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The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 online

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China, having surrendered her right over criminals in her territory, has
been further called on to submit to British consular investigation and
adjudication with the assistance of two assessors (British merchants),
in all cases of seizure and confiscation by her customs authorities,
whenever hardship or injustice is alleged - the custom-house officers to
be cited before the consul to receive his judgment in the case!

Again, there is a foreign as well as a native Shanghai. This settlement,
or city of foreigners, adjacent to Shanghai proper, occupies a
considerable space of territory, and is a place of great wealth. Its
warehouses are palatial, it has beautiful public and private edifices,
and is governed by a municipality chosen by property holders from among
themselves. Its police, streets, piers, race-course, and all the
appurtenances of a city, are admirably arranged. Nowhere, in the whole
empire, is there so much security for life and property; hence natives,
who can afford to hire, from foreigners, houses which have been erected
on this conceded ground, are glad to do so; it has consequently become a
place of resort for well-to-do natives, who thus become exempt from the
extortion of the mandarins. Latterly the Chinese local authorities have
undertaken to impose a tax upon these extraterritorial natives, which
their foreign clients resist, although one of the reasons assigned by
the mandarins, for the levying of taxes on their people residing in the
foreign settlement, is an increase of expenditure consequent on the
employment of the Anglo-Chinese flotilla.

Happily the British Government has refused to enforce the claims of the
merchants, as regards the exemption of their contraband goods from
confiscation; and Sir F. Bruce, the British ambassador, and Mr.
Burlingame, the United States ambassador, have admitted 'that the
so-called foreign settlement of Shanghai is Chinese territory, and that
the fact of Chinese occupying houses, which are the property of
foreigners, does not in any way entitle such foreigners to interfere
with the levying of taxes by Chinese officials.'

No additional evidence need be adduced to show that, in exempting
resident foreigners from criminal and civil jurisdiction, the Chinese
have opened the way for endless complications, for ever-recurring
aggressions. What are the duties of our Government and people with
regard to the Chinese, in view of the position in which those people are
placed? We hold that it is not our duty to abandon the concession, which
thus imperils the existence of the Chinese empire. It is not clear that
if all nations, having intercourse with China, were to agree to renounce
the privilege they have extorted, it would be best to suffer their
people to trust wholly to Chinese tribunals for protection. Cases could
not fail to arise demanding foreign interference, if foreigners were
permitted to go to China at all. And since the re-sealing of the empire
is out of the question, less evil is perhaps likely to accrue, as things
now are, than by a change of policy. There is so little regard for human
life among the Chinese, so much venality at the tribunals of justice,
that foreigners would be endangered in person and property, unless
protected by some extraordinary safeguards, perhaps even to the extent
secured by treaty. Assuming, then, as we do, this jurisdiction in China,
we incur a grave responsibility. It is incumbent on us loyally to fulfil
the obligations that we have assumed; to see that we do not, by a lax
administration of justice, encourage unprincipled men in violating
Chinese law. No new laws are required, but a faithful enforcement of
those already enacted. To accomplish this, we need to amend and improve
our consular system. Consulates in China cannot be rendered efficient
until they are filled by competent men, who shall hold their office
during good behavior, and to whom inducement should be made to spend the
best part of their lives in the service. We cannot, like the English,
hold out the prospect of a retiring pension to one who serves the State
twenty years in that uncongenial climate; but we can refrain from making
those frequent changes which prove so detrimental to every interest
concerned. The consuls should either be acquainted with the Chinese
language, a work for a lifetime, or have an American interpreter. The
practice of having a Chinese linguist is most damaging - the native
linguist being invariably a lying knave, who becomes consul _de facto_,
whom no native can approach without a bribe, which it is supposed goes
in part to the consul. As the points where consuls are needed are
numerous, some of them being where the honorable merchantman from the
United States rarely visits, it may seem that the expense would prove an
insuperable objection to the establishment of a full and efficient
consular system. This objection ought to have no weight. If we are not
prepared to allow the Chinese to exercise jurisdiction over our
wandering citizens, we are bound, at any cost, ourselves to discharge
that duty. And in view of the fact that American officials possess power
of life and death over their fellow citizens, our Government should
appoint a judicial officer, also holding office during good behavior, by
whom all grave cases should be tried. If we cannot afford to be just,
let us economize by abrogating the office of commissioner or ambassador
to Peking. That is an office which, from its emoluments, must always be
given, whichever party may be in power, as a reward for party services
to one who will return or be recalled before he begins to understand his
business. A _chargé des affaires_, with our admiral on the station,
could attend to all needful diplomacy, and thus a saving could be made
and carried to the credit of the consulates.

Further, as by express stipulation we debar the Chinese from
adjudicating in quarrels which may arise between our citizens and the
people of other countries in China, we ought to take measures for the
establishing of a mixed tribunal to exercise jurisdiction in such cases;
and there ought to be an arrangement by which countries which are
properly represented in China might investigate and adjudicate in
offences committed by foreigners not properly represented in that
country: a most dangerous class of persons, who enjoy the privilege of
extraterritoriality, without amenability to any tribunal, and who by
their misconduct place every foreign interest in jeopardy.

As with the advance of Christian civilization, society is more and more
disposed to accord the rights of manhood to men of every race; so, let
us hope, nations will yet be found willing to forego the advantages that
greater power confers, no longer employing that power in oppressing or
subverting weak states.

FOOTNOTES:

[10] The second number of a series of articles on Eastern Asia.




REASON, RHYME, AND RHYTHM

CHAPTER VII. - THE ARTIST AND HIS REALM.

The Divine Attributes the base of all true Art.


Aristotle teaches that: 'The object of the poet is not to conceive or
treat the True as it _really_ happened, but as it _should_ have
happened. The essential difference between the poet and historian is not
that the one speaks in verse, the other in prose, for the work of
Herodotus in verse would still be a history; that is, it would still
relate what had _actually_ occurred, while it is the province of a poem
to detail that which _should_ have taken place.' Thus the human soul
exacts in the finite creations of the poet that justice which it ever
divines, but cannot always see, because the end passes beyond its
present vision, in the varying dramas of human destiny written in the
Book of the Infinite God.

Carefully keeping in mind that the end of such divine dramas is not
_here_, we see that, in accordance with the above views of Aristotle,
the _true_ is not that which _really_ occurs, but that which our
feelings and intellect tell us ought to occur. The actually occurring,
the _Real_, has always been confounded with the abstractly _true_, but
they are very different things. Virtue, morality, such as revealed by
Christianity, and confirmed by reason, are certainly _true_; but in
relation to that which is, to the _real_, the _actual_, what man has
ever yet succeeded in realizing the pure, high model set forth in the
Gospel? In accordance with the theory that the _Actual_ is the _true_,
the nature of a saintly hero, a self-abnegating martyr, would not be a
_true_ nature; while the fact is, it alone is true to the purposes of
its creation.

Sophocles, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Fra Angelico, etc., etc., did not
mean by truth in the arts, the pure and simple expression of that which
_really_ is, but the expression of that which is rarely found _in_ the
actual, but is suggested by it. Aquinas makes an acute distinction
between the intellect _passive_, which merely receives impressions from
without, and the intellect _active_, which reasons upon and draws
inferences from them. The senses can only give or know the _individual_;
the active intellect alone conceives the _universal_. Our eyes perceive
a triangle; but as we have this perception in common with the brutes, it
cannot raise us above their level; and to take our rank as
intelligences, as men, we must rise from the mere perception of the
individual triangle to the general idea of triangularity. Thus it is the
power of _generalizing_ which marks us as men; and the senses have in
reality nothing to do with the internal operation; they but receive the
impressions, and convey them to the active intellect. Thus to the
impressions given by the senses of _finite_ things to the passive mind,
the active intellect adds the idea of _infinity_. The eager soul, always
longing for the infinite, the absolute, then seeks to invest all with
that perfection which it divines in the Maker of all; the possibility of
which conception of perfection is added or attached by the Creator to
the Real, as a supersensuous gift to those made in His own image. Such
conceptions live ever firm and fair in the charmed world of the artist,
for his world is the Realm of pure Ideas.

Much may be quoted in proof of this view. Cicero says:

'When Phidias formed his Jupiter, he had no living model before his
eyes, but having conceived an idea of perfect beauty in his soul,
he labored only to imitate it, to produce it in the marble without
change.'

Raphael says:

'Having found no model sufficiently beautiful for my Galatea, I
worked from a certain Idea which I found in my own mind.'

Fra Angelico furnishes a striking example of working from images found
in the soul. He was an artist of very devout character, early devoting
himself and his art to God, saying: Those who work for Christ, must
dwell in Christ. Always, before commencing a picture which was to be
consecrated to the honor of God, he prepared himself with fervent prayer
and meditation, and then began in humble trust that '_it would be put
into his mind what he ought to delineate_;' he would never deviate from
the first idea, for, as he said, '_that_ was the will of God.' This he
said not in presumption, but in faith and simplicity of heart. So he
passed his life in imaging his _own ideas_, which were sent to his meek
soul by no fabled muse, but by that Spirit 'that doth prefer before all
temples the upright heart and pure;' and never before or since was
earthly material worked up into soul, nor earthly forms refined into
spirit, as under the hands of this devout painter. He became sublime
through trusting goodness and humility. It was as if Paradise had opened
upon him - a Paradise of rest and joy, of purity and love, where no
trouble, no guile, no change could enter; and if his celestial
creations lack force, we feel that before these ethereal beings, power
itself would be powerless; his angels are resistless in their soft
serenity; his virgins are pure from all earthly stain; his redeemed
spirits in meek rapture glide into Paradise; his martyrs and confessors
are absorbed in devout ecstasy. Well has he been named IL BEATO E
ANGELICO, whose life was participate with the angels even in this world.
Is it not clear that Fra Angelico had found the Realm of the Artist; the
fair and happy clime of the Ideal?

Our readers must not confound the ideal with the imaginary: the ideal is
rather that which the real requires to invest it with that beauty which
it would have possessed had the spirits of Death and sin never thrown
their dark shadows over God's perfect work. Let not the poet fear the
reproach that his characters are too _ideal_; if harmoniously
constructed, but _true_ in the higher sense, such reproach is praise.

Man rises spontaneously from the perception of the finite beauty of
creatures to the conception of the sovereign beauty of the Creator,
which idea has indeed its first condition in the perception of the
senses; but it passes on until it extends its sphere through all our
faculties, all our moral life, until the distant vision of Absolute
Beauty attracts us from the limited sphere of the senses to the realm of
the ideal. Thus the artist, that he may appease the insatiate thirst for
Absolute Beauty, which ever pursues him, strives to bring down upon
earth the divine but veiled images, which he beholds in that fair clime.

Every work of art implies three acts of the intellect: an act, by which
the artist conceives the pure idea, the soul of his creation; an act, by
which he conceives or invents the form in which he is to incarnate this
idea, the body of his creation; and, lastly, a conception of the
relations between the pure idea and its material form, the rendering of
the body a fit vehicle and indwelling-place for the soul. Three
acts - but an artist of _genius_ produces the three _simultaneously_;
consequently a marvellous life and unity mark all his works: an artist
of mere talent must be contented simply with the production of new
combinations of form, since Genius alone can create artistic soul; while
the assiduous student, without any peculiar natural gift, is capable of
the third act, as it is only an intellectual exercise in which the
scientific principles of art are skilfully applied to given forms.

Artists are frequently considered as deficient in the faculty of Reason,
whereas no one was ever a great artist without possessing it in a high
degree, and mankind are rapidly becoming aware of this fact. It is true
they often jump the middle terms of their syllogisms, and assume
premises to which the world has not yet arrived; but time stamps their
rapid deductions as invincible, for genius dwells in the REALM OF THE
IDEAL: the realm, not of contingent and phenomenal actualities, but of
_eternal truths_. 'For the ideal is destined to transform man and the
world entire into its own image; and in this gradual and successive
transformation consists the whole progressive history of humanity.'

Genius discerns the true and beautiful in itself, in the world of ideas,
in God.

Talent lies on a lower level. It is the power of manifesting to men,
whether by words, sounds, or plastic signs, the ideas already suggested
by genius, or found by the reasoning faculties.

Genius is intuitive and creative - talent, reflective and acute.

Shakespeare was a poet of unequalled genius - Milton, of unrivalled
talent.

Chopin is a composer of profound genius - Mendelssohn, of highly
cultivated talent.

Madame de Stäel was a woman of genius - Miss Edgeworth, one of talent.

Elizabeth Barrett is a poet of genius - Tennyson, of talent.

Genius descends from the Idea to the Form - from the invisible to the
visible: talent mounts from the visible to the invisible.

Genius holds its objects with and by the heart; talent seizes and
masters them through the understanding. Genius creates body, soul, and
fitness; talent combines new forms for the immortal souls already
created by genius.

Taste, in its highest grade, ranks above talent, and stands next to
genius; nay, it is sometimes known as _receptive_ genius. It is the
faculty of recognizing the Beautiful in the world of thought, art, and
nature; in words, tones, forms, and colors. Taste is a higher faculty
than is generally supposed. Genius and Taste are the Eros and Anteros of
art. Without his brother, the first would remain ever a child. Taste is
that innate and God-given faculty which at once perceives and hails as
true, ideas, which it, however, has not the power to discover for
itself. It should be educated and carefully fostered; but no amount of
cultivation will give it where not already in existence, for it is as
truly innate as genius itself.

In its lowest form, it is the comprehension of the scientific principles
of art, and the judging of artistic works in accordance with scientific
rules.

What is known as tact, is a curious social development of the same
faculty. Taste is the child of the mind and soul; tact, of the soul and
heart. Both are incommunicable.

The word taste is frequently misapplied. Thus a man, with what is
blunderingly called a classical taste, is incapable of aught but the
classic; that is to say, he recognizes in a new work that which makes
the charm of an old one, and pronounces it worthy of admiration. Put the
right foot of an Apollo forward, instead of the left, and call it Philip
of Pokanoket, and he will fall into ecstasies over a work at once so
truly national and classic. He would have stood dumb and with an
untouched heart, before the Apollo, fresh from the chisel of the
sculptor. Such men have graduated at Vanity Fair, and are the
old-clothesmen of art.

Thus the men of talent are almost invariably recognized and crowned in
their own days; because they always deal with ideas in a measure already
familiar to the multitude. But, alas for the sensitive child of genius!
The bold explorer of untrodden paths must cut away the underbrush that
others may follow him; he must himself create the taste in the masses,
by which he is afterward to be judged. His bold, daring, and original
conceptions serve only to dazzle, confuse, and blind the multitude; and
as it requires time to understand them, to read their living characters
of glowing light, the laurel wreaths of appreciation and sympathy, which
should have graced his brow and cheered his heart, too often trail their
deathless green in vain luxuriance round the chill marble covering the
early grave of a broken heart. Ah, friends! Genius demands sympathy in
its impassioned creations; loving and laboring for humanity, it exacts
comprehension, at least, in return. Yet how very difficult it is for an
artist to win such comprehension! And, by a strange fatality, the more
original his compositions, the greater the difficulty. He must amuse the
men of the senses; satisfy the precision of the men of the schools; and
succeed in rendering intelligible to the uncultured masses the subtile
links of ethereal connection which chain the finite, the relative of his
compositions, to the Infinite, the Absolute.

For it is a pregnant fact, with regard to the masses, that only so far
as they can be made to _feel_ the connection of things with the
Absolute, can they be induced to appreciate them. For instance, tell
them that the stars attract in the direct ratio of their masses, in
inverse ratio to the squares of the distance, and they may almost fail
to understand you; but tell them, in the words of the Divine Book, so
marvellously adapted to their comprehension, that 'the stars declare
the glory of God,' and you are at once understood. Tell them they ought
to love one another, because 'they are members of the same spiritual
body' - and, although, in this concise statement, you have declared to
them the internal constitution of the moral world, revealed the inner
meaning of the laws of order, of social harmony, of their own destiny,
and of the progress of the race - you may utterly fail in awakening their
interest. But show them a Being who lived for this truth, whose life was
one of sacrifice and abnegation, who died for its manifestation - they
are immediately touched, interested, because you have left the
unsympathetic region of abstract formulas; you have given law a visible,
palpitating, feeling, suffering, and rejoicing Body - you awaken their
love, their gratitude - they adore their godlike Brother, and now _feel_
themselves members of the one spiritual body.

It is this very possibility, on a lower plane, of thus clothing his
thoughts with a visible body, which gives the artist an advantage over
the man of science, who presents the formula of the _law_ with the aid
of the contingent finite idea, but without connecting it with its First
Cause. Confining itself to the limits of the thing examined, science
tries to explain the finite rationale of its being; while art gives its
formula by the aid of a material sign, a form or body, which contains or
suggests both limits of its double existence, viz.: the finite and the
infinite. For the true artist always connects the relative with the
Absolute, the second cause with the First; in the finite he seeks the
Infinite - therefore he finds mystic and hidden truths in essential
harmony with the soul of man. He is always returning to unity. The man
of science, on the contrary, always beginning with the variable and
contingent facts of this world, is often lost in the wildering whirl of
the ever-moving and unceasing variety around him, finding it hard to
link his widely severed facts with the Supreme Unity, which gives to all
its reason for being, its true worth. Variety and Unity - the created and
the Creator!

It is almost universally believed that there is more truth in science
than in poetry - a vulgar error refuted both by reason and common sense.
Poetry, being the expression of the necessary with the Absolute, must,
in consequence, be nearer truth than science, which has, for the most
part, its starting point in contingent, variable, and fugitive facts,
and either succeeds in seizing in an uncertain manner or fails to seize
at all the one Idea imbosomed in such a multitudinous array of facts.
The whole creation is but the visible expression of the laws of our
unseen God: the man of science mounts from the visible fact to the
unseen Idea, while the poet descends from the idea to the fact, thus
humbly imitating the work of creation.

It was man who introduced disorder into the finite: regenerated through
the incarnation of the Divine, he must labor with all his powers to
restore it to its pristine order. He must remodel the physical world by
his industry, and task his intellect in the paths of science, that the
truths of nature may be developed, that the well-being of his body, his
material nature may be properly cared for: by his courage and endurance
he must alleviate all wrongs, and set free the oppressed; he must
elevate his soul and ennoble his heart by a grateful attention to his
religious duties; he must increase and multiply his happy and helpful
relations with his brother men by a faithful and devout culture of the
fine arts.

The Beautiful does not address itself principally _to_ the senses; but,
by its exhibition of eternal laws, _through_ them to the soul, for the
_manifestation of the Divine attributes is the mystic Heart of all true
Beauty_.'

To give an example of the different appeals made by science and by art,
let us open alternately the pages of the poet and savant, let us take
some familiar thing, for instance, a common flower, and see what they
will tell us of its character, relations, and worth. The botanist notes
the distinctions of the flower, that his herbarium may be increased - the
poet, that he may make them vehicles of expression, of emotion. The
savant counts the stamens, numbers the pistils, delineates the leaves,
marks the manner of growth, classifies, affixes a name, and is
satisfied; - the poet studies the whole character of the plant,
considering each of its attributes as a vehicle of expression, an
ethical lesson; he notes its color, he seizes on its lines of grace or
energy, rigidity or repose, remarks the feebleness or vigor, the
serenity or tremulousness of its hues, observes its local habits, its
love or fear of peculiar places, associating it with the features of the
situations it inhabits, and the ministering agencies necessary to its
support. It becomes to him a _living_ creature, with histories written
on its leaves, and passion breathing in its tremulous stems. He
associates and identifies it with the history and emotions of humanity.
Feeling that even these fragile flowers are symbolic of a moral world,


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Online LibraryVariousThe Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 → online text (page 14 of 20)