« PreviousContinue »
imagination, and therefore prompt to lived in ages that the vulgar have asadopt and to improve ; and last year their sumed to be uncivilized and dark.” workmen made the most refined display Our .working-men have no respect or of decorative workmanship that Europe sympathy for those who call themselves ever saw. The life and work of Luca their " chiefs ;” and as a serious direct della Robbia, or of Palissy, show that result of want of interest in their work, Japan has no exclusive artist power. we find that workmen do considerably
The metal jugs of all sizes which less per hour, in quantity and quality, abound on the Continent are models of than they accomplished thirty years ago. undesigned art. Equally good, though a An independent" master,” with associlittle less simple, is the rough blue and ated workmen, would do much more and white stone ware of the south of France.” | better work than a commercial builder, But we in England make the able potter dealing with hirelings, and habitually a neglected underling of some great man- subject to trade jealousies and strikes. ufacturing firm, whose customers and The saving to society would be immense. show-rooms are a hundred miles away. The money that is wasted on our buildWith such a system no designs by Flax- ings, public and private, would suffice to man will make “works of art," nor raise lodge us all like princes. “During the our pottery above mere toy-work and a past year the directors of the Improved trade.
Industrial Dwellings Company Limited Perhaps it may be said that to employ have been erecting some dwellings by an ordinary workman would imply the the employment of their own workpeople, loss of all the luxury, the elegance, and under a competent foreman, and thus far the refinement of our modern civilizing the experiment has worked satisfactoriarts. This is the current talk, and really ly. Greater care and attention being bemerits a reply like Hotspur's to the pop- stowed upon the details of the work, the injay; Of course the trash that fills the expenses of repairs will, it is believed, Bond Street shops would disappear, and be much less in these buildings. Thirty houses, churches, dress, and furniture dwellings at Bethnal Green estate have would all be changed' from foppish been nearly completed upon this plan, finery to dignified imaginative art. The and the company's workpeople are now “ charming” luxuries that the fashiona- proceeding with sixty more." Lord ble world demands have almost always Shaftesbury and some other gentlemen been the work and the contrivance of the have, in a way of business, helped to common artisan. The tradesman only build a little town of houses near the sells the goods, the workman finds the Wandsworth Road. “The architect has brains.
been a working foreman, and, to a great The remedy is obvious, and involves extent, the builders are the occupiers of no suffering or abnegation. The public, the houses. Men of each trade were of whatever sort or grade, should, like the pressed for their ideas," and the result mediæval aristocracy and kings, aspire has shown the amount of practical into cultivate the social and artistic friend- genuity that can be brought by an intelship of the master-workman. This is ligent community of working-men into a already done in other arts, and barber- work on which their hearts are set." surgeons, and the quacks of former days, Each man, however, should possess and have given place to those who “do the care for his own freehold." The occa
of healing. In some respects, sional correspondence in the daily papers however, the condition and the progress makes us see that in their architectural of the world have been most curiously affairs our sapient Englishmen are inverted since the middle ages. In those "mostly fools," and this particularly in times the public mind was greatly con- their consent to live in leasehold houses. versant with building-art, and being free Art never can exist on such a tenure. and bright in thought, the natural result We could distinctly show its bad effect, was excellence in work; but in theology not on architecture only, but on the sister it was comparatively dark, and subject to arts of sculpture, metal-work, and paintthe superstition of the papacy. Now, on ing; each has sunk, is sinking, and will the contrary, the English mind asserts its sink, unless the firm and stable freehold liberty in theological affairs, but in respect tenure is restored. No one can think of art it is benighted. The present period of any of our fine old buildings, sacred of artistic imbecility would merit the con- or secular, as leaseholds, nor will subtempt of those great working-men who stantial fireproof houses be constructed upon leasehold ground; and when the does not much improve them, and inpublic understand that individual benefit struction only serves to give them larger and the general good are equally involved means to demonstrate their coarseness. in freehold tenure, all proprietors will Those who know them in their houses join in a demand for such legislation, tell us that as their wages rise they revel essentially conservative, as would allow, in expensive luxury and display. In this and, if required, compel urban enfran- they imitate their betters. The debasechisement. The project has its prece- ment of imagination is a striking chardents; and tithe-commutation, copyhold- acteristic of society, and may be traced enfranchisement, and canal and railway from the mean finery of a mechanic's acts, have made the public and the law- parlour straight to the pompous rubbish yers understand that the proprietors of that surrounds a duke. Learning is no land-encumbrances, and ground-rents, efficient substitute or supplement, for, may be forced to sell, and yet be very without imagination, “every man is willing vendors.
brutish in his knowledge.” We do not
undervalue what is now called education, Thus we have sought to teach the stu- but we object entirely to the misuse of dent how to recognize the only "path the word. The result of all our * Educathat leads to excellence in art," to ex-; tion Acts” is not education, but mere plain the reason why the old building-, teaching and the gift of knowledge. work, so often glorious, is always good ; There is something imparted, not and why our modern work, though clever;"educed.” But it is not that which goeth and correct in imitation or design, is into a man, but that which cometh out of everywhere, and must be, radically bad ; him, that defiles or purifies, ennobles or and so to prove and illustrate the doc- degrades him; and while we merely give trine of the workman's mastery.
him knowledge and prohibit individual Our plea is naturally made with special interest and expression in his work, the reference to the interest of the Church operative still remains but a degraded in human progress; and, most obvious- though intelligent machine, and the agrily, in all that influences the building-art. cultural labourer is in every sense made This seems to justify “a strong deliver-only to "follow the plough." ance ;” and is our great encouragement The object of all education is the imto speak aloud. And so, by much of provement of the morale of the man. friendly frankness, we have hoped to Instruction in literature and science arouse the attention of the clergy, and to sharpens his intellect, and technical inlead them to perceive how greatly the ad-struction, now required by middle-class vancement of the intellectual and moral employers for economic reasons, good in state of man, and the true dignity and themselves, but socially and philosophinfluence of the Church, must be affected ically selfish, may increase the workman's by the full development of the artistic value, as a tool; but true art workman“ lively genius of the workman." As ship is generous in every way, and in its this appeal is not perfunctory but earnest, nature is like mercy, blessing him that it may be made with little reticence, and gives as well as him that takes. It gives yet with much respect for those whose a constant opportunity and wholesome audience and help are claimed. This exercise for their imagination to the great freedom we have used with generous fundamental class of working-men, and confidence and candour; not seeking to elevating these, it raises all humanity. reveal some undiscovered fault, but only Much of the congratulation that we hear to describe the cause and nature of an about advancing wealth, and science, and error that is great and obvious; and then, mechanical improvement, is truly relewith firm assurance modestly expressed, vant to nothing but advance. The progto indicate and justify the remedy. ress is in most cases grovelling and
And now we venture to assume that all low. Men are not better for it all, but our readers recognize the historic status, only better off. Will any who have and the artistic value, of the master- known our universities these twenty, workman, and perceive that to ignore thirty, forty years, tell us that the more him and to restrict the exercise of his recent men have been of a distinctly imagination in his work is a fraud on higher stamp than those who had prehuman nature, and injurious to all men. ceded them? Is not the proposition of This is now evident. Our present work- self-culture for its own sake greatly reing-classes are profoundly vulgar. The duced, and the pursuit of learning very increase of wages and of general comfort' much become a hunt for fellowships, or, as upon the turf, to get " well placed”?be recognized. Let us suppose that some This all requires abatement and correc- successful picture-dealer were to quote tion, and the change, as in such moral the various paintings in his gallery as evolutions, must be made not in the upper his own productions, and that the names but the lower orders of society. Morals and individuality of all the painters were do not descend, and Christianity was pro- entirely disregarded, and we shall underclaimed and first received among the stand at once the unnatural condition of poor.
the workman, and perceive how much The workmen are our masters, and, we the decadence of painting would be prohear, should be instructed; what if this moted by such oblivious folly. This, instruction should but lead them to in- notwithstanding, is our almost universal creasing aptitude for selfishness and base custom in regard to every art that we enjoyment, and the whole political ma- have not dubbed “fine," and so the chine should be a means of levelling the working-man becomes an alien and outpeople down to a low state of rude or cast from “society." polished luxury? Nothing can be more But we may hear that the upraising of dangerous and prejudicial to the State the workman is a revolutionary project, than the neglect of the imaginative power and that its tendency would be to shatter among men. For many years greed has the foundations of society. The truth, been blessed, and honoured, and exalted however, is entirely otherwise, and we to the position of a peacemaker. But appeal to feelings perfectly conservative greed never has maintained a nation's when we declare that the great want of self-respect and dignity; and it is only England is a wide-spread class of true by the cultivation of the noble qualities imaginative workmen - men who, free of imagination, which rise greatly above from jealousy of other ranks, because greed, and, seeking true nobility, find it they feel the dignity and comfort of their in work and sacrifice, that the position of own, would never favour violent or revoEngland as a leader among the nations lutionary change, and yet would be most can be secured and made a blessing. If prompt to see and indicate whatever the imagination is not thus developed, change is needed. These true gentlemen the working-men will, as they become would soon become the efficient balanceinstructed, become also increasingly ob- weight of all society, and from their businoxious and depraved, and vulgar know- ness contact with all classes, and their ingness and vain impatient levity will, as sympathy with each, would bring them in other regions, be the ruling character into harmony throughout the social scale. istics of the people.
“They would maintain the state of the We have occasionally to regard with world;" and, their works and ways being pity and some scorn the French elector entirely public, they would give no opporwho declines or fears to vote “for the tunity for suspicion or occasion for dissalvation of society." Our working-men trust. None would readily resent their are similarly impotent, though not per- interference or advice; they could speak haps in politics, yet in all that most con- with the vulgar as well as think with the cerns their actual work. They are acute wise, and without effort would obtain the and clever to a folly about pay, but for confidence of the proprietary as well as all else their minds have been crushed of the operative classes in a way that out of them; and in the great and many- what is called the middle class could sided building-trade, ubiquitous and con- never hope to emulate. stant in its movement, the whole class of Having commenced by quoting our working-men is sunk into the lowest state historian's opinion of the method and of mental and imaginative feebleness. results of modern architectural practice, We have given to the workman power in let us now coilect and hear what Goethe political affairs, but we entirely deny bis has to say about artistic dilettanteism. right and special fitness to direct his The “dilettants,” who still maintain own. He obtains his share numerically their social and professional influence in in the election of the government that architectural affairs, he has described rules us all, but he is counted quite inca- as pable to manage his own work, and, like
Those who, without any particular talent for a beast of burden or a child, is put in art
, only give way to the natural imitative tenharness or in leading-strings, and reined dency in them, and among other things to the and guided, “ blinkered” and controlled. imitation of Gothic architecture. Their pas
There is no question how the working- sion for imitation has no connection with inman must be improved. He must first born genius for art. They do little good to artists or to art; but, on the contrary, much has ever been the life of art; and, in harm, by bringing artists down to their level. like manner, the emancipated workman, The dilettante is honoured, and the artist is neg- gloriously "impelled," must always be, lected. In dilettanteism the loss is always and is, the only real hope of English greater than the gain. It takes from art its
architecture. essence, and spoils the public by depriving it of its artistic earnestness and sense of right. It follows the lead of the time; whereas true art gives laws and commands the time. Dilettanteism presupposes art as botchwork does handicraft; and the dilettante holds the same
From The Cornhill Magazine. relation to the artist that the botcher does to FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. the craftsman. From handicraft the way is open to rise in art but not from botchwork.
CHAPTER LII. The best of all preparation is to have even the
CONVERGING COURSES. lowest scholar take part in the work of the master. The dilettante has never more than a CHRISTMAS Eve came, and a party that half-interest in art, but the artist, who is the Boldwood was to give in the evening was true connoisseur, has an unconditional and the great subject of talk in Weatherbury. entire interest in art and devotion to it. The It was not the rarity of Christmas parties true artist rests firmly and securely on him in the parish which made this one a wonself, and so incurs the less danger in departing from rules ; and may even, by that means, der, but that Boldwood should be the enlarge the province of art itself. Dilettanti, giver. The announcement had had an or rather botchers, seem not to strive like the abnormal and incongruous sound, as if true artist towards the highest possible aim of one should hear of croquet-playing in a art, nor to see what is beyond, but only what cathedral, or that some much-respected is beside them; on this account they are al- judge was going on the stage. That the ways comparing. All dilettanti are plagiarists. I party was intended to be a truly jovial They enervate and pull to pieces all that is one there was no room to doubt. Alarge original in manner or matter; and at the same bough of mistletoe had been brought time imitate, copy, and piece out their own from the woods that day and suspended emptiness with it.
The publicity and permanence of architec- in the hall of the bachelor's house. tural works renders the injurious effect of Holly and ivy had followed in armfuls. dilettanteism in this department more univer- From six that morning till past noon the sal and enduring and perpetuates false taste; huge wood fire in the kitchen roared and because in art the things that are conspicuous sparkled at its highest, the kettle, the and wildly known are generally made to serve saucepan, and the three-legged pot apagain for models. The earnest aim of a true pearing in the midst of the flames like architectural work gives it a harmony with the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; most important and exalted moments of man ; and botchwork in this case does him an injury whilst in addition, roasting and basting in the very point where he might be most capable operations were continually going on in of perfection.
front of the genial blaze. As it grew
later, the fire was made up in the large, Thus art is not to be attained by di-oblong hall into which the staircase delettante schemes or fanciful designs; or scended, and all encumbrances were by a vain expenditure of wealth ; or even cleared out for dancing. The log that by some recondite researches in the path was to form the back-brand of the evenof knowledge. Art is the noble end of ing fire was a complete tree-trunk, so steady and laborious work; the glory unwieldy that it could be neither brought and reward of honest, thoughtful, self- nor rolled to its place ; and accordingly devoted handicraft. Art, "when a re- four men were to be observed dragging ality, indicates something impressive and and heaving it in by chains and levers, as sublime. It stamps a man with the di- the hour of assembly drew near. vine seal ; setting him before us as inva- In spite of all this the spirit of revelry riably impelled to do a divine thing was wanting in the house. Intended Work is not to him a profession, but a gayeties would insist upon appearing like vocation. It is not something which he solemn grandeurs; the organization of chooses for himself, but for which he is the whole thing was carried on coldly by chosen ; which he does not advance to hirelings; and a spectre seemed to rove because he will, but because he must about the rooms, saying that the proThe man is not at liberty to decline the ceedings were unnatural to the place, and call.” Such was the master-workman of to the lonely man who lived therein, and the past, whose free imaginative power l hence not good.
Bathsheba was at this time in her ever was provoked by this man for atroom, dressing for the event. She had taching as much importance to a crease called for candles, and Liddy entered and in the coat as to an earthquake in the placed one on each side of her mistress's Mediterranean. Boldwood at last exglass.
pressed himself nearly satisfied, and paid "Don't go away, Liddy,” said Bath- the bill; the tailor passing out just as sheba, almost timidly. "I am strangely Oak came in to report progress for the agitated. I cannot tell why. I wish I day. had not been obliged to go to this party, Ah, Oak,” said Boldwood, "I shall but there's no escaping now. I have not of course see you here to-night. Make spoken to Mr. Boldwood since the au- yourself merry. I am determined that tumn, when I promised to see him at neither expense nor trouble shall be Christmas on business, having no idea spared." there was to be anything of this kind.” “ I'll be here, sir, though perhaps not
“But I would go, now," said Liddy, early,” said Gabriel quietly. "I am glad who was going with her, for Boldwood indeed to see such a change in you from had been indiscriminate in his invita- what it used to be.” tions.
“Yes; I must own it. I am bright “Yes, I shall make my appearance, of to-night, cheerful, and more than cheercourse,” said Bathsheba.“ Liddy, I am ful; so much so, that I am almost unthe cause of the party, and that upsets easy from a sense that everything is me. Don't tell anybody.”
passing away. And sometimes when I “Oh, no. You the cause of it, ma'am ?” am excessively hopeful and blithe, a
“Yes. I am the origin of the party. (trouble is looming : so I get to look upon I- I can't explain any more; there's no gloom in me with content, and to fear a more to be explained. I wish I had never happy mood. Still this may be absurd. seen Weatherbury.”.
Perhaps my day is dawning, at last." “ That's wicked of you - to wish to be “I hope it will be a long one." worse off than you are.”
“ Thank you, thank you. Yet my “ No, it isn't
. I have never been free cheerfulness rests upon a slender hope. from trouble since I have lived here, and And still I have reason to trust my hope ; this party is likely to bring me more. I think this time I reckon with my host. Now fetch my black silk dress, and see . . . Oak, will you tie this neckerchief how it sits upon me.”
for me? My hands shake, and I cannot “But you will leave off that, surely, do it properly. The fact is, I have not ma'am ?' You have been a widow lady been quite well lately." fourteen months, and ought to brighten "I am sorry to hear that, sir.” up a little on such a night as this."
“Oh, it's nothing, and will soon pass *" It is not necessary. I mean to ap-away again. Tie it as neatly as you can, pear as usual; for if I were to wear any please. Is there any late knot in fashion, gay dress, people would say things about Oak?" me, and I should seem to be rejoicing, “I don't know, sir,” said Oak, in a when I am solemn all the time. The tone which had sunk to sadness. party is altogether a painful matter, but Boldwood approached Gabriel, and as it cannot be helped ; stay and finish me Oak tied the neckerchief he went on off.”
“Does a woman keep her promise, Boldwood, at the Lower Farm, was Gabriel ?” dressing also. A tailor from Caster- “If it is not inconvenient, she may.” bridge was with him, assisting himn in “ Or rather, an implied promise." the operation of trying on a new coat that "I won't answer for her implying," had just been brought home.
said Oak, with faint bitterness. “That's Never had Boldwood been so fastid- j a word as full of holes as a sieve with ious, unreasonable about the fit, and gen- them.” erally difficult to please. The tailor “ Oak, don't talk like that. You have walked round and round him, tugged at got quietly cynical lately. How is it? the waist, pulled the sleeve, pressed the We seem to have shifted positions. collar, and for the first time in his experi- However, does a woman keep a promise ence Boldwood was not bored. Times not to marry, but to enter on an enhad been when the farmer had exclaimed gagement to marry at some time? Now, against all such niceties as childish, but you know women better than I; teli now no philosophic or hasty rebuke what-'me."