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course of which he has introduced such passages from ancient authors, as may serve to illustrate the Roman methods of build. ing, or give an idea of the magnificence of the Romans in public, and of their elegant refinements in private life.
Mr. Cameron takes occasion to remark, - that there is no part of polite literature, which has more strongly engaged the attention, or raised the curiosity of mankind, than that which has for its object the fate and revolutions of great and mighty nations: - We cannot help, says he, being struck with the grandeur of the city of Athens, and the sumptuous edifices which Pericles raised there, as well as with the exalted notions of liberty and independence which he infused into the Athenians, such as we find them represented in the works of cotemporary writers.' . But, he adds, what idea of their noble ancestors can a people afford us, whose manners and customs are totally changed, whose laws and forms of government are obliteraied, whose language is almost loft, by a mixture with that of the most illiterate barbarians ? Such is the situation of this once Aourishing country, and the information we should receive by the most diligent enquiry into the present state of it, would be proportionably small, were it not for those magnificent productions of the age we are fpeaking of, which ftill exist, and prove the best and most subftantial comment on the words of the historian. Hence we collect into one point of view, the fucceflion of empire and the progress of the arts; hence it is, that public monuments and inscriptions are fought for with carneftness, as not being liable, like uncertain traditions or manuscripts, to be altered or corrupted.'
· The situation of Rome, at present, (our Author continues) is little better than that of Athens ; we must have recourse to the same evidence for materials, and even this, if proper care 13 not taken, will fail us: in a short period, perhaps, we may look in rain for these means, which have hitherto withstood the fury of civil and religious rage. Even in the fixteenth century, when Rome once more became the seat of learning, and her princes the patrons of the arts, is it not to be lamented that many old buildings, the baths more especially, were disfigured their ornaments, which the superstition of the first Christians rejected as prophane, and which the ignorance of succeeding ages disregarded as useless, were now stripped off to support private luxury, or destined to perpetuate the memory of princes, who were not ashamed of obliterating the works of those emperors, which they despaired of being able to equal. In this manner were those remains of antiquity treated, which, through a long succession of time, had stood regarded by the Romans, as venerabie monuments of the grandeur and magnificence of their ancestors!'
Our Author notices one great impediment to the advance, ment of the arts in the time just spoken of, and which we are afraid is still, and universally, a prevailing one, viz. the love of novelty : for artists, as he observes, have often a furer recommendation to the favour of the public, by following the caprice of their own imagination, than by adhering to those pure and genuine models from whence they profess to derive their skill. But Mr. Cameron juftly adds, The truth is, those who first obtruded upon the world this false talte, were men of real merit and genius, who having deservedly acquired the greatest praise in the arts of painting or sculpture, obtained, for their novelties in architecture, that implicit respect and obedience, which a superiority of understanding over the rest of their countrymen, taught them to expect. Hence those wild and fantaftic inventions wbich are to be met with, in the greatest number, in those places where the arts have flourished moft: hence that tribe of imitators, who, ftruck by the praises, unmerited in this point at least, which their matters had acquired, reduced architecture to fo confused and corrupt a state, as hardly to be exceeded by that Gothic barbarism, which they themselves held in the utmost contempt.'
• There were not wanting, however, (he concludes) men of discernment, who, though captivated at first, were not so entirely milled, as to prefer this specious appearance of excellence to the real and fubftantial beauty of the Grecian and Roman architecture, when introduced to them in its proper form ; and who have re-established the old and true method of building, by unanimously giving to Palladio the first place among the modern architects.'
In tracing the rise and progress of the polite arts among the Romans, our Author observes, that this warlike people seem not to have been incited by any natural taste or genius to the improvement of the arts; but to have received them, at first, rather as a neceffary attendant on their conquests, than as an acquisition worthy of being fought after.
This remark is possibly superfluous.- In the early ages and Tude state of any nation, the people will Mew but little regard for the arts of elegance. In the infancy of a society, individuals will be solicitous only with respect to the necessaries and common conveniencies of life, and the magistrate will be chiefly attentive to their grand concern, the preservation of the state from foreign invasion. This was certainly the fituation of the Romans, till they began to grow first secure, and then ambitious of conquest.' Their increase of dominion producing afluence, this foon made thein sensible of the charms of luxury; and with luxury, of coursi, came her in u paraule companions, elegance and tasle; who frequent only those places,
where property and riches have previously taken up their abode. Under such circumstances, every people, we apprehend, will manifest a taste and genius for the cultivation of the arts of refinement, unless prevented, as at this day, (under certain peculiar forms of governmçnt) by a religion unfavourable to the growth of every thing but ignorance and superstition.
Qur ingenious Author next remarks, that many of the greatest men among the Romans, law with concern, that the introduction of the fine arts into a country which had never yet experienced their irrefiftible influence, muft deprive them of that manly courage, by which they had been, for so many ages, enabled to resist the utmost efforts of the neighbouring ftates; and at length prove fatal to their liberty. Nor did they, says he, confine themselves to arguments alone ; many edicts were passed, and many persons were severely fined, who tranfgrefled the laws made to prohibit the introduction of foreign manners and customs. These remedies, which were prudently applied at the very beginning of the evil, would perhaps have effeétually stopped its progress, had they not in themselves tended to hinder the aggrandizing the state ; that ruling passion, which seemed the very soul of the republic, and animated every indiyidual in its support.'
The natural tendency of luxury to enervate the minds and deprave the manners of a people, which is a point often insisted on by pnilolophical and political writers, seems to militate against all the arts of refinement in general, as having, in foine degree, the same tendency.-- We should, therefore, be glad to see this argument (complicated as it is with our commercial interests) thoroughly investigated and determined by some able hand; that io we might be rightly instructed how far we ought, as true friends to our country, to countenance the progress which the arts are daily making anong us, ia what is stiled this age of improvement.-- But to return.
? If luxury, says our Author, had shewn itself at first, (among the Romans] by increasing the superfluities or even the conveniences of life, the people might ealily have been brought to reject what they were unaccustomed to, and what their frukal way of living rendered unnecessary; but they could not bear with indifference to see what they considered as an increase of real power and glory, circumscribed by philosophic seasonings, for which their minds were not formed ; on the contrary, they saw their dominion on every side extending it. self, and they looked with pleasure for the triumphant return of their leaders, which was generally marked by a profusion of gold and filver, brought from diftant countries : these triumphs, which were the rewards of valour, and the only recompence which the state allowed the most successful general,
had been constantly kept up with all the pomp and magnificence that the times would admit of, and had increased that love for shew and novelty, now become so agreeable to the Romans.
• The combats of the gladiators suited extremely the warlike disposition of the people, and now began to be exhibited, as well as the entertainments of the theatre, with the utmost expence. The transition from hence to that inundation of wealth and luxury, which overspread the empire was not perceived; the public magnificence soon became very conspicuous; marble temples were now first erected; bafilicas (which were great halls surrounded with porticos, used for the administration of justice) were not known till this period; the whole at. tention of the state seemed turned to the advancing and embellishing the city of Rome; and the falling in with the prevailing taste of the age, was the sureft means of securing the popular applause.'
Our fensible Remarker goes on to thew the gradual progress of luxury among the Romans, till it grew to its highest pitch in the time of Augustus; which he justly terms' a period, fatal indeed to the liberties of Rome, but productive of consequences favourable to the progress of the arts.' Those rigid ftoics, he adds, who by their maxims of philosophy had been taught to consider every branch of polite literature as an innovation upon their natural freedom, had now no voice in opposition to that universal eagerness which prevailed among all ranks of people, to bring about the changes in the constitution of the state which then happened. The time was come when men were glad to seek for ease and plenty under the dominion of an absolute prince, and to give up those high notions of liberty and independence, which their ancestors had in vain laboured to prelerve, through a series of civil discord and confusion.'
The following remarks on the peculiar genius of the Auguftan age, will afford us a very agreeable specimen of this Writer's abilities, with respect to an investigation so curious, and so interelting to the classical reader.
Thé Abbe du Bos, he observes, speaking of the age of Auguftus, has remarked “ that the men who were the most conspicuous for learning at that time, were already formed when he attained the supreme power in the republic; and that under the succeeding emperors, though many of them were protectors of the arts, they gradually declined" from hence he takes occasion to observe, « that neither peace and tranquillity in the state, nor power and inclination in the sovereign, will contribute much to the advancement of polite literature, when other causes, though seemingly of a different tendency, do not co-operate.” It is certain that the greatest men of the
age we are speaking of, orators as well as poets, flourished during the rage of the civil wars : neither Cato nor Tully, Lucretius, Plautus, nor Terence, lived to see Augustus sole emperor; and of those who were then alive, as Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Tibullus, many were far advanced in years. Lucan, Statius, Juvenal, and the two Plinys, but faintly kept up the reputation of their predecessors: Claudian and Silius Italicus immediately followed; and after them came others, whose names are scarce remembered ; till at length the polite arts sunk into obscurity.
• Were wę to examine into the reason of this effect, so apparently opposite to the cause which produced it, we need but to observe how repugnant it was to the principles of despotism, to suffer men to give a loose to their thoughts and genius, on points of speculation, which in their progress might tend to censure the maxims of government as then established. In the time of the republic, the study of oratory was the fureft means of gaining the popular applause, and the practice of it led to the attainment of the highest posts of honour; but when the disposal of those places was taken out of the hands of the people, the same incitements no longer remained, and the study itself was of course neglected. This train of thought may perhaps lead us to account for the decline of poetry ; but thole very causes which obstructed the progress of arts that depended purely on the operations of the mind, did not extend to such as were more mechanical : the downfal of philosophy and poetry contributed to the improvement of architecture and sculpture. To this point, therefore, muft our observations tend, if we would consider the reign of Augustus in its most shining light. We see that those writers who have praised him in the highest teras, speak of the splendor and greatness of the buildings which he erected; of his magnificence in public, and his modesty in private life. He completed those itructures which, by the necessity of the times, had been left unfinished. Of these the most remarkable were the Theatre and Portico of Pompey, the Basilica of P. Æmilius, and Calar's Forum. To these many were added by him, which for beauty and grandeur of design, and elegance and fimplicity of ornament, have been esteemed among the most perfect models of antiquity. The example of the emperor raised a spirit of emulation in the great men of his age, which contributed much to perfecting the plan he had formed for embellishing the city. In a short space of time, the famc fenate, which had censured Pompey for promoting luxury and public dissipation, by crecting a permanent theatre, faw no less than three very large ones in use, those of Pompey, Marcellus and Balbus; the Circus Maximus greatly enlarged ; an amphitheatie erected at the charge of S. Taurus; porticos, baths,