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There were dukes, and lords, and barons, and squires enough, some of whom could glibly chatter over the unme

neaning trash which too often passes current for a knowledge of the fine arts in high quarters, and others whose zeal was not according to knowledge, who industriously spent their days in heaping together the artistic rubbish of the dead; but a genuine sympathy with living men, struggling against a nation's uneducated taste, and a keen sense of that watchful care and enlightened judgment, calculated to develop successfully our artistic national strength, were wholly awanting. After attempting to go on for some years together, the artists found themselves treated with supercilious and ignorant hauteur-conduct which they rewarded with undisguised symptoms of enraged contempt, and, as a necessary consequence, the dross and the clay had to part company, and the more fervent spirits among the artists established another exhibition upon an independent basis. These were afterwards followed by the more timorous brethren, and then the gentlemen of “high consideration in the country” found their true level in the commonwealth of mind. It were painful, and far from profitable, to follow this unfortunate dispute through its tortuous windings and successive stages, or to trace with curious eye the transitions from the admiration and eternal friendship declared over the hot suppers of the St Luke's club, to the period when the Academy's officials, with more rashness than discretion, turned the late lamented Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, as secretary to the trustees, out of the exhibition-rooms; but the result of the whole has been, that the artists are to have an exhibition-room, apparently their own, erected at the national expense.

Scotland will, to all appearance, be compelled to hand down its poverty to posterity, although its pride seems utterly annihilated. In former days, it was said that only a northern accent, or a tartan coat, could secure attention, not to say preferment, from the Imperial Government; but now it is only Scotland and its interests which can brook Parliamentary scorn and Governmental indifference or contempt. Four millions sterling, or thereby, pass annually from this poverty-stricken country into the national exchequer, and scarcely a farthing of that sum comes back in any shape; while there is scarcely a situation worth a hundred a-year in this country which is not filled by an Englishman or Irishman. Millions

upon millions are spent, or rather lavished, upon England and Ireland; while every sixpence which Scotchmen want for the improvement of their country is insultingly dolled out, or more insultingly denied. The last in stance of this degradation to which we are ever and anon subjected was in connection with a grant for new buildings on the Mound, intended as a national exhibition-room for the works of Scottish living artists. That art has too long been neglected is now the universal lament; and how to remedy the evil, is a question which bids fair to become one of the problems of the age. The people tried an association for the promotion of the fine arts; the artists were anxious to supplement that with a new and superior exhibition-room. If both combined would infallibly secure the desired result, the experiment would be cheaply made at any cost; but a successful propelling and propagation of art, by such means, is at least doubtful, and therefore we are not disposed to say that some strong objections could not have been taken against the proposed grant. If, for instance, Mr Bright had objected to the principle of all national grants, for purposes other than the protection of life and property_if he had shown, that hitherto grants for such purposes had proved of doubtful utility—or had he even objected to the people being compelled, by taxation, to destroy one of the finest views in the world, the objections would at least have been intelligible—some would go the length of calling them reasonable; but for one, who dates the fashion of his own garments from the days of William Penn, to attempt obliteration of our nationality and time-honoured antiquity by a sneer, and the destruction of the metropolitan character of Edinburgh by a “Nay,” was a marvellous effort of impertinence. Had Mr Bright's knowledge of Scotch subjects been equal to his spiteful depreciation of Scotch interests, he might have found scope for exercising his fitful economy even upon this question. He might, for instance, have moved for returns to show whether a new building was necessary at all, while one of ample dimensions was comparatively unoccupied? He might have asked, why it was that ignorance, under the shadow of high rank, had been allowed, by the exclusion of artists and artistic knowledge from the control of the Royal Institution, to render new buildings indispensable alike to Scottish artists and the Scottish public ? He might have asked, whether it was true that the funds of that institution were devoted to the pensioning of superannuated livery servants, instead of being applied to the furtherance of art, and the support of its professors ? He might have moved for a Parliamentary report upon the capacity of its masters, the manner of their appointment, and the general distribution of the funds in the hands of the trustees. All this, and much more, might he have done, with great advantage both to the cause of art and a wise economy of the nation's funds; but he either wanted the knowledge, or preferred attempting to depreciate the importance of a capital he found it impossible successfully to represent. This courtly Quaker should have some mercy on his own reputation, and try occasionally to hide the debasing fact, that his noblest aspirations are for evermore bounded by cotton and measured by coin; and he might have allowed the nation to patronise art to a small extent, although it be a way of spending money with the delights of which he is profoundly ignorant.

Notwithstanding such attempts as those of Mr Bright, no subject connected with polite study is receiving so large a share of public attention at present as pictorial art. Schools of Design have been eagerly instituted at the Government expense, and private associations for the purchase of pictures have been multiplied exceedingly; but that these means are promoting art is becoming every day a question of more doubtful speculation. That these private associations have produced some good, it were impossible to doubt. They have given the middle class a deeper interest than before in the progress of pictorial art. They have cheered the squalid den of artistic poverty with timely aid, and have soothed the dying victim of improvident genius, by temporarily providing for otherwise unprovided families. They may have drawn forth some great unknown from his unobtrusive hiding-place, and assisted him to take rank among the artistic stars of this utilitarian age, and furnished men of rising reputation with the means of devoting themselves more intensely and continuously to works of higher aim.

But they have done more. They have been converted into the pillars of a fashionable and puerile mediocrity, and have become the graves of mental

strength and artistic individuality. They have, by their delusive hopes, drawn many a youth from honour and respectability, as a handicraftsman, into the vortex of helpless, hapless misery, in an effort to drag out existence as an artist; and they have frequently broken down genius on the sure road to fame—but which required to be goaded thither by the strong spur of a stern necessity_into a meretricious and clever mannerism, which perhaps, more readily than the “true fire,” was esteemed and patronised by the foolish members of some managing committee.

Messrs Bright, Cardwell, and their friends, said, that, had the grant lately sought, and now partly obtained, been for London art and artists, they would not have made the same objections. Assuming that Scotland has still some lingering claims to a nationality, and Edinburgh to the position of a metropolis, we can see nothing, in the present state and prospects of English art, which would give its professors such claims to preference over their Scottish brethren, if, indeed, the latter have not substantial claims to artistic pre-eminence over the coming men of England. We revere

We revere the really great English artists, and are by no means insensible to such gigantic genius as that of Maclise, or the graphic power of Leslie; the reality of Landseer's dogs, or Stanfield's perfect transcripts of the sea coast; to Cook's maritime drawing, or Linton's profoundly poetical productions; but these are not the fashionable men before whom members of Parliament bow, and with the discussion of whose works critics load their columns. That, to use the words of one of themselves, “would'nt be polite." Eastlake, who, as in his “Escape of Carrara," is becoming more elegantly feeble—and Martin, who, in his “ Last Man," has become more forcibly foolish-Lee, who has substituted, for his charming lane scenes, the unpoetic opacity of a quiet river-and Linnel, who, getting away from nature, has steeped his meanest forms in feeble laboriousness and russet brown-or Creswick, who has forsaken his trees, to 'display his powerless prettiness in such scenes as “Wind on Shore"_and Percy, who once gave promise of saving his art from degradation, but who has latterly attempted to combine the styles of Bonnington and Constable, with indifferent success, and has substituted, like the great mass of his compeers, a white sheet, for a sky duly harmonising in tone and composition with the other parts of his picture—a cardinal defect among the present landscape painters of England—these are the gods of the present critical idolatry. But, let members of Parliament say, and London critics write, what they please, there was no landscape in the Royal Academy's Exhibition so full of high-souled thought and suggestive power as was the “Sunset," by D. O. Hill, exhibited last season in Edinburgh; and, even in their own more literal walks, they have produced no better pictures than Houston's "Moated Grange," or Macculloch's “Great River."

In glancing around the walls of the Royal Academy's exhibitionrooms, one could not help being struck with reflections of the most melancholy character. There was no evidence of progress conspicuously displayed anywhere, while, as a whole, the exhibition had depreciated twenty per cent. in the quality of its landscapes almost in half the same number of years; and truly, if things go on at their present rate, the words of Constable may become an awful reality--that art will become extinct in England in thirty years." In vain did visiters look for worthy suecessors to the artistic worthies who have gone. The juicy touch and beautiful colour of Collins, the masculine and severely-truthful drawing of Bonnington, the sparkling freshness and the homely gorgeousness of Constable, the vigorous dexterity and the aerial classic loveliness of Calcott, the atmospheric wonders and the holy fervour which occasionally came from the studio of Muller, have all gone, and left no successors worthy of the name; while the high creative power of Turner—the mightiest of them all—is loosing its perennial strength, and condescending, in its old age, to repeat the marvellous productions of its former self. In form alone do the English artists retain their former position, and even this in its lowest sense; but, in intellectuality, spirituality, and colour, our northern artists, taking number into account, are far ahead of their southern rivals. It is lamentable to see the jealousy, or ignorance, or sadly-abused friendship, which would conceal these facts from those most deeply interested. The unmeaning flattery which passes for criticism, even in high-class journals, will be of no avail. The press may, for a season, vamp up a baseless reputation, or for a season retard genius in its efforts to attain its true position; but no more can the London critics, by their unmeaning nonsense, secure permanent reputation for their friends, than they can annihilate the real greatness of some of our Scotch artists by their contemptuous silence.

In portraiture, if we may judge from the number exhibited, the English school believes itself very strong, and yet the productions of its greatest men were insipid productions compared to those of Watson Gordon, by which they were confronted; and the superiority of the present president's works, to those by which they were surrounded in Somerset House, was as marked and decided as was that of the full-length, by Sir Henry Raeburn, exhibited last year in Edinburgh, which shamed into insignificance all around it; and they would have been the better for seeing Graham Gilbert's head of Gibson, the sculptor, before hanging such pieces of raw but respectable rubbish as the portrait of Cooper, by J. P. Knight, R.A., upon the line. Even in historical painting, they have no man equal to Harvey, whose works they sometimes hang in “the coal-hole," and whom the critics, in their ignorance or jealousy, scarcely condescend to notice. Cattermole, the man amongst them who has most of the true historic element, is not equal to our northern artist. The former lays a more determined grasp upon the materials of history.

his castles, his trees, his very weeds and waters, look as if they had grown grey in the service of antiquity; but the spirituality of history has hitherto escaped him, and he has never succeeded in grappling with its religious or semi-religious phase—that higher element by which English, as well as Scotch, history has been mainly governed. He has painted Roundheads and Cavaliers without number, but he has never produced one picture calculated to teach a great moral lesson to a whole people—the path, above all others, where Harvey has won his laurels, and Herbert, who has attempted to supply this deficiency in England, has been more industrious than successful.

But it is in colour that the superiority of the Scottish artists over their English neighbours is most conspicuously apparent. Editors may puff their artistic friends till they blind them by a strong delusion, and ignorance may hold up those who paint to the top of their palette, as the only masters of colour, but it must all end in disappointment

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and vexation. Good colour no more consists in laying on the finest and purest reds, blues, whites, and yellows in that proportion which will produce the most startling attraction, any more than good singing consists in bawling at the top of a man's voice; nevertheless, this is one of those snares to which artists, who live by painting for exhibitions, are peculiarly liable. Brilliancy is the most seductive, because the most popular element, with which exhibitors have to contend; and thousands will admire Pickersgill's garish imitations of Etty, or that awful beacon of bad drawing, and worse colour, Poole's “Messenger announcing to Job the Irruption of the Sabeans, and the Slaughter of the Servants," while they will pass over such specimens of genuine colour as Harvey's picture of the “ Bowlers,” just as their fathers did over the most famous productions of Wilkie. Colour, undoubtedly, is not so essential to permanence of reputation as true form. In one sense, it may be said, that, in the latter, the true idea of beauty can alone be rendered permanent. Even words and languages may die and become obsolete, and colour, which is but the dress and ornament of lineal beauty, will fade and perish, while that graceful outline will outlive its most gorgeous accessories, and will neither be obliterated nor rendered liable to misconstruction from the decay. But no wise man will despise the true value of colour upon that account; and Fuseli

, whose power as a draughtsman was only surpassed by his vigorous imagination, said, in the bitterness of his soul, that he had courted colour as a despairing lover courts a disdainful mistress," but without success. Many of the professor's successors are courting the same jaunty vehicle with far different results, and are converting it into a garish and trifling bauble, or, at best, but a splendid fault. There is something, perhaps, in the every-day life by which English artists are surrounded, which fosters this tendency. In the centre of the world's commerce and the world's riches, they live in an everlasting whirl of glittering and gorgeous human show. For the purpose of catching the fleeting approbation of a fashionable flippancy, which likes to see its own attractions reflected in contemporaneous art, genius is under strong temptation to sacrifice the true value of colour to mere vulgar magnificence, and attempt, with ignoble exultation, to convert, by the magic of a palette, the sublimest associations of a Golgotha into the tawdry brilliances of a cassino or enchanted garden. Mediocrity is glad to follow, and treads the same downward path and example, as the means of hiding its imperfections in the more essential departments of the arta result most surely accomplished by a plentiful but paltry display of colour, which, as has been truly said, " is but revelling in the gay magnificence of splendid poverty.” The tone and colour of a picture ought to spring as naturally from the subject as its action from the moment of time chosen, and, when so used, it forms a department of art altogether invaluable.' When it radiates with lovely tint the brow of infancy, or reveals with imperceptible outline the ever-varying forms of beauty, when its warmer and stronger tints indicate the vigorous, life-like glow of sanguine youth, or discovers, by its yet stronger tones, the more energetic force and power of manhood, or marks, by its livid hues, life's ebbing flow, as it becomes more stagnant through enfeebling age, it is nobly fulfilling its high destiny; but, when it converts the harmonious beauties of outward nature into one magnified and distorted prisin, decorates the subjects of disease or crime in the gay flauntings of a Vene


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