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ciely, securing images and monuments for our respect, veneration and affection, that all educated persons are solicitous for the extension of this tate
The fine arts are the especial objects of intellectual taste; and though some degree of pleasure may be derived from the sight of art without the highest cultivation, yet the advantages of a sound taste, as applied to art, as well as to literature and the conduct of life, are too manifold, and I trust too obvious, to require argument. It may well be said, doubtless, that to the man who resigns himself to feeling, without interposing any judgment or sound taste, poetry, ' music and painting are but pastimes, and but little better than trifles. It is by studying the great principles of the fine arts, and exalting our taste to the dignity of a judgment, that we make them sources of refined and noble enjoyment. Nor, in my judgment, can this culture commence too early; for there is every reason that a just taste and correct eye shall commence at the same time with the teachings of morals and manners; and if they be combined, the intellectual powers will grow into greater barmony, and the harshness of a crude culture be taken from our minor morals and deportment.
This improved, refined taste begets a higher relish for the simple habits of life, in unison with republican tendencies. It deepens our love of Nature, and carrying its empire far into the principles and practice of ethics, subjugates natural impulses and elevates all our desires. The practice of reasoning on these interesting themes becomes a habit at last, and the habit strengthening the reasoning powers, gives that dignity to the arts which properly belongs to them, while the discipline is favorable to the investigation of the still more abstruse subjects of mental philosophy.
Purity of taste tends to invigorate the social affections, and to moderate those that are selfish. It makes us averse to coarse language and ungenerous conduct, while it encourages a sympathy with whatever is lovely, excellent and magnanimous. So closely allied, I repeat, to morality, is intellectual taste, that no one can doubt that a fine relish of what is beautiful, proper and elegant in writing, paint ing and architecture, is a most rational preparation for the same just relish of these qualities in character and behavior. A philosophical inquiry into the principles of the fine arts inures the reflecting mind
to that most enticing sort of logic. The science of criticism, as applied to the arts, to composition and literature, may be considered as a sort of middle link that connects the different parts of education, harmonizing all. The student proceeds from the more agreeable and simple method, until custom improves his faculties, and he learns by this easy mastery to grapple with the intricacies of a deeper philosophy.
It has been remarked by a distinguished philosopher, that mathematical and metaphysical reasoning do not usually enlarge our knowledge of man; they not being so applicable to the common affairs of life, however valuable for the discipline of thought, while a just knowledge of the fine arts, derived from rational principles, furnishes elegant subjects for conversation, sharpens our sense of the beauty and strength of language, and prepares us for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety.
From these considerations, therefore, I trust it cannot be doubted that the inculcation of the principles of the fine arts will be acceptable to the present faculty of the University, as it will be genial and valuable to every department of study. It will not interfere in any way with the time allotted to any of these studies, as it is proposed that the professor of art shall impart the knowledge and gradually form the taste, by familiar lectures, by conversations, and by frequent reference to examples of fine art. These shall consist in drawings, in engravings, in paintings, and in casts from the antique. The professor of Greek must feel a lively interest, it is confidently believed, in a collection of those marbles which illustrate the text books that are put into the hands of his classes—such, for instance, as the Elgin marbles, from the Parthenon, or some noble busts of Euripides, Xenophon or Thucydides. These are eloquent and palpable; and the marble groups often possess a spirit and purity of sentiment far beyond the language of the poet or historian. The spectacle of these precious memorials of a past classical age, will impart increased interest to their studies and stamp on the memory of ardent youth, images of delicacy and hernism that will continue to warm bis fancy in the toil of life.
The student of Virgil who pores over, it may be, the death of Laoooon, and perhaps with difficulty makes out the meaning of the
poet, will find his imagination excited, by having at his command a Cast of that exqisite group in marble, by which his memory will be sharpened and his taste improved. Especially should this union be encouraged, considering that in this instance it is yet an unsettled question whether the poet or the sculptor be the original! The subject of the fine arts and aesthetics, as bas been remarked, connects itself with intellectual and moral philosophy; and that lectures and conversations on themes so agreeable would commend themselves, there can be no doubt, both to the classes who pursue these studies, and to the professor who presides over them. The able discussions of Stewart, of Reid, of Kaimes, Allison and Mills, of Burke and Knight, on the principles of the fine arts, on criticism and on taste, show how important they are considered in any general course of instruction; how they are connected with other branches of philosophy, and how deeply they teach the joys and welfare of society.
It is doubtless a matter of just regret that the seminaries and colleges of this country have not more generally provided departments of the arts. Unfortunely, we have copied too much after the English universities in this respect. But, as this oversight in the early
. foundation of these great institutions is generally lamented by the most liberal minds of England, as a source of great evil, and one, if it were possible, they would gladly see rectified, it certainly will be the part of wisdom for us, in laying the foundation of new institutions, to make ample provisions for this deficiency. The absence of this provision in the national schools of England, had its origin in illiberal, contracted views, similar to that spirit which at this day would exclude the study of the natural sciences.
Oxford and Cambridge have done nothing either for art or the natural sciences; and the low state of public taste in that country is little creditable to the character of institutions so powerful and opulent. This is generally acknowledged.
Is it not extraordinary that neither of these universities possess & school in which the theory or practice of any branch of art is taught; and has not even a course of lectures, nor any means by which a young man may be either taught or can acquire the requisite knowledge on this class of subjects? What they have inherited from the dark ages, they have tried to preserve, without, if possible, ever going beyond what then existed.
The time is speedily advancing, we may predict, when public taste and general refinement in this country will be in advance of that of England, notwithstanding the wealth and patronage that have been lavished on art there for the past one hundred years. But with us, this must be greatly aided and promoted by the introduction of this culture into our schools and colleges.
Even schools of design and academies expressly established for this purpose, may not, in my opinion, do so much towards building up taste and the diffusion of art, as the establishment of professorships in the higher seminaries, colleges and universities of the land, where their culture shall begin jointly with other academical studies, and where the theory of art shall be combined with and illustrated by the palpable productions of the chisel and pencil.
An able English writer in Blackwood's Magazine indulges in theso sound remarks: “We should say decidedly that the best consideration for art, and the best patronage too, that we would give it, would be to establish it in the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. In these venerated places, to found professorships, that a more sure love and more sure taste for it may be imbedded with every good and classical love and taste in the minds of youth."
I should not omit, however, to call your attention to the fact, that the new university of London is an exception to this; and being founded in the spirit of the age, seems inclined as far as possible to rectify the error of the older institutions, and to restore the faculty of the arts which has perished there; and for this purpose has established lectures on the different branches of the arts.
The University of Michigan has taken higher ground-wider and better views than almost any institution in this country. She includes the natural sciences as too obviously in accordance with the spirit of the age. She has provided also emphatically for the fine arts. She has established a department of arts, which may be seen by a reference to the organic law creating this noble institution.
Chap. 2, Sec. 2—“The objects of the University shall be to provide the inhabitants of the State with means of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various branches of literature, science and the arts."
Sec. 9—"There shall be three departments: first, that of literature, science and the arts.” “There shall be established a professorship of the fine arts.”
I trust that this paper may not be deemed prolix, if I affix to it some considerations that would demand the attention of the professor of art, and a general scheme of action and duty that he would 'be glad to see carried out. All the objects included in such a scheme could not be realized at once; but it is confidently believed that he would be able very speedily to impart interest to this new feature in the University, and to awaken in its behalf a deep sympathy with the student and faculty; and I cannot doubt this interest and sympathy would in no long period of time spread to different parts of the State, and that he might be the medium, through the peculiarly attractive and genial nature of art, to render substantial and lasting benefit to this Institution. Some of these considerations and duties I have placed under separate heads, for the greater convenience of reference, and that the whole scheme may be more readily comprehended, as well as that its practical bearing shall be more easily
Department of the Fine Arts in the University of Michigan-some of the duties, and general course indicated, which might devolve on and be pursued by the professor of such department.
1. Lectures on intellectual laste-lectures on the theory of arl-genéral idea-lectures on the principles of the different branches of art-painting, sculpture, architecture, music, &c.-their relation to each other-intimately united to poetry—the influence of the fine arts on the feelings, on the manners, on morals and literature, on civilization, and on the sciences.
2. Show the value of art to classical studies-illustrate these studies by busts of those distinguished in eloquence, poetry or statesmanship-by coins, medals and inscriptions, so valuable also to elpeidate the history and antiquities of Rome and Greece—its union with Greek literature-impossibility to appreciate Grecian history, eloquence and poetry, without an intimate knowledge of Greek art; one is the exponent of the other; have a collection of the casts from the Elgin and Phygalian marbles, from antique busts, and from exquisite groups, such as the Psyche and Laocoon, say half the size of life.