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Heart of Man by George Edward Woodberry

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in an abundance of action over a wide scene as in Shakspere; in either
case equally there is a selection from the whole mass of man's life of
what shall illustrate the causal union in its order and show it in
action. The process in the epic or prose narrative is the same. The
common method of all is to present the universal law in a particular
instance made for the purpose.

In thus clothing itself in concrete form, truth suffers no
transformation; it remains what it was, general truth, the very essence
of type and plot being, as has been said, to preserve this universality
in the particular instance. There is a sense in which this general truth
is more real, as Plato thought, than particulars; a sense in which the
phenomenal world is less real than the system of nature, for phenomena
come and go, but the law remains; a sense in which the order in man's
breast is more real than he is, in whom it is manifest, for the form of
ideas, the mould of law, are permanent, but their expression in us
transitory. It is this higher realism, as it was anciently called, that
the mind strives for in idealism,--this organic form of life, the object
of all rational knowledge. Types, under their concrete disguise, are
thus only a part of the general notions of the mind found in every
branch of knowledge and necessary to thought; plots, similarly, are only
a part of the general laws of the ordered world; literature in using
them, and specializing them in concrete form by which alone they differ
in appearance from like notions and laws elsewhere, merely avails itself
of that condensing faculty of the mind which most economizes mental
effort and loads conceptions with knowledge. In the type it is not
personal, but human character that interests the mind; in plot, it is
not personal, but human fate.

While it is true that the object of ideal method is to reach universals,
and reembody them in particular instances, this reasoning action is
often obscurely felt by the imagination in its creative process. The
very fact that its operation is through the concrete complicates the
process. The mind of genius working out its will does not usually start
with a logical attempt consciously; it does not arrive at truth in the
abstract and then reduce it to concrete illustration in any systemic
way; it does not select the law and then shape the plot. The poet is
rather directly interested in certain characters and events that appeal
to him; his sympathies are aroused, and he proceeds to show forth, to
interpret, to create; and in proportion as the characters he sets in
motion and the circumstances in which they are placed have moulding
force, they will develop traits and express themselves in influences
that he did not foresee. This is a matter of familiar knowledge to
authors, who frequently discover in the trend of the imaginary tale a
will of its own, which has its unforeseen way. The drama or story, once
set in motion, tends to tell itself, just as life tends to develop in
the world. The vitality of the clay it works in, is one of the curious
experiences of genius, and occasions that mood of mystery in relation to
their creatures frequently observed in great writers. In fact, this mode
of working in the concrete, which is characteristic of the creative
imagination, gives to its activity an inductive and experimental
character, not to be confounded with the demonstrative act of the
intellect which states truth after knowing it, and not in the moment of
its discovery. In literature this moment of discovery is what makes that
flash which is sometimes called intuition, and is one of the great
charms of genius.

The concrete nature of ideal art, to touch conveniently here upon a
related though minor topic, is also the reason that it expresses more
than its creator is aware of. In imaging life he includes more reality
than he attends to; but if his representation has been made with truth,
others may perceive phases of reality that he neglected. It is the mark
of genius, as has hitherto appeared, to grasp life, not fragmentarily,
but in the whole. So, in a scientific experiment, intended to illustrate
one particular form of energy, a spectator versed in another science may
detect some truth belonging in his own field. This richer significance
of great works is especially found where the union of the general and
the particular is strong; where the fusion is complete, as in Hamlet. In
a sense he is more real than living men, and we can analyze his nature,
have doubts about his motives, judge differently of his character, and
value his temperament more or less as one might with a friend. The more
imaginative a character is, in the sense that his personality and
experience are given in the whole so that one feels the bottom of
reality there, the more significance it has. Thus in the world of art
discoveries beyond the intention of the writer may be made as in the
actual world; so much of reality does it contain.

Will it be said that, in making primary the universal contents and
spiritual significance of type and plot, I have made literature
didactic, as if the word should stop my mouth? If it is meant by this
that I maintain that literature conveys truth, it may readily be
admitted, since only thus can it interest the mind which has its whole
life in the pursuit and its whole joy in the possession of truth. But if
it be meant that abstract or moral instruction has been made the
business of literature, the charge may be met with a disclaimer, as
should be evident, first, from the emphasis placed on its concrete
dealing with persons and actions. On the contrary, literature fails in
art precisely in proportion as it becomes expressly such a teacher.
Secondly, the life which literature organizes, the whole of human nature
in its relation to the world, is many-sided; and imaginative genius, the
creative reason, grasps it in its totality. The moral aspect is but one
among many that life wears. If ethics are implicit in the mass of life,
so also are beauty and passion, pathos, humour, and terror; and in
literature any one of these may be the prominent phase at the moment,
for literature gives out not only practical moral wisdom, but all the
reality of life. Literature is didactic in the reproachful sense of the
word only in proportion as type and plot are distinctly separated from
the truth they embody, and ceases to be so in proportion as these are
blended and unified. The fable is one of the most ancient forms of such
didactic literature; in it a story is told to enforce a lesson, and
animals are made the characters, in consequence of which it has the
touch of humour inseparable from the spectacle of beasts playing at
being men; but the very fact that the moral is of men and the tale is of
beasts involves a separation of the truth from its concrete embodiment,
and besides the moral is stated by itself. In the Oriental apologue an
advance is made. The parables of our Lord, in particular, are admirable
examples of its method. The characters are few, the situations common,
the action simple, and the moral truth or lesson enforced is so
completely clothed in the tale that it needs no explanation; at the same
time, the mind is aware of the teacher. In the higher forms of
literature, however, the fusion of ethics with life may be complete.
Here the poet works so subtly that the mind is not aware of the
illumination of this light which comes without the violence of the
preacher, until after the fact; and, indeed, the effect is wrought more
through the sympathies than the reason. In such a case literature,
though it conveys moral with other kinds of truth, is not open to the
charge of didacticism, which is valid only when teaching is explicit and
abstract. The educative power of literature, however, is not diminished
because in its art it dispenses with the didactic method, which by its
very definiteness is inelastic and narrow; in fact, the more imaginative
a character is, the more fruitful it may be even in moral truth; it may
teach, as has been said, what the poet never dreamed his work contained.

If, then, to sum up the argument thus far, the subject-matter of
literature is life in the forms of personality and experience, and the
particular facts with respect to these are generalized by means of type
and plot in concrete form, and so are set forth as phases of an ordered
world for the intelligence, to the end that man may know himself in the
same way as he knows nature in its living system--if this be so, what
standing have those who would restrict literature to the actual in life?
who would replace ideal types of manhood by the men of the time, and
the ordered drama of the stage by the medley of life? They deny art,
which is the instrument of the creative reason, to literature; for as
soon as art, which is the process of creating a rational world, begins,
the necessity for selection arises, and with it the whole question of
values, facts being no longer equal among themselves on the score of
actuality, nor in fitness for the work in hand. The trivial, the
accidental, the unmeaning, are rejected, and there will be no stopping
short of the end; for art, being the handmaid of truth, can employ no
other than the method of all reason, wherefore idealism is to it what
abstraction is to logic and induction to natural science,--the breath of
its rational being. Those who hold to realism in its extreme form, as a
representation of the actual only, behave as if one should say to the
philosopher--leave this formulation of general notions and be content
with sensible objects; or to the scientist--experiment no more, but
observe the course of nature as it may chance to arise, and describe it
in its succession. They bid us be all eye, no mind; all sense, no
thought; all chance, all confusion, no order, no organization, no
fabric of the reason. But there are no such realists; though pure
realism has its place, as will hereafter be shown, it is usually found
mixed with ideal method; and as commonly employed the word designates
the preference merely for types and plots of much detail, of narrow
application, of little meaning, in opposition to the highly generalized
and significant types and plots usually associated with the term
idealism. In what way such realism has its place will also appear at a
later stage. Here it is necessary to say no more than that in proportion
as realism uses the ideal method only at the lowest, it narrows its
appeal, weakens its power, and takes from literature her highest
distinction by virtue of which she grasps the whole of character and
fate in her creation and informs man of the secrets of his human heart,
the course of his mortal destiny, and the end of all his spiritual
effort and aspiration.

I am aware that I have not proceeded so far without starting objections.
To meet that which is most grave, what shall I say when it is alleged
that there is no order such as I have assumed in life; or, if there be,
that it is insufficiently known, too intangible and complex, too
various in different races and ages, to be made the subject of such an
exposition as obtains of natural order? Were this assertion true, yet
there would be good reason to retain our illusion; for the mind delights
in order, and will invent it. The mind is perplexed and disturbed until
it finds this order; and in the progressive integration of its
experience into an ordered world lies its work. Art gives pleasure to
the intellect, because in its structure whatever is superfluous and
extrinsic has been eliminated, so that the mind contemplates an artistic
work as a unity of relations bound each to each which it fully
comprehends. Such works, we say, have form, which is just this
interdependence of parts wholly understood which appeals to the
intellect, and satisfies it: they would please the mind, though the
order they embody were purely imaginary, just as science would delight
it, were the order of nature itself illusory. Creative art would thus
still have a ground of being under a sceptical philosophy; man would
delight to dream his dream. But it is not necessary to take this lower
line of argument.

It does not appear to me to be open to question that there is in the
soul of man a nature and an order obtaining in it as permanent and
universal as in the material world. The soul of man has a common being
in all. There could be no science of logic, psychology, or metaphysics
on the hypothesis of any uncertainty as to the identity of mind in all,
nor any science of ethics on the hypothesis of any variation as to the
identity of the will in all, nor any ground of expression even, of
communication between man and man, on the hypothesis of any radical
difference in the experience and faculties to which all expression
appeals for its intelligibility; neither could there be any system of
life in social groups, or plan for education, unless such a common basis
is accepted. The postulate of a common human nature is analogous to that
of the unity of matter in science; it finds its complete expression in
the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, for if race be fundamentally
distinguished from race as was once thought, it is only as element is
distinguished from element in the old chemistry. So, too, the postulate
of an order obtaining in the soul, universal and necessary, independent
of man's volition, analogous in all respects to the order of nature, is
parallel with that of the constancy of physical law. A rational life
expects this order. The first knowledge of it comes to us, as that of
natural law, by experience; in the social world--the relations of men to
one another--and in the more important region of our own nature we learn
the issue of certain courses of action as well as in the external world;
in our own lives and in our dealings with others we come to a knowledge
of, and a conformity to, the conditions under which we live, the laws
operant in our being, as well as those of the physical world. Literature
assumes this order; in Aeschylus, Cervantes, or Shakspere, it is this
that gives their work interest. Apart from natural science, the whole
authority of the past in its entire accumulation of wisdom rests upon
the permanence of this order, and its capacity to be known by man; that
virtue makes men noble and vice renders them base, is a statement without
meaning unless this order is continuous through ages; all principles of
action, all schemes of culture, would be uncertain except on this

So near is this order to us that it was known long before science came
to any maturity. We have added, in truth, little to our knowledge of
humanity since the Greeks; and if one wonders why ethics came before
science, let him own at least that its priority shows that it is near
and vital in life as science is not. We can do, it seems, without
Kepler's laws, but not without the Decalogue. The race acquires first
what is most needful for life; and man's heart was always with him, and
his fate near. A second reason, it may be noted, for the later
development of science is that our senses, as used by science, are more
mental now, and the object itself is observable only by the intervention
of the mind through the telescope or microscope or a hundred instruments
into which, though physical, the mind enters. Our methods, too, as well
as our instruments, are things of the mind. It behooves us to remember
in an age which science is commonly thought to have materialized, that
more and more the mind enters into all results, and fills an ever larger
place in life; and this should serve to make materialism seem more and
more what it is--a savage conception. But recognizing the great place of
mind in modern science, and its growing illumination of our earthly
system, I am not disposed to discredit its earliest results in art and
morals. I find in this penetration of the order of the world within us
our most certain truth; and as our bodies exist only by virtue of
sharing in the general order of nature, so, I believe, our souls have
being only by sharing in this order of the inward, the spiritual world.

What, then, is this order? We do not merely contemplate it: we are
immersed in it, it is vital in us, it is that wherein we live and move
and have our being, ever more and more in proportion as the soul's life
outvalues the body in our experience. It is necessary to expand our
conception of it. Hitherto it has been presented only as an order of
truth appealing to the intellect: but the intellect is only one function
of the soul, and thinkers are the merest fraction of mankind. We know
this order not only as truth, but as righteousness; we know that certain
choices end in enlarging and invigorating our faculties, and other
choices in their enfeeblement and extinction; and the race adds, acting
under the profound motive of self-preservation, that it is a duty to do
the one thing and avoid the other, and stores up this doctrine in
conscience. We know this order again under the aspect of joy, for joy
attends some choices, and sorrow others; and again under the aspect of
beauty, for certain choices result in beauty and others in deformity.
What I maintain is that this order exists under four aspects, and may be
learned in any of them--as an order of truth in the reason, as an order
of virtue in the will, as an order of joy in the emotions, as an order
of beauty in the senses. It is the same order, the same body of law,
operating in each case; it is the vital force of our fourfold life,--it
has one unity in the intellect, the will, the emotions, the senses,--is
equal to the whole nature of man, and responds to him and sustains him
on every side. A lover of beauty in whom conscience is feeble cannot
wander if he follow beauty; nor a cold thinker err, though without a
moral sense, if he accept truth; nor a just man, nor a seeker after pure
joy merely, if they act according to knowledge each in his sphere. The
course of action that increases life may be selected because it is
reasonable, or joyful, or beautiful, or right; and therefore one may say
fearlessly, choose the things that are beautiful, the things that are
joyful, the things that are reasonable, the things that are right, and
all else shall be added unto you. The binding force in this order is
what literature, ideal literature, most brings out and emphasizes in its
generalizations, that causal union which has hitherto been spoken of in
the region of plot only; but it exists in every aspect of this order,
and literature universalizes experience in all these realms, in the
provinces of beauty and passion no less than in those of virtue and
knowledge, and its method is the same in all.

Is not our knowledge of this fourfold order in its principles, in those
relations of its phenomena which constitute its laws, of the highest
importance of anything of human concern? In harmony with these laws, and
only thus, we ourselves, in whom this order is, become happy, righteous,
wise, and beautiful. In ideal literature this knowledge is found,
expressed, and handed down age after age--the knowledge of necessary and
permanent relations in these great spheres which, taken together,
exhaust the capacities of life. Man's moral sense is strong in
proportion as he apprehends necessity in the sequence of will and act;
his intellect is strong, his emotions, his sense of beauty, are strong
in the same way in proportion as he apprehends necessity in each several
field of experience. And conversely, the weakness of the intellect lies
in a greater or less failure to realise relations of fact in their
logic; and the other faculties, in proportion as they fail to realize
such relations in their own region, have a similar incapacity. Insanity,
in the broad sense, is involuntary error in a nature incapable of
effectual enlightenment, and hence abnormal or diseased; but the state
of error, whether more or less, whether voluntary or involuntary,
whether curable or incurable, in itself is the same. To take an example
from one sphere, in the moral world the criminal through ignorance of or
distrust in or revolt from the supreme divine law seeks to maintain
himself by his own power solitarily as if he might be a law unto
himself; he experiences, without the intervention of any human judge,
the condemnation which consigns him to enfeeblement and extinction
through the decay and death of his nature, as a moral being, stage by
stage; this is God's justice, visiting sin with death. Similarly, and to
most more obviously, in society itself, the criminal against society,
because he does not understand, or believe, or prefers not to accept
arbitrary social law as the means by which necessarily the general good,
including his own, is worked out, seeks to substitute for it his own
intelligence, his cunning, in his search for prosperity, as he conceives
it, by an adaptation of means to ends on his own account. This is why
the imperfection of human law is sometimes a just excuse for social
crime in those whom society does not benefit, its slaves and pariahs.
But whether in God's world or in man's, the mind of the criminal,
disengaging itself from reliance on the whole fabric for whatever
reason, pulverizes because he fails to realize the necessary relations
of the world in which he lives in their normal operation, and has no
effectual belief in them as unavoidably operant in his nature or over
his fortunes. This was the truth that lay in the Platonic doctrine that
all sin is ignorance; but Plato did not take account of any possible
depravity in the will. Nor is what has been illustrated above true of
the mind and the will only. In the region of emotion and of beauty,
there may be similar aberration, if these are not grasped in their vital
nature, in organic relation to the whole of life.

These several parts of our being are not independent of one another, but
are in the closest alliance. They act conjointly and with one result in
the single soul in which they find their unity as various energies of
one personal power. It cannot be that contradiction should arise among
them in their right operation, nor the error of one continue undetected
by the others; that the base should be joyful or the wicked beautiful in
reality, is impossible. In the narrow view the lust of the eye and the
pride of life may seem beautiful, but in the broad perspective of the
inward world they take on ugliness; in the moment they may seem
pleasurable, but in the backward reach of memory they take on pain; to
assert eternity against the moment, to see life in the whole, to live as
if all of life were concentrated in its instant, is the chief labour of
the mind, the eye, the heart, the enduring will, all together. To
represent a villain as attractive is an error of art, which thus
misrepresents the harmony of our nature. Satan, as conceived by Milton,
may seem to be a majestic figure, but he was not so to Milton's
imagination. "The Infernal Serpent" is the first name the poet gives
him; and though sublime imagery of gloom and terror is employed to
depict his diminished brightness and inflamed malice, Milton repeatedly
takes pains to degrade him to the eye, as when in Paradise he is
surprised at the ear of Eve "squat like a toad"; and when he springs up
in his own form there, as the "grisly king," he mourns most his beauty
lost; neither is his resolute courage long admirable. To me, at least,
so far from having any heroic quality, he seems always the malign fiend
sacrificing innocence to an impotent revenge. In all great creations of
art it is necessary that this consistency of beauty, virtue, reason, and
joy should he preserved.

It is true that the supremacy of law in this inward world, so
constituted, is less realized than in the physical world; but even in
the latter the wide conviction of its supremacy is a recent thing, and
in some parts of nature it is still lightly felt, especially in those
which touch the brain most nearly, while under the stress of exceptional
calamity or strong desire or traditional religious beliefs it often
breaks down. But if the order of the material universe seems now a more
settled thing than the spiritual law of the soul, once the case was
reversed; God was known and nature miraculous. It must be remembered,
too, in excuse of our feebleness of faith, that we are born bodily into
the physical world and are forced to live under its law; but life in the
spiritual world is more a matter of choice, at least in respect to its
degree; its phenomena are, in part, contingent upon our development and
growth, on our living habitually and intelligently in our higher nature,
the laws of which as communicated to us by other minds are in part
prophecies of experience not yet actual in ourselves. It is the
touchstone of experience, after all, that tries all things in both
worlds, and experience in the spiritual world may be long delayed; it is
power of mind that makes wide generalizations in both; and the
conception of spiritual law is the most refined as perhaps it is the
most daring of human thoughts.

The expansion of the conception of ideal literature so as to embrace
these other aspects, in addition to that of rational knowledge which has
thus far been exclusively dwelt upon, requires us to examine its nature
in the regions of beauty, joy, and conscience, in which, though
generalization remains its intellectual method, it does not make its
direct appeal to the mind. It is not enough to show that the creative
reason in its intellectual process employs that common method which is
the parent of all true knowledge, and by virtue of its high matter,
which is the divine order in the soul, holds the primacy among man's
faculties; the story were then left half told, and the better part yet
to come. To enlighten the mind is a great function; but in the mass of
mankind there are few who are accessible to ideas as such, especially on
the unworldly side of life, or interested in them. Idealism does not
confine its service to the narrow bounds of intellectuality. It has a
second and greater office, which is to charm the soul. So characteristic
of it is this power, so eminent and shining, that thence only springs
the sweet and almost sacred quality breathing from the word itself.
Idealism, indeed, by the garment of sense does not so much clothe wisdom
as reveal her beauty; so the Greek sculptor discloses the living form by
the plastic folds. Truth made virtue is her work of power, and she
imposes upon man no harder task than the mere beholding of that sight--

"Virtue in her shape how lovely,"

which since it first abashed the devil in Paradise makes wrong-doers
aware of their deformity, and yet has such subtle and penetrating might,
such fascination for all finer spirits, that they have ever believed
with their master, Plato, that should truth show her countenance
unveiled and dwell on earth, all men would worship and follow her.

The images of Plato--those images in which alone he could adequately
body forth his intuitions of eternity--present the twofold attitude of
our nature, in mind and heart, toward the ideal with vivid distinctness;
and they illustrate the more intimate power of beauty, the more
fundamental reach of emotion, and the richness of their mutual life in
the soul. Under the aspect of truth he likens our knowledge of the ideal
to that which the prisoners of the cave had of the shadows on the wall;
under the aspect of beauty he figures our love for it as that of the
passionate lover. As truth, again,--taking up in his earliest days what
seems the primitive impulse and first thought of man everywhere and at
all times,--under the image of the golden chain let down from the
throne of the god, he sets forth the heavenly origin of the ideal and
its descent on earth by divine inspiration possessing the poet as its
passive instrument; and later, bringing in now the cooperation of man in
the act, he again presents the ideal as known by reminiscence of the
soul's eternal life before birth, which is only a more defined and
rationalized conception of inspiration working normally instead of by
the special act and favour of God. As beauty, again, he shows forth the
enthusiasm evoked by the ideal in the image of the charioteer of the
white and black horses mastering them to the goal of love. In these
various ways the first idealist thought out these distinctions of truth
and beauty as having a real community, though a divided life in the mind
and heart; and, as he developed,--and this is the significant
matter,--the poet in him controlling his speech told ever more
eloquently of the charm with which beauty draws the soul unto itself,
for to the poet beauty is nearer than truth. It is the persuasion with
which he sets forth this charm, rather than his speculation, which has
fastened upon him the love of later ages. He was the first to discern in
truth and beauty equal powers of one divine being, and thus to effect
the most important reconciliation ever made in human nature.

So, too, from the other great source of the race's wisdom, we are told
in the Scriptures that though we be fallen men, yet is it left to us to
lift our eyes to the beauty of holiness and be healed; for every ray of
that outward loveliness which strikes upon the eye penetrates to the
heart of man. Then are we moved, indeed, and incited to seek virtue with
true desire. Prophet and psalmist are here at one with the poet and the
philosopher in spiritual sensitiveness. At the height of Hebrew genius
in the personality of Christ, it is the sweet attractive grace, the
noble beauty of the present life incarnated in his acts and words, the
divine reality on earth and not, as Plato saw it, in a world removed,
that has drawn all eyes to the Judean hill. The years lived under the
Syrian blue were a rending of the veil of spiritual beauty which has
since shone in its purity on men's gaze. It is this loveliness which
needs only to be seen that wins mankind. The emotions are enlisted; and,
however we may slight them in practice, the habit of emotion more than
the habit of mind enters into and fixes inward character. More men are
saved by the heart than by the head; more youths are drawn to excellence
by noble feelings than are coldly reasoned into virtue on the ground of
gain. Some there are among men so colourless in blood that they embrace
the right on the mere calculation of advantage, but they seem to possess
only an earthly virtue; some, beholding the order of the world, desire
to put themselves in tune with nature and the soul's law, and these are
of a better sort; but most fortunate are they who, though well-nurtured,
find virtue not in profit, nor in the necessity of conforming to
implacable law, but in mere beauty, in the light of her face as it first
comes to them with ripening years in the sweet and noble nature of those
they grow to love and honour among the living and the dead. For this is
Achilles made brave, that he may stir us to bravery; and surely it were
little to see the story of Pelops' line if the emotions were not
awakened, not merely for a few moments of intense action of their own
play, but to form the soul. The emotional glow of the creative
imagination has been once mentioned in the point that it is often more
absorbed in the beauty and passion than in the intellectual
significance of its work; here, correspondingly, it is by the heart to
which it appeals rather than by the mind it illumines that it takes hold
of youth.

What, then, is the nature of this emotional appeal which surpasses so
much in intimacy, pleasure, and power the appeal to the intellect? It is
the keystone of the inward nature, that which binds all together in the
arch of life. Emotion has some ground, some incitement which calls it
forth; and it responds with most energy to beauty. In the strictest
sense beauty is a unity of relations of coexistence in coloured space
and appeals to the eye; it is in space what plot is in time. Like plot,
it is deeply engaged in the outward world; it exists in the sensuous
order, and it shadows forth the spiritual order in man only in so far as
a fair soul makes the body beautiful, as Spenser thought,--the mood, the
act, and the habit of heroism, love, and the like nobilities of man,
giving grace to form, feature, and attitude. It is primarily an outward
thing, as emotion, which is a phase of personality, is an inward thing;
what the necessary sequence of events, the chain of causation, is to
plot,--its cardinal idea,--that the necessary harmony of parts, the
chime of line and colour, is to beauty; thus beauty is as inevitable as
fate, as structurally planted in the form and colour of the universe as
fate is in its temporal movement. And as plot has its characteristic
unity in the impersonal order of God's will, shown in time's event, so
beauty has its characteristic unity in the same order shown in the
visible creation of space. It is true that all phenomena are perceived
by the mind, and are conditioned, as is said, by human modes of
perception; but within the limits of the relativity of all our
knowledge, beauty is initially a sensuous, not a spiritual, thing, and
though the structure of the human eye arranges the harmonies of line and
colour, it is no more than as the form of human thought arranges cause
and effect and other primary relations in things; beauty does not in
becoming humanly known cease to be known as a thing external,
independent of our will, and imposed on us from without. It is this
outward reality, the harmony of sense, that sculpture and painting add
in their types to the interpretation they otherwise give of personality,
and often in them this physical element is predominant; and in the
purely decorative arts it may be exclusive. In landscape, which is in
the realm of beauty, personality altogether disappears, unless, indeed,
nature be interpreted in the mood of the Psalmist as declaring its
Creator; for the reflection which the presence of man may cast upon
nature as his shadow is not expressive of any true personality there
abiding, but enters into the scene as the face of Narcissus into the
brook. The pleasure which the mind takes in beauty is only a part of its
general delight in order of any sort; and visible artistic form as
abstracted from the world of space is merely a species of organic form
and is included in it.

The eye, however, governs so large a part of the sensuous field, the
idea of beauty as a unity of space-relations giving pleasure is so
simple, and the experience is so usual, that the word has been carried
over to the life of the more limited senses in which analogous phenomena
arise, differing only in the fact that they exist in another sense. Thus
in the dominion of the ear especially, we speak commonly of the beauty
of music; but the life of the minor senses, touch, taste, and smell, is
composed of too simple elements to allow of such combination as would
constitute specific form in ordinary apprehension, though in the blind
and deaf the possibility of high and intelligible complexity in these
senses is proved. Similarly, the term is carried over to the invisible
and inaudible world of the soul within itself, and we speak of the
beauty of Sidney's act, of Romeo's nature, and, in the abstract, of the
beauty of holiness, and, in a still more remote sphere, of the beauty of
a demonstration or a hypothesis; by this usage we do not so much
describe the thing as convey the charm of the thing. This charm is more
intimate and piercing to those of sensuous nature who rejoice in visible
loveliness or in heard melodies; but to the spiritually minded it may be
as close and penetrating in the presence of what is to them dearer than
life and light, and is beheld only by the inner eye. It is this charm,
whether flowing from the outward semblance or shining from the unseen
light, that wins the heart, stirs emotion, wakes the desire to be one
with this order manifest in truth and beauty, in the spirit and the body
of things, to go out toward it in love, to identify one's being with it
as the order of life, mortal and immortal; last the will quickens, and
its effort to make this order prevail in us and possess us is virtue.
The act through all its phases is, as has been said, one act of the
soul, which first perceives, then loves, and finally wills. Emotion is
the intermediary between the divine order and the human will; it
responds to the beauty of the one and directs the choice of the other,
and is felt in either function as love controlling life in the new
births of the spirit.

The emotion, to return to the world of art, which is felt in the
presence of imaginary things is actual in us; but the attempt is made to
fix upon it a special character differentiating it from the emotion felt
in the presence of reality. One principle of difference is sought in the
point that in literature, or in sculpture and painting, emotion entails
no action; it has no outlet, and is without practical consequences; the
will is paralyzed by the fatuity of trying to influence an unreal series
of events, and in the case of the object of beauty in statue or painting
by the impossibility of possession. The world of art is thus thought of
as one of pure contemplation, a place of escape from the difficulties,
the pangs, and the incompleteness that beset all action. It is true that
the imagined world creates special conditions for emotion, and that the
will does not act in respect to that world; but does this imply any
radical difference in the emotion, or does it draw after it the
consequence that the will does not act at all? Checked emotion, emotion
dying in its own world, is common in life; and so, too, is contemplation
as a mode of approach to beauty, as in landscape, or even in human
figures where there is no thought of any other possession than the
presence of beauty before the eye and soul; escape, too, into a sphere
of impersonality, in the love of nature or the spectacle of life, is a
common refuge. Art does not give us new faculties, generate unknown
habits, or in any way change our nature; it presents to us a new world
only, toward which our mental behaviour is the same as in the rest of
life. Why, then, should emotion, the most powerful element in life, be
regarded as a fruitless thing in that ideal art which has thus far
appeared as a life in purer energy and higher intensity of being than
life itself?

The distinction between emotion depicted and that felt in response must
be kept in mind to avoid confusion, for both sorts are present at the
same time. In literature emotion may be set forth as a phase of the
character or as a term in the plot; it may be a single moment of high
feeling as in a lyric or a prolonged experience as in a drama; it may be
shown in the pure type of some one passion as in Romeo, or in the
various moods of a rich nature as in Hamlet; but, whether it be
predominant or subordinate in any work, it is there treated in the same
way and for the same purpose as other materials of life. What happens
when literature gives us, for instance, examples of moral experience? It
informs the mind of the normal course of certain lines of action, of the
inevitable issues of life; it breeds habits of right thinking in respect
to these; it is educative, and though we do not act at once upon this
knowledge, when the occasion arises we are prepared to act. So, when
literature presents examples of emotional experience, it informs us of
the nature of emotion, its causes, occasions, and results, its value in
character, its influence on action, the modes of its expression; it
breeds habits of right thinking in respect to these, and is educative;
and, just as in the preceding case, though we do not act at once upon
this knowledge, when the occasion arises we are prepared to act.
Concurrently with emotions thus objectively presented there arises in us
a similar series of emotions in the beholding; by sympathy we ourselves
feel what is before us, the emotions there are also in us in proportion
as we identify ourselves with the character; or, in proportion as our
own individuality asserts itself by revolt, a contrary series arises of
hatred, indignation, or contempt, of pity for the character or of terror
in the feeling that what has happened to one may happen to us in our
humanity. We are taught in a more intimate and vital way than through
ideas alone; the lesson has entered into our bosoms; we have lived the
life. Literature is thus far more powerfully educative emotionally than
intellectually; and if the poet has worked with wisdom, he has bred in
us habits of right feeling in respect to life, he has familiarized our
hearts with love and anger, with compassion and fear, with courage, with
resolve, has exercised us in them upon their proper occasions and in
their noble expression, has opened to us the world of emotion as it
ought to be in showing us that world as it is in men with all its
possibilities of baseness, ugliness, and destruction. This is the
service which literature performs in this field. Imagination shows us a
scheme of emotion attending the scheme of events and presents it in its
general connection with life, in simple, powerful, and complete
expression, on the lines of inevitable law in its sphere. We go out from
the sway of this imagined world, more sensitive to life, more accessible
to emotion, more likely and more capable, when the occasion arises, to
feel rightly, and to carry that feeling out into an act. In all
literature the knowledge gained objectively, whether of action or
emotion, is a preparation for life; but this intimate experience of
emotion in connection with an imagined world is a more vital
preparation, and enters more directly, easily, and effectually into
men's bosoms.

Two particular phases of this educative power should be specifically
mentioned. The objective presentation of emotion in literature, as has
been often observed, corrects the perspective of our own lives, as does
also the action which it envelops; and by showing to us emotion in
intense energy, which by this intensity corresponds to high type and
important plot, and in a compass far greater than is normal in ordinary
life, the portrayal leads us better to bear and more justly to estimate
the petty trials, the vexations, the insignificant experiences of our
career; we see our lives in a truer relation to life in general, and
avoid an overcharged feeling in regard to our private fortune. And,
secondly, the subjective emotion in ourselves is educative in the point
that by this outlet we go out of ourselves in sympathy, lose our egoism,
and become one with man in general. This is an escape; but not such as
has been previously spoken of, for it is not a retreat. There is no
escape for us, except into the lives of others. In nature it is still
our own face we see; and before the ideal creations of art we are still
aware, for all our contemplation, of the ineffable yearning of the
thwarted soul, of the tender melancholy, the sadness in all beauty,
which is the measure of our separation therefrom, and is fundamental in
the poetic temperament. This is that pain, which Plato speaks of--the
pain of the growing of the wings of the spirit as they unfold. But in
passing into the lives of other men, in sharing their joys, in taking on
ourselves the burden of humanity, we escape from our self-prison, we
leave individuality behind, we unite with man in common; so we die to
ourselves in order to live in lives not ours. In literature, sympathy
and that imagination by which we enter into and comprehend other lives
are most trained and developed, made habitual, instinctive, and quick.
It begins to appear, I trust, that ideal art is not only one with our
nature intellectually, but in all ways; it is the path of the spirit in
all things. Moreover, emotion is in itself simple; it does not need
generalization, it is the same in all. It is rather a means of
universalizing the refinements of the intellect, the substantive
idealities of imagination, by enveloping them in an elementary,
primitive feeling which they call forth. Poetry, therefore, especially
deals, as Wordsworth pointed out, in the primary affections, the
elementary passions of mankind; and, whatever be its intellectual
contents of nature or human events, calls these emotions forth as the
master-spirit of all our seeing. Emotion is more fundamental in us than
knowledge; it is more powerful in its working; it underlies more
deliberate and conscious life in the mind, and in most of us it rules,
as it influences in all. It is natural, therefore, to find that its
operation in art is of graver importance than that of the intellectual
faculty so far as the broad power of art over men is concerned.

Another special point arises from the fact that some emotions are
painful, and the question is raised how in literature painful emotions
become a pleasure. Aristotle's doctrine in respect to certain of these
emotions, tragic pity and terror, is well known, though variously
interpreted. He regards such emotions as a discharge of energy, an
exhaustion and a relief, in consequence of which their disturbing
presence is less likely to recur in actual life; it is as if emotional
energy accumulated, as vital force is stored up and requires to be
loosed in bodily exercise; but this, except in the point that pity and
terror, if they do accumulate in their particular forms latently, are
specifically such as it is wise to be rid of, does not differentiate
emotion from the rest of our powers in all of which there is a similar
pleasure in exercising, an exhaustion and a relief, with less liability
of immediate recurrence; this belongs to all expenditure of life. It is
not credible to me that painful emotion, under the illusions of art, can
become pleasurable in the common sense; what pleasure there is arises
only in the climax and issue of the action, as in case of the drama when
the restoration of the order that is joyful, beautiful, right, and wise
occurs; in other words, in the presence of the final poetic justice or
reconciliation of the disturbed elements of life. But here we come upon
darker and mysterious aspects of our general subject, now to be slightly
touched. Tragedy dealing with the discords of life must present painful
spectacles; and is saved to art only by its just ending. Comedy, which
similarly deals with discords, is endurable only while these remain
painless. Both imply a defect in order, and neither would have any place
in a perfect world, which would be without pity, fear, or humour, all of
which proceed from incongruities in the scheme. Tragedy and comedy
belong alike to low civilizations, to wicked, brutal, or ridiculous
types of character and disorderly events, to the confusion, ignorance,
and ignominies of mankind; the refinement of both is a mark of progress
in both art and civilization, and foretells their own extinction, unless
indeed the principle of evil be more deeply implanted in the universe
than we fondly hope; pathos and humour, which are the milder and the
kindlier forms of tragedy and comedy, must also cease, for both are
equally near to tears. But before leaving this subject it is interesting
to observe how in the Aristotelian scheme of tragedy, where it was
little thought of, the appeal is made to man's whole nature as here
outlined--the plot replying to reason, the scene to the sense of beauty,
the katharsis to the emotions, and poetic justice to the will, which
thus finds its model and exemplar in the supremacy of the moral law in
all tragic art.

This, then, being the nature of the ideal world in its whole range
commensurate with our being, and these the methods of its intellectual
and emotional appeal, it remains to examine the world of art in itself,
and especially its genesis out of life. The method by which it is built
up has long been recognized to be that of imitation of the actual, as
has been assumed hitherto in the statement that all art is concrete. But
the concrete which art creates is not a copy of the concrete of life;
it is more than this. The mind takes the particulars of the world of
sense into itself, generalizes them, and frames therefrom a new
particular, which does not exist in nature; it is, in fact, nature made
perfect in an imagined instance, and so presented to the mind's eye, or
to the eye of sense. The pleasure which imitation gives has been often
and diversely analyzed; it may be that of recognition, or that of new
knowledge satisfying our curiosity as if the original were present, or
that of delight in the skill of the artist, or that of interest in
seeing how his view differs from our own, or that of the illusion
created for us; but all these modes of pleasure exist when the imitation
is an exact copy of the original, and they do not characterize the
artistic imitation in any way to differentiate its peculiar pleasure. It
is that element which artistic imitation adds to actuality, the
difference between its created concrete and the original out of which
that was developed, which gives the special delight of art to the mind.
It is the perfection of the type, the intensity of the emotion, the
inevitability of the plot,--it is the pure and intelligible form
disclosed in the phases and movement of life, disengaged and set apart
for the contemplation of the mind,--it is the purging of the sensual
eye, enabling it to see through the mind as the mind first saw through
it, which renders the world of art the new vision it is, the revelation
accomplished by the mind for the senses. If the world of art were only a
reduplication of life, it would give only the pleasures that have been
mentioned; but its true pleasure is that which it yields from its
supersensual element, the reason which has entered into it with ordering
power. In the world thus created there will remain the imperfections
which are due to the limitation of the artist, in knowledge, skill, and

It will be said at once that all these concrete representations
necessarily fail to realize the artist's thought, and are inadequate,
inferior in exactness, to scientific and philosophic knowledge; in a
measure this is true, and would be important if the method of art were
demonstrative, instead of being, as has been said, experimental and
inductive. So, too, all thinkers, using the actual world in their
processes, are at a disadvantage. The figures of the geometer, the
quantities of the chemist, the measurements of the astronomer, are
inexact approximations to their equivalent in the mind. Art, as an
embodiment in mortal images, is subject to the conditions of mortality.
Hence arises its human history, the narrative of its rise, climax, and
decline in successive ages. The course of art is known; it has been run
many times; it is a simple matter. At first art is archaic, the sensible
form being rudely controlled by the artist's hand; it becomes, in the
second stage, classical, the form being adequate to the thought, a
transparent expression; last, it is decadent, the form being more than
the thought, dwarfing it by usurping attention on its own account. The
peculiar temptation of technique is always to elaboration of detail;
technique is at first a hope, it becomes a power, it ends in being a
caprice; and always as it goes on it loses sight of the general in its
rendering, and dwells with a near eye on the specific. Nor is this
attention to detail confined to the manner; the hand of the artist draws
the mind after it, and it is no longer the great types of manhood, the
important fates of life, the primary emotions in their normal course,
that are in the foreground of thought, but the individual is more and
more, the sensational in plot, the sentimental in feeling. This
tendency to detail, which is the hallmark of realism, constitutes
decline. It arises partly from the exhaustion of general ideas, from the
search for novelty of subject and sensation, from the special phenomena
of a decaying society; but, however manifold may be the causes, the fact
of decline consists in the lessened scope of the matter and the
increased importance of the form, both resulting in luxuriant detail.
Ideas as they lose generality gain in intensity, but in the history of
art this has not proved a compensation. In Greece the three stages are
clearly marked both in matter and manner, in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides; in England less clearly in Marlowe, Shakspere, and Webster.
How monstrous in the latter did tragedy necessarily become! yet more
repulsive in his tenderer companion-spirit, Ford. In Greek sculpture,
passing into convulsed and muscular forms or forms of relaxed
voluptuousness, in Italian painting, in the romantic poetry of this
century with us, the same stages are manifest. Age parallels age.
Tennyson in artistic technique is Virgilian, we are aware of the style;
but both Virgil and Tennyson remain classic in matter, in universality,
and the elemental in man. Browning in substance is Euripidean, being
individualistic, psychologic, problematic, with special pleading;
classicism had departed from him, and left not even the style behind.
The great opposition lies in the subject of interest. Is it to know
ourselves in others? Then art which is widely interpretative of the
common nature of man results. Is it to know others as different from
ourselves? Then art which is specially interpretative of abnormal
individuals in extraordinary environments results. This is the
opposition between realism and idealism, while both remain in the limits
of art, as these terms are commonly used. It belongs to realism to tend
to the concrete of narrow application, but with fulness of special trait
or detail. It belongs to idealism to tend to the concrete of broad
application, but without peculiarity. The trivial on the one hand, the
criminal on the other, in the individual, are the extremes of realistic
art, while idealism rises to an almost superhuman emphasis on that
wisdom and virtue, and the beauty clothing them, which are the goal of a
nation's effort. Race-ideas, or generalizations of a compact and
homogeneous people summing up their serious interpretations of life,
their moral choices, their aspiration and hope in the lines of effort
that seem to them highest, are the necessary matter of idealism; when
these are expressed they are the Greek spirit, the Roman genius, great
types of humanity on the impersonal, the national scale. As these
historic generalizations dissolve in national decay, art breaks up in
individual portrayal of less embracing types; the glorification of the
Greek man in Achilles yields place to the corruptions of the homunculus;
and in general the literature of nationality gives way to the unmeaning
and transitory literature of a society interested in its vices,
superstitions, and sensations. In each age some genius stands at the
centre of its expression, a shining nucleus amid its planetary stars;
such was Dante, such Virgil, such Shakspere. Few indeed are the races
that present the spectacle of a double-sun in their history, as the
Hebrews in Psalm and Gospel, the Greeks in Homer and in Plato. And yet,
all this enormous range of life and death, this flowering in centuries
of the human spirit in its successive creations, reposes finally on the
more or less general nature of the concretes used in its art, on their
broad or narrow truth, on their human or individualistic significance.
The difference between idealism and realism is not more than a question
which to choose. At the further end and last remove, when all art has
been resolved into a sensation, an effect, lies impressionism, which, by
its nature, is a single phase at a single moment as seen by a single
being; but even then, if the mind be normal, if the phase be veritable,
if the moment be that of universal beauty which Faust bade be eternal,
the artistic work remains ideal; but on the other hand, it is usually
the eccentric mind, the abnormal phase, the beauty of morbid sensation
that are rendered; and impressionism becomes, as a term, the
vanishing-point of realism into the moment of sense.

The world of art, to reach its last limitation, through all this wide
range is in each creation passed through the mind of the artist and
presented necessarily under all the conditions of his personality. His
nature is a term in the process, and the question of imperfection or of
error, known as the personal equation, arises. Individual differences of
perceptive power in comprehending what is seen, and of narrative skill,
or in the plastic and pictorial arts of manual dexterity, import this
personal element into all artistic works, the more in proportion to the
originality of the maker and the fulness of his self-expression. In
rendering from the actual such error is unavoidable, and is practically
admitted by all who would rather see for themselves than take the
account of a witness, and prefer the original to any copy of it, though
they thereby only substitute their own error for that of the artist.
This personal error, however, is easily corrected by the consensus of
human nature.

The differences in personality go far deeper than this common liability
of humanity to mere mistakes in sight and in representation. The
isolating force that creates a solitude round every man lies in his
private experience, and results from his original faculties and the
special conditions of his environment, his acquired habits of attending
to some things rather than others open to him, the choices he has made
in the past by which his view of the world and his interest in it have
been determined. Memory, the mother of the Muses, is supreme here; a
man's memory, which is the treasury of his chosen delights in life,
characterizes him, and differentiates his work from that of others,
because he must draw on that store for his materials. Thus a man's
character, or, what is more profound, his temperament, acting in
conjunction with the memory it has built up for itself, is a controlling
force in artistic work, and modifies it in the sense that it presents
the universal truth only as it exists in his personality, in his
apprehension of it and its meaning.

Genius is this power of personality, and exists in proportion as the man
differs from the average in ways that find significant expression. This
difference may proceed along two lines. It may be aberration from normal
human nature, due to circumstances or to inherent defect or to a
thousand causes, but existing always in the form of an inward perversion
approaching disease of our nature; such types of genius are pathological
and may be neglected. It may, on the other hand, be development of
normal human nature in high power, and it then exists in the form of
inward energy, showing itself in great sensitiveness to outward things,
in mental power of comprehension, in creative force of recombination
and expression. Of genius of this last sort the leaders of the human
spirit are made. The basis of it is still, human faculty dealing with
the universe--the same faculty, the same universe, that are common to
mankind; but with an extraordinary power, such that it can reveal to men
at large what they of themselves might never have arrived at, can
advance knowledge and show forth goals of human hope, can in a word
guide the race. The isolation of such a nature is necessarily profound,
and intense loneliness has ever been a characteristic of genius. The
solvent of all personality, however, lies at last in this fact of a
common world and a common faculty for all, resulting in an experience
intelligible to all, even if unshared by them. The humanity of genius
constitutes its sanity, and is the ground of its usefulness; though it
lives in isolation, it does so only as an advanced outpost may; it
expects the advent of the race behind and below it, and shows there its
signal and sounds there its call. Its escape from personality lies in
its identifying itself with the common order in which all souls shall
finally be merged and be at one. The limitations of genius are
consequently not so much limitations as the abrogation of limits in the
ordinary sense; its originality of insight, interpretation, and
expression broadens the human horizons and enriches the fields within
them; it tells us what we may not have known or felt or guessed, but
what we shall at last understand. Thus, as the theory of art is most
fixed in the doctrine of order, so here it is most flexible in the
doctrine of personality, through which that order is most variously set
forth and illustrated. Imitation, so far from becoming a defective or
false method because of personality, is really made catholic by it, and
gains the variety and breadth that characterizes the artistic world as a

The element of self which thus enters into every artistic work has
different degrees of importance. In objective art, it is clear that it
enters valuably in proportion as the universe is seized by a mind of
right reason, of profound penetration, of truthful imagination; and if
the work be presented enveloped in a subjective mood, while it remains
objective in contents, as in Virgil the mood pervades the poem so deeply
as to be a main part of it, then the mood must be one of those felt or
capable of being felt universally,--the profound moods of the meditative
spirit in grand works, the common moods of simple joy and sorrow in less
serious works. In proportion as society develops, whether in historic
states singly or in the progress of mankind, the direct expression of
self for its own sake becomes more usual; literature becomes more
personal or purely subjective. If the poet's private story be one of
action, it is plain that it has interest only as if it were objectively
rendered, from its being illustrative of life in general; so, too, if
the felt emotion be given, this will have value from its being treated
as typical; and, in so far as the intimate nature of the poet is
variously given as a whole in his entire works, it has real importance,
has its justification in art, only in so far as he himself is a high
normal type of humanity. The truth of the matter is, in fact, only a
detail of the general proposition that in art history has no value of
its own as such; for the poet is a part of life that is, and his nature
and career, like that of any character or event in history, have no
artistic value beyond their universal significance. In such
self-portraiture there may be sometimes the depicting of a depraved
nature, such as Villon; but such a type takes its place with other
criminal types of the imagination, and belongs with them in another

This element of self finds its intense expression in lyrical
love-poetry, one of the most enduring forms of literature because of its
elementariness and universality; but it is also found in other parts of
the emotional field. In seeking concrete material for lyrical use the
poet may take some autobiographical incident, but commonly the world of
inanimate nature yields the most plastic mould. It is a marvellous
victory of the spirit over matter when it takes the stars of heaven and
the flowers of earth and makes them utter forth its speech, less as it
seems in words of human language than in the pictured hieroglyph and
symphonic movement of natural things; for in such poetry it is not the
vision of nature, however beautiful, that holds attention; it is the
colour, form, and music of things externalizing, visualizing the inward
mood, emotion, or passion of the singer. Nature is emptied of her
contents to become the pure inhabitancy of one human soul. The poet's
method is that of life itself, which is first awakened by the beauty
without to thought and feeling; he expresses the state evoked by that
beauty and absorbing it. He identifies himself with the objects before
him through his joy in them, and entering there makes nature translucent
with his own spirit.

Shelley's Ode to the West Wind is the eminent example of such magical
power. The three vast elements, earth, air, and water, are first brought
into a union through their connection with the west wind; and, the wind
still being the controlling centre of imagination, the poet, drawing all
this limitless and majestic imagery with him, by gradual and spontaneous
approaches identifies himself at the climax of feeling with the object
of his invocation,--

"Be thou me, impetuous one!"

and thence the poem swiftly falls to its end in a lyric burst of
personality, in which, while the body of nature is retained, there is
only a spiritual meaning. So Burns in some songs, and Keats in some
odes, following the same method, make nature their own syllables, as of
some cosmic language. This is the highest reach of the artist's power
of conveying through the concrete image the soul in its pure emotional
life; and in such poetry one feels that the whole material world seems
lent to man to expand his nature and escape from the solitude in which
he is born to that divine union to which he is destined. The evolution
of this one moment of passion is lyric form, whose unity lies in
personality exclusively, however it may seem to involve the external
world which is its imagery,--its body lifted from the dust, woven of
light and air, but alive only while the spirit abides there. And here,
too, as elsewhere, to whatever height the poet may rise, it must be one
to which man can follow, to which, indeed, the poet lifts men. Nor is it
only nature which thus suffers spiritualization through the stress of
imagination interpreting life in definite and sensible forms of beauty,
but the imagery of action also may be similarly taken possession of,
though this is rare in merely lyrical expression.

The ideal world, then, to present in full summary these views, is thus
built up, through personality in all its richness, by a perfected
imitation of life itself, and is set forth in universal unities of
relation, causal or formal, to the intellect in its inward, to the sense
of beauty in its outward, aspects; and thereby delighting the desire of
the mind for lucid and lovely order, it generates joy, and thence is
born the will to conform one's self to this order. If, then, this order
be conceived as known in its principles and in operation in living
souls, as existing in its completeness on the simplest scale in an
entire series of illustrative instances but without multiplicity,--if it
be conceived, that is, as the model of a world,--that would be to know
it as it exists to the mind of God; that would be to contemplate the
world of ideas as Plato conceived it seen by the soul before birth. That
is the beatific vision. If it be conceived in its mortal movement as a
developing world on earth, that would be to know "the plot of God," as
Poe called the universe. Art endeavours to bring that vision, that plot,
however fragmentary, upon earth. It is a world of order clothing itself
in beauty, with a charm to the soul, such is our nature,--operative upon
the will to live. It is preeminently a vision of beauty. It is true that
this beauty which thus wins and moves us seems something added by the
mind in its great creations rather than anything actual in life; for it
is, in fact, heightened and refined from the best that man has seen in
himself, and it partakes more of hope than of memory. Here is that woven
robe of illusion which is so hard a matter to those who live in horizons
of the eye and hand. Yet as idealism was found on its mental side
harmonious with reason in all knowledge, and on its emotional side
harmonious with the heart in its outgoings, so this perfecting
temperament that belongs to it and most characterizes it, falls in with
the natural faith of mankind. Idealism in this sense, too, existed in
life before it passed into literature. The youth idealizes the maiden he
loves, his hero, and the ends of his life; and in age the old man
idealizes his youth. Who does not remember some awakening moment when he
first saw virtue and knew her for what she is? Sweet was it then to
learn of some Jason of the golden fleece, some Lancelot of the tourney,
some dying Sydney of the stricken field. There was a poignancy in this
early knowledge that shall never be felt again; but who knows not that
such enthusiasm which earliest exercised the young heart in noble
feelings is the source of most of good that abides in us as years go on?
In such boyish dreaming the soul learns to do and dare, hardens and
supples itself, and puts on youthful beauty; for here is its palaestra.
Who would blot these from his memory? who choke these fountain-heads,
remembering how often along life's pathway he has thirsted for them?
Such moments, too, have something singular in their nature, and almost
immortal, that carries them echoing far on into life where they strike
upon us in manhood at chosen moments when least expected; some of them
are the real time in which we live. It was said of old that great men
were creative in their souls, and left their works to be their race;
these ideal heroes have immortal souls for their children, age after
age. Shall we in our youth, then, in generous emulation idealize the
great of old times, and honour them as our fair example of what we most
would be? Shall we, in our hearts, idealize those we love,--so natural
is it to believe in the perfection of those we love,--and even if the
time for forgiveness comes, and we show them the mercy that our own
frailty teaches us to exercise, shall we still idealize them, since love
continues only in the persuasion of perfection yet to come, and is the
tenderer because it comes with struggle? Whether in our acts or our
emotions shall we give idealism this range, and deny it to literature
which discloses the habits of our daily practice in more perfection and
with greater beauty? There we find the purest types to raise and sustain
us; to direct our choice, and reenforce us with that emotion, that
passion, which most supports the will in its effort. There history
itself is taken up, transformed, and made immortal, the whole past of
human emotion and action contained and shown forth with convincing
power. Nor is it only with the natural habit of mankind that idealism
falls in, but with divine command. Were we not bid be perfect as our
Father in heaven is perfect? And what is that image of the Christ, what
is that world-ideal, the height of human thought, but the work of the
creative reason,--not of genius, not of the great in mind and fortunate
in gifts, but of the race itself, in proud and humble, in saint and
sinner, in the happy and the wretched, in all the vast range of the
millions of the dead whose thoughts live embodied in that great
tradition,--the supreme and perfected pattern of mankind?

Is it nevertheless true that there is falsehood in all this? that men
were never such as the heart believes them, nor ideal characters able to
breathe mortal air? by indulging our emotions, do we deceive ourselves,
and end at last in cynicism or despair? Why, then, should we not boldly
affirm that the falsehood is rather in us, in the defects by which we
fail of perfection, in our ignorant error and voluntary wrong? that in
the ideal, free as it is from the accidental and the transitory,
inclusive as it is of the common truth, lies, as Plato thought, the only
reality, the truth which outlasts us all? But this may seem a subtle
evasion rather than a frank answer. Let us rather say that idealism is
one of the necessary modes of man's faith, brings in the future, and
assumes the reality of that which shall be actual; that the reality it
owns is that of the rose in the bud, the oak in the acorn, the planet in
its fiery mist. I believe that ideal character in its perfection is
potentially in every man who is born into the world. We forecast the
future in other parts of life; why should we not forecast ourselves?
Would he not be thought foolish who should refuse to embark in great
enterprises of trade, because he does not already hold the wealth to be
gained? The ideal is our infinite riches, more than any individual or
moment can hold. To refuse it is as if a man should neglect his estate
because he can take but a handful of it in his grasp. It is the law of
our being to grow, and it is a necessity that we should have examples
and patterns in advance of us, by which we can find our way. There is no
falsehood in such anticipation; there is only a faith in truth instead
of a possession of it. Will you limit us to one moment of time and
place? will you say to the patriot that his country is a geographical
term? and when he replies that rather is it the life of her sons, will
you point him to human nature as it seems at the period, to corruption,
folly, ignorance, strife, and crime, and tell him that is our actual
America? Will he not rather say that his America is a great past, a
future whose beneficence no man can sum? Is there any falsehood in this
ideal country that men have ever held precious? Did Pericles lie in his
great oration, and Virgil in his noble poem, and Dante in his fervid
Italian lines? And as there are ideals of country, so also of men, of
the soldier, the priest, the king, the lover, the citizen, and beside
each of us does there not go one who mourns over our fall and pities us,
gladdens in our virtue, and shall not leave us till we die; an ideal
self, who is our judgment? and if it be yet answered that this in truth
is so, and might be borne but for the errors of the idealizing
temperament, shall we not reply that the quack does not discredit the
art of medicine, nor the demagogue the art of politics, and no more does
the fool in all his motley the art of literature.

Must I, however, come back to my answer, and meet those who aver that
however stimulating idealism is to the soul, yet it must be remembered
that in the world at large there is nothing corresponding to ideal
order, to poetic ethics, and that to act these forth as the supremacy of
what ought to be is to misrepresent life, to raise expectations in youth
never to be realized, to pervert practical standards, and in brief to
make a false start that can be fruitful only in error, in subsequent
suffering of mind, and with material disadvantage? I must be frank: I
own that I can perceive in Nature no moral order, that in her world
there is no knowledge of us or of our ideals, and that in general her
order often breaks upon man's life with mere ruin, irrational and
pitiful; and I acknowledge, also, the prominence of evil in the social,
and its invasion in the individual, life of man. But, again, were we so
situated that there should be no external divine order apparent to our
minds, were justice an accident and mercy the illusion of wasted prayer,
there would still remain in us that order whose workings are known
within our own bosom, that law which compels us to be just and merciful
in order to lead the life that we recognize to be best, and the whole
imperative of our ideal, which, if we fail to ourselves, condemns us,
irrespective of what future attends us in the world. Ideal order as the
mind knows it, the mind must strive to realize, or stand dishonoured in
its own forum. Within us, at least, it exists in hope and somewhat in
reality, and following it in our effort, though we come merely to a
stoical idea of the just man on whom the heavens fall, we should yet be
nobler than the power that made us souls betrayed. But there is no such
difference between the world as it is and the world as ideal art
presents it.

What, then, is the difference between art and nature? Art is nature
regenerate, made perfect, suffering the new birth into what ought to be;
an ordered and complete world. But this is the vision of art as the
ultimate of good. Idealism has also another world, of which glimpses
have already appeared in the course of this argument, though in the
background. In the intellectual sphere evil is as subject to general
statement as is good, and there is in the strict sense an idealization
of evil, a universal statement of it, as in Mephistopheles, or in more
partial ways in Iago, Macbeth, Richard III. In the emotional sphere also
there is the throb of evil, felt as diabolic energy and presented as the
element in which these characters have their being. Even in the sphere
of the will, who shall say that man does not knowingly choose evil as
his portion? So, too, as the method of idealism in the world of the good
tends to erect man above himself, the same generalizing method in the
world of the evil tends to degrade human nature below itself; the
extremes of the process are the divine and the devilish; both transcend
life, but are developed out of it. The difference between these two
poles of ideality is that the order of one is an order of life, that of
the other an order of death. Between these two is the special province
of the human will. What literature, what all art, presents is not the
ultimate of good or the ultimate of evil separately; it is, taking into
account the whole range, the mixed world becoming what it ought to be in
its evolution from what it is, and the laws of that progress. Hence
tragedy on the one hand and comedy, or more broadly humour, on the other
hand, have their great place in literature; for they are forms of the
intermediate world of conflict. I speak of the spiritual world of man's
will. We may conceive of the world optimistically as a place in which
all shall issue in good and nothing be lost; or as a place in which, by
alliance with or revolt from the forces of life, the will in its
voluntary and individual action may save or lose the soul at its choice.
We may think of God as conserving all, or as permitting hell, which is
death. We do not know. But as shown to us in imagination, idealism,
which is the race's dream of truth, hovers between these two worlds
known to us in tendency if not in conclusion,--the world of salvation on
the one hand, in proportion as the order of life is made vital in us,
the world of damnation on the other hand, in proportion as the order of
death prevails in our will; but the main effort of idealism is to show
us the war between the two, with an emphasis on the becoming of the
reality of beauty, joy, reason, and virtue in us. Not that prosperity
follows righteousness, not that poverty attends wickedness, in worldly
measure, but that life is the gift of a right will is her message; how
we, striving for eternal life, may best meet the chances and the bitter
fates of mortal existence, is her brooding care; ideal characters, or
those ideal in some trait or phase, in the midst of a hostile
environment, are her fixed study. So far is idealism from ignoring the
actual state of man that it most affirms its pity and evil by setting
them in contrast with what ought to be, by showing virtue militant not
only against external enemies but those inward weaknesses of our
mortality with its passion and ignorance, which are our most undermining
and intimate foes. Here is no false world, but just that world which is
our theatre of action, that confused struggle, represented in its
intelligible elements in art, that world of evil, implicit in us and the
universe, which must be overcome; and this is revealed to us in the ways
most profitable for our instruction, who are bound to seek to realize
the good through all the strokes of nature and the folly and sin of men.
Ideal literature in its broad compass, between its opposed poles of good
and evil, is just this: a world of order emerging from disorder, of
beauty and wisdom, of virtue and joy, emerging from the chaos of things
that are, in selected and typical examples.

It follows from this that what remains in the world of observation in
personality or experience, whether good or evil, whether particular or
general, not yet coordinated in rational knowledge as a whole, all for
which no solution is found, all that cannot be or has not been made
intelligible, must be the subject-matter of realism in the exact use of
that term. This must be recorded by literature, or admitted into it, as
matter-of-fact which is to the mind still a problem. Earthly mystery
therefore is the special sphere of realism. The borderland of the
unknown or the irreducible is its realm. This old residuum, this new
material, is not yet capable of art. Hence, too, realism in this sense
characterizes ages of expansion of knowledge such as ours. The new
information which is the fruit of our wide travel, of our research into
the past, has enlarged the problem of man's life by showing us both
primitive and historical humanity in its changeful phases of progress
working out the beast; and this new interest has been reenforced by the
attention paid, under influences of democracy and philanthropy, to the
lower and baser forms of life in the masses under civilization, which
has been a new revelation of persistent savagery in our midst. Here
realism illustrates its service as a gatherer of knowledge which may
hereafter be reduced to orderliness by idealistic processes, for
idealism is the organizer of all knowledge. But apart from this incoming
of facts, or of laws not yet harmonized in the whole body of law, for
which we may have fair hope that a synthesis will be found, there
remains forever that residuum of which I spoke, which has resisted the
intelligence of man, age after age, from the first throb of feeling,
the first ray of thought; that involuntary evil, that unmerited
suffering, that impotent pain,--the human debris of the social
process,--which is a challenge to the power of God, and a cry to the
heart of man that broods over it in vain, yet cannot choose but hear. In
this region the near affinity of realism to pessimism, to atheism, is
plain enough; its necessary dealing with the base, the brutal, the
unredeemed, the hopeless darkness of the infamies of heredity, criminal
education, and successful malignity, eating into the being as well as
controlling the fortune of their victims, is manifest; and what answer
has ever been found to the interrogation they make? It is not merely
that particular facts are here irreconcilable; but laws themselves are
discernible, types even not of narrow application, which have not been
brought into any relation with what I have named the divine order.
Millions of men in thousands of years are included in this holocaust of
past time,--eras of savagery, Assyrian civilizations, Christian
butcheries, the Czar yet supreme, the Turk yet alive.

And how is it at the other pole of mystery, where life rises into a
heavenly vision of eternities of love to come? There is no place for
realism here, where observation ceases and our only human outlook is by
inference from principles and laws of the ideal world as known to us;
yet what problems are we aware of? Must,--to take the special problem of
art,--must the sensuous scheme of life persist, since of it warp and
woof are woven all our possibilities of communication, all our
capabilities of knowledge? it is our language and our memory alike. Must
God be still thought of in the image of man, since only in terms of our
humanity can we conceive even divine things, whether in forms of mortal
pleasure as the Greeks framed their deities, or in shapes of spiritual
bliss as Christians fashion saint, angel, and archangel? These are
rather philosophical problems. But in art, as at the realistic end of
the scale, we admit the portraiture, as a part of life, of the bestial,
the cruel, the unforgiven, and feel it debasing, so must we at the
idealistic end admit the representation of the celestial after human
models, and feel it, even in Milton and in Dante, minimizing. The
mysticism of the borderland at its supreme is a hope; at its nadir, it
is a fear. We do not know. But within the narrow range of the
intelligible and ordered world of art, which has been achieved by the
creative reason of civilized man in his brief centuries and along the
narrow path from Jerusalem and Athens to the western world, we do know
that for the normal man born into its circle of light the order of life
is within our reach, the order of death within reach of us. Shut within
these limits of the victory of our intellect and the upreaching of our
desires and the warfare of our will, we assert in art our faith that the
divine order is victorious, that the righteous man is not forsaken, that
the soul cannot suffer wrong either from others or from nature or from
God,--that the evil principle cannot prevail. It is faith, springing
from our experience of the working of that order in us; it transcends
knowledge, but it grows with knowledge; and ideal literature asserts
this faith against nature and against man in all their deformity, as the
centre about which life revolves so far as it has become subject to
rational knowledge, to beautiful embodiment, to joyful being, to the
will to live.

Can the faith of which idealism is the holder of the keys, the faith as
nigh to the intellect as to the heart, to the senses as to the spirit,
exceed even this limit, and affirm that if man were perfect in knowledge
and saw the universe as we believe God sees it, he would behold it as an
artistic whole even now? Would it be that beatific vision, revolving
like God's kaleidoscope, momentarily falling at each new arrangement
into the perfect unities of art? and is our world of art, our brief
model of such a world in single examples of its scheme, only a way of
limiting the field to the compass of human faculties that we may see
within our capacities as God sees, and hence have such faith? Is art
after all a lower creation than nature, a concession to our frail
powers? Has idealism such optimistic reach as that? Or must we see the
evil principle encamped here, confusing truth, deforming beauty,
depraving joy, deflecting the will, with wages of death for its victims,
and the hell of final destruction spreading beneath its sway? so that
the world as it now is cannot be thought of as the will of God exercised
in Omnipotence, but a human opportunity of union with or separation from
the ideal order in conflict with the order of death. I recall Newman's
picture: "To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various
history, the many races of men, their starts, their fortunes, their
mutual alienation, their conflicts, and then their ways, habits,
governments, forms of worship; their enterprises, their aimless courses,
their random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of
long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending
design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or
truths, the progress of things, as if from unreasoning elements, not
toward final causes, the greatness and littleness of man, his
far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his
futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success
of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of
sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless
irreligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly
described in the Apostle's words, 'having no hope and without God in the
world,'--all this is a vision to dizzy and appall; and inflicts upon the
mind the sense of a profound mystery which is absolutely beyond human
solution." In the face of such a world, even when partially made
intelligible in ideal art, dare we assert that fatalistic optimism which
would have it that the universe is in God's eyes a perfect world? I can
find no warrant for it in ideal art, though thence the ineradicable
effort arises in us to win to that world in the conviction that it is
not indifferent in the sight of heaven whether we live in the order of
life or that of death, in the faith that victory in us is a triumph of
that order itself which increases and prevails in us, is a bringing of
Christ's kingdom upon earth. Art rather becomes in our mind a function
of the world's progress, and were its goal achieved would cease; for
life would then itself be one with art, one with the divine order. So
much of truth there is in Ruskin's statement that art made perfect
denies progress and is its ultimate. But perfection in life, as ideal
art presents it, it is a prophecy which enlists us as soldiers militant
in its fulfilment. Its optimism is that of the issue, and may be that of
the process; but it surely is not that of the state that now is in the

It thus appears more and more that art is educative; it is the race's
foreknowledge of what may be, of the objects of effort and the methods
of their attainment under mortal conditions. The difficulty of men in
respect to it is the lax power they have to see in it the truth, as
contradistinguished from the fact, the continuous reality of the things
of the mind in opposition to the accidental and partial reality of the
things of actuality. They think of it as an imagined, instead of as the
real world, the model of that which is in the evolution of that which
ought to be. In history the climaxes of art have always outrun human
realization; its crests in Greece, Italy, and England are crests of the
never-attained; but they still make on in their mass to the yet rising
wave, which shall be of mankind universal, if, indeed, in the
cosmopolitan civilization which we hope for, the elements of the past,
yet surviving from the accomplishment of single famous cities and great
empires, shall be blended in a world-ideal, expressing the spiritual
uplifting to God of the reconciled and unified nations of the earth.

There remains but one last resort; for it will yet be urged that the
impossibility of any scientific knowledge of the spiritual order is
proved by the transience of the ideals of the past; one is displaced by
another, there is no permanence in them. It is true that the concrete
world, which must be employed by art, is one of sense, and necessarily
imports into the form of art its own mortality; it is, even in art, a
thing that passes away. It is also true that the world of knowledge,
which is the subject-matter of art, is in process of being known, and
necessarily imports into the contents of art its errors, its hypotheses,
its imperfections of every kind; it is a thing that grows more and more,
and in growing sheds its outworn shells, its past body. Let us consider
the form and the contents separately. The element of mortality in the
form is included in the transience of imagery. The poet uses the world
as he knows it, and reflects in successive ages of literature the
changing phases of civilization. The shepherd, the tiller of the soil,
the warrior, the trader yield to him their language of the earth, the
battle, and the sea; from the common altar he learns the speech of the
gods; the elemental aspects of nature, the pursuits of men, and what is
believed of the supernatural are the great storehouses of imagery. The
fact that it is at first a living act or habit that the poet deals with,
gives to his work that original vivacity, that direct sense of
actuality, of contemporaneousness, which characterizes early
literatures, as in Homer or the Song of Roland: even the marvellous has
in them the reality of being believed. This imagery, however, grows
remote with the course of time; it becomes capable of holding an inward
meaning without resistance from too high a feeling of actuality; it
becomes spiritualized. The process is the same already illustrated in
lyric form as an expression of personality; but here man universal
enters into the image and possesses it impersonally on the broad human
scale. The pastoral life, for example, then yields the forms of art
which hold either the simple innocence of happy earthly love, as in
Daphnis and Chloe, or the natural grief of elegy made beautiful, as in
Bion's dirge, or the shepherding of Christ in his church on earth, as in
many an English poet; the imagery has unclothed itself of actuality and
shows a purely spiritual body.

This growing inwardness of art is a main feature of literary history. It
is illustrated on the grand scale by the imagery of war. In the
beginning war for its own sake, mere fighting, is the subject; then war
for a cause, which ennobles it beyond the power of personal prowess and
justifies it as an element in national life; next, war for love, which
refines it and builds the paradox of the deeds of hate serving the will
of courtesy; last, war for the soul's salvation, which is unseen battle
within the breast. Achilles, Aeneas, Lancelot, the Red Cross Knight are
the terms in this series; they mark the transformation of the most
savage act of man into the symbol of his highest spiritual effort.
Nature herself is subject to this inwardness of art; at first merely
objective as a condition, and usually a hostile, or at least dangerous,
condition of human life, she becomes the witness to omnipotent power in
illimitable beauty and majesty, its infinite unknowableness, and its
tender care for all creatures, as in the Scriptures; and at last the
words of our Lord concentrate, in some simple flower, the profoundest of
moral truths,--that the beauty of the soul is the gift of God, out of
whose eternal law it blossoms and has therein its ever living roots, its
air and light, its inherent grace and sweetness: "Consider the lilies of
the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I
say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like
one of these. Shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
Such is the normal development of all imagery; its actuality limits it,
and in becoming remote it grows flexible. It is only by virtue of this
that man can retain the vast treasures of race-imagination, and continue
to use them, such as the worlds of mythology, of chivalry, and romance.
The imagery is, in truth, a background, whose foreground is the ideal
meaning. Thus even fairyland, and the worlds of heaven and hell, have
their place in art. The actuality of the imagery is in fact irrelevant,
just as history is in the idealization of human events. Its transience,
then, cannot matter, except in so far as it loses intelligibility
through changes of time, place, and custom, and becomes a dead language.
It follows that that imagery which keeps close to universal phases of
nature, to pursuits always necessary in human life, and to ineradicable
beliefs in respect to the supernatural, is most permanent as a language;
and here art in its most immortal creations returns again to its
omnipresent character as a thing of the common lot.

The transience of the contents of art may be of two kinds. There is a
passing away of error, as there is in all knowledge, but such a loss
need not detain attention. What is really in issue is the passing away
of the authority of precept and example fitted to one age but not to
another, as in the case of the substitution of the ideal of humility for
that of valour, owing to a changed emphasis in the scale of virtues. The
contents of art, its general ideals, reproduce the successive periods of
our earth-history as a race, by generalizing each in its own age. A
parallel exists in the subject-matter of the sciences; astronomy,
geology, paleontology are similar statements of past phases of the
evolution of the earth, its aspects in successive stages. Or, to take a
kindred example, just as the planets in their order set forth now the
history of our system from nascent life to complete death as earths, so
these ideals exhibit man's stages from savagery to such culture as has
been attained. They have more than a descriptive and historical
significance; they retain practical vitality because the unchangeable
element in the universe and in man's nature is in the main their
subject-matter. It is not merely that the child repeats in his
education, in some measure at least, the history of the race, and hence
must still learn the value of bravery and humility in their order; nor
that in the mass of men many remain ethically and emotionally in the
characteristic stages of past culture; but these various ideals of what
is admirable have themselves identical elements, and in those points in
which they differ respond to native varieties of human capacity and
temperament. The living principles of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and
Christian thought and feeling are at work in the world, still formative;
it is only by such vitality that their results in art truly survive.

There has been an expansion of the field, and some rearrangement within
it; but the evolution of human ideals has been, in our civilization, the
growth of one spirit out of its dead selves carrying on into each
reincarnation the true life that was in the form it leaves, and which is
immortal. The substance in each ideal, its embodiment of what is
cardinal in all humanity, remains integral. The alloy of mortality in a
work of art lies in so much of it as was limited in truth to time,
place, country, race, religion, its specific and contemporary part; so
great is this in detail that a strong power of historical imagination,
the power to rebuild past conditions, is a main necessity of culture,
like the study of a dead language; an interpretative faculty, the power
to translate into terms of our knowledge what was stated in terms of
different beliefs, must go with this; and also a corrective power, if
the work is to be truly useful and enter into our lives with effect.
Such an alloy there is in nearly all great works even; much in Homer,
something in Virgil, a considerable part of Dante, and an increasing
portion in Milton have this mixture of death in them; but if by keeping
to the primary, the permanent, the universal, they have escaped the
natural body of their age, the substance of the work is still living;
they have achieved such immortality as art allows. They have done so,
not so much by the personal power of their authors as by their
representative character. These ideal works of the highest range, which
embody in themselves whole generations of effort and rise as the
successive incarnations of human imagination, are products of race and
state, of world experience and social personality; they differ, race
from race, civilization from civilization, Hebrew or Greek, Pagan or
Christian, just as on the individual scale persons differ; and they are
solved, as personality in its individual form is solved, in the element
of the common reason, the common nature in the world and man, which they
contain,--in man,

"Equal, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless";

in the unity of the truth of his spirit they are freed from mortality,
they are mutually intelligible and interchangeable, they survive,--
racial and secular states and documents of a spiritual evolution yet
going on in all its stages in the human mass, still barbarous, still
pagan, still Christian, but an evolution which at its highest point
wastes nothing of the past, holds all its truth, its beauty, its vital
energy, in a forward reach.

The nature of the changes which time brings may best be illustrated from
the epic, and thus the opposition of the transient and permanent
elements in art be, perhaps, more clearly shown. Epic action has been
defined as the working out of the Divine will in society; hence it
requires a crisis of humanity as its subject, it involves the conflict
of a higher with a lower civilization, and it is conducted by means of a
double plot, one in heaven, the other on earth. These are the
characteristic epic traits. In dealing with ideas of such importance,
the poets in successive eras of civilization naturally found much
adaptation to new conditions necessary, and met with ever fresh
difficulties; the result is a many-sided epic development. The idea of
the Divine will, the theory of its operation, and the conception of
society itself were all subject to change. Epics at first are
historical; but, sharing with the tendency of all art toward inwardness
of meaning, they become purely spiritual. The one thing that remains
common to all is the notion of a struggle between a higher and a lower,
overruled by Providence. They have two subjects of interest, one the
cause, the other the hero through whom the cause works; and between
these two interests the epic hovers, seldom if ever identifying them and
yet preserving their dual reality.

The Iliad has all the traits that have been mentioned, but society is
still loose enough in its bonds to give the characters free play; it is,
in the main, a hero-epic. The Aeneid, on the contrary, exhibits the
enormous development of the social idea; its subject is Roman dominion,
which is the will of Zeus, localized in the struggle with Carthage and
with Turnus, but felt in the poem pervasively as the general destiny of
Rome in its victory over the world; and this interest is so overpowering
as to make Aeneas the slave of Jove and almost to extinguish the other
characters; it is a state-epic. So long as the Divine will was conceived
as finding its operation through deities similar to man, the double plot
presented little difficulty; but in the coming of Christian thought,
even with its hierarchies of angels and legions of devils, the
interpretation became arduous. In the Jerusalem Delivered the social
conflict between Crusader and infidel is clear, the historical crisis in
the wars of Palestine is rightly chosen, but the machinery of the
heavenly plot is weakened by the presence of magic, and is by itself
ineffectual in inspiring a true belief. So in the Lusiads, while the
conflict and the crisis, as shown in the national energy of colonization
in the East, are clear, the machinery of the heavenly plot frankly
reverts to mythologic and pagan forms and loses all credibility.

In the Paradise Lost arises the spiritual epic, but still historically
conceived; the crisis chosen, which is the fall of man in Adam, is the
most important conceivable by man; the powers engaged are the superior
beings of heaven and hell in direct antagonism; but here, too, the
machinery of the heavenly plot is handled with much strain, and, however
strongly supported by the Scriptures, has little convincing power. The
truth is that the Divine will was coming to be conceived as implicit in
society, being Providence there, and operating in secret but normal ways
in the guidance of events, not by special and interfering acts; and also
as equally implicit in the individual soul, the influence of the Spirit,
and working in the ways of spiritual law. One change, too, of vast
importance was announced by the words "The Kingdom of Heaven is within
you." This transferred the very scene of conflict, the theatre of
spiritual warfare, from an external to an internal world, and the social
significance of such individual battle lay in its being typical of all
men's lives. The Faerie Queene, the most spiritual poem in all ways in
English, is an epic in essence, though its action is developed by a
revolution of the phases of the soul in succession to the eye, and not
by the progress of one main course of events. The conflict of the higher
and the lower under Divine guidance in the implicit sense is there
shown; the significance is for mankind, though not for a society in its
worldly fortunes; but there is little attempt to externalize the
heavenly power in specific action in superhuman forms, though in mortal
ways the good knights, and especially Arthur, shadow it forth. The
celestial plot is humanized, and the poem becomes a hero-epic in almost
an exclusive way; though the knight's achievement is also an achievement
of God's will, the interest lies in the Divine power conceived as man's
moral victory. In the Idyls of the King there are several traits of the
epic. There is the central idea of the conflict between the higher and
lower, both on the social and the individual side; the victory of the
Round Table would have meant not only pure knights but a regenerate
state. Here, however, the externalization of the Divine will in the Holy
Grail, and, as in the Christian epic generally, its confusion on the
marvellous side with a world of enchantment passing here into the
sensuous sphere of Merlin, are felt to be inadequate. The war of "soul
with sense" was the subject-matter, as was Spenser's; the method of
revolution of its phases was also Spenser's; but the two poems differ in
the point that Spenser's knight wins, but Tennyson's king loses, so far
as earth is concerned; nor can it be fairly pleaded that as in Milton
Adam loses, yet the final triumph of the cause is known and felt as a
divine issue of the action though outside the poem, so Arthur is saved
to the ideal by virtue of the faith he announces in the New Order coming
on, for it is not so felt. The touch of pessimism invades the poem in
many details, but here at its heart; for Arthur alone of all the heroes
of epic in his own defeat drags down his cause. He is the hero of a lost
cause, whose lance will never be raised again in mortal conflict to
bring the kingdom of Christ on earth, nor its victory be declared except
as the echo of a hope of some miraculous and merciful retrieval from
beyond the barriers of the world to come. But in showing the different
conditions of the modern epic, its spirituality, its difficulties of
interpreting in sensuous imagery the working of the Divine will, its
relaxed hold on the social movement for which it substitutes man's
universal nature, and the mist that settles round it in its latest
example, sufficient illustration has been given of the changes of time
to which idealism is subject, and also of the essential truth surviving
in the works of the past, which in the epics is the vision of how the
ends of God have been accomplished in the world and in the soul by the
union of divine grace with heroic will,--the interpretation and
glorification, of history and of man's single conflict in himself ago
after age, asserting through all their range the supremacy of the ideal
order over its foes in the entire race-life of man.

Out of these changes of time, in response to the varying moods of men in
respect to the world they inhabit, arise those phases of art which are
described as classical and romantic, words of much confusion. It has
been attempted to distinguish the latter as having an element of
remoteness, of surprise, of curiosity; but to me, at least, classical
art has the same remoteness, the same surprise, and answers the same
curiosity as romantic art. If I were to endeavour to oppose them I
should say that classical art is clear, it is perfectly grasped in form,
it satisfies the intellect, it awakes an emotion absorbed by itself, it
definitely guides the will; romantic art is touched with mystery, it has
richness and intricacy of form not fully comprehended, it suggests more
than it satisfies, it stirs an unconfined and wandering emotion, it
invigorates an adventurous will; classicism is whole in itself and lives
in the central region, the white light, of that star of ideality which
is the light of our knowledge; romanticism borders on something
else,--the rosy corona round about our star, carrying on its dawning
power into those unknown infinities which embosom the spark of life. The
two have always existed in conjunction, the romantic element in ancient
literature being large. But owing to the disclosure of the world to us
in later times, to the deeper sense of its mysteries which are our
bounding horizons round about, and especially to the impulse given to
emotion by the opening of the doors of immortality by Christianity to
thought, revery, and dream, to hope and effort, the romantic element has
been more marked in modern art, has in fact characterized it, being fed
moreover by the ever increasing inwardness of human life, the greater
value and opportunity of personality in a free and high civilization,
and by the uncertainty, confusion, and complexity of such masses of
human experience as our observation now controls. The romantic temper is
inevitable in men whose lives are themselves thought of as, in form, but
fragments of the life to come, which shall find their completion an
eternal task. It is the natural ally of faith which it alone can render
with an infinite outlook; and it is the complement of that mystery which
is required to supplement it, and which is an abiding presence in the
habit of the sensitive and serious mind. Yet in classical art the
definite may still be rendered, the known, the conquered. Idealism has
its finished world therein; in romanticism it has rather its prophetic

Such, then, as best I can state it in brief and rapid strokes, is the
world of art, its methods, its appeals, its significance to mankind.
Idealism, so presented, is in a sense a glorification of the
commonplace. Its realm lies in the common lot of men; its distinction is
to embrace truth for all, and truth in its universal forms of experience
and personality, the primary, elementary, equally shared fates,
passions, beliefs of the race. Shakspere, our great example, as
Coleridge wisely said, "kept in the highway of life." That is the royal
road of genius, the path of immortality, the way ever trodden by the
great who lead. I have ventured to speak at times of religious truth.
What is the secret of Christ's undying power? Is it not that he stated
universal truth in concrete forms of common experience so that it comes
home to all men's bosoms? Genius is supreme in proportion as it does
that, and becomes the interpreter of every man who is born into the
world, makes him know his brotherhood with all, and the incorporation of
his fate in the scheme of law, and ideal achievement under it, which is
the common ground of humanity. Ideal literature is the treasury of such
genius in the past; here, as I said in the beginning, the wisdom of the
soul is stored; and art, in all its forms, is immortal only in so far as
it has done its share in this same labour of illumination, persuasion,
and command, forecasting the spirit to be, companioning the spirit that
is, sustaining us all in the effort to make ideal order actual in

What, then, since I said that it is a question how to live as well as
how to express life,--what, then, is the ideal life? It is to make
one's life a poem, as Milton dreamed of the true poet; for as art works
through matter and takes on concrete and sensible shape with its mortal
conditions, so the soul dips in life, is in material action, and,
suffering a similar fate, sinks into limitations and externals of this
world and this flesh, through which it must live. In such a life, mortal
in all ways, to bring down to earth the vision that floats in the soul's
eyes, the ideal order as it is revealed to the poet's gaze,
incorporating it in deed and being, and to make it prevail, so far as
our lives have power, in the world of our life, is the task set for us.
To disengage reason from the confusion of things, and behold the eternal
forms of the mind; to unveil beauty in the transitory sights of our
eyes, and behold the eternal forms of sense; so to act that the will
within us shall take on this form of reason and our manifest life wear
this form of beauty; and, more closely, to live in the primary
affections, the noble passions, the sweet emotions,--

"Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother,--"

and also in the general sorrows of mankind, thereby, in joy and grief,
entering sympathetically into the hearts of common men; to keep in the
highway of life, not turning aside to the eccentric, the sensational,
the abnormal, the brutal, the base, but seeing them, if they must come
within our vision, in their place only by the edges of true life; and,
if, being men, we are caught in the tragic coil, to seek the restoration
of broken order, learning also in such bitterness better to understand
the dark conflict forever waging in the general heart, the terror of the
heavy clouds hanging on the slopes of our battle, the pathos that looks
down even from blue skies that have kept watch o'er man's
mortality,--so, even through failure, to draw nearer to our race; this,
as I conceive it, is to lead the ideal life. It is a message blended of
many voices of the poets whom Shelley called, whatever might be their
calamity on earth, the most fortunate of men; it rises from all lands,
all ages, all religions; it is the battle-cry of that one great idea
whose slow and hesitating growth is the unfolding of our long
civilization, seeking to realize in democracy the earthly, and in
Christianity the heavenly, hope of man,--the idea of the community of
the soul, the sameness of it in all men. To lead this life is to be one
with man through love, one with the universe through knowledge, one with
God through the will; that is its goal, toward that we strive, in that
we believe.

And Thou, O Youth, for whom these lines are written, fear not; idealize
your friend, for it is better to love and be deceived than not to love
at all; idealize your masters, and take Shelley and Sidney to your
bosom, so shall they serve you more nobly and you love them more sweetly
than if the touch and sight of their mortality had been yours indeed;
idealize your country, remembering that Brutus in the dagger-stroke and
Cato in his death-darkness knew not the greater Rome, the proclaimer of
the unity of our race, the codifier of justice, the establisher of our
church, and died not knowing,--but do you believe in the purpose of God,
so shall you best serve the times to be; and in your own life, fear not
to act as your ideal shall command, in the constant presence of that
other self who goes with you, as I have said, so shall you blend with
him at the end. Fear not either to believe that the soul is as eternal
as the order that obtains in it, wherefore you shall forever pursue that
divine beauty which has here so touched and inflamed you,--for this is
the faith of man, your race, and those who were fairest in its records.
And have recourse always to the fountains of this life in literature,
which are the wells of truth. How to live is the one matter; the wisest
man in his ripe age is yet to seek in it; but Thou, begin now and seek
wisdom in the beauty of virtue and live in its light, rejoicing in it;
so in this world shall you live in the foregleam of the world to come.


Democracy is a prophecy, and looks to the future; it is for this reason
that it has its great career. Its faith is the substance of things hoped
for and the evidence of things unseen, whose realization will be the
labour of a long age. The life of historic nations has been a pursuit
toward a goal under the impulse of ideas often obscurely
comprehended,--world-ideas as we call them,--which they have embodied in
accomplished facts and in the institutions and beliefs of mankind,
lasting through ages; and as each nation has slowly grown aware of the
idea which animated it, it has become self-conscious and conscious of
greatness. That men are born equal is still a doctrine openly derided;
that they are born free is not accepted without much nullifying
limitation; that they are born in brotherhood is less readily denied.
These three, the revolutionary words, liberty, equality, fraternity, are
the substance of democracy, if the matter be well considered, and all
else is but consequence.

It might seem singular that man should ever have found out this creed,
as that physical life could invent the brain, since the struggle for
existence in primitive and early times was so adverse to it, and rested
on a selfish and aggrandizing principle, in states as well as between
races. In most parts of the world the first true governments were
tyrannies, patriarchal or despotic; and where liberty was indigenous, it
was confined to the race-blood. Aristotle speaks of slavery without
repugnance save in Greeks, and serfdom was incorporated in the northern
tribes as soon as they began to be socially organized. Some have alleged
that religious equality was an Oriental idea, and borrowed from the
relation of subjects to an Asiatic despot, which paved the way for it;
some attribute civil equality to the Roman law; some find the germ of
both in Stoical morals. But so great an idea as the equality of man
reaches down into the past by a thousand roots. The state of nature of
the savage in the woods, which our fathers once thought a pattern, bore
some outward resemblance to a freeman's life; but such a condition is
rather one of private independence than of the grounded social right
that democracy contemplates. How the ideas involved came into historical
existence is a minor matter. Democracy has its great career, for the
first time, in our national being, and exhibits here most purely its
formative powers, and unfolds destiny on the grand scale. Nothing is
more incumbent on us than to study it, to turn it this way and that, to
handle it as often and in as many phases as possible with lively
curiosity, and not to betray ourselves by an easy assumption that so
elementary a thing is comprehended because it seems simple. Fundamental
ideas are precisely those with which we should be most familiar.

Democracy is not merely a political experiment; and its governmental
theory, though so characteristic of it as not to be dissociated from it,
is a result of underlying principles. There is always an ideality of the
human spirit in all its works, if one will search them, which is the
main thing. The State, as a social aggregate with a joint life which
constitutes it a nation, is dynamically an embodiment of human
conviction, desire, and tendency, with a common basis of wisdom and
energy of action, seeking to realize life in accordance with its ideal,
whether traditional or novel, of what life should be; and government is
no more than the mode of administration under which it achieves its
results both in national life and in the lives of its citizens. All
society is a means of escape from personality, and its limitations of
power and wisdom, into this larger communal life; the individual, in so
far, loses his particularity, and at the same time intensifies and
strengthens that portion of his life which is thus made one with the
general life of men,--that universal and typical life which they have in
common and which moulds them with similar characteristics. It is by this
fusion of the individual with the mass, this identification of himself
with mankind in a joint activity, this reenforcement of himself by what
is himself in others, that a man becomes a social being. The process is
the same, whether in clubs, societies of all kinds, sects, political
parties, or the all-embracing body of the State. It is by making himself
one with human nature in America, its faith, its methods, and the
controlling purposes in our life among nations, and not by birth
merely, that a man becomes an American.

The life of society, however, includes various affairs, and man deals
with them by different means; thus property is a mode of dealing with
things. Democracy is a mode of dealing with souls. Men commonly speak as
if the soul were something they expect to possess in another world; men
are souls, and this is a fundamental conception of democracy. This
spiritual element is the substance of democracy, in the large sense; and
the special governmental theory which it has developed and organized,
and in which its ideas are partially included, is, like other such
systems, a mode of administration under which it seeks to realize its
ideal of what life ought to be, with most speed and certainty, and on
the largest scale. What characterizes that ideal is that it takes the
soul into account in a way hitherto unknown; not that other governments
have not had regard to the soul, but, in democracy, it is spirituality
that gives the law and rules the issue. Hence, a great preparation was
needed before democracy could come into effective control of society.
Christianity mainly afforded this, in respect to the ideas of equality
and fraternity, which were clarified and illustrated in the life of the
Church for ages, before they entered practically into politics and the
general secular arrangements of state organization; the nations of
progress, of which freedom is a condition, developed more definitely the
idea of liberty, and made it familiar to the thoughts of men. Democracy
belongs to a comparatively late age of the world, and to advanced
nations, because such ideas could come into action only after the crude
material necessities of human progress--illustrated in the warfare of
nations, in military organizations for the extension of a common rule
and culture among mankind, and in despotic impositions of order,
justice, and the general ideas of civilization--had relaxed, and a free
course, by comparison at least, was opened for the higher nature of man
in both private and public action. A conception of the soul and its
destiny, not previously applicable in society, underlies democracy; this
is why it is the most spiritual government known to man, and therefore
the highest reach of man's evolution; it is, in fact, the spiritual
element in society expressing itself now in politics with an unsuspected
and incalculable force.

Democracy is contained in the triple statement that men are born free,
equal, and in brotherhood; and in this formula it is the middle term
that is cardinal, and the root of all. Yet it is the doctrine of the
equality of man, by virtue of the human nature with which he is clothed
entire at birth, that is most attacked, as an obvious absurdity, and
provocative more of laughter than of argument. What, then, is this
equality which democracy affirms as the true state of all men among
themselves? It is our common human nature, that identity of the soul in
all men, which was first inculcated by the preaching of Christ's death
for all equally, whence it followed that every human soul was of equal
value in the eyes of God, its Creator, and had the same title to the
rites of the Christian Church, and the same blessedness of an infinite
immortality in the world to come; thence we derived it from the very
fountain of our faith, and the first true democracy was that which
levelled king and peasant, barbarian and Roman, in the communion of our
Lord. Yet nature laughs at us, and ordains such inequalities at birth
itself as make our peremptory charter of the value of men's souls seem a
play of fancy. There are men of almost divine intelligence, men of
almost devilish instincts, men of more or less clouded mind; and they
are such at birth, so deeply has nature stamped into them heredity,
circumstance, and the physical conditions of sanity, morality and
wholesomeness, in the body which is her work. Such differences do exist,
and conditions vary the world over, whence nature, which accumulates
inequalities in the struggle for life, "with ravin shrieks against our
creed." But we have not now to learn for the first time that nature,
though not the enemy of the human spirit, is indifferent to all the soul
has erected in man's own realm, peculiar to humanity. What has nature
contributed to the doctrine of freedom or of fraternity? Man's life to
her is all one, tyrant or slave, friend or foe, wise or foolish,
virtuous or vicious, holy or profane, so long as her imperative physical
conditions of life, the mortal thing, are conformed to; society itself
is not her care, nor civilization, nor anything that belongs to man
above the brute. Her word, consequently, need not disturb us; she is
not our oracle. It rather belongs to us to win further victory over her,
if it may be, by our intelligence, and control her vital, as we are now
coming to control her material, powers and their operation.

This equality which democracy affirms--the identity of the soul, the
sameness of its capacities of energy, knowledge, and enjoyment--draws
after it as a consequence the soul's right to opportunity for
self-development by virtue of which it may possess itself of what shall
be its own fulness of life. In the inscrutable mystery of this world,
the soul at birth enters on an unequal struggle, made such both by
inherent conditions and by external limitations, in individuals,
classes, and races; but the determination of democracy is that, so far
as may be, it will secure equality of opportunity to every soul born
within its dominion, in the expectation that much in human conditions
which has hitherto fed and heightened inequality, in both heredity and
circumstance, may be lessened if not eradicated; and life after birth is
subject to great control. This is the meaning of the first axiom of
democracy, that all have a right to the pursuit of happiness, and its
early cries--"an open career," and "the tools to him who can use them."
In this effort society seems almost as recalcitrant as nature; for in
human history the accumulation of the selfish advantage of inequality
has told with as much effect as ever it did in the original struggle of
reptile and beast; and in our present complex and extended civilization
a slight gain over the mass entails a telling mortgage of the future to
him who makes it and to his heirs, while efficiency is of such high
value in such a society that it must needs be favoured to the utmost; on
the other hand a complex civilization encourages a vast variety of
talent, and finds a special place for that individuation of capacity
which goes along with social evolution. The end, too, which democracy
seeks is not a sameness of specific results, but rather an equivalence;
and its duty is satisfied if the child of its rule finds such
development as was possible to him, has a free course, and cannot charge
his deficiency to social interference and the restriction of established

The great hold that the doctrine of equality has upon the masses is not
merely because it furnishes the justification of the whole scheme,
which is a logic they may be dimly conscious of, but that it establishes
their title to such good in human life as they can obtain, on the
broadest scale and in the fullest measure. What other claim, so rational
and noble in itself, can they put forth in the face of what they find
established in the world they are born into? The results of past
civilization are still monopolized by small minorities of mankind, who
receive by inheritance, under natural and civil law, the greater
individual share of material comfort, of large intelligence, of
fortunate careers. It does not matter that the things which belong to
life as such, the greater blessings essential to human existence, cannot
be monopolized; all that man can take and appropriate they find
preoccupied so far as human discovery and energy have been able to
reach, understand, and utilize it; and what proposition can they assert
as against this sequestering of social results and material and
intellectual opportunity, except to say, "we, too, are men," and with
the word to claim a share in such parts of social good as are not
irretrievably pledged to men better born, better educated, better
supplied with the means of subsistence and the accumulated hoard of the
past, which has come into their hands by an award of fortune? It is not
a fanciful idea. It is founded in the unity of human nature, which is as
certain as any philosophic truth, and has been proclaimed by every
master-spirit of our race time out of mind. It is supported by the
universal faith, in which we are bred, that we are children of a common
Father, and saved by one Redeemer and destined to one immortality, and
cannot be balked of the fulness of life which was our gift under divine
providence. I emphasize the religious basis, because I believe it is the
rock of the foundation in respect to this principle, which cannot be
successfully impeached by any one who accepts Christian truth; while in
the lower sphere, on worldly grounds alone, it is plain that the immense
advantage of the doctrine of equality to the masses of men, justifies
the advancement of it as an assumption which they call on the issue in
time to approve.

It is in this portion of the field that democracy relies most upon its
prophetic power. Within the limits of nature and mortal life the hope
of any equal development of the soul seems folly; yet, so far as my
judgment extends, in men of the same race and community it appears to me
that the sameness in essentials is so great as to leave the differences
inessential, so far as power to take hold of life and possess it in
thought, will, or feeling is in question. I do not see, if I may
continue to speak personally, that in the great affairs of life, in
duty, love, self-control, the willingness to serve, the sense of joy,
the power to endure, there is any great difference among those of the
same community; and this is reasonable, for the permanent relations of
life, in families, in social ties, in public service, and in all that
the belief in heaven and the attachments to home bring into men's lives,
are the same; and though, in the choicer parts of fortunate lives,
aesthetic and intellectual goods may be more important than among the
common people, these are less penetrating and go not to the core, which
remains life as all know it--a thing of affection, of resolve, of
service, of use to those to whom it may be of human use. Is it not
reasonable, then, on the ground of what makes up the substance of life
within our observation, to accept this principle of equality, fortified
as it is by any conception of heaven's justice to its creatures? and to
assume, if the word must be used, the principle primary in democracy,
that all men are equally endowed with destiny? and thus to allow its
prophetic claim, till disproved, that equal opportunity, linked with the
service of the higher to the lower, will justify its hope? At all
events, in this lies the possibility of greater achievement than would
otherwise be attained within our national limits; and what is found to
be true of us may be extended to less developed communities and races in
their degree.

The doctrine of the equality of mankind by virtue of their birth as men,
with its consequent right to equality of opportunity for
self-development as a part of social justice, establishes a common basis
of conviction, in respect to man, and a definite end as one main object
of the State; and these elements are primary in the democratic scheme.
Liberty is the next step, and is the means by which that end is secured.
It is so cardinal in democracy as to seem hardly secondary to equality
in importance. Every State, every social organization whatever, implies
a principle of authority commanding obedience; it may be of the absolute
type of military and ecclesiastical use, or limited, as in
constitutional monarchies; but some obedience and some authority are
necessary in order that the will of the State may be realized. The
problem of democracy is to find that principle of authority which is
most consistent with the liberty it would establish, and which acts with
the greatest furtherance and the least interference in the
accomplishment of the chief end in view. It composes authority,
therefore, of personal liberty itself, and derives it from the consent
of the governed, and not merely from their consent but from their active
decree. The social will is impersonal, generic, the will of man, not of
men; particular wills enter into it, and make it, so constituted,
themselves in a larger and external form. The citizen has parted with no
portion of his freedom of will; the will of the State is still his own
will, projected in unison with other wills, all jointly making up one
sum,--the authority of the nation. This is social self-government,--not
the anarchy of individuals each having his own way for himself, but
government through a delegated self, if one may use the phrase,
organically combined with others in the single power of control
belonging to a State. This fusion is accomplished in the secondary
stage, for the continuous action of the State, by representation,
technically; but, in its primary stage and original validity, by
universal suffrage; for the characteristic trait of democracy is that in
constituting this authority, which is social as opposed to personal
freedom,--personal freedom existing in its social form,--it includes
every unit of will, and gives to each equivalence. Democracy thus
establishes the will of society in its most universal form, lying
between the opposite extremes of particularism in despotism and anarchy;

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