The journal of design and manufactures
Books, pp. 91-92
92 Books: Buildings and Monuments-Art of Etching. did not want anything decorative." Mr. Carlyle notices the same kind of disbelief in the Fine Arts:- " ' May the Devil fly away with the Fine Arts!' exclaimed confidentially once, in my hearing, one of our most distinguished public men; a sentiment that often recurs to me. I perceive too well how true it is, in our case. A public man, intent on any real business, does, I suppose, find the Fine Arts rather imaginary. The Fine Arts, wherever they turn up as business, whatever committee sit upon them, are sure to be the parent of much empty talk, laborious hypocrisy, dilettantism, futility; involving huge trouble and expense and babble, which end in no result, if not in worse than none. The practical man, in his moments of sincerity, feels them to be a pretentious nothingness; a confused superfluity and nuisance, purchased with cost,--what he in brief language denominates a bore. It is truly so, in these degraded days :-and the Fine Arts, among other fine interests of ours, are really called to recognise it, and see what they will do in it. For they are become the throne of Hypocrisy, I think the highest of her many thrones, these said Arts; which is very sad to consider! Nowhere, not even on a gala-day in the Pope's Church of St. Peter, is there such an explosion of intolerable hypocrisy, on the part of poor mankind, as when you admit them into their Royal Picture-gallery, Glyptothek, Museum, or other divine temple of the Fine Arts. Hypocrisy doubly intolerable; because it is not here, as in St. Peter's and some other churches, an obliged hypocrisy but a voluntary one. Nothing but your own vanity prompts you here to pretend worshipping; you are not bound to worship, and twaddle pretended raptures, criticisms, and poetic recognitions, unless you like it ;-and you do not the least know what a damnable practice it is, or you wouldn't! I make a rule, these many years back, to speak almost nothing, and encourage no speech in picture-galleries; to avoid company, even that of familiar friends, in such situations; and perambulate the place in silence. You can thus worship or not worship, precisely as the gods bid you; and are at least under no obligation to do hypocrisies, if you cannot conveniently worship. " The fact is, though men are not in the least aware of it, the Fine Arts, divorced entirely from truth this long while, and wedded almost professedly to falsehood, fiction, and such like, are got into what we must call an insane condition: they walk abroad without keepers, nobody suspecting their sad' state, and do fantastic tricks equal to any in Bedlam,-especially when admitted to work 'regardless of expense,' as we sometimes see them! What earnest soul passes that new St. Stephen's, and its wilderness of stone pepperboxes with their tin flags atop, worth two millions I am told, without mentally exclaiming Apage, and cutting some pious cross in the air! If that be ' ideal beauty,' except for sugarwork, and the more elaborate kinds of ginger- bread, what is real ugliness ? To say merely (with an architectonic trumpet-blast that cost two millions), ' Good Christians, you observe well I am regardless of expense, and also of veracity, in every form ?' Too truly these poor Fine Arts have fallen mad! "The Fine Arts once divorcing themselves from truth, are quite certain to fall mad, if they do not die, and get flown away with by the Devil, which latter is only the second-worst result for us. Truth, fact, is the life of all things; falsity, ' fiction,' or whatever it may call itself, is certain to be death, and is already insanity, to whatever thing takes up with it. Fiction, even to the Fine Arts, is not a quite permissible thing. Sparingly permissible, within iron limits; or if you will reckon strictly, not permissible at all ! The Fine Arts too, like the coarse and every art of man's god- given faculty, are to understand that they are sent hither not to fib and dance, but to speak and work; and, on the whole, that God Almighty's facts, such as given us, are the one pabulum which will yield them any nourishment in this world. 0 Heavens, had they always well remembered that, what a world were it now!" BUILDINGS AND MONUMENTS, MODERN AND MEDiscvAL. By George Godwin.-Pub- lished in the Builder. THE eighth number of this work completes one of the most interesting volumes, either for the architectural student or the general drawing-table, which the present season has produced. It strikingly proves how much art there may be in typography. The excellent printing in this volume quite alters the character of the woodcuts which originally appeared in the Builder. THE ART OF ETCHING. By Alfred Ashley.-Darling, London. So far as etching can be learnt from a book this work tells pretty clearly as much as is necessary, and is therefore useful to those who cannot have the benefit of any practical lessons from a teacher.
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