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with Russia or Germany, or to an alliance of one or other of these States with France against us. Germany would, no doubt, in accord with what she considers the genius of her race, also adopt an offensive policy; but her strategical position has no terrors for us in a maritime war. She has a stout and well-kept little fleet, but a poor lot of cruisers and no coaling stations abroad ; while, so long as diplomacy keeps Antwerp and Rotterdam from her grasp, she is without the means for organising an attack on England, eloquently though her staff officers, who have probably never seen salt water, may write on the subject in the columns of the Militür-Wochenblatt.
If little has been said concerning French threats to sink out of hand the defenceless merchant vessels which come in their way, it is because one cannot credit that a nation which prides itself on being the very mould of honour and the glass of chivalry will ever descend to such depths of infamy. If, however, passion and interest combine to cause such barbarous outrages, our French friends should know that, so far from terrorising us into submission, such acts would have quite a contrary effect, and that we should be prepared to give measure for
The stern law of reprisals must always be resorted to by a civilised nation with the greatest reluctance; but let the French look to themselves, for we have a remedy under our hand. From Dunkirk to Bayonne, from Port Vendres to Nice, round the coasts of Corsica, along the shores of Algeria and Tunis and in many French colonies, numberless great centres of life and activity are spread out upon the shore within easy range of deep water, nor could any number of batteries prevent us from taking a swift and exemplary vengeance.
There are certain occasions when a little plain speaking saves a good deal of trouble at a later stage. Deceived by the pessimistic vein in which so many of our writers cry out before they are hurt and delight to belittle our strength and power, many foreigners, even men of experience, conceive that our Empire will crumble to the dust at the first touch, and is everywhere vulnerable. They are wrong; they are too late by two centuries.
The Roman Empire in the zenith of its power occupied the whole of modern Europe from Britannia to the Euxine, the north coast of Africa, Asia Minor, Egypt, and Arabia ; it was peopled by 100,000,000 souls and defended by 450,000 soldiers and seamen. The British Empire is many times larger and more populous, and the citadel of the Empire, immeasurably more secure and inaccessible than Rome, has more men for its defence than had all the Roman Empire in the age of the Antonines. In wealth and in staying power it is far superior; in intelligence and belief in itself and its destiny it is at least equal. Is its hostility less to be feared than was that of Rome?
The British Empire is a synonym for peace and liberty ; but it is not defenceless, and woe betide the nation or alliance that forces it to turn its vast strength and resources to the business of war.
CHARLES À COURT.
MR. G. F. WATTS: HIS ART AND HIS
For the second time within fourteen years a great collection of Mr. G. F. Watts's pictures has been brought together in London-a collection which, in the present instance, was designed at first to include only such works as had already been presented to the public, or are intended to be offered later for their acceptance. Ultimately, greater scope was given to the scheme, so that an opportunity is now afforded of studying the lifework of incontestably the greatest of the few essentially intellectual painters to whom England has given birth.
It must be recognised at the outset that if Mr. Watts's art is to be understood—I do not say, in the first instance, accepted—his particular standpoint, both artistic and philosophic, must be made clear. No true estimate can otherwise be formed of the manifestation of his art, whether as regards direction of aim or achievement of purpose. That point of view has hardly changed from the beginning when, more than sixty years ago, the young self-taught student picked up an artistic education of a sort in Behnes's studio and derived his first inspiration from the contemplation of the Elgin Marbles. His principles, at least, within the past forty years, have never swerved-principles that include the restoration of Art to her true and noblest function, and the personal self-sacrifice of every worker in the commonwealth for the common good. While denying to mere technical dexterity the supremacy over intellectual qualities which it has usurped, Mr. Watts has held—and spent his life in demonstrating --that it is in the power of paint to stir in man something more sublime than is possible to a simple, sensuous appreciation of tones and values,' colour and line ; and while himself seeking these things in the highest perfection possible to him, and so acquiring the grammar of art, he has sought to express in painter-language the thoughts and emotions that occupy his mind. It is, no doubt, this. preacher-sense, that often seems to declare itself with the fervency and intellectual force of a Hebrew prophet's, that has overcome his natural modesty and repugnance for public notice, and has permitted the
VOL. XLI-No. 239
public exhibition of his collected works, among which a few are still in course of completion.
* L'art, mes enfants,' Paul Verlaine exclaimed in an oracular moment to his disciples, c'est être absolument soi-même.' The epigram is incomplete ; but so far as it goes it may be applied to the art of Mr. Watts. Whether noble or ignoble, we usually take a long while to find ourselves out sufficiently to become, even should we dare, absolutely ourselves.' But Mr. Watts succeeded early, and has been so much ‘himself' that all schools and movements, from Pre-Raphaelitism to Impressionism, he has seen come and go, and has remained untouched by any one of them—still less concerned by any passing fashion, though greatly moved by waves of genuine feeling passing over the nation. A glance around the collection of his works reveals the fact that no painter of our time has been more faithful to the tenets of his artistic creed throughout a long career, or adhered more undeviatingly to the path he laid down for himself. It is true that in method of painting we must ascribe to Mr. Watts two main periods: the, first, when he displayed in his art the highest technical accomplishment, and, while already devoting himself to subjects having philosophic intent, sought to produce the effect of illusion; the second, when he chose to cast aside the vanity of manipulation for itself alone, and proclaimed the thought as the nobler part of the picture. But since those earlier years there has been no change of direction in respect to technique ; nor has the ethical bearing of his art been less steadfastly kept in view than his long-cherished intention to devote himself and the fruits of his labour unselfishly to the service of his fellow-men. These considerations cannot, of course, blind us to faults or stifle criticism, for all the sense of noble patriotism they convey; but they exact, nevertheless, a more respectful attention for the purely spiritual claims of his work than the young bloods whose cry is · Art for Art' are usually willing to allow.
Aspiration and intention—these claim the first consideration of the Master. If the thought to be worked out in a picture be but elevated and ennobling, the subject, and even the work itself, are regarded as of relatively little importance; they are his signposts to the thought to be expressed. Then, and only then, is his concern awakened to composition of line and rhythmic beauty (both in the order named. and developed to the highest point of the painter's power or purpose); then to nobility and character of form, with due reference to artistic principles—for it is fitting that the signposts be fashioned as perfect as possible. Finally, colour, harmony, and dignity are imported, that the work may result in a monumental whole. But the picture resulting is not necessarily allegorical; it is, more accurately speaking, suggestive.
His aim, therefore, and as a consequence his pictures, are of necessity somewhat vague and visionary, so that absolute completeness is difficult; almost, indeed, a contradiction. The artist is held not less by his imagination than by a strong feeling of what humanity, awakened to a true sense of its dignity, might be, and what it most certainly is not—dragged down as it is by ignoble thoughts and unworthy aspirations. “Divinity in man,' Mr. Watts once exclaimed while asserting this point, 'is like a lamp in a casque; you may let the light shine forth, or you may stifle it, as men generally do, by shutting the vizor down ; but it is always there."
Years ago Mr. Ruskin declared that Mr. Watts was the one painter of thought and history in England. But the artist in a measure repudiates the implied compliment. He makes no claim to be a painter of history. For history-painting is not much more than elaborate genre, resulting in what are practically costume-pieces’that leave us cold, if not indifferent. He is never, therefore, historical in the accepted sense. Literary he may be; but even then not simply narrative; and he always maintains the artistic and poetic sense. Yet, whatever his deserts, Mr. Watts seems to care little for consideration as an artist at all—nor as a preacher either, nor as a teacher. He is rather a thinker who would have all men think for themselves ; a man of noble dreams who would have those dreams reality; a seer to whom Nature has been but partially kind in bestowing on him the gift of elevated conception which he would rather put into words with the pen than with the brush translate them into form. To that cause perhaps we must attribute his passionate desire to raise painting, intellectually, to the side of poetry—ut pictura, poesis—and, at the same time, to combat the idea that · Art for Art' is the only principle, or even the best. “I do not deny,' he wrote to me many years ago on this very subject, that beautiful technique is sufficient to constitute an extremely valuable achievement; but it can never alone place a work of art on the level of the highest effort in poetry; and by this it should stand. That
work of mine can do this I do not for a moment claim; no one knows better than I do how defective all my efforts are. But I cannot give up the hope that a direction is indicated not unworthy, and that a vein of poetical and intellectual suggestion is laid bare which may be worked with more effect by some who will come after.'
The careful study of Mr. Watts's art, other than landscape, will reveal the fact that it comprises three sections of well-marked distinction. The first is the Realistic, in which, as in the portraits, absolute truth of resemblance is a chief consideration. The second is the Typical, in which, as in • Orpheus and Eurydice,' • Eve,' and
Mammon,' the figures represent types of humanity, pure and simple. The third section is the Symbolical, in which the figures are abstractions. Of this section - The Court of Death,' Dedicated to all the Churches,' and Time, Death, and Judgment' are examples. In addition to these are the exercises in colour and in atmospheric effects, in which the artist has proved a superiority almost lost sight of in the interest of his portraiture and subject-work. But .Uldra,' and * The Three Goddesses,' with Off Corsica,' and that golden glory representing the sun bursting through the rain-laden atmosphere after the Flood, are in themselves achievements of a remarkable kind and of unusual value; for few now aim at that beauty of prismatic colour to which Mr. Watts devotes so much time and happy effort, as Turner in some sort strove before him.
No section of his art, it seems to me, illustrates more completely his strength and his limitations than that of portraiture. It should be understood that, despite the place accorded to him in the public estimation, Mr. Watts is but incidentally a portrait-painter, never having regarded the practice of portraiture otherwise than as a means of study or of supplying him with the wherewithal of doing work of another class less acceptable as a rule to the ordinary collector, and therefore wholly unremunerative. Indeed, under other circumstances it is likely that Mr. Watts would never have been known as a professional portrait-painter at all. As it was, however, he was for many years the leading English portraitist of his day, but quitted a lucrative practice as soon as he was placed so far beyond anxieties for the future as prudence demanded,
It is aniversally allowed that in portrait-painting, realism is the dominant note; so that, as Mr. Watts is beyond all else an idealist, it might have been supposed that his greatest quality might have presented itself as an insuperable defect. The fact is, however, that the word “realism' is a term a good deal misused and misapplied. It has been usurped by the modern French school and appropriated generally by an aspect of art so different from that not only of Mr. Watts, but equally of the whole healthy tendency of the English school, that for distinction's sake the quality of his portraiture may best be expressed by the paradoxical term of ideal realism,' and so cast into danger of being confounded with 'idealism ' pure and simple. The realism of Holl and Millais may have little in common at least in later years — with that of Mr. Watts, yet neither painter had admirer more sincere than he. That the first-named was not enough appreciated I have heard Mr. Watts more than once assert, while of Millais he believed that, though he lacked imagination, he was approached by none for brilliant, vital perceptions, nor, except by Velazquez, was ever rivalled by any man who ever lived in the success with which he obtained the aspect of the individual.
But, after all, this excellence, however supreme in itself, does not reach the consummate point of what is possible to the portraitpainter, if the artist stops short at externals. If he gives us a slavish copy, however perfect, of the model's features, unqualified and uncompromising though the truth may be, he gives us but sur