A History of Aesthetic  

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{{Template}} A History of Aesthetic (1892) by Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923).

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LIBRARY OF PHILOSOPHY

As may be seen from the original programme printed in Erdmann's History of Philosophy under the date 1890, the Library of Philosophy was designed as a contribution to the History of Modern Philosophy under the heads: first of different Schools of Thought Sensationalist, Realist, Idealist, Intuitivist; secondly of different Subjects Psy- chology, Ethics, -^Esthetics, Political Philosophy, Theology. While much had been done in England in tracing the course of evolution in nature, history, economics, morals, and religion, little had been done in tracing the development of thought on these subjects. Yet "the evolution of opinion is part of the whole evolution".

By the co-operation of different writers in carrying out this plan it was hoped that a thoroughness and complete- ness of treatment, otherwise unattainable, might be secured. It was believed also that from writers mainly British and American fuller consideration of English Philosophy than it had hitherto received might be looked for. In the earlier series of books containing, among others, Bosanquet's History of ^Esthetics, Pfleiderer's Rational Theology since Kant, Albee's History of English Utilitarianism, Bonar's Philosophy and Political Economy, Brett's History of Psy- chology, Ritchie's Natural Rights, these objects were to a large extent effected. <

In the meantime original work of a high order was being produced both in England and America by such writers as Bradley, Stout, Bertrand Russell, Baldwin, Urban, Montague, and others, and a new interest in foreign works, German, French, and Italian, which had either become classical or were attracting public attention, had


developed. The scope of the library B thi]s became extended into something more interag?fS^3iar/ and ftHs -entering on the fifth decade of its existence H> the Jbopa 'that'll* may contribute in this highest -'field ;6^hoaght to* that Intel- lectual Co-operation which is one of : the most significant objects of the League of Nations and kindred organizations.

GENERAL EDITOR


LIBRARY OF PHILOSOPHY

GENERAL EDITOR:

PROFESSOR J. H MUIRHEAD, LL.D.

ANALYTIC PSYCHOLOGY By Prof. G. F. Stout. Two Vols. 5th Impression ATTENTION By Prof. W. B. Pillsbury. 2nd Impression. HISTORY OF ESTHETIC By B Bosanquet. Qth Impression. 2nd Edition. HISTORY OF ENGLISH UTILITARIANISM By Prof E. Albee. HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY By J. E. Erdmann.

Vol. I. ANCIENT AND MEDIAEVAL. 5th Impression. Vol. II. MODERN. 6/A Impression Vol. III. SINCE HEGEL. 1th Impression.

HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY By Prof. G. S. Brett. Vol. I. ANCIENT AND PATRISTIC. Vol. II. MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN PERIOD. Vol. III. MODERN PSYCHOLOGY.

MATTER AND MEMORY By Henri Bergson Translated by N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer 4th Impression.

NATURAL RIGHTS By D. G. Ritchie. 3rd Edition.

PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICAL ECONOMY By J Bonar. 4th Impression.

DEVELOPMENT OF THEOLOGY SINCE KANT By O. Pfleiderer.

THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND By G W. F. Hegel Translated by Prof. J. B Baillie. * * J

TIME AND FREE WILL By Prof. Henri Bergson Translated by F. G. Pogson. 5th Impression.

VALUATION: THE THEORY OF VALUE By Prof W. M Urban

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE By Prof G M Stratton. 2nd Edition

THE GREAT PROBLEMS By Bernardino Vansco Translated by Prof R. C. Lodge.

KNOW THYSELF By Bernardino Vansco Translated by Dr Gughelmo Salvadon.

ELEMENTS OF FOLK PSYCHOLOGY By W. Wundt. Translated by Prof. Edward L. Schaub. 3rd Impression.

ELEMENTS OF CONSTRUCTIVE PHILOSOPHY By Prof J. S Mackenzie. 2nd Impression.


LIBRARY



IAL PURPOSE By H. J. W tiethenogtap' and rof. J Impression *. / ^ ::".*"!


-H, Muirhead. 2nd

  • *

INTRODUCTION TO MATHEMAfrk>Ab p'tilL&SOP'HY By 6ertrand Russell, F R S. 3rd Impression .^ ^ ..

GOD AND PERSONALITY (GIFFORD LECTURES) : '"ByVtYof . Clement C. J. Webb (Part I ) 2nd Impression

DIVINE PERSONALITY AND HUMAN LIFE (GIFFORD LECTURES) By Prof Clement C J Webb (Part II ) 2nd Impression.

MODERN PHILOSOPHY By Guido de Ruggiero. Translated by A. Howard Hannay and R G Collingwood

THE ANALYSIS OF MIND By Bertrand Russell, F R.S 3rd Impression

DIALOGUES ON METAPHYSICS By Nicolas Malebranche Translated by Morris Ginsberg

INDIAN PHILOSOPHY By Prof S. Radhaknshnan. 2nd Edition. Two volumes

COMEMPORARY BRITISH PHILOSOPHY Edited by Prof. J. H. Muirhead.

Two Vols

THE WAYS OF KNOWING OR, THE METHODS OF PHILOSOPHY By Prof. W. P. Montague 2nd Impression

A THEORY OF DIRECT REALISM, AND THE RELATION OF REALISM TO IDEALISM By J E Turner

THE GOODWILL- A STUDY IN THE COHERENCE THEORY OF GOOD- NESS By Prof H J Paton

FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OF LIFE AN ESSAY ON CITIZENSHIP AS PURSUIT OF VALUES By Prof J S Mackenzie

THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD: METAPHYSICS AND VALUE By Prof. W M Urban

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY Edited by Prof George P. Adams and Prof Wm Peppereli Montague. Two Vols

HEGEL'S SCIENCE OF LOGIC Translated *>y W H Johnston and L. G Struthers Two Vols

IDENTITY AND REALITY By Emile Meyerson. Translated by Kate Loewenberg.

MORAL SENSE By James Bonar

COLERIDGE AS PHILOSOPHER By Prof. J. H Muirhead

IDEAS AN INTRODUCTION TO PURE PHENOMENOLOGY By Edmund Husserl. Translated by W R Boyce Gibson

THE PLATONIC TRADITION IN ANGLO-SAXON PHILOSOPHY By Prof.

, J. H Muirhead

ETHICS By Nicolai Hartmann Translated by Stanton Coit. Three Vols

ESSENTIALS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION: A PHILOSOPHIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY By J. E. Turner.


HISTORY OF ESTHETIC


A HISTORY OF

  • * . * *

ESTHETIC


BERNARD BOSANQUET

M.A. (OxoN.) HON. LL.D. (GLASGOW)

formerly Ftlloiv of Unti'truty College, Oxford


LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY


f)2 t Second Editi* April 190*4.; ^printed August 79/0, Jul) 7, June 1922, Marc h


All rights reserved

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY UNWXN BROTHERS LTD , WOKINO


PREFACE


AESTHETIC theory is a branch of philosophy, and exists for the sake of knowledge and not as a guide to practice. The present work is, therefore, primarily addressed to those who may find a philosophical interest in understanding the place and value of beauty in the system of human life, as conceived by leading thinkers in different periods of the world's history. It is important to insist that the aesthetic philosopher does not commit the impertinence of invading the artist's domain with an apparatus belli of critical principles and precepts. The opinion that this is so draws upon aesthetic much obloquy, which would be fully deserved if the opinion were true. Art, we are told, is useless ; in a kindred sense aesthetic may well submit to be useless also. The aesthetic theorist, in short, desires to understand the artist, not in order to interfere with the latter, but in order to satisfy an intellectual interest of his own.

But besides professed students of philosophy, there is a large and increasing public of readers who are genuinely attracted by a fairly clear and connected exposition of any philosophical science the subject- matter of which comes home to them, be it Logic or Ethic, Sociology, or the theory of Religion. Such readers are approaching philosophy through the subject-matter that already interests them, instead of approaching the particular subject-matter simply because it is an integral part of philosophy. I confess to cherishing a hope that in spite of the defects which deprive this book of the charm that a more skilful writer might have given to such a subject, many intelligent lovers of beauty will be glad to make acquaintance, through it, with the thoughts of great men upon this important element of the spiritual world.

I have regarded my task, however, as the history of aesthetic, and not as the history of aestheticians. I have not paid much attention to the claims of historical justice. While I feel sure that no writer of the first rank is omitted, I could not venture to say that all the


Xil PREFACE.

writers included are more important than any that are excluded. I have thought first of the arrangement necessary or convenient in order to exhibit the affiliation of ideas, and their completest forms, and only in the second place of the individual rank and merit of the writers to be dealt with. .

Moreover, as the first chapter will show, I have not been able to persuade myself to treat my subject as a mere account of speculative theory. No branch of the history of philosophy can be adequately treated in this way, and the history of aesthetic least of all My aim has therefore been to exhibit philosophic opinion as only the clear and crystallized form of the aesthetic consciousness or sense of beauty, which is itself determined by conditions that lie deep in the life of successive ages. I have desired, in fact, so far as possible, to write the history of the aesthetic consciousness.

Many readers may complain of the almost total absence of direct reference to Oriental art, whether in the ancient world or in modern China and Japan. For this omission there were several connected reasons. I was hardly called upon, even if I had been competent for the task, to deal with an aesthetic consciousness which had not, to my knowledge, reached the point of being clarified into speculative theory. It was, moreover, necessary to limit my subject in some definite way; and it seemed natural to exclude everything that did not bear on the continuous development of the European art-con- sciousness. In so far as contact with Oriental art influenced the early Greek, and again the Byzantine development, a reference to it is im- plied in Hegel's and Morris' treatment of those periods. And finally, this omission is not without a positive ground, though here I really touch on a matter which is beyond my competence. The separation from the life of the progressive races, and the absence of a reflective theory of beauty, must surely have a fundamental connection with the non-architectural character pointed out by Mr. Morris in the art of China and Japan (p. 456). Without denying its beauty, therefore, I regarded it as something apart, and not well capable of being brought into the same connected story with the European feeling for the beautiful. A study of such art from a competent hand, in the light of aesthetic theory, would be a welcome aid to modern speculation.

With reference to my use of authorities, while there is often more egotism than modesty in calling the public to witness the course of an author's reading, I feel absolutely bound in this case to warn my readers that the reliability of the different parts of my work is unequal For the mediaeval period between Plotinus and Dante, and in a lesser


PREFACE. XU1

degree for the Hellenistic period between Aristotle and Plotinus, my knowledge is not, for the most part, at first hand, and represents a voyage of discovery rather than a journey on ground familiar to me. I have not for these periods been able to follow the scholar's golden rule never to quote from a book that he has not read from cover to cover. I have drawn my quotations from works of reference, and though I have, as a rule, carefully verified them and endeavoured to judge of the context, my estimate of the writer's position usually rests on the authority, in many cases Erdmann's History of Philosophy and the articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which I have consulted for information. In the case of Thomas Aquinas in particular, I pro- fess no original knowledge at all. The very full quotations most courteously furnished me by Dr. Gildea appeared too significant to be left unused, and his authority warranted me in supposing that in these passages the principal materials for forming a judgment were before me. I do not desire it to be understood that he agrees with me in the estimate which I have formed of St. Thomas's aesthetic views.

It would have been foolish, I thought, to omit the more obvious points of the mediaeval development, both in art and in opinion, the mere mention of which might be suggestive to my readers, simply because I had to take them from such writers as Prof. Adamson, Prof. Seth, Prof. Middleton, Mr. Morris and Mr. Pater, and not from original research* Some division of labour must be allowed, though the fact that it has been resorted to should always be made known.

Acknowledgments for assistance are due from me above all to Prof. A. C. Bradley, who not only furnished me with a list of books which has been of the utmost service, but lent me out of his own library many of those works, which I might otherwise have had a difficulty in procuring. I also owe the most cordial thanks to Mr. J. D. Rogers, for permitting me to embody in an Appendix his analyses of some instances of musical expression models, as I think, of what such analyses should be and to Dr. Gildea, for the information mentioned above And, finally, it is only right to say, that it is on the Council of the Home Arts and Industries Associa- tion, and in contact with its workers, that I have learned to appre- ciate, as I hope, with some degree of justice the writings of Mr. Ruskin and Mr. Morris, which may easily remain a sealed book to those who have not observed in simple cases the relation of work- manship to life. Many readers, who are familiar with the average


PREFACE.


work of the classes of that Association, may think that it reveals no great mystery of beauty ; but I am convinced that the leaders of the Association have sound insight, and that experience, to an in- creasing extent, is justifying their principles. LONDON, Apnl, 1892.

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.

MY chief duty in preparing a second edition of this work has been to remove so far as possible, by corrections in the form of notes, the defects which arose from its being published previously to Professor Butcher's Treatise on Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art. I have made no pretence of re-writing, as it was impossible for me seriously to attempt the task. I have therefore let the text stand, except in case of obvious misprints, and have admitted errors or made observations on criticisms in notes appended to the chapters which they concern. These notes are indicated by letters of the alphabet, and will, I hope, be readily distinguished from the footnotes indicated by numbers On meeting with a reference " a" the reader has only to turn to the last page of the chapter before him, where he will find the note referred to

I do not think that my general view of the relation between ancient and modern ^Esthetic is seriously modified by Professor Butcher's treatment of Aristotle, while my aesthetic theory on the whole is corroborated by it. As a worshipper of the Greeks, I am only too glad to follow him towards ascribing on the whole a deeper suggestiveness to their views than I had previously permitted myself to find there. In my anxiety not to go too far, I may hardly have gone far enough. At any rate, I wish to say that my references to his work cannot possibly discharge a reader who cares for the subject from the duty and pleasure of studying it for himself.

I have not attempted to modify my interpretation of Aristotle's definition of Tragedy, which is simply that of Bernays. Professor Butcher has developed a modification of this view, which the student should learn from Professor Butcher's work.

I hope that the fact of a second edition of a work like this being called for may indicate that with all its defects it has a point oi'view which is felt to be valuable. And I hope that this point of view may soon come to be more effectively presented by more capable critics and more attractive writers than the author. ST. ANDREWS, March 1904.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


PREFACE ... ..... xi

CHAPTER I.

}'A(,tt

PROPOSED TREATMENT, AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE DO INI i ION OF BEAUTY.

1. The History of Esthetic, and the History of Fine Art . i

2. The relation of Natural Beauty to the Beauty of Fine Art 3

3. The definition of Beauty, and its relation to the History of

Esthetic . 4


CHAPTER II.

THE CREATION OF A POETIC WORLD, AND ITS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH REFLECTION.

1. Early Reflection hostile to Art . . . . . 10

2. Creation of the World of Beauty . .10 3 Reason for the Attitude of Reflection 1 1

4. Neglected Suggestion in the Idea of Imitation. . 12

5. Wide use of term " Imitation " in Ancient Philosophy 13

6. Further Explanation how Greek Art could be called " Imitative " 13

i. Facility of Imitative Art makes it Ideal 13

ii. Hellenic Art not so Abstractly Ideal as has been thought 13

7. The Ground prepared for Esthetic Theory .... 15


CHAPTER III.

THE FUNDAMENTAL OUTLINES OF GREEK THEORY CONCERNING THE BEAUTIFUL.

The Principles and their Connexion l &

i. The Moralistic Principle *7

a. How it shows itself - .18 ft. Its ^Esthetic Value . al


XVI TABLE OF CONTENTS.

FACE

2. The Metaphysical Principle 23

a. How it shows itself . . . . 23

ft. Its Esthetic Value . . . 28

i. ^Esthetic Semblance . 28

n. Semblance inadequate to Reality . 29

3. The ^Esthetic Principle 30

a. General statements in Ancient Writers . 32

ft. Particular cases . . 34

i. Colour and Tone . 34

11. Elementary Geometrical Forms . . 35

in Simple Song-music . . 36

iv. Ethical and Logical Wholes . 36

v. The Lesser Arts and Formative Art . 38

vi. Poetry and the Drama 39

4. Illustration from Fechner, and Conclusion .... 40


CHAPTER IV.

SIGNS or PROGRESS IN GREEK THEORY CONCERNING THE BEAUTIFUL.

1. The three Antitheses . 43

2. The Pre-Socratics . . 43

3. Socrates . 44

a. " Can the Invisible be imitated ? " .44

ft. ^Esthetic and Real Interest 45

4. Pythagoreanism . . 46

a. Symbolism . , 46

ft. (omitted).

y. Concrete Analysis . . 46

5. Plato . . 47

a. Symbolism . 47

ft. ^Esthetic Interest . . -5

y Concrete Criticisms . . 54

6. Aristotle. . 55

a. Symbolism . 56

i. Selection of Phenomena. . 56

M. The Ugly . .57

iii. Poetry Philosophic . 59*

iv. Musical Symbolism . 60

v. Art corrective of Nature . 61

ft. ^Esthetic Interest 62

i. Beauty, Virtue, and Pleasure . . 62

ii. Educational Interest ... 63


TABLE OF CONTENTS.


iii The Function of Tragedy 64

a. Materials from Aristotle . . . 64

b. Estimate of his meaning . . 50 y. Concrete Criticism . <>g

i History and Elements of Drama . 6$

ii. Plot and character-drawing 70

CHAPTER V.

LEXANDRIAN AND GRECO-ROMAN CULTURE TO IHh KLIGN OF CONSTANTINE THE GREAT.

Character of the Period 77

1. General Philosophy and Art 8j

a Philosophy 8 1

ft. Poetry 8d

i New and Latin Comedy r,n

11 The Idyll 8;

in. The Anthology 88

iv. Roman Poets 88

y. Formative Art and Architect me 93

2. Reflective ^Esthetic 99

i. Stoic . . 90

11. Epicurean . .100

iii. Anstarchus and Zoilus 102

iv. Later Greco-Roman Critics . .102

v. Plotmus . in

a. Symbolism 1 1 3

p. Esthetic Interest . 114

y. Concrete Criticism . . 115


CHAPTER VI.

iOME TRACES OF THE CONTINUITY OF THE .ESTHETIC CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE AGES

Our Attitude to the Renaissance I2

i. Tendency to extend Renaissance back towards Christian Era 120

i. Pre-Raphaelite Painting *2J

ii. Thirteenth Century French Literature 122

iii. Abelard . -123

iv. Architecture and Decoration back to Sixth Century 123

v. Christian Art and Song of the Earliest Centuries 126

VL Necessity of an Interval of Austerity I 3

A*


XV111 TABLE OF CONTENTS.


PAGE

Intellectual Continuity of Esthetic from Plotmus . . . 131

i. From Emanation to Evolution . 132

ii. Dualism and Love of Nature . . 133

iii. Augustine on " Beauty of Universe" . . 133

iv. Suppression of Paganism and Increasing Austerity 136

v. Significance of Iconoclasm . 137

vi. The System of Scotus Engena . . 139

vii. Anticipation of End of World in 1000 AD . . .143

vin The Modern Mind in St Francis . . . 144

ix. The ^Esthetic Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas . . . 146


CHAPTER VII.

A COMPARISON OF DANTE AND SHAKESPEARE IN RESPECT OF SOME FORMAL CHARACTERISTICS

1. Limits of the subject 151

2. The Selection of Artistic Form by the two Poets . . -152

3. The Kind of Significance aimed at by each . . .156

4. The true Relations of the later Renaissance . . . .162


CHAPTER VIII.

THE PROBLEM OF MODERN AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY.

i The Process of Preparation . . .166

2. The Prolonged Interruption of Esthetic j 66

3. Preparation of the Problem Descartes to Baumgarten 170

i The two Tendencies, " Universal " and " Individual " 170

ii. Distinguished from Ancient Philosophy 1 7 1

iii. From each other 173 iv. Connexion with Mediaeval Dualism . . 174

v. /Esthetic Ideas in pre- Kantian Philosophy . 175

a. Leibnitz . . 177

b. Shaftesbury 177

f. Hume 178

d. Nature of the Advance 180

  • . Baumgarten 182


TABLE OF CONTENTS. XIX


CHAPTER IX.

PAC.k

THE DATA or MODERN AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY.

Limits of the Subject . . . , . 188

1. Classical Philology . . . . 188

i. Joseph Scaliger . . . 188

11. F. A. Wolff . . i8<>

2. Archaeology . . . 190

i. Early Discoveries on Italian Soil . ... 191

n. Early T r ivels in Greece . . 192

in. Her^'ilammm and Pompeii . .192

iv. Greece proper . . . . .19.*

3 Ai t-criticism . ... 197

i. Pierre Corneiile 197

n Fontenelle and Voltaire 201

iii. The British Writers . . 202

a. Buike and Lord Kaimes . . . 203

a. Burke's Purgation Theory . 203

b. The Sublime akin to Ugliness 203

c. Painful Reality not Disagreeable . . 204

d. Anticipations of Later Ideas . , 205 ft. Hogarth . . . 206 y. Reynolds . . 209

iv Germans before Lessmg ... .210

a. Gottsched 211

ft The "Swiss" 214

v. Lessing . 2 id

a. His Conception of Criticism . .217

ft. Aim of the Laocoon 220

y. Demarcation of " Painting " and Poetry 22 ;

8. Lessmg's Attitude towards the Problem of Ugliness 225

c. A point in which his Classicism was justified 229

. His Theory of the Drama - 230

ri. Winckelmann. His Characteristics . - 239

a. Feeling for Art as Human Produc tion . . . 240

ft. True sense of a History of Art ... 242

y. Recognition of Phases in Beauty . 244

& Conflict between Beauty and Expression . . 248

vii. Data not utilized by the Critics .251

riii. Indications of a Transition 2 5 2


XX TABLE OF CONTENTS.


CHAPTER X.

PAG&

KANT THE PROBLEM BROUGHT TO A FOCUS.

1. His Relation to the Problem and the Data . . . .255

2. Place of the ^Esthetic Problem in his System . 256

3. Why the Esthetic Judgment is the Answer to the Problem . 261

i Demarcation of Esthetic Consciousness . 265

11. Positive Essence of Esthetic Consciousness . . 265

lii. Its Subjectivity . .266

4. Conflict of Abstract and Concrete in Kant's Esthetic . . 267

5. Range and Subdivision of Esthetic Perception . . 274

'. Theory of Sublime . .... 275

11. Classification of Arts .... . 279

6. Conclusion . ...... 280


CHAPTER XI

THE FIRST STEPS OF A CONCRETE SYNTHI'SIS SdllLLER AND

GOETHE 1. Schiller . . 286

1. Objectivity oi ieauty . .288

a. Esthetic Semblance . . 292

b. The Play-impulse . . .294

2. Opposition of " Antique " and " Modern " . . 296

3 Schlegel on Schiller . 300 4. Schiller on Schlegel . .301

II. Goethe . .... 304

x. Gothic Architecture . . . 305

i. Attitude to the Renaissance Tradition . . . 306

11 " Gothic " as a disparaging term . . . -307

in " Characteristic " Art . .... 309

2. Definitions of Hirt and Meyer . -311

3. Goethe's Analysis of the Excellent in Art . . .312

4 Conclusion 316


CHAPTER XII.

OBJECTIVE H>S,ALISM SCHELLING AND HEGEL.

I. Schelhng . . . . 317

i. Objectivity of Art and Beauty . .319

u. Historical Treatment of " Ancient and Modern * . .322

in The Particular Arts . 327


TABLE OF CONTENTS. XXI


PAGB

IL i. Hegel Dialectic in the Esthetic . . . 334

ii The Conception of Beauty . . . 336

a. The Beauty of Nature . . - 337

(1) Beauty of Abstract Form . . 338

(2) Beauty in Unity of Sense- Material . . 339 ft Beauty of Art ; the Ideal . . . 340

(1) Nature and the Ideal . . 340

(2) The Ideal in Life and Action . . - 343

(3) Evolution of the Ideal . . . 345

The Symbolic Art-form .... 340

Classical Art-form . 346

Romantic Art-form . . . 347

(4) Classification of the Arts . 349

a. The Double Basis 349

ft Facts that Support the Double Basis 350

y. Principle of the Analytic Classification 352

iii. P'our Leading Conceptions Defined 355

(1) Ugliness 355

(2) The Sublime . . 356

(3) The Tragic . . 358

(4) The Comic . . . 360 iv. Conclusion ... . 360


CHAPTER XIII.

' EXACT " AESTHETIC IN GERMANY

1. Need of Exact Esthetic . . 3 6 3

2. Schopenhauer 3^3

i. Schopenhauer a kind of post-Kantian 3 6 3

ii. His account of the Beautiful, and its Modifications 365

iii. Criticism of Schopenhauer - 36$

3 Herbart 3^8

i His Formalism and its Consequences ... 369

u. His Division of ^Esthetic Relations . - - 37

m. Classification of the Arts 37 *

iv. Criticism and Estimate 37 2

4. Zimmermann 373

i. The Distinctive Work of Formal ^Esthetic . 374

u. Meaning of the " Together " 37$

in Elementary and Simple Forms 377

iv. Psychological Meaning of the Theory, and its Value. 3 8


XXII TABLE OF CONTENTS.


PACK

5. Fechner 381

i. Criticism of Previous Inquiries 381

ii. Experiments with Rectangles, etc. . . . 382

in. Esthetic Laws . . 384

6. Stumpf Scope of his Analysis ... . 387

7. Conclusion . . . 388

i How to judge of Formal Esthetic .... 388

11. Lesson of its History . . . 389

hi. Inclusion of Exact Esthetic in Idealism . . -391


CHAPTER XIV.

MEIHODICAL COMPLETION OF OBJECTIVE IDEALISM.

1. Type of the later Objective Idealism . . . 393

2. Transition to the later Objective Idealism . . . 394

a. Solger . . . 394

ft. Reference to Weisse and Vischer . . . 397

y. Rosenkranz .... 400

i Ugliness as such . . . . 401

u Ugliness in art . . . 403

ui The forms of opposition . . . 406

3 The later Objective Idealism . 409

a Carnere . 410

i. The Ugly . . 411

11 Division of the Arts . .411

in Attitude to the Renaissance 4 1 2

ft. Schasler 414

i. Conceptions indicated by the " History " . -414

11. Ugliness, and Moclifk ations of the Beautiful . 417

iii. The Classification of the Arts 4 1 9

a. The Parallelism 420

b. The Mimic Dance . 422

c. The Material . . 423 y Hartmann . . 424

i. Significance of the History . . .425

n. The Degrees of Beauty ; and Ugliness . 429

a. The Orders of Formal Beauty . . . 429

b. Ugliness in Nature . . 429 (. Ugliness in Beauty ? ... 43 T

(1) No Ugliness in Beauty . . . -432

(2) Real Ugliness .... 435 iii. The Division of the Arts 436


TABLE OF CONTENTS. xxiil


CHAPTER XV.

PAGE BEGINNINGS OF A THEORETICAL REUNION OF CONTLNi ANt EXPRES-

MON.

i Philosophical Conditions of Recent English ^Esthetic 441

2. General Influences of the Time 44 j

a. Antiquities . 442

b. Science . 444

c. Romantic Naturalism 445 d The Democratic Spirit 446

  • Synthesis of Content and Expression 4 j;

i The Chaiactenstic 448

n The Life of the Workman 451

in. The " Lesser Arts' 1 454

iv. Penetrative Imagination and the Limits of P.c.aity 458

v Classification by Material, Applied to Poem 400

4. Conclusion 462

i Requirements of Esthetic Sciuue tu d.iy 463

ii. The Future of Art 46 7

APPENDIX I.

HRGEL'S ABSTRACT OF HIS ,-ESTHKTIC S\S-IIM . 471

APPENDIX II

SOME ANALYSES OF MUSICAL EXPRE^^ION, by Mr J. I) Rogers 488

BIBLIOGRAPHY 495

INDEX 499


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


CHAPTER I.

PROPOSED TREATMENT, AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE DEFINITION OF BKAUTY.


I.IT was not before the latter half of the eight-

inflatory if eenth century that the term "/Esthetic " was Fine Art. i i i

adopted with the meaning now recognised, in

order to designate the philosophy of the beautiful as a dis- tinct province of theoretical inquiry. But the thing existed before the name ; for reflection upon beauty and upon fine art begins among Hellenic thinkers at least as early as the time of Socrates, if not, in a certain sense, with still earlier philosophers.

If, then, "/Esthetic 11 means the Philosophy of the Beautiful, the History of /Esthetic must mean the History of the Philo- sophy of the Beautiful ; and it must accept as its immediate subject-matter the succession of systematic theories by which philosophers have attempted to explain or connect together the facts that relate to beauty.

But this is not all. It is found necessary in a historical treatment even of logic or of general philosophy, to bring them into continuous relation with the concrete life that under- lies the formal conceptions which are being passed in review. The speculation of every age issues on the one hand from the formal teaching of the past, but on the other from the actual world as it urges itself upon consciousness in the present. As the history of logic or of general philosophy cannot be wholly dissociated from the history of science or of civilization, so the history of ethical or of aesthetic ideas is necessarily treated in some connection with the history of morals or of fine art.

But within this analogy there is a notable distinction.

B


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


When we read, for example, the history of the Inductive Sciences in connection with the growth of logical theory, we can take little interest in the bygone phases of particular branches of knowledge, except in as far as they help us to understand that development of the human mind which is at the moment the subject of our study. Antiquated chemistry or astronomy have for us an interest of curiosity no greater than that which a pile-dwelling or a flint hatchet has for the anthropological student. The same is true of many other elements of civilization, such as the details of political form or of social custom, the niceties of language, the minutiae of reli- gious dogma. In all these aspects of life, although it is true that to have deciphered the past greatly aids us in under- standing the present, yet on the whole, excepting with a view to scientific research or historical realization, we are accus- tomed to let bygones be bygones. Moral and religious ideas, indeed, such as have been all-powerful in a remote past, gener- ally retain a capacity of arousing our present interest ; so deep is the identity of man's moral nature throughout all its mani- festations. But nothing is in this respect on a level with the greater creations of fine art, including noble literature. They alone have an importance which rather increases than dimi- nishes as the ages go by. And thus when we attempt the task of tracing the aesthetic consciousness through the stages of its development, we have before us a concrete material not of mere antiquarian interest, but constituting a large propor- tion of what is valued for its own sake in the surroundings of cur present life. The History of Fine Art is the history of the actual aesthetic consciousness, as a concrete phenomenon ; aesthetic theory is the philosophic analysis of this conscious- ness, for which the knowledge of its history is an essential condition. The history of aesthetic theory, again, is a narra- tive which traces the aesthetic consciousness in its intellectual form of aesthetic theory, but never forgets that the central matter to be elucidated is the value of beauty for human life, no less as implied in practice than as explicitly recognised in reflection. In spite of the natural repugnance which may be felt against analytic intermeddling with the most beautiful things which we enjoy, it must be counted an advantage of this branch of the history of philosophy that it promises us not merely a theoretical interpretation of what is past and gone, but some aid at least in our appreciation of realities


PROPOSED TREATMENT.


which appear to be the least perishable inheritance that the world possesses.

2. I have assumed in the last section that Fine

Tb8 Relation of \ i i r i i

Natural Beauty ^ r t may be accepted, for theoretical purposes, as

t Srnn 1 ?Art y the chief ' if not the sole representative of the world of beauty. It is necessary to explain the point of view from which this assumption appears justifiable.

All beauty is in perception or imagination When we dis- tinguish Nature from Art as a province of the beautiful, we do not mean to suggest that things have beauty independently of human perception, as for example in reactions upon one another such as those of gravitation or solidity. We must therefore be taken to include tacitly in our conception of natural beauty some normal or average capacity of asthetic appreciation But if so, it is plain that " nature " in this rela- tion differs from "art " principally in degree, both being in the medium of human perception or imagination, but the one consisting in the transient and ordinary presentation or idea of the average mind, the other in the fixed and heightened intuitions of the genius which can record and interpret.

Now in studying any department of physical causation, we should not think it possible to restrict ourselves to consider- ing the so-called facts which daily meet the eye of the un- trained observer. It is from science that \*c must learn how to perceive ; and it is upon science that we rely, both in our cmn observations as far as we are qualified observers, and also in the organized and recorded perceptions of others, from which almost the ^hole of our natural knowledge is practi- cally derived.

Nature in the sphere of aesthetic is analogous to the percep- tion of the ordinary observer in matters of physical science. In the first place, it is limited for each percipient to the range of his own eyes and ears as exercised on the external world, for it does not exist in the form of recorded or communicable contents ; and in the second place, it passes into the province of art, not by a sudden transition, but by continuous modifica- tion, as the insight and power of enjoyment to which the beauty of nature is relative are disciplined and intensified by aesthetic training and general culture. Therefore, just as in speaking generally of the real world we practically mean the world as known to science, so in speaking generally of the beautiful in the world we practically mean the beautiful as


HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


revealed by art. In both cases we rely upon the recorded perceptions of those who perceive best, both because they are the best perceptions and because they are recorded. This habit does not exclude the necessity of interpreting, appre- ciating, and, so far as may be, correcting the recorded perceptions by help of our own. Nor does the beauty of art, thus understood, exclude the beauty of nature. The fact that a completed " work of art" is a definite thing or action, which in some cases does not even represent any natural object, must indeed be duly considered, and the creative spirit must be recognised as a factor in artistic production. Nevertheless, it is a blunder to imagine that there is no art where there is no " work of art," or that whenever the painter is not at work on a picture he sees the same nature as we see and no more. For this reason it is justifiable in theory, as it is necessary in practice, to accept fine art as the main representative of the beautiful for the purpose of philosophical study. Even such an analysis of natural beauty in the light of physical fact as has been attempted by Ruskin in the Modern Painters is chiefly directed to showing how great artists have extended the boundaries of so-called natural beauty, by their superior insight into the expressive capabilities of natural scenes and objects. The standard by which the critic measures the achievement of the artist, when he says that he is measuring it by nature, is of course in the last resort his own artistic feeling and more or less trained perception. Nature for aesthetic theory means that province of beauty in which every man is his own artist.

The Definition of 3- There is no definition of beauty that can be Beauty and said to have met with universal acceptance. It

Its Relation to , . f

the History of appears, however, to be convenient that an ex-


pl an ation should now be given of the sense in which the term will be employed in the present work. And if in such an explanation the fundamental theory of the ancients can be presented as the foundation for the most pregnant conception of the moderns, the resulting definition will at least lend itself readily to the purposes of a history of aesthetic.

Among the ancients the fundamental theory of the beauti- ful was connected with the notions of rhythm, symmetry, harmony of parts ; in short, with the general formula of unity in variety. Among the moderns we find that more emphasis


DEFINITION OF BEAUTY. 5

is laid on the idea of significance, expressiveness, the utter- ance of all that life contains ; in general, that is to say, on the conception of the characteristic. If these two elements are reduced to a common denomination, there suggests itself as a comprehensive definition of the beautiful, " That which has characteristic or individual expressiveness for sense-perception or imagination, subject to the conditions of general or abstract expressiveness in the same medium." t,

The quality which is thus defined is of wider range than the predicate " beautiful" as commonly understood. It will be for the subsequent historical treatment to show that neither fine art nor average aesthetic perception can in the long run be confined within narrower limits than these. A few words may be added here by way of anticipatory ex- planation.

The commonplace view is not wholly at fault which sees in the great art of the ancient Hellenes chiefly the qualities of harmony, regularity, and repose. Although the whole theory of modern aesthetic may well find application and support in the real variety and significance of Hellenic decoration, sculp- ture, and poetry, yet, as science begins with what is most obvious, it is not surprising that aesthetic reflection should have called attention in the first instance to their pervading harmony and regularity. Qualities of this type, because they symbolize, in a mode that appeals to sense-perception, the most abstract relations of systematic and orderly action or existence, may fairly be set down under the head of general or abstract expressiveness. The recognition of these relations as con- stituent elements of the beautiful was the main contribution of ancient philosophy to aesthetic analysis.

But when with the birth of the modern world the romantic sense of beauty was awakened, accompanied by the craving for free and passionate expression, it became impossible that impartial theory should continue to consider that the beautiful was adequately explained as the regular and harmonious, or as the simple expression of unity in variety. The theory of the sublime now makes its appearance, at first indeed outside the theory of the beautiful ; but it is followed by the analysis of the ugly, which develops into a recognised branch of aesthetic inquiry, with the result of finally establishing both the ugly and the sublime within the general frontier of beauty. The instrument by which this conciliation is effected is the


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


conception of the characteristic or the significant; and the conflict between the harsher elements thus recognised and the common-sense requirement that all beauty should give pleasure, is mitigated, on the one hand by a de facto en- largement of average aesthetic appreciation, and on the other hand by the acceptance of such primary relations as harmony, regularity, or unity, in the light of essential elements or- ganically determining all imaginable contents, and demanding, in their degree, characteristic expression for sense.

Thus in the definition of beauty above suggested, the pregnant conception contributed by the moderns is merely a re-application in more concrete matter of the formal principle enunciated by the ancients. In the widest sense, then, and omitting to insist upon the narrower and commoner usage in which the characteristic in the sense of individually charac- teristic is opposed to the formal or symmetrical, it would be sufficient to define beauty as " the characteristic in as far as expressed for sense-perception or for imagination."

If, indeed, we were attempting a psychological determina- tion of the feeling that attends or constitutes the peculiar enjoyment known as the enjoyment of beauty, we should probably have to deal with a term not mentioned in the defi- nition above proposed the term pleasure. But in attempting to analyse the content which distinguishes perceptions or imaginations productive of this enjoyment from others which are not so productive, it appears to me that we should commit a serious error of method if we were to limit " expressiveness " or "characterization" either by beauty, which is the term to be defined, or by pleasantness, which is a quality not naturally coextensive with the term to be defined. The former error is not, in my judgment, wholly avoided by Goethe, when he insists that the characteristic, although essential to art, is yet a principle limited and conditioned by beauty in the strict sense, which is needed to soften the rigidity or abstraction of the characteristic. Thus the definition is made self-destruc- tive, beauty being at once the term to be defined, and an unanalysed limiting condition in the defining predicates. The latter error is committed in any such definition as that suggested by Schlegel, " the pleasant expression of the good." Things give pleasure sometimes because they are beautiful, and sometimes for other reasons. They are not beautiful simply because they give pleasure, but only in so far as they


DEFINITION OF BEAUTY.


give cesthetic pleasure ; and the nature of the presentation that gives aesthetic pleasure is the matter to be ascertained.

It will be seen that the part played in Goethe's account by the term beauty or grace, as a formal condition of artistic treatment, and in Schlegel's account by the differentia plea- sant, intended to guard against caricature or defect of har- mony, is transferred in the definition which I have ventured to suggest to the formal or general element of characteristic expression, the element of unity or totality as symbolised by harmonious, symmetrical, or coherent dispositions of lines, surfaces, colours, or sounds. It would be tautology to super- add the condition of pleasantness to this formal element of the characteristic, if the two terms mean the same thing, as I believe that in aesthetic experience they do ; while if pleasant- ness were taken in the normal range of its psychological mean- ing, and not as thus both limited and extended by identification with esthetic pleasantness, the definition would become in- disputably too narrow, even supposing that its other elements prevented it from being also too wide. The highest beauty, whether of nature or of art, is not in every case pleasant to the normal sensibilility even of civilized mankind, and is judged by the consensus, not of average feeling as such, but rather of the tendency of human feeling in proportion as it is developed by education and experience. And what is pleasant at first to the untrained sense a psychological fact more universal than the educated sensibility is not as a rule, though it is in some cases, genuinely beautiful.

The definition, then, should be either purely analytic of contents accepted as beautiful purely metaphysical, if we like to call it so or purely psychological. - To introduce a psycho- logical differentia into a metaphysical definition obtained by comparing the actual data of beauty, is to introduce a factor which we cannot control, because the differentia so introduced is itself in need of analysis and limitation on purely psycho- logical ground before it will coincide with the data to be in- vestigated. Some attempts at psychological analysis will be recorded and criticised in the course of this history ; I will at present simply suggest as an approximate psychological defi- nition of aesthetic enjoyment " Pleasure in the nature* of a feeling or presentation, as distinct from pleasure in its momen- tary or expected stimulation of the organism." Such pleasure would always, it is my belief, be connected in fact with the


8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

significance of the content of feeling, but the meeting- point of the psychological and metaphysical definitions would not fall within the scope of psychology.

In hope of dispelling any prejudice that may be raised against this conception on account of its apparent tendency to intellectualism, I will show in a few words how it is generated by consideration of extreme cases in the domain even of non- aesthetic feeling. If anything in the region of taste, smell, touch, heat or cold, has a value akin to that of beauty, it is not, surely, either the strongest or the most delightful sensa- tion, but rather the most suggestive sensation, or that which is most highly charged with associated ideas, so normal that we do not take them to be accidental. Not the scent of Eau-de-Cologne, but the smell of peat smoke or of the sea, not the comfortable warmth of the house, but the freshness of the morning air, are sensations of a kind in which we may feel a certain disinterested delight not wholly dissimilar to aesthetic enjoyment. The merest germ of the sense of beauty seems to imply a distinction between stimulus and signifi- Tdnce.

I have thus, I hope, justified in three respects the procedure which I intend to adopt.

First, I have given my reasons for treating the history of ./Esthetic as an account, not merely of aesthetic systems, but, so far as may be in my power, of the aesthetic consciousness which has furnished material for these systems, and has formed the atmosphere in which they arose.

Secondly, I have explained the necessity which compels esthetic theory to accept fine art as the main representative of the beautiful, and I have attempted to show that this necessity does not force us to neglect any important element of the facts with which we are to deal.

Thirdly, I have propounded, in a few words, a definition of the beautiful which lends itself to the development of modern out of ancient aesthetic by a natural progression from the abstract to the concrete, analogous to the equally natural ad- vance from the classical to the Christian world of artistic pro- duction and insight into nature. And I have attempted to lay down a thorough distinction between the analytic and comparative treatment of beautiful presentations with reference to their common properties qua beautiful as progressively recognised in the development of culture, and the psychological


DEFINITION OF BEAUTY.


inquiry into the nature and differentia of that enjoyment which these presentations produce. It is plain that these two investigations have a common frontier in the connection be- tween elements of presentation and elements of enjoyment ; but in order that they may effectually co-operate, it is essential that they should not at the outset be confused.

In the next chapter I propose to begin the examination of the aesthetic feeling and theory prevalent among the ancient Hellenes.


a. This definition has been condemned as obscure. Yet I hare seen no other, professing to be more distinct, which does not rest simply on a part or consequence of the character- istic here laid down. The point is one which cannot be grasped without some attention, because it involves the distinction of two aspects of sense-perception, winch probably coexist in all perceptive experience, but appear as if at a certain level the one took the place of the other. I refer to what might roughly be called the mental and the bodily aspect of a sense- perception. There is its peculiar character, by which it addresses us differently from any other sensational content ; warm, blue, high or low (of sound), and so on. There is also the disturbance or excitement which it causes, whether pleasurable or painful, merely, I suppose, in virtue of the physical reaction to stimulus which it involves, in common with every physical reaction which enters into consciousness at all, say, for instance, organic sensation. I have expressed this distinction by the words '* nature" and "stimulation" I would willingly replace " nature" by " fonn," if it wee clearly understood that this had nothing to do with space or time in particular, and might UK hide, for example, a significant intensity; or by "relation," if it were understood th it this did not exclude the special sensation-quality of a colour or sound, in so far as ilu, speaks to us differently from the content of any other sensation of the same or of another sense.

Take, for example, our pleasant feeling of the warmth of the fire on a cold day, and that of a simply pleasant colour, without pittern, say, in curtains or wallpaper. It seems to me quite plain that in the enjoyment of the colour theie aie t\\o distinguishable elements One which it has in common with higher perceptions of beauty in art and natuie is an interest in the peculiar utterance of the colour as if a word in the great language of the sensuous world. It is different for every colour and spatial arrangement of colour, and different for colour fiom what it is for any other sensation. It is not an abstract intellectual meaning, but it is to the colour what meaning is to a word The other element may be described by contrast as " physical." It is the hire fact that in the sensation we are pleasurably excited, soothed, or gently stimulated. The supposed perception of colour has it in common with the feeling of warmth, and with many cases of the organic feelings. I do not doubt that some causal connexion exists between the two elements But it seems to me incontrovertible that the relation is not directly proportional. The enjoyment of warmth or of health fee-U in one way exactly like the simple enjoyment of the colour. But it seems to be in want of something. Its " mental" element, or "nature," is hardly traceable ; its pleasant stimu- lation is almost, though not quite, a blank fact per se.

Now I do not doubt that these two sides are really present in all sensation and sense- perception, from organic feeling to the highest regions of aesthetic enjoyment. But they are not proportional, and in complex cases may be discrepant, as when a " sensation " mars the unity of what would be a good work of art, and thereby increases the enjoyment of the weaker spectators. The reasons for admitting the presence of the "nature" throughout are first that it seems a truism that every state of consciousness has a nature, if we were skilful enough to detect it ; secondly, that great writers sometimes show us, through their unusually delicate analysis, the presence of a significant nature where we should fail ourselves to detect it (cf Dr. Middleton's praises of wine in the Egoist) ; and thirdly, that thus by this distinc- tion we remove the difficulty arising from the early stages of almost physical attractiveness on the part of sensation, as when a child turns towards a bright light.


CHAPTER II.

THE CREATION OF A POETIC WORLD, AND ITS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH REFLECTION.


l - * F we approach the earlier Greek philosophers, or even Plato, the prophet of beauty, expecting to find in them a simple reflex and appreciation of the plastic and poetic fancy of their countrymen, we shall be seriously disappointed. The thought of Hellas passed through all the phases which were natural to profound and ardent intelligence at first freely turned upon the world , and the partial truths which it successively attained were uttered with a definiteness and audacity which conveys a first impression of something like perversity.

When a modern reader finds that the fair humanities of old religion aroused among the wisest of early philosophers either unsparing condemnation or allegorical misconception, he is forced to summon up all his historical sympathy if he would not conclude that Heracleitus and Xenophanes and Plato, and the allegorising interpreters of whom Plato tells us, were in- capable of rational criticism. But in reality this moral and metaphysical analysis, directed against the substance of a poetic fancy which was thus beginning to be distinguished from prosaic history, was the natural sequel of artistic creation, and the natural forerunner of more appreciative theory. creation of the 2. The creation of Hellenic poetry and forma- worid of Beauty. t ; ve art ma y k e regarded as an intermediate stage between popular practical religion and critical or philoso- phical reflection. The legendary concent of this art was not the work of the poet or the formative artist, but of the national mind in its long development out of savagery. Its imagina- tive form, on the other hand, was due indeed to the national mind, but to this mind chiefly as it acted through the individu- ality of poetic genius, investing the national thought and emotion with progressive significance and refinement. For although it may be doubted whether the word corresponding


CREATION OF A POETIC WORLD. II

to beauty or the beautiful was ever used in the whole range of Hellenic antiquity in a meaning perfectly free from confu- sion with truth or goodness, yet it is certain that art is more than nature, and that the definite presentation of ideas in beautiful shape cannot but prepare the way for an explicit aesthetic judgment by developing a distinct type of sentiment and enjoyment.

Thus in Hellenic art and poetry, as it existed in the middle of the 5th century B.C., we find embodied a consciousness in relation to beauty, which, if much less than theoretically ex- plicit, is much more than practical and natural. There is a naive apprehension of a profound truth in the familiar saying of Herodotus, 1 that Homer and Hesiod made the Hellenic theogony, and determined the forms and attributes of the gods for Hellenic belief. The full force of this reflection is mea- sured by the interval between the early wooden image and the Phiclian statue, or between the superstition of a savage and Antigone's conception of duty. It was in the world of fine art that Hellenic genius had mainly recorded, and, in recording, had created, this transformation.

T> , *v 1. When therefore the first recognition of the Reason for tne y . , r c 111 r

Attitude of existence and significance or art takes the shape ot

Reflection, jjo^yjty to the anthropomorphic content which it retains, we see not only that the reflective idea of beauty is still conspicuous by its absence, but that theory in advancing beyond the popular faith fails to recognise the actual refine- ment of that faith by which poetic f.mcy has paved the way for the speculative criticism which condemns it.

On the other hand, we must observe that the criteria now actually applied the wholly unaesthctic criteria of reality and of morality spring from a principle from which we shall only in part escape within the limits of Hellenic antiquity.

This principle is, as we shall see, that an artistic representa- tion cannot be treated as different in kind or in aim from a reality of ordinary life. To make distinction between them is always a hard lesson for immature reflection ; but fora Hellenic thinker there were reasons which made it all but impossible. The Greek world of ideas, before or outside the philosophic schools, was wholly free from dualism. Its parts were homo- geneous. The god, for example, was not conceived as an

1 Hdt. 2. 53


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


unseen being merely capable of an incarnation, such as could not express or exhaust his full spiritual nature ; rather his real shape was human, though to reveal it to mortal eye might be a rare favour, and he lived in a particular hill or in a particu- lar temple. The representation of a divine being was to the Greek not a mere symbol, but a likeness ; not i symbol which Anight faintly suggest Him who could be known only in the spirit, but a likeness of one who dwelt on earth, and whose nature was to be visible, and not to be invisible. Thus, in speaking of a question about the supernatural in Homer, Schelling has said that in Homer there is no supernatural, because the Greek god is a part of nature. And therefore, although a work of creative idealization unparalleled in the history of the world had been performed by the plastic fancy of Greece in^ the age that culminated with the highest art of Athens, yet in the absence of any mystic sense of an invisible order of realities the prevalent impression produced by this world of beauty was rather that of imitative representation than of interpretative origination.

Neglected 4- Even the idea of imitation, indeed, contains

idea e o? e i 8 mitetion ^ S erm ^ a f u ^ cr aesthetic truth than was ever m on. atta j ncc j ky H e H en j c thought ; for the translation of an object into a plastic medium involves a double and not merely a single element, not merely a consideration of the object to be represented, but a consideration of the act of imaginative production by which it is born again under the new conditions imposed by another medium. Natural com- mon sense expressed this truth in one of the earliest aesthetic judgments that Western literature contains, when on the shield of Achilles, the Homeric poet says, 1 " the earth looked dark behind the plough, and like to ground that had been ploughed, although it was made of gold ; that was a marvellous piece of work"

The " marvel " is that the mind can confer on a medium of its own choosing the characteristic semblance of what it desires to represent. But of all that depends upon this side of imitation the spiritual second birth of beauty we hear but little ex- plicitly in Hellenic science, although, within defective formulae, some glimpses of it forced themselves upon Aristotle. For the reasons which have been indicated the tendency of all

'//. 17.548.


IMITATION AND IDEALISM. 13

immature reflection to judge by reality and utility, and the absence of a belief in anything which could not be visibly imitated the poetic or creative side of artistic representation did not wholly come to its rights in antiquity. Perhaps it was even less regarded by the philosophers than it was, in the consciousness of poetic inspiration, by the epic and lyric poets, or by Plato himself outside his formal treatment of the metaphysic of imitative art.

wide use of 5. It is however the case that the term imita- ticml^inSSent tlon ' m ancient aesthetic theory is opposed rather

Philosophy. O industrial production than to artistic origina- tion, and is compatible with a considerable variation and expan- sion of import, which I shall endeavour to trace in a separate chapter. It is natural that the earliest formula adopted by reflection should be strained to breaking point before it is abandoned.

Further EX- 6. It may still appear extraordinary to us, after piauation how a ]l j s sa ;d that the art which we contrast with

Greek Art could . .. . , , , n

be called " imi- our own as in a peculiar sense ideal, and as equally native." remote from the vicious attempt at illusion, and from the justifiable delight in detail, should have been charac- terized by enlightened opinion in its own day as a mode of imitation or mere representation.

If this is our feeling, we may profitably consider in twOj respects the nature of the art which we are discussing.

Faculty of imi- L In the first P lace ' J ust becausc the Hellenic tative Art makes artist or poet was free from the overwhelming it ideal. sense O f spiritual significance which is the 1 essence of mystic symbolism, he was able to delineate in large and " ideal" outlines the general impressions which he! gathered from life by a scrutiny not too microscopic. It is not unnatural that the art which sets itself to portray what attracts it in a complete and actual world should be more full of repose and less tormented with the subtleties of expression than an art to which every minutest human or natural feature may be of unutterable symbolic significance. Hellenic Art not 5i. And if we thus see how an imitative art, 8 ide A aS 8 a8 a ha7 unburdened with a " mission " or revelation, may been thought. b e id ea l simply because it is at ease ; on the other hand we must to some extent correct our traditional conception of the degree in which Hellenic beauty was devoid of strangeness, and humour, and animated expression. The


14 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

critics from whom we have derived our current notions of the "classical" and the "antique have of course performed a necessary task, and have revealed a distinction as deep as life between the ancient and the modern world. Yet, after all, the ancient world also was alive, and possessed a range of sympathetic expressiveness which was but inadequately ren- dered in the first impression made upon modern theorists by fragments of its monumental sculpture. The identification of the ancient ideal with the general or abstract, which a due regard to Greek literature might at once have proved to be a very partial truth, has been further modified by the labour of more than a century in piecing together the plastic surround- ings of this ancient life, and appreciating the descriptions which assist us to realize them. " The task before me," * writes one whose work in this direction must be a revelation to all who are not specialists in archaeology, " The task before me is touched with inevitable sadness. The record we have to read is the record of what we have lost. That loss, but for Pausanias, we should never have realized. He, and he only, gives us the real live picture of what the art of ancient Athens was. Even the well-furnished classical scholar pictures the Acropolis as a stately hill approached by the Propylaea, crowned by the austere beauty of the Parthenon, and adds to his picture perhaps the remembrance of some manner of Erechtheion, a vision of colourless marble, of awe, restraint, severe selection. Only Pausanias tells him of the colour and life, the realism, the quaintness, the forest of votive statues, the gold, the ivory, the bronze, the paintings on the walls, the golden lamps, the brazen palm-trees, the strange old Hermes hidden in myrtle leaves, the ancient stone on which Silenus sat, the smoke-grimed images of Athene, Diitrephes all pierced with arrows, Kleoitas with his silver nails, the heroes peeping from the Trojan horse, Anacreon singing in his cups , all these, if we would picture the truth and not our own imagination, we must learn of, and learn of from Pausanias.

" But if the record of our loss is a sad one, it has its meed of sober joy ; it is the record also of what if it be ever so little in these latter days we have refound."

It is not a false opinion that harmony, severity, and repose

1 Mythology and Monuments of Anct. Athens^ by Miss J. E. Harrison, xi., xii.


THE BEGINNING OF THEORY. 15

are fundamental characters of Hellenic craft and fancy ; the history of a single decorative form, such as the acanthus foliage, is enough to illustrate the profoundness of the contrast thus indicated between the antique and the modern. But we must master and adhere to the principle that although the given boundaries of Greek aesthetic theory can be in some degree justified by the comparative limitations of the art which was its material, yet this justification is only relative, and means not that Greek aesthetic was an adequate account of Greek art, but only that it was a natural and obvious one.

Thus we shall find that true aesthetic analysis among the Greeks extended only to the most formal element that enters into Hellenic beauty ; while its passion and its human signifi- cance and its touches of common things attracted the censure of an unaesthetic criticism and supported the classification of the whole range of artistic utterance under the superficial title of " imitation." Had the realism of the antique been less modest and refined, it would have challenged an analysis which would have replaced censure by explanation. But the time for this was not yet ; and it will be seen that in spite of the protests of the philosopher and the satirical comedian, theory was forced in the long run to become more subtly appreciative as art became less severely noble.

The Ground ?' ^ e ^ ave now an "i ve d at the point where

prepared for the strictly philosophical consideration of aesthetic

/Esthetic Theory p] lenomcna ma y i )e expected to begin. A world

of beautiful shapes and fancies has been brought into being, which must of necessity have trained the perception to re- cognise beauty as displayed in the corresponding province of nature, that is, mainly in the human form, and must have developed some partly conscious sentiment of the beautiful as distinguishable from the good and the true. This imaginary world has been recognised as a new creation both negatively by the claims of the metaphysician and the moralist, and positively by the naive appreciation of the historian and the allegorising construction of the mystic. The mystic is the forerunner of a later age ; but the historian and the philo- sopher agree, by their acquiescence and their censure respec- tively, in treating it as claiming to pass for a simple reproduction of natural reality. And thus the immense panorama depicted by Hellenic imagination enters the range of philosophic vision under the title of mimetic or representative art.


CHAPTER III.


THE FUNDAMENTAL OUTLINES OF GREEK THEORY CONCERNING

THE BEAUTIFUL.


THE P resent chapter will be devoted to stating nexion. in logical connexion, regardless of any historical development within the limits of antiquity, the general prin- ciples which determine all Hellenic thinkers in their inquiries concerning the beautiful. The task of tracing historically the pressure which progressive insight and experience brought to bear upon these conceptions, with the consequent straining of the formula} until breaking point was reached, will be attempted in the following chapter so far as space and ability permit.

The cumbrous expression, " theory concerning the beauti- ful," has been intentionally adopted. For of the three con- nected principles which constitute the framework of Hellenic speculation upon the nature and value of beauty, there is one only that can claim the more convenient title of " aesthetic theory."

The two other principles in question might be respectively described as moralistic and as metaphysical, although the common root of both is itself a metaphysical assumption which is also responsible for the limitation of true aesthetic analysis in the third principle to the abstract conditions of expression.

This metaphysical assumption, natural to incipient specula- tion, is to the effect that artistic representation is no more than a kind of common-place reality of reality, that is, as presented to normal sense-perception and feeling and that it is related precisely as the ordinary objects of perception are related, to man and his purposes, subject only to a reservation on ac- count of its mode of existence being less solid and complete than that of the objects from which it is drawn.

This belief is intimately bound up with the conception of a homogeneous or thoroughly natural world, which makes it


ART AN INFERIOR REALITY. 17

necessary to assume that the essence of art and beauty does not lie in a symbolic relation to an unseen reality behind the objects of common sense-perception, but in mere imitative relation to those common objects themselves. It was this prevalent idea that dictated the philosophical treatment to be accorded to the newly recognised phenomena of an art which produced only images of things, and not the useful realities known and handled in e very-day life. It was not as yet ob- served that the ultimate import of these phenomena, involving the total separation of aesthetic semblance from practical reality, was incompatible with the idea which throughout antiquity controlled their interpretation.

A sufficient verification of the predominance of this principle is to be found in the current generalisation by which both Plato and Aristotle gathered up the arts \\hich we call the fine arts under the name "imitative" or "image-making" as contrasted in the first instance with those which are "produc- tive" or "thing-making." 1 Even in Plotinus imitation is the general term which describes the attempt to create beautiful forms or fancies for the purpose of aesthetic enjoyment. It may be well also to point out a passage in Aristotle's Politics 2 Wjhich may fairly be paraphrased, as asserting that man is, as a matter of course, affected by the reality of a fact in the same way as by its representation, so that what we learn to like or dislike in the semblance for its mere form, we shall similarly like or dislike in the reality. This is a doctrine which Aris- totle in part knew how to qualify, as will be seen in the next chapter ; but Plato followed it uncompromisingly through his entire theoretical treatment of the imagination.

From this metaphysical assumption there arise in close connection the two principles concerning beauty, which I have called metaphysical and moralistic respectively , and also the restriction of aesthetic theory proper, to what is contained in the third principle. 1 arrange these principles in an ascend- ing order according to their aesthetic value.

Moralistic i. If artistic representation is related to man

Principle. on ly a s common-place reality, then to represent an immoral content is only to double the examples of immorality, and to strengthen, by suggestion, the incitements to it. In other words, it follows that morally the representations of art

1 Plato, Sophist, 266 D. Ar., Phys., 199 a. 15*

2 Ar., Pol, 1340 a. 26; De Part. Anim. 645 a. 4 (see Butcher, 155).


1 8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

must be judged, in respect of their content, by the same moral criteria as real life.

Metaphysical 2. If artistic representation differs from the Principle, nature which it represents, whether human or other, only in the degree and completeness of its existence, then it differs only for the worse, and is a purposeless reduplication of what already was in the world. In other words, it follows that, metaphysically > art is a second nature, only in the sense of being an incomplete reproduction of nature.

^Esthetic 3- If artistic presentation can never have a Principle, deeper content than the normal or common-place object of perception which it represents, then there can be no explanation of beauty involving any deeper attributes than those which normal perception is able to apprehend in com- mon-place reality. In other words, it follows that, aesthetically, beauty is purely formal, consisting in certain very abstract conditions which are satisfied, for example, in elementary geo- metrical figures as truly as in the creations of fine art.

I will discuss these principles in order, with reference to their general predominance in Hellenic theory, and to their aesthetic significance.

Moralistic ! It would be idle to deny that both Plato and principle. Aristotle are encumbered with moralistic consider- ations throughout the whole of their inquiry into the nature of fine art. How far either of them approached the accepted modern doctrine that aesthetic interest in the beauty of a pre- sentation is distinct from the real or selfish interest in its actual existence for the satisfaction of desire, is, according to the plan which I hare adopted, a question for the next chapter. It is enough at present to establish the general point of view before us as actual in Hellenic theory by the following con- sideration.

HOW it snows The moral and practical judgment is the first itself intellectual outcome of organized social life, and is inevitably turned upon the world of beauty so long as this is undistinguished from the objects which constitute the means and purposes of real action. Not only Heracleitus and Xeno- phanes, with their condemnation of Homer, but Aristophanes, with his praise of him as a teacher of good life, and with his corresponding censure of Euripides, are examples of this mode of opinion, which, in fact, persists strongly in unpractised minds even in the modern world.


MUST THE HERO BE GOOD f jg


The two great philosophers betray in this respect, though in somewhat different degrees, a n<>ive directness of judgment extremely trying to any modern redder who is not thoroughly trained in the habit of historical appreciation. They appear to abandon themselves almost unsuspectingly to the above- mentioned principle, that the resemblance has' the same effects as the normal reality. The distinction between image and object, which was destined in the long run to grow into a recognition that beauty and practical reality affect the mind in quite different ways, has for Plato mainly the effect of intensi- fying his moralistic suspicion of the unreal simulacrum which fancy supplies. For the imagination, he believes, 1 is psycho- logically connected with the emotions ; and therefore the imaginary world of art, while sharing the power of the real world to form habit by example, possesses that of creating emotional disturbance in a far greater degree.

And it cannot be maintained that Aristotle breaks the net of this assumption, which we saw that he expressly formulates, however much he may have done to strain it. The student of modern aesthetic will find himself, when he reads the Poetics, in a region almost wholly strange to his ideas of criticism. It is plain, for example, that Aristotle shrinks from a true tragic collision, 2 in which passion or character determine the indi- vidual's destiny, and this in spite of the abundance in which such individualities as those of Prometheus, Clytaiinnestra, CEdipus, Aias, Antigone and Medea, were presented to his view by ancient tragedy. And the reason plainly lies in his subjec- tion of all criticism to his division of character into good, bad, and indifferent, 3 excluding, ipso facto, all that conflict of a great passion or purpose with the surrounding world, in which tragic interest properlv ^consists, and which make the character a symbol of forces that lie behind the phenomena of life as named by current morality. The conclusion that the hero of tragedy must be neither very good nor very bad, 4 and that his fate must be determined by error^ and not by wickedness, is unintelligible to modern judgment. We think that the hero may be both very good and very bad, that is to say, that he must above all things be great, and comprehend in himself the

1 Republic ; p. 606.

2 Poet.) xiii. 3 and 4. See SusemihFs notes, which represent Aristotle's idea the most modern colours possible.

& TJ*:J 4 tLfj


m

3 Ibid. * Ibid.


20 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

differences which make possible the highest discord, and there- fore the highest harmony. All these ideas are excluded ab initio by the moralistic categories under which Aristotle sub- sumes his species of tragic plots.

Then again, as we should expect, it is his preference * that the fatal action in which a tragedy culminates should be done in ignorance, and its nature only discovered afterwards ; for the discovery, if made in time, would have, he thinks, the effect of preventing the terrible action from taking place. The plot of the Medea, which he mentions in this context, is therefore naturally censured by implication as shocking.

So, too, with the classification of artists. Here the natural pre-eminence of the moralistic point of view is very trenchantly laid down. It is simplest to quote the passage (the point being to distinguish species of imitation, according to the objects which they imitate): 2

" Now all artistic representation is of persons acting, and these must necessarily be either noble or inferior (for all moral temperament [ethos] conforms to this distinction ; for it is goodness and badness of moral temperament by which all men are distinguished from each other) that is, either better in comparison with us, or worse, or just like ourselves. So we may see with the painters : Polygnotus painted people better, Pauson worse, Dionysius just like ourselves. From all this it is clear, that each of the kinds of representation which has been mentioned will include these differences, and will have different species according as the objects which it repre- sents differ in this way. For these dissimilarities may occur even in dancing or in performances on the flute or the lyre, and so too poetry may display them whether it be with or without verse ; for instance, Homer represents nobler char- acters, Kleophon average ones, Hegemon of Thasos, the first to make parodies, and Nicochares, who wrote the Deliad, below the average. . . . And this is the difference that distinguishes tragedy from comedy, for the latter aims at representing worse people, and the former better, than those of present reality."

Here again the student, not only of Shakespeare and Goethe, but of Homer and of the Attic drama, entirely loses his bearings. It seems to him that the poetic world is stronger

1 Poet., xiv. 6, 8, 9. Poet, ii.


GREEK MORALISM. 21

and more emphatic in its attributes, alike in the good as in the evil, than the world of every-day life, as presented to every- day observation. What about Thersites ? as Mr. Mahaffy asks. The poet who should represent individuals as only better than common men, or again as only worse, would be to us simply a monster, except in so far as the art of Aristo- phanic comedy is concerned ; and even here the adjective " worse," with its moralistic associations, does not at all express the true bearing of the representation, which it seems probable that Aristotle was unable to appreciate.

Many subtleties might be urged against this interpretation of Aristotle, and to some of them it will be attempted to do iustice when we speak of modifications within Hellenic theory. But it does not appear to me that we should be justified in hampering ourselves by such refinements, to the extent of denying that Plato and Aristotle had their feet firmly planted within the compass of naive practical moralism, however much they may have looked away to other and more fertile regions.

/3. It must be remembered, however, that errant- ^Bthetlc Value . , , i i_ r i . i

ing the almost total absence of a distinctively

aesthetic standpoint, there is no form in which a healthy sense of relative values could assert itself with respect to art, except the form of moralistic criticism. The content of such a criticism is the determination that the central core of life shall have justice done to it in the representation of life, and this determination is characteristic of the temper in which not only genuine speculation, but the greatest works of art, have always originated.

The development of moral reflection by Plato into apparent hostility to nearly the whole world of classical beauty must be regarded historically speaking as a reduction ad absnrdinn, not of the human content, but of the non-aesthetic form of the principle which he professed to be advocating. And it is hard to believe that in this and < ther respects he was wholly unaware of some such ironical import in his own speculations. The technical defect thub revealed consists in substituting a direct connection of subordination for an indirect connection of co-ordination between the spheres of beauty and of the moral order. By this subordination beauty is required to represent the moral order as moral, and nothing more ; whereas it is really an expression, co-ordinate with the moral


22 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

order as a whole and not bound under its rules, of that larger complication and unity of things which reflects itself in the sense of beauty on the one hand, and on the other hand in the social will.

But not only is the substance of early moral criticism sound; in one definite relation even its form is justifiable.

Beauty, indeed, within its own territory of expression for expression's sake, is secure from praise or censure upon purely moral grounds. But wherever expression is not for expres- sion's sake, but is determined by alien motives such as the promotion of virtue or knowledge, or again the stimulation of sensuous desire, then it is outside the aesthetic frontier, and moral criticism upon it is justified not only in substance but also in form. It is doubtful, indeed, whether ancient philosophy ever thoroughly applied the distinction between aesthetic and practical interest ; but it is plain that this very failure to distinguish between them in theory is largely owing to the constant confusion between them in practice, and that the censure which pronounced much of fine art to be immoral involved a consciousness that true aesthetic interest must be pure, and was only mistaken in admitting that which it con- demned to be fine art at all.

Then the estimation of beauty by the practical standard of right and wrong, although unaesthetic in form, contains two elements of aesthetic value. It bears witness to the instinctive demand for depth and completeness in art as representing the powers that reveal themselves in that order of the world of which the moral order is one among other significant reflec- tions ; and it embodies the conviction that there is a spurious art and beauty, which being not free but subservient to a practical or sensuous end, cease to be objects of aesthetic judg- ment and become the legitimate prey of moral censure or commendation. And censure of these must indeed always be one degree truer than commendation ; for a fraud, however pious, can never be wholly satisfying to morality. Now the pretence of beauty, in a presentation the true interest of w r hich is other than aesthetic, must always be in some degree a fraud.

A difficulty presents itself at this point which cannot be treated in full till we come to deal with the niceties of modern analysis. At present we can only observe that this distinction between free and servile or spurious beauty depends not on


PLATO ON IMITATION.


the description, necessarily abstract as all language is, which the artist or percipient may give of his own purpose or ground of enjoyment, but on the degree in which, as a matter of fact, an abstraction due to an alien purpose of any kind whatever is apparent as distorting the presentation. The Metaphysical 2. The formative and poetic art of Hellas at principle. t h e c i ose o f t j ie ^ century B>c h ac j attained a

completeness in itself which was emphasized by a pause in its development and an indication of new tendencies. It was natural that at such a moment its significance should challenge the attention of the great contemporary philosopher, and also that his treatment of it should consist in an explicit formulation of the current Hellenic conception, such as on the one hand to lay by its help the foundation-stone of all sound aesthetic theory, while on the other hand to exhibit by a rcductio ad absurdum the onesidedness of the conception itself. In estimating the achievement of such a philosophy, it is not necessary to consider how far it was intentional. We have to accept its doctrines in their actual significance, and not to inquire whether Plato may ever have entertained any other view of art and imagination than that \\hich he found it necessary to analyse.

HOW it shows <*> I quote a passage which summarises the itself. doctrine of Plato's well-known polemic against all representative art. 1

"And there is another artist [besides the workman who makes useful real things]. I should like to know what you would say of him.

Who is he ?

One who is the maker of all the works of all other workmen. . . . This is he who makes not only vessels of every kind, but plants and animals, himself and all other things the earth and heaven, and the things which are in heaven or under the earth ; he makes the gods also. ... Do you not see that there is a way in which you could make them yourself? there are many ways in which the feat might be accomplished, none quicker than that of turning a mirror round and round you would soon make the sun and the heaven and the earth and yourself, and other animals and plants, and all the other creatures of art as well as of nature in the mirror.

i Republic, bk x. Jowett, marg., p. 596-7.


24 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

" Yes, he. said ; but that is an appearance only.

11 Very good, I said, you are coming to the point now ; and the painter, as I conceive, is just a creator of this sort, is he not?

" Of course.

"But then I suppose you will say that what he creates is untrue. And yet there is a sense in which the painter also creates a bed ?

44 Yes, he said, but not a real bed.

44 And what of the manufacturer of the bed ? did you not say that he does not make the idea which, according to our view, is the essence of the bed, but only a particular bed ?

" Yes, I did.

44 Then if he does not make that which exists he cannot make true existence but only some semblance of existence ; and if any one were to say that the work of the manufacturer of the bed, or of any other workman, has real existence, he could hardly be supposed to be speaking the truth. No wonder then that his work too is an indistinct expression of truth. Well then here are three beds, one existing in nature which as I think that we may say, is made by God there is another which is the work of the carpenter ? And the work of the painter is a third ? Beds then are of three kinds, and there are three artists who superintend them : God, the manu- facturer of the bed, and the painter ? God, whether from choice or necessity, created one bed in nature and one only ; two or more such ideal beds neither ever have been nor ever will be made by God. . . . Shall we then speak of Him as the natural author or maker of the bed ?

44 Yes, he replied, inasmuch as by the natural power of creation He is the author of this and of all other things.

44 And what shall we say of the carpenter ; is not he also the maker of the bed ?

44 Yes.

" But would you call the painter a creator and maker ?

" Certainly not.

11 Yet if he is not the maker, what is he in relation to the bed?

" I think, he said, that we may fairly designate him as the imitator of that which the others make.

44 Good, I said ; then you call him who is third in the descent from nature an imitator; and the tragic poet is an


POPULAR NOTIONS OF ART. 25

imitator, and therefore like all other imitators he is thrice removed from the king 1 and from truth ?

" That appears to be the case. Then about the imitator we are agreed And now about the painter ; I would like to know whether he imitates that which originally exists in nature, or only the creations of artists [artificers] ?

"The latter.

" As they are, or as they appear ? you have still to determine this. I mean, that you may look at a bed from different points of view, obliquely or directly or from any other point of view, and the bed will appear different, but there is no difference in reality. Which is the art of painting an imitation of things as they are, or as they appear of appearance or of reality ?

"Of appearance.

"Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth and can do all things because he only lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image. For example : a painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artificer, though he knows nothing of their arts ; and if he is a good artist, he may deceive children or simple persons when he shows them his picture of a carpenter from a distance, and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter. And whenever any one informs us that he has found a man who knows all the arts, and all things else that everybody knows, and every single thing, with a higher degree of accu- racy than any other man whoever tells us this, I think that we can only imagine him to be a simple creature who is likely to have been deceived by some wizard or actor whom he met, and whom he thought all-knowing, because he himself was unable to analyse the nature of knowledge and ignorance and imitation. And so when we hear persons saying that the tragedians and Homer, who is at their head, know all the arts and all things human, virtue as well as vice, and divine things too, for that the good poet must know what he is talking about, and that he who has not this knowledge can never be a poet, we ought to consider whether here also there is not a similar illusion. Perhaps they may have been deceived by imitators, and may never have remembered when they saw their works that these were but imitations thrice

1 The allusion is to hk. ix p. 586 ff.


26 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

removed from the truth, and could easily be made without any knowledge of the truth, because they are appearances only, and not real substances ? Or perhaps after all they may be in the right, and poets do really know the things about which they seem to the many to speak well ? Now do you suppose that if a person were able to make the original as well as the image, he would devote himself to the image- making branch ? Would he allow imitation to be the ruling principle of his life, as though he could do nothing better ? The real artist who knew what he was imitating, would be interested in realities and not in imitations ; and would desire to leave as memorials of himself works many and fair ; and instead of being the author of encomiums, he would prefer to be the theme of them."

Here we see the theory of imitation laid down in a definite metaphysical form, ostensibly as an annihilating criticism on the value and reality of art, though consisting in a simple formulation of the current conception regarding it. Three decisive points in the passage call for our notice.

^Esthetic i- Art works with images only and not with semblance, realities such as can act or be acted upon in the world of ordinary life.

Relation to ^ These images are not symbolic of the ulti- commonEeanty. ma te reality as created by God ; that is, in our language, of the relations and conditions which to a perfect knowledge would be present as determining or constituting any real object in the order of nature. The appearances in which fine art consists are superficially imitative of the second or common-place reality which is relative to every-day purpose and sense-perception.

inferiority by "i- The images of art must be judged and tws standard, therefore condemned by their capacity of repre- senting common reality either with sensuous completeness or with intellectual thoroughness ; the reality is in every way preferable to the imitation, 1 and, it is added lower down, even beauty depends on a correct representation of use.

Of these three characteristic assertions the first must be reserved for treatment under the head of aesthetic value. Here we need only observe that it is fundamentally and abso- lutely true.


Plato, Rep., p 601.


DUALISM IN PLATO AND ARISTOTLE. 27

The second and third constitute the differentia of the non- sesthetic account of art natural to Hellas ; and till their contentions are fairly challenged and repudiated, we are safe in saying that no true aesthetic of representative or concrete art has been attained or is possible. For, so long as they are admitted, the standard of judgment lies ex hypothcsi in the appearance and purpo c es of reality as accepted by every-day action and experience.

Whether Plato is serious or consistent with himself in in- sisting that the relation of art is to the " second," and not to the " first" reality, does not concern us here. It is sufficient to note that the essence of a mimetic theory could not be more trenchantly formulated than by this classification of realities, on the assumption which I believe to be indisputable, that Plato's first and highest reality has for us an intelligible meaning as practically corresponding to the completest con- ception in which the order of nature can be presented to a human mind.

It may occur to the reader that Aristotle, not holding to the metaphysical dualism so sharply expressed by Plato in the passage which has been quoted, was not under the necessity of repudiating the relation of art to common reality there laid down, so definitely as Plotinus afterwards repudiated it. Com- mon perceptible reality, it would then be alleged, contained for Aristotle the true real and universal, and therefore the dependence of art upon the former was not for him definitely separable from its dependence upon the latter. And hence, it might be urged, the refinements which we shall find in his theory and his criticism, are not mere practiced qualifications of the old conception, forced upon him by increasing critical experience and closer observation of the healthy love of beauty, but are satisfactory evidence of a fundamental change of standpoint in the direction away from the mimetic and towards the symbolic art-consciousness. I believe, however, that such a view would be erroneous. In the first place, the difference between Plato and Aristotle in regard to philo- sophical dualism is not at all such as is commonly supposed, or such as the above passage from the Republic might lead a reader to imagine, who is unacquainted with the varying and subtle gradations in which the so-called " doctrine of ideas " presents itself throughout Plato's writings. The appearance of dualism is produced by efforts to apprehend the principle


28 HISTORY OF .ESTHETIC.

that the object is relative to the subject, and bearing this principle in mind we shall not find more than a difference in degree between the metaphysical position of the two great philosophers. The distinction between reality for perception and reality for thought is essentially the same to both of them. And in the second place, if we add to the evidence above referred to regarding Aristotle's moralistic position that which has also been adduced with respect to his view on the effect of resemblance in comparison with that of reality, and if we observe the weak psychological qualification by which alone he limits this latter principle, 1 we cannot doubt that as a matter of fact Aristotle thoroughly adhered in metaphysical as in moral criticism to the conception of art as a mimetic representation of the world' in the shape which it takes for normal action and perception.

its-Esthetic & This metaphysical estimate of image-making value. fi ne artj c l ose ly associated at least in Plato with an analogous psychological estimate of the imagination, although in form non-aesthetic, and profoundly hostile to the value of the poetic world, is in substance an important foundation- stone of aesthetic theory.

jEstnetic sem- i- It is not sufficiently recognised that in the bianco. Polemic of Republic, Book X., taken in con- junction with other well-known passages in Plato, there is laid down the essential doctrine of aesthetic semblance as plainly as in Schiller or in Hegel. The imputation of inferiority that the appearance is superficial compared to the sensuous reality is of merely transient importance in itself, but is of the highest significance as a phase of estimation through which the aesthetic appearance must naturally pass on its way to com- plete recognition as distinct from common-place fact. The double-edged nature of the phenomena of imitation now neces- sarily begins to reveal itself. "To imitate/' means no doubt to produce a likeness of; but what is a likeness ? In what medium does it exist ? Of what relations to practice and to reality is it capable ? To all these questions the criticism of naive metaphysic has its answers. A likeness is a projection or superficial reproduction of a real thing, in a medium in- capable of exhausting the content of the original reality, or of fulfilling the purposes or satisfying the interests which

1 See ch. iv.


AESTHETIC SEMBLANCE. 29

attach to it. And art is constituted entirely of likenesses, and its mental medium is the imagination or image-receiving faculty. The censure of inutility which follows upon this trenchant distinction, by denying the naive conception of an adequate relation to reality, leads us to the recognition of an aesthetic interest which is not that of utility, nor of relation to any satisfaction connected with the sensuous impulses. More- over, when Plato insists that the appearances employed by the artist are in relation not with the unseen world of thought and law, but with a lower reality which is itself only an image of that unseen world, it is impossible not to observe in this a strong though negative suggestion of the function of beauty as a symbol for spiritual things. And indeed as regards beauty, though not as regards art, this suggestion even takes a positive form, when it is laid down l that the Creator in making the world beautiful necessarily modelled it on the ultimate underlying order ; whereas anything modelled upon the created world itself, and therefore especially such presen- tations as those of art, must inevitably be devoid of beauty.

There could not be a more definite challenge to subsequent reflection, which could hardly fail to ask, whether to reveal the beautiful in the deeper significance thus accorded to created things might not be the purpose and essence of art. semblance in- " Besides enforcing the truth implied in the adequate to mimetic theory, Plato reduces to an absurdity its Reality e l ement o f falsehood. This element, it must be remembered, he found expressed in the reflective opinion of his time, 2 just as he found an element of non-aesthetic in- terest in its artistic practice. All that he has to do, is to for- mulate the received opinion with perfect self-consistency, and draw the inference which immediately presents itself. Whether in his own mind he sympathized with that inference, I be- lieve that we can never know. If it were possible to con- jecture, on the basis of his general and less strictly scientific utterances, I should venture to think it possible that the pro- blem pressed upon him as one of fundamental importance , that the current Hellenic theory, within which he found himself, agreed only too well with some phenomena of existing art, and was profoundly unsatisfactory to the great thinker ; and that he therefore examined this theory seriously, with the re-

1 Tinaus, 28 B. M.C. above, p. 25


3O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

suit, " If, and in as far as, this is the true explanation of art, art has not the value which popular judgment assigns to it." The further suggestion, " There must be more in it than this," must no doubt have presented itself to him, as we can partly see, in various forms, with various degrees of explicitness and urgency. But his final utterance as a metaphysical theorist on representative art considered as imitation of reality, is in brief: "so far as the value of aesthetic appearance depends either upon its sensuous or upon its intellectual adequacy to natural and human reality so far it is a failure and does not merit the attention of serious men/ 1 That is to say, either artistic representation is worthless, or, out of the conditions imposed and possibilities revealed by reproduction in the medium of appearance, there must be developed an aim and interest, other than the aim and interest presented by the reality which is represented. It should be added that al- though the conclusion as here stated and motived is absolutely just, yet there is also a minor question of true aesthetic in- volved in discussing the degree of the artist's actual know- ledge. Though his object is not to rival reality, but to seize its suggestions, he depends profoundly and increasingly on his knowledge of it, which Plato seems to us to under-estimate.

The above negative result, together with the former and positive result that " Art has its being in appearance," not yet extended to the generalization "that beauty has its being in appearance," form the elements of permanent aesthetic value contained in the metaphysical principle upon which Hellenic theory concerning fine art is founded.

^Esthetic 3. We now approach the consideration of the

Principle. one true aesthetic principle recognised by Hellenic antiquity in general. This may be described as the principle that beauty consists in the imaginative or sensuous expression of unity in variety.

I call this an aesthetic principle in contradistinction to the moralistic and metaphysical principles which we have hitherto been examining, because it raises no question of other attri- butes or relations in the beautiful object, such as conducive- ness to virtue, or degree of reality, nor does it involve the assumption which underlies such questions, that art is a mere reflection of nature ; but it does, directly and in general form, attempt a solution of the problem, "What is the nature of beauty as a characteristic of experienced presentations ? "


FORMAL BEAUTY. 31


The Hellenic answer to such a question was necessarily formal. The reasons for which art appeared at first to be the mere reproduction of reality are also the reasons which prohibited aesthetic analysis from insisting on the concrete significance of what is beautiful in man and in nature.

So long as common reality the object of average percep- tion is regarded as the standard of art, there is an insur- mountable barrier against the identification of beauty with the spiritual expressiveness which only a higher perception can apprehend. Or, in other words, to accept the imitation of nature^inthe widest sense as the function of art, is simply to state the problem of concrete beauty in the rudest manner possible, admitting a total inability to solve it. For to say that the material of beautiful presentation is in some way drawn from the objects of sense-perception does not touch the question, " What can art do more than nature ? " But when we ask in what respects* that is, in virtue of what general character or conditions, a reality, whether presented or repre- sented, is beautiful* then we have raised the specific question of aesthetic science. And to this a mimetic theory, for which one reality is, in strictness, as good a model as another, has ex hypothesi no answer.

But there are simple cases and traits of beauty which either have nothing to do with the direct representation of life and nature, or are to be found in such representations merely as limiting conditions imposed by the same principles which con- stitute the entire content of the former and simpler cases of beauty. The analysis of these cases and characteristics is not barred by the mimetic theory, which has only a remote and metaphorical application to them. And although we asserted that for ordinary Greek life there was no unseen or spiritual world to which a sensuous presentation could be related as a mere symbol, yet the most general principles of action and knowledge soon became familiar to the intelligence of so gifted a race, and were naturally applied by its thinkers as spiritual principles to the analysis of such formal and abstract beauty as obviously did not consist in the reproduction of

natural reality.

In dealing with a true aesthetic conception we need not, as before, separate the account of its application from the esti- mate of its aesthetic value. A review of the cases in which it is applied, beginning with the most general statements of its


32 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

range, forms the best criticism of the principle, which may be further elucidated at the close of this chapter by comparison with some modern researches. <

General state- a ' ^he s y nt h es i s of the one and the many was, ments in Ancient as we all know, the central problem and the cen- writera. tra j achievement of Greek philosophy. The con- ception of unity in variety is the indispensable basis of that idea of system or totality of interdependent parts, which was destined to be the structure erected by modern speculation upon the definite foundation laid by the Greek thinkers. The relation of whole to part a slightly more concrete ex- pression for unity in variety has never been more perfectly elucidated and more justly appreciated than by Plato and Aristotle, and it is in recognising the satisfaction afforded to the mind by the sensuous or imaginative embodiment of this relation that they make a first step in genuine aesthetic analysis.

When we say with approval of a poem or of a musical composition, that it has a beginning, middle and end, we are probably not aware that we are repeating a principle which Aristotle, in dealing with the drama, after the precedent of a less explicit passage in Plato, 1 has defined with naive pro- foundness. " A tragedy 2 is a representation of a whole action a whole is what has beginning, middle, and end. A begin- ning is what does not necessarily come after something else, but is so constituted as to have something else come after it ; an end, on the contrary, is what is so constituted as to come after something else but to have nothing after it ; and a middle is what is so constituted as to come after something else and also to have something else after it for beauty depends upon size [so that the relation of the parts may be appreciable] and order."

3o, again, we may often hear about any beautiful object, " it would be impossible to add or take away the smallest part without spoiling it." This is genuine Greek aesthetic. " Just as," Aristotle says, 3 " in all other representative arts a single representation is of a single object, so the story [of a drama] being the representation of an action, must be of a single one, which is a whole ; and the parts of the scheme of incidents must be so arranged that if any part is transposed or removed

1 Ph&drus, 268 D. See ch. iv. * Ar. t Poet., vii. 1-4. 3 Poet., vih. 4.


FORMAL BEAUTY.


33


the whole will be disordered and shattered ; for that of which the presence or absence makes no appreciable difference is no part of the whole."

Moreover, the relation of the one to the many or of the part to the whole is represented in comparative purity by geometrical figures, or again by rhythms or spatial intervals that bear numerical relation to one another. And for this reason Greek philosophy is inclined to select mathematical form, ratio, or proportion, as the pure and typical embodi- ment of beauty.

" Now since the good and the beautiful are different (for the former is always a property of action, but the latter extends to objects free from motion), those are mistaken who affirm that the mathematical sciences say nothing of beauty or good- ness. For they most especially discern and demonstrate the facts and definitions relating to them ; for if they demon- strate the facts and definitions relating to them, though with- out naming the qualities in question, that is not keeping silence about them. The main species [elements ? ctSq] of beauty are order, symmetry, definite limitation, and these are the chief properties that the mathematical sciences draw attention to." 1

I subjoin a passage from Plato, to which reference will have to be made again. It is worth while to observe that almost all the actual material of Aristotle's thought, as distinct from the method of his treatment, may, as in this case, be discovered in Plato. "The principle of goodness has reduced itself to the law of beauty. For measure and proportion always pass into beauty and excellence." 2

" I do not mean by the beauty of form such beauty as that of animals or pictures, which the many would suppose to be my meaning ; but, says the argument, understand me to mean straight lines and circles, and the plane and solid figures which are formed out of them by turning-lathes and rulers and measurers of angles ; for these I affirm to be not only relatively beautiful, like other things, but they are eternally and abso- lutely beautiful, and they have peculiar pleasures, quite unlike the pleasures of irritating an itching place (which has been taken above as the type of pleasure mixed with pain). And there are colours which are of the same character, and have similar pleasures. . . . When sounds are smooth and

1 Ar., Mctaph., 1078 a. * Philebus, marg., p. 64.


34 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

clear, and utter a single pure tone, then I mean to say they are not relatively but absolutely beautiful, and have a natural pleasure associated with them." l The exclusion of life and pictures of life, in this passage, from the realm of absolute beauty, to which regularity and unity are essential, is a striking case of the limitation which we have seen to be inherent in Greek aesthetics. The concrete individual unity which underlies the apparent disorder of the beauty of life was not likely to be appreciated until after the same principle had been recognised in the more abstract or formal cases and conditions of its embodiment

And it is plain that formal beauty, as recognised in such passages as these, of which all Greek philosophy is full, is constituted by a symbolic relation a presentation to sense of a principle w r hich is not sensuous. Such " presentation," in default of a more precise term, may sometimes be called an " imitation " ; 2 but it is impossible to " imitate " a non- sensuous principle in a sensuous medium.

Particular /& Of such symbolism or presentation we find cases. t j ie f o ll ow ing principal cases to have attracted the attention of Plato or Aristotle.

colour and i- There is no more obvious type of unity appeal- Tone ; n g to sense than is to be found in the self-identical quality of a colour extended in space or of a tone extended In time. These, as was shown in the passage quoted above from the Philebus, Plato recognised as beautiful, 3 and, accord- ing to the whole context of the passage and the expressions employed in describing the sounds in question, for the reason here suggested, namely as sensuous presentations of unity. Not, of course, that this is the reason apprehended by the subject whose enjoyment is being analysed. That would at once transfer beauty from perception to reflection. It is only suggested as the cause, observed and assigned by the theorist ivho is conducting the analysis ab extra.

The same observation upon the beauty of pure colours and sounds as types of unity in diversity is made by Kant, and will have to be considered as a question of modern aesthetic. It is obvious that not only the facts of artistic perception, but the physical analysis furnished by science, throw a certain difficulty in the way of the explanation. For if "pure" means

marg , p. 51. * Refubl^ ni. 400 A. s Cf., Timaus, 80 B.


FORMAL BEAUTY.


35


unmixed, as Kant defines it to mean, are such pure sounds or colours, even if they can be said to exist at all, the most beau- tiful ? It will be found however that the explanation will maintain itself, though in a more subtle form than that suggested by Plato, or even by Kant. Mr. Ruskin's account of 4t Purity as the type of divine energy/' 1 while solving the difficulties referred to, presents a wonderful analogy with the idea as it first dawned on Plato.

Elementary ll - Elementary geometrical forms, even the

Ge F?r e ms iCal strai g ht linc ' and more particularly certain tri- angles, are set down as absolutely beautiful. 2 We have interpreted this to mean that they are among the purest examples of unity in the form of simple regular or symmetrical shape.

Strange as this assertion may appear to our esthetic per- ception, which demands a more varied ancl concrete revelation of order or unity, I do not think that it can justly be denied. There is a degree of beauty belonging to every shape or structure which in any way affects perception with a sense of regularity or symmetry, that is, of the unity of parts in a whole as it displays itself where the whole is lacking in highly concrete differentiation.

And if we bear in mind that architecture and decorative ornament, of the severe though refined type congenial to Greek civilisation, fell outside the frontier of imitative repro- duction, we may better understand how a Greek theorist might be content with a plain curve as a type of beauty, and how such a type might really involve a degree of delightful refine- ment which later ages have not again attained by such simple means. Plato indeed is apparently contemplating such examples as the straight line and the circle ; whereas, if our experts may be trusted, these most abstract of shapes are replaced in Hellenic architecture and decoration by delicate curves due to the skilled eye and hand of the artist-workman. But this contrast would only show, what the whole history of aesthetic must illustrate that theory follows but tardily after practice.

In such cases as the above, although the principle of unity is presented under very different sensuous embodiments, yet they all agree in being highly abstract, and the principle

1 Afod. Painteit, vol. ii. * PhiMus, I.e., Timaus, I.e., Ar., Mctaph., 1 c.


36 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

therefore appears rather as their substance than as their limit- ing form. In any case we have here solid observations of aesthetic fact. If the explanation which Greek theory offers should appear inadequate, still it has done good service in drawing attention to these simple instances of beauty, which would in that case have to be dealt with on one or other of the two extreme views known respectively as Formal ys- thetic, and as the -^Esthetic of Feeling.

We now turn to those cases in which the abstract principle of unity is plainly inadequate to the concrete significance of the content, and yet is the only aesthetic explanation of it which Greek theory could furnish. Here, then, organic unity though alleged to be the substance is in fact nothing more than the condition of beauty.

simple song- "i- Plato's restriction of permissible music to music. very simple song-tunes of a severe type, although it has a moralistic aspect, is also a result and example of his genuine but inadequate aesthetic. The long discussion of music and metre in the third book of the Republic, in which the conception of unity that permeates the ideal common- wealth is repeatedly contrasted with the multiplicity and variety inherent in imitative or dramatic music, makes it plain that the simple song-tune is acceptable to Plato partly because he is able to formulate to himself its symbolic function as expressive of a principle which has profound import for the soul. The music which he rejects is partly indeed for him expressive of evil and so far his rejection of it is moralistic and not aesthetic but to a far greater extent its defect in his eyes consists in being concretely reproductive of natural reality, and therefore not expressive of ideas nor related to life in any way that he is able to comprehend. And his refusal on this ground to recognise such music as healthy art is a proof of genuine aesthetic insight. What has no expres- siveness is not beautiful. As a matter of fact very simple tunes * have an unrivalled capacity of symbolising elementary moods and ideas. Aristotle, following Plato, observes upon ihis phenomenon with results to which we shall have to return in the next chapter.

Etmcai a** iv. The extreme generality of the principle which

logical wnoiea. we are tracing in its applications produced a dan-

1 Mr. L. Nettleship in Abbott's Helknica, p. 118.


THE BEAUTIFUL SOUL.


37


ger of confusion which Greek philosophy did not entirely escape. But we must not overrate the extent of this evil.

It is true that we constantly find in Plato fine arts or their productions compared, in respect of systematic reasonableness, 1 both with moral or political relations and with industrial or non-representative crafts. But we must bear in mind that this is an absolutely just comparison, so long as it only serves to insist upon the common character of organic unity by help of the pre-eminent examples which fine art affords. The comparison of a member in a political whole to a feature in a statue, 2 with regard to the subordination which is essential in the one case as in the other, is perfectly adequate for the purpose for which Plato employs it. And no one is entitled to accuse him of a confusion between morality and aesthetic because he compares right and beauty in a point in which they are fairly comparable.

But although it is an error to charge Plato on this ground with introducing aesthetic ideas into ethical or logical reason- ings, yet there was one direction in which, owing to the generality of its principle, Greek aesthetic unquestionably cast its net too wide.

Beauty, as we understand it, is only for sense and for sensuous imagination. The " beautiful soul " of modern romance appears to derive its appellation from a metaphor which indicates a certain directness of delight afforded by the contemplation of its spiritual qualities, analogous to the direct- ness of delight which attends the perception of sensuous beauty.

Beauty of soul, or beauty in the supra-sensuous world, as recognised by Greek philosophy, 3 depends upon a some- what similar metaphor, enforced by a degree of failure in differentiating the unreflective traditional use of the term " beautiful" and therefore partaking of the nature of a confusion, although an expressive confusion. More espe- cially the notion of an intellectual conception or archetype of beauty such as itself to be beautiful, is a very serious mis- take in aesthetic. We should have hoped to find that beauty was regarded as essentially the sensuous expression not of the beautiful, nor even of the good but simply of the real.


Republic, i. 349 & '/jf^S } V " A

Plato, Phcedrus, passim, and Ar., <**/., 1300 A.


38 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

This idea is plainly close at hand in the distinction between the beautiful and the good, but is destroyed by the co-ordina- tion of the two as equally archetypes in a supra-sensuous world.

We must not however make the matter worse than it is. It is not the case that the principle of beauty, though in metaphorical passages spoken of as beautiful, was alleged to be the sole genuine beauty to the exclusion of the things of sense. Plato does not regard it as a mistake to believe in the beauty apparent to educated sense-perception ; on the contrary, both he and Aristotle make the acquisition of such perceptive capacity a main purpose of education. What he censures is not the belief in many beautiful things, but in many conflicting "beauties ; 1 that is, conflicting principles or standards of beauty.

The Lesser Arts v * Granting however that the generality of the and relation of whole and part misled the Greeks into making their aesthetic theory too wide in one direction, it at least encouraged them not to make it too narrow in another. If they erred by including moral and mental qualities in beauty, they did not err, as modern philo- sophy has been apt to, by neglecting to notice the lesser arts and handicrafts as within the region of the beautiful. Al- though, as we have seen, the distinction between representa- tive and directly productive art was forcing itself into prominence in the fifth century B.C., yet no such contrast as that between art and industry had as yet entered into ordinary language ; and the profession, the trade, the craft, and the fine art, were all designated by the same term, and regarded alike as examples of reasonable systematic activity. And wherever such activity took form in objects that ap- pealed to sense-perception, there, for the Greek philosopher, the aesthetic sphere was entered.

But with regard to the content to be expressed in their varied concrete shapes, from the works of architecture and decoration and the accompanying lesser crafts of life to the great independent formative arts of painting and sculpture, theory in Hellenic antiquity takes us no deeper than the analysis which seemed adequate for the beauty of a simple

1 Republic^ v. 479 D, " Ta TWV TroAAwv TroAAa vo'/u/ia KaXov TC Tre/ol KCU TO>V


EXPRESSIVE WORKMANSHIP.


curve, say, of a plain moulding, or of a single colour or tone. " And l all life is full of them," we read in the Republic, at the close of the discussion on music and metre before re- ferred to, "as well as every constructive and creative art painting, weaving, embroidery, the art of building, the manu- facture of utensils, as well as the frames of animals and of plants ; in all of them there is grace 2 or the absence of grace." It is worth noticing that the beauty of animals and of plants is here mentioned in the same line with the beauty of various arts, showing how impossible it is to distinguish in any theoretical treatment between the direct perception or beauty of nature and the artistic perception or beauty of art. The limitation is remarkable as well as the inclusion. We find nothing about the mountains, or the sea, or the sky, and might have risked the suggestion that the forms of inanimate nature had not caught the eye of the Greek artist and critic, were it not for the magnificent sense of cloud movement, revealed without warning or sequel by Aristophanes/ Certainly how- ever the Greek expression for " painter" in the sense of artist a painter of living things is full of strange suggestiveness. In all this region of expressive workmanship, which we must judge not merely by its relics but by written records, aesthetic theory had nothing to point out but propriety of form (" grace"), rhythm, symmetry or balance. But in presence of concrete significance and expression all these ideas sink into postulates, that the relation of the unity to the diversity or of the whole to the part shall he right and just ; shall be, that is to say, whatever the individual import of the presentation may demand, subject to a general regard for the principle of systematic reasonableness as one that can never be neglected without loss in any sensuous or imaginative expression. Much as these postulates signified to the Greeks whose splendid composition, we are told, distinguishes their commonest work 4 from that of all other beauty-loving men they are in themselves, for aesthetic theory, mere abstract formulae or conditions, embodying only the fundamental fact that system is the first law of expression. Poetry and the vi. And even in reflecting upon the most Drama. profoundly human of all arts, upon poetry and


Republic, Jowett's trans., marg, p. 401. 2 Evo-xwovvvr}

3 Clouds, 323 ff. 4 Lectures on Art, Poynter, p. 69.


4O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


the tragic drama, Aristotle has little to say within aesthetic limits that does not flow from the postulated relation of part to whole. 1 We have seen how pregnantly he succeeds in treating this formal condition of art, and it would be wrong to depreciate the conception of dramatic unity and consistency which modern criticism inherited from him, and was long unable to appreciate in the full depth of its author's meaning.

We have thus seen exemplified within the limits of Greek theory that relation between formal and individual expression which was embodied in our definition of the beautiful, and which also determines the direction of progress from ancient to modern aesthetic.

In music and poetry, indeed, the relation did not lend itself to a simple demarcation between two regions of each of these arts, although it expressed itself in the difficulty of appreciat- ing their more complex forms. But within the limits of formative art the distinction is tolerably plain. Individual expressiveness emerges along with what the Greek calls 4< imitation/' beginning above architecture and the non-repre- sentative lesser arts, with naturalistic as opposed to geometrical decoration, and becoming more and more concrete throughout the higher kinds of plastic art and painting in which the ab- stract conditions of reasonable expressiveness only continue to assert themselves as the principle of unity and composition. But Greek theory was necessarily unable to enrich its aesthetic analysis by the deeper spiritual content which a complete explanation of concrete beauty would have demanded, and therefore the Greek mind merely accepted the problem as one of " imitation," of somehow or other getting at reality, and supplemented its abstract aesthetic principle which it was unable to deepen by the immature ethical and metaphysical reflections which we have considered. And these, as we saw, have at least the merit of bearing witness to the perception of certain essential relations both positive and negative be- tween life and art, but do not contribute anything to strictly aesthetic investigation. _ . t , _ 4. I will conclude this chapter with an illus-

Eelation of For- ^. , r . r vri_ j

mai to concrete tration, drawn irom modern research, ot the mode Beauty. Fecfcner. an( j Degree ' m which the abstract conditions of expression are in themselves symbolic of ideal content, and

  • Cf. Phadrust 268 D.


THE GOLDEN SECTION.


are at the same time, in virtue of the abstract and universal nature of this content, related to more concrete utterance as form to substance.

Assuming for the sake of argument that observation, as Fechner thinks, 1 bears out the idea that a certain type of rectangle is simply as a figure in space, and apart from any other known relations, more universally pleasant to the eye than any other rectangle, we seem compelled to suppose that it owes this property to some peculiar adequacy with which it embodies the general relation of part to whole that is, to some unique symmetry or balance of its form. If it were possible to trace the alleged preference for the " golden- section " 'rectangle, which is the type in question, to some association with utility, this would make no difference to the present argument. An association which is sufficiently uni- versal to generate a preference that no one can discover to be biassed, is such as must be grounded in the nature of the object. In such a figure then we have an example of mathe- matically formal beauty.

But further, many of the instances which have been examined by Fechner are rectangular picture-frames. Now here we at once come upon a possible conflict of principles. The preference for a golden-section rectangle, which depends upon its form alone, is plainly not of sufficient weight in determining the shape of a picture to counter-balance any requirements that may arise from the nature of the subject. It is not found that the same shape is thought appropriate to all easel pictures even when the shape is freely chosen , while we know that almost any form of surface prescribed by an architect can be utilised with success by a master of pictorial composition.

But yet it must suggest itself, as a matter of pure theory, that in a rectangular picture, a striking deviation from the rectangle which has most beauty on its own merits must entail a loss of expressiveness, which is no doubt readily compensated by the gain of higher elements of content, but, if quite wantonly incurred, would in its degree be a defect.


1 Fechner, Vorschule der sEsthetik, 190 ff.

2 A rectangle formed according to the golden section is a figure determined by a ratio of its sides such that the less is to the greater as the greater to the sum of the two. This ratio is roughly satisfied by 8 : 13, or 21 : 34.


42 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

I do not now propose to discuss the more subtle manifesta- tion of the same principle of unity in the composition of the picture itself. My purpose was only to give a perfectly plain example of the relation in which the most formal element of beauty, having in itself a real though scanty substantive import, stands to the concrete revelation of spiritual insight which is clothed in natural shapes. In Stothard's picture of the Canterbury Pilgrims, for example, the shape of the canvas draws its justification from the necessities of the subject, and very obviously sacrifices the slight superficial beauty of the golden-section rectangle. Whether such a sacrifice can be compensated so as not after all to be a sacrifice is a question which will return upon us in modern aesthetic. The point which we are now endeavouring to make clear is that formal symmetry and concrete significance are not two heterogeneous elements of beauty, but are related purely as abstract and concrete. The next chapter will be devoted to tracing the advance towards a more thorough theory made by the Greek mind, at first within the outlines which have now been de- scribed, and ultimately passing beyond them.

a (17 note i) Professor Butcher has convinced me that this passage from the 1'hysics is not here in point But the genci.il meaning of fufiayrtkal rlg^ac (Butchei, Aristotle's Theory of Art) p. 121 ) bears out my statement

b (p 19) See, however, Butcher, op /., vni , for the moral meaning of d/wipr/a. I cannot quite admit that even so interpreted " Aristotle's phrase will include the most significant of" tragic conflicts. I need only point to Professor Butcher's observations on the Antigone It will be enough, perhaps, for my point to beg the reader to note that Aristotle's ideal play was the Oedipus Tyrannus, while Hegel's, for instance, was the Antigone.

c (p 28). This phrase perhaps too nearly suggests the modern conception of representa- tive art See Butcher, op C2t. t pp 122-3, on the object of aesthetic imitation according to Aristotle ; " men in action" ; or $01}, irdtfrj, irpdgcis

d (p 31). Imitation of nature in the modern sense, roughly equivalent to Plato's account of art in Rep. X. It has nothing to do with the meaning of Aristotle's identical phrase, which does not apply to fine art more than to industrial art.


CHAPTER IV.

SIGNS OF PROGRESS IN GREEK THEORY CONCERNING THE

BEAUTIFUL.


I. WE saw in the last chapter but one that

. ir 111

poetic art in Hellas was encountered by the earliest reflective criticism with a decided hostility, which was only the most primitive form of a misapprehension essentially involved in Hellenic thought. It is clear that Plato was alive to the existence of this critical antagonism, which his own views reproduced with a deeper significance. The object of the present chapter is to point out in their actual succession she most important changes by which the naive standpoint of Hellenic speculation upon beauty is at first modified ; paving the way for those by which, in the dawn of a later period, it is altogether transformed.

The cardinal points which determined Greek theory must now be considered with reference to three antitheses, which correspond to the content of the three principles discussed in the last chapter. The antithesis of imitation and symbolism corresponds to the metaphysical principle, the antithesis of real interest and aesthetic interest to the moralistic principle, and the antithesis of abstract and concrete analysis to the aesthetic principle.

Each of these antitheses expresses a contrast between the Hellenic point of view and that of later times, and therefore indicate a direction in which modification became apparent even within the classical mode of thought. By keeping in view these leading contrasts it may be possible to preserve a degree of unity in tracing the process of modification through the speculation of successive thinkers.

The pro- 2. The later pre-Socratic philosophers may be

socratics. mentioned with reference to the first antithesis only. We observed among them a hostility to imaginative art arising from a naive conception of its relation to reality ; but they also show traces of the opposite and equally one-


43


44 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

sided conception of art as allegory. The interpretation of Homer by the ascription of hidden meanings (\nr6voia) was a familiar phenomenon to Plato, and is ascribed by later tradi- tion to the school of Anaxagoras. At any rate the mytho- logical phraseology of Heraclitus and Empedocles obviously leads up to such a conception, although it would be unhis- torical to suppose that the Erinyes, 1 or Hephaistos, or Strife, or Friendship were for these philosophers as they would be in similar speculation to-day, names consciously drawn from the mere analogy of a different sphere, for agencies known to be purely physical. It is plain that in the allegorical interpre- tation of the time just preceding Plato, and in writings kin- dred with allegory, such as the fable, the artificial myth, and the scientific epos, the crude idea of imitation was supple- mented by a reaction which itself fell into the opposite and hardly less crude extreme. For in allegory the reflective meaning and the sensuous embodiment are not fused into one, but are clearly distinguished, running in separate though parallel lines. Thus the allegorical expositions of Homer seem to have been directed to break the force of moralistic criticism, by reducing the content of the poems to a bald scheme of abstract truths.

Allegory, therefore, is in its essence defective symbolism symbolism in which form and content are at bottom indifferent to one another and its presence whether in criticism or in production at this early period reveals a discontent with the limits of " imitation " together with an incapacity to grasp the nature of concrete symbolism.

can the 3- Assuming that the Socrates of the Memora-

invisibie be biha may be treated, comparatively speaking:, as Imitated ? .1 i . i o T . -

the historical Socrates, I notice two points of interest in his recorded ideas.

a. It is exceedingly remarkable with reference to the first antithesis that he directly raises 2 the question " Whether the invisible can be imitated." The invisible to which he refers consists of mental moods, such as good and bad temper, and these, he is reported to have argued in discussion with Parrha- sinus, can be rendered by means of the expression of the face,

1 " If the sun leaves his path, the Erinyes, allies of justice, will find him out." HERACLITUS, Ritter and Pr. no 37.

  • Xen., Afcmor.) in. 10.


SOCRATES.


45


and more particularly through the look of the eyes. It is also remarkable that he lays stress on the artistic expression of vitality. 1 Although these suggestions do not profoundly modify the idea of imitative representation for common usage would quite allow that anger is through its effects an object of sense-perception, yet the formulation " Is the unseen imitable ? " is at least suggestive ; and the demand for " expression " in pictorial art is an important anticipation of later theory. The view of Socrates as to the capacity of painting is not quite in agreement with that of Aristotle, which it appears to have suggested by opposition.

It may be added that the necessity for something more than sheer imitation is recognised by him through the crude conception of gathering together, from different originals, elements of beauty which nowhere exist in combination. In so early a period this idea is interesting, because it shows the consciousness that art needs in some way to bring a deeper insight to bear upon reality than untrained perception can supply. As a formal theory in later times it is simply tedious, being obviously no more than the first uncriticised shape of a very simple postulate.

^Esthetic and # The attitude of Socrates to the question, Real interest a H as a beautiful thing as such a real interest ? " that is, an interest relative to a practical or to an appetitive purpose, is so far as we know uncritical, although the course of his thought may remind us of a feature in that of Kant. He refused, so we are told, to contemplate the possibility that beauty could exist except as relative to a purpose. To us, such relativity appears to destroy the aesthetic point of view, and the conception of beauty. It is well however to le- member how naturally the postulate of reasonable system, which is the fundamental aesthetic requirement, takes shape in the conception of teleological relativity. The addition suggested by Kant when he describes beauty as the character of adaptation to a purpose withoiit relation to an actual purpose is probably a very fair gloss on the immature idea of relative beauty. Both Plato and Aristotle are in advance of the Socratic standpoint in this respect.

1 The way in which these qualities are led up to in Xen., 1 c., as something beyond crv/u/Licr/ua and x/ofyia leaves no doubt in my mind that Plotmus, in whom the sequence of terms is exactly the same, was much indebted to this passage in the Memorabilia.


46 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

4. It is hard to elicit much of definite historical a*orea am. f rO m the traditions that refer to early Pytha-


goreanism. It seems certain, however, on the authority of Aristotle that philosophers known as Pythagoreans had pur- sued mathematical investigations with success, but had inter- preted some of their results after the manner of mysticism. It is also definitely asserted that the numerical relations of the musical scale were discovered by them.

a. With reference to the antithesis between

7111 sm imitation and symbolism, the habit of a mystical interpretation of numerical relations and also the habit of refer- ring musical effects to mathematical relations, opened a wide pathway of escape from the idea of common sensuous reality as ultimate standard and original. 1 More especially, such investigations no doubt influenced the view on which Plato and Aristotle, we shall find, were substantially agreed as to the pre-eminent moral import of music.

According to Aristotle 2 the Pythagoreans actually treated number as the original of which things were " imitations/' an expression which Plato superseded, so Aristotle continues, by the phrase " participation )! ; meaning that they exist by par- ticipation in abstractions and not as representations of them. This shows us how boldly the term " imitation " was capable of being applied, but also that Plato was inclined on the whole to introduce a somewhat greater strictness into the usage.

Passing over the second antithesis /3, which does not concern us here, we may notice that

concrete 7- The genesis of aesthetic criticism, through a

Analysis rea i hope and conviction that the principle of unity could be applied in the analysis of shape, rhythm, melo- dies, organic existences, was due in great measure to the pros- pect opened up by the progress of geometrical science and of elementary mathematical acoustics. The idea that a musical effect or symmetrical figure could be shown to owe its charm to a mathematical relation, having itself, probably, a further significance more or less justifiably imputed to it, plainly ani- mated the scientific imagination much as the physical theory of light and sound has animated it in the present day.

Plato's :J account of the science of " harmony," analogous, I


See Timaus, p. 80. 2 Metaph., A. 5 and 6 8 Republ, vii 530 ff.


SYMBOLISM IN PLATO.


47


presume, rather to acoustics than to counterpoint, and of the different classes of students who pursue it, some of them experimentalists and some mathematicians, shows that the attempt at detailed analysis of musical effect was no new thing, and his own suggestions were obviously encouraged by the consciousness of a scientific movement in the direction. However mystic might be its accessory ideas, still the enthu- siastic conviction that form and number underlie the structure of the universe imparted a comprehensiveness and audacity to critical analysis such as, on a very different plane of actual knowledge, characterises modern speculation. It must be borne in mind that the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. were a period of genuine advance in mathematical theory. The life of Euclid falls about the close of the 4th century, and the knowledge embodied in his Elements of Geometry was grow- ing up, partly by the researches of the " Pythagoreans," through the previous two hundred years. We may mention in this context the tradition that a canon, or rule of abstract proportions, was embodied by Polycleites in his statue of the Doryphoros. 1 Enquiry into proportional relations is one thing, the substitution of an abstract rule for creative percep- tion in art is another. It is not at all impossible however that the two were confused, as is constantly the case in the theory of practical men, and that thus the analysis of an abstraction was made to do duty for the analytic criticism of concrete expressiveness.

5. In Plato we see both the completed system

of Greek theory concerning art, and, side by side

with this, the conceptions that were destined to break it down.

a. When we found that the idea of symbolism, ymbo sm. ^ at .^ ^ ^ e embodiment of invisible realities in sensuous form, is conspicuous by its absence from Plato's ex- plicit theory of representative art, our conclusion ought to have excited some surprise. For, in the growing rebellion against a natural monism, fostered by abstract science on the one hand, and by abstract mysticism on the other, Plato appeared as the prophet of a dualism between nature and intelligence, or sense or spirit, which might be said to have had the effect of turning the whole perceptible universe into a symbol of ideas. It is difficult not to suppose that later European

1 Overbeck, Schnftquellen, 953 ff.


48 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

theology, to which fine art became so profoundly related, has its ultimate source in the great simile of the Republic by which the Sun and its light are conceived as the offspring and sym- bol of the absolute good and its manifestation or utterance. And in a somewhat different arrangement of the same scheme, the only-begotten universe of the Tunaus, the god perceptible to sense, who is the image of the ultimate reason, also sug- gests ideas which were destined to become for centuries the principal content of symbolic imagination.

But by Plato himself this connection was not established. Images and imagination, for him, rank below nature and science. What he cares about, as every sympathetic student must feel, is reality at first-hand ; and the generalization that representative art is reality at second-hand is still fresh and serious in his mind.

Thus the conceptions from which a new symbolic art was one day to spring do not coalesce with his theory of the rank and aim of artistic creation.

This need not be less true even if the Platonic myths are genuine works of poetic imagination. No one doubts that the great art of Hellas in fact contained a symbolic element ; but our inquiry deals mainly with the conscious theory of it, and on this the artistic creations of the theorist himself throw little more light than any other works which might be known to him. But although the myths are by no means pure allegories, they are rather allegorical than symbolic. They are not exactly fables like those of ALsop, nor apologues like Prodicus' Choice of Herakles, but they resemble these stories in being subservient to conveying abstract ideas, the pictorial embodiment of which is expressly admitted to be indifferent. " A man of sense ought not to say/ the Platonic Socrates concludes the great myth of the Phdedo, " nor will I be too confident, that the description which I have given of the soul and her mansions is exactly true." Poetry, in the strict sense, cannot distinguish so coolly between the content and the form.

Thus we can hardly admit that the myths are genuine examples of symbolic art ; we should rather look for such art as this in the simple human drama of the dialogues, in their pathos, humour, and portraiture. But this, as has been im- plied, throws no real light on Plato's theory of beauty.

It is important however to note that Plato was familiar


PROGRESS IN PLATO.


49


with the idea of allegorical interpretation. 1 But this, as his good sense rejected such a method of arriving at the meaning of great poets, seems rather to have indisposed him towards a spiritual interpretation of art than to have recommended such a conception to his mind.

On the other hand we may observe in Plato a few distinct theoretical deviations from the doctrine which restricts repre- sentative art to the imitation of commonplace reality.

. _, . i. Enough was said, in the last chapter, of the Formal Beauty. 1 . . rr ., 11-

general analysis of formal beauty as embodying

the principle of unity. This analysis was applicable, in Plato's mind, to all arts and crafts as well as to natural objects, and he actually employs the word "imitation" to express their embodiment of spiritual ideas in sensuous form. 2

Musical ii- In the case of music this is especially re-

symboiiBm. ma rkable to a modern reader, and when we are told 3 that certain rhythms, and, apparently, certain melodies, are " imitations " of certain types of life or temper, we feel that the limit between the image and the symbol is over- stepped. No doubt it was only very simple music which had for him this distinct expressive capacity, and it is not difficult to trace in his discussion a transition from the idea of repro- ducing in narrative such tunes or songs as a man of a certain character would willingly use, i.e. an imitation in pari mater m, of sound by sound, to the consideration of the tune or rhythm reproduced in its direct relation to the mood of the man whose feelings it expresses.

We shall see that Aristotle goes still further in the same direction. Beauty which *" ^ * s a ' so wort ^ remembering that outside

is moire Plato's definite theory of art the beautiful is princi- than formal pally spo ^ en of as t ^ e manifestation of intelligence, 4 and the idea of poetic inspiration which earlier literature had possessed, and which the criticism of imitation had perhaps unduly thrust aside, is adopted by him with varying degrees of irony, 6 but always, probably, with a sound psychological insight that the creative and critical genius are distinct, and that the apprehension of truth which belong to creative imagi- nation is other than that which proceeds by methodic reason.

1 Republic, 378 D. * Republic, in. 401. 3 Republic, lii. 400 B and D. 4 Cratylus, 416. 6 Phadrus, 245 A; Laws, 719 C; Meno, 99 D.



50 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

But these suggestions were not reconciled with the general explanation of representative art, and the poet and artist rank in Plato's eyes many degrees 1 below the true lover of beauty, who is on a level with the philosopher. Thus it has even been maintained that for Plato fine art falls outside the pro- vince of the beautiful. 2 We have already seen under what limitations this assertion is true. He recognised that in fact the expression of ideal contents was especially noticeable in the works of man, but his theory of representation prevented him from founding upon this observation any definite notion of the beautiful as revealed more especially in art

jEsthetic /3. Estimation of beauty according to a practical

interest interest is as we saw equally unaesthetic, whether the interest is moral or sensuous. Not that pleasure, in the ordinary sense of the term, as descriptive of pleasant feeling, indicates an unaesthetic interest ; for in saying that we mean a thing to afford pleasure we only say that we mean it to please ; and the question now raised is more concrete than this, and the answer depends upon whether the pleasure is expected to arise from the sheer expressive effect of the aesthetic appearance, or from purposes or associations con- nected with the existence of the real objects of which that appearance reminds us.

Therefore we must not look for Plato's attitude towards true aesthetic interest in the contrast which he too frequently draws between art which has for its object to give pleasure, and art which might have for its object to produce moral im- provement Although, as we saw in the last chapter, 3 the demand of early criticism for moral elevation in art implies a sound judgment on the substantive relation of beauty to life, yet when we are estimating the progress of aesthetic theory proper, we must not recognise moral improvement as an aesthetic interest any more than the pleasures of vice. It is rather within the region of pleasurable presentation, as con- ceived by Plato, and in the contrast between pure and impure modes and conditions of such presentation, that we must look for something corresponding to the antithesis which we have in mind.

But this contrast again is apt to be presented in a way which does not directly answer our question. Pure pleasures,

1 Phadrus, 248 E. * Schasler, i. 89. 8 Cf. also Nettleship in Hdknica.


BEAUTY AND PLEASURE. 5!

such as according to Plato arise from true beauty, are free, no doubt, from selfish interest in the bad sense of the words ; thus much is clear ; but whether they are distinct from the plea- surable side of the nobler real affections and volitions is often by no means clear. Impure pleasures, again, are full of sen- suous, and even of painful or uneasy interest ; but whether they are separated from the pleasures of true beauty because they are relative to real desires (as morality also is), or be- cause qua pleasures they are disfigured by uneasiness, or only in so far as they are conceived to be of an immoral type this is by no means plain.

We may take as extreme examples of Plato's leanings in these two directions, first the above-quoted passage from the Philebus 1 relating to the beauty of form or unity ; and secondly that in the Gorgias dealing with musical and tragic art, through an ironical comparison of them with the routine denied to be an art of cookery. 2 For instance, " and to what does their solemn sister [sister of choric and dithyrambic poetry, musical execution has also been mentioned], the won- drous muse of tragedy, devote herself? Is all her aim and desire only to give pleasure to the spectators, or does she fight against and refuse to speak of their pleasant vices, and willingly proclaim in word and song truths welcome and unwelcome ? Which is her character ?

" There can be no doubt that Tragedy has her face turned towards pleasure and gratification.

" And is not that the sort of thing which we were just now describing as flattery ? '"

In the Philebus it is assumed, and in the Gorgias implicitly denied, that pleasure is at least an essential element of the characteristic impression for which beauty ought to be valued. But in the passage in which this is assumed, the pleasure in question is strictly limited with reference : i. To the kind of sense-perception which can give rise to it the per- ceptions of eye and ear only, with a doubtful inclusion, on a lower level, of the sense of smell; and, ii. To the cases in which these sense- perceptions can give rise to the characteristic pleasures of formal beauty ; cases that are free from the un- easiness of desire, and, as above explained, are distinguished by their symbolic character.

1 See p. 33, supra. * Gorgias, pp. 501, 502.


52 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

The demarcation between the aesthetic and non-aesthetic senses, strongly insisted on in the Hippias Major 1 which, if spurious, is interesting as showing a growth of definite ideas on this point, is a fair indication that the boundary between aesthetic and non-aesthetic interest is coming into view. Negatively, the " theoretic senses" are not connected with material consumption of the thing perceived, and positively, they and no others, with the doubtful exception of touch and muscular sense, have the capacity for the recognition of struc- tural totality, the first condition, as we have seen, of the ex- pressiveness in which beauty consists. The doubtful inclusion of smell most emphatically illustrates the genesis of the dis- tinction in Plato's mind. If we judge by " purity " in Plato's peculiar meaning, viz. as freedom from the intermittent un- easiness of desire, the pleasures of smell are pure ; if we judge by purity in the sense of significant unity or concentrated energy as revealed in the expressive character of a presenta- tion, 2 the pleasures of smell are not pure, but are as a rule mere occurrences in the way of pleasurable sensation.

If then, in the passage from the Gorgias referred to, the fault ascribed to art were nothing more than that what it aims at and generates is pleasure, we should find a discrepancy between the two passages. But the aim ascribed and con- demned in the Gorgias is pleasure as suck, which means, as Plato seems rightly to insist with all his force, pleasure at any price and in anything. 8 " Cookery," he says (it is cookery with which poetry and music are being ironically compared, as equally forms of "flattery," i.e. mere provision of the pleasant) " in attending upon pleasure never regards either the nature or reason of that pleasure to which she devotes her- self nor ever considers nor calculates anything." This com- parison shows that the satisfaction of real desire is not far from Plato's mind as the ground to be alleged against the nobleness of the concrete arts. It is exceedingly suggestive that in order to carry out this comparison he proposes to divest poetry of its poetic form, and consider simply its matter, that is, to change it from art into something else. But he does not name this ground, and passes on to the old

1 Hipp Major, 297-8

  • See Ruskin's Modern Painters, vol. ii., on Purity.

1 Gorgias, 501 A., Jowett.


THE LOVE OF THE BEAUTIFUL. 53

antithesis of pleasure-giving as an aim, contrasted with moral improvement, so that he himself actually approves as the pur- pose of art not an aesthetic but a real, i.e. a moral interest.

The conclusion must be that Plato has a clear view of aesthetic as distinct from real interest only in so far as he recog- nises a peculiar satisfaction attending the very abstract mani- festations of purely formal beauty. In those concrete forms of representation which we think the higher arts, he was unable to distinguish the pleasure of expressiveness from the practical interest of morality, which he desired to see predominant, and from the pleasure of realistic suggestion which he utterly condemned.

This view of Plato's meaning is not, in my judgment, to be very seriously impugned on the ground of the noble account, several times repeated in the dialogues, of beauty as the object of educated love. 1 The question is whether the feeling for beauty so described is to be understood as a real enthusiasm for an idea, or even for a person sublimed into an idea, an enthusiasm such as demands the reality or realization of its object or as an ideal delight in a perfectly concrete sensuous appearance which charms as an appearance only. A pure affec- tion for a good and attractive friend, or an enthusiasm for the cause of order or of knowledge, is likely to be attended by refined perceptions, but it is not in itself the same thing as a feeling for beauty* Again, a delight in the expressive force of perfectly concrete fancies or appearances independent of the real practical existence of the objects corresponding to them, can hardly indeed exist except in a mind of large and noble purposes, but is not in itself an affection for any actual person, or enthusiasm for any actual cause. If Plato's "beauty" is an abstract purpose or principle, his "love of beauty" is a refined enthusiasm for real purposes or principles ; if his " beauty " is a value or import felt in the world of sense- perception when taken simply as expressive and not as a means to any end, then, and then only, his love of beauty is an aesthetic delight not concerned with the real existence of its objects.

It is plain that both these elements enter into the Platonic love-philosophy, and that they are not as a rule distinguished. The former belongs to abstract and the latter to concrete

1 Symposium; Rcp.> iii. ; Phaedrus.


54 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

idealism ; for if beauty is out of the sensuous world, it is un- distinguishable from the object of will and knowledge ; while if it is in the sensuous world, it belongs to a perfectly definite sphere of appreciative perception. Plato's thought undoubt- edly alternated between these two extremes. What we have to bear in mind is that moral purity in the purpose of art or beauty does not constitute aesthetic purity, though moral impurity in the purpose of art or beauty does constitute aesthetic impurity.

It is further worth remarking that Plato had observed the special connection between imagination and emotion, 1 and was not wholly unaware that free utterance of passion 2 might bring relief and calm, and again that the representative arts might be contrasted with the practical arts as play 3 with earnest. This latter conception, invested with profound import in modern times by the genius of Schiller, is in Plato a natural accompaniment of the view which makes the repre- sentation an inferior species of the reality, as when we say contemptuously of a dilettante that he is only playing at work. Yet this, like so much of the groundplan of Plato's thought, was full of possibilities which only needed a larger experience of spiritual needs and achievements to become realities.

concrete % The last observation calls upon us to notice Criticisms, fa^ immense substantive contribution made by Plato to the material for a true concrete criticism. For real advance in the theory of a great subject it is less important that a thinker's verdicts should be unimpeachable than that he should have gathered into a connected whole the right kind of experience and treated it in a way that suggests the most important issues.

Plato has sketched the fabric of aesthetic experience on a coherent plan, which subsequent history has proved to be in accordance with the nature of the phenomena. He left to those who came after him the definite conception that there is a group of representative or imaginative arts consisting in chief of sculpture, painting, music, and poetry, with the addition of architecture and its auxiliary handicrafts, which are united with one another at least by a common difference from the merely useful productive trades, and the value of which presents a problem to those who care for the highest

.) x., 606 D. 2 Laws, 790. 8 Laws, 889.


DATA AS LEFT BY PLATO. 55

concerns of life. The chief points of view under which Plato attempted to penetrate the significance of these phenomena have already been set forth. It only remains to state that in spite of the abstract limitations within which he worked the mass of experience to which he called attention was such as to lay a sound foundation for a more concrete criticism than his own. He gave a raison dctre to the distinction of epic, lyric, and dramatic poetry, not in itself new, by analysis 1 turning on ^their respective degrees of dramatic personifica- tion ; he pointed out that a tragedy is an organic whole, 2 and not a string of speeches expressive of various morals ; he made an attempt of which the import is largely lost to us, but the suggestion is still valuable, to determine the ethical and symbolic affinities of metres melodies and other features 3 of the vocal and instrumental music of his day ; he pointed out, though primarily as a proof of remoteness from reality, that the painter s third dimension 4 is ideal and not actual ; he insisted, as we have seen, on a symbolic value, though only of a very abstract and simple kind, as shared by all the formative handicrafts including architecture, with the more elaborate representative arts, and explained it more especially in the case of geometrical figures and simple tones and colours. The mere distinction, which was mentioned just above, of the aesthetic from the non-sesthetic senses, bequeathed to later philosophy a problem of extreme interest and difficulty, while the place assigned to beauty in education bears witness to the philosopher's practical feeling for it as the sensuous repre- sentative of reason, and has recently revived as one of the profoundest guiding ideas of modern life.

Thus Plato's philosophic instinct enabled him to gather and organize an experience which suggested far more than was included in his abstract aesthetic theory, and to set the pro- blems which only a more concrete criticism could solve.

6. It is needless to enter at length into the twice-

Aristotie. to j d ta i e of the genera i re lation in which Aristotle

stood to Hellenic life and thought. If there never was a greater intelligence, certainly no intelligence had ever a nobler opportunity. In the sphere of realized beauty with which we are here concerned, not only had the greatest works already

1 Rep., i-iii. 3. * Phadnts, 268.

8 Rep., i-iii. ; Timaus, 80 B. * Rep., x.


50 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

been produced, and attained complete recognition, 1 but an after-prime had subsequently set in, the nature of which could not fail to stimulate theoretical reflection. And for this re- flection the material was not only complete, but had been in great part organized by the thought of Plato. Thus to the greatest of originators there succeeded the greatest of investi- gators.

a. First, then, in conformity with our previous

Symbolism. 1 * . i / A <

method, we are to inquire how far Aristotle may have modified the essential Hellenic idea that only such reality as pleases in ordinary experience is that by the reproduction of which fine art hopes to please ; how far, in other words, the differentia " imitative," which he does not discard from the definition of art, retains for him its natural meaning of copying something which is such that it can be copied. Does " imitation" in Aristotle lean at all to " symbolism " ? selection of i. It is important that we should notice what Phenomena, aesthetic phenomena chiefly attracted his atten- tion. In Esthetic, as in other branches of philosophy, Aristotle is the earliest writer to leave us a separate treatise. But its title of Poetic confines its immediate subject matter to literature, and within literature to the art of invention or composition, usually though not necessarily in verse, of which three principal kinds, Epic, Tragedy, and Comedy, formed the heads of the discussion. Music is alluded to only as an incident of poetry. The arts of acting and of the rhapsode are referred to as essentially outside the arts of drama and epic respec- tively ; so that although these classes of poetry are considered throughout with reference to the feelings of an audience or of spectators, yet we are not wrong in saying that they are essentially treated as literature. Lyrical poetry has as yet no single name, and is not recognised as a species. Formative art, including Architecture and the lesser decorative crafts, fall outside the scope of the treatise, although painting is alluded to more than once by way of illustration. Observations upon music and painting occur in other writings ; but there is no systematic inquiry into the pleasure arising from these arts. Aristotle's treatment of the subject is therefore not co-extensive


1 As in the law of Lycurgus providing that statues of the three great tragedians should be erected, and that correct MSS. of their dramas should be prepared and preserved.


IMITATION INNATE. 57


with the philosophy of Fine Art. How far such a philosophy can be gathered from him will appear as we proceed.

But if his selection of phenomena is baulking to our curiosity, which would have welcomed his criticism of the Parthenon pediment-sculpture or of the Phigaleian frieze, it is eminently favourable to advance in aesthetic science. For it is most particularly the poetry of Hellas that we cannot possibly reconcile with the formal aesthetic theory natural to Greek thought, which finds some justification in its monu- mental sculpture and its temple architecture. In technical language, an inquiry into Greek epic, tragedy, and comedy, must at least include elements belonging to the aesthetic theory of the sublime and the ugly ; and it would be impos- sible to penetrate far into these distinctively modern provinces of aesthetic without throwing off the subjection of art to that which pleases in everyday perception. The treatment of comedy in the Poetic, of which the details are unhappily lost, was therefore in principle a most important extension of Plato's reference to the drama.

ii. In conformity with the choice of subject mat-

The ugly ^ . g ^ e remar k i that the laughable is a subdivi- sion of the ugly the laughable being the subject of comedy, and therefore falling within fine art and its essential quality the beautiful, though I do not affirm that Aristotle was aware of this implied paradox. And more consciously suggestive, in the same direction, is the observation, frequently and empha- tically repeated, and extended to the whole sphere of " imita- tive " art, that an imitation is often agreeable though the thing imitated or copied is disagreeable. I quote a charac- teristic passage in this sense, with the attempt at explanation which the phenomenon elicits. 2

" It seems that the origin of poetry is entirely due to two causes, both of them consisting in natural tendencies. First, imitation is innate in human beings, as we see from childhood upward, and man differs from other animals in being so given to imitation, and his earliest acquisition of knowledge is by means of imitation ; and pleasure in imitation too is innate in all men. There is evidence of this in the facts ; for we take pleasure in looking at the most carefully executed pictures of things which in themselves we dislike to look at, such as

1 Poetic, 5, i. 2 Poetic, 4.


58 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

the forms of the most ignoble animals, or of corpses. And secondly," there is this cause, that not only men of science enjoy the exercise of apprehension, but the rest of mankind enjoy it too ; only their capacity for it is limited. So this is why they enjoy seeing the likenesses of things, because it is an incident of seeing them that they apprehend and infer what each thing is, as for instance * This is he ; ' for if the spectator has never seen the thing before it will not be the likeness [lit. ' imitation '] which will cause the pleasure, but the execution or the colour or some such reason." The second " cause " is meant to be an explanation of the first, as the following passage shows. 1 " Since the use of the intelligence, and the feeling of wonder, are both of them pleasant, it necessarily follows that things are pleasant which are of the class of mimetic art, such as painting and statuary and poetry [it is most remarkable in connection with what will be said below, that music is here omitted] and everything which is well imitated, even when the object itself is not pleasant. For it is not the object which gives the pleasure, but infer- ence takes place that * This is that/ so that an exercise of the intelligence is brought about."

The phenomenon thus insisted on opens up vistas that lead to romantic art and modern theory. How far did Aristotle appreciate its significance? We are here face to face with the recurring problem set by the apparent simplicity of Aristotle's thought. We shall see below that a rough and ready interpretation of his terms, by merely converting them into their current equivalents, will certainly at times lead us astray. Yet where the text gives no hint of subtlety, it can hardly be right to import it. Literally understood, the above passages account for the pleasure which we take in represen- tations of the unpleasant, by our enjoyment of the intellectual act and achievement involved in simply recognising the object portrayed. And of the existence of such a pleasure there is no doubt whatever. 2 But it is plain that by merely pressing upon the meaning of the term pavOdi'civ, " to apprehend," and a-v\\oyi- Qa-Qai, "to infer," we might introduce such a conception as that of entering with full appreciation into the idea, perhaps even into

1 Rhct., 1371 b, 4.

  • See Fn Lippo Lippi : " The monks closed in a circle and praised loud,"

etc.


IDEAL IN ARISTOTLE. 59

the mood, embodied in the artistic representation. In this case we should have reached an explanation to which modern theory has little to add. Aristotle's omission to refer to mood or emotion makes in my judgment strongly for the former alter- native ; and it is almost impossible, so it seems at least to the modern reader, to over-estimate the naivete of Greek criticism. But though in the present case I believe the less pregnant interpretation to be nearer the truth, we shall see below that we are skating on thin ice when we prefer the more superficial explanation of Aristotle. It should be needless to remind the reader that no Greek term with all its content and associations can by any possibility find a precise equivalent in any English term ; and we are not entitled to argue strictly from any single rendering, but we must consider how much ground a simple term may have covered before the necessity for more subtle phrases was perceived.

However this maybe, it is clear that the fascination of ugli- ness in representative art was a newly observed phenomenon in contradiction with the simple assumption that the repre- sentation affects us as does the corresponding reality. Not the content of the likeness, but something, whatever it might be, involved in the fact of its being a likeness at all, was thus suggested to be the secret of its attraction.

Poetry iii. When we read in the Poetics^ that "poetry*

Philosophic. j s more philosophical (or scientific) and more serious than history " we are apt to imagine ourselves in a modern atmosphere ; and certainly the remark shows a recog- nition of the ideal in art quite foreign to Plato. Yet when we observe that this principle is introduced as an inference from the postulate of unity in the plot or action of a drama, that this single and self-complete action is more or less contrasted with the portrayal of human individuality, and that the " scientific " element of poetry lies in its typical generality, we are obliged to doubt whether the idealisation thus acknow- ledged is more akin to the formal limitations or to the positive greatness of Greek drama. If Aristotle, as the sequel of the above passage appears to indicate, really preferred on this ground the enfeebled later comedy of types and manners 2 to the pregnant Aristophanic comedy of humour and portrait- satire, his ideas are far less kindred to ours than his language.

1 Poet., 9, 3. 2 See Poet., 5, 3, with reference to Crates.


6O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

It will be necessary to recur to this point when we come to consider his attitude towards concrete characterisation ; at present it is enough to note how clearly he enunciates the principle that representation is not to be wholly fettered by given reality.

Musical iv. It will be remembered that the Xenophontic

symbolism. Socrates discussed the possibility of a presenta- tion of the unseen by formative art, and instanced the indica- tion of mental moods by look and feature. In Plato all art is regarded as capable of being thus significant, but attention is drawn more especially to the expressive capacities of music and rhythm. 1 In Aristotle we find that the presentation of mental or moral moods is in the strict sense ascribed only to music and poetry, to the explicit exclusion of the relation between formative art 2 and mental emotions For these, ac- cording to Aristotle, are in pictorial art only indicated through external symptoms, such as gesture and complexion, which do not constitute in themselves any resemblance to the mental feelings. But musical tunes, and words accompanied by music, "contain in themselves likenesses [ lit. 'imitations'] of moral moods." Such expressions certainly seem to convey an in- tentional exclusion of the view which Socrates suggested, and an intentional restriction of that adopted by Plato. " Imi- tation " is thus not merely extended over but confined to the expressive relation, of whatever kind, by which feeling passes directly into rhythm and melody.

Compare with this the very significant suggestion in his jottings of problems for inquiry, " Why does what is heard alone of the objects of sense possess emotional import ? 3 for even a tune without words has it ; but colour [as such, 4 apart from indirect portrayal by its means], and smell and taste have none."

Then is imitation at last freed from " likeness " to a sensuous reality, and have we here, in essence, the romantic conception of music as a direct embodiment of spiritual emotion ? . I hardly think so. Aristotle's central proof that music directly

  • Rep , ii 400 B. * Pol., 1340 ; cf. Laws, 654-5. ^ ^

3 Probl., 919 b, 26. Sta rt TO aKovo-Tov p.6vov c^ct 5#os rwv al<r6r}Tu>v. The simple phrase J^i yOos 1S a gd example of Aristotle's curtness. Our ren- dering of this phrase determines our whole ideas of his aesthetic.

4 The strictness of this reference to colour has an affinity with Kant. The truth of the opinion exprebsed in the text is at least doubtful.


NATURE AND ART.


contains the essence of emotion is that in practice it produces emotion, particular tunes giving rise, it would seem, to par- ticular forms of excitement, 1 just as the music oC the dance or the march or the hymn reproduces certain elementary feelings and active tendencies almost with the certain operation of a drug. The movement of the music, I suspect he meant, when contrasting it with the indirect expression of painting, is the actual movement 2 of the mind or impulses which arises when the music is heard. So far then from " imitation" being here refined into the aesthetic idea of symbolism, it might even be doubted whether what it describes is an aesthetic effect at all, if, by an aesthetic effect, we mean not merely response to a stimulus but pleasure in an expression. But Aristotle loves to work upwards from physical fact to its ideal import ; and we shall probably be near the truth if we say that, starting from the fact of involuntary response to musical stimulus, he accepted an analogical kinship between moral emotion and musical expression such as Plato had already insisted on, and that therefore he did, as we should certainly jud^e at first sight, admit a symbolic element' into his idea of "imitative" representation, \vhile excluding from it the simple case of copying by formative art. Art corrective v. Finally it may be observed that there is at

of Nature fi rst s ight a striking resemblance in the analogy which Aristotle saw between Art and Nature, 3 to some post- Kantian speculations. But for our present purpose it must be borne in mind that though Nature is in both schemes likened to an inferior art, yet in Aristotle the art which makes good the imperfections of Nature is industrial? as opposed to the copyist art which reproduces her creations. There is here no hint whatever that the art which represents is entitled, in modern phrase, " to liberate the real import of appearances " 4 from the falsities of commonplace reality.

Our conclusion then must be that Aristotle was driven to stretch the idea of imitation, but that he did not reject it in favour of the idea of symbolism. Given reality was still for him the standard, but he saw the difference which treatment produced in it he saw that it must be idealised. This is a position fairly in accordance with the apparent actual process


  • Pol, lc cont. * Probl, I.e. s ^cr, 198.

4 See Introd. to Hegel's ^Esthetic, Eng. Trans., p. 15.


62 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

of art, but ultimately inconsistent with itself, and unstable. For, if given reality is the standard, what is to indicate the direction in which it is to be idealised ? The true answer, "a deeper reality," is excluded ex hypothesise long as given reality is the standard. The anaesthetic answer, " morality is the guide," is terribly obvious, and I cannot think that Aristotle wholly escaped its influence. 1 The answer of abstract aesthetic, " Unity and symmetry are the rules," is the confusion of funda- mental abstract conditions of art with its concrete content, and suggests to us ideal trees that are no trees in particular, and ideal dramas whose chief concern is to observe the unities. How far in detail Aristotle escaped this confusion, towards which the limitations of his aesthetic tended to force him, we shall endeavour to determine below. In the meantime it seems that his conception of fine art in its relation to nature* may be fairly summed up as the idealising imitation of given reality.

Aesthetic ft- We are now to ask how far Aristotle escapes interest f rO m the moralistic limitation natural to Hel- lenic theory, by recognising the demarcation of the peculiar pleasure afforded by beauty from all satisfaction attaching to practical relations with reality, whether moral, non-moral, or immoral.

Beauty, virtue i- When we turn to his general utterances on ana Pleasure. t ^ c su bjcct of beauty, we find distinctions obviously of the nature in question , but, after Aristotle's manner, each element of the distinction is only insisted on for the purpose of the moment, so that what is clear in one passage seems obscured in another.

Where it is maintained that mathematics 2 can treat of attributes that belong to beauty, the beautiful is distinguished from the good ; where the mean life 3 is contrasted with the noble life, beauty is distinguished from expediency, but is identified with a form of the good ; where sexual preference 4 is being contrasted with aesthetic selection, real beauty is dis- tinguished from beauty which only has reference to desire. Thus the boundary between the beautiful and the merely pleasant is more firmly maintained than that between the beau- tiful and the moral ; and we are disappointed to find in the context of the most attractive definition of beauty given by

1 See ch. lii above. 2 Metafh., 1078. s Rhet., 1390. * Probl ', 896 b.


BEAUTY AND EDUCATION.


Aristotle " the^ beautiful x is that good which is pleasant be- cause it is good " that virtue is explicitly included under the head of the beautiful. Nevertheless it is probably thus classi- fied not on moralizing grounds, but as possessing a certain immediate splendour analogous to the beauty of sense. 2 We see, however, that the differentia which should confine the beautiful to the province of sense and imagination is conspicu- ous by its absence, except in as far as it is implied in the amount of attention devoted to " imitative " art.

There can be little doubt that Aristotle, if led to define beauty in all its relations at once, would have traced its fron- tier satisfactorily. But he has not, in fact, left us a systematic treatment of the general subject, and does not seem to have conceived such a treatment in his own mind. Educational IL ^ has been suggested J that Aristotle's inter-

interest. es t ; n beauty was mainly educational. It is true that the chief account which he gives of music and drawing occurs in the educational sections of the Politics. But we must remember that to introduce aesthetic interest into educa- tion is not the same as to introduce educational interest into cesthetic. The former Aristotle certainly did at least in one instance ; how far he did the latter may be best discussed in connection with his celebrated definition of tragedy.

The noble saying which is Aristotle's criticism upon the received estimate of drawing as an element in education, is a proof that he regarded education as incomplete without an attempt to develop true aesthetic perception. Drawing is to be taught, he suggests, 4 not merely to impart skill in estima- ting the commercial value of articles, but because it makes the pupils good observers of the beauty of objects. How far a similar aesthetic interest is indicated in the. discussion of the aims with which music is to be taught depends largely on our interpretation of the definition of tragedy, which is echoed in part of the educational inquiry. It is plain, indeed, that Aris- totle values both music and drama, not only as an educationist for their effect on character, but as a man of the world tor their recreative and social function. The question is as to the precise nature of the higher recreation as understood by him. ^^^^___

i # he t I36 6. 2 See above on Beautiful Soul, p. 37.

Ulnci, in Mulkr, 2, 181 4 Pol, 1338.


64 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


iii. It will be well now to consider the question

The Function , ,. . i i i r

of before us in connection with the only account ol a


Tragedy. f orm Q f t ^ s higher recreation which has been pre-

served to us at all completely as it came from Aristotle's hand.

Materials from a - The celebrated definition of Tragedy in the

Aristotle Poetics may, I believe, be fairly paraphrased as follows. " Tragedy is a representation [lit. imitation] of an action noble and complete in itself, and of appreciable magnitude, in language of special fascination, using different kinds of utterance in the different parts, given through per- formers and not by means of narration, and producing, by (the stimulation of) pity and fear, the alleviating discharge of emotions of that nature." Of these defining terms, "noble" distinguishes the subject-matter which tragedy shares with epic from that, viz. forms of the inferior or ugly, which comedy shares with satire. " Complete in itself" refers to the demand for organic unity of structure, having beginning, middle and end, which is the only form of unity strictly demanded by Aristotle. Unity of time is alluded to only in the remark that the action of tragedy is confined as a rule to one day or little more ; unity of place is not mentioned. " Of appreciable magnitude " refers to the necessity that a beautiful thing should be readily apprehended in its parts and also as a whole. " Language of special fascination " refers to the employment of rhythm and melody ; " with different kinds of utterance " to the difference between iambic declamation and choric song ; "given through performers" distinguishes drama from epic ; it is noticeable, however, that Aristotle admits that a drama can be judged of by reading. The remaining portion of the definition has been the subject of much controversy, which will never perhaps be finally laid to rest. Space forbids me to defend at length the rendering which I have adopted with full conviction. 1 I merely mention, on account of its surpas- sing historical interest, the fact that Lessing, in harmony with the spirit " of his century, not yet set free by Goethe," 2 ren- dered the term /caOa/xr/?, which I have paraphrased as " allevia- ting discharge," by the equivalent " purification," and held it to indicate a conversion of passion or emotion in general into

1 Resting on Bernays' Zwei Abhandlungen ubcr d. Anstotehschc Theorie d. Drama, Berlin, 1880 (first published 1857), *hich cannot be too strongly recommended for its suggestiveness and lucidity.

2 Bernays, I.e.


ARISTOTLE ON TRAGEDY. 65

virtuous dispositions ; that Goethe rightly protested on general grounds against such an interpretation, but proposed^ in its place one quite incompatible with Aristotle's Greek ; and that Hegel, 1 while not directly challenging the authenticity of the current expression, " purification of the passions/' interprets it and restricts it in a way that makes it a vehicle for the most pregnant meaning that could possibly be ascribed to Aristotle.

The definite explanation of the term tcdQapcn?, which Aris- totle had given in the Poetics, has not been preserved. The rendering here adopted is chiefly though not solely founded on a passage in the Politics? treating of certain effects of music, from which it appears that "purification " (or rather "purga- tion ") does not fall within the educational province, and that it is a special term indicating an action upon persons predisposed to pity and terror (which all are in some degree) analogous to that by which orgiastic strains produce first excitement and then restoration to tranquillity in persons of ecstatic temperament. It is by a similar operation of music (theatrical music is explicitly mentioned) that all persons, in so far as they are predisposed to pity and fear, may be brought to undergo " a kind of purga- tion and relief accompanied by pleasure." The analogy is medical, and indicates a relief from the passions rather than a purification of them.

It may be added to this necessarily slight account of our materials for estimating the aim of tragedy as conceived by Aristotle, that he regarded the laws of the beautiful as neces- sarily applicable to the tragic treatment of action ; 3 that the psychological connection of pity and fear as laid down in the Rhetoric suggests to us the conception of an idealised terror, acting through human sympathy, as the essence of the tragic emotion referred to ; that its aim, or at least an element in its aim, was pleasure, not however all pleasure, but the pleasure 4 arising from pity and fear by means of artistic presentation (lit. by means of imitation), but that the "purgative" function of good music and, we may presume, of good poetry though plainly separate from educa- tion or edification on the one hand, does also appear to be distinguished on the other hand from the sheer entertainment or recreation (awhroww) to be provided by inferior music for the more vulgar kind of audience. 5

3, 531. 3 Pol, 1340 a, 1342 a. 3 Poetic, 7, 4-

  • Poetic, 14, 3. 5 Politics, 1341-


66 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


Estimate of MB ft. In contrasting Plato and Aristotle with refer-

Meaning. ence t o their estimates of the secondary effects of tragedy, we are apt to forget how closely they agree with regard to its primary psychical operation. The spectator at a play l indulges his emotions, chiefly those of pity, or fear, without the restraints of practical life, and finds a plea- sure in such indulgence, and this pleasure, Plato at least maintains, the tragedian is ready to purchase at any price, shrinking from no source of emotional excitement. The difference begins after this point. Plato thinks only how emotion is intensified by habit and contagion ; Aristotle applies another principle, not wholly alien to Plato, but in this context a practically new departure.

The principle is in general, that emotion may be relieved, discharged or mitigated by mere indulgence. This is not the same as to say with both Plato and Aristotle in their educational theory that emotion may be disciplined by being excited under moralising influences. But whether Aristotle meant the full opposite of this conception, that is, to accept as the basis of art the fact of psychical excitement pure and simple, without considering the relation to life of the content active in the excitement, is the question which we now have to approach.

The problem is complementary to that of Aristotle's psychological explanation of enjoyment in the portrayal of the unpleasant. There the question was, " Does he refer to the pleasure of bare recognition, or to the satisfaction of profound appreciation?" Here the question is, " Does he refer to the pleasure of any thrilling emotion ending in an agreeable languor, or to the delight of pregnant conflicts of feeling issuing in a calm which is reasonable as well as patho- logical ? Does he, in short, take account of ideal content as well as of psychical sensibility ?" It is the same question in another form when we ask whether for him as for Plato the pleasure which is the aim of tragedy is pleasure at any price.

It appears to me that we have here a case of the hetero- geneous definition which we saw 2 to be so tempting and so fallacious. It is clear that the pleasurable thrill of the com- monest passion anger, 3 for example was a fact observed

1 Rep., x. 606. cf. Phadnts, 268.

  • Chap. i. 3 Rhetoric, 1370 b, 10.


ARISTOTLE ON TRAGEDY. 67

by Aristotle, and influencing him in his aesthetic theory. It is clear that the pathological phenomena which furnished the analogy for his conception of alleviating discharge are akin as well to the narcotic languor which succeeds the morbid excite- ment aroused by a thoroughly vicious play or novel, as to the tranquillity of assuaged emotion which is brought about by reading the Antigone or the CEdipus at Colonns.

But it is no less clear that he did not mean to identify the vulgar or morbid affections with the operation of tragic art The object of tragedy is pleasure, but only the pleasure of tragedy, and the pleasure of tragedy is a form of enjoyment strictly limited by the conditions which were explained in its definition. Now if we ask, how this limitation, this picking and choosing within given reality, can be justified, we shall find no real answer short of the complete liberation of art, not only from the standard of common reality, but from the kindred aim of thrilling the common sensibility. " Idealisation " would be then a simple consequence of the demand for the most pregnant expression, and the mere discharge of feeling would be recognised as an extreme no more proper to art than the opposite extreme of moral purification. Aristotle, not being prepared to break away in principle from the pre- sentation of common reality, could not reconcile these aims, all of which he saw to be essential. They are therefore simply thrown together to limit each other as best they may. Plea- sure and emotion are necessary, but not at the expense of nobleness ; nobleness is necessary, but not at the expense of the power to stimulate emotion.

The emphasis which he rightly laid on utterance and in- telligence did not lead him to the idea that the delight of these factors of art was no mere psychical accident, but was the manifestation of joy in self-expression, the ultimate root and ground of aesthetic pleasure ; and therefore when we are asked whether Aristotle recognised aesthetic as apart from real interest (either moral or hedonistic) we are thrown into per- plexity. Emotional utterance, rational content, a free deal- ing with reality, all these he recognises as elements of art But instead of combining them as " the emotional utterance^of rational content in forms freely drawn from reality," he in- clines to separate them as " the pleasure of utterance," " the formal beauty of ideal content," " the moral emendation of reality," so that perhaps we ought to reply that he recognises


68 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

all the elements of aesthetic interest, but that he tends to speak of them in terms that indicate their origin in common reality rather than their transfiguration in artistic enjoyment. But at any rate the stress laid on the enjoyment of expression and self-utterance, although in contents and emotions which as such are painful, is a step substantially incompatible with the relation of allegiance to given reality, and has kinship with the modern idea of sport or simulated action as the dis- charge of superfluous vitality, as well as with the conception of expression for expression's sake. <

coacrete 7 We have seen that with Aristotle the stan- criticism. dard O f commonplace reality began to yield before the observed necessities of idealisation, and that fine art in its highest form was pronounced by him to centre in emotional self-utterance. We are now to ask, in terms of our third antithesis, how far in detail his critical insight broke down the formal abstractness of Greek aesthetic, and took the shape of analytic inquiry into concrete expressiveness and characterisation.

History and * Aristotle even loses, as compared with Plato, mements something of that kind of concreteness which arises of Drama. ^^ ^ various object matter. He left, it would appear, no aesthetic recognition of architecture and the minor crafts, while even sculpture and painting, though referred to in the discussion of particular problems, are held to be on a lower level of expressive capacity than music and poetry. It is only in virtue of such references, and of his retention of the com- mon name " mimetic' 1 for fine art in general, that we are entitled to draw conclusions from his treatment of music and poetry to anything like a general aesthetic theory.

But yet the first attempt to analyse the structure and evolu- tion of a form of art, and to deduce its origin from fundamen- tal tendencies in human nature, marks an epoch in aesthetic reflection, which has always been most vital when most histori- cal. For history cannot but involve some recognition that what men do expresses what they are, and the most elementary analysis of structure pioneers a way by which reflection can gain access to its object.

That "imitation" 1 or representation is an innate tendency in man ; that from the first it has taken in poetry two co-

1 Poetic^ 4.


PARTS OF A TRAGEDY, 69

ordinate forms, so that the Iliad or Odyssey is a forerunner of tragedy just as the Margites of comedy ; that both species of drama developed through many changes out of perfor- mances in which poet and actor were one, but that comedy was later than tragedy in arriving at completion, and that the iambic metre was adopted in the course of this development from the very nature of the case, being nearest of all metres to common speech; this, < with the well-known details as to the number of the actors, and with the opinion that tragedy had at length reached a final because adequate form, is the snbstance of Aristotle's brief history of the drama.

Nature, he says, was its cause, through the mimetic impulse ; and the diverging tendencies of man's disposition, towards the noble and the ignoble respectively, have been its guides.

Even from this imperfect summary the reader will feel that the great naturalist breathes vitality into his subject, and has grasped the unity of human nature in its most splendid self- manifestations.

The importance of the function which he assigned to artistic imagination, though he acknowledged no such faculty by name, may be illustrated by the technical terms employed by him in the analysis of tragedy. It is not necessary to suppose that they were all originated by himself.

Omitting the quantitative division of tragedy into Pro- logue, Parodos, etc, although even these show the sense of a necessary order in the work of art, we should notice the six x qualitative elements, three forming the object represented, viz. fable or plot, character or moral temperament, intel- lectual reflection ; two constituting the means of representation, viz. linguistic expression and music; and one being the mode of representation, viz. the mise-en-$cbne, including to a Greek the masks of the performers.

' Not all of these elements need special remark. The " Fable/ 1 or " Composition of the incidents," is the life of the play, and the great test of the poet. 2 All the above-mentioned postulates of unity refer to it. It may be "simple" or " complex," and in every case contains a transition from happiness to misfortune, or the reverse, and, if " complex," will contain, as the instruments of this transition, " surprising reversals " or " recognitions." The fable will also contain

  • Poet., 6, 7. Cf. Pfuedo, 6x B ; of. Bernays, p. 186.


70 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

the "Pathos," which is "a disastrous or painful incident." The external reference of " pathos " as here first mentioned is worth noticing.

The construction of the fable and its parts is further analysed with a view to securing its conformity to the con- ditions of tragic emotion. The nature and content assigned to such emotion in Aristotle's theory has already been dis- cussed Human life was to be the interest ; but what human life we find a more difficult question.

Every tragedy, finally, may be divided into a " knot " or entanglement (which might also be called the plot, if that term is not appropriated to the "fable" or argument), and a ddnotiment or solution.

It will at once be seen how many ideal requirements are imposed by this analysis on the art which " imitates " reality how it is directed to the task of concentrating the confused panorama of life into a single, coherent, striking, and natural picture. It is worth observing, as a touch of distinctness in advance of Plato, that the mise-en-$cene is dismissed as not belonging to the poet's art, though fascinating in itself.

It is further worth pointing out that Aristotle is disposed in several ways to defend poetic licence against a too literal criticism, observing that interpretation must recognise a certain play of language, 1 that what is an error judged by a special science is not, unless wanton, necessarily an error judged by poetic purpose, and that an action in a play must be criticised according to fitness as well as according to merit, piot and cuar- u. I have reserved for discussion by itself a acter-drawing. ver y important relation between two of the six " elements " of tragedy. What place does character-drawing, or characterisation, hold with reference to plot ?

I start, as in other cases, with the rough and ready notion of Aristotle's meaning, which we obtain by simply accepting current renderings as literal. In the present case I may state it by a quotation from Mr, Mahaffy : 2

"Of these various elements [the six above-mentioned], Aristotle justly considers the plot as by far the most impor- tant, observing that recent tragedians had succeeded, by paying attention to this point, without any character-drawing " [ethos]. The term "ethos," which I have rendered above

,) 25, 3 History of Greek Literature^ vol. ii. p. 409.


PLOT AND CHARACTER* 7 1

by " moral temperament," is here translated "character" in the sense apparently in which character is understood to-day to be the object of artistic portraiture in Shakespeare or Thackeray.

The view thus ascribed to Aristotle is in startling an- tagonism with our ideas. Pure plot-interest without character is for us on a level with the interest of a puzzle and its answer, and therefore in art, with the interest of a story whose char- acters are mere ciphers manoeuvred through strange and intricate combinations. True, we demand a well-constructed plot ; but we think no art worthy of the name in which the action fails to issue necessarily from human character. Yet Aristotle's language sounds strong in the opposite sense. I reproduce the whole passage on which our judgment must mainly depend, retaining the actual word <c ethos" in place of any rendering. I believe that I am right in saying that the normal application of ethos in Plato and Aristotle is to types of character as described by a single term with a moral connotation^ such as " courage/' " temperance," " gentleness," and their opposites.

After enumerating the six qualitative elements of tragedy, Aristotle continues : A

" The most important of these elements is the composition of the incidents [the plot or fable]. For tragedy is a repre- sentation [imitation] not of men and women, but of action and life. Now good and ill fortune attend upon action, and man's purpose is always some kind of activity, not a quality ; but what ethos determines are the qualities of persons, while action makes them happy or unfortunate. And so poets do not represent persons acting in order to display their ethos, but they take it in as an accessory to action. Thus the incidents and the fable are the purpose of tragedy ; and in everything the purpose is the most important. Moreover there cannot be a tragedy without action, but there can be without ethos ; most of the later tragedies are without it, and among poets in general it is rare. For they are like Zeuxis compared with Polygnotus among painters : Polygnotus is a good painter of ethos, while the art of Zeuxis indicates nothing of the kind. [Could Aristotle mean that Zeuxis was unable to paint char- acteristic likenesses ?] Again, if you string together speeches

1 Poet., 6.


72 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

that have ethos, 1 and are excellent in expression and reflec- tions, yet you will not attain the aim of tragedy nearly so well as with a play inferior in these respects, but having a fable (or plot) and composition of incidents. It is just as in painting ; to put on the most beautiful colours at random would not pro- duce as much pleasure as to draw a portrait in chalk. Nay, more ; the most fascinating elements of tragedy, the surprises and recognitions, belong to the fable. And it is a further proof of our view, that beginners in poetry attain completeness in expression and ethe [plural of ethos], before they are capable of composing the march of incidents ; almost all the earliest poets are instances of this. So the fable is the mainspring and, so to say, the life of the tragedy, and the ethe are secondary, for the tragedy is a representation of an action and of agents only for the sake of the action." With this should be compared the passage translated in chapter iii. 2

It will be observed that if the term ethos here corresponds to character or character-drawing in the modern sense, it re- sults that in the comparison with painting characterisation is contrasted with portraiture and assimilated to non-pictorial colour effect; which latter, however, must rather be an extreme simile to show how far removed this ethos is from what we call character. For according to the Problemata mere colour as such has no expressive capacity, not even for mood or temper (ethos), much less, therefore, I presume for individual character.

Further, " ethos " determines " of what sort " 3 a person is ; and this " sort " means primarily whether he is good or bad. 4 Speeches which have no ethos are such as display no relation positive or negative to a purpose ; 6 it is the kind of purpose,


z>. primarily, whether it is good or bad, that marks the ethos of the speaker. Again, the idea of stringing together " ethical " speeches is clearly I think a reminiscence of Plato's distinction between emotional harangues, which are beginners' work, and composition, which is the test of the master. The fact that " intellectual reflections " are an element distinct from ethos testifies to the same thing, for in every true character- portrait the vein of intellect is included.

Therefore it appears to me that ethos in Aristotle's aesthetic

1 Cf. Phadrus, 268. 2 p 20, sup. 3 Pott.) ib.

4 Quot. above, chap, iii p. 20. 6 /#/, ib. 6 Phadrus> 268.


ARISTOTLE'S REAL VIEW. 73

meant not individual character, the concrete living creation at once mysterious and intelligible, that we look for in modern art, but something more typical and generic, not without a moral reference, as we say <4 good " or " bad " character. And so if we look at what is demanded of ethos in tragedy, 1 we find four requirements : first, it must be good ; then appro- priate to the person ; then natural ; then even or consistent ; and if the person is to be of inconsistent temper, then consis- tently inconsistent. No doubt these latter requirements show some awakening to the importance of characterisation ; but it is to be noted that they are all secondary to goodness. The possibility that this demand for goodness may be a confused attempt to require that tolerableness or beauty which splendid characterisation can bestow on the worst character, does not entitle us to interpret Aristotle's postulate in a way which he nowhere suggests.

Thus it occurs to us that the antithesis which seems indi- cated by a literal rendering of Aristotle, may not be that which he had in mind. He may not have been contrasting the plot, as a mere puzzle and solution, with the portrayal of individual human character, but he may rather have intended to oppose the man as revealed in action, or in speech which contributes to advance the march of incident, to monologue or conver- sation simply intended to emphasize this or that type of dis- position in the interlocutors. The illustration from painting confirms this suggestion. The plot seems to be compared to a portrait, not indeed of persons as such, but, we must suppose, of action and life ; that is, we may venture to suggest, of persons in action according to the necessities of their cha- racter. A mere plot-puzzle is not a portrait of life. And yet the stress laid by Aristotle upon the incidents of good and ill fortune ought perhaps to make us feel that the child-like inte- rest in the mere event, the triumph or failure of a human being, not because he has great character, but because our attention is drawn to him, may have been more natural to the Greek than to us.

If, however, we were to press home the suggestion which has forced itself upon us, we should find that instead of the most infantile of all views of the drama we were attributing to Aristotle the most profound. We should no longer imagine

  • Poetic, 15.


74 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

that Aristotle rated ingenious plot-construction first (for apart from character it could not be more than ingenious), and held the revelation of the mind and heart to be secondary and superfluous ; we should understand him/ to be contrasting the revelation of human lives in their necessary movement and collision, produced by character in action, with moralising argument or with the mere display of sentiment.

The tragedians after Euripides are to us mere names ; and whether Euripides himself, who died before Sophocles, was to Aristotle an instance of ancient or modern style, is hard to conjecture. I do not think it possible to elucidate the problem before us by reference to literary history. It could hardly be suggested that the tendency to characterisation diminished in the later tragedians, although some among the creations of -^Eschylus have in this respect never been surpassed. But it may well have been the case that such a play as the Prometheus Bound> depending for its attraction wholly on a picture of superhuman courage and endurance, and hardly possessing any element of a plot, did not seem to the aesthetic philosopher to be in the strictest sense a drama. I suggest this as an example of a play that has ethos, and has not dra- matic composition. It has been doubted whether our great modern dramatic analyst has displayed genuine capacity to construct a play that will march. If this doubt is justified, Browning may be cited as an illustration of the antithesis between stringing together monologues that display the good and bad in character, and composing a dramatic action.

I believe, however, that neither of the conceptions which I have thus contrasted would express Aristotle's exact position, which lies somewhere between them. He must, we are driven to conclude, have accepted that element of character which is the moving spring of plot as a part of the human situation and conditions to be portrayed. But his failing to insist upon this element in its subjective aspect shows that his point of view was still on the whole Hellenic, and was more simple and more external than that which takes the human mind to be the essence in all drama. And we still are at one with him in holding the mere exhibition of temperament in its moral aspects, when not genuinely elicited by the necessities of the story, to be drama- tically superfluous.

Thus we cannot allege that Aristotle explicitly breaks the fetters of Greek aesthetic, by throwing his interest into the free


ARISTOTLE S ADVANCE. 75

representation of spiritual powers as embodied in great cha- racters and their collision. His chief care is for organic unity and dramatic composition. Only as he presses this unity into detail after detail, it becomes more and more concrete and pregnant ; and we almost incline to believe that in substance, though certainly not in form, he identifies the object of artistic representation not with the common shows of life, but with spiritual forces in their deepest reality.

It has been maintained that throughout his aesthetic discussion Aristotle is covertly criticising Plato. 1 This is a needlessly disagreeable way of observing that the later writers mind is wholly permeated with ideas drawn from the earlier. It is by no single origination that the advance was made which I have endeavoured to depict. It consisted, first, in Aristotle's unhesitating recognition of a supreme value in the whole sphere of beauty an attitude natural to the successor who inherits at one blow the concep- tions which their author elaborated gradually and without realising their entire significance and secondly, in the definite ascription of important functions and properties to representa- tive art all along the boundary-line where it faces common- place reality. Thus throughout the three antitheses by which I have attempted to gauge the flowing tide of Greek aesthetic speculation, the reality of common experience shows in Aris- totle a tendency to lose its controlling position ; for, metaphy- sically, art, and we must suppose all formal beauty in its degree, is credited with the power to represent what is unseen, and the deeper truth ; ethically, the interest of beauty is at least not wholly identified either with moral or again with sensuous aims ; and aesthetically there is revealed in the beau- tiful, under pressure of an appreciative analysis, an ideal unity of structure such as to display the events of life in their essen- tial connection, which is in some degree acknowledged to have its roots in human character.

But, on the other hand, not only does Aristotle retain the technical term " imitative," as the differentia of the art that realises beauty, qualifying it by no scientific expression that recognises the idealisation which in practice he admits, but, what is more important, he has no distinct answer to the ques- tion what principle prescribes the direction which this idealisa-

1 Schasler, i. 149-153.


76 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

tion is to take. To say " the direction of beauty " is tau- tology ; to say "the direction of symmetry and unity " is dangerously formal and empty ; to say " the direction of morality " is simply false. All these directions are hinted at by him, and no deeper theory is suggestedf Therefore we cannot pronounce that he abandoned the essential limitations of Hellenic theory concerning the beautiful.

a (p. 58). The rendering in the text is erroneous ; it should run "the cause of this again

is, that not only " . The second cause of poetry is not the love of learning but the

instinct for rhythm, mentioned by Aristotle m a later paiagraph. My observations on the significance of this love of learning must now be held to refer to the deeper meaning which Aristotle sees in man's enjoyment of imitations.

b (p. 59). On this paragiaph cf. Butcher, Aristotle* s Theory of Ait > I49~5"

c (p. 61). A reader might be puzzled by this discussion compared with Butcher, op. /., p. 124, where symbolism is sharply denied to Aristotle The discrepancy is only verbal. Professor Butcher is speaking in Aristotle's language, while I am following modern usage And the two, as Professor Butcher in part explains on pp. 128-9, are almost exactly opposed ; see p. 60 of this work. For Aristotle, the symbol is less than a " likeness " ; for the modern it is more.

d (p. 61). I hope that, as is pretty certain, Professor Butcher is right and I am wrong on this point. Aristotle's Theory of Art, p. 152 : " The artist in his mimic world carries for- ward this movement (of organic nature toward, *the better')" to a more perfect com- pletion."

e (p. 62). See chap iii. notes c and d (p. 42).

/ (p. 74). See Butcher, op. ctt., 330 ff. with the reff. to Mr. R. P. Hardie's article in Jlfitut, vol rv. no. 15. I think I may say that Professor Butcher and Mr. Hardie endorse my conclusion on the whole matter of plot m relation to character, though both of them are against me on the point of regarding 9}8os as " typical and generic." My term was perhaps ill chosen But, following Mr. Hardie's view that tfOos has to mean expression of character in speech, as well as character, I do still think that Aristotle lays a double requirement on i50oj, and not merely the natural one that it shall be human and correlative to Trpafa. I think he wants it to be emphasized as "good." All naive criticism does this, and Aristotle is partly naive. %0os to him oscillates mainly between the poles of good and bad. It does not equally accent the whole capacity of human nature.

g (p. 76). See note a? above and Butcher's chapter on " Imitation as an -^Esthetic Term." The question is what sort of idealization or expression of the universal is suggested by Aristotle's theory. I adhere on the whole to the view of the text, while admitting that Aristotle starts along a road where it is difficult precisely to measure his advance*


CHAPTER V.

ALEXANDRIAN AND GRECO-ROMAN CULTURE TO THE REIGN OF CONSTANTINE THE GREAT.

character of IN the hundred and fifty years that ended with the Period. t h e death of Aristotle there had lived and worked in the city of Athens, containing a population about equal to that of Glasgow, three of the greatest philosophers, four of the greatest poets, and more than one of the greatest formative artists, that the world has ever seen. If we further represent to ourselves the speculative, poetic, and plastic activity of Hellas in general throughout or before the same period, taking as a background to the whole picture the Iliad and Odyssey, which imply at least two poets of the very highest rank, we shall be in some degree prepared to estimate the change that came over the civilized world during the fourth century before Christ. It is only the simple truth if we say that no speculative thinker of at all the same calibre as Aristotle existed again before the time of Descartes, no formative artist singly L on a level with Praxiteles before the time of Giotto, no poet having the strictly poetic greatness of the Athenian dramatists before the time of Dante. And if we were resolved to take account of nothing but the supreme moments of the sesthetic consciousness, and the clearest crystallizations of the thought that reflects upon it, we should at this point be forced to the salto mortale of 1,600 years to Dante, or 2,000 to Burke or Lessing. But such a procedure could only be justified if it were the fact, or if it were con- ceivable that after this immense interval, which would then be inexplicable, the thread of reflection and production had been taken up again from the point at which it was dropped.

Now the fact is, on the contrary, that in this interval the aesthetic consciousness had traversed an enormous distance

1 The emphasis to be laid below on mediaeval architecture will explain this reservation,

77


78 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

from its Hellenic origin, partly as latent in the general move- ment of mind and history, but partly also in its own shape as art and literature and critical or speculative reflection upon beauty.

We must therefore attempt in this and the following chapter to set up landmarks, however few and distant from each other, by which the appreciation of the beautiful may be followed through the complex movement which carried the old world forward into the new.

For six centuries at least after the death of Alexander the civilization which had its roots in Hellas was the civilization of the world. If we ask at what date it ceased to be so, a definite reply cannot be given. New principles emerge in history and obtain supremacy, gradually, and not at one blow. Before Justinian closed the schools of Athens in 529 A.D., the art of the new world had been growing for at least two hun- dred years, and had already attained its first climax in the Church of the Heavenly Wisdom at Constantinople. Nor did Proclus in the fifth century carry the philosophic tradition of a thousand years far beyond the point to which Plotinus had brought it in the third.

I shall therefore limit myself in the present chapter to the period between the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. and the inauguration of Constantinople as the seat of government for the Roman empire in 330 A.D. It has been well observed that the earliest known building which displays the principle of modern architecture undisguised by traditional Hellenic forms the palace of Diocletian at Spalato was erected 1 within a few years of the latter all-important change. And the historian of philosophy may add, that Plotinus, who died in the latter half of the third century A.D., had, as the last great Hellenic thinker, broken the bonds of ancient theory concern- ing the beautiful, while the later writer Augustine, at the close of the fourth, was to announce the distinctively modern principle of a certainty implied in intellectual doubt 2 And although the Greek poetry of the Anthology revealed a last after-prime of classical genius in the reign of Justinian, and


1 In 313 A.D. See William Morns, Lecture on the History of Pattern* Designing, in a volume of lectures by himself, Mr. Poynter and others Published by Macmillan, 1882.

3 Augustine, de Trimtate> x. 14. See Rigg, Pico d. Mirandofa, Introd.


THE " DECADENCE. 79


lived, or at least existed until the dawn of the Renaissance, yet the true prime of this minor poetic art had passed away with Meleager before the Christian era.

We are accustomed to regard the Alexandrian and Greco- Roman ages as a time of decadence in culture. They form about one-half of that mysterious transition during which the whole of Europe produced no work of individual genius that could compare with those which had been common things throughout the creative period in Athens and in Ionia. Our judgment to this effect has acquired peculiar associations from the portrayal of a world lying in wickedness and impotent for intellectual or moral good, which Christian advocates have impressed upon the popular mind. But in the first place, those who take a natural view of history must assume that every apparent decadence has operative within it the causes which lead to the subsequent advance in so far as that advance is not due to nations outside the range of the de- cadence. And in the second place, as soon as we consider with impartial attention the phenomena of Alexandrian and Greco- Roman art and letters, we see that we have before us a movement of extraordinary width and variety, which at every turn reveals new elements of feeling and a new spirit akin to modern humanism.

To define the tendencies of this period, in contrast, for instance, with those of the Periclean age of Athens, is a task which strongly impresses us with the defects of abstract language. We had a foretaste of the same difficulty in attempting to explain what Aristotle meant by ethos in poetic art as indicating a quality in which the more recent writers were deficient. The antithesis between Ethos and Pathos, which is currently read into these observations of Aristotle, is hardly justified by his language. But assuming that it fairly represents what is implied in his expressions, it still remains very hard to interpret. The portrayal of " char- acter" belongs in one sense more to -^Eschylus than to Menander, in another sense to Menander more than to ^Eschylus ; and if " Pathos " is equivalent to " a sensation " in the modern literary meaning of the term, and it is much nearer to this than to what we call pathos it is hard to imagine that the later drama had more of it than the Aga- memnon or the QEdipus King.

And thus again if we try to lay down that culture in the


SO HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

period now before us is rather " subjective," and in the earlier time of a more " objective " cast, we are met by the apparent contradiction that m the later time philosophy becomes in great part less speculative and more inclined to physical con- ceptions, poetry is more devoted to natural beauty and to the presentation of daily life, formative art takes among other directions that of landscape, of portraiture, of anatomical study, while literary criticism develops a sense of history and an elaborate discrimination of individual styles.

Or if we attempt to apply the antithesis of social and in- dividual interest, and to treat the peculiarities of the later period as depending upon the self-concentration of the indi- vidual's powers in his own life instead of their devotion to a community, we are again face to face with the paradox that in the world of art and letters we meet with no such com- manding individualities in the later age as in the earlier, while we everywhere find evidences in it of a growing sensitive- ness, unknown before, to the idea of humanity as a whole.

Thus it might seem that the application of the above antitheses might just as well be reversed. Is it possible, then, at all to describe in general language that distinction between the two periods which we can very readily feelj*

The fact is that we are here dealing on a small scale with the contrast between the antique and the modern spirit. And the reason why no simple antithesis appears to meet the case is that whereas the antique spirit is single, the modern is divided. Tested, therefore, by the extreme of any abstract tendency, the modern spirit overpasses the antique ; only the completeness and thoroughness, whether intellectual and imaginative or political and social, that marks the highest perfection of genius as of life, is for this very reason difficult of attainment in a "modern 11 period, and was not in fact attained during the six centuries of transition which we are now preparing to consider. Thus we can understand how the culture of the " decadence " was at once more " objective " and more "subjective," more individualistic yet more alive to humanity as a whole, more ascetic and yet more romantic, than that of the preceding age.

It will be worth while to adduce in a brief summary the principal aspects of this many-sided movement, rather in order to recall to the reader what he already knows, with a view to a certain interpretation, than with the idea of ade-


NEW TENDENCIES. 8 1


quately describing a huge complex of phenomena which the meanest of text-books would not attempt to deal with in the space at my command.

We will speak first of the tone and temper of life evinced by the philosophies of the time, which must be treated for this purpose as mere data in moral and intellectual history, and of the actual sense of beauty revealed in the art and letters of the so-called decadence. And, secondly, we will bring down the history of aesthetic criticism and speculation, if our frag- mentary treatment of this period deserves the name of history, to the close of origin d Greek speculation in Plotinus. General Phiio- i- The extreme tendencies which have been sophyandArt. a ll u ded to sometimes displayed themselves as extremes will meet within a single group of productions or of opinions ; but as a rule were dispersed among different schools of thought or different modes of art PUIOBO Toy a * ^ wou ^ k e unfair to say of Plato and Aris- totle, and notoriously untrue to say of Socrates, that their philosophy was not essentially concerned with practice. Yet even for Socrates, and still more for his great successors, practice was bound up with social devotion, with civic solidarity, and with a positive faith in reason. But when Hellenic city-politics had lost their importance, and the organic philosophy of Hellas had broken up like the empire of Alex- ander, a new temper supervened in which, it may be observed in passing, some clues of thought were picked up again which had been thrust aside for the moment by the centralized 1 speculation of Imperial Athens. The Heraclitean and the Cynic found a new development in the Stoic, the Atomist and the Cyrenaic in the follower of Epicurus, the Eleatic, and the Megarian, and in some degree Socrates himself, in the negative speculation and practical interest of the earlier Scepticism.

In the new political conditions all correspondence between the outer and the inner reason, between social organization and the social will, was for the time destroyed. And thus the individual man was thrown back upon himself ; upon his private needs and interests on the one hand, and, on the

1 Cf. Mr. Mackail's remarks. Greek Anthology, p. 289, on the interruption of epigrammatic production during the bloom of Periclean Athens. See below, p. 86.

G


82 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

other hand, upon his non-political relations with friends or with humanity. The new recognition of these latter forms of fraternity is a typical example of the modern breadth and audacity with which sentiments and ideas were now pushed to their extremes.

But such general sentiments of community were not then, and probably never can be, enough to absorb and direct a life's energies. Therefore the problem of practice emerged in a new perspective and proportion. The question is no longer " What great end can be attained in a world which corresponds to the needs of the rational will?" but, " How can the individual live decently and not unhappily in a world which is indifferent and may be hostile?" In moments of despair Plato * himself anticipates this inquiry, the theoretical relations of which are at once evident when we observe that the founders of Scepticism, of Stoicism, and of Epicureanism were all living at the same time towards the close of the fourth century before Christ, and that in popularity and in- fluence, the two latter distinctively ethical schools completely dwarfed the critical and positivist successors of Plato and Aristotle, and assumed the magnitude and importance of religious persuasions not co-extensive with any political or tribal group the first considerable phenomena of the kind known to the Western world.

By the side of this new personal ethic, which the Stoic based on the feeling of reasonableness, and the Epicurean on reasonableness of feeling, there was both in these and other schools a positive and naturalistic tendency of reflection. Theophrastus in the chair of Aristotle treated largely of plants and metals ; and, also, following a descriptive ten- dency already apparent in the Nicomachean Ethics, wrote on morals in such a way that his account of " character " was extracted and preserved for its own sake. Strato, again, the successor of Theophrastus, substituted the conception of a blind nature for that of God, and he all but anticipated 2 the famous phrase of Laplace : 4< Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothese-la."

The same is true of Epicurus, and notably of his great

1 E g. Republic, 426.

2 Cic. Acad. pr. 11. 38. Negat (Strato) opera Deorum se uti ad fabricandum mundum.


TECHNICAL TERMS. 83


follower Lucretius. Besides their persistent effort to reduce everything to matter and motion, the Epicureans seem to have made " the first attempt to write the natural history of civilisation," l and especially with reference to the origin of language they introduced conceptions which are of consider- able interest to-day. Yet while thus helping to render the world intelligible, they rejected the notion which the Stoics accepted of an immanent plan or design ; and we shall have to return below to their reflection on art and beauty, which for this reason, though by no means valueless, necessarily ignored the aesthetic problem as we conceive it. A physical theory traceable to Heraclitus was developed by the Stoics, as that traceable to the Atomist was by Epicurus.

But once more, in the conflict of positivist and of ethical abstractions with the scepticism that was their counter-part, we meet with a growth of technical terms and distinctions that bear a modern aspect, and have in fact descended through later writers to modern times, in which they have hitherto been far more familiar than the less formal expressions of the older classical philosophy. 2 This growth of technical terms is characteristic of the time, and extended, as we shall find, to aesthetic science.

Thus the actual names " Sceptic," 3 " Dogmatist," 3 and " Empiric," begin in this period to be bandied about, as they are to-day. The Stoics desire to establish a " criterion" 3 of truth ; an attempt which is an unfailing sign of logic de- teriorating into formalism. The term occurs indeed in Plato, 4 but in a passing expression which alludes not to a test or touchstone of truth, but simply to the faculty or faculties, not restricted to either sense or reason, by which it is apprehended.

And because of this same growing sense of division be- tween the mind and the world, we now find germs of the Conceptualist terminology which has descended through Latin writers to our own mental science. Terms which indicate a

1 Prof. Wallace's Epicureanism, p 117 note. Of course there is much in Plato and Aristotle to suggest problems of this nature

2 We inherit many terms of great importance from Plato and Aristotle, but those which are here referred to are a larger and later crop of peculiarly modern import.

3 2K7rn/cos, Aoy/jiartKos, e/x-Trei/oiKos,

4 ., 582 A.


84 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


complete or anticipatory seizing l or comprehension by the mind, or again an inward thought or notion * defined as a mental presentation and nothing more, take the place of the "form" 2 or " racial group/' 2 which were the first simple designations for facts understood in their order and essence, and not yet distinctly contrasted as thoughts with things. The famous comparison of the mind at birth to a sheet of paper prepared for writing on comes to us through the Stoics ; 3 and the whole simile from which such current phrases as "mental impression" are derived, although originating in a carefully worded illustration employed by Aristotle, 4 received the rough mechanical form which it now bears from the Stoics as interpreted by Cicero. The Latinised terms, which may be closely rendered as " Impulsion brought to bear from outside," " assent," " comprehensible/' " comprehension," " impressing notions in the mind," " a plain judgment (dcclaratio, Greek evdpyeia) as to the things which are seen " (contrasted with a visual sensation attended by no such judgment) all these modern-sounding phrases occur in a single passage in which Cicero is explaining the Stoic theory of sense-perception. 6 A similar relation of impact between mind and objects was assumed by the Epicureans, whose technical terms in mental science were in part the same as those of the Stoics.

It may be added that many of the traditional names for grammatical cases and forms of verbs descend to us from Stoic investigations.

And by the side of these philosophies, which might be called rationalistic as opposed to mysticism, though not as opposed to sensationalism, the Pythagorean vein of specula- tion maintained itself, and was reinforced after the Christian era by Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism, which almost suc-


1 77730X771/^5, KdTaXiyi/as, eWoia, ivvorjfjLa, </>avTaoyxa Starotas, Dwg. Z. in R. and Pr., 403.

2 tSea, ctSos, yevos.

3 x a P T ^ ov evepyw & u7roy/oa<r;i>. Pint dc Plac, Ph., 4, II, R. and Pr., 339. If, as I suppose, the phrase " tabula rasa " represents this expression, then the qualification " rasa " does not lay stress so much on the blankness of the paper, as on its state of preparedness to receive impressions a nuance which lias some speculative importance.

4 De Antma, 424 a, 18.

B Cic. Acad. Post , i. u. R. and Pr., 398.


PROGRESS IN DECADENCE. 85

ceeded in grasping the fundamental idea of evolution ; viz. that the derivative is not necessarily the inferior.

If now we return to our former attempts at definition, and repeat what is certainly true in a philosophical sense, that the culture of this age is distinguished from that which preceded it by subjectivity and individualism, we must understand that we are speaking of a complex modern subjectivity, and a relative modern individualism. It is a subjectivity which in its sceptical divorce from metaphysic throws itself into materialistic science as one complement, if it falls into mys- tical intuitionism as another ; it is an individualism which separates itself from the narrow selfishness of the tribe or city no less than from its limited self-sacrifice, and in busying itself with the problems of reasonable pleasure is never far from the aspirations of religious asceticism.

In the necessary progress of such a culture, one feature is most remarkable and most important for our present pur- pose. This is the extraordinary combination of subtlety and pedantry, of a technical language extended by widening ex- perience and an unspeculative petrifaction of the technical terms themselves, which first delights us at the advance of analysis, and then jars us by its superficiality. Ideas drawn from the great masters of philosophy become the catchwords of sectarian dogma or of rhetorical criticism ; but in this very loss of speculative fluidity they form a centre for the attach- ment of growing experience and deepening sentiment. Such an idea, for example, is the Stoics " Nature," which had for them actually less ordered metaphysical content than for Aristotle ; but yet as the banner of a creed and the symbol of a juristic ideal became a rallying point for the new aspirations evoked by the extension of the civilised world. We shall find this curious contrast throughout the time we are dealing with. Observation, expressiveness, sentiment, and even partial theory, advance by the inertia of motion ; in an active and cultured society every writer refines somewhat upon the suggestions of his predecessors, and brings his own insight and conviction to bear upon the material laid before him. Obvious criticisms are propounded, "meet their obvious refutation, and are re-asserted less crudely than before ; so that without leaps and bounds the literary world moves gradually onwards ; and even in the absence of that pro- founder criticism which belongs only to ages of organic


86 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

speculation, reason slowly perfects its language, becomes familiar with important distinctions, and encounters life with a more many-sided appreciation.

/3. How much was achieved in the period of

oetry ' which we speak rather by the dispersive pressure

of humane culture than by depth of inspiration is especially

apparent in poetic art.

NOW and Latin i. The New Comedy of Athens, whose chief

comedy. representative Menander is said to have been in youth a friend of Epicurus, must have presented a very strik- ing embodiment of the complex changes which have been indicated. Bringing it together, as for our very general pur- pose we fairly may, with the comedy of Plautus and Terence a century later, from which alone we substantially know its nature, we cannot but recognise in it a kinship to our modern feeling which is wanting in Aristophanes, and even, perhaps, in the great Attic tragedians.

The removal of the chorus which had unquestionably been a hindrance to realistic dramatisation, and the division into Acts and Scenes 1 which formed an unobtrusive framework to the play, and greatly facilitated the comprehension of an in- tricate plot, agreed well with the new matter and tone of comedy as an unpretending but ingenious representation of common life.

In spite of the conventionality of their characters, the plays of Plautus and Terence speak to us with the same simple human voice as Tom Jones or Vanity Fair while the splendid genius of Aristophanes has left us hardly a touch of family incident or of homely pathos, except where, in a literary satire, he drops a word of regret for a good poet mourned by his friends. A family drama of e very-day events and such, however incomplete in its portraiture, the new comedy certainly was touched a chord which no Greek poet had sounded, except the authors of the Iliad and Odyssey before the peculiar development of Athenian genius, and Euripides as it drew to a close. The absolute distinction between comic and tragic interest begins to fade when we have in comedy a story of actual suffering serious!/ faced, in which the facile reconciliations that seem incompatible with earnestness are


Due, it seems to be believed, to the Latin poets.


SIGNIFICANCE OF COMEDY. 87

not completely carried out. 1 It is not merely that the love intrigue or love romance (not always irregular), and the human nature of common men and women are subjects akin to those of modern literature, but that in the tone and treatment we no longer feel that hardness of naive egoism with which the Greek of the Ajaxor Ion, the " Knights" or the " Clouds," grasped at his own advantage and repelled every interloper as an enemy, excepting when one of two or three great interests demanded the devotion which he reserved for them alone. Mere unmotived kindness has become a greater force. The loyalty of the adventurous slave to his master is not wholly selfish, and sometimes amounts to nobility. And though this is a motive known to classical tragedy hardly to Aristophanic comedy yet its central place in art belongs to a time in which the servile virtues were beginning to receive the recognition which Christianity finally awarded them, and in which Terence, a Carthaginian slave, could be a leading man of letters at Rome, as Zeno, a Phoenician stranger, had founded the in- fluential Stoic school at Athens.

Thus, without any great creative impulse, the dramatic " imitation of life " in the new comedy brings into the light a fresh region of experience, and, as it happens, one of undying interest for civilized men. And in so doing art enriches it- self with a larger insight into the beauty and goodness of common things, and with more subtle capacities of imitative presentation, thus gradually paving the way both for a wider range of beauty and for a profounder theory of artistic utter- ance. It was a great thing for Terence to speak the word, that to a human being nothing human can be indifferent.

ii. And besides the beginning of humane comedy,

The Idyll t . r T^ i i i i r

the generation of hpicurus witnessed the birth of pastoral poetry. Nothing could be more profoundly suggestive than this of the change which was coming over the world. That conscious self-assertion of individual feeling which has been called sentimental or romantic finds expression, still simple and healthy, in the Theocritean Idyll. When poetic fancy is coloured at once by the yearning of passion, the charms of the country, the sense of a beauty in art and song, and the humours

1 So the Captivi, which is quite a serious drama of life. Aristotle's " No one kills any one " (m comedy) is clearly contemptuous. Cf. close of Much Ado, "Think not on him till to-morrow."


88 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

of a busy and splendid town, we shall not be far wrong in in- ferring that man is seeking nature because he already feels that he is parted from it. A contrast of this kind is implied in all distinctions between xhe ancient and the modern spirit. Theocritus, indeed, is but at the starting-point of the long and eventful course which romanticism had before it. In him there is no sense of unattainable depths and inexpressible meanings ; there is merely the trace of a new sensitiveness l in the imagination which indicates the germ of a new longing in the heart. And so the fancy of Theocritus is not wholly remote from life, and the songs which he ascribes to his Sicilian peasants are such as they still sing. The romantic Faust did not yet exist ; but the classical Helena was be- ginning to have strange dreams. Within a hundred years after Theocritus the first true love romance of known litera- ture was written in the Argonaulica of Apollonius Rhodius.

The Anthology "* ^ nc * ^ na ^y> beside the poetry of love, of art, and of rustic nature, we find in the Greek culture of this period the poetry of poetry. In the Garland or Anthology (" flower-gathering ") of epigrams collected by Meleager just before the Christian era, we have not only to note the beauty of his own love verses, but to consider the significance of the fact that such a gathering should be made at all, and prefaced with the beautiful dedicatory poem in which the verses selected are compared to various flowers. A subtle feeling for poetic style, and more than that, something like a sense of historical continuity, are implied in this first garland of the poets, the earliest portion of that huge Greek Anthology which did not receive its last addition till after the Divma Commedia had been written.

Roman Poets * V ' ^ treat ^ classical Italian poets, from Lucretius to Juvenal, as merely the greatest writers of a decadence is a course that can only be justified by very carefully bearing in mind the peculiar purpose of our treatment. We are less concerned with the magnitude than with the specific quality of artistic achievement ; and while no sane man will deny that Vergil and Lucretius were great poets, yet most careful critics will admit that their strictly poetical genius, although indispensable to their greatness, did not

1 For a necessary warning against exaggerating the love and observation of nature implied in pastoral poetry, see Mackail, Anthology ', p. 57?


THE LATIN POETS. 89


constitute its central core in the same sense as with Homer or with Sophocles. Catullus, on the other hand, though a poet through and through, may fairly be ranked as a minor poet, not merely in the quantity of his work but in the limits of his inspiration.

But considered as great men, endowed with poetic genius and conscious of representing the very heart and system of the civilised world, Vergil and Lucretius are examples of the art of a decadence all the more startling because in their powerful hands this art itself has greatness thrust upon it.

All the peculiarities which we have observed in the fading genius of Greece are here revealed in their most emphatic form.

First among these ranks a further phase of the influence which we observed in the New Comedy, a prevailing moral earnestness and sense of duty and of humanity. Strange attributes, it will be said, by which to characterise a decadence of culture ! But as we have seen the reflective sentiment of morality was especially characteristic of this age, in which the individual was lonely in a crowd, and had to shape his life by his own common sense. And the atmosphere of serious purpose and goodwill which belongs to the Roman poets is a strong instance of the power which the natural progress of mankind possesses to place the lesser and later genius ethic- ally in advance of the greater and earlier ; while, in so far as didactic moralising or critical theology intrude into art, we have here exemplified that division of the mind against itself which marks the comparatively modern spirit of the time under discussion. Roman " urbanity " the very word is sig- nificant and Roman moralising satire, are not the natural geniality of Homer or the semi-political orthodoxy of Aristo- phanes/ They are, on the contrary, the product of reflection and of a partly theoretical idea, and are thus analogous in some degree to the ethical protest and sentiment of Euri- pides. But they are more tinged, than his, with worldly wisdom, and arise not only out of a prolonged education through popular philosophies, but out of a mature experience of government and toleration among many creeds and civilisa- tions.

And in this more humane atmosphere we are not surprised to find that the beauty of domestic love and life was at last fully revealed to poetic apprehension. Nothing, I believe,


9O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

had before been written like the " Torquatus, volo, par- vulus," 1 or the "Carmen Nuptiale" 2 of Catullus, since the parting of Hector from Andromache and his child was de- scribed in the Iliad. And Ovid's Heroidum Epistolcz, though no very forcible works of genius, breathe an atmosphere of simple affection in which our modern sentiment at once feels at home.

And although only Catullus, and not Horace or Ovid, can be compared to Theocritus for freshness and reality of love- romance, yet the immensely increased range and subtlety of poetic expression in that province is a fact of the first impor- tance for the history of art. Love, for the poet, is now in some cases a matter of sentiment rather than passion, a delicate and even playful feeling ; sometimes, again, a pure and elevated affection. What touch' of human interest the SEneid can claim, it gains from the romance of Dido ; while the variations of mood in the Lesbia poems of Catullus, with his description of Ariadne, taken together with the odes of Horace, form a gamut of emotional expression almost com- parable with that of Elizabethan song. From the lament over Lesbia's sparrow a lyric which goes, I should imagine, directly to the heart of every nineteenth century reader to the praise of the lover without fear and without reproach, 3 whom a pure affection preserves even from bodily peril, all shades of romantic playfulness, irony, and seriousness are now commanded by poetic art. And if the playfulness of Horace appears to us, as indeed it is, a feeble thing contrasted with the passion of Sappho, yet we must not forget that there is something noble and civilised something worthy of Shake- speare in being able now and again to smile at the terrible love-god. Art, as we know from Goethe, and have since ascertained that we ought to have known from Aristotle, is the great liberator.

1 The whole verse runs :

"Torquatus, volo, parvulus Matns e gremio suae Porngens teneras manus Dulce rideat ad patrem Semihiante labello."

f Containing the well known passage, beginning, " Ut flos in septis secre- tus nascitur hortis." 3 The " Integer Vitae " of Horace.


NATURE IN VERGIL.


And at the extreme border of the art of passion, we find in the Atys what, as far as I know, is the first poetical study' of the counter-frenzy. This partly " dramatic " lyric, for its horror and pathos, and its sense of correspondence between the moods of man and of nature, might be the work of the very boldest among romantic writers. If, after reaching this point in the growth of art, we turn back to Aristotle's explan- ation of the pleasure produced by representations of what is unpleasant, we shall feel that it needs much stretching to include our charmed self-abandonment to the impetuous rush of Catullus' lyric, charged with the passion and desolation of a ruined life.

Once more, this sympathy between man and external nature is seen to be gaining depth and substance. It is idle to deny that the Athenian and Ionic poets have felt the spell of the outer world ; but in the Roman writers the increasing subtlety and detail of descriptive expression, though still immensely short of modern landscape poetry, bear witness to a refinement of conscious delight in natural beauty for its own sake which is different in principle from the reference to it, as in Homer, by allusive epithet or illustrative simile. It is most significant that Horace should have thought it necessary to protest against descriptive insertions. 1 The principle which I am endeavouring to elucidate, that so long as art is alive its range of appreciation and expression extends itself by a natural process, in which the "apperception" of later artists is prepared by the recorded perceptions of their forerunners, could not be better illustrated than by a criticism which I will venture to quote at length, from one who writes of what he well understands :

" Everything, 2 then, in Vergil's history, shows him a genuine poet of the country, and at the same time no one who really knows his poems can deny that they fully bear out the evidence of his life. It is true that he drew very largely on other poets, and could not disengage himself from the ante- cedents of his art. From Homer, Hesiod, Aratus, or Theocritus, for example, come nearly all the passages in his works in which birds are mentioned. But though they


1 Ars P., 1 6. " They describe the grove and altar of Diana, or a river's course through pleasant fields, or the rainbow.' 1 8 A Year with the Birds, by an Oxford Tutor, p. no.


92 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

descend from these poets, and bear the features of their ancestors, they are yet a new and living generation, not lifeless copies modelled by a mere imitator ; and their beauty and their truth is not that of Greek but of Italian poetry. Let any one compare the translations of Aratus by other Roman hands, by Cicero, Festus, and Germanicus, with Vergil's first Georgic, and he will not fail to mark the differ- ence between the mere translator, and the poet who breathes into the work of his predecessors a new life and an immortal one. There is hardly to be found, in the whole of Virgil's poems, a single allusion to the habits of birds or any other animals, which is untrue to fact as we know it from Italian naturalists." I do not doubt that the passages on which Vergil thus improves had served as guides and starting points for his own observation.

And with the love of Nature we must compare its comple- ment and condition the feeling of city-life. The intensifica- tion of pastoral sentiment by contrast with the busy splendour of Rome, lending an extraordinary stateliness to the verse which this combined emotion animates, is distinctly mirrored both in Virgil and in Horace. The nineteenth-century dweller in a huge city, whether London or Paris, Berlin or New York, is quite at home in this subtle sense of comple- mentary pleasures, in which the simple charm of country life is really to some extent a foil to the recognition of supreme powers and interests " res Romanse perituraque regna " centred in the city.

These two extremes therefore, the love of the country and the sympathy with town life are there nobler lines in Vergil than the " Si non ingentem foribus domus alta superbis ? " unite in a new and dominating form of feeling, not possible to the world in any great degree before the Roman age. The "praises of Italy" express something more than an affection for Italian scenery. They are deeply coloured with historical sentiment, the sentiment of national duty belonging to the head of civilisation an emotion of a nature to heighten and be heightened by the appreciation of the picturesqueness in life and manners produced by the relations of Rome with all quarters of the known world. The feeling of the picturesque is essentially historical, and though I do not think that we find its advanced form, such as the


ALLEGORY IN ART. 93


admiration for ruined buildings, in any ancient writer, 1 yet this is only an outgrowth of the relation to humanity which is really at the root of all delight in external nature. 2

In any case, the feeling of a national " mission " by which Vergil was clearly inspired when he wrote of Rome, adds a new dignity and significance to all the external aspects of life, and communicates a fresh acuteness to feeling, and a peculiar majesty to expression.

But we may notice in the constellation of Roman writers one sure sign of a decadence. The minor poets are the more complete artists. Lucretius and Vergil were, it might be said, too great as men to be complete as poets in an age whose mind was on the strain, and divided against itself. Much of Lucretius is pure science. Much of Vergil, though not arti- ficial in the most vulgar sense, as opposed to genuine or sincere, is yet dictated by practical or purely historical interest characteristic of the age, but incompatible with the simple- mindedness which belongs to art.

Formative ?' ^ e are not wr *ti n g th e history of fine art,

Art and but only noting some salient points at which, by

ArcnitectTire. Definite influences, the working idea of beauty was

deepened and enlarged. It is needless, therefore, to say much

of formative art and architecture, the tendencies of which fall

for the most part within the lines of those which have just been

traced in literature. But it seems necessary to mention a few

definite phenomena of extreme significance.

One of these phenomena is the prevalence of " allegorical " treatment in the painting and sculpture of the fourth century and later. Allegory, as I understand it, is opposed both to natural symbolism, such as that by which the lines of a flower- bud indicate growth and vitality, and to a deeply rooted tradi-

1 There is an approach to the feeling in question in the famous letter of Sulpic. R.uf. Cic. AdJFam., 4, 5, and in many epigrams of the first and second centuries B.C. See Mackail, Anthology, p. 62.

2 The degree in which this definite historical sentiment may fairly make a difference in the charm of landscape as such is a very difficult question. Compare Vergil's "Praises of Italy" (Georgtcil, 136 ff, esp. lines 167 ff.) with the following passage from Ruskin, Seven Lamps of Architecture, p, 163: " Those ever-springing flowers and ever-flowing streams had been dyed by the deep colours of human endurance, valour, and virtue ; and the crests of the sable hills that rose against the evening sky received a deeper worship, be- cause their far shadows fell eastward over the iron wall of Joux, and the four- square keep of Granson."


94 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

tional symbolism, such as that by which the goddess Athena was connected with ideas of courage and of wisdom. As a rule, therefore, an imaginative presentation which is named after an abstract idea has an allegorical character. Of course there are degrees of this relation. Eros, the love-god, for example, is primarily an imagined person with attributes fixed by tradition. No one would call him an allegory of love, because he is more than a mere sign with content limited to a definite intellectual idea. The question whether the statue of " Kairos " (Opportunity) by Lysippus was l or was not strictly allegorical turns partly on the degree in which the conception was traditional following for example, as is now alleged, the treatment of Hermes and partly on the issue of fact whether it did or did not bear a knife, merely to recall the popular Greek phrase for a critical moment, "on the razor's edge." At any rate, the Calumnia of Apelles, Lucian's description of which is embodied by Botticelli in the well- known picture of the Uffizi, must be considered as wholly allegorical, and it seems that allegorical figures representing such ideas as Virtue, Concord, Justice, and the like, formed a regular branch of sculpture in Greco- Roman times.

Again, the ideal personification of towns, countries, and peoples, not unknown to the great time of Athenian art, takes a prominent place in the period before us. Such is the figure of " the Fortune of Antioch," by Eutychides, a pupil of Lysip- pus. 2 This further connects itself with the peculiarly Roman art of triumphal relief, in which historical interest is substituted for artistic value. And the full antithesis to abstract allegory seems to be finally supplied by the great Greco- Roman art of genre and portrait sculpture ; which, however, through the ideal or deified portrait, such as that of Alexander as Zeus or of Antinous, almost returns again into the allegorical region.

In other directions an analogous variety displays itself. In the Rhodian school of sculpture we find a special tendency to situations of horror, cruel rather than tragic ; 3 at the court of Attalus, in Pergamus the hostile contact with the Gauls re-

1 Camere, ii. 396, treats it as an allegory. Overbeck, ii. 107, doubts this, on the grounds that, a, the treatment was traditional ; ft, the presence of the alleged attributes is uncertain.

, a Overbeck, ii. 134.

8 A tendency showed by painting in this epoch, from Parrhasms downward, Pfot. de Aud. Poetis, 3.


ARCHITECTURE. 95

suited in a new pathetic and characteristic interest, of which the statue of a dying Gaul, known as the " dying Gladiator," is a famous example. In Rome, again, towards the end of the Republic, the school of Pasiteles strangely combines the tendencies of refined sentimentalism, affected archaism, and anatomical observation from the living model.

A certain development of landscape painting, to which the mural decorations in Pompeii bear witness, does not sustain the hypothesis of a direct appreciation of the beauty of scenery, which it might naturally suggest. It is a curious observation that " on all the walls of Pompeii and Herculaneum there is perhaps not one subject which can be positively identified as local." * This indicates that the sources of inspiration were chiefly traditional, although the capacity of these painters for naturalistic execution as, for example, in painting fruit is spoken of by modern experts in the highest terms. 2

With reference to the position of architecture and the minor arts, after simply noting that such crafts as that of gem-cutting and gold and silver work, with the minute skill and subtlety which they imply, laid hold more and more on the interest of the wealthy Roman world, superseding the comparatively severe beauty of the painted earthenware vase, I may ven- ture to indulge the reader and myself in a somewhat long quotation from an author, 3 who best of all men is qualified to judge. I have found myself unable to express the essence of this passage in my own words either more shortly or more suitably for my purpose.

"Now this question of the transmission of the forms of Greek architecture leads us at once to thinking of that of Rome, since it was by this road that all of it went which was consciously accepted as a gift of the classical times. The subject of the origin of all that is characteristic in Roman art is obscure enough, much too obscure for my little knowledge even to attempt to see with it ; nay, even in speaking of it, I had better call it the art of the peoples collected under the Roman name ; so that I may be understood to include all the influences that went to its creation.

1 Art. "Archaeology," EncycL Brit., A. S. Murray.

2 EncycL Brit., " Archseology " and " Mural Decoration," Prof. Middleton. Cf. Poynter, in Lectures on Art, Macmillan, 1882.

3 Wm. Morris, in Lectures on Art, Macmillan, 1882, p. 151 ff.


96 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

" Now if we are asked what impression the gathered art of these peoples made upon modern art, I see nothing for it but to say that it invented architecture no less. Before their time, indeed, temples took such and such forms among divers nations, and such and such ornament grew on them ; but what else was done with these styles we really do not know ; a frivolous pleasure-town built in a late period and situate in Italy, which destruction, so to say, has preserved for us being the only token left to show \v hat a Greek house might perhaps have been like. For the rest, in spite of all the wonders of Greek sculpture, we must needs think that the Greeks had done little to fix the future architecture of the world ; there was no elasticity or power of growth about the style ; right in its own country, used for the worship and aspirations which first gave it birth, it could not be used for anything else. But with the architecture of the men of the Roman name it was quite different. In the first place they seized on the great invention of the arch, the most important invention to home-needing men that has been or can be made. They did not invent it themselves, of course, since it was known in ancient Egypt, and apparently not uncommon in brick-building Babylonia ; but they w r ere the first who used it otherwise than as an ugly necessity, and in so using it, they settled what the architecture of civilisation must hence- forward be. Nor was their architecture, stately as it was, any longer fit for nothing but a temple a holy railing for the shrine or symbol of the god ; it was fit for one purpose as for another church, house, aqueduct, market-place, or castle ; nor was it the style of one country or climate ; it would fit itself to north or south, snow-storm or sand-storm alike. Though pedants might make inflexible rules for its practice when it was dead or dying, when it was alive it did not bind itself too strictly to rule, but followed, in its constructive part at least, the law of nature ; in short, it was a new art, the great art of civilisation.

" True it is that what we have been saying of it applies to it as a style of building chiefly ; in matters of ornament the arts of the conquered did completely tak* the conqueror captive, and not till the glory of Rome was waning, and its dominion became a tax-gathering machine, did it even begin to strive to shake off the fetters of Greece ; and still, through all those centuries, the Roman lords of the world thought the


ROMAN AND BYZANTINE ART. 97

little timber god's house a holy form, and necessary to be impressed on all stately architecture. It is a matter of course that the part of the architectural ornament of the Romans, which may be definitely called pattern-design, shared fully in this slavery ; it was altered and somewhat spoiled Greek work, less refined, and less forbearing. Great swinging scrolls mostly formed of the Acanthus foliage, not very various or delicate in their growth, mingled with heavy rolling flowers, form the main part of the Roman pattern design mat clove to the arts. There is no mystery in them, and little interest in their growth, though they are rich and handsome ; indeed, they scarcely do grow at all, they are rather stuck together ; for the real connected pattern, where one member grows naturally and necessarily out of another where the whole thing is alive as a real tree or flower is all this is an in- vention of what followed Roman art, and is unknown both to the classical and the ancient world. Nevertheless, this invention, when it came, clothed its soul in a body which was chiefly formed of the Greco-Roman ornament, so that this splendid Roman scroll-work, though not very beautiful in itself, is the parent of very beautiful things. It is, perhaps, in the noble craft of mosaic which is a special craft of the Roman name that the foreshadowing of the new art is best seen. In the remains of this art you may note the growing formation of more mysterious and more connected, as well as freer and more naturalistic design ; their colour, in spite often of the limitation forced on the workman by simple materials, is skilfully arrayed and beautiful ; and in short there is a sign in them of the coming of the wave of that great change which was to turn late Roman art, the last of the old, into Byzantine art, the first of the new.

"It lingered long. For long there was still some show of life in the sick art of the older world ; that art had been so powerful, so systematized, that it was not easy to get rid even of its dead body. The first stirrings of change were felt in the master-art of architecture, or, once more, in the art of building. As I said before in speaking of the earliest build- ing that shows this movement, the palace at Spalato, the ornamental side of the art lagged long behind the construc- tional. In that building you see for the first time the arch acting freely, and without the sham support of the Greek beam- architecture ; henceforth, the five orders are but pieces

H


98 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

of history, until the time when they were used by the pedants of the Renaissance to enslave the world again."

It has been necessary in the foregoing review of the Hellenistic and Greco- Roman decadence to lay stress on its positive achievements, from which the reflective aesthetic consciousness of the time had to draw its material. I am aware that I run the risk of being asked whether I mean to deny that there really was a decadence, whether I have for- gotten the vulgar and brutal features of Greco- Roman civilisa- tion, and whether I imagine that the intellectual darkness, extending to the great individual forms of art, which followed upon the Christian era, was a historical accident unconnected with a moral and intellectual bankruptcy in ancient life.

A thorough treatment of this question can only be attempted in connection with the philosophical side of our subject. 1 It must suffice at present to suggest that the features which indicate a decay in the civilisation of the old world are them- selves one great term in the set of contrasts which I have been attempting to represent. The spirit which was ulti- mately destined to burst the bonds of classical tradition began by to some extent reanimating it ; but that in the old life which could not be inspired with new meaning naturally fell into greater and greater corruption. And it was natural that the process of forging sensuous forms adequate to a new impulse should be tedious and gradual in proportion to the greatness of that impulse, and that during a long transition the spirit should be for the most part hostile to sense or the flesh, although the continuity underneath the transition was never really broken. Through all the surface conflicts of intellect and feeling and faith, the unconscious art of architecture, in which necessity blossoms into expression, continued to develop, so that the problem of reconciliation was solved by going on, and spiritual religion had found a sensuous manifestation be- fore it knew that it needed one. The degree in which, before the revival of letters, the tradition of the old world, whether in art or in speculation, continuously affected the new, is a most difficult and interesting question. But it must be re- membered that we are only now adjusting our historical consciousness to the conception that the Christian era marked

1 Fora statement of it see Prof. Harnack, Art. "Neo-Platonism," Encyd. Brit


PARTIAL PHILOSOPHIES. 99

no miraculous new birth of the world, and it is probable that the continuity of progress has hitherto been under-estimated rather than the reverse.

Reflective In turning to the reflective eesthetic of the ^stuetic. Alexandrian and Greco- Roman age, we must at once admit that we have to deal, not with complete systems in continuous succession, but with tendencies fragmentarily indicated. Numbers of post-Aristotelian treatises on art are lost to us ; but it is also clear that true aesthetic speculation was not, and could not be, a matter of central interest to the predominant philosophies before Neo-Platonism. The theory of beauty can only be fertile for the thought which grasps life as a whole ; in half-systems such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, or Scepticism, there is no place for the belief that reality may find utterance in human feeling or fancy. And although Neo- Platonism was also a half-system, being fundamentally mysti- cal, that is to say, having lost faith in life and science, and being compelled for that reason to yield the sceptre to Christianity, yet just as Christianity, although a concrete principle of life, constantly fell into repellent onesidedness, so Neo-Platonism, though not a concrete principle of life, was profound enough to inspire a great mind for a time with a comprehensive faith in the reasonableness of reality.

But partial philosophies are often definitely suggestive just because they make the most of the little which they acknow- ledge, and here Stoicism and Epicureanism are no exceptions. After saying something of these philosophies in their aesthetic aspect, it will be necessary to comment shortly upon the more literary and rhetorical criticism, before closing the present chapter with a reference to Neo-Platonic theory in the third century A.D.

i. The Stoic Pantheism led Chrysippus in the toi0 ' third century B.C. to the conception that " many animals have been produced by nature with a view to beauty, in which she takes delight, enjoying their colouring " j 1 and, for example, that the peacock was produced for the sake of his tail, because of its beauty. Rash as such a suggestion must appear to us, who cannot find room in nature for any purpose, but only for causation, it has the merit of unmistakably signalising the fact and problem of natural beauty, which is,


r irotKiXin* PI 'it. de Stoic, Rtp., 21.


!OO HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

however it may have come to be so, analogous to man's creations, and harmonious with man's emotions.

"The universe alone is perfect, 1 ' says Cicero, 1 quoting Chrysippus ; " man is not, though he has in him some particle of the perfect, and he is born to contemplate and imitate the universe." The mere laxity of the^ language seems to bring these ideas near to us ; we hear sentiments that ring like them from Christian divines and from nineteenth-century art-critics, To " contemplate and imitate" might surely at least ^include to reproduce in plastic and poetic form ; and some Stoics were not wholly without such a liberal conception. Poseidonius, two centuries after Chrysippus, described poetry, almost on the lines of Aristotle, as " comprising an imitation of human and divine things."

But this was not the ordinary Stoic meaning, and it became less and less so. They took the imitation of the universe rather in the sense familiar to us from George Herbert :

" Entice the trusty sun, if that them can, From his ecliptic line, beckon the sky. Who lives by rule then, keeps good company .*

The mechanical view of imagination, the negative or intellectualist view of emotion, the complete subordination of " theoretical " to "practical" interest characteristic of an age for which practice had become chiefly an affair of theory^ all these influences hindered the Stoic from completing his view of man's place in nature by an adequate theory of aesthetic expression. And at last, in Seneca, by a disordered reminis- cence of Plato which we shall trace among the Epicureans as well, the formative arts are reckoned as mere ministers to sense, like the art of cookery. The only true liberal art, for him, is philosophy the art which aims at virtue and poetry in so far as it is capable of being made a vehicle for philoso- phic ideas. For speculative purposes such a conception means a complete obliteration of all fruitful distinctions.

ii. The Epicurean school were opposed to the

Epicurean. g to j c b e i; e f j n Providence and in a reasonable

kinship between man and nature, and therefore, for the oppo- site reason to the Stoics, but like them in the result, they dis- believed in the objective value of art as expressing a reason- able content. " Music," writes Philodemus, a contemporary of

1 De Nat. Deorum^ ii., 14.


LUCRETIUS. IOI


Cicero, is " irrational and cannot affect the soul or the emotions, and is no more an expressive art [lit. imitative] than cookery." 1 This censure is aimed straight at the principal line of advance towards a profound analysis of expression which we observed in Plato and more especially in Aristotle.

The aesthetic of mere feeling, resting as it does on the acceptance of simple facts as to what gives certain pleasures, joins hands with the opposite extreme, the aesthetic of pure form. I cannot assent to Schasler's contemptuous treatment 2 of the powerful lines in which Lucretius refers the harsh scream of the saw and the musical sound of a skilfully played instrument to the respective angularity and smoothness of the physical elements operative in each case, and proceeds to apply a similar explanation to colours and to smells. Of course this assertion was for him but a guess, and it may be that in the two latter cases it will never be justified. But the difference between harshness and harmony in musical sound is a difference in impact on the organ, which is at least conveniently symbolised by difference of shape 3 in the graphi- cal representation of the impinging movement, and although a difference in sensuous agreeableness does not explain or coincide with every difference in artistic beauty, yet it is an essential element of aesthetic to understand the former, if only in order to show the limits of its connection with the latter.

The historical hypotheses thrown out by the same poet in another passage 4 that men learnt song from birds, and instrumental music from the wind in the reeds are notably inferior to the aesthetic anthropology of Aristotle. Yet a pervading idea of human progress and a resolute adherence to physical explanations conjoined with a large sense of natural beauty, to which as in Virgil the movement of the verse is magically responsive, confer upon Lucretius some- thing of the splendour and mystery which belong to our own feeling for a beauty founded in necessity.

1 I quote from Miiller, 2, 193 : ouSc yap fjufiifrtK^v ^ povaruty /x,aAXov fyrcp 17


  • Krit. Geschichte der Aesth., i. 210. Lucret., ii. 408.

8 Cf. Helmholtz, Popular Scientific Lectures, Series I., p. 68 (E. Tr.), " Tuning forks, with their rounded forms of wave, have an extraordinarily soft quality \ and the qualities of tone generated by the zither and violin resemble in harshness the angularity of their wave-forms."

  • Lucr., 5, 1378.


1O2 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Aristarchus and Hi- The Alexandrian literary criticism of Aris- zoiius. tarchus and Zoilus in the third century B.C., must just be mentioned as contributing to the formation of a his- torical sense, if only in the inferior form of a canon or class- list of great writers, which repeats itself in later Roman criticism. 1 It would seem indeed that Zoilus must have worked rather to enslave interpretation by a captiously literal reading, than, like Aristotle, to liberate it by an intelligent allowance for figures of speech. The habit of recognising a " canon " of writers, with a parallelism, usually groundless, between Greek and Roman authors, was connected with the custom of classifying styles under three categories, or tacking on a single distinctive epithet to every writer a tendency of which the more appreciative side is exemplified by the poetical introduction to Meleager's Garland of Poets.

It is very curious that the distinction of the three styles was not merely applied to Homer's speakers, but ascribed to Homer as having been remarked by him ; 2 an idea which, in respect of the two extremes of a copious and a neat style, is really not without foundation in Antenor's remarks on the speaking of Ulysses and Menelaus. The formation of a medium beside the two extremes would readily suggest itself.

All this aspect of literary and rhetorical criticism is apt to appear to us to be idle and tedious. But it helped to con- dition more important movements.

Later Greco- iv. The rhetorical interest of the later Roman Roman crimes. cr itics produced a substantially liberal appreciation of the aims of art, though it was for the most part not couched in aesthetic form. After all, oratory, like art, is a mode of self-expression ; and the comparison or confusion of poetry with oratory formative art being by a stock simile connected with poetry emphasizes the expressive purposes and organs of art. Some of the criticism suggested by the analogy thus obtained between oratory and formative art shows a high degree of historical sympathy. Thus Dionysius of Hali- carnassus 3 in the first century B.C. writes : " There are ancient pictures, simple in colouring and without variety in the mix- tures of pigments, but true (a*jcu/3?, severe ?) in outline and

1 Prof. H. Nettleship, in Journal of Philology^ xvin. 230 ff.

2 Cf. Prof. H. Nettleship Lc. w. quotation from Gellius. See Iliad^ 3, 200.

3 See Prof. Nettleship, Lc.


CICERO. IO3


possessing a great charm in this respect ; while the later ones are less good in outline but are more elaborately finished with varying effects of chiaroscuro, and have their strong point in the variety of mixtures." We have not the pictures in ques- tion ; but the description seems to correspond to the well- known difference between art in its youth and in its decay. When Aristotle said that all the work of the ancient artists was bad, let us hope that he was referring to a different period P

But yet criticism was stereotyping itself and losing its vitality. Even in Cicero we find a tendency to brief and formal characterisation of the great painters and sculptors, though the writer is still animated by a real love for their art ; in Quintilian the originality appears to be less, and the school- book tendency greater, 2 while, to make a long story short, Pronto, in the third century, A.D., writes as if he had been taught a single epithet for each artist or poet.

In Cicero however, in the work on the Sublime which passes under the name of Longinus, in Plutarch, in Dio Chrysostom, and in Philostratus there is something more that calls for notice.

Cicero was an eclectic in philosophy, and we are not to expect original speculation from him. Yet he was earnest, candid, and thoroughly well read, while retaining the power of direct perception that marks a man versed in practical life. Thus, when he presupposes the Greek view of beauty as con- stituted by an apt relation of the parts to the whole, 3 we see that this view had become a commonplace of reflection ; when he travesties 4 the Platonic doctrine of abstract forms by identi- fying the form of beauty with a mental picture from which the artist copies, which is apparently the same for a Zeus and for an Athena, and which in "our" minds is always capable of a higher beauty than that of the greatest work of Pheidias, we understand that he takes art so seriously as to identify the artist's mental image with that supreme objective order which Plato precisely denied that the artist could ever apprehend or represent. We must not lose sight of the practical reversal of Plato's position for the better which this identification involves, while condemning the outrageous abstraction by


895 a 35.

For this judgment I rely chiefly on Prof. Nettleship, I.e. De Offidis* i, 27. * Orator., cc. 2 and 3.


IO4 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

which the mental ideal is treated as though it were an innate idea, not dependent on genius, labour, and experience.

And along with this seriousness in Cicero's estimate of art we find, as in the Roman poets, an increasing sensitiveness to the beauty of natural scenery, combined as in Chrysippus and constantly in modern times with a sentimental form of the argument from design. 1 There is perhaps a lack of distinction between beauty and use, but on the other hand there is some- thing approaching to a feeling for the picturesque and the sublime.

And the absurd reference to a single abstract and apparently innate form of beauty is more than atoned for by the really important suggestion, " Seeing that there are two kinds of beauty, one of which consists in grace, the other in dignity ; we must consider grace as feminine, and dignity as masculine beauty. 1 ' 2

The subdivision of beauty (apart from so-called moral and intellectual beauty) into kinds is a step which I do not know to have been explicitly taken before this date. Aristotle can only be said to do it inferentially, as a consequence of the distinction between forms of art. It is a step incompatible with adherence to the mere formal aesthetic of Hellas, and is an essential condition of a more appreciative analysis.

The work on the Sublime, bearing the name of Longinus, a man of letters of the third century A.D., and secretary to Zenobia, is now on the whole believed by the best authorities 3 to belong to a date soon aftei the time of Augustus. The mere existence of the word $\lrot "sublimity," lit. "height," as a technical term in aesthetic or rhetorical criticism, one of a vast number of such technical terms current in the Greco- Roman age, 4 is a notable fact. The philosophical importance of the treatise is rather in its evidence that consciousness has be- come sensitive in this direction than in any systematic insight into the nature of the sublime. Nevertheless the writer has

1 De Natura Dcorum, xxxun , xxxix. "Let us dismiss refinements of dis- pute, and look with pur own eyes at the beauty of those things which we allege to be formed by divine providence." Rough rocks, caves, and mountains are named in this list of beauties.

2 De OJficiiS) i, 36 Had Schiller this passage before him in Anmuth u. Wurde?

3 See A. Lang's Introd. to Havell's Longinus.

4 Prof. H. W&\\es\i\y, Journal of Philology, xvm. 236.


THE SUBLIME. IO5


elements of such insight. " Sublimity is, so to say, the image of greatness of soul." 1 " It was not in nature's plan for us, her chosen children, to be base and ignoble no, she brought us into life and into the whole universe, as into some great field of contest, that we should be at once spectators and ambitious rivals of her mighty deeds, and from the first im- planted in our souls an invincible yearning for all that is great, all that is diviner than ourselves. Therefore even the whole world is not wide enough for the soaring range of human thought, but man's mind often overleaps the very bounds of space. When we survey the whole circle of life, and see it abounding everywhere in what is elegant, grand and beautiful, we learn at once what is the true end of man's being. And this is why nature prompts us to admire, not the clearness and usefulness of a little stream, but the Nile, the Danube, the Rhine, and far beyond all the Ocean/' 2 " When a writer uses any other resource, he shows himself to be a man ; but the Sublime lifts him near to the great spirit of the Deity." 3 Whereas then in statuary we look for close resemblance to humanity, in literature we require something which transcends humanity a remark bearing closely on the place 4 of sculpture in ancient, and poetry in modern art. On the other hand, as showing that there is not really a definite grasp of any distinc- tive notion of the Sublime, we may note such a description as this, "when a passage is pregnant in suggestion, when it is hard, nay impossible, to distract the attention from it, and when it takes a strong and lasting hold on the memory, then we may be sure that we have lighted on the true Sublime/' 6

We may say, perhaps, that the writer was fairly on the track of some such conception as that of the Sublime depending on an effort or reaction on the part of the mind, occasioned by some form of contest with the suggestion of magnitude or force, in which effort or reaction the subject becomes assured of a deeper spiritual strength in himself than he commonly experiences. The absence of any persistent attempt to drag out the essence of the matter by definition is exceedingly remarkable, and the writer's real strength is in his literary judgment and the selection of examples.

In the discussion of style he betrays a consciousness that

1 Havell's Longing p 15 (c. ix). 2 Havell's Longimts, cxxxv. p. 68. 3 /A, c, xxxvi. p. 69. 4 /, p 7- 6 2b "> CV!1 - P ia -


IO6 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

sublimity has some connection with incompleteness, but this idea, which forms rightly or wrongly an important factor in the theory of Kant, he does not pursue to any speculative result. He is very much alive to the false sublime frigidity or bombast as proceeding mainly from over-elaboration of conceits, and is thus well aware that reserve and suggestive- ness are connected with the Sublime.

And it is a notable sign of the times that Hebrew poetry here first appears within the field of Greek aesthetic. " And thus also the law-giver of the Jews, no ordinary man, having formed an adequate conception of the Supreme Being, gave it adequate expression in the opening words of his ' Laws ' : God said what ? ' Let there be light/ and there was ; 'let there be land,' and there was." 1

However philosophically incomplete, this work adds one to the distinctions which experience was revealing within the sphere of beauty, and is probably responsible for the exceed- ingly important part played by the theory of the Sublime in modern speculation. 2

Plutarch of Chaeronca, 50-100 A.D., attacks both Stoics and Epicureans, and does not, so far as I know, profess himself an adherent of any school of philosophy. For our present purpose the most significant of his works is a discussion of the question, how, in view of the base and immoral matter treated of by poets, young men are to read them ["hear" them] without sustaining moral injury. In spite of his moralistic attitude, the imbecility of some of his advice and interpretations, and the want of intelligence in his constant references to the arguments and poetical quotations of Plato's Republic, he has the merit of stating in plainer terms than Aristotle owing to the accumulation of aesthetic experience during the long interval between them the strictly aesthetic question : 4< Can what is really ugly become beautiful in art ? " No doubt he perpetually confuses this with the ques- tion : Do we commend an act morally because we admire it in a work of art ? " which he rightly answers in the negative, but which is not a problem of aesthetic, but only of the dis- tinction between aesthetic and ethics.


1 /., c. ix p. 1 8

2 It was first edited in modern Europe in 1544, and often since, notably by Boileau in 1674 See Lang's Introduction to Havell's Ltmginus.


PLUTARCH. 107


But he also raises the real problem in distinct terms the terms of ugliness and beauty, asking in effect, " Can what is ugly in itself be beautiful in art ? If Yes, can the art-repre- sentation be suitable to and consistent with its original ? If No, how does it happen that we admire such art-representa- tions ? " " I have framed the above question out of Plutarch's answer, 1 which runs thus: "In essence the ugly cannot be- come beautiful ; but the imitation is admired if it is a likeness. The picture of an ugly thing cannot be a beautiful picture ; if it were, it could not be suitable to or consistent with its origi- nal. . . . Beauty, and to imitate beautifully [which can- not mean to make a beautiful picture, but only to imitate successfully^ are quite different things." And " the reason 2 why we admire such representations in art, both poetic and pic- torial, 3 is because the artist's cunning has an affinity for our intelligence, as may be observed in the fondness of children for toy animals, and in such cases as that of the audience who preferred Parmeno's imitation of a squeaking pig to the real pig.

The mere looseness of Plutarch's language in this explana- tion seems to give his view a generality which places it in advance of the precisely limited analysis furnished by Aris- totle, through a reference to the enjoyment of inference. But Plutarch is still essentially on the same ground as Aristotle. He, like Aristotle, is speaking of the response of our intelli- gence to the artist's skill, not of the affinity between the artist's intelligence and the significance of the things which he portrays. The natural sense-perception 4 is the same, he expressly says, with that which the artist gives us; that is the latter owes nothing of its content to the passage through a human mind. The only difference between the two is in our concomitant knowledge whether the presentation is natural or artificial. This is for him the moral of the story about Parmeno, and excludes the interpretation that the audience preferred the ventriloquist's imitation because it was exag- gerated with humorous intention, which would be the natural explanation from a modern point of view. 1 his example is

1 De Audiendis Poetis HI. 3 Su/nxr. *7>/^ > v i. , .

3 Plutarch insists on this stock comparison to show that poetry being imita-

11 f 1.1 _ ,* 4-<i~,"t f\f i4-p oiir\iftArc


IO8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

a strange counterpart to Kant's case of the nightingale imitated by the human voice, which, he says, becomes tedious the moment the deception is discovered. The common ground must be that we expect more from a man than from an animal, only in the one case we think we get it, and in the other we do not.

Though, therefore, Plutarch does not help us to understand how art appeals to our intelligence, except in the mere fact of its power to copy, yet it is very remarkable that he thinks himself a champion of the intellect as concerned in the artistic pleasure of painful subjects, against the Epicureans, 1 who ascribed it to mere sensation without the countervailing pain of knowing the suffering to be real. But his only genuine advance upon Aristotle lies in the urgency which the problem of ugliness in art had acquired for him, as evinced by the very numerous examples which he gives of it (though not adequately distinguishing it from the painful and the immoral), and by the definiteness with which he states the strictly aes- thetic problem, " Can the ugly, if represented in a way appropriate to it [in short, without falsification], be beautiful in art?" In estimating the value of Plutarch's answer, "It remains ugly, but we rightly take pleasure in it by reason of the intelligence involved in obtaining the likeness," we must not forget that the power to copy is a phase, though elementary, of the power to re-create by intelligence. And therefore to recognise a legitimate pleasure in the skill that copies what is ugly, is the germ of a recognition that what is apparently ugly, but admirable in art, has something m it which the trained perception can appreciate as beautiful.

Dio Chrysostom, a Bithynian (A.D. 50-117), a writer of popular lectures on philosophical subjects, makes in two re- spects a distinct advance on what we know of his predecessors.

First, he 2 recognises the ideal for art, quite in the opposite sense to that of Cicero, as a concrete form in which the artist gives adequate reality to conceptions which before and apart from such realisation are not definite ; so that the result is not that after seeing the Pheidian statue of Zeus every one

1 Siy/7rcxr. 7Tpo/3A, lc The Epicureans, it seems, pointed out that the actor can represent suffering better than the sufferer can. This is the point which Plutarch, if a true art-theorist, ought himself to have made, but does not in 3. it e

2 Dion Clnys de Dti Cognition* Orat., 12, p. 402, Reiske


DIG CHRYSOSTOM. IOQ


can imagine something more beautiful ; but that after seeing it, no one can imagine the god in any other way.

Obviously we are here on the track which Herodotus, with his naive profoundness, had entered 500 years before. A particular case of this conception is the treatment of the human form l as the most adequate visible symbol of the invisible quality of intelligence a striking anticipation of modern ideas, in some degree itself anticipated by the Xeno- phontic Socrates.

And secondly, Dio Chrysostom examines the commonplace comparison between poetry and formative art with a view, not merely to the resemblances, but also to the differences between them ; drawing attention to the larger field open to language both in the kind of ideas represented, as it has words alike for the sensuous and the non-sensuous, and in the time and action 2 included in its descriptions contrasted with the single moment and attitude into which the formative artist must compress all that he desires to convey.

The above views are expounded in a criticism, 8 or rather panegyric of the Olympian Zeus of Phcidias, which reads almost as if the demands of Christianity were already stimu- lating the adherents of older creeds to demonstrate a spiritual and human significance in their own conception of deity.

In Philostratus (first half of third century A.D.), author of the life of Apollonius of Tyana, and of the description of a real or imaginary collection of paintings at Naples, there is much matter of aesthetic interest. Two points are all to which attention can here be drawn.

First, in the biography of Apollonius, the antithesis of

1 Id. *&, Reiske, 404. I translate this remarkable passage, " No sculptor or painter can portray reason and wisdom as they aie in themselves For having no perception or experience of such things, but knowing for certain in what they come to pass, we make it our resource, investing the god with the human body, the vessel of wisdom and reason- seeking to manifest the imageless and unseen in the visible, which can be portrayed -better than the way m which some of the barbarians make likenesses of their gods as


^ ^ (sculptors) have to make each likeness in a single attitude, which must be stable and permanent, and comprise in it the whole nature and quality of the god. But the poets may include many forms in their poetry, and ascribe movement and rest and actions and words to their personages."

3 Dion Chrysost. dc Dei Co&iitione Orat., 12.


HO HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

imitation and imagination as two co-ordinate principles of art is stated with the full consciousness of its novelty and impor- tance. Apollonius 1 is attacking the Egyptian representations of gods in animal forms. The Egyptian interlocutor retorts in effect, " How do you know your Greek representations are any truer ? Did your Pheidiases go up to heaven and take the gods' likenesses, or did something else guide them in their work?' 1 "Something else guided them a thing full of wisdom." "What was that? You cannot mention any such thing, except imitation." " It was imagination that wrought these forms, a more cunning artist than imitation. Imitation will make what it has seen, but imagination will make what it has not seen." [This does not necessarily mean "the invisible/' but may include it].

But secondly, it is more remarkable still that this opposition, which in its unmitigated form is thoroughly vicious that is to say, when imagination is treated not as directing but as supplanting the presentation of reality at once begins to shade off into the more modern idea of a mental (or, as we should say, imaginative) imitation. It is this inward imitative power, we are told for example, that makes us see the forms of animals in the clouds, 2 which are not really there, or see a negro face drawn in white chalk as the portrait of a black man.

But though the opposition is thus mitigated, it is not destroyed. Inward or mental imitation does not for Philo- stratus amount to imagination. For us, however, in view of his instances, it is not easy to distinguish them. He keeps very far indeed from confounding the fantastic with the imaginative. Rather, it would appear, he finds true imagination in the invention and suitability, the higher degree of significance and expression, which he esteems in a picture above truth to nature on the one band, and formal beauty on the other. "Any one," he says, " professing to describe a picture of Ariadne in Naxos, could paint a beautiful Theseus and a beautiful Ariadne, but the Dionysus is painted simply


Philostr, Vita A poll. Tyan , vi. 19. I quote from Overhcck, Schrift- quellen zur Gcschichtc d. Bildcnden A'nmfe, 801, compared with Mullcr, 11. 317. < Quoted m Muller, n 319, <iAA<i ^ T oro /SovAei \tyw rocrcun-a /xcv io-i^a r M cos TV X Sid TOV ovpavov <epccr0eu, roye eVt TW 0u>, ij/xas Sc <v'cret TO

'


v re aura


PLOflNUS. I I I


as dictated by his love." 1 How invention and expression are brought together in his conception may be illustrated by a curious piece of sentiment which he praises in a landscape, where a male palm tree leans across a stream so as to touch a female palm with its branches, forming a kind of bridge. The recognition of sentiment in landscape is an important datum in the history of art ; whether in this instance the sentiment is of the best kind is a different question.

This recognition of imagination as the power of creating an adequate expression for intelligence and sentiment, places the conception of Philostratus on a higher level than the idealising imitation of Aristotle, in which the difficulty in what direction to idealise is not coped with as a matter of principle.

v. Plotinus, born in Egvpt, 205 A D , a pupil of

Plotinus. A . r AI i i i>

Ammomus baccas of Alexandria, taught in Rome from 24 s A.D. till his death in 270 A.D The tradition that Ammonius was an apostate 2 from Christianity on account of its hostility to the arts and sciences may serve to remind us of the varied influences under which Neo-Platonism arose, although it does not appear d to be ascertamable how far in fact Ammonius and Plotinus were acquainted with earlier Alexandrian speculations, or with Judaic or Christian theo- logy.

It is natural to regard a non-Christian philosopher who writes in Greek in the century before Constantine as belonging to late antiquity ; but Plotinus has also been treated as be- longing to the early middle age. 4 The doubt indicates his position better than any decision. Neo-Platonism is a counter-part of Christianity, but in a disguise of half- Hellenic theory which curbs its freedom. It is, as we said before, a half-system, of the kind known as mystical , which does not mean that it is too spiritual, but that, intending to be wholly spiritual, it is really not spiritual enough ; for, like Christian monasticism, it interprets the spiritual renunciation of the world in a material fashion. It shares however with Christianity the reaction against the still more partial systems

i Philostr , Imagines, i 15, Muller, 11 324, oU'oBros y o Atdvucros C'K /xo


rov cpav

2 Krdmann, E Tr i 237

3 Harnack, art "Neo-Platonism," Encyd Bnt.

  • Erdmann, I.e.


112 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

that immediately preceded it ; it rejects all compromise with sensual self-seeking, and has faith in a reality deeper than phenomenal nature, deeper than civic or national relations, deeper even than mind. Like Plato's Form of the Good, to which it corresponds in being above existence, 1 this Unity or Primal God is above reason, and above the. life of the world, which two latter principles are identified by historians with the Aristotelian " intelligence," and the Stoic "universal life." 2 As derivative, these two elements are necessarily in- ferior, and the adherence to this axiom of subordination, that the derived is necessarily below the original, distinguishes Neo-Platonism from a true evolutionary doctrine, such as was latent though not at first obvious in Christianity.

But much as Plotinus renounces, in the way of knowledge and practical life, he refuses to renounce material beauty. In the directness with which it is perceived beauty has an ana- logy to mystical intuition which often makes it find favour with those who think methodic science too circuitous for an available avenue to truth.

It is worth while to recall, in treating of Plotinus, those three antitheses by which we attempted to gauge the antici- pations of a larger aesthetic that were to be found in Plato and Aristotle. It will be remembered that each of these antitheses corresponded to a characteristic feature not indeed of Greek aesthetic theory, for as regards two out of the three Greek theory fell short of an aesthetic standpoint, but of Greek con- ceptions relating to the beautiful. We arranged them as

i. The antithesis of imitation and symbolism, corresponding to the metaphysical problem : "What kind of reality does art represent ? "

ii. The antithesis of aesthetic and practical interest, corre- sponding to the moralistic problem : " Is the content of beauty related to the will in the same way as the motives of practical life?"

iii. The antithesis of abstract and concrete criticism, corre- sponding to the true aesthetic problem : "Is the nature of beauty exhausted by the formal definition which identifies it with the sensuous presentation of unity in variety, or is a wider and deeper content traceable in it by observation and analysis ? "

We saw that the limitations of purely Greek theory in these

-ri/s own'a?, cp. vi., p. 509 2 Erdmann, I.e.


SYMBOLISM IN FLOTINUS. 113

several respects were intimately connected together, and it follows that no substantive advance could be made in one of the three problems without tending to stimulate an advance in respect of the other two. But the third being more directly dependent on experience and observation was capable of gain- ing considerably in depth and breadth of treatment during an interval in which speculation was unequal to readjusting the other two doctrines in conformity with this new analysis. And such an interval had elapsed, in spite of occasional gleams of philosophic intelligence, between Aristotle and Plotinus. Little of theoretical value either on the distinction between imitation and symbolism, or on the distinction between aesthe- tic and practical interest, has been adduced in our review of aesthetic reflection current during this period. And there is no reason to suppose that of the numerous writings which are lost any rose considerably above the philosophical level of those which have come down to us. Only in the later writers, such as the author of the treatise " on the Sublime," Dio Chrysos- tom, Philostratus, we find a tendency to recognise in so many words that art is not a mirror of common perception, but an expression of something great or reasonable in a sensuous form. Even this recognition, however, is so little elaborated in theory that it belongs rather to the deepest recognition of an expres- siveness beyond mere formal symmetry than to a doctrine of the relation between art and reality.

symbolism. a \ S V ch a d( ?ctrine w ^ do find in Plotinus. The realisation, he is explaining, 1 is indeed always less than the idea, and the created less than the creator this is the point on which he is still Platonic, and which makes his theory one of emanation and not of evolution " but still," he continues, " if any one condemns the arts, because they create by way of imitation of nature, first we must observe that natural things themselves are an imitation of something further [viz. of underlying reasons or ideas], and next we must bear in mind that the arts do not simply imitate the visible, but go back to the reasons 2 from which nature comes ; and further, that they create much out of themselves, and add to that which is defective, as being themselves in possession of beauty ; since Pheidias did not create his Zeus after any perceived pattern, but made him such as he would be if Zeus deigned to

1 Creuzer's ed., p. 1002


114 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

appear to mortal eyes." This passage leaves no doubt of the writer's intention to take up the gauntlet thrown down by Plato in his " three removes from truth." 1 It seems natural, too, with Dio and Philostratus in our minds, to suppose that the truth claimed for the Pheidian statue is that of adequate symbolism for a god whose nature is spiritual, and not that of imaginative representation of a god who is material, though as a rule unseen by man.

It is needless to enlarge here on the philosophical signifi- cance of this passage, which the discussion of Plato's position has fully prepared us to appreciate. It is true that Plotinus retains the self-contradictory conception of spiritual or im- material beauty by the side of the idea of natural beauty ; but as the latter is not defined, or not merely defined, by its relation to the former, but is explained in terms of other attributes, the value of the theory as dealing with material is not seriously impaired. "A beautiful material thing 2 is pro- duced by participation in reason issuing from the divine." This sentence sums up the conception.

Plato's whole terminology is modified and re-applied by Plotinus in this sense. Material beauty is still an image or a shadow, but it is an image or shadow issuing from reason, and appealing to the soul through the same power by which reason brings order into matter. A portrait, 3 indeed, if it give the mere features and no more, is, as Plato would have called it, an image of an image, and thus Plotinus evokes from the Platonic view that deep aesthetic significance which we saw that it might really claim.

Therefore the whole metaphysical assumption that art is limited by ordinary perception, which assumption is one with the imitative theory of fine art, is now broken through. It is henceforth understood that art is not imitative but symbolic.

^Esthetic P. What, then, is the nature of aesthetic interest

interest or t j le j ove Q f b^u^ anc j { s j t distinct from prac- tical interest or desire ?

The answer is unambiguous and complete. In the material beautiful, and not merely in the cunning of the artist's imita- tion as Aristotle* and Plutarch suggested, the soul recognises

1 Rep i x. 2 Creuzer, p 102.

3 Porphyry's Life of Plotinus


UGLINESS. 115


an affinity to itself. This affinity consists 1 in the participation in reason and form, and is co-extensive with the beautiful. For the ugly is either that which being capable of rational form has not received it ; or that which is incapable of rational form and refuses to be moulded by it. Hence beauty is only in the form, not in the material, and this must be so as it is the form alone z that can enter our apprehension. The exclusion of desire for the sensuous reality from the interest in the beautiful is effected by this view of aesthetic semblance as thoroughly as by that of Schiller.

Thus, in strict theory, the moralistic limitation of beauty is thrown aside, as we foresaw, together with its metaphysical limitation. Beauty comes to be regarded as a direct expres- sion of reason in sense by way of aesthetic semblance only and is therefore co-ordinate with morality and not subordinate to it I do not say that Plotinus would necessarily interpret his own principle in its full breadth ; that would depend on the limits which he might assign to reasonableness of form. In this interpretation he might be influenced by his ascetic tendency ; but there is no room for doubt as to the bearing of his philosophical theory. All that symbolises in sensuous or material form the laws or reasons eternally active in the world has a right, by this theory, to rank as beautiful.

On the other hand, his conception of ugliness is defective, if we regard it as a defect to assert that nothing is ugly. For interpreted by modern views of nature, it would come to this. We know of nothing that does not in one way or another symbolise reason. We speak about " higher " and " lower " laws, but we know of nothing in which law is not revealed. If therefore we mean to maintain that real ugliness ugliness which is not beautiful can exist, we must set some limit to the idea that all is beautiful which symbolises reason. Whether such a limitation can be maintained, and with it the existence of real ugliness, is a great problem of modern aesthetic. It was at any rate a merit in Plotinus that he stated the question so broadly and clearly. By doing so he vastly extended the recognised province of beauty, in agreement with the need for such an extension which we saw to have been practically making itself felt in art and criticism. In all probability, however, he would have classed as formless,

1 Creuzer, pp. 100-1. * Creuzer, p. 1003.


Il6 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

in accordance with the enlightened popular feeling even of our own day, which his theory fairly represents, much that trained perception ou^ht to recognise as full of form and beauty, and much again, which may be really ugly, but can- not be strictly called formless. For in reality nothing is form- less. Logically speaking, he has confused the bare negative which is in fact a nonentity, with the positive opposite or contrary. It is not absence of form, but false form confusion of the forms appropriate to different things and meanings in which, if anywhere, we must look for real ugliness.

Yet all these considerations are refinements, only rendered possible by the broad comparison of beauty and ugliness as representing the rational and irrational, in which for the first time Plotinus brought the whole subject under one compre- hensive point of view, capable of including the diverse forms and deeper sentiments of beauty which the age of transition had been developing.

concrete 7- As we should anticipate, the identification

criticism. o f beauty with mere symmetry, or unity in variety, the limitation which makes aesthetic purely formal is broken down when the beauty of art ceases to be subordin- ated to the standards of ordinary reality. Plotinus repeatedly protests against the identification of beauty with symmetry ; and although the arguments by which he sustains his protest do not always appear to be sound, nor docs he display a very consistent apprehension of any mode beyond that of mere symmetry or harmony in which reason can exhibit itself to sense, yet it is plain that he understood the growing need for a modification of aesthetic theory in this direction. I quote a passage which shows his nixiin argument from feeling and observation. 1

" Beauty is rather a light that plays over the symmetry of things than the symmetry itself, and in this consists its charm. For why is the light of beauty rather on the living face, and only a trace of it on that of the dead, though the countenance be not yet disfigured in the symmetry of its substance ; and why are the more life-like 2 statues the more beautiful, though the others be more symmetrical ? and why is an uglier living man more beautiful than a statue of a beautiful one, except

1 Ennead., iv. 7, 22. See Muller, p 313.

8 See above ch. iv, p. 45, on Socrates in Xenophon


CRITICISM OF "SYMMETRY.


that this (living beauty) is more desirable, and is so because it is more of the nature of the good ? " And he even seems to have taken up the thought of the Xenophontic Socrates, and insisted that "the portrait painter must aim especially at catch- ing the look of the eye, as the mind reveals itself in it more than in the conformation of the body/' * This would certainly indicate a peculiar sensitiveness to the effects of painting, which, as Schasler points out, is significant with reference to the new relation which painting and sculpture were destined to assume in the later middle age.

Of course "vitality" or "expression must be embodied in some kind of symmetry, but as symmetry is a much wider and less definite attribute than vitality and expression, it is plain that we have here a great advance towards concrete aesthetic theory.

When however Plotinus supports his denial that beauty can consist in mere symmetry, by the argument that if so, the simple parts of a beautiful whole, such as colour, lightning, the stars, could not be beautiful in themselves, whereas in reality a beautiful whole must have parts which are beautiful separately as well as in combination, he arouses a whole swarm of esthetic questions to do which is in itself a great merit but does not escape serious confusion. To begin with, it is clear that a beautiful whole does not necessarily consist of parts which are beautiful in isolation. Again, al- though, as he alleges, some things which are relatively simple appear to be beautiful even taken by themselves, it is not cer- tain that their beauty falls outside the explanation suggested by Plato for " pure " sounds and colours, which, of course, how- ever simple, have parts in which their simplicity is manifested. And further, it is not easy to estimate Plotinus' own explana- tion of the peculiar beauty which he finds in light "The beauty of colour, which is simple, consists in its overcoming darkness by a principle which is immaterial, and is reason and form.' 1 Whether colour, considered as beautiful, is really simple, and is not rather, qua simple, merely pleasant, but qua beautiful, suggestive of harmonies and relations ; whether Plotinus the spiritualist is not, like so many spiritualists, fascinated by the idea that an imponderable agent is somehow more akin to mind than heavy matter can be ; and whether, if

1 See Schasler, i. 246


Il8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

light does conquer obscurity by producing lucidity, this im- plies any element of beauty deeper than those involved in order and symmetry, are questions which present themselves at once in dealing with this conception. Leaving these diffi- culties, which it is enough to point out, it must be observed that Plotinus' devotion to light is connected with the immense importance which Plato's comparison between the Sun and the Good had in Neo-Platonism, and that from a purely aesthetic point of view he falls behind Aristotle by the comparatively slight attention which he pays to music as a medium of spiritual expression. It was this, we remember, that so strangely and suggestively perverted the mimetic terminology of Aristotle ; music, he observed, had a higher expressive or imitative capacity than the formative arts. And in this con- ception, if freely interpreted, we saw a foreshadowing of the profoundest modern romanticism. For Plotinus, music is of course an audible symbol of inaudible harmonies, but it is beautiful only in a secondary degree as compared with paint- ing, whereas we should have expected that a thinker of his tendency would have developed the suggestion of Aristotle, and recognised music as a pre-eminently spiritual art. If, as seems probable, some superstition about the immaterial affinities of light was the cause of this non-recognition, we have here an example of the law that quasi-poetic imagination, when admitted into philosophy, blinds the intelligence to what is truly of poetic value.

The creative impulse of Hellenic philosophy ended with Plotinus. For more than two centuries after his death in 270 A.D. the schools of Athens remained open, but it does not appear that Proclus, who died about forty years before their closing in 529, and was the last considerable Greek philoso- pher, added anything of serious importance to the ideas of Plotinus, which he systematised.

We have now traced the history of the Hellenic formulae relating to beauty, and have endeavoured to indicate not only the conditions of their formation and the degrees by which they were stretched and ultimately broken, but also the actual force that was at work in the concrete perception of the beautiful as it first strained and then snapped them. The definite antagonism of the sensuous and the spiritual world the latter being regarded as something more and other than an intelligible system or better understanding of phenomena


"MEDIEVAL AND "MODERN. I 1 9

meant the disintegration of ancient thought, and the genesis of what on the great scale of world-history may fairly be called the modern mind.

It may be indeed that what we thus distinguish as "modern" will one day be called " mediaeval," and that we shall learn to date perhaps from Shakespeare or from Goethe the inception of an aesthetic mood which is symbolic like that of the middle age, but without its arbitrary mysticism, and unartificial, like that of classical Greece, but free from its imitative naturalism. For the present however it is enough to note the original growth of that deeper and subtler con- sciousness, which however its antagonisms may be reconciled, can never, having once appeared, be substantially lost to the world, and which must for ever form the ultimate distinction between classical antiquity and all that in the most pregnant sense can be called modern.

a (p 57, note i). Observe however in Metrodorus (answer to Posidippus, who wrote in 3rd cent B c ) the first definite allusion to " the charm of nature " I owe this reference to the kindness of Mr Mackail.

b (p 90) This judgment seems quite wrong I need hardly refer the reader to Mr Mackail's History of Latin Literature for a true estimate

c (p 91). On the contrary, the subject, as I learn from Mr Mackail's History ', was often heated in the Alexandrine period I still think my mention of it not wholly inclcvant

^ (p 97) "god's house." If this implies that, eg., the Parthenon or Propylaea produce an effect of smallness, it is surely quite wrong. They are, in efftct^ among the " biggest " buildings of the world

e (p 114). Aristotle's suggestions went further See Butcher, op. cit. t 155 note, and Ar. dc Part Anim. 045 a. 4.


CHAPTER VI.

SOME TRACES OF THE CONTINUITY OF THE AESTHETIC CON- SCIOUSNESS THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE AGES.

IT is natural, especially for the Protestant peoples of Europe, to regard the Renaissance as the beginning of modern life. The long struggle for intellectual and political freedom which still gives the tone to our aspirations, appears to us to have had its starting point in the revival of Greek learning, and the awakening of physical science. And we have therefore been too apt to think even of the Renaissance in poetry and for- mative art as a new departure, stimulated from without, and forming portion of a homogeneous development rather into the times that followed, than out of the times that went before.

But any such view is coming to be less and less approved

by the deepest and most sympathetic criticism ; and thus it

will be worth while (i) to put together some indications of a

growing tendency in modern thought to pursue the roots of

the Renaissance further and further back into the earlier

middle age, before (2) attempting a very slight sketch of the

intellectual attitude assumed by the mediaeval Church and its

greatest thinkers towards formative art and the sense of beauty.

Tendency to * As the movement of the Renaissance in

extend Eenais- poetry and fine art passed from the productive to

sjoice toac* ^ J . . - A * ...

towards the criticdl stage, it was natural that criticism Christian Era. S } 1O11 ] j fl rst turn j ts attention to the later phases of

production, which were in many senses nearer to itself. Just as scholarship travelled back to the Hellenic world by way of the Greco-Roman, and was long before it distinguished Zeus and Athene from Jupiter and Minerva, so it would seem as if aesthetic interest was first attracted by the full-blown arid later Renaissance, both in letters, in painting, and in architecture, and only worked backward by degrees to " Gothic" buildings and early Tuscan painters. We all know the beautiful passage in Goethe's autobiography, 1 in which he supports the noble


1 Wahtheit u Dichtung, Werke, 17, 347-8.


THE PRE-RAPHAELITE MOVEMENT. I2T

paradox, " What youth desires, old age abounds in," by his having lived to enjoy the awakened interest of others in Gothic architecture, the study of which had fascinated him in his youth. ^ The art lectures of our own Academicians show the need of a similar retrogression. 1 We find in them, indeed, some slight references to Cimabue, because of Vasari's con- spicuous mention of him, but hardly a word of Giotto, and not a word of Botticelli or Fra Angelico. The Caracci's, on the other hand, are continually in the writers' minds, just as Lessing's criticism was first directed to the Gallicising poets of his own day. The brilliancy of the first years of the sixteenth century seems to have marked that period as the true point of departure, and attention was given by preference rather to what came after it than to what went before. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 furnished a conveniently definite reason, and in some degree a real cause, to which this great effect could be attributed ; and so the term Renaissance in its narrowest acceptation indicates the influence of Greek studies and antiquities on art and letters, an influence which had, however, in fact begun before the latter half of the fifteenth century, to which it is usually ascribed. Because of this usage, the word has often to-day a disparaging connotation with reference to the history of art and architecture, which is apt to perplex the student who interprets it more generally. pre-Rapnaeute i- The present century has seen this tendency painting, reversed, at least in England, by the aesthetic movement, of which the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was a symbol, but which acted in conjunction with many funda- mental impulses of the age, and, in short, with the whole principle of evolutionary science and history. It is quite plain that this general movement, which includes a strong bias against the assumption of purely extraneous causes for any development within a society, has shifted the centre of our interest in Italian formative art to a point rather before than after the close of the fifteenth century, and has pushed back its further limit to the first signs of change in the practice of painters, that is to say to the middle of the thirteenth century. As for architecture, we shall see directly that in it the later Renaissance may now be said to form the nearer frontier of our interest, while the remoter boundary has gone back to the

1 Barry, Opie, Fuseli, between 1790 and 1810,


122 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

very threshold of the earliest middle age. But when this more comprehensive scope is given to our care for the Renaissance, the term itself has lost its narrow reference to the revival of Greek letters in the fifteenth century, and has been extended in conformity with its literal import to the whole movement and aspiration revealed in Dante and Giotto and their successors.

ceSSyn^ch " This bein g so > however, the principle is con- Literature, ceded that the European movement known as the Renaissance was not purely dependent on stimulation from without, and we are driven to trace its genesis yet further back than the time of Dante. We cannot refuse to see in the early French stories written as we have them during the thirteenth century, but older no doubt in their origin and circulation, a Renaissance within the middle age, 1 on which the signs of the new spirit are distinctly impressed.

Mr. Pater's quotation from The Friendship of Amis and Amile should be read in the beautiful setting he has fur- nished for it 2 by those who desire to realise the many sidedness of the romantic sentiment embodied in these matin songs of modern Europe. We notice in them on the one hand the tenderness and sensitiveness of romanticism, and more es- pecially its delight in beautiful workmanship, the carved wooden cups of Amis and Amile playing the part almost of persons in the story ; and on the other hand we are struck by the outburst of passionate rebellion against a dogma, once spiritual, but now grossly material, and hostile to human feeling. Nothing is more extraordinary in view of our common notions about the Dark Ages, than the audacity alike of sentiment and of speculation that we meet with inside their bounds.

One famous outburst of such audacity I think it well to reproduce from the story of Aticassin et Nicolette. It is the passage to which Mr. Pater refers as sounding a note of rebellion too strident for his pages. Aucassin is threatened with exclusion from heaven, if he makes Nicolette his mistress. "You will never,' 1 the adviser concludes, "enter into Para- dise."


1 I am following, of course, non passibus aquis, the delightful study in Mr. Pater's Renaissance called " Two Early French Stories."

2 Renaissance^ Essay i.


ABELARD. 123


" In Paradise what have I to do ? " is Aucassin's answer. " I do not seek to enter there, but only to have Nicolette, my sweet love, whom I love so. None go to Paradise but those whom I will tell you. There go the old priest and the halt and the maimed, who all day and all night crouch before the altars and in the old crypts, and those that are clothed in old shabby cloaks and old rags naked and barefoot and sansculotte, who die of hunger and poverty and cold and misery. These

?o to Paradise ; with these I have nought to do. But to hell will go ; for to hell go the fair scholar, and the fair knight who dies in tournays and noble wars, and the good squire and the free man. With them I will go. There too go the beauti- ful courteous ladies, who have two or three lovers, with their husbands, and there go the gold and silver and the precious furs, and there go the harper and the minstrel, and the kings of this world. With these I will go, only I must have with me my sweet love, Nicolette."

When we recall that these words were probably written in the lifetime of Thomas Aquinas, who was Dante's guide in theology, we begin to understand how deep rooted in the life of the age were the contrasts of dogma and romance which amaze us in the Inferno. " Le del clerc" these words sound like an echo of the too famous personal history which so tragically embodied this antagonism.

Abeiard. iii. For a little further back, in the first half of

the twelth century, lies the troubled career of Abeiard, whom we are here to consider, not as a philosopher, but as the actor in a real tragedy, which must have deeply affected the feeling of the age, and as the writer of the letters to Heloise, and of songs in the vernacular which the Paris students sang. In the actual incidents of his fate, as in the mediaeval legend of Tannhauser, 1 we see no mere vulgar aberration, but a rebellion, relatively justifiable, against conditions and ideas which man- kind was not destined permanently to endure. The claim upon the sympathy of the age, which is embodied in the divine forgiveness as represented in the Tannhauser legend, must also, one would think, have been recognised in Abeiard. It has been well observed 2 that Dante, by omitting so familiar a name from the Divina Commedia, almost seems to refuse to judge him.

1 The comparison is drawn from Mr. Pater's Renaissance. 2 Mr. Pater, I.e.


124 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Architecture iv. We have now traced back the signs of the ^ack^osmh 1 " Renaissance " spirit to the beginning of the

century. twelfth century, before the sculptures of Poitiers or of Chartres, which are perhaps the earliest indications of a revival in the higher formative crafts, as contrasted with mere architectural decoration. In these higher crafts of sculpture and painting, as also in the highest of all arts, the art of poetry, it appears that a long period of barrenness or rigidity preceded the development of the twelfth and later centuries. For this we shall in part be able to account when we discuss the attitude of the Church. But the roots of the Renaissance must be pursued further still.

For we must again insist on what was alluded to in the last chapter, that the age of beautiful architecture, while it includes the centuries of which we have just been speaking, extends upwards in an unbroken continuity from them to the time of Justinian. In the later Renaissance, on the other hand, the tradition is severed, and whatever the merits or defects of the architecture that followed, it no longer springs organically from that which went before.

It is quite natural that the great artistic craft which is rooted in necessity and does not intentionally represent imaginative ideas, should be the one to maintain itself through the inrush of uncultured peoples into Christendom and through the dis- putes and misunderstandings of a creed, prone to the heresy that the spirit is essentially hostile to the flesh. Including those crafts of decoration which do not necessarily deal with the human figure, and therefore escape questionings aroused by anthropomorphism, architecture was well able to represent and carry forward the impulse of freedom and individuality, which was one day to find a fuller expression in the achievements of painting, music and poetry. I have at this point no alternative but to supplement the quotation which I made in the last chapter, with reference to the architecture and decoration of the Roman decadence, by others from the same author, 1 dealing with the early days of that " modern," or mediaeval architecture which sprang from it.

" Spalato was built about 323 A.D., St. Sophia in 530. More than 200 years are between them, by no means fertile


1 Mr. Win. Morris, in Lectures on Art, Macmillan, 1882 Tf Prof Middleton, hncyd. Brit., art, " Sculpture."


THE "TRUE RENAISSANCE." 125

of beautiful or remarkable buildings, but St. Sophia once built, the earth began to blossom with beautiful buildings, and the thousand years that lie between the date of St. Sophia and the date of St. Peter's at Rome may well be called the building age of the world. But when those years were over, in Italy at least, the change was fully come ; and as a symbol of that change there stood on the site of the great mass of history and art, which was once called the Basilica of St. Peter, that new Church of St. Peter which still curses the mightiest city of the world the very type, it seems to me, of pride and tyranny, of all that crushes out the love of art in simple people, and makes art a toy of little estimation for the idle hours of the rich and cultivated." * " But, one thing came of it [of freedom in the realm of art at least] in those earlier days an architecture pure in its principles, reasonable in its practice, and beautiful to the eyes of all men, even the simplest." " It was a matter of course that the art of pattern designing should fully share in the exaltation of the master art. Now at last, and only now, 2 it began to be really delight- ful in itself ; good reason why, since now at last the mind of a man, happy in his work, did more or less guide all hands that wrought it. No beauty in the art has ever surpassed the beauty of those, its first days of joy and freedom, the days of gain without loss the time of boundless hope. I say of gain without loss; the qualities of all the past styles which had built it up are there, with all that it has gained of new. The great rolling curves of the Roman Acanthus have not been forgotten, but they have had life, growth, variety, and refinement infused into them; the clean-cut accuracy and justness of line of one side of Greek ornament have not been forgotten, nor the straying wreath-like naturalism of the other side of it ; but the first has gained a crisp sparkling richness and freedom and suggestion of nature which it had lacked before ; and the second, which was apt to be feeble and languid, has gained a knitting- up of its lines into strength, and an interest in every curve, which make it like the choice parts of the very growths of nature. Other gain it has of richness and mystery, the most necessary of all the qualities of pattern work, that without which, indeed,

1 Lectures on Art, p 131.

2 I understand the writer to be referring, in the first instance, to the decora- tion of St Sophia See Prof. Middleton, 1 c.


126 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

it must be kept in the strictly subordinate place which the scientific good taste of Greece allotted to it." The writer goes on to point out that Byzantine art rather made the character of what we call Eastern art, than derived its own character from what Eastern art then was, although the East had much to do with the new life of this which he calls the " true Renais- sance." "But surely," he continues, "when we have sought our utmost for the origins of all the forms of that great body of the expression of men's thoughts which I have called modern art (you may call it Gothic art if you will, little as the Goths dealt with it), when we have sought and found much, we shall still have to confess that there is no visible origin for the thing that gave life to those forms. All we can say is, that when the Roman tyranny grew sick, when that recurring curse of the world, a dominant race, began for a time to be shaken from its hold, men began to long for the freedom of art ; and that even amid the confusion and rudeness of a time when one civilisation was breaking up that another might be born of it, the mighty impulse which this longing gave to the ex- pression of thought created a glorious art, full of growth and hope, in the only form which at such a time art could take architecture to wit which of all the forms of art is that which springs direct from popular impulse, from the partnership of all men, great and little, in worthy and exalting aspirations. So was modern or Gothic art created, and never till the time of that death or cataleptic sleep of the so-called Renaissance, did it forget its origin."

Here, we are to observe, the art of the sixth century A.D. is referred to as the sign of " the true Renaissance," which does not mean a rebirth of " classical " forms, but rather a rebirth of the human spirit in a vesture entirely new, though woven out of the robes it had laid aside. We must bear in mind, however, that great works of individual origination in the ex- pressive arts are not to be found during the six centuries which we have just traversed so lightly ; and although it is not hard to explain this phenomenon, yet it cannot be explained away. Christian Art v. But we may go at least one step further. "^iS&rt ^ " As lf m anticipation of the sixteenth century, the

centuries. Church was becoming humanistic, in a best and earliest Renaissance." This saying of the same writer 1 who

1 Mr. Pater, Marius the Epicurean^ vol. ii 141.


BEFORE CONSTANTINE. l2^


pointed us to the French or Provengal Renaissance of early romance, refers to the second century of our era the minor 11 peace of the Church " under the Antonines. At this time, it is suggested, before those conflicts of body and soul which preceded or characterised the later " peace of the Church" under Constantine, she was " truer than perhaps she ever would be again to that element of profound serenity in the soul of her founder, which reflected the eternal goodwill of God to man, ' in whom/ according to the oldest version of the angelic message, * He is well pleased !'"

The signs which indicate some such frame of mind in the Church before Constantine appear to be :

a. The allusions from which an early development of litur- gical music, analogous to that described by Augustine as recently introduced at Milan, may be inferred to reach back, though in less ceremonial forms, 1 to New Testament times.

6. The remains of early Christian painting in the cata- combs, of which some part may belong to very early years, though the more complete frescoes probably come down to the fourth century. What is remarkable in these oldest relics of Christian art is in the first place the complete adoption of a simple symbolism, resting partly on Scripture and partly on natural allegory, in which the cross, the lamb, the fish, 2 the stag (after the Psalm, " As the hart panteth "), and the phoenix or peacock, all stand directly for ideas belonging to the faith, symbols such as these having for unlettered minds an extraordinary power of comfort and fascination, when they have become the vehicles of a common experience and a common hope. And in the second place, as pictorial capacity increases among the Christians, there arises the habit of repre- senting scenes from the life of Jesus, never in childhood nor in suffering, but always as a godlike man in some happy or triumphant activity, as the Good Shepherd (with an echo of Hermes), or in the entrance into Jerusalem, or even before Pilate ; or again, as the teacher among His disciples, or under the form of Orpheus, who also overcame death, and tamed the


1 The Council of Laodicea, 367 A D., restricted singing in church to the trained choir. Carnere, in. 94 ff.

2 The first letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour, form the Greek word for fish.


128 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

fiercest creatures, in a Phrygian cap, playing the lyre among wild beasts. 1

c. The hymns and sacred poetry of the early Church do not appear to have attained independent poetical rank, 2 but, beginning with some verses quoted or written by Clement of Alexandria in the end of the second century, and going on through Nazianzen in the fourth century and Synesius in the fifth, they evince 3 a completely new force and freedom in, so to speak, taking possession of the universe with all its strength and majesty, as something that shares, in its degree, man's relation to the Creator. This relation does not appear to be either argumentatively or fantastically conceived ; it is rather directly and simply felt, as the content of a faith and a ground for prayer. The Hebrew Scriptures, especially the Psalms, no doubt had a profound influence on this mood and its ex- pression ; but the doctrine of the incarnation, which seems generally to be near at hand in these hymns, immensely strengthens what I have ventured to call the sense of posses- sion or proprietorship which replaces for the Christian the Judaic sense of inaccessibility or remoteness in the Creator. In this feeling, which is very strongly marked in the Synoptic Gospels, we unquestioneibly have one and that the most fundamental note of the Christian attitude towards beauty. But yet Christian art had far to go and much to suffer before it could realise this aspiration of its early days.

It is worth while to adduce two quotations from the prose literature of the fourth century, which show first the pro- found sense of unity with the world that survived down to that time among Christians ; and secondly, this same unity just beginning to rend itself in the long struggle which was probably unavoidable if its full depth was ever to be realised.

Gregory of Nyssa writes : "When I see every hilltop, every valley, every plain covered with fresh sprung grass, and then the various array of the trees, and at my feet the lilies, doubly furnished by nature, both with pleasant scent and with beauty

1 See an elaborate treatment of early Christianity in all its aesthetic aspects in Carriere, in., 77-138, and cf. for the catacombs, Prof. Middleton, in EncycL Brit., " Mural Decoration."

1 It is now thought that Gregory of Nazianzus was not the author of the Eunpidean tragedy on " the suffering Christ," which used to be ascribed to him See his life, Encyd. Brit

9 I judge from the translations in Carriere, I.e.


SYMPATHY WITH NATURE. I2Q

of colour ; when in the distance I behold the sea, to which the wandering cloud leads the way, my mind is seized by a melan- choly which is not without happiness ; and when in autumn the fruits [corn ?] disappear, the leaves fall and the boughs are left bare, we are absorbed in the thought of the eternal and continuously recurring change in the accord of the marvellous forces of nature. Whoever apprehends this with the intelli- gent eye of the soul, feels the littleness of man compared with the greatness of the universe." And Chrysostom : " When you look at gleaming buildings, and the aspect of colonnades allures your eye, then turn at once to the vault of heaven and to the free plains in which herds graze at the water's brink. Who does not despise all the creations of art when at dawn in the stillness of his heart he admires the rising sun, as it sheds its golden light over the earth ; or, when resting by a spring in the deep grass or under the dark shade of thick-leaved trees, he feasts his eye on the far distance vanishing in the haze ?"

I do not think that we can be mistaken in saying that these passages show a sympathy with nature which is quite of a modern type. But in both of them this feeling is beginning to turn against the sense of worth in man and his productions, and so doing to cut at its own root. Nothing could be more pregnant than this opposition, more especially in the second passage, where it is specifically directed against architecture, the non-imitative art. On the one hand it emphasises unmis- takably a new attitude of aesthetic perception to external nature, the like of which we have not found in any Hellenic or Greco- Roman writer, but on the other hand it betrays a faint shadow of that hostility to artificial beauty which maimed the higher imaginative arts in the middle age, and in doing so, deadened in the end man's sensibility even to natural loveliness.

There is ground, then, for the suggestion which finds the earliest Renaissance in the earliest age of peace experienced by the Christian Church after it became a completed organ- ism ; l and it is not to be denied that the Founder of Christi- anity 2 looked out upon the external world with free and

1 See Marius the Epicurean, n. 135.

2 I doubt whether such disinterested apprehension of floral beauty so free from moralising or allegory as that of the text, " Consider the lilies of the field," can be found outside, or prior to, the Christian intelligence.

&


I3O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

friendly eyes, or that the ultimate tendency of this religion is to make man feel that the world and he himself are parallel expressions of one and the same Divinity. Necessity of an v ** But yet there seems to be another side to interval or this question. The half-Hellenic cheerfulness, in Austerity. &u kj ec t s anc j treatment, of the catacomb-paintings, the abounding grace and force of some early Christian sculp- tures, 1 and the naive devotion of the early hymns and sacred odes, could scarcely perhaps have led by direct development to so great a range and depth of characterisation, as that which reveals itself in the twelfth century and after. The later dogmatic and ascetic tendency may no doubt be said to have laid fetters on the highest uses of art ; but was it not necessary that the opposition between the spirit and the flesh should be pushed to the furthest point, both within the realm of art, and between art and dogma, in order that the entire gamut of expression might be mastered, and that the arduous- ness of the task, to represent all that there is in man, might not be understated ? If the God-like or heroic Christ had never passed into the man of sorrows, if crucifixions and martyr- doms and the forms of emaciated ascetics had never been brought within the range of representation, would not an element have been wanting to the complex expressiveness of Botticelli and Leonardo, and to the modern feeling, which is our peculiar pride, for a beauty as wide as life ? And if no party in the Church had maintained, and no Council had decided, that "Christ in His glorified humanity was . . . too exalted to be figured by human art in an earthly material, after the analogy of any other human body," 2 would there have existed, when imagination at length came to its rights, the full sense of mystery which Raphael, for example, em- bodied in the Divine child of the Sistine Madonna? It is said that the Christian painters attained a mastery over the expression of the face long before they could deal adequately with the figure, whereas with Greek sculptors the order was the reverse of this. Such a contrast, which is certainly char- acteristic, only applies to the Christian art of a later age, and not to that of the first four centuries.

But none the less it is true that the re-birth of humanity

1 Carriere, in. 114. Prof. Middleton in EncycL Brit.> art. "Sculpture."

  • Council of 754, not oecumenical. EncycL Brit.> art " Image-worship."


CHRISTIAN DUALISM.


began with the Christian era, or rather, as we said in the last chapter, long before it ; and the apparent aberrations of the later middle age were but necessary grades in the process which vindicated the full breadth and intensity of the human ideal.

intellectual 2. The profound conception of Plotinus, which fiB^Scrom finally destroyed the theoretical restriction of piotinua. beauty to formal symmetry and of art to imita- tion, was essentially maintained whether or no in direct inheritance from its author by the intellectual consciousness of Christendom. It was, as we have seen, only an application of the thought of Plato, for which everything visible or material was a sign or counterpart of something invisible or immaterial. In a dialogue l of Scotus Erigena, who might be called the last Neo-Platonist and the first Scholastic, 2 the " teacher" says, "Consider whether these local and temporal recurrences of the parts of this visible universe are devoid of a certain mystery or not," to which the "disciple" replies, 41 I could not readily affirm that they are devoid of mystery ; for there is nothing, as I think, of visible and corporeal objects which does not signify somewhat incorporeal and [purely] intelligible." Scholastic disputes about the logical or metaphysical existence of universals do not touch this fundamental conviction, which, formulated by Plato after the great age of Hellenic art, sank deep into the European intellect under the influence of the so-called decadence, including the birth of Christianity, and governed the modern perception of beauty till rationalised by the later Renaissance. For the time, therefore, the consciousness of Christendom was dualistic, as opposed to the naturalistic monism of the ordinary Hellenic creed before Plato. But the Christian dualism was only the outward sign of an arduous struggle to realise a higher or spiritual monism. From the first and throughout history a sense of reconciliation was active in the Christian faith, how- ever militant.

Thus the slight indications of the mediaeval attitude to- wards beauty, which are all that can be dealt with here, appear to indicate a remarkable circuit of theory, beginning with a special sympathy for nature as opposed to the works of


1 De Division* Mundi^ 3, ninth century.

  • Art. " Scholasticism," Encycl. Brit.


[32 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

man in the Christian successors of Plotinus (in the same age which adopted evolutionary monism as the root of orthodox theology), passing through a phase of hostility to the higher and more human arts in the destruction of Paganism and the iconoclastic controversy, and ending with a complete recogni- tion of a more significant beauty as the manifestation of the Divine both tnrough art and nature in the age of St. Francis, St. Thomas, Dante, and Giotto.

This whole circuit is determined, as constantly happens with dualistic theories, by a shifting location in empirical reality of the two factors which constitute the dualism. The underlying conception is that nature and art, belonging to the visible l universe, are beautiful if and in as far as they worthily symbolise the Divine power and goodness, and con- sequently do not appeal to sensuous interest or desire. But their respective fitness for this purpose is differently judged at different times, and the course of this judgment reminds us in some degree of Plato's speculation, especially when nature is reckoned as nearer to the creative original than art, when art is condemned as unable to portray divinity, or when all beauty, whether of nature or of art, is rejected as a mere stimulus to sense. There seems always, however, to be in the background, more positively than in Plato, at least the conditional admission that material beauty is divine, if rightly and purely seen. From Emanation i- We should note, to begin with, that in the

to Evolution fourth century, some two generations after the death of Plotinus, the great step from emanation to evolu- tion was irrevocably made by Christian dogma in the settle- ment of the Homoousian dispute. Whether this idea is or is not in the sense of the Synoptic Gospels, it certainly marks the final and essential abandonment of heathenism, and the climax to which Platonism and Neo-Platonism had gradually been approximating. There can be developed, it affirms, out of the one supreme principle of the world, a progressive and active content, which does not lose anything, nor become

1 The extraordinary prominence given to the sense of sight in this anti- thesis from Plato downwards necessarily governs our terminology, and theory has sometimes, as we shall see in St. Thomas, suffered from this prominence, which arises both from obvious reasons in the nature of the sense, and prob- ably also from the metaphysical convenience of analogies founded on it as well as from historical causes.


DISTRUST OF ART. 133

secondary, by the fact of this development. However verbal or pedantic this may appear to us to-day, it is, if contrasted with the ideas of the greatest Greeks, excepting perhaps Aristotle, a necessary protest against a pessimistic limitation. It denies the rule of progress to be that the first is best, the second a little less perfect, and the third more imperfect still. Dualism and Love ii- And thus we saw how in this fourth century or Nature fofa Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa, like the early Christian hymn-writers, fully recognised the beauty of material nature as the direct work and symbol of Divinity, and even accented this recognition by a tendency to dis- parage, in comparison, the works of man. As early, indeed,

  • s the year 306 A.D. a Spanish Synod 1 had decided that

" 4 pictures ought not to be in a church, lest that which is worshipped and adored be painted on walls/' and the genesis of iconoclasm goes bacK in part to the Decalogue and the Judaic element in Christianity. In the language of philo- sophy this tendency of the fourth century A.D. means that the dualism between sense and spirit is first asserting itself in antagonism to what is most plainly of human origin, as in the modern sentiment that " God made the country and man made the town." Audaciously as this antithesis inverts the true relation of things, it performs a temporary service to culture by forcing into prominence the charm of external nature. But such an effect, if isolated, must be transient ; a dualism which condemns the beauty fixed in art must soon threaten the sense of a beauty perceivable in nature. Before this comes to pass, however, the momentary situation leaves a permanent result in Augustine's account of beauty, dealing, as is natural from his theological position, rather with the world than with fine art, which he, like others of his time, was beginning to distrust. 2

Augustine *"' " n ^ s ear ^ ^ G ' ^ e te ^ S US * ^ G ^ aC ^ wr * tten

on"Beautyof books on the Beautiful and Fit, about which writ- ings j^ e now nQ j on g er care d, nor knew whether


1 Synod of Elvira. Art. " Image-worship," RncycL Brit.

9 Augustine lived 354-430 A.D. He expressed disapproval of looking for Christ on painted walls rather than in the written word. There is a letter ascribed to Eusebius of Csesarea, early fourth century, addressed to the sister of Constantine, refusing a request for a picture of Christ as unlawful, and say- ing that he had taken away from a lady friend pictures of Paul and Christ which she possessed. EncycL Brit , art. " Image-worship." 3 Conf^ iv. 13.


134 HISTORY OF .ESTHETIC.

they existed or not. His former interest, however, sufficed to furnish him with a formal doctrine of beauty, which is indi- cated by the above-mentioned title, and does not in general go beyond the conception of symmetrical relations between parts as belonging to a whole. What is peculiar to him and constitutes an advance that merits more attention than it re- ceives, is the application of this view, specially supported by the analogy of fine art, to the universe as a whole considered as 'containing evil or ugliness (deformitas). By reason of this application, due of course to a theological motive, his view receives a deeper content than the easygoing provi- dential creed of Cicero, which in general expression it very greatly resembles.

The variety correlative to unity in ancient formal aesthetic is deepened by Augustine into the opposition of contraries. This he considers to be essentially included within the sym- metry of the universe, as in a beautiful song, 1 or in the anti- theses of rhetoric, or in the shadows of a picture, which do not make it ugly if rightly placed. Poisons, dangerous animals, and the like, all have their due place in the world, and so far are elements in its beauty. We have here nothing to do with the question whether this bold treatment of sin and suffering can be justified theologically ; but its aesthetic bearing, which in Augustine's hands is very decidedly empha- sised, brings us at once up to the level of modern popular theory with reference to ugliness, such as we find implied in poetical or orthodox sentiment to-day. The essence of this theory is to recognise the ugly as a subordinate element in the beautiful, to which it serves as a foil, 2 contributing how- ever on the whole to an effect which is harmonious or sym- metrical quite or almost in the traditional sense. And it has the merit of attacking the problem of ugliness more directly than


1 De. Ctv. Dei, xi. 18, 23; xxn. 19. I quote the title of xj. 18. "De pulchntudine umversitatis, qux per ordmationem Dei etiam ex contranorum fit oppositione luculentior." I do not know of what kind the " antitheta " in a song would be ; I suspect it of simply meaning the responses as sung by the two sides of the choir under Ambrose at Milan. In that case, the com- parison from music has not the modernism of a reference to discord. Augus- tine's modernism in one doctrine, that of the certainty implied in doubt, "Si dubitat, cogitat," etc., has been mentioned above, p. 78.

2 " Why rushed the discord in, but that harmony should be prized." Browning's " Abt Vogler."


COLOUR AND SYMMETRY. 135

any Greek could attempt, more directly than Plutarch, who excluded the ugly from art except as an evidence of artistic skill, and than Plotinus, unless we interpret his view of the formless so as to give it a positive and not merely a negative bearing. It belongs to an intermediate stage between the abstract and the concrete perception of beauty. Symmetry, it admits, may be enriched by contrast, but symmetry and not characteristic expressiveness is still the ruling principle. It is a note of this popular view to insist on the small quanti- tative proportion in which it alleges the ugly to exist relatively to the beautiful, and this popular note we find in Augustine as in modern sentiment. But this is not really a consideration of any speculative importance, and tends to confuse the sub- ordination of ugliness to beauty as a factor, with the over- powering of our sense of ugliness by the greater mass of the beautiful which, if that were all, would be a mere inaccuracy in our perceptions.

There is historical interest in the stress laid by Augustine on the element of colour as a part of beauty in addition to symmetry. We saw that when Socrates conversed about beauty with Parrhasius, the painter was familiar with colour and symmetry as features in the beautiful, although Socrates' account of expression was new to him. 1 The same two terms are adduced by Plotinus in the forefront of his discussion as representing the aesthetic tradition which he censures as in- adequate ; but the strange thing is, that in spite of this, they descended as an adequate account of the beautiful to Thomas Aquinas through the pseudo-Dionysius, 2 who has very much in common with Plotinus. Here, too, in Augustine, about the contemporary of the pseudo-Dionysius, we find them occupying the same unquestioned place, 3 as though the con- spicuous reference of Plotinus to these terms had had more permanent effect than his criticism of them. I transcribe a passage from Augustine which illustrates this point, and also has an interest from containing a thought which reappears in Dante's Paradiso* " The beauty of any material object is

1 Xen. Memor , 3, 10.

8 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia^ secunda pars secundae partis Sect. 145, which quotes Dionysius by name.

3 De. Civ. Dei> xi. 22, "moles" mass, in contrast to symmetry, and Augustine's view that size is indifferent in beauty, also remind us of Plotinus.

4 De. Civ. JDei, xxii. 19.


136 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

congruence of parts together with a certain sweetness 1 of colour. . . . But how great will be the sweetness of colour when the righteous shall shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

suppression of iv. Augustine, as we saw just now, allowed to incfelwingaSB. perish as trivial his early writings on the Beau- terity. tiful and the Fit, which we should have valued so highly. Yet his whole view of the universe had a strongly aesthetic tinge, and we must be careful how we interpret as a datum of the history of aesthetic, the violent suppression of Paganism which took place in his lifetime by the edicts of Theodosius, " with the loud and unanimous applause of the Christian world. 1 ' a The widespread destruction of temples with their decorations, and their abandonment to decay, tells of religious hostility combined with brutal indifference to art ; but we must remember that the Parthenon, though disfigured in the fifth century by its conversion into a church, was hope- lessly ruined only by a siege twelve hundred years later ; and the Pantheon, having been preserved at first, we must sup- pose, by peculiar favour of the authorities, owed its subse- quent immunity to consecration in the sixth century. 3 There is a certain pathos attaching to the fact that the roll of Olympic victors closes in 393 A.D. with the name of an Armenian, after a reputed continuance of more than eleven centuries, while the Pheidian statue of Zeus was carried off to Constantinople a step which shows some sense of its value on the part of the Christians, though we lament that it perished by fire in 476 A.D.

The suppression of Paganism, then, was in the first place not universally carried out with equal rigour ; and in the second place, though indicating the deepest ignorance, and indifference to the value of art, did not mainly arise from the same fanatical repugnance to artistic representation which subsequently revealed itself in the iconoclastic controversy. There was indeed in the fourth century already a rising tide of opposition even to Christian art, but, for the time, the censures recorded only serve to measure the still increasing employ-

1 " Suavitas." In the clause following those which I quote " suavitas is replaced by " clantas," the term used 800 years later by Thomas Aquinas.

3 Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ch. xxviii. See Gibbon's and Milman's notes on the attitude of St. Augustine, from whom conflicting passages are quoted.

8 Gibbon, I.e.


GREGORY ON THE USE OF ART. 137

ment of painting and mosaic on the walls of churches. And it is plain that the austerity of the later peace of the church l was now beginning to assert itself positively within the sphere of art as well as negatively against it ; for stories of martyr- doms were painted on the walls of basilicas, 2 and somewhat later even the passion and death of Christ were depicted, 8 contrary to earlier custom.

Along with this change in subjects there grew up, it would seem, the Byzantine manner of representation, gloomy and rigid in itself, but powerful by forcing a new element upon art, which was one day to be assimilated as a new element in beauty.

significance of v. But the same restless dualism restless be- iconociasm. cause i n principle a monism which in the vis- ible world preferred nature to art, and in art itself preferred the absence of what had hitherto been felt as beauty in both these aspects repeating the thought of Plato was destined to go still further in Plato's track, and turn its distrust of the visible both against the whole of pictorial art, and against the whole beauty of the visible world. In the time of Gregory the Great (sixth century), the bishop of Marseilles 4 ordered the removal and destruction of all sacred images within his diocese, in consequence of which violent action Gregory laid down the distinction that it is one thing to worship a picture, and another to learn from the language of a picture what that is which ought to be worshipped. What those who can read learn by means of writing, the uneducated learn by means of looking at a picture that, therefore, ought not to have been destroyed which had been placed in the churches, not for worship, but solely for instructing the minds of the ignorant. The same moderate line which Gregory adopted was afterwards taken by Charlemagne, and became the rule of the Western Church, which however, we are told, was by no means free from iconoclastic opinion. The didactic value and mission of art has partly been discussed in connection with Plato and Aristotle, and though in strict form it falls out-

1 See p. 1 2 7 above.

2 Arts. "Image-worship," and " Mural Decoration," EncycL Brit. Paulmus of Nola (d. 431 A.D.) had subjects from Christian history painted as a means of instruction.

8 As in the church of San Clemente, at Rome. 4 Art. " Image-worship," Encyd. Brit


138 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

side aesthetic, yet in substance it affects important issues regarding the comparative position of art in literary and in illiterate ages, and if only for this reason will have to be dealt with below.

The actual iconoclastic controversy arose and ran its course within the Eastern Church, covering, with intervals, a period of about 1 20 years, from 726 to after 842, and it is worth while to note from an aesthetic point of view, the probability that the emperor Leo the I saurian, whose edict against images began it, had been influenced by intercourse with Jews and Arabs. 1 The high-water mark of the agitation was the Council of Constantinople in 754, attended by 338 bishops, but never recognised as oecumenical, which determined that " Christ in His glorified humanity, though not incorporeal, was yet exalted above all the limits and defects of a sensuous nature, too exalted therefore to be figured by human art in an earthly material after the analogy of any other human body," and pronounced anathema on all who attempted to express by visible colours the form of the Logos in His incarnation, and on all who delineate dumb and lifeless figures of the saints, which could never serve any profitable end. 2 And although the Eastern Church after 842 returned to a theoretical position much like that of Gregory and Charlemagne, yet the Byzan- tine manner of painting maintained itself in Italy till the twelfth century, and survives in Athos till the present day, under the influence, it would seem, of a distinctly ascetic theory and code of rules. 8

In this dispute we see yet another phase of the shifting dualism between the spirit and the flesh. Reinforced by the extra-mundane monotheism of Jews and Mahometans, the faith in a spiritual order now turns decisively, as in Plato, against all sensuous presentations as essentially inadequate to that order ; and attains the result of recording a protest, like that of Plato, that in so far as to represent means to copy something that can be copied, so far the spiritual, as such,

1 Gibbon, ch. 49.

2 Ait. " Image-worship," EncycL Brit.

8 Cf. the alleged remark of a Greek monk on some pictures of Titian, which he had ordered and refused to accept : "Your scandalous pictures stand quite out from the canvas ; they are as bad as statues. 1 ' Gibbon, ch. 49 note. " Images," it seems, down to the ninth century, mean pictures and mosaics Sculptures are only mentioned in the ninth century and later.


PRACTICAL TRUTH OF THE DECISION. 139

cannot be represented in a sensuous form. The difference is that now the conception of symbolism is in the air, and the whole problem is therefore on the level to which Plato raised it, and not on that from which he started. The "other" or spiritual world of which he was concerned to demonstrate the reality, is now (however crudely apprehended) the one object of faith to the popular mind ; and the dcceitfulness of sensuous forms is no longer the conclusion of the solitary thinker, but the premiss fanatically urged by a section of the common crowd. Therefore the weight of the problem is thrown in a new direction ; not towards exalting the value of the "other " world, but towards re-establishing or maintaining its cohesion with this. And though Gregory the Great was indifferent to learning, and Charlemagne could hardly write, yet the logic of facts and the experience of ages drove them into a solution which Plato, just because he helped to make it possible, only recognised when at his very best. For the position of these authorities, who could not be expected to talk the language of philosophy, and who were conditioned in their policy by all sorts of passions and necessities affecting the Church of their respective times which after all were necessities of human life may fairly be paraphrased thus : " We know that pictures cannot be copies of an essence which is inaccessible to sensuous perception, and therefore they are not to be worshipped ; l but they can teach, because visible things can have a meaning ; and therefore pictures are not to be rejected, but are to be retained as means of instruction and as aids to memory." In aesthetic philosophy such a view is incorrect, or incorrectly formulated. But the effect of art is not limited by the grounds which the powers that be allege for permitting it to exist, and in the widest historical sense, though not in the strict language of philosophy, there is no doubt whatever that art is the instructress of peoples.

The system or vi. It was in the ninth century, just about the scotus Erigena. t j me at w hich the controversy regarding pictorial art in sacred buildings was decided both in the East and the West, that a really considerable thinker formulated mediaeval ideas in a complete system, and, as a part of it, laid down the place and nature of material beauty. The position of this

1 " Es hilft nichts, unsere Knie beugen wir doch nicht mehr." Hegel, Acsth. \. 132, describing the inevitable modern distinction between art and religion.


I4O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

philosopher, Scotus Erigena, from whom I have already 1 quoted a typical statement of mediaeval symbolism, is one of the cir- cumstances that make it hard to know precisely where we are to look for the Dark Ages. We are apt to think of them as a prolonged period, ending with the Renaissance, in which disputants, ignorant alike of science and of real philosophy, wrangled about logical forms that were in truth subordinate to theological doctrines. But we saw above that our concep- tion of the Renaissance is leading us to trace it ever further back ; and on the other hand the modern estimate of Erigena tends to throw the origin of Scholasticism proper somewhat later than his lifetime. Scholasticism proper, then, is in fact the beginning of the end, and coincides with the two or three centuries of definite intellectual advance that preceded the life of Dante, assuming that we refuse to attach importance to It after his day. But if Scholasticism the conscious adjustment of relations between philosophy and theology marked the close of the Dark Ages, the speculation of Erigena, continuous with that of Greek as well as Latin writers, apparently was before their beginning, in which case the long tract of obscurity, that represents them to the popular imagination, had really no existence, and the attributes of the middle age must be stated with greater care and sympathy.

To begin with, Erigena was a Greek scholar ; the last, I suppose, in the West before the time of Roger Bacon (twelfth century). He writes much in the sense of St. Augustine, but he also translated from the Greek the writings of the pseudo- Dionysius, and uses long quotations, rendered into Latin from Maximus (seventh century). Dionysius, thus Latinised, af- fected the opinions of Aquinas ; and so the ideas of Plotinus, with which Dionysius was saturated, form a continuous strand throughout the thought of the greatest mediaeval teachers.

  • And again, Erigena was a philosopher ; true philosophy

and true theology were for him coincident, not in the sense of subordinating either to the other, but in the sense that truth agrees with truth. His general views do not strictly concern us here ; but to show that a writer in the age of faith, whose use of fact and of analogy is absolutely childish, may yet be very rational in his leading thoughts upon central questions, it is worth while to mention that he maintained the Eucharist

1 Page 131 above.


TRUE AND FALSE BEAUTY.


to be merely a symbolical and commemorative rite ; treated the Mosaic account of the creation as purely allegorical, and as- cribed to hell no local existence, but regarded it as an inner state of the will. 1

This is not the opportunity, and I have not the ability, to treat the vast problem involved in the mixture of reason and folly presented to us by the age of faith ; but I may be allowed to point out that in the division of labour, which the course of history enforces, it fell upon the middle age to make the first sketch-plan of a new life, and teach its use to illite- rate peoples ; and it is natural that attention could not be given to accuracy of details till after the main bearings had been roughly set down. Neither the philosophy of the great Greek classics nor the wide survey of methodic natural science would have met fairly and squarely the problems which pressed upon Augustine, Erigena, or Dante ; and therefore it seems as if all had happened in its due order, and as if the instruments which did accomplish the task were the only ones which could have done so.

In aesthetic, Erigena does not seem to make any definite advance of detail upon Augustine, and even falls back in com- parison with him by a less vivid appreciation of the problem of ugliness. His strength, as is natural for a systematic philo- sopher, is rather in discriminating the relations which re- spectively constitute the true and false beauty of the visible world, as depending upon the position which the human mind may assign it with reference to the invisible world. He discusses this question in connection with the story of the Fall, following Maximus in his interpretation of the " tree of knowledge of good and evil." This, the exposition says, 2 stands for the nature of visible things, which, if apprehended in their "reasons" 3 or significance gives the knowledge of good, if taken as the object of desire gives the knowledge of evil that brings death. The " woman " stands for sense, the " man " for reason. God 4 made the visible creation in order that through it, as through the invisible, His praise might be multiplied, and He might be known, notwAat He is, but that He is the single author of all creation both visible and in-

1 Prof. Adamson, art. " Erigena," in EncycL Brit.

2 Erigena, Works, Floss' ed., p. 842. 8 Rationes, cf. Plotmus' Xoyot.

  • Ib , 843 B


142 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

visible. And therefore [in the story of the Fall] God forbade human nature to take delight in the visible creation before it (human nature) arrived at the perfection of wisdom in which being made one with God (deificata), it might be able to con- verse with God about the significance of visible things. Nor would the woman, that is the fleshly perception, be able to attract the man, that is the intellect, 1 to take delight in the material creation externally considered (i.e. not in its significance), if he purposed to have the knowledge of the Creator before the knowledge of the created. Therefore it was the order laid down by the divine law, first to learn of the Creator and His unspeakable beauty, and then to regard the creation in a significant or spiritual sense, conforming to the inclinations of the intelligence, and to interpret the whole of its beauty, whether it exist inwardly in significance or outwardly in sensible forms, as showing forth the praise of the Creator. " It 2 is not therefore the creation that is bad, nor the know- ledge of it, but the perverse impulse of the reasonable mind, which abandons the contemplation of its author and turns with lustful and illicit appetite to the love of sensible matter." And following Gregory 3 of Nyssa, he identifies the ugly with matter that has no form or the wrong form ; that is, once more, that is not apprehended or desired in its true relation to the will of God. From the point of view of the universe, I imagine, there is according to Erigena's conception no real ugliness.

We find in him no special philosophy of fine art ; the dis- tinction between the theoretical and the non-theoretical senses is indeed touched upon, 4 but is rather minimised than accented ; and the general doctrine of beauty is exceedingly defective on the side of the distinction between beauty and knowledge.

Nevertheless we have here a two-edged idea of great im- portance in the history of the aesthetic consciousness. In the first place, Erigena crowns the ascetic movement which had shown itself in iconoclastic opinion, by a sweeping con- demnation of the whole charm of the visible world, including both art and nature, except on a certain definite condition. Thus on the one side the antagonism of sense and spirit finds a thoroughgoing representative in him.

But in the second place, the condition which he lays down,

1 Animum. 2 fl>.> 844 D. 8 /., 789-90. 4 /., 854.


BEAUTY AS MEANING. 143

as essential to real beauty, that the visible creation shall be apprehended as a revelation of the glory of God, and therefore apart from the relation of sensuous desire, appears to me to have more than a rhetorical value. It implies no doubt a disinterested sense of the real teleology in man and nature, and therefore approximates technically to Kant's definition, " teleology without an end." And moreover it applies this sense of rationality to the whole world through and through, not merely to art nor to the choicer parts of nature ; thus mani- festing that conviction of universal significance which lies at the root both of modern science and of modern art. If we look back to Plato and Aristotle, we shall see that the mediae- val " pulchritudo," taken as something co-extensive with the visible universe considered as the work of God which He has pronounced to be good, has become a far more familiar working conception and factor in opinion than was their KCL\OV in this particular application to the beauty of material things. And the transition from imitation to symbolism immensely facilitated this generalisation. Imitation is only a rule of art, and prima facie can make nothing beautiful which is not given as beautiful. Symbolism is a mode of interpretation ; and with all its enormous risks of arbitrariness, has the one advantage of absolute universality. If all that has a meaning may be beautiful, then there is nothing in which we may not chance to detect an element of beauty. It is easy to see how hopeful is such an idea, and how rich a prospect it opens, in comparison with the notion of the beautiful as finally and unalterably given to perception.

Anticipation of v "- The antagonism between "this" world and aid of world the "other" takes its sharpest form for Christians

in 1000 AD. . ... r , r , . j

in anticipations of the second coming ; and it is said 1 that in the tenth century these assumed so definite a reference to the year 1000 A.D. (1000 years from the Incarna- tion) as to give a decided check to the erection of great build- ings. Such a revival of the belief in the short-lived ness of the whole visible frame of things forms an appropriate climax to the movement which began with a distrust of formative art, and ended with a condemnation, conditional in theory, but probably unconditional in practice, of material beauty as a whole.

1 EncycL Brit. arts. "Architecture." "Millennium." "Illumination."


144 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

After the year 1000, whether owing to relief from the ex- pectation of the end, or to the incipient organisation and national life of Europe, the practice of building was resumed with greater zeal than ever, and, as if a crisis had been passed, even the art of sculpture though especially hateful to the ascetic spirit began to make headway in conjunction with architecture.

It does not seem, however, that either beauty in general or fine art in particular received theoretical consideration from th earlier scholastics. We find in Abelard's hymns 1 the familiar sentiment that nature is above art, and he sums up the discussion, whether the heathen poets should be read by Christians, unfavourably to the poets, 2 relying in part on the example of Plato. His life, and the vernacular love-songs he wrote, must have had an influence greatly opposed to his teaching, which was probably determined by a revulsion of feeling almost analogous to that of St. Augustine on his con- version.

The viii. St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) must be

ModernMind mentioned here, not only as the earliest Italian

tit St. FF8JlClS f i j~^ . in x-

poet, in virtue of the Cantico delle Creature, but on account of the peculiar qualities exhibited in his life and character. No more striking representation of the modern mind in contrast with the antique, no more felicitous union of the complementary and contrasted attributes which imply each other in the logic of evolution, could be invented by the his-

1 Abelard lived 1079-1142. For the hymns see Cousin's edition of the Works, i. 300. Some verses from a hymn on the Creation are worth quoting. The beginning of rhyme is noteworthy, and so is the mixture of Horatian and Christian sentiment.

Impensis, dives, nimns Domum casuram construis ; Falso sole pmgis testudmem Falsis stellis in coeli speciem.

In veri coeli camera Pauper jacit pulcherrima ; Vero sole, vens sideribus Istam illi depmxit Dommus.

Opus magis eximium

Est naturae quam hominum ;

Quod nee labor nee sumptus praeparat

Nee vetustas solvendo dissipat.

2 Works, 2. 442.


CHARACTER OF ST. FRANCIS. 145

torian of philosophy to illustrate his argument. We said, in entering upon the post-classical time of decadence, that the modern mind in comparison with the ancient is a divided mind. It is not distinguished by inclusion within one side of an antithesis as against the other, but by presenting both sides of the antithesis, whether reconciled or not, in a form which is at first sight that of the most trenchant antagonism.

First, then, we observe in St. Francis the very height of mystical asceticism, that is, technically speaking, the approach to God by irrational contemplation in withdrawal from the actual world. The story of the stigmata clearly points to habitual self-concentration of this kind.

But, secondly, there is ascribed to him by common consent an extraordinary sympathy with nature, both animate and inanimate. The address to "Brother Sun" is strictly and logically Christian in spirit. The self-concentrated modern mind turns hungrily to nature, as aesthetic theory has pointed out in various formulae, just because it finds in itself so deep a need.

And thirdly, in the mind of this mystical ascetic and sympa- thetic lover of nature there was an innate capacity for one great form of reasonable work for organisation and the management of men. It is needless to enlarge on this char- acteristic in the founder of the Franciscan order.

Even in so great a character as that of St. Francis these varied tendencies impress us with a sense of mystery and contradiction. They do not display themselves in the same action, and have an external appearance of being rather vicis- situdes of life than revelations of a single purpose. They are much less easily explicable than the attributes of the poet who is a citizen poet, or the hero who is a citizen hero, or the philosopher who is a citizen philosopher. And in the lesser moderns they do in fact to some degree fall apart, as they did in the sects and men of the decadence, the Stoic, the Epi- curean, the Neo-Platonist, the amatory or pastoral poet. But yet they have an underlying connection, and in all their rich and apparently lawless profusion are essential attributes of the modern mind. Thus, for example, the self-concentration of St. Francis in his devotional raptures 1 cannot have indi- cated a mind abstracted or detached from organic reason and

1 It will be remembered that Socrates is said to have been subject to trances of some kind.

L


146 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

reality, but only an element of abstraction and detachment which is the outward aspect of possession by profound and complex ideas. Especially this is the case, when, in the in- tervals of action, ideas fall into shapes of feeling prescribed by tradition. The depth of the intelligence is correlative and not antagonistic to its breadth, and the reason which grapples most energetically and sympathetically with things outside, both needs, and for that very reason possesses, the profound- est self-concentration within. The meditations of the mere recluse are generally shallow meditations.

The ^Esthetic * x * ^ ot muc ^ ^ ess act i ve anc ^ brilliant in his ideas of st. day, though less known to posterity by other than Thomas Aquinas jj terar y achievements, was the greatest of School- men, the Dominican Thomas of Aquino. Born in 1227, the year after the death of St. Francis, he lived on the public stage as an ardent controversialist in the interest of his order and of liberty of teaching, as a lecturer in Paris, Rome, and Bologna, and as the adviser of king and pope on questions of ecclesiastical management ; and closed his amazingly laborious career at the age of forty-seven, as St. Francis at the age of forty- four. I insist upon these biographical details because it appears to me that only by realising the energy of such brief and versatile lives are we enabled, as also in the history of Abelard, to place our finger on the quickening pulse of the time. 1 1 might be worth while even to raise the question whether the weakness of mediaeval science and philosophy was not con- nected rather with excess of practice than with excess of theory. What we justly stigmatise as the subordination of philosophy to theology is, in other words, a subordination of science to a formulated conception of human welfare, with a strictly mundane if also with a transcendental side. The question is not unimportant, for it indicates that the essence of scholasticism is present, not wherever there is metaphysic, but wherever the spirit of truth is subordinated to any pre- conceived practical intent, whether mundane or extra-mun- dane. Some such considerations as these force themselves upon us, however much we allow for the dissociation of men's practice from their opinions, when we contrast the busy public lives of Abelard in his greatness, or of Anselm, of St. Francis or St. Thomas, with the cloistered industry of Newton or Locke or Spinoza. 1

1 I do not think that a comparison even with Descartes and Leibnitz, how-


COLOUR AND SYMMETRY AGAIN. 147

The Summa Theologica, which was to bring to a focus, as we should say, the bearings of all knowledge upon man's highest interests, was the antitype in science of St. Thomas' ideas of political and ecclesiastical unity. In this Summa the nature of beauty is more tnan once referred to. 1 The follow- ing points may be noted in accordance with the scheme previously adopted.

i. The substantive account of beauty is drawn

symbolism. t j irou gj 1 t j le p Se udo-Dionysius (translated, it will be remembered, by Scotus Erigena) from the tradition which was already a tradition in the time of Plotinus, and was criti- cised by him as inadequate. The precise correspondence of terms between St. Thomas, in a passage 2 where he cites chapter and verse from Dionysius for his view, and Augustine, Plotinus, and Xenophon 3 the terms are " Claritas et de- bita proportio" (brightness of colour and symmetry ) = xpwMa K. o-ujuLjULcrpla leaves no reasonable doubt that this is so. In another place 4 " Integritas sive perfectio" is added as a third element of beauty to " Debita proportio sive consonantia" and 44 Claritas i.e., color nitidus." But this addition makes no difference of principle, only insisting from the side of the whole on the same condition which "debita proportio" im- poses upon all the parts. As in Plotinus, the ultimate ground of attraction in beauty is the affinity, revealed in symmetry, between the percipient and the perceived. Although St. Thomas makes the senses the direct bearers of this affinity " The senses are charmed with things duly proportioned, as analogous to themselves (' Sicut in sibi similibus ' 6 ) " yet he clearly adopts the derivation of all beauty from God, 6 and gives, like Plotinus, the first rank to the sense of sight 7 be- cause of its affinity to the intellect.

ever prominent in the world these great men were, really invalidates this suggestion. Leibnitz was led by his practical interests to write a Sy sterna Thcologicum in the interest of Catholic-Protestant reunion. Even Francis Bacon has the scholastic attribute that his logic is moulded rather by a final cause in a human need than by real conditions in the nature of the subject matter.

1 See Preface.

8 Summa TheoL, 2 pars 2 partis, q. 145, art. 2.

8 See pp. 45, 117 supra.

4 Summa^ i pars, q. 39, art. 8.

  • -#., i pars, q. 5, ar* 4.

l.c. note 2 above.

7 Summa contra gcntes, bk. 3, ch 5^.


148 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

Thus we may conclude that symmetry is beautiful, for him as for his predecessors, because symbolic of reason and divinity ; but he does not, any more than they, follow Ploti- nus in the demand for life and expression as something more than symmetry.

jBstbetic 2 - St. Thomas lays it down that in beauty

interest desire is quiet, or is quieted. The meaning of this, which is per se ambiguous, for desire may be quieted by being satiated, seems to be made plain by the inference drawn from it, that the beautiful is the concern of the specially "cognitive" senses of sight and hearing j 1 and more generally, that beauty has to do with the cognitive power. 2 I think that this does not indicate a confusion between beauty and knowledge, but only a distinction between perception and appetite.

concrete 3- The distinction between the aesthetic and

criticism, unaesthetic senses "we do not speak of beautiful tastes or smells," is taken on the ground that sight and hear- ing are more the instruments of reason and more perceptive in their character than taste or smell. This seems to mean, first, that the semblance is in them more separable from the reality which arouses desire ; and, secondly, that they are capable of apprehending a structural whole. That there is no confusion between beauty and knowledge is shown by the clear contrast laid down between material and spiritual beauty, the latter being explained as something named by analogy from the characteristics of sensible beauty.

The primacy assigned to sight as nearer to intellect rests no doubt on the same general grounds which have been analysed above. 8 In estimating it we must bear in mind that the great romantic art of music, as we know it, had not then arisen, while we all the more respect the prophetic in- sight of Plato and Aristotle, who in great measure understood the extraordinary power of sound.

Thus it appears that the Neo- Platonic tradition was the principal element in the intellectual aesthetic of the middle age. Though a part of Plotinus' concrete application was lost, yet the general scheme of his view was in conformity with the Christian consciousness, which, partly by inheritance and partly by origination, made an analogous conviction its

1 i pars 2 partis, q. 27, art. i. * i pars, q. 5, art 4. 8 p. 117.


THE BEAUTY OF THE UNIVERSE. 149

own peculiar attribute. That beauty is the revelation of reason in sensuous shape, that its fascination consists in its affinity with mind, and that consequently the entire sensible universe, as a symbol of the Divine reason, must be beautiful to the eye that can see it in relation to its Creator, all this had sunk deep into Christian sentiment, and is familiar to us both in profound and in shallow readings of the argument from design. Unquestionably, the middle age, throughout its long development, was inspired by this conviction, uncon- scious in its art which was an achievement, but conscious in its theory which was a postulate.

Only there remained, and remains, a certain half-hearted ness in theoretical dealing with the phenomena of apparent unreason, for aesthetic as for theology. From the place of the grotesque and the ascetic, the mysterious and the sublime, in Gothic architecture and Byzantine painting, we should infer the boldest and most concrete practical monism, or acceptance of all that is as at least a part of beauty. But, on the other hand, from the total absence, so tar as we have seen, of theoretical study directed to the concrete analysis of austere or recondite beauty in nature or in art, we should infer that for mediaeval theory the beauty of the universe was rather an abstraction, to be justified in detail by a later age, than an indication of genuine sympathy with the romantic con- sciousness.

For all that, however, the conception of universal beauty was there in name at least, and by St. Augustine was felt to be capable of including real or apparent contradiction in some degree.

Thus, by the side of a comprehensive and concrete artistic practice there had come down and been accepted a theory more comprehensive still, as including external nature, but bare of detailed application ; and when the aesthetic con- sciousness of the middle age had passed, not indeed from death to a second birth, but from birth and infancy to maturity and articulate utterance, then aesthetic theory was absorbed into artistic practice, which filled it at last with adequate content, destined one day to become in turn the material of more fruitful theory.

Dante was born in the lifetime of St. Thomas, and speaks with his voice, both in the formal theory of beauty, and in the meaning which he ascribes to the universe. Whether he


I5O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

would himself have said that his great poem was beautiful according to his own definition of beauty can hardly be judged ; but if not, it would none the less be true that he was actively inspired by that conception of universal beauty which for the mere thinker had probably been little more than a phrase or a dream. This wide conception, explicit in mediaeval faith, as implicit in mediaeval workmanship, was represented in the higher imaginative forms by Dante and his fellow artists, and in being realized was carried far beyond all previous intellectual ideas of beauty, and very probably beyond theoretical recognition on the part of those who realized it.


CHAPTER VII.

A COMPARISON OF DANTE AND SHAKESPEARE IN RESPECT OF SOME FORMAL CHARACTERISTICS.

Limits of the The very strict limitations under which the pre- selects sen t chapter must be written may seem likely to annihilate its interest, but will really, I hope, preserve it from intolerable tediousness ; for any writer would be tedious, I imagine, who, not being qualified by a life-long study of fine art, and being guided only by ordinary cultivated opinion, should wander over the immense field of the Renaissance in search of an aesthetic moral

I propose, therefore, in the first place, to confine my con- sideration, except in mere passing remarks, to the two great poets who appear respectively to open and to close the age of the new birth, when we consider it not as a fresh departure in letters and science, but as the flowering time of a beauty that had long been in the making. It will be possible to point out in these two typical cases some important features of the great movement in its course and issue.

And in the second place it would, I should suppose, be un- endurable that any ordinary writer should throw out, so to speak, in passing, his general appreciations of these two suns of literature, upon whose splendours the greatest critics and philosophers of the modern world have expended their most industrious study. But under the strict limitations which I propose to adopt there is something definite to be said which is not wholly without value. I may illustrate my meaning by reference to the exploded idea that great artists are guided in production by aesthetic recipes or prescriptions. If it were so, what could be of greater historical interest than to disentangle from their works and to compare with one another the abstract schemes according to which these works were created ? And although no such formulae exist, yet undoubtedly there is in every work of art an element of distinct intention, subject moreover, like all our conscious purposes, to limits perfectly obvious to an onlooker though hidden from the author him-

161


152 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

self, with regard to the species of art to which it is to belong the sort of subject about which it is to treat, and the sort of point or significance which it is to possess. Such an element of formal purpose is especially inevitable in the case of modern artists who live in an atmosphere of reflection, and among them more particularly in the case of poets, whose imagination is forced to be conversant with explicit language and articulate ideas. It is to this element of formal intention, with its most obvious limits as regards subject and treatment, that I intend to re- strict myself in comparing Dante and Shakespeare. In itself, it is in each case a fact no less positive than that Turner painted landscapes, and Reynolds portraits, or that Goethe drew from Marlowe the connection of Helena with Faustus. It is therefore the legitimate prey of the historian, who is attempting to trace the extent and position of the spheres successively occupied by the beautiful in the intellectual sys- tem. For the sense and modesty of his interpretation he, of course, remains responsible.

First, then, there is a notable contrast in the Artistic Form selection of artistic form by Dante and by Shake- by the two Poets. speare j say ; n t h e selection of artistic form "

and not "in the artistic form selected." For it might be replied, " Shakespeare was a dramatist, and Dante was not ; what then " ? But this is not quite the point. The remarkable point is that Dante, though a worshipper of Vergil, and apparently well acquainted with Latin poetry in general, and charged, moreover, in every fibre of his being with respect for in- tellectual authority, nevertheless devised a totally new species of poetic art, coming under no possible category in the ac- cepted classification with which he was perfectly familiar. 1 He himself called his great work a Comedy first because it begins grimly and ends pleasantly ; and secondly, because it is written in the vernacular, in which even women converse, and therefore must be regarded as, in a humble style, con- trasted with that of tragedy. 2

But we need not say that it is not a comedy ; for it is not even a drama, having neither dramatic form nor dramatic unity. Nor can it seriously be taken as an epic, 2 for the in-

1 Letter to Can Grande. Dante's Works, ed Fraticelli. 3. 508 ff.

2 As Mr. O. Browning seems to class it, EncycL Brit., art. " Dante." Cf. for the whole of this question Schelling's brilliant essay " Ueber Dante in Philosophischer Beziehung," Werke, 5, 153.


INDIVIDUALITY IN THE TWO POETS. 153

cidents are not in any normal sense parts within a single action ; there is in fact no action, and thus once more, the poem cannot be called a romance. To compare it to a didactic poem would plainly be futile ; and although it contains lyrical elements, yet nothing so heavily burdened with plastic and historical content could conceivably be called a lyrical poem.

And yet it is anything but formless. From the scheme of the versification to the order of the argument, all is sym- metrically planned ; and so symmetrically that we should certainly call it pedantic were not its definiteness simply an attribute of perhaps the most vivid imagination that ever ex- pressed itself in poetry.

The Divine Comedy, then, is absolutely unique in form. By setting the traditional classification at defiance it raised, at the outset of modern art, the fundamental aesthetic problem whether art-species are permanent. All this significance is lost if we go about in a half-hearted way to effect an approxi- mation between it and an epic or a tragedy. And being unique, it is a very type of individuality. It is, says Frati- celli, " a political, historical, and ethical picture of the thirteenth century." 1 Although it is such a picture, it yet has its central interest in the fate of souls, and more particularly in that of the poet's soul. Nothing could be more universal, and nothing could be more individual, nothing even more personal. It is the climax of the long movement which we have attempted to trace, in which the individual spirit has deepened into a uni- verse within, because it has widened into oneness with the universe without.

When we turn to Shakespeare, we find that in the form of art this unique and personal individuality is to some extent toned down. The comparatively slow development of English genius, together with the local remoteness which was in part its cause, had apparently enabled our great poet to take suggestions from the later or pseudo-classical Renaissance, without, however, being subdued by it into the formalist!, which elsewhere was rapidly setting in during his lifetime. He is aware of the classical tradition, and takes from it that which he needs. The sixteenth century in England had been full of critical dispute and poetical experiments. The "dramatic unities " of time and even of place were maintained by one

1 Fraticelli's edition, Introduction.


154 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

party with an absoluteness which we think unreasonable, and know to be un-Aristotelian But for this there may have been a comparative justification if, as Sidney alleges, the common romantic dramas of his day were even more careless of the contradictions which they forced upon the audience than the play of Ferrex and Porrex (1561), in which incidents that would occupy several hours begin and end while a single speech is being delivered on the stage. 1 Sidney however evidently thought that not merely reason, but tradition and the custom of the ancients, followed, as he tells us, by the modern Italians, were decisive arguments on behalf of stricter form. 2 The " mungrell Tragy-comedie " vexes him greatly ;

1 See Sidney's Apologie for Poetrie, circ 1580. Shuckburgh's ed. p. 51 ff. and notes. Ferrex and Porrex is the play known as Gorboduc, in the style of Seneca. Sidney only refers to Aristotle as enjoining the restriction of time to one day, which is correct except for the absoluteness he lends to the " pre- cept." The unity of " place " he lays down, but does not ascribe to Aristotle.

2 The whole passage is so picturesque, and so exactly illustrates the scene on which Shakespeare was just about to appear, that I venture to quote it in extenso. Shuckburgh's ed. pp. 51-54

"Our Tragedies, and Comedies (not without cause cried out against) observ- ing rules neyther of honest civihtie nor of skilfull Poetne, excepting Gorbo- ditck (againe, I say, of those that I have scene), which notwithstanding, as it is full of stately speeches and well-sounding Phrases, clyming to the height of Seneca his stile, and as full of notable morahtie, which it doth most delight- fully teach, and so obtayne the very end of Poesie , yet m troth it is very defectious in the circumstances : which greeveth me, because it might not remaine as an exact model of all Tragedies For it is faulty both in place and time, the two necessary companions of all corporall actions. For where the stage should alwaies represent but one place, and the uttermost time pre- supposed in it should be, both by Aititottfs precept and common reason, but one day : there is both many dayes, and many places, martificially imagined. But if it be so in Gorboduck, how much more in al the rest ? where you shal have Asia of the one side, and Affnck of the other, and so many other under- kmgdoms; that the Player, when he commeth in, must ever begin with telling where he is ; or els, the tale wil not be conceived. Now ye shall have three Ladies walke to gather flowers, and then we must beleeve the stage to be a Garden. By and by, we heare newes of shipwracke in the same place, and then wee are to blame, if we accept it not for a Rock. Upon the backe ol that, comes out a hidious Monster, with fire and smoke, and then the miser- able beholders are bounde to take it for a Cave While in the mean-time, two Armies flye in, represented with foure swords and bucklers, and then what harde heart will not receive it for a pitched fielde ?

"Now, of time they are much more liberall. For ordinary it is that two young Princes fall in love : after many traverces, she is got with childe, de- livered of a faire boy ; he is lost, groweth a man, falls in love, and is ready to get another child, and all this m two hours' space : which how absurd it is in sense, even sense may imagine, and Arte hath taught, and all auncient


SHAKESPEARE'S FORM. 155

but we can hardly be sure whether his censure would have applied to Shakespeare's humour in tragedies, for Shakespeare himself objected in terms not unlike Sidney's, to the officious interference of the clowns in serious passages. Translations from Seneca and an adaptation of the Phcenissce of Euripides were succeeded on the stage by the wild imaginations of Marlowe ; and to Ben Jonson and Shakespeare the whole conflict of forms and tendencies was full of instruction and suggestion. 3

Coming upon the arena thus prepared for him, Shakespeare adopts a distinctly traditional dramatic form. He accepts the

examples justified : and at this day, the ordinary Players in Italic wil not erre m. Yet wil some bring in an example of Eunuchus in lerence, that con- tameth matter of two dayes, yet far short of twenty yeeres. True it is, and so was it to be played m two daies, and so fitted to the time it set forth. And though Plautus hath in one place done amisse, let us hit with him, and not misse with him.

" But they wil say, how then shall we set forth a story, which contameth both many places and many times ? And doe they not knowe, that a Tragedie is tied to the lawes of Pocsie, and not of Historic ? not bound to follow the storie, but having liberty, either to fame a quite newe matter, or to frame the history to the most tragicall convenience. Agame, many things may be told which cannot be shewed, if they knowe the difference betwixt reporting and representing. As for example, I may speake (though I am heere) of Pent, and m speech digresse from that to the description of Calicut but in action, I cannot represent it without Pacolets horse : and so was the manner the Aunuents tooke, by some Nuncius to recount thinges done in former time, or other place.

" But beside these grosse absurdities, how all theyr Playes be neither right Tragedies, nor right Comedies mingling Kings and Clownes, not because the matter so carneth it : but thrust in Clownes by head and shoulders, to play a part in maiesticall matters, with neither decencie nor discretion. So as neither the admiration and commiseration, nor the right sportfulness, is by their mungrell Tragy-comedie obtained. I know Apuktus did some-what so, but that is a thing recounted with space of time, not represented in one moment : and I knowe, the Auncients have one or two examples of Tragy-comedies, as Plautus hath Amphitrio. But if we marke them well, we shall find that they never, or very daintily, match Horn-pypes and Funeralls. So falleth it out, that, having indeed no right Comedy, in that comicall part of our Tragedy we have nothing but scurrility, unwoorthy of any chast eares : or some extreame shew of doltishness, indeed fit to lift up a loude laughter and nothing els : where the whole tract of a Comedy shoulde be full of delight, as the Tragedy shoulde be still maintained in a well raised admiration."

3 Cf. Ben Jonson, Piologue to Every Man out of his Humour, 1599, where a reasonable inference is drawn from the fact that dramatic form has had a historical development, to the conclusion that all precepts concerning it are subject to modification in accordance with felt needs that may emerge. Cf. also Polonius in Hamlet^ " The best actors in the world," etc.


156 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

complicated organic structure of Latin comedy, with its five acts and separate scenes. He is more careful than his rude predecessors to motive or excuse his violation of the unities. He observes, except in the histories, with hardly any devia- tion, the sharp distinction between tragedy and comedy which Dante applied so strangely ' That is to say, in the plays of which the catastrophe is not tragic, the happy ending or reconciliation is absolutely complete, and no irrevocable mis- fortune befalls any character in the play. Cloten in Cymoe- line, and Antigonus in the Winter s Talc, are the only excep- tions to this rule outside the historical dramas, which are the continuance of a pre- Shakespearian and romantic form of play. By the great place he gives to histories, therefore, he so far defies the traditional classification of dramatic form. More- over he refuses to employ the choruses, to observe the unities, or to push the distinction between tragedy and comedy so far as to dissociate the former from the humour that belongs to every complete representation of life.

And in thus accepting a dramatic form he has accepted its freedom from personal reference. Perhaps in one well- known passage there is some playful malice against an old enemy. Otherwise, as is only too clear to us, there is no self-betrayal in Shakespeare. Even the story of the sonnets has practically to be accepted in its universal meaning. Its personal reference, whether ascertainable or not, is not woven into the texture of the poems. What a contrast with Dante !

Thus in Shakespeare's poetic form the later or classical Renaissance is modifying the earlier creative or romantic Renaissance. And in this he differs from Dante, whose form is unique, individual, even personal.

TbeKindof si*. 3- With regard to subject-matter and kind of niflcanoe aimed significance a parallel contrast may be noted.

at by each. *Vk i n i i

Dante s subject-matter is nominally the other

world. However profoundly he may conceive the unity of the soul's fate after death with its terrestrial action and character, this primary peculiarity colours his whole artistic scheme. Unity and symmetry of parts in the whole, which to him, as


1 " A tragic beginning and a comic ending " seems to have been a stock mediaeval phrase for "a good beginning and a happy ending." See Dante to Can Grande, sect. 10.


ALLEGORY IN DANTE. 157

to the earlier mediaeval writers, constituted beauty, 1 is no doubt the ultimate burden of his thought, but the vehicle of its expression is a dualism. In this it represents the mediaeval or early modern mind whose utterance it was. The same fate had befallen the kingdom of heaven that befel Plato's ideas. The very principle of unity itself was hardened into something material, at all events into something sensuous, and was set in opposition over against that of which it was meant to be the unity, as " another" world against "this." Such a course of thought was inevitable. Reality, for early ages, must mean material reality, and the spiritual world could not become an object of popular belief except as a non-terrestrial abiding- place. This first dualism between our world of images and the other world of images, forms the content of Dante ; but beside and behind it there is also another, the dualism of the entire universe of sense-images over against its spiritual or moral meaning. This dualism within a dualism is never wholly absent from views to which heaven and hell are the necessary complement of earth.

And thus the visions of Dante's art were in the first place fantastic, being dislocated from their human context, and thrown into a shape in accordance with the imagination of a world beyond the grave ; and secondly they were consciously and intentionally allegorical or symbolical. He accepted the four concurrent senses acknowledged by mediaeval canons of interpretation, 2 as illustrated by himself in the following paragraph from his letter to Can Grande, (c.7.). " In order to a clear understanding of what I am about to say, you must know that the sense of this work [The Commedia\ is not simple; rather the work might be called 'of many senses/ For there is one sense which is got from the letter, and another which is got from the things signified by the letter ; and the former is called literal, the latter allegorical or mysti- cal. This mode of treatment, for the better understanding of it, may be considered in the case of these verses : ' When Israel came out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from among

1 Convito, ii. 5 ; cf. Paradiso y i. 103 :

" Le cose tutte quante Harm 1 ordme tra loro ; e questo e forma, Che T um verso a Dio fa somighante." 8 " Litera gcsta docet : quid crcdas allegoria,

Moralis quid agas ; quid speres anagogia." Fraticelli.


158 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


a strange people, Judah was His sanctification [Vulgate] and Israel His dominion. 1 For if we look at the letter alone, there is signified to us the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt in the time of Moses ; if at the allegory, our redemption by Christ ; if at the moral sense, the conversion of the soul from the grief and misery of sin to a state of grace ; if at the anagogic [elevating sense], the exodus of the holy soul from the bondage of corruption to the liberty of eternal glory. And although these mystic senses are called by different names, yet generally they may all be called allegorical, seeing that they are different from the literal or historical. For

  • allegoria ' is called so from the Greek aXXow, which means

in Latin 'alienum' or 'diversum.'"

Are these two elements, then, the fantastic element resting upon the subordination of this world to the next, and the alle- gorical and abstract element resting on the subordination of all perceptible forms to a whole hierarchy of spiritual or ethical interpretations, are these what is demanded by a theory which gives the weight we have persistently claimed to creative imagination and spiritual symbolism in the analysis of beauty ? Certainly they do not impress us in this way, when thus set out in abstract language, for, to mention no other objection, it would seem that thus taken anything could be made to mean anything, so that all reality and defmiteness in the perception of beauty would be destroyed. If beauty indeed lies in sym- bolic meaning, and if symbolic meaning is utterly arbitrary, then we ask with Fra Lippo Lippi :

" Why for this

What need of art at all > A skull and bones, Two bits of wood nailed crosswise, or, what's best, A bell to chime the hours with, docs as \vell "

I hope that the distinction which solves this paradox will become clear of itself, through the very contrast which we are now engaged in considering. But with reference to Dante and mysticism in general, I must recall the principle which I have insisted on more than once before, 2 namely that the aesthetic value of mysticism, like the scientific value of alchemy, lies not in its precepts but in its practice. A man is not a great artist because he is prepared to see in everything, in a beautiful woman, in a classical poet, in a wood or a mountain,

Quoted in Purgatorio, \\. 46. 2 Ch 2 and ch. 6 supra.


SOUND IN DANTE. 159


or in the extraordinary attitudes or sufferings of human beings, types of theology and science, of ignorance, aspiration, and various kinds of sin ; this general tendency of mind Dante merely shared with the whole middle age from Plotinus down- ward. But yet, the faith in a meaning is a great assistance to looking for one ; and as a general rule the more a man looks for, the more he will see. Beauty, in short, thus ceases to be a datum, and becomes a problem ; and in pursuing a fanciful interpretation, the mind will often extract the expressive essence of sensuous forms, \\ T ith incomparable subtlety. Dante is not a great poet because in speaking of a she-wolf he signi- fies by it at once the temporal power of the Pope and the sin of avarice ; but because in his intentness upon the issue and the meaning, nothing that has a natural significance escapes his eye and ear. The place of sound in the Commedia, though suggested by Vergil, 1 is so developed into importance as to be something new to art ; much of the horror of the Inferno con- sists in it, while the beauty of its introduction in the Paradiso gives that part of the poem almost a lyrical character. 2 Re- markable as is Dante's love and perception of light, 3 in which he follows the mediaeval tradition, and probably the superstition inherited from Plotinus, yet the modern theorist cannot com- plain that he has inadequately recognised the power of sound. And the same is true of human speech and gesture. No Hellene, however skilled a spectator in the theatre of this life, has portrayed the beauty and terror of visible and audible things with so true and piercing a touch as this mystic hierophant of another world.

In the art of Shakespeare, as distinguished from his private life and opinions, with which we are not here concerned, we find neither this kind of subject matter nor this kind of signi- ficance.

In the first place, the balance of forces in the machine of humanity is for him not seriously affected by what lies beyond the grave. We could disregard " the life to come " ; what affects our action is that "we still have judgment here" an antithesis with Dante, which is really profound, but appears even profounder than it is if we fail to realise how for Dante

1 &n. 6. 426. " Continue auditae voces," etc.

8 Schelhng, I.e.

8 See Church's Essay on Dante for a collection of passages.


160 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

too, heaven and hell lay ultimately in character. Yet when all this is allowed for, the difference remains immense. The first of the two dualisms which we found in the middle age, has in Shakespeare almost ceased to exist, and with it disappears the fantastic side of imagination, the dislocation of the visible world. Just here and there the presentation of real con- nexions is bordered or interwoven with a playful or mysterious supernatural, which does no more than furnish a decorative heightening to the true line of causal construction So far then, in sheer form of imagination, Shakespeare reverts to- wards the Greeks ; for their world also was one, and their divine was not supernatural. But the one world of Shake- speare included all that was not fantastic, all that was not mere machinery in the two worlds of the middle age , and his naturalism therefore was on a different plane from that of the Greeks. It was in the very widest sense a romantic as con- trasted with a classical naturalism.

And the second dualism, which we found in Dante, also ceased to exist, as a dualism affecting the form of imagin- ation, in Shakespeare. Conscious allegory or symbolism, in which a thing and its meaning are two, like a riddle and its answer, was to Shakespeare a form of mediaeval pedantry, just as the dramatic unities were a form of classical pedantry. Nothing does more to bring him near to us as a modern of the moderns than his easy superiority and cultured experience in face of the pseudo-classical and romantic oddities that had come down to his age. The allegory or arbitrary symbol is dis- cussed between Pistol and Fluellen ; the <4 elegancy and facility and golden cadence of poetry," insisted on by Holofernes ; l the figure in rhetoric is given over to Touchstone, and the syllogism and law of identity to the clown in Twelfth Night. Indeed, without pressing dramatic expression into doctrine, it is fair to take note of Hamlet's sentences, " for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was, and is, to hold as t'were the mirror up to nature ; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age, and body of the time, his form and pressure." Whether by chance or by some freak of tradition,

1 It is Holofernes who says " Imitari is nothing, so doth the ape his keeper " ; and seems to prefer " the flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention." Is this a chance satire on some rebellion against the Greek theory of art ?


FROM TWO WORLDS TO ONE. l6l

these words accept for the drama (I do not think that "play- ing" need here be sharply distinguished from the play) the very comparison by which Plato believes himself to represent the utter worthlessness of poetry, of the unreal making of things. It may be worth while to re-quote his words, which are cited in chap. II. of this work. "There are many ways in which this feat (of 'making' everything) might be accom- plished, none quicker than that of turning a mirror round and round you would soon make the sun and the heaven and the earth, and yourself, and the animals, and plants, and all the other creations of art as well as of nature, in the mirror." Thus once more, in comparison with Dante, we are back among the Greeks. Something indeed in the phrase which Shakespeare throws out even thus by the way, "the body of the time," "his form and pressure/' indicates the representation of life as a whole, of a tendency, and a spirit, and so far modi- fies the simile of the mirror. But the artificial symbol, the reality, not merely wrenched apart into separate worlds, but cut and thinned down to fit its abstract meaning, has dis- appeared along with the hierarchy of separate interpretations ; and, if we are to consider only the great world-epochs of the aesthetic consciousness, is gone for ever.

But though the machinery of spiritual interpretation is thrown aside, the essence of it survives as a permanent gain. The value of human souls and the significance of their destiny 1 are no longer operative as abstract principles to be clothed in allegorical fantasy, but as an added force and tenderness in the penetrative imagination. It is worth while even to point out that as nature repeats herself with a differ- ence in the phases of evolution, a relation justly perceived in one part, will as a rule bear a genuine analogy to many relations on other planes of experience ; and therefore even


1 " Is it true that we are now, and shall be hereafter But what or where depends on life's minute ? Hails heavenly cheer, or infernal laughter Our first step out of the gulf, or in it? Shall man, such step within his endeavour, Man's face, have no more play and action Than joy that is crystallised for ever, Or grief, an eternal petrifaction ? "

BROWNING, Old Pictures in Florence.


1 62 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

the hierarchy of allegorical meanings, if its fantastic or arbitrary element were withdrawn, might turn out something more real than was known by those who formulated it. At any rate, the "reasons," laws or powers which work in man and in nature are now represented in their operation as character and ex- pression, not outside it as Deity, or theological principle, or reward and punishment. Thus the definition of Plotinus, identifying beauty with the expression of the rational, was for the first time fulfilled without abstraction or divorce of the elements involved in it, and the mediaeval aspiration to see the universe as beautiful in spite of all its contradictions, was accomplished with even a more perfect unity than that re- vealed by Dante. The true Relations A In concluding: the comparison which forms

of the later t i / i i

Renaissance, the subject of this chapter, we must recall the two conceptions of the Renaissance which we spoke of as linking it respectively with what came after and with what went before. We are accustomed in accordance with the former habit of thought to regard Shakespeare mainly as the creator of our present poetic world, and the inaugurator of our national greatness in the field of literature. Now in one sense this is all very true. He forms the most brilliant starting point of our literary art, just as Newton does of our science and Locke of our philosophy. But if we think that our art and its conditions are continuous with his art and its conditions, and that the perception of beauty as a living and active force was awakened in his time and has had a continuous development from then till now, in that case I imagine we are deceived. Within the history of the concrete feeling for beauty, to which poetry, and especially the drama be- longs on one side, though it also borders closely upon the province of intellect, Shakespeare in every way marks not the opening but the close of a period. Since him there has been no national drama. To-day in England the drama, in the sense of stage-plays which are poetic literature, does not exist. And I imagine that what of this kind exists elsewhere, and has existed since the middle of the seventeenth century, is only enough to show clearly that some conditions, whatever they may be, have during all that time been hostile to dramatic art. By the year 1600 the genuine productive impulse of the earlier Renaissance the only productive impulse which the


END OF THE AGE OF ART. 163

Renaissance contained had already exhausted itself every- where but in England, where it was later felt. Our two most competent critics agree in substance though probably not in feeling about the import of that painting by Raphael in the Vatican, which seems to set heathen poetry under Apollo on an equality with Christian doctrine under Christ. l And this room in the Vatican had been painted about 1508. Since then, although new movements of an isolated kind were preparing, the rich and simple beauty which was rooted in the middle age had become a thing of the past Mannerism and the classical Renaissance on one side, science and philosophy (Descartes was born in 1596), the reformation, the English revolution, industrial changes, and the spread of printed liter- ature on the other, were rapidly making an end of the great artistic and architectural age of the modern world. Nothing is more striking than the present revulsion of feeling on the part of the most competent judges, against the architecture of St. Peter's at Rome/

To condemn a revolution of this kind is like condemning the course of nature. After the flower, the fruit ; no plant flowers for ever and all the year round. Shakespeare had, as we saw, the good fortune to come at the very close of the great creative time, bringing his pregnant and plastic genius to meet the growing influence of free thought and classic tradition, so that by wonderful good fortune he was able to deal with the whole mass of romantic material in a spirit of natural freedom that was almost classical. It was perhaps as well that he was not conversant with the Athenian dramatists. A single simile of Euripides* it is said, is all that can be proved to have filtered through, by translation and retranslation, from the great Greek tragedians to Shakespeare. It comes through 11 the Jocastaof George Gascoigne and Francis Kinwelmcrsh" (1566), a motley and incongruous piece built on the model of


1 Ruskm, Lectures on Painting and Architecture, p. 213, says this was the Mene, Tekel, Upharsin, of the arts of Christianity Mr Pater, Renaissance, p 1 86, says, it is the classical tradition, the orthodoxy of taste, that Raffaelle commemorates." Irenaeus (end of second century, A.D ) says that Gnostics set up images of Christ along with those of Plato and Aristotle. The same point was passed twice, first with faces sec to leave paganism, and next with faces set to return to it.

2 See Mr. Wra Morris, quoted above, p. 125,


164 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

the Phoenissa^ really translated from the Italian without any trace of an appeal to the original, and it suggested the splendid passage in Hotspur's speech: "By heaven, methinks

it were an easy leap " It is impossible to suppose that

even Shakespeare's genius, lightly as it dealt with Plutarch and Ovid, and with Plautus and Seneca, would have stood up quite unshrinkingly before -#Lschylus and Sophocles. It appears to us that in his case the true equilibrium of form and matter was attained, and that any further reinforcement of the influence of antiquity might have impaired that singleness of vision which makes him not only the last artist of the age of mediaeval romance, but the first of that age which we rather hope for than have arrived at, the age of romantic classicism or modern classical naturalism.

For the pseudo-classical tradition, which, seconded by the peculiar fulness and force of the time, was for the moment a purifying factor in art, had many transformations to undergo before it again became anything but a noxious influence in the concrete aesthetic consciousness. Ultimately, indeed, through centuries of theory and criticism, it led back to a knowledge of genuine Hellenic life and art and ideas. And the best perhaps that this knowledge in the hands of Lessing, Winck- elmann, and Goethe did for art was to set it free from the fetters which a shallower knowledge had imposed. But in the purely intellectual region very great things sprang from this deeper and more genuine knowledge, and among these great things there arose, as the course of general speculation on its side demanded, a vital and profound aesthetic philo- sophy, which in its turn contributed a factor of very great value to the general speculation of the early nineteenth century.

Esthetic theory, then, as true philosophy develops, loses, and rightly loses, its practical relation as a guide to art ; and the work of the best aesthetic theorists has been in a great measure to protest against that very misapplication of abstract precept to art which was a survival, in the wrong place, of the same critical tradition that had been the forerunner of true aesthetic theory. If, besides this negative function,

1 Mahaffy's Hist, of Greek Literature, i. 366. The original in Euripides runs (Fhazmssce, 504, Eteocles)

aorpcov av cAflot// aWtpos Trpos avroXas KOI yi/S tvcptfc, Sin/arcs a>v Spaarai raSc, TTJV 0cu>v /Acyton^v WOT* <X tv


EFFECT OF CLASSICAL TRADITION. 165

aesthetic philosophy can ever have a positive value for artistic creation, it can only be in the very secondary sense in which first through technical philosophy, and then through popular culture, it may insist on the relation of beauty to life, and explain that, for example, to " imitate " the Hellenes in the true sense is not to copy their sculpture, but to be, mutatis mutandis, such men as they were. The greatest of all new departures since the time of Shakespeare the art of music and that of landscape painting have been wholly independent both of aesthetic theory and of Hellenic example ; and although the widening of our world by the recovery of antique master- pieces cannot but be helpful when their effect has, so to speak, passed into the blood of our aesthetic organism, yet I imagine that Greek literature has done little directly for our greater poets, and that study from the Elgin marbles has been an influence not without its danger for our painters.

True aesthetic speculation, on the other hand, has been throughout in the profoundest sympathy with the new depar- tures and growing freedom of that sense of beauty, from which its material is drawn. So far indeed as in passing it may permit itself to judge rather than to understand, which latter is its only true function, it laments the difficulty and interruption which has been experienced by the European mind since Shakespeare's time, in carrying forward the large and free expression of life in art which he inaugurated. Whether the future will show more continuity, and less that seems to be distraction and reaction belonging to a level which Shakespeare has transcended, it is not for us to predict. Our immediate task is go forward, through the awaking of free speculation and the deepening of current criticism, to the development of aesthetic theory as an integral element in modern philosophy.

a ip 163). Mr. Churton Collins has shown that there is a good deal more to be said about Shakespeare's knowledge of the ancients. The question as between echoes and coincidences is most puzzling and interesting.


CHAPTER VIII.

THE PROBLEM OF MODERN AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY.

me Process of I- THE beautiful is of interest to metaphysic Preparation. as t j ie tangible meeting point of reason and feeling, and to criticism as the expression of human life in its changing phases and conditions. The combination ol these two interests, after a protracted separate development, is the true genesis of modern aesthetic. Under the term criticism I understand for this purpose the whole detailed work of reflective thought in the exploration and appreciation of particular beautiful things, including therefore the services of classical scholarship in making accessible the great writers of Hellas, the labour of archaeologists both in disinterring and interpreting the treasures of Herculaneum and the other remains of the antique world, and finally the activity oi art criticism in the narrower sense, as the literary judgment passed upon works that claim to be beautiful, with reference to their beauty.

In a general sense it might therefore be said that criticism from Sidney and Scaliger to Lessing and Winckelmann fur- nished aesthetic philosophy with its data, while metaphysic from Descartes to Kant supplied it with postulates or a prob- lem. In each of these streams of thought further combina- tions of tributaries may be traced, and between them are all kinds of cross-connections. But the main distinction will, I believe, approve itself as just.

me Prolonged 2 * ^ n t ' lese preparatory processes, each of them interruption of extending over a period to be measured bv cen-

JEsthetic. /-til i /-/- i - i i

tunes, we may find the key to a difficulty which necessarily confronts the student at the point we have now reached.

This difficulty, in its widest extent, 1 arises from the inter-

1 The view referred to in the following pages is that of Schasler, Aesthetik^ Buch II., Emleitung. I have attempted to indicate his conception, and my deviations from it, without the extreme lengthmess which a formal discussion of it would involve.

166


LATENESS OF MODERN AESTHETIC. 1 67

mission of aesthetic philosophy, considered as a theoretical study of fine art, from the time of Plotinus to the eighteenth century of our era.

But we may at once deduct from the period during which the absence of such theory is remarkable by far the larger part of the interval in question ; that is to say, the whole of the middle age down to the fourteenth century. The reason how- ever for which we may so deduct it is not that which an obsolete conception of the Renaissance is ready to assign. It is not that in the middle age there was no practical aesthetic consciousness, and therefore no object-matter to which a theoretical study of art could have been directed. 1 There was no aesthetic consciousness, it is said, because art was purely the handmaid to theology, and was not yet alive to its true purpose of creating the beautiful. Such an explanation combines a historical blunder with a philosophical fallacy. The actual aesthetic consciousness of the middle age was as a historical fact the most continuous and creative that the world has ever seen. And although for long centuries it was inarticulate in the more intellectually imaginative regions, and accepted theology, perhaps, as the expression of its essential instincts, yet to set this fact down as precluding its claim to rank as an aesthetic consciousness at all is to commit the serious philosophical confusion of identifying the concrete ex- pressive impulse with the reflective aesthetic intention So far from its being true that there is no genuine art-conscious- ness where there is no intentional aim at beauty for beauty's sake, it is probable that such intentional aim is at least a grave danger to art, if not a sure symptom of decadence. It is not the case, then, that the absence of detailed aesthetic research during the middle age was owing to the absence of any object-matter for such research. It was owing not to the lack of an art-consciousness, but to the very directness of the art-impulse, combined with the pressure of those other needs and problems which belong to the youth of a new civilization, and which invariably hinder the mind of such an age from reflecting systematically upon its own productions. The elements of theoretical asceticism on the one hand, and of theoretical recognition of beauty in the universe on the other, which we traced throughout this period, only show that

1 Schasler, I.e.


1 68 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

it was not the first but the second youth of the world a second youth dealing according to its wants in naive and uncritical fashion with ideas handed down from a first matu- rity. A self-criticising theory could no more be expected of such an age, in spite of its not small intellectual equipment, than of Athens before the time of Socrates.

But there still remains to be considered the period after the culmination of religious art in the fifteenth century, v/henprimd facie it would appear that the object-matter of aesthetic existed in abundance ; and with regard to this period the question has been urged, " Why did not the full growth of modern aesthetic follow in two generations upon the art of Raphael, as that of ancient aesthetic did upon the art of Pheidias ? " The answer given appears to me to be a false application of a simple truth. Ancient art, it is said, was practically com- plete when its religious inspiration had attained full expres- sion ; but the modern mind is reflective or divided, and modern art the object-matter necessary as a condition pre- cedent of aesthetic theory was not complete till the cycle of secular as well as of religious interest had been traversed by it in a continuous advance lasting till the eighteenth century. Now of course in the largest sense the cycle of modern art is not complete even to-day, and we hope that it never will be. But relatively speaking, the great art-age of the world did begin to draw to its close in Raphael, although by special causes it was prolonged in other countries so as just to cover our Shakespearian drama. Therefore the question is wrongly put, for the completion of the same single and continuous period to which religious art belonged, falls after Shakespeare and not after Raphael ; and the answer is erroneous, inasmuch as it assumes a natural progress even in pictorial art from the sixteenth century onwards , whereas really there was then set- ting in the close of a period, only somewhat disguised by vari- ous forms and rates of disintegration in different European countries.

The reflectiveness, range and versatility of the modern mind is rightly appreciated in the question and answer which we have examined; but they fail to give weight to the distinction between such secularisation of art as that of Raphael's successors, which marks the end of the great period, and is itself a decadence not because it is non-religious, but because it is no longer an expression of vigorous life; and


LATENESS OF MODERN AESTHETIC. 169

such secularisation as that of the Elizabethan drama, which belongs by its colour, strength and profoundness to the middle age, though touched and liberated by more modern influences.

After the Elizabethan drama in England, and earlier still in Italy, the impulse of the middle age was exhausted, and art had entered upon its chequered modern career, which did not attain any special completion in the eighteenth century such as would account by itself for the rise at that time of aesthetic speculation. The proof of this statement with regard to the close of a great continuous artistic age throughout the cultured countries of Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries could only be given by a complete survey of the history of all those minor forms of beautiful workmanship which are an absolutely infallible test of the extent and solidity with which practical aesthetic consciousness is engrained in the mind of any age. There has not been in any country of Europe since the beginning of the seventeenth century a generation really fertile in beautiful production, whether in architecture, sculpture, metal-work or wood-carving. "It is on this ground, combined with the peculiar changes that passed over painting and poetry themselves at the time referred to, that we may safely affirm the position of art in Europe since the sixteenth century, however occasionally brilliant, to have been quite different from that which it occupied before.

Our question then is, not, why did aesthetic fail to arise directly after the time of Raphael, but rather, why did it fail to arise directly after the time of Shakespeare ? And the answer is, not that art retained continuous vitality till the eighteenth century, so that before that time the material of aesthetic was incomplete ; but that the peculiar nature of this material in modern times, consisting largely of a tradition alien to modern life, demanded a long process of critical apprecia- tion before its content could fairly reach the mind. It is quite true that the modern consciousness, in comparison with the ancient, is divided and not single. The mere territorial exten- sion and national subdivision of the area of European culture in the seventeenth century is enough to bring this sharply before us when we compare it with the Athenian period, or even with that of Hellenism or Greco-Roman civilisation, though this had great territorial extension and some tinge of local colour. The architecture, painting, language and litera-


I7O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

ture of France, Italy, and England alone, down to the seven- teenth century, form a material which could not be organised by reflection in one or two generations. And yet this was only, relatively speaking, one factor in the problem presented to theory. Each of the two great streams of intellectual activity, that of philosophy and that of criticism, had not only to absorb a present, that is, a recent past, of immense compli- cation, but had also to adjust itself to antitheses bequeathed by the remoter past called antiquity, both in its own content, and in its relation to the present. Till these two processes were completed, and their results were ready to combine, there could be no fertile aesthetic.

3. The philosophical preparation of the aesthetic

  • 2S?J!S^ problem, like the critical preparation of the

Descartes aesthetic data, includes more than one tendency.

to Baumgarten. A . . . . . Tr , ~ . . . - . <

As ultimately stated in Kants Critique of the Power of Judgment, that problem was the outcome of those two tendencies of modern thought, which determined his entire philosophy itself a statement of this same problem in all the principal shapes which it was capable of assuming.

i. As a first approximation to indicating the

Tendencies, nature of these two tendencies, we may mention "^SSnS 10 ?^*^ 6111 unc ^ er l ^ e technical names " universal" and 1 ' individual" respectively; the Cartesian school with its descendant, the Leibnitz- Wolffian philosophy, being marked, on the whole, by insistence on the aspect of rational system and necessary connection in the universe (a tendency to which the peculiar monadic theory of Leibnitz forms no real exception) ; while the British empirical school, from Bacon to David Hume, started rather from individual feeling or sense- perception, and required that the theory of reality should be derivative from what this was supposed to announce. In the eighteenth century this latter mood was backed by all the forces of the time, especially by the passionate sentimentalism of Rousseau and the less philosophical scepticism of Voltaire.

But the logical terms " universal " and " individual " do not give us much help in appreciating the real nature of the ten- dencies thus described. In all conceptions that have ever approved themselves to reason, whether in ancient or modern times, the factors thus designated necessarily find a place. We must therefore, if we wish to get nearer our subject than this general approximation, distinguish the particular shape in


"UNIVERSAL AND "INDIVIDUAL. i;i

which the universal and the individual tendency reveal them- selves in modern philosophy before Kant, first from the shape which they took in classical antiquity, and secondly from the shape which each one of them takes within the current of thought in which the other is predominant. If we can make this clear, we shall have done all that is needed to explain Kant's philosophical attitude towards aesthetic questions, and happily we are not called upon to undertake the gigantic task of narrating the whole development of pre- Kantian specu- lation. For philosophy proper, by which I mean the speculations of men who are known as thinkers on other grounds than their contributions to aesthetic criticism, reveals its extraordinarily abstract character during this period by an almost entire omission to deal with aesthetic questions, under this or any other name. What little demands remark in Shaftes- bury, Leibnitz and Baumgarten Lord Kaimes, Lessing, and Burke being counted among the critics, and not among the philosophers we shall find occasion to notice in ex- plaining the tendencies to which they severally belong.

Distinguished " First then > we are to distinguish the " uni-

from Ancient versal " and " individual " tendencies of such

oBopny. t hj n k ers as Descartes and Locke respectively

from the corresponding tendencies in any philosophers of

antiquity ; let us say, of the Stoics on the one hand and of

Epicureans on the other,

We should begin by noting the difficulty of finding ade- quate contrasted examples of such tendencies in classical philosophy. In Plato and Aristotle, for instance, the two factors of thought are fairly in equilibrium, and we could hardly find, to set against either of these thinkers, a school of real importance in whom the balance was notably different. While if we compare the Eleatics with the Atomists or with Heraclitus, we feel that the antithesis with which we are deal- ing has no depth of application, such as the modern antagon- ism between free-will and necessity, or between passion and reason. This difficulty of finding a good example shows how little, comparatively speaking, the ancient mind was torn and dragged asunder by the conflicting claims of partial ele- ments in human nature each striving to pass for the whole.

But further, if we look at such a contrast as that between Stoics and Epicureans, in which the mind of the old world is beginning to pursue divergent ideals after a more modern


172 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

fashion, we see that the antagonism is far less internecine than its modern representative. On the one hand, neither of these aspects of life is irreconcilably differentiated from the other which is its complement ; on the other hand, neither makes so jealous and exclusive a claim to be all that there is, and to annihilate its opposite out of the reasonable world. Stoicism is the outcome of one mood, Epicureanism of another. They are no doubt controversial in so far as they consist in rival theories, but each of them was to a great extent a way of life, and its adherents chose a path which suited their own tastes and did not bring them into conflict with the others. But, as we have amply seen, the characteristic of the Chris- tian mind is to lay claim to the universe as belonging to the individual soul. Nothing is indifferent to this mind ; God is everywhere, and wherever He is there is something for man to know, to do, or to enjoy. During the long centuries of the middle age this faith had been formulated in positive doctrine, and had embodied itself unconsciously in the widening range of sensuous perception and pleasurable production, so that when the flower of formative art had passed away, and the free intellect of Christendom began to re-construct its world in terms of self-conscious reason, both " universal " and " indi- vidual" points of view asserted themselves only as deeper complications within a frame of mind which to begin with was pre-eminently individual. The infinite value of a soul was a lesson too deeply bought to be readily forgotten.

Thus the two tendencies of modern thought are distin- guished from their ancient correlatives by their common point of departure in the thinking, feeling and perceiving subject. Scepticism, which marked the close of ancient philosophy, characterised the beginning of modern speculation. Augustine, as we saw, very nearly anticipated the principle that my thought involves my existence, or rather, in Augustine's words, that my doubt implies my thought ; l and on some such basis, the basis of existence as a separate but thinking being, the thinking, feeling and percipient subject in modern times de- liberately invades the system of things, with the conviction that it will certainly find therein what it demands ; either a reasonable framework according to causal laws, or general truths in harmony with observed phenomena, or a life that

1 Page 134 above.


REASON AND FEELING. 173

will respond to its moral or hedonistic requirements. All that it finds is expected or required to be in conformity with the organ or faculty of the subject, so that starting from itself as centre it can critically verify and reconstruct the world, from which it began by ideally isolating itself. There is nothing in antiquity at all comparable to the combined feeling of exter- nality and of assured dominion with which Bacon and Des- cartes look out upon phenomena.

And from in. This being the general type of modern as each other, contrasted with ancient speculation, for which the history of the post-classical decadence and of the middle age has I hope prepared the reader, we have further to ask how, within this individual or modern mood, the ineradicable im- pulses known as "universal" and " individual " again assert themselves in philosophy. The history of philosophy appears to answer the question in the most straightforward way. In Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Wolff, Baumgarten we find a continuous march of thought which is abstractly rational and intellectual ; in Bacon, Locke, Shaftesbury, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, we recognise an empirical or sensationalist ten- dency no less abstract. The two streams meet in Kant, and it is their convergence in his system that sets the problem to later modern speculation as a whole, and more especially and distinctively, owing to the peculiar conditions of this problem, to modern aesthetic speculation. "How can the sensuous and the ideal world be reconciled ?" is the general problem; "how can a pleasurable feeling partake of the character of reason ?" is the same problem in its special aesthetic form.

But we have further to note, as a characteristic of the modern temper, that inasmuch as each of the philosophical tendencies is theoretical and controversial, claiming absolute and exclusive universality, the logical force of facts compels each of them to be represented within the line of progression mainly dominated by the other ; and it is therefore only by comparison, and in virtue of their respective bases and as- sumed points of departure, that the one chief course of thought is distinguished from the other. Bacon, who championed the cause of "particulars" as if they were an oppressed population, held himself to be the very prophet of exact science the abstract universal ; and Hume, whose point of departure is the isolated sensuous impression, not only admits the universal under the name of a fiction, but in his entire scope and method


174 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

of reasoning is guided by a spirit of abstract analysis which makes him, though the extremest of sensationalists in metaphysic, a utilitarian rationalist wherever he touches on aesthetic. 1

In the Cartesian school, on the other hand, the starting point is the abstract universal or the systematic intelligence, in terms of which feeling and sensation are taken into account only as obscure or confused ideas. Although in Leibnitz there is a concession to individualism, as against the monotonous ab- straction of Spinoza, yet the system retains its purely intel- lectual form, and the estimation of sensation and feeling as inferior species of intellectual idea was adopted by Wolff, and in Baumgarten's hands determined the point of view under which aesthetic was for the first time enrolled among the accepted branches of modern philosophy.

connection witn * V ' ^ e saw ^ at t ^ ie ^ octr " ia l dualism of early Medivai Dual- Christianity and of the middle age was only a

ism. i- i r 1-1

materialised expression fora conviction which never exactly coincided with it. It would be ridiculous to say that such men as Dante, or Francis of Assisi believed the world of spiritual realities to lie far away beyond the grave. But it is true that they were unable to satisfy the whole strenuousness of their own and still more, probably, of the popular convic- tion, without insisting on the antagonism between ilesh and spirit under the image of a temporal and spatial separation. And again the image had a double tendency. It addressed itself then, as always, not merely to the aspiration after a region of divine reasonableness, but to that after a complete satisfaction to individual romantic sentiment.

When therefore free thought set about the task of re-con- quering the universe for feeling and intellect, this material separation, which had never represented the actual dividing line between reason and sense, nor determined which of these factors belong to "this" world and which to the "other," bequeathed to philosophy rather the habit or form of such an absolute antithesis as that between a "here" and a " beyond," than any particular distribution of content between the two sides of such an antithesis. It is true that the ideas of Freedom, God and Immortality continued to stand over

1 Treatise of Human Nature, vol. li. (Green and Grose), p. 151. See below, p. 179.


REASON AND FEELING. 175


against such notions as those of necessity, nature, and the dependence of mind on body. But it would not be possible to identify the intellectualist school of thought as the heir of the former or supernatural point of view, and the sensation- alist or "empirical" as the heir of the latter or merely natural point of view ; for in fact the antagonism of freedom and necessity, purpose and mechanism, mind and body, is repre- sented with startling distinctness within the philosophic move- ment from Descartes, through Spinoza and Leibnitz, to Wolff and his successors; while the English and later French thinkers, who start from the "here" and "now" of sensation and desire, begin by transmuting it into a system of scientific and therefore ideal necessity, against which individual feeling, having learned its own importance from being treated as a primary datum and standard, asserts itself for example in Rousseau with a claim for freedom and satisfaction both here and hereafter.

Thus either reason or feeling may seize upon the place of the supernatural, and either of them, again, may be interpreted into a purely natural system. Either of these, so long as they remain purely abstract opposites, may be regarded as freedom when identified with the willing self, and must turn out to be mere necessity when found to exclude an element that the self seems in concrete experience to contain. It is not easy to decide whether one would rather be a being without affections, as Spinoza, it appears, would represent man at his best, or the defenceless prey of successive solicitations of appetite accord- ing to the strictest interpretation of Hume. What is really gained by the pre- Kantian treatment of these antagonisms is a gradually growing demonstration, owing to the manner in which they dissolve into one another, that their cause must be somewhere in the nature of mind. +*. T- ^ v - The observations upon beauty thrown out

JEsthetic Ideas In , ,., i 11 T- i i T-

pre-Kantian by philosophers whether in England, France, or Philosophy. Q erman y j before Kant, do not possess the note of progressive modern aesthetic, and are not the true progenitors of that study. For, as we have partly seen, and shall further see when we come to deal with Kant, it draws its peculiar import from the fact that it constitutes an essential and almost primary element in the treatment by which Kant attempted to reconcile the conflicting philosophical movements that con- verged upon him ; and it would be false history to represent as springing from certain external symptoms of these move-


176 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

ments the problem which really sprang from the whole system of forces to which they belonged. Kant no doubt borrowed from his predecessors in philosophy both the name of aesthetic and certain features of its treatment ; but the need of it lay deeper in his thought than any suggestions of theirs, and the material which was destined after Kant's time to meet this need more fully was being stored up elsewhere than in abstract metaphysic.

We must therefore regard pre- Kantian aesthetic, so far as it exists at all in the great philosophers, not as the generating cause of its later development, but only as an external attri- bute of the movement which was really such a cause. It is not necessary to treat it in great detail.

The pioneers of free thought do not give much attention to the phenomena of the beautiful. Descartes and Spinoza, Bacon, Hobbes and Locke, throw themselves at once into what seem the most urgent and central issues of man's position in the world into questions relating to human free- dom, the nature of God, the extension of knowledge, the nature of the mind and of society. And in some degree the severe rationalism of these philosophers, whether its root be intellectualist or sensationalist, implies an attitude towards fine art that reminds us not a little of Plato. But yet in substance their ideas are far more favourable to its importance than are those of antiquity, for they stand on the firm found- ation slowly laid by the Christian consciousness in all the popular developments of the argument from design ; which is equivalent to saying, that even if they doubt the teleology of the world, they do not doubt its being rational and access- ible to intelligence through and through. Now on the basis of this conviction, upon which the modern mind is firmly established, the due consideration of beauty and knowledge is a mere question of time ; it is only natural that reason should first consciously appreciate itself in its more plainly and directly intellectual expression.

It is noticeable from this point of view that Descartes (1596-1650) wrote a "Compendium Musicoe" music, it must be remembered, formed part of the educational " quadri- vium " of the middle age along with arithmetic, geometry and astronomy, under the name of a science and though Spinoza (1632-1677) seems to have recognised no meaning at all in


SHAFTESBURY. 177


the term beauty, 1 which for him could only designate a con- fused form of intelligence, yet we find in

Leibniti ( a ) Leibnitz ( 1 646- 1716), an expression echoing

mediaeval associations, while containing the germ of many later researches into the power of sound ; a " Musica est arithmetica nescientis se numerare animi," 8 "music is counting performed by the mind without knowing that it is counting," or, translating negative into positive terms in con- formity with Leibnitz's system, " music is a felt relation of number." This, however in need of further explanation, is a plain case of " reason in the form of feeling," and so more generally Leibnitz falls back on the aesthetic point of view of Augustine by comparing the permission of evil in the universe to the introduction of ugly colour or discordant sound by an artist, enhancing the beauty of his work as a whole. This, of course, involves the assumption that what is beautiful to feeling is ultimately an expression of harmony, though capable of including apparent contradiction.

The above is enough to indicate in general the starting- point of modern philosophy, so far as it affects the place of beauty in the system of things ; it is separated from classical antiquity by that whole interval of a new faith which separates Augustine or Erigena from Plato, but it is also inspired with its own freely analytic and progressive impulse.

(A) Shaftesbury (1670-1713) stands, so far as aesthetic is concerned, on the same metaphysical ground of the Christian intelligence, believing beauty to be an expression of the divine life of the world, which he contrasts with dead matter in a way too much akin to Plotinus, and is therefore unable to find an explanation for ugliness or evil. He sees, however, that the true purpose of art is to bring before the mind ideas and sentiments in shapes drawn from sense-perception, the trained eye and ear being ultimate judges of what is beautiful or not. His extension of the terms "beauty" and "sense" to the goodness of morality and the faculty by which we judge of it, is fatal of course to a distinct demarcation of the aesthetic region. But yet, by insisting on the education of

1 Erdmann, E. Tr., li. 85.

2 We shall notice later the effect on aesthetic of the rise of musical art. Between Descartes' birth and Leibnitz's death, Opera sprang up m Pans. Italy, Germany and England.

8 See Lotze, G. d. A., 275.


178 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

the art-sense, and by his detailed attention to the phenomena of art, he marks a stage in the growing tendency to appre- ciate beautiful production as in its own right an important activity of human life, and an important element in history. His criticisms on the limits of time over which an action, represented in painting, may extend, anticipates some of the discussions in Lessing's Laocoon.

So far as we can judge, the content of reason which beauty embodies for sense did not signify for Shaftesbury anything more than the formal principle of antiquity the principle of unity in multiplicity. The advance lies in the complete and confident identification of beauty with the aspect presented by art and nature to trained perception. It is easy to speak of Shaftesbury as a Platonist , but we must remember that in place of a fierce anti-sensuous dualism, only indicating at times the identification of fact and reason, and for the most part hostile to art, we have now an easy-going pantheistic monism, almost identifying God, reason, and ordinary material Nature, and taking the charm of visible things as an obvious outcome of the divine principle. It is the world that has moved on, and that has verified the highest of Plato's suggestions ; Shaftesbury is far from being a great philosopher, and does little but reproduce, in terms of the individual's sensibility, the current ideas of his age.

Hume ( c ) ^ * s wort h while, before leaving the

British philosophers, to notice the observations upon beauty made in passing by David Hume (1711-1776) in the Treatise of Human Nature, published in 1738. I should hardly have thought it fair to lay stress upon them, being fragmentary, and contained in a youthful work, were it not that they are in fact of considerable value.

" If 1 we consider all the hypotheses which have been formed either by philosophy or common reason, to explain the differ- ence betwixt beauty and deformity, we shall find that all of them resolve into this, that beauty is such an order and con- struction of parts, as either by the primary constitution of our nature, by custom, or by caprice, is fitted to give a pleasure and satisfaction to the soul. This is the distinguishing charac- ter of beauty, and forms all the difference betwixt it and deformity, whose natural tendency is to produce uneasiness.

1 Treatise of Human Nature. Green and Grose Vol. li , p. 95.


BEAUTY REFERRED TO SYMPATHY. 1 79

Pain and pleasure, therefore, are not only necessary attendants of beauty and deformity, but constitute their very essence." " Beauty, like wit, cannot be defined, but is discerned only by a taste or sensation." The greater part of the plea- sure of beauty arises, however, from the idea of convenience or utility. Now the point which seems deserving of atten- tion, is the precise mode of connection between this idea of utility and the sensation of beauty. For Hume lays down with absolute clearness that beauty, as a rule, arises from a utility which does not at all concern the spectator whose sense of beauty is awakened, but only the owner or person imme- diately affected by the real properties of the object. It is therefore only by sympathy that the feeling of beauty can exist for the spectator. A curious example is as follows : l " I know not but a plain, overgrown with furze and broom, may be, in itself, as beautiful as a hill covered with vines or olive-trees ; though it will never appear so to one who is acquainted with the value of each. But this is a beauty merely of imagination, and has no foundation in what appears to the senses."

This example seems to indicate a concession to what might be called the vulgar doctrine of utility, because monetary value does not imply high structural organisation. But we must not fail to notice in it the pregnant distinction between beauty of inidgination what would now be called beauty of rela- tion and beauty for the sense, or beauty of form. If we ask for the nature and grounds of the latter, I think we must sup- pose that Hume resolves it into a more obvious case of the relation of utility a case in which utility is plainly expressed in the physical form of the object. And here again, the plea- sure or pain upon which beauty or deformity depend, as in the uneasiness produced by an ill-balanced figure in a paint- ing, gains its " vivacity" through sympathy alone. 2 I sup- pose that his reason for not distinguishing, in the case of a work of art, between the spectator and the person really affected, is simply that in this case there can be no such per- son, and therefore our sympathy can only be with each other's ideas, and not with any person's actual advantage or injury.

Whatever we may think of the mechanism of impressions and ideas as described by Hume, it is plain that his doctrine of

1 lb,, p. 151. * /., p. 152.


l8o HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

utility in beauty does not involve a selfish interest on the part of the spectator, and that it practically implies a distinction in natural beauty as well as in art between aesthetic semblance and real effect; and further, that his idea of an aesthetic generalisation of pleasure and pain through sympathy is strik- ingly parallel to Aristotle's idea of an artistic generalisation of fear through pity. We thus get an approximate anticipa- tion of Kant's "form of teleology without the idea of an end," and also of his "disinterested pleasure." It is so easy to be unjust to any one who mentions the term utility in connection with beauty, as Socrates too did, that these observations seemed to me to be necessary. And moreover, we have in Hume more distinctly than in Shaftesbury, and far more plainly than in Hutcheson, the important conception of a taste or sensation which though a mere feeling is affected with pleasure and pain by structural forms and relations of a defi- nite character, analysable by reflection, though not analysed by the appreciating sensibility itself. Such an attempt to trace the content of beauty is not to be set down as the mere abstract identification of it with pleasure-producing quality. Nature of tbe (d) It is of course a twice-told tale that the Advance individualistic thinkers of Britain from Bacon to Hume, in the sphere of metaphysic or general philosophy, drove a destructive analysis deeper and deeper into know- ledge until with Hume the last word of sensational empiricism was spoken. But it is a total misconception to apply the principle of this progression to the province of positive aesthe- tic research, which did not at that time form a central issue in metaphysical philosophy. And thus when we are told l that British aesthetic passed from Platonism (in Shaftesbury) to Aristotelianism (in Lord Kaimes) and subsequently ran into materialistic empiricism of the shallowest kind in Burke and Hogarth Reynolds being omitted we feel that the great formulae of historical philosophy have in this case hardly been grasped with the thoroughness which is needed for their con- crete application. The age in question was an age of reflec- tion, of antagonistic abstractions, of the meeting of extremes; all this is quite true. But if we are going to interpret history by such a conception, we must not pick out a thinker here and a critic there, and throw them into a succession according

1 Schasler, i 313.


THE REAL COURSE OF REFLECTION. l8l

to their intellectual characters, quite apart from their special forms of preoccupation with the problems of the age. We must realise that the reflective character of the time, like all such dominant tendencies, was no mere intellectual instinct of certain writers in philosophy and literature, but was dic- tated by the whole existing situation of facts and forces, which placed the individual subject in presence of a set of completed systems, antiquity, mediaeval art, theology, political authority, by overcoming which and reasserting itself in spite of them it had to win a new positive freedom and positive content. Now if we compare one of these forms of conquest with another even though the same thinker is engaged in both, as may well happen we construct a transition and imagine a tendency which is altogether unreal. As the English passed, in aesthetic, from Platonism to Aristotelianism, so the French passed, we are told, 1 from Aristotelianism (in Batteux) to Platonism (in Cousin), and thus the necessity by which one- sided abstractions work out their opposites is supposed to be exemplified.

All this is utterly unhistorical. Sidney, Corneille, Shaftes- bury as an art critic, Lord Kaimes, Batteux, Lessing, were all interested not in the issues of metaphysic, but in the adjust- ment of modern aesthetic feeling, always comparatively speak- ing somewhat romantic, to the classical tradition, represented at first by conventional conceptions of Aristotle and of Greek beauty, and then, as criticism deepened, by something nearer the real Aristotle and real Greek art and poetry. Within this domain of criticism the work of reflection took the form, prescribed for it by circumstances, of struggling with the given antithesis which was the primary fact of the situation, and as reflection gradually broke through the rind of tradition, its results became more and more empirical in the sense of being more vital, more concrete, more akin to the true philo- sophical speculation which was to arise from its endeavours. It is a wild confusion to identify the appeal to aesthetic fact in Hogarth, Burke and Reynolds, under the ambiguous name empiricism, with the increasingly severe and abstract analysis of general experience which culminated in the metaphysic of David Hume. The one made content richer, as we have seen in the aesthetic suggestions of Hume himself; the other

1 Schasler, I.e.


1 82 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

made it poorer for the moment, and only richer in a construc- tive sense, by helping to prepare the place which a fuller con- tent would one day occupy. The two movements together were therefore, as we have urged throughout, pioneering the junction which followed in and after Kant.

I may add that in order to gain probability for the perverse view which has been indicated, Schasler omits Sidney at the beginning of the English development, and adds on Cousin, who belongs to a wholly different age, at the end of the French. The " critical" movement, in the sense de- fined at the beginning of the present chapter, is in England from Sidney to Burke and Hogarth, in France from Corneille to Rousseau and Diderot, in Germany from Gottschcd and Ramler to Schiller and Goethe. If the true nature of this movement had been understood, the attempt would not have been made to display an antithetical progression by simply passing in the account of English thought from a metaphysical to a critical writer, and in that of French thought from a critical to a metaphysical one.

The movement of eighteenth-century metaphysic in France needs no separate treatment. The operative forces that framed the problem for Kant are adequately represented within the region of philosophy, by the British school on the one hand, and the Wolfifian, containing in it many elements of French (Cartesian) origin, on the other. Baumgarten. ( e ) ^ ^he British school, starting from what is most individual in the individual, worked upwards to aesthetic ideas from observing the trained artistic sense, or from analysing the conditions of disinterested pleasure, the Cartesian school, continuous for our purposes with the Leib- nitzian, worked downward to aesthetic ideas by ultimately attempting to extend its intellectualist theory, which dealt primarily with knowledge, to the phenomena of feeling and perception. And the extension thus initiated by Baumgarten (1714-1762) under the name " /Esthetica," was so far cha- racteristically concerned about the theory of beauty as to hand down the term ^Esthetic as the accepted title for the philo- sophy of the beautiful.

The genesis of his conception appears to have been as follows. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Wolff, form as intellectualist philosophers an unbroken sequence, in spite of Leibnitz's revolt against the abstract unity of Spinoza's "sub-


CLEAR AND CONFUSED. 183

stance." Throughout this whole succession the passions and sense-perceptions are described in terms of the abstract in- telligence, and therefore negatively, that is to say, by the attribute in which they differ from an abstract idea Both sense-perception and passion are, according to Spinoza, " con- fused acts of thought/' 1 and in Wolff's psychology there is a complete set of faculties belonging to the " obscure " portion of knowledge, and corresponding to the faculties of the dis- tinct intellect. Now clear thinking was treated by Wolff in the science or method of Logic, both theoretical and practical, as an introduction to theoretical philosophy or metaphysic with its four parts, Ontology, Cosmology, Ethics, and Psycho- logy. It occurs then to Baumgarten, who in every way continues to push the survey of science into detail he wrote a Sketch of Philosophical Encyclopedia a term inherited by German philosophy from late Greek and mediaeval educa- tion to prefix to the Wolffian logic, or method of clear knowledge, a still prior science or method of sensible or obscure knowledge, to be called Esthetic. Such a prelimin- ary science might, it has been observed, 2 have taken the form of inductive logic, or it might be added, as in Kant, of an enquiry into the nature of the forms of sense. But Baum- garten is thoroughly consistent. Inductive logic and the theory of space and time both belong to the doctrine of clear knowledge such a doctrine as that of modern logical text- books where they deal with "the extraction of general pro- positions from sense-perception." But the subject of the yEsthetica is " obscure conception " qua obscure, that is knowledge in the form of feeling and remaining in that form. To us, no doubt, sense-perception is apt to seem the clearest of data, and we hardly see the force of a distinction which ranks it as " confused."

I imagine that what is meant by clear and confused through this whole succession of philosophies may be illustrated by the possibility of adequately expressing this or that matter in words. 3 I suppose that a clear idea is one which is so cut down and defined as to be communicable by a conventional sign with a tolerable degree of adequacy, while a confused

1 Erdmann, E. Tr , n 85.

2 Zimmermann, i. 169

3 $ ee> , o-. 4 Erdmann on Leibnitz and Descartes, ii. 182.


184 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

idea is one which remains of a kind and complexity such as a harmony of colour which language cannot reproduce. That the " confused idea " can have an order of its own, which is appreciable to feeling, seems to be presupposed in the idea of beauty, and insisted on by Baumgarten in his dis-


cussion.


The sphere of aesthetic, then, is a whole complex of faculties, those which represent any connection in a confused form, 1 and which, taken together form the "analogon rationis," the parallel or parody of reason in the province of confused knowledge. Thus it is clearly more akin to the subject of psychology than to that of logic or elementary metaphysic, and appears to me to be a conception to which modern psychology, constantly finding parallels to logical processes in unconscious or sub- conscious mental movements, is bringing us back. But again it was not quite from this point of view, not as a parallel in the form of feeling to logical processes, that the region of obscure ideas pressed itself on Baumgarten's attention. Such a treatment would still make the excellence of sensuous per- ception consist in a form of truth which can only exist in so far as the perception is after all interpreted into a judg- ment, a feeling that "something is so or so." Baumgarten maintained his distinction more thoroughly than this, and with a coherence for which he hardly receives due commen- dation. He gives to the perfection of sensuous knowledge, i.e., of feeling or sensation, the name of beauty, as the mani- festation in feeling so I understand the accounts of him

of that attribute which when manifested in intellectual know- ledge is called truth. Only it is difficult to see how he could call aesthetic thus construed the art of beautiful thinkinr (pulchre cogitandi), 2 for thinking always conveys to us the idea of an intellectual process.

His analysis of the content of this perfection is not adequate to his conviction as to the source from which it is to be drawn. In the former he does not advance beyond the theories of antiquity ; in the latter he shares the consciousness of his age though hidden under a phraseology that recalls the old attitude of Plato. In every way therefore he is on the tnresnold of a new movement.

The idea of perfection had played a great part in the

1 Zimmermann, A., i 165. * Erdmann, ii 240.


PERFECTION AND IMITATION. 185

speculation of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibnitz, and was directly transmitted from Wolff to Baumgarten. It might be generally defined as the character of a whole in so far as this whole is affirmed by its parts without counter-action, and thus perfection became a postulate of everything real, because reality depended upon power to harmonise with the greatest number of conditions. In Wolff, therefore, it naturally comes to mean the mere logical relation of the whole to part, or unity in variety, and this is the sense in which Baumgarten also employs it. The content of beauty for him is therefore nothing more than our old friend the formal principle of unity in variety which may, of course, at any moment take the form of teleology. Whatever is opposed to the perfection of sensuous knowledge, that is to the unity of parts in the whole of the sense-perception, is ugly.

But from the same tradition which gave him the abstract idea of perfection, he derives a peculiar conviction as to the source from which alone such perfection can enter the region of feel- ing. It must be observed that in speaking of perfection of sensation, when we might speak of sensitive appreciation of perfection, he is perfectly in his right. The character of the perceptive content as such and in itself is what concerns aesthetic, just as the character of knowledge as such and in itself is what concerns logic. The distinction of subject and object concerns metaphysics, but not logic nor aesthetic.

The greatest degree of perfection was to be found, accord- ing to Leibnitz, in the existing universe, every other possible system being as a whole less perfect. Baumgarten, in- heriting this view, which is really a translation into philosophy of the Christian teleological consciousness, makes nature, the world accessible to sense-perception, the standard and pattern of art. This raises in a quaint form the whole problem of the fantastic imagination. The poetical world of fable and mythology possesses only " heterocosmic " l truth, and there- fore has a less degree of perfection and of beauty than the actual world of experience. The introduction of the heathen deities in modern poetry appears to him therefore thoroughly erroneous. Imitation of nature is the law of art.

The fundamental connection of his views, in spite of their verbal coincidence with the doctrine of antiquity, is altogether

1 " Belonging to another world. '


1 86 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

modern. The nature which is to be imitated is for him the revelation of perfection, not as in Plato a secondary and inferior world ; and to reproduce it is a high but possible task, not an idle indulgence and a vain endeavour. The hiatus is between the formal principle of perfection, i.e. unity in variety, and the immense and individual splendour of the world, which that abstract principle is wholly inadequate to comprehend. A deeper analysis was needed to exhibit this concrete content as a development of that abstract principle.

In many respects the attitude of later German philosophy towards aesthetic was anticipated, perhaps influenced, by Baum- garten. The feeling that art was a sort of preparatory discipline to speculative knowledge, and the doubt whether the two could thoroughly co-exist, seems to reproduce itself in Schiller and in Hegel, although they rejected the still more decided intel- lectualist prejudice which makes Baumgarten apologise for his subject as something below the dignity of philosophy, but after all interesting to the philosopher as a man among men. 1 Again, the idea of beauty as felt perfection lends itself of course readily to Kant's conception of teleology without the distinct notion of an end, although the other important Kantian distinction between the beautiful and the object of desire, does not appear to have been made by Baumgarten otherwise than through the general leaning to knowledge more than pleasure as the central characteristic of beauty. But all perfection gives pleasure and causes desire, and beauty is a kind of perfection. The desire for the real object suggested in art, and the interest in the beautiful as beauti- ful, are perhaps not distinguished by him, as they are not with absolute clearness by Kant. Apart from this one point of obscurity the definite demarcation of aesthetic from logic and ethics was in itself a considerable service to philosophy ; and the bias which its author showed against the " unnatural " or " fictitious " started the enquiry into the ideal on the whole in a right direction , 2 only a certain weakness which Baum- garten had for allegory, as fiction in the service of truth, perhaps affected Winckelmann or at least was shared by him.

It seems needless to discuss the views of other philosophers between Baumgarten and Kant, such as Mendelssohn. What

1 Zimmermann, i., 159. Hegel, ssth., Introd. E. Ti., p 8.

2 See for the solution Modern Painters, iii. 131.


STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM. 187

is essential in the culture of the later eighteenth century belongs rather to the critical than to the speculative move- ment, and will be indicated in the next chapter. Kant took up the problem of general philosophy on its German side directly from Baumgarten, from whose compendia he was at first in the habit of lecturing. 1 When Hume and Baumgarten had written the array of strictly philosophical forces was com- plete. The suggestions made on points of aesthetic by them and other writers, although no doubt they furnished Kant with the technical term ^Esthetic, and perhaps with some of his detailed ideas, were not the principal factors in the question that urged itself upon him. The question was, I repeat, in its general form, " How can the sensuous and the ideal world be reconciled ?" and in its special aesthetic form, " How can a pleasurable feeling partake of the character of reason ? "

It was the former question which gave, for Kant, its full import to the latter ; and it was the concrete solution of the latter, following upon Kant's statement which was in itself half an answer, that paved the way for a new and more fertile treatment ol the former.


1 Erdmann, n. 238.


CHAPTER IX.

THE DATA OF MODERN ESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY.

IN the beginning of the last chapter we distinguished the processes which paved the way for modern aesthetic speculation into the formulation of the problem by philosophy, and the preparation of the data by criticism. This latter process forms the subject of the present chapter.

Criticism in the widest sense includes, as we saw, the work of classical scholarship or philology, of archaeology, and of art-criticism or the appreciation of beautiful things as beautiful. Each of these movements represents in its own form that antithesis which is inherent in the position of the modern world as coming after the ancient, and which distin- guishes its whole basis of thought and feeling, as historical and reflective, from the direct naturalism of antiquity. It is not necessary for our purpose to write a complete account of classical philology or of archaeology from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. Such an account of either as the late Mr. Mark Pattison might have written would be of the utmost value for the comprehension of modern philosophy, but would demand a knowledge such as few but he have possessed, and would considerably exceed in compass the whole of the present work.

classical i I will simply recall two great moments in the

pwioiogy. history of philology which have been indicated by the writer to whom I have just referred.

i. In the year 1583 Joseph Scaliger 1 published Joseph scaiiger ^j g p e E men dati one Temporum, the first attempt

to apply modern astronomical knowledge " to get a scientific basis for historical chronology." This attempt led up to the Thesaurus Temporum (1606), "in which 2 every chronological relic extant in Greek or Latin was reproduced, placed in order, restored, and made intelligible."

1 Mark Pattison's Essays, I. 162. 2 Ib., 162.

188


PHILOLOGY.


189


This great work involved nothing less than the conception of Universal History, breaking down the barrier, then con- sidered absolute, between the classical and the biblical world, and including in the problem of historical research the extra- classical world also. The importance of this achievement for us is not so much in the active effect of its great idea for, it appears, this idea remained unfertile through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as in the proof which it affords that by the beginning of the seventeenth century the remains of antiquity were in the possession of the learned world in a degree which could suggest the conception of understanding the ancient civilisations as a whole.

ii. Just about two hundred years later, 1 in 1786, F A. wolf.


u prevailed on the Chancellor of the University (at Halle) to erect a philological seminarium for the special training of classical teachers." In the conduct of this seminarium 2 Wolf developed his conception of "philology," as a student of which " Studiosus philologiae " he had in- sisted upon being set down twenty years before in the matri- culation-book at Gottingen, where, as at other universities, no such faculty was then recognised.

Philology, he conceived, was now capable of becoming a study in its own right ; the ancient 3 languages were no longer the mere introduction to law or theology, nor could they any longer be held as the storehouse of all knowledge. The purpose of philology was more and less than these. It was nothing short of the knowledge of human nature as exhibited in antiquity. That is to say, the inheritance of classical learn- ing, which had so long appeared as a foreign element, mys- terious alike in its value and in its worthlessness, within the romantic life of modern Europe, had now been mastered, and had become transparent, and was seen to deal with utterances of human nature belonging to a development of which we also, with our utterances and self-expressions, form a part. The Prolegomena to Homer, published in 1795, further and most profoundly stimulated thought in this direction, by show-


  • Id tb., 363.

2 A system of classes in which the intending teacher teaches under the eye of the inspector in this case Wolf. For the origin and antiquity of this system see Hatch's Hibbert Lectures. He refers to it our term " Prafator."

3 Id. tb.


I9O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

ing that " Homer l was no single poet, writing according to art and rule, but a name which stood for a golden age of the true spontaneous poetry of genius and nature." The fixed ideas of the eighteenth century had been breaking up before this time, and breaking up in this direction. An interest had arisen in popular poetry. Ossian and Percy's Reliques had stirred the sympathy of German poets and men of letters. The whole critical movement, in the narrower sense of art- criticism, which we shall consider below, had, from Gottsched to Goethe, a tendency of the same kind. More especially, British writings translated into German 2 had pointed out the " naturalness " of Homer, and the probability that he com- posed without the help of writing. Thus when Wolf inaugu- rated his profound conception of philology and made clear the difference between the natural and the artificial epic, the time was obviously ripe for an appreciation of the classical writings in their deepest relation to definite phases of life, and as objects of such appreciation the works of ancient art and poetry became materials for aesthetic philosophy. It is re- markable that the dates of Wolfs great achievements fall with- in or close upon the fateful decade (1790-1800) in which by an unparalleled concentration of influences the future form of modern aesthetic, and with it of modern objective idealism, was in its essence determined.

2 ' ^ e k*h er spirit of archaeology is the same with that of philology as Wolf defined it, and indeed he included in the latter science the study and inter- pretation of ancient works of formative art. While, on the other hand, that part of the work of such a student as Winckel- mann, which bears most directly upon our subject, is of a semi-philosophical nature, and must be treated under the head of art-criticism rather than under that of archaeology. In the present section my purpose is only to point out one or two tangible facts which appear to me to be significant, con- cerning the dates at which important relics of antiquity became known to modern inquirers. I have not met with any con- spectus of information on this head such as a historian of ancient formative art could put together in a few lines, which would be, as I imagine, of the utmost interest and value for the history of culture. My own knowledge on the subject is

1 D B Monro, art. " Homer," Pncycl Brit. * See id. ib.


THE LATIN RENAISSANCE.


far too meagre ; but I give some facts as better than none at all.

Early Discoveries i. It is a curious external illustration of the on Italian soli nature which we have ascribed to that classical tradition which the Renaissance handed down, that its earlier days were occupied with the later works of art. The Apollo Belvedere, probably a Roman copy of a fine statue of the third century r.c., was discovered about the end of the fifteenth century at Antium. The Laocoon, probably an original of the Rhodian school of about the second century B.C., was found at Rome in 1506, and was known to Michael Angelo, who attempted to restore the father's right arm. The Belvedere torso of Heracles, by Apollonius in the first century B.C., was found at Rome about the same time, and was enthusiastically admired both by Michael Angelo and by Winckelmann. The group of Dirce, an original of the same school as the Laocoon, was found in the Baths of Caracalla in 1525. The figures of the Florentine Niobe group, a Roman copy of a very fine original of the second period of Greek sculpture (of which better partial copies exist than the Florentine), were found at Rome in 1583. I do not know that before the middle of the seventeenth century any modern had seen a work of Greek sculpture executed between 500 and 400 B.C. Winckelmann, 1 one hundred years later, mentions that Montfaucon believed no works of Greek sculp- ture to be in existence more ancient than the Roman period.

This order of discovery is not accidental. It arises from the Latin character of the Renaissance, and from the conse- quent fact that its direct contact with antiquity was on Italian soil, where the greatest works of Hellas, even if some had been transported there by purchasers or plunderers, were infinitely out-numbered by productions of a later age, and by copies freely multiplied, 2 both from earlier arid from later originals. The diversion of interest towards Greek soil was subsequent to this time, and parallel with the deeper inter- pretation of the classical tradition.

Just as we saw to be the case with classical form in litera-

1 Gesch. d. Kunst des Alterthums, vin. i. 26.

2 If we compare a Greco-Roman Caryatid with the British Museum Caryatid from the temple of Athene Pohas, we shall see the immensity of the gulf between different renderings of the same type.


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


ture, so too the ancient sculptures were regarded in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries chiefly as models for artists. 1 After the sixteenth century a beginning of disinterested study was made under the influence of the conception that ancient poetry and ancient formative art were especially fitted to illustrate one another ; a conception which Lessing is really disputing in that part of the " Laocoon " which refers to the works of Spence and Caylus. 2

Early Travels " It was in the latter half of the seventeenth in Greece, century, shortly before the fatal bombardment of the Acropolis by Morosini in 1687,* that Sponand Wheler pub- lished the narratives of their tour in Greece, and that Carrey, a French artist, commissioned by the French ambassador to the Porte, made those sketches of the Parthenon sculptures which are the earliest indications of their state. Morosini himself had, it seems, some of the collector's enthusiasm, or at least knew the value of the marbles ; and his desire of pos- session was no less ruinous than his warlike operations ; for not only did a shell dropping into the Turkish powder store within the Parthenon blow down the middle part of the build- ing, but after the Venetians had occupied the city the work- men employed by Morosini to remove the horses of Athene from the western pediment let them fall on the rocks of the Acropolis, where they were dashed to pieces. Many frag- ments of statues were carried off by officers of Morosini's force, some of which have since been recovered. 4 Carrey's drawings do not seem to have been known to Winckelmann, and in fact they would be of little use before the sculptures _ themselves were accessible.

Hercuianeum iii. A remarkable stimulus to archaeological and Pompeii research was given by the accidental discovery of antiquities at Hercuianeum in 1709, leading to the com- mencement of excavations in 1738, and by similar discoveries leading to researches at Pompeii from 1755 onwards. Winck- elmann arrived at Rome in this year, and from time to time

1 Encyd. Brit., art. " Archaeology."

8 The titles of their works are suggestive : Spence's Poly metis, or, An Enquiry concerning the Agreement between the Works of the Roman Poets and the Remains of the Ancient Artists, 1755, and Caylus' Tableaux tiris de riliade.

3 Murray's Hist, of Greek Sculpture, u. 21.

4 Overbeck, i. 291.


THE ELGIN MARBLES. 193

wrote reports of the Herculanean discoveries, on which part of his discussion upon the painting of the ancients is based. 1

It does not indeed appear that any works of the best time were added to the data of aesthetic by the discovery of Her- culaneum and Pompeii ; what was gained, in addition to very considerable archaeological knowledge, and a large mass of characteristic though late Greek art, was rather the sense of vitality and completeness in this new contact with antiquity. The concentration of aesthetic and partly aesthetic activity in England, France, and Germany round the year 1750, in which, as we saw, Baumgarten first gave the science its name, is exceedingly remarkable, and the Herculanean discoveries must take their place among its causes. 2 This interest was not confined to the Continent. Among Winckelmann's grumblings 3 at the destruction and improper restoration of many works of art in recent times, we find the complaint that lately and during his stay in Rome many noteworthy objects had been carried off to England, " where, as Pliny says, they are banished to remote country-houses." In Winckelmann's own opinion there was nothing at Rome in his day belonging to the high or grand style of Greek sculpture except the (Florentine) Niobe group then in the Villa Medicis at Rome, and a Pallas " nine palms high " 4 in the Villa Albani.

Greece iv. From 1751 onwards the activity of English-

proper. men was directed to making known the monuments of Greece proper ; and the labours and publications of many explorers 5 between that date and the early years of the present century no doubt marked and swelled the rising tide of interest \vhich made it possible for Lord Elgin to conceive and carry out (in 1812) the idea of securing the Parthenon marbles for this country. It was not till about the same time that the pedi- ment sculptures from ^Egina, and the frieze from Phigaleia,

1 Gcsch. d. Kunst, Bk. 7, i. 3

2 Gcsch. d. Kunst, Einleitung^ xiv.

8 It is fair to point out how the interest helped to create its own material. The fact that a prince, seeking crushed marble to make plaster for his new villa, was told by some peasants that they knew where there was plenty (Prince Elbeuf at Portici in 1709) would not in every period have led to the scientific excavation of the buried city.

4 G. d. AT., 8, ii. 4, and see p. 245 below.

5 Stuart and Revell, and the explorers sent out by the Society of Dilettanti (founded 1734), continued to publish drawings and descriptions at intervals throughout this period.


194 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

became known and were brought to Germany and England respectively. The later labours of the nineteenth century, with their magnificent result, do not concern us as yet. It is of in- terest, however, to notice an aspiration of Winckelmann, which his countrymen have in late years splendidly fulfilled. " I can- not refrain," he writes, 1 "in concluding this chapter, from making known a desire which concerns the extension of our know- ledge in Greek art, as well as in scholarship and the history of that nation. This wish of mine is for a journey to Greece, not to places which many have visited, but to Elis, to which no scholar nor person skilled in art has yet penetrated. . . . What, as regards works of art, is the whole Lacedaemonian territory compared with the one town of Pisa in Elis, where the Olympic games were celebrated ? I am certain that in this place the results would be inconceivably great, and that by careful exploration of this soil a great light would dawn upon art."

Hegel, in his aesthetic lectures, which continued down to 1828, profited by some at least of the discoveries of the early nineteenth century. He makes good use 2 of a description of the yEginetan pediment sculptures, which was published, with notes by Schelling, in 1817. He was acquainted, at least by hearsay, with the Elgin marbles, and probably learnt much from the works of Hirt 3 and Meyer, 4 both contemporaries of Goethe and historians of art.

Hirt describes in his preface how he had kept pace with the advance of archaeological knowledge from the time of his paper in " Horen " (1797), and how great the harvest of material had been during his lifetime, together with the effect which in his judgment the extended study of the actual monu- ments must necessarily have on aesthetic theory. As the passage illustrates the natural development which the idea of beauty passed through by the mere deepening and widening of experience and appreciation, it will be well to quote it at length. l

" No age 5 has ever been more energetic and more fortunate than ours in the last fifty years [written 1833] in the discovery

1 G d. A'., 8, in. 20 "

8 Hegel's sM., n 382 and 458.

Geschichte d. Bddenden Kunste bet den Alten, 1835.

  • Same title, 1824-36. ^

Hirt., Gesch. 9 etc., Pieface.


HIRTS LIFETIME. 195


and increase of materials and in the establishment of great collections for the benefit of students.

Egypt, with the neighbouring countries and the Uppei Nile, have been opened up; so have Babylonia, Persia, Syria, and Asia Minor. Greece has been repeatedly explored, and its most important sculptures have passed into European museums. Zeal for the discovery of Italian antiquities has been augmented on all hands. Not merely the tombs of Sicily and Magna Graecia have surrendered their spoil, but so has the long mysterious Etruria. Then think of the metopes of Selinus, and of the most recent excavations of rare sculptures at Olympia [by the French expedition]. The excavations of the buried cities at Vesuvius continue to be fertile, together with the inexhaustible mines of Rome and the vicinity. Even more distant regions, such as the coasts of the Black Sea, France, Spain and Germany, have contributed to the mass of material ... So [owing to Hirt's studies in Rome] I came into conflict with my predecessors Winckel- mann and Lessing, as with my contemporaries Herder and Goethe. Objective beauty was assumed to be the principle of ancient art. I, on the contrary, pointed to the monuments, and showed by ocular demonstration that these monuments displayed all forms, the commonest and even the ugliest, as also the most beautiful, while the representation of the expression always corresponded to the character and the motives. Consequently, I maintained that the principle of ancient art was not the objectively beautiful and the soften- ing (Milderung) of expression, but simply and solely the individually significant, or characteristic, l whether it dealt with the ideal representation of gods and heroes, or any mean or common object."

Hirt considered the characterisation of the centaurs in the Parthenon metopes very weak compared with that in later representations of the same subject. On the other hand, he would not believe that the Parthenon pediment sculptures were of the fifth century; he placed them, owing to their great tenderness (" Weichheit ") of treatment, in the fourth century, which appeared to him to be the time of highest achievement in Greek sculpture. This curious perversity of judgment, as

1 Hirt is supposed to have been the "Characteristiker" of Goethe's Samm- ler u. die Setnigen.


196 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

it appears to us, arose very naturally from Hirt's intermediate theoretical position, which was in itself untenable, although an advance on his predecessors. For, accepting with Winck- elmann and others the antithesis between beauty and ex- pression, Hirt found the essence of art not in beauty, but in expression, which, by this antithesis, is narrowed down to mean the manifestation of something quite definite in the way of individuality or action or emotion. Expressiveness of this kind is of course to be found in the later art much more decidedly than in that of the Periclean age ; and as it did not occur to Hirt to analyse " objective beauty" in terms of ex- pressiveness, he was obliged by his theory to prefer, as art, the monuments which really show a beginning of decadence, and to separate from their true context and refer to this later time those productions of the greatest age, in which the expressive force latent within their "objective beauty " partly breaks through its severe self-restraint. As suggesting a con- trast to the idea of beauty, however, and forcing it out of its abstraction, his theories and observations were of the very greatest value, and like the romantic rebellion of the Schlegels and others between 1780 and 1800, really represented in the world of ideas that actual growth of material which I have been attempting to describe.

It should be observed that previously to this more extended knowledge of ancient sculpture and building a very great part had been played in archaeology by coins and gems, which are more readily brought together in collections than larger plastic works. Such a collection was that of Baron v. Stosch^ at Florence, which Winckelmann spent nine months in cata- loguing. The evidence discussed in Lessing's beautiful little treatise, How the Ancients Portrayed Death, consisted largely of gems. It is well known that gem-cutting (by a curious analogy with epigram-writing *) was not very active during the great fifth century at Athens, so that here again we see a reason why archaeological interest began with the later time of art, and worked back to the earlier.

Enough has been said, I hope, to indicate the sort of pro- gress made in the collection of archaeological material between the Renaissance and the time of Kant, and the sort of stimu- lus which increased knowledge imparted to the theory of art.

1 See above, p. 86.


ART-CRITICISM. 1 97


We have now to say something about the course of literary art-criticism in the same period.

3. Art-criticism must for this purpose include

Art-criticism. * 111 i r .

on the one hand the appreciative history of art, and on the other those reflections upon questions concerning beauty, which are not guided by a general speculative interest. Practically, as was observed above, we can only draw the line between this abstract criticism and philosophy proper by ex- cluding from the present section the views of writers who are known in philosophy otherwise than by their reflections on beauty.

^ , i- We saw that Sidney's criticism and the Piom uornellM. f 01 , , ' . .

structure of Shakespeare s plays bears witness to

an influence derived ultimately from classical tradition, re- acting against the formlessness of the earlier drama inherited from the middle age. In the reaction of the French seven- teenth-century theatre against Spanish influence we see a parallel phenomenon, but with less happy issues. This re- action, initiated by Malherbe, reached its first culmination in the later plays, and in the dramatic theory, of Pierre Corneillc (1606-1684). It is chiefly with his theories that we are concerned.

Towards the close of his life, after fifty years of work for the stage, l he wrote three essays on the drama : De Futilitt et des parties du poeme dramatique, De la Tragtdie and Des trois unites, the purpose of which may be fairly stated in the words of the latter, "accorder les regies anciennes avec les agr^ments modernes," an expression closely analogous to that in which Lessing's biographer states the purpose of the Dramaturge* " to reconcile the idea of romantic poetry with the classical conception of beauty." To Corneille, how- ever, the rules came as a prescription of indubitable authority, and he scarcely knew that the modifications which he made in applying them were really the first steps to reasoning on their merits. " II faut, s'il se peut, nous accommoder avec elles (les ivgles) et les amener jusqu'a nous." 3 The inter- preters of Aristotle and Horace have been, he goes on to say, scholars without experience of the theatre, and have


1 Dixours de Futility etc.

  • Lessing's Lebcn^ Danzel, u. 193.

8 Discours dt futility etc.


IQ8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

therefore thrown little light on their real meaning. He in- tends to interpret according to his experience of the stage.

The similarity between the atmosphere of Corneille's thought and that of Lessing's reflections, which are so often directed against him, can escape no one who has read the Discours and the Dramaturgic. Both are intent on building up a national drama from the foundations. Both were convinced that a just understanding of Aristotle's rules was the way to set about it. Thoughts and expressions from Corneille recur in Lessing. Lessing's scholarship indeed is to Corneille's as an Armstrong gun to a bow and arrow ; and in place of the latter's complacent reference almost ex- clusively to his own plays, Lessing has at command the whole range of ancient and modern drama. Corneille accepts what he takes for Aristotelian dicta as a basis on which, out of his own experience, he tries to enlarge. Lessing contends that his adherence to the supposed dicta is at least valueless, while the supposed enlargements show a real failure to appreciate the depth of Aristotle's conceptions.

And, no doubt, when Corneille explains the famous " puri- fication " passage in the Poetics to mean that by the pity and fear which tragedy excites we are led to avoid the passions which led to the misfortunes of the characters represented, 1 or when he denies that Aristotle conceived of pity and fear as necessarily interwoven in the same cause of emotion, suggest- ing that it would do quite well to have the fear without the pity, he falls an easy victim to Lessing's triumphant criticism. 2 But after all, they were two of a trade ; and in some respects^ a reader of to-day cannot but feel that Corneille's difficulties were too summarily disposed of by Lessing, who would never admit that a case could have been omitted by Aristotle.

We saw, 3 for example, in treating of the Poetics, that Aristotle refuses to face the full shock of a tragic collision ; he will not allow that a thoroughly good man's ruin can be a fitting subject for tragedy. Corneille attacks this limitation, as also that which excludes a thoroughly bad man from being the object of tragic interest. And I think that his instinct is right, though his argument is inconclusive. Lessing, who exerts 4 himself to condemn Weisse's Richard III. on ground


1 Dela Tragedic. 8 Dramaturgic, ii., Ixxxi.

8 Supra, p. 19. 4 Dramaturgic, ii., Ixxxu.


THE " UNITIES/' 1 99


of the one limitation he has not, so far as I know, applied his view in detail to Shakespeare's play on the same subject defends the other limitation also, saying, 1 it is a thoroughly horrible conception that there can be persons who are unhappy without any fault of their own. The heathen put this horrible thought as far from them as possible, and are we to cherish it and to enjoy dramas which confirm it, we whom religion and reason should have convinced that it is no less blas- phemous than untrue ? In all this Lessing was the child of his century " not yet liberated by Goethe " ; 2 I am only point- ing out how close is the succession, not absolutely in all respects an advance, from Corneille to him. I cannot but think again that Corneille has the best of it in his criticism of Aristotle's remark, that morals in tragedy ought to be good. 3

And the dramatic writings show the same connection ; the same abstract characterisation, typical rather than individual ; the same submission to the rule of " one day " 4 and to the comparative unity of place, interpreted much as Corneille interprets it ; the same ingenious refinements of emotion, which have caused a comparison between Lessing and Lope de Vega, 6 but seem rather to indicate the direct connection with Corneille. The reformer is usually deep-dyed with that which he feels the need of reforming, and it is remarkable how powerfully the French seventeenth century worked upon the age of Lessing.

Corneille, as we have seen, was not incapable of reasoning upon the supposed rules of classical form. His attitude to the unity of the day is worth noticing, because he defends it, not on the score of formal symmetry, but on the score of imitative realism. " Beaucoup d^clament contre cette regie qu'ils nom- ment tyrannique, et auraient raison, si elle n'etait fondee que sur Tautorite d'Aristote ; mais ce qui la doit faire accepter, c'est la raison naturelle qui lui sert d'appui." 6 Corneille states his

1 Dramaturgic^ l.c.

2 Bcrnays.

8 See Dramaturgic, ii., Ixxxni.

4 1 cannot think it accidental that both Minna v. Barnhelm and Emilia Galottt begin by marking the hour as early morning, so as to give time for all that has to pass before night.

6 Lessing's Leben, Danzel., ii. 113.

6 ' Des trois unite's." It is worth noting, as we pass, that a striking sen- tence of Lessing, which introduces the long discussion on Aristotle and


2OO HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

"natural reason" as follows: the drama is an imitation or portrait of nature, and is more perfect the more it resembles it ; now " la representation dure deux heures, et resembleroit parfaitement si 1'action qu'elle represente ne demanderoit pas davantage pour sa r&dite." In the Cid therefore, we re- member, the unhappy hero, having fought a duel one even- ing, and having been occupied the whole of the ensuing night in repelling a night attack of the enemy, is sent off to fight another duel first thing in the morning, in spite of the reason- able remonstrance of the king, who wants it put off till the morrow ; but, owing, I imagine, to the imminent end of the theatrical " day," can only obtain for the hero one or two hours' breathing space.

Here, no doubt, Corneille mistakes his ground altogether. The law of imitation or portrayal was understood, as we see, far more profoundly than this by Aristotle ; and experience does not show that the stage can possibly present an unre- duced reproduction of two hours taken clean out of ordinary life. Even conversation in a novel is epitomised and reduced to its essence ; a stage letter is written in a few seconds ; a stage ball may occupy perhaps an hour from the arrival to the departure of the guests ; a stage banquet is merely a sample or suggestion of the reality. I imagine that a reduc- tion of scale in the parts is as essential to the drama as to a picture ; but no doubt there is the further difficulty, as Corneille implies, that large lapses of time at any point in the drama make the reduction altogether disproportioned. The ultimate principle must surely be to avoid shocking the imagination of the spectators ; and to this he refers, advising, e.g., that considerable lapses of time shall be between the acts, and that notes of time shall be avoided.

I do not think there can be any doubt that however mis- chievous the influence of Corneille's practice and theory may have been on the French and German theatre, their effect in drawing attention, and especially Lessing's attention, to the antithesis of ancient rules and modern romance was a real step towards a vital co-ordination of the two. At any rate,


Corneille, seems suggested by this passage, which Lessing must then have had before him. His words are: " Mit dem Ansehen des Anstoteles werde ich bald fertig werden, wenn ich es nur auch mit seinen Grunden zu werden wusste."


THE FRENCH TRADITION. 2OI

they show us one great element of the aesthetic atmosphere into which Lessing was born. Fonteneue and " To realise more completely the force and

voitaire. complacency of the tradition thus initiated, we may glance for a moment at the life of Corneille by Fonte- nelle 1 (1657-1757). A short quotation will suffice: " On recommenca alors & etudier le theatre des anciens, et a soup- Conner qu'il pouvait y avoir des regies." " Les regies du poeme dramatique, inconnues d'abord et mepris6es, quelque temps apres combattues, ensuite revues a demi et sous des conditions, demeurent enfin mattresses du theatre. Mais l'6poque de Tetablissement de leur empire n'est proprement qu'au temps de Cinna" (1640). We may add to this from Corneille's Discours de futility etc. : " II faut observer 1'unite de 1'action, de lieu, et de jour, personne n'en doute," with Voltaire's note, " On en doutaient tellement du temps de Corneille que ni les Anglais ni les Espagnols ne connurent cette regie. Les Italiens seuls 1'observaient. La Sophonisbe de Mairest (1604-1688) fut la premiere piece en France oil ces trois unites parurent. La Motte, homme de beaucoup d'esprit et de talent, mais homme a paradoxes, a crit de nos jours contre ces trois unites ; mais cette her^sie en literature n'a pas fait fortune."

These quotations from Fontenelle and Voltaire exhibit the continuity of French dramatic tradition from the seventeenth century through the eighteenth. I especially took the oppor- tunity of introducing the name of Voltaire, because in his critical and dramatic activity, the influence of which was brought into the heart of Germany by his relations with Frederick the Great, Lessing found precisely what he wanted in the way of an object to attack. I conclude this very slight reference to the immense field of French criticism, the activity of which can be seen from Corneille's saying * that there were twelve current interpretations of Aristotle's " purification " doctrine, with Lessing's racy verdict on the whole dramatic and critical movement of which we have been speaking.

" Just the same thing 3 happened to the French as to Gottsched [Lessing's forerunner in Germany : the comparison is of interest as bringing together the movements which

1 Oeuvres de Piene Corneille > vol. i. * De la Tragedie, init, 3 Dramaturge, ii. Ixxxi.


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


Lessing inherited]. Hardly had Corneille raised their theatre a little above barbarism, when they thought it all but absolutely perfect. Racine seemed to them to have put the last touch to it ; and so there was no question raised whether a tragic poet might not be yet more pathetic and more touching than Corneille and Racine ; but this was assumed to be impossible, and the aspirations of subsequent poets had to limit themselves to becoming as like one of these two as possible. For a hundred years they have de- luded themselves, and to some degree their neighbours ; but let any one tell them so, and see what they will say !

"Of the two it was Corneille who did most harm, and had the most disastrous influence on their tragic poets. For Racine misled them only by example; Corneille both by example and by precept."

The British ! Another set of materials which entered into

writers. t h e data of aesthetic, were furnished by the British writers on beauty and art. The chief of these, as distin- guished from the philosophers in the strict sense, were Burke, Lord Kaimes, Hogarth, and Reynolds, of whom the first three exercised a traceable influence on the German movement, while the latter is of interest as championing the idea of the characteristic in a peculiar sense, intermediate between beauty and expression, and forming to some extent a point of depar- ture for the author of the Modern Painters.

The works of these four writers fall almost within the de- cade following Baumgarten's first publication of part of the -^Esthetic (1750). Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty was pub-. lished in England in 1753, and a year or two later was trans- lated into German by Mylius, with a preface by Lessing. Burke's Essay on the Sublime and Beaittiful was first pub- lished in 1756 the complete second edition was brought out in 1757 and Lessing was long occupied with the project of translating it. Reynolds' papers in the Idler appeared 1758-9, and so far as I am aware were not known in Germany. Lord Kaimes' (Henry Home) Elements of Criticism, appeared in 1761, and was translated into German by Meinhardt, meeting with Lessing's warm approval. 1


1 My authority as regards these German translations is m every case Less ing's Leben (Danzel). The precise references are shown in the Index to that work under the several authors' names.


BURKE AND LORD KAIMES. 20$

To all these works we might apply with much truth the criticism made by Lessing on Burke in a letter of the year 1758 : " Although the writers principles are not worth much, still his book is uncommonly useful as a collection of all the occurrences and perceptions which the philosophers must assume as indisputable in inquiries of this kind. He has collected all the materials for a good system, which no one is better qualified to make use of than you" (i.e. Mendels- sohn). 1

We may take Burke and Lord Kaimes together, as they have much in common, and then the two artists, whose views are related to each other as complementary opposites.

Burke and Lord The fundamental point of agreement between Kalme8 - Burke and Lord Kaimes, marking a decided ten- dency towards a new departure, is the contention carried out by Burke with perverse ingenuity, that the natural exercise of any emotion, even if painful in kind, such as an emotion of terror or of sympathetic distress, is in itself delightful, 2 or as Lord Kaimes most vehemently states it, a painful emotion, if not abnormally violent, is agreeable upon reflection. This view leads up to important results.

Burke's purga- # In Burke, it is worked out in a doctrine of

turn Theory. Exercise necessary for the finer organs:" 3 ac- cording to which as these emotions (pain and terror) " clear the parts, whether fine or gross, of a dangerous and troublesome encumbrance, they are capable of producing delight." The resemblance of this conception to the later interpretations of Aristotle's KaQapvis is evident, and it makes possible, The sublime akin b. An exceedingly free treatment of the sublime

tousiinesa. as something beside and outside the beautiful. Its connection with beauty, indeed, is, by Burke, far too completely dissolved. It is referred to ideas of pain and danger, 4 as those which produce the strongest of emotions, being connected as Burke strangely says, with the principle of self-preservation ; while beauty is referred to ideas of pleasure, which are con- nected with man's social nature. It is well, however, in

1 Lessmg's Leben, i. 350

2 Burke distinguishes delight from pleasure See for the doctrine referred to in the text, Sublime and Beautiful, sect, xiv., and Lord Kaimes' Elements of Criticism, i. 97.

8 Sublime and Beautiful, sect. vii.

4 Sublime and Beautiful, part i, sect vi.


2O4 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

bringing up new matter for theory, not to be backward in affirming its independence of the old ; and although both Burke and Lord Kaimes followed Longinus and the moderns who had discussed his views, 1 yet the recognition of the sub- lime as co-ordinate with the beautiful indicates the beginning of a great enlargement in aesthetic appreciation. ^ Reconcilia- tion of the two opposites comes later, Burke, for instance, is prepared to accept ugliness, although the exact opposite of beauty, 2 as partly coinciding with the sublime. This is a most important admission. Many of the qualities in which he finds the sublime, e.g., formlessness, strength, magnitude, are taken up into Kant's treatment of the subject. Painful Reality c. From the principle of the agreeableness of not DiBagreeabie. even p a i n f u l emotion, Burke obtains an ingenious reversal 8 of the time-honoured problem, " Why do we take pleasure in the representation of what is painful to see in reality/' The fact is not so, he replies ; real distress and disaster do not cause pure pain to the spectator, but, as expe- rience proves, fascinate and attract him. For, considered as emotions, they are "delightful," though painful (as we might say) in content, and a theatre where the best tragedy in the world was being acted in the best way would be emptied at once by an announcement that a state criminal of high rank was about to be executed in the next square.

We seem here to have the reality regarded as a representa- tion, i.e. in abstraction from its real bearings and interest ; for, as Burke insists, no normal person wishes for such a real catastrophe as he will run to see when it takes place. So that, by a reverse movement compared with that of Plato, by elevating reality to the rank of an aesthetic semblance, instead of lowering art to the rank of useful reality, we seem to have started the suggestion that reality can be looked at cesthetically if looked at without practical interest, and there- fore that the aesthetic temper consists, in part at least, in the absence of such interest Only, so far as art and fact remain on one level, there is no room for identifying beauty with a deeper reading of fact ; and Burke, accordingly, is quite clear that

1 Lord Kaimes alludes to a controversy between Boileau and Huet on the bublimity of the text, " Let there be light," which is referred to by Longinus.

  • Sublime and Beautiful, sect. xxi. " On Ugliness."

5 Sectt. xiv. and xv.


BURKE AS FORMALIST. 205

art has no advantage over nature except that which arises from our pleasure in imitation.

Anticipation* or d- Other details in these writers are of historical later idea*, interest. The quality of grace is contrasted with that of dignity by Lord Kaimes, probably on a hint from Burke, 1 and is described as connected more particularly with motion, and also as peculiar to man. These ideas are fertile in later German thought, into which they passed partly through Lessing, who probably derived them from Lord Kaimes. 2

These two writers, again, do much to suggest the distinction between poetry and painting. Burke quotes the passage of the Iliad, in which Helen's beauty is indicated by the effect of her appearance among the Trojan elders, contrasting 3 it, just in the manner of the Laocoon, which insists on this same passage, with a detailed description of a beautiful woman from Spenser. Poetry, he points out in the following section, is not strictly an imitative art ; and Lord Kaimes further insists that a picture is confined to a moment of time, and cannot take in a succession of incidents.

Many other details of importance might be noticed in Burke, who has been called materialist in aesthetic, but is rather perhaps in reality a formalist, in the sense that he simply notes as irreducible elements of beauty, certain " proper- ties that operate by nature, and are less liable to be altered by caprice than any others." 4 He rebels, 6 as Plotinus did, against the identification of beauty with proportion and fitness, 6 point-

1 Kaimei, i. 326 ; cf. Sublime and Beautiful^ sect, on "Grace."

2 Lessing's Lcbcn, ii. 43. Schiller's Anmuth u. Wurde is also definitely influenced by a passage in Wmckelmann, in which " Grace " is compared to the girdle of Aphrodite. Gesch. d. K., 8. 2. 16. I should assume them to be independent, though the thought is fundamentally the same as in Kaimes and Lessing.

8 Sublime and Beautiful - y sect. "On effect of words. " Cf. Kaimes, 87 and Laocoon, S. 22.

  • Sublime and Beautiful, sect. 18. The most materialistic suggestion

in Burke is reproduced, though not as a fundamental principle of aesthetic, by Lessing, when he advises the actor to study the physical effects of passion on the ground that these effects, being well imitated, will tend to arouse the passion in question. Cf. Sublime and Beautiful, Cause of Pain and Fear with Hamburg. Dramat., i. iii. I imagine that modern psychology tends to support this suggestion.

6 Sublime and Beautiful. Part III. ii.-vi.

  • " In beauty, the effect is previous to any knowledge of the use." III. vii.

Cf. Kant's definition of " Zweckmassigskeit ohne Vorstellung eines Zweckes."


2O6 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

ing out quite justly that proportion per se is simply a relation of quantity, and thus " wholly indifferent to the mind" (as judging of beauty). This argument is valuable as urging that not every proportion, and therefore not proportion as such, constitutes beauty ; but in pushing it to the limit of maintain- ing that in beauty there is no specially subtle orderliness, he seems to be denying what he ought to be investigating, and to be turning his back on his own important suggestions of the value of gradation or variation, and of variation of varia- tion. 1

Lastly, it is important to note that Lord Kaimes anticipates Lessing in pointing out the connection a between the unities of time and place, and the continuity of representation and uninterrupted presence of the chorus in Greek drama, and makes this an argument for greater freedom on the modern stage, while always demanding a certain economy of the spectator's imagination.

I do not wish it to be inferred from the space which I have devoted to these two critical writers, that 1 consider them to be aesthetic thinkers of a high rank, or that I desire to pull down Lessing from his eminence by the perpetual indication of his debt to them. The enumeration of details and I have enumerated but a fraction of what well deserve to be men- tioned necessarily occupies more space than the statement of a single philosophical doctrine of the very first importance. But in history we must have details ; and to me at least the concentration of influences from all quarters in the microcosm of a great intellect is one of the most fascinating problems that can be put before a historian of philosophy. Lessing himself knew well what his genius owed to his learning ; especially he sympathised with the English mind, and to be well acquainted with the English literature was to win his warm commendation. 3

Hogarth. &' Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty was pub- lished, as we saw, three years before Burke's Enquiry r , and Hogarth is mentioned, with an approving reference to his " line of beauty," in Part III., sect. xiv. of the latter work. The Analysis was enthusiastically welcomed

1 Sublime and Beautiful. " Variation, why beautiful" ?

2 Elements of Criticism, 2. ch. 23. " The Three Unities." 8 Lessing's Leben, ii. 5


THE LINE OF BEAUTY. 2O7


by Lessing in the Vossische Zeitung in I754- 1 We may conveniently attach our account of Hogarth to Lessing's appreciation of him. In the review of 1754 (written when Lessing was only 25), he greets Hogarth's ideas as a new light on the whole material of art, as a system calculated to reduce to certainty men's conflicting ideas as to what is pleasing, and to abolish the wretched proverb that there is no disputing about tastes, "and as likely to make the term beauty suggest as much in the way of thought as it has hitherto suggested in the way of feeling." Later, however, in the preface to the German translation of Hogarth's work, Lessing lays his finger on the point of difficulty in its con- ception, viz. the question of determining, on general grounds, the degree and kind of curvature that constitutes beauty of line. For Hogarth "represents 2 in his first plate a number of undulating lines, of which he only takes one to merit the name of beautiful, namely that which is curved neither too much nor too little." Lessing had an idea that a mathematical in- vestigation might solve the difficulty, which finds no answer beyond an appeal to unanalysed examples in Hogarth him- self, whose idea was suggested to him by a remark ascribed to Michael Angelo. It is worth while to distinguish, accord- ing to the view which I have adopted throughout, the two elements of the problem, which Hogarth himself industriously confuses. If the question is, whether, as a simple geometri- cal form, one line is more beautiful than other lines, this is a legitimate problem, and can be answered, within certain limits, so long as the effects of suggestive representation are excluded. And from this point of view it is of the greatest interest to contrast Hogarth's idea of the undulating and spiral line with Plato's conception of the most beautiful form as the straight line or the circle. 3 For here we have the antithesis of ancient and modern reduced to terms of the ancient or formal theory. So far as Hogarth has any general conception it is still the " one in the many" that he believes to be beauty ; but with him it is the " intricacy," the " continuity

1 Lessing's Leben, ii. 22. Schasler must have been misled by some mis- print into supposing Hogarth's work to have been published in 1763, and so after the inquiry. Why he put Burke's Enquiry after Lord Kaimes' Elements, in opposition to his own dates, I cannot imagine.

2 Lessing, in the Lcben, 223, note.

3 See p. 33 above.


2O8 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

of variety " rather than the element of unity, which is the more important side. He even appeals to pure decorative design in support of this idea, describing in striking lan- guage the pleasure afforded him by the " stick and ribbon " ornament, which he compares with that of watching a country dance.

This pure decoration, without very complex representative suggestion, is the true sphere of pure formal or geometrical beauty ; and had he sought to apply his theory within this more abstract region, he might have laid a firm analytic foundation for aesthetic inquiry. As it is, he stands alone, I think, among eighteenth century writers in even alluding to this great branch of art, which presents the problems of beauty in their simplest and most general form.

But going at once to the most complex of all aesthetic problems, that of the beauty of the human figure, in which suggestions of character, intellect, passion, are inextricably intermingled, he loses his way, or rather, makes no progress at all in the attempt to reduce its wealth of meaning to any one formal type or principle, and does not even attempt to show within what limits his serpentine line the line made by twisting a wire evenly round a cone has that degree of continuity in variety which constitutes the beautiful. The fact is, that these lower or more abstract grades of expressive form are liable to have their significance overridden by the more complex suggestions connected with life and character, and it is not an axiom that a beautiful human figure can be constructed out of forms all of which have independently the highest geometrical beauty.

Thus Hogarth's analysis of beauty, drawn from formative art only, represents the abstract principle of unity in variety on its highest level, so as to form a point of transition to the analysis of the present century, which finds a characteristic significance in curves, for example, which vary progressively. It is against him that Burke is arguing when he disputes the im-

?ortance of proportion and fitness in accounting for beauty, t is a fact both of interest and of importance that Hogarth's undulating line supplied Goethe with a name for the tendency which he ranks as the polar opposite of the characteristic, when representing in a scheme 1 the extreme inclinations of artists,

1 Der Sammhr u. die Seinigen.


BEAUTY AS THE AIM OF NATURE.


and the central combination in which alone they produce true art. It is remarkable that in his artistic practice Hogarth himself pursues the characteristic beyond the border of ugliness.

Reynolds 7' R e y n Ws' three papers in the Idler for 1759, which form the point of departure for the chapter in Modern Painters, " Touching the Grand Style," x seem to be in more ways than one determined by opposition to Hogarth. " The flowing line, which constitutes grace and beauty," and the " pyramidal principle" 2 are satirised in the first pages. And though the satire is not serious in tone, being directed against silly connoisseurship and not against any genuine theory, yet the reference in this paper to a Vandyck portrait of Charles I., which the self-styled connois- seur refuses to admire, as a " perfect representation of the character as well as the figure of the man," prepares the way for Reynolds' own account of beauty. This, although fairly open to Ruskin's criticism in as far as it derives our pleasure in beauty from mere custom, suggests an actual ground for the force of custom in this province, which Ruskin does not notice. " Every species of the animal as well as the vegetable creation may be said to have a fixed or determinate form to- wards which Nature is continually inclining, like various lines terminating in the centre ; or it may be compared to pendulums vibrating in different directions over one central point ; and as they all cross the centre though only one passes through any other point, so it will be found that perfect beauty is oftcner produced by nature, than deformity." 3 It is true that Reynolds doubts whether one species is (as we should say) objectively more beautiful than another ; but he is clear that 44 in creatures of the same species, beauty is the medium or centre of all various forms."

Here then we have an intermediate position. Specific char- acterisation is set against geometrical formalism on the one


1 Vol. in. ch i.

2 More clearly aimed at Hogarth are the words in No. 82 : " but if he pre- tends to defend the preference he gives to one or the other (swan or dove) by endeavouring to prove that this more beautiful form proceeds from a particu- lar gradation of magnitude, undulation of a curve, or direction of a line. . . he will find at last that the great Mother of Nature will not be subjected to such narrow rules."

8 Idler, No. 82.


2IO HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

hand, and individual characterisation on the other, and con- stitutes, historically speaking, a point of transition between the two. We shall see that even for Goethe the " characteristic" has some affinity with the specific type, and is opposed, in a way which strikes us as strange, to the intensified rendering of individual attributes. Plainly, the movement of natural science has played a part in the transformation of this concep- tion. Reynolds evidently thinks that a central or average form in each species represents the purpose of nature. I suppose that if we to-day could attach any meaning to a pur- pose or inclination of nature, we should interpret it dynamically, and should regard it as likely to be ahead of any existing indivi- dual forms, or at any rate as various, and incapable of exhaus- tion within a single typical or central figure. This influence must obviously force forward our conception of central or essential reality from the species to the individual, and from the "invariable" to the law of variation, which is itself a kind of invariable.

Finally it is a curious anticipation of the German " period of genius " that Reynolds contends for the rights of genius against the tendency, exemplified in Hogarth, to attach prac- tical importance to critical rules. In all these in Hogarth's development of antique formalism, in Burke's acceptance of the sublime as a complement to the beautiful, and in his revolt against the worship of mere proportion, in Lord Kaimes' ad- mission of the painful within the sphere of the agreeable, and his desire to emancipate the modern drama from the rigid unities of space and time, and in Reynolds' effort to dissociate the grand st> le from decorative formalism, and explain it with reference to a normal or central "inclination of nature" ex- pressed by specific characterisation in all this we find embodied the antithesis of abstract and concrete expressiveness, forced upon the modern world by the mere fact of its contrast with the ancient, and especially with the very abstract tradition by which that ancient world was represented to it. Germans before lv - We have now very briefly to trace the con- Leasing, flicting elements in which this same contrast of ancient rule and modern expressiveness existed in Germany, before it was resolved into a vital and progressive aesthetic by Lessing and his contemporaries.

The time the early eighteenth century was in Germany one of immense and varied activity, in which foreign


A GERMAN DRAMA. 211


material, both French and English, was being eagerly appro- priated, and was producing strangely diverse effects on the inexperienced genius of the nation. The few observations by which I shall try to focus this animated scene as a back- ground for the representation of Lessing's and Wmckelmann's aesthetic achievements will be, even more than the rest of this work, devoid of all claims to full historical adequacy, and will merely select those leading and causal tendencies which bear directly on the growth of aesthetic perception.

The two great critical problems which Lessing inherited from the generation immediately before him were, a, The relation of a German national drama to the pseudo-classical French theatre, and consequently to the true mind of anti- quity which this latter parodied ; this was the essential subject of his Dramaturgic ; and A The value of strictly descriptive or pictorial poetry, a species of art which marked both the classical decadence and the first flush of the modern senti- mental interest in nature, and which seemed to be justified by the voice of antiquity, and by a misunderstanding of the tradition that art lay in the imitation of natural objects. The relation between poetic and pictorial beauty is the subject of the Laocoon.

The former question is chiefly connected at this epoch with the name of Gottsched ; the latter with the poetry and theories of Bodmer and Breitinger, the " Swiss " or the Zurich critics. I will speak of these two sects, as in fact they were, very shortly, with reference to these problems.

a. Gottsched ( 1 700-1 766) was lecturing at Leip-

GottBched. s j c j n j 7 ^ when Lessing matriculated there, both

on the History of Philosophy, using as a text-book his own Elements, which is said to have been a Wolffian compendium, and on " Poetik, ad critices sanioris normam/ " the art of poetry in conformity with a sounder criti- cism." 1 He represented in Germany a similar reaction against utter formlessness in the drama, to that which we have observed to take place both in England and in France. He set himself the task of creating a German literature, and more especially a German drama, worthy to rank with that of other nations. In attempting this, with the whole weight of his position at Leipzig, then a leading literary centre, of

1 Lessing's Leben^ i. 51.


212 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

extreme industry, both on his own part and on that of his circle, in original writing, in translation, and in journalism, and of his friendship with an important society of actors (Neuber's), who accepted the new plays in French taste which he pre- scribed, and were imitated in their submission by the ordinary travelling companies, he succeeded for good or evil in banish- ing the coarse and wild popular dramas of the later seven- teenth century with the clown and the Faust, and replacing them by plays of French origin, or on French models, repre- senting the ideas of classical taste and correctness then current in the literary world. The Deutsche Schaubuhne (1740- 1745) was the collection of plays, both original and translated, which he issued as an instrument of his enterprise. 1

Lessing, who relied on the Greeks and on Shakespeare as his guides in dramatic questions, appears to have condemned this interruption of German development by French influence as a wholly false departure. " No one will deny," a contem- porary periodical had alleged, 2 " that the German stage owes a great part of its earlier improvements to Professor Gott- sched." " I am that no one," rejoins Lessing ; " I deny it altogether. It were to be wished that Gottsched had never meddled with the theatre. His supposed improvements either concern the most utter trifles, or are actually changes for the worst. He did not," Lessing continues, " aim at improving the ancient German theatre, but at creating a new one. And what sort of a new one ? Why, a Frenchified one ; without considering whether this Frenchified drama was suitable to the German mind."

Lessing' s biographers, exceedingly careful students of the German eighteenth century, do not assent to this extreme view. Admitting that there was a natural kinship between the great English dramatists and the popular German drama of the seventeenth century, they yet deny that the latter could of itself have developed into a true national dramatic literature cognate with that of England, On the contrary, they main- tain with great show of reason that Lessing's conception of his problem, to establish a national theatre on the principles of Aristotle and Shakespeare, only became possible after, and because of, the work of Gottsched in bringing the German drama into some kind of literary form. 3

1 Encyl. Brit., art. " Gottsched." 2 Lessing's Leben, i. 439. 8 Lessing's Leben^ i. 103, 438-7.


A GERMAN DRAMA. 213


It must further be remarked that Gottsched, in his anxiety to prove that there was, and therefore could be, a German drama, and to bring all influences to bear upon remodelling it, called attention to the older plays, of whose form he entirely disapproved, by his historical notices of them in the " Nothiger Vorrath zur Geschichte der Deutschen drama- tischen Dichtkunst " (materials for a history of German dra- matic poetry), and both himself, and through his wife, an indefatigable authoress and translator, brought much of real value to the knowledge of the German public. Thus Ma- dame Gottsched translated Moliere's Misanthrope, the whole of the English Spectator, and Pope's Rape of the Lock.

Of Gottsched's dramatic theorising I give a single speci- men, from his rules for the construction of a tragic plot. 1 "The poet selects a moral doctrine, which he desires to im- press upon his readers in a sensuous form. For this pur- pose he devises the general framework of a story, such as to exhibit the truth of the doctrine. Then he searches in history for famous persons to whom incidents occurred somewhat similar to those of his story, and borrows their names for the personages of his plot in order to give them distinction." Lessing remarks on this that if the Hercules Furens contains any such doctrine, it must either be that virtue and heroism are an increased provocation to an angry Deity, or that one should avoid being a natural son of Zeus if one wants to escape the persecution of Hera. Lessing seems always just a little too clever. Even the English reader, if he knows Browning's translation of the Heracles, especially the chorus " Even a dirge," will be inclined to demur to the substance of Lessing's criticism no less than to the form of Gottsched's prescription. Yet Lessing himself retained throughout, and in some degree bequeathed even to Goethe, the pseudo-clas- sical and moralistic traditions of Corneille and Gottsched. And it is necessary to express a very serious doubt whether the enterprise in which not only Gottsched, but Lessing, Schiller and Goethe spent the best of their strength, the establishment of a German national drama, can be held to have thoroughly succeeded. Whether Faust is a sufficient reward to the world for the labours of several great men through two-thirds of a century, might well be questioned, if

1 Gottsched, Krittsche Dichtkunst, quoted in Lessing's Lcben, i. 184.


214 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

it were worth while to quarrel with the course of history. The outcome of their labours, it may be held, was great in- deed, but was not what they sought. The real German national art, the art of music, grew up of itself behind their backs while they were arguing about painting and poetry. What they did create by their deep and energetic study of the best utterances of mind and the best thoughts about those utterances, was not German art, but German philosophy, m, ,, O -M ft The " Swiss" critics and poets Bodmer and

The "Swiss." r\ , i^ii>

Breitmger, almost exactly Gottsched s contempora- ries, with their friends and partisans, represent an influence on the whole opposed to that of Gottsched. In them the meeting of extremes, the sense of a unity between ancient and modern life, which was the sign of a deeper criticism and truer sense of beauty, began to show itself, though in a weak and super- ficial form, which gives a faint augury of the age of Goethe.

Wieland, 1733-1813, who in his youth was a friend of the Swiss, 1 and who lived to be satirized by Goethe, may be taken as a measure of the difference between the culture of the two periods. The Swiss critics stood up for Homer, Milton, Ariosto, 2 against Gottsched's pseudo-classicism, which allied itself, as a mechanical system of rules, with a narrow rational- ism, attacking, for example, the use of the marvellous in Homer and Milton.

The openness of interest which gave them this power of sympathy with really great art, attracted them also to a modern type of poetry which though great things came of it afterwards, at first declared itself with a good deal of con- fusion in its aims. Sentimentalism, such as that of Klop- stock, 3 whom the Zurich critics had influenced, and in whom they at first believed, and the interest in peasant life and romantic scenery, came together in their minds. Pictorial poetry was stimulated by Thomson's Seasons, which Brocker 4 was translating between 1740 and 1750, and was commended by them in theory, 6 and produced, after Haller, by Kleist (Fruhling, 1749) and Gessner (Idylls, 1756) who was a painter as well as poet.

1 Scherer, n. 41

2 Scherer, n. 24, Lessing's Leben, n. 18. 8 Scherer, 11. 31.

4 Scherer, ii. 38

1 In Breitinger's Dichtkunst, Lessing's Leben, ii. 18.


SUCCESSORS OF THE SWISS. 215

In speaking of Archaeology I referred to the works of Spence and Caylus, which betray the idea that the difference of medium between painting and poetry makes no serious difference in the scope of those two arts, and this conception appears to have been generally current in the age before Lessing, although it found special expression in the criticism and poetry of the Zurich circle. The Laocoon, it is said, was aimed primarily at the Swiss, 1 as the Dramaturgic at Gott- sched, Corneille,- Voltaire ; we have only to modify this by remembering that Winckelmann himself was at first a dis- ciple of the Swiss, and that in his early work " on the imita- tion of Greek painting and sculpture" (1755) he actually says " that the limits of painting may be as wide as those of poetry, and that it is possible for the painter to follow the poet, just as it is for the musician. 2 Certainly, as Lessing's biographer observes, it sounds very much as if this sentence had suggested the second title of the Laocoon, " Of the limits of poetry and painting."

Before passing on, however, we must note that the Swiss genius, and the impulse of Thomson's poetry, were not ex- hausted in the crude thought and fancy that helped to elicit the Laocoon. Rousseau (171 2-1778) and De Saussure ( 1 740- 1799) inherited the same genius in more powerful forms. The antagonism of Rousseau and Voltaire reproduces on a higher level that of Breitinger and Gottsched ; and Rousseau is the true inaugurator of modern romantic naturalism. It seems worth while to illustrate the many-sided influence of Rousseau outside revolutionary politics by a quotation from Amiel, himself too a native of Geneva. " J. J. Rousseau is an ancestor in all things. It was he who founded travelling on foot before Topffer, reverie before Rend, literary botany before George Sand, the worship of nature before Bernardin de St. Pierre, the democratic theory before the revolution of 1789, political discussion and theological discussion before Mirabeau and Renan, the science of teaching before Pesta- lozzi, and Alpine description before De Saussure." . . . " Nobody, again, has had more influence than he upon the nineteenth century, for Byron, Chateaubriand, Madame de Stael and George Sand all descend from him. 3


1 Lessing's Leben. 2 Quoted Lessing's Leben, ii. 20.

s Amiel, Journal Intimc^ E. Tr., i. 202.


2l6 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

If Rousseau was the first nature-sentimentalist, De Saussure, also a native of Geneva, was the first student-mountaineer. We can hardly realise to-day the void of knowledge and feeling in the time before 1787, when Mont Blanc was ascended by De Saussure, and also by another traveller, having never, it appears, been ascended before. In De Saussure, as all readers of the Modern Painters l are aware, we have an influence that has operated powerfully in impressing on the modern sense of Alpine beauty its peculiar character of loving and penetrating study, which involves the reconciliation of the scientific and artistic spirit, and is the root of our singular delight in obser- vant sympathy with the characteristic law and essence of mountain conformation.

v. I am convinced that Lessing ought to be treated in the history of aesthetic before Winckel- mann, and not in the reverse order, which Schasler adopts. The mere dates of their lives and writings are not decisive. Winckelmann was indeed born twelve years before Lessing, and his assassination took place thirteen years before Lessing's death. It is also true that Lessing's Laocoon takes its text from an early work of Winckelmann, and mentions before its close his greater and later work, the history of ancient plastic art. But yet Lessing, as we have seen, springs from what went before him, from literary and dramatic criticism, and the conflict of the quasi-classical with the romantic drama which had been observed in the sixteenth century by Sidney, and throughout the seventeenth had been a subject of Euro- pean interest. Lessing uses Winckelmann, it is true, but not as a younger man uses his predecessors ; rather as a recog- nised authority defines his position with reference to the ideas of a contemporary whose starting-point is other than his own. The historical side of Winckelmann's work, the recognition of variety and relativity in the beautiful of formative art, is as good as unknown to Lessing, whose capacity, and conse- quently his appreciation, lay entirely in the region of litera- ture.

Now Winckelmann, on the other hand, made a new depar- ture, which connects itself rather with what came after him than with what went before. It is true that he could not have seen any of Lessing's more important works before his own


See especially Modern Painters, iv. 402.


LESSING'S POSITION. 217


were written. But his interest was pre-occupied with study in a different sphere, and Lessing's influence could not greatly have helped, though it might have hindered him. Practically, he possesses in the field of plastic art all that Lessing could in that region, have suggested to him, and he adds more to it.

Lessing, in short, represented an earlier tradition, and profited little by Winckelmann's great work, which came to him when his views were completed. Winckelmann repre- sented a new departure on parallel, but different lines, and so far as we can judge, would not have written otherwise than he did if he had lived ten or twenty years later, and been well acquainted with the Laocoon.

Therefore continuity of subject is better preserved by deal- ing with Lessing first and Winckelmann second ; and the chronological relations of the two writers do not amount to a contradiction of this arrangement, which is further justified by the superior concretcness of Winckelmann's analysis as com- pared with that of Lessing.

It must be understood that I can only speak of Lessing's contributions to the material of aesthetic. His theological and semi-philosophical writings do not concern us here, except in as far as they may have strengthened some particular elements of his critical influence. BIB conception Lessing (1729-1781) holds an intermediate

of criticism position between the practical and the philosophi- cal critic ; between the legislator for art, and the investiga- tor of beauty. No one man in modern times has clone more than he to show the futility of art-formulae uncritically accepted from tradition, and to substitute for them that living insight which reveals the common root of human nature in the classical as in the romantic world. And yet he believed in rules. He believed that the critic was the poet's guide. He thought that the true laws of poetry were embodied in Homer and Sopho- cles, and explained in Aristotle ; and in withstanding the formlessness of the "age of genius," he did not appear^ to distinguish obedience to critical rules from practical training in artistic forms. Thus he strikes us throughout as attached to the older views by the purpose of his thought, if he belongs to modern criticism by its content. It is worth while to set this essential point in a clear light at starting, by quoting the famous self-estimate from the closing chapter of his dramatic


218


HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


criticism, the Hamburgische Dramaturgic (1767-8), almost his latest strictly aesthetic production.

"I am 1 neither actor nor poet. My friends often do me the honour of acknowledging me to be the latter. But only because they mistake me. So indulgent a conclusion should not be drawn from some dramatic attempts on which I have ventured. Not every one is a painter who takes a brush in his hand, and daubs with colours. The earliest of those attempts were written at an age when one so readily takes enjoyment and facility for genius ; all that is tolerable in the later pieces I am well aware that I owe simply and solely to criticism. I do not feel in myself the living spring which rises by its own power in pure and abundant jets ; I have to press everything out of myself by force-pumps. I should be so poor, so cold, so shortsighted, if I had not learned in some degree to borrow others' wealth, to warm myself at others' fire, and to strengthen my eyes with the lenses of art. Therefore I have always been vexed or ashamed when I have heard anything in disparagement of criticism. They say it chokes genius ; I flattered myself that it had given me something that comes very near genius. I am a cripple, who cannot possibly be edified by a satire against crutches.

" But, no doubt, though crutches help a cripple to move from place to place, yet they do not make him a runner : and it is just so with criticism." . . . [After repeating that he has been a student of dramatic form], " but one may study oneself deeper into error. What assures me that I have not done so, and that I do not mistake the essence of dra- matic art, is the fact that I understand it precisely as Aristotle has abstracted it from the innumerable masterpieces of the Greek stage. ... I do not hesitate to confess (even if in these enlightened times I am to be laughed out of countenance for it) that I hold the Poetics to be as infallible as the elements of Euclid. Its principles are just as true and as certain, only not so simple, and therefore more exposed to misrepresenta- tion. Especially I believe that I can prove with reference to tragedy, the account of which is preserved to us pretty com- plete, that it cannot move a step from Aristotle's direction without departing from its own perfection in the same measure." French tragedy, he goes on to say, had long

1 Hamburgische Dramaturgic ^ ii, 101-104.


LESSING ON CORNEILLE.


passed for the embodiment of the ancient rules ; and then, genuine feeling being awakened by some English pieces which obviously broke the French rules, the German public went to the other extreme, and thought these rules were needless and perhaps injurious. " And even this might have passed but they began to confuse all rules with these rules, and to set it down as pedantry to prescribe to genius at all what it may do and what it may not. In short, we were on the point of presumptuously forfeiting all the experience of the past, and of demanding that every poet should invent the art anew for himself.

" I should be vain enough to think that I had deserved well of our theatre if I could suppose that I had hit upon the only means of arresting this fermentation of our taste. At least I may flatter myself that I have worked to this end, for I have studied nothing so much as to attack the illusion of the regu- larity of the French stage. No nation has misunderstood the rules of the ancient drama more than the French. Some inci- dental remarks which they found in Aristotle about the most convenient arrangement of the drama, they have assumed to be essential ; and on the other hand have so emasculated what really was essential by all kinds of limitations and interpreta- tions, that such views could, inevitably, give rise only to works that must remain far below the highest effect which the philo- sopher had reckoned on in his rules.

41 1 venture at this point to make an assertion which you may take as you please. Show me the piece of the great Corneille, which I would not improve upon. 1 What will you bet ?

" Yet no ; I should not like this assertion to pass for bragga- docio. So note carefully what I add to it. I certainly should improve upon the play and yet be a long way from being a Corneille and be a long way from having achieved a master- piece. I certainly should improve upon it, and ought not to think much of myself for doing so. I should have done nothing but what anyone could do whose faith in Aristotle is as firm as mine."

Now we have to bear in mind that it is at least open to doubt whether the form of art about which Lessing's practical interest was thus pre-occupied had not already, at the time


1 " Besser machen." I think it means not "amend," but write a better play on the same stoty.


2 SO HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

when he was writing, become a matter of merely historical concern. Granting that Shakespearian tragedy falls within it, as Lessing vehemently contended, it must still be held, as I suggested above, that there was not in Lessing's lifetime, and never has been since in any country of Europe, a continuous and considerable development of serious drama, which, while capable of maintaining itself on the stage, has also entered into the greater literature of the world. It may be that the spirit of the Poetic applies to the novel, and to serious comedy, and to Wagnerian opera, and to the mixed realistic drama of our own day, in short to all imaginative narration and portrayal of life. I am not at present discussing this substantive problem, but merely pointing out that neither in its Hellenic nor in its Shakespearian shape was the precise species of art which to Lessing is so present and vital an interest, apparently destined to revive. His tone would have been entirely different, and his judgment of Corneille probably much more lenient, had he realised that the problem before him was one of history, in- volving gradation and at least external variation, and not of the practical resuscitation of a definite kind of play.

This difference between Lessing's actual position and that in which he believed himself to be placed, explains to us at once the nature and limits of his achievement. He never understood his own function to be primarily that of unveiling the true connection between the modern and the antique in literature. Everywhere the thought of the drama, especially of tragedy, as a species of art that has unique value, and is about to come to its rights, is in the background of his treat- ment. This is the case even in the Laocoon ; so much so, that it was his intention l to have closed the treatise with a discussion that should have established the drama to be the highest form of poetry, and his definition of poetry as having action for its object-matter is contributory to this view (Action = " Handlung "fy>/Aa), although action at its widest may in- clude for him anything that goes on in time. Aim of the ft- If now we recall that "the Swiss" with

Laocoon. their friends, following Thomson, were introducing pictorial description into poetry, while Winckelmann in the early work which furnishes Lessing's text had declared for allegory as the highest purpose of formative art, we can very

1 Scherer, E Trans., li. 68.


OCCASION OF THE LAOCOON. 221

easily appreciate the main contention of the treatise which has for its title " Laocoon, or, of the limits of painting and poetry." Its aim was in short to expel pictorial description from poetry, and to deny to formative art any direct concern with action, and therefore with expression or significance. The writer's aim was no doubt impartial, and the limits of poetry were to be straitened in accordance with the same principle which was to cut off large provinces from the do- minion of " painting " (formative art). And yet it is the case that Lessing, from the mere tendency of his genius, on the whole took the side of poetry, as Winckelmann did that of painting and sculpture, while Lessing left the idea of the latter arts in undeveloped abstraction, and Winckelmann did nothing for the theory of the former. The achievement of each, in his sphere, was nothing less than passing from the abstract to the concrete, recognising that beauty is an utter- ance which has many grades and forms, and facing the ques- tion of the relation between them and the possibility of their combination.

The occasion of the Laocoon was such as to show with a force amounting to irony, the superior importance of ideas as compared with particular facts. Winckelmann had said, in his treatise On tke Imitation of Greek Works of Painting and Sculpture, that the expression in Greek statues always revealed a great and composed soul, and that this was illus- trated by the famous Laocoon group, in which Laocoon's features expressed no such extremity of suffering as would be realistically in accordance with the situation, and more particularly, did not indicate him to be crying out, as Virgil describes him. Lessing, aroused, as he admits, 1 by the im- plied censure on Virgil, maintains that the absence of agonised expression in Laocoon's features, and of all sign of outcry which he completely accepts as a fact a is to be accounted for not by the demands of Greek character, but by the laws of Greek sculpture ; in other words, that portrayal of extreme suffering and its expression, legitimate in poetry, was pro- hibited by the law and aim of beauty, which he alleged to be supreme in formative art.

1 Laocoon, i.

2 Lessing had of course never seen the original of the Laocoon, when this was written. I do not know that he had ever seen a cast ; probably his judgment was formed from engravings.


222 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

Now the tendency of skilled criticism ever since Lessing's day has been to deny the alleged fact that Laocoon is re- presented in the marble group as silent or nearly so, and with an expression far removed from that of extreme bodily suffer- ing. 1 The truth appears to be that the group is a work of the Rhodian school, which retained little of the great Greek style, and was chiefly distinguished by technical skill and forcible presentation of ideas. 2 The expression of pain is violent, and the abstinence from crying out is exceedingly doubtful. It is remarkable that the observation with reference to which such influential theories were propounded, should be of questionable accuracy. We have to bear in mind both that the real basis of a tolerable theory is always wider than the case selected for exposition, and also that a statue which seems almost un- Hellenic when compared with the marbles of the Parthenon, might appear full of Greek dignity when compared with works by the degenerate successors of Michael Angelo.

Passing from the occasion, which has an interest chiefly for curiosity, to the substance of Lessing's criticism, we find it to be introduced as follows. Winckelmann had treated the comparative calmness which he saw in the features of Laocoon as the expression of a great and composed soul which, in conformity with the Greek spirit, was above giving way to suffering. Lessing replied, appealing triumphantly to the example of Philoctetes, which Winckelmann had unwarily adduced, that it was not the fact that a great soul was held, among the Greeks, to be incapable of violent expressions of emotion ; and that therefore the reason for the dignity or self-control apparent in the Laocoon must be other than that alleged by Winckelmann. And this reason, he continued, lay not in any form or law of expression relative to character, but simply in the demands of [formal] beauty, which he asserted to be sovereign in the province of formative art Now between him and Winckelmann there was so far no very grave matter at issue. For Winckelmann's " expres- sion " is always relative to that which it expresses ; and the expression of "a great and tranquil soul," which he divines to belong to the greatest period of Greek art, is for him almost or quite within the lines of formal beauty. But for

1 Overbeck, n 281. 2 Murray, ii. 369.


LESSINGS STYLE. 223


Lessing this is a matter of principle. It is not any particular degree of expression, but the acceptance of expression as a principle of formative art, against which he feels bound to make war. Beauty and expression are for him incompatible, and the one can only exist at the expense of the other. Some feeling of the same kind will be found also in Winckelmann, who does not avoid inconsistency in explaining it away. Demarcation of ? Lessing, however, does not rest in a pre- " Painting "and conception of this kind. He deduces the dis- ' tinction between poetry and "painting " from the nature of their respective media, and in doing so, undoubtedly, as Mr. Sully observes, 1 he pioneers the true road of modern aesthetic. And he makes an advance, it must once for all be noted, as much by his style and method as by his results. He has been called, indeed, a man of the understanding, in the technical sense ascribed to the latter term by idealist philosophy, that is to say, a man of sharp antitheses, the sides of which are not explained in terms of one another, but are simply left as ultimate contrasts. In the first place, however, we must bear in mind that we are speaking of the data of aesthetic, and a clear statement of positive empirical contrasts is no bad thing in a collection of data. And in the second place the true distinction of understanding and of reason is of course one of degree rather than of kind ; antitheses, as we have seen throughout, were laid upon the men of this age ; but the attempt to reduce things to a principle is always the beginning of reconciliation and unity, and this attempt was characteristic of Lessing. His style, then, shows the man of the understanding at his very best. His positive knowledge in the field of literature is immense ; his skill in disputation is extraordinary, and this skill is in fact his great temptation, for he cannot resist proving the contradictory of every pro- position which an opponent sets up, with a precision which is too good to be true. But with all this his style has a conversational simplicity and directness, which produces an indescribably invigorating effect on the mind, and has some- thing of the touch of modern science at its best. He seems to say to the reader, "Is it thus or thus ? Here are the examples ; come and look at them ; how do they strike you ? Is it not thus rather than thus ?" Of course, when such a

1 Encycl. Brit., art. " Esthetic."


224 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

writer does force a distinction, the impression is proportion- ately painful. But these cases are rare, though they un- questionably occur.

His peculiar style loses terribly by translation ; but I feel bound to reproduce the passage which is the core of the Laocoon, both as an example of his reasoning, and as contain- ing, in a page of print, his whole essential contribution to the classification of the arts.

" 1 should like to attempt to deduce the matter from its primary ground. 1

" I infer thus. If it is true that painting employs in its imita- tions quite different media or signs from poetry, the former employing shapes and colours in space, the latter articulate tones in time ; if it is unquestionable that the signs must have a convenient relation to the thing signified, then co-existing signs can only express objects which co-exist or whose parts co-exist, and successive signs can only express objects which are successive, or whose parts are successive.

" Objects which co-exist or whose parts co-exist are called bodies. Consequently bodies with their visible qualities are the proper objects of painting.

" Objects which are in succession or whose parts are in succession are called actions. Consequently actions are the proper objects of poetry.

" But bodies exist not only in space, but also in time. They continue, and in every moment of their continuance may appear different, and be in different combinations. Each of these momentary appearances and combinations is the. effect of a preceding one, and is capable of being the cause of a succeeding one, and thus, so to speak, the centre of an action. Consequently, painting is able also to imitate actions, but only by suggestion conveyed through bodies.

" On the other hand, actions cannot exist apart, but must be attached to beings. In as far as these beings are bodies, or are regarded as bodies, poetry can depict bodies too, but only by suggestion conveyed through actions.

" Painting, in its co-existing compositions, can only use a single moment of the action, and must therefore choose the most pregnant one, from which the preceding and subsequent ones become most intelligible.

1 Laocoon, sect. xvi.


SUCCESSION AND COEXISTENCE.


"Just so poetry in its successive imitations can only use a single property of bodies, and must therefore select that which awakens the most sensuous image of the object in the aspect required.

" Hence flows the rule of the singleness of pictorial epithets, and of reserve in description of bodily objects/ 1

The elements which enter into this brief and pregnant argument are collected from very various sources. The 41 convenient relation of signs to the thing signified " is probably suggested by Baumgarten. 1 The remark that poetry is not adapted for the complete description of visible bodies is due to Burke. 2 The observation that painting can represent only a moment of time is found in Lord Kaimes. 3 The underlying idea that poetry deals essentially with action is drawn no doubt from Aristotle's account of the drama as the central species of poetry, and is negatively suggested by " the Swiss." The corresponding idea that material or bodily beauty consists of pure unity in variety of form is a remini- scence of Hogarth and of classical aesthetic, and is negatively suggested by Winckelmann's treatment of allegory. But no one of Lessing's predecessors had united all these ideas in a single page of luminous deduction.

The value to be ascribed to the abstract distinction thus laid down will be evident, I hope, as our history progresses. It is enough to say for the present that however it may be related to any complete philosophy of the beautiful, the dis- tinction by succession and co-existence occupied a place of very great importance in our present subject matter " the data of modern aesthetic/' We now proceed to consider some consequences attached by Lessing to this principle.

Atti- S. The term "beauty" is confined by Lessing material beauty, and is not treated as the essen- t j a j q ua ljty o f poetry considered as art Lord Kaimes, it may be noticed, confined the term beauty to objects of sight ; 4 and we have found the same tendency, far narrower than that of Plato or Aristotle, in mediaeval writers B from Plotinus downward. Thus when we find Lessing dis- cussing the place of " beauty " in poetry he is only asking how far material beauty can effectively be depicted in language, to

1 See Schasler, i. 351. s See p. 205 above. 8 Ib.

4 Elements of Criticism, i. 177. 6 t.g. Aquinas, see p. 146 above.

Q


226 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

which he answers, in accordance with his principle, that it can only be either suggested by its effects, or represented as charm (Reiz 1 ), which following Burke's account of grace, he defines as beauty in motion. I do not know that Lessing has framed a general conception of any essential quality shared by poetry with the fine arts as a class. He habitually employs " Poetry " and " Art" as antithetical terms, a usage common to-day, and always indicative of a failure or omission to co- ordinate them in theory. Even for his conception of the poetical quality common to all species of poetry as such, I believe that we should find nothing more explicit than his account of the drama, which he with Aristotle regards as poetry in its highest concentration. He thus by omission rather than of set purpose partially anticipates the question- ings of the age of genius as to whether the essential quality of modern art is really beauty, and not rather something else the interesting or the significant. And this omission to force poetry and formative art into the same theoretical scheme enables him to deal freely with the former in spite of his abstract conception of the latter.

Thus he admits the ugly 2 into poetry as a means to the comic and the terrible, though the reason for which he does so that the effect of ugliness is weakened by presentation in language destroys in part the significance of his doing so.

Formative art, on the other hand, he very decidedly limits to dealing with those visible objects which produce pleasant sensations. Although "as 3 an imitative craft it can express ugliness, yet as a fine art it refuses to do so," even as a means to the comic and the terrible. The reason assigned for this refusal is the persistent force of ugly forms in pictorial presen- tation, which causes their disagreeable effect, like that of dis- gust (Ekel), to outlast the feeling of comedy or terror to which they may have been a means. Thus he rejects, so far as concerns the ugly, even Aristotle's plea for the pleasant effect of imitations of unpleasant reality, pointing out that the ugly in form produces its disagreeable effect quite apart from any reference to its real existence, and therefore in represen- tation quite as much as in reality. This is the point correla- tive to that to which Burke drew attention when he said that a tragic reality, regarded apart from real interests, had the

1 I^aocoon, xxi. 2 Laocoon, xxni. 8 Laocoon, xxiv.


EXPRESSION. 227


same pleasures as its representation. Thus by distinguishing between qualities which are the same in representation as in reality, and qualities which are not, Lessing really suggests the distinction between aesthetic and practical interest.

If we now pursue our point by asking how far this exclu- sion of ugliness betrays an abstract and unindividualised ten- dency in Lessing's conception of material beauty, we are met by the difficulty of knowing precisely what he included under ugliness. We cannot quarrel with a critic for excluding the ugly from fine art, i.e. from the beautiful, unless we are sure that in doing so he is unaware how wide is the range of the concretely beautiful, and how narrow, even if we admit it to exist, is that of the insuperably ugly. We can only form a judgment of Lessing's position in this respect by examining the degree in which he recognises any beauty other than that of mere form ultimately and strictly geometrical beauty as analysed by Hogarth.

In the first part of the Laocoon, before Winckelmann's History of Art had appeared, Lessing undoubtedly regards expression and truth as falling outside beauty. Not only does he regard beauty, thus abstracted, as the law of ancient for- mative art, but he stumbles into the terrible pitfall of treating it as the exclusive aim of such art. As ancient statues are plainly charged with meaning and special feeling, which takes shape in tangible "attributes," i.e objects denoting an indi- vidual deity or relation of a deity, Lessing is driven to defend his view by distinguishing between the works in which re- ligious or conventional tradition fettered the artist, 1 and those in which he freely aimed at beauty for beauty's sake. But the demand for individual expressiveness in great and serious art is not confined to identification of a personage by tangible attributes ; and history shows that hazardous to art as the didactic spirit is, the mood of great masters in great art- periods is nearer to the didactic spirit than to the conscious quest for abstract beauty. All beauty, as we have seen, is ultimately expressiveness, and its substance and foundation falls away if the artist is not mastered by some burden or im- port for which he desires to find utterance. Probably it was as correcting this distinction of Lessing, that Goethe laid down the view that " The highest principle of the ancients

1 Laocoon, ix.


228 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

was the significant, but the highest result of successful treat- ment, the beautiful." * Beauty comes, that is to say, when a significant content is duly handled, but is not a conscious and abstract purpose. We shall have to return to this view at a later stage.

Expression, then, and the significant, were prima facie ex- cluded by Lessing from the materially beautiful It is worth noting that he regarded the beauty of drapery as something very inferior; the idea of his generation was that Greek statues were characteristically nude, and the expressive force of the treatment of drapery, as we now know it in the works of the great time, was unthought of. " Beauty was the pur- pose of art," he exclaims ; " necessity invented clothes ; and what has art to do with necessity ?" 2 " I greatly fear that the most perfect master in drapery shows by this very skill where his weakness lies." 3 When Lessing makes a mistake, he makes it thoroughly.

In the notes for the second part of the Laocoon, written after Winckelmann's History of Art had appeared, there is a change of phrase as compared with the first part ; but it is not a substantive modification. He now admits into beauty an element of expression, viz. the " permanent expression," which is " not violent," and which " is not only compatible with beauty, but introduces more variety into beauty itself." 4 This view obviously follows Winckelmann's conception of the high or grand style of beauty which is united with an expres- sion of repose and tranquillity. Winckelmann, as we shall see, goes further afield in expression, but Lessing does not follow him.

This is the extreme boundary of the variously expressive, significant, or characteristic, not to speak of the ugly, in Les- sing's idea of formative art. Historical painting, for instance, he holds to be only justifiable as an excuse for a composition of various beautiful forms ; to paint a scene for the sake of its import is, he thinks, to make the means into the end.

Landscape painting is the mere work of eye and hand (had Lessing been reading Reynolds 1 criticism on the Dutch

1 Hegel, Introd. to ^Esth , E. Tr., p 36. 8 Laocoon, v.

8 We must remember that English portrait painters of that day used to employ an assistant to paint their draperies. 4 Laoc., 2, iii.


UGLINESS IN FORMATIVE ART. 2 2Q

painters? 1 ), genius has no share in it; for the inorganic and vegetable world are incapable of an ideal. This seems to be a further borrowing from the History of Art The ideal, ac- cording to it, 3 is that perfection which is suggested by a com- parison of natural examples ; and we must suppose that in the inorganic world and the world of plants he sees no such law of types and tendencies as to make it possible for a more per- fect form to be suggested for them by the exercise of the intelligence on their given structure. "The highest bodily beauty exists only in man, and in him only because of the ideal," 3 i.e. I presume, because of his marked unity and co- herence as a organism, which enables a partial defect to be corrected by a suggestion drawn from another example, whereas, of two mountain shapes, who can say which is the right one ? " There is no ideal of that in which Nature has proposed to herself nothing definite." 4

We may conclude this part of the examination of Lessing's views with his amazing question, " Would it not have been better if oil painting had never been invented ?" 6

After this we need ask no further questions about Lessing's general attitude towards ugliness in formative art. His notion of material beauty was fundamentally that of formal, geome- trical, or decorative beauty, and even his selection of the human form as the type of the beautiful is scarcely to be justi- fied out of his aesthetic theory ; for what is the human form if it expresses no human qualities ?

e. In one point, however, modern feeling has fcte^toBidan^aii sympathised with Lessing's classicism, although justified. j t w jjj never C ease to feel a certain attraction in the quaint horrors of mediaeval art The Greeks, Lessing had maintained in the Laocoon, 8 and even their poets, had never portrayed death under the image of a skeleton, in the manner of mediaeval and contemporary artists, but rather, in agreement with Homer, as the twin brother of sleep. This assertion drew upon him an attack to which he replied in 1769 with the short treatise, How the Ancients Represented

1 Idler, No. 79. See Ruskm, Modern Painters, "On the Grand Style.*

Wmckelmann, Gcsch. d. bildenden Kunst d. Alien, iv. 2. 35. 8 Laoc., 2. li.

  • Laoc., 2. iv.

6 Lessing's Leben, ii. 57. 6 Laoc., xi. note.


23O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

Death. In this he identified the common monumental figure, resembling an Amor but leaning on a reversed torch, as the normal image of death among the Greeks, and found another explanation of the antique skeleton figures, whose existence had been alleged as an argument against him. The sane though sympathetic manner in which he treats the whole subject one of those in which romantic sentiment compares least favourably with the cheerful calm of the ancients was perhaps the first simple and popular rapprochement between genuine Greek feeling and the profound convictions of modern life ; and in this respect anticipated the dawn of a new era in which Greek art and intelligence were felt to possess a real message for humanity. It was this work, no doubt, that stirred Schiller to sing in the "Gotter Griechenlands ;"

44 Damals l trat kein grasshches Genppe Vor das Bctt des Sterbenden Em Kuss Nahm das letzte Leben von der Lippe, Seine Fackel senkt' em Genius."

Leusing's Theory We have sufficiently seen that from the time of the Drama. of^Corneille to that of Gottsched theories of poetry appealing to the authority of Aristotle were common both in France and Germany. Lessing stands within this tradition which is modified in his case by peculiar circum- stances.

To begin with, the pseudo-classical tradition itself had at this time reached a critical point. By invading Germany, it had suggested, even in Gottsched's hands, the idea of a national drama. And while making this suggestion, it ^had revealed that its own work was done. Voltaire, 2 its most decided partisan, spoke with curious candour of the languor and rigidity of the French drama. The form generated by classicism had become fixed, and had no fecundity. The German genius, when awakened by its means, could not long be content with it. Still less was this possible when, being essentially an appeal to Caesar, the classical tradition was at length brought before his judgment-seat ; when the "ancients" whose supposed authority had warranted such strange things were produced in broad daylight as the touchstone of poetry,

'In those days no gruesome ikeleton approached the bed of the dying. A kiss received the last life from the lips, and a Genius reversed his torch." 8 Quoted in Hamburgische Dramaturgic, n. 194.


GERMANY AND ENGLAND. 23!

by a genuine scholar with real poetical sympathy. For Lessing is the first popular writer among the moderns who knew and loved Homer and Sophocles as a cultivated man of letters knows and loves them to-day. The germs of the comparison in question lay in the whole history and tendency of the Renaissance and the subsequent age. It was impos- sible that the world should go on for ever talking about the ancients without caring to know what the greatest of them was like ; and Lessing happened to be the first man who had the critical genius necessary to make this plain. The first Renaissance was Latin ; the second was Greek ; and Lessing in one craft, like Winckelmann in another, opened the way from the first to the second.

But, in the next place, the French classical tradition was confronted in Germany not only by the true spirit of antiquity which it had aroused, because it was "classical," but by the spirit of intellectual kinship between England and Germany, which it aroused because it was French. The Germans were beginning to feel their affinity with the English mind and speech, and working backwards from the nearer to the more remote, according to the principle which we have so often observed, they first laid hold on writers contemporary or nearly so 1 thus Gottsched on the Spectator and Addison's Cato, the Swiss on Thomson, Young and Milton, and then, in Lessing's generation, they traced the same affinity back to Shakespeare. It would be a crude account of Lessing's theory, but not wholly a false one, to say that his heart was set on proving Shakespeare, and not Racine, to be correct according to Sophocles and Aristotle. His synthesis of the true classical and the romantic drama owed much to the collision of the French and German mind, which expressed itself in his almost personal hostility to Gotlsched and Voltaire.

And thirdly we have to observe that Lessing lived at a time 2 when the dramatic forms were being modified, and the novel of family life was beginning to exert an entirely new influence. As regards this modification of dramatic species, it is simplest to quote Lessing's own words. 3 " I desire to


1 Lessing's Leben> i. 279.

2 Lessing's Leben, i. 294, ff.

3 Lessing's Lcben, i. 294.


232 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

speak of the changes which in our time have been made in dramatic poetry. Neither comedy nor tragedy has been spared. The former has been raised several degrees, and the latter lowered in the same measure. In the former case it was thought that the world had had enough of laughing at the comic play and hissing ridiculous vices ; and so the fancy suggested itself, to let the world at last have its turn at weep- ing even in comedy, and find a noble entertainment in tranquil virtues. In tragedy again it was held unreasonable that no one but sovereigns and persons of rank should be capable of awak- ing our pity and terror ; so middle-class heroes were sought out, and the tragic buskin buckled on them, whereas before the only object had been to make them laughable. The for- mer change created what its partisans call the pathetic, and its antagonists the crying comedy. From the second there arose bourgeois (middle class) tragedy." " The former change was made by the French, 1 the latter by the English. I should almost venture to say that both of them arose from the pecu- liar disposition of these peoples. The Frenchman is a creature that always desires to appear greater than he is. The English- man is one who likes to pull down everything great to his own level. The former disliked to see himself always represented on the comic side ; a secret ambition drove him to show persons like himself in a noble light. The latter found it vexatious to give so ouch precedence to crowned heads ; he thought he could feel that violent passions and sublime thoughts belonged no more to them than to one of his own rank."

Lessing's early tragedy, Miss Sara Sampson, which 'was warmly welcomed in the Journal Granger for 1761, probably by Diderot, 2 was the first German " middle-class tragedy/' and reveals the influence under which it was composed by the fact 3 that its motives are drawn from The Merchant of London the first English middle-class tragedy, and from Clarissa Harlowe, the first novel of family life, which intro- duced the poetry of the family to modern Europe. In one way or another, though in the case of comedy not in identical de- scent from the "Comedie larmoyante," the serious non-tragic

1 eg. Nivelle de la Chaussde, about 1740. For an account of the move- ment see Lessing's Leben, i. 291.

2 Lessing's Lebcn^ i. 467.

3 Cf. i. 305-


THEORY OF TRAGEDY. 233

drama and the middle-class tragedy were continued by Lessing himself and by Diderot Lessing calls his Emilia Galotti a " middle-class Virginia," x " middle-class," not in contrast to Livy's story, but in contrast to the habitual treatment of the same subject on the French stage. And these two forms insensibly shade off into the novel-5ike mixed drama of real life with which we are familiar to-day. Whether any good can come of this movement in the future from the standpoint of serious dramatic art, appears problematic ; but this appear- ance arises from the general difficulties attaching to dramatic art as such, and not from the abandonment of a forced dis- tinction between tragedy and comedy. For the approximation between the two, not formally recognised before the time of which we are writing, was really a matter of older date. Goethe called Moliere's Misanthrope a tragedy, 2 and this play is taken as the earliest modern example of serious comedy by the first theoretical writer on the subject, about 1 740. And we all know what Shakespearian comedy is at its most serious points ; we can hardly say whether Measure for Measure, and Much Ado about Nothing, are serious comedies or tragedies with happy endings.

Thus it was quite clear that if the theory of tragedy was to have a real bearing for romantic poetry it must in some degree be widened, and shown not to depend on the absolute distinc- tion of the two sides of life which appeared to be presupposed both in practice of the ancients, and in Aristotle's history of the drama and theory of tragedy.

The problem through which more particularly the above influences the serious study of antiquity, the national or racial spirit opposed to a foreign tradition, and the modification of the distinction between dramatic species acted on Lessing's formal aesthetic criticism is that of the interpretation to be placed on Aristotle's account of the tragic emotions, and the estimate, consequent on this interpretation, of his ideas concerning the character of the true tragic hero.


1 He took the plot from the story of Virginia, omitting the political back- ground, intending thereby to isolate and purify the tragic motive I imagine most readers will feel that the story is thus altogether spoilt, that outlook into a larger life which we get even in Romeo and Juliet, through the healing of the feud, being here entirely closed. Lessing's Lebcn, ii 309 ff.

  • Lessing's Leben^ \ 294-5


234 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

For as to the fundamental condition of the drama, its unity, the artificial demands of the pseudo-classical school fall into their places at once when Lessing points out that the only unity which is either fundamental in itself or essentially demanded by Aristotle, is the unity of action, and that the others, so far as necessary, are mere corollaries from this, made more important in the ancient world by the presence of the Chorus. 1 This latter remark, it will be remembered, had already been made by Lord Kaimes. This view of the unities is in itself the simplest case of the reconciliation be- tween ancient theory and modern romantic practice.

Aristotle's account of the tragic emotions, of their effect on the mind, and of the character therefore required for a hero of tragedy, have been briefly explained in dealing with Aris- totle's views at first hand.

But this appears to be the right place to point out their relation to the development of aesthetic criticism in modern times.

The paradox of Lessing's position is this : he contends that Aristotle's analysis of tragedy essentially justifies the romantic drama. But his first duty as an interpreter of Aristotle is to convict Corneille and similar writers of having understood him not too narrowly, but too loosely. It is not, therefore, through what what we might call the surface ex- tension assigned to Aristotle's ideas, but by tracing them down to their root in human nature, that first Lessing, and then Bernays who is to Lessing as the latter to Corneille was able to maintain their essential value for poetry as we under- stand it.

For us, then, the question of Aristotle's meaning in select- ing pity and fear as the special emotions of tragedy, is one of the same class \\hich was described in general terms when we spoke of his views. Throwing aside all minutiae, we may state it thus on its merits. Tragedy, we find in his definition, affects the mind in a certain way, "by means of pity and fear/' Are these terms employed currente calamo, to indicate the first samples that come to hand, and, of course, as the first, the chief and most striking samples, of the various emotions which are aroused by the spectacle of any serious and com- plete piece of human history ; or is there a precise systematic

1 Lessing's Lfben, ii. 168.


PITY AND FEAR. 235


intention in the exclusiveness with which these two and no others are adduced, and an essential connection between the one and the other ? How far are we dealing with a naive though acute observation, and how far with a systematic analysis conjoined with a general theory of serious poetry ? Corneille, to judge from his comments, must have adopted the former view, and thus he easily widens the definition by laxity and on the surface. For we saw 1 that his aim in his theoretical writing was the same as that of Lessing in the Dramaturgic, to reconcile modern beauties with ancient rules. Pity and fear, he says in effect, are not to be taken as essen- tially connected ; they are feelings either of which by itself may form the interest of a tragedy, and there may be others besides which Aristotle did not happen to notice, such as admiration, so that his account of the tragic emotions is casual and partial, and his exclusion of perfect and monstrous char- acters depended merely on his not having noticed that pity could be successfully aroused by the one, and fear by the other. His definition, in short, is taken as empirically descriptive ; and so with a little good-will it can be extended to include even the saints and monsters of Corneille's plays.

Now Lessing, to whom Bernays, intent upon the "puri- fication " controversy, does less than justice as regards the whole matter, brings to bear on the subject, and, as he claims, almost for the first time, the reciprocal definitions of pity and fear from the Rhetoric. His earlier view, * however, rejects the exclusive interdependence of pity and fear as erroneous, and is thus markedly more in harmony with Corneille than that of the Dramaturgic. But he then makes, I feel bound to contend, the great step on which the later and more subtle theory both of Lessing himself and also of Bernays, is founded. For he substitutes Burke's " sympathy," the Ger- man " Mitleid," on which Lessing even plays by calling it "Mitleiden" (which merely means sharing the feeling or suffer- ing of another, and does not necessarily indicate a specific emotion attached to so doing), for the perfectly definite Greek term eXeo?, "compassion" or " pity." Thus there is dragged in the whole modern or romantic conception, so powerfully developed by Bernays, of the widening of the individual self into the great self of humanity.

1 Page 197, above. * Lessing's Lebcn, i. 363, a letter toNicolai before 1758.


236 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

In the Dramaturgie^ written some ten years later, 1 when Lessing, as critic to the Hamburg theatre, was doing his best to aid the creation of a " national drama " for Germany, he accepts the exclusive and essential connection of pity and fear as instruments of tragic effect, and does not attempt to extend the import of these expressions so as to include analogous emotion, except in as far as they describe the object-matter of the tragic purification as opposed to its instruments. There- fore his view comes to be essentially that of Bernays, that Aristotle intends to insist on the essential interconnection of sympathy and fear, in the sense that our feeling of a common nature and possibilities shared by ourself and the person in the drama awakens in us the thought of our own participation in that human destiny which can do such things as we see.

It is plain that in this exposition width of application is not obtained by a laxity like that of Corneille, but by confining the definition more strictly to the emotions which Aristotle named, and then interpreting these emotions with a larger and deeper reference to human nature.

And so in Bernays himself, who in his turn condemns Lessing for laxity, we find the tragic emotions traced so deep into the roots of human nature that no serious art whatever need fall outside their province. I quote a characteristic sentence : 3 "It is only when the actual [material, external] fear operates indirectly through sympathy with a person, that the process of purgation can take place in the spectator's mind, by the individual self being enlarged into the self of all humanity, and so coming face to face with the terribly sublime laws of the universe and their incomprehensible power, which envelops mankind, and being penetrated by that sort of fear which as an ecstatic shudder in presence of the universe [" dem All "] is pleasurable in the highest way and without disturbance." It is clear that while professing to remain within the Aristotelian theory of tragedy, we have here arrived at a generalised conception of tragic motive which is applicable to any serious portrayal of life however romantic, however formless, however free from external collision or catastrophe. Not only Shakespeare's tragedy and serious comedy, but the Cenci and Vanity Fair (although it is called


1 II. Sect. 65. 1767-8

8 Bernays, Zwet Abhandlungen^ etc., Berlin, 1880, p. 74.


MEANING OF " PITY. 237

" a novel without a hero ") and La Cousine Bette are easily and naturally included within such a doctrine. It may indeed be admitted to be a development inherent in Aristotle's theory, to which the strict interdependence of pity and fear, known from the Rhetoric, undoubtedly gives a systematic value not evident from the words preserved in the Poetic. Yet if we are asked how far it represents Aristotle's meaning, I think we can but answer, as we have answered in analogous cases, 1 that his actual meaning lies somewhere between these two extremes of naive observation and idealistic world-theory. Of the two, I confess that I believe it to have approximated more nearly to the former. It is a far cry from eXeo? to 11 Mitleid," and from " Mitleid" to " Mit-leiden " ; and so it is from <o'/3oy to the overwhelming sense of law in the universe.

The characters demanded by Aristotle for the persons of a tragedy strengthen this opinion. To an unbiassed reader his treatment of tnis point must seem thoroughly naive. It is not that he demands for the hero mere human nature, so that our own human nature may feel itself implicated in his mis- fortunes ; his idea of the qualities which have power to evoke our sympathy and our fear is narrowly confined to unmerited suffering and to an average moral disposition, The concep- tion of greatness, whether in evil or in good, does not present itself to his mind. Lessing has not, I think, treated Shake- peare's Richard III. in connection with his Aristotelian theorem ; and I cannot imagine that in this instance he could have made good his usual thesis. But if Aristotle had construed his own theory as freely as Bernays or even Lessing construes it for him, the deeper manifestations of individual character and its collisions with necessity would have been more prominent in his analysis of a tragic plot.

On the question of "purification" or rather " purgation," which has been treated in the chapter on Aristotle, there seems to be no doubt whatever that Bernays is strictly in the right, and that he is thoroughly justified in his ridicule of the notion that tragedy was to transform the passions into " vir- tuous capacities," * and of the consequent application to them of the misapprehended doctrine of the mean. Here we see how Lessing stands between the earlier and the later moderns,

1 See above, p. 73.

1 " Tugendhafte Fertigkeiten," Dramaturgic, \ c.


238 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


and we feel that his presupposition of the moral aim of poetry, 1 though most perfectly guarded against the suggestion of an abstract didactic purpose, is painful to our consciousness to-day.

The idea which lies at the root of the Laocoon and of the Dramaturgic, that poetry deals only with action, seemed to Herder to involve a massacre among poets which none but Homer and the dramatists could survive. For lyrical poetry Lessing had certainly little feeling ; yet " action," taken in the widest sense, according to the definition which forms the core of the Laocoon, might include the movement of emo- tion in a human heart.

But however this might be, it was worth while to run the hazard of a temporary onesidedness of appreciation, for the sake of wholly freeing poetic art from such narrow laws as those which Lessing understood to be the laws of material beauty, and assigning to it the wide subject-matter of human life in all its variations from the comic to the terrible. This conception, culminating in the importance assigned to the drama, and supported by a profound enthusiasm for Shake- speare and for the Greeks, stamped itself unmistakably upon the poetry 2 and also upon the philosophy of the next gener- ation in Germany.

1 Dramaturgic, \\ 77.

2 As in the conception of death, so in the estimate of dramatic value, Schiller's poetry follows ^ Less ing's criticism The lines addressed by Schiller to Goethe on the occasion of Voltaire's Mahomet being put on the stage at Weimar are of great significance m this respect. I quote two stanzas :

Einheim'scher Kunst ist dieser Schauplatz eigen, Hier wird nicht fremden Gotzen mehr gedient ; Wir konnen muthig einen Lorbeer zeigen, Der auf dem deutschen Pmdus selbst gegrunt. Selbst in der Kunste Heiligthum zu steigen, Hat sich der deutsche Genius erkuhnt, Und auf der Spur des Gnechen und des Britten Ist er dem bessern Ruhme nachgeschntten.

Nicht Muster zwar darf uns der Franke werden ! Aus seiner Kunst spncht kern lebend'ger Geist ; Des falschen Anstands prunkende Geberden Verschmaht der Sinn, der nur das Wahre preist J Em Fuhrer nur zum Bessern soil er werden, Er komme, wie em abgeschiedner Geist, Zu reimgen die oft entweihte Scene Zum wurd'gen Sitz der alten Melpomene.


WORK OF WINCKELMANN. 239

And if its actual outcome in the drama of Lessing himself and of Schiller and his contemporaries is of smaller permanent value for the stage than appeared probable at first, and if we even find a certain unreality in the supremacy which aesthetic, after Lessing's example, still assigns to dramatic form in an age when its vitality seems doubtful, yet in the preparation of data for modern aesthetic science there has been no much more potent influence than this co-ordination of the more compar- able poetic forms of the antique and the modern world. For it involves ipso facto a combination of the more reserved and more exuberant, the more abstract and more individual kinds of utterance as alike expressions of human life and passion.

What Lessing was thus doing for poetry it was the task of Wmckelmann to do for formative art, in which Lessing had not even taken the trouble to distinguish painting from sculpture. 1

vi. Winckelmann (1717-1768) is now a mere

Winckelmann. T^ i i i i r

name to most Jbnglish students and to many of

his own countrymen. This is the inevitable result of the pecu- liar nature of his services to aesthetic. Just because his work was fertile in its principles, it has grown in the hands of his successors, and there is nothing which we can now learn from him about the Greek spirit and history, and extant sculptures, so well as from Hegel and Goethe, Grote and Curtius, Overbeck and Murray. His style, though clear and striking, cannot compensate the modern reader for the tedium of lengthy discussions upon particular statues and parts of statues, in which the great works that mould our judgment are not taken account of. Yet Mr Pater s delightful essay 3 may, it is to be hoped, sustain among English writers a cer- tain permanent interest in the man whose ideas struck root in the minds of Schiller and Goethe, Hegel and Schellmg, and have in an incalculable degree contributed to the human and sympathetic spirit which marks the historical and archaeological researches of to-day.

The characteristics by which he produced the effect which

1 The influence of casual circumstances is such that I hardly think it too audacious to suggest that Lessing's carelessness m taking his fiisc title from a group in marble fora work whose second title mentions paintings its subject, was connected with the fact, that he had to judge of sculpture chiefly or solely from drawings and engravings.

2 In The Renaissance, by Walter Pater : Macmillan & Co


24O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

I have thus ascribed to him may be summed up under four heads.

o. The sense of real contact with the human mind in the study of workmanship.

)8. The extension of this sense into an appreciation of organic development in art correlative to that in social and political conditions.

y. The consequent recognition of various phases of ex- pressiveness within the beauty of plastic art.

3. The open admission of conflicting claims on behalf of formal beauty and of expression, and their partial reconcili- ation.

Feeling f or Art ' ^ ma X seem a strange comparison to set the as Human name of Winckelmann beside that of Bacon. But Production nQ Qne can T ^^ ^ constant diatribes of the


former against mere "book-learning," 1 or against the work of "Scribes/' 2 in comparison with the knowledge of the educated eye, without feeling their motive to be fundamen- tally the same as that of Bacon, the eagerness for contact with reality at first hand. 3 Thus " research and insight into art we look for in vain in the great costly works descriptive of ancient statues, which have as yet been published. The description of a statue ought to demonstrate the cause of its beauty, and point out the individuality in the style of its art; . . ^ . but where is it taught in what the beauty of a statue consists, and what scribe has looked at it with an artist's eye ? " He contends that it is hopeless to judge adequately of statues from drawings and engravings, and concludes that it is not feasible to write anything of value upon ancient art except at Rome, then the great storehouse of antiquities. Rome was to him what external nature was to Bacon. You cannot qualify as a judge of art by spending a mere month at Rome, he is always repeating, in allusion to some countrymen of his who had made no longer stay. Or again :

" How has it happened, 4 whereas profound treatises have appeared in all other sciences, that the rationale of art and of beauty has been so little enquired into ? Reader !- the fault


1 u? el f enheit "Jahsonic a curiousl y expressive term of disparagement

2 " Scnbenten." r &

8 Gesch. d. Bildenden Kunst, Introd. il 4 GcsMchte, iv. 2, 5.


BACON AND WINCKELMANN. 241

lies in our innate indolence as regards thinking for ourselves, and in the wisdom of the schools. For on the one hand the ancient works of art have been regarded as beauties to the enjoyment of which we cannot hope to attain, and which therefore readily warm the imagination of a few, but do not penetrate the soul, and antiquities have only given occasion for shooting the rubbish of book-learning, but have afforded no nourishment or hardly any to the reason. On the other hand again, since philosophy 1 has chiefly been practised and taught by such as, through reading their dryasdust prede- cessors therein, are forced to leave little room for feeling, and cover it up, so to speak, with a hard skin, we have been led through a labyrinth of metaphysical subtleties and circumlocu- tions which after all have chiefly served to excogitate huge books and sicken the understanding."

The appeal to reason, feeling and understanding within the same page is characteristic of Winckelmann, whose apparent laxity of terminology, often amounting to absolute self-contra- diction, indicates not merely a neglect of theoretical refine- ment, but also a genuine concreteness of thought.

Plainly we have in such passages as the above, which might be endlessly multiplied, the same craving of which Bacon is so eloquent an exponent, the craving for an escape from the world of books and reflection into that of direct sensuous observation, involving probably a consciousness that human faculties demand other nutrition and exercise than that which a mere literary medium can supply: " Hardly any scribe can penetrate the inmost essence of art." 2

The difference between the two revivals is that the observa- tion of which Winckelmann speaks is directed not to natural nature, except in human beings, to whose beauty he is exceed- ingly sensitive, but to artificial nature, which though material is yet the work and utterance of the mind. Inevitably there- fore this later return to nature besides educating the perception of the beautiful, formed a bridge from physical and mathema- tical science to the anthropological and philosophical sciences. How deeply Winckelmann realised this aspect of his re- searches as grasping a new province of life, in the direct significance of which, however trivial its data may appear, mind answers to mind across the ages, may be indicated by

1 Weltweisheit 3 Geschichte, Introd. ii.

R


242 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


one more quotation. 1 " Even in this study (of Greek coins) we shall not lose ourselves in trivialities, if antiquities are regarded as the works of men whose minds were higher and more masculine than ours ; and this recognition has power, in conducting such a research, to exalt us above ourselves and above our age. A thinking soul cannot busy itself with low ideas on the shore of the broad sea ; the immeasurable pros- pect widens the limits of the mind, which at first appears to lose itself, but then returns to us greater than before."

I do not know that the self-assertive reaction of the mind which constitutes the feeling of the Sublime had been thus concisely described before these words were written* ( 1766), although many suggestions of the idea are to be found in Burke. However this may be, it is certain that the fullest theory of art is approached in proportion as we recognise that the work is the expression of the workman's life. True sense of a fr Consequent upon this recognition is the History or Art. conception of art as something that has a history and phases of its own a growth and a decline correspond- ing to and rooted in the history and conditions of peoples. This organic standpoint in relation to art Goethe emphatically ascribes to Winckelmann, 2 and although the ideas of concrete history were in the air, and should not be hastily credited to any one man, yet undoubtedly we find in him more than one of the suggestions which have helped to make the greatness of later students of antiquity. Let us take for example his conception of history 3 as a lorropla, a research and a system, not a chronicle. " The history of Art aims at expounding its origin, growth, change, and fall, together with the diverse styles of peoples, ages, and artists, and at demonstrating this, as far as possible, from the extant works of antiquity." This attempt to trace a development extend- ing through long ages in its essential causes and connection was, he affirmed, a new thing in the literature of art. I am very much inclined to think, that, but for the great conception of Scaliger, 4 it was a new thing in the science of history.


1 Gesc/t. 9 Introd. xxui.

2 Winckelmann u. seinjahrh. 9 Gesch., Einleitung i. ii.

4 See p. 189 above. For suggestions of it in ancient writers see Goethe, Winckelmann u. setn Jahrhundcrt.


ART AND ITS CONDITIONS. 243


Among special points of historical significance which he treats in conformity with this idea I may mention four.

First, he observes that works of art are in their first begin- nings all formless and all alike, just as are the seeds of different plants. 1

Secondly, this acute observation enabled him to understand, in spite of appearances to the contrary, that Greek art was an independent development, not borrowed from oriental nations. This view maintains itself on the whole, through many vicissitudes, at the present day. It is admitted that in early times many technical processes, many modes of decora- tive ornamentation, and even certain detached phases of style such as that shown in the lions of Mycenae, were intro- duced by aliens or imitated from their work. But as regards the archaic sculptures which belong to the Greek develop- ment proper, it appears to be agreed that their " Egyptian" appearance indicates no foreign connection, but is simply a result of a superficial similarity of treatment in the early art of different countries.

The two further points may be introduced in Winckel- mann's own words. u The cause 2 and reason of the eminence which art attained among the Greeks is in part to be ascribed to the influence of the climate, in part to their polity and government, and the mode of thought formed by it."

Thirdly, then, in speaking of the climate * he follows up the idea which is referred to both by Plato and Aristotle, proba- bly borrowing from Herodotus, 4 that Greece occupies a medium position between Europe and Asia in climate as in other respects, and that therefore the nature of the Greeks is the finest possible ; and their bodily formation, Winckelmann subjoins, corresponded to their fortunate natural conditions. He is also well aware of the historical importance of the sub- division of Greek territory by physical obstacles, and ascribes to this cause the later development of art in Greece as con- trasted with Egypt. 5 Those who are familiar with the treatment of the climate, position, and physical conformation of Greece by modern writers, as for example by Curtius, will

1 Gesch. i. i. i.

2 Ib. iv. i. 4. 8 Ib. iv. i. 6.

4 Hdt. 3. 1 06. Plato. Rcpubl. 435 E. An, Pol. 7. 7. 1 Ib. i. i. *


244 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

feel the importance of these observations in a writer of the eighteenth century.

And, fourthly, if in speaking of the Greek political system he seems blind to its ignoble side, we must yet give him credit for the penetration and enthusiasm which enabled him, more than a century ego, to appreciate the splendid attributes of Hellenic freedom ; and we must remember that owing in great measure to him this larger sympathy for Greek life has been current in Germany ever since his day, while in Eng- land we owe it, as a general influence, to a comparatively recent interest awakened by our own political development. " In respect of the constitution and government of Greece," he says, 1 " freedom is the principal cause of the pre-eminence of their art. . . . It was freedom, 2 the mother of great events, of political changes, and of rivalry among the Greeks, that implanted as if at birth the germs of noble and lofty disposi- tions ; and just as the prospect of the immeasurable surface of the sea, and the beating of the proud waves on the cliffs of the shore, enlarges our gaze, and raises the mind above mean issues, so, in presence of such great things and persons, it was impossible to think ignobly." Recognition of 7 m ^ am c o nv i n ced that Winckelmann's theory

Phases m of beauty can only be understood in relation to eau y his history of art. He always uses abstract terms in a relative sense, with reference to the character which he desires to emphasise in one period as contrasted with another ; and thus there arise constant verbal contradictions, which do not cause the smallest perplexity to any one who reads the history continuously, but which resist every attempt to interpret the terms as indicating a system of mutually exclusive qualities.

He divides Greek art into four periods, 3 suggested by Scaliger's periods of Greek poetry.

In the earliest or "older" style, taken to begin after the formless first attempts of art, and lasting to the generation before Pheidias, the drawing was emphatic but hard, power- ful but without grace ; and the strong expression diminished the beauty. 4 This latter clause we might demur to so far as concerns the face, in which expression had hardly been at- tained. It might have more truth of the figure. Winckel- mann remarks the strange minuteness of detail with which the

1 Gtsch , iv. r. 13. * /., iv. i. 19. s /., viii 14. * 7., viii. i. 17.


THE GRAND STYLE. 245


robes are sometimes elaborated in the art of this "older" period.

The second, the "lofty" or "grand 11 style 1 arose "when the time of complete enlightenment and freedom in Greece appeared." This style, of which Winckelmann divined rather than knew the characteristics, he treated as beginning with Pheidias and including the work of Scopas, to whom he attri- buted the Niobe group. This group, and a statue of Athene then in the Villa Albani, and probably identical with one still preserved there, 2 were the only works in Rome, which means the only works known to Winckelmann in the marble, that he assigned to the period of this style. It is surprising to us that he should separate Scopas from Praxiteles, by including the former in this period and the latter in the next ; but of course there is a strong tendency when examples are scarce, to extend the limits of a division so that it may not be empty. In this high or grand style, called " grand " because the artists made grandeur and not merely beauty their principal aim, 3 Winckel- mann expected to find a certain hardness and angularity, though remarking that good drawing often seems hard to common critics both ancient and modern. 4 He constantly compares the art of this period with that of Raphael. Its char- acteristic is a lofty simplicity and unity, like that of an idea arising without help of the senses and without the labour of construction. 5 These expressions do not contain any theory of abstract idealism independent of sense-perception ; they are simply intended to reproduce the author's strong feeling of the unity and spontaneity of great art. He illustrates them by Raphael's alleged power of drawing the outline of a head for his most sacred subjects with a single stroke of the pen, that needed no subsequent correction.

It is however idle to deny that Winckelmann, being, as we may say, never on his guard, did sometimes lean to the fatal

1 " Hohe," or "grosse Stil," Gesch , vm. 2. i.

3 Professor Brunn has kindly informed me that he is of opinion that the statue referred to must be No. 1012 now m the Villa Albani, and recognisable by having a lion-skin instead of a helmet on the head. " Sie ist in der That," he adds, " ein Muster des hohen Stils." I regret that I have never seen this statue.

8 Gtsch.) viu. 2. i.

4 /., vih. 2. 3.

5 /., viii. 2. 4, " Die gleichbam unerschaffene Begnff d. Schonheit," cf. " d. Unbezeichnung," a quality of beauty, iv. 2. 23.


246 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

inference that true beauty, such as that of the high style, being one in conception, must also be capable of but one expression. This is established to demonstration by the fact that he assigns their participation in the highest beauty as a reason for the likeness between Niobe and her daughters?

The next or " beautiful " style, also treated as the style of grace, began with Praxiteles and lasted till the first successors of Alexander. It is to the preceding style as the painting of Guido to that of Raphael. We shall see directly that the grace thus spoken of is only a relative and not an absolute distinction between this and other periods of art.

Last came the manner of the imitators, due to the fact that the idea of beauty if he meant the ancient idea of beauty, the reason was a good one was exhausted and could be pushed no farther. " Therefore, art, in which as in all the operations of nature, there can be no condition of immobility, was forced to go back as it did not go forward." It is noteworthy to find the author whose principle for modern art is supposed to be " the imitation of the Greeks," laying down as an axiom that he who follows must always be behind. 2 Art, like philosophy, became eclectic, and fastened upon trifles which had been thought detrimental to style in its prime.

Winckelmann's want of sympathy for modern painting has been greatly exaggerated. It is wild to say with Schasler that he recognised no art but that of the ancient Greeks. 3 On the contrary, he recognised the principles of history as of general application, and drew the parallel, which though obvious is none the less profound, between the four periods of Greek and four of Italian art. It is true that he does not show appreciation of the Dutch school, but how hard that was, and to many minds still is ! Whereas the severity of his judgment upon later Italian painting and sculpture is only an approximation to the views accepted to-day, and his superi- ority in this respect to his age is shown by the dismay of his editors, Meyer and Schulze, at his round assertion that bad taste set in after Raphael and Michael Angelo, and that sculpture came to an end with Michael Angelo and Sanso- vino. 4 He even observes that Leonardo and Andrea del


1 Jb , vni. 2. 10.

2 "Der Nachahmer ist allezeit unter dem Nachgeahmten geblieben," vin. 3. i. Schasler, i. 209. 4 G. d. a A'., in. 3. 18, with editor's note, 1023.


CONTRADICTIONS IN WINCKELMANN. 247

Sarto, who had had little opportunity for seeing the works of the ancients, thought and worked as we must suppose the Greek painters to have done. 1

Whatever isolated expressions we may find in Winckel- mann about simple and noble beauty, which seem to confine the beautiful to the abstract and the formal, it is plain that a writer for whom the beautiful comprehended so many phases and types of expressiveness, some of them though different yet treated as co-ordinate, cannot conceivably be reckoned as narrowing the range of beauty to a single abstract type. Before proceeding to discuss his antithesis of beauty and ex- pression, I will give other instances of the contradictions which are partly reconciled by the re-adaptation of conceptions in his mind, as he discovers their relativity.

The "high" or " grand " style is, as we have seen, not the same as the " beautiful " style par excellence, but is distin- guished from it much as the "sublime," a term frequently applied to the beauty of the grand style, is usually distinguished from the " beautiful." Yet the high style is expressly said to be the style which aims at " true" beauty. 2 Thus the grand or sublime is co-ordinated with the beautiful.

Again it is the principle of the grand style to express no sensibility ; 3 but yet there is not in human nature any state free from sensibility or passion, 4 and beauty without expression would be without significance. 6 In fact then, the grand style is " the expression of a significant and eloquent silence of the soul," and is, as Plato said, the most difficult form of expression possible ; anything violent is far more easily represented. 6 Thus the absence of expression and the highest form of expression are really identified, and how natural this meeting of extremes is to Winckelmann may be shown by contrasting with the reference to Plato just mentioned, a passage in which he suggests that, as free from passion, " the idea of the highest beauty may seem to be the simplest and easiest thing, demanding no inquiry into the passions and their expres- sion." 7

The conception of grace is first introduced as distinctive of the " beautiful " style, 8 but after a short discussion it breaks up into species, of which that originally mentioned, the char-

1 G. d. a. K v. 3. 28. 2 vni. 2. 10. 8 vhi. 2. n. 4 iv. 2. 24. & v. 3. 4. 6 vih. 2. ii. 7 iv. 2. 23. 8 vni. 2. 9.


248 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

acteristic of the " beautiful " style, is to the first as the zone of Aphrodite to the beauty of Hera 1 a comparison developed by Schiller in Anmuth and Wurde. A section 2 that shortly indicates this expansion of the idea of grace is worth quoting at length :

"Of the second or more amiable grace [the distinction taken is that it is less self-contained, and appeals more con- sciously to the spectator, than the first] one may form a con- ception from the head of Leucothea in the Capitoline Museum, and for a further insight into that wherein the ancient artists held grace to consist, one should compare with these and similar heads the pictures of Correggio, the painter of grace. And then one will be convinced that from this modern grace, not seldom affected and frequently exaggerated, to the amiable grace of the ancient artists of the beautiful style, is no smaller leap than true judges of art will have seen that it is from the latter to the sublime grace of the " high " style." Here we note again how simple contrast is replaced by co-ordination. The author even applies to three types of grace the terms tragic, epic, and comic grace. 3 The third of these hardly coincides with the grace of Correggio, but rather applies to children, Fauns, Bacchantes, and such subjects, in which beauty is not completely attained. Thus we see how wide Winckelmann is prepared to throw his net. , * ^ * ^ We are partly prepared for Winckelman's

Conflict between ., r1 i i i i

Beauty and idea of the relation between beauty and expression, Expression, fofa j^y ^ general form of the co-ordinations just mentioned, and by the apparent contradiction of his views on the place of expressiveness in the highest beauty. Here, just as in the other cases, he starts with a direct antithesis. Expression is detrimental to beauty. 4 The two are opposing qualities. Beauty is in the first instance the beauty of pure form, which appears to mean the beauty of shape as exhibit- ing unity in variety, emphasis being laid on the variety, as in Hogarth. " The forms of a beautiful body are determined by lines which are constantly changing their centre, and con- sequently never form part of a circle, but are always elliptical in character and share this quality with the contour of Greek vases." 6 Expression in art, on the other hand, is the imita-

1 G. d. a. K. % via. 2. 1 6 - vm 2. 18. 3 /., sect. 20. * v. 3. 3 and 4. 6 iv. 2. 29, see p. 208 above.


BEAUTY AND EXPRESSION. 249

tion of the acting and suffering l condition of our soul and body, of passions as well as of actions ; in the widest sense it includes our action itself, in a narrower sense, merely the play of feature and gesture which accompanies the action. It is hostile to beauty, because it changes the bodily form in which beauty resides, and the greater this change is, the more detri- mental is expression to beauty. It does not occur to him as possible that expression may modify habitual forms for the better even by the standard of mere shape. The first dis- tinction as it presents itself to his mind, to be subsequently modified, is plainly that of repose as contrasted with motion. In the more theoretical books 2 of the History, which deal separately with the elements of art, Beauty is treated first, and Expression separately, afterwards.

But in spite of this abrupt antagonism between the two, we find, when we turn to the analysis of actual artistic portrayal, and to the history proper, that within the limits of beauty even in the strictest sense divine beauty there falls a great variety of types 3 each appropriate to the character and functions of the deity represented ; that the style which is called the " beautiful "par excellence is compatible with more expression than the earlier or grand style, 4 and that the grand style itself has not the beauty of a mere vase-outline or geometrical pattern, but is beautiful as the expression of a tranquil soul. 6 And thus, though according to the strict theory of formal beauty it would seem to be like pure water, best when most flavourless, and so to be an easy and simple matter, needing in the artist who is to represent it no knowledge of man nor experience of passion, 8 yet really " beauty without expression would be characterless, expression without beauty unpleasant," 7 and for the ancient artists beauty " was the tongue on the balance of expression " 8 which was thus weighed out with extreme nicety, being for this is plainly the sum of the whole an element at once essential to beauty, and tending to destroy it.

There can be no doubt that as a matter of general theory

1 We must not translate " leidenden " by " passive," for the point is that signs of being acted on are shown. It more nearly = " in passion." The con- nection between " passion " and " passive " is one of the most curious points in word-history.

3 Books iv. and v. 8 Books iv., v., vm. 4 vni. 2 19.

5 vm. 2. ii. ' iv. 2. 23. 7 v 3 4 8 Ib.


25O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

Winckelmann leaves us in this intolerable contradiction, which Goethe himself rather acquiesced in than resolved. But Winckelmann's distinctive work was that of a historian, and it is not hard to see how in the concrete the matter forced itself upon his mind.

He unquestionably started from the antique or abstract notion of beauty, as unity and variety manifested in the form, that is, the shape, of works belonging to the lesser arts, and of the human figure. This theory of beauty does not really account for anything more complex than our pleasure in a geometrical pattern or the shape of a vase or moulding. It is, strictly speaking, inadequate even to the simplest apprecia- tion of the human face and figure, and lends itself to the confusion, into which Winckelmann in one passage quite unquestionably fell, 1 by which there is supposed to be only one beautiful form, single and invariable all reference to indivi- duality being excluded and this is consequently identified with the conception of beauty, which, like every intellectual conception, is single and self-identical. We are not, however, to connect this passing delusion with the constant reference to ideal beauty, as though the ideal for him essentially con- sisted in this abstract conception mistakenly identified with a single invariable shape. On the contrary, the term " ideal " always implies in Winckelmann the exercise of educated per- ception upon experience, his doctrine being based on the ancient notion that supreme beauty could only be attained by combining the partial beauties of nature. 2 He knows that " ideal " forms, i.e. forms modified by the observer's mental activity, need not be beautiful; and he thinks 3 that Guiclo's " ideal " archangel, portrayed, according to the artist's account, after a mental image superior to experience, is much less beautiful than persons whom he has seen in reality, and betrays defective observation of nature. Thus the concep- tion of ideal beauty does not to tend to narrow his doctrine, but to widen it.

Now his primary tendency was no doubt to identify this mere beauty of shape, which implies repose simply because motion would involve change of outline, with the beauty or sublimity of the grand style, and we see him arguing with himself in the famous comparison with pure water 4 whether

1 See p. 246 above. 2 iv. 2. 35. 3 Ib. 4 See p. 249 above.


CO-ORDINATE TYPES OF BEAUTY. 251

this can really be the case. But looking at the concrete, and arguing back from the phases of more pronounced expression, he sees that this is impossible, and that the grand style is expressive of one state of the soul, if the beautiful style is expressive of others. And indeed, if the grand style is cognate with formal beauty through its simplicity, the beautiful style is so no less through its variety and charm of curvature, so that we get the contradictory but intelligible result which has been mentioned, viz., that true beauty the beauty of the grand style falls outside the distinctively beautiful style, while the factor hostile to beauty reaches its maximum in the style of which beauty is the distinctive attribute. Thus he breaks away from the view which would have been the natural conclusion from his premisses. He does not find that beauty is in inverse ratio to expression ; and he shows conclusively that in the concrete the two are never divorced, and that beauty breaks up into kinds and types in accordance with the mental content from which it issues. Though he fails to reduce the two elements to a common denomination, and they remain an- tagonistic in theory, he has done all that is necessary, in the realm of plastic art, to exhibit that correspondence between phases of the beautiful and the development of its content which holds a chief place among the data of modern aesthetic. It was thus that Winckelmann succeeded " in furnishing the mind with a new organ and new methods of study in the field of art." 1 This judgment of Hegel appears to be based upon that of Goethe, who speaks of his Gewahrwerden der Griechischen Kunst (his Finding of Greek Art*)\ and it is happy for the English reader that for him too, as I have already mentioned, the memory of Winckelmann is enshrined in a work 3 that belongs to our finest critical literature. Data not utilised vii. Our account of the data of modern aesthetic by tue critics. ma y f lt jy c i ose at t hj s point We have not at- tempted to take into our view those phenomena of art which had not been drawn into the focus of critical theory. We have said little or nothing about painting and music. Except through the suggestive paradoxes of Diderot the former of


  • Hegel, Aesth. Introd., E. Tr. p. 120.

2 Cf. Goethe, Winckelinann u. sein Jahrhundert, and Pater, Renaissance, Essay on Winckelmann.

3 Pater's Renaissance.


252 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

these distinctively modern arts was thus far hardly recognised by criticism as having a separate existence, nor does anything in the aesthetic reflection of the eighteenth century before Goethe suggest to us that Bach and Handel lived in the first half, and Gluck, Haydn, and Mozart in the second half of that period. Before theory could deal with what was native and familiar, it had to follow the toilsome clue afforded by the inheritance of the past, because it had been brought up to believe that there alone lay the treasure house of beauty. But the treasure was found to be hidden at our own door, and in following the clue we have passed from abstract to concrete antitheses. Before Lessing and Winckelmann we were in a dim half-light of tradition and empty formula, but after their labours we are in the bright and populous thoroughfare of human life, which binds the ages together. This idea finds general expression in Lessing's treatise, On the Education of the Human Race (1780). And an antithesis concretely conceived is ripe for solution ; and the solution of a pre- dominant antithesis carries with it the due organisation of a hundred other issues, which could not find their places till the main framework was fitted together. Thus music, and landscape painting, and Gothic architecture, and lyric poetry, all of which were little noted by those who laid ready the materials for the building of aesthetic philosophy, soon fell into their places when the great master-thinkers came to draw the ground plan. _ .. + . viii. A few facts may be added, by way of con-

i&uloatioiiB .. . i i -11 i i

of a elusion, to point out how, historically speaking, the Tranaition. ^^ were brought face to face with the problem and passed into the concrete theory.

The year 1764, which saw the publication of Winckelmann' s History of Ancient Formative Art, saw also the publication of Kant's Observations upon the feeling of the Sublime and Beautiful. In 1768, the year which Winckelmann did not survive, Herder, a youth of twenty-four, dissatisfied with Lessing's Literaturbriefe which were before him, gave voice l to the need for another Winckelmann, who should apply in the sphere of Greek poetry and philosophy the new concep- tion of organic and scientific history which had been inaugu- rated in the field of plastic art ; in 1773, Goethe produced

1 Herder, Fiagmentt zur Deutschen Literatur, Sammlung, 2, c. iv.


ROMANCE AND NATURALISM.


Gotz von Berlichingen, the issue, monstrous in Lessing's eyes, of Lessing's own Shakespearian revolt, and also, more im- portant still, the incomparable little essay on the architecture of Strasburg Cathedral, which fairly raised the banner at once of " Gothic " art and characteristic expression. * About 1775 Diderot's Essay on Painting 2 was written, marking almost the end of his long activity as a critic of contemporary painting, and beginning with the famous aphorism, Nature is never incor- rect. Diderot might be called a preacher of romantic natural- ism, as indeed throughout the time of these earlier antitheses, the two elements of romance and naturalism, which later sprang into polar opposition, formed a single extreme in the contrast with classical and mannered formalism ; and it is probable that the essential inter-dependence of romance and naturalism, or symbolism and imitation, the reason for which has been explained in an earlier chapter, 3 has never permitted, and will never permit, their opposition to have the fundamental char- acter which is sometimes ascribed to it. I imagine, therefore, that Diderot's contention that all in Nature is " correct " be- cause it is necessary in the economy of the whole, has a pro- founder bearing upon art than Goethe is disposed to allow. The issue whether beauty is hostile to necessity in principle, or only for our imperfect vision of the reasonable, belongs to the aesthetic of ugliness, and can only be dealt with in that connection. That up to a limit which appears to be capable of practically indefinite expansion, the works of natural neces- sity have been and are being transferred from the category of the ugly to that of the beautiful is a mere matter of every-day experience. Whether this practically indefinite expansion is theoretically without an end we cannot discuss just now.

In 1781 there occurred three events of the greatest signifi- cance in the history of aesthetic. The death of Lessing severed the last link between the old and new, the Latin and the Greek Renaissance ; the publication of Schiller's Rauber continued the inauguration of the genius-period a reaction which was to Lessing almost as Lessing had been to Gott- sched ; and the appearance of the Critique of Pure Reason

1 Werke, xxv. i. First published with Herder and Moser in Deutschen Art u. Kunst. .

2 Translated by Goethe in 1805 rather as a contribution to aesthetic history, and as a basis for his own comments, than as retaining substantive value.

3 See p. 158, and reff.


254 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

began the philosophical revolution which the problem and the data of aesthetic were destined to complete by their fusion. And when the Kritik der Urtheilskraft was produced in 1 790, the philosophical problem was solved in the abstract, as we shall endeavour to make clear in the following chapter ; and this abstract solution only needed a concrete development to become both a genuine philosophy of art, and an important influence upon future speculation in general.

Thus Goethe and Schiller, who are of course in one aspect immediate descendants of Lessing and Winckelmann, may most conveniently be treated after and not before the Kantian aesthetic has been considered. Both of them were to some extent Schiller very profoundly affected by Kant's ideas ; and moreover the full weight of aesthetic knowledge and expression inherited by them and their contemporaries from the movement which I have been attempting to describe, was brought to bear on philosophy not before but after Kant had, almost independently, formulated the issues of aesthetic. We shall therefore be following the true nexus of events by treat- ing first of Kant, then of Schiller, Goethe, and others with reference to the eventful decade between 1790 and 1800, and after that we shall be able without further interruption to follow the stream of aesthetic speculation which springs from the union of Kant's abstract aesthetic with the appreciation of art and workmanship as an utterance of the human spirit and as sharing its evolution.

a (p 242). The point is clearly made by David Hume in the Treatise of ftuman Nature (1739), Book II. Part in. Sect 8. This is prior to Burke or I^ord Kaimes.


CHAPTER X.

KANT THE PROBLEM BROUGHT TO A FOCUS.

Hit Relation to I- ^he ^ ata ^ m dern aesthetic, described in the Problem the preceding: chapter, produced no considerable

and the Data. /-/- T * i t i T T 11

effect upon Kants philosophy. His work lay wholly in the path of metaphysical speculation, and before its point of junction with the concrete evolutionary idea. The his- tory of thought can show no more dramatic spectacle than that of this great intellectual pioneer beating out his track for forty years in the wilderness of technical philosophy, and bringing his people at last to the entrance upon a new world of free and humanizing culture, which, so far as we can tell, he never thoroughly made his own.

We must remember that although Kant published his most famous works after the death of Lessing, and therefore long after the death of Winckelmann, yet he was born (1724) five years earlier than the former and only seven years after the latter. The title of his first work on esthetic, Observations on the feeling of the Sublime and Beaittiful, seems to show that Burke's Essay (1756) had been instrumental in drawing his attention to the subject ; and its date (1764) being earlier than that of Winckelmann's " History/' and earlier than chat of the Laocoon. indicates that his aesthetic interest had taken its bent before the new renaissance had well begun. His great aesthetic treatise of 1790, The Critique of the Power of Judgment, follows this same division into the Sublime and the Beautiful, and while explicitly referring to Burke's Essay indicates no interest whatever in the contem- porary movement of archaeology and art-criticism. We trace in it indeed here and there an idea drawn from Rousseau, or find an observation of De Saussure ; but these are exceptions that prove the rule, for, wide as his reading was, Kant pre- ferred to rely on facts of nature and humanity freshly observed, whether by himself or others, rather than on secondary theory dealing with books and art.


256 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

His inquiries into the beautiful may thus have assumed their immediate form owing to suggestions in Burke and similar writers, and could not but show traces of the ideas fermenting around him. But the conditions that invested these inquiries with supreme importance at this particular crisis were not de- rived from preceding or contemporary art-theory, but from that movement of general philosophy which I have en- deavoured to depict as determining the " problem of modern aesthetic." It was after Kant had brought into suggestive order the factors of this movement, using as a chief instrument in the work the ideas of the beautiful and the sublime, that an extraordinarily rapid and fortunate succession of great minds re-organised the data of art and learning by the help of his conceptions, and thus founded in one of its forms the concrete idealism which really governs alike the aesthetic and the meta- physic of the nineteenth century. The resolution of the given antithesis between the mediaeval and the antique the mar- riage of Faust and Helena from which there sprang the completed modern spirit, was performed in great part inde- pendently of philosophy proper, and was taken into the sweep of metaphysical speculation at a point subsequent to the com- pletion of Kant's system, by which the same antithesis had been resolved in other and more abstract forms.

Place of the 2 " ^ n ^ s lifel n g labour for the re-organisation ^Esthetic Problem of philosophy, Kant may be said to have aimed at

in his System, i i* i i- i i

three cardinal points, dictated to him by the con- verging movements of thought in the focus of which he placed himself First, he desired to justify the conception of a natural order ; secondly, the conception of a moral order ; and thirdly, the conception of compatibility between the natural and the moral order. The first of these problems was imposed upon him by Hume, and formed the substance of the Critique of Pure Reason ; the second was a legacy from the Wolffian school, and was treated in the Critique of Practical Reason ; the third necessarily arose out of the relation between the other two, emphasised by the distinctively modern recognition, which eighteenth century enlightenment exaggerated, that the sentient and intelligent individual has indefeasible claims both of sense and of rational freedom. And although the formal compatibility of nature and reason had been established by Kant, as he believed, in the negative demarcation between them which the two first Critiques expounded, it was inevitable


THE " CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON." 257


that he shouM subsequently be led on to suggest some more positive conciliation. This attempt was made in the Critique of the Power cf Judgment, published in 1790, a date to be remembered in connection with the remarkable literary history of the following decade.

The import of the two earlier Critiques may be indicated in popular language, simply and solely in order to explain Kant's relation to aesthetic theory, somewhat as follows.

When we examine the system of the physical sciences with reference to its logical texture, we at once become aware that in spite of its immense variety of object- matter it is permeated by certain common characteristics which appear inseparable from its intellectual existence. Such are, in modern phrase, the law of the uniformity of nature in its most formal render- ing, and the law of Sufficient Reason with its sub-form the law of Causation, not to speak of the more sensuous abstractions of space and time. The use of these principles, by whatever name we call them, is found to be merely another name for the use of our own intelligence and perception, and, apart from the theory of mind, we are not in the habit of asking questions as to where we get them or by what right we apply them. If challenged on the subject to-day we should probably attempt to show, resting our demonstration upon the analysis of knowledge, that we cannot do the work of science without some such principles, and that we find no warrant in experi- ence for the notion, which is implied in questioning their validity, that some alternative is open to us by which, dis- carding them, we might arrive at less artificial elements of knowledge.

Now this mode of argument, which expresses the result on our minds of such an attempt as that made by Mill to demon- strate the postulates of experience, seems to correspond with the substance of the Critique of Pure Reason, when stripped of the technical details and qualifications which arose out of the peculiar speculative conditions of the time.

Taken quite strictly, however, such an argument carries us but a short way. The vital relation in which it places intelligence to the matter of perception is very narrowly circumscribed It leaves us in an intolerable perplexity as regards the element of experience over which we have no control the element in physical reality which is undeter- mined and unexplained by the formal postulates of intelli-


258 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


gence. We see that natural knowledge, in as far as it comes to us at all, forms itself by necessary processes into a concep- tion of parts dependent upon one another in endless succession and co-existence. What we do not see is any ground whatever for supposing that the natural reality thus brought before our minds, a reality which is taken to include our own sentient and emotional nature, is in any way bound to continue in accord with our intelligence, or in the smallest degree to take account of our moral or eudaemonistic requirements.

In knowledge thus limited to the necessary interconnection of parts, within a system not known and not justifiably to be divined as a whole, we have the operation of what Kant chose to call the Understanding, which we may interpret to our- selves by comparing it with the " eye of science," for which no catastrophe either moral or material is disorder, so long as its factors are taken to be connected according to the law of Causation. 1 The Critique of Pure Reason is a demonstration that theoretical knowledge is limited to this " Understanding" as operative within the sphere of possible perception. The whole can be known only in its parts and not as a whole. Therefore the Reason, or that aspect of thought in which it implies, for every part, a whole to which it must be related and in which its import must lie, has no strictly theoretical function, and cannot be the source of any theoretical proposi- tions. It has no place within perceptive experience, 2 for the whole as a whole cannot appear there ; nor outside perceptive experience, for how could definite knowledge of the whole come into being in a region where there is ex hypothesi^ no perception of the parts ? Ideas of the Reason, therefore, that is ideas concerning the nature of the universe as a whole, such as those of God and Freedom, are incapable of theoretical verification, whether within perceptive experience or beyond it. For pure theory gives us a world jf natural

1 See Prof Huxley (Contemp. Review , February, 1887) quoted and criti- cised in the author's Logic^ li. 214.

2 I omit at this point the " regulative " application of Ideas of Reason to knowledge, by which the inquirer is led to look for so much material order in the objects of knowledge as may make science possible, though he must not assert theoretically that there is such order. This principle is in fact a material postulate of knowledge, parallel to Mill's " Uniformity " if inter- preted to mean not merely " A is A " but " knowledge is possible," and being inserted in the Critique of Pure Reason is a modification of Kant's dualism ab imtio


"CRITIQUE OF THE PRACTICAL REASON." 259

necessity, and outside it nothing can be with theoretical definiteness affirmed or denied.

The abstract distinction between the whole and the part in thinking being once assumed, this conclusion is inevitable. If we ask why the Understanding apart from the Reason did not show itself as empty a fiction as the Reason apart from the Understanding, the answer is that in approaching any system through a study of its parts we insensibly subordinate them to a makeshift or imperfect whole, such, for example, as the universe taken to be a physical reality endless in space and time. Thus we are able to order our experiences pro- visionally, and leave out of sight the difficulties which attach to their aspect of totality. Hence it has been said by Hegel with practical truth, '* Understanding without Reason is some- thing, Reason without Understanding is nothing." We need not plume ourselves to-day on seeing through the impossi- bility of Kant's abstraction, until we are quite sure that we have ourselves understood how all necessary connection must be founded in the relation of part to part within some given reality.

So far then, except for the regulative use of the ideas of Reason within experience, we have a purely negative demar- cation between the world of natural necessity and the world of rational freedom. Plainly, Reason is at work in the con- ception of both worlds, but in forms at first sight incom- patible.

In the Critique of the Practical Reason we find the com- plementary side of the demarcation. We all know that in order to live at all we must assume, whether we profess them or not, certain simple articles of faith, say, that food will nourish, that language will retain its meaning, that men will not turn to tigers without cause or warning, and in short that the acts necessary to be done are also possible. From some such elementary standpoint we may take a fairly appreciative view of Kant's Practical Reason, which has been so ridicu- lously parodied. As a being with a will, man cannot avoid putting before him certain aims and principles of conduct. Now conduct issues out into the world of physical reality, and is in fact, as we now recognise, through the human organism, in the closest correspondence with that world and its necessi- ties. But according to the principles of the former Critique we can make no theoretical propositions whatever about the


260 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

possibility or impossibility of realising man's will within the world of physical reality, nor, therefore, about the existence of God, nor the truth of Freedom and Immortality. Neverthe- less these unaffirmed ideas of the Reason, under which it envisages the nature of the universe as a whole having a unity beyond perceptive experience, are capable of guiding the human being in his practical attitude to life. He is not to say how, though he may say that their objects are real ; but he is to make it his aim to realise life in accordance with them. Thus, if we translate the essence of the matter into modern terms, we find that the appeal is simply to the moral order as found to be practically realisable in the moral life. This alone the moral life as a meeting-point of reason and nature which displays their compatibility in act is what we should call a reality. Such a view should not be unintelligible to- day, for in spite of its self-contradictions it is very widely held. Those who, believing in a universe that as a whole is in no way relevant to any rational end, nevertheless think it practically certain that morality is possible and life, with its implied reference to a nobler earthly future, is worth living, are in a position to appreciate Kant's doctrine of the Practical Reason.

The separate worlds of Nature and of Freedom were thus established on the strength of two distinguishable orders of facts the facts of science and those of the moral life and all proof of their incompatibility was supposed to be rendered impossible by the strict negative demarcation between them, that is, by a necessity of ignorance.

It was not likely that such a position would be acquiesced in without an attempt to complete it by a reconciliation be- tween the two worlds. The need could not be more strik- ingly stated than in the following passage from the introduc- tion to the Critique of the Power of Judgment.

" There 1 is thus a gulf which we cannot see across between the territory of the conception of Nature, that is, the sensuous, and the territory of the conception of Freedom, that is, the supra-sensuous, so that from the former to the latter (by means, that is to say, of the theoretical use of Reason) there is no passage possible, just as if they were two different worlds of which the former can have no influence on the

1 Kritikd. Urtheihkraft, Werke, 4 14.


"CRITIQUE OF THE POWER OF JUDGMENT." 26 1

latter. Nevertheless the latter ought to have an influence on the former, that is to say, the conception of Freedom ought to realise within the world of sense the aim imposed by its laws ; and consequently, Nature must be thought of in such a way that the law-abidingness of its form may be com- patible at least with the possibility of the ends, imposed by laws of freedom, which are to be effected within it., Therefore there must after all be a ground of the unity of the supra- sensuous which lies at the root of Nature with that which the conception of Freedom practically contains a ground the conception of which, although unable to attain cognition of it (the ground) either in theory or in practice, and therefore possessing no peculiar territory, nevertheless makes possible a transition from the mode of thinking dictated by the principles of the one world to that dictated by the principles of the other world."

To be the meeting point of these two worlds, the repre- sentative of reason in the world of sense, and of sense in the world of reason, is the high position which Kant is here preparing to assign to the content of the aesthetic and teleo- logical judgment. This content coincides, as we shall see, with the sublime and beautiful in reality and in art, and the products of organic nature. The pre-eminent importance thus assigned to real objects in which an idea seems indissol- ubly embodied, was the germ from which concrete idealism was to spring.

3. The reasons for finding the required meet- Jodgme^liftte 5 ing-point in the exercise of the power of judgment Ani ftSbiiSn tl1 * soun d very strange in Kant's technical language. The power of Judgment, he says, is the connecting link between the Understanding and the Reason, as the feeling of pleasure and pain is between the faculties of knowledge and of desire (will). The power of judgment is reflective, not determinant, and prescribes to itself the conception of purpo- siveness in nature, as if nature in all its variety had had a unity imposed upon it by an Intelligence, such as to conform to our cognition. This conformity to our cognition or power of apprehension produces when perceived a feeling of pleasure wholly distinct from that which belongs to conformity with our desires. This feeling of pleasure is the predicate in the aesthetic judgment, and being pleasure in the presentation of an object by reason of its form only, is universal though sub-


262 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

jective. When the predicate is not a feeling of pleasure but a relation to the idea of an end, then we have the teleolo- gical and not the aesthetic judgment.

Omitting the question of teleological judgment, we may paraphrase this technical exposition as follows. Every judg- ment may be regarded as placing parts in relation to a whole. Although, if we separate the Understanding and the Reason, there cannot but be Judgment in each of them ; yet, in fact, as we have seen, this separation except as a matter of degree, is pure fiction. What is meant therefore by the intermediacy of the power of Judgment between Understanding and Reason is merely that all judgment is synthesis, and therefore judg- ment par excellence, in its most central types, always has a tendency to gather up the relations of parts, which are sup- posed to be the sphere of the Understanding, in subordination to a unity or totality, which is supposed to correspond to the point of view emphasised by " Reason." And such a unity of parts undoubtedly shades off by degrees into a working con- ception of purposiveness, as is sufficiently shown by consider- ing the great predominance of the idea of purpose in the determination of the significant names applied to what we call " things." * It is doubtful if the conception of an individual " thing " would exist apart from organic and artificial products. It is natural therefore to give the title of Judgment emphatic- ally to the perception of characteristic form in objects, as at least a notable case of the synthesis of parts into a whole. It is thus that the power of Judgment is taken to be inter- mediate between Understanding and Reason, .and to assume the idea of purposiveness for the inseparable or a priori principle that guides its reflections.

The feeling of pleasure and pain, again, is regarded as a connecting link between the faculty of cognition and that of will or desire, apparently because it is a characteristic which is commonly associated with action or practical interest, and when found as mere pleasure and pain, i.e., as free from such interest or satisfaction, is regarded as a half-way house between action and theory. The discussion at some points 1 reminds us of Aristotle's reference to the pleasure which we feel in the sheer activity of recognition. But Kant means more than this. He means that a conformity is brought to

1 Etnlcitung, Sect. vi.


THE AESTHETIC PARADOXES. 263

light between the perception of the object and the faculties of the subject, such that the subject is harmoniously affected in respect of the relation between fancy and understanding. We must assume this to mean that the image presented to fancy or pictorial perception in some way meets the needs, or accommodates itself to the rules of the understanding. Our difficulty is here and will be throughout to see how the in- dividualities of different beautiful objects are allowed for by these formulae. Are different harmonies of fancy and under- standing correlative to different types of beauty ?

Thus aesthetic pleasure combines the characteristics of desire and knowledge, as the nature of judgment combines in the idea of purposiveness those of the reason (unity) and the understanding (diversity or dissociation). This seems to be why the " aesthetic judgment " is selected as the guide to the required meeting-point of Nature and Freedom, Under- standing and Reason, the sensuous and the intelligible.

The intermediate position of the aesthetic judgment is strikingly exhibited in the four paradoxes, corresponding to the four heads of categories employed in the Critique of Pure Reason, by which Kant determines its essence. We will place these paradoxes side by side.

In Quality, the Judgment of Taste is aesthetic ; that is to say, the pleasure which forms its predicate, is apart from all interest. Interest is defined to be pleasure in the idea of the existence of an object. It is contrasted with pleasure in the mere presentation or sensuous idea of the object. Thus the beautiful is at once sharply distinguished from the pleasant and the good, which correspond to the lower and higher forms of the appetitive faculty. For in both its forms the appetitive faculty involves an " interest.' 1

In the Quantity and Modality of the judgment of taste the beautiful is considered as the object of a pleasure which is universal and necessary, but without the intervention of a re- flective idea. For this reason the universality and necessity are both of them subjective and not objective. I have ranked these two points together, though Kant does not, because according to modern logic we hardly care to dis- tinguish between Quantity and Modality or between Univer- sality and Necessity.

In the Quantity of the judgment beauty is distinguished from the pleasant and the good ; from the pleasant by its


264 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

universality for we demand agreement in the judgment of beauty, though there is no disputing about tastes in food or drink and from the good by the absence of a reflective idea. These distinctions are not repeated under the head of Moda- lity. The result would plainly be the same.

In respect of the Relation which the judgment of taste implies, the beautiful is the form of purposiveness in an object, in as far as this can be perceived without the idea of an end. Once more then, the beautiful is separated from the pleasant, which involves a distinct subjective purpose ; and from the good, because this involves the idea of an end, whether external to the object as in the case of utility, or immanent in the object as in the case of perfection. Perfec- tion, therefore, even when confusedly thought, is not as the Wolffian school supposed, the same as the beautiful, but is different in kind. We cannot ascribe perfection to an object, however confusedly, without applying to it, as the standard of judgment, some idea of an end.

The "form of purposiveness" lies primarily, for Kant, in a harmonious relation to our faculties of imagination and understanding, so that we are not sure at first sight whether to take it to be purely accidental or to depend on that appear- ance of organic unity in an object which is suggested to us by such a phrase as "purposiveness without a purpose." It seems worth while to reproduce the note which shows how Kant himself understood his paradox.

"It 1 might be adduced as an example that tells against this explanation (of beauty), that there are things in which we^see a purposive form without recognising a purpose in them for instance, the stone instruments found in ancient tumuli, with a hole in them as if for a handle, whose shape clearly shows a purposiveness the actual purpose of which we do not know which nevertheless are not called beautiful. But the fact that we regard them as productions of art [sic, we must take it to mean industrial art] is enough to force us to admit that we refer their shape to some purpose and to a definite end. So there is absolutely no immediate pleasure in the perception of them. But a flower, for instance a tulip, is considered beautiful, because a certain purposiveness is found in the perception of it, which is not, within our act of judging, re-

1 Krit. d. Urtheilskraft, p. 87 footnote.


THE AESTHETIC CONSCIOUSNESS. 265

ferred to any end." It appears then, that the harmony of perception depends on a perception of harmony, although no explicit proposition can be made about the objective nature of the latter.

The place and nature of the aesthetic consciousness is finally determined for philosophy by these four paradoxes. Only they set down the judgment of taste as "subjective/' a limitation which it remained for Kant's successors explicitly to remove.

Demarcation of * The aesthetic consciousness has now received Bathetic con- its final negative definition. It is plainly marked off from the region of abstract intelligence on the one hand, and from that of sensuous gratification and moral satisfaction on the other If the latter pair of contrasts, those between aesthetic interest and the two forms of practical in- terest, depend on a common-sense distinction (between exist- ence and appearance) which is not easily translated into exact psychical terms, it will be found that Kant himself furnishes the indication by which the antithesis can be made good. The peculiarity of aesthetic interest, which presented such difficulties to the greatest of the ancients, has never been mistaken by serious thinkers since thus trenchantly formu- lated by Kant. We may fairly assent to Hegel's verdict, when he finds in the introduction to the Critique of the Power of Judgment "the first rational word concerning beauty." 1

Positive Essence " Moreover, the aesthetic consciousness is ofJEBtnetie now recognised in its positive essence as the

Consciousness / % * 1 1 t

meeting-point of sense and reason. All that we have thus far learnt about it has pointed to this conclusion, but Kant, with his usual calm audacity, was the first to lay down the principles which felicitously describe our everyday experience of the beautiful, while in the light of abstract metaphysic they appear to be the flattest self-contradictions. A feeling of pleasure which has no relation to practical inte- rest, which depends on the purposiveness of a perceived con- tent, and lays claim to universality and necessity, though


1 Hist, of Philosophy, in. 543. He has just quoted the sentence, " An object is beautiful, the form of which (not the material element, *>., sensa- tion-stimulus, of its perception) is judged to be the ground of the pleasure taken in the image of such an object."


266 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


remaining all the time a pure feeling, wholly free from explicit conceptions of purpose or class or antecedent and consequent, 1 such a feeling is a sheer impossibility alike to a sensationalist and to an intellectualist philosophy. It is not a clarified form of sense-gratification ; it is not a confused idea of perfection ; these are merely efforts to explain it upon wholly inadequate bases. It is bond fide feeling, and bond fide reasonable. Such is the paradox which Kant propounds. It involves a hopeless " no thoroughfare," unless there is a unity, not accidental but inherent, between feeling, sense, or nature on the one hand, and reason, intelligence, or freedom on the other.

its iii. But upon all these other contradictions he

"Subjectivity." SU p er i m p OSes a limitation which ostensibly with- draws the sense of beauty from the central position which at first sight he is supposed to claim for it. We are to bear in mind throughout that the judgment of taste is " subjective." The very phrase " judgment of taste" points to the partly British ancestry of Kant's doctrine, and to the sensationalist and empirical prejudices out of which he had to raise the whole question. The " judgment of taste" contributes in no way to cognition. It simply expresses a felt harmony in the play of our own powers on occasion of a certain per- ception. I have already touched on the issue how far the felt harmony in us implies a harmony in the object. At first sight however, and in his general language, Kant guards himself most anxiously against any such inference. We con- stantly meet with such expressions as " the universal sub- jective validity of the pleasure which we attach to the .idea of an object which we call beautiful." How can a feeling that has universal validity remain subjective in the sense which excludes objective? Is not the whole idea a pure self-con- tradiction ? Yet there was no going back. Kant was right to be tenacious of his point. Beauty is subjective ; it exists in and for a percipient and not otherwise. But its subjectivity is no bar to its being objective as well. Kant says this in effect, but not in set terms. When it was said, the limitation of abstract subjectivity was removed, and the two worlds of dualistic tradition had their frontiers broken down.

Thus far we see the Judgment of Taste recognised as a

1 Necessity is the relation of antecedent and consequent in judgment, " If A, then B."


THE JUDGMENT OF TASTE. 267


mental phenomenon carrying a number of contradictory at- tributes, only to be conciliated by assumptions which we may suggest, but cannot affirm, much less demonstrate. We have now to observe the development of this recognition, first in the hands of Kant himself and then in those of his suc- cessors, into the conception of a concrete unity, demonstrated by aesthetic science in the appreciative and productive sense of beauty, and by other philosophic methods in the history of nature and man. The immanence of the idea in reality is the root of objective idealism, and of this immanence the aesthetic perception furnishes the simplest and most striking example, conflict of Ab. 4. Kant's starting-point in aesthetic theory was,

atract and Con- i i i /- i i

crete in Kant/a as we have seen, the judgment of taste, which Bathetic depends upon a de facto conformity between the percipient and that which is perceived. Here we have the common germ of an aesthetic of feeling and an Aesthetic of pure form, two abstract extremes which are really inseparable. The unanalysed datum of disinterested pleasure in certain perceptions is an aspect of the unanalysed datum that certain perceptions give disinterested pleasure. These views, by their common opposition to discursive rationalism in aesthetic judgment, have the merit of vindicating the immediateness of aesthetic perception ; but by confusing this concrete immediate- ness with the absence of any significance that can be analysed by theory, they condemn the beautiful to absolute bareness of character and import.

So long as Kant is absolutely true to his principle that without abstract conceptions there can be no objective judg- ment, and that beauty can involve no abstract conceptions, it follows that the pleasure of beauty, though possessing the formal attributes of reason disinterestedness, universality, necessity is yet ex hypothesi destitute of content, that is to say, destitute of any definite implication as to the positive im- port of those forms, on the contemplation of which aesthetic pleasure arises.

Now Kant never brings himself to admit that the judgment of taste can be objective, but he tampers to some extent with both of the principles which prevent him from admitting it. Without asserting that there can be objective judgment in the absence of definite abstract ideas, he admits a pregnant im- port into the form of beauty, through its relation to indefinite


  • 68 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

ideas j 1 without admitting that taste can involve intellectual conceptions, he both qualifies it as an organ of communicable feeling, and distinguishes its higher forms by close association with objective and abstract ideas. It is only for the sake of his thesis that he sets down the judgment of taste, when thus associated, as " impure."

Isolated tones and colours raise the difficulty at once. Have they aesthetic form ? If they have, in what can it be said to consist ? If they have not, their claim to beauty, as distinct from sensuous pleasantness, is annihilated. And in this latter case an exceedingly hazardous Sorites is received into the theory. If there are isolated sensations, such as enter into the beautiful, which have only pleasantness and no beauty, where does beauty begin to arise out of pleasantness ?

Kant is prepared in some degree to assign pregnant form to simple tones and colours. This is the first lodgment effected by concrete import within his abstract judgment of taste. They are beautiful, he says, only because and in so far as they are//r, which he explains as meaning free from per- turbation by mixture. Mixed colours and tones, he actually ventures to say, are not (in this sense) beautiful. This ex- planation, which reminds us of Plato, would not bear interpre- tation either by physical analysis or by direct perception. The eye and ear do not necessarily tell us which colours and sounds have the most uniform physical causes ; nor, if either sense or science detects a mixture of tones or spectrum colours, do we necessarily judge that mixture to be devoid of aesthetic purity, much less of aesthetic beauty. Would, any unbiassed perception select a primary colour (red, green, or violet) or the tone of a tuning-fork (one of the few sounds that are fairly free from harmonics) as a type of purity ?

It is perhaps some consciousness of this difficulty that drives Kant to a further suggestion, which in a modified shape has still a tendency to revive. Perhaps, he suggests, the rhythmical pulsations, which are the exciting cause 2 of tones and colours, may not merely have their effect on the organ of sense, but be actually perceived by the mind (which Kant " still greatly doubts "). In that case colour and tone


1 See Antinomic d. Geschmacks> and its solution, K. d. /., 213 ff. 8 Kant refers to Euler for the physical theory.


PURITY. 269

have formal quality as unities of a manifold, and thus are beautiful in their own right.

It can hardly be doubted that the unity, or unity in diver- sity, in which Kant thus endeavours to find the form of simple perceptions, has in his mind a reference to the conception of totality, which is an idea of the reason going beyond experi- ence, and therefore indefinite for knowledge, though regulative for practice. We shall see that aesthetic ideas are in his view pendants to ideas of Reason.

But he is not quite sure whether this doctrine of significant form will work, and is partly inclined to abandon the beauty of colour as such, and to treat it as merely an ocular stimulus that enhances the visibility and value of line. Here we pass into a confusion between metaphysical " form " as the relation of parts in a significant whole, and " form " as the shape of visible bodies. It is plain that form in the metaphysical and aesthetic sense includes the harmonies of colour-composition, no less than those of linear or solid contour.

If we grant, what is very doubtful, that single tones or colours can ever be considered in their isolation, their aesthetic quality as thus isolated depends upon a great variety of subtle suggestions, 1 among which the idea of purity is only one, being a species of unity in variety, and not arising from the mere fact of such unity. Ruskin's account of purity 8 shows how much definite significance this idea contains. The above is a typical case of Kant's vacillation between safe adherence to the abstract datum of aesthetic pleasure, and the sense that if he cannot find a content for it, his doctrine of form becomes inane.

The case which in Plato ranks along with single tones and colours, that of very elementary geometrical figures, is rejected from the sphere of beauty by Kant. The abstract conception is too nearly implied in them, he thinks, to harmonise with the unreflective character of beauty. Here again he shows a needless dread of a specific content. The abstract conception behind them, so to speak, cannot prevent them from affording a slight degree of aesthetic pleasure to direct perception, in virtue of their presentation of certain qualities.

1 See Baldwin Brown, The Fine Arts, Sect. 98. Kant himself develops the moral meaning which we find in colours and tones, " Courage, joyful ness," etc.

2 Mod. Painters, vol. li. p 73 ff.


27O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Further, the doctrine 1 of free and dependent beauty, the latter including the ideal, exhibits in a striking light the diffi- culty which pressed upon Kant when he tried to associate a positive import with the judgment of taste.

" Free " beauty rests on no definite conception, and the judgment of taste that appreciates it is pure. " Dependent " beauty is conditioned by the definite conception of an end, and therefore so far violates the principle of purposiveness without a purpose, and the judgment of taste that appreciates it falls short of purity.

Not only the lowest beauty, which subsequent philosophy would agree in calling subservient, but also the highest is ranked as dependent in virtue of this distinction. Architec- ture is plainly subordinate to use, and we are not surprised to find the beauty of buildings set down as dependent beauty. Rather it surprises us to be told that decorative art such as pattern-designing is " free " because it is not bound to repre- sent any object conditioned by a positive idea. We should naturally set down decoration as attached on the whole to architecture and governed by human use, and therefore, like architecture, dependent. But even architecture, Kant will insist, as having a very wide range of possible purposes, is although strictly dependent, yet free in comparison with ideal beauty.

Natural beauty, except in those objects which are chiefly considered qua useful to man such as the horse, or the [fruit] tree is free. We must note the reason of this, which is simply that we cannot impose upon it any idea of a purpose. The beauty of a flower is free, for " no one but the botanist knows what a flower is meant to be (" Waseine Blume fur ein Ding sein soil "), and in judging of its beauty even he takes no account of this." I imagine that we should distinguish between knowledge of the purpose as enabling us to pronounce upon utility or perfection, which we should admit to be of no aesthe- tic value, and knowledge of the purpose as enabling us to appreciate organic unity, which we should take to be an enrich- ment of aesthetic insight No one but a botanist, I should cer- tainly maintain, can really feel the beauty of flowers. If their beauty is " free " then, in comparison with that of a house or church, it is not because we are ignorant of their purpose, nor

1 A>. d. U., Sectt. 1 6 and 17.


IDEAL AS "NORMAL IDEA." 2JI

again, as in great works of art, because their purpose is ex- pression for expression's sake, but because what we must call their purpose is one with their own existence, and though usually conditioned by other lives * is not at any point cut in two by its relation to them. For us, therefore, the flower is harmoniously expressive throughout, in virtue of being a rea- sonable unity. All objects, even works of art, are conditioned by external agencies ; it is not the fact of a relation to con- dition or purpose, but the marked conflict of purposes within the system which man's will has power to introduce, that stamps the mark of subserviency on the decorated instruments of human life.

Most dependent and least free of all, according to Kant, is the beauty which is capable of an ideal. There can be no ideal either of the lower dependent beauty, or of the interme- diate free beauty. An ideal can only be fixed by objective purposiveness, and objective purposiveness is ex hypothesi out- side beauty, and can never be judged of by a pure judgment of taste, but only by one which is partly intellectualised. Ideal means the presentation or imagination of a particular being as adequate to an idea of the reason.

The ideal then has two elements. First, there is the un- known type, or intention of nature, in every race of men or animals. Such a type is represented through the automatic work of the imagination, which strikes an average of shapes out of the thousands of individuals that have been seen. This process is illustrated by a comparison to optical images thrown upon one another, which suggests Mr. Galton's method of generalised photographs. Every breed of animals will pre- sent, and every race of men will present and possess, a " nor- mal idea" thus constituted; and this will form the foundation or conditio sine qua non of beautiful presentation in and for that race. Both this idea of an average as the key to the intention of nature, and the allusion to the taste of negroes and Chinese as probably conditioned by the type familiar to them, remind us of Reynolds in the Idler, and point forward to Hegel, who depreciates mere " taste " on this very ground.

And in Kant's treatment what we have tr note is his atti- tude to the " normal idea." His language suggests that he thought at first, as Reynolds did, that this "idea" was the

1 Those of insects.


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


ideal of beauty ; for it appears that he called it so in the earlier editions of this Critique, and the phrase " Normal idea of beauty " still occurs in the discussion. But he subsequently saw how little import this average type possessed, and the Critique now expressly says that it can contain nothing char- acteristic l of a person, is not beautiful but merely correct, 2 and that the average regularity of feature, which it brings out in man, usually indicates mediocrity of mind. The normal pro- portions which it exhibits are however the limit or condition sine qua non upon which true beauty is founded.

The ideal of Beauty in the strict sense is something beyond this, and has meaning only in the human race. It consists in the revelation of moral import through bodily manifestation in the human form. Without this the object cannot give univer- sal and positive pleasure as distinct from the mere customary and negative pleasantness of the " correct." It is the highest problem of the artist, and requires pure ideas of reason, and great powers of imagination. But as the standard thus set involves a definite conception of man as an end, it follows that " judgment by such a standard can never be purely aesthetic, and judgment according to an ideal of beauty is no mere judgment of taste." Beauty judged according to an ideal is therefore not free but dependent beauty. And thus it only just misses being admitted as objective ; for, though not objective qua beauty, it is objective in virtue of that concep- tion which makes it dependent.

Now if beauty is regarded as subservient to morality, or is judged by the standard of specifically moral ideas, it is beyond a doubt unfree or dependent. But if the content of life and reason is taken into beauty and perceived not as the expres- sion of morality, but as the utterance in another form of that reasonableness which is also to be found in morality, then we first destroy the restriction of ideal beauty to man for there is reasonableness in all nature and we secondly break down the extraordinary paradox that the highest beauty is the least free. That beauty which is the largest and deepest revelation of spiritual power is not the most dependent but the freest beauty, because it implies no purpose whatever excepting that

1 The " characteristic," the central idea of modern aesthetic, had been em- phasised in Goethe's Deutsche Baukunst> 1780 ; but its appearance in Kant is noteworthy.

2 Schulgerecht.


THE SYMBOL. 273


which constitutes its own inmost nature, the expression of reason in sensuous form. It is plain that Kant felt this and practically recognised the true rank of such beauty, but was baffled in attempting to include it in his formal datum, the judgment of taste.

Yet with his strange persistence, approaching his subject like a beleaguered city by sapping up to it on different sides, he has still a great deal in reserve that affects this unacknow- ledged objectivity of the judgment of taste. He is clear, for example, that taste involves a " common sense, 1 ' not the under- standing which employs abstract ideas, but some kind of common feeling. And this, he thinks, may perhaps in the last resort represent a demand of the reason that sense is to be made harmonious or congruous in its utterances. 1 At least the communicability which is distinctive of aesthetic feeling gives it a high social interest from the most primitive times, although this is not an interest in beauty as such. In this discussion we find at once an anticipation and a criticism of an important modern view, that which lays stress on the social and festal origin of art. 2

Moreover, when he comes to consider what must be added to taste in order to make up productive capacity in fine art, he decides that this is "genius," a conception in which he analyses, without any historical reference whatever, the watch- word of the "period of genius" then hardly gone by. The essence of genius he finds in the power to portray aesthetic ideas ; and aesthetic ideas are imaginative presentations such that no conception is able to exhaust their significance. In this they are the counterpart of ideas of the reason, 9 to which no presentation can be adequate.

If we ask how the aesthetic idea is the counterpart of the idea or postulate of reason, we find that the relation is ex- plained by a definite doctrine of symbolism. 4 A symbol is for him a perception or presentation which represents a concep- tion neither conventionally as a mere sign, nor directly but in the abstract as a "scheme," but indirectly though appro- priately through a similarity between the rules which govern our reflection in the "symbol" and in the thing (or idea) symbolised. Thus when we think of a monarchical state as an

. d. U.> p. 92. * Prof. Brown, The Fine Arts, Bk. i. 8 Pp. 185-6. * P. 231

T


274 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

organism if the system is constitutional, and as a machine if it is despotic, organism and machine are symbols, the resem- blance to the monarchical state depending in each case on the principle of cohesion which we impute to the things com- pared.

In this sense of symbolism Beauty is a symbol of the moral order? and this order is the intelligible or supra-sensuous reality to which the judgment of taste ultimately points. It is this relation which expresses itself in the semi-rational nature ascribed to beauty in the four paradoxes. On this ground, again, interest in the beauty of nature is the sign of a good mind, because the reason is concerned that its ideas or demands shall not only have validity but find objective reality within the world of sense. And the traces of con- formity in nature to a disinterested judgment in us, which constitute natural beauty and testify to an underlying unity between nature and the moral order, are therefore of interest to human thought. We should now extend this idea to the beauty of Art , but it is remarkable that Kant, probably under Rousseau's influence, explicitly refuses to do so, thinking of art not as a revelation of existing beauty, but as made to con- form to our ends and too often to flatter our egoism.

In all this account of beauty, which accords to it the highest significance, the term objective is still lacking ; but it is obvious that nothing of objectivity is lacking except the name. And with the objectivity thus practically conceded, there come in significance, and the characteristic, and natural as opposed to conventional symbolism. All these were the watchwords of the time just beginning, as taste and beauty had been the watchwords of that which had gone by. In general, including both nature and art, beauty is for Kant the expression of aesthetic ideas, 2 which means, as we have seen, the suggestion in sensuous form, of demands or aspirations or principles of reason which no such perception can completely and adequately contain.

Rajiseandsub- 5 * ^ e ^ ave seen ^at in his general theory

division of Kant is forced to admit a concrete import into

8 ception. er " w hat was at first an unanalysable deliverance of

feeling. How far, we must now enquire, does he

1 " Sittlichkeit," p 232. Even in Kant this word has not quite the isolated personal reference of our English term " morality." 2 P. 192.


THE SUBLIME. 275


himself contribute to determining the actual field of aesthetic perception, and the relation between its content and the sen- suous media in which it can be clothed ? The answer to this enquiry is in the doctrine of the sublime and the classification of the arts.

i. Kant's account of the sublime is interposed between two parts of his account of the beautiful, and appears to have had the effect of forcing upon his mind the deeper symbolic character in beauty which at first he was disposed to find only in sublimity. Historically speaking, his theory was probably occasioned by that of Burke, and on its spiritual side might very well have been suggested by a single remark of Winckelmann, whose name, however, so far as 1 am aware, does not occur in Kant. Its subsequent effect may be traced in Hegel's conception both of symbolic and of romantic art, and more generally, it was the true forerunner of all aesthetic theory which brings appar- ent ugliness within the frontier of beauty. For Kant's allusion in another context to the ugly as capable of being beautifully portrayed in art is a weak survival of Lessing's ideas, and has little to do with the growing modern sympathy for what is un- disguisedly sombre, wild, or terrible.

The firm and plain basis of Burke's distinction between the beautiful and the sublime was, it will be remembered, the difference between the pleasantness of pleasure and the pleasantness of pain. It is undoubtedly upon this foundation that Kant erects his theory, in which fear, corresponding to Burke's " passions relating to self-preservation, which turn mostly on pain or danger," suggests a principal case of sub- limity. Winckelmann's remark that in looking upon the sea the mind is at first depressed and then recovers itself more strongly, might very well have suggested Kant's idea of the spiritual reinvigoration occasioned by perceptions which in some way do violence 1 to our sensuous fancy.

For Kant, as for Burke, there is no acknowledged synthesis of the sublime with the beautiful, although the final conception of beauty as attained by Kant in the latter part of his discus- sion would admit of such a synthesis. We cannot say, there- fore, that he makes the sublime a species of the beautiful. Both, rather, are species of the aesthetic judgment, but only

1 " Gewaltthatig fur d Embildungskraft," Kr. d. U., p. 99.


276 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

beauty belongs to the judgment of taste, while the sublime is rooted in an emotion of the intelligence (Geistesgefiihl). The two modes of feeling share indeed the semi-rational character, subjective yet universal, which marks the aesthetic judgment as such, but they differ widely in the nature of their object- matter and in their consequent relation to it.

Beauty always has to do with form ; sublimity may depend on form or on " Unform," a useful idiom which may cover both formlessness and deformity. 1 The object of sublime feeling (we may not in strictness speak of a sublime object) is always one that resists our power of judgment, and so far from being harmonious, is rather incongruous with it. For this reason the sublime is one degree more subjective than the beautiful, and in every way is more difficult, making higher demands upon the mind. Its essence is to throw us back on ourselves, to depend upon our acquired culture and ideas, of which it demands much more than the sense of beauty, to give an austere or negative pleasure akin to awe and admiration, to communicate a serious and stirring, not a playful and tranquil movement to the imagination, and as incapable of residing in any sensuous form to stimulate only the ideas of the reason and not those of the understanding. For the former, which can be represented in no sense-per- ception, are evoked in us by the very conflict or incongruous- ness which exhibits to us the inadequacy of sense. This special relation to reason was probably intended to be a radical difference between the sublime and the beautiful, but is obliterated as a distinction by the concluding account in the Dialectic which places the latter also in essential relation to ideas of reason or of the moral order.

In spite of this inward and ideal character, however, Kant tries to restrict the sublime, like the beautiful, to mere abstract feeling. We must not appeal in our perception of it to dis- tinct conceptions drawn from our knowledge. We must accept the feeling as it follows from what we directly see. We must not think of the stars as suns with their systems, nor of the sea as the reservoir of the clouds or the highway of the nations. We must judge them aesthetically only as a crowd of luminous points in an immeasurable vault, and as


1 Kant never, I think, uses "hasslich" of the object of sublime feeling. He does use " grasslich "


THE SUBLIME. 277


a shining surface or menacing abyss. To our minds to-day this dualism seems unreasonable. We cannot understand why feeling should be void of content, especially as the sub- lime exists in the reaction of our ideas, and is explicitly characterised, \n language that anticipates Ruskin, as depen- dent on relations. But the result is that this peculiar stimu- lation is chiefly to be looked for in unwrought l and inorganic Nature, a striking testimony to the widening of the aesthetic sense. It is also said to be suggested, strictly in accordance with the theory, by the extreme of formlessness in the Jewish prohibition, " Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image." Longinus, it will be remembered, had drawn an example from the books of Moses. In the instance adduced by Kant, an idea taken from a consciousness hostile to ex- pression through sense, becomes, by a very curious meeting of extremes, the content of poetry at the point where it tends to pass out of the sphere of art. Thus the extremes of con- sciousness below and above the region of beautiful expression, appear in this case to join hands.

The idea which underlies Kant's theory is thus quite clear. It is closely analogous to his view of the moral law, which is in his mind throughout. The sublime in its two species mathematical, i.e. excited by objects which reveal the impo- tence of sense to satisfy the idea of totality, and dynamical, i.e. evoked by objects or occurrences which reveal our power- lessness as natural beings to overcome the forces of Nature, though our moral freedom is superior to their omnipotence, depends on the stimulation of our moral ideas, which nothing in sensuous nature can either represent or overcome, by a primary non-conformity between an external object and our power of judgment.

I do not know whether any stray echoes of Kantian specu- lation penetrated to the poet Thomas Campbell (d. 1844); but the mental reaction in which Kant finds the sublime is fairly represented by the closing stanzas of his lyric, "The Last Man." 2 Kant would, however, remind us that God and Immortality are postulates, not facts.

i "Roh."

" Go, Sun, while Mercy holds me up

On Nature's awful waste, To drink this last and bitter cup Of grief that man shall taste ;


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


It is a conception which bears noble testimony to the inspiration which sea 1 and mountain l were beginning to impart. But in its true place, as a theory of apparent ugli- ness in relation to beauty, it has a fatal defect of principle. This defect was signalised above as the absence of any syn- thesis of the sublime with the beautiful, and is rooted in the subjectivity ascribed by Kant to beauty, and the double sub- jectivity imputed to the sublime. In beauty the "form" has a content which can be analysed, although its purposive import must not be definitely affirmed, but the essence of the sublime falls wholly within the mind, so that absolutely no conformity is assumed between stimulus and reaction, and therefore no attempt can possibly be made to attach expres- sive significance to the objects which by purely negative behaviour serve as such stimuli. And so the link of expres- sive or characteristic structure, which stands ready to guide us step by step from facile and orderly beauty to the more sombre and intricate aspects of life and nature, is absolutely cut asunder ; and we are never taught to look for the form of the beautiful in those very perceptions which startle us at first sight by superhuman force or magnitude. And therefore the ideas of reason thus negatively evoked can have only a bare moral victory, and are not recognised as prevailing, in an intricate orderliness and significance, throughout all the terror and immensity of the external world. With Turner and Ruskin before us, we do not comprehend the aesthetic perception to which, as to Kant, the stormy sea was simply horrible, and the elements of splendid beauty in the lines and masses which express its resistlessness made no positive appeal to the imagination. The sublime with all it implies could not be rightly valued until it came to be appreciated as an extension of beauty, indeed, but still an extension of beauty.

Go tell the Night that hides thy face, Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race

On earth's sepulchral clod, The darkening Universe defy To quench his immortality,

Or shake his trust in God."

1 The references to De Saussure, combined with the restriction of the sublime pioper to wild inorganic nature, prove, I think, that the Alps were largely in Kant's mind His phrase, " rohe Natur," is erroneously referred to beauty and organic beings by von Hartmann, Aivhetik, i., 15. Kant often mentions the sea


GENIUS. 279


But for a view which shut up both attributes within a sub- jective mental reaction, no positive meeting-point in the significant form of perceptions was open to them. Without a concrete analysis no synthesis was possible.

So much for the range of beauty, which, if we follow for the moment our general sense of the term as equivalent to " aesthetic quality/ 1 Kant has immensely amplified in accord- ance with modern feeling, by his theory of the sublime, classification of ii. In dealing with the sensuous vehicles of Art8 beauty, 1 as they constitute the different arts, Kant is very brief and unsystematic, though in many places he anticipates later contentions. The theory of a developing art- consciousness, and an appreciation of the antithesis between the ancient and modern world are conspicuous by their absence, 2 a lacuna plainly connected with his dread of objective teleo- logy. For the same reason, there are but few traces of a de- sire to regard the material media of the arts as forming an orderly system in which all necessary kinds of expression might find a place. In distinguishing fine art from science however, with the claims of the " period of genius " before his mind, he makes a striking suggestion, which Hegel adopts, and which in Kant leads up to important results. It is true, he says, that genius though not independent of training or reflection, is a gift rooted in nature, of which it shows the un- conscious creative power, and is the peculiar organ of fine art, which may even be defined as the art of genius. This natural gift is not in the same sense needed for exact science, which is pursued purely through conscious intellectual operations. Anyone, (having enough intellect, we must suppose) could learn all that Newton taught ; but he could not, by taking thought, even begin to learn how to make a poem. Here we have at once an immense advance on Lessing and eighteenth- century ideas, 3 though Kant is above the wildness of the youthful Goethe and Schiller.

1 Kant drops out the sublime almost entirely from his theory of art. The product of art comes too near implying an objective conception to be con- nected with a feeling which, even more than beauty, demands absolute purity. For a combination of beauty and sublimity Kant once refers us to "rhymed tragedy," a strange proof how little he approached a synthesis

& The conclusion of Obsemations on the feeling of the Sublime and Beautiful shows how Kant stood on the old lines about the Renaissance and Gothic art.

8 Dr. Johnson took the opposite line. " Newton could have written a great epic if he had chosen."


280 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Fine art, then, is closely akin to nature. The paradoxes of beauty explain how this must be. All beauty, and therefore nature qua beautiful, has the form of purposiveness. All beauty, and therefore the beauty of art, is free from definable purpose. Art, therefore, is beautiful, when, although known to be art, it apears as free unconscious of rule or set purpose as nature. Nature is beautiful when it appears to possess the purposiveness of art. These ideas, thrown out in a few sentences, have their consequences in the views of Schiller and Hartmann.

Kant's actual classification of the fine arts, 1 on which the author himself lays no great stress, rests on a fantastic deduc- tion from the true principle, that beauty whether of art or of nature is expression. Expression par excellence is speech, and this as communicating at once thought, perception and feeling, has the three elements, word, gesture, and modulation or accent. On this analogy he divides the fine or expressive arts into arts of speech, of form, and of play of sensation. Judging from an earlier passage, in which he has said that the form of all objects of sense is either " shape " or " play," the distinction between simultaneity and succession would seem to be also in his mind.

We find in his table two crafts which ought not to be in- cluded among fine arts, the art of oratory and the art of landscape gardening. The former is plainly dominated by practical intent ; the latter does not deal with a true expressive material. The former he ranks with the arts of speech, the latter with those of form.

I mentioned the origin of this unfortunate classification, because the distinction between speaking and formative art has been erected into a principle, and oratory being necessarily omitted, has led to the species of poetry being set out in an imaginary parallelism to the non-poetical arts, as by Schel- ling, the former being called the Ideal and the latter the Real series, and this notion of two parallel series, under these or other headings, has continued to operate in later German philo- sophy with the most unnatural results, grave difficulty being found, in particular, as to the plsce which music ought to hold.

Kant's nearest approach to a linear classification is given in

l *>. 73


KANT'S SCHEME OF THE ARTS. 281

his comparison of the aesthetic value of the fine arts. In this, poetry is assigned the first place, and some words of this estimate set the keynote for Schiller s doctrine of "semblance" and " play." " Poetry plays with the semblance, 1 without deceiving ; for it declares its occupation to be mere play/' Painting, it should be noted, has already been called the art of sensuous semblance, and plastic, including architecture and sculpture, that of sensuous truth. Of course for the complete doctrine of aesthetic semblance, which Kant only offends against in expression and not for a moment in thought, the form of sculpture is a " Schein " as much as that of painting, only less adaptable and so less ideal. Painting therefore ranks above it. This gradation prepares us for the series of the arts according to ideality in Hegel. About the rank of music there is a curious variety of suggestions. For us they have the interest that a later theory of the original import of music as depending on its relation to the emotional modula- tions of the voice, is here suggested and accepted as a fact, but put aside as not bearing on aesthetic value, but on associations which are only of interest to private feeling. The aesthetic value of music is referred to the mathematical interrelation by which the complex of sounds is made into a whole attended with an abundance of thoughts too full for verbal expression. But these thoughts depend on purely mechanical associations ; and the essential content of music is therefore so bare, and the culture it implies so slight, that apart from its mere pleasantness, in which it ranks first of all arts, and its charm and emotional power (due to voice associations), in which it ranks second, it ought to be placed lowest of the whole list. This remark, like almost the entire content of Kant's aesthetic, reappears in a much modified form in Hegel And the ana- lysis of musical beauty as depending on the mathematical relations which bind its parts into a coherent whole recurs in conjunction with a less humble estimate of its aesthetic value, in the deepest modern appreciation of musical significance, that which regards it as representing the spirit or idealised form of occurrence or existence. 2 *In noting Kant's perplexities about music, we may remember that he made little use of the ancients who knew something of its true value, which we have seen to be greatly neglected through the middle age and in eighteenth

  • "Schein," K. d. U., 201. * "Hanslick," in Lotze, G. d. A., 486 ff.


282 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

century criticism. And we should be grateful to Kant for at least striving to recognise the greatest art of his time.

Kant gives no account of the comic within the limits of fine art. He inclines to regard the jest 1 as belonging rather to the arts of pleasure. Nevertheless his famous definition of laughter as an affection arising from an expectation suddenly brought to nothing, 2 probably had to do with Hegel's defini- tion of comedy. His direct connection of the mental shock thus experienced with the muscular convulsion of laughter has a materialistic sound, recalling Burke ; but modern psychology has much to say of the bond between mental and muscular tension, and the simplicity and abruptness of Kant's identifi- cation should count in his favour, if, as seems probable, it contains an important truth. When we hold our breath in expectation, and then undergo a violent change of tension through the expectation coming to nothing, we certainly go through a process like that which Kant describes. And although expectation and tension have many causes, it might be maintained that there is a peculiar suddenness and com- pleteness of contrast in the relaxation that accompanies amusement, which is well described by Kant's phrase " brought to nothing." In the case of serious disappoint- ment for instance, the expectation changes to something positive though opposite.

Kant, we must insist, was a good observer. His shrewd and decisive criticisms of society, literature, and national character have an Aristotelian quality. A translation of well- chosen extracts from the Critique of the Power of Judgment, and still more from the earlier work in itself a mere note- book Observations on the Feeling of the Sublime and Beau tiful, would throw quite a new light on the popular idea of the great metaphysician. The habit of taking up into his theory great numbers of everyday terms which he explains in passing by terse and pregnant definitions, is characteristic of Kant and Lessing, as of Aristotle. It was adopted by Schiller and Hegel, and has much to do with the grasp and solidity of objective idealism.

conclusion. 6. If we now recall, for the last time, in order to measure the difference between the starting - points of ancient and modern aesthetic, the three principles and anti-

1 P. 207. Ib.


THE THREE ANTITHESES. 283

theses by which we judged the theories of the Greeks, we shall find ourselves in a different world.

i. The metaphysical criticism of fine art which treated it as an inferior species of common reality and therefore as sub- ordinate to that reality in import and beneath it in utility, has yielded to a view which ranks it as the superior co-ordi- nate of natural products, both having beauty only as freely symbolic or expressive of supra-sensuous meaning. Imita- tion is replaced by symbolism, and even if art is held to be in one sense bound by external reality, it is understood that in as far as it deals with mere form or with imaginative ideas it has the advantage of nature and not vice versa. The meta- physical criticism is replaced by theories of the metaphysical import of beauty.

ii. The moralistic criticism with its confusion between aesthetic and practical interest, is almost wholly swept away. With the frank acceptance of what Plato treated as its in- feriority, the restriction to imaginative form or semblance, now opposed alike to sensuous solicitation and to definitely con- ceived purpose, the beautiful is finally freed from the suspi- cion of sensuality and from the claims of moral proselytism. Only in Kant a trace of moralism remains in as far as the permanent value of the beautiful is referred by him exclu- sively to its representation of moral ideas and the moral order, in consequence of the subjectivism which hinders him from plainly asserting the existence of any more general system which might express itself not only through morality in the world of conduct, but otherwise in other spheres. In pointing however to a supra-sensuous unity common to the world of nature and of freedom, he really transcends this false subor- dination ; and we might say that beauty is for him a symbol of morality only because and in as far as he understands morality to symbolise the order of the universe.

iii. The formal principle of unity and variety, which stood in the way of a concrete analysis of beauty, is being trans- formed into the principle of expressiveness, characterisation, significance. In Kant's discussion of colours and tones we saw the meeting-point of the two. A positive or concrete structure of aesthetic science is as yet, indeed, only in the making. The outlines are firmly traced and the materials are lying about in heaps, but the building is hardly begun. The idea of beauty is still, if I may use the expression, a


284 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC


crete conceived in the abstract, a meeting point of polar ex- tremes not yet exhibited in the kinds and phases determined by their varying relations.

Thus we may henceforward confine ourselves to the aesthe- tic problem proper, and its import, if any, for general philo- sophy. A distinct and reflective aesthetic consciousness has been created both for philosophy and for art. It is only since Goethe, it has been truly said, that the artist has been con- scious of his " mission." Whether, as Kant seems to assume, 1 this consciousness is a fortunate condition for creative genius, must be very seriously doubted. But for philosophy reflect- ing upon beauty it is indispensable.

The aesthetic problem 2 as inherited by Kant consisted in the question " How can a pleasurable feeling partake of the character of reason ?" To this we have seen his answer in the four paradoxes and their corollaries. Its expansion we shall have to trace in later thought. The problem of general philosophy which gave urgency to the aesthetic issue con- sisted in the question, " How can the sensuous and the ideal world be reconciled ? " The answer to this we have seen in the relation between the three portions of Kant's critical problem. The order of nature and the moral order must, he contends, have a common root, which is manifested most strikingly in the spontaneous harmony of natural necessity and ideal purpose exhibited to the perceptive and creative sense of beauty. The unconsciousness and freedom which fine art shares with nature indicates that this purposiveness is really immanent in material things, and is not forced from without upon the sensuous or natural elements. I f so, they too are inherently rational, and the compatibility, nay more, the ultimate unity of the natural and moral order is estab- lished.

Kant, as we know, wrote the reservation " subjective " over the entire outcome of his aesthetic and teleological researches. Even when he anticipated later theory by a suggestion for a Universal History which should establish a purpose of nature in the life of the human race, evolving moral civilisation through the conflicts of pain and desire, and when he combated, on this ground, the difficulty that earlier generations are sacrificed

1 Observations^ etc., " Conclusion." 1 See ch. viii. end.


THE FUTURE OF KANT*S IDEAS. 285

to an end they will never know, 1 all this is to him simply a point of view, a way in which the aggregate of facts may be reduced to a system.

It is clear that either the idea or the reservation is unten- able. What experience compels us to assume, is objective for us. What is not essential to explain our experience, we have no right to dwell upon in serious thought. It was rather the nature of objectivity than the reality of the immanent idea that was called in question by Kant's reservation.

A new spirit would be brought to the consideration of this issue, when the concrete idea, as Kant had obtained it by the resolution of the inherited antithesis of nature and freedom, should be accepted as the nature of the real, and further en- riched by the same antithesis in its historical form as be- tween the ancient and the modern mind. For the immanent reason would then reveal itself to be not merely a statical but a dynamical unity, not merely an equilibrium but an evolution.

1 " Build a house they will never live in." This essay, Werke, vol. 7, was written in 1784, but its views are practically reaffirmed in the Critique of Judgment.


CHAPTER XI.

THE FIRST STEPS OF A CONCRETE SYNTHESIS SCHILLER AND

GOETHE.

The Position of I- " THE above may be taken as the leading re- soniiier. suits of the Kantian critical philosophy, so far as they interest us in aesthetic It forms the point of departure for the true comprehension of the beauty of art. Yet such a comprehension could only be realised by an overcoming of the Kantian defects through a higher appreciation of the true unity of necessity and freedom, of particular and universal, of sensuous and rational.

" And so it must be admitted that the art-sense of a pro- found mind which was philosophic as well as artistic demanded and proclaimed the principle of totality and recon- ciliation before the time at which it was recognised by tech- nical philosophy. In so doing it opposed itself to (Kant's) abstract infinity of thought, his duty for duty's sake, and his formless ' understanding ' which takes account of nature and reality, sense and feeling, only as a limit, as something ab- solutely hostile, and therefore antagonistic to itself. It is Schiller then to whom we must give credit for the great ser- vice of having broken through the Kantian subjectivity, and abstraction of thought, and ventured upon going quite beyond it by intellectually apprehending the unity and reconciliation as the truth, and by making them real through the power of art. . . . Now this unity of the universal and particular, of freedom and necessity, of the spiritual and the natural, which Schiller scientifically apprehended as principle and essence of art, and unweariedly strove to call to life by art and aesthetic culture, was in the next place erected into the principle of knowledge and existence as itself the Idea; the Idea being recognised as the sole truth and reality. It was by this recog- nition that science attained in Schelling its absolute stand- point." 1

1 Hegel, sEsth., i. 78, 80. (E. Tr. p. 116.)


OBJECTIVITY IN SCHILLER. 287

It is thus that Hegel in his maturer years recalls the history ]>f the time, when, as we shall see in the following chapter, his youthful friendship with Schelling was still unbroken, and when the two friends, in close correspondence, were forming their views under the twofold influence of Kant and Fichte on the one hand, and of Schiller and Goethe on the other.

It is strange that historians of aesthetic take no notice of this remarkable testimony. Hegel was not the man lightly to give credit to an amateur thinker at the expense of philo- sophy proper. I shall therefore attempt simply to illustrate his statement in dealing with Schiller's conceptions, which definitely initiated the fusion of Kant's abstract synthesis with the historical data of aesthetic.

Schiller was on one side of his mind a Kantian, while on the other he was both a classicist by study and sympathy, and a romanticist by his period and his genius. Thus he formed a link between Kant and Goethe. For Goethe shared these factors of Schiller's mind in inverse proportion. Though as a rule barely tolerant of metaphysic, he was not untouched by Kant, while the marriage of Faust and Helena is a symbol of his lifelong devotion to the reconciliation of Hellenism with what is best in the romantic spirit. Hegel, with obvious justice, connects the deeper interpretation of the beautiful, which now began, with the growth of romantic feeling in art. 1 Thus the relations between Schiller and Goethe were pre- eminently favourable to the investiture of Kantian abstractions with living reality.

The achievement which Hegel ascribed to Schiller is in its essence, i, the abandonment of the reservation by which at every turn Kant ascribes subjectivity, in a sense excluding objectivity, to the unity of opposites which he found in the aesthetic judgment. Schiller's account of aesthetic semblance and the play impulse may be treated under this head, as the positive form under which he envisages the objective nature of beauty.

And to this we must add, 2, as a corollary the first recog- nition, based on definite conceptions, of a difference between modern principles of art whether to be called principles of beauty or by some other name and those which had currently been assigned to the art of antiquity. The link be-

/Esth., i. 27-8. (E. Tr. p. 39.)


288 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

tween the objectivity of the beautiful and the latitude of the perception or principle which constitutes it, depends upon the dynamical nature of an objective principle, demanding as it does a relevancy to the movements and phases of the human mind, instead of acquiescence in the first indolent impressions of feeling. Indications of the actual range of Schiller's aesthetic sympathies may fairly be treated in this connection, objectivity of i. At the close of chap. ix. I alluded to the event- Beauty. f u j d eca de which followed the publication of the Kritik d. Urtheilskraft. The first of its characteristics which comes before us is that it contains nearly the whole of Schiller s work in theoretical aesthetic. From 1792 till after 1800 there appeared almost yearly, for the most part in publications such as Thalia and the Horen? papers or short treatises by Schiller dealing with aesthetic problems. From 1795 onwards, it must be remembered, Goethe and Schiller were in active correspondence, so that in the writings of either the ideas of the other were to some extent repre- sented. Their period of genius" lay behind them. In

  • 795 Schiller was in his thirty-sixth and Goethe in his forty-

sixth year. Werther and Gotz v, Berlichingen were things of twenty years ago. The Rauber was written at least four- teen years before. The romantic movement which their stormy youth had inaugurated was now developing in other hands.

The Schlegels, for example, began their activity in this decade, an activity which furnished to profounder thinkers and critics of greater real genius than themselves, a splendid wealth of material and a constant reminder of the historical antithesis between the classical and the romantic. It should be added that Voss's Homer (the Iliad new, the Odyssey revised) appeared in 1 790, and F. A. Wolfs Prolegomena in 1795. This was the epoch in which Schiller, the descendant of Lessing 2 and Winckelmann no less than of Kant, was brought face to face with the question whether or no the art- impulse and the sense of beauty rested on a true immanent


1 In which Goethe and Schiller co-operated in 1795-6. Schiller's Letters on The ^Esthetic Education of Humanity and his paper on " Waive and Senti- mental Poetry " appeared in it.

8 Compare the titles of Lessing's Erziehung d. Menschengeschlechts^ and Schiller's Bnefe uber d. ALsthttische Erz. d. Menschheit.


UNITY OF SENSE AND REASON. 289

principle and tendency in the universe, not merely imputed to it by arbitrary reflection.

For Schiller s general position the letters on the -^Esthetic Education of Humanity give the most complete results. Going at once to the heart of his ideas, in his relation to Kant, we find that he believes himself in accord with the spirit but not with the letter of the Kantian system. It is natural, he says, for a philosopher, as intellectual, to seem to treat feeling as a mere hindrance to reason, and this is what in the letter Kant appears to do. But in the spirit or inevit- able interpretation of his system this is not so, for the sensuous impulse must be taken as co-ordinate with, and not subordinate to, the rational impulse. The idea of reciprocity, drawn from a new work of Fichte, 1 is applied in this account of co-ordina- tion, which is also described as reciprocal subordination. 8 In short, sense and reason are capable of appearing in harmony only because it is their ultimate nature to be in harmony. The subjective conception is dropped as untenable in face of a complete estimate of man. " In the one-sided moral estimate the reason is satisfied when its law has absolute supremacy ; in the complete anthropological estimate, in which content counts as well as form, and feeling has a voice, the distinction [between the suppression and the completion of individuality] is of all the more importance. Reason demands unity, nature variety, and both systems of legislation lay their claims on man." 3

The " ideal man " * is represented by the State, but is not realised in his fulness by any state which remaining in ab- straction kills out individuality. The alternative and better way is that the ideal principle of the state should enter into and ennoble the individual till he becomes capable of partici- pating in a spiritual unity without sacrificing the natural variety which is his element. Even the artist must seem to respect his material ; the statesman must do so in reality. The point of all this lies in the conception that the " parts," whether conceived as the particulars of nature or of feeling, or as unsocialised individual human beings, are really in

1 Grundlagc der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre^ 1794, another of the remark- able works that influenced this critical time.

2 Briefs u. Aesth. Erziehung, No. 13, note. 8 /., No. 4.

4 Again an idea drawn from Fichte, Letter 4, note.

TT


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


themselves capable of unity and organization. Here we have implied the central principle of idealism, that nothing can be made into what it is not capable of being. Therefore when certain syntheses and developments are actual it is idle to deny that they are objective or immanent in the nature of the parts developed.

The central proof and example of these principles, as well as the most effective influence in raising mankind from the first nature of savagery to the second of civilization, Schiller believes to exist in fine art, which he identifies with general refinement of life and manners in a way that is capable of, but requires, justification. A single quotation will put his view completely before us.

" Beauty is therefore indeed an object for us, because re- flection is the condition under which we have a feeling of it ; but at the same time it is a state of our subject, because feeling is the condition under which we can have a perception of it. It is therefore a form, because we contemplate it ; it is life, because we feel it. In one word, it is at once our state and our act.

" And just because it is both of these at once, it serves as a triumphant proof that receptivity by no means excludes activity, nor matter, form, nor limitation, infinity, that therefore the necessary physical dependence of man in no way destroys his moral freedom. It proves this, and, I must add, nothing else can prove it. For as in the enjoyment of truth or of logical consistency feeling is not necessarily one with thought, but follows accidentally upon it, such feeling can only prove that a sensuous nature may be sequent upon a rational one, and conversely ; not that both can exist together, not that they can act i eciprocally upon each other, not that their union is absolute and necessary. Just the opposite in- ference would be more natural. The exclusion of feeling while we think, and of thought while we feel, would lead us to infer the incompatibility of these two natures, as in fact the analytic reasoners can adduce no better evidence that pure reason is realisable in humanity than that it is imperative for it to be so. But as in the enjoyment of beauty or of aesthetic unity there takes place an actual union and interpenetration of matter with form and of receptivity with activity, this very fact demonstrates the compatibility of the two natures, the realisableness of the infinite in the finite, and therefore the possibility of the most sublime humanity.


BEAUTY OBJECTIVE.


" We ought, therefore, no longer to be in perplexity to find a passage from sensuous dependence to moral freedom, seeing that in beauty a case is given wherein the latter is able per- fectly to co-exist with the former, and man is not obliged to escape from matter in order to assert himself as spirit. Now if man is free without ceasing to be sensuous, 1 as the fact of beauty teaches, and if freedom is something absolute and supra-sensuous as its idea necessarily involves, then it can no longer be a question how he succeeds in ascending from the limits [of sense ?] to the absolute, or in opposing himself to sensuousness in nis thought and will, as in beauty this is already accomplished. In one word, the question can no longer be how he passes from beauty to truth, seeing that the latter as a capacity* is already contained in the former, but only how he pioneers his path from common to aesthetic reality, from mere feelings of life to feelings of beauty." 3

Little need be added to this passage after our prolonged discussion of Kant. We see at once that objectivity is the whole root of the import thus ascribed to beauty ; but further that it must be such an objectivity as is compatible with exis- tence in mind, in perception, in feeling, and in utterance. Only it is worth while to observe the extreme logical clearness, not usually characteristic of him, with which Schiller appre- hends the nature of synthesis. 4 The factors which are to be united in the beautiful cannot, he says, be genuinely com- bined unless they are first unmistakeably distinguished, and then so united that each wholly disappears in the product of their union. Unless they disappear in the product, they can- not be truly united ; for as they appear in severance they are opposed to each other. The term which indicates this dis- appearance 6 in a higher import is occasionally used by Goethe

1 Schiller to Goethe, Br. W., 3, 262. "Poetry and art have two conditions : they must rise above the actual, and remain within the sensuous."

8 Cf. Letter 21, the passage which excited Mr. Ruskm's indignation by affirming that beauty only changes man's whole nature to a free rational or second nature, but " discovers no single truth, helps us to fulfil no single duty." Cf. Mod. Painters, 2, 134. Mr. Ruskm cannot have had the context before him.

8 Letter 25.

4 Letter 18.

5 " Aufgehoben " = preserved by destruction. Schiller goes too far perhaps in saying that "no trace of the division must remain in the whole product" But it is much easier to understate than to overstate the change effected in parts by incorporation in a new whole.


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


in a similar sense ; but the peculiar logical context of this passage suggests that its use as a technical term of Hegelian dialectic may be due to the " ^Esthetic letters."

Beauty, then, though subjective, as Kant said, is also objective, as he meant. In what positive character, we naturally ask, does it manifest itself within human perception and activity ? Schiller's answer to this is furnished in the kindred ideas of aesthetic semblance and of the play-impulse. Preserving the fundamental Kantian features of pleasure in mere form, and of contrast with practical purpose, respectively, Schiller attempts to draw from them important consequences relative to the growth of civilization. Much that is true and striking is brought forward by him with reference especially to the rigid practicality of primitive life, and the advance im- plied in such enjoyment as that of seeing for seeing's sake, which is coincident with the awakening of the play-impulse, the impulse to a purely ideal activity. 1

a. The doctrine of aesthetic semblance (asthe-

sfethetic tischer Schein) is developed by Schiller out of

semblance. / . L ',.,. ,

Kant s account of aesthetic form, which, in speak- ing of poetry, he also described as a semblance (Schein) that is not deceptive. Schiller presses home this idea with con- siderable acuteness and with the full powers of his rhetoric, and has thus made the Kantian distinction between beauty knowledge and practice a common-place of literature, although it can hardly be said that he derives from it any substantive truth which was not included in Kant's four paradoxes. ^Esthetic semblance, he insists, is Honest, that is to say, makes no pretence at being more than semblance ; and is Independent, that is to say, is not such as to be capable of enhancement of the pleasure which it gives, through the real existence of the object simulated. Real objects may indeed be aesthetically contemplated, but only in as far as we dis- tinguish their semblance from their existence. And this is a harder task than to appreciate the work of art in which this separation is performed ready to our hand.

Thus aesthetic semblance is distinguished at once from de- ception, whether sensuous or logical, and from the appetitive

1 Letter 26. " As soon as man begins to receive pleasure through the eye [mit dem Auge zu geniessen], and seeing obtains an independent value foi him, he has become aesthetically free, and the play-impulse is awakened."


WHAT IS REALITY ? 293


or practical relation to reality ; and by emphasising from an anthropological standpoint the gradual growth of an interest in the semblance, and the fact that all difficulties, apparently connected with representative beauty, really arise not from the unreality of the semblance, but from insufficient attention to its " honesty/ 1 its confessed unreality he paves the way for a truer conception than Kant possessed of the relative value of natural and artistic beauty, and for a definite justification of the place held by the beautiful in civilised life. His paradox that man is civilised only in proportion as he has learnt to value the semblance above the (common-place practical) reality is a tremendous reversal of the position taken up by Plato, and was influential in the later course of post- Kantian speculation.

There is a difficulty in the psychical distinction which this doctrine of semblance may be held to involve. How can one kind of sense-perception be set down as semblance, and an- other as reality ? Why should visual or auditory sensations be taken to belong to form, while those of taste, smell and touch are set down as giving sheer reality ? Surely the one group are as " objective" or "subjective" as the other! Schiller, though successful in the development of doctrines, is not help- ful in exactly tracing their roots, and here he falls decidedly behind Kant. We saw that in Kant's account of the pleasure of simple sensations he at least faces this ultimate difficulty with perfect candour. He treats aesthetic character as depen- dent on the presence of " form " in contrast with mere sensory stimulation. And " form," which is for him the essence of aesthetic semblance, is a property or nature in sensation dis- tinguishable from its mere existence as sense-stimulation. In ranking sensations according to aesthetic quality he therefore follows a principle which is at least intelligible, and probably contains the true basis of the distinction between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic elements in sense. Schiller replaces this principle by a more popular phrase. " Reality," he says, " is the work of things ; semblance is the work of man." He may mean by this semblance the structural import of any perception ; but clearly as it stands the antithesis tells us nothing, for every sensation is a reaction of our organism. His rhetoric expresses in striking phrases what we commonly assume, but does not help us to justify it, " In the eye and ear aggressive matter is already hurled back from the sense,


294 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

and the object is set at a distance from us, while in the animal senses we are directly in contact with it." 1 Here no attempt is made to point out in what characteristic of sensations the " form " resides, and what constitutes their " reality," The distinction between the aesthetic and the non-aesthetic senses, which was accepted as a fact by Plato's time, is simply as- sumed by Schiller.

6. The idea of the play-impulse is also obtained

topSST through a rhetorical development of suggestions made by Kant. It springs from his constant use of the term "play," to indicate the free action of the faculties in harmony which constitutes aesthetic judgment, and con- sequently to denote any mode of succession in time in which such sensations as those of music or colour present the charm of art.

In its simplest form, according to the account elaborated by Schiller, which strikingly anticipates the ideas of Mr. Herbert Spencer, 2 the play-impulse is the mere discharge of accumu- lated energy which demands a vent. " The animal plays . . . when the superfluity of life pricks itself into activity." In a higher phase it may be said to arise when man awakes to the pleasure of seeing for its own sake. 3 When he has thus noted the "form" or "semblance," it is only one step further to confer independence on it by imitation. No doubt the anthropological sequence is wrong at this point ; imitation is much older than conscious enjoyment of form ; but it is plain that the connection which Schiller insists on is real, and the only difficulty is the eternally recurrent one of distinguish- ing degrees of consciousness in a developing activity. At every point the play-impulse and the imitative or dramatic tendency the tendency to enjoy simulation or semblance are closely connected, and it seems true that in all games and amusements there is involved a certain mimicry of life. 4

Schiller's further account of the growth of art and the feeling for beauty, as the play-impulse gradually filling up its empty sense of freedom with a content of expression, is full of


1 /?r., 26.

2 Br, 27. Cf. H. Spencer, Psychology, n. 627. Was Schiller the " German author " there mentioned ?

8 Br., 26.

4 Br., 15. Cf, Prof. Brown, The Fine Arts, Ft. I.


THE PLAY-IMPULSE. 295


suggestions which later theory has realised, more particularly as to the aspect which seems most alien to the play-idea pure and simple the nature of the beautifying instinct as applied to objects of use or necessity. " What l he (man just passing from sensuous to aesthetic 'play') possesses, what he pro- duces, must no longer bear merely the traces of utility, the over-careful impress of a purpose ; 2 besides the service, for which it exists, it must also reflect the ingenious understand- ing which contrived it, the loving hand which executed it, the free and cheerful mind which chose and set it up to look at. . . . Even his weapons are no longer to be objects of terror only, but they are to give pleasure also, and the cunningly wrought sword belt claims no less attention than the mortal edge of the sword/ 1 8

Finally the history of the play-impulse develops into an analysis of the social character of art, resting ultimately upon ideas thrown out by Kant in connection with social interest in beauty, 4 and the essential communicability of aesthetic feeling. " We cannot universalise either our sensuous or our intellectual pleasures, for the former are essentially individual, the latter neglect the deep-seated bases of personality. In beauty alone we are at once the individual and the race ; it can make the whole world happy, and every being forgets its limitations while under the spell of the beautiful. 6

The defect of a play-theory of the beautiful is its tendency to cut life in two between work and play. " Ernst ist das Leben, heiter ist die Kunst " is a jarring sentiment, unless we interpret it so largely that the natural associations of the words are gone. Towards such a theory Schiller seems at times to be drifting 8 under stress of the metaphor which he adopts. The two real links between beauty and the play-impulse are

  • Br., 27.

8 It is easy to see how in every phrase Schiller's rhetoric rests upon Kant's logic

3 See Mr. W. G. Collmgwood's Philosophy of Ornament for a sketch and appreciative account of the reindeer dagger-haft of the Dordogne.

4 Krit d. U., sect, 41, where most of Schiller's account of progressive refinement is anticipated.

6 Br., 27, Cp.

" Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng getheilt."

From Schiller's Hymn to Gladness. 6 E.g. Br., 15, end


296 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


their common freedom from practical ends, and their common tendency to simulation or, in the very largest sense, the ideal treatment of reality. In other respects "play" suggests to us amusement and the relaxation of our faculties, and seems not to do justice to the serious need of self-utterance, nor to the element of expressiveness involved in all work in which the craftsman has any degree of freedom. The play-impulse is in short only aesthetic where its primarily negative free- dom is charged with a content which demands imaginative expression ; and any impulse which takes such a form is aesthetic, whether or no it chances to remind us of " play."

Thus "the Kantian Schiller," 1 by his enthusiasm no less than by his genius, has not only affirmed the objectivity of the beautiful, but has vindicated its place and value in the evolution of civilised man. By so doing he followed and also stimulated the growing tendency to understand by objectivity and truth something more than mere fact and correctness, and to find the truest reality in that which has a meaning and a causal influence within the sphere of human life.

opposition of 2 - Having recognised the beautiful as a real ^Modem.^ ex P ress ^ on ^ man ' s being, uniting the extremes of his mind, and continuous from the first dawn of civilisation, Schiller could hardly avoid directing his atten- tion to the contrast of the antique and the modern which seemed to contradict this continuity. Such a contrast, we saw in chapter 9, was the historical or actual shape in which the inherent dualism of man's nature forced itself on the attention of an age which had become aware of the past From the time of Dante downward, some kind of answer had been demanded to the question, whether the life of antiquity rested on the same principles as that of the modern world, or on better, or on worse. As knowledge was gathered and free intelligence awoke, the consciousness of this antagonism became more profound, and the efforts to resolve it more adequate. In the chapter referred to, I attempted to give some picture of the process by which the common humanity of the ancient world revealed itself to the modern, more especially through literature to Lessing and through plastic art to Winckelmann. I endeavoured to show that each of


Hartmann, dLsth.^ i. 2*


ANTIQUE AND MODERN. 297

these great interpreters, though in some degree taken cap- tive by the objects of his study, and inclined to ascribe finality to their temporary conditions, nevertheless found within these limits enough significance and variety to sug- gest the relativity of the beautiful to human nature, and the interpretation of its oneness in accordance with that rela- tivity. The work of scholarship and archaeology was tending, as we saw, in the same direction. But yet on the whole, be- fore Lessing's death, the reaction of the later Renaissance was hardly spent. The pseudo- Hellenic tradition, though widened and humanised into a genuine Hellenic enthusiasm, still imposed upon the age. " Gothic " art was not understood. Lessing's Aristotelian defence of Shakespeare operated to reinforce as well as to deepen the principles of classical taste. It was not till the age of genius against which Les- sing so hotly protested, that the full meaning of modern art came home to the German mind. Goethe, as Bernays says, " liberated the century."

Besides the definite influences which have been mentioned, the French revolution was filling the air with electricity. " Freedom " was a word with a meaning in 1795, and the work of Kant, Schiller, and their successors, in bringing down freedom from a metaphysical heaven to terrestrial life, had an import for their contemporaries which we are apt to forget.

Did the principles of beauty as hitherto understood, accord- ing to the tradition of the Renaissance gradually widening into a true Hellenic sympathy did these principles fairly cover the aesthetic judgments and productions of that tumul- tuous age ? It is interesting to note in the words of Goethe how this antagonism took form in the intercourse between Schiller and himself. 1

" How curious it was [Schiller's relation to Kant] appeared fully when my connection with Schiller became animated. Our conversation dealt entirely with our work or with theory, usually both together ; he preached the gospel of freedom, I defended the rights of nature from curtailment. Out of goodwill to me, perhaps, rather than from conviction, he refrained from treating the good mother (Nature) in the Esthetic letters with the unkind expressions which made the

1 " Einwirkungd, neueren Philosophic? Werkc, xxx 341.


298 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

paper ' Anmuth u. Wiirde ' l so odious to me. But as I on my side obstinately and perversely extolled the advantages of the Greek mode of poetry, and of that founded upon it or derived from it, and not only so, but asserted that manner to be the exclusively right and desirable one, he was forced to more precise reflection, and it was to this very dispute that we owe the treatise, Ueber naive u. sentimcntale Dick- tung? The two modes of poetry, he concluded, were to be co-ordinate and acknowledge each other s claims.

" By this he laid the first foundation of the whole new development of ^Esthetic ; for ' Hellenic ' and ' Romantic/ and any other synonyms that may have been invented, are all derivable from that discussion, in which the original ques- tion had concerned the predominance of real, or of ideal treatment."

Kant in his "Observations" briefly describes the "Naive" 3 as "the noble and beautiful simplicity which bears the im- press of Nature, and not of Art." This rather than the fuller account in the Critique of the Power of Judgment, was adopted by Schiller as the point of departure for his distinction. In both cases, however, Kant is referring primarily to social intercourse. Schiller on the contrary, applying the idea within the limits of Art, is obliged in some degree to modify its relation to Nature. The root of his antithesis is expressed when he says that the poet either is Nature or seeks Nature ; the former is the Naive and the latter the Sentimental poet. 4 But the sense in which a poet can be Nature is doubtful, and the poles of the contrast tend to approximate. For if the Naive means an intentional and conscious self-identification with Nature and in Art it must tend to that meaning it at once becomes difficult to distinguish from sentimentality, and the two are at least co-ordinate if not identical. This is cer- tainly true of the sense of the Naive which Schiller traces in the decadence of art and among the most artificial nations, e.g. the French. Such a sense is a species of the sentimental, and so far we are off the track of the distinction between ancient and modern.

But in spite of this difficulty Schiller succeeds by a really brilliant critical enquiry in establishing a difference, within the region of art, between Nature at first hand and Nature at


1793 (?). 2 1795-6. 3 W., iv. 420. 4 W., xii. 231.


SCHILLER ON SHAKESPEARE. 299

second hand. There was, he points out, among the Greeks, little sentimental interest in external Nature the purest case of the natural. Their unity with the world did not admit of reflection. Even in dealing with man they show an analo- gous freshness and directness. Schiller's comparison 1 of the meeting between Glaucus and Diomede in the Iliad with that between Ferrau and Rinaldo in Ariosto, is as felicitous as any example in Lessing or in Matthew Arnold. The principle of the implied antithesis is obvious, and forms the basis of all later dealing with the history of art. We shall have to dwell upon it in treating of Schelling and Hegel, and need not therefore discuss it here.

That however there are modern " naive " poets Schiller himself points out, having Goethe among others in his mind ; and he adds that they are exceedingly inconvenient to criticism by confounding all its distinctions. They do in fact point to a higher unity, of which Schiller gives no sufficient account, beyond the schism of merely romantic art. But his primary idea could not be better illustrated than by his confession of his own early difficulties in appreciating Shakespeare. " When 2 at a very early age I first became acquainted with him, I was indignant at his coldness, his insensibility, which permitted him to jest in the moments of highest emotion, to let the clown break in upon the most heart-rending scenes in Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth. . . . Misled by my ac- quaintance with recent poetry so as in every work to look first for the poet, to meet him heart to heart, and to reflect with him upon his object, in short to look at the object only as it is reflected in the subject, I found it intolerable that here the poet never showed himself and would never let me question him. . . . / was not yet capable of understanding Nature at first hand. I could only endure the picture of it as reflected through the understanding, and to that end the French sentimental poets and the Germans from 1750-1780 were the right people for me.'* Here we trace the connection of Naive and Realistic, Sentimental and Idealistic treatment, which is emphasised elsewhere in the treatise, and which Goethe, as we saw, considered to have been its starting- point. We may add, to show that the principles affecting poetry and other art were closely connected in Schiller's mind,

1 IV., xii. 226. 2 -., 226. Schasler, i. 635.


3OO HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

that in a criticism on an exhibition of pictures upon set subjects which Goethe had initiated he writes as to " The other German attribute, of sentimentality," " A tearful Hector and a melting Andromache were to be feared, and they are not absent." 1

The ancients, he concludes, were great by limitation, the moderns by infinity, a distinction verbally reproduced by Schelling and possessing the same importance for later philo- sophy as the contrast of " naive" and "sentimental" itself, which it simply reiterates in a generalized technical form. The advance made by Schiller consisted in placing the antique and modern principles on an equality, as stages in a natural evolution. His predecessors had not fairly and fully ad- mitted the difference between them, but even when they recognised the greatness of the moderns, had endeavoured to force them into the mould of the ancients. It was Schiller who inaugurated the idea that it is not necessary to reduce differences to a vanishing point in order to assert continuity of principle.

scwesei on 3- The treatise on naive and sentimental poetry scmuer. soon produced its effect. In 1797 there appeared Fr. v. Schlegel's Essays on the Study of Greek Poetry, 2 with a preface, which, referring to Schiller's treatise, declared that the principles of objective beauty could not be held to apply to modern poetic art. For, in defiance of the maxim that beauty must give a disinterested pleasure, the poet now relies on sub- jective fascination, poetic "effect," and an interest in the exis- tence of the ideal ; these are his essentially "sentimental" characters. It will at once be seen that Kant's abstraction from positive content, by which he set down a relation to the ideal as impurity in aesthetic judgment, here recoils on the theory of the beautiful with destructive effect. Schlegel further points out that the sentimental mood becomes poetry only through the characteristic, that is, through the repre- sentation of what is individual. Otherwise, I presume he must mean, it can have no plastic or structural form adequate to the depth of individual emotion which is its material. Thus Greek Tragedy, he thinks, might claim the title of objective, as conforming to the accepted canons of a beauti- ful whole ; while Shakespearian tragedy, " which organises

1 W, xh. 388 2 ^ 5 .


SCHLEGEL ON UGLINESS. 30 1

out of sentimental and characteristic elements a self-complete and perfectly self-dependent interesting whole/ 1 should go by the name of " interesting tragedy." This name is therefore intended by Schlegel to take the art to which it applies out of the category of beauty as determined by Kant and by the lovers of antiquity. Whether such an exclusion was sub- stantially justified by Kant's theory is another question. It is not certain that Shakespearian tragedy implies even an interest in the reality of an ideal in the sense which Kant considered extra-aesthetic. It may be doubtful whether Schlegel clearly appreciated the distinction between pleasure in aesthetic semblance and pleasure in the reality of objects or ideals, the latter of which alone is to be considered an unaesthetic interest. Rightly or wrongly, however, Schlegel, in handling this distinction borrowed from Schiller, ranks Shakespeare, not like Schiller, with the ancients, but as the very centre and standard-bearer of the moderns. It seems plain, as hinted above, that both critics are right. Shake- speare points to a modern art which shall transcend romantic dualism and again be classical.

In this same volume, for the first time in the history of aesthetic, mention is made of the " Theory of Ugliness." 1 Beauty is defined as "the pleasant manifestation of the good" ; ugliness as "the unpleasant manifestation of the bad." We must suppose that an unpleasant manifestation of the good and a pleasant manifestation of the bad are taken to be im- possible. The attempt is thus made to regard ugliness as wholly outside beauty and corresponding to it as its embodied negation. But Schlegel soon finds that the positive embodi- ment of a negation is a troublesome conception to handle, 2 and that in as far as it is positive the intensest ugliness will need the very greatest powers to represent it, and will always contain elements of the beautiful. The distinction which might meet this obvious difficulty does not seem to occur to him. The positive negation will be, so we should say, in some degree a confusion a parody or perversion of the type of beauty to which it is correlative.

schiiier on 4- The very inconsistency however of Schle-

scwegeL g e i s suggestions makes them an indication of a

rapid revolution, both in taste and in theory. A remarkable

1 W.> 5, P. M7. ' P. iSi-


3O2 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

letter from Schiller to Goethe 1 shows the effect, probably of this very work of Schlegel, on the further history of the pro- blem. Schiller will not put up with the dualism which (exaggerating his own antithesis) modern writers are labour- ing to introduce ; but yet he is so far impressed by their contention that he is inclined to abandon the term beauty altogether, and choose another word of less narrow associa- tions. I quote the entire passage.

" I fancy that this would be the right moment to pass in review the works of Greek art, in the light of the idea of the characteristic ; for Winckelmann's and Lessing's conception is still generally prevalent, and our most recent writers on aesthetic, dealing with poetry as well as with sculpture, take endless pains to liberate Greek beauty from all traces of the characteristic, and to make this latter the distinctive mark of modern art. I think the recent aesthetic writers, in their struggles to separate the idea of beauty and present it in a certain purity, have pretty nearly hollowed it out, and turned it into an empty sound. The opposition between the beauti- ful and the correct or true ['Treffende'] has been pushed much too far, and a demarcation which only the philosopher is in the habit of making (and which is only justifiable in one aspect), has been accepted far too coarsely.

" Many, again, make another kind of mistake, in referring the idea of beauty far too much to the content of the work of art instead of to the treatment of it ; and then of course they must be puzzled when they have to comprehend under the same idea of beauty the Apollo of the Vatican and. other figures like it, of which the content is enough to make them beautiful, with the Laocoon, or a Faun, or other painful or ignoble representations.

" As you know, the same is the case with poetry. How people have toiled and are still toiling to justify the crude and frequently low and ugly realism [' Natur,' the natural facts, whether of man's behaviour, or of other kinds] of Homer and the tragedians, in consonance with the idea they have formed of Greek beauty. I wish some one would at last venture to dismiss from circulation this idea and the word beauty itself, to which all those false notions are, in fact, inseparably


1 Br.-wechseL 3. 158. July, 1797.


SCHILLER'S FEELING FOR BEAUTY. 303

attached, and, as is reasonable, to set up in its place truth in the completest sense of the word."

Truth, of course, is not here to be taken in an intellectual sense. The "Kantian" Schiller knows better than that. What the passage means is, first, that he is quite sure that the pseudo-classical idea of beauty cannot be stretched so as to cover romantic art ; and secondly, looking back upon Greek art in the light of romanticism, he is inclined to believe that even for it the current idea of the beautiful is much too narrow. Therefore he thinks a new term must be chosen, which merely indicates the need of expression and of a matter to be expressed, and he sees that this characteristic matter will be found among the Greeks as in modern art. Now that the valuable quality of art, whether we call it " beauty " or by some other name, is understood to be a neces- sary and objective expression of human life and the unity of nature, there is no reason for trying to narrow the scope of its manifestations. And therefore the thinker who was the first to proclaim its concrete objectivity was also the first who in set terms discarded all formal and traditional limitations to the compass of its unity.

In the realm of formative art and of music Schiller had no special powers of appreciation He made no positive contri- bution to the theory of specific arts 1 or of their relations with each other. His sympathy for landscape seems not to have been wider than that of his generation. 2 He treats a thunder- storm, 3 with its gloom abruptly broken by lightning, as a case of the ugly whose effect is sublime or rather exalting (" Erhe- bend"). He restricts the conception of grace to movements of the human form. 4 He does not give important aid even in the discrimination of particular forms of poetry. He pro- nounces the plot of Corneille's Cid undoubtedly the best in literature because it demands no wickedness. 6 ^ His real achievement lay in the sphere of the general principles of poetic fancy which are the foundation of all the individual arts and are profoundly connected with the springs of life and thought.


1 See Schasler, i. 626.

1 See however the Review of Mattheson's poems, W., xii. 343. Cf. Schasler, i. 648. 8 W., xi. 570, i. * See Schasler, i. 603. 6 W.> xi. 543-


304 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

II. To the student of Goethe there will appear to be something like profanity in the attempt to confine his magnificent profusion of ideas within the limits of aesthetic formula. And it must clearly be understood that in the following pages there is no pretence of gathering the full harvest of his immense activity, but only an effort to insist upon some dominant convictions the importance of which is avouched by the whole course of his ideas concerning art and beauty. The English reader who turns hopefully, for an appreciation of Goethe's aesthetic position, to the most recent and able historians among his countrymen, will experience a sharp disappointment. By common agreement he is treated as a popular writer of the school of Winckelmann, and thus finds no place at all in Hartmann's post- Kantian history, 1 while in Schasler 2 and Zimmermann 3 alike he is divorced from Schiller and annexed to Mengs and Winckel- mann as a pre- Kantian sesthetician. Such a view, though superficially favoured by the order of treatment which Hegel has adopted for a special purpose, 4 is absolutely at variance with chronology, with Goethe's fundamental ideas and his re- corded judgment of his own relation to Kant, 6 and with his place as the central figure of that creative time, the last decade 6 of the eighteenth century, when the ideas of a new philosophy were forged by co-workers whose individual con- tributions can hardly be distinguished to-day.

The ground of these contradictory estimates is very simple, and forms a convenient introduction to the study of Goethe's conceptions. Winckelmann, of course, detected the inevitable impact of expression upon beauty. By insisting upon all that we now understand as " expression it is verbally possible to find in him a doctrine of the significant or characteristic, which in reality he did but apprehend darkly and remotely. Now there is no doubt at all that Goethe's reflections upon beauty and especially upon art are centrally determined by the anti thesis of beauty in the narrower sense and significance 01


1 v. Hartmann, dzsth., i. Eml vii.

2 Krit. G. d. A., i. 494.

3 Aesth., i. 355.

4 /., i. 24.

6 Einwirkung d. neucrcn Philosophic^ W.> 30. 340.

6 /., " Diese fur mich so bedeutende Epoche, das letzte Zehnt des vet gangenen Jahrhunderts."


GOETHE AND WINCKELMANN. 305

character. It is therefore possible to speak of him as dealing with Winckelmann's problem and nothing more.

But such a view neglects the whole essence of the matter. Winckelmann started from abstract beauty, but was compelled, by his historical knowledge and sympathy, to supplement it by a graded intrusion of the expressive, which though neces- sary to the beautiful, increases as true beauty diminishes. He remained almost wholly within the domain of plastic art, having just a word to say on painting, but not a word on music or poetry. But Goethe, if he dealt with similar ele- ments, approached them in the reverse order. His point of departure was the idea of the characteristic as the excellent in art, that is to say, as the beautiful in the wider sense of the word which we have determined to adhere to. This principle he supplemented at a later time by the limiting postulate of formal beauty, beauty in the narrower sense, chiefly as a safe- guard against misunderstandings and eccentricities. This reversal of Winckelmann's position is essential, not accidental. It was the outcome of the new organ of aesthetic perception which Winckelmann had helped to create, and the germ of a wider and deeper sense of beauty. It originated in the defence of Gothic architecture against the effete pseudo- classical tradition, and was supported by the widest apprecia- tion of painting, music, and poetry. In technical philosophy its significance is quite unmistakable. Beauty the excellence revealed in art and aesthetic appreciation generally is the datum to be analysed. To assume the unanalysed datum, or its most formal analysis, as a principle, while confessing that another and a thoroughly concrete principle is perplexingly active within and outside it, is candid and suggestive, but logically impotent. To identify the datum with a concrete principle which leads to a profound analysis, while admitting that there is still a border line at which a formal residue of the datum fails to be adequately explained, is a new step in scientific comprehension. We will now consider Goethe's aesthetic convictions in the latter aspect.

ootanc i- In !773 twenty-four years before Hirt's

Architecture, famous article in Horen upon the Beautiful of Art

as the Characteristic, there appeared a small, badly-printed,

anonymous book, 1 von Deutscher Art u. Kunst, " On German

1 Scherer, il 82


306 HISTORY OF .ESTHETIC.

style and art." The authors were Moser, Herder, and Goethe. The contribution of the latter was the short paper, " Deutsche Baukunst," " German architecture," which in spite of an excess in youthful rhetoric Goethe was only twenty-four when it was published is perhaps the profoundest aesthetic utterance of the eighteenth century. For in it we have the germ of those ideas which were to find their full expression eighty years after in the chapter, " On the Nature of Gothic/' in Mr. Ruskin's Stones of Venice. I fear that the indifference of our philosophic historians to the former utterance is but too well explained by their unfamiliarity with the latter, and all that it implies. The relation of all work to the life of the individual workman is not indeed insisted on by Goethe, but the point of view which he adopted was one in which this relation was necessarily involved. I will make a few extracts from this short paper, which does not, so far as I am aware, exist in an English translation. The points to be noted for our theoreti- cal purpose are :

i. The writers attitude towards the pseudo-classicism of the late Renaissance.

ii. The sympathy for "Gothic" architecture, and criticism of the kind of disparagement which the name implies. 1

iii. The indication of a theory of characteristic art.

I will arrange the quotations under these three heads. The subject of the paper is Strasburg cathedral.

A 22l i J ' " ' Jt is in P ett y taste >' Sa 7 s the Italian, and Tradition, passes by. ' Quite childish/ lisps the Frenchman, and triumphantly taps his snuff-box & la Grecque. What have you both done, that you should despise it ?

Has not the genius of the ancients, arising from their grave, cast yours into captivity? You crawled under the mighty ruins to steal their proportions, you built your patchwork palaces with the sacred fragments, and deem yourself custodian of the arcana of art, because you can give account of colossal buildings by inch and line. If you had felt more than measured, if you had caught the spirit of the masses which astounded you, you would not simply have copied, because they did it, and it is beautiful ; you would have made your designs necessary and true, and living beauty would have sprung from them with creative power.

1 Cf. Atones of Venice^ vol. ii., " On Nature of Gothic."


STRASBURG CATHEDRAL. 307

" So you have painted your wants with a show of truth and beauty. The splendid effect of the columns impressed you ; you wanted to have columns too, and you built them into walls ; you wanted to have colonnades, and you surrounded the forecourt of St. Peter's Church with marble passages which lead nowhere, so that mother Nature, who detests and despises the useless and unnecessary, impelled your populace to prostitute them to public cloacae, till you avert your eyes and hold your nose before the wonder of the world.

" All this goes on its way ; the artist's whim serves the rich man's caprice ; the tourist stares, and our beaux espnts, called philosophers, elaborate their art-principles and art-histories out of protoplastic fables, while true men are murdered by the evil genius in the forecourt of the mysteries." 1 . . .

" . . . The column 2 is in no sense an element of our dwellings ; it contradicts the essence of all our buildings. Our houses do not arise out of four columns at four corners ; they arise out of four walls on four sides, which serve instead of columns, exclude columns, and, where you add them, make them a burdensome superfluity." " Beware of dishonouring the name of your noblest artist, and hasten to contemplate his excellent work. If it gives you an unpleasing impression, or none at all, why then fare you well ; harness your horses and away to Paris ! " We trace in all this the same coincidence of genuine racial art-feeling and regrettable national antagonism which so strongly influenced Lessing. It was inevitable that the modern spirit should grow fierce as it turned against the tradition which fettered it in every movement. We saw before that St. Peters has always been a touchstone of Renaissance feeling. Goethe cannot have been the first hostile critic, for at this time he had not seen Rome, and his information must have been drawn from other writers. But his readiness to blaspheme is a striking sign of the times. "aotmc w a H. " When I first went to see the cathedral, disparaging term. m y head was full of general conceptions of good taste. I reverenced, from hearsay, harmony of masses and purity of form, and was a sworn foe to the confused caprices of Gothic decoration. Under the rubric 'Gothic/ like an article in a dictionary, I had collected all the mistaken

Winckelmann was murdered 1768.

Directed against the Abb Laugier, Scherer, vol. ii., * Goethe.*


3<>8 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC

synonyms that had ever come into my head, undefined, dis- ordered, unnatural, a heap of odds and ends, patchwork, overloaded.' No wiser than a people that called the whole world * barbarians ' I called everything Gothic that did not fit my system, from the elaborate doll and image work with which our bourgeois aristocracy decorate their houses, to the grave remains of old German architecture, which in view of a few bizarre curves, I censured to the old tune as * Quite overloaded with ornament ' ; and so, on my way, I shuddered at what I expected to see, a misformed, curly-bristled monster. "How unexpected was the feeling with which the sight amazed me, when I stood before the building. My soul was filled by a great and complete impression, which because it was composed of a thousand harmonious details, I was able to taste and enjoy, but in no way to understand and explain. How constantly I returned to enjoy this half-heavenly plea- sure, to comprehend in their work the giant-spirit of our elder brothers ! ... How often has the evening twilight inter- rupted with friendly rest the eye fatigued by its exploring gaze, when the countless parts melted into complete masses, which, simple and great, stood before my soul, and my powers arose gladly at once to enjoy and to understand. . . How freshly it greeted me in the morning brilliance, how gladly I observed the great harmonious masses, vitalised in their numberless minute parts, as in the works of eternal nature, down to the smallest fibre, all of it form, and all bearing upon the whole; how lightly the enormous firm- based building rises into the air ; how broken it is, and yet how eternal ' . . . And so do I not well to be angry when the German art-scholar, giving ear to envious neigh- bours, mistakes his own advantage, and disparages this work with the unintelligible term ' Gothic, 1 when he should be thanking God that he is able to proclaim aloud, ' This is German building, our building, of which the Italians have none, still less the French.' And if you will not concede your- self this privilege, prove that the Goths really built like this, in which proof you will find some difficulty." . . . " But you, dear youth, shall be my companion, you who stand there in emotion, unable to reconcile the contradictions which con- flict in your soul ; who now feel the irresistible power of the great totality, and now chide me for a dreamer, that I see beauty, where you see only strength and roughness."


THE CHARACTERISTIC 3OQ

The continuation of the same passage suggests a general theory to justify this "perception of beauty" where others see only strength and roughness. The force of customary language takes Goethe back into the antithesis which he has just transcended. But we must bear in mind throughout that beauty in the largest sense always tends to coincide, as Goethe has just employed the term, with the whole excellence which belongs to fine art, qua fine art, and is appreciated by aesthetic perception, qud aesthetic. Even in Winckelmann we saw that "true" beauty falls outside that which is especially and distinctively called by the name of beauty, just as Goethe is about to oppose "true "and "great" art to "beautiful" art in the narrower sense.

-characteristic" "i- (Continued after "roughness" above.) "Do Artt not let a misconception come between us ; do not let the effeminate doctrine of the modern beauty monger make you too tender to enjoy significant roughness, lest in the end your enfeebled feeling should be able to endure nothing but unmeaning smoothness. They try to make you believe that the fine arts arose from our supposed inclination to beautify the world around us. That is not true ! For in the only sense in which it could be true it may be asserted by a citizen or artisan, but not by a philosopher." (The art-impulse, as Goethe is about to describe it, would be called an impulse to beautify things, only by those who include all formative work under beauty, as a citizen may the laying out of a new street, or an artisan the construction of a machine. Goethe's mood as here expressed is very complex ; he sympathises in sub- stance with the " citizen," but yet feels that he can only make his point clear through the distinction, in itself objectionable, which the philosopher draws. Such, at least, appears to me the true meaning of the passage.)

"Art (he continues) is formative long before it is beautiful (fine), and yet is then true and great art, very often truer and greater than beautiful art itself. For man has in him a for- mative nature, which displays itself in activity as soon as his existence is secure ; so soon as he is free from care and from fear, the demi-god, active in repose, gropes round him for matter into which to breathe his spirit. And so the savage remodels with bizarre traits, horrible forms, and coarse colours, his " cocos," his feathers, and his own body. And though this imagery consists of the most capricious forms


3IO HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

yet, without relations of shape, its parts will agree together ; for a single feeling has created them into a characteristic whole.

Now this characteristic art is the only true art. When it acts on what lies round it from inward, single, individual, independent feeling, careless and even ignorant of all that is alien to it, then whether born of rude savagery or of cul- tivated sensibility, it is whole and living. Of this you see numberless degrees among nations and individuals. The more that the soul rises to the feeling of those relations which alone are beautiful and eternal, whose main chords can be demonstrated, whose secrets can only be felt, relations in which alone the life of the godlike genius rushes forth into happy melodies; the more that this beauty penetrates the being of a mind, seeming to be of one origin with it, so that the mind can tolerate nothing else, and produce nothing else ; so much the happier is the artist. . . . Here stands his work ; approach, and recognise the deepest feeling of truth and beauty in relations issuing from a strong rough German soul, on the narrow and gloomy sacerdotal arena of the middle age." And below, after attacking the affected and feeble painting of his own days, " masculine Albert Diirer, whom the moderns mock at, the most wooden of your forms please me better."

Now it is true that this early love for Gothic buildings was driven into the background in Goethe's mind by his inclina- tion to " a more developed art " (that of the Greeks), as he tells us in his autobiography 1 (1811). This mention of the subject, however, shows How near it was to his heart, for it was in this particularly that his later life seemed to him to link itself to the impulses of his early years. The proverb, " What we wish for in youth is given us abundantly in age," is verified for him by this connection. Again, the order of development in Faust must strike every one as analogous to the poet's own history, the devotion to Helena being super- imposed upon the basis of northern life, and leaving its in- fluence behind when the contact ceases.

The approximation between art and science, by which, for good and evil, Goethe was so greatly fascinated, consisted for him in their common relation to the typical and the charac-

1 ir., 17. 348.


MEYER AND HIRT. 311


teristic. The Critiqw of the Power of Judgment, with which alone of Kant's writings he really sympathised, confirmed his conviction of this affinity, and justified in his eyes the " restless impulse " which had always led him to search for the typical or the fundamental. 1 In all this his thought is close to the " characteristic," as understood by science as well as in art. Some genera of flowers, for example, seem to him full of character, others vaguely defined and characterless. His researches into the metamorphoses of plants were guided of course by ideas of an underlying type. It is quite plain that the import, character or significance, was always for Goethe the central point in any work which appealed to man, and even, though subject to a Kantian reservation, in any product of nature.

Definitions of 2. But it is quite in accordance with Goethe's Hirt and Meyer. di s lik e o f the abstract and incomplete that we find the idea of the " characteristic," as a substantive principle of art, entering into aesthetic not through him, but through his friends Hirt, a critic, and Meyer, an artist, both travellers and learned in the facts of art, and both contributors to Horen* (1795-8).

Their opinions are adduced and criticised by Hegel in the Introduction to the Esthetic? Meyer who followed Goethe in a relative antagonism to Hirt, fancied that the view which he and Goethe shared was fundamentally different from that which Hirt maintained. But there is really no profound dis- tinction between them, beyond the limitation retained by Goethe which we have already noticed, the super-addition of beauty to significance as a condition under which the latter must appear in art. Hirt, echoing Baumgarten, identified the beautiful with the perfect for eye or ear ; but he developed the idea of perfection into that of the intention of nature as expressed in generic or specific characters. Meyer, following Goethe, laid down that the principle of (ancient 4 ) art was the significant, but the result of successful treatment was the

1 "Einw. d. n. Philos? and " Anschauende Urtheilskr.? W., 30. 342 and

35i

2 Die Horen, a review in which Schiller and Goethe co-operated. It was above the reading public at that time, and lived only three years.

8 jEsth., i. 23, E. Tr. 32 ff.

4 See Schiller's letter above. Hirt's aggressive attitude had forced the question of the characteristic to be raised even about ancient art.


312 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

beautiful. Both of these formulae, as Hegel points out, depend essentially on the relation of content to form and affirm to begin with that the excellence of art consists in expression adequate to a meaning. In describing the nature of this meaning there is, we find, a tendency of the extremes to meet, for characterisation which is merely generic or specific and not individual leans to the side of abstraction and classicism as against individualism and romanticism, and points back to Reynolds' arguments in favour of his grand style. And the postulate of " beauty in treatment " may indicate either that the individual is to be conventionalised, or that beauty can be found in individuality by those who have eyes to see. We shall find the antithesis more fully stated by Goethe himself, and need only note with regard to these minor writers that by contributing to Horen, and con- stantly supplying Goethe with material through private cor- respondence, they helped to animate the movement which during these years was communicating itself to the future leaders of philosophy.

Goethe's 3* The general results of this active epoch were Analysis of the summarised by Goethe in the dialogue, "The Excellent m Art. Collector and his Friends " l (1798), which exhibits

his ideas in a form as nearly systematic as any that he cared to give them, and is the first attempt in the history of aesthetic to represent 2 the excellent in art as a concrete into which there enter many degrees and phases of expressiveness.

Hirt makes a mistake, Goethe writes 3 to Schiller in 1797, by not recognising that it would take his explanation as well as Winckelmann's and Lessing's, and many others, to define Art. But, so far, he is quite right, Goethe continues, in insisting on the characteristic and pathetic even in formative art. " The Collector and his Friends " is practically a dramati- sation of the view taken in that letter, and consequently forms a discussion of opinions which I presume to be those of Hirt's paper in Horen? and turns on a specific and a general ques- tion. The specific question arises out of Hirt's assertion that even in Greek art the characteristic is the dominant principle,

1 " Der Sammler u. die Seinigen" W., 24. 235.

2 For Winckelmann hardly intends to attempt this, though he makes con- tribution to such a view.

Br., W., 3 152. 4 See p. 194 above on Hirt's later work.


BEAUTY AND CHARACTER. 313

and that no extreme of pain or horror is avoided in it ; and refers to the conciliation of this account, which is not abso- lutely denied, with the views of Winckelmann and Lessing. The " character," it is urged on behalf of the Niobe group, appears " only in the most general lines which permeate the work like a spiritual skeleton." This metaphor of the skeleton or framework as the correlative of the characteristic is often in Goethe's mind, and points to an intolerable dualism between the characteristic and the beautiful. But it is not his only view. The general question dealt with in the treatise, start- ing from the relation of character and beauty, refers to the total synthesis of qualities demanded by the excellence of art. " Let an artist have wrought a bronze eagle which fully ex- presses the generic conception of the eagle (this is Hirt's narrow idea of the characteristic), and let him now desire to place it on the sceptre of a Zeus. Will it be suitable ? No, it must have in addition what the artist imparted to the Zeus to make him a god. I see, interrupts the " Characteristiker " (supposed, with reason, to represent Hirt) ; you are referring to the grand style of Greek art ; but I only value it in as far as it is characteristic/' In the remarkable passage which follows, Greek art is not, as the common view of Goethe would lead us to expect, treated as the highest possible. " It satisfies," he says, "a high demand; but not the highest." " The generic conception leaves us cold [this is the ordinary attitude towards Hirt's " characteristic," which shows how remote it was understood to be from the individual character- isation which we identify with romance and naturalism], the ideal [of the Greek grand style] raises us above ourselves ; but we want more ; we want to return to a full enjoyment of the individual, without letting go either the significant or the sublime. This enigma can be solved only by beauty ; it gives life and warmth to the scientific [still thought of as distinguish- ing the * characteristic '] ; and softens the significant and lofty ; so that a beautiful work of art has gone through the whole cycle, and is again a sort of individual, which we are able to make our own."

Thus the characteristic and the ideal become individual through the fusing power of beauty. Goethe is here, as almost always, wavering between the conception of beauty as abstraction or omission, which at the bidding of some principle not- clearly understood, softens or, too probably, enfeebles


3*4


HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


the harsh outlines of definite individuality, and a conception of it as depending on the insight which discovers in the strongest details of individual portraiture a forcible grace of their own. Goethe never wholly threw off the dualism implied in the former view.

At the close of the dialogue, those qualities of artists and art-judges, i.e. of aesthetic percipients, which have been noticed in the course of discussion, are finally reviewed one by one as essential elements in the excellence of art, and are then thrown into a tabular form, constructed so as to present an elaborate analysis of beauty in this its wider sense. 1

In this scheme, each of three essential elements in the excellence of art Art-truth, Beauty, and Finish, is pre- sented as the synthesis of two opposite qualities or tendencies, one of which is " serious," and the other "playful," while both are mere onesided mannerism as contrasted with their synthesis which alone can be called style. Thus Art-truth is the union of the purely imitative and the fanciful tendency, Beauty of the characteristic and the inclination to mere decorative curvilinear form (after Hogarth's theory), and Finish of minute accuracy " and " expressive sketchiness." And further, Art-truth, Beauty, and Finish, must themselves be united in order to make up the excellence of art.

Here, it will be observed, we do not escape from the dualism involved in the appearance of beauty as contributory to that peculiar excellence of fine art, which must be set down as coincident with the beautiful in the widest sense. But yet the spell of a beauty that is devoid of content or defies analysis is now broken for ever. For the beauty constituted


1 I transcribe the table with a translation in brackets.


Ernst allem (Senous only).

Individuelle Neigung (Individual tendency).

Manier (Mannerism). Nachahmer (Copyists). Characteristiker (Artists who seize the essen- tial characters). Kleinkunstler (Minute pedants).


Ernst und Spiel verbunden

(Serious and playful com- bined).

Ausbildung m's Allgememe

(Formation of a quality having general value).

Styl

(Style).

Kunstwahrheit

(Artistic truth).

Schonheit

(Beauty).

Vollendung (Finish, completion).


Spiel allem (Playful only).

Individuelle Neigung (Individual tendency).

Manier (Mannerism). Phantomisten (Capricious fancy). Unduhsten

(Decorative grace ; curva- ture)

Skizzisten

(Expression without com- pletion. Impressionist ?)


ANALYSIS OF BEAUTY AS CONCRETE. 315

by Goethe's synthesis is not a limit that enfeebles expression, but the combination of two kinds of expressiveness, that is, of characterisation by essential attributes, and formal or decorative symbolism.

From such a construction of the idea of beauty it is only a step to regarding the other syntheses as subordinate to it no less ^than the factors of its own synthesis. In a theory of expression, taking account of its successive gradations, the general decorative principles or "curves of beauty," would rank lowest and condition all else ; the "capricious fancy" devoid of substance and significance, would be considered as a mere failure to seize the import of things, and as possessing less content than the conscientious "copying " of nature, in which " pedantic minuteness " would be an aspect or element. And at a higher stage, as the first achievement of the penetrative imagination, the " impressionist sketch " would be considered to herald and precede the full grasp of "characteristic" reality in all its detail and with all its import. By some such modified presentation, which would not involve any consider- able change of principle, we should obtain an anticipation in all essentials of the most recent analyses which deal with beauty according to its grades of symbolic or expressive power. The unimportant position assigned by Goethe to capricious fancy is especially noteworthy, as a criticism on the constantly recurring fallacies which confuse the imaginative with the fictitious.

The restriction of this dialogue to the arts of sculpture and painting enhances its value, because it was precisely in these arts that the principles of Lessing and Winckelmann, to which Goethe's letter referred, had their strongest hold, and if " the characteristic and pathetic" could be vindicated in this region, their recognition in the other arts would follow a fortiori. From this time forward beauty was necessarily considered in respect of its content, and formalistic theory, the acceptance of data of aesthetic enjoyment as ultimate, was, strictly speak- ing, an anachronism. Even the study of Winckelmann (1805) which Goethe began to prepare soon 1 after writing this dialogue, was mainly directed 2 to insisting on the organic evolution of art as an epoch-making discovery.


1 1799, Br., W., 5. 162.

2 See p. 242 above.


3*6 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


4* ** was though the life-work of Goethe and Schiller, and their many friends and contemporaries

through the development of the Kantian aesthetic judg- ment, limited by abstraction and subjectivity, into an objective concrete content which grows with the life and mind of man, that the data of modern aesthetic were finally prepared for incorporation in the answer to its problem. Their revival of the German theatre, as a form of art, gave the world little of permanent value beyond the two parts of Faust ; but their reflective synthesis of the Greek and the Briton, 1 by which they continued the work of Lessing, typifies the revolution which I have attempted to trace in the principal spheres of aesthetic appreciation. If no new art crowned this revolution

for music was not directly affected by it yet a new philo- sophy did ; and it was amid the fermentation of this last ten years, whose tendencies I have been attempting to sketch, that the first great organic thinkers of the nineteenth century gathered the convictions of their early manhood.

1 Schiller's verses on the representation of Voltaire's Mahomet at Weimar. See p. 238 supra.


CHAPTER XII.

OBJECTIVE IDEALISM. SCHELLING AND HEGEL

ll|w<r I. " SCIENCE attained its absolute standpoint in Schelling's philosophy, and although art had pre- viously begun to assert its peculiar nature and dignity in rela- tion to the highest interests of humanity, yet it was now that the actual notion of art and its place in scientific theory were discovered." 1

In Hegel's opinion, expressed in this passage, the true line of philosophical succession ran from Schiller to Schelling. Hegel himself was born in 1770, Schelling in 1775 ; but the younger of the two friends for some time took the lead, and was a professor lecturing to crowded audiences before Hegel's name began to be known. From Hegel's correspondence with Schelling in 1 795 we can see something of the intellectual excitement which the two friends shared under the influence of Kant, Fichte, and Schiller, whose ^Esthetic letters in Horen for that year Hegel mentions as a masterpiece that had greatly delighted him. 2 Taken in connection with these early letters, and with his own first essays in philosophy 3 wholly on the lines of Fichte, Schelling's important works of 1800 and 1802-3, the System of the Transcendental Idealism and the Philosophy of Art* show conclusively how his mind was carried forward under Schiller's influence. For Schelling continually refers to Schiller and Winckelmann, who furnished him with the objective material by which he enlarged into a historical and metaphysical theory the Kantian ideas respect- ing art as related to nature and to genius, which form at this time the framework of his thought. The term "absolute,"

i Hegel's JSsth., i. ; E. Tr., p. 120, and see ch. xi. above, p. 286.

H.'s Briefe, i. 16.

1 1794-5, c& Vom Ich als Princip d. Philosophic.

4 The Philosophy of Art was delivered in lectures, but was not published till after Schellmg's death. Parts of it appeared in other lectures about 1802. See preface to vol. v. of the Werke.

817


3l8 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

and the idea of construing the objective unity, to which Kant pointed, and which Schiller helped to substantiate, in terms of an Ego, a principle somehow analogous with the "self" as shown in will and knowledge, were drawn from Fichte. Hegel, in one of the letters already alluded to, referring to Schelling's earliest Fichtean tract, writes to him as follows, " From Kant's system and its ultimate completion I expect a revolution in Germany, which will start from principles al- ready present and only needing to be worked out in general bearings, and applied to all existing knowledge. But there will always be a kind of esoteric philosophy, and the idea of God as the absolute Ego will belong to it.' 1 ; This is a fore- boding of the identification which constitutes the stumbling- block and the attraction of objective idealism, the identification of the Deity with an immanent unity of things, not possessing separate existence or personal self-consciousness. For Fichte this absolute unity was a phrase only ; its substance was to be given by his successors. Schelling, in attempting this adventure, assigns to art and beauty as an objective synthesis a position in the scheme of reality even higher than that which subsequent theory concedes to them.

We shall sufficiently understand Schelling's place in the general history of aesthetic if we briefly consider

i. The objectivity which he ascribes to art and beauty in its connection with his absolute standpoint.

ii. The dynamical and historical treatment of the antithesis between ancient and modern life and art.

iii. His contributions to the estimate and classification of the particular arts.

I purposely spoke of Schelling's place in the " general " history of aesthetic. His criticisms and appreciations of indi- vidual works of art, and of particular periods and tendencies, are of too great mass to be at all thoroughly treated here. It is hard to say how much Hegel owes to him, or how far they are both drawing from common sources among the data of aesthetic. The great treatise on the Philosophy of Art was not published before Hegel's death, but he may have heard it and would certainly hear about it, or meet with it in MS., when delivered as lectures in 1802 and after. And many of its ideas were made known in published papers and addresses.

1 ^-i i. 15 (i795>-


BEAUTY DEFINED. 319


There is very little in Hegel's ^Esthetic which might not

have been suggested, in however bizarre or negative a mode,

by observation and theories that are to be found in Schelling.

objectivity of i. If we bear in mind the essential ideas of

An and Beauty, j^ant and Schiller, a few quotations from Schell-

ing's System of Transcendental Idealism ( 1 800) will show us

how he took up their suggestions into an audacious theory.

14 The whole system/' he writes in the conclusion of this work, " falls between two extremes, of which one is denoted by the intellectual intuition [which Kant aims at], the other by the aesthetic intuition [the substance of Schiller's system]. What the intellectual intuition is for the philosopher, the aesthetic intuition is for his object. The former as merely necessary to the philosopher's peculiar tendency of mind, does not occur in the ordinary consciousness as such ; the latter, which is nothing but the intellectual intuition made universal or objec- tive, at least may occur in every consciousness. From this it may be seen that and why philosophy as philosophy can never have universal validity. 1 The one thing to which abso- lute objectivity is given, is Art. Take away, it may be said, the objectivity of art, and it ceases to be what it is, and be- comes philosophy ; give philosophy objectivity, and it ceases to be philosophy, and becomes Art. Philosophy, attains the highest, but it brings to that point, so to speak, only a fraction of the man. Art brings the whole man as he is to the cog- nition of the highest, and this is the eternal distinction and the marvel of art." 2

" Every aesthetic production starts from an essentially in- finite separation of the two activities [the conscious one of freedom, and the unconscious one of nature drawn from Kant's treatment of Art in relation to Genius] which are separated in all free productions. But as these two activities are to be represented in the product as in union, this product represents an infinite in finite form. Now the infinite repre- sented in finite form is Beauty. The fundamental character of every work of art, which comprehends in it the two former characters [infinite meaning and infinite reconciliation or satis-

1 Plainly a reminiscence of Schiller's &sth. Br^ 27 near the end on art as addressing the whole man. The superiority here assigned to art over philosophy is the distinctive point in which Hegel and Schelling differ. Cf. ^Esth., Br., 15, and p. 295 sup. 3. 630.


32O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

faction taken as = repose, a reference to Winckelmann] is therefore Beauty, and without beauty there is no work of art" 1 The subsequent passage, which Schasler 2 professes himself unable to understand, is a simple explanation, follow- ing Kant, of the sublime as a more purely subjective recon- ciliation than that embodied in beauty, depending on an effort of mind less directly prescribed by the object of perception 3 than is the case with the beautiful par excellence.

" The product of art," he says in another place, " is dis- tinguished from the organic product chiefly in this, (a) that the organic being represents previous to separation what aesthetic production represents subsequently to separation but reunited ; (6) that organic production does not issue from con- sciousness, and therefore not from the infinite contradiction 4 which is the condition of aesthetic production. The organic product of nature is therefore not necessarily beautiful." 6 The last clause states a point of view distinctive of the time, which we are now tending to abandon. " But this un- known, which in this case (in art) brings into unexpected har- mony the objective 6 and the conscious 6 activity, is nothing other than that Absolute [Schelling's footnote calls it " Das Urselbst," the fundamental self or unconscious but immanent principle of the world ; the absolute ego of Hegel's letter above] which contains the universal ground of the pre-estab- lished harmony between the conscious and the unconscious." 7 He then connects the operation of the unconscious in art- production with Kant's doctrine of genius. The absolute has no existence apart from its expressions.

The place of art in Schelling s philosophy is sufficiently

1 W^ 3. 620-1.

1 G. d. A., 2. 834.

8 Kant, K. d. /., p. 100.

4 This recurring phrase " infinite contradiction " and " infinite reconcilia- tion " or solution may be best understood by thinking of an attempt to bring disparate ideas and processes into terms of each other. The failure to do this is the " infinite contradiction," as e.g. moral action never quite satisfies the moral will. The " infinite reconciliation " is the discovery of an idea or process or product in which the disparates cease to diverge and are both of them " satisfied."

  • W., 3. 621.

6 Kant's " Nature " and " Freedom, 1 * as before. This passage shows with striking clearness how his postulate of an underlying unity was developed by Schellmg.

7 W n 3. 615.


THE ABSOLUTE STANDPOINT. 321

indicated by these quotations, but one more may be added which sums up the whole matter in the most striking way.

" The system of knowledge is to be regarded as complete when it returns to ^its first principle, Transcendental Philo- sophy, therefore, is only complete when it can show the identity (vis. the principle that the same activity which is productive in action with consciousness, is productive in the world without consciousness) the highest solution of its whole problem, in its principle (the Ego).

It is therefore postulated that this activity, conscious and unconscious at once, shall be shown in the subjective, in con- sciousness itself. Such an activity is the aesthetic activity alone, and every work of art can only be understood as the product of such a one. The ideal world of art and the real one of objects are therefore products of one and the same activity ; the coincidence of the two (the conscious and the unconscious) without consciousness 1 gives the real world, with consciousness the aesthetic world.

The objective world is only the primitive and still uncon- scious poetry of mind ; the universal organon of philosophy, and the keystone of its entire arch, is the philosophy of


art." 2


We have here before us in the plainest language both the " absolute standpoint " in philosophy and the new conception of art, to which Hegel points in his account of Schelling. His close relation to Kant and Schiller is evinced by every line of the passages from which my quotations are taken. We hear nothing as yet of the supra-sensuous and theosophic world of beauty, into which pseudo-Platonic abstractions Schelling fell in later years. We have nothing but the answer, in terms of Fichte and Schiller, to the Kantian demand for an underlying unity between nature and freedom. More especially we are to observe that the Absolute does not exist in the form of consciousness, except in the human race, and that the ideas or archetypes 3 are the particular forms in which it is revealed to aesthetic perception. Often we

1 Coincidence of the conscious and unconscious activity without conscious- ness seems to mean that organic beings which end by being conscious, are built up causally without the operation of consciousness. In art, he says, the reverse is the case ; an unconscious product is consciously built up.

2 IK, 3- 349-

8 Urbilder.


322 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

might think that we are reading Schopenhauer. 1 The "Absolute" standpoint is what we more popularly call the modern standpoint. It negatives the idea of irrational con- ditions in causation for rational conditions are merely the definite attributes of a systematic universe of idle reserva- tions in knowledge, or dualistic separation between the orders of things. It rests on the conviction of human freedom, not as alien to nature, but as rooted in the system to which nature belongs ; not as supernatural therefore, but as natural. If Nature and Freedom are hostile or disconnected, the one is conditioned by the other. If they are expressions of the same principle, then their apparent contradictions are modes of co- operation, and each, as expressing the absolute whole which includes all conditions (not, which is abstract, undefined, and devoid of conditions) is itself absolute, or free from any in- terference other than that ultimately rooted in its own nature. The free faith, courage, and enterprise, implied in such a standpoint are, historically speaking, characteristic of the modern spirit, and reach the extreme of audacity in many thinkers to whose views the philosophy of the Absolute, as they understand it, is in diametrical antagonism. But what- ever may have been its follies and its extravagances, no mis- understanding is possible of the main tendency of objective Idealism, as we have watched it developing from Kant's tenta- tive solution of the antithesis of the age. It simply consists in the vindication of concrete unity or rational system as the nature of the world in which we live. Inner and outer, 2 natural and supernatural, spiritual and material, are hence : forward terms that have lost their meaning, except in refer- ence to the higher and lower purposes of man. And the principal instrument in this revolution has been the growing belief in the objectivity of the aesthetic judgment, as a union of sense and reason.

m . . _ , ii. It has been said that the fundamental differ- Hlstoxical Treat- . i -i i i

ment of Ancient ence between ancient and modern philosophy lies and Modern." j n ^ f act j^ ^ Qne came before the other.


1 E.g. W., 3. 371. "Music is the archetypal rhythm of Nature and the Universe, which by means of this art breaks through into the world of second- ary existence " (der abgebildeten Wtlt\

2 Cf. Goethe's lines, " Ins Innere der Natur," especially the end,

" Vor allem doch zu prufen ist Ob Kern du oder Schale bist."


" INFINITE " FORM. 323


The same is true of the general contrast between the antique and the modern. Thus the modern is never simple ; it is always, so to speak, on the top of something else ; always charged with a contiadiction, with a reminiscence, in one word, with a history.

Schiller's analysis of the reflective spirit in the sphere of poetry 1 had done something to focus the growing sense of this peculiarity in a distinct conception of development. For Schelling, with his pronounced idea of an underlying unity, such a conception became a central problem of philosophy ; and with Schiller constantly before his mind, he persistently refers a whole nest of antitheses concerning the 4< ancient and modern " to a principle which he endeavours to expound in a highly abstract form.

In this abstract form the principle in question turns on the opposition between " Finite "and " Infinite." The demand, it is said, which was fulfilled by Greek mythology, was directed to the representation of the Infinite within the Finite, while that involved in Christianity is rather to subordinate the Finite to the Infinite. 2 Obviously, in giving a meaning to these highly formal antitheses, the application of which is in one writing actually reversed, 3 the whole question is, which are to be taken as the defining terms. And there is no doubt that however the expressions are arranged, the defining term is Finite for ancient mythology, and Infinite for Christianity. The intended contrast may be fairly paraphrased thus : that in the ancient world the intellectual or ideal import of objects or mythological persons was measured by the carrying capa- city, so to speak, that is, by the power of adequate represen- tation, inherent in such objects or persons as given to fancy or perception. The god, for example, meant no more than could fairly be taken as exhibited in the form attributed to him. The symbolism of spiritual things in sensuous forms was therefore adequate, but only by sacrificing range and depth in the spiritual things themselves. In the modern or Christian world, on the other hand, the intellectual or spirit- ual import is dominant, and refuses to be measured by the carrying capacity of any object or person presented to fancy

1 Principally in the tract on Naive and Sentimental Poetry ', which Schelling quotes largely in the " Philosophy of Art."

2 W., 5. 430 (" The Philosophy of Art "). W.t 5., Preface.


324 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

or perception. The Christ, for example, or the Virgin Mary, suggests an inexhaustible wealth of spiritual ideas. Instead of an adequate symbolism there is, therefore, only an inade- quate or suggestive symbolism, in other words, an allegory. This recurrent formula of finite and infinite, wherever it is used in Schelling with reference to the imaginative basis of art, seems to mean that in the one case the infinite (ideal) is narrowed down to the finite (sensuous), and in the other the finite (sensuous) is racked and stretched and brought to an expressiveness more like that of feeling and thought, to admit the import of the infinite (ideal). It is indeed painful to us, and we hold it false, when we are told that modern art is essentially allegory, which is the conclusion that Schelling draws from the entire subordination of symbol to import in the modern imagination. But we must recall what was said in the earlier chapters of this work respecting the power exerted by a profound import in exhausting the significance of the sensuous object on which it is imposed. In fact, art which is in this strict technical sense allegorical, by suggesting more than it can adequately convey, is not mechanical, arbitrary or conventional, which are the faults of common allegory, but is likely to strain every resource of natural expressiveness to the furthest limit, although, when all is done, more remains behind in the shape of mere suggestion.

In a lecture of the year 1802 (published 1803) " On the historical construction of Christianity" l the same antithesis is stated in another form. Christianity is here contrasted with the Greek religion as the historical with the natural view of the universe. The conception is ultimately the same as that just examined. The modern man, it is maintained, has been taught to regard the universe as a moral kingdom, 2 a world of change and movement in which a power and unity is re- vealed, greater and more durable than any isolated manifesta- tion of it. The divine itself is made known to him not as a permanent figure, but as a vanishing historical personage, whose abiding with the world is not sensuous but ideal. For the Greek, the gods were permanent objective parts of nature, and the world was a fixed system without essential movement or progression. Those who are familiar with the politico-ethical

1 W., 5. 286 ff.

f All this seems suggested by Kant's Religion innerhalb der Grcnzm d. R. V.


THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY. 325

standpoint of Plato and Aristotle will feel the profound justice of these ideas. 1 The notion of a world-evolution was wholly alien to the Greeks, We on the contrary, it is urged by Schelling, are in our whole life founded on history. And history belongs to the world of mind, not to the world of nature. The entire medium and texture of modern life is thus ideal in the sense that it is charged with traditions, and prin- ciples, and conceptions of a moral or providential order, inter- woven in human history, in which we recognise that man has his being. Obviously this contrast has only a relative truth. We deny to the Greek a historical consciousness because his historical consciousness is lost to us. Yet after all it remains true that he lived by sight and we live by faith. The mere fact that his life lies at the root of ours is enough to produce this result. The medium of our life is succession, that of his life was coexistence. And succession can be a medium of life only through ideas. For the Christian, history is the symbol of God. 2 The effect of such a conception on the theory of art is to exhibit modern beauty as charged with a burden of ideal meaning which is hostile to the simpler forms of sensuous ex- pression, and taxes to the utmost the capacities of the most varied and flexible media.

And more strictly within the field of art we find the same principle applied by Schelling in the remarkable paper " On Dante in a philosophical aspect/ 1 3 This paper was the basis of my treatment of Dante in ch. vii., and it is now only necessary to point its reference to Schelling's view of modern art. The contrast of finite and infinite or of nature and history becomes, in its application to the particular work of art, the contrast of genus and individual, The ' ' subject! vity " forced upon the modern mind by its reflective and historical basis asserts itself in art as individuality, whereas in the Greek world expression was abstract, "exemplary" or typical, and the utterance rather of the racial than of the individual genius. This conception is no doubt suggested or reinforced by Wolfs treatment of the Homeric poems as a racial rather than an individual achievement.

The law of modern poetry, till the great modern epic shall

1 See Newman's Introduction to Ar. Politics, conclusion. 1 Cf. the Erdgeist's song in Faust. 8 1802-3, W., 5. 152.


326 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

be written, l is, Schelling writes, 2 in the paper on Dante, " that the individual shall form into a whole that portion of the world which is revealed to him, and shall create his mythology for himself out of the material of his time, its history and its science. For as the ancient world was universally the world of genera, so is the modern world that of individuals ; in the former the universal is really the particular, the race acts as an individual (Wolfs theory of the Epos) ; in the latter, on the contrary, the starting point is the particular, which necessarily becomes universal. In the former, for this very reason, everything is permanent, imperishable ; number has, so to speak, no power, as the universal idea coincides with that of the individual ; in the latter, change and movement are the abiding law ; no closed circle, but only one extensible to infinity by means of individuality can contain its principles. And because universality belongs to the essence of poetry, it is a necessary requirement that through the height of peculiarity the individual should again become of universal import, and through the completeness of particularity should again become absolute. It is through this character of abso- lute individuality, of utter incomparability with everything else, which his poem possesses, that Dante is the creator of modern art, which cannot be conceived apart from this arbi- trary necessity and necessary arbitrariness.' 1

The individual, it will be observed, has in the modern world to create his own mythology. The belief expressed elsewhere 3 that "Natur-philosophie" is the first adumbration of the future world-mythology, may be taken as an anticipation of the Modern Painters, in as far as the essence of the latter work is to disclose the rational and symbolic content of natural phenomena. In affirming, therefore, that mythology is neces- sary to Art, Schelling is only demanding a certain range of fancy, organised in terms relevant to the expressive powers of particular arts, and possessed of a certain universal recognition or validity. Shakespeare, for example, he regards as having created his own mythology. 4 Mythology which is used, as


1 I.e. a poem that shall summarise the modern world and be its single work, as Homer was that of the early Greek world. The idea that we are now in the " rhapsode " stage, the stage of utterance which will one day make up a whole, is plainly a bizarre application of Wolfs ideas.

  • VT. 9 5. 154. 3 /*., 443-5 ("Philosophy of Art"). 4 -, 445-


MODERN BEAUTY. 327


the antique mythology in modern poetry, he sets down as sheer frigid formalism. 1

The qualities of modern sentiment and imagination, which all these antitheses are intended to embody, stand irt essential relation to the comparative importance and elaboration of different species of art in ancient and in modern times. The sensuous vehicles of artistic expression have different capa- cities and are appropriate to different modes of feeling and utterance. Therefore the classification of the several arts is in immediate dependence on the view adopted as to the line of progress which is to be ascribed to aesthetic imagination and sensibility. It is very remarkable that Schelling's general definition of beauty 2 coincides with the formula which he applies to ancient imagination in contrast with modern " the presentation of the infinite within the finite." It is clear, from what has been said, that this formula must be interpreted so as to include both sides of the antithesis, with one side of which it is at first sight identical. Modern beauty is still the presentation of the infinite in the finite, but in it the finite, as I endeavoured to explain, is both degraded into an inadequate symbol, and is also racked and burdened to the uttermost, so that it may take on something of the character of the infinite which it has to express. It agrees with the whole course of our inquiry to find that, in a natural and unsophisticated sense, antique beauty and beauty proper coincide, while in order to bring modern beauty under the head of beauty proper the defining term needs a good deal of interpretation, me particular in. In the discourse " on the relation of For- ArtB - mative Art to Nature/' 8 Schelling brings together the conception of the imitation of nature in a new and pro- found sense with the conception of characteristic beauty. Having liberated the latter from the contradiction which Goethe suffered to remain in it, he applies the joint result to the distinction between sculpture as the peculiarly antique, and painting as the peculiarly modern art.

The fault of the old view that art aims at the imitation of nature, which gave no explanation how the beautiful which was to be imitated differed from the ugly which was not, lay, as he points out, in regarding Nature as a lifeless aggregate of objects. The moment that Nature is recognised as a living


5. 443- 3 See above, p. 319. * W., 7. 287 (1807).


3 2 8 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


whole, the expression of reasonable powers, the rule c tation," and the aim of " idealisation " becomes clear.


of " imi- We

must transcend the given form in order to restore it as in telligible, vital, and genuinely felt." 1 Even Winckelmann who had a true feeling for nature, did not, so Schelling con tinues, explain that form is beautiful purely because and in as far as it reveals the idea. The common demand 2 for " ideali- sation " implies that beauty is negatively related to reality. But this is not the case , on the contrary, the value of true idealisation is to reveal the vital and essential in nature Thus the negative notion of the ideal, or of characterisation as op- posed to the ideal, is defective. Form is not a limit imposed ab extra on body , it is spontaneous and positive, the expres- sion of a creative force. "When the artist seizes the look and essence of the idea which works in the individual, and makes it emphatic, he forms the individual into a self-existent world^a genus, an eternal type." 3 " Nature is characteristic from its first beginnings," up to the human form ; and the characteristic persists throughout as the operative foundation of the beautiful. 4

Goethe's comparison 6 of the characteristic in art to the skele- ton of a body is here admirably criticised and supplemented. The skeleton is not separable from, or prior to, or more real than the soft expressive parts which it supports. The true characteristic corresponds to the expression of the whole figure, flesh and bones, active and passive. The framework can never be justly contrasted with the completed form and its beauty.

Here, then, in the full task laid upon the artist we have the point of the difference between sculpture and painting Sculpture, the essentially ancient art, cannot cope with the "characteristic variety" of nature; it does not represent space, but has its space in it [is in real space] and is therefore obliged to reduce its world almost to a point. Thus it can only repre- sent such beauty as remains beautiful when treated as a single and simple whole. The painter, who belongs distinctly to the modern world, has all creation before him, and can use all grades of the characteristic and apparently less beautiful as contributory to the wider totality of his work. It must be

1 W., 7. 299. /., 302. s Ib., 304

4 Ib., 307 6 In Der Sammlcr u. die S.


SCULPTURE AND PAINTING. 329

granted, however, that in conformity with the very natural inconsistency which pursues us throughout, Schelling is con- stantly tempted to treat the simplest and most uniform beauty as the highest and truest, following the tradition which at the same time he breaks down.

The distinction between sculpture and painting is further examined on its merits and with a true feeling of their relation, but is expressed in language that bears traces of superstition. Sculpture 1 presents its ideas by means of bodily things; paint- ing by an almost spiritual medium. Such phrases suggest but do not clearly explain the difference of expressive capacity between carved material of a uniform colour, and pigments laid upon a flat surface. The conclusion, however, is just ; sculpture, he says in effect, is fettered by its material and cannot express more of the mind than is very definitely revealed in permanent and tangible relations of form , it fails seriously if overcome by the matter with which it deals, and in any case cannot carry spiritual expression beyond a point at which the powers of the material are fairly balanced by the expressiveness imposed upon them Painting, on the other hand, is ideal throughout (in comparison with sculpture, that is) : its " pictures are pictures, and not things ; " it is less fettered by its medium than sculpture, and therefore, though its fall is greater i/ 2 it sets matter above spirit (on the principle corruptio optimi pessima), yet it has a far higher capacity of subordinating its medium to a spiritual import. 3

Schelling's aesthetic sensibility begins here to show its limitations. He is, by personal preference, chiefly concerned to prove that soft or rapturous expression is consistent with characteristic beauty ; and this predilection happens to do good service, because the characteristic had always been regarded as primarily hard and rigid. But when he comes to treat Guido Reni as the genuine painter of " soul/' we


  • /, 7-316.

9 N.B. this " if" in view of following note.

  • See Pater, Renaissance, p. 63. " Colour is no mere delightful quality

of natural things, but a spirit upon them by which they become expressive to the spirit.' 1 I cannot pass unnoticed Schasler's strangely curious misreading (Knt. G. d. A., p 854) of this passage in Schellmg, which he spends half a page in satirising as self-contradictory, because, from neglect of the context, he has construed a hypothetical expression as categorical The reader of his 1 200 pages is forced to wonder whether much of his time might not have been saved if the author had been more lavish of his own,


33O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.


recognise that he is on the downgrade of sentimentalism, and that the superstitions of his later life are casting their shadows before.

Schelling's systematic classification of the arts is of value rather as the first thorough-going attempt at such a classifica- tion, and as giving occasion, by the way, for a good deal of analysis of their respective powers and peculiarities, than for any permanent importance in the leading distinction on which it is based. It plainly follows Kant's division, to which, it will be remembered, Kant himself attached but little importance, into arts of speech and of form, adding to the latter category the art of music, which Kant placed apart under the head of the beautiful play of sensations.

But Schelling connects this main division of the arts with the same abstract principle which represents to him the differ- ence between the modern and the antique. The arts of the Real series are embodiments of the Infinite in the Finite the principle, as we saw, 1 of beauty in general, and more especially of antique beauty, Those of the Ideal series are cases of the subordination of the Finite to the Infinite. 2 It is here more plain than ever that the terms of the two antitheses do not occupy strictly contrasted places. In both of them the In- finite, that is, ideas, is the matter represented, and the relatively Finite, the form, is in both the medium of repre- sentation But in the one the Finite retains its sensuous or material limitations to the full, in the other it is tyrannised over by the meaning and assumes in some degree an infinite or ideal character. Language is a case of this principle. The word loses its individual material being its look, shape and sound 8 become a matter of indifference and we go straight to the idea which it suggests. The two antitheses would express their intention more intelligibly if they spoke of Representation of the Infinite in Finite form, and Representa- tion of the Infinite in Infinite form, it being understood that form can only be infinite relatively and through an extension of its natural functions.

Now as the second formula, that of modern art and of the ideal series, falls outside the definition of beauty proper, which


P 327 supra.

W, 5- 630.

I do not admit that in art its sound is indifferent.


SYSTEMATIC TREATMENT OF THE ARTS. 331

is one with the formula of ancient art and of the real series, we might have expected to find a view of historical succession underlying the distinction between the two series. Traces of such a view, but traces only, are to be found in the remark 1 that the ancients were plastic in their poetry, while modern poetry is (as in Dante) far more arbitrary and capricious and all but impossible to reduce to typical species. We observed that the contrast between sculpture as typically antique and painting as typically modern was rightly drawn elsewhere.

The other and very remarkable feature of the construction of these two series, is the involution of "powers," or phases within phases, by the repeated application of an identical formula to elements previously obtained by that same formula. This process prevails indeed throughout Schilling's philoso- phy. Thus in the realm of mind (itself an Ideal unity) Art and Philosophy were respectively unities in which the Real and the Ideal predominated ; in Art, again, the two series in question are unities of the Finite and Infinite, in each of which one of these principles prevails over the others. And, moreover, within each series there is a predominant real, a predominant ideal, and their " indifference " or equally-balanced unity. Thus in Poetry, whose forms constitute the ideal series, the relatively real is the Lyric, the ideal par excellence is the Epic, and the synthesis of the two is the Dramatic. In the real series the real par excellence is music, the relatively ideal is painting (I cannot think why), and the synthesis of the two is sculpture. Within sculpture again Architecture appears as a sub-form distinct from the bas-relief and from sculpture in the round, as real par excellence and corresponding to music a frozen music, as Schelling calls it.

I do not adduce all this as of any value in its substantive application as handled by Schelling, but for two historical reasons. In the first place, any thread of systematic con- nection, however quaint or unreal, which causes a complete and impartial survey to be made for the first time of the whole range of a subject, is of immense historical importance and stimulating effect. Schelling's elaborate discussion of music, for example, is a new thing in aesthetic theory ; and however much we may regret the parallel drawn between it and architecture, yet the conception of it as representing 2 pure

1 W., 5. 632. /., 5. 502.


33* HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

movement abstracted from objects, and the real form of things and events, has much in common with Schopenhauer and with later conceptions.

But secondly, whether or no Hegel's dialectic may have originated in these ideas of Schelling, the triplicity in syn- thesis (suggested of course by Kant) and involution by re- application of identical formulae, are important principles in all philosophical construction, though readily lending themselves to a futile ingenuity. It is incontestably true that analogous phases repeat themselves, and repeat themselves cumulatively, in mind and nature. The world moves forward not merely from one condition to another, but as a whole of conditions, each of which reproduces itself according to its law of differen- tiation within the general phase which the whole has assumed according to this same law. 1 Thus the general idea that the entire system of the arts recurs on different planes and with a different centre, as the whole of life is pushed forward into special conformity with one type of expression, by the results of its own activity, is thoroughly just, and is a principle which might be the foundation of a synthesis between a linear classification of the arts and their history in time. Not the mere progression from art to art, but the movement of the characteristic centre of artistic utterance would be the point in which history would justify classification.

Schelling's own serial arrangement is, however, merely a piece of arbitrary formalism. If we ask what it substantially means, there is no answer. In what sense are lyric, epic and dramatic poetry a second series corresponding to music, paint- ing and sculpture ? We are not told that the order of the series is an ascending order either in evolution or in power of presentation, and however we read them we cannot make it such. The logical framework of the arrangement seems not to correspond to any progression in the qualities of art as art, and we should give it the best effect by reading the real series backwards from sculpture to music, and the ideal forwards from lyric to dramatic poetry, which would destroy the correla- tion of the terms and therefore cannot be intended. Though a rough idea of progress from perception to fancy may have


1 Thus we might say, in the Christian world there is the heathen Christian the Greek Christian, and the Christian Christian.


SCHELLING'S ACHIEVEMENT. 333

decided Schelling to do his best with Kant's suggestion, the double series really cuts the development in two ; the triplets of the separate syntheses are independent of each other, and their cross analogies are futile. Any pair of arts can be thus regarded as analogous, and there is hardly any pair that has not been so regarded. What just estimate of the value of the arts is formed by Schelling, as in the case of music, is in spite of the serial arrangement and not derived from it. Such parallel series have been the foundation of many subsequent classifications of the arts, even of that proposed by Schasler. But unless it is thoroughly explained why there are two series, and how the beginning of the one is related to the close of the other, and, if cross correspondences are alleged, why they are really essential to the notion of the arts sup- posed to correspond, I see no meaning in arrangements of this kind. The problem of classification is to illustrate the affinity between individuals either in origin or in function or in both. I cannot see that the superficial resemblance between sculpture and the drama, or between epic poetry (some prefer to say lyric) and painting, throws any light on any question of the kind. Hartmann's distinction, coincident with that of Schelling's series, between arts of perceptive semblance and arts of imaginative semblance, will be dis- cussed in its place.

With Schelling we are fairly launched on nineteenth century aesthetic. The objectivity and necessary historical continuity of the sense of beauty as a supreme expression Schelling will have it to be the supreme expression of the absolute or divine reality as uttering itself through man, has become an axiom of philosophy. The negative notions of the beautiful and of the characteristic are shown to be imperfect, and their opposition to be unreal. The principle of progressive and cumulative synthesis, according to a law which is constantly re-applied to its own results, is exhibited, though incoherently and inconsistently, in a classification of the fine arts.

All this was really achieved, but how far it entered into history by affecting his successors is a different question. The " Philosophy of Art " was given in lectures and circulated in MS., but probably had only a partial effect. I cannot say for certain whether it was known to Hegel. But the published lectures and papers and the System of Transcendental Idealism* contain all that is of importance, except the detailed treatment


334 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

of the arts, and there can be no doubt that Hegel, while largely drawing from common sources, was also, as is shown by the lectures on ^Esthetic, immensely influenced by Schell- ing's views of art and of aesthetic philosophy.

The genius and character of the two men were extra- ordinarily different, and extraordinarily suitable the one to go before and the other to follow. Schelling at his best has a profusion of thought and brilliancy of suggestion with which Hegel cannot compare. But soon the reader finds that he is an untrustworthy guide ; impatient, incoherent, credulous, with no sterling judgment of art, and with a constant bias to the sentimental and the superstitious. Hegel is persevering, laborious, consistent, remarkable for his healthy and masculine judgment of art, while sympathetic and even passionate below the surface. He detests rhetoric, to which Schelling was prone, and the reader feels that fail as he may, he is always making a genuine effort to grasp the essence and get to the heart of his subject. Considering the close early connection between the two great thinkers, and the immense range of recent material of which they shared the inheritance, it may be said that while we prefer Hegel to Schelling, this is partly because Schelling is best represented in Hegel.

Hegel. H* * Hegel's aesthetic system, as represented

Dfc-gcuctotue with substantial fidelity in the lectures on aesthetic, 1 makes no parade of the dialectic method which constitutes the essential difficulty of his other philosophical works. Questions as to the degree in which the Dialectic controls the construction of the ./Esthetic, must be argued not with reference to the structure of the latter, which is tolerably plain, but with reference to the nature of the former, which will never perhaps be thoroughly agreed upon. Therefore the Dialectic as such does not concern us here, and I propose to spare my readers almost all enquiry into it, only saying enough to explain my own conviction that in the aesthetic we possess a specimen of the reasonable connection which the


1 This work on ^Esthetic was published in 1835, having been put into shape after Hegel's death out of materials consisting of Hegel's MSS. of the lectures, in which the introductions were for the most part fully written out, and of the notes taken by pupils, several sets of which were collected for the purpose. The work is substantively reliable, but must not be regarded as a literary production from Hegel's hand.


THE DIALECTIC. 335


dialectic was intended to emphasise, without the constant parade of unfamiliar terms which have been thought to be mere lurking-places of fallacy. The evolution of beauty, as Hegel describes it, depends on a principle analogous to that which Schelling appealed to in a far more artificial form. In every process of change construed according to the postulate of causation, that which ceases to exist must be supposed so to cease because its nature is no longer adequate to the claim made upon it by the connected system within which it has its being. In a formal and technical sense, therefore, it may be contended that in every causal process, any element which ceases to be, must necessarily be replaced by something more adequate than itself to the requirements of the process as a whole. But such a deduction would be purely formal, because it is possible that the elements of the causal connection might be of a limiting or destructive character, and the reason for the better adaptation of the succeeding element to these demands might lie in its possessing not a larger but a scantier content. To conditions which forbid life, a corpse is better adapted than a living man. But within any evolution which has in fact a progressive character the formal principle just indicated will have a real bearing. Any vanishing element, in being replaced by something which better harmonises with the systematic and causal process as a whole, is giving way before necessities which in part its own activity has modified into a form in which it can no longer meet them. Thus, for instance, physical decay is not the only reason why a man's life-work ends when he is old. Plato's successor must be not Plato but Aristotle, and granting that adaptability is a matter of degree, still, considering life as a system of phases which determine each other, it seems clear that Plato c^uld not become Aristotle by a mere prolongation of his days. fhe succeeding factor, which meets the new necessities that mould it, is by the very condition of its existence carrying on the life- work of its predecessor in a more complex form, weighted alike with what it achieved, and with what it died in failing to achieve > If we are pleased to express these relations by say- ing that every positive existence, in a progressive evolution, passes over into its negation, which then necessarily makes way for a further positive result, including both the earlier positive and its negative, the phraseology is technical but not I think altogether unintelligible. And if we are asked how a


HIS1ORY OF ESTHETIC.


bare negation can enter into the determination of any positive result, we might point to the possibility that Hegel may have been aware that within a concrete and causal process there is no such thing as a bare negation. However this may be, we have only to master the conception of a necessary progressive movement so far as will enable us to follow the structure of the ^Esthetic. For this purpose one more point is necessary to be noted. , The successor inherits a task modified by his predecessor, but yet the same, in the sense of bearing the same relation to the causal system which surrounds them both. And therefore there is a certain truth in the quaint terminology of Schelling, which treats the successive phases of evolution in any particular direction as " powers," or specialised intensi- fications, produced by the reiterated application of an identical process to results generated by itself.

I will now attempt a brief account of the most interesting features of Hegel's aesthetic system, relying on the abstract, in great part probably from his own hand, which is printed in the Appendix, for a complete conspectus of it, which would other- wise have occupied the whole of my space in the text as essen- tial to understanding the relation of the parts to each other. The conception " Beauty is the Idea as it shows itself to

of Beauty. senbe ^ The Idea, we must remember, does not imply consciousness, although both life and consciousness are reckoned among the forms of its manifestation. But the Idea as such is the concrete world-process considered as a systematic unity. As its " show" or "semblance " (Schein) the beautiful is at once distinguished from the true, 2 which is the Idea as it is for thought, and therefore has an identical substance with that of beauty but a different form. It is also, as by Kant, distinguished from the good, useful, and pleasant, all of which have to do with will or desire.

As belonging neither to theory nor to Desire, the Beautiful is said to be '* infinite," that is to say, free from relativity, whether according to the law of sufficient reason, or according to the alien purposes imposed by desire on its object. The infinite in this peculiar sense is the self-contained or the self- complete ; that which satisfies the perception and does not refer it away through a series of causes or purposes lying outside itself. If endless infinity may be compared to an

1 jEsth , i. 141 * Ib.


ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT. 337

infinite straight line, Hegel's true infinity, of which the beau- tiful is a leading example, may be compared to a circle or a sphere,

There is thus nothing " abstract" in Hegel's "idea," which is the very concrete itself, nor any unreality in his "ideal," which is, as we shall see, the idea as manifested in the chief historical types or phases of art.

rue Beauty of But the " first " (simplest or lowest) existence Nature. of the Idea }s in Nature, and the " first " beauty is the beauty of nature. 1 The beauty of nature, of course, exists only for the perceiving consciousness, 2 but Hegel devotes to it a brief separate treatment as differing from the beauty of art in not having been consciously produced with a view to aesthetic effect. He is partly influenced by the idea of nature as contrasted with man, and only includes man in his account of natural beauty as an after- thought, 8 and in some degree as a contrast to the beauty of animals. The difficulty, however, in the separate treatment of natural and artistic beauty, at once makes itself felt in the fact that landscape scenery, which is dealt with in a few words under this former head, is more fully spoken of when the art of painting comes to be discussed.

The beauty of nature, as distinguished from man, which Hegel begins by considering, was something that he did not fully feel. He understood that inanimate nature may be in apparent sympathy with human moods, but he had no de- tailed justification to offer for their coincidence, nor any sense of character and import in mountain form or cloud formation or water movement. His gaze is concentrated on the indi- vidual organism and its progressive manifestation of life, in which for the first time the idea seems to him to attain a partially adequate self-revelation, and he devotes more atten- tion to the plant than to the rocks, more to the animal than to the plant, and subsequently more to the human being than to the animal.

We do not feel, I believe, this exact progression of aesthetic value in the ratio of organic development. The landscape, and plant life as the vesture of the earth, seem to us more yielding and sympathetic to our moods than the concentrated life of the individual animal ; and great as is the beauty of the


148. 8 /A, 157. 8 Cf. pp. 167 and 184.


33$ HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

horse or the tiger, they do not appear readily or continuously in our higher enjoyment of the beautiful. They are not, like man, spiritual in themselves ; but yet they are sufficiently individual to resist subordination to our general aesthetic sen- timents. But in exalting the beauty of the human form as the sole adequate incarnation of the idea, Hegel is in harmony with the best feeling and criticism of to-day, in spite of the immense recent extension of our sympathy with inanimate nature.

His discussion of beauty and ugliness in the forms of animals, 1 is half-hearted, and seems to admit that ugliness may be relative. Creatures seem ugly to us, he says, whose forms are typical of qualities opposed to vitality in general, or to what we have learnt to regard as their own special or typical form of animate existence Thus the sloth as want- ing in vitality, and the platypus as seeming to combine irre- concilable types, and crocodiles and many kinds of insects, simply, it would appear, because we are not accustomed to consider their forms as adequate expressions of life, are all regarded as ugly. This implies that below the level of man and art there is no absolute ugliness, a view to which I shall have to recur.

Beauty of But further, as the vitality of nature even in Abstract Form. amma l s f a ll s short of characteristic individuality, the expression of the idea must also be looked for in formal and abstract attributes, 2 pervading all nature, and representing to sense a unity that does not amount to the unity of soul life. This external beauty shows itself as the beauty of abstract form and as the abstract unity of sensuous matter. Under the former head it includes those geometrical embodiments of unity which I have especially drawn atten- tion to in antique theory. Hegel enumerates them as regu- larity (of mere repetition), symmetry (of repetition with a difference), lawfulness (a far-reaching conception, applying to all totalities in which a number of differences are bound to- gether by a common law, and not merely as repetitions of one another : parabolic curves, Hogarth's line of beauty, the different lines of the human arm in two opposite contours, are given as examples) ; and harmony (the same relation between chiefly qualitative attributes as lawfulness between chiefly

1 P 166 * 169 fir


POSITION OF ABSTRACT BEAUTY. 339

quantitative attributes, quantity and quality passing into one another at this point, The relations of colour are given as an example. The beauty still consists in the principle of totality, presented through the suggestion of an agreement in qualities that differ).

Beauty in ^ n< ^ ' m addition to this scale of principles he BenaelSLtoiaL em p' las ^ ses as ^e abstract unity of sensuous enBe " matter what appeared by their side in Plato, the

effect of purity or simplicity in the sensuous medium, such as colour, tone, or even shape. Here, in passing, he refers to sympathy with landscape scenery as explicable in some cases by this principle, as when we are pleased at the clear sky, or the bright sea. But as a rule, even in the account of abstract beauty, his eye has been on individual formations, on crystals, plants, and animals. As regards this sensuous purity, which we discussed in connection with Plato and with Kant, we have only to note that Hegel attempts to dis- tinguish, as is right, between purity for sense perception /freedom from sheer disturbance, as from dirt in colour, and from noise in tone) and simplicity of physical origin. This latter he mistakenly believes also to condition a peculiar kind of sense-impression, and he unluckily instances violet as a colour which is not in itself simple or one of the essential species of colour ! l

Now since natural beauty, no less than that of art, admit- tedly exists only for perception, we may regard the whole region of the beautiful as forming for Hegel, in spite of the contrast between nature and art, a continuous and ascending scale , so that this abstract beauty becomes, as we have throughout considered it to be, a set of general conditions imposed by the formal principle of unity in variety on all sensuous expression qud expressive, but not exhausting the content even of a curve or colour, much less of any more individual presentation.

But purely natural beauty the beauty of things as com- mon perception sees them is essentially defective, 2 owing to its incapacity, even granting that the actual human form be- longs to it, for representing the unity of a spiritual being at every point of the sensuous shape. In a striking passage Hegel explains how nearly the human form, in contrast to

1 Violet is a primary colour. 2 i. 180.


34O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

that of animals, fulfils this requirement, 1 by the hue and sensitiveness of the skin, its peculiar appearance of life, and so on. But even the human body is overlaid with the mark- ings of nature and accident, and in modern times by a dress which resists expression ; and all this hinders the spiritual life from perfectly shining through its form.

Beauty of Art; j8. It is therefore necessary that the idea, which the ideal j^g f oun d the fullest non-sensuous expression of itself in the human intelligence, should proceed as it were to repeat consciously the process by which it was unconsciously embodied in nature, and construct for itself a more adequate representation equally actual for sense in the second nature of art. Now the entire subjective aspect of this process, the matter which is imagined in forms capable of represen- tation, constitutes, according to Hegel, the Ideal, that is to say, the Idea so translated into the terms or tendencies of imagination as to be capable of direct or indirect presen- tation to sense. Concreteness is the bridge to artistic realisa- tion. 2

Nature and the (i) The relation of the Ideal to Nature, with ideal. reference to imitation and so-called idealisation is simply and sufficiently stated by Hegel.

imitation. Simple imitation he does not wholly despise, but, following the track of Aristotle, refers our pleasure in it to our " satisfaction in mental production." This satisfaction he is inclined to defend, as the just pride of the mind in being able to do with a simple material of its own choice, 3 the essence of what nature can only do with enormous and varied real resources. It may be regarded either as an exaltation of the thing imitated into the medium of mind, or even as an irony directed against mere sensuous reality. Objects thus imitated delight us, he says, not because they are so natural, but because they are made so natural. 4 This is a profound judgment, indulgent with the indulgence of a great mind ; for to a philosopher enthusiastic for the highest conceptions of art, nothing could be more repulsive than the reduction of it to sleight-of-hand in imitation. 6 The ultimate defect of pure imitation is, then, that it is formal, regardless of the indi- vidual matter or meaning of what it represents.

P 184 2 See Appendix I. 8 See p. 12, supra 4 Cf Tntrod. E. Tr., p. 82. 6 Ibid.


ALL IDEALISATION SELECTS. 341

idealisation. ' In seizing this matter or meaning, and impres- sing a universal character on the perceptible imagery of repre- sentation, we have the second stage and true essence of fine art ; 1 poetry as opposed to making. However concrete and particular may be the forms of art, they must be different for having passed through the mind, which is the faculty of uni- versals. If the artist imitates nature, it is not because she has done this or that, but because she has done it right? Nature, in short, "is an empty indefinite phrase. 8 Poetry [as the general spirit of art] will always be obliged to insist upon the energetic, essential, distinctive, and the ideal is this expressive essence, not the merely actual, to represent whose details in any scene e.g. in a scene of every-day life, would be languid, spiritless, wearisome, and intolerable/'

It is plain to an observer of to-day that the two opposite senses of idealisation, in respect of which Hegel's masculine feeling sympathised strongly with Herr v. Rumohr's attack on the so-called followers of Winckelmann in his cultus of the ideal, 4 are ultimately bound up with the two opposite senses of the universal in logic. If the universal is the empty abstract, and its symbol is width of area, idealisation means superficiality and loss of individual content. If the universal is the full concrete, and its symbol is a centre with radii, idealisation means profound insight and wealth of individual characterisation. Hegel uses the latter notion in aesthetic, as he introduced it into logic. The two modes have in common, however, the physical limitations of art and its appeal to per- ception under definite conditions ; in both, therefore, there is a certain selection and omission, which facilitates the too ready confusion between them.

" Behind this view of imitation and idealisation Idealisation: f < r 11

Absolute or Reia- as stages of the penetration of nature by the

      • mind, there may be raised a further and more

speculative question, namely, " Is the superiority of art to

nature absolute or relative ? " i.e. is the idealisation necessary


1 i 206 2 Ibid. s i. 210.

4 " Out of this recognition (of the Greek ideal by Winckelmann) there arose a yearning for idealistic representation, in which people thought they had found beauty, but really fell into insipidity, unvitahty, and characterless superficiality."-- /&VM., i. 202. How Schasler could say (i. 386) that Hegel's ^Esthetic contained only one short remark on Winckelmann passes my com- prehension.


34 2 HISTORY OF


merely for the limitedness of our perception and the physical conditions of representation, or does it put into nature more than the greatest artist could see to be really there if his knowledge were unlimited, and the picture frame unnecessary ? Hegel is more neutral on this point in the ^Esthetic than might be expected from his philosophy of nature, in which he seems to treat the natural as contingent. In the ^Esthetic he speaks of the uniform, direct and solidly coherent sequences of nature as a corrective of arbitrary conventionalism in art, 1 and treats the question whether art or nature is the more beautiful in mere form as empirical, and not to be settled by theory 2 I do not believe that he ever thought of Nature as contingent in the sense of being uncaused or outside the reign of law. Its contingency probably meant for him its apparent indifference to human purposes. He undoubtedly thought, however, that the Ideal ( = the beauty of art) had undergone an actual change by passing through the human mind, and was charged with something more than the deepest insight could find in nature, including man as he is in the prose life of every day. We probably still assent to this judg- ment, but with considerable deductions arising from our new sympathy with the reason displayed in the inanimate world. The art of music, it must be remembered, at once breaks down any attempt to say in general theory that the real world of art in no way transcends that of external existence.

Subject to the reservation which has been indicated, and which is practically represented by the life-work of Ruskin, Hegel's treatment of the Ideal is the greatest single step^ that has ever been made in aesthetic. Winckelmann had* portrayed the Ideal as in its perfection one and abstract. Kant, while recognising it as an embodiment of life, had on this very ground excluded it from aesthetic, because relative to the will. It was Hegel who while maintaining its aesthetic nobility in the sense of Winckelmann, and crediting it with the full aesthetic purity demanded but denied to it by Kant, at the same time accepted the extension and differentiations of it so as to constitute the principle and matter of art in all its phases and limits. As an illustration of the mode in which even the commonest nature may enter into the Ideal or the beauty of art, Hegel in this discussion of its relation to

1 Introd. E. Tr. } 87. 2 i. 217.


DUTCH PAINTING. 343


nature l briefly anticipates the eloquent defence of Dutch and German paintings, which forms the conclusion of the special section on painting in the third volume.

The ideal in Life (2) It was natural considering the novelty of

and Action, ^ attem p t to break down the wall of abstraction

round the Ideal, that Hegel should devote nearly one-eighth


1 I subjoin this defence in its shorter form given in the discussion of the Ideal, because it is an excellent illustration of Hegel's critico-histoncal treat- ment, and of the range and depth of the ideal as he conceived it. Serious objections are now taken against the Dutch school in particular both on general grounds and with reference to their colouring. (Ruskm, A. F., 5. 24.) I have not the special knowledge which would entitle me to offer an opinion on this latter head, and Hegel's apology only deals with their range of subject, and with the spirit in which they approached it.

" [The Dutch genre-paintings] ought not simply to be thrown aside under the title of common (mean) nature. If we look close at the real content of these pictures it is not so ' common ' as is generally thought.

" The Dutch chose the content of their representations from the present of their own life, and they are not to be censured for having realised this present over again in the medium of art. What is brought before the eyes and heart of the living world must be something that belongs to it, if it is to claim its interest to the full. To know what interested the Dutch at that time we must ask their history. The Dutchman had to a great extent created the very soil on which he lived and worked, and was compelled continually to defend and preserve it against the onset of the sea ; townsmen and peasants alike, by spirit, endurance, and bravery had cast off the Spanish dominion under Philip II., son of Charles V , that mighty prince of this world, and along with political liberty had conquered for themselves freedom of religion, and that m the religion of the free. It is this civic spirit and enterprise in small things as m great, in their own country and on the high seas, their frugal, yet neat and cleanly housewifery, and the pride and pleasure of the selt-consciousness that they owe it all to their own activity it is all this that constitutes the general substance of their pictures. This is not a low matter and argument, to be regarded with the patrician insolence of "good society " from the vantage-ground of courts and their manners. It is this intelligent cheerfulness m a well-earned enjoyment, which pervades even the animal pieces, and shows itself as pleasure and physical satisfaction, and it is this fiesh and wakeful freedom and vitality of mind in apprehension and presen- tation that forms the highest aspect of these pictures " After comparing with them as of the same general species, some beggar children of Munllo, as "contented and happy almost like the Olympian gods , . . human beings harmoniously created, with no vexation or discontent in them," he ends by observing that such genre pictures ought to be of small size, so as to pass for something trivial. They would be intolerable if they made the claim upon us of being represented in life size. u This," he concludes, referring to the whole passage, " is how ' common ' Nature must be felt, in order to be fit for art." dLsth., i. 212.


344 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

of his entire set of lectures l to the perfectly general question, not, what shapes it must assume in entering into concrete life, but, how it can enter into life at all. It is in this discus- sion that he points to a heroic past as the best ground for the art of individual character, being evidently impressed by the conflict of individual courage with orderly civilisation depicted in different relations in Gotz v. Berlichingen, Don Quixote and the Rauber. In a civilised social order, for example, the punishment 2 of crime no longer depends on individual heroism ; it is not even a single action, but is broken up into parts played by separate agents police, judge and jury, gaoler or executioner. Thus the great moral powers of society no longer reside in the breast of particular persons but in the co-operation of millions, and the latter relation is more difficult of portrayal than the former.

This view coheres with the whole conception of art as, in its evolution, tending to pass out of the most strictly artistic region, and as not possessing in modern civilisation the same sole supremacy that it claimed in the Periclean age, or in the first flush of the Renascence. Whatever we may think of the future of fine art, the facts which favour such a concep- tion are patent and undeniable ; and, if disputed, it must be so disputed as to allow these facts their due weight. 3

The whole of this part of the work, constituting as it were a complete analysis of action in general into the elements of its necessary context the spirit of the age, the situation, the collision of duties, the motive, the character is directed to showing how " ideality " can be maintained in the treatment of the most detailed complications and serious aspects of life ; while the false " ideal," the fancy of a golden age or idyllic existence,* fails of true ideality by the very withdrawal from vigorous concreteness which was meant to constitute its beauty. In Hermann and Dorothea, it is pointed out, Goethe avoids this weakness with marvellous skill, by setting


1 i. 193-365. 2 i. 232.

3 Ib. " However excellent we think the statues of the Greek gods, how- ever nobly and perfectly God the Father and Christ and Mary may be portrayed, it makes no difference, our knees no longer bend." He has just said that we may hope for the continual progress of art, only its form has ceased to meet the supreme need of our age. It is untrue that he thinks art to be " played out."

4 i. 325. He is speaking primarily of Gessner.


ART-FORMS AND ARTS. 345

the domestic story against the dark background of the revo- lutionary war. Before leaving this part of the system it is well to notice that the section on Abstract Externality l as an element in the expression of the Ideal is almost a reproduction of the section on " the external beauty of abstract Form " 2 as an element in the expressiveness of nature. The editors are probably responsible for the repetition, but Hegel must have treated the subject in both places on different occasions. The untenableness of a working distinction between the beauty of Nature and that of Art could not be more strik- ingly illustrated. Evolution or (3) After this general discussion about the

the ideal. relation of the Ideal to particulars, the actual self-particularisation of the Ideal is represented as a process, according to the simple dialectic indicated above ; 8 and this process is the framework of the entire system.

It will be seen from the extract printed in the Appendix that in the first place the whole world of imagined beauty or concrete fancy, which is called the " ideal," is conceived as passing through phases determined by the progression of intelligence and also by the cumulative result of the sequence itself. And in the second place, the human mind being at all times a many-sided whole, the same needs of expression which thus separate themselves each into its own successive phase in time, also appear, as a co-existing group of modes of fancy, relative to different media of expression, within each of the great historical forms or stages of the " ideal" or art-con- sciousness.

The former set of successive phases are what Hegel calls the three forms of art, symbolic, classical, and romantic, and taken together make up the main outline of the historical evolution of the ideal.

The latter group of co-existing modes of expression, a group which repeats itself within each of the historical art- forms, is the system of the several arts, primarily differentiated from each other by the sensuous vehicles which they re- spectively employ.

Therefore the whole set of particular arts, Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, and Poetry, recurs within each of the three progressive Art-Forms, the Symbolic, the Classical,

1 i. 3 2 5> B ' l6 9- 8 p - 335-


346 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

and the Romantic. And the same needs of expression being at the root of both differentiations of the ideal, the successive and the simultaneous, it follows that though all the arts recur in each epoch, yet in each recurrence one or more of them have a prerogative rank, depending on the coincidence of their special tendency with the spirit of the age within which they then are.

Thus for the symbolic art-form architecture is central or characteristic for the classical art-form, sculpture and for the romantic art-form, in conformity with its greater mo- bility and variety, the three remaining arts, painting, music, and poetry, are characteristic, but music above all is the central romantic art. *

The dialectic continuity which underlies the progression of these historical forms of art may be simply expressed as follows. We start with man's universal need to set the seal of his inner being on the world without, in order to recognise himself therein. 2 The symbolic The first gropings of the mind after sensuous

Art-form. expression are like dreams, often like nightmares ; the spirit of man is not yet fully awake, and lays its half- formed fancies arbitrarily in the objects of sense. 3 This is in Hegel's language symbolic art, not in the wide sense in which all art appeals to natural symbolism, 4 but in the narrow sense in which a symbol is opposed to an embodiment or repre- sentation. Here all is arbitrary and irrational, a search for adequate expression, because nothing is yet formed which is adequate to be expressed. The classical But the half-formed is on the way to the fully

Art-form. formed. The awakening mind reacts against its nightmares 6 by realising its own nature as a compact and definite self in a compact and definite world of relations, and seizes for the representation of its definite reasonable unity


1 See extract in Appendix, on Music.

2 See Introd to <Esth , E. Tr., 59

8 See Ruskin on Indian Art Aratra Pentelici^ 226, and Two Paths, n.

4 See Kant on the Symbol, above.

5 How profound is this view we are now learning more thoroughly year by year, as we trace the long preparation in which the Greek spirit learned what it needed from Oriental sources, only to put all monstrosity under its feet, and rise up like Ethert Brand, in the fairest human form


HEGEL S SOURCES. 347


the natural and adequate symbol furnished by the human figure. The Romantic In the world-movement, however, the compact

Art-form. an( j definite self is no enduring phase. The little Greek sphere of fixed natural relations is torn asunder by the great historical forces operative both within and without it, and the idea, assuming the form of a progressive antithesis, in which the Greek past is itself a factor, can no longer be adequately represented in a compact and simple shape, but demands embodiment, if not actually in thought, then in some medium of sense as nearly as possible approximating to thought.

At this point we may recall the, sources of the conception before us. The combination of these three stages with the three sets of particular fine arts suggests a connection with Schelling's 4< powers " , that is to say, the process which generated the three successive forms of art is again repre- sented within each one of them by the division into particular fine arts. The distinction again between " classical " and " romantic," which is essentially that between the simple or fixed and the divided or moving, is drawn in material from the historical contrast with which we dealt at length in the " Data of modern aesthetic," and in form from Schelling's antithesis of 4< Natural " and " Historical," itself derived from Schiller's Naive and Sentimental. The whole notion of a concrete idea as the reality, is referred, we must bear in mind throughout, by Hegel to Schiller. The direction assigned to the movement from classical to romantic makes explicit, as Schelling himself does not, the notion latent in his " real " and " ideal " series of arts. The addition of the symbolic art-form as a pre-classical stage is a reflex, materially, of the interest excited by the Schlegels and other Romanticists in Oriental poetry and antiquities, and thus the parallel drawn by Hegel between the Symbolic and the Romantic tendency corresponds to the fact that the same anti-classical contrast and rebellion brought the data of both into notice. The technical term Symbolic appears to be a special application of the idea of symbol or allegory, the former being extended to the whole of art by Solger, and the latter by Fr. v. Schlegel. 1 It is needless to say that the notion of the " classical " which


1 i. 392, cf. Zimm., A^ i. 698.


348 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

forms the centre of the whole evolution is in the spirit of Winckelmann and draws its sterling soundness from Hegel's intense sympathy with him and with his subject. And finally, the exceedingly suggestive treatment of the Ideal, not as an exclusive phase of Art, but as the whole range of fancy that is reacted on and specialised into concreteness by the general demands of expression in each age, and further by the par- ticular sensuous vehicles which determine the powers of the several fine arts, is probably, I submit, due to Schelling' s idea of mythology as a sine qua non for art. For this mythology essentially meant the organised province of imagination applic- able to a particular range of artistic production. The modern, as we know, had, according to Schelling, to make his mytho- logy for himself out of the material given to the intelligence of his age. This concrete aspect of the imagination in itself and apart from the actual work of production, has never, so far as I am aware, been duly noted by professional art-philoso- phers except in a degree by Schelling and Hegel, and in one particular region by writers on music. That not only the musician imagines in tones, and the poet in ideas, but the sculptor in marble, 1 the ironworker in iron, the wood-carver in wood, and the painter in colour this is the vital principle which lies at the root of the due classification of the arts, and is thoroughly comprehended in Hegel's " ideal."

" This highly trained skill in the thoroughly perfect mani- pulation of the material is involved in the notion of the Ideal, as it has for its principle the total incorporation in the sensuous and the fusion of the inward spirit with the outward being."! The demands of execution are subsequently and separately treated, so that we must clearly grasp that Hegel is here speaking of the artistic imagination qua imagination only, and requires even so that it should be moulded, so to speak, by habitual intercourse with its material. Thus the differentia- tion of the ideal leads up to the classification of the arts.


1 That is, of course, in ideas of form, but in ideas of form suggested, moulded, and modified by the habitual feeling of what it is to express oneself in marble. The modern sculptor, it would seem, thinks in clay ' See Colling- wood, Ruskm's Art Teaching^ 281, and Hegel quoting Winckelmann, A , ii. 442.

- Hegel, ib The strictures on working in clay only, for marble statues, follow this passage.


THE DOUBLE CLASSIFICATION. 349


classification of (4) Hegel's classification of the arts is briefly the Arts, explained by himself in the abstract printed in the Appendix. It is only necessary here to comment on three distinctive points concerning it.

The Double Basis a. If the combination on which it rests was or Classification, thoroughly carried out, each separate art would be treated in three forms, symbolic, classical, and romantic, just as each of these three art-forms would be pursued through the peculiarities of the five different arts. Thus the classifica- tion is founded upon a combined historical and analytic prin- ciple, which is supposed by Hegel to represent the same differentiation, both in succession, and in co-existences repeated within phases of the succession. The culminating point of the group of particular fine arts at any period is thus to be found in that branch of art which corresponds within the co- existent system to the then dominant phase of the succession. Architecture, the art of incomplete symbolism, is the climax of preclassical or merely symbolic art ; sculpture, the art of complete and compact though limited expressiveness, is the climax of classical or self-complete and balanced artistic pro- duction of the Greek age, and so on.

The recent historians of aesthetic agree in condemning this double principle of classification. Schasler ] thinks that it contradicts itself in treating a single art under more than one form, although he sees that the empirical facts give some support to such a method. Hartmann* considers that the confusion between the division of forms of style (!) and the division of the particular arts is fatal to Hegel's whole system, and especially he complains that the " confusion " recurs with- in the treatment of each separate branch of art. Zimmer- mann 8 makes similar criticisims on the intermixture of histor- ical and philosophical principles, and on the feature of recur- rence, and, in addition, can find no distinction between the symbolic and the romantic, and infers that both of these, being inadequate in form to their import, must fall outside beauty.

From Zimmermann, an able writer of the Herbartian school, and a pure formalist in aesthetic, no other criticism could be expected. He thinks that history should be severed from philosophy as absolutely as the story of Newton's apple from astronomical theory. " The conception of symbolism would

1 982. * i. 536. 8 i. 7<>9 ff -


35O HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

exist if there had never been a work of art bearing that char- acter, nor a period, nor a people devoted to it." l This is indeed the high priori road. The conception of linguistic or algebraical symbolism would no doubt have existed if only language and algebra had existed and fine art had never been heard of. But whether out of these essentially different species of the genus the conception of aesthetic symbolism would have been generated, if no aesthetic sensibility had ever been ob- served, I must take leave to doubt. The whole nature of the philosophical sciences is here at issue.

When on the other hand Schasler and Hartmann, both of them in name objective idealists, take a similar view of a German thinker, a foreigner hesitates to express an opposite opinion. It will be simplest to attach the observations which appear necessary to a short recapitulation of the empirical facts which suggested and support the treatment in question.

Facts tnat None of the philosophical sciences are as

support the independent of history as the exact sciences, aais. philosophy j s essentially concrete ; and though its principles are bound to be clear, its logical sequences coherent, and its distinctions objective, yet even in Logic, the abstrac- tion of abstractions, it is wholly impossible to motive and correlate the phenomena without referring to their empirical context in the more and less developed language and intel- ligence of peoples. Yet in Logic we are dealing on the whole with a system of which the parts, the individual sciences, are able to co-exist in their highest form and vitality. In aesthetic this is not so, and in spite of the unity of art all evi* dence points to the conclusion that it cannot possibly be so.

Architecture was the most important art of the pre-classical period and extra-classical world, though in this world and period we do not find the culmination of architecture. This is all that the theory absolutely requires ; but the other arts comply with it less grudgingly. Sculpture was the pride of Greek art, and in Greek art we find the greatest achievements of pure sculpture. For us, Greek painting and music hardly exist ; and though this, if a sheer accident, ought not to influ- ence our theories (as it probably has influenced them) yet we know enough to conjecture with likelihood that acquaintance with these productions would not, when brought into compar-

1 Zimmermann, i, 711.


THE DOUBLE CLASSIFICATION. 35 I

ison with their modern correlatives, have profoundly modified our ideas of the history of art. Greek poetry is, beyond any doubt, romantic in comparison to Greek sculpture, and plastic or narrowly classical in comparison to modern poetic art. Painting and music, as we know them, practically begin with the modern world, and music in particular attains greatness after the impulse of formative art, if not wholly exhausted, had lost its centrality and certainty of achievement. Not only are these arts romantic par excellence as compared with the sculpture and architecture even of modern times, but they attained their culmination, so far as history has yet gone, within the romantic development, and as a whole, 1 in separate and distinct epochs. With reference to poetry, the universal art, it would indeed be unbecoming to speak of a modern superiority so far as excellence is concerned ; but in that which separates poetry from the other arts, its pro- foundness, its freedom, and its spirituality, it cannot be denied that modern poetry is more poetic and less " plastic " than that of Greece.

Now in every classification it is well to begin by exactly framing or limiting the matter which we propose to classify, and in view of these facts which show the disparateness of much of our material, this framing is automatically effected with singular felicity by subordinating the analytic distinction of the arts to the historical distinction of the art-forms. Thus when Hegel treats at length of symbolic classical and roman- tic 3 architecture, we understand that these three forms are essential distinctions in architecture, and that architecture again is the " symbolic " species par excellence in each of these art-forms. It is idle to treat of architecture or sculpture, as Hartmann does, by mere general analysis, avoiding all refer- ence to their characteristic periods; the natural peculiarities of the object-matter are neglected, and nine-tenths of the important phenomena are omitted. The relation, for example, of fine architecture to building or engineering on the one hand and to sculpture on the other is thus discussed, wholly


1 Turner was contemporary with Beethoven, but this can hardly break down the statement in the text. For all we yet know, Turner was an isolated genius. At least he is not connected with the first prime of modern art.

2 Hegel's treatment of this is much influenced by Goethe s Deutsche Baukunst. See A.>\\ 332


352 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

without reference to the actual development of architectural decoration in the greatest periods, and to the position of the artist-workman in regard to Greek, and again in regard to romantic, ornament. The most important issues are conse- quently either unmentioned or just baldly alluded to. 1 The wholly unfree character imputed by Hartmann to architec- ture and all the minor arts and crafts cuts a troublesome knot conveniently at first sight, but leave the far worse perplexity behind, that on this view some beautiful art qua beautiful is unfree. Nothing but a more appreciative treat- ment, such as even in a short abstract 2 that of Hegel is seen to be, can combine the truth of Hartmann's idea with that of Ruskin's equally extreme doctrine that architecture is throughout subordinate to sculpture.

Frinci le of ?* ^ ut w ^ en leaving the successive art-forms, Analytic we come to consider the co-existing system of the

Classification. * r- -i /- i ./.*-'..

arts, a definite ground of classification is unques- tionably necessary. Here, as often happens, the wealth of Hegel's knowledge and industry has disconcerted his critics and even his followers.

At the close of the chapter printed in the Appendix, Hegel mentions two possible abstract principles of classification ; the sensuous medium, and the relation to space and time. The former might be treated either with reference to the actual material employed, or, as in a fuller passage, 3 with reference to the effect on the spectator's perception. Schasler 4 is un- able to see why, having mentioned this basis of division, in the latter passage, he at once lets it fall (and we might add, that of space and time also), and recurs to the principle of symbolic classical and romantic as the only one which is really concrete.

These others, it should be noted, may be taken as exhaust- ing the principles in vogue both before and after Hegel. Kant and Schelling had divided the arts of form from the art which makes use of speech, and Hegel observes that this results

1 Let any reader compaie Hartmann's treatment of architecture in vols i and ii. of the ^Esthetic with the chapter on the " Nature of Gothic " ir Ruskin's Stones of Venice ; or with the passages quoted from Wm. Morris above pp. 95 and 124, or with the chapter " Architecture " in Mr. Collmgwood'i vol. on Ruskin's Art Teaching or with the discussion in Prof. Baldwin Brown'i Fine Arts, and then turn to Hegel on "Romantic Architecture," sEslh., u. 332 2 See App. I. 3 A., n. 253. 4 1003.


A CONCRETE PRINCIPLE. 353

from the division according to organs of sense, except that music, which Schelling threw in with the arts of form, must be separated as by Kant qua art of sound, while the speaking art is more truly to be reckoned as one whose medium is imagination. Thus modified, the division is practically that of Hartmann (Arts of the eye, Arts of the ear, Art of the fancy). Lessing, on the other hand, had, we remember, distinguished formative art from poetry (music was not within his horizon) by their relations to space and time, which in the form of rest and motion are the principles of Schasler's division. Now why does Hegel let fall, after mentioning them, both these principles, and recur to the threefold division of art-forms ? Simply because, in motiving this latter division he is able to exhaust the content of both these abstract principles, while, even taken together, they are not sufficient to found a division upon.

We should observe that he employs 1 the first, before drop- ping it, to clear the ground by excluding the non-aesthetic senses of touch, taste, and smell , the two latter as dealing with matter in process of dissolution and therefore as destructive if not appetitive in their relation to the object, and the former as in contact only with the pure particular as such, and conse- quently unable to apprehend a systematic unity in sensuous form. This is probably the true differentia of non-aesthetic senses, and all other non -aesthetic characteristics in them are only of importance as conditions or results of this.

The point then of Hegel's concrete principle of division, by which he simply enquires into the powers and conditions of the several arts as human activities producing a certain effect by more or less material means, is this, that by not tying himself down to any abstract principle he is able to let each art stand out free in its full individuality, instead of ranking painting with sculpture against music with poetry, or the like. If, for example we approach the question simply as one of sensuous appear ance to the observer, then we lose all touch of the material which sets his task to the artist ; but this is the essential difference e.g. between sculpture and painting ; moreover, all formative arts at least are essentially athletic, 3 and through their relation to the artist we obtain an invaluable insight into the nature of expressive self-utterance which later criticism

1 A., ii. 253. 2 Collmgwood, p. 242.

A A


354 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

in England has independently developed. The character of each individual art is thus scrutinised by Hegel with a view to the coincidence between its expressive capacity as a whole and any content or import which it appears especially fitted to embody. For it is on the balance and reaction between expression and import that the distinction of the art-forms hinges. No parallel series are established. The analogy between architecture and music is simply noted, by the side of other analogies which music presents, as is a somewhat un- promising resemblance between sculpture and epic poetry.

The result on the whole is a linear classification, represent- ing the increasing ideality of the arts in terms of all the bases of division which I have mentioned, more gradually and more justly than the real and ideal series of Schelling and many others, and allowing, by the method that has been described, for the enormous difference between the " ideal " art of poetry in Greek and in modern times. The intervals between the arts may be imagined as equal, for the three romantic arts are allowed full and free individuality within their class-heading, and music in particular is for the first time put in its true place as the art in which pure feeling and necessary structural form the two extremes of the mental world are brought into absolute oneness, so that without any recognisable object or idea the movement of things l in as far it interests our feel- ing is built up into an organic and necessary fabric.

It has been said that Hegel's classification is a descending series. 2 This is not so ; the romantic arts are the culmination of art as such, though it is mere truth to say that they are not^ the culmination of beauty in the narrower sense. Whether art, in attaining its culmination, does not tend to pass beyond itself, 3 just as in architecture it has not wholly attained its idea, is another question ; and whatever the future may have in store (which is no subject for philosophy) there is no doubt that the whole ground and content of life, being thoroughly reflective and intellectual, is quite otherwise related to the beautiful to- day than it was in Greece or in the Middle Ages. 4 In saying that the art-spirit is essentially in evolution we do not deny that the evolution may be renewed on a higher level than before.


//., in. 145. 2 Hartmann, i. 127.

  • A. t 11. 234 ff. 4 See esp. dLsth^ 51 232.


VALUE OF " NEGATION." 355

- rM ^ ntf it** It is undoubtedly difficult to get a net result

Four Leading / & . ..

conceptions out of Hegel. Being aware of this quality, defined. w hether as I think, a merit, or as the reader may think, a defect, I will attempt before passing on to put to- gether his views on four cardinal points of aesthetic, which, taken in combination, limit, begin, and end his account of the beautiful. Beauty itself, we may hope, has been sufficiently defined ; in its narrower sense by the classical ideal, in its wider sense by the whole evolution of the art-forms.

(i) No systematic treatment is devoted to

Ugliness. ;. ' TIT i. r

ugliness. We gather from a passage on carica- ture l that ugliness always involves distortion. This I take to mean the suggestion of a type by a presentation which, in suggesting, parodies it. The reference 2 to natural ugliness confirms this; it appears to be there treated as relative to our habitual judgment of typical character, though this does not exclude the possibility that our judgment may be ob- jective. False characterisation seems then to be the essence of ugliness.

There is a curious and instructive problem as to whether ugliness proper is present in the imperfect or symbolic phase of the ideal. Here the vicious and uncouth presentation of, say, an Indian idol, has its viciousncss duly grounded in that of the content, the conception of Deity, which is to be ex- pressed. For this reason, I presume, Hegel seems to shrink from applying to such forms as these the technical word " u g'y " (hasslich), though he describes them as vicious, distorted, deformed. They are, he says, not beautiful, 8 but as attempting to express the absolute in plainly inadequate form they have a certain analogy to the sublime. The fact is that Hegel's notion of beauty is so positive throughout, that he is not led to devote any special treatment to what, as its negation, falls outside his track of enquiry. If we can exhaust the positive, we can easily infer the place of the different kinds of negative. So far his method is far more instructive than many which are purely schematic. Opposite, contrary, counter-part, negation, are all of them mere formal terms, and tell us nothing at all unless we know the context and mode of genesis of the opposition or negation in question. But if we know the latter points, the technical terms can be

1 Introd., E. Tr., 43. 2 Supra, p. 338. i, 427.


356 HISTORY OF .ESTHETIC,

readily supplied. In Hegel the ugly is, it would seem, the positive negation of a typical content, given as the portrayal of that content, i.e. the analogue of falsehood or confusion of relations. The character of Moliere's miser is called an ugly (hasslich) abstraction ; I imagine because it is a partial character alleged as a portrait of a concrete man. Rudeness, austerity, and the grotesque are not ugliness ; the romantic ideal intentionally turns its back on classical beauty without leaving the realm of beauty as such. Common life qua common, in which no great character l is perceptible, is the world of prose as contrasted with the general poetic sphere of art, but is not spoken of as ugly.

(2) The sublime in the strict sense 2 lies at the threshold of beauty, and belongs to the " sym- bolic " art-form. As the basis of his treatment of it Hegel quotes from Kant: 3 "The strictly sublime can be contained in no sensuous form, but attaches to ideas of reason, which although no adequate representation is possible for them, are yet stirred up and evoked in the mind by this very inadequacy, which can be represented in sensuous form." The sublime in general, Hegel continues, is the attempt to express the infinite without finding in the realm of phenomena any object which proves itself fitting for this representation.

As a case of inadequate expression it is akin to the ugly or at least to the deformed and monstrous of the symbolic (its own) phase of art. We remember that to Schiller the same appearance might be both ugly and sublime. But yet these montrosities have only "an echo of the sublime," because they. half satisfy, or are taken to satisfy, the need of expression by the very distortion, or magnitude, barbaric splendour and the like (false or endless infinity), which makes them monstrous , whereas, in the true sublime, a sharp consciousness of inade- quacy is required.

The purest type of this consciousness is found in Jewish religious poetry, which contrasts all created things as perish- able being, 4 with the one abstract God, in the sense that no creature can be supposed in any way to represent Him ; so that this true sublime cannot take the shape of formative art, but only of poetry. This ascription of sublimity to the relation between the Jewish God and the created world is as old


i. 190. * i. 455 8 K - *- MI P- 99- * 4 66 -


SUBLIME AND ROMANTIC 357

as Longinus, as Hegel points out 1 with reference to the example : " Let there be light, and there was light." Burke takes an instance from Job ; and Kant, in a noble passage, 1 finds the highest type of the sublime in the very prohibition of the Decalogue, " Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image," comparing it in spirit with the non-sensuous character which he ascribes to the moral law. The Psalms, Hegel continues, give for all time classical specimens of true sublimity, in the exaltation of the feelings which passes over everything else to worship the power of God only. 3 Nothing in the universe, they insist, can claim independence, for every- thing exists simply by His power and as subservient to Him.

It is instructive to compare this estimate of the Psalms in the work of a great systematic philosopher, with the continual reference to them in Ruskin, who while feeling their sublimity to the full, does not appreciate the entire hostility to the spirit of formative art, nor the temper of separation between God and man, in which they are conceived.

" Sublimity," Hegel says at this point, " involves on the side of man the feeling of his own finiteness and his insuper- able remoteness from God." The conception of immortality, therefore, cannot exist at this stage. The consciousness of God as law is the germ of a more affirmative relation to him.

The sublime, though entering into the symbolic phase of the ideal, is specifically distinct from beauty and the ideal in the narrower or classical sense. 4 Still more is it incompatible with the romantic art-form in which the absolute is received into the individual subject in the form of love, " the ideal of romantic art" ; 6 and man himself, at one with God, becomes the expression of the infinite. The depths of import in romantic art, which " turns its back on classical beauty," 6 make it possible, indeed, to extend the idea of sublimity as other writers have done, through all the more serious ex- pressions of the relation between the individual man and the universe, as for example, through the sphere of religious and tragic feeling. Here, however, the question becomes verbal.

i i. 468. * K. d. U., 134-5.

8 i. 471. The 1 04th and goth Psalms are those which he quotes, laying stress on such verses as civ. 29 : " Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled ; Thou takest away their breath, they die," etc., and xc. 5, 6, 7 : Thou earnest them away as with a flood," etc.

4 -i. 466. 5 11. 150. 6 11. 124, 133.


358 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

I need only point out that Hegel's usage is limited by a clear logical and historical differentia the sense of inadequate expression ; while any modern phenomena in which this sense appears to revive, as for the individual in his weakness and particularity it plainly may, are most simply treated as sublime by analogy. The individual, in any stage of culture, includes and may reproduce at times any past phase of human feeling.

(3) The tragic is therefore, in Hegel's eyes, ' outside the sublime. As a poetic form it is the greatest achievement both of classical and of romantic art. It depends, primarily, on the collision of real spiritual forces, such as the family and the state, in individuals whose action has therefore an aspect both of Tightness and of wrongness. And these forces, especially in ancient tragedy, forming the substance of the individual personality, cannot be detached therefrom, and involve, in the issue by which the conflict re- stores unity to the spiritual world, the destruction of the persons who represent them. This identification of the entire personalities with their substantive aims or rights, is the secret of the unhappy ending which Aristotle thought the better in ancient tragedy. His underlying reason plainly was that the happy ending, which he contemptuously assigns to comedy, involves the abandonment of essential purpose by the persons of the drama Hegel's short account of the Antigone explains his conception better than any comment. 1

"The completest species of this development is possible, when the persons in conflict appear, in respect of their concrete being [individuality, birth, position, etc.], each as including the whole of the sphere concerned. They then, in their own nature, are in the power of that against which they do battle, and injure that, which by the law of their own existence they ought to honour. So, for example, Antigone lives within Kreon's civil authority ; she herself is a king s daughter, and the betrothed of Haemon, so that she was bound to pay obedience to the sovereign's command. Yet Kreon, too, who on his side is father and husband, was bound to respect the sanctity of blood-relationship, and not to command what violated that piety. Thus each of them has immanent in him or herself that against which they respectively rebel, and

1 m. 556


TRAGEDY. 359


they are seized and broken by that very principle which be- longs to the sphere of their own being. Antigone suffers death unwed, but Kreon too is punished in his son and in his wife, who seek their own death, the one because of Anti- gone's end, and the other because of Haemon's. Of all that is noble in the ancient and modern world I know pretty nearly all of it, and it is right and possible to know it the Anti- gone appears to me, from this point of view, the most excel- lent, the most satisfying, work of art/'

In the more subjective solution of the CEdipus at Colonus, Hegel finds a beginning of modernism, though no anticipation of the Christian consciousness, which is not, like the Greek, restored or reconciled within the intelligence, but rather dis- owns altogether its earthly being. In modern tragedy, then, the depth and interest of individuality and the formal main- tenance of its consistency, in some degree take the place of the single moral right and duty constituting the whole person- ality. The surrounding circumstances are admitted in all their variety and contingency, and there is therefore a difficulty in keeping the necessary connection between the character and the issues of the plot, in the Shakespearian drama the character is made to work itself out inevitably, exhibiting and accepting in itself the consequences of its action. But if the connection between character and issues is lost, and the story becomes one of pure innocence oppressed by the chances of a hostile world, then the tragic element is destroyed, and the effect is no longer tragic, but an idle or futile melancholy or horror. 1

When on the other hand the conflict of aims or interests reacts on the character, in virtue of its subjectivity, so as to produce a harmonious whole without sacrifice of individual lives, as is the case in a few ancient dramas, e.g. the Philoc- tetes, then the law of tragedy, which consists in the sacrifice of individuals to principles or aims inseparable from them, is abandoned, and we have the modern "drama of real life," 2 which may anse, as Lessing explained, either out of tragedy or out of comedy. Shakespeare seems purposely to distin-

fuish certain plays as tragic by the sacrifice of individual life, ut a comedy like Measure for Measure touches all depths of mental suffering. There is a risk in the modern drama of

1 573 539-


360 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.


the whole development being thrown into the mere charac- ter, without a substantive aim to give it continuity, so that the knave is converted, and forgiven, but we are not satisfied, for we are sure that this development is unreal, and that he re- mains a knave in spite of all. 1 A subjectivity which sets itself free from every particular import is in its cycle and degree the dissolution of the beautiful, which lies in the concrete unity of subject and object.

(4) As this complete triumph of subjectivity 2

The Comic. i x ' t r A i i i i /

the comedy of Aristophanes marks the close of one period, and the comedy of Shakespeare 3 perhaps that of an- other. The comic in this pre-eminent sense must be sharply distinguished from the laughable. Only that is truly comic, in which the persons of the play are comic for themselves as well as for the spectator, and so escape all seriousness, bitter- ness or disappointment when their futile purposes are des- troyed by the means they take to realise them. Comedy starts from the absolute reconciliation which is the close of tragedy, 4 the absolute self-certainty and cheerfulness which nothing can disturb This is the attribute as of the Aristo- phanic persons so of Shakespeare's comic characters, among whom Falstaff is "the absolute hero" ; 6 a sort of greatness runs through them, a freedom and strength of individuality and superiority to external failure. Serious modern comedy, such as Moliere's Avare, has not this ideal characteristic, and therefore tends finally to pass into the prosaic world of the ordinary drama, the mere ingenious representation of com monplace intrigue.

iv. I may conclude in Hegel's words, 8 from the

Conclusion. , J r i. TT> i i

last two pages of the /hsthetic lectures : " With the development of comedy we have arrived at the close of our scientific discussion. We began with symbolic art, in which subjectivity is struggling to find itself a content and form, and to become objective ; we advanced to classical art, which sets before itself in living individual shape the sub-


1 576. Cf. e.g. The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

8 lii. 533. " Whereas in Tragedy the externally valid comes out victorious, stripping off the one-sideness of the individual ... in Comedy, conversely, it is subjectivity which in its infinite security keeps the upper hand." This form is drawn from Schellmg, who defines Comedy as the converse of Tragedy having ' necessity in the subject and not in the object."

3 lii. 579. 4 in. 557. 6 ui, 207. 6 in. 579-80.


CONCLUSION. 361


stantive content which has become distinct ; and we ended in the romantic art of the heart and the feelings with the absolute subjectivity moving freely in itself in the form of mind, which, satisfied in itself, no longer unites with the objective and particular, but brings into consciousness for itself the negative character of this dissolution in the humour of comedy. Yet in this culmination comedy is leading straight to the dissolu- tion of art in general. The aim of all art is the identity, produced by the mind, in which the eternal and divine, the substantively true, is revealed in real appearance and shape to our external perception, our feelings and our imagination. But if comedy displays this unity only in its self-dissolution, inasmuch as the Absolute, endeavouring to produce itself into reality, sees this realisation destroyed by interests which have obtained freedom in the real world, and are directed only to the subjective and accidental, then the presence and activity of the Absolute no longer appears in positive union with the character and aims of real existence, but exclusively asserts itself in the negative form, that it destroys everything which does not correspond to it ; and only subjectivity as such displays itself in this dissolution as self-confident and self-secure. 1

"In this way we have now, down to the close, arranged every essential principle of beauty and phase of art into a garland of philosophy, the binding of which is among the noblest achieve- ments that science has in its power to fulfil. For in art we have to do with no mere toy of pleasure or of utility, but with the liberation of the mind from the content and forms of the finite, with the presence and union of the Absolute within the sensuous and phenomenal, and with an unfolding of truth which is not exhausted in the evolution of nature, but reveals itself in the world-history, of which it constitutes the most beautiful aspect and the best reward for the hard toil of reality and the tedious labours of knowledge. And therefore it was impossible that our study should consist in any mere criticism of works of art, or suggestions for their production, but it had


1 See above, p. 354 for a discussion of the idea that Hegel believes art to be finally ended, on which the close of the Introduction is a sufficient com- mentary. But we must claim extraordinary insight for him, who, still under the spell of Schiller and Goethe, described the present exhaustion of the art- impulse and the conditions hostile to it in language approaching that of Rus- km or William Morris.


362 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC

no other aim than to pursue the fundamental idea of the beau- tiful and of art through all the stages which it traverses in its realisation, and by means of thought to make them certain and intelligible."


CHAPTER XIII.

"EXACT" ESTHETIC IN GERMANY. SCHOPENHAUER TO STUMPF

Need of Exact i- IT is difficult, I said in the last chapter, to get Bathetic. a net resu lt out O f Hegel ; and strictly speaking, in science as science there can be no net result, no conclusion detachable from the inferential process. But yet the historico- philosophical method, which insists on giving us the whole whenever we ask for the minutest part, seems to some minds, and in some hands really is, an evasion of direct issues. The desire for a plain answer to a plain question found repre- sentatives in post- Kantian philosophy, whose importance, overshadowed at the time by the very bulk of the Hegelian writers, has effectually asserted itself in the period of re- action.

2. The inaugurators of this movement were schope uer. pj er ^ art (j 776-1 841) and Schopenhauer (1788- 1860). I shall treat of Schopenhauer first, in order to avoid interposing an account of him between Herbart and the Her- bartians. It may seem strange to class with " exact " philoso- phers a writer who is pnma facie a mystic ; but it must be remembered that the root of mysticism is a love of directness amounting to impatience, and a repugnance to the circuitous approaches of systematic thought. This same characteristic may be a defence for the brevity which our treatment will display from this point onwards ; for the exact or formal thinkers, to whom on the whole Schopenhauer belongs, being indifferent to content and caring chiefly about given form, are able to state their conceptions almost in axiomatic shape, in- stead of developing them historically. In the following chapter, it may also be remarked, it will be possible to deal as briefly with Hegel's principal successors, because in dealing with them the mass of his ideas may be presupposed, sob exmauer a * Schopenhauer is a true post- Kantian both in kinder po8t- a his data and in his theory. In addition to the Kantian. Q ree k anc j English culture of the time, he was

363


364 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

profoundly influenced by the ancient Indian philosophy, which we remember the Romantic teacher, Fr. von Schlegel, did much to bring into prominence. 1 The fashionable pessimism and mysticism of cultivated Europe owes its origin in a great measure to Schopenhauer. 2

As a theorist, Schopenhauer starts from Kant, whose de- marcation of aesthetic he accepts in essentials, and whose conception of the thing-in-itself he identified, here following suggestions of Fichte and Schelling, 8 with an underlying will, as opposed to the "idea" of Hegelianism, which is the unity of the world interpreted on the analogy of the intellect. This will, as the ultimate reality, is incapable of being the object of knowledge ; and becomes such an object, not in itself, but only in its " objectifications," which are the external types of specific existence, forming a system of grades in the com- pleteness with which they represent the will, and identified by Schopenhauer with the " Platonic ideas." These ultimate typical individualities, for such they are in opposition to the concepts of science, are only known as divined by artistic per- ception, being self-contained, and satisfactory to the contem- plative sense. They are wholly distinct from such notions as consist in relations under the law of sufficient reason, which, forming an endless chain, forbid the mind to rest in them.

For our immediate purpose the main interest of Schopen- hauer's position is its abstractness, which is complementary to the vast historical complexity of Hegelianism. History, for him, is unessential to the idea ; 4 only the eternal types which are framed within it are able to represent, for example, the idea of man. For knowledge of phenomena, the true method is that of the "understanding 1 ' with its clear relations accord- ing to the law of sufficient reason ; for knowledge of reality, the visions of art. The moving concrete of "reason" seems non- sense to him ; his "ideas" correspond to the fixity of species ; in everything he prefers the definite and the permanent. The


1 By his work, On the Language and Wisdom of the Ancient Hindus, 1813, Schopenhauer was personally acquainted with the Orientalist Mayer, and con- stantly refers to Duperron's Latin translation of the Upantshads, 1801. See art. " Schopenhauer," Encycl. Bnt^ by W. Wallace.

2 See eg. Amiel's Diary > with its constant reference to Miyl

3 " Will is the ultimate Deing " Schelling, quoted by Wallace, art " Schopen- hauer," Encycl Brit

  • Will and Idea, vol. i. 236, E. Tr.


PREFERENCE FOR THE CLASSICAL. 365

movement and evolution of things as we know them is part of the illusion belonging to our mode of knowledge ; " velle non discitur " ; the real underlying character of the universe and of each individual is one and unchangeable. He delights in the simple rationality of the Greek temple, 1 and cannot appreciate Gothic buildings, approval of which, as he very naively says, would upset all his theories of the aesthetic purpose of archi- tecture. Their interest depends, he thinks, on associated ideas ; but these have no place in strict aesthetic judgment. 2 The distinction between classical and romantic poetry means to him that the former deals with natural motives, and the latter with artificial ones, 3 specially those of the Christian myth, chivalry, and the ridiculous Christo- Germanic woman worship. 4

We shall find this preference for the classical predominate among the " exact " thinkers ; naturally, as their view is, in sum, a recurrence to classical aesthetic, armed with the methods of modern science.

me account or ii. The beauty of the beautiful, for Schopen- ^ditB^oSfl. hauer, has two sides; it frees us from the will, cations. anc j therefore from the whole apparatus that attends our greatest vice and misfortune, the will to live, from explanation, causation, means and ends, purpose, desire ; 6 and on the other hand it fills our minds with an " idea," an objecti- fication of the will at a certain grade which we see in, and as the essence of, the merely particular object presented to our aesthetic perception. As everything is in some degree an objectification of the will, everything is in some degree charac- teristic, and in some degree beautiful. 8 There is no further difference between art and nature than that in art the artist lends us his eyes to look through ; but then his genius can

1 Werke, in. 473 ff. (German).

2 This view, which Herbart apparently shares ( W.> viii. 1 2), reveals a tremen- dous chasm between these early " exact philosophers " and Mr. Ward, who thinks associated ideas one of the most important elements of aesthetic. Article " Psychology," Encycl. Brit Fechner is with Mr. Ward on this point. See p. 384 below.

3 Werke, iv. 92.

4 Hegel considers Schiller's reverence for woman a distinct proof of his insight into the synthesis of sense and reason (^Esth.^ Introd., E Tr. p. 119). This contrast of views is typical

6 Will, etc., i. 270, K Tr. /*., 271.


366 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

understand the half-uttered speech of nature, 1 and so produce what she desired to produce, but failed. This understanding is possible because of the unity between the will which we are, and the will which Nature embodies. Such an under- standing or anticipation is the Ideal.

Ugliness appears to be merely defective manifestation 2 or partial objectification of the will, and so, in agreement with what was said of beauty, would be merely relative. The sub- lime is the same as the beautiful, except that it presupposes a hostile relation between the objects contemplated and the individual will, which hostility, being overcome by an effort, gives rise to a spiritual exaltation of the subject in attaining, by this special effort, the pure contemplation of the idea in the hostile object. 3

The arts are arranged rather according to their object- matter than according to their medium, 4 but with regard to the determination of the former by the latter, and so very much in the order in which Hegel placed them. The fault of the latter in looking too exclusively to grades of life as a key to the value of the art representing them is paralleled by Schopenhauer. The peculiar position of architecture and music, however, as not representing any individual objects, gives him occasion for a remarkable treatment of both. The aim of architecture, which has no characteristic individual idea to present, must be, he infers, to put before perception the simplest qualities of matter, gravity, cohesion, rigidity, and the like. 5 This is why the Gothic concealment of the rela- tion between burden and support, which the Greek beam- architecture is supposed to display in its nakedness, is incom- patible with the aim which he ascribes to the art. Apart from its peculiar application, this principle of bringing out the quali- ties of a material is one of great importance, and conspicuous

1 Will, etc , i. 287, E. Tr.

/., 289.

8 /., 260-1.

4 Schopenhauer's ingenious modification and defence of Goethe's colour- theory appears to be in harmony with modern physiological ideas. He inter- prets Goethe's account of colour as light mixed with darkness, to mean that colour involves a partial activity of the retina (light), and a partial inactivity (dark), and lays down the principle that the retina always tends to a complete activity, the parts of which, if not simultaneous, as in white light, are successive, as in complementary images. See Ucbcr das Sehen u. d. Farbcn, Werke, i.

6 i. 277, E. Tr.


IMITATIVE MUSIC. 367


by its absence in almost all other aesthetic philosophers except Hegel.

Music, the analogy of which to architecture is very reasonably treated, the enormous difference between the two arts being duly emphasised, 1 is placed by itself, outside and above the series of the other arts. It is not like them, " the copy of the ideas, but the copy of the will itself, whose objectivity they are/' 2 The expression is mystical, as in Schopenhauer's whole conception of the will in the universe ; but if we treat it as an analogy much may be said in its favour. We saw how strongly both Aristotle and Plato insisted that music was the most adequate or only adequate " imitation of life and character,' 1 or " of moral temperament." We may partly justify the extension of the comparison to the will in the universe, by Schopenhauer's clear recognition following Leib- nitz, of the broad basis of modern music in the necessary numerical relations which underlie the region of musical sound, 3 but the sense of which acts on the musical conscious- ness as the sign only, and not as the thing signified ; and thus we may fairly bring together Schopenhauer's conception of music as " the quintessence of life and events, 4 without any likeness to any of them," with the theory of Hanslick as modi- fied by Lotze, 6 according to which music embodies " the general figures and dynamic element of occurrences," con- sidered as carrying our feelings with them. This notion has a just and important bearing on imitative music in the strict sense, which is criticised, in terms of the theory, as addressing itself to the intermediate conception of things, the phenomenon of the will, and not to the will or underlying reality, or, as we might say, to the spirit of life and occurrence itself. " Such (imitative) music is entirely to be rejected." 6 This judgment


1 Schopenhauer comments on the phrase, " frozen music," ascribing it to Goethe and not to Schellmg. I do not know how the priority stands as between them.

2 L 35^ E. Tr. Readers of Browning will be reminded of Abt Vogler, both by the comparison between music and architecture, and by the direct assimilation to the will.

8 Schopenhauer quotes with approval, " Musica est exercitium arithmetics occultum nescientis se numerare animi," which Schellmg had quoted before him, from Leibnitz. Schop., W, i. 331, E. Tr.

4 i. 339, E. Tr. See App. II. below.

6 G. d. A., 487-

6 World as Will and Idea, 341, E. Ti.


368 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

repeats that of Plato. The general theory is closely analogous to that of Schelling. " Music, as representing pure move- ment, is above all others the art which strips off the bodily." 1

criticism or iii- Schopenhauer's attitude to concrete Idealism Schopenhauer. must not b e j uc }g e( j by his attacks upon Hegel

and Schelling. His whole doctrine in aesthetic is essentially a form of the theory of the characteristic, though always with a leaning to the distinct and plainly rational as against the suggestive and profoundly emotional. Though sense, as he knows quite well, is the organ to which beauty is relative, yet he always speaks of aesthetic perception as a form of know- ledge distinguished only by being free from will. This defect reacts on his system by a certain want of sympathy in the treatment of architecture 2 and tragedy, 3 the highest function of the latter being necessarily for him negative, to produce resignation. Except for this, and an insertion of landscape gardening after architecture in the series of arts, Schopenhauer is in the substance of his views a very fair representative of post- Kantian aesthetic, while in literary form he is facile prin- ccps among German philosophers. Such a doctrine as Hegel's opposition between true and false infinity is far more easily approached by the non-philosophical reader through Schopen- hauer's contrast between the aesthetic object and the object of theoretical knowledge.

But if the main element in his account of music was after all a mystical conception, for a blind will is perhaps even harder to bring together with the unity of the world than an active^ unconscious idea, he nevertheless justified at least the place which Hegel assigned to music as the central romantic art, and impressed upon the philosophical and the musical world, in telling language, the problem of its mysterious powers.

3. It will be remembered that the object of aesthetic judgment first presented itself to Kant as "form," and that the symbolic or significant nature of this " form" only pressed itself upon him as his inquiries continued, and subject to some doubt wither "significance" as such was not extra-aesthetic.


1 Schelling, W.> v. 501. 2 See above, p. 365.

8 The motives of the Antigone and Philoctetes are " Widerwartige odcr gar ekelhafte " W., in. 43* ^German),


ELEMENTARY RELATIONS. 369

_. _ .. i. In attachment to the idea of pure form, and

HlB Formalism . . . ^ . . *

and its agreeing with Schopenhauer in a strong antagon-

Conseauencaa i t i i i- i t T T

4 ism to the histonco-philosophic school, HERBART took his own way of vindicating the objective validity of the aesthetic judgment. 1 Like Kant, he considers this judgment essentially individual, on the ground that abstract universality is incompatible with the complete presentation of the form submitted to judgment. And again like Kant, in fact though not in words, he ascribes to this judgment objective validity because of its permanent truth about the same object 2 under the same conditions. For modern logic such an "individual" judgment is plainly universal. 3

The pure form, then, with reference to which objective individual judgments are made, consists, in his view, of rela- tions and nothing but relations, simply as presented, and wholly dissociated from context. These are the " aesthetic elementary relations," and the enumeration of these is the task of aesthetic science. We are startled to find that among such relations those of will to will are included, so that ethics becomes a branch of aesthetic. This does not, however, in- volve confusing the act of will with the aesthetic judgment. The good implies both these conditions ; the beautiful, only one of them. 4

The first immediate consequence of this view is a protest against the generalising predicates such as " pathetic, noble, pretty, solemn," and the like, drawn from species of subjective emotion, which find a place in common aesthetic. They have not only the fault of subjectivity, but also that of abstractness. They tell us nothing of the special beauty and ugliness in particular arts ; nothing in music, where the question is of tone ; nothing in sculpture, where the question is of contours. 5 And so Herbart is with some justice hard upon writers like Schelling, who find in every art the excellence of some other, and not its own. The real type of the relations which he desires to discover and enumerate is in the relations of har- mony between musical notes. These, he said in a foot-note

1 Zimmermann, A^ i. 773. Herbart, W^ vm. 27.

2 Logically " subject "; Herbart is contrasting it with the subject as percipient.

3 See p. 341 supra, on Idealisation.

  • W., ii. 74-
  • W. % i. 130.

B B


37 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

which was afterwards modified, perhaps as too rashly candid, were the only aesthetic elements which had for centuries been determined and recognised with almost complete certainty. 1 He only aims at simple forms, "elements;" no clear and unambiguous judgment can be passed upon a highly complex work of art or nature. The combination of the elements belongs to the doctrine of art.

The second immediate consequence of his view is that the simple has no aesthetic quality, 2 and according to Zimmer- mann 3 he even pushes this conclusion against the beauty of tones and colours perceived in isolation. It is so obvious that no presentation is really simple (extension in space or time sufficing to render it complex) that to decide this vexed ques- tion, which has already been touched upon more than once, 4 on such a ground, seems extraordinarily naive. And there are deeper reasons for questioning the Tightness of the conclusion, even if we take tone and colour as approaching simplicity.

Herbart did not carry out systematic researches in aesthetic. It is worth while, however, to take note of some of his most suggestive remarks.

His Division " ^* s P r i mar y division of aesthetic elementary of relations is that between the simultaneous and

JEathe tic Relations. * . , 11 i i /- i

the successive ; but all the arts, he hnds, par- ticipate in both. The effect of the predominance of succession on poetry is worked out in a way that reminds us of the Laocoon. 5 But in poetry the simple relations are difficult to state owing to the lapse of time between their terms. In tones and colours it is easier, and there should be a science of colour harmony like that of harmony in music. 6 An exceed- ingly instructive example of Herbart's views is given at this point in an answer to the objection, "the importance of which is derived only from its audacity," that the numerical relations which underlie the relation of harmonising tones are not the elements of positive beauty in music, and but for the com- poser's genius, which gives them soul and significance, might

1 W.> i., 150, note, withdrawn after 3rd edition. General- bass (Thorough- bass) he considers a part of aesthetic. Z., i. 770.

2 W.> i. 137. 8 i. 797-

4 In treating of Plato, Kant, and Hegel.

6 W., i. 149-5-

6 Ib. This natural idea cannot be pressed. See below on Zimmermann.


SYMMETRY. 371


produce mere monotony. " This soul and significance," he replies^ " may be great with great artists, and little with little ones ; in any case we must abstract from it here, for we are speaking of the elements, and of the degree of accuracy with which they are determined. The mind of the artist can make no change in this " In an earlier edition he had written, "Then harmony would have to be banished from aesthetic." 1 This conception of aesthetic seems to give up the game, so far as a complete explanation of concrete beauty is concerned.

The harmonious in tones and colours depends on "blending before inhibition " 2 which must mean much the same as the capacity of forming parts in a whole. The account of sym- metry gives no special importance to the curves of varying curvature, and even appears to say that the circle 3 is a pre- dominant form in flower-contours, which shows very defective aesthetic observation. Yet there is a profound suggestion in the same passage as to the deeper equilibrium which replaces symmetry in the forms of plants and in landscapes, as depend- ing on the balance demanded by perception, at present, Herbart says, inadequately understood. The limited concep- tion of curve-beauty 4 is characteristic of Herbart's view, which prefers in everything the finite and complete. But yet he is led to the suggestive remark that if there is a general formula of beauty, it is "to lose something of regularity, in order at once to regain it," 6 i.e. apparently to suggest the rule by deviations from it an elementary case of progress accompanied by negation, classification of iii- Herbart 5 classification of the arts does not

the Arts. rest U p 0n t h e above principles of the simultaneous and successive, but on a distinction which is intended to cor- respond to that between classical and romantic art, or as Zimmermann subsequently called it, art of complete and of incomplete presentation. The arrangement 6 is as follows :

Architecture. Landscape Gardening.

Sculpture. Painting.

JF., i. 151 and footnote.

"Verschmelzung vor der Hemmung." Ib.

Can " die Kreisform " be a general term for "curves " ?

It may be objected to my criticism that the higher curve-beauty would

belong to Symmetry. But I (U> not find it treated elsewhere in Herbart.


no


> i. 155

171.


372 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Church Music. " Entertaining " Music.

Classical Poetry. Romantic Poetry.

The one group is supposed to consist of arts that " can be looked at on all sides " (like sculpture), the others keeping in a soft twilight and admitting of no complete critical ex- ploration. The distinction as applied to music has of course met with adverse criticism, appearing to omit, for example, the orchestral symphony. The root of it is probably to be found in the passage on harmony above alluded to, where the foot- note goes on to argue that the beauty of " chorales" depends almost entirely on harmony, and therefore, it would follow, is readily deducible from the aesthetic elementary relations con- stituted by the laws of harmony. In commenting on the classification, Herbart seems to imply that only those who wish art to express something will care for the arts of the second group, and that their charm really rests on extra- aesthetic attractions, criticism and iv. It is no objection to Herbart's theory that

Estimate. j t proposes to deal at first only with simple cases of beauty. To analyse what lends itself to analysis is the first rule of science, and the importance which he attaches to the numerical and physical basis of harmony is not exagger- ated. A real objection might arise if it were seriously main- tained that the beauty of more complex shapes in nature and art could be dealt with as a mere combination of the beauties of elementary forms. This would be, for instance, to treat the human figure as a decorative element. The crux of true aesthetic is to show how the combination of decorative forms in characteristic presentations, by an intensification of the essential character immanent in them from the beginning, subjects them to a central significance which stands to their complex combination as their abstract significance stood to them in isolation. But this objection comes later. Every one must welcome the plain statement of simple problems which concern the point where meaning passes into shape, and the attempt to deal with the pleasantness of perceptive states qua perceptive, as consisting of reactions and combinations having their own psychical effects qua reactions and combinations. Therefore the theory of formalism was practically opportune.

On the theory of the theory, so to speak, there is more to be said.


BEAUTY IN RELATIONS. 373

Prima facie, if we are to start from the given in aesthetic perception, it would seem that we cannot start from relations. Beauty as perceived lies rather in qualities than in relations, and a relation as such can only exist for discursive thought, which is not compatible with aesthetic perception. The point, then, of the very relations into which the formalist analyses the simpler cases of beauty seems to lie not in their satisfactoriness to perception, but in their satisfactoriness to the intellectual craving for explanation. As numerical or geometrical relations, apart from sense-presentation, one is in no way preferable to another. Considered, therefore, as an analysis of the actual perception of beauty, the reduction to relations is the assign- ment of a very simple import or significance to such percep- tions, and there is no reason on the same principle for not going the whole length and finding in them the symbols of character or of moral law, just as much as symbols of numeri- cal or symmetrical relation And in fact, conformably to what was said of the limitations of classical aesthetic, the recogni- tion of a deeper import makes the actual analysis of expressive elements far more subtle, and therefore more complete within the bounds of formalism, than that which only looks for formal relations. Let any reader compare with Herbart or Zimmer- mann on symmetry, repetition and curvature, either Hegel's treatment of the same subjects in the section on the beauty of nature, or Ruskin's in the last chapter of Elements of Draw- ing, and he will see the difference between formalism within idealism, which has plenty of room for it, and formalism which pretends to exclude all idealism. Yet Ruskin himself finds elements in beauty which he can make no attempt to explain, 1 and it is well that there should be exact analysts who urge us to state or describe these given ultimate elements, and in every case to begin research by definitely enumerating the most direct and tangible cases of the phenomenon to be explored. 4. Zimmermann, 2 a professor at the university

Zimmerman* ^ Prague, who with the Austrian professors went over to the school of Herbart, 3 has been criticised at a great length and with extreme severity by Hartmann, 4 and also by

  • Elements of Drawing, p. 322, and Mod. P., vol. i. p. 25, and ni. 160 ff.

2 Author of Geschichtc d. Esthetic, 1858. Allgemeine &&th., 1865.

1 Erdmann, Hist, of Phil., in. 33, E. Tr.

4 sEsth.) i. 269 ff.


374 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

Vischer l in a rejoinder to Zimmermann's attack on Vischer's great work.

It would not be diffcult, following the line taken by these critics and indicated in my observations on Herbart, to con- vict Zimmermann's formalism of abstractness where it is pure, and of inconsistency where it appeals to content. But we shall find it more profitable to consider what fruitful ideas are repre- sented in aesthetic by this movement (in which Zimmermann attaches himself so closely to Herbart that, while greatly de- veloped, his thoughts cannot be readily distinguished from those of the latter), which though giving an impression of perversity and eccentricity, may yet be seen to rest on a defi- nite conception that has a solid foundation.

The Distinctive * ^ cannot indeed be reasonably maintained, Nature of in view of the elaborate treatment devoted by such

orm c >a pinker as Hegel to mathematical, chromatic and

musical beauty, that idealism as such neglects the plain fact that all beauty exists in and for sense-perception or fancy. But yet it might be urged with truth that there has been, as was admitted in the first chapter of the present work, a solution of continuity at one point of the objective analysis. By what mechanism, or under what particular necessity, do sensuous forms which are highly and harmoniously expressive, give pleasure to the percipient owing to that expressiveness ? The idealist relies mainly on a concrete analysis of what is recog- nised as beautiful. He does not aspire to legislate, but only to explain. He can show that where, and in as far as, the trained perception is pleased, the presentation which pleases is one that has, as we say, "something in it/' He may in pro- portion to his knowledge and his critical acuteness, pursue his researches into every detail of the sensuous semblance, as for instance into its geometrical properties, and prove that, in comparison with a less beautiful perception, it either reveals a deeper idea, or exhibits its idea more adequately to sense. If, however, we ask how to demonstrate that beauty must be pleasant, his answer will be less ready, for the great idealists have dealt but little with the exact psychology 2 of ideas in interaction.

1 Kntischc Gange> no. 6.

2 I must not be understood to admit that they have not dealt with psychology at all. I should doubt whether any other writer has approached Hegel's Philosophy of Mind, as a study of the phases of subjectivity.


TENSIONS BETWEEN IDEAS. 375

The idealist will reply, and rightly, that all self-manifesta- tion, with its weaker phase self-recognition, is naturally pleasant. But he might hardly be able to show by what mechanism pleasure is annexed to the contemplation of a symmetrical pattern, or a harmonious arrangement of colour, or to the hearing of a musical chord. And in popular criti- cism this difficulty sometimes amounts to a formidable contra- diction. " The drawing is incorrect, but full of feeling." " The performance (musical) was inaccurate, but full of fire." In each of these judgments the two predicates are not in pan materia. The first predicate refers to form, the second to content. But the quality indicated by the second must be conveyed to eye or ear through positive form through a definite operation of mechanical means no less than the first. Through what form is it conveyed ? The popular mind drops the analysis as soon as it presents some difficulty, and consequently commits itself to an absolutely fatal antithesis, I do not say that formalistic aesthetic has very much better success in practice, its cruces arising, as Herbart admitted * and as the critics insist, just where the deeper qualities begin. But it is something that we should be kept in mind of the problem.

Now this the formalist, aiiJ especially the Herbartian formalist, will do for us. He begins by pointing out that in the current of our ideas there are excited certain pleasures and pains by the mere operation of ideas upon one another in respect of their identity or opposition, and their conse- quent tendency to reinforce or depress one another. If these relations of pleasure and the reverse can be worked out in any degree of detail so as to coincide with the phenomena of aesthetic pleasantness, the result would be a definition of aesthetic pleasure, not merely de facto as the pleasure of expressive presentations, but de jure as the pleasure produced by certain tensions, depressions and excitations arising in the course of ideas, definable without going beyond the course of ideas itself.

Zimmermann's attempt to discover the fundamental forms which, in the coexistence of ideas, give rise to pleasure and the reverse, and to apply them to the determination of beauty in nature and in art, is admittedly not as successful as its

1 P. 371 supra.


376 HISTORY OF ASTHETIC.

conception was opportune. But it is desirable to make our- selves acquainted with its general nature. Meaning of the " All turns on the " Together," the "Zusam- Together." men" in Herbart's phrase which is adopted by Zimmermann. Simple images carry with them an addition (Zusatz) of feeling, but this fuses itself with them and is in its nature unaesthetic, because it hinders the distinct perception of that which rouses the feeling. 1 The addition which arises when two or more images 2 are brought " together" is differ- ent in this respect. It is distinguishable from the relation perceived, without being removable from it, and consists in a feeling of pleasure or otherwise which simply is the tension 3 between the parts of the compound image. It, the tension felt as pleasure or otherwise, is therefore the aesthetic judg- ment, which is thus identical and self-evident.

The complex image is not a sum of lifeless parts. It is a psychical group of ideas, whose parts are ideas which are living forces, and their " Together " is vital and active, pro- ducing tension and relaxation of them against and among each other. 4 These inter-relations are therefore essentially active and actual ; they are not mere mathematical relations and cannot be concentrated into an exponent. 6

Now, of course, what sounds or colours are harmonious or not, is decided by the ear and eye. But for what reason in general anything pleases or displeases, that is, as only forms please or displease, by what kind of forms anything, what- ever it be, pleases or displeases, this can be decided neither by the eye, nor by the ear, nor at all by experience, but only by thought. For, for this purpose we need the question, what forms, that is, what kind of "together" between the perceptions (whatever they may be perceptions of) are, gener- ally, possible ; and this question we can decide without first considering the specific nature of the content, of the per-


1 A, 25.

2 I desire to avoid interrupting this account with comment, so I simply draw the reader's attention to this absolute opposition of simple and com- pound. Where the simple is to be found, and how a presentation is to be broken up into definite related parts, seems an ultimate difficulty of the view before us.

3 A , 24.

  • Ib., 26.

//>., 27.


THE ELEMENTARY FORMS. 377

ceptions (or " ideas ") which are in the " together," as given in sound to the ear, and in colour-sensation to the eye. " The conception of psychical ideas which possess a content (Quality) and a definite energy (Quantity) is sufficient for this purpose"*

" -^Esthetic, as it has to do with those forms only by which every matter pleases or displeases, if only it is homogeneous, i.e. capable of entering into forms at all, is therefore not an empirical but an a priori science." 2

Elementary and "i- Thus the science is built up deductively, simple Forms, beginning with the elementary or simple forms of " Together " those which involve two terms only and pro- ceeding to the derivative or complex forms, which involve more terms than two, and can always be analysed into the simple forms. 3

Beginning with two terms only, and regarding them accord- ing to quantity and quality only (disparate terms being in- capable of entering into aesthetic form), he finds that in quantity they can be compared only as more or less intense, and formulates the " pure form of Quantity." " The stronger idea is pleasing compared with the weaker ; the weaker is unpleasing compared with the stronger." 4 In Quality the only cases which do not reduce the tw r o terms to one are those of predominant identity and predominant discrepancy. These give rise to the harmonious and the unharmonious forms of Quality. 6

These original forms are further subdivided into their several cases or applications, and these are then made the basis of the derivative forms, being the same principles in application to a number of terms greater than two in each case.

The original principle of Quantity (I take this case as an illustration) divides genuinely into the forms of the great, which rests on comparison of definite large and definite small, and the perfect, in which the greater is considered as the pur- pose of the less. 6 This is a category of Herbart's aesthetical ethic, which Zimmermann introduces into aesthetic proper. Spuriously, further, the form of Quantity gives rise to the sublime, when the aspiration after an infinite quantity, which cannot really be presented in idea, is compared with a definite

  • A , 37- 2 A. 42-3- * --. 4i.


378 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

quantity. The qualitative difference between an aspiration and a quantity is thus taken account of, and the sublime falls outside pure quantity and complete conception, and be- comes one of the twilight or romantic conceptions.

In the "harmonious form of Quality, 1 ' l the pleasure which harmony produces is ascribed to the predominant identity of the qualities of the terms, and confirmation is claimed for the view on the ground of Helmholtz's researches. My reason for mentioning this particular instance, in which probably the theory is seen at its best, is that the good fortune which has attended the explanation of musical consonance by the ratio between periods of oscillation, has made Zimmermann very eager to extend a similar proceeding to the explanation of colour harmony. But there is no real correspondence between the two cases. It is very doubtful whether complementary colours are to a cultivated sense those that naturally har- monise. 2 If they were so, then the explanation by blending of the identical would be false, for true complementary colours share absolutely no element of light 8 with each other. And the eye is absolutely incapable of detecting the elements of a compound colour, and being pleased or the reverse in conse- quence of their ratios of oscillation. 4 No one knew, before it was experimentally determined, that yellow was a combination of red and green. Every one believed that green was a com- bination of blue and yellow. Thus it is fairly certain that no form of the numerical analysis which accounts for musical har- mony will also account for colour harmony. ^Esthetic judg- ment appears, in the above case of red and blue, to be disr torted by the desire to find demonstrable " relations " in the colour scale. If such relations exist, they are not parallel to those of sound.

The general theory as applied to these cases is expressed as follows. " The identical element in the content of the two terms of the form, will seek to produce blending; the opposed


1 A., 4*.

2 Cf. Z A., 250, on "red and blue," which he condemns as "peasant's fashion," because not complementary, with Ward in EncycL Brit , art. " Psychology," p. 69, where this combination is explained as belonging to a more refined taste than that which enjoys red and green.

8 Disregarding the mere impurity of ordinary coloured light, on which Zimmermann is ultimately driven to base his theory. A., 43, note. 4 Helmhollz's Lectures, First Series, E. Tr., p. 92.


THE SIMPLEST ESTHETIC QUALITY. 379

elements to produce inhibition. The former, which would naturally take place in consequence of the partial identity of the qualities, is hindered by the latter, which keeps the mem- bers of the form apart. The opposition sets up tension between the terms which the identity is attempting to unite. Through this there arises a state like that of the question. If then the identity of the members prevails, this tension is relaxed ; the opposition that causes it is overcome without being abolished ; blending takes place, and with it a feeling of pleasure." l

One more very simple example in which Zimmermann ap- plies his views ought in justice to be mentioned, for it has, I think, considerable interest. Building up the work of art from its simplest elements, Zimmermann starts with the Imagination of abstract Synthesis. 2 A point in space, he here explains, is simple, and so without aesthetic quality. Two points, even, have no aesthetic relation, being strictly undistinguishable. And because they are without aesthetic relation, so is the dis- tance between them. (I should have thought, that on Zimmer- mann's principles, this was because qua distance it is simple.) If two such distances (systems of two points) are presented, an aesthetic relation arises. Assuming them to be unequal, then according to the form of quantity the greater is pleasing, the lesser unpleasing. Hartmann objects to this form that it makes the aesthetic judgment, upon the presentation as a whole, self-contradictory. But the fact is, I think, well observed, and the contradiction, as I understand, is Zimmer- mann's postulate. For he continues by pointing out that if there is a common measure (I presume " to perception" should be added), the discord is reconciled and the case of agreement sets in, accompanied with pleasure. If the dis- tances are incommensurable, the percipient is stimulated to supply a distance that will harmonise them ; and in the " metrical " beauty beauty of pure measurement so arising, there is the semblance of disproportion overcome by the ulti- mate perception of proportion. Thus there is, he would, I imagine, desire us to infer, a sense of economy or simplifica-


i ^ 4^4.

8 P. '188. I take this to be the meaning of his " Zusammenfassendes Vor- stellen," which is a first stage followed by " Empfindendes Vorstellen" and "Gedanken Vorstellen."


380 HISTORY OF .ESTHETIC.

tion against waste and destruction, that is to say, combined with enlargement of the field of consciousness.

iv. In the end, all these principles of pure form

Psychologies! i_ i_ r i i /-

Meaning or the within the course of ideas appear to be cases of ^vZiiS" 1 a sort f ratio between attention, which is a quantity that has a limit, and the field of con- sciousness. Ideas or images accompanied by adequate atten- tion are, it is suggested, 1 always pleasant. Enlargement of the field of consciousness, therefore, is as such accompanied with pleasure, so long as it is compatible with adequate atten- tion. Economy of attention is pleasant as instrumental to adequacy. Interruption or baffling of attention is relatively a narrowing of the field of consciousness, and is felt as tending to inadequacy of attention. Such waste of attention by inter- ruption and baffling is felt for example in dissonance. The confusion of a discord is compared to " trying to reckon up a sum in one's head, and failing because the numbers are too high/' 2 All mere interruption is painful in itself. Flickering lights, meaningless noises, false rhythms, 3 intermittent irrita- tions of the skin, are analogous examples. 4 Clearness, truth in rhythm, in short, simplification, are economical of attention and so pleasant in themselves.

It is obvious that in this doctrine of pleasantness, which as determined by the pure inter-relation of images is, as far as it goes, aesthetic pleasantness, we have a counterpart to the principle of unity in variety as applied by objective analysis to nature and art. Could the formalistic doctrine be elabora- ted in detail for the other departments of aesthetic, as it ha been in the prerogative example of musical consonance and dissonance, we should obtain as a result a complete translation of objective aesthetic into terms of the course of ideas with its pleasantness and unpleasantness, just as we have, in recent psychology, important rudiments of such a translation for logic and for ethics in the theory of apperceptive masses guiding both the unpractical and the practical course of the mind. It seems natural, however, that this very abstract

1 By J. Ward, " Psychology," in Encycl. Brit. I have attempted to throw together the explanation of pleasantness due to intensity and to quality.

  • Preyer, quoted by Ward, I.e.

J " I would rather go to the treadmill for an hour than walk a mile between two asynchronous bipeds." Henmker's Trifles far Travellers.

1 Ward, I.e., and Helmholtz, Lectures^ Series i. p. 88.


VALUE OF SIMPLE CASES. 381

kind of explanation (abstract, because dealing merely with identity and contrast as such) should continue to be most effective within the limits which Herbart assigned it, 1 and should give way to more worldly language when we come to analyse the individual shapes in which aesthetic unity embodies itself. Zimmermann manages to deduce a "form of the char- acteristic" from his abstract principles, but being a relation of identity between archetype and copy, it is not convincing as applied within the course of ideas.

But it is very much to have a clear explanation of simple extreme cases ; in such explanation almost every science finds its strictest demonstrative support, and to feel the whole value of a really definite formal aesthetic it is only necessary to read Plato's statement 2 of the true problem of harmonic theory in connection with the discoveries of the " Tonempfind- ungen"

5. If we are to be in earnest with formal

Fecuner. aesthetic, it is plainly necessary to take steps for testing the actual agreeableness of various isolated forms to unbiassed taste. To have attempted this task by systematic experiment is the merit of Fechner, 3 whose researches, al- though including valuable enquiries into the beauty of associa- tion, display on the whole a decidedly formalistic bent, criticism of pre- i. He prefaces the account 4 of his own experi- vious inquiries. men t s with geometrical form by referring to the ideas of previous enquirers, upon which he passes two notice- able criticisms. First, he observes, nearly all of them aim at establishing some one normal form or relation as par excellence that of beauty, whereas in fact each of these has value only within certain limits, and there is no such thing as a normal line or shape of beauty. Secondly, it has been the rule by way of obtaining the pure form to omit all reference to asso- ciation, which is really a much more important element of the


1 Seep. 371 supra.

2 R e p t 531 C. " To consider what numbers are harmonious, and what are not so, and for what reason in each case." Plato is demanding the real reason, as opposed to the empirical observation of consonance. He is fully in the spirit of modern science, although of course he did not know where to look for his reason.

3 The well-known writer on " Psychophysics." His principal work bearing on Esthetic is Vorschule d. jEsthetik, 1876.

4 Vorsch. d. A., i. 184.


382 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

beautiful than the pure form itself. Among the forms of beauty suggested by previous enquirers, he enumerates the circle as handed down from antiquity, the ellipse as advocated by Winckelmann, the undulating and spiral lines and the pyra- midal shape insisted on by Hogarth ; the square, and in general the relation i to I, preferred by recent German writers as the most readily comprehensible and therefore the most aesthetically advantageous relation ; the simple rational relations generally (i to i, I to 2, etc.) on the same ground ; and finally Zeising's golden section, propounded by him, not merely as a normal aesthetic relation, but as a proportion pre- dominant throughout the whole of nature and art 1 Experiments with O ne set f Fechner's experiments may be Rectangles, etc. briefly described to show the kind of observations made and results attained. He asked 2 for judgments of dis- tinct preference and rejection from a large number of different persons upon the satisfactoriness, elegance, or beauty of ten rectangles of equal area, cut out in white card and laid unsorted on a black surface. They varied in shape from a square to a figure with sides as 2 : 5, the golden-section rectangle with its sides as 21 : 34 being seventh in order of length, count- ing from the square Generally speaking, the judgments of preference increased a.ld the judgments of rejection dimin- ished from the two extremes (square 3 and longest rectangle) to the golden-section rectangle, which had 35 per cent, of the preferences, and absolutely no rejections. It would have been interesting to try a differently framed series. I should suggest a tendency to prefer a form that was net extreme in the given series.

Most of the persons began by saying that it all depended on the application to be made of the figure, and on being told to disregard this, showed much hesitation in choosing.

Fechner's general results with regard to these figures and to the division of straight lines into segments, are that the square 4 and the rectangle nearest to it on the one hand, and

1 Cf. p. 41 above. The proportion in question, it will be remembered, is that in which the lesser is to the greater as the greater to the sum of the two. It is applied by Zeising to any two principal dimensions in a figure.

2 V. d. A.) i. 192 and 195.

3 The square, however, had a few more preferences than the rectangle next ID it. The longest rectangle had no such preference over its neighbour.

4 See note 3 .


THE PREFERABLE RECTANGLE. 383

the longest rectangle on the other hand, are the least pleasing. The simple rational relations (corresponding, it has been sug- gested, to musical consonance) show absolutely no superior pleasantness to those which can only be expressed by ratios of much larger numbers (corresponding to dissonance). The golden-section rectangle, and its immediate neighbours have a real superiority in pleasantness to the other rectangles. The least deviation from symmetry has a far more decided un- pleasantness than a proportionally much greater deviation from the golden section.

In dividing a horizontal line, the golden section is decidedly less pleasant than bisection. 1 In dividing a vertical figure, say in determining the point of insertion of the arm of a cross, the golden section is less pleasant than the ratio of i : 2.

These results, together with the uncertainty of judgment shown by those who contributed to them, support the general view which I have taken of formal beauty. Doubtless some slight but definite reason exists for the preference thus displayed as between certain figures, but conformably to the slightness of the content which such bare forms can symbolise, it is readily overcome by any concrete application of them. Thus in the measurements of picture frames, there is customarily a wide deviation from the golden section, and the customary ratio between height and breadth is different according as the height exceeds the breadth, or the breadth exceeds the height. 2 This shows the overpowering influence of the con- crete upon the abstract. For sheer abstract figures, height and breadth have no meaning.

The slight exceptional rise of preference for the square seems quite intelligible, owing to the unique character im- pressed upon this figure by the total absence of difference between its sides. Mere uniqueness, incapability of being confused with anything else, is attractive per se. Simplicity, stability, and many such properties naturally connect them- selves, and have always been felt to do so, with this same absence of difference in the dimensions of this figure. 3 At

1 See on Zimmermann, p. 379 above

3 V. d. A., 11. 292. If height is greater, it is to breadth as 5 : 4 ; if breadth, it is to height as 4 : 3; ie there is a feeling against excess of height, probably not hard to explain.

3 Trpaya>i>os avev i/royou. " Foursquare without blame," of the good man in Ar. Ethics^ i. 10, ix.


3 84 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

the same time difference has its attractions ; but plainly must go far enough to escape confusion with the square, and attain some sort of balance (the grounds of which I do not profess myself able to suggest) before it can surpass the pleasantness of the simple unity of the square.

jEsthetio LEWB. "* Fechner's aesthetic laws, with the excep- tion of the law of association and perhaps of the law of economy, are very much the laws of Greek aesthetic. Such are the law of unity in variety, of congruousness, of clearness.

But newer ground is opened up by his treatment of the principle of association l and of the law of economy.

In speaking of Herbart, we saw reason to suspect that in ascribing the pleasantness of presented qualities to their dependence on abstract relations, the narrow paths of strict formalism had already been abandoned. For if we once go behind the sensuous presentation, are we not in fact looking for a reason ? What indeed is a ratio, for the perception of beauty, if it is not a reason * Granted that smoothness of the course of our ideas, and its reverse, may attach to such relations, may not other less abstract and more controlling properties attach to them as well ? If we assume that this criticism is just, it follows that even in exact enquiry the candid course is to admit that we are looking not only for an actual cause of pleasure, but for a reason in the cause, while we retain the spirit of " formalism " so far as to insist that no reason shall be relevant but one which is inherent in, and not casually annexed to, the sense-presentation. 2 Schopenhauer and Herbart were right in being suspicious of association ; for association may be taken to mean arbitrary or chance con- nection. Mr. Ruskin's treatment of the pathetic fallacy 8 is an invaluable analysis of the dangers of ungrounded association.

But yet, those who do not admit that any elements of the universe are " cut off with an axe " from the rest, may fairly approve of an enquiry into the inherent aesthetic associations of given forms ; and if the phrase which I have used is held to be a contradiction in terms, then the part of it which we


1 A., i. 93.

1 This is in the main Herbart's attitude to association ; see Fechner'b Criti- cism, A., i. 119. s M. P., in. 157, 173.


COLOUR-ASSOCIATIONS. 385


must retain is the limitation " inherent," and the term " asso- ciation " must be replaced by " significance " or " symbolism." It is prima facie a reasonable extension of formalism to ask what sort of content this or the other form is by its essential constitution adapted to express.

Fechner has boldly attacked the most difficult because least analysable of all aesthetic problems, that of the import or "associations 11 of the isolated colours. 1 His execution of the attempt does not seem equal to his conception of it. He relies almost wholly on the distribution of colours in nature. But plausible as it may seem to associate our feeling for red with the ideas of blood and fire, or our feeling for blue with the idea of the sky, I have serious doubts whether their association ought really to be treated as essential. It must be clearly under- stood that in any decoration which definitely recalls the forms of plants there is more to be considered than the association of colours as such. I do not say that we should not be shocked if a plant were presented in decoration with red leaves and green petals ; but yet the colours even of plants are very freely treated for decorative purposes, and we have not the least dislike to a plant form depicted entirely in shades of red. A fortiori the colour in itself, when no natural form is portrayed, and the colour harmonies, certainly seem to be independent of naturalistic association ; and probably some investigations on the older lines, referring to purity or other actual properties of the hue as affecting the eye, not neglect- ing its implied harmonious or inharmonious relation to our ordinary surroundings, would have better success than the mere reference to natural associations. It may be pointed out as supporting this view, that a very slight difference of shade and of gradation throws association wholly off the track. The colour of a very hot fire has nothing that reminds us of blood- red, and I do not believe that a house door painted with the green of the first spring leaves would have any kind of asso- ciation with the beauty of spring.

In analysing the inherent associations of the concave and convex 2 Fechner seems more successful, plainly owing to the greater facility for analysis afforded by their complex forms. He has no difficulty in showing that the concave appears as a rule receptive, and the convex exclusive or repellent, except


.R, hi. ioo. , 105


386 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

in the case of surfaces such as those of cushions, which are convex in order to become concave.

In this region of essential association Fechner does not ob- tain any great results. But, if detailed analysis, such as exact aesthetic pursues, is to have any value at all, I think that his method points in the right direction.

As a case closely analogous to the results of such analysis, we may treat the phenomena of the law of economy, which Fechner ranks, after his eclectic manner, as "a principle of aesthetic." In reality, this principle is merely a deduction from the law of unity in variety, and as directed against super- fluity in the parts of an aesthetic structure coincides almost verbally with Aristotle's warning, that a part which is not necessary is no part of the whole, 1

" In their treatise on the organs of locomotion," writes Professor Vierordt, 2 " the brothers Weber 3 have demon- strated, in several passages and by striking examples, that the aesthetically beautiful is also on the whole the physio- logically correct ; that the two coincide, that the impression of beauty (ease, unconstrainedness, freedom) is always pro- duced by results attained at the least possible expense of muscular force."

This principle, as Fechner observes, may be treated either with reference to the content of our presentations, in which it is pleasant to us, through sympathy, to see the economical employment of force, or with reference to the course of our presentations, there being an economy of attention in the observation of movements that are economical in the ex- penditure of force. Both of these aspects of the law of economy were insisted on by Mr. Herbert Spencer, 4 as early as the years 1852 and 1854 respectively. The second is capable of being treated as a law of pure formahstic psychology, and Fechner is led by it to raise the whole question of the psychical nature and conditions of pleasure, without, however, arriving at a positive conclusion. Only he decides that it is impossible to set up the law of economy as


1 P. 32 abo\e.

2 Quoted by Fechner, V. d* A^ ii. 263.

3 See reference to their work in Ward, " Psychology," Encyct Brit.

4 Essay on " The Philosophy of Style " and on " Gracefulness," republished in Essays Scientific, Fohtiial> and Speculative^ vol. ii.


THE LAMP OF SACRIFICE. 387

the fundamental principle of aesthetic psychology. It is, in- deed, as we have seen, a plainly derivative law.

It is worth while, in order to remove a seeming contradic- tion with the deepest aesthetic criticism, to point out that this principle, being simply a consequence of the relation of parts within a whole, can have no claim to determine what the nature of the whole, its essence or purpose, shall be. Thus we find room for the apparently antagonistic principle of lavishness or sacrifice.

A good engineer does not adjust his supporting forces with absolute exactness to the greatest estimated burden. He leaves a margin of safety against unforeseen hazards which has, even in works of pure utility, a sort of aesthetic effect in the mental security of all who are concerned with the struc- ture. And so, we are told to-day, with apparent truth, a certain lavishness of force is a noble quality not merely in the ornament, but in the very substantiality and strength of domestic buildings. Security of mind, the sense of perma- nence, the absence of any suggestion that the building is meanly calculated to the immediate owner's interest, appear to be aesthetic properties which demand a certain bounty and largeness in the provision of strength and solidity.

In a more intense degree these same properties take the form of " sacrifice "i 1 but neither a margin of safety, nor lavishness, nor sacrifice, is identical with waste or incom- patible with economy. A large conception of purpose and effect is one thing ; the most effective adjustment of forces to it when conceived is another.

From Fechner we have gained but little in positive principle, but something in method and tangible elucidation, which latter is very necessary to aesthetic science if it is not to hang in mid- air. And our judgment of formal aesthetic, that it is the theory of antiquity armed with the methods of modern science, has in him received a striking confirmation.

stumpf. scope 6- So far, finally, as I am able to form an opinion of ma Analysis. on t h e development of psychological theory re- specting music in the hands of Professor Stumpf, 2 it appears

1 See " Lamp of Sacrifice " in Seven Lamps of Architecture, where the dis- tinction between bounty and waste is well insisted on, and Wordsworth's sonnet on King's College Chapel.

8 Author of Muvkpsychologie in England^ 1885, and Tcnpsychologie^ of which vol. ii. appeared in 1890.


388 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

to me that Herbart's original admissions retain their full force. 1 The completed work of musical art, even in the comparatively simple form of an entire melody, does not, as I gather, come strictly within the scope of his analysis. The facts of con- sonance produced by the " blending " of tones, an ethical or emotional import 2 ascribed to single sounds of certain definite types (soft deep notes, soft high notes, etc.) and to certain definite intervals, and some very general conditions of musical pleasure such as dim analogies with verbal utterance, and the constant renewal of the listener s expectation, appear to be the only factors which exact psychology is able as yet to discern by analysis within the musically beautiful. The difficulty which Herbart admitted still remains; the elements which can be readily analysed do not penetrate into the character- istic differences which make one musical whole beautiful and another trivial or tedious. And there is in the background a dark suspicion that these alleged expressive qualities of isolated factors may be really faint associative suggestions drawn from the character which they assume in those com- plex combinations of which they most readily remind us.

concision. ?' In taking leave at this point of purely

formal or exact aesthetic for in the English and

German writers who have yet to be considered we shall only

find it in subordination to other ideas I will attempt in a

few paragraphs to estimate its achievement and its prospects.

HOW judge of i- We must not test it by a standard which it is Formal ^sthetio. a blunder to apply to any aesthetic theory what- ever. No aesthetic theory 3 can give appreciable assistance in the construction of individual works of art, or can adequately represent their beauty in another, viz. an intellectual medium. We should do injustice to Herbart and Zimmermann, if we

1 Not being qualified to judge independently in musical questions, I here follow the representations of the late Mr. Edmund Gurney in the paper "The Psychology of Music," Tertium Quid, h. 251. My only addition to his argument consists in noting the parallelism between defects which he ascribes to the views of Prof. Stumpf, and the admissions made by Herbart. See p. 37 1 above.

2 This ascription while far too little for objective idealism is far too much for exact formalism.

8 What about counterpoint, which Herbart includes in aesthetic? The answer is, that the artist may embody his experience in rules, though it is hazardous, especially outside music, to attach great value to them. But these rules are data of aesthetic, not its content, because they come from the practice of the art and not from reflection upon its capacities.


LIMIT OF FORMAL AESTHETIC. 389

were to interpret their conviction of the all-importance of elementary relations, as indicating the belief that works of genius could be constructed by rule and line, or fairly re- presented in a system of abstract reflections. For exact aesthetic, as for the aesthetic of concrete idealism, the only conceivable problem is the explanation of beauty in the light of general principles aided by the analysis of individual examples given in nature or in art. Lesson of tt ii. If therefore formal aesthetic is pronounced

History. a f a jl ure j n t h e presence of concrete individual beauty, this verdict does not refer to the task of prior con- struction, nor of reproduction in intellectual form, but only to the problem of subsequent analysis for speculative purposes. Allowing for the greater depth and variety of modern exact science as compared with that of antiquity, the work of formal aesthetic in modern times corresponds with the strictly Greek aesthetic of Plato and Aristotle, and is checked, as in the main theirs also was checked, at the point where beauty passes into concrete individual form. Whole and part, unity in variety, simple colours, simple sounds (to which in modern times we must add simple consonances and unsuccessful attempts to deal with colour harmony), spatial figures, rhythms (and in modern analysis the peculiar case of rhyme) are the object- matter about which exact aesthetic is able to supplement the suggestions of the Greek philosophers from the wealth of modern physics and modern psychology.

That with this achievement it has attained its limit as an independent method appears to be proved both by its diver- gences and by its concessions.

We cannot but be surprised when we find that the thinkers who set out by holding tight to the beautiful datum in its sensuous peculiarity, 1 are also those who attribute its peculiar effectiveness to the most abstract and isolated underlying relations. It is true that the relation is conceived as a genuine cause operating in an assignable mode, and not reducible to a mere mathematical expression, but this does not alter the fact that the operation, as defined by the relation, is of so general a nature as to be void of relevancy to the individual beautiful effect in a context of art, as distinguished from that which is not beautiful in such a context.

1 Herbart, 1 c., p. 369 supra.


39O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC

And thus, to refer for a moment to an English writer for the sake of illustration, we find that within the exact school the peculiarity of the concrete datum comes at last to be vehemently asserted, 1 against the psychological side of the school, as incompatible with the analysis of it by dissolution, and with the reference of its character in fragments to abstract and isolated relations.

This antagonism seems really to be implicit in Herbart. Intellectual analysis of the datum, when once entered upon, cannot come to rest in abstractions. It must go forward till it recognises 2 on the intellectual side a concreteness ad- equate to that which the datum of beauty exhibits on the sensuous side.

The concessions of formal aesthetic tell the same tale. In Zimmermann as compared with Herbart we notice, a, the in- clusion of the " characteristic" in the list of formal relations an extraordinary tour de force; and, 6, the softening of the opposition between classical and romantic, which in Herbart and Schopenhauer meant a degree of preference for the more narrowly definite forms of art, into a distinction, applicable to all periods of history, between beauty that attaches to com- plete conception and beauty attached to incomplete conception and dependent for its attractiveness on subjective interests. Room is thus made to include great work of any period under the term " classical."

Further, in Fechner, in Prof. Stumpf, and in the best recent English psychology and exact musical theory, 3 the principle of association is accepted as of paramount importance, in con-, tradiction with Schopenhauer, and essentially with Herbart. Even the term " utterance " has been applied by the very competent analyst* above referred to, as indicating by analogy a peculiar impression which beautiful melody conveyed to his mind.

These divergences and concessions exhibit, if I am right, the spectacle, too familiar in philosophy, of the concrete world- spirit freakishly decoying into blind paths the explorer who has refused his guidance, and coming in by the window when he is barred out at the door.

1 By Gurney, Terttum Quid> ii. 279, in opposition to Stumpf. f I do not say " constructs." 8 E.g. in Ward and Gurney.

  • Gurney, *., 274.


BEAUTY AND ATTENTION. 391


inclusion of *" ^ ^ as been remarked with regard to what sxact^^Eatt^tio used in ethics to be called Utilitarianism, now nL commonly known as Hedonism, that it takes upon itself the hazard of exclusiveness. Other theories do not profess to exclude it, but it professes to exclude them. The same is true of the relation between formal aesthetic and the aesthetic of concrete idealism. There can be no precise analysis of the psychical operation of beautiful form for which a place is not ready and waiting in the theory of beauty as expressiveness. Enough has been said, I hope, in dealing with the Greek thinkers to make this re- lation absolutely clear. Only it may be well to supply out of the present chapter a single link which there remained in a great measure hypothetical. We then supposed that the simple forms which please, derive their satisfactoriness from some latent affinity, other than sensuous stimulation, between them and the feeling of intelligent beings. In the principle of economy as applied to the pleasure of watching graceful movements, by Fechner and his authorities, we appear to follow the actual operation of such a latent harmony. In the first place, movement economical of force embodies the principle of organic unity, negatively requiring the absence of superfluous elements. Ultimately indeed the principle develops into that of the characteristic. This absence of superfluity we realise in terms of feeling by inherent associa- tion with our own muscular adjustments. And in the second place it is suggested that in the apprehension of such move- ments our attention is so economised that as a psychical occur- rence the apprehension is easy and pleasant per se, so that we have at once our satisfactory content and an agreeable per- ception of it. And as adequacy of expression to content is not an accident, but the very essence of beauty, it is not improbable that this thoroughgoing connection between the working of our attention and the properties of a beautiful content may turn out to be normal. It is plain, of course, that in concrete cases of beauty the psychical occurrences must be required to take on very complex shapes, which may or may not in individual minds undo their own agreeableness by fatigue owing to their sheer quantity, or by contradictions beyond the reconciling power of the individual mind in ques- tion.

The reader should remember that for the reason alleged


392 HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

above, the principle of lavishness is not opposed to that of economy. The most graceful movements are often those which are superfluous when judged by definite purposes of life ; but their course will possess a harmonious unity which will be distinguishable from the inharmonious and wasteful abruptness of similar movements ungracefully performed.

Finally, it may be laid down that idealism without detail is idle speculation ; and formal or exact aesthetic, in its various shapes as the observation of universally beautiful structure, as its analysis into abstract relations, and as the causal ex- planation of their agreeableness in terms of the psychical movement, is an indispensable instrument in the hand of idealism.

But in the analysis of the great individual creations of art or the more complex effects of nature, it is not probable that all the links of formal explanation will ever be supplied. In these cases the delight of self-utterance and self-recognition overrides, though it cannot dispense with, the elements of abstract satisfaction, and the appreciation of character and passion and the moods of Nature, though at every turn sus- tained and elucidated, will not be exhaustively analysed by exhibiting the rationale of composition in all its minutiae, and of harmonious effect upon sense-perception. And moreover we shall find that in the employment of such analysis, con- formably to a principle on which I have more than once insisted, the interpreter who is on the alert for refinements of import that is, the idealist with a grasp of reality will distance all competitors.


CHAPTER XIV.

THE METHODICAL COMPLETION OF OBJECTIVE IDEALISM.

Type of the l WHILE the votaries of exact aesthetic were


attempting to explain the pleasantness of beauty in terms of psychological analysis, the heirs of objective Idealism were striving to attain a corresponding precision in the method of their content- or expression- theory. In the course of this attempt they called attention to a neglected question of supreme aesthetic importance in the problem of ugliness, and also in some degree included the formalistic point of view in their own by appropriating from modern science its best warranted analyses of aesthetic phenomena.

On the other hand, with the increased accentuation of method, and the attempt to summarise results in accurate abstractions, their work has unavoidably assumed a certain tinge of scholasticism. By this term I designate the divorce between content and formulation , nor can I altogether conceal my conviction that the appreciation of actual beauty among the German aesthetic philosophers of the last half century is less vital, though infinitely more learned, than that shown by the giant race whom they succeeded.

One characteristic of the most distinguished of the recent aesthetic writers in Germany demands our special attention, although in criticising it the present writer is also by impli- cation criticising himself. It is easy to say that the substan- tive strength of the idealist school resides throughout in its historical research, and in illustration of this to compare the historical method of Schelling and Hegel, or of Winckelmann and Schiller, with the historical treatises of Schasler, Zimmer- mann, 1 Carriere, Lotze, and Hartmann. But when we look closer at the two types of thought which are thus compared,

1 Taking Zimmermann, who is a formalist, as representing by his historical treatment the rapprochement between formalists and idealists alluded to above.

393


394 HISTORY OF /ESTHETIC.

we observe an essential difference between them. In the earlier type, the historical factor depends upon the conception that the evolution of beauty in all its phases and stages is the object-matter of aesthetic science. The "dialectic" is conceived as " immanent " as consisting, that is to say, in the operation of historical forces and in the cumulative in- fluence of the human mind upon itself. The opinions of philosophers do not appear in aesthetic, but are more com- pletely correlated with the world and with each other in the full context of the history of philosophy.

In the later type, the science has become defmitory and formal, and the history, no longer directly included in the object-matter of the science, has turned into a chronicle of philosophic opinion. In this way the science and the history have fallen apart ; and we have passed from the scientific history of the actual beautiful, to its formal, though would-be concrete, analysis on the one hand, and to the history of aesthetic philosophy as such upon the other. Now it is true that the latter may be utilised as the clarified expression of the former ; and it is true that Schasler, and more fully the learned and enthusiastic Carriere, have understood the histori- cal problem in this way. The present writer however, while aware that he is to a great extent following in their track, has attempted to bend back the line of historical enquiry towards the evolution of beauty as an objective though mental phenomenon, and away from the mere affiliation of philo- sophical opinions.

Transition to the . 2 ; But before proceeding to deal with the Later objective critical and methodical views of such writers as

Idealism. i i i

those just mentioned, it is necessary to trace the antecedents of their position in the admission within aesthetic philosophy of the theory of ugliness, which had been knocking at the door ever since the beginning of romantic art, if not ever since Plotinus.

a. We saw that Lessing admitted the ugly Solger. . 1-11

into poetry as a means to the comic and the

terrible, 1 while denying it a place in formative art ; and that Schlegel 2 definitely proposed it as an object of theoretical inquiry, intending to keep it wholly outside the beautiful, but finding how inevitably it forced its way in. In Goethe and

1 P. 226 supra. 2 P. 301 stiff a.


THE THEORY OF UGLINESS. 395

Schiller, Kant and Hegel, we found no elaborate treatment of this subject. In Goethe and Hegel, however, this was partly due to the very amplitude and robustness of their conception of beauty. For the fact of real aesthetic moment on this side is the extension and deepening of the beautiful by the inclusion of apparent ugliness, and when this, the ugly that can enter into the beautiful, is provided for, the detailed analysis of the ugly, if any, that can never be taken up into beauty, is less essential to aesthetic science. We observed upon Goethe's sympathy for the strong and the significant or characteristic, and we noted that for Hegel ugliness is a relative conception, depending on a contradiction with true individuality, and only rising to absoluteness if and in as far as such a contradiction assumes the form of irrecon- ri!ii)le perversity. In this point, the existence of apparent or merely relative ugliness, he is more truly represented by the thoroughly concrete theorists such as Schasler and Hart- rnann, than by those who, with Rosenkranz though even they not wholly consider ugliness as essentially falling out- side the beautiful.

This latter view, which was necessary to pave the way for an explicit recognition of the place of apparent ugliness within concrete characterization, is briefly and pregnantly formulated in Solger's lectures on ^Esthetic. 1 I quote a leading passage, from which Solger's relation to Schlegel and also to later theorists on the subject of ugliness, may be clearly seen :

The Comic and the Tragic, Solger is maintaining, 2 both lie within the conception of the beautiful. Beauty as such is the perfect unity of idea and phenomenon (" Erscheinung"\ and is opposed both to the pure idea, and to the common- place phenomenon or manifestation (" Erscheinung"} of reality. Tragedy is the "idea" as emphasized by annihilation of it (in the phenomenon 3 ). Comedy is the idea recognised as asserting itself throughout even the most commonplace existence. But if, instead of asserting itself, it ceases to be

1 Delivered 1819, prepared for publication by Heyse, and published in 1829 (before the appearance of Hegel's ^Esthetic) The lectures are more direct and scientific in style than Solger's dialogue hnmn (1815) appears to oe. For an estimate of Solger, see Hegel's &sth., Introd., E. Tr. p, 131.

  • Vorhsungcn ubcr Aesthetik. pp 100-102.

3 P. 102.


3Q6 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

recognised in the sphere of common life and phenomena, then either we have the prosaic view of the world, which fails to be ugly only because it is wholly apart from aesthetic feeling, or we have ugliness, which arises " when l the human mind finds in the commonplace phenomenon (' in dergemeinen Erscheinung ') something essential, wherein the phenomenon, divorced from the idea, has independent reality. This element," he continues, " becomes as an independent principle the opposite of beauty, and so the commonplace phenomenon becomes the exact opposite of the idea. 2 In this consists the principle of the ugly, the basis of which is not in mere defectiveness by the standard of natural laws. And, again, the ugly does not consist in the serious (prosaic) considera- tion of things ; this belongs rather to moral judgment, being wholly removed from the conception of the beautiful.

"If anything is to be recognised as the opposite of the beautiful, the same thing must be looked for in it that is looked for in the beautiful, and the opposite found. If the idea is really lacking, and the mere phenomenon gives itself out for the essence, then the ugly makes its appearance. The ugly is a rebellion against the beautiful, as the evil against the good. It is always a pretended principle, in which the different tendencies of existence converge [as they do truly in the beautiful]. Natural imperfections are not ugly, except in so far as in this complication of external forces something is taken to reveal itself which aims at concen- trating these mere forces as essential in themselves. 3 Bodily ugliness only arises through a false principle of mere exist- ence [eg. of animal as against spiritual existence, or mere cell-growth against healthy animal life] being foisted upon the human organism. Just so, a disposition which opposes itself to the beautiful by concentrating the commonplace into a single point, 4 and acquiescing therein, is an ugly dispo- sition. Mere contingency and maladaptation, therefore, are not enough to constitute ugliness ; it is necessary in addition

1 Vorlcsungen uber Aesthetik^ p. 101.

3 The derivation of Vischer's view from this is very plain ; see K. G., vi., 113, on the war between the idea and and the image ("Bild," or " Erscheinung ").

8 i.e. no doubt, as forming an individual existence antagonistic to that in which they appear like parasites, etc.

4 In the sense, I imagine, of making it a purpose.


UGLINESS AKIN TO BEAUTY. 397

that in the things which are thus self-contradictory there shall be a unity, which [really] could only be the idea, but is sought for in purely phenomenal existence.

" The ugly is the first form in which commonplace exist- ence opposes itself to the beautiful, Like evil, it displays itself only as the negation of the idea, but as a negation that assumes positive shape, inasmuch as it aspires to set itself in the place of the latter/' " The ugly is therefore positively opposed to the beautiful, and we can only regard them as absolutely exclusive of each other."

The noteworthy results of this conception are two.

First, real ugliness is thus treated as a positive negation or falsehood aspiring to the place of beauty, and therefore abso- lutely exclusive of the latter and excluded by it. This, in so far as we are able at all to recognise real or invincible ugliness as a fact, we shall find to be the true explanation of that fact.

But secondly, as ugliness is thus identified with a certain positive relation of the same factors that enter into beauty, as something in which we look for beauty though we do not find it, an affinity between the two is admitted. There thus arises a tendency to bring the ugly closer and closer to the frontier of the beautiful, as bearing special relation to one or other of the species generated within the phases of beauty by the changing correlation of its elements. Thus, as I understand Solger in the Lectures on ^Esthetic, though he does not think that the ugly qu& ugly can come within the borders of art (and in this, with Weisse and against Rosenkranz, he is surely right), yet it is essential to his view that beauty in passing through its phases from the sublime to the comic comes very close to the ugly, from which it is only saved by the self-assertion of the strong and cheerful idea or ideal within the most wretched phenomenal details, giving rise to the spirit of true comedy.

Here we have the germ of a theory dealing not only with

ugliness outside the beautiful, but with the appearance of a

necessary movement within the realm of beauty towards

something akin to ugliness.

Reference to ft I do not propose to attempt an adequate

weisse and account of Weisse 1 or of Vischer. 2

viflcner Weisse appears to have had the substantial

  • Weisse's Acsthettk, 1830
  • Vischer'i Acsthetik, 1846 -57, comprises two vols. of general theory re-


398 HISTORY OF ESTHETIC.

merit of insisting on the position of ugliness in aesthetic theory, and especially of insisting on Solger's point that posi- tive or actual ugliness (as distinct from mere defectiveness of beauty) is something that claims the place and simulates the powers of the beautiful a morbid but fascinating presenta- tion. He does not contemplate the entrance of what is really ugly into the region of art except through entire subordina- tion, which in his view can only take place by means of the comic or the romantic spirit. Thus, as Hartmann observes, the characteristic is omitted, excepting, we must add, in as far as it takes comic or romantic form. As a consequence of this omission it would seem that little light can be thrown on the enlargement or deepening of beauty in the strict sense. We want to know how beauty itself is found to be modified and graduated, as in Winckelmann's account of it, by the claims of expression and of the characteristic with their introduc- tion of apparent ugliness, and the addition of the comic and romantic to the forms of beauty does not thoroughly facet his problem. The defective synthesis betrays itself in defective aesthetic judgment. Thus, we are told, Weisse can see no beauty in waste and desert places. It seems to him that in them the inorganic elements refuse their function of acting as a basis for organic life. This notion is descended from Hegel's exaggerated estimate of the eesthetic importance attaching to the ascending scale of organic life. It is wholly discrepant with our present feeling for the beautiful. 1

Moreover Weisse, as also Vischer and Rosenkranz, at- tempted a dialectic construction of the phases of beauty, some- what on Solger s lines, bringing the ugly into special connec- tion with the progressive movement from the sublime to the comic. There is no doubt that some connection may be traced between the phases of beauty and its progressive power of mastering and subordinating to itself the sterner and stranger elements of presentation. We have seen in Hegel an attempt to exhibit such a movement, with full explanation of the immanent causes and cumulative influences by which the successive stages were brought to pass. It would be foolish to imply that Hegel's analysis is final, and I only refer


specting beauty, continued in four vols. entitled Die Kunste, dealing copiously with the several arts.

1 For Weisse's view of ugliness see Hartmann, Aesth.> ii. 364 ff.


THE LATER DIALECTIC. 399

to it in order to emphasise the distinction between a dialectic which assigns its own definite import, and one which seems simply to ring the changes upon technical terms of aesthetic, and logical designations for forms of negative relation, which, apart from a very explicit context, convey no import at all. 1 The self-conflicts of the beautiful lead, it is said, from the sublime through the ugly to the comic (Weisse), or the evolu- tion passes from the sublime through the comic to the beau- tiful 2 ( Vischer), or the beautiful denies itself in the ugly and is restored to itself in the comic (Rosenkranz).

The underlying perception throughout all these expressions is probably that embodied in the passage quoted above from Solger and also involved in Hegel's view of the comic, that any conflict or meanness can be reconciled with beauty, if the strong and genial spirit of the ideal pervades it with a sense of victorious security. But in all this, though much truth is implied, there is no thorough-going reconstruction of the idea of beauty , beauty remains a phase of the excellent in art, among other phases, or else is stretched into an unmean- ing title, and the actual affinity that permeates the whole world of characteristic expression, which Goethe and Hegel had grasped, is in danger of being lost to view.

In the case of Vischer, the enterprise of coping with his immense array of volumes is rendered especially dishearten- ing by the fact that the author himself in his later years has criticised 3 his great work with severe candour. Two points are noteworthy. In the second part of the Esthetic, follow- ing upon the metaphysic of the beautiful which occupies the first volume, and treating of " The beautiful in its one-sided existence," he had dealt with beauty (i.) in its "objective" exis- tence as the beauty of nature, and (ii.) in its " subjective " existence as imagination. This distinction, in virtue of which his treatment of natural beauty extended into an immense range of detail, surveying inorganic and organic nature, the types of humanity and the course of history, his later criticism rightly condemns " The section on natural beauty must go/' 4 All beauty is in perception, and in fact whenever art and imagination are dealt with it is essential to recur to the

1 See below on Rosenkranz.

See Schasler, A.> 959.

8 Vischer, Kntische Gange^ No. 5, 1863 ; No. 6, 1873.

  • Krit. G. t v. n.


40O HISTORY OF AESTHETIC.

material afforded them by nature. The views of chap. i. of the present work could not be more strikingly confirmed. We see a genuine treatment of natural beauty in its true relation to art in the whole range of Mr. Ruskin's critical labours.

Again, Vischer's later criticism condemns as inadequate the position given to ugliness in his great work. 1 He now admits that Weisse and Schasler have estimated more truly than himself the necessity of ugliness as an element without which the concrete modifications of the beautiful cannot arise.

It must be added that in his treatment of poetry he remains wholly on the old ground of the distinction into Epic, Lyric, and Dramatic, and therefore fails to appreciate the problem presented by the cessation of some types and the substitution of others for them. Thus he attempts to force the Divina Commedia into the form of an Epic, and as this is plainly impossible, pronounces the form of Dante's poem to be in contradiction with the essence of poetic art. 2 How far more profound is Schelling's estimate ! s

On the other hand it should be noted that Vischer has some conception of the relation between art and workman- ship, 4 of the difficulties raised for the latter by modern me- chanical production for the world-market, 6 and of the problems affecting the future of art 8 in their whole perplexing intensity. There is much, therefore, in his works that would be of interest to the reader to-day, could it be disengaged from his formal dialectic and from the huge bulk of his volumes. But there is not much, 1 should imagine, which cannot now be obtained from other sources, and 1 therefore cannot help fear- ing that this colossal monument of real knowledge, capacity, and industry will have little effect on the future course of aesthetic science.

Rosenkran* ?' " now P ass to Rosenkranz, who while be- longing to the earlier post- Hegelians by his attachment to the ideas of Solger, yet treated the question of ugliness with a detail and insight which made his work a point of transition to the later and more thoroughly concrete conceptions. The connection is well marked by the fact that

1 AViV. ., vi. 115. * Die Kunste, Bk. iv., p. 1300.

  • See p. 325 supra. 4 Die Kunsti, \. 87.

1 /., 337- Aesth , n 298.


THE NEGATION OF BEAUTY. 4OI

Schasler dedicates his Kritische Gesckichte der Aesthetik to Rosenkranz.

ugiinesi & i. The title of Rosenkranz's work, The ^Esthetic such. O j: Ugii nes si indicates his point of view. The editor of Kant, and biographer of Hegel, he desired to com- plete the fabric of aesthetic theory on the side of it which appeared to him, not unjustly, to be defective. He accord- ingly conceives of Ugliness as a distinct object-matter, outside the beautiful, and thus demanding separate treatment, but de- termined throughout by relativity to the beautiful, and thus belonging to aesthetic theory.

The ugly as such 2 is the negation of the beautiful, inasmuch as the same factors which give rise to beauty are capable of being perverted into their opposites I should have preferred to say, " perverted, by a change of relation, into its opposite/ 1 Ugliness and beauty are genuinely distinct, and the former does not enter into the latter as a constituent part ; but yet, as both contain the same factors, it is possible for the ugly to be subordinated to the beautiful in a further and more com- plex phase of aesthetic appearance, viz. the comic. As I understand Rosenkranz, therefore, the comic, though akin to the beautiful, does not form a species of it, but is rather a con- tinuation of its principle in a new shape, after the rebellion of the ugly has been overcome.

There is an obvious analogy between these ideas and those of Solger. The philosopher's chief interest is still concen- trated on the ugly as given in natural opposition to the beau- tiful, and not on the qualities within the acknowledged beautiful which exhibit an affinity between it and what is commonly taken to be ugly. Our principal concern, therefore, is with the mode in which positive negation is here conceived, as tending to limit the sphere of the most genuine ugliness ; with the very remarkable ground on which ugliness