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charity of Mrs Jameson, who, gone has shown us what a magnificent to the soul's rest, now realises her use has been made of art, and how own prophetic vision, that poetry it may still be adapted to good and and art and true religion are but glorious purposes, if, while we rethe varying aspects of one and spect these time-consecrated forms the same divine reality. As in the and types, we do not allow them realms of nature the sky above to fetter us, but trust in the proand the water beneath mingle at gressive spirit of Christianity to the horizon, so in the mind's hori- furnish us with new impersonations zon do the art which is born of of the good,-new combinations of earth and the religion that is re- the beautiful.” vealed from heaven join at the point Mrs Jameson's mind was catholic of distance where the soft atmo- in the true sense in which Christian sphere of poetry suffuses the harsh- art is catholic and not sectarian : ness of a too near outline. It was this it was many-sided, as was the insight into the higher and distant genius of those painters who illusrelations of a wide-stretching sub trated and adorned the Bible narject which gave to the criticisms rative; it took the wide range of of Mrs Jameson peculiar value and vision which includes within its charm. By intuition of intellect sweep universal religion, and it was and through womanly sympathy able thus to recognise in all noble of heart she felt the spark art the aspirations of the mind which had given to arts, however heavenwards. Few persons have ancient and effete, their original been better fitted for the work fire. While others were ready in which they found their hands with the asperity belonging to con- occupied and few writers intracted intellects to cavil at minor deed have been so fortunate in and accidental tlaws, she, in the ex- the times wherein their labours ercise of master power, could grasp were cast. Mrs Jameson was in a work in its integrity and essence. the possession of rare literary pow. Thus among the historians of art ers, and had attained considerable she is known as one of the most art knowledge, just when a field, catholic and tolerant. Without the hitherto little tilled, gave promise surrender of any principle to which of harvest. The arts of the middle enlightened conscience owes alle ages, save in the later development giance, she could, with a simple of the renaissance, had been reputed earnestness which ofttimes rose to little else than barbarous, the works eloquence, plead the cause of an of the early painters and sculptors art sometimes frail and erring, and had no value in the mart of Europe, make apology for painters who may when the time came for one of those have given offence to over-plain and reactions which often completely replodding though well-meaning peo- verse the previous current of men's ple. She had courage on fitting oc- tastes. And no sooner does a new casion to denounce the “narrow pu- love take possession of the mind ritanical jealousy which holds the than even reason lends herself the monuments of a real and earnest faith willing slave to inordinate desire. in contempt;" and again, she had Suddenly all that was medieval shafts of ridicule for our over-zeal- became coveted, and with the ous ancestors “ who chopped off the fond eye of affection personal heads of Madonnas and saints, and defects shone as beauties in dispaid vagabonds to smash the storied guise. A saint seemed all the windows of our cathedrals.” “I more solemn because of the sehate the destructive as I revere the verity of his features and the progressive spirit.” “We ought,” stiff outline of his bodily frame. continues Mrs Jameson, " to com- Then it was that the rage grew prehend and to hold in due re- fierce, and the competition intense verence that which has once been for every remnant of Christian art: consecrated to holiest aims, which ivories were collected, missals co
pied, old panels purchased, rude ment, the rough clay moulds and carvings and terra cottas brought mellows into living form, which into museums, all to serve as illus- stands out in bold and clear relief. trations of the rise and progress of For the task of art-critic she was, those arts which adorned medieval as we have said, singularly well Christianity, and had sprung as endowed. To her was given the flowers at the feet of saints, and poet's insight, which perceives the around the graves of martyrs. latent signs of beauty, a delicate
This newly-begotten joy in the sensibility to harmonies that often discovery of treasures long locked slumber unheeded, beauties that up soon passed from its incipient breathe into life as the spirit of art wonder to the more rational stage awakes. This it is which enables of serious and strict inquiry. The the truth-seeking student to rejoice student required to know what over the birth of Christian art, even themes served the middle-age ar- when, like its divine Master, it, as tist for subjects; what characters yet, is bound in swaddling-clothes, crowded the canvass, and what his- and lying in a manger : this it is tories and traditions passed from which baptises the critic in the the Church and the cloister into waters of peace and of charity, the painter's studio. Just at this which opens his eye and attunes time, when the traveller wander- his ear to the simplest forms of ing through galleries, the pilgrim symmetry, and the faintest whispers walking to shrines, as well as of melody, so that the fair creations the quiet reader and thinker stay- of art stretch before his view, even ing at home, were seeking for in- as the fields of nature, or the trees struction, yet knew not where of the forest, whereon the dews fall, it was to be found, Mrs Jameson the sun shines, and the breezes published her two first volumes, play, shedding on all that lives the
The Poetry of Sacred and Legen- blessings of a bounteous providence. dary Art.' This work was followed And when, to this recipient mood, in the long interval of fourteen emotional and highly sensitive to years by two more volumes, 'Le- the approaches of poetry, a writer gends of the Monastic Orders and can add cool calculation of the in* Legends of the Madonna.' Yet tellect, then, indeed, as we have still the arduous task remained un said, has the mind been specially accomplished. The History of framed for the functions of critiour Lord,' the corner-stone, and cism. Yet the reader who shall go the crowning pinnacle to the struc- to the pages of Mrs Jameson will ture, was left but in fragment. not find that the critic unduly ex
And now let us pay due honour alts her office. The earnest student to the memory of one who has done has always abundant cause for this good work. Mrs Jameson per- humility. He knows of his own haps has not manifested much ori- infirmities; he feels that time is ginal or creative power, but ber swift, that life is short ; above all, mind possessed a quality which, for that truth is infinite, and that the the special mission it had to fulfil, ways of God are past finding out. proved of more specific service. It And thus is it the experience of was lucid and faithful as a mirror every writer that his subject to receive and then throw forward, stretches far beyond his ken, and free from distortion, every form that the realities he most desires to which shone upon its surface. It grasp fill an immensity which his is true that Mrs Jameson was, by powers cannot reach. This, indeed, the nature of her office, a compiler, was the experience of Mrs Jameson, yet, at the same time, she became who, in the closing passage to one insensibly something more. Com- of her gracefully-written introducpilation in her hands assumed the tions, affords not only an example more vital function of assimilation; of the method of her criticism, but and thus, under her skilful treat- furnishes, as it were, an epitaph which, like the well-known words spring of 1860, and the goodly of one of England's honoured philo- volumes now before us, containing sophers, merits to be graven on a The History of our Lord,' were monument. “I must stop," writes then nothing more than a few Mrs Jameson, “ here ; and yet one rudimentary fragments. The MS., word more. All the productions such as it was, the publisher of art, from the time it has been intrusted to Lady Eastlake for directed and developed by Chris- completion. The task proved more tian influences, may be regarded onerous than had been anticipated. under three different aspects :-1. It is true that detached passages The purely religious aspect, which were already written, but not a belongs to one mode of faith; 2. single illustration had been sugThe poetic aspect, which belongs gested, and the greater portion of to all ; 3. The artistic, which is the the proposed text had no other inindividual point of view, and has dication save a mere outline. Lady reference only to the action of the Eastlake brought, as we may be intellect on the means and materials sure, to the performance of the employed. There is pleasure, in- onerous duties committed to her tense pleasure, merely in the con- hands ardour and aptitude. To do sideration of art as art; in the honour to the memory of her friend, faculties of comparison and nice and justice to one of the grandest discrimination brought to bear on subjects which could engage the objects of beauty ; in the exercise pen of any writer, she at once set of a cultivated and refined taste on herself to serious study, aided, as the productions of mind in any she tells us, by every possible adform whatever. But a threefold, vantage, both at home and abroad. or rather a thousandfold pleasure In her preface she acknowledges is theirs, who, to a sense of the special obligations to Mr Carpenter, poetical, unite a sympathy with Mr Holmes, and Mr Franks of the the spiritual in art, and who com- British Museum, also to the Hon. bine with delicacy of perception Robert Curzon, Dr Rock, Mr Roand technical knowledge more ele- binson, and Mr George Scharf. She vated sources of pleasure, more has indeed, with commendable envariety of association, habits of terprise, travelled far and wide to more excursive thought. Let none gather varied materials, and to imagine, however, that in placing give to “a realm of Art almost before the uninitiated these unpre- kindred in amount to a kingdom tending volumes, I assume any such of nature," a boundless circumsuperiority as is here implied. Like ference. That she accomplished a child that has sprung on a little in the end all that she herself could way before its playmates, and have desired, is, of course, not to caught a glimpse through an open- be expected. No one knows better ing portal of some varied Eden than Lady Eastlake how utterly within, all gay with flowers and exhaustless is the theme on which musical with birds, and haunted she has entered ; a history which, by divine shapes which beckon did it recount all that could be forward, and, after one rapturous told, the world itself, to borrow the survey, runs back and catches its bold metaphor of the Evangelist, companions by the hand, and hurries could not contain the books that them forward to share the new. should be written. Still we have found pleasure, the yet unexplored here in these volumes, penned in a region of delight: even so it is truth-seeking spirit, and illustrated with me,-I am on the outside, not with a copious generosity, which at the inside, of the door I open." once elucidates and adorns each
Lady Eastlake has worthily fol- section of the subject, contributions lowed in the footsteps of her pre- to the literature of Christian art for decessor. The labours of Mrs Jame- which every artist, and indeed even son were suddenly cut short in the the student of theology, will con
fess a debt of sincerest gratitude descent into the dark subterranean To thoughtful inquirers richest chambers beneath the Roman Cammines are here opened for medi- pania, the refuge, the church, and tation. To minds prepared for the sepulchre of the early believer. deeper draughts to quench the The mysterious gloom of these galthirst for knowledge, wells are leries, the perplexed labyrinth of dug and fountains are made to these tortuous passages, not unlike flow even in the desert tracts of to the obscure avenues of the shatime, where pilgrim's foot but dowy past, the fitful flicker of the seldom attempts to tread. We precarious light which the darkness think indeed that Lady Eastlake seems hungry to devour-these and has done special service in bring- many kindred suggestions awaken ing into popular view recondite in the Catacombs wondering imaginstores which have hitherto been ation. Then it is that the mind is sealed from public use. She has, ready, nay eager, to entertain fondfor example, by appeal to the early est hopes; that faith is willingly heads of Christ in the Catacombs, given to stories which fancy paints; by reference to Christian sarco- that the feet tread reverently, in the phagi of the fourth century, to trust that these same paths were ivories as old as the sixth century, worn by the steps of disciples; and and Greek MSS. and Byzantine then too it is, as the taper throws miniatures of the ninth century, transient gleams along the walls enabled the art student to trace the and across the vaults, that the eye history of types and antitypes, and believes it looks upon the very to analyse the rudimentary germs pictures which apostles saw and which, from age to age accumu- sanctioned, and that the shadowy lating strength and growing in heads which peer out from the comeliness, at length issued forth mysterious gloom are nothing less in perfected pictorial form.
than the actual portraits of saints, It is to this, the infancy of art, martyrs, or even of Christ himthat at the present moment peculiar self. We recollect, when in Rome, interest attaches. Of its manhood, conversing with Padre Marchi on as manifest in the fifteenth and six the then recent Catacomb discovteenth centuries, we have for long eries, and fervent was the faith of known wellnigh all that can be the old man in the monumental learnt. But of the infant cradle of chronicles of Christianity which he art, as it was tossed to and fro on and others were zealously exhumthe troubled waters of persecution, ing. “We have,” said he, “recently as it was watched by heaven and come upon a chamber, the remains tended by angels, the world is natu- in which there is reason to believe rally curious to know more. The date back to the very time of the idea, perhaps but the echo of too apostles.” This conjecture is repeatcredulous affection, has been cher- ed merely to show of what movished indeed, that in the earliest ing interest are the investigations ages a picture may have been an which have been made, and are authentic narrative of an actual still prosecuted, into the iconfact that the Christian painter ography of the earliest Christian may have depicted an event which art. The importance of these inhe witnessed, or a countenance quiries, indeed, whether to the that he knew; or, in other words, artist or to the theologian, it is that the nearer art approached to scarcely possible to overrate. It is the days when miracles were often said that the blood of the wrought, and holy men wrote as martyrs was the seal of the Church, they were inspired by God, the more and so verily the tomb of the beof heaven and of divine truth does liever was the charter or pedigree the work reflect.
of Christian art. Thereon were inSomewhat of this persuasion pro- scribed the symbols of the disciples' bably enters most minds on the faith—the dove, the lyre, the palm
branch, the anchor, the fish, the while He sojourned upon earth. ship. There too were painted the We have known students in Rome series of types and antitypes from who would not surrender the conthe Old and New Testaments: Noah viction that the early heads of in the ark, Moses striking the rock, the Saviour retain at least some Jonah swallowed by the fish, Jonah shadowed memory of their divine thrown from the fish's mouth, original. We have ourselves searchDaniel between the lions, Christed the Catacombs in the hope restoring Lazarus to life, the mir- that evidence might be collected acle of the loaves, the lame man which should justify a belief so taking up his bed, with a central accordant with the desires of the figure of Christ as the Good Shep- human heart. Yet we are bound herd bearing a sleep upon His to say, the further the inquiry was shoulders.
prosecuted the more untenable beAffectionately, as we have said, came the assumption that any one does the mind cling to these forms, of the many presumed portraits however crude, through which the of Christ were trustworthy. The first Christians speak to us in their calm and impartial manner in ashes. Yet, if ever there were which Lady Eastlake has conneed for circumspection, it is here : ducted the difficult inquiry which just in proportion to the sym- brings her to the same conclusion, pathy which moves to easy and is worthy of all commendation. pleasant credulity is the necessity We recollect that the first tentafor the coolness of judgment tive proposition at which we ourwhich shall guard against apoc- selves arrived was, that the many ryphal pretence. There cannot and somewhat conflicting portraits be a doubt but that the Romish could scarcely point to one and Church has sought to make capital the same person; and, that each out of the Catacombs; with this, individual work simply reflected however, we have here nothing to and reproduced the type, style, and do. Our duty is to declare the treatment peculiar to the period simple truth, even though appa- and the people which had given it rently to the prejudice of Christian birth. Under the same persuasion art. Let us say, then, once for all, Lady Eastlake tells us that "the that Christian art is not like the first known conception of the Savtables of the law, written by the iour's features was inspired by the finger of God—not like those tongues lingering feeling for classic forms, of fire which came at Pentecost; and is found in the earlier monubut, of more mundane birth, it rises ments of the Roman Catacombs. among the mists and vapours of Here the type of Christ is simply earth, it shares the infirmity of that of a youth, and of the expresour race, it is darkened by human sion proper to that period.” Then, passion, it falls in the decay of na- coming into “the wide realm and tions, and only reaches its divine long reign of Byzantine art—though form when man, in the perfect in many respects allied with classic ing of Christian civilisation, grows traditions—we enter into another strong in arm and noble in soul. distinct form of the human coun
The one question in the pic- tenance, and therefore of that of torial history of our Lord which the Lord. The hair divided in the above all others incites to specu- centre of the forehead may here be lation — the authenticity of the said to constitute an unfailing sign early portraits of Christ-has re- of identity. At the same time there ceived from Lady Eastlake dispas- was nothing in this feature to presionate consideration. The mind, vent the utmost possible difference as we have said, clings fondly to in every other. We find, accordthe belief that some record or re- ingly, in the works of Byzantine liable tradition may have been left origin, as much diversity as might of the personal appearance of Jesus be expected from the differing con