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worked at them. The goldsmith's art was then in great request ; and many eminent painters of the sixteenth century, began life as working goldsmiths. Among these was Francesco Salviati, who had been also a velvet weaver. Some of the finest frames, embossed in silver, and studded with gems, were executed by these artist goldsmiths, who worked at them in the intervals of their more serious occupations: for at that epoch of the triumph of the arts, even the recreations of the artist were sought in the lighter branches of his divine profession. Vasari describes himself, Salviati, and other young artists, as employing their holiday hours in drawing from the best models in Florence; and again re-united in the workshop of the immortal Bacio Bandinelli, where they worked with renovated ambition, and exhaustless zeal; enduring miracles of privation and self-denial, such as it is supposed that the zeal of religion can alone support. At Rome, they continued the same laborious pursuit, animated by the same enthusiasm.*
*“ E lavoravano con molto profitto, alle cose delle arti; non lasciando ne in palazzo, ne in altra parte di Roma, cosa alcuna nota. bile, che non disegnassero : e perche, quando il Papa era in palazzo, non potevano così stare a disegnare, subito che sua Santità cavalcava, come spesso faceva, entravano, per mezzo d'amici, in dette stanze a disegnare, e vi stavano dalla mattina alla sera, senza mangiare alto che un poco di pane."
Not all the academic prizes, royal premiums and public exhibitions, could effect thus much for the arts. Founded by power, these institutions belong to inediocrity: the da Vincis, the Michel Angelos, the Raphaels, were beyond them! There are designs for picture frames, by the artists who preceded the epoch of academies, more beautiful in their drawing and execution, than any member of the modern academy of Rome could produce. I have the drawing of one now lying on my table, of the greatest possible beauty in design and workmanship. It combines fruit, birds, and flowers, the heads of animals, trophies, masks, and foliage, in the most perfect drawing; and all so happily blended, as to present nothing incongruous: the perfection of what is called the Arabesque. The art of picture frames fell with all the other arts; wood and plaister of the rudest form, badly gilt, succeeded to the exquisite carving, designs, and precious materials, which were lavished on the frames of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Nothing so paltry, so mean, or tasteless, as the modern frame.
The notion of an hereditary aristocracy being serviceable to the people by curbing the monarch, is opposed to all fact. The aristocracy is a class constituted, as it were, expressly for servitude. The extravagance of a single individual will lay a noble family for generations at the feet of a minister; and, if this be wanting, the necessity of providing for younger children, at the public expense, works the same consequence. Tacitus tells us, that on the decline of the republic, the consular, patrician, and equestrian orders, rushed headlong into servitude ; and he adds, “the more illustrious the family, the more corrupt and eager were the individuals.” In Spain, the aristocracy is entirely gangrened and worthless. In France, before and since the revolution, the highest nobility grasped at personal servitude in the household of the monarch. The indirect good this order has effected in England, may be explained by the homely proverb, that declares the circumstance under which honest men come by their own. Kings granted concessions to the people to oppose them with more effect to the nobility; and the nobility made the people a pretext for opposing the sovereign ; but both fought for themselves,—that is, for the power of ruling the state to their own exclusive advantage.
The brightest page in the history of aristocracies, is that which relates the events of the revolution of 1688. Yet, what a tissue of heartless intrigue, corruption, and tergiversation! what underhand correspondencies with the excluded family! what promptitude to overturn the work of their own hands, are displayed in the lives of the great men of that day! Since the revolution, the aristocracy have been the remora of civilization,-a feather-bed between the walls of despotism, and the battery of public opinion. A surplus wheel in the machinery of the state, they would long since have stopped the movements of government, if their subserviency did not adapt them to every impulse from the crown ; while, by means of their
representatives in the House of Commons, they modify the proceedings of that body. At the moment in which I write, the influence of the aristocracy, in defeating a liberal ministry, in making the corn laws an affair of their peculiar “order,” in opposing a necessary retrenchment of corrupt expenditure, prove to demonstration the futility of the received theory. Should public opinion, however, triumph in the lower house, the aristocracy must submit to reform, or be crushed. An enlightened people, and an anti-national aristocracy, cannot long co-exist.*
* That there are many bright personal exceptions, makes nothing against the truth of the general conclusion. Genius and virtue are superior to contingent circumstance ; and the Russels, the Hollands, and the Darnleys, are not to be placed in the common muster-roll of the class to which they belong. The vice, however, is in the system, and not in the individuals, and we daily feel its influence even on the liberal and enlightened ; who, when called upon to decide between privilege and the people, are too apt to have their judgments warped by the peculiarity of their position.