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'chair, for instance, ought to be comfortable, and it ought also to be elegant in form; and this elegance should not only be seen when it is untenanted; but it ought to throw its occupier ' into a graceful attitude, and look well with him in it. But a 'cabinet-maker will hardly succeed in this, unless he knows enough of the human figure to understand what a graceful ' attitude is, and how to produce it. The example is a little homely, and perhaps has a smack of too much luxury; but the principle is one which may be extended to all our furniture,— 'to carriages and their fittings, -to the colour and patterns of 6 papers, of carpets, of curtains, of furniture-covers,—and, more especially, to all things made for the purposes of dress.' 'It is much to be wished,' he continues, that tailors and milliners 'could be made to admit this, and to submit to a little instruction ' in a School of Design; but I fear they are too powerful, and their customers too submissive subjects, to allow us to hope for any thing of the kind. But the makers of the materials are in a 'better position; and ought to learn to produce stuffs suited for 'all varieties of size and complexion, and for different lights, 'but always to produce something adapted to some human 'figure, and not the hideous spots and railroad stripes which now frequently cut up and disguise their wearers.'
But we turn gladly from the regions of controversy to ground on which all agree. Whatever may be thought of this or that particular system of instruction, there can be but one opinion as to the beneficial effects which must necessarily result from the opening of schools of art in all quarters of the country. It is but little to say that a young man is better employed in copying the most inapposite Pompeian decorations than in tippling at the public house; nor are we disposed to make too much even of the gratifying account which Mr. Minton gives (Ev. 2648.) of the sinecure which the stipendiary magistrate who sits five days a 'week' at the Potteries, has enjoyed since the opening of the schools at Stoke and Hanley*; but the bearing of these schools upon the education of the country strikes us as exceedingly important. Standing aloof, as they do, from everything like sectarian controversy on religious questions, and offering attractions for a class which is least commonly to be found in our national and other schools, they are of great service as outposts of education, in an interesting, but rather inaccessible country. To each is attached a collection of valuable specimens and works of art, and a lending library for the use of the students. These are thus brought
There are mines, too, we rejoice to say, in which the introduction of Music has been equally beneficial.
within reach of a class comprising many who would think lightly of book learning for its own sake, and many who are unable to get any book learning even if they desired it. A great amount of instruction is thus indirectly communicated to them. They are found eagerly to avail themselves of the library; and the examination of the various models and examples awakens in them a spirit of inquiry into their origin and meaning, which must continually be leading them on to more and more knowledge.
Nor is this all: incalculable good may often be effected by familiarising them with forms and principles of beauty, which must often prove to be vehicles of moral as well as of intellectual improvement. In this luxurious and self-indulgent age such effects are of the highest value. Splendour and ostentation are now carried very far with us; but good taste and refinement are much neglected. The consequence is that our pleasures and desires partake too much of the sensual, and tend rather to the degradation than to the exaltation of our nature. Finery is too generally preferred to elegant simplicity; dress, and furniture, and all the other appliances of civilised life, are esteemed according as they minister to the display of wealth, rather than according to their real beauty. Thus the rich are made arrogant, and the poor discontented: And the evil feeds itself. The love of beauty, which was given us to act as a counterpoise to our love of ease and riches, is so far perverted, as to act as a stimulus instead of a check; and what should have been for our health is turned into an occasion of falling. What then is the appropriate remedy? Clearly it is to place before all a different standard of enjoyment,—a standard which the poorest may perceive to be within his reach, and which the richest will fail of attaining without the cultivation of some of the higher qualities of his nature. We hear much of the effect which the natural character and scenery of a country has upon the natural character of its inhabitants-how their tastes and habits are formed upon it. Does it never occur to us, while we meditate on these things, that we live in the midst of an artificial world, and of scenery which is principally of our own creation, and is therefore under our own command-and which yet exercise upon us effects in some degree similar to those which we attribute to the world of nature. Creatures of habit, we learn to like that which we live with; we become as it were acclimated to certain modes of life, and even forms of ornament,-and love them from association. We should augur well of a country where high art and decorative art appealed to the same parts of our nature, and acknowledged principles in common; where public taste had been so far advanced as to prefer skilful work
manship to costly materials, and an elegant wooden platter to the most sumptuous gold or silver plate, less beautifully wrought.
Notwithstanding our ostentatious habits, no one will deny that of late years a step has been taken in this direction. The attention of the public has been aroused; and we have become conscious of our short-comings. In these matters the desire of improvement is half the battle. Crude theories in art, incorrect practices, and bad examples cannot be suppressed by act of parliament. But the taste of a people may gradually be raised, by taking every opportunity of making it familiar with the best possible models of every description. And, to whatever extent Schools of Design may contribute to this enviable consummation, they will in the same degree secure every immediate and minor object, in this their more complete success. At a late meeting of the School of Design established in the Potteries,— Mr. Labouchere in the chair,-the President of the Board of Trade was requested to assure his colleagues, that no branch of manu'facture more urgently required the advantage of Schools of Design than that of china and earthenware; that no district has the prospect of being more extensively benefited by their operation than the Staffordshire Potteries; and that they trust no population will be found more grateful for their establish'ment. Mr. Labouchere truly observed, in reply, that, after all which Government might do, the real success and permanent interests of such institutions must mainly depend on the support given them by the communities in which they exist; and we agree with the Athenæum in rejoicing that in one instance, at least, this element of final prosperity seems likely to be supplied.
ART. VI. — 1. Political and Social Economy, its practical Applications. (From Chambers's Instructive and Entertaining Library.') By JOHN HILL BURTON. Edinburgh:
2. Evils of England, Social and Economical. By A LONDON PHYSICIAN. London: 1849.
3. Tactics for the Times. By J. C. SYMONS. London: 1849.
PERHAPS the two features which have most distinguished the
public mind of Britain during the last few years are, a quick perception and conscientious sense of our social evils,and an entire want of system and philosophy in our mode of treating and regarding them. Till the continental convulsions of the last twelvemonths threw for the time all other matters
into the shade, the public attention seemed to be fixing itself upon the miseries and maladies of our population with an almost morbid intensity; and with an impatience of endurance, and a craving for action, as alarming to the philosopher as it was encouraging and consolatory to the mere philanthropist. Most of the topics which had formerly absorbed the interest of the nation were settled and forgotten. The agitating questions of foreign policy, parliamentary reform, and religious toleration, were well nigh disposed of; and the vast field of colonial policy, which for some years to come will probably occupy the front rank in popular and parliamentary interest, had as yet scarcely been opened. No wonder, therefore, that the regular campaigns of party warfare, from the absence of those great subjects which had divested them of their littleness, were beginning to be trite and wearisome. In the pause from conflicts, both internal and external, which ensued, people had leisure to look at home, and to inquire into their domestic position. And what they saw might well stagger and appal them. Meanwhile, benevolent individuals had long been busy in examining and exposing those particular grievances or sufferings which had severally attracted their imagination or their pity. Each philanthropist had his pet evil. Some mused and discoursed on that congeries of undigested symptoms which they termed The Condition-of-England Question.' Others, less comprehensive in their sympathy, or less ambitious in their zeal, were content to divide the labours of social reformation. One man considered the factory population. as his peculiar charge. Another took coal mines under his especial protection. A third organised a crusade against drunkenness; a fourth occupied himself with the statistics of education; a fifth affected juvenile criminals; a sixth paupers; a. seventh looked after slaves; an eighth threw his ægis over the natives in remote colonies;-till the unfortunate agricultural peasants were the only portion of our population that seemed neglected and forgotten. No Protector of the Aborigines' sprung up for them: For those on whom this office should naturally have devolved, were busy in other fields.
Two great benefits have resulted from this widespread and irregular activity. In the first place, we have collected an invaluable mass of information on the condition, moral and physical, of nearly every branch of the poorer classes, to guide us in our efforts for their amelioration; and, secondly, we have at last penetrated the public mind with the sincere conviction that these matters possess for us a personal, paramount, and urgent interest, with which no question of foreign policy or party struggle can for a moment vie. The task of restoring health and sound
ness to a society so fearfully diseased as ours unquestionably is, is on all hands acknowledged to be at once the noblest, and the most imperative, to which citizens or statesmen can now direct their energies.
But the mass of dismal and disheartening facts which these investigations have brought to light, has a strong tendency to disseminate an impression at once mischievous and untrue. We hear it frequently assumed, that these evils are novel and increasing; that our social condition is fast degenerating; that we are nationally on the brink of a precipice, from which time is scarcely left us to draw back. Now, that this impression is not only untrue, but the very reverse of truth, is unquestionable, to all who have either read history in detail or who have been long actively engaged in the labours of philanthropy-to all, in fact, but those whose attention to these subjects has been of recent date, and whose knowledge of the evil has therefore burst upon them suddenly. Those who have been longest, most profoundly and practically conversant with the wounds and bruises and 'putrifying sores' of the body politic-who have been well aware that, from the sole of the foot even to the head there is ' no soundness therein'- are the last to be dissatisfied with our progress hitherto, or to despair of our progress in future. It is not Arkwright or the elder Peel who would quarrel with the present discipline and ventilation of our factories. It is not Howard or Mrs. Fry who would now be horror-struck at the condition of our prisons; nor Romilly or Mackintosh who would complain of the atrocities and enormities of our actual criminal jurisprudence. Mr. Macaulay's admirable remarks, in the third chapter of his History, on comparisons of this kind so often loosely made to our disadvantage, deserve the deep consideration of those who have been startled either into terror or despondency by the pictures of vice and wretchedness which recent inquiries have laid bare.
The more carefully (says he) we examine the history of the 'past, the more reason we shall find to dissent from those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social evils. The truth is, that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, 'old. That which is new, is the intelligence which discerns and the humanity which remedies them. The more we study the annals of the past, the more shall we rejoice that we live in a merciful age,-in an age in which cruelty is abhorred, and in which pain, even when deserved, is inflicted reluctantly, ' and from a sense of duty. Every class doubtless has gained greatly by this great moral change: but the class which has