THE SIXTH MORNING. THE SHEPHERD'S TOWER.
If you hide with your hand the carved masonry at the bottom, the composition separates itself into two pieces, one disagreeably rectangular. The still more severely rectangular masonry throws out by contrast all that is curved and rounded in the loom, and unites the whole composition; that is its aesthetic function; its historical one is to show that weaving is queen's work, not peasant's; for this is palace masonry.
13. The Giving of Law.
More strictly, of the Book of God's Law: the only one which can ultimately be obeyed. [Footnote: Mr. Caird convinced me of the real meaning of this sculpture. I had taken it for the giving of a book, writing further of it as follows: -
All books, rightly so called, are Books of Law, and all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. (What we now mostly call a book, the infinite reduplication and vibratory echo of a lie, is not given but belched up out of volcanic clay by the inspiration of the devil.) On the Book-giver's right hand the students in cell, restrained by the lifted right hand:
"Silent, you, till you know"; then, perhaps, you also.
On the left, the men of the world, kneeling, receive the gift.
Recommendable seal, this, for Mr. Mudie!
Mr. Caird says: "The book is written law, which is given by Justice to the inferiors, that they may know the laws regulating their relations to their superiors - who are also under the hand of law. The vassal is protected by the accessibility of formularized law. The superior is restrained by the right hand of power." ]
The authorship of this is very embarrassing to me. The face of the central figure is most noble, and all the work good, but not delicate; it is like original work of the master whose design No. 8 might be a restoration.
Andrea Pisano again; the head superb, founded on Greek models, feathers of wings wrought with extreme care; but with no precision of arrangement or feeling. How far intentional in awkwardness, I cannot say; but note the good mechanism of the whole plan, with strong standing board for the feet.
An intensely puzzling one; coarse (perhaps unfinished) in work, and done by a man who could not row; the plaited bands used for rowlocks being pulled the wrong way. Right, had the rowers been rowing Englishwise: but the water at the boat's head shows its motion forwards, the way the oarsmen look. I cannot make out the action of the figure at the stern; it ought to be steering with the stern oar.
The water seems quite unfinished. Meant, I suppose, for surface and section of sea, with slimy rock at the bottom; but all stupid and inefficient.
16. Hercules and Antaus.
The Earth power, half hidden by the earth, its hair and hand becoming roots, the strength of its life passing through the ground into the oak tree. With Cercyon, but first named, (Plato, Laws, book VII., 796), Antaus is the master of contest without use; - [GREEK: philoneikias achrestou] - and is generally the power of pure selfishness and its various inflation to insolence and degradation to cowardice; - finding its strength only in fall back to its Earth, - he is the master, in a word, of all such kind of persons as have been writing lately about the "interests of England." He is, therefore, the Power invoked by Dante to place Virgil and him in the lowest circle of Hell; - "Alcides whilom felt, - that grapple, straitened sore," etc. The Antaus in the sculpture is very grand; but the authorship puzzles me, as of the next piece, by the same hand. I believe both Giotto's design.
The sword in its Christian form. Magnificent: the grandest expression of the power of man over the earth and its strongest creatures that I remember in early sculpture, - (or for that matter, in late). It is the subduing of the bull which the sculptor thinks most of; the plough, though large, is of wood, and the handle slight. But the pawing and bellowing labourer he has bound to it! - here is victory.
18. The Chariot.
The horse also subdued to draught - Achilles' chariot in its first, and to be its last, simplicity. The face has probably been grand - the figure is so still. Andrea's, I think by the flying drapery.
19. The Lamb, with the symbol of Resurrection.