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He is the first monarch after chaos. bas taken the first step, which is He succeeds to a long interregnum proverbially so difficult. He has of anarchy which constitutes a mere placed the Mexicans on a vantageblank in the history of the country. ground which they could not have His throne will be raised upon obtained for themselves, and he ruins which are not of his making gives to them a Government tem
-upon the debris of a power which porarily aided by his troops, recoghad crumbled into the dust half a nised by the Powers of Europe, and century before his arrival. The possessing a fair amount of credit founding of his empire is like in other countries, by which the building a city upon the site of work of regenerating the moral and another which had long perished, material condition of Mexico may and with which the new one does be carried out. He has cleared not enter into rivalry, but simply away the old obstructions-he has replaces. (England wishes him founded the new empire; and whatgood-speed. And among the strange ever be the ultimate results of his enevents of the future it may possibly terprise, he has thereby added fresh happen that the House of Haps- laurels to his renown, which are all burg may be the head of a great the more honourable since they are and flourishing empire in the New voted to him by the world at large World after the original empire in So far as it has gone, the interEurope has been broken into pieces. vention has been successful, and
The intervention in Mexico is a the Napoleonic idea has a good remarkable episode in the policy of prospect of being fully realised. Napoleon III., and as such will not Meanwhile two important ends have fail to attract the regard of future been attained. The expedition has historians. It is a task as novel as paid its expenses-the cost of the it is honourable for a monarch to intervention is to be refunded to attempt the regeneration of a country France by the new Government, other than his own, to carry civili- which likewise takes upon itself sation and prosperity into a region the charge of maintaining the of the globe where they have fallen French troops which are to be left into decay,-even though he under- in Mexico. The enterprise, moretook the task primarily with a view over, has successfully engaged the to his own interests. To raise a thoughts of the French people country thrice as large as France during a period when the Emperor from a state of chronic desola- found it advisable to remain at tion-to pierce it with railways, to peace in Europe. France is still in reconstruct the old watercourses a condition in which the stimulus of irrigation, to reopen the rich of military action abroad is requimines, and to make the waste places site to keep her quiescent at home. blossom with flowers and fruits and The Emperor's Mexican idea has useful plants, is certainly a noble served this purpose as well as design. And still nobler is it to others. And Europe has been rescue a population of eight mil- thankful that the French have lions from anarchy, demoralisation, been amused otherwise than at her and suffering, and to restore to expense. But the Mexican idea, them, in better fashion than they so far as regards the direct action ever had before, the protection of of France, is now at an end ; and, the State and the benefactions of looking at the circumstances of Euthe Church. Lawlessness and ra- rope as well as at the fact that the pine, wastefulness and oppression Emperor's hands are again free, we
-no public virtue and no private think the Continental Powers may enterprise-such has been the con- now feel as King John did when, dition of Mexico for many years at the close of the tournament at Napoleon, it is true, does not under. Ashby de la Zouch, he received take to remedy these evils himself, the brief but significant warning, but he has made a beginning, he “The devil has got loose.”
THE LONDON ART-SEASON.
The three leading Exbibitions and as the taste of purchasers the Academy, the Old Water-Col- becomes from day to day more our, and the New Water-Colour- highly educated, so are our Engare at least of average interest and lish artists stimulated by increased merit. Indeed, the general opinion reward, and yet, at the same time, is, that the collective pictures of held in wholesome check by the the year show, if slow, at all events discriminative power of public steady and satisfactory progress opinion. Still further, the adupon the pictorial products of pre- vance which has been made in all vious seasons. It is true that no branches of knowledge, the develnew or startling phenomena have opment of inductive science, espearisen—that no star or comet of cially in those departments which surpassing magnitude has come to lie close upon nature, and the exshed unaccustomed brilliancy over traordinary activity which, in every the world of Art. Still, light is direction, has seized upon the hunot lacking to our hemisphere, nor man intellect, ever eager to enter on beauty wanting to the painter's fair new enterprise-these restless mocreations. The power which be- tions in the universal mind renderlongs to knowledge, the charm ing absolute stagnation, even withwhich pertains to simple truth, and in the tranquil world of art, imposthe reward that follows on honest sible—have imparted to our painters labour, each year, even in the ab- corresponding impulse. Moreover, sence of long-looked-for and oft- we think, notwithstanding occapromised genius, give to our Eng- sional symptoms to the contrary, lish school accumulative worth. that enterprise of intellect is now And, moreover, other causes co- more than formerly governed by operate towards this progression, sobriety of judgment; that imaover which, with reason, we rejoice. gination, though at seasons ready England has reached that point in to break wildly loose, is in the end the history of nations when the reined in by sober sense. The arts are accustomed to spring into drama, indeed, may degenerate for luxuriant growth. She has long short intervals into sensational expassed the period of pinching pen- cess; romances may, in the hands ury, wherein imagination is oft- of some writers, indulge in extravatimes stunted and starved. She gance; but before long we can rest has, at least in her higher classes, satisfied that truth to nature and escaped from the drudgery which, allegiance to conscience as the siwhile it wears away the body, lent yet potent witness to rectitude, grinds down the mind — which will obtain the ascendance. And makes the finer senses of humanity thus it is within the special sphere obtuse, and too often darkens the of pictorial art likewise: mistaken eye to the beauty of the outward ardour may for a time mislead; creation. England, we say, has, in extravagance such as that of which the onward march of her civilisa- the so-called Preraphaelites were tion, left in the path behind these guilty may for a few short years arid tracts, and now enters a garden betray the inexperience of youth; of delight, redolent with flowers. but in the end we can be sure, as And of all the gems which adorn indeed now we rejoice to be, that daily life of all the decorations in the well-balanced English mind which add charm to our homes- moderation will prevail. Thus have pictures are, perhaps, the most we endeavoured to set forth the sought after. And as this demand reasons why our Exhibitions show is each year growing in its compass, amelioration. The causes do not lie in the rise of any transcendent Armitage, in the picture of “Ahab power, or in the display of creative and Jezebel,' attains heroic propororiginality by the artists themselves. tion, and with size comes commenThe impetus to progression, on the surate dignity. King Ahab, a figure contrary, comes, as we have seen, seven and a half feet high, reclines from without; the painter is merely on a couch : his wife, the infamous the child of the age in which he Jezebel, stands at his head with the lives, the mirror that reflects the fury of a tigress and the appetite of form and fashion of his time and a vulture, uttering the upbraiding country. Thus it is that our Eng- words, “Dost thou now govern the lish school is emphatically English, kingdom of Israel? Arise, eat bread, and that our annual Exhibitions and let thine heart be merry; I will serve as pictorial chronicles to the give thee the vineyard of Naboth the day and generation in which our Jezreelite.” But the king lies sad lot is cast. This is, indeed, high and sick, and the grapes and the commendation-yet, after all, not wine are put aside untasted. Mr the highest; for there is an injunc- Armitage has sought, and not withtion which Schiller lays upon the out success, to reconcile the broad artist that we would here repeat by generic treatment of the older hisway, if not of censure, at least of toric style with the literal detail caution. “Live," says this poet- which is now dominant in our mophilosopher, “ with your century, dern school. Rich regal robes and but be not its creature; bestow sumptuous palatial decorations are upon your contemporaries not what studiously transcribed from the they praise, but what they need. works of Mr Layard, or taken diThough you may regard them as rect from the Assyrian remains in they are if you are tempted to work the British Museum. It is also infor them, imagine them as they teresting to mark how the artist should be if you are to influence has given to his picture the manner and raise them.” Our Exhibitions, of an ancient bas-relief, how he has it must be admitted, show little in- brought the liberty allowed to the dication that painters are striving one art under subjection to the for this command over the intellect severity imposed by the other. of their age. Content to follow, What we mean will be better unfew desire to lead. For the most derstood by an appeal to the depart, they paint in order to win the signs on Greek vases, the purest wherewithal to live, and, thus living and best examples of which illusfor the present, few, it may be feared, trate the transformation through will survive the century which has which sculpture emerged into paintwitnessed the beginning and will ing; or, in other words, these monosee the close of their labours.
chrome pictures of the Greeks reArmitage, Watts, and in some veal sculpture as the elder and the measure Leighton, have a right to parent art. Mr Armitage deserves rank among those disciples of high praise for the courage required in art who, fulfilling the behest of the adoption of this self-denying Schiller, work less for present times manner, for experience proves that than for posterity. Forsaking forms a facile pictorial treatment is in the positive and individual, they seek present day the surest road to poputruths generic and absolute; they lar applause. We are sorry, howmake the accident of nature sub- ever, to see that in one vital point mit to the proportions prescribed he submits to a compromise. Reby aesthetic law; they require rude pose and equanimity, Winckelreality to bend to ideal beauty; and mann tells us, the Greeks deemed thus they ascend to the sphere of inseparable from the noblest art; historic or philosophic art, a lofty and our own Reynolds offers some region which only a few ventur- apology, or at least explanation, for ous spirits dare to tread. Edward the violence of passion which the sculptor has thrown into the agon- essayed the most arduous of subised features of the Laocoon. Now jects, this artist has for some time we should be sorry to bind a paint- attracted to his works a wondering er down to strict compliance with gaze. It always becomes a curious conditions which may prove a question, as it long was and still bondage even to the sculptor; but is with a brother artist, the painter as Mr Armitage of his own free of “The Vale of Rest,' and of 'St will puts himself under the law, Agnes' Eve,'What astounding work we need have less scruple in saying Mr Leighton may do next? Will that the ordinance imposed as a he show us a harem, will he introcanon of high art—which is, after duce us to houris, will he conduct us all, not artificial, but essential-he to Hades, or will he bid us take a has transgressed, and that much to walk on Parnassus ? Certain it is the loss of dignity and quiet power. that whoever presumes to follow in The figure of Jezebel, especially in the eccentric flight of this artist will the passionate spasm of the hand, do well to provide himself with is melodramatic. Mr Watts, in his wings. As for the ordinary faculties design, Time and Oblivion,' also of humanity, plain sober eyesight, challenges severe criticism. The clear common-sense, and the like, very explanation which he gives of they may be dispensed with altohis intent, that this personification gether, and the adventurer through of Time and Oblivion' is “a de- space or across the broad field of sign for sculpture,” “to be executed history need only take to himself in divers materials after the man- a copious supply of transcendental ner of Phidias," alone suggests reason and gaseous imagination. comparisons which it is difficult for As in other aeronautic expeditions, any work to sustain. Yet may we the chief danger lies in the apat least accord to this perilous at. proach to, and the coming in contempt somewhat of the largeness in tact with, mother earth. But whatmasses and the grandeur of manner ever lawlessness may have marked which are peculiar characteristics of Mr Leighton's past career, we are the Phidian era. Only we must be bound to concede that the courses permitted to object that the artist on which he has now entered claim has essayed a Herculean labour from the critic respectful homage. considerably beyond his powers. The powers which have hitherto The figures are not ill conceived, been scattered are at length conthe idea is not inaptly expressed; centrated, so that in the latest of but the drawing is certainly want- Mr Leighton's works, Dante in ing in mastery, and the difficult Exile,' the vapourings of genius passages in the composition appear now shine as true visions. The slurred rather than solved. The artist here reverts with maturer aspirations of Mr Watts, as seen in power to the country and the epoch the fresco executed in the dining- chosen in his earliest and hitherto hall of Lincoln's Inn, are ever lofty; most successful picture, 'The Probut technical power, which would cession of Cimabue.' Italy of the give to his noble ideas adequate middle ages, crowded with illustripictorial development, seems lack ous characters, poets, painters, paing. A small head by this artist, triots-a country whose very stones called 'Choosing,' is altogether are eloquent in undying memories lovely, and especially to be com- —such are the scenes congenial to mended for harmony of colour. the genius of this painter. The
The genius of Mr Leighton has theme he has here selected is ardufor years lain in chaos, or broken ous, the style to which he aspires out only in rebellion. Possessed ambitious. Imagination has inof more than ordinary erudition, vested Dante in no ordinary digniimpelled by an ambition which ty; a historic halo shadows and yet soared to the highest style, and shines upon that brow awful in
grandeur; and the artist who at which unsophisticated nature might tempts to realise the image which with advantage occupy. By his fineevery cultured mind has already drawn subtleties he delights and painted in his fancy, does indeed cheats the senses which in surfeit essay a task of peculiar difficulty. would gladly turn to a repast more Mr Leighton, we think, has come simply dressed and decked. The through this ordeal with honour. taint which often mars the creations The moment chosen discovers of this artist, eats, in another of his Dante, an exile from his native city, works, as a cancer into the fair in the palace of his patron, Can' forms of 'Eurydice and Orpheus,' Grande della Scala, Prince of Ver- - a picture, nevertheless, which ona. This master of the Lombard contains passages which no critirepublic reigned with a splendour cism can rob of their beauty-giving which no other of the princes in charm. The transcendentalism,
Italy had equalled. At his court however, into which this painter is were congregated the poets, paint betrayed, is not only excessive in ers, and sculptors who cast upon degree, but wrong in kind. Michael the opening years of the fourteenth Angelo, Raphael, and all truly century unaccustomed lustre. But great painters, indeed, have reached we are told that the pride of Dante loftiest heights, and yet they walkcould ill brook patronage ; that his ed, even when on the topmost sumhigh spirit rebelled against gilded mits, hand in hand with nature. dependence; and so, by the rough- Sibyls, apostles, prophets, muses, ness of his manner and the haughti- they painted ; yet was humanity, ness of his bearing, he lost the fav- however glorified, never made to our of a friend who had given him wander from paths of simplicity, or an asylum. This story may be read permitted to wanton in debilitating word for word in the picture be- luxury. Let Mr Leighton rememfore us. The lines quoted declare, ber, then, that the best nature and in terms not to be mistaken, the the truest art preserve a stamina poet's mind :
vigorous and healthful. “Thou shalt prove
Our English school, while comHow salt the savour is of others' bread; paratively barren in products of How hard the passage to descend, and high, heroic, or sacred art, is proli
climb By others' stairs. But what shall gall
fic in works which lie on the fronthee more
tiers of history. Our native painWill be the worthless and vile company ters seldom narrate the annals of With whom thou must be thrown while in their country on a large folio scale ; these straits."
they are content, for the most part, The painter is literal to the poet's to put their facts within the limits text. Dante, careworn and pain- of an octavo or duodecimo edition, stricken, descends the palace-stairs, and thus they seldom addict themThe motley crew of courtiers, the selves to the grand march of nations, paid jester, and ladies who, by en- but choose rather the by-ways of a ticing beauty, might have charmed people's progress, and delight in the the melancholy heart stricken with episodes wherewith families or inthe love of Beatrice,—all fall back dividuals have rendered a province at the approach of the prophet-poet, or a generation' memorable. The who as an avenging god walks the artists who each year betake themearth. Mr Leighton, we have said, selves to this pleasing and prolific has accomplished the task here set style are not only increasing in more than creditably. The know- numbers, but advancing in profiledge he brings, the academic train- ciency. Calderon, Crowe, Yeames, ing he displays, no one can ques. Pettie, Storey, Hayllar, and Mrs tion. His learning, in fact, is al. Ward, have one and all enriched most in excess; his artistic tact and the Academy with works which decontrivance, indeed, usurp the place serve explicit commendation. Mrs