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We are not sure that we like his “Butt" quite so well as that little bit of gorgeousness the “Wedding-Gown,” but still it is one of the best gems of the exhibition.
you see a very little picture, with a very large crowd assembled to see it, you may be pretty sure it is by Mulready.
The high position which Herbert has reached he nobly maintains. He is of a staid, earnest temperament, this Herbert ; he suffers not his inventive powers to lead him astray; he shuts his eyes to the temptations of colour, and considers how his subject may be told with the greatest simplicity and force. St. John, Herod, Herodias and the Daughter-these four are the only personages in his picture of the celebrated " Reproof.” These are enough to tell the tale ; he wants no accessories. He delineates the figures with severe correctness; he seizes on the feeling of each individual character, and impresses it unmistakeably on the face.
Cope is a rising man. The countenance of the dying Cardinal Wolsey, with the plain traces of fragility, could not have been conceived by an ordinary mind. His grouping and colouring is exceedingly good; but, amid his ambitious attempts he must beware of falling into the common-place.
We have always looked upon Hart as a clever painter, but somewhat of the conventional. This
he takes a decided stride forward. His “ Meditation” (a female reading), is a fine, earnest conception, simply and forcibly realised. The modest colouring most happily accords with the serious character of the subject.
Is not Eastlake the gentlest interpreter of human nature ? Is he not the very antithesis of Etty? Only imagine one of the personages he so delicately creates, meeting one of Etty's big heroes in a narrow passage. What an awful rencontre. So very, very finished is the manner of Eastlake. It is beautiful to let the eye glide over the slippery surface of his canvass, unchecked by the slightest rude trace of the handling. In his picture this year, a party of peasants are captured by a band of robbers. Console yourselves, good people; those gentle brigands will never hurt you.
Not altogether unpleasant is it to gaze on that stout specimen of female flesh, which Patten designs to represent “ Aurora,” seeing that the same is well-coloured, and of a fascinating plumpness. And it is possible that some may turn with satisfaction from the rude nymphs of Etty to the softer nudities of Frost, a very clever delineator of the female form. That picture of “ Euphrosyne” is a nice composition, and is enlivened by a genial glow of hilarity.
It was a great thought of the deluge that flashed upon the mind of Linnell, when he painted the eve of that stupendous event. We think that in the preface to “Lucrèce Borgia,” Victor Hugo talks something about a death's head peeping from a corner in a magnificent dancinghall. Is not an impression of the sort conveyed by Linnell's picture ? The earth seems dressed out all too richly for her welfare ; she glows with a deeper glow than she was wont; her distant mountains rise with a more than regal purple ; the clouds are tormented to put on their most gorgeous colours—but there is no gaiety in their gorgeousness. Wild and terrific splendour this! It is the corpse dressed for the ball, that Mr. Warren talks about. W. Westall-he is also the illustrator of the deluge—he steps further into the story, and gets as far as the commencement. His work is a tremendous splash!
You can repose yourself from Linnell's terrible landscape painting, by looking at the clear, cheerful creations of Stanfield. His transparent waters, his sun-lit edifices, his groups of humanity, that give such animation to the scene, are always welcome objects; and his large view of “ Amalfi" is not less attractive than former productions. Roberts shall lead you into an eastern region, and you shall see tall temples standing without other back ground than the deep blue sky, while the red sunbeam reposes lazily on their summits. We do not think Roberts would feel heartily at ease, if he did not get that peculiarly red gleam. Or you shall listen to Danby's " minute-gun," and watch the graceful roll of the small cloud of smoke over the smooth glassy water, beneath that gorgeous sky. There is Danby at home. Joyfully does he catch nature when she exhibits her treasures of red and brown hues. A crimson sun-streak, a brown rock, a gray cloud, and a polished surface of water-these are the objects conspicuous in the world of Danby. Creswick shall take you a pleasant walk, in which you shall find yourself surrounded by a haze, not disagreeable, and you shall see the distant objects grow dim and misty in their remoteness. Or you shall rest upon masses of rocks, geometrically angled, for Creswick has such rocks. Lee shall conduct you through his avenues, and show you
verdant trees rejoicing in the sun-light-cheerful English landscape-nay, he shall show you more than he has created, for he shall show you the cows, which Mr. Cooper put into his picture. Pleasant fraternity of art. Those Cuyp-like cows that have ever flowed forth from the brain of Mr. Cooper, and which have so often delighted us by exhibiting their sleek skins before Mr. Cooper's own glowing back-grounds, looked with longing eyes upon the green fields of Mr. Lee. Their benevolent creator anticipated their wish, and drove them to the “Lee" pasture accordingly. Talking of animals, there is some vigour in that horse-combat of Ansdell's — but would that the horse to the right did not poke his leg out quite so straight.
The pictorial narrators of stories, and the genre-painters altogether have distinguished themselves well. Among the best of his class we should put W. P. Frith, who narrates, in a very clever picture, how an old woman was wrongfully accused of bewitching a country girl. Secret love was the real malady of the maiden, and you see her shrinking from the gaze of the spectators, revolting at the mischief which her unhappy passion has caused to an innocent being, and at the same time unwilling to speak a saving word. The poor old woman is obviously innocent, there is no mistake about the matter, though stupid prejudice has blinded those persecutors, who stand around animated by a brutal inspiration of intense rage. In this figure of the old woman lies the painter's chief art. there had been the slightest doubt of her innocence, the whole story would have been obscurely told. Then there is the justice-not one of the fat, rotund, Rowlandson-looking men, with rubicund cheeks, which painters of comic ambition love to delineate, but a person respectably thin and austere. The same Frith pokes us into a stage coach, in the middle of a snug party, and with the pistol of a highwayman fore-shortened in our faces. An inventive man this Mr. Frith. He knows that the death-charged instrument will operate differently on different mindsjust as laughing-gas draws out the peculiar nature of each imbiber.
The plump soldier thinks most of his carcase—he is shuddering with terror ; the quaker values his peace less than his purse, and hastens to conceal the latter beneath the cushion of the vehicle. Only take care of caricature, Mr. Frith, which you are perfectly able to avoid, if you like.
And to Mr. Ward would we extend the same advice, for his attempt to give the utmost variety of character, and to mark that character strongly may lead him into that direction. What a motley group is that on Hampstead-heath, driven thither by the great fire of London! quantity of human passion! Resignation, and despair, and hope, and debased carelessness—all huddled into about two large groups, and our old friend, Solomon Eagle, witnessing the fulfilment of his prediction. There
you have the principle of working out the various effects of an influence carried to its extreme extent. The artist must have thought largely before he could produce a picture like this. And do not let Ward's Charles II. pass unnoticed—any more than the merry monarch passes Mistress Eleanor Gwynne. His majesty looks not a little blasébut there is a smile which curls those not very moral lips, and which speaks of a new sensation. In a word, the king's face is perfect.
Poole having frequently supped us with horror-having invited us to banquet in charnel-houses, and lodge in cities of the plague, with large glassy eyes glaring not lustrously upon us, and gaunt limbs flinging themselves about in extremest misery,—would regale us this year with a softer spectacle, and show how the humble tanner's daughter, who was afterwards mother of a race of kings, captured the heart of Robert of Normandy. But he does not wholly disguise himself in his gentleness. Those girls are not so very gentle, after all; their amorous glances grow fixed and somewhat terrible, if one essays to return them; there is rigidity in their limbs. Mr. Poole catches an expression with great intelligence, but it becomes petrified by his touch.
There are Goodall, and C. Landseer, and Ellmore, and Egg, who give us subject-pictures of more or less interest; but let us take care that we do not pass by the little Webster-of course, we allude to the size of the picture, not to the dimensions of the artist. The interior of "Do-th-boy's Hall,” pending the brimstone-and-treacle festivity, is one of the prettiest things in the whole exhibition, admirably conceived, admirably coloured, admirably toned. How well has the artist given all the varieties of juvenile misery to that assemblage of tiny urchins ; how terrible is the towering form of Mrs. Squeers, equally distasteful with the revolting medicine she administers. No juvenile happiness will shine under her stern dominion ; happiness, for instance, like that of the infant listening to the shell, in Mr. Leslie's very pretty picture,—but gaunt, squalid wretchedness shall ever luxuriate, until the pupils, worn with sorrow and care-stricken at the dark, dreary abode in which they are placed, shall fancy they are immured in the octagon room of the Royal Academy.
There are those who imagine that the insurrections and revolutions which have lately taken place on the continent, resembling in their progress some of the features of a storm, will also blow over in a like manner and leave the political atmosphere clearer than ever. There are those also who already see the great nations of the continent fairly on the way to tranquil reconstruction ; the powers that were left gradually recovering from the shock of the moment, quietly surrounding themselves with aristocratic elements, and greatly qualifying social concessions bastily made ; while certain new forms of government are sup, posed to have attained, by the welding of the conservative and anarchical principle, at once to vigour and permanence. These persons are, however, egregiously mistaken. The flood-gates of opinion that have been let loose upon continental society and institutions ; the sudden awakening of old ideas and of historical associations, long dormant ; the incompatibility of these institutions, as now controlled by popular will, with the real political interests of the nation ; the selfishness and ambition of the people in some cases, of monarchs in others ; and the false positions brought about by a discordance between the popular wish and that of still existing governments ; are rapidly conducing to a state of things which it is scarcely possible can be settled without an appeal to arms— without a war from which it is sincerely to be hoped, although scarcely to be expected, that Great Britain will keep itself aloof—but a war in which more nations will be involved, than ever occurred even in the times of the world-subduer, Napoleon.
The incidents which are so inevitably conducing to such fearful results, are scattered over so wide a surface, and are of such slight significance when contemplated in detail, as compared with the overwhelming events that arose upon the first burst of the revolutionary storm; that their real importance is not likely to be either felt or understood unless placed in a more consecutive and intelligible form than they generally appear in, in the pages of the daily papers. It is with this intention then, as well as with that of preserving a concise record of passing events, that we this month continue our retrospective view of occurrences, adding thereunto a few brief observations on the position of parties and opinions, both alike powerful in a world so constituted, socially and politically, as that thing of shreds and patches called Europe is, more especially when compared with our own tight and compact little island. That that now favoured country may long remain firm and united in the love of law and order, and that it may make of the perplexities and complications springing up abroad, a lesson of moderation at home, is our earnest hope.
II.-GERMANY. In the midst of the general incertitude that prevails at the present moment throughout central Europe—the false position in which people and governments stand in many cases in regard to one another-the
rumours of hitherto little known races and nations of men who are going to throw their countless hordes into the great political drama now enacting, nowhere is it more difficult to arrive at a precise notion of the progress of affairs than in Poland. It would fill pages to enumerate all the shocking accounts of battles, robberies, murders, and wholesale butcheries which are related as having occurred in the Grand Duchy of Posen alone, and which have afterwards in many cases turned out to be either gross exaggerations or actual falsehoods. If we consult a French or English liberal paper, the origin and the fault of all the disturbances appear to lie with the Prussians and Germans. If a German journal is looked into and its statements believed, there is only one conclusion to be arrived at, which is that there could not be found on the face of the earth greater monsters than the Poles. Making allowance, however, for the irritation and excitement on both sides, it would certainly appear that the Poles have not been fairly dealt with, but that this is not so much an error of government, as a state of things arising out of the peculiar circumstances of the country-as is the case with the Saxons and Normans in Irelandsuperior races who have now long established themselves in the country, being in a condition to dispute national supremacy with the Poles themselves in their own land.* Availing themselves of the change brought about in Berlin, as well as elsewhere, by the new order of politics, the latter made an armed demonstration in favour of their ancient rights and privileges. After some hesitation, as we before recorded, the king acceded to their demands. The royal commissary sent for the purpose of re-organising the province, concluded an agreement with them.
The Poles laid down their arms, and began to disperse. But the Germans, who disdained to be put upon the footing of equality with the native population, took up arms, disregarded the royal orders," ill-treated and expelled the king's commissary from Posen, and, supported by the soldiery and functionaries, resolved upon an effort to regain their former ascendency. Instigated by Steinlaker, General Colomb despatched moveable columns in every direction, and, it is said, but no doubt in the spirit of great exaggeration, that these troops sacked and burnt entire villages, putting the population, as at Majewo and Gostyn, man, woman, and child, to the sword. The Polish peasants naturally took up arms to retaliate. In many cases the most murderous revenge was taken.
Another question which tended to widen still more the chasm between the two populations, is the contemplated separation of the Germanised districts from the Duchy of Posen. The Germans claim not only the best part of the duchy, but even the town of Posen itself. The Polish provisional government of the latter town, issued a protest against the dismemberment of the grand-duchy, under any pretext by Prussia, appealing to the treaties by which the partitioning powers bound themselves to the rest of Europe to destroy neither the nationality nor the integrity of those provinces which they retained after 1815. The Poles, also, naturally complain bitterly of the unsteady policy of the King of Prussia in having,
The population of the Grand-duchy of Posen, taken from the census of 1845, is said to be 800,000 Poles, and 400,000 Germans and Jews. In the town of Posen itself the population is equally divided, 20,000 Poles to 20,000 Germans and Jews. The Germans hold all employments of whatsoever kind, even to lamp-lighters and street-sweepers. On the other hand, nine-tenths of the soil is in the hands of Polish proprietary. June.-YOL. LXXXIII. NO. CCCXXX.