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PROPOSED FEDERATION OF THE BRIT
HE "Westminster Review" has discussed in recent numbers the urgency and the feasibility of a federation of the British Empire. It is proposed to create an Imperial Parliament, in which representatives from the colonies are to sit, and to separate local from imperial measures by forming a local House of Parliament for the consideration of the former, leaving the Imperial House to deal exclusively with matters that pertain to the empire at large. Local colonial Legislatures would remain much as at present. An Irish local Parliament is suggested, but the writer's plan seems to suppose that the English local House would include Scotland in its jurisdiction. Apart from many direct advantages that would arise from the proposed plan, is the consideration that the present Parliament is burdened with business beyond its power to transact. Every year, it is affirmed, numerous measures are shelved without, from lack of time, having been considered at all. But this evil is partly due to the fact that on certain popular questions the time of the House is utterly wasted in listening to the repetition ad nauseam of the same ideas and opinions, by members who feel it to be their duty to make speeches, in order to have them read by their constituents"-which shows that Buncombe is a power at Westminster as well as at Washington. This is an evil which is likely rather to increase than otherwise, and hence a remedy must be found for it, which the "Westminster Review" thinks is secured in its proposed plan:
The gain to Parliamentary legislation by this course would be immediate and direct. The local House would be of manageable and compact proportions; its members would be able to devote their time and energies to the proper treatment and consideration of various local questions; the dissatisfaction caused at present throughout the country by the constant burking of local measures would be allayed; and we might even hope that the Irish difficulty would be set at rest, perhaps by the formation of an Irish local Parliament, but in any case, by reason of the House being able to devote proper time and attention to the consideration of Irish grievances. In a similar manner, the Imperial House would be much reduced in bulk and proportionately increased in activity and vitality. Its time would be occupied in the consideration of imperial questions; its energy would not then be frittered away upon petty local matters; nor would the business of the House be obstructed by members anxious to force the consideration of some local griev
Such a rearrangement of the Parliamentary system would expedite public business to a degree that could not be attained by any other system; and, considering the constant and steady growth of Parliamentary business, it would seem that recourse must be had to some such
system in order to carry on the ordinary business of the Nor would this rearrangement require that country. any violence should be done to the English Parliamentary system; it would not introduce any new principle such as would be the case if a large part of the empire were to be represented by an advisory board, as has been
suggested; it would simply be to adopt the confederation system that has been found to work so smoothly in Germany and the United States. A scheme of this nature to facilitate the dispatch of Parliamentary business was put forward some years ago by Earl Russell, and the fact that so experienced a Parliamentarian as he favored the idea is somewhat of a guarantee that it is not impracticable.
It will be recalled by many of our readers that numerous English critics have condemned our American federal system as cumbersome; they have even laughed at the notion that in order to carry on the business of the country there must exist nearly forty different legislative bodies and as many executives. These critics did not consider the tremendous stress Congress would be under if all local questions that arise in our extended country were brought to its chambers; and now all at once we find our system gravely held up as a guide and example. The "Westminster" even supposes the creation of a sort of under-executives-its plan, for either England or Ireland, being as follows:
to her Ministers.
The country would be under a Viceroy or Governor, appointed by the Queen in Council. The advisers of the Viceroy would be drawn from the members of the local House, and the relations of the Viceroy to his Ministers would be precisely analogous to those of the Queen House would require the assent of the Viceroy before All measures passed by the local they could become law. But any measure of doubtful constitutionality could be "reserved" by the Viceroy, in which case the bill would be remitted for the consideration of the Queen in Council, and either passed or vetoed. Also any measure passed by the local House, and assented to by the Viceroy, could be annulled if vetoed by the Queen in Council within two years from the time of assent. These provisions have been adopted in Canada
as between the Governor-General and the LieutenantGovernors, and as between the Queen and the GovernorGeneral, so as to preserve a proper control over provincial or local legislation. Copies of all bills assented to by the Viceroy would be immediately forwarded to the Secretary of State for her Majesty's consideration.
It will doubtless be a long time before we shall see as radical a change as this in the English Parliamentary system; but it is easy for us at this distance to see the advantages that would arise from such a scheme, and difficult to understand what rational objection there can be to it. Such a system would assuredly bind the colonies closer to the mother-country, without overthrowing her supremacy; for, according to a schedule laid down in the "Westminster" article, in a House of three hundred members, one hundred and eighty-five members would be allotted to
England, twenty-five to Scotland, forty to Ireland, and fifty to the colonies. The immense advantages that would arise from the greater dispatch of business ought of itself to compensate for whatever minor evils a federation of the empire would lead to-if such evils are possible.
I claim for art that by it alone can the whole of man's nature be expressed; and that in all great works of art the three elements of the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual are to be found. I maintain further that the vital quality in all fine art is the presence of this spiritual element, this deeper insight which endows with new meaning whatever it touches. And regarding this element as the highest in man's nature, I consider that to be the highest art in which the proportion of the spiritual
THE SPIRITUAL IN ART.
A WRITER in the last "Cornhill," in an article insight to the intellectual meaning and the sensuous perentitled "The Apologia of Art," attempts to account for the existence of art in all its forms. He says:
ception is the greatest.
The air is full of criticism similar to the above,
If we look back through the records of past ages,
back even to the very dawn of civilization, we find one fact of human life continually presenting itself: this is, the need of man for expression-his overmastering desire not only to enjoy, but to show that he enjoys-not only for conquest, but also for triumph. There seems to be some inherent tendency which compels mankind to record their sorrows and their joys, to leave upon the earth some trace of their presence. The earliest traces
we can find of art show us that its birth was due to this impulse; the rhythmic song of the savage was raised in moments of rejoicing or mourning; the adorning of his face with paint, and his head with feathers, was but another way of expressing his joy in battle and his confidence in victory. However the idea first dawned in the world, to whatever accident it was due, it can hardly be doubted that even among savage tribes the power of measured sound is recognized to be expressive of some feelings in their nature which can not otherwise find vent.
although it is not always so cogently and eloquently expressed; and hence we are disposed to inquire whether the whole assumption of a spiritual element in art is not a vague sentiment, a piece of transcendental ecstasy. That art exercises great power over our emotional susceptibilities is not to be denied; but it is no new thing to imagine that our sensuous emotions have their birth in the spirit, and that they Now it is doubtless quite impossible to explain how are nothing less than a form of divine exaltation. it is that beauty and harmony exercise their great sway over us; how and why "measured sound" and the "harmonies of color and line" should thrill us and fill us with delightful and indescribable sensations; but to assume that a spiritual element in these forms of expression is the source of their power seems to us to jump the whole matter. It is
origin of art-namely, that it gave expression to a new element in man's nature.
This I believe to be the fundamental fact concerning the quite possible, indeed, that, if the spirit of man were wholly freed from the influences and seductions of the senses, color and sound would cease to agitate it, or physical beauty have any meaning for it. We do not find the races with whom or the epochs in which spiritual life has been the most exalted falling under the dominion of art; nor do we see persons of the finest spiritual strain show either the need or much of the influence of art. "After four hundred years of contest with the Church," says the writer from whom we have been quoting, "the force of nature was too strong for the force of the priesthood, and, though still consecrated to the service of religion, Art became free to represent her subjects in her own way, and began that great forward movement that culminated in the Renaissance. From the time of Giotto to the time of Raphael, Art, as it were, took the vows of the Church, and so in narrowed but perhaps deepened channels passed into being the sole exponent of the overmastering religious emotions of the age.” We apprehend that art conquered the Church only as the spiritual earnestness of its worshipers declined, and that the "overmastering religious emotions," of which art became the exponent, was far more a passion for the sensuous form of religion than for its spiritual bliss-for the pomp, the music, the color, the splendor of a grand pictorial worship, rather than for inner light and grace. If the Renaissance was a grand revival of art, the Refor mation was a general spiritual awakening, in the heat of which art and all the emotions that art excites were consumed. We do not sympathize with that form of religious fervor that fortifies the sensi
If we grant, then, that it was owing to its power of giving adequate representation to the whole nature of man that art became the exponent of his emotions, we may well be asked, Why it was that only in harmonies of color and sound would this whole nature be shown? Why is it that language can not give the same degree of meaning? To this I can only suggest a possible answer. For our definite thoughts and emotions, we can find words which shall paint them with far greater clearness than art can ever do; the emotion of poets, for instance, can be analyzed and detailed in prose to a far greater extent than would be possible in either a picture or a poem, though in the latter we might give an instance of the passion that should light up our prose analysis with a fuller meaning. But when the spiritual element has to be grasped in words, we find ourselves comparatively powerless; our instrument is not subtile enough for the tune we wish to play upon it-words are too hard, cold, and definite to express the feeling we would put into them. Here it is that Art steps in to our rescue, talking to us, as it were, in two languages at once, supplementing the deficiencies of language by the harmonies of color and line. The subject and its correct drawing may well be compared to language expressing the emotion and the thought; the combinations of line and color, by which the artist expresses his idea, stand in the relation of the spiritual element to the rest of the picture. And as it is true that the vital power of any scene or beauty is one which we alone can not put into words, so the vital power of any work of great art is that spiritual element which has unconsciously to itself breathed its
influence over the master's mind and his hands' work.
bilities against beauty; but there is no denying the fact that intense spiritual life renders everything else in the world valueless; it rises to a plane to which art with all its manifold seductions can not rise. And this is also true of pure intellectual life. Sound and color have very little fascination for the mind engrossed in the study of great problems or deeply concerned in any pursuit of an engrossing charNeither great reformers nor great thinkers have exhibited much susceptibility to art, at least in its forms of painting and sculpture.
Let us admit, however, that art has great control over the human heart. Has it more than beauty in nature has? Are the emotions that it awakens in any way different? When we look upon the ravishing beauty of a "maiden in her flower," can it be pretended that the sensations thus awakened-difficult as they are to analyze or to comprehend—are in any wise more than a delight of the senses-an inexplicable emotion which color and contour, freshness and grace, have the power to excite? Does loveliness in marble awaken emotions other than those that loveliness in flesh stimulates, unless it be the single one of admiration for the skill of the copyist? It is a great temptation, no doubt, to remand the strange agitations of the senses to the spirit; they are certainly subtile and profound enough to escape dissection; but we exalt ourselves by illusions if we fall into the habit of thinking that the delights of the senses, so often enjoyed at the cost of spiritual purity, are really identical with the felicities of the
Our writer in the course of his article has the following to say in regard to academic art:
Academic art may be briefly defined as the endeavor to paint actions in a way which could never have taken place, with the idea of thereby creating a pleasing effect upon the eye of the beholder. The creed of those who adhere to this school is this: A picture is not to be judged by any other rules than those of pictures-that is to say, you must not blame a picture for being unnatural, or uninteresting, or meaningless, or even absurd, or all or any of these; but you must simply notice whether the effect produced by the lines upon the eye is a pleasing one, whether the figures are arranged in obedience to the laws of composition, whether the light and shade are evenly distributed and skillfully opposed, whether the figures have dignity of gesture and form, and so on. Plainly stated, this sounds as if it were a burlesque, but it is strictly and literally the creed of academists, though they would probably hesitate to write it as clearly as I
If this be the end and aim of art, I confess myself a "Philistine" at once; better never have another picture in the world, and then go on adding absurdity to absurdity and thinking it to be art. How long will it be, I wonder, ere all the dreary formulas of the schools cease
to be heard among us; when a picture will be judged,
not by its accordance with empirical rules, but in accordance with established truth; when our students are taught to put thought as well as drawing, feeling as well as color, into their work?
that laymen unacquainted with the principles at work have found it so difficult to understand the ground of approval among critics. They have found the dreariest and most uninteresting paintings exalted to the skies, and any question of the verdict they might utter denounced as ignorance. They have been ignorant in one sense-ignorant of the studio point of view, which may be attained with utter insensibility to genuine beauty and natural laws. If the authority of academic art were deposed, how many of the innumerable canvases that encumber the galleries of Europe would longer be imposed on the credulity of the world? And is it not strange that a critic should tell us with so much eloquence of the spiritual beauty of art, when, according to his own confession, art, with a very few exceptions, has been merely exemplifications of pedantry and technical skill? And then the current defiances of academic law that we see are almost invariably in the direction of pure sensuous art, its mission being, according to one of its disciples, to represent a land "where perfect women, with their feet on perfect flowers, move across our fancy as in twilight."
In another place our writer delivers himself as follows:
But this academic method has been very largely the end and aim of art; and it is because of this
To penetrate the mark of commonplace circumstance and familiar indifference that spreads between the rich and the poor; to show them governed by the same passions, subject to the same needs, and crushed by the same death of a vagrant as great an element of pathos as in
sorrows, as their more fortunate brethren; to find in the
that of a Cæsar; in a word, to show that the same heart beats beneath frieze, fustian, and broadcloth coats-this, at any rate, is a legitimate sphere for art, and one in which its very highest qualities may find fitting exercise.
Here it is our pleasure to cordially agree with him. But, then, nine tenths of the painters would stigmatize this as the literary notion of art, the wonderful purpose of which is not to be pathetic, or human, or even interesting, but to fill us with spiritual ideas by stimulating the color nerves!
ADORNING THE CITY.
It is reported that a movement is on foot in Boston to form a society for promoting the adornment and improvement of that city. If this rumor prove to be true, Boston is to be congratulated; but we must claim for ourselves priority in suggesting the organization of societies for the purpose described. It is now fully eight years ago since we first broached in "Appletons' Journal" the idea of a metropolitan art association for the purpose of erecting, or promoting the erection, of statues, monuments, fountains, towers, or other objects of a purely art character, and we have several times since urged the idea upon the public. If Boston anticipate New York in the formation of such an association, it will not be because no such notion has ever been promulgated here; and Boston will surely anticipate the
metropolis unless we take steps to make it other wise. The difficulty in every movement of the kind is to find an energetic, influential, and disinterested leader. There are enough people who would sympathize with such a purpose, and liberally subscribe money to further it, provided they believed it to rest in the right hands. A suitable leader is obviously therefore the first desideratum, and this leader should be a man of influence, culture, and known responsibility. We venture to suggest that the President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be an appropriate selection for the purpose; the President of the National Academy of Design would also be an appropriate choice; and, possibly, these two gentlemen would be glad to coöperate in the plan.
New York needs an association of the kind, not only as an active but as a restrictive agent. It would not fulfill its mission solely by the occasional erection of a monument or a fountain, if it did not educate public taste and promote public sentiment in the direction of architectural adornment, and this it would be sure to do. Every good piece of work put up would be a silent comment on every bad or vulgar surrounding. Perhaps a Metropolitan Art Association would prove a great promoter of clean streets; for the dullest citizen would eventually discover that beauty and foulness can not be appropriately conjoined; and the discrimination thus awakened would see that an ugly, misshapen telegraph-pole standing against a handsome façade, or crossing the lines of an artistic fountain, is an abomination; and with the telegraph-pole would disappear many other things that now affront and amaze the eyes of beholders. It is, indeed, just possible that good art in our streets would do more for general art-education than galleries or museums, for pictures and sculptures inevitably are seen by only a small part of the public, while everybody, from the millionaire to the beggar, frequents the streets, and each falls more or less, even if unconsciously, under the influence of the objects and the scenes that he daily comes in contact with.
But while an association such as we have indicated would be a public boon, a society animated by other than a high and severe art-ideal would simply disgrace us. A lot of fussy, self-sufficient, innately vulgar men, more bent upon parading themselves than in rendering worthy public service, eager for newspaper puffs and the applause of the idle, would soon hopelessly disfigure our parks and thoroughfares. A noble fountain or monument is a thing of delight, but bits of cheap, flimsy, inartistic ornamentation-of which there are instances enough already-we most distinctly do not want. Mean and cheap art is a great deal worse than no art at all. If, therefore, any set of people combine with the intention of adorning the city, it ought to be looked to that the organization is made up rightly, and composed of persons of approved culture and taste. Un
instructed people, if ever so well-meaning, should not be intrusted with a task such as we have considered. Wealth is a good thing; enterprise is a good thing; public spirit is a good thing; but these three good things have succeeded in disfiguring every corner of the land with architectural monstrosities, and in leaving their unhappy mark on every town in which they have had unrestricted sway. We trust there is in New York zeal enough of the right character to carry out a large, worthy, and appropriate scheme of metropolitan adornment.
A CORRESPONDENT ON THE NUDE. APROPOS of our recent article on the nude in art, a correspondent writes as follows:
Editor Appletons' Journal.
DEAR SIR: In perusing the article which appeared in "Appletons' Journal" for October, entitled "The Nude in Art once more," I can not refrain from calling your attention to one thing which may possibly have escaped
Very near the end of the article occurs this sentence : "To say that youthful imagination ought not to be sensuously stirred by art of this kind is to require of it more than is possible in nature." Very true, but might not other things harmless in themselves inflame the imagination equally as much? If the nude in art excites the imagination to so great a degree, how much more will the imagination of the young physician be excited by the nude in nature! Must we on that account abolish the practice of medicine, and the alleviation of diseases peculiar to those parts of our body which custom demands should be covered? Would it be expecting too much to beg from you an answer to this letter?
In our first article on the subject, printed in the number for February last, we pointed out how, as it seemed to us, the art student and the medical student, in their academic relations to the nude, so to speak, fall under a different influence from that which affects persons who look upon it merely from a curious or emotional point of view. With the student, a special and scholastic purpose may be supposed to dominate every other feeling. But, even if this were not so, the fact that a duty and a necessity are involved separates the act from others; and then it does not follow that, because one set of experiences is dangerous, we must therefore surrender ourselves to all other experiences. It is impossible in this world to avoid things which are seductive to the senses; but assuredly we may try and reduce the number-we may take care not to voluntarily and unnecessarily place ourselves under unwholesome influences. Because the soldier must stand fire in battle, that is no reason why he must submit to every musket that may be idly opened upon him.
Books of the Da
F all the work which he did in various depart- ment at the injustice of present opinion, he always
avowed, and a confidence
Of by which
Bayard Taylor would doubtless prefer to be known
That the author should place a high estimate upon work produced under such difficulties, and as the result of such exalted aspirations, was natural and perhaps inevitable; and Mr. Taylor made no attempt to conceal the fact that he set a greater value upon his poetry than the public seemed disposed to concede to it. As we pointed out on a previous occasion, the burden of many of his later poems was the somewhat querulous complaint of unappreciated genius; but, amid all his disappoint
the verdict of that posterity which should bring to the inquisition calmer feelings and larger views. Our own opinion coincides with his, to this extent, at least, that his poetry will be relatively more highly esteemed hereafter than it was during the author's life. One of the most deeply rooted and widely prevalent of human instincts appears to be that which holds intellectual versatility and intellectual depth to be incompatible qualities; and there can be no doubt that the variety and copiousness of Mr. Taylor's literary work did more than anything else to divert attention from his achievements in that field whose fruits he himself esteemed most highly. The reputation which he earned as traveler, novelist, critic, essayist, and lecturer, tended to confuse the impression which his poetry alone might have made; and the generally accepted idea of him was that he attempted too many things to win the highest success in any. Longfellow's "Hyperion" and "OutreMer" are left entirely out of account in the common estimate of his literary standing; and it can hardly be doubted that, if his productiveness as a novelist had kept pace with his work as a poet, he would have failed to attain that undisputed primacy which he now holds in American literature. It is said of Macaulay that the only criticism that ever really touched him was the implication that such opulence of knowledge and brilliancy of style were inevitably linked with superficiality of thought; and, whether it was correct in his case or not, a wellnigh universal truth is embodied in the proposition that excellence in any pursuit so exacting as poetry can be reached only by according to it an unreserved and undivided allegiance.
For this reason, we think, as Mr. Taylor's work in other fields is gradually forgotten, his work as a poet will be more highly esteemed; but whether any portion of that work is "assured of perpetuity" seems to us a matter of very grave doubt. The fatal defect of Mr. Taylor's poetry seems to us to be clearly implied even in Mr. Boker's touching description of the circumstances and sentiments which controlled its production. To him poetry was a manufacture or a fabric rather than an inspiration ; and his art was too conscious-with too much of what the Germans call intention-to reach those celestial harmonies which are the irrepressible utterance of spontaneous singing. His literary method appears to have borne too close a resemblance to that of Southey-another Protean worker - who would write the history of Brazil before breakfast, an ode after breakfast, then the history of the Peninsular War till dinner, and an article for the "Quar
* The Poetical Works of Bayard Taylor. With a terly Review" in the evening; and the fate of the Preface by George H. Boker. Household edition. one poet is only too likely to be the fate of the ton: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 12mo, pp. 341. other.