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-called particular idea is unimportant, not because it is not
predicable of the whole species, but because it is predicable of
things out of that species. It is not its individuality, but its
generality which renders it unimportant. So,
$6. All truth, val-f. ' . . . • . •
nabie as they are then, truths are important just in proportion as
cfcmr&c tcriftt ic • •
they are characteristic, and are valuable, primarily, as they separate the species from all other created things secondarily, as they separate the individuals of that species from one another: thus "silken" or "woollen', are unimportant ideas with respect to drapery, because they neither separate the species from other things, nor even the individuals of that species from one another, since, though not common to the whole of it, they are common to indefinite numbers of it; but the particular folds into which any piece of drapery may happen to fall, being different in many particulars from those into which any other piece of drapery will fall, are expressive not only of the characters of the species, flexibility, (non-elasticity, etc.,) but of individuality and definite character in the case immediately observed, and are consequently most important and necessary ideas. So in a man, to be short-legged or long-nosed or anything else of accidental quality, does not distinguish him from other short-legged or long-nosed animals; but the important truths respecting a man are, first, the marked development of that distinctive organization which separates him as man from other animals, and secondly, that group of qualities which distinguish the individual from all other men, which make him Paul or Judas, Newton or Shakspeare. *7. otherwise Such are the real sources of importance in
are'vaiuabie'be? truths as far as they are considered with reference •cause beautiful, merely to their being general, or particular ; but there are ether sources of importance which give farther weight to the ordinary opinion of the greater value of those which are general, and which render this opinion right in practice ; I mean the intrinsic beauty of the truths themselves, a quality which it is not here the place to investigate, but which must just be noticed, as invariably adding value to truths of species rather than to those of individuality. The qualities and properties which characterize man or any other animal as a species, <ire the perfection of his or its form of mind, almost all individual differences arising from imperfections; hence a truth of species is the more valuable to ait, because it must always be a beauty, while a truth of individuals is commonly, in some sort or way, a defect.
$8. Audmany Again, a truth which may be of great interest,
£pahratcfmaylebe when an object is viewed by itself, may be objecconnecSonbl with tionable when it is viewed in relation to other obothers. jects. Thus if we were painting a piece of drapery
as our whole subject, it would be proper to give in it every source of entertainment, which particular truths could supply, to give it varied color and delicate texture ; but if we paint this same piece of drapery, as part of the dress of a Madonna, all these ideas of richness or texture become thoroughly contemptible, and unfit to occupy the mind at the same moment with the idea of the Virgin. The conception of drapery is then to be suggested by the simplest and slightest means possible, and all notions of texture and detail are to be rejected with utter reprobation; but this, observe, is not because they are particular or general or anything else, with respect to the drapery itself, but because they draw the attention to the dress instead of the saint, and disturb and degrade the imagination and the feelings; hence we ought to give the conception of the drapery in the most unobtrusive way possible, by rendering those essential qualities distinctly, which are necessary to the very existence of drapery, and not one more.
With these last two sources of the importance of truths, we have nothing to do at present, as they are dependent upon ideas of beauty and relation : I merely allude to them now, to show that all that is alleged by Sir J. Reynolds and other scientific writers respecting the kind of truths proper to be represented by the painter or sculptor is perfectly just and right; while yet the principle on which they base their selection (that general truths are more important than particular ones) is altogether false. Canova,s Perseus in the Vatican is entirely spoiled by an unlucky tassel in the folds of the mantle (which the next admirer of Canova who passes would do well to knock off ;) but it is spoiled not because this is a particular truth, but because it is a contemptible, unnecessary, and ugly truth. The button which fastens the vest of the Sistine Daniel is as much a partic
ular truth as this, but it is a necessary one, and the idea of it isgiven by the simplest possible means; hence it is right and beautiful.
Finally, then, it is to be remembered that all truths as far j 9. Recapitulation, as their being particular or general affects their value at all, are valuable in proportion as they are particular, and valueless in proportion as they are general ; or to express the proposition in simpler terms, every truth is valuable in proportion as it is characteristic of the thing of which it is. affirmed.
OF THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTHS :—SECONDLY, THAT RARE TRUTHS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN FREQUENT ONES.
It will be necessary next for us to determine how far frequency or rarity can affect the importance of vioiationCCofe na- truths, and whether the artist is to be considered should oe'repre- the most truthful who paints what is common or what is unusual in nature.
Now the whole determination of this question depends upon whether the unusual fact be a violation of nature,s general principles, or the application of some of those principles in a peculiar and striking way. Nature sometimes, though very rarely, violates her own principles; it is her principle to make everything beautiful, but now and then, for an instant, she permits what, compared with the rest of her works, might be called ugly; it is true that even these rare blemishes are permitted, as I have above said, for a good purpose, (Part I. Sec. I. Chap. 5,) they are valuable in nature, and used as she uses them, are equally valuable (as instantaneous discords) in art; but the artist who should seek after these exclusively, and paint nothing else, though he might be able to point to something in nature as the original of every one of his uglinesses, would yet be, in the strict sense of the word, false,—false to nature, and disobedient to her laws. For instance, it is the practice of nature to give character to the outlines of her clouds, by perpetual angles and right lines. Perhaps once in a month, by diligent watching, we might be able to see a cloud altogether rounded and made up of curves: but the artist who paints nothing but curved clouds must yet be considered thoroughly and inexcusably false.
But the case is widely different, when instead of a principle violated, we have one extraordinarily carried out or manifested under unusual circumstances. Though nature is in which those constantly beautiful, she does not exhibit her highSeen 'strikingly est powers of beauty constantly, for then they would «iemp satiate us and pall upon our senses. It is necessary
to their appreciation that they should be rarely shown. Her finest touches are things which must be' watched for; her most perfect passages of beauty are the most evanescent. comparativefy6 She is constantly doing something beautiful for us, but it is something which she has not done before and will not do again; some exhibition of her general powers in particular circumstances which, if we do not catch at the instant it is passing, will not be repeated for us. Now they are these evanescent passages of perfected beauty, these perpetually varied examples of utmost power, which the artist ought to seek for and arrest. No supposition can be more absurd than that effects or truths frequently exhibited are more characteristic of nature than those which are equally necessary by her laws, though rarer in occurrence. Both the frequent and the rare are parts of the same great system ; to give either exclusively is imperfect truth, and to repeat the same effect or «4. All repetition thought in two pictures is wasted life. What is biamabie. should we think of a poet who should kcep all his life repeating the same thought in different words? and why should we be more lenient to the parrot-painter who has learned one lesson from the page of nature, and keeps stammering it out with eternal repetition without turning the leaf? Is it less tautology to describe a thing over and over again with lines, than it is with words? The teaching of nature is as varied and infinite as it is constant; and the duty of the painter is to watch for every one of her lessons, and to give (for human life will admit of nothing more) those in which she has manifested each of her principles in the most peculiar and striking way. The deeper his research and the rarer the phenomena he has noted, the more valuable will his works be ; to repeat himself, even in a single instance, is treachery to nature, for a thousand human lives would not be enough to give one instance of the perfect manifestation of each of her powers; and as for combining or classifying them, as well might a preacher expect