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Obviously a new edition of Hercules and the Wagoner.
“ He was the most open of men, and told unhesitatingly all he thought, unless the subject were art and artists. On these subjects he was often in. accessible, and put off the inquirer with wit or satire.” “On two subjects be would never talk, thorough bags and religion. He said they were both things complete within themselves, (in sich abgeschlossene dinge,) about which men should dispute no forther."
“ As to the productions of his genius, let not a man or a nation, if yet in an immature staze, seek to know them. They require a certain degree of ripeness in the inner man to be understood.
" From the depth of the mind arisen, she, (Poesie,) is only to the depth of the mind either niseful or intelligible."
I cannot conclude more forcibly than by quoting Beethoven's favourite maxim. It expresses what his life was, and what the life must be of those who would become worthy to do him bonour.
“ The barriers are not yet erected which can say to aspiring talent and industry, thus fur and no further."
Beethoven is the only one of these five artists whose life can be called unfortunate. They all found early the means to unfold their powers, and a theatre on which to display them. But Bee. thoven was, through a great part of his public career, deprived of the satisfaction of guiding or enjoying the representation of his thoughts. He was like a painter who could never see his pictures after they are finished. Probably, if he could himself have directed the orchestra, he would have been more pliable in making corrections with an eye to effect. Goethe says that no one can write a successful drama without familiarity with the stage, so as to know what can be expressed, what must be merely indi. cated. But in Beethoven's situation, there was not this reaction, so that he clung more perseveringly to the details of his work than great geniuses do, who live in more immediate contact with the outward world. Such an one will, indeed, always answer like Mozart to an ignorant criticism, " There are just as many
notes as there should be." But a habit of intercourse with the minds of men gives an instinctive tact, as to meeting them, and Michel Angelo, about to build St. Peter's, takes into considera. tion, not only his own idea of u cathedral, but means, time, space, and prospects.
But the misfortune, which feltered the outward energies, deep. ened the thought of Beethoven. He travelled inward, downward, I till downward was shown to be the same as upward, for the centre was passed.
Like all princes, he made many ingrates, and his powerful lion nature, was that most capable of suffering from the amazement of witnessing baseness. But the love, the pride, the faith, which survive such pangs are those which make our stair to hea.
Beethoven was not only a poet, but a victorious poet, for having drunk to its dregs the cup of bitterness, the fount of inward nobleness reinained undefiled. Unbeloved, he could love ; deceived in other men, he yet knew himself too well to despise human nocure ; dying from ingratitude, he could still be grateful.
Schindler thinks his genius would have been far more productive, if he had had a tolerably happy home, if instead of the cold discomfort that surrounded him, he had been blessed, like Mozart, with a gentle wife, who would have made him a sanctuary in her unwearied love. It is, indeed, inexpressibly affecting to find the
vehement nature,” even in his thirty-first year, writing thus ; “At my age one sighs for an equality, a harmony of outward existence," and to know that he never attained it. But the lofty ideal of the happiness which his life could not attain, shone forth not the less powerfully from his genius. The love of his choice was not “firm as the fortress of heaven,” but his heart remained the ga'e to that fortress. During all his latter years, he never complained, nor did Schindler ever hear him advert to past sor. rows, or the lost objects of affection. Perhaps wi are best con.
aught, much less one another. All excellence to them was ge. nial; imperfection only left room for new creative power to dis. play itself. An everlasting yes breathes from the life, from the work of the artist. Nature echoes it, and leaves to society the work of saying no, if it will. But it will not, except for the moment. It weans itself for the moment, and turns pettishly away from genius, but soon stumbling, groping, and lonely, cries aloud tor its nurse. The age cries now, and what an answer is prophesied by such harbinger stars as these at which we have been gazing. We will engrave their names on the breastplate, and wear them as a talisman of hope.
tented that earth should not have offered him a home; where is the woman who would have corresponded with what we wish from his love? Where is the lot in which he could have reposed with all that grandeur of aspect in which he now appears to us? Where Jupiter, the lustrous, lordeth, there may be a home for thee, Beethoven.
We will not shrink from the dark clouds which became to his overflowing light cinctures of pearl and opal; we will not, even by a wish, seek to amend the destiny through which a divine thought glows so clearly. Were there no dipuses there would be no Antigones.
Under no other circumstances could Beethoven have ministered 10 his fellows in the way he himself indicates.
“The unhappy man, let him be comforted by finding one of his race who in defiance of all hinderances of nature, has done all possible to him to be received in the rank of worthy artists and men."
In three respects these artists, all true artists, resemble one another. Clear decision. The intuitive faculty speaks clear in those devoted to the worship of Beauty. They are not subject to mental conflict, they ask not counsel of experience. They take what they want as simply as the bird goes in search of its proper food, so soon as its wings are grown. Like nature they love to work for its own sake. The philoso
. v pher is ever seeking the thought through the symbol, but the ar
tist is happy at the implication of the thought in his work. He does not reason about “religion or thorough bass." His answer is Haydn's, “I thought it best so." From each achievement grows up a still higher ideal, and when his work is finished, it is nothing to the artist who has made of it the step by which he ascended, but while he was engaged in it, it was all to him, and filled his soul with a parental joy.
They do not criticise, but affirm. They have no need to deny
A RECORD OF IMPRESSIONS
PRODUCED BY THE EXHIBITION OF MR. ALLSTON'S PICTURES IN THE
SUMNER OF 1839.
This is a record of impressions. It does not aspire to the dig. nity of criticism. The writer is conscious of an eye and taste, not sufficiently exercised by study of the best works of art, to take the measure of one who has a claim to be surveyed from the same platform. But, surprised at finding that an exhi. bition, intended to promote thought and form the tastes of our public, has called forth no expression* of what it was to so many, who almost daily visited it; and believing that comparison and discussion of the impressions of individuals is the best means to ascertain the sum of the whole, and raise the standard of taste, I venture to offer what, if not true in itself, is at least true to the mind of one observer, and may lead others to reveal inore valua. ble experiences.
Whether the arts can ever be at home among us ; whether the desire now manifested to cultivate them be not merely one of our modes of imitating older nations ; or whether it springs from a need of balancing the bustle and care of daily life by the unfold. ing of our calmer and higher nature, it is at present difficult to decide. If the latter, it is not by unthinking repetition of the technics of foreign connoisseurs, or by a servile reliance on the judgment of those, who assume to have been formed by a few
• Since the above wus written, wo seo an article on the Exhibition in the Korth American Review for April, 1840.
hasty visits to the galleries of Europe, that we shall effect an object so desirable, but by a faithful recognition of the feelings naturally excited by works of art, not indeed Nippant, as if our - raw, uncultivated nature was at once competent to appreciate thosc finer manifestations of nature, which slow growths of ages and peculiar aspects of society have occasionally brought out, to testify to us what we may and should be. We know it is not so; we know that if such works are to be assimiluted at all by those who are not under the influences that produced them, it must be by gradually educating us to their own level. But it is not blind faith that will educate us, that will open the depths and clear the eye of the mind, but an examination which cannot be too close, if made in the spirit of reverence and love.
It was as an essay in this kind that the following pages were written. They are pages of a journal, and their form has not been altered, lest any attempt at a more fair and full statement should destroy that freshness and truth of feeling, which is the chief merit of such.
July, 1839. On the closing of the Allston exhibition, where I have spent so many hours, I find myself less a gainer than I had expected, and feel that it is time to look into the matter a little, with such a torch or penny rush candle as I can command.
I have seen most of these pictures often before; the Beatrice and Valentine when only sixteen. The effect they produced upon me was so great, that I suppose it was not possible for me to avoid expecting too large a benefit from the artist.
The calm and meditative cast of these pictures, the ideal beauty that shone through rather than in them, and the barmony of colouring were as unlike anything else I saw, as the Vicar of Wakefield to Cooper's novels. I seemed to recognise in painting chat self-possessed elegance, that transparent depth, which I most admire in literature; I thought with delight that such a man as