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self carefully beyond the borders of civilization; he sees nothing Divine in his mechanical surroundings; he ascends to the stars, or flees to the uttermost parts of the sea, whenever he would illustrate the attributes of the Infinite One. The Bridgewater Treatise on the Adaptation of the External World to Man, is the nearest approach to a formal statement of the subject in hand; but the author discourses of climate, season, soil, grain, and raw material, with reference to the necessities, not the instincts and genius, of man; he beholds Divine wisdom in the rough substance, rather than in the beautiful product. In various books are paragraphs and allusions which more or less vaguely recognize the divine in Art, but nothing, probably, more direct, unless it be a partial exception in Ruskin's " Modern Painters." Art, or some work of art, is frequently called divine, in the classic sense, however, of beautiful only. It is sometimes said, that Art is a part of Nature, and a "higher nature," - words that look towards the shore of thought on which we have set foot. But the truth is not followed in its leadings. It seems to have been assumed that the Great Artist had nothing but a general and indefinite design in the creation of finite artists and artisans, and in the endowment of matter with susceptibilities of reconstruction into endless forms of use and elegance. It appears to have been inferred, that whatever man transforms, by his divinely received wisdom, to other shapes, ceases to be the work of the Almighty, and thenceforth bears less, instead of frequently more, of the impress of His hand.
This prevailing sentiment is manifested in many ways. The stereotyped question of village lyceums, whether "the works of Nature are more wonderful than those of Art," is surrendered, in the end, to the affirmative, the young disputants yielding to an amiable candor, or to an unconscious fear that Dame Nature, like other dames, may somehow punish a seem ing undervaluation of her dignity. Fugitives from the summer disagreeablenesses of towns, and they who are driven forth by fashion, laud the country at the expense of the city, in a threadbare litany of praise, whether or not they have any true sympathy with nature. A mixture of the artificial and natural in wild scenery is always a lucky text for cant sentimentality.
The tourist, at Niagara or the Hudson Highlands, wastes himself in echoed lamentations over a scene of grandeur “desecrated" (this is the inevitable word) by the hand of man. Wordsworth, in a string of sonnets, more melancholy than they were intended to be, bemoans the advent of railroads in the North of England. No rhapsodist can tell us too often about the "temple of Nature," with its "dome of sky, and music of winds and waves." The versifier, as a matter of business, deals in sunsets, stars, and dew, and operates in roses and moonlight; - he, or she, is apt to think, with the Arabian critic, that "palm-trees, fountains, and moonlight cannot be introduced too frequently into good poetry." All classes of people accept it as a duty to extol nature, and to disparage art in the comparison, as if it were doing God service. We hear, in prose and verse, of Divine purpose in the eye, the hand, and in the motions and powers of each; but not in the products resulting therefrom. Lessons of creative forethought are drawn from the shell, the honey-comb, the flower, seldom or never from the picture, implement, garment, book, and building. We see something of God's glory in the violet, snow-flake, cataract, and sun; we fail to see it in the instruments which reveal the minute beauty, or use the wonderful power, of these objects. We behold it in the ores, the fire and sand, but are too deaf to hear it in the musical, graceful result brought forth from those formless materials, a heavenly-sounding bell. "On the bells of the horses shall be Holiness to the Lord" inscribed; and it will be, not only in the sense that religion shall consecrate everything, but also that in everything the Most High shall be habitually seen.
Were sincere devotion ever, and harmless sentiment only, the fruit of this partiality for that which is strictly natural, it might be passed by. But when this tendency circumscribes the sympathies of natural piety itself; when it runs into affectation and sentimental worship; when it nourishes in man a proud self-felicitation over his works, as if they were no part of the universal plan, and he had accomplished them by his own unaided wisdom; or when, on the other hand, it leads him to despise the success of his own species, when, in fine, it expels the God of nature from the haunts and habitations
of his rational creatures, it is time to unfold a thought which has occurred to many minds, in the shape of an undeveloped suggestion.
Human art attests the Supreme Intelligence by disclosing, in the first place, the various susceptibilities of use and beauty inherent in every form of matter.
Everything in nature fulfils one or more purposes, in its original state. Thus a cloud is a curtain of shade, a shield against frost, a cistern of showers, and a vision of glory. But every object, on the earth at least, seems invested with another set of qualities for art, of equal, or higher, profit and pleasure. The palm-tree is not only good for fruit, shade, and lordly beauty; it also yields fuel, wine, oil, flax, flour, sugar, salt, thread, utensils, weapons, in fact, all things needed in a barbarous condition of society. Such reserved qualities of matter are sometimes the simplest change of use, not of form, as when straw is woven into hats; sometimes the useful part is eliminated from the other components, as the fibres of flax; in other instances, a combination of substances creates a quality not to be found in any one of the ingredients, for example, the explosiveness of gunpowder, and the transparency of glass. The artificial value is, in some cases, apparent, as in the pearl-shell, ready to be cut for ornament; in others, it is half concealed, as in the veins of rough marble and agate; in others, it is wholly hidden, as the medicinal properties of plants; in still other instances, both the substance and its qualities are, like electricity, themselves hidden, and revealed only in their effects. We can never be sure that we have reached the best, or the last, use that can be made of anything. The inclosing of complex purposes in more simple ones, is apparently a universal rule of creation. Man but poorly imitates this, when he conceals a slender fishing-rod, or a defensive weapon, in a walking-stick, or so inflates a mattress that it may be used as a life-boat. Manifold blessing, exhaustless beauty, is the motto of Nature. Every product of hers is a cocoa-nut, wherein progressive discovery finds the cup of a new use beneath the oakum exterior of a present one, and, within the second use, the nutritious meat of another, and, within the third, the sweet milk of a fourth service and
joy. The undisguised fairness and benefits of the material world are the story it tells to the childhood of the human race, a Pilgrim's Progress or Faerie Queene, - an allegory that veils many spiritual and material meanings. Man's art is a prosecution of God's designs as truly as the work of the coral polyp is, the difference being in favor of the former, as will yet be shown. It is Nature's earthly consummation of her womanly expectations, when she is led forth as man's bride, sparkling in her polished gems, blushing in her crimson dyes, delicately fair in statue and column, smiling in the lustre of silver and gold, and crowned with the flowers of decorative skill.
To illustrate the theme in a homely way, which may associate it with the daily thoughts of men, let us walk the street, approach a house, and enter a parlor. The point is, that the artificially disclosed qualities of matter have an equal, frequently a higher, utility and charm, than the materials in a natural condition.
The pavement on which we tread was part of a shapeless mass of stone, cropping out from some hill-side. As one feature of a picturesque scene, breaking up the monotony of smoothly sloping ground, contrasting its solidity with the light grace of tree and stream, and its neutral color with the unvaried green around, it would have reminded us of the Maker's wisdom. New, clearer signs of his forethought are revealed, however, when the rock is quarried, and we find that, by the forces in operation many ages since, the stone was cleft into thin, smooth plates, and even cut by Nature into perfect parallelograms. We pause before a suburban villa. The wood, of which the house is composed, was beautiful and serviceable in its native state. Not to mention the vital necessity of its chemical influence, a tree is a marvel of strength and grace; it is a servant of man, patiently standing and holding out its living baskets of fruit, and holding up its regal canopy; it is a palace of the birds, domed, windowed, and draperied, for their abode. But the trees have hidden capabilities for human habitations; they can be cut into shining smoothness, put together into combined strength, carved into ornamental shapes, the whole process resulting in an arti
ficial growth, more varied and useful, and equally symmetrical. In the Gothic order, the curving lines of native beauty are preserved; in other styles, the rectangular form, with its severer moral significance, is substituted. And the compactness and fine texture of the tree are more evident, now that it is transformed; the rough-bound book is opened; we read its fair pages, and wonder that Nature has helped us to build our roomy homes out of mere gases and liquids. The frail tenement, when completed by a fair coating, which is made from gross earths and ores, and may be mixed to any shade which the most fastidious fancy may choose, seems converted to marble, or freestone, or even to a huge prism of gray basalt, or an opaque crystal of yellow topaz. Nay, its connection with the gross earth is cut off, and its terrestrial nature laid aside; it is associated with the heaven of home, and the tall column and casing are glorified shapes, when contrasted with the rough body of a tree, rooted in the ground. And the same pleasure, in view of an imagined change from a lower to a higher stage of existence, is felt when the material is brick or stone; the inorganic clay, or rock, appears to be gifted with life, and to be growing up, day by day, into form; it is raised from dust and darkness, to enjoy a limited immortality in the sunlight.
There are sermons in stone buildings, books in bricks, and good in everything. All needful transfigurations of substance are but little lower than angelic. And, although it be a change to less external beauty, yet the higher human purpose served lends a higher beauty; so that an unsightly telegraphpole may be more noble than the tree from which it was formed, and a city may be grander than a forest. It is no new sentiment that the loveliness of a landscape is less than that of the human virtues its soil may nourish, and that the glory of the sea is not so great as that of the commerce which floats upon it. The universe is not simply a gallery of paintings, for our diversion; it is a great school of design, of industry, and of holiness, for the development of souls.
Evidently, the final combination of many materials in a finished dwelling entered into the plan of creation; qualities were put into matter for this precise end, among others. With