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An artist, for instance, will see in a woman, whom time has tried,
certain elements of beauty which enable him to portray her nearly as she
was at the age of twenty years. He should be able to divine in the young
girl, according to the normal development of her features, her
appearance at the complete unfolding of her beauty. Yes; in these
different cases the artist shall have idealized, since he shall have
comprehended, penetrated, interpreted and rectified nature. Still, he
may not yet have attained to the comprehension of perfect beauty, such,
at least, as human emotion and intellect can conceive, and such as we
love to imagine as inhabiting the superior spheres of the universe of
which we know nothing further than the dictate of our reason, namely,
that they are inhabited by beings more or less like ourselves.

When these sublime effects appear in art, it is as though a veil were
torn, revealing glimpses of a world of ideas, emotions and impressions,
surpassing our comprehension, approachable only by our aspirations.

Thus, Delsarte, superior to his science, has shown us the artist in full
possession of all that he has acquired, and the inmost charm of that
which is revealed to him. In execution he proved this truth: If talent
may be born of science, it is genius which distinguishes the highest
personalities, and to merit the title of high artistic personality one
must contain in himself an essence indescribable, unutterable, which
constitutes the aureole of grand brows, and the sign luminous of great
works of art.

Thus, as virtue, art has its degrees.

Art, in its most simple expression, is the faithful representation of
nature. If the conception of a work or of a type is elevated to a degree
of perfection which satisfies at once the plastic sense, the emotion and
the intellect, we will call it Grand Art.

Finally, if, in the presence of a creation, we recognize perfect
harmony (which goes beyond perfect proportion); if the work call forth
in us that contemplative ecstasy which gives us the impression and, as
it were, the vision of pure beauty, shall we not recognize Supreme Art?

The system of Delsarte responds to all these desiderata of æsthetics. In
his law he gives us the necessary bases; by his science he indicates the
practical means, by his method and illustrations he completes the
science and demonstrates the law. Where is place left for doubt or

He stated what he knew and how he had learned it. In his recitals
occurred innumerable beautiful proofs of his greatness and simplicity,
oftentimes more convincing than lengthy, involved argument could ever

Some may ask: How can a positive science lead toward an ideal which
cannot be touched, heard not seen? Would not this science be the
antipode (some would say _antidote_) of the mystic dreams of Plato and
of Delsarte himself?

Reply is easy. Delsarte recognized in our mental consciousness that
desire for research into the unknown which would sound the mysteries of
nature. He did not disregard that intuitive force of imagination which
can often form from simple known elements the concept of conditions
superior to the tangible.

Between this nature, which we hear and see and touch, and that nature
which the artist feels, imagines, and to which he aspires, Delsarte has
placed a ladder whose base is among us, and whose summit is lost in the
infinite spaces of fiction and poesy. By this ascent into the realm of
liberty, of personality and of genius, the elect of æsthetics shall
mount and gain, and, still maintaining their relations with the Real,
shall bring down to us the glorious trophies of their art.

Delsarte, foremost among men, had climbed the magic ladder. His
exquisite harmonies in the dramatic art and lyric declamation were
beautiful indeed, but the æsthetic beauties which he brought forth in
the roles that he interpreted, must, alas! disappear with him. He has
left us the bases of his science, but who shall so beautifully tread the
way - reigning by song amidst a thousand accents of devoted enthusiasm!

Chapter VIII.

Application of the Law to the Various Arts.

We have now to consider each branch of æsthetics in the totality of the
system, to be assured whether or no this law discovered by Delsarte
covers all departures in the domain of art. First, then, the
starting-point around which all is centered and from which flow all

"Man is the object of art." This proposition applies as readily to the
conception of literature, poetry and the plastic art as to the more
active manifestations of the dramatic, oratorical or lyric art. Man
being thus the object of art in all of its specialties, the part of the
artist is to manifest that which is revealed to him, through his three
essential modalities, - physical, moral and intellectual (in the words of
Delsarte, life, soul and spirit, with the divisions and subdivisions
that they allow), as has been clearly stated in the chapter upon "The
Law of Æsthetics," and further confirmed in the one upon "The Bases of
the Science." But though all of these primordial modalities appear in
each concept and in all artistic manifestations, the proportion in which
each appears is indefinitely variable. It is a predominance of one or
another of these which classifies and specializes. It is the harmony,
more or less perfect, of the components of this triple unity which
determines the value of artistic manifestations. Under this law, then,
come all of the arts, inasmuch as each, differing in subjects treated
and in means of execution, still has a common mission, namely, the
revelation of impressions, the intelligible expression of the thoughts
and feelings of man. To be more clearly understood, I will from this
point consider separately the different branches of æsthetics.

_Art - Dramatic, Lyric and Oratorical._

The proclivities necessary to an artist, actor or orator (intelligence
being the first consideration and beauty of minor importance) are:
expansion, sensibility or at least impressionability; a ready
comprehension of the works to be interpreted, if not the requisite
capacity to execute them. One's particular vocation (or congenial line
of work) is the first condition in either of these departments of art,
and into the consideration of this must enter that of physical beauty
such as the roles demand; always considering what has been named "the
physique" of the situation. In a word, these three aspects of art
correspond to the predominance of that modality which Delsarte calls
"life;" this with the complementary share of the other essentials to
maintain a symmetry; this for the average "chosen." As to the
individuality necessary for the creation of a rôle, general statements
cannot apply. It is one and entire for each. Should it reproduce itself
identically, it would no longer be individual. The strength of a
powerful individuality lies in the revelation of a type _sui generis_.

Thus Delsarte can never be reproduced. If by an impossibility an artist
having seen him, and being penetrated by his method, could assimilate
the sum total of his acquired qualities and his inmost purposes, still
he could be but a copy, however perfect, since personality cannot be
transmitted. I could not pursue the demonstration of the application of
the laws of the human organism to the generality of the liberal arts
without meeting an objection which we will consider just here. Some one
says: If the law of art is the same as that of the human constitution,
what need that Delsarte teach that law - will it not suffice for each
artist-nature to study himself in order to determine satisfactory means
of transmitting (to spectators, audiences or readers) the thoughts,
passions or emotions which he would reveal, either by his pen, his
chisel, his brush, or by the fictitious personages which he incarnates?
I answer, No! The expression of nature by gesture, face, or voice will
not come to the artist by inspiration nor by reflection, especially in
extreme situations. He may chance upon agreeable effects, and even
moving expressions, but rarely does a just and telling expression of
that which he would express result from mere chance. Caustic truth or
knack - more vulgarly, cheek - comes of influence outside of one's self.
Upon one occasion Madame Pasta was heard to say: "I would be as
touching as that child in her tears. I should, indeed, be a great
artist if I could imitate her."

Rare, indeed, are the artists who know how to weep. The sublimity of art
responds to nature's simplest impulses. By the study and work of
Delsarte a science has been created, every fleeting sign of emotion has
been fixed, and may be reproduced at will; and this for the instruction
of the artist who may never have observed them in another, nor himself
felt the impressions which give rise to them.

_Application of the Law to Literature._

It is hardly necessary to state that the predominance of one of the
primordial faculties in the actor would necessarily differ from that in
the author of the drama or opera which he would interpret. Literary
capability presupposes more or less of philosophical aptitude and a
predominance of the intellectual faculties, and this not to the
exclusion of a certain amount of artistic and moral development in the
truly great writers. It is in the field of literature especially,
that man attains to a _creation_; and whether his _object_ be a
fellow-creature or an extended and enlarged ideal, - in either and any
case facts have furnished repeated and incontestable evidence, in
support of the statement of Delsarte, that art is always defective
unless it be the product of the three essential modalities of being,
acting in their relative proportions. This statement is not to be
contested; but here again these relations would vary among the writers
upon science, ethics and poetry.

The epic, most synthetic of literary productions, is no longer in
fashion, because, perhaps, of the growing rarity of heroes. On the
contrary, _simplisme_ is now deforming the greatest germs in the drama
and romance. The weakness often lies in the morality of the production,
or rather in its lack of morality, often so lacking that the author
sinks to the level of producing repulsive works and cynical pictures.

In view also of man's essential faculties, but from another point of
view, St.-Simonianism classed men as scholars, artists and artisans.
Then were added the priests of a new order whose nature, more perfectly
balanced, was to furnish the model type of future humanity. This
classification had brought thinking people to the consideration and
criticism of a system isolating and concentrating all development upon
one or another of the faculties. It was readily seen that thus sentiment
would rush to folly; sensibility without a corrective would soon become
weakness; unbalanced industry would lead to disregard of health and
strength, while the triviality of the sensual nature, unrestrained by
mental or moral activity, would soon fall into hopeless degradation.
Herein was _simplisme_ most bitterly condemned. Delsarte, ever studying
relations between coincidences in art and the revelations of nature,
arranged a typical demonstration, as ingenious as logical, of the
action and play of opposing faculties. By most wonderful pantomime he
showed a man tempted to sin; then, touched by pity for the victim of his
desire, at last transformed by the intervention of the moral sense, he
came by slow gradations to most elevated sentiments. One saw clearly the
courage of resistance and triumph in the sacrifice. Then, taking an
inverse progression, he slid from this height to the opposite extreme of
culpable resolutions.

Delsarte was the author of this mute scene which contains the elements
of a drama. The contemplation of this wonderful effect leads to the
conviction of the great value to literature of the fundamental law,
which may be applied to any and all literature, as a permanent criterion
by which productions may be classified and judged, in their departure
from the _simpliste_ form and approach to a conception in which the
constituent modalities of being act in harmonious accord. Here, again,
we have a fresh distinction between scientific and ethical literature,
and that which may be termed the _literature of art_. To this latter
class belong romances, dramatic productions and poems - works made up of
shades of meaning and just proportions, which should be based on clear
and sound philosophy, prudently disguised but indisputable and
imperishable. Here is place for the grace of an agreeable wit and the
elegant flexibility of a fruitful pen. More imperative than in any other
class of writing is the demand for individual touch and that harmony of
construction depending upon the proportionate relations of those
elements of æsthetics, - _the True, the Good_, and _the Beautiful_. Thus,
through æsthetics, it is elevated.

To this literature of art belong the sonnet of Arvers, and "The Soul,"
by Sully-Prudhomme. Musset, in his grace or pathos, is not inferior to
Victor Hugo. There are, even in his faults, certain effective boldnesses
to which the author of "Nôtre Dame de Paris" cannot aspire. Whence,
then, comes the immense distance between these poets? It lies in the
fact that Victor Hugo, while he is a finished artist, shows himself also
a thinker, philosopher, man of science and erudition. Endowed with a
profound humanitarian feeling, he is preoccupied with the evils of
society, with its rights, its mistakes, its tendencies and with their
amelioration; while the poet of "Jacques Rolla" - a refined
sensualist - devotes his verse to the unbridling of the torments of
imagination in delirium, to the agitations of hearts which have place
only for love.

If comparison be made between novelists and dramatists of diverse
schools, why has not M. Zola, who in so many regards should be
considered a master, attained the heights of eminence upon which are
enrolled the names of Shakespeare, Molière, Corneille, Schiller, Madame
de Staël, and George Sand? It is because M. Zola, profound analyst and
charming narrator, even more forcibly than Musset breaks the æsthetic
synthesis by the _absence of morality_ in his writings. His fatalism
arrests the flight of that which would be great; he corrupts in the germ
wonderful creative powers! M. Zola's great lack lies in his considering
in man his physical nature only. Between mind and matter he holds a
magnifying lantern full upon the lowest molecules, and rejects
disdainfully the initiating atom that Leibnitz has signalized as the
centre of life. M. Zola has created a detestable school which already
slides into the mire beneath the weight of the crimes which it excites
and the disgust which it arouses. Should we blame Zola and his disciples
for the danger and the impotence of this method? Should we not impute
the wrong in greater measure to philosophical naturalism?

In considering _materialism_ and _naturalism_ let us not lose sight of
the fact that while materialism is _simpliste_, naturalism (in so much
as it represents nature) is essentially comprehensive and necessarily
synthetic; harmony of force and matter being an invariable requisite of

_Realism_, another term strangely compromised, seems to proclaim itself
under the banner of materialism, while the _Real_, implying the idea of
the _True_, cannot be contained in _simplisme_. It is a most pernicious
evil that writers, calling themselves realistic, still concentrate their
talent upon the painting of vicious types and characters drawn in an
infernal cycle of repulsive morals.

"Man is the object of art." Never could the words of the master more
appropriately interpose than before the encroachments of literary
_simplisme_. The man of whom Delsarte speaks is not confined to such or
such a category of the species. He proposes that æsthetics should
interpret an all-comprehensive human nature, which is not made up alone
of baseness, egotism and duplicity. Though it be subject to perversion,
it has its luminous aspects, its radiant sides, and we should not too
long turn our eyes from them.

Artistically, evil or the Hideous (which is also evil) should never be
used except as a foil. There is no immorality in exhibiting the
prevailing vices of the epoch, but this is the physician's duty. The
evil lies in presenting these evils under such forms as may lead many to
enjoy or tolerate them, giving them the additional power of a charming
style and the specious arguments of fatality. This is precisely the case
of M. Zola. The glamor of his disturbing theory, which annihilates free
will, gives to his works a philosophical appearance. He conceals its
vacuity beneath forms of a highly-colored style, an amiable negligence
and a facility that is benumbing to thought. As he asserts nothing, no
one dreams of contradicting, and one finds himself entwined in a network
of repulsive depravity without a ray of healthful protection or
correction. In comparison with the blight of this disastrous system of
fatality, the coarseness of the writer's language, so loudly censured,
is relatively unimportant. The _simplisme_ of M. Zola is not absolute,
as but one of the three constituent modalities is omitted, that one
being morality. The lack is, however, no less fatal, inasmuch as the
void produced by the absence of one of the noblest faculties of human
activity must usually be filled by disturbing forces.

I have heard the theory, "art for art," supported by men otherwise very
enlightened. "An artistic production need not contain a moral treatise,"
they say, and this is quite true, provided the artist be a quick
observer, possessing talent sufficient to handle his subject
harmoniously. Vice carries its own stigma, and pure beauty surrounds
itself with light. The author should be able readily to distinguish the
one as well as the other, and his precepts should come as the harmonious
result of his experience. But such a work, at the mercy of an
ill-balanced brain and unhealthful temperament, must yield bad fruit.
Talent without broad and true knowledge of _reality_, or that which
_is_, instead of being invented, is incomplete in its workings and
results. Its creations resemble the light of the foot-lamp, of
fireworks, of the prodigies of our modern pyrotechnists - pleasing for a
time, dazzling, captivating, intoxicating! But lost in the life-giving
beauty of a summer's night or a glorious sunset, we are tempted to cry
out with the poet, -

"Nothing is beautiful but the True."

What can be said of the other _simplisme_ which, in its search for the
True, ignores the Beautiful while it disregards the Good? Again, its
partisans seek artistic truth in its very worst conditions. Why paint in
full sunshine, if the intense light obliterates details and confuses the
shadows? Does it seem a difficulty conquered? It is far oftener a
disguised insufficiency. If my reference to painting seem premature, it
is because I wished to borrow an image to show how equally grievous was
the faulty touch of many of our writers of renown. Many among them seem
striving to propagate the culture of the Mediocre and Unseemly, as a
thousandfold easier practice than the religion of the Beautiful.

My present aim is to show clearly the influence of even incomplete
_simplisme_, in certain pernicious effects upon literature. Edgar A. Poe
entered the realm of the fanciful after Hoffman, and how is it that the
initiator is less dangerous than his disciple? It is because of these
two _simplistes_, who have put reason out of consideration, the first
addressed himself only to the imagination, while the American poet
sounded the emotions to depths where terror is awakened and madness
begins to sting. Hoffman has perhaps upon his conscience some readers
confined in asylums for the deranged, but the far more perilous
hallucinations of Poe must account for greater harm. The distance is
great between imagination and sentiment, and should be so regarded. This
extravagance should surely not be allowed to usurp the place of
morality, but this is what is done, and greatness is not for them.

Another illustration lies in the transition intermediate between the
romances of Balzac, Frederic Soulié, Emile Souvestre, and Eugène Sue,
and the poetry of Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Béranger, Barbier and the
_impressionalist_ school whose decline is already at hand.

Of many names, which have acquired notoriety, I select the two which
afford the best contrast, - Charles Baudelaire and Jules de la Madelène.
The first, among other eccentric works, has left us "The Blossoms of
Evil." In the ideas which it embraces it is the successful production of
an imagination misled and in distress; a pathological experience
probably prompted the conception. In it one reads beautiful verse of
scholarly construction, and readily perceives an individuality and
originality of thought and expression; but no one would predict or
desire that this production should pass to posterity.

"Le Marquis des Saffras," by Jules de la Madelène, on the contrary,
gratifies both judgment and feeling. It is a spirited painting, acute
and profound, as well as true, of human life, especially of provincial
life. The human being is revealed in all his aspects. Though the author
disguises neither errors nor weaknesses, he presents clearly the
redeeming side - the simple manners and the humble devotion of sincere
hearts. This, then, is the reason _why_, sustained by a style rich in
grace and strength, full of the breath of poetry which is felt rather
than described, "Le Marquis des Saffras" holds its place as an
incontestable masterpiece in the choice libraries that preserve the
renown of great writers.

A more careful examination of the doctrine of Delsarte - "The necessity
of the concurrence of the mother modalities of the human organism to
fulfil the conditions of æsthetics" - but forces the conviction that
disregard of this requirement renders all sterile and incomplete, if not
monstrous. Is this equivalent to saying that the deductions from the law
of Delsarte tend to condemn in French literature its simple gaiety, its
graceful lightness, and to efface this stamp of the race that our
ancestors have surely imprinted?

In works of the imagination the omission of moral meaning is often more
seeming than real, and every good reader should be able to recognize
this. However, this negligent seeming is far less hurtful than brilliant
wit concealing crudities and modifying boldnesses. Writers of this class
do not lose sight of the fact that, while the French character has its
audacities (contrary to the modifications of æsthetics), our language
possesses a proverbial chastity, which, even in its farthest wanderings,
genius comprehends and respects. Tact and taste suffice to him who
consults them to escape grossness of language. The delicacy of the
allusions leaves their images in a transparent mist; the very elasticity
of the equivocation furnishes a refuge for the thought which it

By art some most delicate subjects, very nearly approaching license,
have been pardoned. We would surely exhibit a tyrannical and morose
humor to condemn to be burned _en place de Grève_, by the hand of the
executioner, the romances of _Manon Lescaut_, and _Daphnis_ and _Chloe_
by Longus, as they have been transmitted to us by Paul Louis Courier.

But when literature, realistic or materialistic (or whatever they please
to call it), freeing itself from moral accompaniment, shows itself
negative or weak in its creations; if it be _simpliste_ to the point of
appealing exclusively to the senses, limiting its means of action to the
development of the egotistic and instinctive side of the human
passions, - its works have no longer right of consideration in æsthetics.
The consideration of the physical being should surely figure in all
representations of life, but it is not necessary that from a subordinate
consideration it should ever be made all-governing. The body, the
essential part of our personality, is the companion of our higher
faculties. We should be mindful of it, making it as beautiful as
possible, but giving it the reins would be even worse than giving power
absolute to the imagination.

Once more, _impressionalism_, without the control of science and of
reason, has nothing to claim in the spheres of the _True_, the _Good_,
the _Beautiful_.

_Application of the Law to Architecture._

The productions of architecture, like those of literature, have their
origin in the realm of thought. Architecture is not, like the dramatic

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