Page images

come to the second division of our sub- are unmistakable. On a coin of Gorject, the treatment of animals. Here, tyna in Crete Europa is seen seated in as we should expect, we are confronted a tree which is certainly drawn after a with a mass of evidence. The animal more natural pattern; but even here it and human forms are so closely akin is inferior to the bull on the other side that any artist appreciating the one so complacently licking his back. It is must almost inevitably delight also in doubtful whether a natural treatment the study of the other. And animal of flowers is suitable as a decoration subjects supply the very qualities the for vases; admirers of the Worcester sculptor needs; conditions are found china of our own day will say that it the very reverse of those present in is, but the question remains open. No landscape. Look at any collection of one, however, will deny that most Greek coins; half of them bear repre- beautiful conventional patterns may be sentations of animals,-animals treated made from floral forms, yet the only so tenderly and with such feeling for cases of such designs on Greek vases the texture of feather and hide, that are, so far as I know, the stereotyped there can be little doubt that the artist lotus and palmette. The vine appears studied them with understanding and as the adjunct of Dionysus, and someaffection. Look at the eagles of times alone, as on a vase where satyrs Agrigentum devouring their prey; the are gathering the grapes; yet the treatsplendid eagle's head of Elis, or the ment is almost always inadequate, and lion and bull of Acanthus; the cow and in no case, I believe, does the olive apcalf of Dyrrhacium, or the bull of pear on vases of Athenian manufacEretria scratching his head to the very ture. An apple-bough is seen on a very life; the chariot-horses of the cities of beautiful white-ground vase by Sotades Magna Græcia tossing their heads in in the British Museum; but the general eagerness for the contest. We are even feeling for floral forms is different from told that a bronze cow was the chief that which the Mycenæan potter had glory of the great Myron. The same is for the weeds and flowers of the deep. true of gem-engraving; greyhounds, Where they do occur it is generally as dolphins, and rams appear drawn with a necessary part of a story in which a wonderful truth to Nature; indeed, in the human interest is paramount. some cases the engraver has made his Triptolemus, for instance, holds the design correspond to the color of his wheat-ears in his hand, but it is on him stone, so that a cow will appear on an that the artist expends his skill; Diony. emerald as in a green field, or a dol- sus is surrounded by the vine, but it is phin on a beryl as if in the blue-green the god at whom we look, not at the sea-water; though that may possibly curving spirals of the plant. The be due to the desire to emphasize the acanthus leaf, again, is the motive of power of the gem as an amulet.

the Corinthian capital, but it quickly In our third division, the treatment of becomes stereotyped; the variety of the floral and vegetable forms, the result Byzantine capitals and friezes show a is, I think we must admit, disappoint far greater love for leaf-forms. ing. Flowers and leaves occur on But there are more ways than one coins, but their treatment is not suc- of treating natural objects. Beside the cessful; it is neither natural nor con- natural method there is also the symventional. The wheat-ear of Metapon bolic; and a love for Nature may show tum, the parsley-leaf of Selinus, the itself by means of this, if the limitarose of Rhodes are unsatisfactory; all tions which the material or purpose of that can be said for them is that they his work lay upon the artist preclude

him from using the direct, and at first the figures, has marked the locality by sight more spontaneous, method. If placing a little triton beneath the feet the artist takes the trouble to invent of Theseus, ready to bear him to the symbolic forms for natural objects surface, an ingenious way of representwhen he cannot imitate them directly, ing the buoyancy of sea-water. it will rather show his desire of intro- Connected with this symbolical renducing those objects at all costs than dering of Nature is the method of pera state of mind which loves symbols sonification, in which mountain, river, for their own sake. It is from the or spring is shown not by some symbol, manner in which this symbolism is but as an actual person. This idea was treated, and the length to which it is familiar to the Greeks from the earliest carried, that the craftsman must be times. They personified everything;

judged, and not from the mere fact Galene, Comos, Pothos, and above all † that he employs such a device. Some- Nike, appear over and over again on

times, indeed, naturalistic treatment their vases as men and women. And will be tried and will fail, as, for if this personification of abstractions example, on a vase found at Cumæ, was familiar, none the less so was that where Europa is painted crossing the of natural scenery. From the time of sea on a bull. The painter has ob- Homer, who makes the river Scamanviously observed the effect of refrac- der fight with Achilles, and Eos bear tion through water, for the bull's legs away her son Memnon to Egypt, Naappear slanted in a curious way as he ture was not merely scenery but a colswims; but such treatment once proved lection of persons with interests deep unsuitable for its object, the painter and varied in the affairs of the human gives it up and contents himself with race. symbolizing the sea under the form of We read of a picture by Aristophon, a dolphin or a crab; the effect as a the brother of Polygnotus, in which piece of mere decoration being much Alcibiades reposed on the lap of better, while the circumstances of the Nemea; of another representing Orstory are equally elucidated. On an- pheus, Pontus, and charming Thalassa, other vase Dionysus crosses the sea in wherein the last two evidently had a boat, shaded by the branches of his quite as much of the personal form as own vine, and surrounded by dolphins the first. This way of treating Nature which appear above as well as below could hardly be carried further than on his boat, perhaps a graceful way of a vase in the British Museum, where showing the sea in perspective. Dol. Eos is seen pursuing Cephalus; Helios phins seem to have been great favorites rises in his chariot from the sea, Selene with the Greeks, as they appear on sinks beneath the waves on the other many coins and gems; Arion, Taras, side, while the fixed stars, in the shape Phalanthus are carried across the sea of little boys, dive into the water at by them, and the ship of Dionysus it the coming of day. Even the winds self becomes a dolphin. Perhaps their have histories, and Boreas woos Orithsportive character had some resem- yia as she gathers flowers on the blance to that of human beings and the banks of a river; Zetes and Calais, their dolphins were once men, as in the sons, drive off the harpies from the story of Dionysus and the rude sailors. feast of poor blind Phineus. And all On another vase, which shows Theseus this is not merely the creation of poets below the sea in quest of a certain or story-tellers; it is a natural growth ring, the painter, besides suggesting from the mind of the people. The humoisture in the clinging draperies of man interest is always predominant: the birds have stories told of them, the shown by means of symbolism. Agahalcyon, the hoopoe, the nightingale tharcus, who flourished about 460each has his own history; the laurel, 420 B.C., is spoken of as a painter of the reed, the hyacinth, the narcissus scenery, but whether in a naturalistic each has a legend of its own; Arethusa, way or not we have no means of judg. the spring, is wooed and won by ing. Every one knows the story of Alpheus, the river.

Zeuxis and the bunch of grapes, but The personal interest is indeed para- even this proves very little; we are mount, but the love of Nature also is tempted to compare it with the acthere. It is the plaintive music of the counts of the early sculptor whose fig. nightingale which has given rise to the ures had to be fastened with chains lest tragic story of Itys, the changeful they should run away in the night, so character of the ocean which embodies lifelike were they. Apelles painted a itself in the transformation of Nereus picture of Aphrodite rising from the or Thetis. A mountain stream, hurry- sea and pressing the water from her ing down to the sea, is for the die- hair, and we are told that her body sinker of Lower Italy a man-headed seemed to melt into the waves. Here, bull, rushing forward, often with his at last, we seem to have come to a head down, on his wild career; but naturalistic treatment of the sea, but Syracuse, surrounded by her quiet har- the notice is so meagre, and there is so bor, is a smiling nymph with dolphins little information about contemporary playing among her locks.

art, that it is hardly safe to base any These Nature-people (if we may so conclusions on it; for on the other call them) were deemed worthy to ap- hand, where it was quite open to the pear even on the most august monu- painter to treat a subject in a natural ments and in company with the gods way, he chose the symbolical method themselves. There is little doubt that to represent his idea. the reclining figures in the pediments In conclusion then we may say that of the temple of Zeus at Olympia are the facts are these. The Greek mind river-gods and nymphs, among them could and did appreciate natural the Cladeus and Alpheus of Pindar's scenery, but was ever ready to see it lays. On the western pediment of the in a personal form, to give a history Parthenon too they occur, in the to every bill or stream, bird or star; Cephissus and Callirhoe; and it is even and so strong is this tendency, that thought that the famous figures of the when the story has once been evolved, eastern pediment, known as the three the interest in it so dominates the Fates, may be none other than Thalas- mind, that the thought of each thing sa and Gaia.

as a mere phenomenon of Nature beI have said that landscape and paint comes obscured. It is as if to the ing went together, but that no land- Greek mind the universe consisted only scape remains from which any data of personal beings, supernatural or can be gathered. Yet there are a few human, to which every other object notices of such painting in ancient au was merely an accessory, affording thors, though their exact significance either a field of action for, or a detail is a matter of doubt. In the great of circumstance in the all-absorbing frescoes of Polygnotus it seems that drama played by the personal agents. there was little if any landscape back- Whereas for the modern mind the uniground, but that the figures were ar- verse consists rather of three elements, ranged in two or three rows without God, Nature, and man, each reacting perspective, while the locality was on the others, but each distinct and obeying its own laws, a force to be is compatible with a love for Nature reckoned with for good or evil. The in the mind of the people which holds latter may be the more scientific view it. the former the more artistic; but each

E. M. Congreve. Macmillan's Magazine.

“GOLD FROM SEA-WATER.” It is not only likely, but certain, that nounced on Saturday last, with all the if the announcement were suddenly headlines natural to the occasion, that made that a cheap process had been a discovery had been made “of the discovered by which coal could be con- utmost magnitude and the most sensaverted into diamonds, there would be tional character.” For many years atplently of people who would be afraid tempts had been made to extract gold of emptying the coal-box on the fire. from sea-water, but “though gold has They would not like the idea of throw- been collected and precipitated, no proing away money. They would calcu- cess had hitherto been discovered by late how many tons of coal were still which it could be extracted on a comleft in the cellar-possibly would tele- mercial basis. Our information is that phone for more coal at the same price, the problem has now been solved, and in case the coal merchant had not seen that gold in practically illimitable the newspapers that morning-until, quantities is only awaiting the comperhaps, it would occur to them a few pletion of the arrangements which a days afterwards that it did not very powerful syndicate have in hand to much matter. The cheaper the process be pumped from the ocean.” All that of converting coal into diamonds, the reads like revolution; and when it is more diamonds would be made, and added that the process by which all the cheaper, therefore, they would be this gold is to be obtained has been come; and if you could make large submitted to Sir William Ramsay, and diamonds, according to size, at prices that "he has just reported on it in ranging, say, from ninepence to nine terms which leave no room for doubt guineas-at which size they would be as to its success," is there any other too heavy to wear as jewels-clearly comment to be made except that those it would be better to burn coal than to who have managed to obtain shares in keep it to make diamonds. Nothing, the syndicate are exceedingly lucky eventually, would be greatly altered persons? One of the critics of the except, of course, that rich women scheme, indeed, goes so far as to estiwould cease to wear diamonds, and mate the actual amount of gold which that a good many mortgages made on is at the disposal of the ocean-pumpthe security of jewels would have been ing syndicate. Since it is computed foreclosed,-at all events, there would that there is something like a grain of have been no interference with the cur- gold in a ton of sea-water, and since rency.

a grain of gold is worth about twoThe parallel is not exact if the dis- pence, “as there are about sixty thoucovery of "new wealth”-the Daily sand billion tons of water in the ocean, News seems to have been the first to any one who can recover it all will discover "wealth” in the latest gold- have a nice little fortune of £625,000,extracting process-has to do with the 000,000,000, or over five thousand milproduction of other precious commod- lion tons of solid gold." (We cannot ities besides diamonds. It was an. make this sum work out correctly, but the general drift of the calculation is goldless sea-water, in order to pump clear.) At first sight, all that looks very in the next thousand tons to be treated. well indeed for the prospects of the What are you going to do with it? syndicate; but it ought perhaps to be clearly it would not be the best thing added that as yet Sir William Ramsay to do to pump it straight back into the has taken no shares, that he has writ- sea where it came from; you might, in ten to the papers to state that his re- that case, unless there were racing port was confidential, and that “the tides to carry it away and perhaps to process is still in an elementary stage.” carry it back again next day), pump

There are possibly other reflections again into your reservoir water which which may occur. For the sake of you had already treated, and which argument, suppose it to be granted that would be therefore goldless. The best all these calculations of the amount of thing to do, obviously, would be to run gold waiting in the sea for a syndicate your waste sea-water through a conto extract it are correct. Suppose it to duit-pipe or by some other method to be a fact that somehow there could be a distant coast,-you might for inobtained from sea-water so many mil. stance, pump it into your reservoir on lion tons of gold. You are faced by one side of the Panama Isthmus and two difficulties,-first, by the mechani- pump it out on the other. cal difficulty of getting the grain of Suppose, for a moment, however, that gold dry into your hand out of the this physical difficulty could be surwater; second, by the obvious fact that mounted, or better, that a much greater if you can manage to extract a suffi- secret than this for obtaining gold ciently large quantity of gold in a from sea-water were discovered; surgiven time-if, that is to say, again pose that some private individual were purely for the sake of argument, you able with the utmost secrecy to develop could in a year double the amount of the scheme of a flotilla of ships which solid, malleable gold in existence-you should go out simultaneously, each capwould upset the standards by which tain armed with the inventor's secret, the value of goods exchanged among and which should dip down some kind the merchant nations is measured. of magnetic apparatus attracting all Would that be a good thing to do? But the gold in the sea for miles round. take the mechanical difficulties first. Imagine the flotilla secretly returning To begin with, granted that from a ton home, each ship with tons of gold on of sea-water you can get a grain of board; and then imagine the gold supgold. Pump, then, a thousand tons of ply of the world suddenly doubled, pure sea-water into a reservoir and capable of being trebled in a month, begin to treat it. When you have ex- quadrupled in two months. What tracted, by whatever treatment, the would happen? Would the owner of thousand grains of gold which were the flotilla, the inventor of the magfloating somewhere in those thousand netic apparatus, become amazingly tons of water, you have dry gold in rich? For a time, perhaps; but if his your hands value two thousand pence, secret were discovered, or if it were -roughly four guineas, out of which, known that it was only a chemical of course, you have to pay for your secret which stood between wealth and labor and part of the initial cost of the poverty, would he remain rich for long. plant put up for extraction. Still, after simply because he could always propaying that, you remain, for the sake duce gold to pay for whatever he of argument, two guineas in hand. wanted? He would not, of course. Next, you have to get rid of your now He would probably be assassinated,

« PreviousContinue »