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Portraits at Kensington, Among the. By F. G. STEPHENS.
Roman Flint-Sparks. By R. S. C. C.
Contributors to this Volume.
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ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES IN ART,
Art is one of the natural forms which practised. Still when one seeks among are assumed by joy ; what we call the the great cities of history for a parallel arts are merely different ways of being to London, it is not Florence or Athens happy. In the lives of most of us, that occurs to us, but rather Tyre or fortunately, there are pauses, intervals Carthage. If it were only politics that without any prescribed occupation, in took precedence of the arts, one could which the initiative is given back to put up with it, but when they are ourselves. If we cannot fill these, or crowded out by mere business, this city, at least some of these, by Art, the to say the least, is not so great morally chances are that they will be filled, if as it is physically. It does not make we have energy, by avarice or ambition, a due return to those whom it deprives if we want energy, by ennui. This is of the freedom of the country and the particularly true in great cities. Life beauties of nature. is stifled and overtasked when it is Foreigners are fond of raising the spent in the midst of a crowd; where question, whether the English people the animal happiness and freedom of are capable of art. It seems the easiest the country is wanting, what but Art and most triumphant answer simply to can supply its place? A city without name Shakespeare and Reynolds. So picture - galleries, theatres, beautiful long as we contine ourselves to naming buildings, a city where no one writes our great artists, we do well; and it is verses or reads them, or cares to talk certainly hard to imagine that there about literary subjects, must, I imagine,
radical artistic deficiency in be far worse than a dismal place. It a nation that has produced such men need not, perhaps, be an immoral place even exceptionally. But there are in the common
sense of the word ; nations whose artistic faculty shows the average number of
thefts and itself, not in isolated cases, but as a murders committed in it need not be universal birthright; and among these greater than in other places of the certainly no one would reckon the same size ; but in a high sense of the English. The absolute want of susword I think it must be immoral ; the ceptibility to art seems commoner in standard will be pitched low; life will English people than in most other be uninteresting, and virtue will be- nations. The Frenchman's taste may come languid and, so to speak, unpro- be too exclusive and intolerant, but at gressive. The city we live in is certainly any rate it is not wanting ; the Gernot like this; among us all arts are man's somewhat too tolerant, but there
No. 91.-VOL. XVI.
is no doubt that he does enjoy a piece at once under the condemnation of of music at least, and often a painting; another school, which might in the among us pure insensibility is perfectly meanwhile have superseded the former, common, and I imagine that of the and should be told now not that my people who may be found any day taste was childish but that it was artifiwalking among the Elgin Marbles, cially depraved. or in the National Gallery, a consi- Still we should not allow ourselves to derable proportion would derive accu- suppose that Art is governed by no rately the same amount of enjoyment principles at all, because the expounders from their promenade if the statues or of it differ so widely among themselves. the pictures were away. Of course such Their differences, though great, are at insensibility, when it is natural, is least not so numerous as they seem, irremediable. Not by thinking about while their agreements, though less it will any one find out beauty. But loudly proclaimed, are much more numea sensibility that is weak may be There are standing controversies strengthened, and one that is confused in Art which are perpetually breaking may be cleared and purified. Now the out afresh; they take new forms with way to make one's perceptions clear in every new age, but they are essentially art is to consider carefully what art is the same always. They are always conin general, what is its object, under ducted hotly, with sweeping denunciawhat conditions it works, and what tions and anathemas on both sides. Each may be expected from it.
combatant represents his favourite tenet Most people in England, who are not as absolutely fundamental; the oppothemselves artists, both dislike and dis- nents of it are always to him the debelieve in art-criticism. It seems to be stroyers and underminers of art. This nothing but a contrivance for making violence has always been characteristic out everything that is agreeable and of Art controversies, from the time when enjoyable to be bad, and everything the young Athenian in Aristophanes that is shocking and revolting to be
assailed his father with a cudgel for admirable. Such a contrivance would preferring the poetry of Æschylus to be irritating enough if works of art that of Euripides, to the time when existed for anything else but enjoy- Blake wrote, at the death of the illusment, but as they have no other end trious Reynolds, “This man was here it seems to add insult to injury. A for the destruction of Art." The effect picture is painted solely to please me, of it upon the lay-world is general scepand I am to be told that it is a master- ticism; the one party is believed to be piece, although it makes me shudder! as much in the wrong as the other. I go to the theatre expressly to be These violent dogmatic decisions crush amused; I am amused, delighted, and too and wither the timid likings of plain enchanted, and next morning the critics people, which might have developed tell me that the piece was detestable. into cultivated taste; they grow ashamed I might perhaps get over this difficulty of their own faint impressions and by supposing, though the supposition modest opinions, which they are not is not gratifying, that my taste is in prepared to justify by reasons ; and a thoroughly morbid state, like the thus discouraged, turn their backs altopalate of a man in fever, or immature, gether upon art. Yet nothing is so like the taste of a child who delights in important to Art itself, and to general pastry and sweet things. But then the cultivation, as the formation of an intelcritics do not in the least agree among ligent lay-opinion; nothing is so de. themselves, and if I should educate sirable as that there should be a large myself according to the doctrine of one number of persons who appreciate in school I met with and succeed in liking some degree, without appreciating perall that I naturally disliked and in fectly, to whom Art is something without disliking all that I liked, I should fall being everything, and who can be happy