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a constant source of irony for former writers-has become a kind of martyr, since we have put ourselves in his place. Whatever is, objectively considered comical, becomes, subjectively considered, tragic; our tender little self suffers and it is but natural that it should have sympathy with itself. All people before the 19th century laughed at the old man who marries the young girl; applauded when the courageous youth fooled the sentimental weak maiden,-mocked the awkard pedant who allowed the shrewd son to abduct his wife-to-day's criterion morally sentimental as it is calls forth moral indignation against the seducer and a noble sympathy for his victim-a sentiment which of course shows our superior morality, but art is not possible under such circumstances because it simply sees these things, without criticising them, it reproduces what it sees, not what our moralizing judges wish to see or what the tenderhearted imagine to see.

How rudely would all these bright figures, living in our imagination, be destroyed, if we should give them to our conscientious authors for correction. Think of poor Manon under the rod of Jane Eyre the school-mistress. Think of Squire Western in the clinique of M. Zola: "If you continue to get drunk every night, whilst your daughter plays the harpsichord, you will have to expect a terrible end, Squire. Shall I describe it to you? I have carefully studied it in the hospital, the delirium tremens potatorum, the punishment which awaits all alcoholized fellows as you are." And our old friend Falstaff whom Shakespeare treats with so much indulgence, would have received a tremendous lecture at the hands of G. Elliot. "Really Sir John, you have no excuse whatever, if you would be a poor devil from among the lower class of people, who had only bad examples before him, but you had all the advantages which fate can grant a man. You belong to a good family, you have received the best education in Oxford, you are highly connected, and yet you have fallen so very low. Do you know why? I have warned my Tito so often against that: Because, you acted exactly as you pleased avoiding all inconvenience and un

necessary efforts." "And you Miss Philine," Mr. Howells would say, "if you continue in your present conduct, leaving your slippers in young gentlemen's rooms, I shall write a severe denunciation against you, as I did against my hero Bartley, who likewise conquered all hearts but was after all nothing but a very frivolous fellow, or I bequest you to my friend Mr. James who will analyze you until no one can recognize you any more. That will teach you to retract and to become converted, i. e., a different woman." To become converted is the first requirement of all the novel heroes of our day; Fielding would have rather expected that the viper should lose its poison than that Blifil should have ceased to be a rascal.

I mentioned Howells' denunciation of his own hero in the most perfect of his novels. We find a similar position in almost all novels of modern times; it seems as if the authors wanted to persecute certain persons, whom they learned to know and to hate in actual life, by making them the still more hateful types of novel heroes-a tendency, which is the very opposite of that of the true artist, who neither hates nor loves his subjects, and to whom a Richard III is just as interesting as Antonio. Think of G. Elliot's most successfully drawn character, Rosamund, with what genuine feminine perfidy she tries to discredit her. How differently does Abbé Prevôt treat his Manon! Even Richardson and in modern times the German Gotthelf, though beginning with volumes of sermons and good advice, cannot resist the inborn impulse of the artist; they all at once forget that they intended to teach and present their subject with æsthetic indifference, not to mention the chief factor, namely that even their moralizing efforts contain nothing which rebels against art. It is just the opposite with G. Elliott and W. D. Howells, they want to be objective and artistic, but soon the moralist gets the better of them.

As you perceive, I only mention first-class novels and novel writers, and among them only those who might be artists if the moralizing disease of the present age would not have taken hold of them. However we forget too often how deeply rooted

this disease is, because habit and customs make such moralizing conventionality appear perfectly natural. Other times have experienced conventionalities, much more severe, but then they remained on the surface; ours seem more easy, more acceptable, but they penetrate into our very marrow. It is incredible, what a mass of artificial sentiments, interests and duties we drag along with us; how thoroughly our language and all our actions are governed by them. All kinds of enthusiasm for nature, for art, for philanthrophy, overcrowd our very life; we believe in the reality of sentiments which were never felt, or we replace nature by culture so-called to-day. Shakespeare could not create an Othello, who would listen to the malicious calumniations of Iago, because no gentleman would allow such a thing; and the gentleman has swallowed the man. Even the quarrel between Antonio and Tasso would not be tolerated on the modern stage, because such a thing is unworthy of gentlemen. So much so has our language suffered under the tyranny of conventionality, that it has become wholly insufficient to allow cultured people to express their feelings. Let a cultured lady dare speak as Queen Constanze or Margreth of Anjou, and she would at once be stamped as scandalously rude. This is by the way also the reason why modern dramas are and must be so tedious. The reason for the conspicuous phenomenon that almost all important works of fiction of our age choose their heroes from the humblest classes of society is obvious, because there alone exists a direct contact between language and life. Strange to say, this conventionality shows itself especially in the United States, in the land of broadest liberty. Here Puritanism the severest of all shades of Christian belief still exercises a marked influence. Only a rest of Puritanism can explain the stilted novels of Hawthorne, explain the reason how W. D. Howells a man of so much talent, taste and even humor could create a comical figure as his Ben Halleck, without perceiving that it is so tremendously ridiculous.

There is a constant lamentation that the present age is so intensely prosaic. Sentimentalists and other people feel the want

of former comforts, which have been banished by electricity and steam. But have you ever thought of the much more unnatural prose of our whole feeling and thinking? Where is the source of all poetry, in the reality of our feeling or in the decoration of the stage of life? In the style of our garments or in the heart that beats beneath them? What we need is, to learn to feel, to think and to see naturally-and art will flourish again. Christianity has not yet said its last word, the spirit of history carries and ever will carry us onward to other spheres, to broader views of humanity and its grandeur, until art will kneel before Him who is "the altogether Lovely," when the City of God has descended upon the institutions and civilizations of men.




"THE beautiful," says Emerson, "rests on the foundations of the necessary." In this he is unquestionably correct. Beauty in itself is not something merely imaginary and ephemeral. On the contrary, it has its origin in God, and is as real and eternal as its source. Hence, as Keats so admirably tells us in the opening lines of his "Endymion,"

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever;

Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness."

Moreover, having its source in God, beauty characterizes all the works of God. In nature, as it comes from the Creator, its presence is everywhere manifest. It appears in the sparkling gem and in the cragged cliff; in the murmuring brook and in the placid lake; in the rosy-fingered dawn and in the goldentinted sunset; in the fleecy cloud and in the harmoniouslyblended colors of the rainbow; in the blooming flowers and in the ripening fruits; in the songs of birds and in the humming of bees; in the gambols of the lamb and in the fleetness of the deer; in the innocent smile of infancy and in the rosy cheeks of youth; in the grace of maidenhood and in the vigor of manhood; in the starry heavens above us and in the moral law within us. Only where the poison of the serpent has utterly quenched the divine spark of life is beauty, indeed, wholly absent.

If we now turn to Art, we find that

"Art is Nature made by Man,

To Man, the interpreter of God."

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