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within, The former is satisfied with marking the track of the vessel on the chart, the latter will describe to us the direction and force of the intimate moving power. To put this in other words: Given the object at which a man aims, and the direction in which he will fire, is also given. If you point out to me the harbour, which a ship is trying to make, you point out at the same time her most probable course. And, similarly in history, if a man will take the trouble justly to appreciate the Form of Good of a nation, at once, he will be acquainted with the essence of the life of such nation. For, if I am given a just conception of the Ideal of any people or of any individual, then I can feel the pulse leaping in the veins, the longing, that ever urges onward, the thirst, that is not satisfied.

The Republic of Plato, the teachings of Socrates, and the universal veneration for the character of Christ, are manifestations of this natural yearning after an High Ideal of Life. This feeling is common to all men. The Ideals themselves do certainly differ in a considerable degree, with diverse peoples and at various periods. Yet, from the commencement of human life, amongst all nations, and in the mind of each individual, there has been present a typical Form of Good. This ideal Beauty may be, and generally is, accompanied by some mental consciousness in the individual. Yet the entire unconsciousness of its presence is no argument for its absence. The Form is there always. The individual may, perhaps, be unconscious, but his acts are still guided by the unseen influence. And, in those too frequent cases, in which the present act is at variance with the Ideal, it is the comparison of the two which gives rise to the glow of shame. Thus a phenomenon, whose universality cannot be denied (I allude to what is generally known as Conscience; in other words, an intuitive consciousness of evil) is in itself a constant proof of the existence of an Ideal. And where, through long usage, Conscience has lost her tongue, and Shame her colour, it is not unreasonable to assert, that the existence of an Ideal is here proved by that consciousness, which ever remains—the consciousness of the silence of Conscience. And further, this Ideal is not only universal; it is at the same time various, and various not only in different individuals, but in the same. For it is capable of growth, and the man should aim higher than the boy. It will also be found to adapt itself to various circumstances of life. The phrases are common amongst us—a perfect son, an ideal husband, a noble mother. What do these mean, but, that in each special case, there

exists in the mind a conception of what should be? This conception must vary with the varying circumstances. There are broad lines of moral truth, that run through every view of life, and these must be the same for all men. But the finer lines, the shading and the framework allow of some diversity. For example, a man, who finds, that he has to perform a certain piece of work, will conceive in himself beforehand, the most perfect manner in which that work can be done, and throughout the progress of the work, he will strive to bring it into measure with this ideal conception. The schoolmaster, the judge, the barrister, the architect and others of every profession, endeavour to reach such a conception as inay suit the case of each. These are the workmen, who are commonly styled “ thorough.” No doubt, the work may often fall behind the conception, and such failure will be attributable to varying causes, but let the Ideal be constantly kept in view, and persistent effort and driving energy will improve the result. This is more noticeably true in its application to all forms of Art. The sculptor, the painter, the writer, the orator, the poet-all in their separate walks—are seeking the expression of an Ideal. The Beauty burns within them; they have no rest; the mind is hungry for the embodiment of its own creation. In this lies the truth of that common remark, that the poet is never a happy man. His unhappiness, in this sense, he shares with every other Art workman; for all are doomed to find, that no efforts may suffice to give adequate expression to the workings of the soul. No true artist was ever satisfied with his work; he may have varying degrees of success, but the unapproachable conception ever floats before his eyes.* The Ideal has been described as capable of growth. In too many cases, such capacity is not made the most of. The youthful conceptions fade away and are not replaced, as they should be, by those which might be still more noble. The individual is too busy—in other words, he has not the honest zeal to undertake the

* The following anecdote is told of Thorwaldsen. Being found one day in very low spirits by a friend, who asked him whether anything had distressed him, he answered, “My genius is decaying.” “What do you mean?" said the visitor. “Why,” answered Thorwaldsen, “Here is my statue of Christ: it is the first of my works that I have ever felt satisfied with. Till now my idea has always been far beyond what I could execute. But it is no longer so. I shall never have a great idea again. And every man, who has ever taken pen in hand to attempt to express the thoughts, which are burning for utterance will understand the mind of Luther, who, when he sent Staupitz his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, said to him (Epist. clxii.), “Nec jam adeo placent, quam placuerunt primum, ut viileam potuisse latius et clarius eos exponi.” For further illustration of this invariable rule, see Guesses at Truth - Macmillan, 1871, page 59.

necessary course. The lines of Wordsworth naturally recur to the mind

Not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God who is our home.

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

About the dying boy.

The youth who daily farther from the East

Must travel still is Nature's priest;
And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended.
At length the man beholds it die away,

And fade into the light of common day. This vivid presence of an Ideal is longer retained among women, who, as a class, are undoubtedly more refined, more pure, more noble than men. But every man, looking back on his boyhood and youth, will be painfully conscious of the truth uttered by the poet. He knows, that the Ideal is still with him; he knows also, that it has altered its character, and has lost that vigorous freshness, that rendered it more easily traceable, and caused it to be instinctively obeyed in early youth. This is but the order of nature. The same transformation, as is noticed in the case of individuals, may be observed in the history of nations. The life of a young people is a life of vivid enthusiasm. With such, the Ideal is a rude conception, but there is about it, a refreshing distinctness of outline, which is lost with growth in civilisation. In exemplifying these facts, the chief difficulty standing in our way is that of obtaining thoroughly reliable accounts of such primitive conceptions. For history furnishes us with few authentic records of the earliest life of nations. From the ancient mythologies, a comparatively small amount of information is to be gained, since, in the majority of cases, these have been inprovised by interested parties, as the need for them arose. Thus it appears, that it is to the Homeric poems alone, that we must look for the typical inner life of a newly-planted nation. For, as Mr. Maine* very justly remarks, there can be no reason for believing, that in the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey, there has been any tampering with moral or metaphysical conceptions, which were not at the time of such composition the subject of conscious observation.

In this respect, the Homeric literature is far more trustworthy than those relatively later documents, which pretend to give an account of times similarly early, but which were compiled under

* Maine's Ancient Law,

philosophical or theological influences. Moreover, in dealing with this question in these pages, it will be especially advantageous, to make reference to the writings of the ancient bard of Ionia ; for these are universally read, they have been studied in the original by every educated member of society, and the short reference possible here will thus receive a readier attention.

The pre-eminent characteristics of the Homeric poems are their lightning-like clearness and force. A flood of light pervades the whole. The dramatis persone stand forth in vivid colours, and no possibility remains of mistaking that, which is meant to be the typical Ideal of the Greek mind of that period.

In deep, cleanly-chiselled lines, is marked the predominating quality of majestic, physical strength. Of the primitive Ideal this is the backbone, but that Ideal is not a mere skeleton. As necessary ingredients of the type, we find, superadded to strength, the elements of physical beauty and of wisdom. The finer moral qualities are, indeed, not altogether absent, yet they are entirely subordinate and accidental. As examples of this, I would instance the characters of Zeus and Achilles. These represent the highest conception of the poet, both being built on exactly the same lines. The only distinction between the two is, that Zeus dwells on Olympus, Achilles upon earth. Zeus is an Achilles amongst the Gods, Achilles a Zeus amongst men.* The two meet on a common ground of wisdom, prowess and beauty. In the matter of wisdom, Zeus, as a God, is naturally preferred. Yet he is not by any means omniscient.f In point of personal strength and prowess, each in his own class is pre-eminent. Zeus lays claim to a strength superior to that of all the Gods. Achilles is that embodiment of force, in whose absence the Achæans are driven back, and their entire fleet lies in danger of being destroyed. Even at this distance of time, the eye dwells joyously on his glorious form,


The massive square of his heroic breast,
And arms on which the standing muscle slopes,
As slopes a wild brook o'er a little stone,
Running too vehemently to break upon it.

* “Men are mortal Gods, and the Gods immortal men.Heraclitus. A wellknown American author says:—“So strong was the human element, the sense of personal dignity and freedom, that the Greek lived in the midst of a supernatural world on equal terms.” See, also, for an expression of the same sentiment—"Le Sentiment Religieux en Grèce d'Homère à Eschyle,par Jules Girard, Paris, 1869.

+ Il. xvii., 165, 169; 11. xiv., 352; Il. xix., 97 et seq. I Il. iv., 17, 27.

The broad, fine, intellectual forehead of the Greek, the deep lines of thought, the chiselled arch of nose and brow, the powerful determination of the lips, and the massive lower jaw, the crisp and wavy curling hair, and the altogether stalwart frame, these may belong as readily to the Ocios (Achilles), as to his kindred and parallel God. With each, also, that typical element of beauty remains; a beauty, that can never be divorced from the conception of perfect physical development, a beauty, whose lines are found in the graceful curving billows of muscles, and whose name is sounded to us in the elastic step of health.

Such a type as this, constantly before the eyes and mind of each individual, cannot have failed to exercise enormous influence on the Greek race as a whole, and while the type obtained in its simplicity, it produced excellent results. The very similarity of the characters of Zeus the divine and the human Achilles, must have taught men the lesson, that in the way of self-education and development there was practically for them no impassable obstacle

Along the line of limitless desires. Thus, as Mr. Gladstone has pointed out, the tendency of the Olympian religion was to exalt the human race, by proposing a model of wisdom, prowess and beauty in all their combinations, so elevated, that the effort to attain them required a continual upward strain. “In upholding the standard of moral duties, such a scheme tended powerfully to produce a lofty self-respect and a large, free and varied conception of humanity.” It incorporated itself in schemes of notable discipline ; indeed, of a life-long education for mind and body.

These pure principles were not, however, destined to continue in their purity. Debasing influences were at work, and with the growth in civilisation, and the increase in luxury, the type became gradually sensualised. All history is clear upon this point. The process of the degeneration is marked out by distinct landmarks. Only a short reference is possible here, and it will thus be evidently best to limit our observations to the works of art of the various ages. For the art works of a period give the expression of its highest thoughts.

The first step downward, from the high ideal of the Homeric age, is to be traced in the statuary of the Phidian epoch. The prime element in the characters of Zeus and Achilles, as depicted by Homer, is a combination of magnificent courage and majestic force. In the statues of Phidias, these qualities have not been altogether

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