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ORIGIN OF THE OPERA.-Dramas of the Greeks.-Oratorios.-Invention of reci-
tative.-The opera in England.-Early dramas.—The masque.-Milton's
The man who is a true lover of the fine arts, is generally benevolent and cheerful, not seldom also is he a passionate admirer of nature, and often a devout worshipper of the great Author of all that is beautiful and good. The man who is a sensualist, who chooses his companions among dissolute and profligate men, whose chief care is that his table should be well furnished with delicious viands, whose eye lights up only when bottles and glasses begin to rattle, whose cheeks are streaked with the unnatural redness of high living, is rarely a lover of art—unless it be the art of cooking, or making punch. Neither does the miser care for sculpture or for painting. Your true money-lover despises the fine arts; he likes well enough to pass his grasping and shrivelled fingers over the stamped guinea, but the clearness of its relief, and the music of
its ring, charm him only because they speak of full weight in the gold. And so it is with the treacherous, the cruel, the sly, and the crafty; their selfish and corrupt passions unfit them for the tranquil enjoyment of the arts, which are in their nature social, kindly, and purifying, inclining those who are much engaged in them to refined studies, to a generous frankness, a free imparting to others of the pleasures enjoyed.
The study of the fine arts having then an elevating and softening influence, a tendency to render man less sensual, more benevolent, more alive to the beauties of nature and truth, should be as generally cultivated as possible.
The following work is intended to diffuse a taste for such studies, by gathering into a small compass, and making accessible to all, that information which before was scattered through many voluminous and expensive publications. It is a comprehensive glance at the whole history of art, especially as exhibited in the lives of its most eminent professors, in all ages, and in every department. While it embraces so wide a field, it is at the same time clear, concise, and richly attractive in its details. By its simple and natural arrangement, its completeness in all its parts, and by the ease with which any class of art, era, or individual artist, may be referred to,
the work is rendered admirable for popular use. For the same reason it might be introduced, with great advantage, as a text-book, into the higher schools and academies.
At the present time, and in our own country, almost every one has some acquaintance with art; and numbers will be glad to possess a book which presents such an amount of information on the subject which interests them; so well arranged, so varied, lively, and picturesque, in the matter, and couched in a style which evinces an earnest enthusiasm for the arts, and an extended knowledge of their masterpieces. It is the fruit of the leisure hours of a lady, who, while employed upon it, was practically engaged with the palette and colours. It needs no argument to persuade us, that one who is actually conversant with the progress of an artist's studies, should be the best able to describe them; that one who has passed through the lessons of the studio, traced the careful outline, touched in the first faint shades, and then the deep and powerful relief, and brought out the living character and expression, by colours vivid and truthful—who is, in a word, an artist, should be able to spread before us with the greatest charm and force, the incidents of artistic life, and the varied effects their works have produced on the mind.