11 OCTOBER 1873, Page 24

CURRENT LITERATUREi , .=,•• The Portfolio. October. (Seeleys.)—The best of this

month's illus- trations are, to our mind, the two small etchings which accompany the instalment of the editor's " Sylvan Year." One is a study of sheep by M. Massard, after Troyon, where, however, tho left side of the picture shows manifestly less care than the right; and the other a perfeetly charming little piece called "Spring," by M. H. Hedonist, after Daubigny. The bright sunny atmosphere and the young foliage are excellently given. The large illustration is an etching by M. Gustave Groux of a cattle piece by M. Troyon, and Professor Sidney Colvin's paper on "West and Barry " is acoompanied by a photo-lithograph from the latter painter's colossal work in the great room of the Society of Arts, a characteristically eccentric group, William Penn reading his code of laws to Lycurgus and Alfred the Great. The literary portion of the Portfolio is always good, and Mr. Champneys' papers on '51. Paul's Cathedral have not been an exception to the rale. But is he quite serious in the brief paper which he contributes this month, and in which, having previously given his readers some forcible criticism of the quite destructive kind, he proceeds to suggest ? He does not believe, it must be understood, that there is satisfactory knowledge of true decorative art in England, either in artists who execute or in the public which judges. And so he proposes tV.fi plan. The interest of the money subscribed is to be used, first, for funding an executive school of decorators, and then for actually decorating some buildings of secondary importance. So the artist will have his experiments on bodies more or less cheap. Meanwhile the public would be watching these experiments, and would be learning by them, and so there would bo developed in them "a true critical standard of decorative art." How admirable the scheme, but for the trifling difficulty of the shortness of human life !

"Would we ware a race

Of giants, living each a thousand years,

And see our footprints harden into stone!" •

Public taste is unhappily of very slow growth. Some people will say that it does not prosper here at all. Meanwhile architects are mortal, and—worst difficulty of all —subscribers want to see something for their money. Fancy Alderman Sir Round Paunch—who might say, as the well-known usurer to whom payment by instalments in five years was proposed, "Five years!' I shan't live five years, Pm drinking port" --.-fancy Sir Round being told that he must wait till a true taste for decorative art had been developed in the public, the only beginning for such taste being what the solitary person of Mr. Champneys himself possesses 1 But if anything should happen—" Di prohibeant nefas "— te,ildr.Champneys !