« ÖncekiDevam »
of his works of sculpture in an unfinished state, from impatience or despair of equalling his conceptions. But, reversing one part of this author's judgment, we say that what Salvator has done no other has done so well; that “ he has done nothing which it would not have been better not to have done,” is too unmeaning to be denied.
The same general remarks do not apply to Claude. He is well known through copies and engravings, but only in those qualities in which he is most deficient. His composition is elaborately feeble, though harmonious. Nothing but his marvellous truth in color, though he was not a great colorist, could prevent his works from becoming absolutely tire
But there never was, and never will be, one who could paint the air as he did ; whether it be sunshine or shade, morning, noon, or evening, from the foreground to the horizon, every part is bathed more and more deeply in the circumambient but invisible atmosphere, which gives a perfect truth and harmony of color to the light and shadow of every object. It is the very air of Italy, in which every thing seems to Aoat at an indefinite distance, without its being itself perceptible. Perhaps it is true that there is no pervading feeling in any one of his pictures beyond that of mere tranquillity. He was not a great artist ; he had not the enthusiasm of genius ; but want of fidelity to the truth of nature is not his fault.
These are the three great landscape-painters among the old artists. We enter into no discussion of the merits of the Dutch and Flemish masters, because we think them men of an inferior mould, however admirable their skill in imitation and in color ; and they had the misfortune to live in an unpoetical country. After all we have read and seen, we still believe that landscape must rise very much above its present condition before it can approach the works of these men and of many others whom we have left unnoticed. Yet we confess, that, while we look upon the great historical painters of the sixteenth and some even of the seventeenth century as exhibiting an excellence which it would be in vain for modern art to attempt to reach, we have not that feeling in regard to the landscape-painters. Much as we admire them, we yet. feel that they have not done all of which the art is capable, nor even as much as may be hoped for in time to come. We have not space now to explain and defend this opinion at
large. We have already stated generally our reasons for one part of it, in saying that a state of society and education - and we should have added, of religion - existed in the beginning of the sixteenth century, which soon ceased, and which never can exist again, and to which we are indebted for the great works of historical art.
The same causes were not necessary to produce, and did not in fact produce, the same effect in landscape, which rose into existence under different influences. Nor has there been, by any means, down to the present time, so great a deterioration of landscape as of history. In the one, it is a failure of power from failure of its exciting causes ; in the other, it is a degradation of taste, which, though it infects the public, does not necessarily reach the artist. Historical art, besides other causes, must have failed for want of appropriate subjects to create a sufficient interest. We have no popular superstition, and a man cannot live in one age and paint another. If the artist do not feel an enthusiasm for his subject independently of that which he feels in his own representation of it, he will never rise to its height. It was to faith that Christian art owed its glory; and in what has this generation faith?
But the subjects of landscape are always the same, and are interesting in proportion to the degree of poetical culture. Certainly in this we are not necessarily inferior to any preceding age.
It depends upon habits of life which are within our own control. The mind is now as susceptible as ever of the impressions of natural beauty, and of poetical and moral associations, if we will but acquaint ourselves more with nature and less with the frivolous pursuits and the exasperating controversies of society. We see no reason why men should not arise in our day to surpass all that was accomplished by Claude, Gaspar, or Salvator.
Enough has been done among ourselves to justify, if not wholly to fulfil, this hope. Without thinking it necessary to deny the absolute merit of other artists, ancient or modern, we are firmly of opinion that we have seen no landscapes painted since the time of Titian superior to those of Allston. They are not numerous, for he devoted himself chiefly to history. If he had been willing to make landscape his peculiar study, we think there would not long have been any divided opinion upon his supremacy in that art.
We have abstained from any remarks on what is said of Mr. Turner, because we have no doubt of his excellence in what this author almost exclusively commends him for; we differ as to the possible value of such works only when compared with those executed in more solid materials. Of his earlier oil paintings we have already expressed our admiration; of his later ones we have nothing to say, because they are to us totally incomprehensible. They represent to our minds nothing in nature actually or conventionally. It would be easy to describe them as ridiculous ; but if they are errors, they are those of genius, and the ridicule more properly belongs to those who encourage by pretending to understand and admire them.
ART. V.- Prison Discipline in America. By FRANCIS t see
C. GRAY. Boston : Little & Brown. 1847. 8vo.
Prison discipline has been so carefully studied, during the past fifty years, and so many experiments in it have been made, both in Europe and this country, their results being diligently watched and published, that its general principles ought, by this time, to be well known and established. Most of them are so; a great body of facts has been collected, and most of the conclusions drawn from them now command universal assent. If doubt and controversy still exist upon a few points, it is because individuals who have labored long and earnestly in the cause have allowed their feelings to become unduly excited in favor of their respective plans, and have been unwilling to see them set aside by rival systems productive of equally good or better results. The hardest task of a reformer is to give up his own favorite plan of reform, and to coöperate heartily with those who perhaps have entered into the work at a later hour, and have shown less zeal and energy in it than himself, but who, either by greater sagacity, more exact observation, or mere good luck, have hit upon more effective means of attaining the great object which all have in view. Your zealous philanthropist is usually the most unpersuadable man in the community ; he has VOL. LXVI. - No. 138.
more benevolence than prudence, more love than logic. He is very good at discerning the extent and enormity of an evil, and very eloquent in proclaiming them to the public ; but he is not always equally happy in devising a remedy. He who has the best lungs for giving the alarm that the house is on fire is not always the most efficient hand at putting it out. We are sorry, but not surprised, to see philanthropists quarrelling with each other; nothing else could be expected from persons of their temperament.
But in this matter of prison discipline, it is high time for the dispute to be stopped. The mere philanthropists, with their warm hearts and hot tempers, have done their work in it, by fully exposing the enormous, the now almost incredible, evils which did exist in prisons five-and-twenty years ago, by dragging them out to the light and to public abhorrence, by exciting an almost universal interest in the subject, and by causing experiments to be instituted, and plans for alleviating the miseries of prisons to be tried, in every civilized country on the face of the globe. Perhaps they have even drawn to the matter a disproportionate share of attention, have reformed prisons while they neglected almshouses, have excited more public sympathy for the criminal than the pauper. No matter; the subject has not received more notice than it deserves, and we hope they will next consider the cause of
When the Congress which meets at Frankfort and Brussels shall have ended their discussions about providing the interior of prisons with suitable gardens and flowers and fountains, about the best mode of ventilating the cells, and of furnishing the prisoners with savory and nutritious diet, and the means of secular and religious instruction for every day in the week, they will doubtless begin to think of the condition of the peasantry and the manufacturing poor in their respective countries, of the propriety of building cabins for them which shall be as comfortable as a well-warmed, well-lighted, and well-ventilated cell, and of giving them food which shall be more wholesome and nourishing than “ pressagh ” and lumper potatoes. The question, whether wooden or iron bedsteads are most conducive to the health of the convicts, is an important one, and might be discussed with some reference to the Irish poor, who usually have no bedsteads at all, but sleep in the mud.
The projectors of the prison reform having played their
part manfully and well, it is time for them to step aside, and give place to cool, shrewd, and practical men, who will adjust the details and persect the system. Pathos and eloquence are out of place here ; we want nothing but good common sense, some skill in arithmetic, and a little inductive philosophy. Materials enough have been collected to settle the doubts and end the controversy. These materials are facts, collected in the course of many years' experiments in a great number of prisons, duly registered and tabulated, and pointing so obviously to certain conclusions, that the inferences may be drawn by a child. The field of controversy, as we have intimated, has now become very narrow; the light of experience has definitively settled many questions relating to prison discipline which were formerly debated with much heat. It is now admitted, on all hands, that the prisoners should be kindly treated, well fed, and strictly guarded, should be taught and required to work industriously at useful trades, should have some moral and religious instruction, should be rigidly separated from each other by night, and that their intercourse by day should be so watched and restricted that they should have no power to contaminate one another, or to strengthen themselves by corrupt or idle conversation in their evil courses. The only question that remains, and it is a grave one, is, whether they should work together, or in sight of each other, during the daytime, in large workshops or other places, but always 'under strict rules and supervision, – or whether they should be confined by day, as well as by night, each to his separate cell, and work there in solitude broken only by occasional visits from the turnkey, the inspector, or the chaplain. Here is absolutely the whole question, - Social or solitary labor by day, which is the better?
Now we have facts enough to answer even this question, if we could only get at them, have them well arranged, clearly stated, and so completely winnowed from the effects of extraneous causes, that they shall bear on this point alone. In this country we have had excellent prisons, conducted on both these plans, for at least seventeen years ; and the results ought to show, either that one should be decidedly preferred to the other, or that the two are almost equally good, so that the question of preference between them is an idle one, and may well be dismissed entirely. Unluckily,