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In the same manner, the elements of artistic genius are com. prehensively the three so justly and philosophically enumerated by the Apostle Paul as making up the Christian spirit, "power, love, and sound mind;" for the spirit of piety, of art, of all rational culture is the same in its general, constituent elements, and they are of such close affinity, that perfection in one cannot be but in connection with the others.
There must be skill in all art, indeed, but skill is not the exclusive element of artistic excellence. There must be verity and utility in all art, but verity and utility are ouly the remoter incidental ends in fine aesthetic art, and all art must proceed alike in verity and result in utility.
III. We shall dismiss our notice of Ruskin's doctrine of method in art, with a specification of a most just and most important principle, applicable to all art, to oratory and poetry, to music and to sculpture, as to painting, to which it is immediately applied,—indeed applicable to all culture conceived as the formation of a perfect character. In its application to painting, it is thus expressed:—" arrange broad masses and colors first, and put the details into them afterwards." Or, to state the principle in its generic form and as applicable to all art and to all culture:—begin with the whole, proceed to the part. This method, Ruskin observes, is the reverse of the usual method; but he vindicates it as the natural method, and followed by all successful artists; as less irksome than the reverse method and more definite, and as facilitating and rendering more instructive the study of models. Its importance may be exemplified in the art of discourse. Here the principle requires that the orator or writer first conceive in definite outline the entire scope and object of his discourse, as well as the extent of his theme, before he enters upon the parts, or the filling up. To proceed in the reverse way of beginning with no conception of the total design, and going on from one part to another with no such notion of the whole, must ever hinder the highest achievement in any particular oratorical or literary effort; as the habit of thus writing or speaking must ever hinder growth in oratorical skill and power. So in culture, in the highest, christian culture, the beginning must be in the adoption of the whole spirit of piety and the progress be then in filling up the details of Christian living;—conversion first, progressive sanctification in particulars afterwards. To begin with the adoption of one Christian virtue, although this is better certainly than not to begin at all, is to hinder perfect attainment, to have such attainment liable to failure. So in regard to each part of culture, the principle prescribes that it be taken up first as a whole and then the progress be in filling up and perfecting the details.
We have no space to exhibit the application of this principle to all art and all culture, or even to do more than indicate in this most general way its applicability and importance to any. But we deem it fundamental in all training; and place the inculcation of it among those many teachings of Ruskin which reach down so deep and are so suggestive to every thoughful and aspiring mind.
Vol. xxix. 45
Article VII.—A VOICE FROM "SQUASHVILLE:" A LETTER TO THE NEW ENGLANDER FROM THE "REV. MR. PICKERING."
Mr. W. W. Phelps, in his speech at the last commencement dinner, spoke of" Rev. Mr. Pickering of Squashvilie," as a clerical member of the corporation of Yale College, and described him as "exhausted with keeping a few sheep in the wilderness." He will not charge me with excessive modesty on the one hand, nor with any unreasonable self-esteem on the other, if I assume that I am the unfortunate individual thus referred to. If I am not, I do not know who is. Any one of the ten clerical Fellows has a right to assume that the courtesy was intended for him; and my right is at least as good as that of any of my nine associates.
When I heard Mr. Phelps on that occasion, I was not sure that I saw precisely the aim of his discourse; on reading and re-perusing what seems to be his own report of his speech, my perplexity is not entirely removed. Be undertakes to represent "the younger alumni," and to express their dissatisfaction with "the management of the college." He admits that in scholarship it "keeps progress with the age," but he holds that in everything else it is behind the times. He "finds no fault with the men" who manage, but "much fault with the spirit of the management." The men with whom he finds no fault are "the President and Professors," whose "superiority to ordinary men" he recognizes with growing "admiration and love." He claims for President Woolsey what the Spanish orator said of Lincoln, "Humblest of the humble before his own soul, greatest of the great before the world." He " claims for Porter, Hadley, Thacher, and their noble associates" nothing less than "the highest moral and intellectual gifts unselfishly devoted to the cause of education." But—oddly enough—while the men who manage are so transcendently gifted and self-sacrificing, "the spirit of the management," without any fault on their part, is just that which does not "keep progress with the age."
Thus far the fault-finding, though it strikes expressly at every thing except the "scholarship" which that defective management produces, is not very specific. Mr. Phelps had indeed told us that "the spirit of the management" is "too conservative and narrow ;" but in that proposition the subject (" spirit of the management") is indefinite, and the predicate ("too conservative and narrow ") is equally indefinite. We, therefore, whose misfortune is to be Pickerings, and to live and labor in our several Squashvilles instead of flourishing under the municipal government of New York, expected that our friend would condescend to some specifications of the "too conservative and narrow" spirit in which our college is managed by the President and Professors. And what did he say? Here it is in his own words:
"The College wants a living connection with the world without—an infusion of some of the new blood which throbs in every vein of this mighty republic— a knowledge of what is wanted in the scenes for which Vale educates her children:—this living connection with the outer world—this knowledge of people's wants, can be acquired only from those who are in the people and of the people."
Is it so? Is there now no connection between Yale College (Mr. P. evidently means the Academical department) and the world without? One-fourth of all the students come into college every year fresh from the outside world; another fourth every year drop out of college into the same world; and for the space of three months in each year, every mother's son of them is quite cut off from cloistered life, and is tossing about in the same great world with Mr. Phelps and the rest of us. Surely the vital connection between the students and the interest and sympathies of their homes is never sundered by their being in college; and their homes, if they have any on this sublunar sphere, are in the world without. And what of the Professors? Do they not live in the world as really as other Christians'( Are they nothing but mummied specimens of Mediaeval, or, at the latest, Puritan humanity! When they go into the streets, do they wear the costume of some buried age, and stare like ghosts revisiting the glimpses of the moon? Do they go about like Johnny Look-in-the-air, stumbling into ditches because they cannot see what lies before them? They are citizens in a free commonwealth—householders, husbands, fathers; and is not that connection with the outer world just as vital as if, instead of being professors, they were shoemakers or stock-jobbers? They read the daily newspapers; and though few of them have time to study all the fluctuations of Wall street, they have reason to know exactly, for they feel continually, the difference between gold and currency. They have dealings with butchers and grocers, like other heads of families Their wives go a-shopping, and they pay the bills, like other good husbands. Being not only citizens but voters, they are interested in all public questions. They have opinions of their own not only about the war in Europe, but also about all sorts of matters nearer home, from the election of an alderman to the election of a President, the reconstruction of reconquered States, the payment of the national debt, the Alabama question with Great Britain, and the general American poh'cy of protecting everybody's industry by oppressing the industry of everybody else. If they have not a vital connection with the world outside of their lecture rooms, how can it be made out that any man has a vital connection with the world outside of his own warehouse or workshop? Mr. Phelps, no doubt, has a vital connection with the world of New York, but his connection with the world outside is somewhat defective if he does not know that one of our Professors was even talked of for Governor and has been defeated as a candidate for congress. At this moment one of the Academical Faculty holds an important office under the government of the United States, and another occupies a place of trust and honor (without much pay) in the government of Connecticut. I cannot see that, either on the part of the students or on the part of the Faculty, there is any want of a natural and healthy connection between the college and the great world of human society.
But I must not forget that our friend (for most heartly do I recognise him as a friend of his Alma Mater) gives another specification under his sweeping charge that the management of the college—or the spirit of it—is "too conservative and narrow." Speaking in the name of "young Yale,'' he affirms that the growth of the college is checked by the "utter absence" of " that worldiness which is not inconsistent