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ing of modern times. In his case, as in that of Mathews, the life which the actor lived, outside of and beyond the strictly professional part of it, was intimately concerned with his qualities as an actor. The two men were radically unlike. Save that they were both actors and managers, and fought strenuously in their respective ways against money difficulties, they had scarcely a point in common. But they both pursued their ideal, different as those ideals were, with zeal and consistency; and both served as a link between many and divers forms of art. It is to them in great part that we owe the encouraging circumstance that the poet, the musician, the painter, and the man of letters are coming more and more to welcome the " poor player" to the ranks of a brother artist, and to recognize that he may be a fellow worker with them on equal
And this brings us to the last word which it seems good to say on the lesson of these memoirs, as they bear upon the prospects of the English stage. The success of Mathews, as we have tried to show, was largely due to the fact that he was something more than an actor. If he was lacking in versatility as an actor, he was eminently versatile as a man. He was allied by sympathy, as well as in actual accomplishments, with half a dozen other arts; but he was also allied by sympathy with all sorts of other men, and with many and varied phases of common life. If, during the hard-working years of his career as actor and manager, he was necessarily thrown most with that profession, he had still thirty years of a very different life on which to look back, and from which to draw refreshment. He had reminiscences, if not surroundings, on which to feed his talent. We are persuaded that the gradual elevation of the average of ability, and of tone, in the actor's profession depends upon the degree to which the conditions of that profession enable him to take his place on equal terms with his brethren in other walks of art, and with the general current of educated English society. There was a time when the very name of actor, save in a few rare personalities, placed its possessor in a class by himself, and was all but a disqualification for entrance into the common life of the upper classes in England. The very hours during which his art was practiced being those devoted elsewhere to social intercourse, proved of itself a very complete barrier between the two classes. But now, as has been lately pointed out with great truth (if we are not mistaken, by the able dramatic critic of the "Athenæum"), an obstacle in the actor's path, of a totally opposite kind, is what he has most to fear.
There is now a halo of glory about the head of the successful actor, which obtains for him so ready a welcome and so exaggerated a tribute of homage, that he is in greater danger from flattery and the eulogiums of unwise friends, than ever he was of old from the respectable world's neglect. Things will right themselves in time, but in the mean while the successful actor has many insidious foes about his path. The remedy for this state of things lies, as we have said, in a more natural association among artists of all kinds, and between artists and the wholesome, ordinary, commonplace, friendly intercourse of daily society. Artists of all kinds have to beware of the demoralizing effects of mutual admiration. It fosters vanity and it fosters jealousy, the two prevailing foibles of artists, and preeminently of actors. In the actor's profession, what needs toning down is the personal element. Of too many of them in all time it must be admitted— we are sure that the best among them will be the readiest to admit the truth-that their besetting temptation is that expressed in the Laureate's lines
"It's always ringing in your ears,
'They call this man as good as me'!” Hitherto there has been some excuse, or at least explanation of this in the gulf which has separated the actor from ordinary society. His personal supremacy became his compensation for other things that were denied him and his defense against the educated world's contempt for his profession. But as the dignity of that profession rises, and with it the social position of the actor, the desire for personal supremacy ought to yield to, or at least be tempered by, other gains. Pride in the profession, and a sense of its worthiness and the worthiness of the work it is doing, ought to take the place in some degree of less ennobling aims. But, among other reforms, there is one which in any case ought to be early introduced. An actor should not have to play every night; or, if a continuous "run" of a certain piece is necessary, it should be followed by a period of comparative repose, or at least of alternations of leisure evenings. It is only so that the actor can fill his place in some measure in ordinary society, and obtain the benefit of taking friendly and wholesome part in the common interests of the world, among which, after all, are fostered the best and most healthy development of human character, and therefore the conditions which go to make art also wholesome and fructifying.
O furnish our houses comfortably is undoubtedly a task which, if well fulfilled, leads to a considerable increase in the happiness of the hours we spend at home. And this increase of happiness is of that most subtile kind which winds itself among all our pleasures, and makes them deeper and more refined. We all feel this to a certain extent. We all love a warm room, a cheery fire, a comfortable arm-chair, cleanliness and brightness. These are the grosser parts of household comfort which all can enjoy. And we cherish and grow fond of the things that have ministered to our material wants-of the chair we are accustomed to repose in after our day's work, of the fire that casts a ruddy light round our room as we sit and warm ourselves after we have been chilled through in the cold outside, when the sleet and the snow are beating against the windows, and the wind is wailing drearily round the corners of the house. But these comforts, or rather luxuries, are not among the refinements of domestic life. They belong to laborers' cottages as much as to stately houses, or perhaps more.
There is, indeed, a charm of homeliness about the poor man's cottage which the rich man in his palace might often envy. But many of us do not live in cottages, and do attempt to surround ourselves with things not purely utilitarian. ornament our walls with paper and paint, our doors with moldings, our ceilings and cornices with plaster-work, our floors with carpets, our fireplaces with marbles, our chairs with chintzes, and most things with vulgarity. And the consequence of all this is, that we spend a good deal of money in making ourselves less comfortable than we should have been if we had spent very little. I believe the motive of this outlay usually to be a desire to obtain cheap magnificence, to imitate with our little what our richer neighbors have bought with their plenty. And we certainly succeed in imitating their gaudiness. Only we forget one of the essential principles of all good art, that if a thing is conspicuous it should be able to bear close examination. How much better it would be if, instead of trying to produce cheap imitations of things which properly belong only to long suites of reception-rooms and stately galleries, we could contrive to form a style of decoration which should be in keeping with the houses in which we live, and with our manner of life! But perhaps it is a new light to many of my readers that they are living surrounded by vulgar furniture and in vulgar rooms. Let us,
then, consider what things in every-day life we are in the habit of calling vulgar. If we were to meet a poor girl tidily, cleanly, and quietly dressed, we might remark her as a person whom we would be glad to take into our own service, or perhaps attend to our own children. We should feel it probable that she would do her work diligently, and, above all, honestly. We should feel it probable that our children's characters would be safe in her hands; that she was possessed of a natural refinement which would prevent her doing or saying anything which we should fear might have a bad influence on the tone of their minds. If, on the other hand, we were to meet a girl of the same class gaudily dressed, with false jewelry and a flowery bonnet, we should probably be exactly as much prejudiced against her as we were in favor of the tidy girl. Our judgments in each case might be false; but they would be instinctive, that is to say, founded on our universal experience. And the difference between the two girls would be the difference between refinement and vulgarity. Few will disagree with me on this point. Now let us try to find out from this instance of it what we mean by the term vulgarity, or at least some of its characteristics, as applied to things that are seen.
The first that strikes us is the love of show. But it is the love of show for its own sake that is vulgar here. It is not the beauty of the thing shown, but the desire to create a sensation; and this becomes at times such a passion that it is blinding to all discrimination between beauty and ugliness. To show a beautiful thing because it is beautiful, there is no vulgarity in that; but to show anything, whether beautiful or ugly, for the sake of show-that is vulgar. This, then, is the first characteristic of vulgarity. The second is subordinate to, and depends on, the first. It consists in the falseness of the thing shown, a falseness that takes in no one but the creature who produces the sham, and only deceives her in this sense, that she believes she is deceiving others. Her passion for show is so great that she prefers the pretense of richness to the reality of neatness, and the exhibition of tawdriness to the comfort of quietness. Now, there are few men or women who would not consider that cheap gaudiness in dress, with all its accompaniments of false jewelry and what is called "loudness," was to the last degree vulgar. But the strange thing is, that these very men and women, who are really in many ways cultured and refined, do not see that they themselves commit the very
same faults in the decoration of their drawingrooms that they blame with such severity in the dressing of their maid-servants.
It would be impossible, within the limits of the present paper, to discuss, on the one hand, all the vulgarities of ordinary furnishing, or to describe, on the other hand, more desirable refinements in it; but a few instances we may deal with. We will suppose that we are in a drawing-room about twenty feet square (the size of an ordinary drawing-room in a moderately sized house). The first object that strikes us as we enter, perhaps, is a gigantic looking-glass, about four feet wide and six feet high, placed over the mantel-piece. It is surrounded with a rather elaborate and very coarse gilt molding. Such a mirror is the first thing that is thought of to decorate the walls, and to prevent the room looking bare. If we ask why a large mirror over the chimney-piece (or anywhere else) is thought desirable, we probably hear that "it gives size to the room" or that "it brightens it up." When we are told that it gives size to the room, I suppose we are to understand that it makes us believe that there is a second room over the chimney-piece just like the first. Of course, we are never thus taken in by ordinarily arranged mirrors; and, if we were, it would be very unpleasant. So that the first reason given in defense of them falls to the ground. With respect to the second excuse for their existence; we must observe that they undoubtedly do to a certain extent reflect, and therefore do increase the amount of light in the room, but that they diminish the amount of light that there appears to be by reflecting the darker parts of the room only to the spectator owing to their positions. And it is the amount of light that there appears to be, not the amount of light that there is, in a room that is important. So much for the supposed advantages and beauties of mirrors. Now let us consider the objections to them. We have seen that gloominess is one. Another is the appearance of smallness in rooms which they invariably produce. It is almost always possible to increase the apparent size of a small room in a legitimate way by avoiding large objects. A large statue or a large picture makes a small room look smaller still, not so much by filling it up as by destroying its scale. The eye naturally compares one thing with another, and measures one thing by another. As a rule, a big pattern on a wall paper, a large door, a large sheet of plate-glass in a window, all tend to make a room look smaller. Thus the vulgarity of cheap magnificence defeats its own object, and the effort to avoid supposed meanness succeeds only in making evident the very thing it is most anxious to hide. Another serious objection that may be made to large mir
rors as usually placed is the unpleasant way in which we catch sight of ourselves reflected in them. This, of course, is a pure matter of taste, but I believe that most people share this dislike of having their own personality suddenly brought under their notice.
The use of gilding requires very great care. Gold-leaf in the hands of an artist may be employed with wonderful effect. It may be made to give lightness or heaviness, brightness or shadow. It may be made to harmonize a system of coloring that would be crude without it, and it may produce a marvelous richness; but exactly in proportion as it may be used to adorn, in that proportion it may be used to destroy beauty, and to draw attention to ugliness. And it must be admitted that the way in which gilding is generally used displays an extraordinary ignorance of its artistic properties. In the first place it makes the objects it covers more conspicuous. There are some things (some carvings, for instance) which are very good, both in design and workmanship, but which require some of their parts to be emphasized and made to stand out against other parts. In these cases we may gild either of the parts and so produce the desired contrast. As a rule, it will be found best to gild those intended to catch the light. It will be found in almost all cases that the use of gold should in decoration be reserved for the accentuation of form. This is of course only a general rule, and is liable to many exceptions under peculiar circumstances. But how is gold generally used? Let us look round the room and see. It is to be seen on the frames of the mirrors above mentioned; the cornices above the valances of the curtains look as if they had been dipped into it, the pattern of the wall-paper is drawn out with it, and the moldings of the doors are covered with it. We shall discuss the nature of these carvings and moldings presently; meanwhile, let us suppose that they are of good design and carefully wrought. Consider those of the panels of the doors. The beauty of good plain moldings consists in the contrast of light and shade that exists between its members, and of the relative proportions of those members. On moldings of this kind gilding might be employed with great effect, not by covering over the whole, but by so carefully choosing those members that the contrasts of light and shade between them shall be increased, and the proportions of them maintained or improved. The same rules will apply to all moldings and carvings whatsoever that have to be gilt. As a matter of fact, however, in most houses the moldings are very far from being either well designed or carefully executed. They are, on the contrary, poor in form and lumpy and coarse in workmanship. In such cases
gilding usually merely serves to attract attention to what should be carefully left as subdued as possible.
But, indeed, as we look round, we see that discord prevails. What can be more harsh than the white-marble chimney-piece surrounding the cold steel grate? It is in the nature of the British mind to love open grates. To preserve them we sacrifice warmth, cleanliness, and even economy; so dearly do we love the sight of the redhot coals and the dancing flames! They are more beautiful in our eyes than the red rays of a precious ruby. And yet if we had such a ruby should we not surround it with a setting suitable to its beauty? Why not so, then, with the fire? If we chose to give a large sum of money for a marble chimney-piece, we could procure one which, with the help of delicate sculpture, might have been made beautiful; but this is no reason why we should spend on bare and repulsive polished marble much more than would be necessary to carry out a beautiful design in wood, such as can often be met with in houses about a hundred years old. But, not content with putting up white marble, we double the effect of its coldness by contrasting it with black iron or steel. There is really no excuse for this. Steel requires much cleaning to keep off rust, and iron requires the application of black-lead daily. A certain amount of iron, of course, there must be, as it is required to stand the heat, but the heavy moldings and flat surfaces, which seem made on purpose to give work to housemaids, are quite unnecessary. Grates can be easily procured calculated to give a large amount of heat for the fuel consumed, with a very small edge of iron round a square opening in front, delicately molded. If this be surrounded above and on each side with tiles about six or eight inches square of good color and design, and the whole be inclosed with a good bold molding of painted deal or oak, the result is most effective, and the cost is slight. One or more shelves may be erected above on brackets or otherwise. All the beauty will depend on the proper choice of tiles, grate, and moldings. In this arrangement, if the hearth be covered with tiles as well as the sides, the only thing that requires any labor to clean is the grate itself, and this should be made as little conspicuous as possible. Any amount of play of design may be given to the wooden surroundings. They may be ornamented with pilasters or brackets or shelves or panels, carried up to the ceiling or left three or four feet high; and all this may be done both more effectively for Scotch and English houses, as well as much more cheaply, in wood than in marble.
There are three methods commonly adopted for covering and decorating wall-spaces-plain
color in paint, paper, or distemper; patterns in paper, textile fabrics, or paint; and paneling. If the first method be employed, all the interest of the wall-surfaces is made to depend upon color. There can be no objection to this; a plain surface of color is a beautiful thing provided it be beautiful and adapted for its purpose. But, unfortunately, it is in rare exceptions only that we find walls of beautiful or suitable tones. Those most usually employed are pale green and yellowish drab. It will be said that these are harmless; and, to a certain extent, this defense is true. But it must be borne in mind that the harmless is not a very high ideal to aspire to, and that it is this inability in most of us to make our walls better than harmless that drives us to seek relief in vast-sized mirrors or other coarse decorations to give some life to our rooms. If we are fortunate enough to possess good pictures the problem is simple. All we have to do is to paint, paper, or distemper the walls with such a tint as shall form a good background to, without interfering with, the pictures. A rich brownish green will be found one of the best for this purpose. If, however, we have no pictures, or very few, we must depend on the beauty of our wall-decorations themselves. Now, if we call to mind the colors that we have seen on the walls in our friends' houses, is there any one among them that ever gave us an even momentary feeling of interest or pleasure? Some, as we said before, are harmless, that is to say, entirely uninteresting; but for the most part they are actually aggressive by their extreme crudeness. There is one, for instance, very much like that of lavender kid gloves, that is used often in distemper and paint, and mixed with pure white or white and gold in papers. The effect is one of astonishing repulsiveness. It possesses no brilliancy, no depth, no warmth, no interest or beauty of any kind. It is unsuitable for pictures, and clashes with almost every tint that is brought near to it.
It is impossible, without the help of illustration, to say much about color that will be of much practical value; nor, indeed, have we space to refer to all the thousands of harsh tints, single and mixed, which may be seen disfiguring the walls of houses. The only thing that can be done in this matter is to appeal to every one's own taste as far as possible, and to try and make him exercise his judgment. Do not let us be content, on the one hand, with gloominess and dullness; let us avoid with horror, on the other hand, all crudeness and mere showiness. Let us be careful that the color chosen shall be one not merely beautiful in small quantities, as, for instance, scarlet or bright blue, but suitable to covering large spaces, and sufficiently quiet to be a permanent rest to the eyes.
When wall-papers printed in patterns are used, there are further considerations which should guide our choice. It should be borne in mind, however, that although in these cases more than one color is employed, yet there is always a general effect of harmonious blending of tone together which should be sought after, an effect best seen at such a distance that the pattern ceases to be very distinct. This general effect is analogous to, and should be considered in the same light as, one tint. Many papers, when viewed from certain distances, give undue prominence to one particular feature, owing to its color not being in proper harmony with those of the other features of the design; and the constant repetition of the pattern over the wall-surface often causes the prominent features to be arranged in lines and figures in themselves unpleasing, though all the lines and figures of the design unrepeated may be faultless. Before a wall-paper is chosen, therefore, care should be taken that two or three breadths are placed side by side in order to detect this secondary pattern, if it exists. Exactly the same effect may be produced without prominence in color by the unequal distribution of the design. Supposing, for instance, it is printed light on a dark ground, and owing to this fault the pattern is thicker in some places than in others, then the thick parts, viewed from a short distance, will make little masses of light, and the thin parts little masses of dark color, which may make, on a large surface, a secondary pattern of unpleasing appearance.
But besides the production of general effect at such a distance that the primary design can not be distinctly seen, we have to consider the latter itself, the curves of its lines, and the beauty of its elementary features. It is, of course, impossible to discuss all the infinite variety of forms that wall-paper patterns have assumed, but there are certain classes of them about which some thing may be said. The first of these classes is that in which natural objects, flowers, leaves, birds, etc., are used in what is called an unconventional manner, that is, drawn on the paper as the artist would draw them were he simply making studies from nature. Now, even supposing that it were possible, at a considerable cost, to reproduce exactly the illustrations of a first-rate work on botany or ornithology, such a design would be eminently unsuited to its place. This, I suppose, no one will venture to deny. Not only, however, would it be unsuitable, it would be intrinsically bad; it would lack the first element of artistic design, arrangement. But it may be said that, in all patterns that repeat themselves, in the way in which wall-papers of necessity must, there must be some arrangement. This is true; but the fact only makes the want
of arrangement in the subordinate parts more conspicuous by contrast with the formality of the main features. I have seen, for instance, a pattern made of little bunches of flowers, red and blue and yellow (just as they might have been had they been copied directly after they had been picked, only very badly done), at the angles of a diamond-shaped trellis-work of gilt lines. Here, it is true, the flowers which compose the bunch are natural, but not the bunch itself, nor the placing of bunches at regular intervals. It is, in fact, absurd to talk of naturalism on a wall-paper at all; at best we can only produce but a feeble parody of it. What we can do, however, is to make use of certain forms suggested to us by nature, which will be really suitable to the positions they have to occupy, which will be pliable, that is to say, capable of being worked up into a continuous, evenly-distributed, and well-arranged design, and which will be besides all this very beautiful in themselves. Such idealizations from nature are the honeysuckle pattern of the Assyrians and Greeks; all the wonderful stone carvings which fill our medieval churches, so renowned for the appreciation they bear evidence to of the most subtle forms of birds, beasts, and flowers; all the Persian designs for ceilings, textile fabrics, pottery, and paintings, unrivaled for intricacy of form without confusion, grace of line without weakness, and brilliancy of color without gaudiness; all the flowing friezes of Renaissance times, so faultless in their curves. It is not because we love Nature more, but because we understand her less, that we have ceased to follow a precedent that has been hitherto universal.
There is another class of papers in which the main part of the pattern is geometrical. Papers of this kind are often very satisfactory, but do not usually possess as much interest as those involving free curves. They are, however, often very suitable to passages and halls, and may be used with advantage in places where something a little less monotonous than a plain surface of color is required. The geometrical patterns should always be small, never more than a few inches square, and should be simple also. Their want of interest tends to make them coarse and vulgar if used on a large scale. As a rule, it will be found that where figures involving squares are employed, it will be much better to place them with their sides vertical and horizontal, than with their corners at their highest and lowest points, like the diamond-shaped panes of glass in churchwindows.
The difficulties of decoration are very much increased in many cases by the thorough badness of the groundwork on which it has to be placed, and by the thorough badness of the thing that has to be decorated. So that often all that can