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ranged the formal theorists, who constructed a scheme of art upon subjective principles. They bade us direct our minds to the idea, the Begriff of art; and having thence obtained a concept, we were invited to reject as valueless whatever would not square with the logical formula.
Between these opposed teachers, the pure connoisseurs and the pure metaphysicians, Goethe emerged like a steady guiding star. His felicitous summary of criticism, "Im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen, resolut zu leben" (To live resolvedly in the whole, the good, the beautiful), came like a deliverance. Instinctively we felt that the central point for us, if we would erect criticism into a science, was not caprice, not personal proclivity, not particular taste, but a steady comprehension of the whole. How to grasp the whole, how to reach a point of view from which all manifestations of the human mind should appear as correlated, should fall into their proper places as parts of a complex organism, remained the difficulty.
Honour should here be rendered to M. Taine, who was among the first to apply natural physiological principles to the study of what is understood as culture. His method drew attention to the milieu, the ethnological conditions, the climatic and social environments, which modify each particular product of human genius in art and literature. He was on the right track; but there remained something stiff and formal, a something inconsistent with the subtlety of Nature, in his philosophy of culture. In particular, it did not make sufficient allowances for the resistance which the individual offers to his milieu, for the emergence in him of specific strains of atavism, and for the peculiar phenomena of mental hybrids.
Just then Darwin's and Spencer's publication of the Evolution theory made its decisive impact on the mind of Europe. We felt that here was the right way toward living and thinking in the whole The steady determination to
regard all subjects of inquiry from the point of view of development delivered criticism from the caprice of connoisseurship and the whims of dilettantism. It superseded the attractive but too often vaporous generalisations of the logician by a sound method of analysis. It lent the charm of biography or narrative to what had previously seemed so dull and lifeless-the history of art or letters. Illuminated by this idea, every stage in the progress of culture acquired significance. The origins and incunabula of art, viewed in their relation to its further growth, ceased to have a merely antiquarian interest. Periods of decadence were explicable and intelligible on the principle that every organism, expanding from the germ, passing through adolescence to maturity, is bound at last to exhaust its motive force and perish by exaggerating qualities implicit in the mature type. Hybrids, in like manner, obtained a fresh instructiveness and value for students of the unmixed species.
It might perhaps be objected that I am claiming too much for the scientific impulse of the last half-century. Have not all histories, it will be said, at all periods of the world, been written in this way? Has not all criticism proceeded upon. this method? I would recommend those who ask these questions to peruse Tiraboschi's "Storia della Letteratura Italiana," one of the most solid and valuable monuments of erudition; or if that is requiring too much from human patience, let them take up Hallam's "Literature of Europe.' Next I would point to the magnificent criticism, in all parts instinct with genius, which our age owes to Mr. Ruskin. think it will be found that neither in Tiraboschi's conscientious and exhaustive record of his nation's culture, nor in Mr. Ruskin's luminous discourse upon the principles of art and the merits or demerits of particular artists, does the specific note which marks the Evolutionist appear. The mind of neither of these men is directed to the study of a process in the past. They do not set themselves to tracing
and explaining what Goethe and Oken termed the morphology of their subject. I do not mean to assert that they must be wrong, and that Evolutionary historians and critics. must be right. My purpose is to insist upon an important difference.
I admit that there is a danger in the exclusive application of the Evolutionary method, against which both historians and critics must be upon their guard. Absorption
in the process we are studying may blunt our sensibility to relative degrees of moral and artistic excellence in the work we have to estimate. We may come to think that the demonstration of development is all that is required of us; whereas it is only the beginning of our task, the clue that guides us through the labyrinth of research, the principle which gives coherence to our exposition. We may be so interested, for example, in analysing how the dying tree of Italian painting put forth its final shoot in the Bolognese school, that we shall not express a due sense of the relative and intrinsic inferiority of the pictures produced in that decadent age. There is, I repeat, a danger of sacrificing individuality and blunting the edge of critical judgment if we attempt to live too resolutely in the whole. But, fortunately, all the vices, foibles, and passions of human nature tend in quite the opposite direction. Caprice and whim and partiality do not need to be encouraged. We run but little risk of exchanging these congenital defects for rigid method and relentless logic. Again, there is no reason why students who add interest to their labours by the inspiration of this idea—an idea which infuses life into every matter of inquiry-should therefore lose their faculty of judgment. He must be singularly stupid who does not perceive the immeasurable distance between Greene and Shakespeare, Shakespeare and Davenant, because he has demonstrated that Greene was necessary to the evolution of Shakespeare, and that Davenant was his inevitable successor. Such a man, if he writes a dull book under the
influence of Evolutionary ideas, would assuredly have written a still duller one without them.
I pass now to that more difficult and delicate portion of my theme which concerns the higher region of religion, metaphysic, and morality. That remoulding and recasting process, which is for ever going forward in the intellectual no less than the corporeal organism, has been committed, for this century at least, to the custody of what is roughly termed Science.
The tendency of scientific ideas, in so far as these are remoulding thought in those high regions, is to spiritualise religion, to dissipate the materialistic associations which environ theology in its mythological stages, and to emancipate the individual from egotism in the presence of that universal Being of which he is a part, and to the manifestation of which he contributes.
When Cleanthes, the Stoic, wrote the prayer which I will presently translate, he projected a religion commensurate with modern Science. "Lead Thou me, Zeus," he prayed, "and thou world's Law, whithersoever I am by you appointed to go; for I will follow unreluctant; and yet should I refuse, through evilness (or cowardice) up-grown in me, none the less I shall surely follow." 1
We cannot get beyond that we need not seek to do so; for this prayer is compatible with every creed, and it contains the essence of absolute self-dedication.
By convincing us that the universe is one homogeneous whole, in which nothing can be lost and unaccounted for, through which there runs a continuity of energising forces, and of which we are indisputably conscious members, Science
1 In another place Cleanthes declares that there is no higher guerdon for gods or mortals than to sing the praises of the universal Law—KOIÒY ἀεὶ νόμον ἐν δίκῃ ὑμνεῖν.
has lent deeper meaning to the Stoic prayer. But it has not, on that account, eliminated the conception of a Deity or effaced the noble humanities secured for us by many centuries of Christian faith. It cannot be too emphatically insisted on that much-dreaded Darwinism leaves the theological belief in a Divine Being untouched. God is not less God, nor is creative energy less creative, because we are led to suppose that a lengthy instead of a sudden method was employed in the production of the Kosmos.
The conceptions of God and Law tend to coalescence in V the scientific theory of the universe. In other words, spirituality is restored to Nature, which comes to be regarded as a manifestation of infinite vitality. The Fathers of the Christian Churches, battling with corrupt Paganism, striving valiantly to secure monotheistic principles of theology, basing conduct upon hopes and terrors in the world beyond the grave, effected an artificial separation of man from Nature. They banned the logical and simple recognition of man's integration with the Kosmos, upon which the elder religions rested. Nature for many centuries was regarded as the evil thing, the contrary of Spirit. Science, which grew up in this uncongenial atmosphere, accepted the separation from the outset, and went on studying Nature as though it were external to the human soul. But this alienation of man from the surrounding universe, which constitutes him, and which he helps to constitute, can no longer be maintained. We must return with fuller knowledge to something like the earlier, more instinctive faith about the world, whereof ourselves, body and spirit, are part. And nothing seems more evident than that we are being led back to this point by the hand of Science, enemy as she is supposed to be of poetry, of mysticism, of spiritual contemplation.
The ground for this apparent paradox may thus be stated.