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“ A negro female slave, on board the schooner captured by the brig Plumper, had," in the language of Mr Leonard, “ with a purity of heart that would have done ho nour to the most refined and exalted state of human society, long and indignantly repulsed the disgusting advances of the master of the schooner, until, at last, the iniquitous wretch, finding himself foiled in his execrable attempts on her person, became furious with disappointment, and murdered his unfortunate and unoffending victim with the most savage cruelty, the details of which are too horrible to be conceived, far less described! And yet these inhuman miscreants, in the event of their vessel being captured, are generally allowed to go unpunished. We cannot, or at all events we do not, punish them: that is left for the laws of their own country, aud they are consequently suffered to escape.
“ This is but one instance of the numerous unheard of horrors entailed on the native Africans by the Slave Trade, as it is at present carried on. I shall relate another which also occurred very recently. His Majesty's ship Medina, cruizing off the river Gallinas, descried a suspicious sail, and sent a boat to examine her, the officer of which found her to be fitted for the reception of slaves, but without any on board, and conseqnently allowed her to proceed on her course. It was discovered some time afterwards, by one of the men belonging to the vessel, that she had a female slave on board when the Medina made her appearance, and knowing that, if found, this single slave would condemn the vessel, the master (horresco referens ).lashed the wretched creature to an anchor, and ordered it to be thrown overboard!' This is an instance of the additional inhumanity indirectly entailed on the slave trade by the benevolent exertions of England. Had our Government been able to obtain from Spain, by the firmness and determination of her remonstrances, permission to seize all vessels under her flag fitted for the reception of slaves, this vessel could by no means have escaped, and no object could have been gained by the atrocious murder. As it is, our treaty with Spain limits us to the seizure of vessels with slaves actually on board ; and this single slave, if found by the Medina, would have made the vessel a legal capture; to prevent which the poor creature was cruelly sacrificed—the life of a slave being con. sidered by these wretches as no better than that of a dog, or one of the brute creation."
The author's speculations on the civilization of Africa are ingenious, and breathe a good spirit; but the recent discoveries throw all previous conceptions into the back ground, and we now await the issue of the first promising attempt yet made for the improvement of a country with which our intercourse has hitherto been unmarked by much advantage. We, however, entirely subscribe to the opinion of Mr. Leonard, that, till the Slave Trade is effectually annihilated, no progress can be made in civilization ; and to this the obstacles he enumerates are indeed formidable ; nor can it be questioned that the limited right of interference Britain has acquired, though it may prevent the slavery of numerous individuals, really aggravates the evils of the traffic. In the month of October 1830, the Black Joke boarded no fewer than five French vessels, with one thousand six hundred and twenty-one slaves on board, from the river Bonny alone; and, in the following month, there were ten French vessels lying in the Calebar river ready to take slaves on board, the French preventive squadron giving them no molestation. And this must go on till Britain obtains from France the right of search. Our boasted “excellent understanding” with the new French government has hitherto produced no advantage to the Africans. Were this power once granted, and the right of search of vessels under Portuguese colours extended to the southward of the equator, Mr. Leonard thinks the expectation of surpression feasible.
“ Were there," he says, " no obstacles to the suppression of the slave trade were every vessel, of whatever nation, found fitted for, or engaged in it, liable to capturewere our squadron on the coast, small as it is, ordered to go on in the glorious work of emancipation, without fear of risk by legal processes and diplomatic squabbles, and entirely unhampered were the simple unfettered order, Suppress the slave (rade,' issued by government to the officer commanding our ships of war here,- there is not the slightest doubt that the trade on this part of the coast would be immediately and permanently put an end to. Not a single vessel could escape us. While it is otherwise, all our exertions are a mere farce-a perfect mockery of emancipation. We liberate a few of those embarked in Spanish vessels, while tens of thousands are embarked, and the vessels allowed insolently to pass us unmolested, under the infamous shelter of the French flag to the northward of the equator, and the Portuguese flag to the southward. Upwards of sixty thousand slaves, it is calculated, are annually exported from Africa. In 1826, we emancipated only two thousand five hundred and sixty-seven ; in 1827, two thousand eight hundred and sixty-one; in 1828, three thousand nine hundred and twenty-four; and in 1829, five thousand three hundred and fifty were liberated, being a year of uncommon success, which arose from the great number of Brazilian vessels running prior to the operation of the convention of 1826, which made the trade under the Brazilian flag piracy. Since then, no ves. sel has appeared under that flag on the coast. In 1830 the number consequently again fell off; and in the present year little or nothing can be done. Almost every vessel laden with slaves is under the French flag, and the people on board, confident of being privileged, literally laugh at us as they pass, and often favour the escape of vessels under another flag liable to capture, by leading us a dance after them. But, besides the many other impediments to the complete suppression of the Slave Trade, while the captains of his Majesty's ships are liable to heavy damages for the detention of vessels with slaves on board which are subsequently, by a decision of the Courts of Mixed Commission, declared, in accordance with the treaties, to be illegally detained, which not unfrequently happens, there must be much hesitation in the minds of these men concerning the detention of vessels whose cases are at all doubtful; and those illegally employed have, no doubt, often been allowed to escape in consequence of the heavy expenses which may be incurred should they not be condemned. It is therefore evident, that all attempts at suppressing the slave trade under the present system is a mere farce; that all our expenditure for that purpose is fruitlessly ; , nay, in many instances, injuriously, employed."
Before we take leave of Mr. Leonard, which we do impressed with the goodness of his feelings, and the excellence of his talents, we ought, in justice, to relieve and sweeten the imagination of our readers with, were it but one specimen of his lighter sketches, until they can procure his volume for themselves. The service which his book performs to suffering humanity stamps it, in our esteem, with the highest value ; but it has secondary merits, which, in another work, would be considered primary
PATRONAGE OF THE FINE ARTS,
It appears that the new Society for the exhibition of paintings in water colours, sustained a money loss last season in the first working of their undertaking; and a meeting was recently held by the members, to consider the propriety of soliciting the aid and co-operation of some of the more gifted and influential professional brethren. The already existing, or parent Institution, so to speak, is composed of gentlemen who, deriving a high pecuniary advantage from its formation, are naturally disposed to act on the “exclusive” system, and to close their portals against all would be confreres who seek to share in their fame or their good fortune. As a matter of business, they are clearly blameless in keeping their bread and butter to themselves. Theirs was the original risk; and, if profit result, theirs unquestionably ought that profit to be. The immediate interests of those who engaged in its primary establishment, and now support it by their annual contributions, are naturally the first objects of attainment by all the partners in the speculation; and against them no rival parties have any reasonable ground of complaint. Whatever were the first designs of the originators, it is now essentially a trading concern; and the firm, like all other commercial adventurers, must be protected from the incursions of the less lucky.-So they argue !
It may be within the memory of man, that, sixty-four years ago, George the Third, of blessed memory, immortalized his reign by conceiv. ing the design of a Royal Academy, according, as the great Sir Joshua terms it,“ to the true dignity of such an Institution ;' and, also, by the bestowal of a power by which titular honours were to be dispensed among those who specially signalized themselves in pictorial skill, (or were fortunate enough to possess the private influence to secure it.) The school thus royally founded and patronized, under the benign smiles of “a monarch who, knowing the value of science and of elegance, thought every art worthy of his notice that tends to soften and humanize the mind,” could not choose but flourish ; so that, in course of years, it grew up to goodly maturity-an edifice fair to look upon. It fostered, encouraged, and cherished, with paternal care, talent wherever it was to be found ; it patted industry on the back; it showered down its dignities and bon-bons with all the grace of liberality, and meted out even-handed justice to the satisfaction and admiration of all beholders. But, as it is notorious that no public body ever yet possessed a soul, and as it is equally notorious that Royal Institutions, like every other sublunary thing, have their rise, progress, and decay; it became perfectly evident that all this was far too good to last long. It did not : that is, so it was said. In an unhappy hour it began to fall from its high and palmy state into shocking disrepute, and calumny was busy in its denouncement. Cruelties the most bitter were averred of it; personalities were perpetrated ; and favouritism, and exclusivism, and blighting wrong were, if we are to credit scandal, unblushingly permitted; to the terrible dismay of art, and to the subversion of its best interests. It was accused of all sorts of evil, and all manner of unkind things were unreservedly said of it; so that, in due course, it became a bye-word and a mockery among those who beheld from afar off the good things distributed among the select few, of whom themselves formed no part.
It is unnecessary to trace the host of alleged defections by which this great first National Institution became gradually blotted, as it progressed on to corruption; it will be shorter and easier to take the thing at once for granted. Certain folks either were, or, what is just as good, fancied they were, fearfully aggrieved ; and as “there is a point beyond which human endurance can no further go," so these chained and galled spirits became suddenly wise in their generation; and, taking counsel one with another, devised at length a cunning means of planting a thorn in the foot which trod upon their necks. Patronage,-thus they shrewdly reasoned,-is the life-blood of an artist ; notoriety the prime means of its attainmeut. An Academician himself is nothing if he be not an exhi. bitor. The exhibition room is the friendly go-between which politely intro. duces a painter to the public; and the public is sure to discover,-and, discovering, bestow it upon—those who most merit his friendliest grasp. Bottomed on these undeniable truths, the indignation of the oppressed many was not long in venting itself in bricks and mortar. Opposition galleries came suddenly into being, and the despotism of Somerset House became daringly disputed.
The signal success that followed this rebellious enterprise, gave birth, after a while, to the Society of Water Colourists; then a despised, albeit a large-hearted race. Their works had been ever before more tolerated than encouraged; and the “stainers of paper" themselves received small reverence. Oil and water never could kindly intermix. The oilmen were prone to regard the watermen with a contumelious eye; and in part pity, part contempt, (ninety-nine portions of the latter to one of the other,) ever spoke of their productions as nothing more than trashy evi. dences of the waste of time, the waste of labour, and the waste of paper. The public, it must be confessed, went a good way along with the oilmen in opinion, and thought so too. The ire of the watermen thus became roused by little and by little, till at last it, too, burst into an act of des
peration : they haughtily dissociated themselves from these self-imagined superiors; and, in a moment of incense, furiously rushed, en masse, into the first house they could find in Suffolk Street, with a stair-case of becoming altitude. They dared an exhibition of their own, and the public stared at the novelty. The novelty produced curiosity ; curiosity, encouragement; encouragement, emulation; and emulation, a marvel, the ultimate foundation of a school of painting, which astonished the eyes of watermen, oilmen, public and all.
A new source of wealth and immortality was now opened up; and increasing numbers of gallant aspirants have, ever since that auspicious period, been eagerly striving to share in blessings so great. But these are times (were other ever known?) when bodies, corporate, public, private, or individual, are bound to take special care of “ number one,” and to let others shift, and strain, and struggle, how they can, whether the pursuit be after gold or after glory. This same pursuit is too hot and too selfish ; the labourers swarm too thickly to allow of any indulgence in courteous liberalities, or disinterested generosity on either side.
Now, it is a long time before men, engaged in occupations of science or the arts, can discover the secrets of commercial policy: they move in a different atmosphere to that which envelopes the mere man of business. The dirty trickeries of ordinary trading are unknown to them. Their whole soul is too much absorbed in the severe delight of mental cultivation; too much abstracted by the high and all-engrossing engagement in matters of moral perfection. They are guiltless, even in thought, of the debasing arti.. fices of the money-getting craft, ever most rife where commerce most thrives. They are panting after honourable distinction, and upheld in their career by an ambition too noble and elevating to admit of gross and grovelling influences. Actuated by principles so lofty in their own estimation, and so ludicrous in the estimation of the man of trade, their energies are directed to that goal whence alone can be derived the great reward of imperishable renown; while he, with a knowing wink and quiet chuckle, buttons up his subtilly-gotten gold, and thinks them all a set of nincompoops together.
It is only when depressed by poverty, or brought low by grinding necessity, when the “ helping hand,” the countenance, the encouragement, which they deem others would be ready and delighted to extend to them, is utterly refused, that their eyes become truly opened to the sordid selfishness which characterises human actions. It is then that they see, in its just interpretation, the horrible truth of that law which condemns all living things “ to eat or be eaten !” They then feel, that
generous rivalry, and friendly emulation, and mutual succour in the hour of need, are marvellous pretty words to put together, but that they admit of a difference of signification according to the views of the speaker and the hearer, and to the change of season. “ Heels-tripping" is the game, and they must learn to play it. Casting to the winds the feelings of delicacy, honour, and high-mindedness, which they ever cherished with jealous care, they must now prepare themselves to jostle sturdily with their neighbours, and push their fortunes with that singleness of purpose, that rude unbrotherly violence to others, which the men-of-the-world multitude display with such energy and success, Thus schooled by necessity first, then by the force of universal custom, themselves ulti. mately become the things they once despised : all feelings of fellowship are dried up; their hearts have got cool; and friendship and liberality, like “ love," are mighty magnificent names, but fit only for the young and the inexperienced to prate about.
It was unwise, though excusable, in those of the profession who be. longed not to the old Society of water-colour painters, to expect that its members would give assistance to aliens at their own immediate sacri. fice; and it was unwise, though excusable in them, upon being disappointed, to aspire to a rivalry before they were properly prepared to assert, effectively, their claims to an equal participation in public patronage. There is no doubt that some reflection, and much buffeting, with the world, induced them at length to take some such glances as the foregoing, at the history of pictorial institutions, from the foundation of the Royal Academy up to the present day, and to deduce certain inferences there. from ; but it is quite clear that those inferences were prematurely drawn, and not a little unsound. There is no doubt that many gifted persons, whose names are now unknown, would have obtained an early eminence, had they gaineil the notoriety and support which juxta-position with those beautiful works annually appearing in Suffolk Street, would have secured for them. But it was rash to imagine, because this advantage was denied them there, that an equivalent was of certain attainment by the mere act of exhibition any where else. They were too eager ; but their power was not equal to their eagerness : they began too soon, and they failed from sheer incompeteney. It was not that other institutions had the sunlight of “ fashion” upon them; it was not that they had been old established favourites, and had acquired a name which defied competition : it was, that no signal merit, no commanding skill, was apparent in the new society; they were alone in their mediocrity, and as a parent patteth not a child's head approvingly, unless for some act of special good behaviour, so the public saw no reason for the bestowal of that matchless sugarplum-its favour-thereupon.
Equally unwise is it in them, we think, to hope for either assistance, sympathy, or commiseration from the rival institutions, or from rival artificers individually. Fortune always gives with its blessings a speculum, in which all viewed things are reflected back in an altered aspect; and though the claim now about to be made might, at one time, have been deemed irresistible, (had themselves formed some among the appealing parties,) it may now, perhaps, be regarded by them, in their changed position, as a favour which—they are very sorry, but—must not be granted. The loan of a bad unsold picture or two, may, here and there, possibly be afforded by some half-grown lion, merely for adrertisement's sake; but the cordial beneficial aid of any eminent individual, whose influence, backed by intrinsically valuable and attractive contributions, should be worth the having, is more, we surmise, than will be given.
It is from the public alone that they must look for effective support. The public has little to do with private feuds, party feeling, or the false philosophy of jealous and ungenerous rivalry ; and it is now, more than at any previous period, beginning to judge for itself, without favour or misguiding influences, in all matters obnoxious to its impartial decision. The day is gone by when it was wont to be prejudiced by high sounding names, in persons or places. An epithet is no longer a tower of strength. The weight of titular honours is fast waxing to feather-like ponderosity; and a good artist needs not, in these times, the once magic influence of an “ R. A.” appendage to his surname, nor the walls of a famous edifice, to give glory to his works, in order to attain for himself popular admiration and pecuniary emolument. He needs now little of the adventitious aid which fellowship with renowned names, or connexion with fa. youred foundations, once used to impart. The stage of a common the3tre is found to be as goodly an arena for the display of excellence as the