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for the purpose of conjuring the unhappy and useless strife betwixt Republicanism and Monarchism, between Separatists and Unionists ? Is there nothing Norwegians could learn from the three principal nations of Europe ?

I think there is. By introducing universal military service (of a lighter description, of course, than in Germany but yet of a more serious kind than the one prevailing in Norway at present) they might perhaps learn that subordination of the individual will and pleasure to the good of the State which is the characteristic trait of the present generation of Germans. From the French they might adopt those excellent school manuals by which an understanding of the social, political, and legal institutions of the country, and of the first principles of political economy, is inculcated; by which respect for age, intelligence, and experience, regard for all classes of society, love for high and low, are encouraged, and by which, in short, morals and patriotism are taught to the young and impressionable. From England they may learn that even so imaginative and bewitching an orator, so brilliant a writer, and so excellent an individual, as Mr. Björnstjerne Björnson must not be listened to, if his creed is utopian, if what he preaches is unwise.

Two years ago you might have divided intellectual people in England into three groups—those who were of opinion that popular government in its actual shape had collapsed, or that it was collapsing, or that it was in some danger of collapsing. That moment was chosen by certain politicians for recommending the very same form of government as a remedy for the ills of Ireland. In 1888 sensible men in Norway are probably hesitating between three similar standpoints. But Mr. Björnson, the poet, recommends separation and transformation of a constitutional monarchy into a republic. We invite him to study Mr. John Dillon's speech at Oxford (on the 28th of November 1887), where the Home Rule orator is reported to have said : 'A good executive is fully as important as good laws.'




THERE is no century, we may safely say, in which the fine arts have been so much talked of and analysed as ours; none in which they have become so widely familiar; none, perhaps, in which, so far as diffusion and expenditure go, they have been more largely encouraged. We hear our age spoken of as the age of science, of standing armies, of democracy, of commerce, of scepticism. Might we not, with equal truth, call it the age of art-exhibitions ?

Last August I happened to visit Conway, in North Wales. That little town is one of the richest in England for its architectural antiquities. But what Conway was most proud of at the moment was not its famous castle, its picturesque town-walls and church, but a choice exhibition of modern pictures, English and foreign, which had just been set up in the town-house.

And the picture which justly stood first and foremost in public interest was no other than that splendid Florentine Procession, the first great work of Sir F. Leighton, which had been sent all the way to Wales from the Palace by our always gracious Queen. That charming work, every one remembers, shows how the great Madonna picture, by the old Tuscan artist Cimabue, was carried in state and triumph six hundred years ago through Florence to the church where it still hangs; and how the delight of the people in its beauty gave the name of Joyful’-not yet effaced, after the wretched practice of France and Italy, in favour of some hero of the hour—to the street through which it passed. Here was a curious analogy. Cimabue's youthful masterpiece six centuries ago delighted Florence: Leighton's was today the pride of Conway. An analogy there was, but, I felt, a difference also :—the modern spectator came to enjoy, where the mediaeval crowd came to reverence.

Art, in short, it is a mere truism to say, is one of the popular indispensable pleasures of our time; 'its loveliness increases,' as the poet says; and with this increased sense of its loveliness, many voices authoritatively assure us that its influence over the mind of man increases also. Art humanizes, art educates, art elevates, we often hear. To take a word which every one uses and no one can define, Culture finds in art one of its most powerful aids and instruments. Hence we have that little school of writers in whose creed art is the

principal agent to train, refine, and comfort our souls in these disquieted days of noise, and doubt, and distraction. The chief evangelist of this aesthetic church is the many-gifted Goethe, whom Matthew Arnold, in some beautiful lines, describes as vexed by the conflicts and perplexities of life, and saying to himself, in a sort of wearied scepticism,

Art still has truth, take refuge there! And although this dilettante doctrine, it must be feared, has hitherto proved decidedly too refined and rarified for the English mind, yet we must be very philosophic, or very Philistine (as the phrase goes), to deny that the diffusion of art by exhibitions, and cheap reproductions, and criticisms of all kinds, is a true gain in modern life. We learn

Ist we enjoy. But of this, hereafter. It is, however, beyond contradiction that modern art, contemporary art, is what mainly exercises this beneficent power. The same is true of literature. The writers of our own time are immensely-may we not venture to say disproportionately?—the writers by whom we are most led and moulded. The master-spirits of old govern only a fractional, a daily decreasing minority. So in art : compare the scanty, the often listless wanderers through the Museum or the National Gallery with the animated throngs of every annual exhibition ; like the Athenians of old, in their weaker day, crying out always for new things, and worshipping ugliness itself, if it be only clothed in the colours of a specious originality.'

How far, then, does the fine art of our own day, not only here, but in Europe and America generally, answer to this pressing demand for it? The common answer, the accepted and popular answer, will be that the fine arts have shared, indisputably and liberally, in that general advance of which we all boast, and that if we cannot exactly name the Phidias or the Michel Angelo, the Raphael, Titian, or Turner of the hour, yet that in some other equally important province of these arts, or at any rate by virtue of numbers and of diffusion, our art stands on a level with past generations. For quantity, in the modern world, and especially in that Transatlantic world which is rapidly outgrowing us all, assumes to itself daily the supremacy over quality. Thus every year at the famous Exhibition feast of our own Royal Academy some leading and eloquent voice proclaims our own special advance in the fine arts, and from every other great civilized people does the same animating proclamation go forth. Whatever clouds and doubtings may overhang the national horizon, here, at least, we all seem to be agreed : here France and England, America, Germany, and Italy all congratulate themselves in chorus. This doctrine of the fourishing state, of the widening influence of the

'The influence over the soul exerted by art is here in question; and to this but little, I fear, has been added by the many excellent works devoted to its historical development which recent years have supplied.

fine arts in the modern world, has, in fact, everything to recommend itself in our eyes; it is just what we all wish for,-if it only be true. Yet that, despite all agreeable appearances, it is far from the truth —that it is true, rather, only in a quite limited sense—is the reluctant conviction to which the long history of art compels me. The decline seems written in large letters, whether we look to the work of past centuries, either as described by trustworthy contemporary records, and revealed by existing remains, or to the undeniable results and tendencies of modern civilization. And, unpopular and paradoxical as the thesis may appear at first sight, yet I think it will be found to rest largely upon facts-almost upon truisms—which are commonly accepted, but which we do not care to carry to their legitimate and, indeed, inevitable conclusions.

As my subject both covers a great space in time, and is complex also in itself, it will be convenient to begin with an outline, which, within my narrow limits, I shall then try to fill in. By the fine arts I here mean sculpture and painting alone-often, though not quite satisfactorily, described as the plastic arts, or arts of design. Poetry, of all fine arts the finest and most important, I omit; she has a history of her own, which stands in no close or essential relation to the history of painting and sculpture. Music, now so widely impressing the world, just when there is almost a pause in her creative power, in its modern form has had a career too brief and too indefinable to be dwelt on ; whilst Architecture is so controlled by practical necessities, so eclectic in its character, that it would not be possible here to deal with it.

Sculpture and painting have had three great periods among the European races, to which, I should also add, my essay is of necessity nearly confined.? To define them roughly, these are: the Greek, say for the six hundred years before Christ; the Mediaeval and Renaissance, 1250 to 1550; and the Modern, in which Flanders, Holland, France, and England have hitherto been conspicuous.

Again: it is essential to bear in mind that these arts have each two main provinces or functions: the one, the inventive and intellectual, to which all independent works in sculpture and painting belong; the other, the decorative or applied, which embraces all ornament of public buildings or private houses, glass, pottery, jewellery, furniture, and the like. And one sure sign of a high and healthy art-period has always been that these two functions existed together. Excellence and invention in intellectual art have met with parallel advance in decorative art. Another such sign is, that their provinces are kept generally separate-ornament satisfied to be simply ornament; intellectual art never lapsing into decoration.

Further, it will be generally admitted that success in the fine

2 Oriental art, however, from India eastward, if its present state be truly reported, would only form another chapter in this history of a decline and fall.'

arts is, primarily, a matter of gift to certain races. The true painter and sculptor, like the true poet, in the common phrase is born, not made; or rather he is only makeable, because he has been born such ; whilst in the vast majority of cases he will also be born amongst the races which have the power, and where the general atmosphere is favourable to his art. Now history shows that this primary, all-essential gift in its force and fulness, in its creative capacity, has been very rare. In the early world it belonged, under the limitations of their age, to the Egyptians and Assyrians; then, by common consent, to the Greek races, above, indeed far above, all others; then to Mediaeval Italy. Hence, when the originative power of these nations was exbausted, their art, whether intellectual or decorative, in both of which they excelled, speaking in a broad way, came to an end. In the third period, special gifts--precious indeed, yet of distinctly smaller weight and influence-have been scattered in turn amongst the Western civilized races. Each has shown some power ; each boasts of a school. But the spontaneous, inborn impulse is progressively giving place to "cosmopolitan’ art. School now imitates school, as a man learns a foreign language. Education, which of old trained instinct, now tends rapidly to replace it. And decorative art becomes meanwhile only a modification or a copy of the classical and mediaeval inventions.

My contention, then, is that, whether we look at the excellence of the works produced, or at the abundance of them, or at their influence on the mind of man, we have strong reason to infer that the fine arts, taking a broad view, have been in a state of constant, inevitable, and natural decline from a time so far back as the beginning of the Christian era; from the death, in fact, of the original Greek impulse. For against this decline Italian art seems to me to be a brilliant indeed, but brief and limited reaction ; whilst that of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which forms a sort of transition stage to the art of our own century, with our modern schools themselves, exhibit a declension of their own, not less marked, although different in circumstances and character.

If the view here taken of the history of art be correct, the decline before us has been fourfold :

First : In the field of inventive and intellectual art the world (confessedly) no longer produces work which can be set by Greek sculpture or Italian painting, in their rendering of the highest human interests, and the power and beauty with which they were rendered. Despite the general assertions of advance already noticed, this supremacy of Greek and Italian art, at once in idea and in execution, not only is avowed by all serious judges, but is almost a truism in popular acceptance.

Secondly: No sculpture or painting during the last three centuries, speaking, generally again, has attained that deep hold over

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