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For example, the religious teacher may, by direct inspiration, know the goodness of God in what he sees; it is his task to learn that therein is also absolute truth and absolute beauty, and having learnt these, to communicate to the world a whole which shall contain them all. The artist may see the absolute beauty of an idea taught by God in the natural world, but he must so chasten this perception as to make it compatible with absolute truth and absolute goodness, and must reproduce a work developing all these qualities, before he can claim to have been a faithful steward of his talent. So the philosopher may see the perfect truth of God's teaching in the natural world, but he must see goodness and beauty in the same lesson, before he has learned what he was ordained to teach.
It will be easy to deduce a formula from these few remarks. For our instruction in our present state of being, besides infinite other means, God has ordained that certain men should perceive in his natural world, and seeing should communicate to others, certain attributes of his infinite sublimity. To one he gives the power to know goodness, and him we may call the religious teacher; to another a knowledge of absolute truth, and this is the philosopher; while to a third, who has the perception and the power of reproducing the beautiful, we give the names of artist and poet. None of these recreate what we may have seen, but they reproduce what they have seen. They become great in their departments in proportion as each can blend in one the special attribute with which he is gifted, and those others which he must acquire. The perfect result, if completely attainable here, should be, by combining all these qualities in one, a work of love, satisfying the three great needs which we recognize as forming our souls, — the intellectual, the moral, and the emotional; and such a teacher, delivering to man the lessons God has taught, through the natural world, in the very spirit in which they were given, would be at once the religious teacher, the man of wisdom, and the artist.
It is a peculiarity of works of art, that each individual work, being the production of a single mind, is limited in its extent, and, like the view contained in one glance of the eye, takes in but one direction at once. In this respect art bears the same relation to nature and mental philosophy that religion does to morals, as being founded in the affections rather than the intellect, the former being concentrative, while the latter is discursive. For the affections aim to bring as many harmonious objects as possible into one field of realization, while the intellect strives to discover the harmonious relation subsisting between widely separated objects.
It grows out of this necessity, that art not only employs itself to combine the true and the good with the beautiful, but that it is also local, and, in a wider sense, national in its character. Speaking still more generally, every special development of art is periodic, that is to say, each manifestation attaches itself to the methods of thought and life prevailing during its germination, and which serve as matrices for its growth. In its own proper period, each manifestation of art must find its sustenance and its limitation. It follows that the life of works of art is limited to the sphere which develops and nourishes them; but that their influence may reach to very distant ages, carrying with it the seeds of other developments, differing from, yet related to, the parent tree.
It will be seen, therefore, that a development of art may take place under various modifications, in different individuals, and in separate countries, yet all under the influence of, and all guided by, the prevailing spirit of the age in which they exist; and that all these different elements may converge towards a common centre, so as to culminate, perhaps, at the same time; — their possible perfectibility being limited by the requirements and advancement of the age in which they are produced, and their existence as living phenomena being limited by the duration of the atmosphere in which they find their nourishment. We shall see, too, how it is possible for a period of art to show in its advancement all the steps by which it has attained excellence, and yet how, the maximum of excellence once attained, its subsequent steps may be merged in one sudden fall, which leaves no mark for the future but its imperishable store of instruction, and perhaps the germs of future developments of art. .
The legacy which an art leaves behind it is thus twofold: the instruction which it carries in itself, and which is intrinsic in it, and the germ of future art which is extrinsic from it. The latter is a seed cast off to find nourishment where it may be fostered, while the former is a quality or excellence of the parent trunk. The one may be called the historic and influential side of an art, the other its potential and prophetic side.
Art has prevailed in all nations which have emerged from primitive rudeness and barbarism. In other words, in all nations which have to any extent submitted instinct and inclination to principle and duty. This in nations and eras, as well as in individuals, seems to be the point where the appreciation and the production of art find their natural and instantaneous germination. It is probable that every artist and art student, if sagaciously catechized, would be made to feel that it was in the arrest or control of some eager passion or instinct that the soil was turned up in which the love and appreciation of art seemed to grow, as it were, spontaneously. This period is a crisis and a deliverance in the experience both of men and of nations, and, though so suddenly learned, is never forgotten; for in the one it dates the era of manhood, in the other that of nationality. Both to men and to nations Religion and Science and Art come as trine sisters to minister to and to support them after the first great battle has been fought with evil and with self. When the great renunciation of selfhood and evil has been made, and we lie bleeding and faint from the conflict, the three fair sisters come to us, and thenceforth in our pilgrimage they never wholly leave us. We may not know them all at first, and perhaps only by the teaching of the one chosen one may we come to know the others, in after time; but in that solemn hour of our awakening they are all present.
Even when known, we may not give them welcome, choosing some gayer and less trustworthy friends to our love; but at every welling up of the clear fountain of purity in our breasts, their kind looks and gentle voices wooing us to good are once more seen and heard, till at last, come it sooner or later, we must leave behind us the glitter and noise of the world, and ever after seek them, if haply we may find them.
It is this deep hold, which, in the providential order of the Universe, art has, in concert with religion and science, upon our most inward experience, that gives to it its serious and profound character; and to this must be attributed also the attachment which every nation feels for its period of artistic inception. All greatness is referred back to this period. All anterior to it is represented as fable; in other words, as the infancy and childhood of the nations, before the soul of man had asserted its supremacy, through its possible purity and overcoming of self, over circumstance and matter.
Of course, in treating of art in the general terms we now use, we do not confine the meaning of the term to what are, from their delicate nature, termed the fine arts. All the relations subsisting between men and men, and between men and matter, may be made media for the development of art, as the characteristics of art are spiritual, not material. Thus we might perhaps compare the different branches of the received fine arts to the various methods of garden culture, where the attention of the horticulturist is turned to the perfecting of certain plants, and rightly too; but in a wider sense we may say that every field may become a garden, and every woodland a park, and that the whole world is an enclosure, where each of us has been placed to till his allotted ground. It is in this sense we must say, that, whether as givers or receivers, art enters so largely and so intrinsically into the life and experience of every one.
We have said that art enters into the development of every nation which has made any progress in culture and refinement. It is limited, however, in each by the degree of such culture which exists either as actual or potential development. For all nationality, like all individual character, is restrictive, that is, restrains certain powers and capabilities for the greater and more perfect development of those qualities which are left at liberty. Hence every nationality, as every individual character, is only capable of unlimited expansion in some special direction, and it is the province of Art, as of her sisters, to restore to nations and to men the elements necessary to their complete development, so that what was cut off by principle or necessity may be restored by love and self-denial.
Now as art is restorative and remedial in its character, giving back to us what we are conscious of the need of in our souls, restoring the glow of the sunset and the sheen of the stars to our weary eyes and hearts, it follows that art cannot minister to needs of which we do not feel the seed and the germ in our own souls, and that, consequently, the development actual or possible to each nation or era is the measure of the development to which art can attain then and there.
But art is always true to itself. Its principles are always the same, under every sky and in all time. The goal towards which it tends always one, though the means various and the distance uncertain. Ever towards the celestial city, the sun of light and heat and power, does the look of art turn. Its votaries may one by one fall on the road before reaching its open gates, but each grave of the faithful follower of art is a guide and a beacon to those that come after him. On whatever road of art we travel, so long as we move faithfully and steadily onward, the three sisters are ever before us, so that we cannot go astray so' long as we follow them.
Art. IV.- CONGREGATIONALISM.
1. Art. Congregationalism in “ The New American Cyclopædia.” 2. Evidence, &c., &c. in the “ Dublin Case.” Concord. 1859.
The highest court of New Hampshire has just made a very interesting decision, of which the gist is found in the true definition of the term which stands in the front of this article. But to make it understood, some few words of historic detail are unavoidable. . Almost forty years since, the Rev. (now Dr.) L. W. Leonard took the pastoral charge of the only church and society in Dublin, under the shadow of the Monad