« VorigeDoorgaan »
Dante, or Bacon, or Shakspeare ? The rich colorings of the papier maché, or the exquisitely wrought mosaics of the circular tables, lose none of their elegant proportions, because they are colored. But the most refined beauty is not that of form or color. It lies in the object of the thing judged, and the adaptation to attain that object. The closer and more facile that relation, the more beautiful will be the instrument. A churn, simple and unostentatious, worked by a little hand-wheel, but partaking of three motions, rotary, horizontal and perpendicular, combining at once several forces, including atmospheric pressure, and making butter in five minutes with ease, was an object of intrinsic beauty, to be looked at with as much pleasure as any of those splendid silver-wrought ornaments.
A steam plough may be mentioned in the same category. Behind the locomotive are the rotary ploughs. The resistance of the earth they meet with, propels the machine, as the steamboat is propelled by the resistance of the water to the wheel. Of course, such an instrument would be entirely useless in the greatest part of Ohio, where stumps and roots are yet plenty, and where the land is not so light and level, as it is in the greater part of England.
I went through the agricultural implement department, examined what I could, and always left,-wondering at the simplicity and the immense labor-saving property of the instrument studied.
But there is nothing superior to McCormick's reaping machine. I had seen it tried before in Muskingum ; knew its peculiarities, and was not astonished that the discerning commissioners awarded McCormick the great prize medal. bears his honor meekly; says that it will sell much better here than in America; because, 1st, it will save more labor here, since five men sickle in one day what one man in America would cradle in the same time; and 2d, because the ground is more even, and better fitted for its operation. The wages here are less by about a half; so that that will make a difference. The
reaper has had a good trial and a successful one. Never was the God-given genius of invention better used, than in furnishing for man such beautiful appliances for the farm. It helps to wipe away the elder curse. It dries the sweating brow of the harvest-man, in the moment of golden fruition, when haste, anxiety, care, and more than ordinary labor are called into requisition to save his grain. If America has not been represented in the exhibition by the flaunting silks, embroideries, paintings, glass and marbles which other nations so vauntingly display, she has much to show of the solid, substantial, and useful. Her objects will bear study and scrutiny. It cannot be expected of her, that she should send over cloths of gold, like India and Tunis, nor coronets of diamonds, like Russia. She young in the finer arts.
"A Satyr that comes staring from the woods,
Cannot at first speak like an orator."
But it can speak some rough, shaggy, natural truths, whose virtue lies not in the husk but in the kernel, and which, when examined, will show that activity of mind toward beneficent ends, which is the highest reach of all arts.
America has had her own absolutely necessary work to do since she whipped her mother. She has been at home doing it, like a good housewife. She has not been gadding about, peeping into this keyhole, and stealing into that corner, in order to enrich her industrial designs. She has been
"struggling with the oak
In search of bread and home, has learned to rive
And, as in the young Hercules the astrologers read the lines of after-strength, so in the lineaments of America may now be read those of Empire. God has written them, in great moun
tains, rivers, lakes, men and energies, all over the face of the Union.
It seemed to me as if I could read them, in epitome, in the bust of Webster, which since I was last here has been added, with good taste, to the American department. Spirit of Phidias! would you not take it for a loftier god than your own Jove? How massive the brow, how full of will are the lines around the mouth-how commanding, all! An American, not a partisan, is Webster abroad. There was some sting, but great truth, in the remark, that Webster was the greatest animal and the greatest man in America. His brain, even in its contour of marble, tell both.
By his side is a lifelike model of Oliver Twist, from America. It is much looked at. I stood by, watching alternately the little wo-begone victim of a peculiar state or crust of English society, in his tatters and troubles, and the sympathetic old women who came up to see and remark upon little Oliver. "What a pity, to be sure! I suppose he has a history, poor boy!" He has, old lady, and perhaps part of it has been under your own nose. "I wonder if he is not some rich man's son, strayed off or stolen by the gipsies ?" and with such-like commentaries upon the image of him whose history is far more familiar in America than in England, they pass unreflectingly by.
I examined with great care the Chinese rooms. They reward the care. Specimens of rare jars and paintings, together with most elaborate ivory carvings, do the Chinese justice, I trust. They are a large nation, and should be well represented. Besides, they have begun to fight and bestir themselves lately; and who knows but that the Celestial feet may, under destiny, be leading silently towards the temple of the Union, for that annexation which their friends across the Pacific enjoy? Some of their maxims, which are blazoned boldly in their rooms, bespoke for them a worldly wisdom worthy of annexation and Poor Richard. For instance:
"1. Let every man sweep the snow from before his own
door, and not busy himself about the frost on his neighbor's tiles." Confucius! how that hits some men!
"2. The ripest fruit will not fall into your mouth." Franklin! how that meets your approval !
"3. Dig a well before you are thirsty." The Spartan's brevity, and Solomon's wisdom!
"4. Water does not remain on mountains, nor vengeance in a great mind." A lofty thought gushing down a mountain mind!
In going through the Exhibition, there attaches to many departments an added interest, because we have seen the natives at home in their workshops, attaining the results here so magnificently alluring. At Brussels, for instance, we saw the Flemish girls making their fingers fly, as they leaned over the pillow upon their laps, with the pattern pricked into black paper, tacked to the pillow, and the paper full of pins, around and across which they were passing, with rapid skill, the numerous little linen spools of thread, to form the elegant figures and delicate tracery of the richest laces. At Gobelins we saw the tapestries slowly evolving from the massive loom. At Rome, we saw the mosaics grow into beauty and life under the patient hand of the artist. At Genoa, we beheld the filigree-goldsmiths educing forms of light grace out of the silver. At every turn we see objects that we have seen in bazaars for sale, and forms and figures whose prime originals dwell in everlasting freshness upon the marbles of the Acropolis or the walls of Pompeii.
But in seeing all here in one vast repertory, we possess the pleasure of comparison, which is the greatest provocative to remembrance, and the greatest hindrance to intolerance; for where there is so much to be seen and studied, spurs to memory are needed, and intolerance has been as virulent, at times, in art and science, as in politics and religion. The great object of this exhibition has been to break down the contracted barriers of intolerance and nationality, so that industry may fraternize and the people be elevated. England will receive an immense
pecuniary benefit from the Exhibition, no doubt; but this was not the primary intention. Her artists and artisans will glean much from these displays wherewith to enrich her future. This was one of the professed objects of the Palace, but not its highest. The highest object was the cultivation of international good-will. The people of Europe cannot lose by this. The despots may. Foreign wars have been often used by tyrants to inflame national prejudices, so as to repress the better feelings of independence and liberty. The foreigners who visit England must go home with new ideas of their own about civic wants and oppressions. And although there is nothing in war I do not detest, yet when begun by a people against old, irresponsible, hereditary powers, the heart would desire its bloody continuance until every symbol, form, and official instrument of power were exterminated, root and branch. I pray God that such a war may come. It is the only way-steel and powder-the only way of unloosing the gripe of the Austrian and Russian, and I may add of the French, upon the liberties of Europe. Peacesocieties may preach and sing psalms till doomsday; but the arch-scoundrel of Naples and the petty princes of Germany will laugh and hold on. International wars may Heaven avert, and turn the bayonet and cannon against the palaces, castles, and forts, built by robbing tyrants to intimidate, so as better to prey upon, their own people.
They talk of turning the Crystal Palace into a Winter Gar den. The plan is disapproved of by many, but approved of by more. Its image has become so familiar that it can be illy spared. It has been infinitely reproduced. Boys cry it in the streets: "Ere's the Crystal Palace on a medal, or on a breast-pin, or on a card, honly a penny-'ave one, sir?" All the print-shops show it, in every size and color and mode of art. It has had a long season, and meanwhile it has taught many a severe, many a delightful lesson. This one truth it teaches above all others, that the effluence of Deity-the subtle mind of man-has powers of insight and apprehension that can never cease to mould its