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in color, dry, spotty, and harsh, with no subtilty or softness; as a whole, scenic and startling, lacking repose, and bewildering from want of purpose or soul. Salvator Rosa knew far less of tree and rock forms than does Ginoux, but the old master rivets us to his wild scenery by the potent spell of imagination and feeling. We overlook his technical short-coming in our sympathy with his motive, which, weird or natural, comes directly home to us at first glance. The modern master gives us ample details of earth, water, and vegetation, but written all over with “No admittance” for the spirit of man. Bigness amounts to a passion in our art. A landscape no larger than the hand, if infused with the right spirit of nature and man, is far more effective than acres of what a friend wittily calls “full-length landscapes.” Giotto's O has more soul, his few simple lines on the walls of the Bargello at Florence, bringing to our eyes the youthful Dante, have more of real genius in them, - than the “ Heart of the Andes.” The distance between the two is that of Hamlet from one of Sheridan's heroes. It is unfortunate for the progress of art here that our artists seldom venture into its higher walks. Until they do, there can be no real grounds of competitive comparison between them and the old masters.
The chief power of these old masters lies in their suggestiveness, and the firm hold they take of the imagination and the sympathies. We know of pictures in the collection before referred to that have changed the entire tone of feeling in people ; that have awakened new emotions, ideas, and ambitions; that have consoled the bereaved, have subdued levity and scoffing, awakened fancy and imagination, and aroused the intellectual and sympathetic faculties to new issues in life. We have seen the earnest gratitude of young and old for their presence, because they took them out of the homely and realistic life of New England into an atmosphere of elevated thought and spiritual repose.
Merchants, filled with the spirit of trade, have confessed that among them they forgot business, even Secession. Others, slower in their perceptions, but sound in their sympathies, have said, “They touch us, - we must find out what they have to say." Hearts rebellious to the world's discipline have told us that they had come to rejoice in their
presence, because they made them feel better, morally and spiritually. Art that has this occult power is not to be lightly cast aside, though many may see in it only the curious, archaic, or ludicrous. Sceptics are prone to sneer where believers pray. But which of the two leaves the temple justified ? On two persons visiting the same picture, the effect has been exactly opposite. The heart of one was moved to a sort of spiritual ecstasy; the other viewed the emotion with pitying contempt, stubbornly denying there was any merit whatever in the school of Giotto, or that it had any special religious feeling. The heavens were opened, and angels ascended and descended in the eyes of the believer; the sceptic saw only incorrect anatomy, and attempts at composition inferior to the Chinese.
Did our space permit, we should gladly indulge in an analysis of these old masters, demonstrating their intense religious idealism, showing why they win our love and respect, and what is the character of those intellectual qualities in which they rank above our American school. Sincere, earnest, and faithful in work, inspired by elevated ideas, and moved by deep emotion, they deserve patient and loving consideration. We may then follow their marvellous progress to their culmination of genius in such artists as Signorelli, Ghirlandajo, Bazzi, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michel Angelo, not to copy or imitate them, for their art was of and for their times, but to understand its principles of growth, taste, and composition, which are true for all times. Happily the study and appreciation of the old masters in literature and art are extending among us, and in the degree of their cultivation our taste improves, the standard of criticism is raised, and the capacity of æsthetic enjoyment is increased. We are sanguine enough to believe that American taste will speedily enjoy them as they are enjoyed in the Old World, where their virtues have outlived time and approved their claim to immortality.
Min deur Art. V.-“COPPET ET WEIMAR.” — MADAME DE STAËL.
Coppet et Weimar. Madame de Staël et la Grande Duchesse Louise.
Par l'Auteur des Souvenirs de Madame Récamier. Paris. 1862.
A STANDARD biography of Madame de Staël is yet to be written. Her own account of her political career in Les Dix Années d'Exil, and what she has revealed of her inner life in Corinne, are in some respects more satisfactory than any memoir heretofore published.
Chateaubriand, Sainte Beuve, Benjamin Constant, Goethe, and indeed almost all her literary contemporaries, have recorded their impressions of her; but though these records are of value in forming an estimate of her character, they cannot meet the want of a connected and able biography. The memoir most widely known, and regarded as the best authority, is by Madame Necker de Saussure, and is affixed to the complete edition of Madame de Staël's writings. But this sketch is simply what the French style un éloge. Madame de Saussure herself disclaimed all idea of writing a biography. The niece of Monsieur Necker, with whom she was on terms of the closest intimacy, the friend and correspondent of Madame de Staël, she had ample materials at her command for the compilation of a complete, authentic, and highly interesting work. It is much to be regretted that she made so little use of her large advantages. Her sketch provokes curiosity without satisfying it. She passes over in silence, or with cursory mention, those episodes in Madame de Staël's life in which the world is most interested. In place of explanations and details, she strives to content the reader with tedious criticisms of the writings, and enthusiastic eulogiums on the character, of her relative.
Madame de Staël et la Grande Duchesse Louise, by Madame Lenormant, supplies in part some of Madame de Saussure's deficiencies. Though, like her predecessor, not professing to write a biography, she corrects misstatements in regard to Madame de Staël's political career, contributes some new facts in relation to her private life, and by inference, as well as by direct praise, gives a favorable view of her character. The 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. I.
book abounds in pleasant and piquant anecdotes of the distinguished circle of which Madame de Staël was the centre, and is especially valuable as containing the first published series of her letters. In deference to her wishes, Madame de Staël's executors have heretofore withheld her private correspondence. It is true that a few of her letters are to be found in the memoirs of her contemporaries. Chateaubriand published several in his Autobiography; so also did Madame Lenormant in her Souvenirs of Madame Récamier ; but no attempt has been made to collect and issue them in a volume by themselves. It was only from the conviction that the letters in possession of Madame Lenormant would be instrumental in refuting some erroneous statements in relation to Madame de Staël, and also in increasing the esteem entertained for her, that her executors consented to their appearance.
The originals of the letters addressed to the Grand-duchess Louise are still carefully preserved among the archives of Weimar. When the present Duke, a grandson of the Duchess, visited Paris, in 1845, he sought an introduction to Madame Récamier, and promised her a copy of her friend's letters to the Duchess. Upon his return to Weimar he had them copied under his own supervision, and sent to her, with a complimentary letter. These letters were bequeathed by Madame Récamier to her niece, Madame Lenormant.
It was at Weimar, in December, 1803, that the friendship out of which this correspondence grew was first formed. The wife of Karl August, the friend and patron of Goethe and Schiller, Louise was herself a remarkable person. Lewes says of her: “She was one of those rare beings who through circumstances the most trying, as well as through the ordinary details of life, manifest a noble character.” The Duchess is famous in history for her personal courage. After the battle of Jena, when the French troops were pillaging Weimar, and the houses close to the ducal palace were in flames, she calmly awaited Napoleon at the top of the grand stairway. “Who are you, Madam ?” he asked ; she told him.
I pity you, then, for I shall crush your husband," was his reply. 6. That is a woman whom our two hundred cannon have not frightened," he said, after another interview with her; and he repeatedly taunted the Duke with the fact, that he had spared him solely out of respect to his Duchess.
Madame de Staël was at Coppet when the news of the sacking of Weimar reached her. “ Your conduct in passing events has become historical,” she wrote in a letter to the Duchess, expressive of her esteem and admiration.
This correspondence would be more interesting if it included some of Louise's own letters. Madame de Staël's are generally formal. She never forgot for a moment that she was addressing royalty. The editor calls attention to the fact that no allusion is made to the Dowager Duchess Amelia in these letters. As Amelia occupied an important position at the Weimar court, and Madame de Staël constantly sends her respects to other friends, this omission is the more marked. To account for this neglect, Madame Lenormant gives us the choice of two reasons, - either that Madame de Staël did not like the Dowager, or that Louise did not. The latter seems the most probable. Lewes, in his Life of Goethe, describing Madame de Staël's sojourn at Weimar, says that the Dowager was enchanted with her, and it seems impossible that she could have disliked so warm-hearted and cordial a person.
The mother and daughter-in-law were very different. Amelia was informal, impulsive, and fond of pleasure and gayety, while Louise is described as “ being of a cold temperament, somewhat rigid in her enforcement of etiquette, and wearing to the last the old costume which had been the fashion in her youth.” But if reserved in her manners, the Duchess was constant in her affections; and the friendship between her and Madame de Staël only terminated with the death of the latter.
It was during this visit to Weimar that Madame de Staël first met Goethe and Schiller. The impression she made upon the poets, though lively, was not so favorable as that upon the court. Schiller was shy of her.
" The Devil has sent here a French she-philosopher,” he wrote to Korner, " who is of all living creatures I ever met the most vivacious, the most inclined to argue, the most ready with words. But she is also the most cultivated, the most spirituelle of women, and if she were not really interesting I would not disturb myself about her.