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priate, and always ready to adapt herself to changes of time, situation and circumstances.
Paris is becoming the universal model and grammar of Christendom; nothing is right unless it be a la Parisienne. Now, in truth, nothing can be right, natural, appropriate, or in good taste, outside of Paris, that is Parisienne. When will our monkey imitative world cease to sacrifice millions of money, cease to show its want of good sense and propriety, and cease to render itself ridiculous by aping, what, in the nature of things, is unsuitable, inappropriate, and unnatural? Fashion, aided by free trade and centralization, is subjecting us to the dominion of Parisian thought; and commerce, by means of the same agencies, makes us tributaries to London. Trade and fashion conquer faster than arms.
After the Romans had conquered Greece, Athens became the school and centre of thought for the civilized world. Men had but one set of ideas, but one set of models to imitate, in the whole range of the fine arts. Inventiveness and originality ceased, and genius was subdued. The rule of Horace, “ Nullius addictus in verba magistri jurare," was versed, and men ceased to think for themselves, but looked to the common fountain of thought at Athens; where the teachers of mankind borrowed all their ideas from the past. Improvement and progress ceased, and imitation, chaining the pre
sent to the car of the past, soon induced rapid retrogression. Thus, we think centralization of thought occasioned the decline of civilization. Northern invaders introduced new ideas, broke up centralization, arrested imitation, and begot originality and inventiveness. Thus a start was given to a new and Christian civilization. Now, a centralization occasioned by commerce and fashion, threatens the overthrow of our civilization, as arms and conquest overthrew the ancient.
The ill. effect of centralization of thought, whether its centre be the past, or some locality of the present, is apparent in the arts and literature of the Latin nations of Europe. France, Spain and Italy, though possessed of more genius, have displayed less originality than England and Germany. French art is a mere re-hash of Roman art, and very inferior to its original. The natural growth, changes and adaptation of language, are admirably described by Horace in his De Arte Poetica. He makes a great blunder in advising the forming and compounding words from the Greek, however; for the very want that occasions new words, shows that they cannot be supplied from the past. In the passage we are about to quote, he seems to have seen and deplored the advent of that age of rule and criticism that was to stereotype language, thought, art itself, prevent progress, and inaugurate decline. From Horace's day, criticism ruled,
language and art were stereotyped, and the world declined:
“Dixeris egregiè, notum si callida verbum,
Italy, of the middle ages, imbibed more of the Christian and chivalric element, threw off for a while imitation and subserviency to the past, and shone forth with brilliant originality in all the works of art. But she, like France, has relapsed into imitation of the antique, and falls far below either Roman or mediæval art. With the age of Cervantes, Spanish genius expired. His happy ridicule expelled the absurdities of Knight Errantry, but unfortunately expelled, at the same time, the new elements of thought which Christianity and Chivalry had introduced into modern literature. They were its only progressive elements, in the
Latin nations of Europe, who in all else were mere Romans.
Fenelon's Telemaque is a servile imitation of Virgil's Æneid, and that is an equally servile imitation of Homer. Each copy falls below the original.
Nothing shows so strongly the want of originality and want of independence of taste and thought among these Latin nations, as their contempt for Shakspeare. He violates all the rules of Greek and Roman art, and erects a higher art of his own; but Frenchmen, Italians, and Spaniards, have no tastes and no ideas differing from, or in advance of, the ancients, and can neither understand nor appreeiate the genius of Shakspeare. In Germany, he is almost as much read and admired as in England.
Imitation, grammar and slavery suit the masses. Liberty and Laissez faire, the men of genius, and the men born to command. Genius, in her most erratic flights, represents a higher Grammar than Dr. Blair or Lindlay Murray—the grammar of progressive nature. To secure true progress, we must unfetter genius, and chain down mediocrity. Liberty for the few-Slavery, in every form, for the mass ! The rules of art destroy art.
Homer never could have produced the Iliad, had he learned grammar and rhetoric and criticism. 'Tis well for the world, he lived before Longinus. Euripides,
Sophocles, and Aristophanes, and the Greek Masters in Sculpture and Painting, knew nothing of the rules of art and canons of criticism. Without the modern helps to art, Grecian art so far excelled ours, that it is a popular theory that they possessed an Ideal that has been lost. Early in the days of the Roman Empire, the rhetoricians, by attempting to teach eloquence by rule, so corrupted it, that the Emperors found it necessary to banish them from Rome.
We are no doubt indebted to the ignorance of the ancients for the invention of Gothic architecture. No one taught to reverence Greek architecture, would have violated its rules by imitating the Gothic.
When about the time of the Reformation, the study of the ancients was revived, each Gothic spire stopped half way in its course towards heaven. Mediæval art expired:--and now the world has no art, but basely copies the past.
Had Shakspeare been as learned as Ben Jonson, he would have written no better than Ben Jonson. The lofty genius of. Milton would have created a glorious English epic, had he not travelled too much abroad, and dwelt too much with the past. The Paradise Lost is a splendid piece! of Mosaic, made up of bits of Greek and Roman mythology, Hebrew theology, Christian morality,