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But multitudinous as they are, and infinite in their varieties, there are certain characteristics common to them all. , From the Hobgoblin we used to make when we were children-a turnip hollowed out, with a lighted candle inside, and holes slashed in for eyes and nose and mouth-to the last Hobgoblin that has startled the political or religious world—they are all ugly, and they are all false.
Ugly-because they are neither of God's making, nor are they reverent representations of His works. And false—because, in pretending to be what they are not, they violate the eternal principles of Truth.
But it is not with the Hobgoblins of Theology, of Politics, or of Society that I have to deal, but with that branch of the family which peculiarly affects the Border-land that lies between Dreamland and the stern realities of life--between the splendour of the lost Paradise, still guarded by the flaming sword, and the fields which we must till for our daily bread.
There is such a Border-land; and we call it Poetry and Art. And we may enter it with many different guides. We may enter it with Homer, and we shall see the heroic courage of manhood, the tender affection of womanhood. We may enter it with Dante, and we shall see visions-of terror almost inconceivable or of pathos and sweetness ineffable. We may go with Shakespeare, and see the greatness and depth of human passion—with Milton, and see the array of battle and the Captain of the Lord's Host—with Raphael, and we shall look into the faces of the saints of God—with Turner, and we shall see skies of purple and gold, whose sunsets shall make us dream of the golden gates of Heaven. This is Poetry and Art in the beauty and splendour and glory of Truth. But within this Border-land are also distorted visions-inflated heroics, sentimental affectations, soft nothings—and these things I can only characterise as “Hobgoblins."
And now, having to speak of Truth and Beauty, I would attempt a definition, but for the fear lest in defining them they too may become Hobgoblinized. But see how much is contained in the word Beauty. First, that which gives pleasure to the eye; second, that which pleases the mind. Synthetically, order - symmetry - elegance
– grace — excellence - peace - holiness. See also the fulness of the word Truth. First, exact accordance with fact; second, conformity of words to thoughts, veracity. Synthetically, correct opinion
fidelity—sincerity-virtue. And observe how the two words draw together in their meaning—the one leading through order, symmetry, grace, excellence, to Holiness—which is Virtue; the other leading through accuracy, veracity, fidelity, to Virtue—which is Holiness.
And yet there may be false conceptions about Truth, and ugly ideas about the Beautiful.
“What I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”
The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, described as no one, perhaps, but Charles Dickens could have described it. And Mr. Gradgrind was addressing the schoolmaster, who rejoiced in the name that no one, perhaps, but Charles Dickens could have invented-Mr. M'Choakumchild. And the children, an inclined plane of little vessels, were then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim. As to Mr. Gradgrind, he was certainly a solemn fact himself. “His very neckcloth was trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, and the shining surface of his head was covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if it had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside."
“Girl number twenty,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Who is that girl ?
“Sissy Jupe, sir,” explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.
'Sissy is not a rame," said Mr. Gradgrind. “Don't call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.”
“It's father as calls me Sissy, sir,” returned the young girl with a trembling voice, and another curtsey.
“Then he has no business to do it,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Tell him he mustn't."
“Girl number twenty, give me your definition of a horse.”
"Girl number twenty unable to define a horse !” said Mr. Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. • Girl number twenty possessed of no facts in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.”
“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forly teeth, namely, twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring, in marshy countries sheds hoofs, too.
Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
And thus is Truth Hobgoblinized ! by being taken piece-meal. Not that Bitzer was wrong, so far as he went. He might indeed have added that a horse was hydrogen, and carbon, and iron and phosphorus in such and such proportions—he would have been no nearer to the fulness of Truth, seeing that in his account of a living thing he forgot to reckon the life itself.
But look what a splendour there is in life even animal life. There is more to be said of the horse than that he is graminivorous, or that he has twenty-four grinders.
“He paweth the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear and is not affrighted, neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the quivering spear and the shield. In the fierceness of his rage he believeth not that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith amongst the trumpets Ha, ha ! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”
But these are the words of Him“ who gave to the Horse his strength and clothed his neck with thunder.” And this is Poetry. Yes—but it is also the beauty and splendour and glory of Truth.
“Now,” said Mr. Gradgrind," you all know what a horse is. Tell me, would you paper a room with representations of horses?"
After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, “Yes, sir !” Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman's face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, “No, sir !
“Of course, No. Why wouldn't you?"
A pause. One corpulent, slow boy, with a wheezy manner of breathing, ventured the answer, Because he wouldn't paper the room at all, but would paint it.
" You must paper it,” said the gentleman, rather warmly; "you must paper it, whether you like it or not. Don't tell me you wouldn't paper it. What do you mean, boy?”
Another dismal pause.
“ I'll explain to you, then, why you wouldn't paper a room with representations of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of a room in reality-in fact ?”
“Yes, sir!” from one half. “No, sir !” from the other.
“Of course, No,” said the gentleman, with an indignant look at the wrong half. “Now, I'll try you again. Suppose you were going to carpet a room. Would you use a carpet that had representations of flowers upon it?”
There being a general conviction by this time that “No, sir !” was the right answer to this gentleman, the chorus of No was very strong. Only a few stragglers said Yes; among them Sissy Jupe.
“Girl number twenty,” said the gentleman, smiling in the calm strength of knowledge.
Sissy blushed and stood up. *'“So you would carpet your 'room-or your husband's room, if you were a grown woman and had a husband—with representations of flowers, would you?” said the gentleman. “Why would you ?”
“If you please, sir, I am very fond of flowers,” returned the girl.
“And is that why you would put tables and chairs upon them, and have people walking over them with heavy boots ?”
“ It wouldn't hurt them, sir. They wouldn't crush and wither, if you please, sir. They would be the pictures of what was very pretty and pleasant, and I would fancy
“Ay, ay, ay! But you mustn't fancy,” cried the gentleman, quite elated by coming so happily to his point. “ That's it ; you are never to fancy."
And thus is Art Hobgoblinized. Whereas the very end and aim of Poetry and Art is to exorcise such Hobgoblins as these. The very end and aim of Poetry and Art is so to cultivate the imagination that everything shall have to us not only its outward form of Beauty but its inner life of Truth-the Beauty to fill our eyes with gladness, the Truth to make us strong of heart.
It is scarcely possible to deal with this subject except through illustration. In another place I have said that Nature is God's language, and Art is ours; that Nature is a poem written by God, and Art is man's translation of it. Now we know that a translation may err either by an uncouth choice of words or by a false interpretation of the original. Thus Homer has been made to say that Thetis heard Achilles weep. Thus Shakespeare has made his debut in Paris as the “ Divine Williams.” Thus we are gravely informed, by a French writer, of a military occupation of Canterbury Cathedral unknown to English history, by the simple process of planting artillery in every stable instead of posting a canon in every stall. And thus Dryden, in his twenty-ninth Ode from Horace says
“ The Syrian Star,
Barks from afar,
And with his sultry breath infects the sky." -it requires a powerful imagination to conceive of a star, even the “dog star," barking its part in the music of the spheres. But perhaps it was not a star after all, but a Hobgoblin.
That, indeed, would explain it. For in the world of Hobgoblins we meet with strange company; and no part of that world is more thickly peopled with fantastic forms than is the shadowy Hades of the translator. And yet, as I have said, all Art is but Translation. The flowers from which W. Hunt made some of his sweet drawings I have seen lying upon his table. The sunsets that Turner painted many of us have watched from Westminster Bridge. Perhaps all of us have listened to long sermons, and gone to sleep like the little girl in Millais' picture. And the great works of Art which tell of heroic action or patient endurance-the gladiators of the Greek, the saints of the Mediaevalist—what are they but translations of human life or passion ?
Perhaps the nearest approach in Art to the creative power is that
of the Architect. The transept and aisles and chapels of a great cathedral are by no means the direct transcript of anything in Nature. Yet even here the same truth is manifested. The static forces by which the Architect builds stone on stone and keeps each in its place, are not his servants only, but his masters also. He uses