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as it is now in the villages, for which the sculptor, too, as well as the shaper who
English Bible Society has provided a Breton version of the Bible. My driver, a man of forty, did not know a syllable of French until he joined the army, and the present occupants of Renan's house habitually use Breton. Renan tells us, moreover, that his mother spoke Breton admirably, and her folk-lore would have lost half its charm in French, while uncle Pierre would assuredly have been unintelligible in that tongue in village inns. It is not a little surprising to find that one of the greatest of French stylists was thus of alien race and speech. It is as though Macaulay, the grandson of a Presbyterian minister in the Hebrides, had lisped in Gaelic.
The chief portico for our Museum of Arts and Sciences is to have six columns, and, ergo, five intercolumniations, which it is desired to surmount with five supreme names; perhaps, also, with the statues of their immortal bearers. (The general problem, whether lists of names are fittingly placed upon exterior walls at all, was regarded as settled affirmatively beforehand. Our own feeling is, that all external detail should be architectural in its effect, subsidiary to the main design and purpose; ornamental, indeed, but with a certain austere simplicity and unity in the complete impression made, even upon the casual visitor at his first approach. The place for exhaustive and scholarly catalogues is provided within the edifice.) So arose the old question, What and how many are the creative and beneficent arts which glorify human life, and who are their typical masters ?
Since speech is, on the one hand, our decisive mark of superiority over the brute, and imagination, on the other, our link upward toward the Divine, it was generally agreed that Shakespeare the poet claimed the central space.
Architecture might well demand especial recognition above the other arts of design, here, above all, at the entrance she herself supplies. But, fortunately, Angelo was
"groined the aisles of Christian Rome," while Phidias was not alone the creator of Olympian Zeus and Athenian Pallas, but master of construction in the Periclean city at the same time. So these two — again with no dissent — supply the stalwart corner figures, adequately representing the arts of design united, in their two supreme epochs; and the relative dignity of these two arts need not be argued. Our own belief is that, in her ideal aim, in her material, in her loftiest triumphs, Sculpture is at least the equal and twin sister of Architecture.
If the seated Zeus of Phidias in the Olympian shrine had chosen to stand erect, he would without effort have thrust his royal head and shoulders through the frail temple roof the architect had woven over him. The Athenian Acropolis may well have been regarded as the true pedestal of the imperial Athene Promachos, whose glimmering helmet-crest was seen from Sounion, or as a graded approach to that holiest place in whose dim recess the chryselephantine marvel of Phidian art received her votaries, the Parthenon, or Maiden's Bower. The Memnon statue in Egypt and the Rhodian Colossus, Michelangelo's Moses and David, the Hermann monument and our own Liberty Enlightening the World, may remind us that there is no limit for the heroic dimensions of sculpture, if only the adequate pedestal, a sufficiently remote point of view, can also be assured.
As all architecture finds its first suggestion in the hut, in the mere necessity of shelter, so sculpture first arose, doubtless, from a desire to preserve the outlines of the perishable human frame. As that divinely fashioned and divinely inhabited frame is nobler than its purely material protection, so the colossal statue, if worthily conceived and placed, is at least as fitting, as independent, as imperishable, as the lordliest edifice. Indeed, the most lasting monuments of man, the pyramids, are perhaps in the borderland between the arts of architect and sculptor.
Finally, the positions on either side the master were assigned to the two more perishable arts, or those, at least, whose antique masterpieces have almost vanished from the world. That Beethoven is the Shakespeare of music was not questioned. The prevailing cry, however, which gave Raphael, and
painting, the final niche, overbore many and persistent doubts in one mind; doubts, indeed, for whose allaying (or confirmation) the present appeal is chiefly taken.
A previous embassy had been sent to a certain oracle of high and deserved repute. In true oracular fashion, the response failed to meet our chief doubts; but it was declared that poetry, the supreme art of expression, must be recognized in all its three unrivaled masters. The sides of the projecting (and projected) portico afforded one intercolumniation each, and therewith an opportunity to obey the mandate. So Dante will support his fellow-Florentines on the one side; and on the other, Homer, adequately distinguished beside Phidias, happily marks also the transition to the classical wing proper, and indeed counts as one of the twelve greatest Hellenes, who are to be named, if not figured, upon the architrave of this Grecian section. The latter list is in itself a very pretty problem, but we may leave it to the Hellenists, while we return to Raphael and to the doubts hinted at already.
First, then, a bold paradox after the manner of the Platonic Socrates: Is painting one of the great creative arts at all? In origin it was ancillary to architecture, and, as we now know, to sculpture no less. Even on the great Stoa at Athens, and in the Delphian Leschè, it merely furnished a masterly adornment for structures which architecture had left essentially completed. So Rubens's Descent from the Cross was but a splendid ornament added to the cathedral of Antwerp. No cathedral was ever built around a picture merely or chiefly to enshrine it; no Rospigliosi palace ever crystallized its blocks of stone about a painted Aurora.
Moreover, alone of artists, the painter sets before himself, as his chief aim, deception! With ignoble materials, mere pigments and stains, upon a petty rectangular cloth, or at best upon a stretch of crumbling plaster, he, like the Indian magician, bids us see what our own prosaic senses will never suffer us to believe actually present. Again, the Theseum if not the Parthenon, the Hermes though not the chryselephantine triumphs of Phidian art, have crossed the centuries essentially intact, as imperishable as Homeric epic,
"And shall endure, long-lasting as the world."
If they are lonely on the earth, it is the hand of man, not time, that has overthrown their kindred. The colors of Polygnotos, on the other hand, are more utterly vanished than the notes of Terpander's lyre! Is this art, petty in its materials, aiming to deceive, unable to preserve its own memorials, one which can give its votary the immortality denied to his work?
Even if painting deserves the equal rank which, by the general voice, is undoubtedly accorded to it, yet its peculiar province and potency lie in coloring. Therefore, its true home is not Florence nor Rome, but Venice; and Titian, master of color, is, ipso facto, foremost and typical among painters. We hold no brief, however, even for him.
The question we wish rather to raise, perhaps a hydra-headed cluster of questions, is this: Does not artistic prose in general, or history, or oratory, or ethics, deserve one of these five seats? In particular, is not Plato, or Socrates, or the Platonic Socrates, as the creator of a lofty ethic, both scientific and ideal, more conspicuous (even in absence) than any colorist can be? If the dominant ethical belief of the modern civilized world denies Plato's orthodoxy, the Hebrew Paul would offer one further advantage; for no single race would then be laid under contribution for two among our five monarchs. The name of Paul's master could probably not be inscribed, even in the central position, in any list, without raising the question over which a disunited Christendom has merely ceased to fight and persecute to the death, — the question on which no agreement or compromise is possible, whether that be the name of a man at all.
But on all the lesser problems here raised this is but an echo of Ajax's cry, a prayer for light. Bacon and Hawthorne, doubtless a host beside, ordered well and impressively the great classes of benefactors to men ; but our problem is set afresh by the peculiar environment and occasion.
"I don't believe there's no sich a person." I mean, I don't believe in the spiritual Don Juan of noble intellect, who first tries to make himself loved, and then to undo his fatal work with ridicule. As for the lady who loves unasked and in spite of all, I know she is real, in the novelist's sense. She is so familiar to any close observer of matters between the sexes that I have about made up my mind that woman is naturally the aggressor in love; that is, that there are more women than men fitted for the initiator's part, and that one reason why things go so badly is that the poor men are trained to believe themselves pursuers, when in fact they are pursued. Anyway, that training must certainly put them to dreadful disadvantage when they are pursued; and I rejoice that the misunderstood gentleman (I am sure he is charming) of the guiding sketch bears the obloquy of his position bravely, and will not, as so many a man has done, make believe that he loves because he is beloved. He has Thoreau's example to support him, and he can comfort himself with the obvious reflection that if a woman was found gallant enough to attack Thoreau, no one can be considered safe from siege, and none necessarily deemed blameworthy when it comes.
Of course I am misbehaving myself, after the usual manner of the controversialist, I am setting forth the other side as it was not stated; but I cannot believe in a superior and able man who seeks to win women's love, and does it by vague suggestions of admiration and sympathy only, and has no use for it when he has it. Why should n't he give expression in a modest way to his admiration and sympathy if he feels these sentiments, and why should n't he feel them for many women whom he does not love nor wish to love him? What charm can
there be in any society that discourages him in this civilized course? In fact, in the more special sense, how can there be any society where he, for such conduct, is looked upon askance ?
I speak feelingly, because I have suffered so deeply for social interchange when such pleasures would have been possible had not the unwritten code of rural circles in the Northern States all but forbidden association between the sexes except on the ground of courtship to the end of marriage. I find that code intolerably coarse, among other things. Accidents certainly will happen, and both men and women, if they live at all, run the risk of falling in love with the wrong people; but I do not believe that a society that permits — nay, demands — some touch of romance in its manners, that embodies in its traditions and etiquette subtle shades of masculine gallantry and feminine graciousness (as do all the older and more civilized of the Occident), subjects its members to any more risk of unhappiness thereby; and the gain in happiness, I submit, is inestimable.
I have betrayed my sex plainly enough (unless the New Woman has blinded you to the old signs), and I might as well now boldly state what you are sure to infer; that is, that I like men to like me and to show it, and that I deeply deplore anything calculated to make them more cautious about it than they are now. I have known in my life several men who displayed, without provocation, a noble disposition to protect me from their dangerous charms, who took pains to make it clear in time that they must not be loved. They afforded me some pleasure, — that it were ungrateful to deny; but as models of manners and taste I did not care about them, and I do not desire to see their tribe increase in the land.
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. LXXVII. — APRIL, 1896.- No. CCCCLXII.
THE OLD THINGS.
MRS. GERETH had said she would go with the rest to church, but suddenly it seemed to her that she should not be able to wait even till church-time for relief: breakfast, at Waterbath, was a punctual repast, and she had still nearly an hour on her hands. She prepared, in her room, for the little rural walk (she knew the church to be near), and on her way down again, passing through corridors, observ ing imbecilities of decoration, the æsthetic misery of the big, commodious house, she felt the displeasure of the evening before violently aggravated, a re- a renewal, in her spirit, of that secret pain unfailingly inflicted by ugliness and stupidity. Why did she consent to such contacts, why did she so rashly expose herself? She had had, Heaven knew, her reasons, but the whole experience was to be sharper than she had feared. To get away from it and out into the air, into the presence of the sky and the trees, the flowers and the birds, was a pressing nervous necessity. The flowers at Waterbath would probably go wrong in color, and the nightingales sing out of tune; but she remembered to have heard the place described as possessing those advantages that are usually spoken of as natural. There were advantages enough that it clearly did n't possess.
hard for her to believe that a woman could look presentable who had been kept awake all night by the wall-paper in her room; yet none the less, as in her
fresh widow's weeds she rustled across the hall, she was sustained by the consciousness, which always added to the unction of her social Sundays, that she was, as usual, the only person in the house incapable of wearing in her preparation the horrible stamp of the same exceptional smartness that would be conspicuous in a grocer's wife. She would rather have perished than have looked endimanchée.
She was, fortunately, not challenged, the hall being empty, with the other women engaged, precisely, in arraying themselves to that dire end. Once in the grounds, she recognized that, with a site, a view that struck the note, set an example to its inmates, Waterbath ought to have been charming. How she herself, with such elements to handle, would have taken the wise hint of nature! Suddenly, at the turn of a walk, she came on a member of the party, a young lady, seated on a bench in deep and lonely meditation. She had observed the girl at dinner and afterwards: she was always looking at girls with an apprehensive or speculative reference to her son. Deep in her heart was a conviction that Owen would, in spite of all her spells, marry at last a frump; and this from no evidence that she could have represented as adequate, but simply from her deep uneasiness, her belief that such a special sensibility as her own could have been inflicted on a woman only as a source of suffering. It would be her fate, her discipline, her cross, to have a frump
brought hideously home to her. This girl, one of the two Vetches, had no beauty, but Mrs. Gereth, scanning the dullness for a sign of life, had been straightway able to classify such a figure as the least, for the moment, of her afflictions. Fleda Vetch was dressed with an idea, though perhaps with not much else; and that made a bond when there was none other, especially as in this case the idea was real, not imitation. Mrs. Gereth had long ago generalized the truth that the temperament of the frump is amply consistent with a certain usual prettiness. There were five girls in the party, and the prettiness of this one, slim, pale, and black-haired, was less likely than that of the others ever to occasion an exchange of platitudes. The two less developed Brigstocks, daughters of the house, were in particular tiresomely "lovely." A second glance, this morning, at the young lady before her conveyed to Mrs. Gereth the soothing assurance that she also was guiltless of looking hot and fine. They had had no talk as yet, but this was a note that would effectually introduce them if the girl should show herself in the least conscious of their community. She got up from her seat with a smile that but partly dissipated the prostration Mrs. Gereth had recognized in her attitude. The elder woman drew her down again, and for a minute, as they sat together, their eyes met and sent out mutual soundings. "Are you safe? Can I utter it?" each of them said to the other, quickly recognizing, almost proclaiming, their common need to escape. The tremendous fancy, as it came to be called, that Mrs. Gereth was destined to take to Fleda Vetch virtually began with this discovery that the poor child had been moved to flight even more promptly than herself. That the poor child no less quickly perceived how far she could now go was proved by the immense friendliness with which she instantly broke out, "Is n't it too dreadful?"
"Horrible horrible!" cried Mrs.
Gereth, with a laugh, "and it's really a comfort to be able to say it." She had an idea, for it was her ambition, that she successfully made a secret of that awkward oddity, her liability to be rendered unhappy by the presence of displeasing objects. Her passion for the exquisite was the cause of this, but it was a passion she never advertised nor gloried in, contenting herself with letting it regulate her steps and show quietly in her life, remembering that there are few things more soundless than a deep devotion. She was therefore struck with the acuteness of the little girl who had already put a finger on her hidden spring. What was dreadful, what was horrible, was the intimate ugliness of Waterbath, and it was that phenomenon these ladies talked of while they sat in the shade and drew refreshment from the great tranquil sky, to which no blue saucers were tacked. It was an ugliness fundamental and systematic, the result of the abnormal nature of the Brigstocks, from whose composition the principle of taste had been scrupulously omitted. In the arrangement of their home, some other principle, remarkably active, but uncanny and obscure, had operated instead, with consequences depressing to behold, consequences that took the form of a universal futility. The house was bad, in all conscience, but it might have passed if they had only let it alone. This saving mercy was beyond them; they had smothered it with trumpery ornament and scrapbook art, with strange excrescences and bunchy draperies, with gimcracks that might have been keepsakes for maid-servants and nondescript conveniences that might have been prizes for the blind. They had gone wildly astray over carpets and curtains; they had an infallible instinct for disaster, and were so cruelly doom-ridden that it rendered them almost tragic. Their drawing-room, Mrs. Gereth lowered her voice to mention, caused her face to burn, and each of the new friends confided to the