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them, but they control the outline of his work and direct it into its beautiful proportions.
Thus the Architect translates from Nature, as surely as does the Poet or the Painter, because all these are Artists, though they work in
very different materials. And not from Nature only, but they translate from each other. And so the work goes on, through many transmutations, changing as a lily changes with the soil in which it is planted or with the climate in which it opens its blossoms to the sun.
High above the cornfields of the Eure-et-Loire towers the Cathedral of Chartres. Its doors stand open all day long—but they are barred to me by distance as effectually as if by bolts of iron. The great rose window gleams through the fretted arches, but I cannot see it. The sun goes down, and the cathedral lies in darkness. A pale moon rises and touches with silver light the ghostly sentinels in stone that through six centuries have kept guard at its portals.
Upon my table lies a little book, filled with many notes and sketches. But what has this to do with Chartres ? See. I turn to a certain page
and there I find a few lines laid out in such and such proportions, a few details of clustered pillars, banded foliage, rose windows, stilted arches of the thirteenth century, delicate shrine work of a later period.
And yet once more, turning the leaves, I read these words
A forest of tall pillars, autumn stained
Purple and russet gray, through which there glows
A crimson splendour when the day hath waned
Drifts like a setting sun beyond a zone
The story of Christ's Passion writ in stone.
These sacred symbols of the Love Divine ;
His image in our hearts, as on a shrine
Though the world drift into eternal night. Now these three pages of my sketch-book represent three translations from the same original. The first I know to be true. Its truth can be tested by measurement and scale. And it is true not in the narrow sense in which Bitzer's definition was true, for in Architecture the style is the life itself. As to the second, I hope there is some truth in it, though a pencil and a scrap of paper are but slight materials with which to work, and much that I should have liked to tell remains untold. But the third-here I begin to suspect something. The forest of tall pillars—the autumn stains—the drifting of the great rose (for as you move round the apse of Chartres and see the west window over the white tracery of the clôture it does seem to move, as the harvest moon moves in a landscape)—these things are perhaps true. But look at the fourth line.
" In calm repose." What has this to do with the question? Whether the sun goes down in calm repose with a legion of clouds in court attendance on him, or whether he sinks with fiery war-signals of a coming storm, or whether he retreats with banners furled in blood-it is all the same to the interior of Chartres Cathedral. The effect does not at all depend upon storm or calm, but upon the angle of incidence of light, and the position of the sun, low in the western horizon. Why does not the sentence end where the sense ends “ And the great orb goes down”? Because of the exigencies of the verse. And if so I greatly fear that something more than sunlight has been made to float in through the windows—that at least one Hobgoblin has crept in unawares.
Now I will not raise the question “What is Truth ?”—a question too often asked by those who are about to crucify it. In Art the difficulty does not present itself in the abstract form but in the concrete. Strike out therefore the offending line. Eliminate from the sonnet not only the convicted Hobgoblin, but everything that will not bear analysis, and compare the residuum with the sketch and with the measured outline. We have seen that these three are translations from the same original, and yet they tell different stories; or rather they tell different parts of the same story. But observe, that which the one tells the others cannot tell. They are not repetitions, but complements. The Truth which is expressed in one is latent in the others.. Neither in the picture nor in the measured details do we see the slow darkening of the vaulted arches, the dying out of the crimson from the windows or the growing of the pale light upon the chemin de la croix. Yet it is all there. For, were the cathedral itself to dissolve, and “like an unsubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind” such drawings as these would suffice to rebuild it, so that the pale light should grow, the crimson go and come in the windows, and the great rose drift once more through the vaulted darkness. And then as to the poem. It does not indeed define the length and breadth and height, or describe the actual forms that go to make up the fabric of a Gothic church. Yet all these are latent in it. For it does actually suggest conceivable shapes to which the fancy clings, just as the drawings suggest conceivable thoughts which cling to their visible shapes. If it fails to do this it is not a poem at all, but a collection of words only.
These are not subtle distinctions that concern the Critic or the Artist alone. They do indeed control the Artist in his work, and teach the Critic how to use his scalpel, but it is only by a thorough realisation of them that any of us can discriminate in Art between the fanciful and the fantastic, between the legitimate action of the Drama and mere fantoccini, between real flesh and blood and Hobgoblins. Nothing is more certain, nor indeed more readily admitted, than that the Artist's choice of subjects must be governed by the material in which he works. Yet nothing is more common than to see the Painter or the Sculptor fail in the attempt to tell some story that could be told only by the Poet; or to see the Poet falling into merely descriptive verse. Descriptive verse is not Poetry. If Wordsworth had only described Nature he would have been like the
Chaldeans and soothsayers, who saw indeed the handwriting upon the wall, but could not tell the meaning of the strange words “MENE, MENE.” The true Prophet alone could both read and interpret. And it is not by virtue of his knowledge in describing, but by his insight in interpreting, that Wordsworth has become to us the High Priest of Nature. Once more, to put it in a concrete form; it is better for the poet to be content with “ a forest of tall pillars” than to specify that there were sixty-two, and that they were thirty-one feet six inches in height, and eight feet in diameter. It is better for the sculptor, if he would translate the play of Hamlet into marble, to be content with the Prince of Denmark, or with Ophelia, and to leave the Ghost alone.
And yet the poem should act upon the mind as would the accumulated splendour of massive masonry chiselled into fine shapes and windows hung with colours of ruby and amethyst and sapphire. And the Ghost, if it is to appear at all, should be seen in Hamlet's eyes.
See, then, how the circle narrows around us. Can the Sculptor show us the Ghost in Hamlet's eyes ? Is it within the limits of his art to define passion so very closely—or to express in any equivalent the many elements that
up the most complex of Shakespeare's characters. I do not affirm that he cannot. I say only that if he cannot, he must leave Hamlet to the Painter. He has no right to turn the finest conception of the greatest dramatist into a Hobgoblin.
There is no doubt, however, that the Painter can do it. I do not mean that he can turn Hamlet into a Hobgoblin; that he has done, many a time : any one can do that. I mean that although he also stands within a magic circle, the circle is wider and the wand that traces it is less explicit in its demarcation. Yet the circle exists— and if he oversteps it but for an instant, the charm with which he works will be broken. He will be no niore
“ translated.” He may call as he likes for Cobweb and Moth and Peasblossom, but there will be only Snout the tinker, and Flute the bellows-mender, and Peter Quince to answer him.
And yet it is only quite recently that this truth has been recognised. I need scarcely refer to the quaint symbols of Mediæval Art, in which Divine things are represented under forms neither Divine nor human.
go to make
That is a long while ago. But it is little more than a generation since our most sacred books were embellished with pictures very wonderful to behold. I have lying before me now, the frontispiece to one of the most learned of our commentaries. It is a series of illustrations of the most sublime figures of the Apocalypse. He who cometh with clouds, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who holds in His right hand the seven stars, and whose countenance is as the sun shining in his strength, at the sight of whom even the beloved disciple, who had lain in His bosom, fell as dead, He is represented—nay, rather is caricatured—in a style that if not profane would be absurd. Does the written substance of the commentary stand in anything like the same relation to the sacred text? It is to be hoped not, or the readers of it will gather strange notions about their God. But that is another question, for other men to answer. From these strange notions about Art, however, we have clean escaped.
And yet we have by no means reached smooth waters. Casting aside such subjects as are manifestly beyond the reach of the Painter's art, let us consider for a moment an instance that may fairly give rise to difference of opinion.
Everyone knows the beautiful story of Atalanta. Her loveliness, her chastity, her severity-due perhaps to her mother the bear, And then the dart which she carried, her swiftness in running, and the many lovers slain by her hand. If anything is certain, it is certain that this story can be told in verse with a movement and grace to be measured only by the genius of the Poet who makes it his theme. But can the Painter tell it? Observe, the difficulty that presents itself is not the action of stooping. Atalanta might stoop to tie her sandal, Diana to kiss Endymion, the Good Samaritan to pour in oil and wine, the Master to write with His finger upon the ground. In all these instances the action of stooping is well within the limit of the Painter's art. Nor, again, does the difficulty lie altogether in the representation of motion. The movement of the runner may indeed be swifter than that of the girl, the impetus of whose action is for a moment arrested by a counter-action so violent as that of reaching to the ground; and yet the mind accepts without question the action of running as a legitimate subject for pictorial representation. The difficulty seems to lie in this—that while in the