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and heat of the day, and the old man in the going down of the sun, and it is to them all as the celestial city on the world's horizon; dyed with the depths of heaven, and clothed with the calm of eternity. There was it set, for holy domi nion, by Him who marked for the sun his journey, and bade the moon know her going down. It was built for its place in the far-off sky; approach it, and as the sound of the voice of man dies away about its foundations, and the tide of human life, shallowed upon the vast arid shore, is at last met by the Eternal “Here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” the glory of its aspect fades into blanched fearfulness; its purple walls are rent into grisly rocks, its silver fretwork saddened into wasting snow; the storm-brands of ages are on its breast, the ashes of its own ruin lie solemnly on its white raiment. Now it is indeed true that where nature loses one kind of beauty, as you approach it, she substitutes another; this is worthy of her infinite power, and art can sometimes follow her even in doing this. Take a singular and marked instance. When the sun rises behind a ridge of pines, and those pines are seen from a distance of a mile or two; against his light, the whole form of the tree, trunk, branches, and all becomes one frostwork of intensely brilliant silver, which is relieved against the day sky like a burning fringe, for some distance on either side of the sun! Shakspeare and Wordsworth have noticed this. Shakspeare in Richard II.:—
“But when, from under this terrestrial ball,
And Wordsworth, in one of his minor poems, on leaving
B it touched from behind by the sun, it now shines
Now, suppose one who had never seen pines, were, for the first time in his life, to see them under this strange aspect, and, reasoning as to the means by which such effect could be pro. duced, laboriously to approach the eastern ridge, how would he be amazed to find that the fiery spectres had been produced by trees with swarthy and grey trunks, and dark green leaves! We in our simplicity, if we had been required to produce such an appearance, should have built up trees of chased silver, with trunks of glass, and then been grievously amazed to find that, at two miles off, neither silver nor glass were any more visible; but Nature knew better, and prepared for her fairy work with the strong branches and dark leaves, in her own mysterious way. Now this is exactly what you have to do with your good ornament. It may be that it is capable of being approached, as well as likely to be seen far away, and then it ought to have microscopic qualities, as the pine leaves have, which will bear approach. But your calculation of its purpose is for a glory to be produced at a given distance. All noble ornament is the expression of man's delight in God’s work. The function of ornament is to make you happy. Now, in what are you rightly happy? Not in thinking what you have done yourself; not in your own pride; not in your own birth; not in your own being, or your own will, but in looking at God; watching what He does, what He is; and obeying His law, and yielding yourself to His will. You are to be made happy by ornamer ts; therefore they must be the expression of all this. Then the proper material of ornament will be whatever God has created; and its proper treatment, that which seems in accordance with, or symbolical of his laws. And, for material, we shall therefore have, first, the abstract lines which are most frequent in nature; and then, from lower to higher, the whole range of systematized inorganic and organic forms We shall rapidly glance in order at their kinds, and however absurd the elemental division of inorganic matter by the ancients may seem to the modern chemist, it is so grand and simple for arrangement of external appearances, that I shall here follow it; noticing first, after Abstract Lines, the inimi. table forms of the four elements, of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, and then those of animal organisms. It may be convenient to have the order stated in succession,
1. Abstract Lines.
2. Forms of Earth (Crystals).
3. Forms of Water (Waves). . Forms of Fire (Flames and Rays). . Forms of Air (Clouds). . Organic Forms. Shells. Fish. . Reptiles and Insects. . Vegetation. Stems and Trunks. 10. Vegetation. Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit. 11. Birds. 12. Mammalian Animals and Man.
We find, at the close of the sixteenth century, the arts of painting and sculpture wholly devoted to entertain the indolent and satiate the luxurious. To effect these noble ends, they took a thousand different forms; painting, however, of course being the most complying, aiming sometimes at mere amusement by deception in landscapes, or minute imitation of natural objects; sometimes giving more piquant excitement in battle. pieces full of slaughter, or revels deep in drunkenness; some times entering upon serious subjects, for the sake of grotesque fiends and picturesque infernos, or that it might introduce pretty children as cherubs, and handsome women as Magdalenes and Maries of Egypt, or portraits of patrons in the character of the more decorous saints; but more frequently, for direct flatteries of this kind, recurring to Pagan mythology, and painting frail ladies as goddesses or graces, and foolish kings in radiant apotheosis; while, for the earthly delight of the persons whom it honored as divine, it ransacked the records of luscious fable, and brought back, in fullest depth of dye and flame of fancy, the impurest dreams of the un-Christian ages. Meanwhile, the art of sculpture, less capable of ministering to mere amusement, was more or less reserved for the affectations of taste; and the study of the classical statues introduced various ideas on the subjects of “purity,” “chastity,” and “dignity,” such as it was possible for people to entertain who were themselves impure, luxurious, and ridiculous. It is a matter of extreme difficulty to explain the exact character of this modern sculpturesque ideal; but its relation to the true ideal may be best understood by considering it as in exact parallelism with the relation of the word “taste” to the word “love.” Wherever the word “taste” is used with respect to matters of art, it indicates either that the thing spoken of belongs to some inferior class of objects, or that the person speaking has a false conception of its nature. For, consider the exact sense in which a work of art is said to be “in good or bad taste.” It does not mean that it is true or false; that It is beautiful or ugly; but that it does or does not comply either with the laws of choice, which are enforced by certain modes of life; or the habits of mind produced by a particular sort of education. It does not mean merely fashionable, that is, complying with a momentary caprice of the upper classes; but it means agreeing with the habitual sense which the most refined education, common to those upper classes at the period
gives to their whole mind. Now, therefore, so far as that education does indeed tend to make the senses delicate, and the perceptions accurate, and thus enables people to be pleased with quiet instead of gaudy color, and with graceful instead of coarse form; and, by long acquaintance with the best things, to discern quickly what is fine from what is common;—so far, acquired taste is an honorable faculty, and it is true praise of anything to say it is “in good taste.” But so far as this higher education has a tendency to narrow the sympathies and harden the heart, diminishing the interest of all beautiful things by familiarity, until even what is best can hardly please, and what is brightest hardly entertain;—so far as it fosters pride, and leads men to found the pleasure they take in anything, not on the worthiness of the thing, but on the degree in which it indicates some greatness of their own (as people build marble porticos, and inlay marble floors, not so much because they like the colors of marble, or find it pleasant to the foot, as because such porches and floors are costly, and separated in all numan eyes from plain entrances of stone and timber);—so far as it leads people to prefer gracefulness of dress, manner, and aspect, to value of substance and heart, liking a well said thing better than a true thing, and a well trained manner better than a sincere one, and a delicately formed face better than a goodnatured one, and in all other ways and things setting custom and semblance above everlasting truth;—so far, finally, as it induces a sense of inherent distinction between class and class, and causes everything to be more or less despised which has no social rank, so that the affection, pleasure, or grief of a clown are looked upon as of no interest compared with the affection and grief of a well-bred man;—just so far, in all these several ways, the feeling induced by what is called a “liberal education” is utterly adverse to the understanding of noble art; and the
name which is given to the feeling,-Taste, Goût, Gusto,-in