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however, by way of consolation,"To be sure, there is Lord Carlisle likes an Italian picture Mr. Holwell Carr likes an Italian picture-the Marquis of Stafford is fond of an Italian picture -Sir George Beaumont likes an Italian picture!" These, notwithstanding, are regarded as quaint and daring exceptions to the established rule ; and their preference is a species of leze majesté in the Fine Arts, as great an eccentricity and want of fashionable etiquette, as if any gentleman or nobleman still preferred old claret to new, when the King is known to have changed his mind on this subject; or was guilty of the offence of dipping his fore-finger and mb in the middle of a snuff-box, instead of gradually approximating the contents to the edge of the box, according to the most approved models. One would imagine that the great and exalted in station would like lofty subjects in works of art, whereas they seem to have an almost exclusive predilection for the mean and mechanical. One would think those whose word was law, would be pleased with the great and striking effects of the pencil;* on the contrary, they admire nothing but the little and elaborate. They have a fondness for cabinet and furniture pictures, and a proportionable antipathy to works of genius. Even art with them must be servile, to be tolerated. Perhaps the seeming contradiction may be explained thus. Such persons are raised so high above the rest of the species, that the more violent and agitating pursuits of mankind appear to them like the turmoil of ants on a mole-hill. Nothing interests them but their own pride and self-importance. Our passions are to them an impertinence; an expression of high sentiment they rather shrink from as a ludicrous and upstart assumption of equality. They therefore like what glitters to the eye, what is smooth to the touch; but they shun, by an instinct 'of sovereign taste, whatever has a soul in it, or implies a reciprocity of feeling. The Gods of the earth can have no interest in any thing human ; they are cut off from all sympathy with the “bosoms and businesses of men.” Instead of requiring to be wound up beyond their habitual feeling of stately dignity, they wish to
* The Duke of Wellington, it is said, cannot enter into the merits of Raphael ; but he admires “the spirit and fire" of Tintoret. I do not wonder at this bias. A sentiment probably never dawned upon his Grace's mind; but he may be
supposed to relish the dashing execution and hit or miss manner of the Venetian artist. Oh, Raphael ! well is it that it was one who did not understand thee, that blundered upon the destruction of humanity!
have the springs of over-strained pretension let down, to be relaxed with “ trifles light as air,” to be amused with the familiar and frivolous, and to have the world appear a scene of still life, except as they disturb it! The little in thought and internal sentiment is a natural relief and set off to the oppressive sense of external magnificence. Hence kings babble and repeat they know not what. A childish dotage often accompanies the consciousness of absolute power. Repose is somewhere necessary, and the soul sleeps while the senses gloat around ! Besides, the mechanical and high-finished style of art may be considered as something done to order. It is a task to be executed more or less perfectly, according to the price given, and the industry of the artist. We stand by, as it were, to see the work done, insist upon a greater degree of neatness and accuracy, and exercise a sort of petty, jealous jurisdiction over each particular. We are judges of the minuteness of the details, and though ever so nicely executed, as they give us no ideas beyond what we had before, we do not feel humbled in the comparison. The artizan scarcely rises into the artist; and the name of genius is degraded rather than exalted in his person. The performance is so far ours that we have paid for it, and the highest price is all
that is necessary to produce the highest finishing. But it is not so in works of genius and imagination. Their price is above rubies. The Inspiration of the Muse comes not with the fiat of a monarch, with the donation of a patron; and, therefore, the Great turn with disgust or effeminate indifference from the mighty masters of the Italian school, because such works baffle and confound their self-love, and make them feel that there is something in the mind of man which they can neither give nor take away.
"Quam nihil ad tuum, Papiniane, ingenium !"