgin.
central strength
assuredly the crowning work of his life,
;

and of lovely Christian art in Europe.


Michael Angelo painted it out, and drew devils and dead
But there remains to us,
bodies all over the wall instead.
happily, the series of subjects designed by Botticelli to lead
^up to this lost one.

He came,

209.

luthority.
'"ersal

He

the power of inherited honor,

claim of divine law, in the Jewish and Christian

[Church,
"ace

Papal
and uni-

I said, not to attack, but to restore the

To show

and

the law delivered first


truth,

by

by Moses; then, in

final

Christ.

designed twelve great pictures, each containing some

life, and groups of smaller ones


Twelve pictures, six to illustrate
(the giving of the law by Moses
and six, the ratification and
completion of it by Christ.
Event by event, the jurispru[.dence of each dispensation is traced from dawn to close in

[twenty figures the size of

[scarcely to be counted.

?this

correspondence.

11.

Covenant of Circumcision.
Entrance on his Ministry by Moses.
Moses by the Red Sea.
Delivery of Law on Sinai.
Destruction of Korah.
Death of Moses.
Covenant of Baptism.
Entrance on His Ministry by Christ.
Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee.
Sermon on Mount.
Giving Keys to St. Peter.

13.

Last Supper.

1.

2.

3.
4.
5.

6.
7.
8.

9.

10.

Of
throe,

Sandro painted three himself, Perugino


and the Assumption ; Ghirlandajo one, Signorelli one,

these pictures,

126

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

and Rosselli four.* I believe that Sandro intended to take


the roof also, and had sketched out the main succession of its
design; and that the prophets and sibyls which he meant to
paint, he drew first small, and engraved his drawings afterwards, that some part of the work might be, at all events, thus
communicable to the world outside of the Vatican.
210. It is not often that I tell you my beliefs; but I am
Is
forced here, for there are no dates to found more on.
it not wonderful that among all the infinite mass of fools'
thoughts about the '' majestic works of Michael Angelo " in
the Sistine Chapel, no slightly more rational person has ever
asked what the chapel was first meant to be like, and how
it was to be roofed ?
Isor can I assume myself, still less you, that all these
prophets and sibyls are Botticelli's.
Of many there are two
engravings, with variations some are inferior in parts, many
altogether.
He signed none; never put grand tablets with
S. B.' into his skies; had other letters than those to engrave,
and no time to spare. I have chosen out of the series three
of the sibyls, which have, I think, clear internal evidence of
being his and these you shall compare with Michael Angelo's.
But first I must put you in mind what the sibyls were.
211. As the prophets represent the voice of God in man,
:

the sibyls represent the voice of

properly

all

forms of one

God

in nature.

Thej

sibyl, Atos BovXr], the counsel of

are

God

Roman

mind, was the Sibyl


Romans, and we
through them, received whatever lessons the myth, or fact, of
sibyl power has given to mortals.
How much have you received, or may you yet receive, thinlc
you, of that teaching?
I call it the myth, or fact; but remember that, as a myth, it is a fact. This story has concentrated whatever good there is in the imagination or visionary
powers in women, inspired by nature only. The traditions
of witch and gypsy are partly its offshoots.
You despise both,
perhaps.
But can you, though in utmost pride of your su-

and the chief one,

of Cumae.

Erom

at least in the

the traditions of her, the

* Cosimo Rosselli, especially chosen by the Pope for his gay coloring.

127

PLOEEITTIITE SCHOOLS OF EITGRAVIlTa.

IP

even
only
poor and far-fallen a sibyl as Meg
s
of so
it
more,
being
no
the coinage of Scott's brain or that, even

modern wisdom,
prer
"i^ preme

suppose that the character

Merrilies

say,
is

is

valueless

Admit

the figure of the

Cumaean

Sibyl, in

manner, to be the coinage only of Virgil's brain. As


it, and the words it speaks, are yet facts in which we
may find use, if we are reverent to them.
To me, personally, (I must take your indulgence for a moment to speak wholly of myself,) they have been of the truest
like

such,

service

am

quite material

writing on

St.

and indisputable.
John's Day, in the monastery of As-

and I had no idea whatever, when I sat down to my work


morning, of saying any word of what I am now going to
I meant only to expand and explain a little what I
tell you.
l^bsaid in my lecture about the Florentine engraving. But it
sisi

this

^^

^^H seems to me now that I had better


I^B Sibyl has actually done for me.

^B

you what the Cumaean

tell

212. In 1871, partly in consequence of chagrin at the Rev-

and partly in great personal sorrow, I was


and reduced
to a state of extreme weakness lying at one time unconscious
for some hours, those about me having no hope of my life.
I have no doubt that the immediate cause of the illness was
simply, eating when I was not hungry so that modern science
would acknowledge nothing in the wh6le business but an extreme and very dangerous form of indigestion; and entirely
deny any interference of the Cumaean Sibyl in the matter.
I once heard a sermon by Dr. Guthrie, in Edinburgh, upon
the wickedness of fasting.
It was very eloquent and ingenious, and finely explained the superiority of the Scotch Free
Church to the benighted Catholic Church, in that the Free
Church saw no merit in fasting. And there was no mention,
from beginning to end of the sermon, of even the existence of
olution in Paris,

struck by acute inflammatory illness at Matlock,


;

such texts as Daniel

i.

12, or

Matthew

vi. 16.

Without the smallest merit, I admit, in fasting, I was


nevertheless reduced at Matlock to a state very near starvation 3 and could not rise from my pillow, without being lifted,

128
for

DESIGN IN THE

VI.

And

some days.

when

recovery,

in the

first

clearly

pronounced stage of

the perfect powers of spirit

weak

had returned,

well could be, I had

while the body was

still

three dreams, which

made a great impression on me; for in


dreams are supremely ridiculous, if not

ordinary health

my

as

as

it

unpleasant; and in ordinary conditions of

illness,

very ugly,

and always without the slightest meaning. But these dreams


were all distinct and impressive, and had much meaning, if
I chose to take

it.

* was of a Venetian fisherman,

who wanted
some water which I thought was
too deep; but he called me on, saying he had something to
show me so I followed him and presently, through an opening, as if in the arsenal wall, he showed me the bronze horses
of St. Mark's, and said, See, the horses are putting on their213.

me

The

to follow

first

him down

into

harness.'

The second was of

a preparation at

Eome,

in St. Peter's,

(or a vast hall as large as St. Peter's,) for the exhibition of


a religious drama.
Part of the play was to be a scene in
which demons were to appear in the sky; and the stage
servants were arranging gray fictitious clouds, and painted
fiends, for it, under the direction of the priests.
There was
a

woman

dressed in black, standing at the corner of the stage

watching them, having a likeness in her face to one of my own


dead friends; and I knew somehow that she was not that
friend, but a spirit; and she made me understand, without
speaking, that I was to watch, for the play would turn out
And I waited; and when
other than the priests expected.
the scene came on, the clouds became real clouds, and the
fiends real fiends, agitating them in slow quivering, wild and
terrible, over the heads of the people and priests.
I recollected distinctly, however, when I woke, only the figure of the
black woman mocking the people, and of one priest in an
agony of terror, with the sweat pouring from his brow, but
violently scolding one of the stage servants for having failed

* I

am not certain of their order at this distance of time.\


SCHOOLS ov ekgravin-g.

FLORENTiisrii

in

129

some ceremony, the omission of which, he thought, had

given the devils their power.

The third dream was the most interesting and personal.


Some one came to me to ask me to help in the deliverance of
a company of Italian prisoners who were to be rajj^somed for
money. I said I had no money. They answered. Yes, I
had some that belonged to me as a brother of St. Francis, if
I said I did not know even that I was
I would give it up.
a brother of St. Francis; but I thought to myself, that per-

whom I had helped to make


had adopted me for one; only I
didn't see how the consequence of that would be my having
any money. However, I said they were welcome to whatever
I had and then I heard the voice of an Italian woman singing; and I have never heard such divine singing before nor
since
the sounds absolutely strong and real, and the melody
altogether lovely.
If I could have written it
But I could
[not even remember it when I woke,
only how beautiful it
haps the Franciscans of Fesole,

hay

in their field in 1845,

was.
214.
of

^ow these

much

useful,

it

use to

three dreams have, every one of them, been

me

has been

since

or so far as they have failed to be

my own fault,

and not

use of them at the time was to give

me

theirs

but the chief

courage and confidence

in myself, both in bodily distress, of which I had


little to

bear; and worse,

much mental

still

not a

anxiety about matters

supremely interesting to me, which were turning out ill.


through all such trouble which came upon me as I was
recovering, as if it meant to throw me back into the grave,
I held out and recovered, repeating always to myself, or rather
Shaving always murmured in my ears, at every new trial, one
Latin line,

And

Tu ne cede

malis, sed contra fortior

ito.

'Now I had got this line out of the tablet in the engraving of
Eaphael's vision, and had forgotten where it came from.

And

I thought I

I never looked at

knew my
it

sixth book of Virgil so well, that

again while I was giving these lectures

130
at

DESIGN IN THE

VI.

Oxford, and

it

was only here

at Assisi, the other day,

ing to look more accurately at the

first

want-

scene by the lake Aver-

nus, that I found I had been saved by the words of the

Cumaean

Sibyl.

215. "

Quam

tna te Fortuna sinet/' the completion of the

more and continual teaching in it for me


all men.
Her opening words, which have
become hackneyed, and lost all present power through vulgar

sentence, has yet

now

as

it

has for

use of them, contain yet one of the most immortal truths ever
yet spoken for

mankind and they


;

will never lose their

power

of help for noble persons.


But observe, both in that lesson,
" Facilis descensus Averni,'' etc. and in the still more pre;

cious, because universal, one

was founded,

on which the strength of

only as the voice of l^ature, and of

it,

the

as a divine

but as a mortal teacher warnand strengthening us for our mortal time

helper, prevailing over death

ing us against

Rome

Sibyl speaks
her laws not

the burning of the books,

Of which lesson her own history is a


and her habitation by the Avernus lake. She desires
immortality, fondly and vainly, as we do ourselves.
She receives, from the love of her refused lover, Apollo, not immor-

but not for eternity.


part,

her years to be as the grains of


even this she finds was a false desire
and her wise and holy desire at last is to die. She wastes
away; becomes a shade only, and a voice. The Nations ask
tality,

but length of life;

dust in her hand.

And

She answers. Peace only let my


thou ?
"
L'ultimo mie parlar sie verace."
last words be true.
216. Therefore, if anything is to be conceived, rightly,
her.

What wouldst

and chiefly, in the form of the Cumaean Sibyl, it must be of


fading virginal beauty, of enduring patience, of far-looking
" For after my death there shall yet return,"
into futurity.
she says, " another virgin."

Jam

redit et virgo

redeunt Saturnia regna,

Ultima Cumaei venit jam carminis

Here then
she

is

is Botticelli's

the prophetess of

Cumaean

Roman

Sibyl.

aetas.

She

fortitude;

is

armed, for

^but

her faded

VII.

For a time, and times.

VIII.

The Nymph beloved of Apollo.


(MICHAEL ANGELO.J

131

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGKAVlNC^.


breast scarcely raises the corselet

her hair

floats,

not

falls,

in

waves like the currents of a river, the sign of enduring life


she looks into the distance
is full on her forehead
It is impossible for art to gather together
as in a dream.
more beautifully or intensely every image which can express
her true power, or lead us to understand her lesson.
217. 'Now you do not, I am well assured, know one of
Michael Angelo's sibyls from another: unless perhaps the
the light

Delphian,

whom

of course he

makes

as beautiful as he can.

one would have


thought he might, at least in some way, have shown that he
knew the history, even if he did not understand it. She

But of

this especially Italian prophetess,

might have had more than one book, at all events, to burn.
She might have had a stray leaf or two fallen at her feet.
He could not indeed have painted her only as a voice but his
anatomical knowledge need not have hindered him from
painting her virginal youth, or her v^asting and watching
age, or her inspired hope of a holier future.
218. Opposite,
fortunately, photograph from the figure
itself, so that you can suspect me of no exaggeration,
is
Michael Angelo's Cumaean Sibyl, wasting away. It is by a
grotesque and most strange chance that he should have made
the figure of this Sibyl, of all others in the chapel, the most
fleshly and gross, even proceeding to the monstrous license of
showing the nipples of the breast as if the dress were molded
over them like plaster.
Thus he paints the poor nymph beloved of-Apollo,
the clearest and queenliest in prophecy and
command of all the sibyls, as an ugly crone, with the arms
;

of Goliath, poring
219. There
celli's

you, to

is

Cumaean

down upon

a single book.

one point of fine

detail,

however, in Botti-

and in the next I am going to show


explain which I must go back for a little while to the
Sibyl,

question of the direct relation of the Italian painters to the


I don't like repeating in one lecture what I have said

Greek.

in another

but to save you the trouble of reference, must

re-

mind you of what I stated in my fourth lecture on Greek


birds, when we were examining the adoption of the plume

132

VI.

DESIGN

THE

ITT

crests in armor, that the crest signifies

command

dem, obedience; and that every crown

is

It is the thing that binds, before

]^ow

all

it is

but the dia-

primarily a diadem.

the thing that honors.

The

the great schools dwell on this symbolism.

long flowing hair

law restraining

is

the symbol of

and the

life,

SidSrjfM

Royalty, or kingliness, over

it.

In the extremity of

straining and glorifying.

of the

life,

restraint

re-

in

death, whether noble, as of death to Earth, or ignoble, as of

death to Heaven, the


^'

Bound hand and

SidSrj/utja

is

fastened with the mort-cloth:

foot with grave-clothes,

and the face bound

about with the napkin."


220. 'Now look back to the

first

Greek head I ever showed

you, used as the type of archaic sculpture in Aratra Pentelici,

and then look

at the

crown in

Botticelli's Astrologia.

even
governing law
diadem

absolutely the Greek form,

forehead

while the

appointed stars

turn to the

the

to rule the destiny and thought.

Cumaean

bol of enduring life

drawn from the forehead


and the hair thrown free.
221.

From

the

is set

with

Then

re^

we have seen, is the symThe diadem is withalmost immortal.

Sibyl.

It is

to the peculiar oval of the

She, as

reduced

Cumaean

to a

narrow

fillet

here,

Sibyl's diadem, traced only

by

points, turn to that of the TIellespontic, (Plate 9, opposite).

know why Botticelli chose her for the spirit of prophecy in old age; but he has made thi^ the most interesting
plate of the series in the definiteness of its connection with
the work from Dante, which becomes his own prophecy in old
The fantastic yet solemn treatment of the gnarled wood
age.
occurs, as far as I know, in no other engravings but this, and
the illustrations to Dante and I am content to leave it, with
I do not

comment, for the reader's quiet study,


exuberance of imagination which other men
little

as

showing the

at this time in

Italy allowed to waste itself in idle arabesque, restrained

by

most earnest purposes and giving the withered tree-trunks, hewn for the rude throne of the aged prophetess, the same harmony with her fading spirit which the
Also in its
rose has with youth, or the laurel with victory.
Botticelli to his

MELLA/ME2COIA, eTANDO VIDl.rARH

TANTO^VMA PAHTiNA GRANDOMORE


qVAtEMVe^IMlTA ZlVVOl 2/\jLVA>/
EPERDIVrNA GRATIA E2aVO.VALORe
Dl^CEWDll^EVIEMA^fCARNAP^

flOVfOlCHBmK'DlTAnTO ZPUmDQU
EFFlEiDIODIO

2VD f IGLVOLVFRACIfi

IX.
In the woods of Ida.

PLORENTIITE SCHOOLS OF ENGEAVIITa.

133

weird characters, you have the best example I can show you
of the orders of decorative design which are especially expressible by engraving, and which belong to a group of art instincts scarcely

now

(the influence of

to be understood,

modern

strong to be conquered)

much

less recovered,

naturalistic imitation being too

the instincts, namely, for the ar-

rangement of pure line, in labyrinthine intricacy, through


which the grace of order may give continual clue. The entire body of ornamental design, connected with writing, in the
Middle Ages seems as if it were a sensible symbol, to the eye
and brain, of the methods of error and recovery, the minglings
of crooked with straight, and perverse with progressive, which
constitute the great problem of human morals and .fate and
;

when

I chose the

title

for the collected series of these lectures,

I hoped to have justified

it

by careful analysis of the methods


made sacred by Theseian

of labyrinthine ornament, which,

and beginning, in imitation of physical truth,


waves of the waters of Babylon as the Assyrian carved them, entangled in their returns the eyes of men,
on Greek vase and Christian manuscript till they closed in
the arabesques which sprang round the last luxury of Venice
and Rome.
But the labyrinth of life itself, and its more and more interwoven occupation, become too manifold, and too difiicult
for me and of the time wasted in the blind lanes of it, perhaps that spent in analysis or recommendation of the art to
which men's present conduct makes them insensible, has been
chiefly cast away.
On the walls of the little room where I
finally revise this lecture, f hangs an old silken sampler of
great-grandame's work: representing the domestic life of
Abraham: chiefly the stories of Isaac and Ishmael. Sarah
traditions,*

with the spiral

at her tent-door, watching,

with folded arms, the dismissal of

Hagar: above, in a wilderness

full of fruit trees, birds,

and

Ishmael lying at the root of a tree, and the


spent bottle under another; Hagar in prayer, and the angel

butterflies, little

* Callimachus,

'

Delos,' 304, etc.

f In the Old King's

Arms Hotel,

Lancaster.

134

VI.

DESIGN IN THE

appearing to her out of a wreathed line of gloomily undulating clouds, which, with a dark-rayed sun in the midst, surmount the entire composition in two arches, out of which descend shafts of (I suppose) beneficent rain; leaving, however,
room, in the corner opposite to Ishmael's angel, for Isaac's,

who

stays

Abraham in the sacrifice; the ram in the thicket,


plum tree above him, and the grapes, pears,

the squirrel in the

and daisies of the foreground, being all wrought


with involution of such ingenious needlework as may well
apples, roses,

rank, in the patience, the natural

l^ay
is

in

skill,

and the innocent

with the truest works of Florentine engraving.


the actual tradition of many of the forms of ancient art

pleasure of

it,

many

places evident,

as,

for instance, in the spiral

summits of the flames of the wood on the altar, which are


a group of first-springing fern.
On the wall opposite

like
is

smaller composition, representing Justice with her balance

and sword, standing between the sun and moon, with a background of pinks, borage, and corn-cockle: a third is only a
cluster of tulips and iris, with two Byzantine peacocks; but
the spirits of Penelope and Ariadne reign vivid in all the
work and the richness of pleasurable fancy is as great still,
in these silken labors, as in the marble arches and golden roof

of the cathedral of Monreale.

But what is the use of explaining or analyzing it ? Such


work as this means the patience and simplicity of all feminine
life and can be produced, among us at least, no more.
Gothic
;

tracery

itself,

cies of old,

another of the instinctive labyrinthine intrica-

though analyzed

to its last section,

has become

now

the symbol only of a foolish ecclesiastical sect, retained for


their shibboleth, joyless

and powerless for

all

very labyrinth of the grass and flowers of our

good.

The

though
dissected to its last leaf, is yet bitten bare, or trampled to
slime, by the Minotaur of our lust ; and for the traceried spire
of the poplar by the brook, we possess but the four-square furnace tower, to mingle its smoke with heaven's thunderfields,

clouds.*
*

manufacturer wrote to

me

the other da^,

"We

don't

wanttq

EccE,vbrt^rrEM diem

LATEMTI/LAPaUDi

LT

SlB^aiALlBI

pENTiVMRtGUyML

CA

Lpi

VERpXcHELLETTERNO S GN ORE
I

LVME DARAALLE COSE NA,S COS


ElEGAMC rSCORA AE LNOiTRO E RfiORE

FAKAUSIN^GOCE LVTAlNOS E
ESOIVERA. tELABRiVALPECH ATOft

EFlESSTAiWAWTVTE LECHOSE
CNCRENBO AUAREINADEILE {iEKTE

SlDBKOyCSTQACSANTO

EVIS'CKIE

(irass of the Desert-

PLOREIS^TINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVIlSra.

135

We will look yet at one sampler more of the engraved work,


done in the happy time when flowers were pure, youth simple,
and imagination gay, Botticelli's Libyan Sibyl.
Glance back first to the Hellespontic, noting the close fillet,
and the cloth bound below the face, and then you will be prepared to understand the last I shall show you, and the love-

liest

of the southern Pythonesses.

A less deep thinker than Botticelli would have made


parched
with thirst, and burnt with heat. But the voice
her
of God, through nature, to the Arab or the Moor, is not in the
thirst, but in the fountain
not in the desert, but in the grass
And this Libyan Sibyl is the spirit of wild grass and
of it.
flowers, springing in desolate places.
You see, her diadem is a wreath of them but the blossoms
222.

of

it

are not fastening enough for her hair, though

long yet

or fifteen)

(she

is

it is

not

only in reality a Florentine girl of fourteen

so the little darling knots it

under her

ears,

and

then makes herself a necklace of it.


But though flowing hair
and flowers are wild and pretty, Botticelli had not, in these
only, got the power of Spring marked to his mind.
Any girl
might wear flowers; but few, for ornament, would be likely
So the Sibyl shall have grass in her diadem
to wear grass.
merely
interwoven
and bending, but springing and strong.
not
You thought it ugly and grotesque at first, did not you ? It
was made so, because precisely what Botticelli wanted you to

look

at.

But

This conical cap of hers, with one bead


how fond the Florentines are of
graceful head-dresses, this seems a strange one for a young
girl.
But, exactly as I know the angel of Victory to be
that's not all.

at the top,

considering

Greek, at his

make smoke

"

Mount of Pity, so I know this head-dress to be


Who said they did ? a hired murderer does not want

to commit murder, but does it for sufficient motive. (Even our shipowners don't want to drown their sailors they will only do it for sufficient motive.)
If the dirty creatures did want to make smoke, there
would be more excuse for them and that they are not clever enough
to consume it, is no praise to them.
A man who can't help his hiccough
leaves the rooj wh^ do they not le^ve t^ie f^ngland they pollute ?
;

136

VI.

DESIGN

THE

IIT

taken from a Greek coin, and to be meant for a Greek symthe mist of morning over
bol.
It is the Petasus of Hermes

what will the Libyan Sibyl say to you?


Her message is the oracle
are large on her tablet.

the dew.

Lastly,

The letters
from the temple of the

womb

Dew

morning."

" The dew of thy birth

is

as the

Ecce venientem diem, et latentia


aperientem, tenebit gremio gentium regina.'^
223. Why the daybreak came not then, nor yet has come,
but only a deeper darkness; and why there is now neither
queen nor king of nations, but every ihan doing that which
of the

is right

in his

own

^^

eyes, I

would fain go

you, and partly to meditate with you

The

for to-day.

issue of the

but

on, partly to tell

not our work

it is

Reformation which these great

painters, the scholars of Dante, began,

we may

follow, farther,

in the study to which I propose to lead you, of the lives of

Cimabue and

Giotto, and the relation of their work at Assisi


and chambers of the Vatican.
224. To-day let me finish what I have to tell you of the
style of southern engraving.
What sudden bathos in the sentence, you think!
So contemptible the question of style,
then, in painting, though not in literature ?
You study the

to the chapel

'

style

'

of

Homer

the style, perhaps, of Isaiah

Horace, and of Massillon.


Botticelli

In
first.

Is

it so

the style of

vain to study the style of

all cases, it is

But know

equally vain, if you think of their style

their purpose,

and then,

their

way

of speak-

These apparently unfinished and


clumsy work,
certainly unfilled outlines of the Florentine,
as Vasari thought them,
as Mr. Otley and most of our
English amateurs still think them, are these good or bad
engraving ?
You may ask now, comprehending their motive, with some
hope of answering or being answered rightly. And the answer is, They are the finest gravers' work ever done yet by
human hand. You may teach, by process of discipline and
of years, any youth of good artistic capacity to engrave a
ing

is

worth thinking

of.

plate in the

modern manner; but only

the noblest passion^

FLORENTINE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVmC^.

137

ind the tenderest patience, will ever engrave one line like
these of Sandro Botticelli.
ISTay, even these jou may
225. Passion, and patience!
Only a
have to-day in England, and yet both be in vain.
few years ago, in one of our northern iron-foundries, a workof intense power and natural art-faculty set himself to

man

learn engraving;

made

hours of his laborious

own

his

life to

tools; gave all the spare

learn their use; learnt

it;

and

engraved a plate which, in manipulation, no professional engraver would be ashamed of.


He engraved his blast furnace,
and the casting of a beam of a steam engine. This, to him,

was the power of God,


was ever given by

ness

theless, the

nace

is

engraving

it

was

man

is

not the power of

to

his life.

'No greater earnest-

promulgate a Gospel.

The

absolutely worthless.

God and
;

I^everblast fur-

the life of the strong spirit

was as much consumed in the flames of it, as ever driven


by the burden and heat of the day.
How cruel to say so, if he yet lives, you think No, my
friends; the cruelty will be in you, and the guilt, if, having
been brought here to learn that God is your Light, you yet
leave the blast furnace to be the only light of England.
226. It has been, as I said in the note above ( 200), with
extreme pain that I have hitherto limited my notice of our
own great engraver and moralist, to the points in which the
disadvantages of English art-teaching made him inferior to
slave's

his trained Florentine rival.

were powerless

But, that these disadvantages

to arrest or ignobly depress

him;

that how-

ever failing in grace and scholarship, he should never fail in

and that the precision of his unerring hand *


his inevitable eye
and his rightly judging heart should
place him in the first rank of the great artists not of England
only, but of all the world and of all time:
that this was
possible to him, was simply because he lived a country life.
truth or vitality

* I

know no drawing

so subtle as Bewick's, since the fifteenth cen-

and Turner's.

I have been greatly surprised


by the exquisite water-color work in some of Stothard's smaller
vignettes but he cannot set the line like Turner or Bewick,

tury, except Holbein's


lately


188

VI.

DESIGN

THE

Bewick himself, Botticelli himself, Apelles himself, and


twenty times Apelles, condemned to slavery in the hell-fire of
^Nothing.
Absolute
the iron furnace, could have done
paralysis of all high human faculty must result from labor
near fire. The poor engraver of the piston-rod had faculties
not like Bewick's, for if he had had those, he never would
have endured the degradation; but assuredly, (I know this
by his work,) faculties high enough to have made him one of
the most accomplished figure painters of his age. And they
are scorched out of him, as the sap from the grass in the oven
while on his l^Torthumberland hill-sides, Bewick grew into as

stately life as their strongest pine.

227. And therefore, in words of his, telling consummate


and unchanging truth concerning the life, honor, and happiness of England, and bearing directly on the points of difference between class and class which I have not dwelt on

without need, I will bring these lectures to a close.


" I have always, through life, been of opinion that there

is

no business of any kind that can be compared to that of a man


who farms his own land. It appears to me that every earthly
pleasure, with health, is within his reach.
But numbers of
these men (the old statesmen) were grossly ignorant, and in
exact proportion to that ignorance they were sure to be offenThis led them to attempt appearing above
sively proud.
their station, which hastened them on to their ruin but, indeed, this disposition and this kind of conduct invariably
There were many of these lairds on
leads to such results.
Tyneside as well as many who held their lands on the tenure
of suit and service,' and were nearly on the same level as
;

the lairds.

think) in a

Some of the latter lost their lands (not fairly, I


way they could not help many of the former, b}^
;

their misdirected pride


slide

their

away
^

and

into nothingness,

ha' houses'

their families

folly,

and

were driven into towns,


to sink into oblivion,

(halls), that ought to

from generation

to

while

have remained in
have moldered

to generation,

away. I have always felt extremely grieved to see the ancient mansions of many of the country gentlemen, from some-

t^LORENtlNE SCHOOLS OF ENGRAVINO.

139

The gentry
by their conduct that
they are guarded against showing any symptom of foolish
pride, at the same time that they soar above every meanness,
and that their conduct is guided by truth, integrity, and
If they wish the people to partake with them
patriotism.
in these good qualities, they must set them the example, withGentleout which no real respect can ever be paid to them.
hat similar causes, meet with a similar fate.

in an especial manner, prove


should,
Sh^

men ought

never to forget the respectable station they hold

and that they are the natural guardians of public


morals and may with propriety be considered as the head and
in society,

the heart of the country, while

'

a bold peasantry

'

are, in

and the strength of the same but


when these last are degraded, they soon become dispirited and
mean, and often dishonest and useless."
^
*
*
*
*
*
truth, the arms, the sinews,

" This singular and worthy

man

* was perhaps the most

* Gilbert Gray, bookbinder. I have to correct the inaccurate and


very liarmfully inaccurate, expression which I used of Bewick, in Love's
Meinie ( 3) a printer's lad at Newcastle.' His first master was a goldsmith and engraver, else he could never have been an artist. 1 am
very heartily glad to make this correction, which establishes another
link of relation between Bewick and Botticelli but my error was
partly caused by the impression which the above description of his
" most invaluable friend " made on me, when I first read it.
Much else that I meant to correct, or promised to explain, in this
lecture, must be deferred to the Appendix the superiority of the Tuscan to the Greek Aphrodite I may perhaps, even at last, leave the
reader to admit or deny as he pleases, having more important matters
of debate on hand. But as I mean only to play with Proserpina during
the spring, I will here briefly anticipate a statement I mean in the
Appendix to enforce, namely, of the extreme value of colored copies
by hand, of paintings whose excellence greatly consists in color, as
auxiliary to engravings of them. The prices now given without hesitation for nearly worthless original drawings by fifth-rate artists, would
obtain for the misguided buyers, in something like a proportion of ten
to one, most precious copies of drawings wliich can only be represented
at all in engraving by entire alteration of their treatment, and abandonment of their finest purposes. I feel this so strongly that I have given
my best attention, during upwards of ten years, to train a copyist to
perfect fidelity in rendering the work of Turner and having now suC"
,

'


140

VI.

DESIGN IN TUB

His
invaluable acquaintance and friend I ever met with.
moral lectures and advice to me formed a most important
succedaneum to those imparted by mj parents. His wise remarks, his detestation of vice, his industry, and his temperance, crowned with a most lively and cheerful disposition, altogether made him appear to me as one of the best of characIn his workshop I often spent my winter evenings.
ters.
This was also the case with a number of young men who
might be considered as his pupils many of whom, I have no
doubt, he directed into the paths of truth and integrity, and
who revered his memory through life. He rose early to work,
lay down when he felt weary, and rose again when refreshed.
His diet was of the simplest kind and he ate when hungry,
and drank when dry, without paying regard to meal-times.
By steadily pursuing this mode of life he was enabled to accumulate sums of money from ten to thirty pounds. This
enabled him to get books, of an entertaining and moral tendency, printed and circulated at a cheap rate.
His great object was, by every possible means, to promote honorable feelings in the minds of youth, and to prepare them for becoming
good members of society. I have often discovered that he
did not overlook ingenious mechanics, whose misfortunes
perhaps mismanagement had led them to a lodging in NewTo these he directed his compassionate eye, and for
gate.
the deserving (in his estimation), he paid their debt, and set
them at liberty. He felt hurt at seeing the hands of an ingenious man tied up in prison, where they were of no use either
This worthy man had been
to himself or to the community.
;

ceeded in enabling him to produce facsimiles so close as to look like


replicas, facsimiles which I must sign with my own name and his, in the
very work of them, to prevent their being sold for real Turner vignettes,
I can obtain no custom for him, and am obliged to leave him to make his
bread by any power of captivation his original sketches may possess in
the eyes of a public which maintains a nation of copyists in Rome, but
is content with black and white renderings of great English art
though
there is scarcely one cultivated English gentleman or lady who has not
been twenty times in the Vatican, for once that they have been in the
National Gallery.
;

FLORENTIJ^E SCHOOLS OF ENc^ftAVlNO.

141

iicated for a priest but he would say to me, Of a " trouth,"


^^eaiicate
Thomas, I did not like their ways.' So he gave up the
thoughts of being a priest, and bent his way from Aberdeen
to Edinburgh, where he engaged himself to Allan Ramsay,
the poet, then a bookseller at the latter place, in whose serFrom Edinburgh
vice he was both shopman and bookbinder.
Gilbert
had
had
a liberal education
he came to E'ewcastle.
him.
He had read a great deal, and had rebestowed upon
This, with his retentive
flected upon what he had read.
memory, enabled him to be a pleasant and communicative
^

companion.
end of his
friends,

I lived in habits of intimacy with


life;

and,

when he

him

to the

died, I, with others of his

attended his remains to the grave at the Ballast

Hills.''

And what

graving on the sacred

cliffs

of

Egypt ever honmounds of

ored them, as that grass-dimmed furrow does the

our Northern land

NOTES.
letter, from one of my most faithan important piece of misinterpretation
The waving of the reins must be only in sign of
in the text.
the fluctuation of heat round the Sun's own chariot

228.

I.

The following

ful readers, corrects

Spring Field, Ambleside,


" February 11, 1875.
Your fifth lecture on Engraving I
*^

" Dear Mr. Euskin,

have

to hand.

" Sandro intended those

wavy

lines

meeting under the

Sun's right* hand, (Plate V.) primarily, no doubt, to represent the four ends of the four reins dangling

Sun's hand.
radiate

The flames and rays

from the

are seen to continue to

from the platform of the chariot between and beyond

these ends of the reins, and over the knee.

He may

have

acknowledge that the warmth of the earth was


Apollo's, by making these ends of the reins spread out separately and wave, and thereby inclose a form like a flame.

wanted

to

But I cannot think

it.

" Believe me,


" Ever yours truly,

"Chas. Wm. Smith.''


II. I

meant

to

whitt had better be read at once


''

my Appenfrom Mr. Tyr-

keep labyrinthine matters for

dix; but the following most useful by-words


:

In the matter of Cretan Labyrinth, as connected by

* " Would not the design have looked better, to us, on the plate than
on the print? On the plate, the reins would be in the left hand and
the whole movement be from the left to the right ? The two different
forms that the radiance takes would symbolize respectively heat and
;

light,

would they not ? "

143

144

KOTES.

Ludus Trojse, or equestrian game of winding


and turning, continued in England from twelfth century;
and having for last relic the maze * called Troy Towti/ at
Troy Farm, near Somerton, Oxfordshire, which itself resembles the circular labyrinth on a coin of Cnossus in Fors
Virgil with the

(Letter 23, p. 12.)

Clavigera.
^^

The connecting quotation from

Virg.,

^n., V. 588,

is as

follows
*

Ut quondam Creta

fertur Labyrinthus in alta

Parietibus textum csecis

iter,

Mille viis liabuisse dolum,

Falleret indeprensus

Haud

eit

ancipitemque

qua signa sequendi

inremeabilis error.
(mrsu

alio Teucriin nati vestigia

Impediunt, texuntque fagas et proelia ludo,

Delphinum

similes.'"

Labyrinth of Ariadne, as cut on the Downs by shepherds

from time immemorial,


Shakespeare,

'

Midsummer Xighf s Dream,' Act

" Oberon. The nine-men's morris f is filled up with mud


And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
By lack of tread are undistinguishable."

The following
confuses (to

2,

passage,

all

'

ii.,

sc.

Merchant of Venice,' Act

iii., sc.

appearance) the Athenian tribute to Crete,

with the story of Hesione: and may point to general confusion in the Elizabethan mind about the myths:
'*

Portia

with much more love


Than young Alcides, when he did reduce
The virgin-tribute paid by howling Troy
To the sea monster." X

Theseus is the Attic Hercules, however; and Troy may


been a sort of house of call for mythical monsters, in
the view of midland shepherds.
liave

* Strutt, pp. 97-8, ed. 1801.


" a game still played by the shepherds, cowkeepers,"
f Explained as
etc., in the midland counties.
:j:

See Iliad,

20, 145.

OREDE PxH OSIGNOADtSIGNORI


CHENBtLOETTBRlSrOKHCGI SENPRISOLO
ECKE CHORRKaGl TVTTI INOSTRT IRRORl
STANDOA5SHDEPE SVNZLSVrtRNOPOLO
A5CHOLTAVNPOCHOLNOSTROA^\A5LaB 070
tVUNItREGGl NOIORt AITISSIyvv^
COLTVOAAVO:^CHEtTAtrrO DCLCTSSZJ^-0

XI.

"Obediente

Domino

voci hominis."

APPENDIX.

AKTIGLE
NOTES

OI^

229. I

I.

THE PEESENT STATE OF ENGKAVING IK EITGLAKD.


HAVE long deferred

the completion of this book, be-

cause I had hoped to find time to show, in some fullness, the


grounds for my conviction that engraving, and the study of

modern
European knowledge of
and more busied in what I believe to be

it,

since the development of the

been ruinous

to

finished school, have


art.

But I

better work,

more
and can

am"

only with extreme brevity state here the conclusions of

many

years' thought.

These, in several important particulars, have been curi-

ously enforced on

me by

Mr. Ward and me *


ourselves to make.
^'

nobody will look

shown by the
from Turner which it has

the carelessness

ture dealers about the copies

pic-

cost

fifteen years of study together to enable


^'

They

are only copies,'' say they,

at them."

230. It never seems to occur even to the most intelligent

persons that ^n engraving also

is
only a copy,' and a copy
with
of
and
done
refusal
color,
with disadvantage of means in
rendering shade. But just because this utterly, inferior copy
^

can be reduplicated, and introduces a different kind of skill,


in another material, people are content to lose all the composition, and all the charm, of the original,
so far as these
depend on the chief gift of a painter, color while they are
gradually misled into attributing to the painter himself qual-

ities

impertinently added by the engraver to

make

* See note to the close of this article, p. 156,

H5

his plate

APPENDIX.

146
popular: and, which
subtly prevented

is

far worse, they are as gradually and

from looking,

in the original, for the quali-

which engraving could never render. Further, it continually happens that the very best color-compositions engrave

ties

worst

for they often extend colors over great spaces at equal

pitch,

and the green

brown

is

as

dark as the red, and the blue as the


can only distinguish them by

so that the engraver

and his plate becomes a vague


and dead mass of neutral tint but a bad and forced piece of
color, or a piece of work of the Bolognese school, which is
everywhere black in the shadows, and colorless in the lights,
will engrave with great ease, and appear spirited and forlines in different directions,

cible.

Hence engravers,

as a rule, are interested in repro-

ducing the work of the worst schools of painting.


Also, the idea that the merit of an engraving consisted in
light and shade, has prevented the modern masters from even
attempting to render works dependent mainly on outline and
expression like the early frescoes, which should indeed have
been the objects of their most attentive and continual skill:
;

for outline

and expression are entirely within the scope of

en-

graving; and the scripture histories of an aisle of a cloister

might have been engraved, to perfection, with little more


pains than are given by ordinary workmen to round a limb
by Correggio, or imitate the texture of a dress by Sir Joshua,
and both, at last, inadequately.
231. I wnll not lose more time in asserting or lamenting

the mischief arising out of the existing system

rapidly state what the public should


1.

now

Exquisitely careful engraved outlines of

frescoes of the thirteenth, fourteenth,

but will

ask foh

and

all

remaining

fifteenth centuries

may be explanatory of
with
the local darks and local lights
their main masses; and
The Arundel Society have published
brilliantly relieved.
some meritorious plates of this kind from Angelico, not,
in Italy, with so

much

pale tinting as

however, paying respect enough to the local colors, but conventionalizing the whole too
2,

rimshed small

much

into outline.

plates for book illustration*

The cheap

ARTICLE

14:7

I.

wood-cutting and etching of popular illustrated books have


been endlessly mischievous to public taste they first obtained
their power in a general reaction of the public mind from the
:

insipidity of the lower school of line engraving, brought on it


by servile persistence in hack work for ignorant publishers.

The

last

dregs of

it

may

still

be seen in the sentimental land-

engraved for cheap ladies' pocket-books. But the


wood-cut can never, educationally, take the place of serene
and accomplished line engraving and the training of young
scapes

whom

artists in

the gift of delineation prevails over their

sense of color, to the production of scholarly, but small plates,

with their utmost honor of

skill,

would give a hitherto uncon-

ceived dignity to the character and range of our popular


literature.

Vigorous mezzotints from pictures of the great maswhich originally present noble contrasts of light and
Many Venetian works are magnificent in this charshade.
3.

ters,

acter.
4.

Original design by painters themselves, decisively en-

(not etched) and with such insistence


by dotted work on the main contours as we have seen in the
examples given from Italian engraving.
5. On the other hand, the men whose quiet patience and
exquisite manual dexterity are at present employed in producing large and costly plates, such as that of the Belle Jardiniere de Florence, by M. Boucher Desnoyers, should be entirely released from their servile toil, and employed exclusively in producing colored copies, or light drawings, from
the original work.
The same number of hours of labor, applied with the like conscientious skill, would multiply pre-

graved in few lines

cious likenesses of the real picture, full of subtle veracities

which no

could approach, and conveying, to thouknowledge and unaffected enjoyment of painting


while the finished plate lies uncared for in the portfolio of the
steel line

sands, true

virtuoso, serving only, so far as

window by

the people, to

it is

seen in the printseller's

make them think

ing must always be dull^ and unnatural.

that sacred paint-

;:

148

APPENDIX.

named

232. I have

the above engraving, because, for per-

sons wishing to study the present qualities and methods of


line-work,

a pleasant

and

sufficient possession, uniting


every variety of texture with great serenity of unforced effect,
and exhibiting every possible artifice and achievement in the
is

it

distribution of even and rugged, or of close and open line


artifices for

while I must yet once more and emphatthey


and could not be
revived
of
I would fain

which,

ically repeat that

practiced in a

are illegitimate,

school

classic art,

se-

cure the reader's reverent admiration, under the conditions exacted by the school to \Vhich they belong.

with the

finest point of

Let him endeavor,

pen or pencil he can obtain,

Madonna

to imitate

gray background of the water surface let him examine, through a good
lens, the way in which the lines of the background are ended
in a lance-point as they approach it; the exact equality of
depth of shade being restored by inserted dots, which prepare
for the transition to the manner of shade adopted in the flesh
then let him endeavor to trace with his own hand some of the
curved lines at the edge of the eyelid, or in the rounding of
the lip or if these be too impossible, even a few of the quiet
undulations which gradate the folds of the hood behind the
hair and he will, I trust, begin to comprehend the range of
delightful work which would be within the reach of such an
artist, employed with more tractable material on more
extended subject.
233. If, indeed, the present system were capable of influencing the mass of the people, and enforcing among them the
subtle attention necessary to appreciate it, something might
the profile of this

in its relief against the


;

its severity.
But all these plates
means of the lower middle classes, and
perhaps not one reader in a hundred can possess himself, for
the study I ask of him, even of the plate to which I have just
referred.
What, in the stead of such, he can and does possess,
and, if possible, just after examining the
let him consider,

be pleaded in defense of
are entirely above the

noble qualities of this conscientious engraving.


234. Take up, for an average specimen of

modern

illus-

ARTICLE

140

1.

volume of Dickens's

trated works, the

Master Humphrey's

Clock/ containing ^ Bamaby Rudge/


You have in that book an entirely profitless and monstrous
story, in which the principal characters are a coxcomb, an
a

idiot,

keeper, a

madman, a savage blackguard, a foolish


mean old maid, and a conceited apprentice,

tavern-

mixed

up with a certain quantity of ordinary operatic pastoral stuff,


about a pretty Dolly in ribbons, a lover with a wooden leg,
and an heroic locksmith. For these latter, the only elements
of good, or life, in the filthy mass of the story,* observe that
the author must filch the wreck of those old times of which
we fiercely and frantically destroy every living vestige, whenever it is possible.
You cannot have your Dolly Varden
brought up behind the counter of a railway station nor your
;

jolly

And

locksmith

trained

Birmingham

brass-foundry.

of these materials, observe that you can only have the

The cheap popular

ugly ones illustrated.

you beauty,

for

at

sense, or honesty

art cannot draw


and for Dolly Varden, or

the locksmith, you will look through the vignettes in vain.

But every

species of distorted folly

and

vice,

the idiot, the

blackguard, the coxcomb, the paltry fool, the degraded

woman,

are pictured for your honorable pleasure in every page,

with clumsy caricature, struggling to render

by insisting on

able

defect,

if

its

dullness toler-

perchance a penny or two

more may be coined out of the Cockney

reader's itch for

loathsomeness.
235.
hill

Or

take up, for instance of higher effort, the

Magazine

'

for this month, July, 1876.

Corn-

'

It has a vignette

That is what your decby help of Kensington! The letter


There is a gondola in the front of the

of Venice for an illuminated letter.


orative art has become,
to be

produced

is

a T.

design, with the canopy slipped back to the stern like a saddle

over a horse's
all

gone

tail.

There

to seed at the

is

another in the middle distance,

prow, with

its

gondolier emaciated into

The raven, however, like all Dickens's animals, is perfect and I


the more angry with the rest because I have every now and then to
open the book to look for him.

am

APPENDIX.

150

an oar, at the stern then there is a Church of the Salute, and


in which I heg you to observe all the felia Ducal Palace,
city and dexterity of modern cheap engraving; finally, over
the Ducal Palace there is something, I know not in the least
what meant for, like an umbrella dropping out of a balloon,
which is the ornamental letter T. Opposite this ornamental
design, there is an engraving of two young ladies and a paraThe white face and black
sol, between two trunks of trees.
feet of the principal young lady, being the points of the denot with as much dextersign, are done with as much care,
The
ity,
as an ordinary sketch of Du Maurier's in Punch.
young lady's dress, the next attraction, is done in cheap white
and black cutting, with considerably less skill than that of
any ordinary tailor's or milliner's shop-book pattern drawing.
For the other young lady, and the landscape, take your magnifying glass, and look at the hacked wood that forms the entire shaded surface
one mass of idiotic scrabble, without the
remotest attempt to express a single leaf, flower, or clod of
earth.
It is such landscape as the public sees out of its railroad window at sixty miles of it in the hour and good
enough for such a public.
236. Then turn to the last
the poetical plate, p. 122
" Lifts her lays her down with car^."
Look at the gentleman with a spade, promoting the advance, over a hillock of
hay, of the reposing figure in the black-sided tub.
Take your
magnifying glass to that, and look what a dainty female arm
and hand your modern scientific and anatomical schools of
Look at the tender horizontal
art have provided you with
Look at
flux of the sea round the promontory point above.
the tender engraving of the linear light on the divine horizon,
above the ravenous sea-gull. Here is Development and Progress for you, from the days of Perugino's horizon, and
Truly, here it seems
Dante's daybreaks
;

" Si che le bianclie e le vermiglie guance


Per troppa etate divenivan ranee."

237. I have chosen no gross or

mean

instances of moderix

ARTICLE

151

I.

It is one of the saddest points connected with the


ork.
matter that the designer of this last plate is a person of consummate art faculty, but bound to the wheel of the modern
Juggernaut, and broken on it. These wood-cuts, for Bar'

naby Kudge

'

and the

Cornhill Magazine,' are favorably rep-

resentative of the entire illustrative art industry of the

mod-

of
industry enslaved
ghastly
ing
gleams
glued eyes of the daily more
which drags
English mob, railroad born and
one
black world
has withered under
about

grind and
gobbling,

of national honor
giggling,trampling out every
to the

ern press,

service

in the

the last

bestial

bred,

the

itself

its

it

eternal

catch-

breath, in

chattering,

staring,

shriek,

vestige

and domestic peace, wherever

it

sets the

staggering hoof of

it

incapable of reading, of hearing, of thinking, of looking,

capable only of greed for money, lust for food, pride of dress,

and the prurient itch of momentary curiosity for the politics


announced by the newsmonger, and the religion last
rolled by the chemist into electuary for the dead.
238. In the miserably competitive labor of finding new
last

daily more grossof

stimulus for the appetite^

nous mob, we

may

this tyran-

beyond any hope, the artists


who are dull, docile, or distressed enough to submit to its
demands; and we may count the dull and the distressed by
myriads
and among the docile, many of the best intellects
we possess. The few who have sense and strength to assert
their own place and supremacy, are driven into discouraged
disease by their isolation, like Turner and Blake; the one
abandoning the design of his Liber Studiorum after imperfectly and sadly, against total public neglect, carrying it
forward to what it is, monumental, nevertheless, in land;

count as

lost,

'

scape engraving; the other producing, with one only majestic


series of designs from the book of Job, nothing for his life's
work but coarsely iridescent sketches of enigmatic dream.
239. And, for total result of our English engraving industry during the last hundred and fifty years, I find that

practically at this
svvx^et,

moment

and comprehensible

I cannot get a single piece of true,


art, to place for instruction in

any

APPENDIX.

152

I can get, for ten pounds apiece, wellengraved portraits of Sir Joshua's beauties showing graceful
dirt-cheap
limbs through flowery draperies; I can get
children's school!

any quantity of Dutch flats, ditches, and hedges, enlivened


by cows chewing the cud, and dogs behaving indecently; I
can get heaps upon heaps of temples, and forums, and altars,
arranged as for academical competition, round seaports, with
curled-up ships that only touch the water with the middle of
their bottoms. I can get, at the price of lumber, any quantity
of British squires flourishing whips and falling over hurdles
and, in suburban shops, a dolorous variety of widowed mothers
nursing babies in a high light with the Bible on a table, and
baby's shoes on a chair. Also, of cheap prints, painted red
and blue, of Christ blessing little children, of Joseph and
his brethren, the infant Samuel, or Daniel in the lions' den,

the supply

is

ample enough

to

islands think of the Bible as a

allowed on Sunday;

but of

make every
somewhat

trained, wise,

child in these

dull story-book,

and worthy

art,

applied to gentle purposes of instruction, no single example

can be found in the shops of the British printseller or bookAnd after every dilettante tongue in European
seller.
society has filled drawing-room and academy alike with idle
clatter concerning the divinity of Baphael and Michael

hundred years, I cannot at this instant,


some power of organizing
under St. George's laws, get a good print of Raphael's
Madonna of the tribune, or an ordinarily intelligible view of
the side and dome of St. Peter's
240. And there are simply no words for the mixed absurdity and wickedness of the present popular demand for art,
Abroad, in
as shown by its supply in our thoroughfares.
the shops of the Rue de Rivoli, brightest and most central
pf Parisian streets, the putrescent remnant of what was once
Catholicism promotes its poor gilded pedlars' ware of nativity
and crucifixion into such Honorable corners as it can find
among the more costly and studious illuminations of the
brothel: and although, in Pall Mall, and the Strand, the
Angelo, for these

for the

first

last

school which I have

ARTICLE
large-margined Landseer,
a

few

stately

windows,

Stanfield,

still

or Turner-proofs, in

represent, uncared-for by the

or inaccessible to them, the power of an English

people,

now wholly

school

153

I.

perished,

these are too surely superseded,

windows that stop the crowd, by the thrilling attraction


with which Dore, Gerome, and Tadema have invested the
gambling table, the dueling ground, and the arena or by the
more material and almost tangible truth with which the apothecary-artist stereographs the stripped actress, and the railway
mound.
241. Under these conditions, as I have now repeatedly
in the

no professorship, nor school, of art can be of the


'No race can understand a
visionary landscape, which blasts its real mountains into
i^or
ruin, and blackens its river-beds with foam of poison,
is it of the least use to exhibit ideal Diana at Kensington,
while substantial Phryne may be worshiped in the Strand.
The only recovery of our art-power possible, nay, when
once we know the full meaning of it, the only one desirable,
asserted,

least use to the general public.

must

result from the purification of the nation's heart,


and chastisement of its life: utterly hopeless now, for our
adult population, or in our large cities, and their neighborhood. But, so far as any of the sacred influence of former
design can be brought to bear on the minds of the young,
and so far as, in rural districts, the first elements of scholarly

education can be
of thought

by the

may

effect

made

new dynasty

pure, the foundation of a

be slowly laid.

I was strangely impressed

produced in a provincial seaport school for

by the gift of a
from the Paradise
of Angclico in the Accademia of Florence.
The drawing
was wretched enough, seen beside the original I had only
bought it from the poor Italian copyist for charity: but, to
the children, it was like an actual glimpse of heaven; they
children, chiefly of fishermen's families,
little

colored drawing of a single figure

with pure joy, and their mistress thanked me


more than if I had sent her a whole library of good

rejoiced in
for

it

books.

it

Of such

copies, the grace-giving industry of

young

154

APPEITDIX.

girls,

now worse than

lost

in the spurious charities of the

bazaar, or selfish ornamentations of the drawing-room, might,

enough for every dame-school in


work of the engravers employed on our base novels, might represent to our advanced
students every frescoed legend of philosophy and morality
in a year's time, provide

England; and

a year's honest

extant in Christendom.

For

my own

no purpose, in what remains


Oxford or elsewhere, to
address any farther course of instruction towards the development of existing schools. After seeing the stream of the
242.

me

to

part, I have

of opportunity,

either

at

Teviot as black as ink, and a putrid carcass of a sheep lying


in the dry channel of the Jed,

entire strength of the

under Jedburgh Abbey, (the

summer stream being taken away

to

supply a single mill,) I know, finally, what value the British


mind sets on the beauties of nature,' and shall attempt no
farther the excitement of its enthusiasm in that direction.
^

I shall indeed endeavor to carry out, with Mr. Ward's help,


my twenty years' held purpose of making the real character
of Turner's work known, to the persons who, formerly inter-

by the engravings from him, imagined half the merit


was of the engraver's giving. But I know perfectly that

ested

to the general people,

trained in the midst of the ugliest

objects that vice can design, in houses, mills,


all

beautiful

heaven.
is

form and

and machinery,

color is as invisible as the seventh

It is not a question of appreciation at all

physically invisible to them, as

human

speech

is

the thing

inaudible

during a steam whistle.


243.

And

I shall also use

among our

all the

strength I have to con-

second order, who arc


wdse and modest enough not to think themselves the matches
of Turner or Michael Angelo, that in the present state of
vince those,

artists of the

art they only waste their powers in endeavoring to produce

original pictures of
tocratic

life

is

human form

too vulgar,

and

or passion.

modem

Modern

peasant

aris-

life*

too

unhappy, to furnish subjects of noble study; while, even


were it otherwise, the multiplication of designs by painters

ARTICLE

155

I.

L,..........^,......
^^Jof music by

inferior composers.

They may, with

far greater

personal happiness, and incalculably greater advantage to


devote themselves to the affectionate and sensitive

others,

copying of the works of

men

of just renown.

The dignity

of this self-sacrifice would soon be acknowledged with sincere

by men working with such motive


from the common trade-article of the
galleries than the rendering of music by an enthusiastic and
highly trained executant differs from the grinding of a street
for copies produced

respect

would

differ

no

less

organ.
And the change in the tone of public feeling, produced by familiarity with such work, would soon be no less
great than in their musical enjoyment, if having been accustomed only to hear black Christys, blind fiddlers, and hoarse
beggars scrape or howl about their streets, they were permitted
daily audience of faithful and gentle orchestral rendering of
the

work of

the highest classical masters.

244. I have not, until very lately, rightly appreciated the


results of the labor of the

Arundel Society in

this direction.

Although, from the beginning, I have been honored in being


a

member

of

council,

its

my

action has been hitherto rather

of check than help, because I thought

more of the

differences

between our copies and the great originals, than of their


unquestionable superiority to anything the public could
otherwise obtain.
I was practically convinced of their extreme value only
this last winter,

by staying

at the

house of a friend in which

the Arundel engravings were the principal decoration; and

where I learned more of Masaccio from the Arundel copy


of the contest with Simon Magus, than in the Brancacci
chapel itself for the daily companionship with the engraving
taught mo subtleties in its composition which had escaped
;

me

in the multitudinous interest of visits to the actual fresco.

But

work of the Society has been sorely hindered


because it has had at command only the skill of

the

hitherto,

and accustomed
meet no more accurate requisitions than those of tho

copyists trained in foreign schools of color,


to

APPENDIX.

156

I have always hoped for, and trust at

fashionable traveler.
obtain,

to

last

co-operation with our too mildly laborious

copyists, of English artists possessing

more

brilliant color

faculty; and the permission of our subscribers to secure for

them

the great ruins of the noble past, undesecrated by the

trim, but treacherous, plastering of

modern emendation.

245. Finally, I hope to direct some of the antiquarian

energy often to be found remaining, even when love of the


picturesque has passed away, to encourage the accurate delineation and engraving of historical monuments, as a direct

All that I have generally to


art.
already
stated with sufficient
been
matter
has
suggest on
lectures at Oxford:
inaugural
clearness in the first of my
and my forthcoming Elements of Drawing * will contain

function of our schools of


this

'

methods of work
for such purpose. The publication of these has been hindered,
for at least a year, by the abuses introduced by the modern
cheap modes of printing engravings. I find the men won't
use any ink but what pleases them nor print but with what
pressure pleases them and if I can get the foreman to attend
to the business, and choose the ink right, the men change it
the moment he leaves the room, and threaten to throw up the
All this, I have long kno^vn
job when they are detected.
well, is a matter of course, in the outcome of modern prinall the directions I

can give in writing as

to

ciples of trade; but it has rendered it hitherto impossible

for

me

to

produce illustrations, which have been ready, as far

my

work
year and a
as

progress

Ward
* "

or

or that of

my own

Any
arrest, may

half.

assistants is concerned, for a

one interested in hearing of our


write to

my

Turner

f and, in the meantime, they can help

Laws

copyist,

my

Mr.

designs

of Fesole."

Church Terrace, Richmond, Surrey. Note. I have hitherto


permitted Mr. Ward to copy any Turner drawing he was asked to do
but, finding there is a run upon tlie vignettes of Loch Lomond and
Derwent, I have forbidden him to do more of them for the present, lest
his work should get the least mechanical. The admirable drawings
of Venice, by my good assistant, Mr. Bunney, resident there, will
become of more value to their purchasers every year, as the bwildinga
f 2,

AETICLE
for art

I.

i5r

education best -by making these Turner copies more

known; and by determining, when they travel, to


spend what sums they have at their disposal, not in fady
generally

hotography, but in the encouragement of any good waterand pencil draughtsmen whom they find employed in

\color

the galleries of

Europe.

rom which they are made are destroyed. I was but just in time, workig with him at Verona, to catch record of Fra Giocondo's work in the
tiler square
the most beautiful Renaissance design in North Italy.
;

AKTICLE IL
DETACHED NOTES.

On

the series of Sibyl engravings attributed to Botticelli.

Since I wrote the earlier lectures in this volume,


made more doubtful on several points which were
embarrassing enough before, by seeing some better (so-called)
impressions of my favorite plates containing light and shade
which did not improve them.
246.

I have been

I do not choose to waste time or space in discussion,

know more

of the matter; and that

till

more I must leave

to

my

good friend Mr. Reid of the British Museum to find out


for me for I have no time to take up the subject myself, but
I give, for frontispiece to this Appendix, the engraving of
Joshua referred to in the text, which however beautiful in
thought, is an example of the inferior execution and more
elaborate shade which puzzle me.
But whatever is said in
the previous pages of the plates chosen for example, by whomsoever done, is absolutely trust^vorthy. Thoroughly fine they
are, in their existing state, and exemplary to all persons and
times.
And of the rest, in fitting place I hope to give com;

plete

or at least satisfactory account.

II.

On

the three excellent engravers representative of the first, middle,


and late schools.

247. I have given opposite a photograph, slightly reduced

from the Dlirer Madonna, alluded to often in the text, as


an example of his best conception of womanhood. It is very
158

XIT.

The Coronation

in the Garden.

ARTICLE

curious that Dlirer, the least able of

womanhood, should of

159

II.

all

great artists to repre-

late

have been a very principal

object of feminine admiration.

The last thing a woman


They never see anything in

sent

should do

pictures but

own

art.

what they are

contradiction,)
their

write about

is to

told,

(or resolve to see out of

or the particular things that fall in with

I saw a curious piece of enthusiastic

feelings.

writing by an Edinburgh lady, the other day, on the photographs I had taken from the tower of Giotto. She did not
care a straw what Giotto had meant by them, declared she
felt it

her duty only to announce what they were to her; and

wTote two pages on the bas-relief of Heracles and Antaeus


assimiing it to be the death of Abel.
248.

It is not, however,

been over-praised.
the people

who

He

care

by women only that Diirer has

stands so alone in his

much

for

him generally

of enjoying anything else rightly

own

field,

that

lose the

power

and are continually

attrib-

uting to the force of his imagination quaintnesses which are

merely part of the general mannerism of his day.


The following notes upon him, in relation to two other
excellent engravers, w^ere written shortly for extempore expanI give them, with the others in this
sion in lecturing.
terminal article, mainly for use to myself in future reference
but also as more or less suggestive to the reader, if he has
taken up the subject seriously, and worth, therefore, a few
pages of this closing sheet.
249. The men I have named as representative of all the
good ones composing their school, are alike resolved their
engraving shall be lovely.
But Botticelli, the ancient, wants, with as little engraving,
as

much

Sibyl as possible.

Diirer,

the central, wants, with as much engraving as


anything of Sibyl that may chance to be picked up

possible,

with

it.

Bcaugi-and, the modern, wants, as

and as much engraving


250. I repeat

much

Sibyl as possible,

too.

for I

want

to get this

clear to

you

APPENDIX.

160

Botticelli wants, with as little engraving, as mncli Sibyl as

For bis head is full of Sibyls, and his heart. lie


draw them fast enough: one comes, and another and
another and all, gracious and wonderful and good, to be
engraved forever, if only he had a thousand hands and lives.
possible.

can't

He

scratches

down

no

one, with

haste,

with no fault, divinely

careful, scrupulous, patient, but with as


^

Another Sibyl

let

before she has burnt


Diirer

is

me draw
all

few

lines as possible.

another, for heaven's sake,

her books, and vanished.'

He is a workman,
work magnificently.
No

exactly Botticelli's opposite.

to the heart,

and will do

his

matter what I do it on, so that my craft be honorably shown.


Anything will do; a Sibyl, a skull, a Madonna and Christ,
a hat and feather, an Adam, an Eve, a cock, a sparrow, a
anything will do
lion with two tails, a pig with five legs,

for me.

my

But

show you what engraving

see if I don't

subject what

it

may

is,

be

'
!

251. Thirdly: Beaugrand, I said, wants as

much

Sibyl as

and as much
He
and has no ideas of his own, but deep reverence and love for
the work of others. He will give his life to represent another
man's thought. He will do his best with every spot and line,
exhibit to you, if you will only look, the most exquisite
completion of obedient skill but will be content, if you will
not look, to pass his neglected years in fruitful peace, and
count every day well spent that has given softness to a shadow,
engraving.

possible,

is essentially a copyist,

or light to a smile.

III.

On

Durer's landscape, with reference to the sentence on p. 101


you are pleased."

252. I spoke just

now only

figure of Fortune, or Pleasure.


rate landscape.

It is all

**I

hope

of the ill-shaped body of this

Beneath her

feet

is-

an elabohe

drawn out of DUrer's head

would look at bones or tendons carefully, or at the leaf details

ARTICLE

of foreground;

but

161

II.

at the breadth

and

loveliness of real

landscape, never.

He

has tried to give jou a bird's-eye view of

Germany;

and woods, and clouds, and brooks, and the pebbles in


their beds, and mills, and cottages, and fences, and what not;
but it is all a feverish dream, ghastly and strange, a monotone
rocks,

of diseased imagination.

And

here

is

a little bit of the world he

would not look

at

of the great river of his land, with a single cluster of

and two

its

and an island with a village, and the


way for the eternal waters opened between the rounded hills.*
It is just what you may see any day, anywhere,
innocent, seemingly artless; but the artlessness of Turner is like
the face of Gainsborough's village girl, and a joy forever.
reeds,

boats,

IV.

On

The

253.

man

the study of anatomy.

virtual beginner of artistic

anatomy in Italy wag

The Poulterer
from his grandfather's trade
man of immense power, but on whom the
curse of the Italian mind in this age f was set at its deepest.
Any form of passionate excess has terrific effects on body
and soul, in nations as in men; and when this excess is in
a
'

called

'

Pollajuolo,' a

and rage against your brother, and rage accomplished


do you think [N'ature will forget
I told
to set the seal of her indignation upon the forehead ?
you that the great division of spirit between the northern
and southern races had been reconciled in the Val d'Arno.
The Font of Florence, and the Font of Pisa, were as the very
rage,

in habitual deeds of blood,

* The engraving of Turner's " Scene on the Rhine " (near Bingen ?)
with boats on the right, and reedy foreground on the left the opening
between its mountain banks in central distance. It is exquisitely
engraved, the plate being of the size of the drawing, about ten inches
by six, and finished with extreme care and feeling.
f See the horrible picture of St. Sebastian by him in our own National
;

Gallery,


162

AI^PENDIX.

springs of the life of the Christianity which had gone forth

them in the name of the Prince


Yet these two brother cities were to each other
I do not say as Abel and Cain, but as Eteocles and Polynices,
and the words of ^-Eschylus are now fulfilled in them to the

to teach all nations, baptizing

of Peace.

The Arno

uttermost.

native valley between

of a grave

and

^^

baptizes

much

so

dead bodies:

their

mountains

its

them

is to

as the

their

furrow

of their land they have, as

is

and Pisa only was this


true: Venice and Genoa died in death-grapple; and eight
cities of Lombardy divided between them the joy of leveling
Milan to her lowest stone. 'Naj^ not merely in city against
city, but in street against street, and house against house, the
fury of the Theban dragon flamed ceaselessly, and with the
same excuse upon men's lips. The sign of the shield of Polynices, Justice bringing back the exile, was to them all, in
turn, the portent of death: and their history, in the sum of
it and substance, is as of the servants of Joab and Abner by
^slj, not of Florence

sepulcher."

down

fell

field of the

together

it is

'

"

not possible for Christian

except under a fever of insanity.

Prudence and Insolence in

tures on
to

you the

sion' *

spirit;

in

logical accuracy of the

the being in the

and the

witnessing

his fellow

sword in his fellow's side so they


wherefore that place was called
the
his

strong men.'

254. JSTow

They caught every one

^'

the pool of Gibeon.

by the head, and thrust

definite

men

to live thus,

I have before, in

my

lec-

art, deliberately asserted

term

demoniacal posses-

power or possession of a betraying


sign of such

pain, usually

insanity

accompanied by

is

delight

an instinct

that gloats over or plays with physical uncleanness or disease,

and always by

morbid egotism.

nized for demoniacal power so


its

'paltriness,

ible,

the

It is not to be recog-

much by

its

viciousness, as

taking pleasure in minute,

and loathsome things. f

Now,

contempt-

in the middle of the

* See " The Eagle's Nest," 79.


f As in the muscles of the legs and effort in stretching bows, of
the executioners, in the picture just referred to.


ARTICLE

163

II.

gallery of the Brera at Milan, there

is

an elaborate study

of a dead Christ, entirely characteristic of early fifteenth

century Italian madman's work.


sented to the people as
cal

It is called

a Christ; but

pre-

study of a vulgar and ghastly dead body, with the soles of

the feet set straight at the spectator,

and the

rest foreshort-

in mj mind,
Castagno; but I have not looked at the picture
It does not
for years, and am not sure at this moment.
which
it
is
exactly
characteristic
of the madstraw
matter a
PoUajuolo,
Castagno,
Mantegna,
them
ness in which all of
Angelo,
polluted their work
Lionardo da Vinci, and Michael
ened.

set

and was

only an anatomi-

it is

It is either Castagno's or Mantegna's,

down

to

with the science of the sepulcher,* and degraded

it

with

* Observe, I entirely distinguish the study of anatomy i.e., of intense bone and muscle from study of the nude, as the Greeks practiced
This for an entirely great painter is absolutely necessary but yet
it.

I believe, in the case of Botticelli, it

was nobly restricted.

The follow-

ing note by Mr. Tyrwhitt contains, I think, the probable truth


**The facts relating to Sandro Botticelli's models, or rather to his
favorite model (as it appears to me), are but few and it is greatly to
be regretted that his pictures are seldom dated ; if it were certain in
what order they appeared, what follows here might approach moral
:

certainty.
" There

no doubt that he had great personal regard for FraFilippo,


Sandro being then twenty-two years
He may probably have got only good from him anyhow he
old.
would get a strong turn for Realism, i.e. the treatment of sacred and
He is described in Crowe and
all other subjects in a realistic manner.
Cavalcaselle from Filippino Lippi's Martyrdom of St. Peter, as a sullen
and sensual man, with beetle brows, large fleshy mouth, etc., etc.
Probably he was a strong man, and intense in physical and intellectual

up to that

is

painter's death in 1469,

habit.
" This

man, then, begins to paint in his strength, with conviction


rather happy and innocent than not that it is right to paint any beautisay in 1470, at twentyful thing, and best to paint the most beautiful,

three years of age. The allegorical Spring and the Graces, and the
Aphrodite now in the UfRcii, were painted for Cosmo, and seem to be

taken by Vasari and others as early, or early-central, works in his life


also the portrait of Simonetta Vespucei.^ He is known to have painted
much in early life for the Vespucci and the Medici
and this daughter
:

Pitti,

Stanza di Pronieteo, 348.

164

APPENDIX.

presumptuous and paltry technical skill. Foreshorten your


Christ, and paint Him, if you can, half putrefied,
that is

the scientific art of the Renaissance.


255. It

is

impossible, however, in so vast a subject to dis-

tinguish always the beginner of things from the establisher.


of the former house seems to liave been inamorata or mistress of Giuliano de' Medici, murdered by the Pazzi in 1478. Now it seems agreed
etc., (and I am quite sure of it mythe pictures mentioned) first, that the same slender and
long-throated model appears in Spring, the Aphrodite, Calumny, and
other works. 1 Secondly, that she was Simonetta, the original of the

by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Pater,

self as to

Pitti portrait.

" Now I think she must have been induced to let Sandro draw from
her whole person undraped, more or less and that he must have done
so as such a man probably would, in strict honor as to deed, word, and
definite thought, but under occasional accesses of passion of which he
said nothing, and which in all probability and by grace of God refined
down to nil, or nearly so, as he got accustomed to look in honor at so
beautiful a thing.
(He may liave left off the undraped after her death.)
First, her figure is absolutely fine Gotliic I don't think any antique is so
slender. Secondly, she has the sad, passionate, and exquisite Lombard
mouth. Thirdly, her limbs shrink together, and she seems not quite
to have liked it' or been an accustomed model. Fourthly, there is
tradition, giving her name to all those forms.
" Her lover Giuliano was murdered in 1478, and Savonarola hanged
and burnt in 1498. Now, can her distress, and Savonarola's preaching,
between them, have taken, in few years, all the carnaUty out of Sandro, supposing him to have come already, by seventy-eight, to that
state in which the sight of her delighted him, without provoking
ulterior feelings? All decent men accustomed to draw from the nude
tell us they get to that.
" Sandro's Dante is dated as published in 1483. He may have been
saddening by that time, and weary of beauty, pure or mixed
though
he went on painting Madonnas, I fancy. (Can Simonetta be traced in
any of them ? I think not. The Sistine paintings extend from 1481
to 1484, however. I cannot help thinking Zipporah is impressed with
After Savonarola's death, Sandro must have lost heart, and gone
her.)
;

'

Dante altogether. Most ways in literature and art lead to Dante


and this question about the nude and the purity of Botticelli is no
into

exception to the rule.


" Now in the Purgatorio, Lust is the last sin of which we are to be
made pure, and it has to be burnt out of us being itself as searching
;

think Zipporah

may

be a remembrance of her.

ARTICLE

To

i65

II.

shame

the poulterer's son, Pollajuolo, remains the eternal

of first making insane contest the only subject of art; but


the two establishers of anatomy were Lionardo and Michael

You hear of Lionardo chiefly because of his Last


This was not
Supper, but Italy did not hear of him for that.
what brought her to worship Lionardo but the Battle of
Angelo.

the Standard.

Fragments on Holbein and

Of

256.

others.

Holbein's St. Elizabeth, remember, she

perfect Saint Elizabeth, by any means.

She

is

not a

an honest
and sweet German lady, the best he could see; he could do
and so I come back to my old story, no man can
no better
;

as

fire,

pessima
really is

is

smoldering, devouring, and all that. Corruptio


optimi
it is the most searching and lasting of evils, because it
a corruption attendant on true Love, which is eternal what-

as
;

and

ever the word means. That this is so, seems to me to demonstrate


the truth of the Fall of Man from the condition of moral very-goodness in God's sight. And I think that Dante connected the purifying
pains of his intermediate state with actual sufferings in this life, working out repentance, in himself and others. And the torment of
this passion, to the repentant or resisting, or purity-seeking soul is
decidedly like the pain of physical burning.
** Further, its casuistry is impracticable
because the more you stir
the said fire the stronger hold it takes. Therefore, men and women
are rightly secret about it, and detailed confessions unadvisable. Much
talk about hypocrisy in this matter is quite wrong and unjust. Then,
its connection with female beauty, as a cause of love between man and
woman, seems to me to be the inextricable nodus of the Fall, the here
inseparable mixture of good and evil, till soul and body are parted.
For the sense of seen Beauty is the awakening of Love, at whatever
distance from any kind of return or sympathy as with a rose, or what
not. Sandro may be the man who has gone nearest to the right separation of Delight from Desire supposing that he began with religion
and a straight conscience saw lovingly the error of Fra Filippo's way
saw with intense distant love the error of Simonetta's and reflected
on Florence and its way, and drew nearer and nearer to Savonarola,
being yet too big a man for asceticism and finally wearied of all things
and sunk into poverty and peace."

'

'

'

'

'

;;;

APPENDIX.

166

do better than he sees if he can reach the nature round him,


he may fall short of it he cannot rise above it
it is well
" the best, in this kind, are but shadows.''
:

Yet that intense veracity of Holbein is indeed the strength


and glory of all the northern schools. They exist only in
being true. Their work among men is the definition of what
They cannot dream of what is
is, and the abiding by it.
They make fools of themselves if they try. Think how
not.
feeble even Shakspere is when he tries his hand at a Goddess
women, beautiful and womanly, as many as you choose;
but who cares what his Minerva or Juno says, in the masque
when Sir Joshua
of the Tempest? And for the painters
tries for a Madonna, or Vandyke for a Diana
they can't
even paint! they become total simpletons. Look at Rubens'
mythologies in the Louvre, or at modern French heroics, or

German

pietisms!

Why,

all

Cornelius,

Hesse, Overbeck,

and David put together, are not worth one De Hooghe of


an old woman with a broom sweeping a back-kitchen. The
one thing we northerns can do is to find out what is fact,
and insist on it: mean fact it may be, or noble ^but fact

always, or

we

die.

257. Yet the intensest form of northern realization can be


matched in the south, when the southerns choose. There are
two pieces of animal drawing in the Sistine Chapel unrivaled
for

literal

veracity.

The sheep

at

the well

in

front of

Zipporah; and afterwards, when she is going away, leading


her children, her eldest boy, like every one else, has taken his
chief treasure with him, and this treasure is his pet dog. It
is a little sharp-nosed white fox-terrier, full of fire and life
but not strong enough for a long walk. So little Gershom,
whose name was " the stranger " because his father had been
a stranger in a strange land,

little

Gershom

carries his

white terrier under his arm, lying on the top of a large


bundle to make it comfortable. The doggie puts its sharp
nose and bright eyes out^ above his hand, with a little ro^ish


AETICLE

167

II.

gleam sideways in them, which means,


that he has been
a dog's expression,
the morning and has nearly put him
without any doubt, I can assert to you
other such piece of animal painting in
intense, vivid, and absolutely balanced
drawn as if it had been a saint, yet as
seer's Lord Chancellor poodle.
258. Oppose to

I'

Holbein's Veracity

if I can read rightly


barking at Moses all
and
out of temper:

that there

the world,

not any
so brief,

in truth: as tenderly

humorously

as

Land-

Botticelli's Fantasy.

"
"

Shade

"

Color.

Despair

"

Faith.

"

Crossness

"

Purity.

True Fantasy.

is

Tree in Hellespontic Sibyl.


^yet founded on intensest perception
So the swan of Clio, as opposed to

Botticelli's

"Not a real tree at all

of beautiful reality.

Diirer's cock, or to Turner's swan.

The

Italian

power of abstraction into one mythologic

Holbein's death

personage

is

only

But Orcagna's death

skeleton.
itself.

There

may

thus be as

then,

we have

is

much

He

literal.

his death into thirty different deaths;

one

has to split

and each is but a


the power of death

breadth in thought, as in

execution.

259.

What

what he sees ?
For instance, in

to ask, is a

man

conscious of in

however slight
an intense consciousness of light and
shade, and of local color, as a part of light and shade; but
none of color itself. He was wholly incapable of coloring;
and perhaps this very deficiency enabled him to give graphic

the outline

harmony

there

all

Cruikshank's etchings

is

to engraving.

Bewick

etc.
Gray predominant;
coming out in patterns of birds
^yet

snow-pieces,

eense of color^

perfect

m uucnl-

168

APPENDIX.

tivated, that he engraves the

brown birds

better than pheasant

or peacock

For quite perfect consciousness of color makes engraving


and you have instead Correggio.

impossible,

VI.
Final notes on light and shade,

You will find in the 138th and 147th paragraphs of


Inaugural lectures, statements which, if you were reading
the book by yourselves, would strike you probably as each of
them difficult, and in some degree inconsistent, namely,
260.

my

that the school of color has exquisite character and sentiment

but

is

shade

and fantastic; while the school of


and sentiment but supreme in
and veracity. " The way by light and shade," I
taken by men of the highest powers of thought and

childish, cheerful,
is

intellect

say, " is

deficient in character

most earnest desire for truth."

The

school of shade, I say,

sentiment.

Compare any of

is

deficient in character

Diirer's

and

Madonnas with any

of

Angelico's.

Yet you may discern in the Apocalypse engravings that


mind was seeking for truths, and dealing with questions, which no more could have occurred to Angelico's mind
Diirer's

than to that of a two-years-old baby.


261. The two schools unite in various degrees; but are
always distinguishably generic, the two headmost masters
representing each being Tintoret and Perugino.
The one,

and continually offending us by the


want of it, but full of intellectual power and suggestion.
The other, repeating ideas with so little reflection that he
gets blamed for doing the same thing over again, (Yasari)
but exquisite in sentiment and the conditions of taste which
it forms, so as to become the master of it to Raphael and to
and remaining such a type of sentiment,
all succeeding him
too delicate to be felt by the latter practical mind of Dutchdeficient in sentiment,

ARTICLE

169

11.

bred England, that Goldsmith makes the admiration of him


But yet, with underthe test of absurd connoisseurship.
current of intellect, which gets

and

therefore

with

him accused

under-current

of

of free-thinking,

entirely

exquisite

chiaroscuro.

Light and shade, then, imply the understanding of things


Color, the imagination and the sentiment of them.
262. In Turner's distinctive work, color is scarcely ac-

knowledged unless under influence of sunshine. The sunshine is his treasure; his lividest gloom contains it; his
grayest twilight regrets it, and remembers.
Blue is always
a blue shadow; brown or gold, always light;
nothing is
cheerful but sunshine; wherever the sun is not, there is
melancholy or evil. Apollo is God; and all forms of death
and sorrow exist in opposition to him.

But in Perugino's

distinctive

work,^and

have given him the captain's place over


no darkness, no wrong. Every color

The world,
part of harmony and

space
is

is light.

the universe,
all

all,

is

is

lovely,

and every

is

divine

all

gloom, a part of peace.

THE END.

I
simply

therefore

there

sadness

LOVE'S MEINIE.
THREE LECTURES ON

GREEK AND ENGLISH

BIRDS.

CONTENTS.
PAGE

PREFACE

LECTURE

I.

THE ROBIN

LECTURE

II.

THE SWALLOW

25

LECTURE
THE DABCHICKS

APPENDIX

III.

52

107

PEEFACE.
Brantwood,

Uli June, 1881.

Quarter past five, morning.

The

birds chirping feebly,

mostly

chaffinches answering

each other, the rest discomposed, I fancy, by the June snow

"'^

the lake neither smooth nor rippled, but like a surface of


perfectly bright glass,

wave few and

cast; the lines of

ill

irregular, like flaws in the planes of a fine crystal.

I see this book was begun eight years ago


to contain only four

Oxford

then intended

lectures: but the said lectures

cream of forty volumes of


all and sundry,
having gone, Carlyle would have said, to water, and more
also

intended

scientific

'

to contain the

Which

ornithology.

piously-minded persons, to

fire,

materials into another form

intentions,

am

obliged

now

to cast

my

and here, at all events, is a


bundle of what is readiest under my hand.
The nature and
name of which I must try to make a little more intelligible
:

than my books have lately been, either in text or title.


'
Meinie is the old English word for ' Many,' in the sense
'

of

many

'

persons attending one, as bridesmaids,

sixes or tens or dozens;


It passes gradually into

courtiers, footmen,

when

and the

in

like.

Menial,' and unites the senses of

Multitude and Servitude.


In the passages quoted from, or referred

to in,

Chaucer's

Komance of the Eose, at the end of the


any reader who cares for a clue to the farther
of the title, may find one to lead him safely

translation of the
first lecture,

significances

through richer labyrinths of thought than mine: and ladder enough also,
if there be either any heavenly, or pure

* The summits of the Old Man, of Wetherlam, and Helvellyn, were


white, on the morning

when

this

was

written.

all

VI

:piie$'ace.

earthly, Love, in
bird's nest

liis

own

and in the Sermons of


The term Lecture
^

more, I

breast,

to

guide him to a pretty

both in the Eomances of the Rose and of Juliet,

still

Francis and

St.

'

St.

Bernard.

retained, for though I lecture no

is

write habitually in a

manner

suited for oral

and imagine myself speaking to my pupils, if ever


I am happily thinking in myself.
But it will be also seen
that by the help of this very familiarity of style, I am
endeavoring, in these and my other writings on ]N"atural
History, to compel in the student a clearness of thought and
precision of language which have not hitherto been in any
delivery,

wise the virtues, or

skills,

who imagine

readers,

of scientific persons.

that

my own

Thoughtless

style (such as

it

is,

the

one thing which the British public concedes to me as a real


power) has been formed without pains, may smile at the
confidence with which I speak of altering accepted, and even
long-established, nomenclature.
But the use which I now

have of language has taken


those

forty years

spent,

me

forty years to attain; and

mostly,

in

walking through the

wilderness of this world's vain words, seeking

how

they

might be pruned into some better strength. And I think


it likely that at last I may put in my pruning-hook with
effect; for indeed a time must come when English fathers
and mothers will wish their children to learn English again,
and to speak it for all scholarly purposes; and, if they use,
instead, Greek or Latin, to use them only that they may be
understood by Greeks or Latins * and not that tjiey may
mystify the illiterate many of their own land. Dead languages, so called, may at least be left at rest, if not honored
and must not be torn in mutilation out of their tumuli, that
the skins and bones of them may help to hold our living nonsense together while languages called living, but which live
;

only to slack themselves into slang, or bloat themselves into


bombast, must one day have new grammars written for their
license,

and new laws for their insolence.

* Greek
Latin

still

is

now

a living nation's language, from Messina to Delos and


churchmen and gentlemen of Italy.

lives for the well-trained

PEEFACE.

Vll

Observe, however, that the recast methods of classification


adopted in this book, and in Proserpina,' must be carefully
I am
distinguished from their recastings of nomenclature.
^

perfectly sure that

obscure long ones

it is

wiser to use plain short words than

but not in the least sure that I

the best that can be done for

my

am

doing

pupils, in classing swallows

The classification is
with owls, or milkworts with violets.
always given as tentative; and, at its utmost, elementary:
but the nomenclature, as in

all

probability conclusive.

For the rest, the success and the service of all depend on
the more or less thorough accomplishment of plans long since
laid, and which would have been good for little if their coping
could at once have been conjectured or foretold in their
foundations.

It has been throughout

should write on these,

was not able

to finish,"

my

trust, that if

Death

What this man began to build,


God may also write on them, not

^'

anger, but in aid,

"A stronger

than he, cometh."

he
in

LOVE'S MEINIE.
"

II etoit

tout couvert d'oisiaulx,"

Bomance of the

Rose.

LECTUEE L*
THE ROBIW.
1.

Among

the

more splendid pictures in the Exhibition


remember the

of the Old Masters, this year, you cannot but

two sons of the Duke of Lennox.


it, because it would be
difficult to find, even among the works of Vandyke, a more
striking representation of the youth of our English noblesse
nor one in which the painter had more exerted himself, or
with better success, in rendering the decorous pride and

Vandyke

portraits of the

I think you cannot but

remember

natural grace of honorable aristocracy.

Vandyke

is,

however, inferior to Titian and Velasquez, in

that his effort to

show

this noblesse of air

and persons may


Vandyke's day

always be detected
were already so far fearful of their own position as to feel
anxiety that it should be immediately recognized.
And the
;

also the aristocracy of

effect of the painter's conscious deference,

and of the equally

conscious pride of the boys, as they stood to be painted, has

been somewhat to shorten the power of the one, and to abase


And thus, in the midst of my
the dignity of the other.
admiration of the youths' beautiful faces, and natural quality of majesty, set off

by

all

splendors of dress and courtesies

* Pelivered at Oxford, March 15th, 1873,

love's meinie.
of art, I could not forbear questioning with myself

what the

true value was, in the scales of creation, of these fair

being

who

set so

only answer,
ear, "

Ye

high a value on themselves

and,

human

as if the

the words kept repeating themselves in

are of

more value than many

my

sparrows.''

2. Passeres, arpovdoi,
the things that open their wings,
and are not otherwise noticeable small birds of the land and
wood; the food of the serpent, of man, or of the stronger
that even these, though among
creatures of their own kind,
the simplest and obscurest of beings, have yet price in the
eyes of their Maker, and that the death of one of them cannot take place but by His permission, has long been the subject of declamation in our pulpits, and the ground of much
;

sentiment in nursery education.


aimless,

and the sentiment

But

the declamation

is so

so hollow, that, practically, the

chief interest of the leisure of

mankind has been found

in the

destruction of the creatures which they professed to believe

even the Most High would not see perish without pity and,
in recent days, it is fast becoming the only definition of aris;

tocracy, that the principal business of its life is the killing of

sparrows.
^'

Sparrows, or pigeons, or partridges, what does it matter?


mille perdrices plumbo confecit " * that is, indeed,

Centum

too often the

sum

of the life of an English lord

tionable now, if indeed of

more value than

much

that of

ques-

many

sparrows.
Is

3.

much

it

not a strange fact, that, interested in nothing so

for the last two hundred years, as in his horses, he yet

left it to the

farmers of Scotland to relieve draught horses


? f is it not one equally strange that,

from the bearing-rein

master of the forests of England for a thousand years, and of


its libraries for three hundred, he left the natural history
of birds to be written by a card-printer's lad of [N'ewcastle

Written, and not written, for indeed we have no natural


* The epitaph on Count Zachdarm, in " Sartor Resartus."
Arthur Helps. " Animals and their Masters," p. 67.

t Sir
I

Ariadue Florentina,

vi, 45,

I.

THE ROBIN.

It cannot be written but by a


gentleman and no English gentleman in recent
times has ever thought of birds except as flying targets, or
flavorous dishes.
The only piece of natural history worth
the name in the English language, that I know of, is in the
few lines of Milton on the Creation. The only example of
a proper manner of contribution to natural history is in
White's Letters from Selborne.
You know I have always
spoken of Bewick as pre-eminently a vulgar or boorish person, though of splendid honor and genius; his vulgarity
shows in nothing so much as in the poverty of the details he
has collected, with the best intentions, and the shrewdest
sense, for English ornithology.
His imagination is not
cultivated enough to enable him to choose, or arrange.
4. Nor can much more be said for the observations of
modern science. It is vulgar in a far worse way, by its
arrogance and materialism. In general, the scientific natural

history of birds written yet.

scholar

and

history of a bird consists of four articles,

and

first,

the

name

gentleman whose gamekeeper shot the last


that was seen in England; secondly, two or three stories of
estate of the

doubtful origin, printed in every book on the subject of birds


for the last fifty years; thirdly, an account of the feathers,

from the comb to the rump, with enumeration of the colors


which are never more to be seen on the living bird by English
eyes and, lastly, a discussion of the reasons why none of the
twelve names which former naturalists have given to the
bird are of any further use, and why the present author has
given it a thirteenth, which is to be universally, and to the
;

end of time, accepted.


5. You may fancy this is caricature; but the abyss of
confusion produced by modern science in nomenclature, and
the utter void of the abyss when you plunge into it after any
one useful fact, surpass all caricature. I have in my hand
thirteen plates of thirteen species of eagles

hawks

all,

great race of the


that

you

eagles

all,

or

whichever name you choose for the


hook-headed birds
prey some

or falcons

all

can't tell the one

of

from the

so like

other, at the distance at

LOVERS MEINIE.

which I show them

to you, all absolutely alike in their eagle

or falcon character, having, every one, the falx for

its

beak,

and every one, flesh for its prey. Do you suppose the unhappy student is to be allowed to call them all eagles, or all
falcons, to begin w^ith, as would be the first condition of a
wise nomenclature, establishing resemblance by specific name,
before marking variation by individual name ?
No such
luck.
I hold you up the plates of the thirteen birds one
by one, and read you their names off the back
The first,
is an Aquila.
:

The
The
The
The
The
The
The
The
The
The
The

second,

a Ilalisetus.

third,

a Milvus.

fourth,

a Pandion.
an Astur.

fifth,

sixth,

a Falco.

seventh,

a Pernis.

eighth,

a Circus.
a Buteo.

ninth,

an Archibuteo.
an Accipiter.
an Erythropus.
a Tinnunculus.

tenth,

eleventh,

twelfth,

And

the thirteenth,

There's a nice

lesson to entertain a parish school-boy

little

with, beginning his natural history of birds

There are not

6.

so

many

varieties of robin as of

hawk,

but the scientific classifiers are not to be beaten.


If they
cannot find a number of similar birds to give different names
to,

they will give two names to the same one.

pictures of your

own

works on ornithology.
cula

Here

are two

redbreast, out of the two best

modern

In one,

it is

called " Motacilla rube-

" in the other, " Rubecula familiaris."

indeed one of the most serious, as one of the most


absurd, weaknesses, of modern naturalists to imagine that
1.

It is

any presently invented nomenclature can stand, even were it


adopted by the consent of nations, instead of the conceit of
individuals.

It will take fifty years'

digestion before the

recently ascertained elements of natural science can permit

I.

THE

ROBII^.

L_,.,._.....
Klimited period) namable order; nor

Bman

is

born

to

then,

unless a great

In the

perceive and exhibit such order.

meantime,

the simplest and most descriptive nomenclature

^the

Every one of these

best.

birds, for instance,

is

might be

some word being


which should describe its
principal aspect or habit.
Ealco montium. Mountain Hawk
Ealco silvarum. Wood Hawk Falco procellarum. Sea Hawk
and the like. Then, one descriptive epithet would mark
species.
Ealco montium, aureus. Golden Eagle; Ealco silvarum, apivorus, Honey Buzzard and so on and the naturalists of Vienna, Paris, and London should confirm the
names of known creatures, in conclave, once every halfcentury, and let them so stand for the next fifty years.
8. In the meantime, you yourselves, or, to speak more
generally, the young rising scholars of England,
all of you
who care- for life as well as literature, and for spirit, even
called falco in Latin,

added

hawk

in English,

to distinguish the genus,

the poor souls of birds,

as well as lettering of their classes

in books,
you, with all care, should cherish the old SaxonEnglish and ]^orman-Erench names of birds, and ascertain
them with the most affectionate research never despising
even the rudest or most provincial forms: all of them will,

some day or
interest.

other,

give you clue to historical points of

Take, for example, the

common English name

of this low-flying falcon, the most tamable and affectionate of

and therefore, I suppose, fastest vanishing from


and wood, the buzzard. That name comes from the
Latin ^^ buteo," still retained by the ornithologists but, in
its original form, valueless, to you.
But when you get it
comfortably corrupted into Provengal " Busac," (whence
gradually the Erench busard, and our buzzard,) you get
from it the delightful compound " busacador,'' "adorer of
buzzards " meaning, generally, a sporting person and then
you have Dante's Bertrand de Born, the first troubadour of
war, bearing witness to you how the love of mere hunting
and falconry was already, in his day, degrading the military
his tribe,
field


love's MEINIE.
and, so far from being a necessary adjunct of the

classes,

noble disposition of lover or soldier, was, even to contempt,

showing

separate from both.

itself

"Le

lie

home, cassador,

M'enneion,

biizacador.

e'l

Parian de volada, d'austor,

Ne
The

jamais, d'armas, ni d'amor,"

man, the chaser,


to death and the adorer of buzzards.
They talk of covey and hawk.
rich

Tires

And

me

never of arms, nor of love.

" Cassador," of course, afterwards becomes ^^ chasseur," and


" austor " " vautour." But after you have read this, and
familiarized your ear with the old word,

how

differently

Those who thought no


better of the Living God than of a buzzard idol," and
^'

Milton's phrase will ring to you,

how

literal it

ence between a

becomes,

member

when we think

the Busacador of to-day;


in the reading,

of the actual differ-

of Parliament in Milton's time, and

and

all this freshness and value


come of your keeping the word

observe,

which great men have used for the


the anatomists blunder out

bird, instead of letting

new one from

their

Latin

dictionaries.
9.

There are not

many namable

so

said, of robin as of falcon

but this

is

varieties, I just

now

somewhat inaccurately

Those thirteen birds represented a very large propor-

stated.

tion of the entire group of the birds of prey, which in

my

sevenfold classification I recommended you to call universally,


" hawks." The robin is only one of the far greater multi-

tude of small birds which live almost indiscriminately on


grain or insects, and which I recommended you to call
generally " sparrows " but of the robin itself, there are two
;

important European varieties

one

red-breasted,

and the

other blue-breasted.

You

10.

breast

probably, some of you, never heard of the blue-

very few, certainly, have seen one

certainly not wild in England.

alive, and, if alive,

I.

Here

a picture of

is

THE
it,

KOBIIT,

you can

daintily done,* and

see

the pretty blue shield on its breast, perhaps, at this distance.


shield, if ever the fair little thing is

Vain

wretched enough

on English ground! I find the last that was


and there
seen was shot at Margate so long ago as 1842,
seems to be no official record of any visit before that, since
Mr. Thomas Embledon shot one on Newcastle town moor
to set foot

But

in 1816.

this rarity of visit to us is strange;

other

and

really

England expressly for the purpose.

And

birds have no such clear objection to being shot,

seem

to

come

to

yet this blue-bird

stays in Sweden,

where

I think
(one can't say " blue robin "
we shall have to call him " bluet," like the cornflower)
it

sings so sweetly that

it

is

called

" a hundred tongues."


11. That, then, is the utmost which the lords of land,
and masters of science, do for us in their watch upon our

One

feathered suppliants.

kills

them, the other writes

classi-

fying epitaphs.

We

have next to ask what the poets, painters, and monks

have done.

The

poets

among whom

I affectionately and reverently

class the sweet singers of the nursery,

have done
of.

The

much very
;

nearly

all that

mothers and nurses

I care for your thinking

painters and monks, the one being so greatly under

the influence of the other,

together; and

may

almost

we may
sum their

for the present class

contributions to orni-

thology in saying that they have plucked the wings from


birds, to
to

make

make

angels of men, and the claws from birds,

devils of

men.

away from

religious art these two


on the whole, very feeble
imagination; if you were to take from it, I say, the power
of putting wings on shoulders, and claws on fingers and toes,
how wonderfully the sphere of its angelic and diabolic
characters would be contracted
Eeduced only to the sources
of expression in face or movements, you might still find in

If you were to take

great helps of

its

I must

say,

* Mr. Gould's, in lug " Birds of Great Britain."

g
good early sculpture very

sufficient devils

would resolve themselves, I think, into


not often into so

much

but the best angels

little

more

than,

and

the likenesses of pretty v^omen,

as,

with that grave and (I do not say it ironically) majestic


expression which they put on, when, being very fond of
their husbands and children, they seriously think either
the one or the other have misbehaved themselves.
12.

well

And

it

is

not a

little

make you doubtful

discouraging for me, and

of

my

right

judgment

in

may
this

endeavor to lead you into closer attention to the bird,


with its wings and claws still in its own possession
it is
;

discouraging, I say, to observe that the beginning of such

more faithful and accurate observation in former art, is


exactly coeval with the commencement of its decline.
The
feverish and ungraceful natural history of Paul, called,
^'
of the birds,'' Paolo degli Uccelli, produced, indeed, no
harmful result on the minds of his contemporaries, they
watched in him, with only contemptuous admiration, the
fantasy of zoological instinct which filled his house with
painted dogs, cats, and birds, because he was too poor to
fill it with real ones.
Their judgment of this morbidly naturalistic art was conclusively expressed by the sentence of
Donatello, when going one morning into the Old Market,
to buy fruit, and finding the animal painter uncovering a
picture, which had cost him months of care, (curiously
symbolic in its subject, the infidelity of St. Thomas, of the
investigatory fingering of the natural historian,) " Paul,

friend," said Donatello,


just

when thou

'^

my

thou art uncovering the picture

shouldst be shutting

it

up."

harm, therefore, I repeat, but, on the contrary,


some wholesome stimulus to the fancy of men like Luca
and Donatello themselves, came of the grotesque and imper13. JSTo

tinent zoology of Uccello.

But the fatalest institutor of proud modern anatomical


and scientific art, and of all that has polluted the dignity,
and darkened the charity, of the greater ages, was Antonio
Pollajuolo of Florence. Antonio (that is to say) the Poul-

I.

terer

THE ROBIN.

named from the trade of his grandfather, and with


much of his grandfather's trade left in his own dis-

so

just so

position, that being set

by Lorenzo Ghiberti

to

complete one

of the ornamental festoons of the gates of the Florentine


Baptistery, there, (says Vasari) " Antonio produced a quail,

which may still be seen, and is so beautiful, nay, so perfect,


that it wants nothing but the power of flight."
14. Here, the morbid tendency was as attractive as it was
Ghiberti himself fell under the influence of it;
subtle.
allowed the borders of his gates, with their fluttering birds
and bossy fruits, to dispute the spectators' favor with the
religious subjects they inclosed and, from that day forward,
minuteness and muscularity were, with curious harmony of
evil, delighted in together and the lancet and the microscope,
in the hands of fools, were supposed to be complete substitutes
for imagination in the souls of wise men so that even the best
artists are gradually compelled, or beguiled, into compliance
with the curiosity of their day; and Francia, in the city of
Bologna, is held to be a '^ kind of god, more particularly "
(again I quote Vasari) " after he had painted a set of caparisons for the Duke of Urbino, on which he depicted a great
forest all on fire, and whence there rushes forth an immense
number of every kind of animal, with several human figures.
This terrific, yet truly beautiful representation, was all the
more highly esteemed for the time that had been expended
on it in the plumage of the birds, and other minutia3 in the
delineation of the different animals, and in the diversity of
"
the branches and leaves of the various trees seen therein
and thenceforward the catastrophe is direct, to the ornithological museums which Breughel painted for gardens of
Eden, and to the still life and dead game of Dutch celebrities.
15. And yet I am going to invite you to-day to examine,
;

down
and

to

almost microscopic detail, the aspect of a small bird,

to invite

you

to

do

this, as

a most expedient and sure

step in your study of the greatest art.

But

the difference in our motive of examination will en-

tirely alter the result.

To

paint birds that

we may show how

10

love's meinie.

minutely we can paint,


pations of

art.

To

is

among

the most contemptil)le

paint them, that

we may show how

octw

beauti-

ful they are, is not indeed one of its highest, but quite one of
its

pleasantest and most useful

it is

a skill within the reach

of every student of average capacity, and which, so far as


acquired, will assuredly both

make

their hearts kinder,

and

their lives happier.

Without further preamble, I will ask you to look to-day,


more carefully than usual, at your well-known favorite, and
to think about him with some precision.
16. And first, Where does he come from?
I stated that
my lectures were to be on English and Greek birds but we
;

are apt to fancy the robin all our own.

How

exclusively, do

you suppose, he really belongs to us ? You would think this


was the first point to be settled in any book about him. I
have hunted all my books through, and can't tell you how
much he is our own, or how far he is a traveler.
And, indeed, are not all our ideas obscure about migration
You are broadly told that a bird travels, and how
itself?
wonderful it is that it finds its way; but you are scarcely
whether
ever told, or led to think, what it really travels for
and how the travelfor food, for warmth, or for seclusion
Birds have not their
ing is connected with its fixed home.
town and country houses, their villas in Italy, and shooting
The country in which they build their
boxes in Scotland.
the country, that is to say, in
nests is their proper home,
spring
and
summer. Then they go south
pass
the
which they
warmth;
winter,
food
and
but in what lines, and
for
in the
by what stages ? The general definition of a migrant in this
hemisphere is a bird that goes north to build its nest, and

south for the winter; but, then, the one essential point to

know about

it is

erly inhabits,

the breadth and latitude of the zone


that

is

next, its habits of life,

winter
lY.

and

finally, its

Now, here

Quite the

first

is

it

prop-

which it builds its nest;


and extent and line of southing in the
to say, in

manner

of traveling.

this entirely familiar bird, the robin.

thing that strikes

me

about

it,

looking at

it

THE KOBIK.

I.

%i

seems to have had on the

as a painter, is the small effect it

I trace nothing of

minds of the southern nations.

nitely, either in the art or literature of


find, even,

no definite name for

" passer

had

''

it

you don't know

a red breast, or a blue, or a brown.

Mr. Gould says

it

defi-

Greece or Italy.
if

Lesbia's

And

yet

abundant in all parts of Europe, in all


the islands of the Mediterranean, and in Madeira and the
And then he says (now notice the puzzle of this),
zores.
^'
In many parts of the Continent it is a migrant, and, contrary to what obtains with us, is there treated as a vagrant,
for there is scarcely a country across the water in which it
is not shot down and eaten.''
'^
In many parts of the Continent it is a migrant.'' In
what parts how far in what manner ?
18. In none of the old natural history books can I find any
it is

account of the robin as a traveler, but there


sufficient reason for their reticence.

in his

manner of

traveling.

he was likely to do
in the saddest.

it

Of

He

is,

for once,

some

has a curious fancy

all birds,

you would think


and he does it

in the cheerfulest way,

Do you

chance to have read, in the Life of

how fond he was of taking long walks in


and alone ? The robin, en voyage, is the Charles

Charles Dickens,
the night

Dickens of birds.
rests, in the

He

always travels in the night, and alone

day, wherever day chances to find him; sings a

and pretends he hasn't been anywhere. He goes as far,


and in Lombardy,
arrives from the south early in March but does not stay long,
going on into the Alps, where he prefers wooded and wild

little,

in the winter, as the north-west of Africa

my Lombard informant.
him named in the list of Cretan birds; but
even if often seen, his- dim red breast was little likely to
make much impression on the Greeks, who knew the flamingo,
and had made it, under the name of Phgenix or Phoenicopterus, the center of their myths of scarlet birds.
They
districts.

So, at least, says

I do not find

broadly embraced the general aspect of the smaller and


more obscure species, under the term $ov6o9, which, as I understand their use of

it,

exactly implies the indescribable

12

love's meinie.

groundwork of all other color in so many


small birds, which is indistinct among green leaves, and absolutely identifies itself with dead ones, or with mossy stems.
19. I think I show it you more accurately in the robin's
back than I could in any other bird; its mode of transition
into more brilliant color is, in him, elementarily simple and
silky brown, the

although there

is

nothing, or rather because there

is

nothing,

in his plumage, of interest like that of tropical birds, or even

own

game-birds, I think it will be desirable for you to


from the breast of the robin what a feather is.
Once knowing that, thoroughly, w^e can further learn from
the swallow what a wing is from the chough what a beak is
and from the falcon what a claw is.
I must take care, however, in neither of these last two
of our

learn

first

particulars, to do injustice to our little English friend here

and before we come to


and his feet.

his feathers,

must ask you

to look at

his bill

enough felt by us that


mouth, but its hand, or rather
For, as its arms and hands are turned into
its two hands.
wings, all it has to depend upon, in economical and practical
20.

I do not think

the beak of a bird

life, is its

beak.

is

it

distinctly

is

not only

The

carpenter's tool-box,

its

beak, therefore,

and

its

is at

once

its

sword,

partly also

dressing-case;

its
its

musical instrument; all this besides its function of seizing


and preparing the food, in which functions alone it has to
be a trap, carving-knife, and teeth, all in one.
21. It is this need of the beak's being a mechanical tool

which

chiefly regulates the

form of

to a four-footed animal's.

only one,

a bird's face, as opposed

If the question of food were the

we might wonder why

there were not

footed creatures living on seeds than there are


that do
teeth.

field-mice

But

and the

the fact

is

like

have not

that a bird's beak

perfect eating or food-seizing instrument.

or

more four-

why

those

Ijeaks instead of

is

by no means a
squirrel is far

nut than a cockatoo and a dog manBut tho


ages a bone incomparably better than an eagle.
beak has to do so much more! Pruning feathers, building

more dexterous with

I.

THE EOBIN.

18

and the incessant discipline in military

ests,

thought

of, as

much

Soldiership, especially,

mong

arts,

are all to

as feeding.

is

much more imperious

necessity

Neither lions nor wolves


abitually use claws or teeth in contest with their own
ecies but birds, for their partners, their nests, their huntng-grounds, and their personal dignity, are nearly always
birds than quadrupeds.

contention

their courage is unequaled

by that of any
and
ages, made them

ther race of animals capable of comprehending danger


their pertinacity and endurance have, in all
an example to the brave, and an amusement
among mankind.

to the base,

X-,

22. I^Tevertheless, since as sword, as trowel, or as pocket-

feomb, the beak of the bird has to be pointed, the collection of

seeds

may

be conveniently intrusted to this otherwise pene-

and such food as can only be obtained


by probing crevices, splitting open fissures, or neatly and
minutely picking things up, is allotted, pre-eminently, to the
trative instrument,

bird species.

The food of

you know,

the robin, as

is

very miscellaneous.

Linnseus says of the Swedish one, that

it

" delectatus

is

euonymi baccis,'' " delighted with dogwood berries," the


dogwood growing abundantly in Sweden, as once in Forfarshire, wdiere it grew, though only a bush usually in the south,
with trunks a foot or eighteen inches in diameter, and the

But

tree thirty feet high.


l)erries

berry
birds

to

is

the Swedish robin's taste for

be noted by you, because,

first,

commonly said to be so bitter that it is


(Loudon, "Arboretum," ii., 497, 1.); and,

is

because

it is

its

dogwood
not eaten by

the

secondly,

a pretty coincidence that this most familiar of

household birds should feed fondly from the tree which gives
the proper name of the dogwood
the housewife her spindle,
in English, French, and German being alike " Spindle-tree."

It feeds, however,
insects.

mode

am

with us, certainly, most on worms and

not sure

of dressing

its

from an old book on

how

dinners

far the following account of its

may

be depended on: I take

[N'atural History,

but find

it,

it

more or


14
less,

confirmed by others

and beats

ity in its beak,

Then

comes away.
other end,

" It takes a
it

seizing

worm by one

on the ground
it

till

manner by

in a similar

entirely cleanses the outer part,

it

extrem-

the inner part


the

which alone

it

eats.''

One's

impression

first

is

that this

unpleasant operation for the worm,

must be a singularly
however fastidiously

and exemplary in the robin. But I suppose the real


is, that as a worm lives by passing earth through
body, the robin merely compels it to quit this
not ill-

delicate

meaning
its

human

creatures,

now quite unnecessary ^wealth. We


who have lived the lives of worms, collect-

indeed, but

gotten,

ing dust, are served by Death in exactly the same manner.


23.

You

will find that the robin's beak, then, is a very

prettily representative

weapon,

is

it

sary of his

one of general bird power.

very formidable indeed; he can

own kind with one blow

of

it

As a

an adverin the throat and


kill

so pugnacious, " valde

pugnax," says Linnaeus, ^' ut non


Una arbor duos capiat erithacos," " no single tree can hold
two cock-robins " and for precision of seizure, the little flat
hook at the end of the upper mandible is one of the most
delicately formed points of forceps which you can find among
the grain eaters.
But I pass to one of his more special per-

is

fections.

24.

He

is

very notable in the exquisite silence and precis-

ion of his movements, as opposed to birds

who

either creak

waddle in walking. " Always quiet," says


Gould, ^' for the silkiness of his plumage renders his movements noiseless, and the rustling of his wings is never heard,
any more than his tread on earth, over which he bounds
with amazing sprightliness." You know how much importance I have always given, among the fine arts, to good dancing. If you think of it, you will find one of the robin's very
chief ingratiatory faculties is his dainty and delicate movement, his footing it featly here and there. Whatever prettiness there may be in his red breast, at his brightest he can
always be outshone by a brickbat. But if he is rationally
in flying,

or

THE

I.

1^' proud

15

ROBIir.

must
Hundreds of birds have longer and
but for real neatness, finish, and pre-

of anything about him, I should think a robin

be proud of his legs.

more imposing ones


j

cision of action,
little feet

commend me

and fine
you know, correspond-

to his fine little ankles,

this long stilted process, as

Commend

ing to our ankle-bone.


use of his ankles
characteristic

he

of

is,

me, I say, to the robin for


the pre-eminent and

all birds,

Hopper; none other

so light,

so pert, or so

swift.

25.

We

must

not, however, give too

much

credit to his

hop is half a flight; he hops,


very essentially, with wings and tail, as well as with his
feet, and the exquisitely rapid opening and quivering of the
legs in this matter.

robin's

tail-feathers certainly give half the force to his leap.

in this action that he


tails

wagtail

is

It is

put among the motacillae, or wag-

but the ornithologists have no real business to put

among them.

is

The swing of

him

the long tail feathers in the true

entirely consequent on its motion, not impulsive of

But the robin


and all helping
each other. Leaps, I say; and you check at the word; and
ought to check: you look at a bird hopping, and the motion
is so much a matter of course, you never think how it is done.
But do you think you would find it easy to hop like a robin
all but wooden
if you had two^
legs, like this ?
it

the tremulous shake

leaps with wing,

tail,

is

and

after alighting.

foot, all in time,

my

26. I have looked wholly in vain through all

books on

some account of the muscles it uses in hopping,


and of the part of the toes with which the spring is given.
I must leave you to find out that for yourselves it is a little
bit of anatomy which I think it highly desirable for you to
know, but which it is not my business to teach you. Only

birds, to find

observe, this is the point to be


selves,

with the toe

and

made

out.

ball of the foot

You

leap your-

but, in that

power of

you lose the faculty of grasp on the contrary, with


your hands, you grasp as a bird with its feet. But you cannot hop on your hands.
A cat, a leopard, and a monkey, leap
leaping,

or grasp with equal ease

but the action of their paws in leap-

16
ing

is,

I imagine, from the fleshy ball of the foot

the bird, characteristically


to

while in

ya/Ai/^ww^, this

fleshy ball is reduced

and the

nails are elongated

a boss or series of bosses,

nor does the springing power seem to


depend on the development of the bosses. They are far more
developed in an eagle than a robin but you know how unpardonably and preposterously awkward an eagle is when he
into sickles or horns

hops.

When

runs,

and digs

they are most of

no time

27. I have

ankle
real,

all

developed, the bird walks,

well, but leaps badly.


to

speak of the various forms of the

more apparent than


by which the foot and ankle are protected. The use
itself,

or of the scales of armor,

of this lecture

is

not either to describe or to exhibit these

awaken your attention to the real


when you have a bird's foot to draw,
you may do so with intelligence and pleasure, knowing
whether you want to express force, grasp, or firm ground
pressure, or dexterity and tact in motion.
And as the actions
of the foot and the hand in man are made by every great
varieties to you, but so to

points of character, that,

painter perfectly expressive of the character of mind, so the


expressions of rapacity, cruelty, or force of seizure, in the

harpy, the gryphon, and the hooked and clawed evil spirits
of early religious art, can only be felt by extreme attention
to the original

28.

form.

And now

I return to our

breast to answer,

thing about

it

''

What

already

is

that

main

question, for the robin's


? "
You know some-

a feather

it is

composed of a quill, with its


more or less, in a

lateral filaments terminating generally,

point; that these extremities of the quills, lying over each

wind and rain to


them with the least possible resistance, and form
a protection alike from the heat and the cold which, in structure much resembling the scale-armor assumed by man for
other like the tiles of a house, allow the

pass over

very different objects, is, in fact, intermediate, exactly,


between the fur of beasts and the scales of fishes having the
minute division of the one, and the armor-like symmetry and
;

succession of the other.

I
IH

t.

Xot merely symmetry,

29.

^Feathers
rain
j

'

THE

ROBIIT.

lY

observe, but extreme flatness.

wind with
They are fur,

are smoothed down, as a field of corn by

only the swathes laid in beautiful order.

so structurally placed as to imply,

In

petually swift forward motion.

Darwinian theory on the subject


once stuck

up

all erect, like

is

and submit to, the perI have no doubt the

fact,

that the feathers of birds

the bristles of a brush, and have

only been blown

flat by continual flying.


Nay, we might even sufiiciently represent the general manner of conclusion in the Darwinian system by the statement
that if you fasten a hair-brush to a mill-wheel, with the
handle forward, so as to develop itself into a neck by moving
always in the same direction, and within continual hearing of

number of

a steam-whistle, after a certain

hair-brush will fall in love with the whistle

revolutions the

they will marry,

lay an egg, and the produce will be a nightingale.


30. Whether,

feather or not,

however, a hog's bristle can turn into a


it is

vital that

you should know the present

difference between them.

The

you that a feather is comand the shaft.


But the common-sense method of stating the matter is
that a feather is composed of two parts, a shaft with lateral filaments.
For the greater part of the shaft's length,
these filaments are strong and nearly straight, forming, by
their attachment, a finely warped sail, like that of a windscientific

people will

posed of three parts

tell

the down, the laminae,

mill.
But towards the root of the feather they suddenly become weak, and confusedly flexible, and form the close down

which immediately protects the bird's body.


To show you the typical arrangement of these parts, I
choose, as I have said, the robin because, both in his power
of flying, and in his color, he is a moderate and balanced
;

bird

not turned

into nothing but wings, like a swallow, or

nothing but neck and

There

tail, like

a peacock.

And

first

for his

one of the long feathers of robin's


wing, and here (Fig. 1) the analysis of its form.
flying power.

is

LOVERS MEINIE.

18

31, Pirst, in pure outline (a), seen

from above,

nearly a long oval, but with this peculiarity, that


were, projecting shoulders at a 1 and a

you

to observe this, in passing, because

it

it is

very

has, as

it

1 merely desire

2.

one usually thinks of

from the root to the point.


I have not time to-day to enter on any discussion of the
reason for it, which will appear when we examine the placing
of the wing feathers for their stroke.
Now, I hope you are getting accustomed to the general
method in which I give you the analysis of all forms leaf,
the contour as sweeping unbroken

First, the plan

or feather, or shell, or limb.

then the profile

then the cross-section.


Fig.
(Twice the

I.

size of reality,)

a 2

I take next, the profile of


find that

it is

my

feather (b, Fig. 1), and


is, but more

twisted as the sail of a windmill

you can always see the upper surface of


and the under at its end. Every primary wing-feather, in the fine flyers, is thus twisted and is
best described as a sail striking with the power of a cimeter,
distinctly, so that

the feather at

its root,

but with the

flat

instead of the edge.

you remember that on the edges of the broad


side of feathers you find always a series of undulations, irregularly sequent, and lapping over each other like waves on
sand. You might at first imagine that this appearance was
32. Further,

THE ROBIN.

19

to a slight ruffling or disorder of the filaments;

but

I.

owing
it is

entirely normal, and, I doubt not, so constructed, in order

redundance of material in the plume, so that no


wind may leave a gap anywhere.
How this redundance is obtained you will see in a moment
by bending any feather the wrong way. Bend, for instance,
this plume, b. Fig. 2, into the reversed curve, a. Fig. 2 then
all the filaments of the plume become perfectly even, and
there are no waves at the edge.
But let the plume return
into its proper form, b, and the tissue being now contracted
into a smaller space, the edge waves are formed in it instantly.
Hitherto, I have been speaking only of the filaments
to insure a

accident or pressure from

arranged for the strength and continuity of the energetic


plume they are entirely different when they are set together
After the feather of the
for decoration instead of force.
;

robin's wing, let us

examine one from his

breast.

I said, just now, he might be at once outshone

by a
day before yesterday, sleeping at
Lichfield, and seeing, the first thing when I woke in the
morning, (for I never put down the blinds of my bedroom
windows,) the not uncommon sight in an English country
town of an entire house-front of very neat, and very flat, and
very red bricks^ with very exactly squared square windows
33.

brickbat.

Indeed,

the

20
in it; and not feeling myself in anywise gratified or improved by the spectacle, I was thinking how in this, as in all

other good, the too

much

destroyed

The breadth of

all.

robin's breast in brick-red is delicious, but a whole house-

front of brick-red as vivid,

is

alarming.

And

yet one cannot

generalize even that trite moral with any safety

breadth of green

and of sea or

sky,

is

delightful,

however green

for infinite

however blue.

You must

note, however, that the robin's

charm

is

greatly

helped by the pretty space of gray plumage which separates


the red from the brown back, and sets it off to its best advantage.

There

is

no great brilliancy in

only the finish of


34. If

it is

you separate

it,

even so relieved;

exquisite.

a single feather,

you

will find

it

more

like a transparent hollow shell than a feather (so delicately

rounded the surface of it), gray at the root, where the down
is,
tinged, and only tinged, with red at the part that overlaps and is visible so that, when three or four more feathers
have overlapped it again, all together, with their joined red,
are just enough to give the color determined upon, each of
them contributing a tinge. There are about thirty of these
glowing filaments on each side, (the whole being no larger
across than a well-grown currant,) and each of these is itself
another exquisite feather, with central quill and lateral webs,
whose filaments are not to be counted.
The extremity of these breast plumes parts slightly into
two, as you see in the peacock's, and many other such decorative ones.
The transition from the entirely leaf-like shape
of the active plume, wdth its oblique point, to the more or
less symmetrical dualism of the decorative plume, corresponds
with the change from the pointed green leaf to the dual, or

heart-shaped, petal of

many

flowers.

I shall return to this

part of our subject, having given you, I believe, enough of


detail for the present.

mythology of the
though I told you that would always be, for us, the most
important part of its natural history. But I am obliged,
35. I have said nothing to-day of the

bird,

I.

sometimes, to take what

we

THE KOBIN.

21

we immediately want,

rather than

In the second place,


you probably, most of you, know more of the mythology of

what, ultimately,

shall

need

chiefly.

the robin than I do, for the stories about

it

are all northern,

and I know scarcely any myths but the Italian and Greek.
You will find under the name ^' Robin," in Miss Yonge's
exhaustive and admirable " History of Christian Barnes,"
the various titles of honor and endearment connected with
him, and with the general idea of redness,
from the bishop
called " Bright Red Fame," who founded the first great
Christian church on the Rhine, (I am afraid of your thinking I mean a pun, in connection with robins, if I tell you the
locality of it,) down through the Hoods, and Roys, and
Grays, to Robin Goodfellow, and Spenser's " Hobbinol," and
our modern " Hob," joining on to the " goblin," which
But I cannot let you
comes from the old Greek Ko^aXos.
go without asking you to compare the English and French
feeling about small birds, in Chaucer's time, with our own
on the same subject. I say English and French, because the
original French of the Romance of the Rose shows more
aiiection for birds than even Chaucer's translation, passionate as he is, always, in love for any one of his little winged
Look, however, either in the French or
brothers or sisters.
English at the description of the coming of the God of Love,
leading his carol-dance, in the garden of the Rose.
Llis dress is embroidered with figures of flowers and of
beasts but about him fly the living birds.
The French is

II etoit

De
De

tout couvert d'oisiaulx

rossignols et de

papegaux

calendre, et de mesangel.

semblait que ce fut une angle


Qui fuz tout droit venuz du ciel.

II

There are several points of philology in this transiand in Chaucer's translation, which it is well
worth your patience to observe. The monkish Latin " angelus^" you see, is passing through the very unpoetical form
36.

tional French,


22

love's meinie.

" angle/' into " ange

''

bird's

name,

^^

rhyme

but, in order to get a

witli it

French troubadour expands the

in that angular form, the

mesange," quite arbitrarily, into " mesangel."


liking the " mes " at the beginning of the

Then Chaucer, not

word, changes that unscrupulously into

''
arch '' and gathers
from another place about
the nightingales flying so close round Love's head that they
strike some of the leaves off his crown of roses; so that the

in,

though too shortly, a lovely

English runs thus

bit

But nightingales, a full great rout


That flien over his head about,
The leaves felden as they flien
And he was all with birds wrien,
With popinjay, with nightingale,
With chelaundre, and with wodewale,
With finch, with lark, and with archangel.

He seemed as he were an angell.


That down were comen from Heaven

clear.

^ow, when I first read this bit of Chaucer, without referring to the original, I was greatly delighted to find that there
was a bird in his time called an archangel, and set to work,
with brightly hopeful industry, to find out what it was.
I
was a little discomfited by finding that in old botany the
word only meant " dead-nettle," but was still sanguine about
my bird, till I found the French form descend, as you have
seen, into a mesangel, and finally into mesange, which is a
provincialism from fieiovy and means, the smallest of birds
or, specially here,
a titmouse.
I have seldom had a less
expected or more ignominious fall from the clouds.
37. The other birds, named here and in the previous

description of the garden, are introduced, as far as I can

judge, nearly at random, and with no precision of imagination like that of Aristophanes; but with a sweet childish

delight in crowding as
space.

The popinjay

of you to help

me

many

birds as possible into the smallest

always prominent; and I want some


(for I have not time at present for the
is

chase) in hunting the parrot

down on

his first appearance in

THE ROBIH.

I.

S3

Europe. Just at this particular time he contested favor even


with the falcon and I think it a piece of good fortune that I
chanced to draw for you, thinking only of its brilliant color,
the popinjay, which Carpaccio allows to be present on the
;

grave occasion of St. George's baptizing the princess and

her father.
38.

And, indeed,

as soon as the Christian poets begin to

speak of the singing of the birds, they show themselves in


quite a different

mood from any

with

Aristophanes,

that ever occurs to a Greek.

more

infinitely

describes,

skill,

and

partly imitates, the singing of the nightingale; but simply


It " fills the thickets with honey ; " and
as beautiful sound.
if in the

often-quoted

of Greek literature

ment

is

just because

it is

not characteristic

passage of the Coloneus, a deeper senti-

shown, that feeling

is

dependent on association of

the bird-voices with deeply pathetic circumstances.

But

this

troubadour finds his heart in heaven by the power of the


singing only
:

Trop parfoisaient beau servise


Ciz oiselles que je vous devise.
II cliantaient un chant ytel

Com

f ussent

angle esperitel.

We want a moment more of word-chasing to enjoy this.


" Oiseau," as you know, comes from " avis '' but it had at
;

this time got

^'

oisel

''

for

its

singular number, of which the

terminating " sel '' confused itself with the " selle," from
" ancilla " in domisella and demoiselle and the feminine
form " oiselle '' thus snatched for itself some of the delight;

fulness belonging to the


that " esperitel

cause

all

''

title

of a

does not here

young

Then note

lady.

mean merely

spiritual,

(be-

angels are spiritual) but an " angle esperitel " is


air.
So that, in English, we could only
meaning in some such fashion as this

an angel of the
express the

They

perfected

all

their service of love,

These maiden birds that I tell you of.


They sang such a song, so jQnished-fair,
As if they were angels, born of the air.

24

love's meinie.

39. Such were the fancies, then, and the scenes, in which
Englishmen took delight in Chaucer's time. England was
then a simple country we boasted, for the best kind of riches,
our birds and trees, and our wives and children. We had
now grown to be a rich one; and our first pleasure is in
shooting our birds; but it has become too expensive for us
Lord Derby, whose crest is the eagle and
to keep our trees.
child
you will find the northern name for it, the bird and
bantling, made classical by Scott
is the first to propose that
wood-birds should have no more nests.
We must cut down
;

all our trees, he says, that we may effectively use the steamplow; and the effect of the steam-plow, I find by a recent

article in the Cornhill

Magazine^

is

that an English laborer

must not any more have a nest, nor bantlings, neither; but
may only expect to get on prosperously in life, if he be perfectly skillful, sober, and honest, and dispenses, at least until
he

is

forty -five, with the " luxury of marriage."

40. Gentlemen,

for

making no

you may perhaps have heard me blamed

effort here to teach in the artisans' schools.

But I can only say

that, since the

laborer or artisan

(summing

philosophy and economy)

is to

future life of the English

the benefits to

him

of recent

be passed in a country without

angels and without birds, without prayers and without songs,

without trees and without flowers, in a state of exemplary


sobriety, and (extending the Catholic celibacy of the clergy
into celibacy of the laity) in a state of dispensation with the
luxury of marriage, I do not believe he will derive either
profit or entertainment from lectures on the Fine Arts.

LECTURE

IL*

THE SWALLOW.
41.

We

are to-day to take note of the

which gives us

artists call beauty,

form of a creature
what

singular example of the unity of

with the fineness of mechanical structure,


it.
You cannot but have noticed how

often mistaken for

during the years of my past professorship, I have introduced any questions as to the nature of beauty. I avoided
them, partly because they are treated of at length in my
books; and partly because they are, in the last degree, unpractical.
We are born to like or dislike certain aspects of
things; nor could I, by any arguments, alter the defined
little,

which you received at your birth, and which the surrounding circumstances of life have enforced, without any
possibility of your voluntary resistance to them.
And the
result of those surrounding circumstances, to-day, is that
most English youths would have more pleasure in looking at
a locomotive than at a swallow; and that many English
philosophers would suppose the pleasure so received to be
through a new sense of beauty.
But the meaning of the word
^'
beauty '' in the fine arts, and in classical literature, is properly restricted to those very qualities in which the locomotion
of a swallow differs from that of an engine.
42. 'Not only from that of an engine; but also from that
of animals, in whose members the mechanism is so complex
tastes

as to give

common

them

a resemblance to engines.

The

dart of the

house-fly, for instance, in full strength, is a

more

wonderful movement than that of a swallow. The mechanism of it is not only more minute, but the swiftness of the
* Delivered at Oxford,

25

May

2d, 1873.

26

love's meinie.

action so

much

greater, that the vibration of the

But though

wing

is

might prefer the locomotive to the swallow, he would not carry his admiration of
finely mechanical velocity into unqualified sympathy with the
workmanship of the God of Ekron; and would generally
suppose that flies were made only to be food for the more
graceful fly-catcher,
whose finer grace you will discover,
upon reflection, to be owing to the very moderation and simplicity of its structure, and to the subduing of that infinitude
of joints, claws, tissues, veins, and fibers which inconceivably
invisible.

a school-boy

vibrate in the microscopic * creature's motion, to a quite

and simple balance of rounded body upon edged


maintained not without visible, and sometimes
fatigued, exertion, and raising the lower creature into fellowship with the volition and the virtue of humanity.
43. With the virtue, I say, in an exceedingly qualified
sense meaning rather the strength and art displayed in overcoming difficulties, than any distinct morality of disposition.
The bird has kindly and homely qualities; but its principal
" virtue " for uSy is its being an incarnate voracity, and that
it moves as a consuming and cleansing power.
You sometimes hear it said of a humane person that they would not
kill a fly: from TOO to 1,000 flies a day are a moderate
allowance for a baby swallow.
44. Perhaps, as I say this, it may occur to some of you to
think, for the first time, of the reason of the bird's name.
For it is very interesting, as a piece of language study, to
consider the different power on our minds,
nay, the differintelligible

plume,

ent sweetness to the ear,

two

syllables receive,

verb.

Also, the

word

which, from

when
is

w^e

association, these

same

read them as a noun, or as a

a curious instance of the traps

are continually open for rash etymologists.

which

At fir'st, nothing
name should have

would appear more natural than that the


been given to the bird from its reckless function of devouring.
But if you look to your Johnson, you will find, to your better
* I

call it so

because the members and action of

the unaided eye.

it

cannot be seen with

II.

THE SWALLOW.

27

that the name means " bird of porticos," or


from
the Gothic " swale " ^^ subdivale,"
porches,
so that
in
thought as far as Virgil's, " Et nunc porticihe goes back
I^otice, in
bus vacuis, nunc humida circum, stagna sonat.''
passing, how a simile of Virgil's, or any other great master's,
will probably tell in two or more ways at once.
Juturna is
compared to the swallow, not merely as winding and turning
swiftly in her chariot, but as being a water-nymph by birth,
satisfaction,

''

Stagnis

many

quae,

fluminibusque

sonoris,

How

praesidet."

different creatures in one the swallow is

by birth, as
a Virgilian simile is many thoughts in one, it would take
many more lectures than one to show you clearly but I will
indicate them Avith such rough sketch as is possible.
45. It belongs, as most of you know, to a family of birds
;

called

Fissirostres,

or,

literally,

split-beaks.

Split

heads

would be a better term, for it is the enormous width of mouth


and power of gaping which the epithet is meant to express.
A dull sermon, for instance, makes half the congregation
^'
fissirostres."
The bird, however, is most vigilant when

mouth

it opens as a net to catch whatever


comes in its way, hence the French, giving the whole family
the more literal name, " Gobble-fly "
Gobe-mouche, extend
the term to the open-mouthed and too acceptant appearance

its

is

widest, for

of a simpleton.
46. Partly in order to provide for this width of mouth,

but more for the advantage in

flight, the head of the sw^allow


rounded into a bullet shape, and sunk down on the shoulders, with no neck whatever betw^een, so as to give nearly the
aspect of a conical rifle bullet to the entire front of the body
and, indeed, the bird moves more like a bullet than an arrow
dependent on a certain impetus of weight rather than on
sharp penetration of the air.
I say dependent on, but I have
not yet been able to trace distinct relation between the shapes
of birds and their powers of flight.
I suppose the form of
the body is first determined by the general habits and food,
and that nature can make any form she chooses volatile only
one point I think is always notable, that a complete master
is

LOVERS MEIl^IE.

of the art of flight must be short-necked, so that he turns


altogether, if he turns at

You

all.

don't expect a swallow to

look round a corner before he goes round

The main point

his chance.

himself, and turn, in a


47.

The

is

that he

it

may

he must take

be able to stop

moment.

stopping, on any terms,

difficult

is

enough

to

understand; nor less so, the original gaining of the pace.


We always think of flight as if the main difficulty of it were
only in keeping up in the air
but the buoyancy is conceiv;

more wonderful matter is the getting


along.
You find it hard work to row yourself at anything
like speed, though your impulse-stroke is given in a heavy
element, and your return-stroke in a light one.
But both in
birds and fishes, the impelling stroke and its return are in
the same element; and if, for the bird, that medium yields
easily to its impulses, it secedes as easily from the blow that
And if you think what an effort you make to leap
gives it.
able enough, the far

six feet,

with the earth for

fulcrum, the dart either of a

trout or a swallow, with no fulcrum but the water

and

air

they penetrate, will seem to you, I think, greatly marvelous.

Yet of the mode in which

accomplished you will as yet


any book on natural history,
as far as I know, definite notice even of the
What do you suppose it is ? We are apt to
it is

find no undisputed account in

and

scarcely,

rate of fiight.

think of the migration of a swallow, as


take him, if

Africa

How

we should

ourselves

you think, it would


he flew uninterruptedly, to get from here to

of a serious journey.

long, do

48. Michelet gives the rate of his flight (at full speed, of

course,) as eighty leagues an hour.

authority
still

how

I find no more sound

but do not doubt his approximate accuracy

curious and

how provoking

it is

that neither

* I wrote this some time ago, and the endeavors

*
;

White

have since made to

verify statements on points of natural history which I had taken on trust

have given
flight of tlie

me

reason to doubt everybody's accuracy.

swallow does

thing like this speed.

not, assuredly,

even

The ordinary

in the dashes, reach

any-

THE SWALLOW.

II.

29

word about

of Selborne, Bewick, Yarrell, nor Gould, says a


this,

one should have thought the most interesting, power

of the bird.'^

Taking

estimate

Michelet's

roughly two hundred and

eighty

fifty miles,

That

thousand miles in four hours.

is

Prench leagues,
an hour we have a
to say, leaving Devon-

shire after an early breakfast, he could be in Africa to limch.

49.

there

He

could, I say, if his flight

much

is

mony seems

definite that

"

fatiguable of birds.

Yarrell)

^'

were constant but though


;

sum of testiamong the most

inconsistency in the accounts, the


the swallow

When

is

the weather

is

hazy," (I quote

they will alight on fishing-boats a league or two

when any one tries to catch them,


from one end of the boat to the other."
I have no time to read to you the interesting evidence on
this point given by Yarrell, but only that of the brother of
White of Selborne, at Gibraltar. " My brother has always
found," he himself writes, " that some of his birds, and parfrom

land, so tired that

they can scarcely

fly

ticularly the swallow kind, are very sparing of their pains

in crossing the Mediterranean


tar,

they do not

'

for

set forth their airy

but scout and hurry along in

seven in a company

little

when

arrived at Gibral-

caravan, high over seas,'

detached parties of six or

and sweeping low, just over the surface

of the land and water, direct their course to the opposite

continent at the narrowest passage they can find."


50.

You

will observe, however, that it remains

question whether this fear of sea


like ours of the desert.

may

an open

not be, in the swallow,

The commissariat department is a


day when

serious one for birds that eat a thousand flies a

just out of the egg;

swallows at sea

and

it is

possible that the weariness of

may depend much more on

fasting than flying.


Captain (or Admiral?) Sir Charles Wager says that "one
spring-time, as he came into soundings in the English Channel, a great flock of swallows came and settled on all his

rigging

every rope was covered

they

hung on one another

* Incidentally suggestive sentences occur in the history of Selborne,

but

its

author never comes to the point, in this case.

move's MEmiE.

30

swarm of bees even the decks were filled with them.


They seemed almost famished and spent, and were only

like a

feathers and bone; but, being recruited with a night's rest,

took their flight in the morning.''


51.
is

Now

I detain you on this point somewhat, because

intimately connected with a more important one.

you we should learn from the swallow what

Few

other birds approach

And

power.

him

in the beauty of

yet, after all this care

wing was.

it,

it

I told

or apparent

taken about

it,

he gets

and instead of flying, as we should do in his place, all


over the world, and tasting the flavor of the midges in every
marsh which the infinitude of human folly has left to breed
gnats instead of growing corn,
he is of all birds, charactertired;

istically,

at

except

when he

absolutely can't help

home; and contentedly lodges himself and

it,

the stayer

his family in

an old chimney, when he might be flying all over the world.


At least you would think, if he built in an English chimney
this year, he would build in a French one next
But no.
Michelet prettily says of him, " He is the bird of return."
If you will only treat him kindly, year after year, he comes
back to the same niche, and to the same hearth, for his nest.
To the same niche; and builds himself an opaque walled
Think of this a little, as if you heard
house within that.
of

for the first time.

it

52.

Suppose you had never seen a swallow; but that

its

general habit of life had been described to you, and you had

been asked, how you thought such a bird would build its
A creature, observe, whose life is to be passed in the
nest.
air whose beak and throat are shaped with the fineness of a
net for the catching of gnats; and whose feet, in the most
;

perfect of the species, are so feeble that

it is

called the Foot-

less Swallow, and cannot stand a moment on the ground wdth


Of all land birds, the one that has least to do with
comfort.

the earth

of

all,

the least disposed, and the least able, to stop

to pick anything up.

we

should say,

like

flies.

What

will

it

build with

thistledown,anything

it

?
Gossamer,
can catch floating,

THE SWALLOW.

II.

But

it

53.

And

builds with

observe

would think, by
but of

its

stiff clay.

its

the openest field

its

it

would be an agony
at the sight of a

And

its

chosen place for building

play in the

all creatures, it

You would fancy

31

air, that

also.

not only of

You

all birds,

most delighted in space and freedom.

notion of the place for a nest would be

could find
to it

that

that anything like confinement

it

would almost expire of horror

black hole.

favorite

home

is

down

a chimney.

your hearth's sake, nor for your company's.


The bird will love you if you treat it
kindly; is as frank and friendly as bird can be; but it does
It comes to your
not, more than others, seek your society.
house because in no wild wood, nor rough rock, can it find a
cavity close enough to please it. It comes for the blessedness
of imprisonment, and the solemnity of an unbroken and constant shadow, in the tower, or under the eaves.
Do you suppose that this is part of its necessary economy,
and that a swallow could not catch flies unless it lived in
54. ]^ot for

Do

not think

a hole

Not

it.

so.

This instinct

another race of creatures.

is

part of

It

is

its

brotherhood with

given to complete a mesh

in the reticulation of the orders of life.


55. I have, already given

that

you should

you several reasons for

retain, in classifying birds, the

now

my

wish

rejected

I am going to read you a passage from


which
shows you what difiiculties one may get
Humboldt,
into for want of it.
You will find in the second volume of his personal narrative, an account of the cave of Caripe in New Andalusia,
which is inhabited by entirely nocturnal birds, having the
gaping mouths of the goat-sucker and the swallow, and yet
feeding on fruit.
Unless, which Mr. Humboldt does not tell us, they sit
under the trees outside, in the night time, and hold their
mouths open, for the berries to drop into, there is not the
smallest occasion for their having wide mouths, like swallows.
order of Picae.

32

love's meinie.

Still less is there

any need, since they are fruit

eaters, for

their living in a cavern 1,500 feet out of daylight.

They

have only, in consequence, the trouble of carrying in the


seeds to feed their young, and the floor of the cave is thus
covered, by the seeds they let fall, with a growth of unfortunate pale plants, which have never seen day.
N^ay, they
are not even content with the darkness of their cave; but
build their nests in the funnels with which the roof of the
grotto

is

pierced like a sieve; live actually in the chimney,

not of a house, but of an Egyptian sepulcher

The

color of

remarkable taste in lodging, Humboldt tells


us, is " of dark bluish-gray, mixed with streaks and specks
of black. Large white spots, which have the form of a heart,
and which are bordered with black, mark the head, the wings,
and the tail. The spread of the wings, which are composed
this bird, of so

of seventeen or eighteen quill feathers,


half.

is

three feet and a

Suppressing, with Mr. Cuvier, the order of Picae, w^e

must refer

this extraordinary bird to the Sparrows.'^

We

can only suppose that it must be, to our popular


what
the swallow of the cinnamon country is to our
sparrows,
56.

subordinate swallow.

lows of Herodotus,

Do you
who

recollect the

cinnamon swal-

build their mud-nests in the faces

of the cliffs where Dionusos was brought up, and where


nobody can get near them and how the cinnamon merchants
fetch them joints of meat, which the unadvised birds, flying
up to their nests with, instead of cinnamon, nest and all
come down together, the original of Sindbad's valley-ofdiamond story ?
57. Well, Humboldt is reduced, by necessities of recent
classification, to call a bird three feet and a half across the
wings, a sparrow.
I have no right to laugh at him, for I am
just going, myself, to call the cheerfulest and brightest of
All these architectural and sepulbirds of the air, an owl.
chral habits, these Egyptian manners of the sand-martin,
digging caves in the sand, and border-trooper's habits of the
chimney swallow, living in round towers instead of open air,
belonging to them as connected with the tribe of th^ falcons
;

II.

THE SWALLOW.

33

through the owls! and not only so, but with the mammalia
A swallow is an emancipated owl, and a
through the bats
never forgets its fellowship with night.
it
but
glorified bat
fellowship,
I had nearly written so natural
ancient
58. Its
!

is it to think of these similarly-minded creatures, when the


feelings that both show are evidently useless to one of them,

as if the inferior

had changed into the higher.

of development seems at

first to

the scream of consent with

explain

which

it

all so

The

doctrine

pleasantly, that

has been accepted by

men

of science, and the shriller vociferation of the public's gre-

garious applause, scarcely permit you the power of antagonistic reflection.

I must justify to-day, in graver tone than

which I have hitherto spoken,


have been thought with less than the due respect
audience,
of the popular theory.
usual, the terms in

59.

it

to

may

my

Supposing that the octohedrons of galena, of gold, and

of oxide of iron, were endowed with powers of reproduction,

and perished at appointed dates of dissolution or solution,


you would without any doubt have heard it by this time
asserted that the octohedric form, which was common to all,
indicated their descent from a common progenitor; and it
would have been ingeniously explained to you how the
angular offspring of this eight-sided. ancestor had developed
themselves, by force of circumstances, into their distinct
metallic perfections; how the galena had become gray and
brittle under prolonged subterranean heat, and the gold yellow and ductile, as it was rolled among the pebbles of ambercolored streams.
60.

By

the denial to these structures of any individually

reproductive energy, you are forced to accept the inexplicable

(and why expect

it

to

be otherwise than inexplicable?) fact,

of the formation of a series of bodies having very similar


aspects, qualities, and chemical relations to other substances,
which yet have no connection whatever with each other, and
are governed, in their relation with their native rocks, by
entirely arbitrary laws.
It has been the pride of modern
cheinistry to extricate herself from the vanity of the alchem-

34
ist,

j^ove's meinie.

and

with resignation, the independent, thougn


silver, of lead, of platinum,
potassium.
Hence, a rational philosophy

to admit,

apparently fraternal, natures, of

aluminium,

would deduce the probability that when the arborescence of


dead crystallization rose into the radiation of the living tree,
and sentient plume, the splendor of nature in her more
exalted power would not be restricted to a less variety of
design; and the beautiful caprice in which she gave to the
silver its frost and to the opal its fire, would not be subdued
under the slow influences of accident and time, when she
wreathed the swan with snow, and bathed the dove in iridesThat the infinitely more exalted powers of life must
cence.
exercise more intimate influence over matter than the reckless
forces of cohesion
and that the loves and hatreds of the
now conscious creatures would modify their forms into
parallel beauty and degradation, we might have anticipated
by reason, and we ought long since to have known by observation.
But this law of its spirit over the substance of the
;

creature involves, necessarily, the indistinctness of

its

type,

and the existence of inferior and of higher conditions, which


whole eras of heroism and affection whole eras of misery
and misconduct, confirm into glory, or confuse into shame.
Collecting the causes of changed form, in lower creatures, by
distress, or by adaptation,
by the disturbance or intensifying of the parental strength, and the native fortune the
wonder is, not that species should sometimes be confused, but
that the greater number of them remain so splendidly, so
manifestly, so eternally distinct and that the vile industries
and vicious curiosities of modern science, while they have
robbed the fields of England of a thousand living creatures,
have not created in them one,
61. But even in the paltry knowledge we have obtained,
what unanimity have we ? what security ? Suppose any
man of ordinary sense, knowing the value of time, and the
relative importance of subjects of thought, and that the whole
scientific world was agog concerning the origin of species,
what was meant by a species.
desired to know first of all


II.

THE SWALLOW.

S5

I^^Rn
He

would naturally look for the definition of species first


among the higher animals, and expect it to be best defined
And being referred for
in those which were best known.
satisfaction to the 226th page of the first volume of Mr.
Darwin's " Descent of Man," he would find this passage
" Man has been studied more carefully than any other
organic being, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity
among capable judges, whether he should be classed as a
single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon),
seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two
(Morton), sixty (Crawford), or as sixty-three according to
:

Burke.''

And

men

in the meantime, while your

of science are thus

vacillating, in the definition of the species of the only

animal

they have the opportunity of studying inside and out, between

one and sixty-three; and disputing about the origin, in past


ages, of

what they cannot define

in the present ones;

and

deciphering the filthy heraldries which record the relation of

humanity

to the ascidian

and the

crocodile,

you have ceased


man, ever-

utterly to distinguish between the two species of

more separate by infinite separation of whom the one, capable


of loyalty and of love, can at least conceive spiritual natures
which have no taint from their own, and leave behind them,
:

diffused

among thousands on

earth, the happiness they never

hoped, for themselves, in the skies

and the

other, capable

only of avarice, hatred, and shame, wdio in their lives are the

companions of the swine, and leave in death nothing but food


for the worm and th