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