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HIS little book is published in response to a request from thousands of people
that some of my lectures should be printed. I had always hoped that the day would come when the material could be put into the completer form of a book, but disappointments and delays innumerable have so frequently intervened that the completion of such a book on the meaning and significance of Art, still seems very uncertain. By special request I have therefore printed these notes just as they stand without revision. The notes cover an immensely greater number of points than it is possible to consider during the delivery of a single lecture, but they naturally lack a certain fulness of elaboration in the working out of any given detail, which would be given on the platform. The lecture was originally given as an open lecture at the University of Manchester.. Its object is to present no new fact, but to set forth the facts that are known to every educated person in such a manner that to escape the inference shall be impossible.
In dealing with so vast a theme in so small a compass, it has naturally been im
possible to indulge in any sub-intents and saving clauses. These the scholar will supply for himself, but though there are many exceptions and qualifications that might be considered, they would hardly affect the general picture. Moreover, as set forth in the introduction, the object is to present a picture rather than demonstrate a fact.
Professor Wallace, the great evolutionist, said of our age: “The social environment as a whole, in relation to our possibilities and our claims, is the worst that the world has ever seen.” We may think it overstated, but the underlying truth we cannot deny. What is the fundamental cause? Along with other causes the most fundamental seems clearly to be a lack of the appreciation and understanding of the beautiful and its place in life.
Taking Dr. Wallace's statement, we analyse the condition of things in Ancient Greece, and I have given here a sketch of that epoch on its three sides,-intellectual, artistic and moral, the three elements of our being.
The civilization of Hellas is commonly accepted as the high-water mark of civilization, even a scientific evolutionist like Dr. Wallace recognizes that the high-water mark is not in the present age.
Whether that be so or not, the charm, the fascination, the force, the power of Hellenic civilization lay in its all round grasp of life, in its completeness.
But is this not just what the world has never had again? Has not the story of its development been one of failure to grasp this principle? Often with a feverish earnestness man has recognized the particular deficiencies, the particular gaps, and endeavoured to fill them up, but, through his failure to grasp things as a whole, he has in so doing made another gap elsewhere.
The pictures of the Middle Ages and the Italian Renaissance help us to realize this. Was not the one deficient in the intellectual element, the love of knowledge and learning, and the other deficient in moral earnestness? And, toodid not the whole man suffer? It was not merely the loss of the part itself but the interaction upon the remainder that made the evil. And beyond all, however perfect the parts, the wholeness, the completeness, that gave Greece its glory, is not to be found.
We turn then to our own day. Have we this highest of all qualities, this quality of completeness? Comparing ourselves with the world as a whole in its past and present, we