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brows, the mouth clothed with indomitable power. We gaze at liis gigantic height, his wild rapid movements, the convulsive twitches of his face and hands, the tremendous walking-staff, almost a crowbar of iron, which lie swings to and fro as he walks, the huge Danish wolf-dog and its two little companions, which run behind bim. We are with him in his Dutch house amidst the rough pieces of wood which he has collected as curiosities, the tools, the lathe, the articles of wood and ivory that he has turned. No dead man 80 lives again in outward form before us, as Peter in St. Petersburg. But not in outward form only. That city represents to us his wliolo Herculean course, more actually Hercules-like than any of modern times, and proudly set forth in his famous statue erected by Catherine II............
............ ." What must the man have been, who, born and bred in this atmosphere, conceived, and by one tremendous wrench, almost by his own manual labour and his solo gigantic strength, executed the prodigious idea of dragging a nation, against its will, into the light of Europe, and erecting a new capital and a new empire amongst the cities and the kingdoms of the world ? St. Petersburg is, indeed, his most enduring monument. A spot up to that time without a single association, selected instead of the holy city, to which even now every Russian turns as to his mother ; à site which, but a few years before, had belonged to his most inveterato enemies ; won from morass and forest, with difficulty defended, and perhaps even yet doomed to fall before the inundation's of its own river; and now, though still Asiatic beyond any capital of the West, yet, in grandeur and magnificence, in the total subjugation of nature to art, entirely European. And the change from Moscow to St. Petersburg is but a symbol of the revolution effected in the whole empire by the power of Peter. For better, for worse, he created army, navy, law, dress, amusements, alphabet, some in part, some altogether, anew.
Much that was superficial, much that was false, much that broke out under his suc. cessors into frightful corruption and depravity, at least of the higher classes, came in with the Western civilization.
But whatever hopes for the world or the Church are bound up with the civilization of the West, did penetrate into Russia, through Peter, and through no que else."--Pp. 453-6.
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ART. IV.-1. Catalogue of the Antiquities of Stone, Earth, and Vege
table Materials, in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. By W. R. Wilde, M. R. I. A. With Illustrations. 8vo. Dublin:
Gill. 1857. 2. Catalogue of the Antiquities of Animal Materials and Bronze, in the
Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. By W. R. Wilde, M. R. I. A. With 373 Illustrations. 8vo. Dublin: Hodges, Smith, and Co. 1861.
CATALOGUE is commonly the driest and least
interesting of all literary compositions. Few catalogues, indeed, can claim a place in the ranks of literature properly so-called ; their merit seldom rising beyond the mechanical accuracy of the copyist, or at best the servile fidelity of the compiler : and their traditionary fate, when once they have served the passing purpose for which they were designed, has been to be thrown aside and forgotten for ever.
The few marked exceptions to this ordinary fortune of their class have been indebted for their exemption mainly to the taste and ability of their authors. For, even where the intrinsic merit of the collections described might in itself have sufficed to create an interest in their details, this interest must necessarily have proved transient, unless in so far as the description was made to convey a permanent and systematic lesson," whether it was in the department of history, of antiquities, or of art. And of all these subjects, the one which is most dependent for its permanent interest on the skill of the compiler, is undoubtedly that of antiquities.
The time is not very remote indeed, when, in the estimation of the world, the study of antiquities was but another name for solemn trifling, if not for pedantic credulity. Sir Walter Scott's Monkbarns was an average, and perhaps a favourable, specimen of the class; and that ponderous scholarship, the humorous and characteristic exhibition of which forms the great charm of this inimitable picture, may be regarded as fairly representing the notions which our fathers entertained of the learned lore to the accumulation of which the lives and energies of a class which, if not very practical, was at least undeniably enthusiastic, were devoted.
There is one view of the study of antiquities, however, the importance of which has come to be better understood, and the true nature and value of which are now more fairly appreciated :-we mean their bearing on the social, literary, and religious condition of the people to whom they belong. Men have ceased to form collections of antiquities for the mere autiquities' sake; and museums are no longer regarded as retreats in which to while away an unoccupieil hour, or even to indulge a learned curiosity. The selectiou and classification of strictly national remains are now regarded as second in importance only to the preservation of the objects themselves; and the very meanest, and intrinsically the least precious relic of a past time--ib rude fragment of stone, or a coarse scrap of pottery-may have its value in the eyes of the antiquarian, far above objects of the most costly material and the most skilful and elaborate artistic execution.
The Museum of the Royal Irish Academy has been fortunate in at least this respect. The Catalogue of its contents, so far as it has progressed, is complete in its enumeration, is methodical in its arrangement, is scientific in its explanations, and is copious in the illustrations aml analogies from other collections, whether of our national antiquities or of the remains of kindred races, as literally to leave nothing to be desired at least in these particulars.
The collection itself has been formed under many disadvantages. Although the Royal Irish Academy, from the period of its formation, occasionally received donations of ancient objects of interest discovered from time to time in Ireland, it was not until after many years that a regular depository for their safe custody was established. Very many of the objects originally presented to the Academy are said by Mr. Gilbertto have been embezzled. Others were deposited in the museum of Trinity College, and it was not until the year 1839 that the project of a regularly organized collection, illustrative of the history of the
people of Ireland, and especially of the Celtic race, was seriously entertained, or at least was practically initiated. At so late a period, it need hardly be said, that the harvest of antiquities had been actually gathered in by pri
teristic uimitang the d lore
es of a
* History of Dublin, iii. 240.
vate enterprise, or prodigally wasted by the ignorance or cupidity of the chance discoverer; and little was left for the scientific collector beyond the scanty gleanings of a thrice-exhausted field.
For the general purposes of science polite literature and antiquities, the formation of the Irish Academy dates so far back as 1785. The list of original members, together with many curious particulars of the origin of the association, will be found in Mr. Gilbert's work, which is a repertory of all that is most interesting in the history of our capital and its public institutions. The collection of manuscripts may be said to have commenced from the very foundation of the Academy. The well-known " Book of Bally-mote” was presented in the very first year by the Chevalier O'Gorman. In 1787 the “ Book of Leacan" was obtained through the Abbe Kearney, of the Irish College, Paris; and in 1789, Colonel Vallancey purchased for a few pounds the celebrated “Leabhar Breac,' or “ Speckled Book.” The Library of Kirwan (president of the Academy from 1799 till 1816)-the only considerable acquisition of the Academy for a long series of years, was almost exclusively philosophical and modern ; but in the year 1831, through the exertions of Dr. Petrie, the antograplı original of the “ Annals of Ireland,” by the Four Masters," was happily secured ; and a few years later ! large collection of Irish MSS.,, (including the original “Leabhar na-H-uidhri,” a compilation of the 12th century,) which had been formed by Messrs, Hodges and Smith, was purchased for a sum of about thirteen hundred pounds, partly raised by private subscription, partly by a special government grant for the purpose.
The first impulse to the formation of a collection of specimens of ancient Irish art, however, was given, about the year 1839, by the opportunity which presented itself of securing as a first instalment, two massive gold torques, which had been found at Tara. These precious relics were purchased by a number of private subscribers and presented to the Museum. The late lamented Professor M'Cullagh, about the same time, presented the celebrated Cross of Congo -a sacred relic, we must say, for which, as for all others of its class, we should fervently desire a more appropriate depository, than can be found in a scientific Museuun. The first very considerable accession, however, at least as regards extent, was the collection of the late Dean Dawson, of
together associaa reper sy of our of manlo
- Book of ar br the Leaciu" the Irish cey pur Breac, Vestert siderable
St. Patrick's, which, in 1842, was purchased by subscription, chiefly among the inembers of the Academy. In the year 1844 the council, encouraged by the spirit thus manifested, purchased the collection of the well-known Major Sirr; and the numerous entries in Dr. Wilde's catalogue, under more recent dates, will show that this spirit has not fallen
Few years have passed without several interesting acquisitions:
And this, it need hardly be said, has been accomplished in the face of much apathy and indifference, and even a large share of positive discouragement. It was commenced under all the disadvantage of the most complete scepticism as to the possibility of success, upon the part even of the members of the Academy themselves. It was not alone that by the general public it was considered hopeless at the present day to recover any noteworthy relics of ancient Irish art or civilization. The learned themselves doubted, and even denied, that any such specimens had ever existed in Ireland. When Dr. Petrie first addressed the Irish Academy with the view of stimulating the members to undertake some systematic effort for the recovery and preservation of the remains of the ancient art of the country, he was met with an expression of undisguised incredulity. “Surely, sir, ' lie was asked even by such a man as Dr. Brinkley
surely you do not mean to tell us that there exists the slightest evidence to prove that the Irish had any acquaintance with the arts of civilized life before the arrival in Ireland of the English !" And Dr. Petrie adds that the scepticism implied in the remark of Brinkley was very obviously shared by almost all the members who were present at the meeting."
But a more hopeful, as well as a more enlightened spirit soon succeeded. From public sources but little pecuniary aid has been obtained; but through the instrumentality of more than one public body considerable service has been rendered in the gradual formation of the collection of the museum as it now stands. To the Commissioners of Public Works, the Shannon Commissioners, the Directors of the Ordnance Survey, and even to the directors of some of the Irish railways, the collection is indebted for several, if not very costly, at least very interesting and important
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Gilbert's History of Dublin, iii. p. 241.