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sophy, illustrated by the names of Reid and Stewart, Hume and Hamilton, not indeed standing in the van of modern speculative thought, like the army of great thiokcrs, represented by Leibnitz, Kant, and Hegel; but still of sufficient significance to warrant the hope of a reasonable philosophy of the fine arts to have been promulgated there. But, however satisfactory it may be to think that the large and capacious intellect of Sir W. Hamilton, in a quiet way, protested against the shallow aesthetics so long fashionable in his native city,* it is none the less true that the Scotch philosophy, in its general action, has tended rather to degrade than to elevate the theory of the fine arts as an independent domain of speculative inquiry. The fact is, the Scotch are, of all modern peoples who have obtained any fame in poetry, perhaps the most unsesthetical; they have produced some writers of first-class excellence, and iu these latter days landscape painters not unworthy of the picturesque country which gave them birth; but, taking the people overhead, there can be no doubt that a certain prosaic practicality and hard realism give the dominant tone to their character; and whatever of the beautiful in art, or the tasteful in decoration, may now be visible amongst them, always excepting their lyric poetry and their landscape painting, is imported and artificial, not the natural growth of the soil. In one department—architecture—in which notable improvement has recently been made, the Scotch stood below even the lowest standard that ever prevailed in England. The beauty of church architecture in England, even during the supremacy of pseudo-classicality, kept alive amongst the people a genuine native taste for the graces of stone-work; but in Scotland ecclesiastical architecture existed only in a few elegant minds, used as an occasional stimulant to a sentimental verse, but not as a living fount of healthy action. We must consider also that the extreme form of Protestantism, which struck such deep root in the Scottish soil, is in its nature, if not doctrinally antagonistic, practically averse to any acknowledgment of the divine right of the beautiful. The majority of Scotsmen even at the present hour, we apprehend, would object to paintings in the churches, for the same reason that they object to instrumental music—viz., because both sacred pictures and instrumental music are largely patronized by the Pope. Not to mention a certain ethical hardness which long-continued religious persecutions under the Stuarts worked into the bones of the nation, the theology of Calvin impressed on the piety of the people the type of stern volition rather than of elevated enjoyment. The religion of the Scot at its best rejoiced in producing strength of character, exhibited in an earnest life, rather than in the appreciation of the beautiful in Nature issuing in works of art. To the Scotch Calvinist
* See the evidence in the Preface to mj book on Beauty. Elinburgh, 1858. VOL. XLII1. '6 1
nature has no sacredness, art no divinity, and this not only among vulgar religionists, but to a great extent among the best educated classes. The proof of this lies in the once largely current association theory of beauty, which had its birth in the first decade of the present century under Alison, an Episcopal clergyman, the father of the historian, and Jeffrey, a clever barrister and reviewer, in the metropolis of the north, and which, even now, may be found haunting the back chambers of the brain of some old Edinburgh Whigs, who take their notions on resthetical subjects from the old edition of the " Encyclopaedia Britannica."*
This theory was merely a revival, under the depressing influences of the last half century, of the sceptical doctrine taught by the Greek sophists in the fifth century B.C., to the effect that To Kgxov in art, as in morals, was merely a matter of individual feeling, local convention, or arbitrary fashion; a doctrine which, as everyone knows, was effectively opposed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and all the great leaders of Hellenic thought. Looked at as a contribution to mental philosophy, it is one of the most transparent sophisms that ever sprung out of a shallow soil, and waved its crop of twinkling leaflets for an hour and a day in the sun of ignorant applause. The function of association in the domain of poetry and the arts is obvious enough. Associations of every kind, .some necessary, some accidental, some noble and elevating, some low and degrading, cling to words as naturally as the snow clings to the roof when it is drifted by the blast; and it is part of the art, or, as we should prefer to say, of the cultivated and trained inspiration of the poet, so to handle his words, as constantly to select those which are most rich in noble associations, and to avoid those which cannot be used without calling up a coarse, trite, vulgar, or too heinous adjunct. And here we see at a glance how it is that men of great talent and undoubted genius sometimes fail in making the desired impression on their audience; they are destitute of the fine perception of the humorous which teaches a man in his serious addresses to steer clear of images and expressions which, being deeply seated in the popular ear, are ever at hand to jump up and turn the sublime into the ridiculous. In actual life, association -often plays the very pleasant and profitable part of making ugly things appear less ugly, or even, if the associating force be very strong, quite beautiful. A very plain cottage, for instance, with not a single architectural feature to raise it from the category of mere masonry, if pleasantly situated, under the shade of graceful leafage, and with roses or wild creepers decorating its porch, especially if it has been the scene of bright youthful memories, may appear beautiful y*y virtue of its accompaniments and associations; but neither the accompaniments nor the associations can change its nature: if ugly, it remains ugly, only the ugliness is masked; and it receives from the superficial observer the praise of beauty, by an altogether illegitimate transference of the beauty of the adjuncts to the object itself; as if a plain woman exceedingly well dressed, should be called beautiful by a person whose eyes had been taken captive and his judgment tricked by the grace and brilliancy of her attire. One of the most popular arguments of the association sophists is taken from the diversity of tastes existing amongst men, with regard for instance, to female beauty. The Venus, who is the horror of the Greeks, is the admiration of the Hottentot. But to observations of this kind it is sufficient to reply that, in a vast and various world, peopled with divers creatures of limited capacity, all sorts of false and inadequate sentiments and judgments will be found somewhere; that ■custom in aesthetics, as in morals, often deadens the sense to the perception of excellence; and that in no case can it be allowed to make an induction of the truth of things from lov7 and degenerate types, but rather samples from types which are the growth of the finest instincts and the highest culture. It may be that a wandering Highland tramp, with a screeching bagpipe under his arm, honestly believes that his reels and Strathspeys, which grate so cuttingly on a cultivated ear, are more sweet and pleasing than the most honeyed airs of Bellini, or the subtle harmonies of Beethoven; but no association sophist has yet been mad enough to bring forward such a case as a proof that the divine art of music has no concords, against which a Highland tramp with a broken bagpipe, or an Italian boy with a hurdy-gurdy, may not legitimately protest. The fact is that, where there is a fundamental want of seriousness in the mind, any sophism, however superficial, and however contrary to the healthy instinct which guides common life, will pass for an argument; and, as for Scotland, it lies on the surface of its intellectual history, that at the time when Alison and Jeffrey gained an ephemeral celebrity by the setting forth of their Association Theory, the Edinburgh mind, in the whole department of aesthetics, was a sheet of blank paper on which any ingenious theorist could write any nonsense that he pleased with applause.
* In the old edition of this great work, under the article "Beauty," seven distinct reasons for the pleasing effect of Greek ai chitecture are given, of which tymmetry ia not one!
Let us now take one of the best-known and most easily appreciated of the fine arts—viz., architecture—and sec how in this case the beautiful arises out of the necessary and the useful, by an obvious law of natural gradation and necessary subordination. A building erected so as to achieve the primary necessity of all habitable domiciles, protection from wind and weather, fulfils the laws of mere masonry; it may be the most crude, like the masonry of the lowest style of Irish crofters; or the most finished, like the masonry of the pyramids, still it is not a fine art. It is perfect as masonry when it serves a useful purpose; only when beauty is contemplated in addition to utility does it become architecture. The distinction thus stated between utility and beauty exists in every healthy mind; and yet, as is well known, even in ancient nmes there existed a class of sophists, even more shallow than the associationmongers, who taught that beauty is simply utility, a fitness to attain a useful object.* If any person is inclined to talk such nonsense at the present day, he need not travel far to find his confutation; for there is not a railway line in the country which has not sinned against the most obvious laws of sesthetical science, by erecting the ugliest possible bridges, which are in every respect as useful as if they had been altogether beautiful. To confound two such manifestly diverse ideas is the most wretched quibbling. Utility, of course, and fitness to attain a practical end must be in architecture, as in all the useful arts; but it is there as a basis on which the beautiful is erected, or as a stem out of which it grows. It is the same obviously with beauty in women. No woman could be beautiful who could not walk well, or stand well, or sit well, because her joints had either been clumsily formed, or unskilfully put together. Her skilful construction, as an animal capable of rest or locomotion, is an essential basis of her womanly beauty; a basis without which any beauty of feature or complexion would appear as much out of place as fine lace on a coarse gown; but no excellence of such basis could relieve a female form from the charge of ugliness, if mere perfection of mechanically, wellcompacted limbs constituted her only claim to beauty. Let this sophism, therefore, go to Limbo with the association juggle, without further discussion. We shall suppose our rude Highland hut or Indian wigwam of the most primitive structure, and note by what steps of unnecessary and purely ornamental addition the rude masonry is elevated into architecture. The first step in this process is one in regard to which it may be doubtful whether it has its origin in the wish for increased utility, or in the delight of superadded beauty. If the original hut or wigwam has been constructed of stone or wood, or a mixture of both, in a rude and haphazard style, without either shapeliness in the individual pieces, or fair order in the structure of the work; and if, after having inhabited for some time this modest dwelling, the savage builder should rise in his ideas, as civilized builders are wont to do, and erect a more imposing structure with fair tiers of shapely stone, it may be doubtful whether this advance in the style of the masonry arose from utilitarian considerations or from an sesthetical instinct. The utilitarian consideration might be to give greater solidity and permanence to the structure; the sesthetical delight, produced by an inborn instinct, * See this sophism humorously handled by Socrates in Xenopbon'i "Symposium," cb. '■
might be exactly of the same nature as that which a child feels, when it arranges pebbles or shells on the beach in a circle or other .pattern. In the case of the savage builder, the utilitarian and aesthetic forces might act so spontaneously together that it might be impossible to say which was dominant; but, in the case of the child, utility disappears altogether, and a delight in the creation of Order by a selective energy is the sole force to which the calculated distribution of the shells or pebbles can be ascribed. Nor is it of any consequence in this question whether the child or the savage— supposing him to have acted from aesthetical instinct—ever saw any other person arranging pebbles in a circle, or stones in ordered tiers. The instinct of imitation, under which we all grow up from babyhood into manhood in various ways, is not arbitrary or indifferent, at is eminently selective, and by his special selection the imitative artist shows that he is guided by a special innate preference for the particular sphere in which he chooses to exercise his imitative function. If, therefore, the child or the savage chooses to imitate order rather than disorder, it is a distinct evidence that the mind of the imitator delights in order; and in this order we have, in fact, the most necessary, the most simple, and the most universal element in the framework of all beautiful structures.* If you ask whence this love of order proceeds, the plain answer is that it lies in the mind, just as the belief that two and two make four, lies in the mind. The mind can no more choose to delight in confusion than it can choose to believe that two and two make five. And this leads us to make a single remark on the excellence generally believed to inhere in mathematics—that it is the only science which deals in necessary and incontrovertible truth. Mathematics is of two kinds, pure and applied. That absolute certainty should be predicable of the former lies on the surface; for, as pure mathematics is a science that consists of mere abstract suppositions clearly defined, to the exclusion of all possible causes of disturbance, it is plain that the category of necessity must belong to any chain of propositions which lies shut up in the definition. Each part of Euclid is merely a detached evolution of what lies in the definite figure with which it starts, say, a triangle, a circle, a sphere, a cone, or what you please. But in applied mathematics—which is the only real science—as pure mathematics are mere thinkable limitations of a reality—disturbances and variations of various kinds constantly interfere, for which allowance requires to be made. The infallibility of the science, therefore, ceases the moment it is applied to the measure of a •real thing; as we see every day that two and two eggs, for example, considerably smaller than the normal standard will not make four, but something notably less, perhaps, only three. Now, this is exactly the
* T6 KaXbv iv ii.eyl6ti ical T(£|« is the well-known dictum of Aristotle, where, rof course, the prfyiSot is only the quantitative element, Order the essential and constitutive.