Imágenes de páginas

“dramatic effect," they all knew how to sacrifice the less to the greater, and they all knew what to leave out as well as what to put in. The art of omission is quite as great as that of commission. For the public may not object to what it knows nothing about, but it very often objects to what it does know about.

We come now to appreciate the negative value of “breadth of treatment” which lies not in what is brushed in, but in what is brushed out; not in what is accomplished alone, but in what is left unaccomplished. Broad treatment is generally synonymous with suggestive treatment. It annihilates details, concentrates force on general truths, and speaks few but winged words. But it has a positive value which it is proper we should appreciate likewise. Painters have what has been called their “different periods” of production corresponding to the different ages of their lives. There is the early period when exactness and finish characterize the work and make it hard and unsatisfactory; there is the middle period in which the brush begins to move freer and details do not receive so much attention; and there is the late period in which breadth of handling becomes noticeable, detail vanishes, and the strong features alone remain. The work in the last period of a painter's career is generally considered his best, unless it degenerates through haste of the brush or weakness of the mind as, for instance, in Jules Dupré and Turner. The French landscapists, whose art we now value so highly, passed through these periods ; Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyke, Hals, Terborch, Brouwer (I give the names at random for the statement is generally true of them all), passed through them; and even if we go back to the Italians we shall find, in a less marked degree, that the art of Michael Angelo, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese is all characterized by a latter-day largeness of view and a comparative breadth of handling. This change of style as the painter advances is not due to carelessness or inability, except occasionally, for the hand and the eye have become more skilled, are surer and truer, are at their best, and this perfected technique is in itself a source of pleasure. Yet more than to skilled execution is the change due to mental experience which

teaches men as they advance in years to take broader and loftier views of nature and of life. The trained mind of fifty grasps subjects in the round, in the block, where the untrained mind of twenty frets itself sick over the petty details of a part.

It is to make people see subjects in their broader meanings that artists paint them broadly. If one craves detail let his imagination supply it; put it in the canvas and the eye will never look beyond it. In the Vienna portraits by Balthaser Denner we lose ourselves in wonder over the facial delineation, the wrinkles, the moles, the flesh stains, the hairs; we never think to look for the character of the sitter, and if we did we should not find it. In the Gevartius portrait by Van Dyke in the National Gallery at London, or in the portraits of Rembrandt by himself where he is represented as an old man, we wonder at the marvellous character which is depicted; we never think to look for facial delineation. Which is the more important in portraiture the character of the man or the wrinkles in his face? There is great truth of detail in Mr. Henry P. Smith's mid-ocean pictures—the truth of hammered-silver waves and reflected light; but the artist overlooks in detail that chief feature which Courbet in his great picture of the Wave in the Luxembourg seized upon so triumphantly, the mighty strength of the ocean. The one picture is the greatness of the infinitely little; the other is a little of the infinitely great. Even in genre and still-life pictures there is a difference between a broad and a narrow view of subjects. Huysum may paint flowers with deceptive drops of water and insects upon the petals, Desgoffe may imitate crystals and bronzes, and Alma Tadama may realize the stains in a piece of marble; but after all when men like Vollon and Fortuny see these objects in the round and paint them in the bulk they have shown their most salient features and thereby suggested to us their details. In literature there is such a thing as insulting the intelligence of one's readers by offering it too much small knowledge ; there is no good reason why the application should not be made to art.

Thoughtful students of books one generally finds to be men who have a preference for the suggestive writers. The thoughts that simply increase our store of abstract knowledge

are of small consequence compared with the thoughts that make us think. A page from Emerson's Essays will weigh down in value a dozen pages from the Encyclopedia Britannica. Doubtless it will be admitted that this is as true of the poem, the drama, and the novel as of the essay. Is it not equally true of the plastic and the graphic arts ? Painters prefer the sketch to the finished work for no other reason than that it has the freshness of suggestion. The painter, it may be conceded, has a quicker eye, a keener imagination than the amateur, so that where the sketch finds him at home it may find the amateur far at sea; but surely the latter has some eye, some imagination, though they be not highly skilled, which the painter may address suggestively and not unsuccessfully. That art which leaves us where it found us fulfills no serious mission on earth. A picture may not be able to exalt us to great heights of splendor, it may not music-like rouse an Alexander as with

a rattling peal of thunder" ; but unless some thought in it strikes into fire new thoughts in us, unless it touches some responsive chord in our nature, unless it somehow stimulates us with new life and pleasure the painter's graceful tracery of form, his brilliant flush of color have been expended in vain.



The moral character of speculation is seldom called in question. Although a certain stigma is often attached to the term “speculator,” and the general public looks askance at the wholesale transactions in the Exchanges and on Wall street, it is not from any moral disapproval of the practice in itself considered, but rather from personal aversion to individuals who have acquired wealth by this means, and the particular methods which they have employed. Ordinary speculation is sanctioned by law and by the popular conscience. It is accounted as honorable as productive trade, and few persons would be restrained by conscientious scruples from sharing in its profits. As a consequence speculation has come to be recognized as a respectable profession when not accompanied by overt dishonesty. In every community we may find men who gain a livelihood by speculation alone. Besides these are very many representatives from every class of society and every real or imaginable profession who invest a part of their surplus earnings in this form of trade. While they continue to devote their chief attention and energy to some productive calling, whether it be the law, or husbandry, or preaching the Gospel, or measuring cloth, as often as they can spare a few dollars, they put it into margins or stocks, or buy a few lots of land in some growing town, or enter the Board of Trade.

very few out of the vast number who thus invest are successful; and these usually give up their legitimate toil and turn their whole attention to speculation. Others, and many more in number, simply lose what they invest in this way. Still others, being threatened with loss, constantly add to their unprofitable investment with the hope of saving what they have already invested and thus involve their whole business in ruin, or making use of funds not their own become entangled in hopeless defalcation. It is a fact worthy of notice that the majority of our defaulters have been drawn into dishonesty by unsuccessful speculation. With results, however, we have


nothing to do in the present discussion. We are only concerned with the fact that the practice of speculation in some form is well nigh universal. Men who pride themselves on their strict honesty, who would not intentionally wrong their fellow men, and who would be ashamed to buy a lottery ticket or stake their money at the gaming table, have no conscientious scruples against speculation.

Few persons distinguish between legal and moral right; and in this land there is a tendency to submit all questions to the dictum of the majority. We must remember, however, that questions of right and wrong cannot be decided by a show of hands or weight of authority. These standards are very uncertain and changeful. Popular opinion in ancient Sparta declared theft to be a virtue, and the same authority in Judea branded Divine goodness a crime. But notwithstanding all the changes of public sentiment, the eternal principles of right and truth have remained the same, and the moral character of every practice or institution must be determined by these alone.

When weighed in the balances of eternal justice, speculation is found wanting. Its character will not stand the supreme test. It is a moral wrong. It is in its essential nature opposed to all accepted ethical standards. It stultifies the fundamental principles of right which must underlie all permanent social relations. The speculator is a thief from society. He is a parasite, living only as he sucks the life blood of another. He is a public malefactor, having no claim to a place in the ranks of honest trade.

The business of the speculator has not grown up out of any real or fancied need of society. It is the result of unmitigated selfishness, the reckless haste to be rich. The possibility of acquiring wealth has begotten an intense desire for wealth. The “mushroom” fortunes so common in a new country have become a snare to the people, and almost every young person cherishes the feverish hope that through some happy circumstance wealth will come to him much more quickly than it can be earned by ordinary and natural methods. In a land like ours there is much to foster this hope. Our resources are enormous in comparison with our population and they are as yet very imperfectly developed. In them lie untold possibilities of

« AnteriorContinuar »