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"Renaissance in Italy." According to the author's design, this work will comprise four volumes, entitled respectively "The Age of the Despots" (dealing with the politics of the period), "The Revival of Learning" (dealing with its scholarship), "The Fine Arts," and "Italian Literature." Though these volumes, taken together and in the order planned, form one connected study of Italian culture at a certain period of history, still each is complete in itself, treats of a distinct department of the general subject, and can be read independently of its companions. Each installment of the work as it appeared has been very warmly received in England, and the work as a whole seems destined to meet and satisfy the want which has so long been inadequately supplied by the writings of Rio and Roscoe. In introducing it to the American public the publishers, availing themselves of the present demand for works on the fine arts, have selected the third volume; * intimating, however, that, should this meet with the reception to which its acknowledged merits entitle it, the republication of the other volumes will speedily follow.
In attempting now to define the character of this special volume, we should say at the start that, though complete in itself, its method of treatment is shaped by the nature of the general work of which it forms a part. The author does not content himself with retracing the history of the Italian arts, treating them as an isolated and independent phenomenon, but endeavors to define their relation to the main movement of Renaissance culture, of which they were simply one phase or mode of expression. "Keeping this, the chief object of my whole work, steadily in view, I have tried to explain the dependence of the arts on mediaval Christianity at their commencement, their gradual emancipation from ecclesiastical control, and their final attainment of freedom at the moment when the classical revival culminated." This subordination of the special subject of the work to a more comprehensive theme by no means fetters the treatment, but, on the contrary, by exhibiting the fine arts in their proper relations to the circumstances which produced, and shaped, and fostered them, gives them a new significance and a keener interest. The revival of sculpture and painting at the end of the thirteenth century was among the earliest signs of that new intellectual birth to which the title of Renaissance has been given; and the history of the entire period, with its gradual evolution and sudden mutations, is unmistakably reflected in these most sympathetic and sensitive of How dominant a rôle art played in that special phase of the Renaissance which was illustrated in Italy, Mr. Symonds is obliged to direct attention to at the very threshold of his work. Here is the opening paragraph of his book:
It has been granted only to two nations, the Greeks and the Italians, and to the latter only at the
* Renaissance in Italy. The Fine Arts. By John Addington Symonds. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 8vo, pp. 550.
time of the Renaissance, to invest every phase and variety of intellectual energy with the form of art. Nothing notable was produced in Italy between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries that did not bear the stamp and character of fine art. If the methods of science may be truly said to regulate our modes of thinking at the present time, it is no less true that during the Renaissance art exercised a like controlling influence. Not only was each department of the fine arts practiced with singular success; not only was the national genius to a very large extent absorbed in painting, sculpture, and architecture-but the aesthetic impulse was more subtly and widely diffused than this alone would imply. It possessed the Italians in the very center of their intellectual vitality, imposing its conditions on all the manifestations of their thought and feeling, so that even their shortcomings may be ascribed in a great measure to their inability to quit the æsthetic point of view.
The whole of this first chapter is most valuable and suggestive-profound without being pedantic, and eloquent without being rhetorical. It discusses the relation of art to the character and culture of the Italian people, the reasons why painting instead of sculpture became the supreme art of the Renaissance period, the differences between ancient and modern art, the relation of the fine arts to Christianity, the essential antagonism between piety and art, the compromises effected by the Church, and the humanization of ecclesiastical ideas by art. All these topics are discussed with a vigor and clearness which leaves nothing to be desired, and there are few so versed in the history and philosophy of art as not to find in Mr. Symonds's pages food for reflection and stimulus to thought. Particularly suggestive are the paragraphs in which he treats of the relation of art to Christianity. This, as he says, is the most difficult and thorny question offered to the understanding by the history of the Renaissance:
On the very threshold of the matter I am bound to affirm my conviction that the spiritual purists of all ages-the Jews, the iconoclasts of Byzantium, Savonarola, and our Puritan ancestors-were justified in their mistrust of plastic art. The spirit of Christianity and the spirit of figurative art are opposed, not because such art is immoral, but because it can not free itself from sensuous associations. It is always bringing us back to the dear life of earth, from which the faith would sever us. It is always reminding us of the body which piety bids us to forget. Painters and sculptors glorify that which saints and ascetics have mortified. The masterpieces of Titian and Correggio, for example, lead the soul away from compunction, away from penitence, away from worship even, to dwell on the delight of youthful faces, blooming color, graceful movement, delicate emotion. . . . When the worshiper would fain ascend on wings of ecstasy to God, the infinite, ineffable, unrealized, how can he endure the contact of those
splendid forms in which the lust of the eye and the pride of life, professing to subserve devotion, remind him rudely of the goodliness of sensual existence? The sublimity and elevation it [art] gives to carnal loveliness are themselves hostile to the spirit that holds no truce or compromise of traffic with the flesh. As displayed in its most perfect phases, in Greek sculpture and Venetian painting, art dignifies the actual mundane life of man; but Christ, in the
language of uncompromising piety, means everything most alien to this mundane life-self-denial, abstinence from fleshly pleasure, the waiting for true bliss beyond the grave, seclusion even from social and domestic ties.
If, then, there really exists this antagonism between fine art glorifying human life and piety contemning it, how came it, we may ask, that even in the middle ages the Church hailed art as her coadjutor? The answer lies in this, that the Church has always compromised. When the conflict of the first few centuries of Christianity had ended in her triumph, she began to mediate between asceticism and the world. Intent on absorbing all existing elements of life and power, she conformed her system to the Roman type, established her service in basilicas and pagan temples, adopted portions of the antique ritual, and converted local genii into saints. At the same time she utilized the spiritual forces of monasticism, and turned the mystic impulse of ecstatics to account. . . . The Christianity she formed and propagated was different from that of the New Testament, inasmuch as it had taken up into itself a mass of mythological anthropomorphic elements. Thus transmuted and materialized, thus accepted by the vivid faith of an unquestioning populace, Christianity offered a proper medium for artistic activity. The whole first period of Italian painting was occupied with the endeavor to set forth in form and color the popular conceptions of a faith at once unphilosophical and unspiritual, but beautiful and fit for art by reason of the human elements it had assumed into its substance. It was natural, therefore, that the Church should show herself indulgent to the arts, which were effecting in their own sphere what she had previously accomplished, though purists and ascetics, holding fast by the original spirit of their creed, might remain irreconcilably antagonistic to their influence. The Reformation, on the contrary, rejecting the whole mass of compromises sanctioned by the Church, and returning to the elemental principles of the faith, was no less naturally opposed to the fine arts, which, after giving sensuous form to Catholic mythology, had recently attained to liberty, and brought again the gods of Greece.
Following this teeming and instructive first chapter there are a chapter on Architecture, a chapter on Sculpture, and four chapters on Painting, which was, as we have said, the paramount art of the Renaissance, and to which much the greater portion of the book is assigned. A chapter each is assigned to Michael Angelo and Benvenuto Cellini, who are portrayed at full length as typical (though contrasted) figures of the Italian Renaissance. A final chapter traces the decline of the art of painting through the sixteenth century to the extinction of the Renaissance impulse; and there are three appendices, comprising papers on the Pulpits of Pisa and Ravello, on Michael Angelo's Sonnets, and Chronological
Burroughs, and we may add now that this resemblance becomes still more noticeable in reading Mr. Burroughs's "Locusts and Wild Honey"* so soon after the Englishman's work. There is just the difference between the two books that there is between the surroundings of their authors; Mr. Burroughs having a certain wild and adventurous flavor, as of primitive woods and remote mountain fastnesses, while the Englishman's so-called wild life is after all but the qualified wildness of a nature which is linked to man by many and long-continued associations, The Englishman's observations, varied and interesting as they are, are confined to the limits of a farm and a small section of adjacent country, which have been inhabited and cultivated by man for many generations; Mr. Burroughs, on the other hand, roams from Virginia to Canada, and, though nothing repels his curiosity merely because it is homelike and commonplace, yet he draws his happiest inspirations from those virgin and untrodden wildernesses where the traces of man are lost in the immensity and profusion of nature.
This wild, free, adventurous spirit is more notice
able in "Locusts and Wild Honey" than in any previous work of Mr. Burroughs. The title, as he admits, is allegorical rather than strictly descriptive, but, "if the name carries with it a suggestion of the wild and delectable in nature, of the free and ungarnered harvests which the wilderness everywhere affords to the observing eye and ear," it will prove, as he says, sufficiently explicit for his purpose; and, in fact, the title is in a peculiar degree suggestive of the contents of the volume. These contents consist of a number of detached papers dealing with such subjects as "The Pastoral Bees," " Sharp Eyes," "Strawberries," "Is it going to Rain?” “ Speckled "A Bed of Boughs," Trout," "Birds and Birds, Birds'-Nesting," and "The Halcyon in Canada." The title of a paper is usually no more descriptive than the title of a book, but is used as a sort of picturesque summary of its general contents. It would be very difficult, in fact, to describe in a phrase or a sentence any half-dozen consecutive pages of Mr. Burroughs's work; for he does not aim at expounding a theory or inculcating doctrine, but simply lays before us a selection from the varied and manifold secrets and confidences which Nature withholds jealously from the careless or the inattentive, but which she seems eager to disclose to the loving and vigilant
Perhaps the most effective and certainly the pleasantest way to convey an idea of the contents of the book will be to quote a few illustrative pasters. By comparing these with the similar quotations sages taken almost at random from the different chap(in our last number) from "Wild Life in a Southern County," the reader will be able to obtain a very good
idea of the resemblances and differences between two books which are unusually charming examples of a very delightful species of literature. The chapter on "Bees" is full of quaint and curious lore, and we
* Locusts and Wild Honey. By John Burroughs. Boston: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 16m0, pp. 253.
shall by and by quote a passage from it; but our first selection shall be taken from the essay on Sharp Eyes," as defining the faculty and the habit by which Mr. Burroughs has been enabled to garner the copious harvest from which he offers us such opulent and varied sheaves:
Noting how one eye seconds and reënforces the other, I have often amused myself by wondering what the effect would be if one could go on opening eye after eye to the number of a dozen or more. What would he see? Perhaps not the invisiblenot the odors of flowers or the fever-germs in the air -not the infinitely small of the microscope or the infinitely distant of the telescope. This would require, not more eyes so much as an eye constructed with more and different lenses; but would he not see with augmented power within the natural limits of vision? At any rate, some persons seem to have opened more eyes than others, they see with such force and distinctness; their vision penetrates the tangle and obscurity where that of others fails like a spent or impotent bullet. How many eyes did Gilbert White open? how many did Henry Thoreau? how many did Audubon? how many does the hunter, matching his sight against the keen and alert sense
of a deer or a moose, or a fox or a wolf? Not outward eyes, but inward. We open another eye whenever we see beyond the first general features or outlines of things whenever we grasp the special details and characteristic markings that this mask covers. Science confers new powers of vision. Whenever you have learned to discriminate the birds, or the plants, or the geological features of a country, it is as if new and keener eyes were added..
A man has a sharper eye than a dog, or a fox, or than any of the wild creatures, but not so sharp an ear or nose. But in the birds he finds his match. How quickly the old turkey discovers the hawk, a mere speck against the sky, and how quickly the hawk discovers you if you happen to be secreted in the bushes, or behind the fence near which he alights! One advantage the bird surely has, and that is, owing to the form, structure, and position of the eye, it has a much larger field of vision-indeed, can probably see in nearly every direction at the same instant, behind as well as before. Man's field of vision embraces less than half a circle horizontally, and still less vertically; his brow and brain prevent him from seeing within many degrees of the zenith without a movement of the head; the bird, on the other hand, takes in nearly the whole sphere at a glance. I find I see, almost without effort, nearly every bird within sight in the field or wood I pass through (a fit of the wing, a flirt of the tail are enough, though the flickering leaves do all conspire to hide them), and that with like ease the birds see me, though unquestionably the chances are immensely in their favor. The eye sees what it has the means of seeing, truly. You must have the bird in your heart before you can find it in the bush. The eye must have purpose and aim. No one ever yet found the walking fern who did not have the walking fern in his mind. A person whose eye is full of Indian relics picks them up in every field he walks through. . .
The habit of observation is the habit of clear and decisive gazing; not by a first casual glance, but by a steady, deliberate aim of the eye are the rare and characteristic things discovered. You must look intently and hold your eye firmly to the spot, to ce more than do the rank and file of mankind. The sharp-shooter picks out his man and knows him with fatal certainty from a stump, or a rock, or a cap on
a pole. The phrenologists do well to locate, not only form, color, weight, etc., in the region of the eye, but a faculty which they call individuality—that object its essential character. This is just as neceswhich separates, discriminates, and sees in every sary to the naturalist as to the artist or the poet. The sharp eye notes specific points and differences -it seizes upon and preserves the individuality of the thing.-(Pages 37, 53, 55.)
Here is the promised passage from the chapter "The Pastoral Bees":
It is the making of the wax that costs with the bee. As with the poet, the form, the receptacle, gives him more trouble than the sweet that fills it, though, to be sure, there is always more or less for the gathering, but the wax he must make himempty comb in both cases. The honey he can have self-must evolve from his own inner consciousness. When wax is to be made the wax-makers fill themselves with honey and retire into their chamber for private meditation: it is like some solemn religious rite; they take hold of hands, or hook themselves together in long lines that hang in festoons from the top of the hive, and wait for the miracle to transpire. After about twenty-four hours their patience is rewarded, the honey is turned into wax, minute scales of which are secreted from between the rings of the abdomen of each bee; this is taken off and about twenty-five pounds of honey are used in elabfrom it the comb is built up. It is calculated that orating one pound of comb, to say nothing of the time that is lost. Hence the importance, in an economical point of view, of a recent device by which the honey is extracted and the comb returned intact to the bees. But honey without the comb is the perfume without the rose-it is sweet merely, and soon degenerates into candy. Half the delectableness is in breaking down these frail and exquisite walls yourself, and tasting the nectar before it has lost is freshness by contact with the air. Then the comb is a sort of shield or foil that prevents the tongue from being overwhelmed by the first shock of the sweet. (Page 15.)
The essay on "Strawberries" is only less succulent and delicious than the berries themselves, and it would be difficult to say which leaves the more pungent and characteristic flavor upon the palate. The reader has probably enjoyed the eating of strawberries in the past, and retains a grateful recollection of them; but Mr. Burroughs will be apt to make him feel that he has hitherto done them but scant justice
that his appreciation has been far inferior to their deserts. In celebrating them, indeed, the author rises to strains of dithyrambic fervor:
On the threshold of summer, Nature proffers us this, her virgin fruit; more rich and sumptuous are to follow, but the wild delicacy and fillip of the strawberry are never repeated-that keen feathered edge greets the tongue in nothing else. Let me not be afraid of over-praising it, but probe and probe for words to hint its surprising virtues. We may well celebrate it with festivals and music. It has the indescribable quality of all first things-that shy, uncloying, provoking, barbed sweetness. It is eager and sanguine as youth. It is born of the copious dews, the fragrant nights, the tender skies, the plentiful rains of the early season. The singing of birds is in it, and the health and frolic of lusty Nature. It is the product of liquid May touched by the June sun. It has the tartness, the briskness, the unruli
ness of spring, and the aroma and intensity of sum
Oh, the strawberry days! how vividly they come back to one! The smell of clover in the fields, of blooming rye on the hills, of the wild grape beside the woods, and of the sweet honeysuckle and spiraa about the house. The first hot, moist days. The daisies and buttercups, the songs of the birds, their first reckless jollity and love-making over, the full tender foliage of the trees, the bees swarming, and the air strung with resonant musical chords. The time of the sweetest and most succulent grass, when the cows come home with aching udders. Indeed, the strawberry belongs to the juiciest time of the year. What a challenge it is to the taste, how it bites back again! and is there any other sound like the snap and crackle with which it salutes the ear on being plucked from the stems? It is a threat to one ser.se that the other is soon to verify. It snaps to the ear as it smacks to the tongue. All other berries are tame beside it.-(Page 65.)
Like every other lover of Nature for its own sake, Mr. Burroughs is an enthusiastic angler, and some of the most delightful writing in his book will be found in the chapters on "Speckled Trout," A Bed of Boughs," and "The Halcyon in Canada," each of which describes a separate fishing expedition. It should be said, however, that he enjoys the sport less for the mere fish which it secures than be
cause it affords the opportunity of getting at close quarters with Nature in her most confidential and fascinating aspects:
I have been a seeker of trout from boyhood [he says], and on all the expeditions in which this fish has been the ostensible purpose I have brought home more game than my creel showed. In fact, in my mature years I find I got more of nature into me, more of the woods, the wild, nearer to bird and beast, while threading my native streams for trout, than in almost any other way. It furnished a good excuse to go forth; it pitched one in the right key; it sent one through the fat and marrowy places of field and wood. Then the fisherman has a harmless, preoccupied look; he is a kind of vagrant that nothing fears. He blends himself with the trees and the shadows. All his approaches are gentle and indirect. He times himself to the meandering, soliloquizing stream; its impulse bears him along. At the foot of the waterfall he sits sequestered and hidden in its volume of sound. The birds know he has no designs upon him, and the animals see that his mind is in the creek. His enthusiasm anneals him, and makes him pliable to the scenes and influences he moves among.
I am sure I run no risk of over-praising the charm and attractiveness of a well-fed trout-stream, every drop of water in it as bright and pure as if the nymphs had brought it all the way from its source in crystal goblets, and as cool as if it had been hatched beneath a glacier. When the heated and soiled and jaded refugee from the city first sees one he feels as if he would like to turn it into his bosom and let it flow through him a few hours, it suggests such healing freshness and newness. How his roily thoughts would run clear; how the sediment would go down stream! Could he ever have an impure or an unwholesome wish afterward? The next best thing he can do is to tramp along its banks and surrender himself to its influence. If he reads it intently enough, he will, in a measure, be taking it into his mind and heart, and experiencing its salutary ministrations. (Page 109.)
In the following passage the author interprets the secret of a feeling which is no doubt often experienced by what Carlyle calls "the fatal generation of sight-seers":
The next morning we set out per steamer for the Saguenay, and entered upon the second phase of our travels, but with less relish than we could have wished. Scenery-hunting is the least satisfying pursuit I have ever engaged in. What one sees in his necessary travels, or doing his work, or going a-fishout in cold blood to admire is quite apt to elude you. ing, seems worth while, but the famous view you go Nature loves to enter a door another hand has opened; a mountain view, or a waterfall, I have noticed, never looks better than when one has just been warmed up by the capture of a big trout. If we had been bound for some salmon-stream up the Saguenay, we should perhaps have possessed that generous and receptive frame of mind-that open house of the heart-which makes one "eligible to any good fortune," and the grand scenery would have come in as a fit sauce to the salmon. An adventure, when he goes forth to admire woods and watersa bit of experience of some kind, is what one wants something to create a draught and make the embers of thought and feeling brighten. Nature, like certain wary game, is best taken by seeming to pass by her intent on other matters. (Page 246.)
These excerpts, it should be said, indicate but imperfectly the quality of the book, and moreover illustrate only one of its characteristic features. Perhaps the most piquant and entertaining passages are those in which the author narrates some of his personal experiences and adventures, and for none of these have we been able to make room.
THE character and merits of the series of "English Men of Letters" are probably by this time so well known to our readers that to say of the two latest volumes that they are up to the average of the series without quite equaling the best which it contains will, perhaps, give a sufficiently exact idea of their quality. Dean Church's "Spenser" is not the kind of work to attract or gratify the general reader, but it is probably the best guide to the study of Spenser that can be obtained. There is no great of commentary and explanation, which, in other poem in any language which stands so much in need words, is so apt to prove puzzling and baffling to the reader who comes to it without preparation and without the key, as the "Faerie Queene." According to the plan of the author, the explanation which would have removed all difficulties was to have been given in the concluding book; but, as only six books of the intended twelve were ever published, such help as the author himself might have afforded is confined to the brief introductory epistle to Sir Walter Raleigh, in which he outlines or summarizes his scheme, and suggests the moral which he intended to teach. The assistance furnished by this outline, however, is by no means sufficient to enable the read
* English Men of Letters. Edited by John Morley. Spenser. By R. W. Church, Dean of St. Paul's. New York: Harper & Brothers. 16m0, pp. 180.
er to understand and appreciate the poem. He must know something of the circumstances under which it was conceived and composed; of the condition of the English literature and language at the time it was written; of the social and poetic ideals which were current at the time, and which would tend more or less to shape the author's design; of the personal and other influences to which he was exposed; and of the extent to which the poem itself aided in creating the standard by which it has since been judged. All these points are treated by Dean Church in a manner which is at once comprehensive and concise, combining fullness of information and
breadth of scholarship with acute critical insight and unusual soundness and temperateness of judgment. Such details of Spenser's life as investigation has brought to light are also narrated with clearness and animation; and the book, if not the most attractive, is likely to prove one of the most useful members of the series.
Principal Shairp's "Burns "* is much more likely to achieve popular success. It is not more skillfully executed, perhaps, but the story of Robert Burns is one of the most touching and interesting in all the annals of literature, and the materials for it are so abundant that a biographer has little more to do than select and arrange what he finds best adapted to his purposes. Principal Shairp has not attempted to narrate Burns's life in much detail, but he brings out the leading and characteristic features of it with a clearness and emphasis that can hardly fail to lodge them firmly and permanently in the reader's mind. His portrait is not likely to satisfy in all respects either the admirers or the detractors of Burns, for he aims at strict accuracy and impartiality, and few men have illustrated more strikingly than Burns the truth of Shakespeare's saying that "the web of life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together." One thing regarding Burns is plain to every one, and, indeed, makes his career the painful tragedy it was-the contradiction between the noble gifts he had and the actual life he lived. "When, however," says Principal Shairp, we look more closely into the original outfit of the man, we seem in some sort to see how this came to be."
Given a being born into the world with a noble nature, endowments of head and heart beyond any of his time, wide-ranging sympathies, intellectual force of the strongest man, sensibility as of the tenderest woman, possessed also by a keen sense of right and wrong which he had brought from a pure home-place all these high gifts on the one side, and over against them a lower nature, fierce and turbulent, filling him with wild passions which were hard to restrain and fatal to indulge-and between these two opposing natures a weak and irresolute will, which could overhear the voice of conscience, but had no strength to obey it; launch such a man on such a world as this, and it is but too plain what the end will be. From earliest manhood till the close flesh and spirit were waging within him interminable war, and who shall say which had the victory?
* English Men of Letters. Edited by John Morley. Robert Burns. By Principal Shairp. New York: Harper & Brothers.
12m0, pp. 205.
Among his countrymen there are many who are so captivated with his brilliant gifts and his genial temperament that they will not listen to any hint at the deep defects which marred them. Some would even go so far as to claim honor for him not only as Scotland's greatest poet, but as one of the best men she has produced. Those who thus try to canonize Burns are no true friends to his memory. They do but challenge the counter-verdict, and force men to recall facts which, if they can not forget, they would fain leave in silence. These moral defects it is ours to know; it is not ours to judge him who had them. (Page 186.)
The estimate of the character and quality of Burns's work is marked by the same impartial balancing of merits and defects, combined always with that reverence and grateful appreciation which is the due of great genius, however it may be mixed with baser alloy. "Of all forms of literature," says the author, "the genuine song is the most penetrating
and the most to be remembered; and in this kind Burns is the supreme master." In another place he pronounces Burns "the greatest lyric singer the world has known." Of the two or three hundred songs written by him, there are many beneath his genius, but thirty or forty of them come up to the very highest standard. And "these songs embody human emotion in its most condensed and sweetest essence. They appeal to all ranks, they touch all ages, they cheer toil-worn men under every clime. Wherever the English tongue is heard, beneath the suns of India, amid African deserts, on the Western lia-wherever men of British blood would give vent prairies of America, among the squatters of Austrato their deepest, kindliest, most genial feelings, it is to the songs of Burns they spontaneously turn, and find in them at once a perfect utterance and a fresh tie of brotherhood. It is this which forms Burns's most enduring claim on the world's gratitude."
THE critic is likely to be somewhat baffled in the attempt to pass a verdict upon Mr. W. Davenport Adams's "The Secret of Success," because the very things which it is most obvious and most natural to say about it are admitted in advance by the author himself. He confesses at the outset that he has no exclusive, peculiar, or wonderful "secret" to unfold; that if there be a royal road to success, he does not know of it; and that the reader who goes to his book in the hope of learning some new and easy way of making money, or some fresh exposition of the Gospel of Getting-on, will probably find himself disappointed. "I do, indeed," he says, "profess to set forth the Secret of Success; but it is a secret which has always been known to the successful. And then, again, the Success to which I seek to direct the reader's attention is no novel form of