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Rome, through the Church of the Catacombs, where Christian Art first spoke the eternal things of God. Sheltering there underground to escape the persecutor's eye, no touch of the painter's hand, no stroke of the sculptor's chisel, reminds of

persecution; the life there expressed in Art is the new life with which the soul was filled-in unison with the world of eternal love just opened upon faith, and without an allusion of any kind, far less an angry or discordant one, to the other world from whose hatred it had fled for refuge into dens and caves of the earth. No bitterness, no revenge, no gloom, no sorrow, no thought or trace of suffering is expressed in the Art of the three first centuries, in the age when the Christian church had no safe life in the light of day. The worshippers amid the sepulchres, the first-born of a young faith, were too much occupied with eternal life to think of death but as the passage to God and their brethren; too much occupied with immortal joy to linger round the sufferings of a moment, and with universal love to engrave the record of discordant states. All the traces they have left of their own existence within the realm of Art bespeak beings flushed with the colours of the heaven to which they looked. It is not to be supposed for a moment that the Roman Christians of the three first centuries were free from evil passions, that there was no leaven of scorn or bitterness in their religious emotions; but Art, as we shall have occasion afterwards in the course of the argument more fully to set forth, takes its inspiration only from noble impulse, does not lend itself freely to evil passion, and cannot express it at all when any thing holy is present to the soul, unless it be to raise the sense of that holiness; as the face with which Judas gave the kiss, could we see it beside

any worthy representation of our Lord, might enhance our feeling of the majesty of Christ.* When Constantine raised Christianity to the upper air, Religion, which previously, in harmony with its condition, had been satisfied with a rude but forcible symbolism, and sought no perfectness of representative expression, took possession of the stately Basilica as the appropriate home of its rites, moulded it gradually to express all their meanings, placed its chief minister on the throne of the heathen judge; and above his head, within the vault of the sanctuary, painted with colours of living stone, and of a colossal magnitude, the awful features of the Spiritual King, the Judge of heaven and earth. Religion took the seat of Law, and with easy power adopted and glorified its symbols. The subterranean vault where the criminal had awaited his trial, was now the crypt where the martyr, the emancipated prisoner of the Lord, reposed in peace; and on the

* This subject, magnificently treated by Jachometti, has been lately pleced at the foot of the Scala Santa at Rome..


altar on which the magistrate had made his vow was now represented, in mystic symbolism, the crowning act of the self-sacrificing life of the Saviour of mankind. Gradually, as Religion made new demands on Art, and felt the world her own, mere symbolism ceased to be prominent; and the leading events of Christianity, as expressive of her great ideas and sentiments, were depicted in direct representation, and led the worshipper like a pilgrim through the long array of earthly trial, from the baptismal font beside the entrance-gate, step by step, along pictures of the universal life of the Son of Man which filled the aisles of the Basilica, up to the triumphal arch crowned with the cross, the via crucis which seemed to admit to the heavenly court and the very presence of the Son of God. Byzantine art supplied the types for these representations; but though Religion was strong, Art was yet weak, so the forms became fixed and traditional, and in the end only a higher kind of symbolism. Art, like Literature, requires the stir of human interests to quicken it. It may have dreams of divine beauty in the cloister, but it cannot give them shape. With the reviving animation of Europe, with the energy of the Crusades, a breath of fresh life passed over all the arts, and Architecture took at once a form of unbor. rowed glory. Painting and sculpture broke their bonds more slowly. From the twelfth century there are signs that the religious recluse, brooding over his immemorial types, was painfully struggling to express the new lineaments of spiritual beauty that were dawning on his soul; but power was wanting, and Religion had to wait for Giotto, a man filled with the new human life of the world, to bring to the birth the images which had been long growing in the heart of contemplation. And when Giotto's followers abused bis vigour, and degraded religious types by the too bold imitation of natural life, the Cloister took them again to its bosom, and reissued them in more than their original elevation and ideal purity. But still the monk, though he could show his soul in his work, could not make the work itself perfect; the cold recluse, though glowing with visions of spiritual beauty, could not reach the rounded forms of life; and Fra Angeliconot without reason styled the Blessed even without canonisation, from the divine conceptions that filled his soul-had to wait for the untrammelled strength of the more human Raphael to show the perfection of their outward form. In innumerable ways, through this long course, Art reflected the changes that were taking place in the prevalent conceptions of Religion. The most significant of these was the change that took place in the representations of Christ. As in the imagination of the popular theology he receded into the Godhead, his humanity was conceived of only as the form in which he suffered, the body which he had

conquered and cast away; and all the beauty which the heart craves for, and must have, when it places our nature before God, began to centre upon the Virgin Mother. Other influences strengthened this tendency. Christianity seems to have been more joyous as it stood nearer to the freedom and unconsciousness of heathen life. The heart of the world gradually saddened. Perhaps it was disappointed of its early hopes of the speedy realisation of the kingdom. Perhaps it learned to try itself by a severer ideal, by an inward standard; and as it stood more and more within the presence of ineffable perfection, the sense of struggle and difficulty became dominant, human virtue paled at the contrast, man began to abhor himself, until his only meritorious attitude seemed to be humiliation, his only fitting worship a groan. This change is most strongly marked by the first introduction of the crucifix, towards the close of the seventh century. From that time the humanity and the divinity of Christ too often lost all their attractive features of celestial grace and invitation. The Man became the agonised sufferer; the God the unrelenting and terrible Judge, after the type so unhappily preserved by Michael Angelo.

We purposely abstain from tracing the faintest or most rapid outline of the history of religious Art; we wish only to exhibit the irrepressible instinct of Religion to employ an Art-language, so long at least as her reign is single and undivided, -so long as she is seated simply in the hearts and affections of men,-so long as she has to do mainly with the sentiments and aspirations in which all unite, and does not centre her chief popular interest in the distinctions and speculations in regard to which all begin to separate. The evidences of this instinct are scattered over every ancient land; wherever he goes, they are the traveller's principal attraction; they make the Ruins and fill the Museums of every celebrated city. Take away from the world the remains of religious Art,remains we must call them, for since the sixteenth century there has been no religious art in the world, yet remains that are never to be cold,--and how many portions of the earth, whose very names are endeared to us by the new life we there enjoyed,—a life in which the eye saw something of what the soul had visioned, and the air seemed to breathe of saintly beauty,-would become at once mere names, stripped of every interest except that which lies upon the historic page!

There are three Romes, ancient, subterranean, and modern. What would modern Rome be without the Vatican; and what would the Vatican be without the remains of religious Art? Enter those galleries, approached as through a long street of the monuments of the Catacombs; walk those halls, which begin with Praxiteles and end with Raphael, and un people them of their gods, of the expressions of the deepest


religious life of successive ages, and see what you will leave behind. What would ancient Rome be without the Forum ? and in the Forum there is nothing standing but the shafts of Temples. How many millions of men have made acquaintance with the glorious bays that lie between Naples and Pæstum, only that their eyes might dwell for some half-hour upon those shrines which in silence and solitude raise their awful loveliness between the mountains and the sea! To how many is Dresden nothing

! but a name to recall the Madonna di San Sisto, so that every other vestige or memory of it might be wiped from the soul without a sigh! Who would visit the foul inns of Sienna, if Guido da Sienna and Duccio di Buoninsegna and Simone Memmi had not there wrought out in stone and colours the religious thoughts that dwelt in their hearts? Who hears of Pisa, and is not at once in that silent square, where stand together the Duomo, the Campo Santo, and the Baptistery-religious symbols of the solemn initiation, the faith-sustained pilgrimage, and the beatified end of life,—with the Campanile, which serves alike for all three, to tell of the baptism of the baby, and the prayer of the worldweary, and the rest of the released ? And standing there, or calling to mind all that gives that city a living interest in our hearts, a power to confer any blessing upon us, the names that rise gratefully to our lips are not those of her statesmen, and rulers, and warriors, and admirals, but Buschetto, and Andrea Orcagna, and Niccola, and Giovanni Pisano. Along the most glorious road in Italy, though nowhere is nature more grand or more lovely, more soft or more solemn, though the whole land heaves and swells like the sea,—the interest of mountains and waterfalls, of Soracte and Terni, the beauty of olive-groves, and pines, and chestnut-woods, and even of the sky that gives its magic to them all, is far outrivalled by the interest of the religious life which Art prescrves in Assisi and Perugia, in Arezzo and Cortona, and even in that small temple of delicate proportions" which watches the flowings of the crystal Clitumnus, much as Byron has spoiled the effect of its existing beauty by ridiculous exaggeration. And when by that road the traveller enters Florence, exhausted by impressions, but with his brain hot with expectation and desire, his impatience and longing are not to search out the monuments of her civic glory, or the far-famed palaces that stand like fortresses in her streets, but to find the sasso di Dante, to sit down where the tradition says that the immortal poet loved to sit, and whence the eye can fall upon the Cathedral of Arnolfo, upon Brunelleschi’s Dome, and Giotto's Tower, and Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise - Religion's symbols all; if, indeed, he is not still more impatient to reach her Galleries, not to look upon the Venus, though that too Art, true to its highest instincts, has made most

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pure and chaste, but upon her in whose face Christian Art has expressed at once the divinest solicitude and the most sacred loveliness of a woman's soul. Every where in the traveller's world the things of deepest interest are the records that Art has written out of the religious life of the ages that are gone.

And now arises this question : Is it possible that Religion, which has thus always and every where breathed itself into Art, should not itself have been served by that visible symbol and expression? Is it possible that Religion has been the very life of Art, and that Art in return has brought nothing but corruption and death to Religion? Is it possible that the spirit which gave the inspiration that made love to brood, and genius to look aloft, and the saintly heart to see the forms that are most akin to God, should itself be stiffened or petrified in those forms, when they passed from out the souls that conceived them to be the perpetual possession of all mankind? Can it be that those spiritual Ideals, which are possible only to the few, the very few who are at once of saintly soul and of creative power, should yet permanently lower the conceptions of the many? The services that Religion has rendered to Art are manifest, she has been the very soul of her life; but the services or the disservices that Art has rendered to Religion present a different and a far more difficult question. Will it be said that spiritual Religion must of necessity have no association with Art, for that God is pure spirit, invisible, infinite; and the Invisible can have no visibility, the Infinite no form? The objection introduces us at once to the peculiar province of Art, and the limits of its power. Art deals with form, colour, and expression; and whatever by its own nature is incapable of being represented under these conditions is clearly beyond its region. But all that eye hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man conceived, falls within its province. All, in fact, that is revealed to the sentiment of mankind is the legitimate object of Art. God, as He is in His own being, and apart from His communications to the spirits of His children, dwelling in light inaccessible and full of glory, can only be profaned and insulted by any attempt at representative shape; and with some rare and most unhappy exceptions, Art has reverently kept within its sphere, and indicated God, not by likeness, but by symbol,—by the colossal Hand of an omnipotence that sustains the universe,-or the piercing Eye whose omnipresence searches to its inmost heart. But though God can have no delineation of physical form, we must use the only word we have, Art can convey the impression of His moral attributes in ways exactly correspondent to those in which He himself imparts them, through the mediation of Nature, and of that light of the soul which looks through the faces of men. 'In all acts of prayer, of direct personal communion, of course Art,

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