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TO MY FATHER.

PREFACE.

These Essays, written at intervals during a space of seven years, are now reissued with no change beyond the correction of an occasional error, the addition of an occasional note, and the excision or modification of an occasional phrase or passage. To omit or to rewrite any part would be to forfeit the one claim which I should care to put up on their behalf; that they give frank and full expression to what were, at the time of writing, my sincere and deliberate opinions. Only where I have detected a positive error or suspected a possible injustice have I changed or cancelled a syllable. As I see no reason to suppress what I have no desire to recant, I have not allowed myself to strike out the rare allusions, which might otherwise have been erased, to such obscure and ephemeral names or matters as may be thought unworthy even of so slight a record as the notice here conferred on them. The one object which gives to this book whatever it may have of unity is the study of art in its imaginative aspects. I have desired above all things to avoid narrowness and dogmatism, and to say simply what I think or perceive to be the truth on such matters, and on such only, as I can claim at least to have studied with the devotion of years to the utmost of what ability was in me. The convictions expressed are in any case my own, and due to the inspiration of no party, no stranger, and no friend. My judgment has been guided wholly by my sense of the service or the disservice done to art by the works or the opinions on which I have taken occasion to remark. I have spoken but once or twice at the outside either of bad work or bad criticism, of folly or of falsehood, of ineptitude or of malignity; my chief aim, as my chief pleasure, in all such studies as these has been rather to acknowledge and applaud what I found noble and precious than to scrutinize or to stigmatize what I might perceive to be worthless and base. It is not indeed always possible to show cause for our admiration of great men and their great work, and not seem in passing to stigmatize by implication the base work or the baser comments on other men's work of those who hate and covet the greatness which they can neither injure nor attain, the glory which they can neither diminish nor endure; to praise what is good in any kind is to dispraise what is bad, and every honour done to men worthy of honour is an insult to men who are powerless to confer it and hopeless to receive.

To any who may think it presumptuous for a labourer in one field of art to express his opinion on work done in another field, for a student in one line of art to pass sentence on a student or it may be on a master in a different line, I can only say that I see no reason which should

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