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PREFACE.

As this preface is nearly all about myself, no one need take the trouble of reading it, unless he happens to be desirous of knowing-what I, at least, am bound to state,

the circumstances which have caused the long delay of the work, as well as the alterations which will be noticed in its form.

The first and second volumes were written to check, as far as I could, the attacks upon Turner which prevented the public from honouring his genius, at the time when his power was greatest. The check was partially given, but too late; Turner was seized by painful illness not long after the second volume appeared; his works, towards the close of the year 1845, showed a conclusive failure of power; and I saw that nothing remained for me to write, but his epitaph.

The critics had done their proper and appointed work; they had embittered, more than those who did not know Turner intimately could have believed possible, the closing years of his life; and had blinded the world in general (as it appears ordained by Fate that the world

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always shall be blinded) to the presence of a great spirit among them, till the hour of its departure. With them, and their successful work, I had nothing more to do; the account of gain and loss, of gifts and gratitude, between Turner and his countrymen, was for ever closed. He could only be left to his quiet death at Chelsea, the sun upon his face; they to dispose a length of funeral through Ludgate, and bury, with threefold honour, his body in St. Paul's, his pictures at Charing Cross, and his purposes in Chancery. But with respect to the illustration and preservation of those of his works which remained unburied, I felt that much might yet be done, if I could at all succeed in proving that these works had some nobleness in them, and were worth preservation. I pursued my task, therefore, as I had at first proposed, with this only difference in method, that instead of writing in continued haste, such as I had been forced into at first by the urgency of the occasion, I set myself to do the work as well as I could, and to collect materials for the complete examination of the canons of art received among us.

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I have now given ten years of my life to the single purpose of enabling myself to judge rightly of art, and spent them in labour as earnest and continuous as men usually undertake to gain position, or accumulate fortune. It is true, that the public still call me an "amateur;" nor have I ever been able to persuade them that it was possible to work steadily and hard with any other motive than that of gaining bread, or to give up a fixed number of hours every day to the furtherance of an object unconnected with personal interests. I have,

however, given up so much of life to this object; earnestly desiring to ascertain, and be able to teach, the truth respecting art; and also knowing that this truth was, by time and labour, definitely ascertainable.

It is an idea too frequently entertained, by persons who are not much interested in art, that there are no laws of right or wrong concerning it; and that the best art is that which pleases most widely. Hence the constant allegation of "dogmatism" against any one who states unhesitatingly either preference or principle, respecting pictures. There are, however, laws of truth and right in painting, just as fixed as those of harmony in music, or of affinity in chemistry. Those laws are perfectly ascertainable by labour, and ascertainable no otherwise. It is as ridiculous for any one to speak positively about painting who has not given a great part of his life to its study, as it would be for a person who had never studied chemistry to give a lecture on affinities of elements; but it is also as ridiculous for a person to speak hesitatingly about laws of painting who has conscientiously given his time to their ascertainment, as it would be for Mr. Faraday to announce in a dubious manner that iron had an affinity for oxygen, and to put the question to the vote of his audience whether it had or not. Of course there are many things, in all stages of knowledge, which cannot be dogmatically stated; and it will be found, by any candid reader, either of what I have before written, or of this book, that, in many cases, I am not dogmatic. The phrase, “I think so," or, "it seems so to me," will be met with continually; and I pray the reader to believe

that I use such expression always in seriousness, never as matter of form.

It may perhaps be thought that, considering the not very elaborate structure of the following volumes, they might have been finished sooner. But it will be found, on reflection, that the ranges of inquiry engaged in demanded, even for their slight investigation, time and pains which are quite unrepresented in the result. It often required a week or two's hard walking to determine some geological problem, now dismissed in an unnoticed sentence; and it constantly needed examination and thought, prolonged during many days in the picture gallery, to form opinions which the reader may suppose to be dictated by caprice, and will hear only to dispute.

A more serious disadvantage, resulting from the necessary breadth of subject, was the chance of making mistakes in minor and accessory points. For the labour of a critic who sincerely desires to be just, extends into more fields than it is possible for any single hand to furrow straightly. He has to take some note of many physical sciences; of optics, geometry, geology, botany, and anatomy; he must acquaint himself with the works of all great artists, and with the temper and history of the times in which they lived; he must be a fair metaphysician, and a careful observer of the phenomena of natural scenery. It is not possible to extend the range of work thus widely, without running the chance of occasionally making mistakes; and if I carefully guarded against that chance, I should be compelled both to shorten my powers of usefulness in many directions, and to lose much time over what work I

undertook. All that I can secure, therefore, is rightness in main points and main tendencies; for it is perfectly possible to protect oneself against small errors, and yet to make great and final error in the sum of work: on the other hand, it is equally possible to fall into many small errors, and yet be right in tendency all the while, and entirely right in the end. In this respect, some men may be compared to careful travellers, who neither stumble at stones, nor slip in sloughs, but have, from the beginning of their journey to its close, chosen the wrong road; and others to those who, however slipping or stumbling at the wayside, have yet their eyes fixed on the true gate and goal (stumbling, perhaps, even the more because they have), and will not fail of reaching them. Such are assuredly the safer guides: he who follows them may avoid their slips, and be their companion in attainment.

Although, therefore, it is not possible but that, in the discussion of so many subjects as are necessarily introduced in the following pages, here and there a chance should arise of minor mistake or misconception, the reader need not be disturbed by the detection of any such. He will find always that they do not affect the matter mainly in hand.

I refer especially in these remarks to the chapters on Classical and Medieval Landscape. It is certain, that in many respects, the views there stated must be inaccurate or incomplete; for how should it be otherwise when the subject is one whose proper discussion would require knowledge of the entire history of two great ages of the world? But I am well assured that the suggestions

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