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Progress of the Nation. page 9


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Great men have been amongst us; hands that penned,
And tongues that uttered wisdom, better none;
The later Sydney, Marvel, Harrington,
Young Vane, and others who called Milton friend.
These moralists could act and comprehend;
They knew how genuine glory is put on;
Taught us how rightfully a nation shone
In splendour.
And well did he add: -
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spoke; the faith and morals hold
That Milton held. In everything we are sprung
Of earth's best blood, - have titles manifold.

Music

Some of the eminent musical composers mentioned at the close of our review, still continued to embellish the reign of James. Amongst these were Ford, Ward, Weelkes, and Orlando Gibbons. The three first are distinguished for their madrigals, and Weelkes for ballads, which are unrivalled. Ward's "Die not, Fond Man," is still as popular as ever. Gibbons composed both madrigals and cathedral music. He was organist of the royal chapel, and was made Doctor of Music by the University of Oxford. The sacred music of Gibbons is enough of itself to exempt this country from the often advanced charge of being unmusical. In 1622, Dr. Heyther, a friend of Camden, the antiquary, established a professorship of music at Oxford. Charles I. was not only fond of music, but played himself with considerable skill on the viol da gamba. Dr. William Child, himself an excellent composer, was the organist of his chapel, and Lawes, the friend of Milton, who is referred to in his sonnets and in "Comus," was patronised by him. Lawes was greatly admired, and justly, by other poets, especially Herrick and Waller. Charles I., however, set a bad example, by encouraging foreign musicians instead of his own subjects. He made Laniere, an Italian, a man in real musical science far inferior to several Englishmen then living, "Master of our Music," and his example has only been too diligently followed by our princes and nobles ever since.

The rise of the commonwealth was the fall of music in England. The stern puritans, and especially the Scotch presbyterians, who dubbed an organ "a kistfulo' whistles," denounced all music as profane, and drove organs and orchestras from the churches. Nothing was tolerated but a simple psalm tune. Cromwell, however, did not partake of this fanaticism. He was fond of music, and frequently had musical entertainments at Whitehall and Hampton Court. The great organ which had been pulled out of Magdalen College, Oxford, he had carefully conveyed to Hampton Court, where it was one of his greatest solaces. Under Cromwell, the lovers of music brought out their concealed instruments, and there was once more not only domestic enjoyment of music, bat open musical parties.

Painting, Engraving, and Sculpture

If the civil war in England was auspicious to liberty, it was disastrous to art. From the time of Henry VIII. the British monarchs had shown a decided taste for the arts. Henry had munificently patronised Holbein, and had made various purchases of foreign chefs-d'ceuvres. Prince Henry inherited the taste of his mother, instead of the coarse buffoonery of his father, and showed a strong attachment to men of genius and to works of genius. He began a collection of paintings, bronzes, and medals, which fell to his brother Charles. Charles was an enthusiast in art, and had he not possessed his fatal passion for despotism, would have introduced a new era in this country as regarded intellectual and artistic pursuits. The study of Italian models, both in literature and art, by the nobility, made them prepared to embrace the tastes of the monarch; and England would soon have seen the fine arts flourishing to a degree which they had never enjoyed here before, and which would have prevented the Gothic ages that succeeded. During Charles's early rule the greatest artists of the continent flocked over to this country, and found a liberal reception here. Rubens, Vandyck, Jansen, Vansomer, and Mytens, Diepenbeck, Pölemberg, Gentileschi, and others visited London, and Vandyck, the greatest of them all, remained here permanently. The works of Vandyck, in this country, are numerous, and if we, perhaps, except his famous picture of "The Crucifixion" at Mechlin, we possess the best of his productions. At Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, Blenheim, Wilton House, and Wentworth House, the bulk of his finest pictures are to be seen. His portraits of our princes and the chief nobility of the time are familiar to all English eyes, and place him only second to Titian in that department. At Wilton House alone there are twenty-five of Vandyck's paintings; the portrait of Philip, earl of Pembroke, with his family, is declared by Walpole to be itself a school of this master. His dramatic portrait of Stafford and his secretary, Mainwaring, at Wentworth House, Walpole asserts to be his masterpiece,, Charles had proposed to him to paint the history of the order of the garter on the walls of the Banqueting House at Whitehall, but the sum he demanded, said to be eighty thousand pounds, but more probably a misprint for eight thousand pounds, caused Charles to delay it, and his political troubles soon put an end to that design. He painted three pictures of Charles on horseback, one of which is at Windsor, one at Hampton Court, and one at Warwick Castle.

Rubens came only to this country as an ambassador, but Charles seized the opportunity to get him to paint the apotheosis of James on the ceiling of the Banqueting House at Whitehall. This he, however, merely sketched whilst here, and painted it at Antwerp, receiving three thousand pounds for it. The duke of Buckingham purchased Rubens's private collection of paintings, chiefly of the Italian school, but containing some of his own, for ten thousand pounds. These were sold by the long parliament, and now adorn the palaces of the Escurial at Madrid, and the Belvidere palace at Vienna. In our opinion, the large pictures in the latter gallery, "St. Francis Xavier preaching to the Indians," and " Loyola casting out Devils," are amongst the very finest of his productions - a great loss to this country.

Charles, besides making collections, and drawing round him great artists, projected the establishment of an academy of arts on a princely scale. But this remained only an idea, through this breaking out of the revolution. The parliament, in 1645, caused all such pictures at Whitehall as contained any representation of the Saviour or the Virgin, to be burnt, and the rest to be sold. Fortunately there were persons in power who had more rational notions, and much was saved. Cromwell himself secured the cartoons of Raphael for three hundred pounds, and thus preserved them to the nation, and as soon as he had the authority, he put a stop to the sale of the royal collections, and even detained many that were sold.

The native artists of this period were chiefly pupils of Rubens or Vandyck. Jamieson, called the Scotch Vandyck, was a pupil of Rubens at the same time with Vandyck - Charles sate to him. William Dobson, a pupil of Vandyck, was serjeant-painter to Charles, and Robert Walker, of the Vandyck school, was Cromwell's favourite painter, to whom we owe several admirable portraits of the protector. There were also several miniature painters of the highest merit - the two Olivers, Hoskins, and Cooper.

Up to this period engravings had become by no means prominent in England. That there had been engravers we know from various books having been illustrated by them. Geminus and Humphrey Lloyd were employed by Ortelius, of Antwerp, on his "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum." Aggas had executed a great plan of London, and Saxon county maps. Various Flemish and French engravers found employment here, as Vostermans, De Voerst, and Peter Lombard. Hollar, Bohemian, was employed extensively till the outbreak of the war, and illustrated Dugdale's, as well as other works. But the chief English engraver of this period was John Payne.

Sculpture was by no means in great advance at this period. There were several foreign artists employed in this country on tombs and monuments, but as they did not at that date put their names upon them, it is difficult to attribute to every man his own. Amongst these Le Soeur, who executed the equestrian statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross, Angier, and Du Val were the chief. John Stone, master mason to the king, was by far the most skilful native sculptor. Amongst his best efforts are the monuments of Sir George Hollis at Westminster, and the statue of Sir Finnis Hollis also at Westminster. Sir Dudley Carlton's tomb at Westminster, and Sutton's tomb at the Charter House are also his. But the greatest boon to sculpture was the introduction of the remains of ancient art by the earl of Arundel; at this period, still called the Arundel Marbles.

Architecture

This is the epoch of the commencement of classical architecture. The grand old Anglo-gothic had run its course. It fell with the catholic church, or continued only in a mongrel and degraded state, showing continually the progress of its decline. From Henry VIII. to James this state of things continued; the miserable mesquin style, which succeeded the downfall of the picturesque Tudor, being the only architecture. The change to the classical was destined to be made by Inigo Jones, who stands the great name of this period. Jones had studied in Italy, and became aware of the graceful style which Vitruvius had introduced by modulation of the ancient Greek and Roman, and which Palladio had raised to perfection. The great merit of Jones is that be, imported Palladio's style substantially and completely, ready as it was to his hands, and wholly unknown in this country. By this means Jones acquired a reputation for genius which nothing that he has left justifies his claim to. He was first engaged in designing the scenery and machinery of the masques which Ben Jonson wrote for the queen of James I. He was appointed architect to the queen and prince Henry. On the death of the prince he returned to Italy, and on Iris return he was appointed surveyor-general of the royal buildings. The first thing which he planned was the design for an immense palace for James on the site of Whitehall. There is a simple grandeur in the drawings of it which are left, which may fairly entitle him to a reputation for the introduction of an elegant domestic architecture, but does not warrant the extravagant terms of eulogy as a gigantic genius, which have been lavished on him. The only portion of this palace which was built is the present banqueting House at Whitehall, being the termination of the great facade, and which certainly contains nothing very remarkable. Jones added a back front to Somerset House, and a west front to St. Paul's, neither of which remain. That Inigo Jones was far from having conceived the true principles of architecture was shown by the fact that his west front of old St. Paul's was a classical one engrafted on a Gothic building, and this solecism he was continually repeating. One of the most glaring instances of the kind, is a classical screen which he raised in the Norman cathedral of Durham. Amongst the chief remaining buildings of Inigo Jones, and from which an idea of his talent may be drawn, are St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden, of which Quatremere de Quincy says, the most remarkable thing about it is the reputation that it enjoys; York Stairs, Ashburnham House, Westminster, a house an the west side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, originally built for the earl of Lindsay, Surgeon's Hall, an addition to St, John's College, Oxford, and by far his finest work, Heriot's Hospital at, Edinburgh.

The general aspect of our towns and streets remained the same at this period as in the former. James issued proclamation after proclamation, ordering the citizens to leave off the half-timbered style, and build the fronts at least entirely of brick or stone; but this was little attended to, and many a strange old fabric continued to show the fashions of past ages.

Manners and Customs

If we are to believe the memoir writers and dramatists of this period, the national manners and morals had suffered a decided deterioration. Licentious as was the court of queen Elizabeth, there was a certain dignity and outward decorum preserved, but James introduced such a coarseness and grossness of manner, such low debauch and buffoonery, that even the salutary restraint which fashion had imposed, was stripped away, and all classes exhibited the most revolting features. In the reign of Henry, Edward, and Elizabeth, we had such women as the daughters of Sir Thomas More, lady Jane Grey, Catherine Parr, and others, who cultivated literature and philosophy, the queens Mary and Elizabeth setting themselves the example in reading and translating the most illustrious classical authors. But after James came in, notwithstanding all Iiis learned pedantry, you hear nothing more of such tastes amongst the court ladies, and it is very singular that amid that blaze of genius which distinguished the time under review, we find no traces of feminine genius there. On the contrary, both our own dramatists and foreign writers describe the morals and manneis of women of rank as almost destitute of delicacy and probity. They are described as mingling with gentlemen in taverns amid tobacco smoke, songs, and conversation of the most ribald character. That they allowed freedoms which would startle women of the lowest rank in these times, were desperate gamblers, and those who had the opportunity were wholesale dealers in political influence. Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, boasts of the effect of the bribes that he was accustomed to distribute amongst them. Whilst such women as the infamous and murderous countess of Essex and the dowager countess Villiers were the leading stars of the court, the tone of morals must be low indeed. Whilst the ladies were of this stamp, we cannot expect the gentlemen to have been better, and there is no doubt but that the honours and wealth and royal favour heaped on such men as Somerset, Hay, Ramsay, and Buckingham, made debauchery and villainy quite fashionable. The character of Englishmen on their travels, Howell tells us, was expressed in an Italian proverb: -

Inglese Italianato
E Diavolo incarnato.

An Italianised Englishman is a devil incarnate. This was said from the debauched conduct of our young men on their travels. At home they were a contemptible mixture of foppery and profanity. Buckingham and the other favourites led the way. We have recorded the audacious behaviour of Buckingham at the courts of France and Spain, and the enormous foppery of his apparel. He had a dress of uncut white velvet, covered all over with diamonds, valued at eighty thousand pounds, a great feather of diamonds, another dress of purple satin covered with pearls, valued at twenty thousand pounds, and his sword, girdle, hatbands, and spurs were thickly studded with diamonds. He had besides these, five- and-twenty other dresses of great richness, and his numerous attendants imitated him according to their means. They began now to patch their faces with black plaister, because the officers who had served in the German wars wore such to cover their scars; and the ladies did the same. Duelling was now introduced, cheating at play was carried to an immense extent, and the dandy effeminacy of the cavaliers was unexampled. They had the utmost contempt of all below them, and any attempt to assume the style or courtesies of address which they appropriated to themselves, was resented as actual treason. The term Master or Mr. was only used to great merchants or commoners of distinction; and to address such as gentlemen or esquires would have roused all the ire of the aristocracy. In proceeding through the streets at night, courtiers only were conducted with torches, merchants with links, and mechanics with lanthorns.

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Pictures for Progress of the Nation. page 9

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