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and His life from the lips of those who have best followed His example.1
In conclusion, one may ask what the conditions will be under which the work of the Oxford Movement will be carried on in the future, whether in the Universities or in the parishes of town and country. As regards England, at least, we do not live in that daily fear of immediate Disestablishment which was so widespread at the time of Keble's Assize Sermon. The character and temper of the Church of England have changed radically since those days. Our Bishops no longer live apart from the people, surveying with aristocratic aloofness the movements which go on beneath them. Our priests no longer regard the ministry as a comfortable profession, where in time one may be sure of rising to the enjoyment of a freehold and a life of ease. And for the change the Oxford Movement has been not a little responsible. Its leaders stressed above all things the spiritual and the inward side of the clerical calling; if the clergy had also a recognised place in the national life, that was an accident of history, not an integral part of their vocation. The result was that the Bishops left the seclusion of their palaces, and threw themselves into the life of the new democracy: while the Ritualist clergy penetrated into the poorest districts of our great cities, and lived amid surroundings of squalor, relieved only by the beauty of their Church Services and the gratitude of their parish folk. We to-day have entered into their labours. It is through them that we have now a vital interior sympathy with the life of all classes of the community, that we touch it at every point, and that we can be its guide, philosopher, and friend. And in this we have a great advantage over Nonconformity. On the one hand, our parochial endowments ensure that no section of the people shall be left without the succours of religion. On the other, the fact of our historic connexion with the past tends to check the temptation to compromise with the world, and to preach what will be acceptable to it instead of the teaching which Christ has given to us. Whether the nation will continue for many decades to avail itself of these services is another matter. But even should it desire otherwise-should it decide or be cajoled. into depriving the Church of those resources which are necessary to the prosecution of its warfare-we stand ultimately in a far stronger position than we did eighty years ago. Such a measure, if it came, would probably be disastrous to the nation, and shake its world-wide credit to the foundations; and it would set back the cause of Christianity in England and abroad for several
14 I owe this outline of a doctrine of Authority to my friend and colleague, Mr. Spens.
VOL. LXXI-No. 421
generations. But that is all. For, since 1832, the Church has become self-conscious; it knows where it stands, and could avail itself of its freedom. It has learnt that its roots are set, not in human soil, but in places where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and it would work, without alarm and without compromise, at the building of the City of God.
E. G. SELWYN.
'UGLINESS,' 'BEAUTY, AND MR. FREDERIC
I SALUTE in Mr. Harrison, before I go into action, a veteran of the Old Guard, one of the original band who gathered round the mast when this Review was launched just five-and-thirty years ago, in the roaring moon of daffodil and crocus.' On his own field of legal history I should not venture to challenge him; in that of the morals and methods of art his authority is more questionable, and I venture to dispute the reasoning and conclusions of his recent article.1 I will not linger over some more than doubtful literary history in his opening pages, nor stop to discuss the judgment that dismisses Wagner as unmelodious, that brings Doré the illustrator and the writers of feuilletons about millionaires and motors into the discussion of great art. My business is with his general attitude towards what he stamps as foul or ugly in the arts, and more particularly in the art of one sculptor.
It would take me too far to deal with all the writers who horrify Mr. Harrison: but his list of the openers of the gates includes Tolstoi, Ibsen and Zola. These are all what may be called ' uncomfortable 'writers, and it is this quality, perhaps, rather than the grossness of detail that might be urged against one of them, that links them, in Mr. Harrison's mind, with so different a writer as d'Annunzio. They are uncomfortable writers for the sentimentalist, and it is the revenge of reality on the sentimentalist that he ceases to be able to recognise a moralist when he meets one. If a critical case is to be urged against them, it is surely not that they are servants of foulness, but that they are haters of it so fervent that their view of life becomes distorted. Their analogues in English literature are Mr. Harrison's friends, Carlyle and Ruskin. The grave moralist and puritan Tolstoi, the ironic moralist Ibsen, the furious moralist Zola describe ugly things, but they certainly do not love them; and if boys
'Aischro-Latreia: the Cult of the Foul,' Nineteenth Century and After, February 1912.
E.g. his tracing of the extravagance of Monte Christo to the example of Hugo. Hugo was undoubtedly an influence with Dumas; but they were exactly contemporaries, and Monte Cristo was nearly twenty years the senior of Jean Valjean.
Gorky also, who, it must be remembered, has come up from the hell he describes, as did Dante, who went down into his. 547
and furtive readers of more advanced years go to Zola for his grossness, it is exactly as these boys go to certain pages of the Bible. They would not go in that spirit if a shameful secrecy were not maintained about matters that every human being ought to understand. That the spirit rather than the matter of these writers offends Mr. Harrison becomes clear if we put beside this list another, which he has himself furnished in a gossip about the books to which he turns by preference in his library. He does not condemn writers because they deal with the erotic or the scabrous side of life; for among the ancients he singles out for eulogy Petronius, Apuleius and Longus, the author of Daphnis and Chloe. These are writers whom Mudie would not circulate in a complete translation; writers who describe what is forbidden to the libraries not with the puritan's repugnance, but with complaisance and zest. To this list are added the authors of the Fabliaux, Boccaccio, and Rabelais. So Mr. Harrison's surprising position is that writers who enjoy this element are praiseworthy, writers who detest it are foul.'
There is no question here, be it remembered, of pornographers; they are more often to be found in the ranks of pseudo-scientific writers than of artists. Nor does Mr. Harrison, it is clear, object to plainness of speech. What is considered indecent in spoken or printed language varies with time and place. In polite American circles the word 'leg' is said to be taboo, just as for a short period trousers' were 'unmentionables' in ladylike English. In our own day some dozen direct words at most are unprintable, and that not in all cases because they are not wanted in literature, but a good deal because the simple words have become, on the lips that habitually use them, malhonnêtes. Hence the need of periphrasis. But there is nothing human, given the imaginative necessity for its expression, that literature cannot decently handle, however wary the handling must be in a region devastated by the leering habit. Mr. Harrison allows, if I understand him, that Boccaccio and Rabelais have a right to this region on their own terms what is difficult, in the face of prudery, is to maintain for poetry its greater right, the right to treat as clean and sacred the passionate climax of life.
Mr. Harrison's idea that the three modern writers enumerated represent a mere reaction against the blamelessness of Scott, Dickens, Thackeray and their period is quite untenable. It is rather the case that the convention of these last is an interruption in literary tradition; the convention, namely, that nothing should be printed for grown-up people that could not be read in the nursery. For Scott and Dickens this very likely meant no constraint ; indeed, for Dickens it meant an inspiration, since each period of literature 46 'Among my Books,' English Review, January and February 1912.
has the great writers proper to it. But Thackeray was not so happy; his themes required a greater freedom, and we know how he chafed under the restrictions of the libraries. The code, already infringed in different ways by Byron and Shelley, was short-lived. Later novelists, from Meredith and Hardy onwards, have sacrificed the wide nursery audience to the demands of a more masculine conscience, and have left the provision of nursery literature to those who are happy within its boundaries. I do not deny that the change from one convention to another and the growth of free speech have been the opportunity for uncomfortable writers of another cast, who found an ambiguous pleasure in breaking in upon the nursery for the sake of shocking the nurse. Such incidents are the toll we pay for the Mudie period; but even if the nurse is as much shocked as she is taught to appear, it takes a very great deal, I believe, really to shock our grandmothers, which is the aim, Mr. Harrison says, of much recent art. Our grandfathers, perhaps, are more frequently shocked; but what in them is rendered uncomfortable is less often a tender than a guilty conscience.
If the free handling of life by moralists like Tolstoi, Ibsen and Zola is not the obscene in art, what is? I, for my part, find it in just the sort of thing which the sentimentalists usually admire. That lascivious prettiness which pervades our library literature and popular drama is also the characteristic of the painting and sculpture usually called 'academic.' This admixture of the sensual and seductive with sacred and heroic themes and persons is what made classic sculpture from Praxiteles downwards a popular tyranny of fashion till the other day. It was this that tainted the art of Perugino and Raphael, that was gradually corrupting the art even of Leonardo, and makes that of his followers noisome; this that affected the middle period of Titian; in later times reached a climax in Greuze, and later still struggled with the ascetic draughtsman's impulse of Ingres, winning a ludicrous triumph in the Turkish Bath. This same mixture forms the staple of the 'ideal' pictures in our academies, rendered the painting of so considerable a designer as Leighton nauseous, and became comically indecent in Calderon's Renunciation and many other specimens of Chantrey art. This same mixture makes
"I do not know whether it has ever been observed, and if not I add the observation as my trifling contribution to the subject of the day, why Sam Weller was created. He was brought upon the scene to reassure timid readers on the propriety of Mr. Jingle and Miss Wardle when Wardle caught them at the inn after their elopement. It had to be unobtrusively established that they had occupied separate bedrooms, in the situation that is the nearest point to tragedy permitted in the histories of our stage, that of a night spent blamelessly together away from home by members of the opposite sex. Dickens ingeniously brought a character on to prove this by his comments on the boots collected from the different doors, and out of this trifling occasion sprang the immortal Weller!