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-The Norse Folk, by C. L. Brace, Secretary of the Children's Aid Society. (New York: C. Scribner). Mr. C. L. Brace some years since marked out a field of labor for himself, in which he has thoroughly enlisted the sympathy and spiritual companionship of good people of every creed and party, and of all parts of our country. This is sufficient evidence that an unusually good judgment is united in his character to genuine catholic and comprehensive benevolence. Whatever such a man writes for the Christian public is sure to obtain the Christian public's attention, and to be popular, instructive, and ably suggestive of needed social and philanthropic improvements. In the Norse Folk, Mr. Brace has given us a satisfactory insight of the condition, character, and manners of the people, together with a sketch of the existing government, church, and other institutions, especially those of a philanthropic character, of a region with regard to which Miss Bremer's works awakened a curiosity, in many respects, hitherto but little gratified. Mr. Brace's capital qualification as a writing-traveler, is his unwearying and remarkably general impulse of inquiry, and his faculty of making himself at home, and getting information directly and circumstantially from the people with whom chance brings him in contact. In this he even excels most other American travelers, though, as a personal observer, he is rather below their average; doubtless, because he is too often preoccupied with reflection. He is industrious in the examination of documents and statistics, and judicious in collation and condensation.
The same qualities of style which characterize the "Home Life in Germany and Hungary in 1851," of Mr. Brace, are found in this work, constantly evincing a tenderly discriminating and vigorous capacity of language. There are frequent infelicitous expressions, and sometimes a slip-shod,
HERE we open a window that looks out upon the world: and here we shall sit, month by month, and watch all that passes; so that whoever looks with us will see whatever is most interesting at home and abroad.
memorandum-like method of statement which would not be unbecoming in a newspaper market report, but is hardly in good taste when addressed to so large and respectable an audience as a work of this character is sure to command. It is neatly printed, and illustrated with tolerable engravings and wood-cuts; but, as a book for reference, would be more valuable if supplied with a map.
-Sermons by Ephraim Peabody, with a Memoir (Crosby, Nichols & Co.). This volume is a collection of discourses by one of the purest and noblest of men. His life was simple, uneventful, and pious. His character was of that rare beauty which foreshows the era of peace and good-will among men. The engraving prefixed to the volume, from Cheney's portrait, has the tender beatification of expression which that exquisite artist was wont to bestow upon all his friends. But the winning human face of Mr. Peabody was but a thin veil of the angelic beneath. He was not a man to be widely known; nor are his sermons of a nature to be generally read. But he was a man to be loved by those who knew him, as few men are loved, and to bequeath his memory to them as a perpetual plea for an honest and God-serving life his own life having so unfailingly assured them that "of such is the kingdom of heaven."
From this elevation we can catch the humorous aspects of events; we can make our little comments as one thing rapidly chases another before our eyes: here we can see objects that are lost to those passing in the street, objects which were worth re
membering, but which have drifted down the month, and are forgotten.
We can hear the new singers, as they sing at home or far over the sea. We can see the new pictures that are painted at home or in England, in France, or Germany. We can assist with our eyes and ears at great festivals and solemnities wherever they occur. We can see the belle as she adjusts the skirt for the last time; the beau, as he perfects his cravat-tie; pride, spreading its plumage, and forgetting that, though it ornaments its ugliness, it does not conceal it; and folly flying fondly after its own tail.
From Our Window we can look into the windows of the Tuileries, and see if the Empress is really shedding hoops and cutting crinoline. We can gaze into the seamstress's attic-chamber, and see if she did really stain with tears the bridal robe she was stitching.
So, when you have done your day's work and your day's talk-when the light is tranquil and the air quiet, when the hour comes in which you wish neither to wrangle nor to study, but to refresh and revive the mind that is teased all day--then come, and lean with us out of Our Window, and see what motley the Old World is wearing.
Just when nature is loveliest with us, art puts forth its annual blossoms. We throw up Our Window to look at the cherry blossoms, and a "bit" of Casilear's salutes We think to see the faithful old apple orchards in their brief carnival and perfumed splendor, and behold the sumptuous Church or the fruity Gray. We look for summer-and the Arcadian serenity of Kensett, the soft repose of Durand are before our eyes for the gushing fountains in the fields, and, lo! the impetuous vigor of Hicks, or the suppressed power of Page.
In fact, when the warm sun in the sky, and the airy muslins in the street, remind us that the time of the singing of birds has come, and we are on our loitering way to Hoboken, to hear the voice of the turtle-the old familiar face of the placard of the National Academy exhibition catches us by the eye, and allures us into realms of eternal spring, of unfading summer, and of relentless winter.
This year it was the thirty-second an
nual exhibition, and, perhaps, thirty-two times better than any recent one. In the morning the rooms have been a quiet retreat for the student who wished to study, and learn to tell a Rossiter from a Huntington. In the evening, they have been thronged with a murmuring crowd, who lingered listlessly in the heat, and pronounced Church's Andes "beautiful! perfect!"
Probably no two visitors agreed upon any theory of art, or canon of artistic criticism. They all knew what pleased them. and they would have laughed as much at the terrible Mr. Ruskin, who says that you can know about pictures precisely as you know about the moral law, as at a jeweler, who should say that you had no moral right to prefer opals to diamonds.
Most of us who look into a gallery are entirely unfit to talk about pictures from any other point of view than our private pleasure. Those of us who have always lived among brick houses, and have seen green fields and blue sky, as a luxury to be taken in white coats, during a sultry summer month, wisely declare that Indigo, who has studied tint by tint the landscape he exhibits, gets his blues too dark, or his yellows too bright, while we are sure that Buff is no painter; for he "gets his reds too warm."
Now it seems to us as if Indigo and Buff probably knew a great deal more about their business than we do; and when you look around the brilliant walls of the Academy, and remember how many long hours of patient toil, how many days of hard struggle and exposure, how much devotion, and passion, and despair, are worked into that web of shifting color, how many of those pictures are the sacrifice of a life upon the shrine of beauty-is it not as well to see that the gray is properly cool, even if the red is warm; and that if the head you pass with a sniff, because it is catalogued in New York as the work of Tripe, were labeled in a foreign gallery, Titian, it would extort from you the most willing admiration.
Next year, when you ascend those stairs and pay your mite-let it be a double mite, for a season-ticket-to the admirable Mrs. Croker, whose presence is a pleasant part of the annual exhibition, remember that you are not going to see so many feet of canvas, covered with so many pounds of
paint, but fragments of the hope and talent of a hundred fellow-men. If they are not Claudes, or Raphaels, or Giorgiones, or Michael Angelos, what then? Must all flowers be roses, or relinquish the name and the ministry of flowers? You can surely say many a sharp thing as you survey the pictures, for you are a witty man; but remember that the arrow you fly, only for the sake of admiring its glittering point, strikes mortally the young bird newly trying its wings, or the stag pushing bravely through the forest.
The picture is poor enough, if you choose, that is clear; but how if the unprotected and appealing work could criticise you in turn? Stand before the poorest of all the pictures, and, having marked it well, ask yourself only-"Am I a better specimen of a man than that is of a picture?" So shall you learn humility, and abase your nodding crest of arrogance.
And has not every landscape-picture some touches and suggestions of lovely aspects of nature? The very outline and attempted coloring of quiet fields, and shadowy woods, and singing waters, do they not breathe a sweeter light into the day upon which they are seen, hung on city walls? If, in his dreary arctic night at the pole, the brave Kane could have seen even the poorest copy of the worst Claude, would it not have been to him as a glimpse of paradise?
disgust, whatever the public censors have said. The pictures have gone to parlor walls, the painters to their studios, and the public about its business.
Now Broadway, on a spring morning, swarming with the fresh toilettes of the brief season in which muslins may be worn, is not precisely like an arctic region with Esquimaux. Yet, for all that, whoever steps aside and dallies for an hour in the Academy gallery, may have, as Kane might have had, glimpses of paradise.
The doors are closed now, until another year, but still, from Our Window, we placidly survey what is past, and enjoy pleasures that are no more. Not that we count the seeing of pictures among past pleasures. Beauty has the immortal elixir, and never grows old to the eye or to the mind. Like the stars and the flowers, fine works of art are alway fresh in the seeing or in the remembering. The thirty-second exhibition is closed. The wits have made merry over works that were not conceived nor executed with a laugh. The newspapers have extolled and decried. The artists have read with pride, or fury, or placid
But we are all agreed that it was a capital display-that Church was magnificent in his great sweeps of mountain ranges sunk in glorious haze, with cascades, streams, strange foliage, and all the luxuriant splendor of the tropics. Church copes adequately with great themes. He paints the Andes as easily as many men a river meadow. We are agreed, too, that Gray is the same fond lover of the Venetian bloom, and, in a world of modern notions, is faithful to the traditions of his art; that his compeer, Huntington, has not yet lost any cunning from his fingers, and holds his place; that the President, Durand, if more skillful in details, is not less placid and pastoral, our Thomson of the brush; that Kensett was surely born under a cloudless sky, so serene and full of summer joy are his beautiful pictures; that Rossiter would outdazzle the day, if pigments were sunbeams; that Hicks's vigor found never a fitter subject than Henry Ward Beecher; that Casilear's muse of inspiration should be a flitting, shy Egeria. so rare, and delicate, and tender is his touch; that Cropsey's hand is still unequal to his teeming fancy; that Greene and Baker take rank with our best portrait-painters; that Hall, and Hubbard, and Shattuck, and a score more beside them, illuminate the walls with glowing prophecies of the future glory of Academy exhibitions; and that Page, in a grand, melancholy way, vindicates his position as the greatest master of portrait we have yet produced.
Upon some of these things, perhaps, we are all agreed. But each mistress liked her lover's picture best, and each friend his friend's. And no one could leave the rooms without a higher respect for the performance as well as the prospect of American art. There have been many poorer exhibitions in older places. We will not say that there have been poorer ones in London; but we will see what pictures London was looking at in the same spring days, that we may bring the artists of the two countries together, in our annual survey.
Thus speaks London of this year's English pictures:
"We miss from among the exhibitors this year, with special regret, Mr. E. M. Ward and Mr. Webster. Sir Charles Eastlake, also, and Mr. Lee are unrepresented, and we have from Mr. Herbert only a scene 'On the coast of France;' a wide prospect of sea and coast, which is certainly a pleasant little picture, although not what we are taught to look for from his hands. But if we miss some familiar artists, we have compensation in the reappearance of, at any rate, one whose handiwork bas been of late years little seen. There is a picture by Mr. Mulready, painted in accordance with the will of Mr. Vernon, for the Vernon Gallery, called 'The Young Brother.' A sister holds him, and an elder brother tickles him lovingly behind the ear. His gesture and expression are delightful. Last year, again, Mr. Maclise did not exhibit; this year he has supplied, in his Peter the Great,' one of the most important pictures of the season. Peter, working with his companions in the Deptford Dockyard, is visited by William the Third. The rough Muscovite, who is intent on modeling, not only a ship, but an empire-vigorous and youthful, with rugged locks, a fearless look, bare arms, of which the veins are full with recent labor, and limbs spread abroad -contrasts significantly, as young Russia, with the King of England, who stands with his limbs all in a line, erect, gloved tightly, frilled, wigged, and no longer young. Close to the hand of the half-barbarous Peter are the luxuries of the flesh, which were essential to his happiness-the fruits, the wine, the actresses, the dwarf, and monkey; but while there is all that kind of life surrounding him, there is expressed throughout the whole picture his appetite and passion for the science of the west. The marvelous execution of the details in this work does not strike the eye so soon as its complete expression of a thought. Mr. Maclise furnishes, also, this year, a special attraction to the North Room, in the shape of forty-two noble designs in outline, illustrative of the Story of the Conquest.'
fancy, entitled 'Uncle Tom and his Wife for sale;' Uncle Tom being a black-faced bull terrier, chained with his spouse against a wall, and within sight of a dog-whip. The picture is, indeed, not to be seen without emotion; but it is meant to beget mirth, not melancholy.
"Over Mr. Maclise's 'Peter' hangs a grand study of deer upon a misty peak, 'Scene in Braemar,' the chief work for this year of Sir Edwin Landseer, and one of the best works he has exhibited. The other contributions of this painter are a study of a 'Rough and Ready' pony, and a bit of dog
"Mr. Stanfield's best work for the season represents the wreck of a vessel that had been part of the Spanish Armada, and that had been firing at rocks, mistaken for a castle, in the bay now called after this incident Port na Spania, near the Giant's Causeway, on the coast of Ireland. Incidents of the wreck are mingled with the surging of the waters, and, through mist and spray, the weird cliffs of the Giant's Causeway show a coast entirely pitiless. Mr. Stanfield exhibits three other good works, of which we shall speak in future notices.
"Mr. Augustus Egg's picture of 'Esmond's Return after the Battle of Wynendel' attracted constant admiration at the private view. Its quiet fullness of thought is remarkable. The figures of Beatrice and Esmond, faultless in conception, are, without one trace of exaggeration, perfect in expression
"Mr. David Roberts has sent three pictures: two of church interiors-one of them a fine Interior of the Duomo at Milan'--and a square in Rome, the 'Piazza Navona;' by these works he is very well represented.
"Mr. Millais exhibits three pictures, and appears in them to better advantage than he did in the works contributed last year. His News from Home represents a young Highlander on duty in a trench before Sebastopol, shouldering his musket while he treads among the shot and shell that tell the danger of his post, and reads a letter from home with a softened look upon his face that wins the heart as one observes it. The Sir Isambras at the Ford, too, is a picture full of good expression. The grayhaired knight in heavy mail, who rides the good horse Lancival across the stream, with a barefooted girl before him and a barefooted boy behind, the girl clasped in the armor, the boy clasping it, is so painted that one may sit and dream before the work. The third picture, that of the Escape of a Heretic-of a girl saved by her lover from an auto-da-fé, we like least of the three at a first glance, but the attitude
of shelter and protection in the lover, who is become to the girl a haven and a fortress, is conceived most skillfully.
Of Mr. Creswick's fresh and airy English landscapes there are three, and there are four pictures by Mr. Redgrave. Mr. Witherington sends also four landscapes, two of which are especially worthy of his name. Among Mr. Cooke's pictures is a very real bit of the English coast, a Crab and Lobster Shore.
"Attention is caught very surely by Mr. Dyce's little picture of Titian preparing to make his First Essay in Coloring-with juices of flowers; the artist-spirit and determined purpose of the boy speak here plainly enough out of his face.
"Mr. Cope's large picture of the Pilgrim Fathers quitting the Dutch coast for New England demands more attention than we have yet given to it. We now simply place it upon record among notable things of the season. His little domestic scene of Morning Games at Breakfast-time is to be seen at a glance, and liked of course.
"But at the head of the domestic pictures of the year we must place Mr. Faëd's First Break in the Family. The mail coach has gone by a moorland cottage, and has borne "our bonnie young Willie awa'." Mother and father, grandmother, a sister budding into womanhood, and younger ones, with the dog in front, who is half disposed to run after his vanished playfellow-all have come forth to gaze until the coach is out of sight. The grouping, the expression given to each person in the little moorland family, has been exquisitely felt by the painter. One sentiment pervades every corner of the canvas, even to the perplexity of the hen who has all her chickens with her except one, which is on the other side of a gate, and cries because it can't get over.
"All notice of the portraits we defer, only indulging ourselves with a mention of Mr. Grant's Marquis of Lansdowne. Of the sterling character of several of the pictures, which have not been named in the preceding sketch, we can give no better evidence than by saying that among them is Mr. Leslie's Sir Roger de Coverley at Church."
It seems impossible for America to make a musical fame. Paris and London will not
receive the New York approval of a singer as final. And this is not wonderful; for either we do not believe in our own opinions, or we feel that we do not know enough to make them.
From Our Window we looked into the Academy of Music, here in New York, and beheld the melancholy failure of Signor Jacopi, whose portrait had illuminated the shop windows. Dry up, Jacobs!" was the dreadful fiat laughed down from the terrible gods in the gallery. The gods knew Mr. Charles Jacobs, in Chatham street, and would not tolerate any Signor Jacopi, in Irving Place. It was a just judgment of the gods; but how could they inflict it? The tortures of the old martyrs were mild in the comparison.
Madame Cora de Wilhorst with her shrill and uninteresting, but flexible and trained voice, has sailed for Italy to study and, let us hope, to succeed. She seems resolved upon success; and hearty resolution always deserves it. But Europe will not care a straw what we thought of her. She has a great deal more reputation in New York than ever Parodi had in London. And yet when Parodi was brought here, she was to be a triumph because London had approved her. How long will it be before London applauds because New York approves? We cannot even control Boston yet, and Philadelphia sets up a prima donna of its own, and does not care how coldly we smile upon Gazzaniga.
This will continue just as long as the foreign estimate is a judgment of intelligence based upon certain canons of art. In Europe people know that there are great limitations to every art and artist. In America we forget that Jenny Lind is, after all, no miracle but only a woman who sings, and so we are disappointed.
We had Bosio and we thought her a very pretty singer. Bosio went to Europe, and Europe instantly knew that there were only a very few living women who sang better, and ranked her accordingly.
But whatever our knowledge or judgment may be, there is no doubt that we like to hear of good singers as well as to hear them. Whoever sings with brilliant success anywhere, will hereafter look to an American career as, pecuniarily, the most important of all. The artists laugh at us; but they find a hundred cents in every one of our dollars.