Page images

but it is inadequate. In turning from qualified and limited sovereign.” StartMr. Rhodes to the next writer, however, ing with this conception of state sovthe final word should be one of apprecia- ereignty, and with the conception of a tion ; for it would be difficult to point people moored to the wharf of a rigid

l to a more conscientious and successful Constitution, it is natural that he should effort to penetrate beneath the surface find opportunity to convict the Presiof congressional legislation and bring to dent and Congress of inconsistency and light the inner political forces that of transgression of the Constitution as produced the result. To portray the thus understood. The emphasis placed mental attitude of representative men by the writer upon the state sovereignty in all parties, in England as well as in aspects of our early history is evidence America, toward the vast issues that were of a healthy reaction against the nationshaping themselves in these years is to alistic interpretation of the beginnings of perform a service only second to the ser- the history of the United States which vice of leading the reader with calm and has affected many writers of American dispassionate judgment through the field history; but it cannot be said that Mr. of conflict that furnishes the material for Scott works out his preliminary thesis the volume.

satisfactorily. His method is the old one Mr. Eben Greenough Scott's Recon- of political speculation rather than the struction during the Civil War 1 is, as his offering of historical evidence, and he preface informs us, an introduction to a does not give due weight to the strength proposed treatise on the political history of the view that the framers of the Conof the whole reconstruction period. The stitution avoided the issue of state or work is likely to attract much attention national sovereignty. But, granting the and discussion. It is written in the spirit correctness of his contention regarding of the political critic. He proposes the the intention of the people who ratified question, “Have we preserved the ancient the Constitution, it is difficult to see how character handed down to us along with Mr. Scott can hope to derive from this the Constitution, or have we wandered the obligation that the men of the refrom the faith of our fathers ?The construction period should place the same Constitution, he thinks, "preserves the construction

the constitutional relacharacter of a landmark by which the tion of States and nation that the men fidelity or infidelity of the people to their of 1789 did. To write a history to prove ancient character can be judged. When that the people of the Union should, the storm has cleared away, it reveals in- under the circumstances of 1865, square dubitably how far they have been swept their action to the “four corners of the from their moorings.” Mr. Scott believes Constitution” as it had been construed in that the time has now come for the peo- 1789 is not only to attempt the imposple, “the security of whose liberties is sible, but it is to forsake the function of coincident with the preservation of their the historian. When a people does, in constitutional character, to ascertain if fact, permanently moor its ship of state, they have suffered the character to be- it ceases to become a progressive society. come impaired.” He expounds the Union Certainly this cannot be charged against as a group of States, “consisting of a the United States, whose name is synony. purely artificial central power, endued mous with development and change. It with the attributes of sovereignty by the is the duty of the historian to trace the sovereign States, who delegated certain growth of national sentiment, and the powers for the purpose of creating a process whereby the Constitution was 185 we find that everyand usage effected this adaptation, and thing that Hamilton did was opposed to at last, in the supreme trial of the civil the landed interest, and arrayed this war, the results were forced upon men's class against him, while on page 141 it is knowledge by the policy of coercion, the said that this interest actively supported reconstruction measures, and the amend- Hamilton's financial measures. Pennsylments to the Constitution. To the histo- vania, one of the most democratic of rian who rightly apprehends and fairly States, is contrasted with “democratic" traces these tremendous forces of nation- New England, and its asserted lack of al evolution, the efforts of the statesmen popular notions in government is exwho sought, in the years of war, to har- plained by the effects of the alleged overmonize respect for the Constitution with shadowing influence of the proprietor of a determination to hold fast to the fruits the colony. But it is unnecessary to purof the battlefield will be occasions for ex- sue farther this line of criticism, for Mr. pressions of respect for the deep-seated Scott's theory that constitutional princilove for law in such a people, rather than ples are the sources of political events for exclusive criticism of their inconsist- makes such historical criticism impertiencies and factional contests. The stub- nent. From this point of view, it is easy born facts of the situation were there to to ignore the social and economic inbe dealt with. By the side of these facts, terpretation of the growing nationalism the question of whether the States had and the habit of loose construction of indeed been out of the Union or not be- the Constitution, even in the administracame a metaphysical rather than a prac- tions of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. tical question. To hold to the theory of Instead of taking note of these facts, the state sovereignty, to plead the rigid in- author beckons us back to the events terpretation of the Constitution, and to and principles which actuated the people demand the recognition of the revolted in the period of their political origin. States, with their old rights and preten- “Then it is," he insists, "that a people sions unimpaired, is to shut one's eyes discloses its true nature most simply.” to the facts of war and to bask in a It would not be easy for Mr. Scott to dreamland of speculative politics. But substantiate this view. Mr. Scott is convinced that the ques- The latter half of the book, on the tion ought to have been settled by the reconstruction measures during the war, assumed opinions of the men of 1789. gives in a spirited and interesting way Believing that “the sources of all politi- the arguments against President Lincoln's cal events are to be found in constitu- policy. With this policy the author is tional principles," he has devoted his quite as little in accord as he is with the historical introduction to a philosophical conquered-province theory of Thaddeus inquiry into such topics as the origins Stevens, “the Mephistopheles of the of state sovereignty, the rise and philo- Republican party." "Lincoln, Mr. Scott sophy of American political parties, the seems to believe, was personally desirous Ordinance of 1787, and the Virginia and of aggrandizing his own power. When Kentucky resolutions. This introduc- the difficulties of the President's position, tion is neither systematic nor compact, in the later years of his life, with radiand frequently seems to be a vehicle by cals like Wade and Stevens on the one which the author may bring forward side, and the partisans of the South on ideas not particularly related to the sub- the other, are recalled, it is hard to ject in hand. Some of the slips made understand the tone of disparagement of in the survey may be noted by way of Lincoln that pervades the book. The illustration of a certain looseness of state reader will not find in these pages any


1 Reconstruction during the Civil War in the OUGH Scott. Boston and New York : HoughUnited States of America. By EBEN GREEN- ton, Mifflin & Co. 1895.

adapted to this growth. Construction ment. On


[ocr errors]

considerable attempt to show the cur- with the metbod of Mr. Rhodes, the rents of public sentiment which under student will perceive the difference belay the utterances of the Congressmen. tween the critic of a policy and the

By comparing the method of Mr. Scott historian of an epoch.


The question, Why do we enjoy pic- problems, remain unsatisfied by the aptures? which must at times occur to plication of mere metaphysics or mere every one who has to do with art (if, in learning to a matter which, for them, is deed, in moments of discouragement, it either a question of enjoyment or nodoes not formulate itself more dryly as, thing, and that no treatment of the subDo we enjoy pictures ?), is intimatelyject could be adequately carried out exbound up with another inquiry, namely, cept by a writer who was competent to What pictures do we enjoy ?

answer both the how and the why of art That æsthetics is still the vaguest and enjoyment. most fantastic branch of psychology is Such competence, we believe, is posperhaps owing to the fact that people sessed by Mr. Bernhard Berenson, whose have attempted to answer these two small volume on The Florentine Paintquestions separately : on the one hand, ers of the Renaissance forms the sub

1 psychologists endeavor to deduce all art ject of the present paper. In his Veneenjoyment from the experiences of the tian Painters, a preceding volume of a child or the savage ; and on the other, series which is planned to include the connoisseurs devote their attention to the whole of Italian painting during the study of history and documents relat- Renaissance, Mr. Berenson proved himing to art, and to the reconstruction of self well acquainted with the historiancient masters. Thus, while Mr. Her- cal aspects of his subject; while in his bert Spencer, in his Psychology, illus- Lorenzo Lotto, already noticed in these trates his views of the “æsthetic sen- pages, he brought to bear upon the timents” by nothing more illuminating problem of reconstructing the artistic than “the battle-scenes of Vernet and personality of a neglected though fascithe pieces of Gérôme," and Morelli elab- nating painter an unusual degree of skill orately reconstructs the various phases in the use of all the delicate instruments of a Bachiacca or an Ambrogio da Pre- of scientific connoisseurship. Moreover, dis, those whose only desire is to enjoy in the lists of works by the great masthe best art in the most appreciative ters that he submits to our attention, he way receive no answer to their question, has shown that, so far as research, taste, How and what shall I enjoy in order to and discrimination can go, he is fully get the utmost pleasure from pictures ? competent to answer one, at any rate, of It might therefore have been predicted the questions, namely, what to enjoy in that such a class of amateurs - and they the world's heritage of art. form by far the greater number of those Thus, when he turns, as he has done into whose lives art enters — would, if in this volume about the Florentines, to they took any interest in more abstract the question of why and how we enjoy

1 The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance. BERENSON. New York and London : G. P. With an Index to their Works. By BERNHARD Putnam's Sons. 1896.

[ocr errors]


the masterpieces which he and other peo- to us a source of æsthetic pleasure, we ple well trained in the appreciation of shall be forced to admit that, although art have selected for us as being really crude finger-tips are not in question, the great, we are entitled to expect some- sense of touch — that is to say, of resistthing more precise and helpful than the

ance to pressure and of varying muscular theories elaborated by people who have adjustments - does lie at the bottom of never taken a discriminating pleasure in the matter. æsthetic objects. How, then, does Mr.


Although it has recently become a Berenson treat this interesting question? moot point whether or not touch really

Setting aside those elements in paint is, what the old psychologies called it, ing which it has in common with litera- the “parent sense,” from which all the ture, — that is to say, all the elements of other senses have been derived by proassociation with sentiment, the sugges- cess of evolution, yet no one has denied tions of pleasant scenes, attractive types, that touch plays a leading part in forming and the emotional states induced by these, our notions of reality. Even if we do - setting aside all, in fine, that we call not at first see things flat, as we used “poetic” in a picture, as not being the to be taught, it is only when to the merespecific elements of enjoyment capable ly visual impressions of the world we of being afforded by painting, and by have added an infinity of muscular exnothing else, the author proceeds to ana- periences that our perception of things lyze the elements which are peculiar to about us becomes definite. It is largely, the art of painting ; judging that these, if not wholly, by means of touch that and these alone, must be the sources of we learn to appreciate distance, solidity, our specifically artistic pleasure. The and motion. If we speak of the third result, he finds, is, at first hearing, a dimension, we mean a space corresponddecided shock; yet when we examine it, ing to certain muscular sensations; if of it is so simple, so severely logical, so true solidity, we mean a resistance to certain to our most intimate sensations, that we muscular pressures ; if of movement, we feel as if we had always known it. mean a correspondence to muscular ex

The art of painting is differentiated periences of our own organisms. Thus, in from nature and from all the other arts, order vividly to realize the solidity of obnot by color, which it shares with na- jects, and their position or movement in ture itself, with pottery, rugs, etc., but space, our sense of touch must be called by the fact that on a surface of two di- into play, either actually or through remensions it represents objects that have membrance and imagination. Painting, three ; and painting, furthermore, along whose peculiar task it is to represent with sculpture, is peculiar in that it re- objects of three dimensions upon a surpresents movement by means of objects face that has only two, must therefore actually motionless. In form and move- call the sense of touch to its aid, if it ment, then, Mr. Berenson finds the es- is to succeed in making a vivid impressence of the representative arts. But sion; while both painting and sculpture, how do we realize represented form and which have to represent movement by movement ? It sounds at first almost as means of objects actually stationary, can comic to say that we enjoy pictures by do it successfully only by appealing to the sense of touch as it would to assert the muscular sense, - to touch in anthat our enjoyment of music comes to other form. us through our sense of smell; neverthe- This merely abstract chain of reasonless, if we follow our author's brief yet ing would lead us to an a priori concluconvincing account of how it is that re- sion, namely, that those paintings which presented form and movement become succeed in rousing the imagination of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

touch (actual handling is of course out pealing powerfully to our ideated sense of the question) are the only ones which of touch, — by compelling us, in other solve the problems peculiar to their art, words, to get upon our own persons the - the representation of form and move- sensation of all the pressures and strains ment, — and are, consequently, the pic- and of all the muscular tension that the

, tures which we must regard as great art. objects themselves would give us in real

But what are the facts ? Testing the experience, - granting all this, as we can theory by applying it in a concrete case, scarcely fail to do if we have followed Mr. Berenson finds it to be not only a the argument so far, the mere statement formula upon which he can hang all of the question What lends itself most the great masterpieces of Florentine art, readily to such vivid realization? suggests without exception, but one which explains the inevitable answer. What can be so as well the hierarchy of the artists of easy to realize in ideated muscular senthat school, accounting for the supremacy sations as the human body? But Mr. of the great masters, Giotto, Masaccio, Berenson goes still farther into the matLeonardo, Botticelli, and Michelangelo, ter. He accounts for the possibility of over their illustrious and often, at first our realizing represented movement in blush, more attractive fellow-craftsmen, a vivid way by the mimetic element in Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo, Ghirlandaio, our natures, which makes it almost cerAndrea, and the rest. Florentine art, as tain that we shall tend to imitate nearly he points out, does not attempt to win every motion that we see, whether in real us by charm of color, beauty of types, life or in representation. Now, what so or exalting effects of space composition. easy to imitate in its movements as the From Giotto to Michelangelo it is almost human body? exclusively devoted to the human figure, We have stated the problem of the in repose or movement, and Mr. Beren- nude in art in a way that appears, person would have us believe that the pro- haps, foolishly simple, but we have been found hold Florentine art has upon us obliged to summarize Mr. Berenson's inis due to the fact that it persistently teresting discussion of this point in order devoted almost its whole energy to the to leave space for a still more important rendering of form and movement, - the matter. So far we have considered only specific task of the art of painting. the author's view of what are the specific

If we admit with our author that elements in the art of painting, – that is "successful grappling with problems of to say, form and movement, — and his form and movement is at the bottom explanation of how we realize these speof the higher arts,” we shall probably cific elements. But the question of why, follow him a step farther, when, in con- when we have once realized them, we nection with Michelangelo, he discusses enjoy the representation of form and the world-old question of the nude in art, movement still awaits us. and explains, on the basis of the same Mr. Berenson's doctrine on this point, formula, the fact that the figure arts find, if not so startlingly original as the forand inevitably must find, in the nude mula already discussed, is at all events their most absorbing interest. Granting a thoroughly original application of a that the success of painting in its spe- general theory of pleasure held by many. cific task depends upon making us realize The view that pleasure springs from the three dimensions by means of two, and energetic and healthy functioning of the movements by means of objects actually organism is familiar to us, but no one motionless; and granting further that the before Mr. Berenson has succeeded in only way in which it can make us realize systematically applying this theory to the space, solidity, and movement is by ap- pleasure derived from art. When read


« PreviousContinue »