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needs first to make himself master of the rules already attained : secondly, to examine the foundation of these rules-follow them to their source, that he may comprehend their spirit: thirdly, to study these sources farther, for himself, that whatever novelty he contemplates in his works, may be equally well-founded in truth. And the work of criticism is to study the creations of genius, to compare them with already established rules, and with the laws in nature to which they appeal, to judge thereby of their truth, and to give definite expression to principles in the abstract.
IN connection with our remarks upon the radical similarity of all men in matters of taste, it was stated, that, in minor things, there is infinite diversity. Having taken notice of some diversities, which contradict generally acknowledged principles, and which are of course in error, we shall now speak of others, which do not contradict general principles, and which are not erroneous; but rather developements, in particular directions, of those principles, and that in production as well as criticism.
To the ambitious, no praise is more dazzling than that of Originality; yet few seem to have any distinct conception of what it means. Content with the notion that it refers to something which makes him superior to all other men, the candidate for this honor seems to think that he must set at nought every law by which common mortals are governed, must keep himself ignorant of all rules of art, and work out a system entirely of his own; and that he must submit to no intellectual discipline, or plodding labor, as he calls it, for fear of cramping his genius—a delusion by no means uncommon among young men emulous of distinction in literature and art. And nothing is more likely to bar up their way to success. For even should one, by good fortune, strike upon a correct course, he has to repeat and discover for himself all that has been proved long before, and to spend years in laboring out a few truths which he might have acquired with more precision by the usual methods of study, in one hundredth part of the time. Some, in mistaking singularity for originality, give themselves up to all oddities, under the conceit that they are astonishing the world by their independence of thought, when they are merely amusing on-lookers, and grieving friends by their follies. According to this view, the original genius must do nothing as it would be done by any other human being. In dress and manner he will assume the most uncouth and ridiculous, for the purpose of being unlike ordinary mortals. And even this phase of the evil is an innocent weakness, compared with another, under which multitudes have dissipated and are dissipating their talents, in impiety and licentiousness. They would be unfettered, free, and original thinkers; and to reject everything that sober people believe, to spurn at evidence, and insult truth to her face, looks enough like original thought to pass for it, in the eyes of those who conceive of it only as something strange. From all manners, morals, and religion, which other men have maintained, the original genius
must differ, not on account of error, but of age. Right must give way to novelty, and solid merit to startling effect; tricks of style become his study, and truth is sacrificed to a silly legerdemain of execution. Thus sincerity of character, all foundations upon which moral as well as æsthetic excellence must be built, are in his mind unsettled. The man becomes incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, and without rudder or compass is hurried over the billows of excess by the gust of every passion. He may flash into notoriety for a season ; but it is only like the rocket, to fall into darkness. No great moral good forms a stable ground for his productions, no correct principle sustains them. And thus a mere ästhetic mistake leads down to not only intellectual ruin, but also to temporal, and often, we have reason to fear, to eternal death.
In attempting to define the true notion of Originality, we shall set out from the meaning of the word origin, the beginning of anything, that from which anything primarily proceeds. Original, then, means possessing the qualities of an origin ; and Originality the state or quality of being original. The latter derivative is used in both an active and passive sense, as it is applied to the mind which produces, or to the work produced. Originality means, therefore, the quality of being new; or the faculty of giving rise to some new existence. Thus, the idea of novelty is involved in it; but novelty of what? Of facts, principles, or the manner in which they are viewed and employed ? For
answer to that question we must have recourse to the authorized use of the term.
In science, original discovery means only the developement of some fact not previously known; and originality in that case will apply, not so much to the mind as to the objects of its cognizance-a meaning after which we are not now enquiring. For the same philosopher who announces his discovery of some new metal, or mineral, or plant, may present no claim to originality as an author. The newspapers every day. furnish us with something new in the way of facts; yet among writers of news, originality subjective appears as seldom as anywhere else. The news may be properly called original, because not borrowed from any other writer; but the bare statement of a fact which has not been previously told, does not entitle a man to the praise of original thought. Another, without communicating any fact, which could not be learned elsewhere, receives that praise by universal consent. Goldsmith deals often with the commonest of facts; and Wordsworth carefully avoids the strange and singular. In the songs of Robert Burns does the freshness lie in anything recondite--in anything which does not speak a language well known to the heart of man? Moreover, if the merit lay in novelty of facts, every work would be original to that man whom it presents with anything he did not know before. That is, the quality would lie in the reader, not in the writer; every painter, or sculptor, would be original who chooses odd