« PreviousContinue »
descend upon these last, which some- to have been a million yen (about 100, times cause the bearers to stagger; all 0001.), and it is fully equal to its neighthe swaying lanterns and signs which bor both in architectural design and hang along and across the thorough- in elaborate ornamentation; which does fares are woefully bedraggled, and as not look as though either Japanese one pokes one's nose out between the faith or Japanese art were on the wane. leathern apron and the lowered hood of Is Japanese art doomed to perish? the jinrikisha, to see how other folk In a pictorial sense it is already dead are getting on, one is strongly im- -never, perhaps, despite its charm of pressed with the idea that the use of dexterity, poetry, and color, possessed paper is overdone in a climate liable to the elements of permanence or growth. such visitations. On the other hand, But is it the case that the beautiful it does not cost much to buy a new painstaking work in porcelain, lacquer, rain-cloak or a new umbrella, while, as bronze, ivory, and enamel, which to for mud, the process of removing that most of us represents what is really from bare legs is swift and easy.
glorious in the art of Japan, must At all events, the bad weather does cease to be produced under the not seem to keep anybody at home, nor changed conditions of to-day? Unforneed it prevent the hooded, leather- tunately, a high authority, the author aproned sightseer from letting himself of Things Japanese, seems to think so. be whisked about to the temples, He points out-quite truly, of course monasteries, parks, and palaces in that under the old régime the Japanese which the old capital is so rich. Of the ceramists, lacquerers, workers in metal former, perhaps the finest and most in- and enamel, were not hirelings, but teresting are the Nishi Hongwanji and artists and clansmen, faithful to their Higashi Hongwanji, which adjoin one feudal chief. “By him they were fed; another and are the headquarters of for him and for the love of their art the wealthy Monto sect of Buddhists. they worked . . . time was no object Both are vast treasure-houses of lac- ... there was no public of mediocre quer, bronze, painted screens, and taste to cater for ... the art was perjewelled altars. In the neighboring fectly and essentially aristocratic.” monastery, divided by sliding panels, Hence he concludes that "it is a mere are the usual long suites of empty piece of amiable optimism to suppose rooms with polished floors, immaculate that such a tradition can be kept up in matting, coffered ceilings, and wall- the days which have produced that paintings on paper, which are but dimly frightful, but aptly descriptive term, visible on this cloudy day. The cor- ‘art manufacture.'" nices of carved wood, representing It may nevertheless be permissible, birds and flowers, are some of them with all proper deference, to take a more than a foot thick, and, although more sanguine view. Shoguns and pierced, have designs ingeniously dif- daimyos have passed away; but the old fering on the one side from those on artistic spirit remains among a people the other. What time and patience who have changed their laws, their must have been expended upon think- customs, and, in some degree, their ing them out! The Nishi is called the dress, but who have not changed-inMikado's temple, the Higashi that of deed, could not change-their national the people—no misnomer, seeing that it character. Here, to-day, in Kyoto, has been rebuilt entirely by popular Namikawa is polishing in his little subscriptions since it was burnt down workshop pieces of cloisonné as charmforty years ago. . The total cost is said ing in design and coloring, as perfect
in finish, as any that have ever seen umphs, which connoisseurs pronounce the light of his native land. Another on a level with those of the best artist of the same name at Tokyo, who periods, and nothing in the past can works in a different and, as some peo- exceed for beauty the embroideries, ple think, an inferior style—but it is a brocades, painted silks, and cut velvets matter of opinion-has more orders of to-day. than he can execute. At Nagoya, too, Let it be frankly admitted, all the whence comes a third form of cloi. same, that the actual aspect of Japasonné, applied to silver, with the nese towns is not of a nature to reascloisons generally invisible, Kumeno sure ästhetic persons. It is difficult to and others are assiduously carrying on understand how or why an art-loving the difficult, minute handicraft. These race has endured such hideous disenamellers are enthusiastic, and are figurement of its streets. Streets, too, not greedy. Although they work hard, in which fires have ever been so comtheir annual output is small, for in the mon and so easily kindled! In Kyoto, repeated processes of baking which are the home and symbol of old Japan, the required many pieces are destroyed. capital of many generations of digConsequently their wares are expen, nified, powerless Mikados, the eye is sive. They do not make large for less distressed than elsewhere by tunes. Doubtless they might, if they monstrous, inappropriate modern con. cared to turn out rubbish in profusion; structions; yet even in Kyoto, alas! are doubtless rubbish is turned out in pro- tramcars, electric lights, aggressive fusion and fortunes are made. But telegraph-posts and wires. Indispensathat matters little so long as what is ble though these accompaniments of honestly good and enduring is not twentieth-century life may be, one canchoked out of existence. Why, after all, not help feeling that if they are to preshould it be? Given the survival and vail urban picturesqueness must go, vitality of the artistic spirit (which and with it by degrees that appreciamust surely be conceded), given a suffi- tion of what is fitting and picturesque cient number of purchasers, native or which constitutes what we call good foreign, to provide the craftsman with taste. One remembers certain Euroa living wage, and it does not seem so pean cities once renowned for their desperately optimistic to believe that beauty and distinction, and one knows what has been will continue to be. of what their municipal authorities Hope, moreover, is fortified when one have been capable in these latter days. remembers that a very large proportion The end, in any case, is not yet. For of the so-called "old" Japanese porce- many years to come, in all probability, lain, lacquer, metalwork, and enamel. the traveller who knows what to avoid ling is not in reality old at all. The will be able to wander about all day finest examples of the microscopically long among the temples and palaces, ornate Satsuma ware, for instance, the hills and gardens of widespread, were painted little more than half a gray-tiled Kyoto without meeting a century ago, while cloisonné work was solitary European or running against brought to its present pitch of perfec- a single telegraph-post. Temples and tion long after Commodore Perry, pagodas innumerable; quaint, stiff garcruising in Far Eastern waters, brought dens, recalling the tea ceremonies of a up off Yedo to mention to those whom bygone period; vast, scrupulously it might concern that feudalism was dusted, vacant palaces—all these, unout of date. Lacquering, though a very changed and unchanging, breathe a ancient craft, has had quite recent tri- gentle defiance to time. If the Imperial pleasure-grounds and the Mikado's thetic circumstance that the tortoise, Shishinden, or Hall of Audience, have which provides us with such beautiful something of the forlorn melancholy combs for our back hair, has no back of an abandoned stage, it is not, after hair of its own." However, if the all, very difficult for the imagination journalist meant to call the Japanese to repeople them with the sumptuously perspicacious, who shall gainsay him? attired daimyos who in days of yore T hey have originated nothing, say used to come flocking thither along the captious. No; but they have very the Tokaido, attended by numerous seldom imitated without improving retinues of two-sworded Samurai, to upon the original, and a wise eclecpay their respects to the sovereign re- ticism is in itself a form of originality, cluse. Strangely fated recluse who, being so rare. Even supposing the after a slumber of centuries, woke up worst comes to the worst, and their cities one fine morning, at the bidding of a are destined to approximate more and Yankee sea captain, to find that the more closely to the utilitarian model actual business of governing was in his that we know too well, they themselves hands, and who now, arrayed in a can never quite sink to a corresponding French-looking uniform, prances forth plane of dreary uniformity. The land, to review troops armed with the latest to say nothing of the natural temperapattern of rifle!
ment of its inhabitants, will not suffer We may pardon his gallant soldiers that. In the future, as in the past, their European uniforms, acknowledg. plum and cherry trees will burst forth ing that these were demanded by the with each recurring spring into acres sheer exigencies of the case; we inay of blossom, bamboos will sway and grant that his honorable Ministers must rustle by quiet pools, white foam of sit henceforth at pigeon-holed writing mountain torrents will flash between tables on suitably upholstered ctiairs; the red boles of lofty cryptomerias, it was time, perhaps, to give up sitting strings of wild geese will take their on the floor. But we may also hope, flight across the pale disc of the moon, not without confidence, that in due sea the snow-capped cone of Fuji will son he and his people will perceive hover, delicate and phantomlike, in a what is worth retaining and what is blue haze between earth and sky. If best rejected out of the extraneous the Japanese are wanting in originality civilization which they have seized (but of course they are not), no such with both hands. Surely they will; for reproach can be brought against Japan, whether they deserve or not the epic which has a character and essence so thets of incomprehensible, contradic- distinct, so distinguished, so refined, tory, inscrutable, and the like, which and so inherent that one cannot conone grows a little weary of hearing ap- ceive of it as liable to be vulgarized plied to them, it is not intelligence por by any incursion of barbarians. the sifting faculty that will be denied V iewed from the Kiyomizu heights them even by their least flattering this evening, Kyoto shows as Japanese critics. Only the other daya sage and as unspoilt as anybody could wish newspaper scribe observed that "al. the ancient capital to be. The rainthough the Japanese disdain perspec- clouds have dispersed; the last rays of tive in their pictures, there is no lack of the setting sun fire tiled roofs, pagodas, it in their policy.” One is a little re- and the Kamogawa stream, with its minded of the boarding-school young bridges and riverside tea-houses; one lady who, in an essay on natural his gazes down at the groves and avenues tory, alluded to the "strange and pa- of monastery grounds and at a many.
colored crowd which is ascending by north and south, the illumination ex. stairways or by the sharp acclivity of tends until the entire prospect is a Teapot Hill, where vendors of cheap blaze of light. Every householder pottery and porcelain have their booths, hangs out a string of paper spheres to the high-perched temple of the or cylinders, every man, woman, and Thousand-handed Kwannon. It is a child carries one suspended at the tip shrine of great antiquity, and in much of a bamboo cane, and presently bonfavor with the populace, who wend fires leap up into flame on the wooded their way hither to toss pebbles on to hillsides; for the Bon matsuri has bethe stone lanterns which surround it gun, and processions are starting, with or coins into the extended sheet beside measured chant and beat of drum, which a parchment-visaged Buddhist from all quarters in honor of this anpriest squats and taps his insistent nual feast of lanterns. Witnessed from gong. Should the cast pebble alight above, it is the most charming, fantason the lantern and remain there, the tic, fairy-like spectacle that can be suppliant is in luck and will obtain the imagined; seen at closer quarters in the object of his desire; but perhaps here, thronged, narrow streets, it resolved as at other shrines, it is a surer plan itself into a popular carnival, noisy to employ cash, which cannot miss its and hilarious, but perfectly good-temmark and should be entitled to its pered. There is no drunkenness, no equivalent.
quarrelling, nor will there be any The sun sinks, the brief afterglow cracked heads, although the merryand twilight of late summer follow; making is to be prolonged for many then on a sudden the whole city, hours to come. Not before the night is spread out beneath the spectator's feet far spent will lanterns and torches be and sloping up towards them, breaks, extinguished, one by one, and the as if by enchantment, into a galaxy of climbing moon look down out of a tiny sparks, some stationary, sorue mother-of-pearl sky upon a city and a darting hither and thither, like a population which seem to smile still swarm of fireflies. East and west, in their sleep.
W. E. Norris. Longman's Magazine.
THE REAL SLAV TEMPERAMENT.
The Slav has been reproached with tary and political matters, he has had leaving but a faint mark on history; less success than the Teuton, though he is thought to have done little for he has perhaps fared better than the "liberty" and "progress.” Perhaps he Celt. The Celts have been thrust is judged too much by the higher politi- back into the extreme west of Europe; cal and administrative organs of the and the lands on which they live form Russian Empire, which does not seem part of the territory of States shaped to yield the fruits of a good tree. It on Teutonic lines. There never has may be argued, however, that the Slav been a Celtic State; but the Slav at has been disabled by circumstances least has founded various States, and from developing on natural lines and some of them have struggled through preserving in their purity his primitive to the present time. It is true that all traditions.
have had great vicissitudes, and some In the things of this world, in mili- have lost their independence, and even
their identity. Thus the Slovenes gave and, though it strengthened German way before the Magyars, an Asiatic peoples, just as the modern organizapeople. The Slavs in Mæsia were over tion of the German Empire has whelmed by the Bulgars, a "Finnish" strengthened them, it did so at the horde. In like manner, Servia fell, expense of liberty. The Anglo-Saxon after several attacks, before the Turks, had freer institutions before the Norjust as Russia itself for a time was man Conquest; it has often been under the Tartars, another Mongolian pointed out that this event substituted people. Poland was dismembered by a "strong" rule for the “weak" rule Teutons and unnatural Slavs. Bobe of the Saxon kings. It also substituted mia long found the band of its Teuton a lower ideal; for the Witan was the neighbors heavy on it, but never lost instrument of a higher type of State. its national spirit. Various Slav peo- The Slav, who never developed feudal ples were subdued by the Teutons who kingship, remained more free and more shaped Prussia into a Power.
democratic. It may not be an accident It might be inferred from such a rec- that, just as the Normans gave greater ord, that there is something naturally coherence to the Saxon realm, so, too, servile about the Slav. But the secret Northmen laid the foundations of the of his weakness has also been that of Russian Power, which has attained his Celtic brother's subjection-a too greater success than other Slav States. great impatience of control, a too indis- Bohemia was a country in which the creet love of liberty. The native tem- difference was made manifest between per of the race seems set against au- Slav notions of elective rulers and thority. In the traditions of more than Teutonic notions of the position of a one Slav people the beginnings of the people as the “estate" of a dynasty. State are ascribed to an inspired peas- Poland again held out against making ant. The form of their early societies the succession to the crown hereditary, seems to have been a democratic col- almost to the end; but sometimes orlectivism. It is curious to observe, in ganisms have to revert to a lower type the case of Russia and Poland after the in order to survive. The proud prefer Law of 1863, how easily the foreign in to perish. stitutions of a later growth fell off. The fate of Poland is also a measure and how naturally the peasant took to of the value of cities. We are apt to the ways of his remote forefathers, think of the City State as important Democratic tendencies, however, were only in the ancient world. The Teunot aids to "success" for communities tons, however, would have made little in the ages of force.
mark without urban communities in The Slav, like the Celt, labored under the Middle Ages. From Basel, down two disadvantages in his warfare the Rhine to the Low Countries: over with the Teuton; he did not invent the east of England and Scotland: in or take kindly to the feudal monarchy; the north of Italy, whose republics reand he did not like city life or the produced the good and bad of Greek occupations which town dwellers fol- life, the influence of the Teutonic City low.
State was plain. They might degenThe hereditary feudal monarchy im- erate-like the Scotch Royal burghsplied a sacrifice of liberty; and if the into close and jealous bodies, keeping Teuton claims to have done anything to a few the franchise and trading for human liberty, he had better point rights; but earlier they stood for to other achievements than this. It liberty and security in the following of was before all things an organ of force, peaceful labor, as against the force