The croakers are not only a numerous but a noisy body, and if
the world in general had not more enthusiasm, more faith, than
they have, few daring things would ever be undertaken, and
nothing extraordinary achieved.
This Exhibition, which yesterday was opened to the world, is
eminently an achievement of this character.
It is true that there is still much to be done, and some of the
sections are in an incomplete state and for some time must
continue so, but what great International Exhibition was ever
complete on the opening day?
Even the yet unequalled one, that of 1851, had many unfinished
nooks, and that of Paris in 1867, were far from complete on the
1st of May. With each increase in extent, such exhibitions
become more and more difficult, and the enormous size of the
Vienna Exhibition, even as compared with that of Paris, will
fully excuse any incompleteness.
In round numbers, the main building is 2500 ft. long, by nearly
600 ft. broad, and the machinery hall more than 200 ft. by 70
ft.; and in addition to these there are very large fine art
galleries, two great agricultural machinery halls, and an
immense number of special erections all over the park. The great
hall, or rather building - for hall is not a fitting word for a
structure which resembles a gigantic fish bone - has a floor
space of 60,000 square metres. This will give practical men a
good idea of the extent of the whole Exhibition.
An idea has got abroad that England will make a poor show. We
are pleased to be able to contradict this in the most positive
terms; and we are able, from official documents, to give a
considerable amount of information on this head.
The returns are not yet complete, but sufficiently nearly so for
our present purpose. Of the 60,000 square metres in the main
building, the industrial hall, Great Britain occupies 6369, but
a comparison with other nations will best show her importance
with respect to mere quantity.
To the principal nations in this hall have been allotted: 14,767
square metres to Austria, 6714 square metres to Germany, 6308
square metres to France, 6369 square metres to England, 3319
square metres to Russia. No other country occupies 3000 metres.
In the machinery hall England occupies a space two-thirds of the
size of that of Austria, and as large as the allotments of
France and Belgium put together, in the agricultural halls
England fills nearly as much space as Austria herself, and twice
as much as France.
In the fine art courts, in which it was feared we should make no
show at all, England occupies about one-third as much space as
is devoted to Austria, to Germany, and to France, which are all
three about equal in amount.
Quantity alone would, however, be a very imperfect indication of
our standing amongst the nations at this great competitive show,
and it is satisfactory to know that we shall not be behind in
the more important element of quality.
First, with respect to fine art, in which we are weakest, we
shall make a highly respectable display. The oil paintings only
amount to seventy in number, principally lent by private
possessors, headed by the Queen and the Prince of Wales, the
works having been nearly all produced since 1862. The
water-cooler drawings are rather less numerous than the oil
paintings, but the list is choice. England sends also sixty
engravings by her best artists.
In sculpture we are never strong, but the twenty works sent
worthily represent our school. In architecture our show is small
but good. Mr. T. Blashill has sent drawings of new buildings on
Ludgate-hill; Mr. Seddon his designs for the Welsh University,
and decorations of Christ Church College church, Brecon; Mr.
George Street a general view of the New Law Courts, as planned
for the Thames Embankment, and his design for the North-East
Angle of the Courts for the Strand; and Mr. Waterhouse a plan
and elevation of Eaton Hall, Cheshire.
South Kensington sends a valuable collection of electrotypes and
other reproductions, gold and silver work, paintings on
porcelain, fan designs, terra-cotta work, casts, &c. It also
sends Sir Joseph Whitworth's measuring machine, capable of
indicating the millionth part of an inch. This reminds us that
in 1851 the Austrian Government purchased the whole, or part, of
Mr. Whitworth's beautiful machine-making tools, which have since
been the type for all the world.
Mr. C. De Morini, of London, and Mr. Constable, of Cambridge,
contribute two stained glass windows. It is satisfactory to note
that if we are not strong numerically in works of art, what we
contribute to that division of the Exhibition is of the very
best class we produce.