« VorigeDoorgaan »
the physiological idea of maternity. In these there is not the least evidence of any sentiment—not even that of devotion. She is the mother of Christ, and portrayed as much older than her son. After the movement in her favor inaugurated by Cyril of Alexandria had become more general, her appearance underwent a great change. She was regarded now as less the mother of Jesus than the bride of God; and, though minute directions for her portraiture were framed by the Council of Ephesus, (A. D. 431,) this altered view at once resulted in making her younger and more beautiful, and decking her with that diadem of heaven, the cruciform nimbus, which attested the equality afterwards announced in the psalter of St. Bonaventura.
Sociology is at present a very incomplete science, and historic induction as likely as not to lead to the most fantastic errors in fact. If we argued from the iconographical history of the Virgin up to the thirteenth century, a continuance and increase of the sentiment which caused her to be represented as young, lovely and majestic, we should discover, in studying her portraits, that some cause more potent than the authority of the Church had intervened to produce an altogether different result. The reaction from that artistic sentimentalism which, not satisfied with endowing the Holy Mother with youth and beauty, proceeded to the length of de: picting her as of the same age, and even younger than her son, resulted, from causes wholly apart from religion, in depriving her not only of these attractions, but of all dignity and refinement of expression and form. It might have been expected that at a time when appeals in behalf of liberty and reason were beginning to find a response from the multitude, and when champions whose names “the world will not willingly let die ” stood forth in their cause, that religious art would be improved and asthetic feeling display itself in a higher phase of development. This was the case finally ; but the eras of comparative simplicity and sameness in social structure had passed, and in the increasing complexity of society the effects of its changes could no longer manifest themselves directly. The most important politico-social movement that the thirteenth century witnessed was that of the partial emancipation of the middle class. This burgher revolution was accomplished, like all other revolutions, slowly, and its representative deas became in time the property of the people at large. Naturally, naturally, this must have been the case, or it would have failed, instead of being universally successful. It is beside our subject to enter further into the consideration of an intellectual development yet continuing, and of which no man can foresee the end; but its influence upon Christian art, the reaction against the artistic tendencies ofthe preceding epoch it occasioned, are apparent enough. Artists forsook their ideals for human models which they were unable to render otherwise than literally, and, in obedience to the irresist;blep ressure of general opinion and the growing anthropomorphism of the age, they gradually transformed the Almighty into an earthly potentate, and attributed to him all the passions of a man, while at the same time they degraded the Virgin-that purest and most perfect type that religion has given to art,-into “ a great vulgar woman."
This was the consequence of the irruption of the plebian class into society and the State ; an effect, also, that remained permanent until Italian genius restored the Queen of Heaven and gave to her forever an immortal and unsurpassable benignity and loveliness.
Among the general truths illustrated in human annals is this : The verity of one age is lost by inclusion in wider generalizations, or becomes practically worthless from irrelativity to diferent conditions. Wherever mental progress exists, it is manifested by a greater complexity in intellectual structure, and the results of the mind's action express themselves less directly in conduct, as its relational part becomes developed by contact with a wider and more differentiated environment. Herein lies the explanation of the strange comment of the Renaissance upon mediæval art. It might be inferred, from the foregoing sketch of Christian iconography, that (considered from the historic standpoint,) art always reflects the mental character. Such a conclusion is unjustified by facts. Mantegna, Verrocchio, Perugino and Titian, all bore false witness to the traits of their age. Asthetic emotion and intellectual appreciation have no necessary relation either to morality or religion, and the contrast between the high development of the former and the low state of the latter in Italy at the close of the fifteenth century, is at first sight one of the most anomalous facts in history. Space forbids any review of the causes of this imperfect mental evolution, and it suffices to point out here that art then ceased to be the index of national charcter, and that the most perfect works of the Renaissance utterly fail to illustrate the character of the era in which they were produced.
J. H. PORTER.
(HORACE, BOOK I., ODE XX111.*)
LIKE a young fawn, through pathless mountains straying,
L Her timid mother's footsteps still delaying,
M. R. T.
* Translated by members of the Chestnut Hill Horace Club.
ON WIGS: THEIR RISE AND FALL.
W H EN it is said that Hadrian was the first Roman Emperor
W who wore a wig, nothing more is meant than that he was the first who avowedly wore one. They were common enough before his time. Caligula and Messalina put them on for the purpose of disguise when they were abroad at night, and Otho condescended to conceal his baldness with what he fain hoped his subjects would accept as a natural head of hair belonging to one who bore the name of Cæsar.
Allusions to wigs are frequently made, both by the historians as well as by the poets of ancient times. We know that they were worn by fashionable gentlemen in Palmyra and Baalbec, and that the Lycians took to them out of necessity. When their conqueror, Mausolus, had ruthlessly ordered all their heads to be shaven, the poor Lycians felt themselves so supremely ridiculous that they induced the King's general, Candalus, by means of an içresistible bribe, to permit them to import wigs from Greece, and the symbol of their degradation became the very pink of Lycian fashion.
Hannibal was a stout soldier, but on the article of perukes he was as nice about their fashion as any dandy. Hannibal wore them sometimes to improve, sometimes to disguise, his person; and, if he wore one long enough to spoil its beauty, he never hesitated to fling it aside when its aspect was battered.
Ovid and Martial celebrate the golden-colored wigs of Germany. The latter writer is very severe on the dandies and coquettes of his day, who thought to win attraction under a wig. Propertius, who could describe so tenderly and appreciate so well what was so lovely in girlhood, whips his butterflies into dragons at the bare idea of a nymph in a toupet. Venus Anadyomene herself would have had no charms for that gentle sigher of sweet and enervating sounds, had she wooed him in borrowed hair. If he were not particular touching morals, he was severly correct concerning curls,
If the classical poets winged their satirical shafts against wigs, these were as little spared by the mimic thunderbolts of the Fathers, Councils, and Canons of the early Church. Even poets and Christian elders could no more digest human hair than the alligator, of whoni, dead, it is said, you may know how many individuals he devoured while living by the number of hair-balls in the stomach, which can neither digest nor eject them.
The indignation of Tertullian respecting these aforesaid wigs is something terrific. Not less is that of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, who especially vouches for the virtue of his sister Gorgonia, for the reason that she neither cared to curl her hair nor to repair its lack of beauty by the aid of a wig. The thunder of Saint Jerome against these adornments was quite as loud as that of any of the Fathers. They were preached against as unbecoming to Christianity. Council after Council, from the first at Constantinople to the last Provincial Council at Tours, denounced wigs, even when worn in joke. " There is no joke in the matter !” exclaimed the exceedingly irate Saint Bernard ; "the woman who wears a wig commits a mortal sin.” Saint John Chrysostom cites Saint Paul against the fashion, arguing that they who prayed or preached in wigs could not be said to worship, or to teach the Word of God " with head uncov. ered.” “ Look,” says Cyprian to the wearers of false hair; “look at the Pagans ! they pray in veils. What better are you than Pagans, if you come to prayers in perukes?” Many local synods would authorize no fashion of wearing hair but straight and short. This form was especially enjoined on the clergy. Saint Ambrose as strictly enjoined the fashion upon the women of his diocese. “Do not talk to me of curls,” said this hard-working prelate; “they are lenocinia forma, non præcepta virtutis." The ladies smiled. It was to some such obdurate and beautiful rebels that Cyprian once gravely preached, saying: “Give heed to me, O ye wonen! Adultery is a grievous sin; but she who wears false hair is guilty of a greater."
It must have been a comfortable state of society when two angry ladies could say to each other : “ You may say of me what you please ; you may charge me with breaking the Seventh Commandment; but, thank Heaven and Cyprian! you cannot accuse me of wearing a wig!”
No pains were spared to deter women from this enormity. Saint Jerome holds up the fate of Prætexta as a warning to all ladies addicted to the fashion of the world. Prætexta was a very respectable lady, married to a somewhat paganish husband, Hymetius. Their niece, Eustochia, resided with them. At the insti