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THE right appreciation of Art does not come by intuition, but by study and serious thought. The following pages have been written with the simple design of awakening such an interest in the subject as may lead to further investigation. I do not presume to come forward as an Art-teacher, but only to offer such thoughts and conclusions as have occurred to me in the course of my own inquiries on the subject, in the hope that they may induce some, at least, of my readers to think the matter out for themselves.
I am aware that much of what I have said has been said before, in a different and better way, by others. But my object has been to put forward a simple, but at the same time comprehensive, scheme
of æsthetics, which should be applicable to all Art, and available by any person. In the pursuance of this design, I have frequently found it desirable to explain things which have been already well treated by others, and have been compelled to adopt the same explanation for I hold that in all things truth is better than originality. I desire to acknowledge in the fullest manner my obligations to the writings of Sir Joshua. Reynolds, Sir Charles Eastlake, Leigh Hunt, and others, and especially to those of Mr Ruskin.
There is of course much, very much, in Art beyond what is here set forth. There is much to be found in the works of other writers which not only goes more deeply into details, but affords different views of the general question. But the great majority of writers on Art assume a very great deal to begin with; they pass over the fundamental principles of Art, either as matters of little importance, or as already well understood. The present volume has been written under the conviction that this method is in many ways an unsatisfactory one; that the fundamental principles of Art are, as a rule, little thought about, and still less understood; and it is hoped that the following Essays
may promote a truer and clearer apprehension of these important matters; and that, by their aid, the further and deeper works of other writers may be better appreciated. It must not be supposed that what is said here is put forward as being final and sufficient. Art is many-sided, and many of its laws are of only partial application. In a small work there is much danger lest conclusions, which are true as far as they go, should be taken, or be made to appear, as of universal extent. I have done my best to avoid stating such things in a misleading way, and I trust the reader will bear in mind that, within the limits of such a book as that before him, it would be impossible to deal with more than some few leading principles.
The view which I have taken of Art is a very high, but I trust, also, a thoroughly practical, one. Man's spiritual nature is so closely interwoven with his physical part, that he cannot afford to disregard anything which appeals with any degree of force to either of these component elements of his being. But in dealing with Art as a great intellectual and moral agent, I am convinced that I have only treated