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decoration, perhaps, where ever-increasing freedom of execution was given the artist, its first ornamental purpose was forgotten, and it came to serve only as a means of expressing the artist's imaginative ideals. So too of sculpture and architecture, of dancing and acting. It is an easy transition from the light-hearted superfluous skip of a child as it runs, to the more formal dancestep, as the child keeps time to music and gives vent to its gayety of spirit. It is an easy transition from gesture and sign-language, employed as a useful means of communication, to their more elaborate use in the art of acting, where they serve merely to create an illusion. So, too, whenever a piece of information is conveyed by word of mouth, and the teller of the tale elaborates it with zest and interest, making it more memorable and vivid, the fine art of letters is born.
We may notice again that the quality of art begins to appear in all our occupations, as the dire stress of existence is relieved and man's spirit begins to have free play. Art is an indication of health and happy exuberance of life; it is as instinctive and spontaneous in its origin as child's play. To produce it naturally the artist must be free, for the time being at least,-free from all doubt or hesitation about the truth, free from all material entanglements, free from all dejection and sadness of heart. So that the primitive industries mark the first grade in the human story, when we were barely escaping from the necessity for unremitting hand-to-hand physical struggle for life; and the second grade in our progress is marked by the appearance of the industrial arts; while we may look on the fine arts as an index of the highest development, as we pass from savagery and barbarism to civilization. And perhaps we shall not go very far astray, in our comparative estimate of nations, and their greatness on the earth, if we rank them in the order of their proficiency in the arts.
The fine arts, having thus had their rise in the free play of the human spirit, as it went about its work in the world and busied itself with the concerns of life, became a natural vehicle for giving expression to all men's aspirations and thoughts about life. Indeed it was this very simple elemental need for self-expression, as a trait in human character, which helped to determine what the fine arts should be. To communicate our feelings, to transmit knowledge, to amuse ourselves by creating a mimic world with imaginative shapes of beauty, these were fundamental cravings, lurking deep in the spirit of man, and demanding satisfaction, almost as imperiously as the desires of the body. If hunger and cold made us industrious humans, no less certainly love of companionship and need for self-expression moulded our breath into articulate speech.
Since therefore the fine arts are so truly a creation of man, we may expect to find in them a trustworthy image of himself. Whatever is human will be there. All our thoughts, all our emotions, all our sensations and hopes and fears. They will reveal and embody in themselves all the traits of our complex nature. Art is that lovely corporeal body with which man endowers the spirit of goodness and the thought of truth. For there are in man these three great principles,--a capacity for finding out the truth and distinguishing it from error, a capacity for perceiving goodness and knowing it from evil, and a capacity for discriminating between what is ugly and what is fair. By virtue of the first of these powers, man has sought knowledge,-has become the philosopher and scientist; by virtue of the second, he has evolved religions and laws, and social order and advancement; while by virtue of the third he has become an artist. Yet we must be careful not to suppose that either one of these powers ever comes into play entirely alone; for man has not three separate natures, but one nature with three different phases. When therefore man finds expression for his complete personality in the fine arts, you may always expect to find there, not only creations of beauty, but monuments of wisdom and religion as well. Art can no more exist without having a moral bearing, than a body can exist without a soul. Its influence may be for good or for bad, but it is there and it is inevitable. In the same way no art can exist without an underlying philosophy, any more than man can exist without a mind. The philosophy may be trivial or profound, but it is always present.
Art, therefore, is enlisted beyond escape, both in the service of science and in the service of religion. Great art appears wherever the heart of man has been able to manifest itself in a perfectly beautiful guise, informed by thoughts of radiant truth, and inspired by emotions of limitless goodness. Any piece of art which does not fulfill its obligations to truth and goodness, as well as to beauty, is necessarily faulty and incomplete.
At first thought perhaps you might not be quite ready to admit such a canon of criticism as this; for truth is the object of all science, and goodness is the object of all morality, and some persons have been accustomed to say that art has nothing whatever to do with either morality or science, but exists for its own sake alone, for the increase and perpetuation of pleasure. art cannot give us complete pleasure, if it appeals only to our senses, and leaves unsatisfied our natural curiosity and wonder,-our need for understanding, and our need for loving. That is to say, our reason and our emotion must always be appealed to, as well as our sense of beauty.
For instance, I am to be entranced by the beautiful diction and cadence of the poem; at the same time, its conception of life and universe may be patently false and puerile, and from that point of view it would not please me at all; it would disgust me. Or it might show a just estimate of life, it might be true to philosophy and science, and yet celebrate some mean or base or ignoble or cruel incident in a way that would be revolting to my spirit. In other words, while it satisfied my sense of beauty, it might fail utterly to satisfy my sense of right or my desire for truth. To be wholly pleasing, the fine arts must satisfy the mind with its insatiable curiosity, and the
soul with its love of justice, quite as thoroughly as they satisfy the needs of the senses.
To my mind the great pre-eminence of Browning as a poet does not rest on any profound philosophy to be found in his work, nor in his superior craftsmanship, not yet in his generous uplifting impulse and the way with which he arouses our feelings, but rather on the fact that he possessed all these three requirements of a poet in an equally marked degree. The work of Poe or of William Morris, on the other hand, does not exhibit this fine balance of strength, intellectuality, and passion. On its sensuous side, it is wonderfully beautiful; and yet it is not wholly satisfying, since it fails to give us enough to think about. Its mentality is too slight. Neither of these poets, to judge from his poetry alone, had any large and firm grasp of the thought of the world, such as Browning possessed, and that is why the wizardry of Poe and the luring charm of Morris are not more effective. An artist must be also a thinker and a prophet, if his creations are to have the breath of life. And again, poetry may easily fail by being overladen with this same requisite of mentality. It may have more thought than it can carry. Browning himself, in several of his later books, like the “ Inn Album," quite loses the fine poise of his powers, and almost ceases to be a poet, in his desire to be a philosopher.
All this is so fundamentally important, that we cannot have it too clearly in mind. It is the one great central truth, which must illumine all criti