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So Milton described Eve:
“Grace was in every step, heaven in her eye,
In every motion dignity and love.”
A fair face without expression is as Tennyson describes Maud's:
"Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null.” However beautiful the human form may be in itself, it is glorified with a higher beauty when a noble soul expresses its true and lofty sentiments through it; as when a musical instrument is silent we admire its richness and finish; but when a great player strikes the keys, the beauty of the instrument is lost in the richness of the music. And these expressions of character gradually fix their imprint on the person. Every vice imprints its own peculiar hideousness on the face and form,
“Unmolding reason's mintage Charactered in the face.”
Culture and virtue stamp themselves on the features, transfiguring them with spiritual glory. Chrysostom says of Bishop Flavian : “The countenance of the holy man is full of spiritual power;” and it is said of Stephen when arraigned before the Sanhedrin that all who sat in the Council looking steadfastly on him, beheld his face as it had been the face of an angel. The highest human beauty is that of a form beautiful in itself and transfigured with the beauty of a noble soul revealing its noblest thoughts and sentiments through it. The head of Daniel Webster was a “dome of intellect;" that of the elder Edwards, revealing the profoundest speculative thought and the loftiest spiritual love, is a model for painting the head of the apostle John.
5. I have said that the Cosmos itself and the beautiful objects of nature reveal rational ideals as really as a work of human art reveals the ideal of the artist. I may now venture further and affirm that a spiritual presence reveals itself in nature in a way analogous to the soul's revealing itself through the human body. God is ever living and active in nature. The soul that is alive to the beautiful, looks on nature as on a semi-transparent curtain on which, from the light behind, the divine thought, love and energy in their ceaseless activity are ever picturing themselves :
“The Being that is in the clouds and air,
That is in the green leaves among the groves.”
“He is not far from every one of us; for in him we live and move and have our being."
6. Evolutionists admit that man finds in nature the image and counterpart of his own ideals. Mr. Murphy, in “The Scientific Bases of Faith,” teaches that man delights in the beauty of nature because he is himself the product of nature's action on him through unnumbered generations, and therefore he is pleased to find in nature what he has found in himself. He is a microcosm and rejoices to find his own likeness in the macrocosm. But the rational philosophy alone gives at once the fact and its sufficient explanation. The supreme reason expresses its archetypal thoughts and ideals in the universe. Man is endowed with reason which though limited, is the same in kind with the supreme reason. In his own mind so far as its limits permit he sees the truths and laws of universal reason, and forms ideals, which are the same with the ideals of the universal reason expressed in nature. And when he finds them in nature he rejoices in their beauty and rejoices also in communion with that all-pervading spiritual presence which reveals itself through them.
V. Beauty has objective reality. This is obvious because beauty is perfection revealing itself in some individual object. The question whether beauty has objective reality or is only subjective has been much debated. The ästhetic philosophy as I have presented it, makes obvious both the answer and its true significance.
VI. Beauty can be manifested only to Reason. It is the manifestation of Reason to Reason. Beauty is appreciable only by a mind that is capable of forming an ideal. An ideal of perfection can be perceived in an object only when the mind is already capable of forming the ideal, of discovering it in the object, and comparing the object with it.
This is all the truth which there is in the assertion that beauty exists only in the mind of the observer; and that it is the mind of the observer which clothes the outward world with its own beauty. In this sense we may accept the words of Coleridge:
“I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life whose fountains are within.
And would you aught behold of higher worth,
Ah, from thr soul itself must issue forth
Enveloping the earth.-
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
The same thought is expressed by Bryant:
“ There is no glory in star or blossom
Till looked upon by a loving eye:
Till breathed with joy as they wander by.
“ Come, Julia dear, for the sprouting willows,
The opening flowers, and gleaming brooks,
Their dower of beauty from thy glad looks."
VII. There is a universal and unchanging standard of beauty, by which the taste of individuals is to be judged as correct or incorrect.
1. This has been the doctrine of the most profound thinkers on this subject. I may select Goethe as their representative in modern times, who says:
“As all nature's thousand changes
But one changeless God proclaim,
One sole meaning still the same.
Which from Beauty takes its dress,
Plato is the representative of this type of thought in the philosophy of ancient Greece. In the Banquet or Symposium, Diotima is represented as teaching that he who, having fallen in love, has begun to admire the beauty of a young person, should be led to consider the beauty of others and thus learn that the beauty in every form is one and the same. Then he is to learn that the beauty of soul is superior to that of outward form; then he is to be led to see the beauty of customs, laws and science, and to understand that all beauty is of one kindred and the beauty of the human form but a small part of it. Thus not falling in love with and wholly devoting himself to any one person, he is guided towards the full sea of beauty. Then at last is revealed to him the vision of universal beauty, which “exists forever, being neither produced nor destroyed, and susceptible neither of growth nor decay. It is not beautiful from this point of view and ugly from that, or beautiful at one time or place or in one relation, and ugly at another, nor beautiful to some persons and ugly to others. Nor is it the outward appearance of face or hands or anything in which the body participates; nor is it any form of speech or wisdom; but it is beauty in itself and by itself, simple, uniform and everlasting. And all other beautiful things are beautiful by participation in this absolute beauty. And the true procedure is to use the beauties of earth as steps by which the learner mounts to that higher beauty, going from one beautiful human form to two, and from two to all beautiful forms, and from beautiful forms to beautiful customs, and from beautiful customs to beautiful ideas, and thence to the idea of that which is beautiful in itself, and so at last he knows what beauty itself is.” And Socrates adds that, “in the attainment of this end, human nature will not find a better helper than love."
This Platonic conception, including Plato's view of the development of the idea of beauty in connection with love, is expressed by George Eliot: “That adoration which a young man gives to a woman whom he feels to be greater than himself, is hardly distinguishable from religious feeling. What deep and worthy love is not so, whether of woman, or child, or art, or music? Our caresses, our tender words, our still raptures under the influence of autumn sunsets, or pillared vistas, or calm, majestic statues, or Beethoven symphonies, all bring with them the consciousness that they are mere waves and ripples in an unfathomable ocean of love and beauty; our emotion in its keenest moment passes from expression into silence, our love at its highest flood rushes beyond its object, and loses itself in the sense of the divine mystery. . . . Beauty has an expression beyond and far above the one woman's soul that it clothes, as the words of genius have a wider meaning than the thought that prompted them; it is more than a woman's love that moves us in a woman's eyes. It seems to be a far-off mighty love that has come near to us and made a speech for itself there. The noblest nature sees the most of this impersonal expression in beautyit is needless to say there are gentlemen with whiskers, dyed and undyed, who see none of it whatever.”
2. In accordance with the principles of esthetics already stated, there must be a universal and unchanging standard ; because beauty is the outshining of truth, and the expression to human reason of ideals archetypal in the mind of God and capable of being created by the human mind, which is in the image of God.
This is only the recognition in æsthetics of a power of reason implied in all science and philosophy. The possibility of scientific thinking rests on the fact that the individual reason can come into acquaintance and communication with the universal reason. All science assumes this possibility. Comte, as we have seen, starts with the conception of man in mere individualism according to the philosophy of Locke, and therefore capable of knowing only the impressions on his own sensorium. But in his sociology he regards man as so vitally organized into the system as scarcely to leave him his individuality. Evolutionists also come to the conclusion that man is a microcosm recording in his own organization the courses of nature for myriads of ages. All physical science at every step recognizes the knowledge of the rational in the natural, of the universal in the particular and the contingent. The philosophy which I set forth gives an explicit enunciation and a reasonable explanation of this great truth and applies it in æsthetics.
Of this philosophy, the speculative, the ethical and the aesthetical are three branches. They all treat in different aspects the universal and necessary truths of reason.
3. There are works of art admired in all ages which are recognized as standards of beauty and models of art.
4. Against this ästhetic philosophy, the same objections are urged as against the rational intuition of the difference between the true and the absurd, the right and the wrong. If men exist who have no knowledge of the distinction between the beautiful and the ugly, men like Tennyson's farmer,
“Troubled no more with fancies fine,
Than one of his calm-eyed, long-tailed kine,"
they are simply children of a larger growth, whose constitutional capacity is not yet developed. If where the idea of the beautiful has arisen, men's tastes vary, it reveals not a variation in the standard of beauty, but in the degree and kind of culture. And since the beautiful presupposes the knowledge of the true and the right, and is thus at the second remove from the intuition of truth, ästhetic ideas and culture must be later in their rise and development.
VIII. That which is revealed in beauty is perfection; that which is revealed or at least suggested in sublimity is also infinitude. An object, the ideal of which the mind can complete, compass and define, is beautiful. An object which, while revealing perfection in some trait, also swells beyond our sight and our comprehension and suggests the infinite, is sublime. it must suggest the infinite in addition to some trait of the perfect; for the disgusting and the hideous, however vast can never be sublime. Thus the ocean reveals power and vastness immense; the starry heavens, with beauty transcendent, reveal masses, distances and forces immense, and combinations and interactions, systems within systems too great for imagination to conceive. In painting or description the same impression of immensity may be produced by leaving something undefined. Ruskin remarks respecting one of Turner's pictures that the strain on the fold of a dragon's body issuing from a cave suggests the immensity of the part still hidden within. Milton's Satan “ lay floating many a rood;" this indefiniteness makes an impression of immensity; while the more detailed description of Sin and Death awakens only disgust and horror. Homer's Polyphemus, minutely