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The first place is held by life. It is against the substitution of knowledge for life in scholarship, especially in the literary and artistic fields, that the protest is made.
A second main trait of the artist-life of the soul, for which I am, as it were, pleading, is that it is a life of growth by an inward secret and mysterious process. There is nothing mechanical in it; it is vital. It was this aspect of the soul's life which Wordsworth brought so prominently forward, and made elemental in his verse, advocating a "wise passiveness” in the conduct of the mind:
“Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
But we must still be seeking?”
nkret der of
“the sun illume
is not an idler in the land. Especially is it hard to see how things will come without planning. In our own day planning has become an all-engrossing occupation. A belief in organization has spread through the country, and is applied in all quarters of life, as if success were always a matter of machinery, and preferably of legislative machinery. Even in the churches, which have
. been the home of spiritual force, organization plays an the poem,
ever increasing part, as if failure in driving-force could
I well know how opposed this doctrine is to the ruling spirit of our time, which shrinks our lives to the limits of an economical and mechanical sphere, to use Eucken's
phrases, and accustoms us to the dominance of their precepts and methods. Art with difficulty finds room among us. It is not by accident that our most literary temperament, Henry James, and our two great artists, Whistler and Sargent, have had their homes abroad, and that from the beginning the literature and art of America have often had their true locality on a foreign soil. Yet, whatever may be the seeming, it is always true that the soul grows, it is not made; and the world of art is chiefly precious to us because it is a place for the soul's growth.
A third main trait of the world of art is that it is a place of freedom. I have already alluded to this briefly. It is not merely that the soul is there freed from the manacles of utility and has escaped from the great burden of suc. cess in life; that is only the negative side. It has also, on the positive side, entered into a realm of new power, the exercise of which is its highest function. The soul transcends nature, and reconstitutes the world in the image of its own finer vision and deeper wisdom, realizing ideality in its own consciousness and conveying at least the shadow of its dream to mankind. It transcends nature in creating form. The Hermes of Praxiteles, whether or not one knows it is Hermes and discerns in it the godlike nature, gives to all ages a figure such as nature never shaped. The soul, also, in its artist-life, transcends nature in idea; each of us, in reading the play, may believe he is Hamlet, but each is well aware that he is identifying himself with a more perfect type of himself, such as is known only to the mind's eye. And, similarly, the soul transcends nature in the field of the relations of things; it builds up an Arcadia, an earthly Paradise, an ideal state, a forest of Arden, an island-kingdom of Prospero, a Round Table, a School of Athens, a Last Judgment, a legend of the Venusberg - what not? so vast and various is the imaginary world wherein the soul from the beginning has bodied forth that inner vision and wisdom in which it finds its true self-consciousness. So great is its freedom there that, as is often said, it transcends also the moral world, and so far as morals belong in the sphere of mere utility and social arrangement, this must be granted; but the subject is too large and complicated to be entered upon here. I allude to it only to emphasize and bring out fully the doctrine that the soul exercises in its artistlife an unchartered freedom; for it is not concerned there with practical results of any kind, but only with the discovery of its nature, both active and passive. The fruit of this large freedom is the ideal world, in which each realizes his dream of the best. It is here that experiments are made, that revolutions sometimes begin; for the ideal, as I have said, once expressed, passes back into the ordinary world, and there it may be made a pattern, a thing to be actualized, and it falls under the dominance of the practical reason and has this or that fortune according to the wisdom or folly of mankind at the time. The ideal world is very mutable in different ages and races; and history is full of its débris. It is not an everlasting city set in the heavens that shall some time descend upon the earth in a millennium; it is a dream, the dream of the soul in its creative response to the world about it. Yet there is nothing insubstantial about the dream; however unrealized in the external world of fact, it is spiritually real, for it is lived in the soul — it is the conscious life of the soul. There are times, however, when the ideal world does enter into the actual world, and partly permeate it, if it does not wholly mas
ter it. The classic, the chivalric, the Christian world attest the fact, broadly; and in individual life how must we ourselves bear witness to the mingling in ourselves of the poets' blood – which is the blood of the world. In the intimacy of this communion is our best of life, and it is accomplished solely by the re-creation in us, in our minds and hearts, our hopes, admirations and loves, of what was first in the artists of every sort, according to our capacity to receive and reëmbody in our own spiritual substance their finer, wiser, deeper power. Their capacity to enter thus into the life of humanity is the measure of their genius, and our capacity to receive the gift is the measure of our souls.
Such in its main lines is the artist-life of the soul, a life of discovery, of growth, of freedom; but what is most precious in it, and most characterizes it, is a prophetic quality that abides in its experiences. The poets are often spoken of as prophets, and in history the greatest are those most lonely peaks that seem to have taken the light of an unrisen dawn, like Virgil, whose humanity in the "Aeneid” shines with a foregleam of the Christian temperament, or like Plato, whose philosophy in many a passage was a morning star that went before the greater light of Christian faith in the divine. But it is not such poets and such prophecy that I have in mind. I mean that in our own experiences in this artistlife with the poets, sculptors and musicians there abides the feeling that we shall have, as Tennyson says, "the wages of going on” — there is our clearest intimation of immortality. Wordsworth found such intimations in fragments of his boyhood and youth. I find them rather in fragments of manhood and maturer life. Life impresses me less as a birth initially out of the divine into