At pres.

existence of an energetic government, and to encourage the pretensions of Portugal, by the sense of personal liberty enjoyed of the Chinese, and of the Hovas; and by all the citizens ; but the excessive de at almost every point France finds hervelopment of wants and appetites – which self harassed, not by her adversary of is the outcome not only of a democratic 1870, but by the only power whose friendform of government, but of modern life ship she has taken pains to acquire and itself - and the crowding of the towns retain. Whatever may be thought of the and desertion of the country, are undoubt. claims of France in the different quarters edly preparing grave embarrassments for in which she wishes to act, the state of the future,

petty provocation and ill-will which has A source of more immediate difficul. sprung up between her and England is a ties is to be found in the relations of misfortune for both countries. France with foreign powers ; and these ent France is the sufferer; but if France, difficulties are the greater because they constrained by necessity, makes up her touch some very delicate points of na. mind to accept the facts of 1871, and entional susceptibility. The alliance of Ger- ter the Gerinan alliance, England may many, Austria, and Italy – which may be find the tables turned against her. Mean. more or less close and solid, but which is while the diplomatic situation is one of at any rate real — without exactly consti- the dark spots in the French horizon. tuting a direct menace to France, cer- At home, the administration of the tainly proclaims her isolation. This was Ferry government has so far been in fademonstrated by M. de Broglie, with vorable contrast with that of previous more ability than patriotism, in his inter governments. We have a prime minister pellation in the Senate. Autocratic Rus. who really takes the direction of affairs, a sia is neither in a mood nor in a position ministry which does not wait on the opinto form any very close diplomatic alliance ions of a majority in the Chamber, and a with the French republic; and the ap- Republican majority content to follow its pointment of M. Waddington, who made recognized leaders. How long will this hiinself at Berlin the mouthpiece of the honeymoon last? How long will M. distrust of Europe, to represent the re- Ferry be able to keep his ascendancy over public at the coronation, cannot have been his colleagues and the Chamber? Considvery welcome at St. Petersburg. Here ering the want of public spirit in the presagain the French ministry, yielding to ent Chamber and the state of thraldom in the unfortunate tendency I have already which the deputies are kept by their elec. pointed out to occupy itself exclusively toral committees, it is difficult to feel any with questions of internal policy, was great confidence in the future. But ní. guided in its choice by considerations of Ferry has one thing in his favor — that Parliamentary rather ihan of diplomatic no other ministry has a chance of exis. convenience. The tact and intelligence tence; that his fall must be the signal for of M. Waddington have happily dissi a dissolution; and that the prospect of pated the idle impression at first caused dissolution suggests reflection to the most by his nomination ; and the fêtes at Mos- thoughtless deputy. Besides, for the mo. cow have demonstrated the genuine sym- ment all is going well — indeed almost pathy which exists between the Russians too well, for the majority seems to vote and the French.

with the government, not so much by England remains to be considered. The conviction as in blind obedience, and almost unanimous feeling in France is without giving a sufficiently serious exfavorable to a cordial understanding with amination to ministerial proposals. This England; and if France could feel herself has been the case with the Recidivist really supported by her powerful island (Habitual Criminals) Bill. For several neighbor, a very hearty sympathy, on her years public safety, especially in Paris, side at least, would tend to unite the two has been threatened by bands of thieves nations. But, rightly or wrongly, it ap. and criminals, to whom the penalties im. pears that England – so strong in her posed by the tribunals are no sufficient own colonial einpire, and so far from reterrent, and who leave the prisons only scrupulous in extending it, whether in to be sent back again for fresh offences. Cyprus, in Egypt, in South Africa, or in They collect about them a number of New Guinea — watches with a sort of women of bad character, who turn pubjealous annoyance the timid efforts of lic immorality, to account in securing France to exiend her colonial activity in victims for their male accomplices. The some few directions – on the Congo, in number of crimes by persons previously Tonquin, or in Madagascar. She appears | convicted, which forty years ago formed


only one-fourth of the crimes and misde success has not been great, and they got meanors brought before the tribunals, hardly anybody but the Bonapartists to now forms more than half. It is argued, help them in the general councils. Their that if hardened criminals were expelled weakness springs from the want of a defithe country, the army of miscreants which nite programme. They are trying to unite infests Paris and the great towns would | under one flag the partisans of the supbe broken up, and the number of offences pression of the Senate and those who effectually diminished. The example of simply wish to modify a few of its funcEngland in Australia is quoted; and a law tions. I know that men are easily carried is to be made requiring in certain cases away by words; but in this case the the transportation of habitual criminals to equivocation is a little too strong. a colony. This law is now under dis. The ministry has come off with no less cussion; but, except the Radicals, who success in the difficult matter of the conoppose the scheme chiefly because the version of the rente. When M. Ferry government proposes it, no one discusses took the direction of the Cabinet, thé it seriously from a legal or practical point financial situation was strained, though of view. The condition of the trans- not exactly threatening. Through M. de ported convict, and the results obtained in Freycinet's extravagance in undertaking Australia, are drawn (as by M. J. Reinach public works all over the country, obligain his very interesting book on the Reci- tions to the extent of eight hundred mildivists) in idyllic colors; the facts which lions had been incurred for 1883, out of led to the abandonment of the system by which only two or three hundred millions England are ignored; no question is raised could be paid. It was impossible to meet as to whether transportation for life to a this expenditure by a new issue of re. probably unhealthy climate is a penalty deemable three per cents, for the three at all proportionate to the offence, nor per cents issued at 83 had fallen to 80, whether the enormous sums required for and a new issue would have brought about this form of colonization might not be an irretrievable fall in the funds, and in employed in social or penitentiary reforms the credit of the country. M. Ferry and in France itself, which would be still more M. Tirard had the courage to take a effectual in diminishing crime. From this decisive step. The five per cents were point of view M. Roussel's bill in the converted into four and a half per cents; Senate for the adoption by the State of and the railway companies were induced deserted or ill-used children seems even to take over and carry out at their own more urgent than the Recidivist Bill. It charge the public works undertaken by will, if adopted, be a great help to the the State. By this double operation the adinirable work undertaken by M. Bon. State gains thirty-five millions of rente, jean, of which I have already spoken in and if a loan is required it will be issued this review.

by the railway companies, without risk to The most characteristic success of the the credit of the State. The intransigent ministry has been obtained on the ques. and reactionary journals, and some few tion of revision, which has, at their in- which live by scandal, such as the France, stance, been postponed for two years. It attempted to excite public opinion against would have been absurd, when a new a measure which had been long foreseen ministry was just taking office, to stir up and foretold; but the firmness of the the country on this vexatious and useless rente since the vote was passed has put question, and wantonly incur certain de- any demand for compensation out of the feat in the Senate. From the moment question, and the conversion has been when the Chamber refused M. Gambetta's effected without difficulty. If the Champroposal to limit beforehand the field of ber will only show a little prudence in the revision, revision became impossible ; for administration of the public money, our the Senate will never consent to a meas- finances are likely to remain, by the help ure which would jeopardize not only its of these measures, in their present satisown existence but the whole framework factory condition. The revenue from tax. of the Constitution. The Extreme Left ation constantly exceeds the estimate, and know all this as well as the government; notbing would be easier than to have and yet they have not hesitated to make regular surpluses. The momentary presrevision the programme of a political sure has been due to a want of foresight, agitation. Their main object is to avail and to the haste with which certain taxes themselves of this question as a rallying. have been lightened at the same time that point for Radicals of all shades, in view enormous sums were being voted for pubof the elections in 1885. So far their | lic works and for education. With a little

care this state of temporary inconven- intellectual and moral decadence of the ience may be changed into one of case Legitimists as the ex-empress's telegram and prosperity. The budget committee proves the destitution of the Bonapart. which has just been appointed is almost ists. The Count de Chambord forgets entirely composed of the adherents of the that Louis Veuillot applauded the coup government; and there is now every rea- d’état of the end of December, and that son to hope that nothing will hinder the he was one of the most eager partisans re-establishment of financial order. of the second empire during its most

The position of the government there. despotic period; he forgives him the abuse fore, as it appears at present, is fairly good, with which he covered more than one of provided that the majority in the Cham. the count's most faithful adherents. And bers will only continue to occupy itself why? Because Veuillot was the chamactively with the business of the country, pion of Ultramontanism; and because in to give a steady support to the ministry, 1875 he violently attacked those of the and to pursue the reforms already entered Royalists who wished, before bringing upon, at the same time keeping up an back the monarchy, to obtain liberal guarenergetic struggle against the tendencies antees from the king. Quite recently, of the Extreme Leit. The danger is al. again, M. de Falloux and M. de Cumont, ways from the same side; the Conserva- in two eloquent pamphlets, denounced tives continue to pursue a revolutionary those intransigent Royalists wiio are so policy, allying themselves, at need, with complacently playing into the bands of the Anarchists as they did, for instance, the enemy. The Count de Chambord at during the troubles of last March — be. once took their part, thus justifying the cause they will not become Republican imputations of those who accuse him of Conservatives; and the reason why they preferring the peace and leisure of his will not become Republican Conservatives Austrian exile to the perils of a reign in is, that the religious question has opened Paris — as the Duc d'Aumale and the a great gulf between believing Catholics Conte de Paris, in spite of the exhorta. and the republic. The moderate Repub. tions M. Hervé launches at them from licans, deprived of these reinforcements the Soleil, prefer their country life at from the Right, and disgusted by the vio. Chantilly or Eu, devoted to interesting lence of the Lest, ho carry off ihe votes and remarkable historical researches, to of certain strata of the electorate, with a life of useless political intrigue. draw from the political struggle, and in This Louis Veuillot, so inopportunely many places leave the field open to the canonized by the Count de Chambord, Radicals, who carry their candidates by who has done so much harm both to the the votes of perhaps a quarter, or even Church and to the monarchy by his intol. one-fifth, of the registered electors. erance in defending them; this Veuillot,

This political indifference which has who above all others is responsible for taken possession of a portion of the elec. the violence, the systematic detraction, toral body is the more vexatious because the calumnious denunciations of the Paris the Republican party, owing to the weak. press; this man who kept neither faith ness of its adversaries, is perhaps in a nor law with those who did not share more favorable position than ever before. his creed nor accept his king, who set Prince Napoleon's manifesto has covered himself up as a sort of grand inquisitor the Jerome-Bonapartists with ridicule ; and Congregation of the Index over the while, as to that section of the Bonapart. French clergy, and succeeded in compelists wiich rallies round the ex-empress, ling the obedience of the pope himself; the depth to which it has fallen may be this man, with little learning, and without measured by the public expression of a single original idea, was nevertheless esteem and regret offered by her to J. a born writer. He has left no book that Amigues, a sort of literary adventurer, any one can read through without weari. who in 1871 made himself ihe apostle of ness or disgust, but he has left many pas. Rossel, in whom he recognized the Christ sages which will be reproduced in the of the new era. As to the Royalist party," Elegant Extracts” of the future, and Louis Veuillot was undoubtedly, boil by which might without disadvantage be character and talent, a man of a bigher placed side by side with passages of stamp than Amigues, just as the Legiti- Chateaubriand, or even of Bossuei. mist party is of a higher stamp than the Bonapartist; but the letter of ine Count These last months have taken from us de Chambord to Eugene Veuillot on his more than one eminent man besides brother's death as plainly testifies to the Veuillot: L. Viardot, whose name is per.


haps better known through the talent of the open air, and with nature's own infi-, the great artist to whom he has given it nite variety of tone. He has also felt than through his own works, but who was very keenly the peculiar clearness, and nevertheless a good art critic, and a poli. even harshness, of our northern landtician of rare integrity; Jules Sandeau, scape at certain times; he had a fine feelone of the most charming novelists of our ing for harmonies and contrasts of tone; time, whose discreet and gentle voice fell and he has revealed to his contemporasilent some time ago before the coarse and ries many unperceived aspects of nature. noisy, clamor of the realistic school, but From this point of view be may be rewho has left us two or three exquisite garded as one of the masters of the works — “ Mlle. de la Seiglière," " Le Doc-naturalist school. But while rendering teur Herbault,” “ Le Gendre de M. Poi homage to his powers and to the faith and rier" — which will keep his memory fresh perseverance with which he held on his in the minds of all persons of taste; and way in the midst of taunts and abuse, we two artists, both of whom have made a must mark also what was wanting in his great noise in the world, and both of genius and unfortunate in his influence. whom have died young, Gustave Doré He had neither taste nor imagination, and and Manet. Gustave Doré was gifted his aim was of the vulgarest; he attempted with a splendid imagination, and he sac. only to reproduce faithfully some frag. rificed himself to it. He had never sub. ments of the truth, without troubling himjected bimself in his youth to a severe self to consider whether those fragments and laborious study of nature; he had afforded any trace either of beauty or never learnt to produce by toil the appear interest. He had even an instinctive ance of ease; and be remained all his preference for vulgar types and trivial life an improviser, whose creations lack subjects. Moreover, baunted always by the finish and character which alone could the exaggerated idea that the qualities of give them permanence. His first works light and transparency in nature had been were his best. This is especially true of ignored by all who went before him, he his “ Dante," done in the first ardor of his set himself to improve upon nature in creative force. Later on be exhausted these respects, and ended by fairly getting himself in large compositions, which no rid of all solidity in his figures. Refusing doubt displayed qualities of the first or to retouch or elaborate a painting for fear der, but always left an impression of de of producing an artificial and labored efception. Hé leaves, besides, a number fect, he never was able to put any per. of landscapes, some of which give a won spective into his pictures, and left them, derfully vivid representation of rocky in fact, unfinished sketches. From him scenery; and some sculptures, which have sprung all the puerilities of the im. show the same demoniac energy that ap- pressionist school, who, under the plea pears in his drawings. But when all is that nature changes every moment, and said, he leaves behind him the memory of that it is insincerity not to represent her a great designer, whose execution falls far just as she is, never make anything but short of his artistic ideal. Let us grant sketches — successful enough sometimes him this at least, that at a time when art when done by men of talent, but which is lending itself to the lowest interests, he have little artistic value, and from which, had at any rate a high ideal. By a curious for the most part, a knowledge of drawing coincidence, Doré died just as he had fin. is conspicuously absent. The exhibited ished his statue of A. Dumas père, the works of MM. Monet and Pissaro, their greatest improviser in contemporary lit. two best landscapists, and of M. Renoir,

the portrait painter of most repute among Manet was far from possessing the them, show very clearly this inherent deDatural gifts of Doré, and yet he will leave fect of their system. Alongside of a few a far more lasting mark on the history of works the tone of which is really charm. French art. His works will probably being, and in which the artist seems to have valued in the future rather as curiosities succeeded by accident, there is mass of than for their artistic beauty;. but his other pictures which really are nothing name will mark a date; and his influence but daubs. is even now visible in the works of almost If the impressionism originated by all our living painters. The germ of truth Manet has created a barren school, and in his theory was this: that you must has misled some promising painters, it paint - not as many do - in the artificial has at the same time exercised an enor. light of the studio, which gives a certain mous influence, whether for good or for uniforın tonality to all their work, but in lill, on all contemporary art. The two in

VOL. XLIII. 2208



[ocr errors]

fluences in vogue at present are the im- | characteristic French qualities - good pressionist and the Japanese. Japanese taste, propriety, and sense of proporart — which is to Chinese art what the tion. Nevertheless, along with these deart of the eighteenth century in France fects, there are undeniably great qualities was to that of the seventeenth - an art to be found among the mass of pictures in decadence, but in a decadence full of exhibited year by year in the Champs life and charm - has become a craze Elysées. With many of the painters there amongst our amateurs, and has even in- is evidently an eager wish to approach vaded the studios. M. Gonse has just got more closely to nature, and there are some up a Japanese exbibition at M. Petit's gal- few who see her with the eye of the poet iery, which is a real feast to the eye; and and the artist. If the influence of the he has also arranged with Quantin, the impressionists has given rise to much publisher, to bring out a magnificent work harsh and hasty work, it is incontestable on Japanese art. Our school of faïence that the charm of the pale and greyish has learned much from the Japanese ; but, tones so common under our northern I doubt whether that paradoxical art, skies is understood to-day as it never was which dreads symmetry, and loves to as before. And after all, in the incredible sociate the most unlikely colors, objects, variety of work and of gifts one feels the and ideas, can furnish any useful inspira- stir of life; and where life is, there is a tion to our landscape and genre painters. hope of things both beautiful and new. If we care to study it, it is because our The painters cannot at any rate comtired and surfeited brains are always eager plain of the indifference of the public. for new impressions. We seek to cover Exhibition follows exhibition with unprecemptiness of thought by strangeness of edented rapidity; they are opened several manner. Simple and sincere work of this at a time, and the crowd flows in and fills kind is the exception.

them all. There have been separate ex. Nothing could be more significant in hibitions of the works of H. Lehmann, this respect than this year's Salon. The Boutin, Monet, Renoir, and Pissaro. At sculpture must be exempted from the gen. the gallery opened by M. Petit in the Rue eral criticism, for though even here affec- de Sèze there have been successive exhi. tation finds its way, the simplicity of the bitions - first, that of the younger painters means of expression at the disposal of the (MM. Duez, Bastien Lepage, Cazin, Van sculptor, and the necessity of clearness Beers, Edelfeldt, etc.); then the waterof meaning, and of beauty and harmony colors, where the work of MM. Heilbuth of form, tend to keep up the tradition of and Harpignies, and of Mlle. Lemaire, high art. The " Asleep” of M. Dela was especially adınirable; then the Japanplanche, and the “ Biblis" of M. Suche- ese exhibition; then the exhibition of tet, are exquisitely graceful; “The First international painters – MM. Whistler, Funeral” (Adam and Eve bearing the Madrazo, Nittis, Robert-Fleury, Chelbody of Abel) of Barrias is a noble inspi- monsky, etc.; and lastly, one of a hundred ration, and the difficulties in the execu- masterpieces of celebrated painters. The tion of a very difficult group are cleverly great Hungarian painter, Munckascy, exovercome; and the two bas-reliefs by M. hibited only one landscape, one portrait, Dalou, representing “ Mirabeau replying and some flowers; but he is busy preparto M. de Dreux Brézé,” and “ The Reing a large work, “The Crucifixion," public,” are works which place their au. which will form a fit companion to his thor at once in the highest rank among " Jesus before Pilate." His powers as a our statuaries. But, passing on to the colorist, and his genius in composition, paintings, where we are to find frank, sim- give Munckascy, the first place among ple, and wholesome work, free from affec. contemporary painters. Before the opentation and trickery? It is there, no ing of ihe Salon there had already been doubt, but one has to look for it.

three exhibitions at the clubs, which Poverty of invention, and a certain ig. formed a sort of prologue to it, one at the norance of the laws of composition, are Liberal Arts, one at the Place Vendôme, the characteristic defects of contemporary and one at the Rue Volney. There was art. With those who wish to catch the also the Lady Artists' Exhibition. Dureye of the public by something new, pov- ing the month of May there was a tremenerty of imagination leads naturally to ex- dous crush at the School of Fine Arts, travagance, and this cold-blooded extrav- where a large collection of historical poragance is of the most distressing kind. traits of the nineteenth century, as reextravagance in subject, in coloring, and markable for their artistic merit as for in dimension. We seem to have lost the their historic interest, was on view. M.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »