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most of the other gods were worshipped, painted and sculptured as excellent human beings, the powers of whom were exalted into divinity, and the services rewarded by immortality.
Very few and obscure remains, if any, of temples erected in the time of the republic of Rome, record the state of the arts at that period. But to prove from the example of Rome, that the cultivation of the fine arts is by no means incompatible with republican institutions, it is sufficient to know, that they were actually the means of rewarding military and civil merit, and of perpetuating the memory of national transactions, in those times in which the liberty of the Romans is most vaunted. Of the nature of that liberty, and of the character of that people—not as described by their elegant historians and orators, but as exhibited in their conquests, in the use and treatment of their slaves, in their ferocious and bloody amusements, in their brutal enjoyment of the tortures of wild animals tearing each other to pieces, and of gladiators convulsed in the agonies of a dishonorable death, in the attendance of matrons and virgins upon these scenes of horror and crime-nor of their tame submission to the proscriptions of the triumvirs, scenes scarcely equalled, and not surpassed by those of the French revolution, nor of the ease and security in which Tiberius and Nero rioted in blood over the warm corpse of the republic scarcely extinct-of all this, it is not my intention or my business to speak. I merely hint at it, because among the Roman writers, from Cicero downwards, many passages - are found, which throw upon the fine arts, introduced more generally into Italy after the conquest and pillage of Corinth
by Mummius, the blame of manners softened and corrupted by Greek refinement. Alas! their effect in softening the manners of these polished savages was scarcely perceptible. The prostitution of the arts to gratify vices, in the introduction of which they had no share whatsoever, is too certain. Could that love of truth, that persevering labour, that constant pressing forward of all the faculties of the man towards excellence, that occupation of the whole mind and body by the application and study for which the life of an artist is too short, that contempt
reward compared with the meed of praise, without which no great artist was ever formed, have prevailed by example, then would cruelty and blood have ceased to be exclusively a Roman amusement.
To refute these calumnies against the arts, it would be sufficient to state what is undeniable, that the buildings and sculpture of the Romans, which are nearest in point of time to the days of the republic, are those of the best taste in design, and of the most exquisite workmanship. For as the monuments of Roman art, during the reigns of the emperors, grow into colossal size and expense, they dwindle into absurdity in the style of their decorations, and the imperfection of their execution, until we arrive at the triumphal arch of the mighty Constantine, a crouded patchwork of parts, pillaged from the trophies of former conquerors, a mixture of the good sculpture of former times, and of the coarsest imitations of his own age.
Respecting these gigantic buildings there is a fact which proves, that even the delusion of a popular government, after it has ceased to exist in reality, is favourable to the promotion of the fine arts. Many of the most splendid of them are monuments erected to the memory of the departed liberty of the people. The largest edifice in the world, erected for the purpose of public amusement, is the Colloseum of Vespasian. In this amphitheatre the Roman people could enjoy their ferocious entertainments at their ease, to the number of more than fifty thousand at once. The theatre of Marcellus is also an enormous pile. The magnificent remains of public baths prove the importance attached to the semblance of popular rights, and the indulgence of popular pleasures, even by the most tyrannical emperors. But when we consider the fifteen or sixteen aqueducts, which once supplied Rome, and of which some still supply the city with water, and others constructed and remaining over the whole empire, all of which were erected and decorated by the best skill of the age, the strict connexion of the interests and enjoyments of the people, and of the cultivation of the arts of design is still more illustrated.
It would be easy to extend the historical evidence, to this point, through more modern times; and to show that the era of the revival of the fine arts, was that of an active republican spirit, and of a very considerable degree of political freedom, which existed in the small commercial communities of Italy. Of this truth, the history of Florence under the merchants, the Medicis, furnishes very prominent evidence.
I have, however, I fear, dwelt on this part of my subject to the fatigue of your patience: but if a con
viction can be wrought, and diffused throughout the
That the wealth and the titles, which arbitrary power has to bestow, will always furnish strong inducements to the cultivation of the fine arts, under monarchical governments, is undeniable. Under a Trajan, an Adrian, a Henry VII., a Charles I. and II., a Louis XIV., a Frederic II., or a Napoleon,-monarchs, who, in the
excellence of the arts they fostered, and the general encouragement they gave to men of literature and science, sought a considerable portion of their own immortalitythe fine arts have flourished with great vigour. Nor ought we to omit mention of the name of George III., by whose patronage our illustrious countryman, West, has become the first historical painter of the age. But in all these instances, and in others which might be added, it has not been owing to the character of the government, but to that of the individual monarch, that the arts have flourished under these reigns.
With the state of the arts in England, and with the influence and power of the British government, we are better acquainted than with that in other states. I would, therefore, ask, what have all the English monarchs, from Henry VII. down to the present reign, done for the arts, including the reigns of the two Charles's and of Queen Ann, to whom the fire of London, and the victories of Marlborough, gave so great an opportunity of building churches and palaces? The single name of Boydell, an engraver, supported himself, in the outset, by Strahan, a bookseller, eclipses, in consideration of the fine arts, those of all the English monarchs within so long a period: and, without insisting on the accidental circumstance, that the only English coins which do honour to the English mint, are those of the protectorship of Cromwell, it may be truly observed, that in that prosperous and fortunate island, the astonishing progress which the elegant and useful arts have made, is the effect of the spirit of the people-of the very strong tincture of republican principle, which is an essential part