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produced. They inquire into its absolute, abstract state; we into its concrete, individual state. With them each work is but as the illustration of a principle; with us it is isolated. An æsthetical view of one drama should furnish the key to all dramas; with us each drama requires a separate examination. The laws, then, of æsthetics, when truly analysed and posited, are immutable; for they are not those of taste and fashion, but the eternal principles of the human mind. But here an obstacle presents itself: rightly to comprehend their æsthetics, you must also comprehend their psychology; and as with this the chances are small that Englishmen will agree, or even understand, a feeling of antagonism will be generated at the outset,-a feeling, however, which a little steady perseverance will soon overcome. We candidly admit that we neither understand every part of Hegel's ' Æsthetik,' nor do we agree generally with German philosophy; but that, nevertheless, Hegel is the most delightful, thought-inciting and instructive work on the subject we have yet met with, and that four years' constant study of it has only served the more to impress us with its depth and usefulness. This is said to encourage those whom it may at first repel; for, unlike the other works, it may be read without any agreement with its first principles; its detached remarks and criticisms, its scientific and elaborate arrangement of the subject, and its treatment of details, may all be received.
The very fact of all these laws being referable to the mind prevents any very great disagreement, since you have only to translate the principle into your own formula, and the thing becomes intelligible. Where you differ, it is mostly with the · application of his philosophy to the matter, not on the matter itself.
The work opens with an introduction, in which the nature of æsthetics and its various theories are discussed. Then comes the first part, the à-priori examination of the germthe Idea. What is meant by this idea (Idee) it is difficult to render intelligible in English. It may assist the student to observe, that the fundamental principle of the Hegelian philosophy is, that the Idea (i. e. the absolute—the ens) determines or manifests itself subjectively (or in the mind of man), as Reason-objectively (or externally), as the universe—the non
ego. There are three epochs in the evolution of the Idea. I. It determines itself as quality, quantity, objectively, etc. i. e. Logic. II. It determines itself as the universe, and developes itself in nature. III. It determines itself as mind, cognizant of its prior states. In other words, the Idee is the totality of the universe both of mind and matter, in its unique conception; and this Idee, this Absolute, conceived under the form of thought, is truth; when conceived under the form of nature or of external phænomena, is Beauty. Thus Beauty is spirit contemplating the spiritual in an object. Art is the Absolute incarnate in the beautiful. The germ is in the first part examined : in the second part we have the particular physiology, the development of the ideal in its separate forms; such as the symbol, allegory, etc. (where the mysteries of oriental art are unfolded), the classical, ideal, and the romantic ideal. And, in the third part, the flower itself is examined ; i.e. the fine arts in their respective existences, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry; the separate laws of which are methodically unfolded and posited.
It will be obvious, that no further account of such a work is practicable in an article; for how condense a system? It is not a rambling three volumes prepared for the market, and containing a given number of ideas to a given quantity of twaddle, but the fruit, the condensed matter of years of rigorous investigation. Neither can such a work be known by extracts, the common mode of settling these difficulties. We have done our duty therefore, we conceive, in indicating the existence of the work, what it specially treats of, and in what spirit; to those whom it interests more were superfluousthey will study the original. We do not conceal from the reader that he will meet with many obstructions; difficulties of language (this work, however, is generally written in an intelligible, sometimes eloquent style) and of thought; differences of philosophy, and a tendency to what the English call “mysticism” (because they persist in not translating it into their forms of thought); but these obstructions are unimportant, and with courage are soon conquered. If a “light work” be required, if“ pleasant critical chat” be wished for, let no one open Hegel; but if an earnest inquiring spirit wishes for the light of a vast and penetrative mind, and does
not grudge a little patient study, then we would say-read Hegel. Let none touch it who are not in earnest; it is a sealed book to them, and they will only rise from its nonperusal to gabble about its “German mysticism.”
But although it is impossible for us here to give any complete or satisfactory insight into the contents of these · Lectures,' we may at least extract one or two of those detached criticisms with which, as we said, they abound; and we select the one on the Dutch painters, not because it is the most striking or the most interesting, but because the tendency in England is to underrate these painters, misconceiving the spirit in which they worked.
" The Dutch chose the subjects of their pictures from themselves and from their contemporary and daily life; and it ought not to be objected to them, that they thus again realized (verwirklicht) the present through art. What the present brought before the eye and mind had a pregnant interest for them; and to understand wherein lay this great national interest, we must question their history. The Hollander had, for the most part, made the country he lived in, and was continually struggling against the threatened inundations of that sea whence he had built it. The citizens and the peasants-the mass of the people, had through courage, perseverance and endurance thrown off the Spanish yoke of Philip II., son of Charles V., and then the most mighty ruler of Europe ; and, moreover, they had fought for and won their political and religious liberty. It is this citizenship, and the spirit of enterprise in trifles as in great things, in their own country as well as abroad on the wide sea ; this careful and decent prosperity ; this joyousness and proud self-reliance, all owing to their own energy, which form the universal subject-matter of their paintings. This is pocommon vulgar subject-matter; nor must we approach it with the elevated nose-in-the-air refinement of courts and politesse. It is a great nationality; and in such vigorous nationality has Rembrandt painted his celebrated Sentinel at Amsterdam, Van Dyck so many of his portraits, and Wouvermann his Troopers; and to this also belong those peasant festivities, jokes, drinkings, rows, boors, etc. In these pictures of marriages, dances, feasts, etc., even when they come to blows, there is always a free, joyous wantonness of spirit hovering over all, and women and girls are there, and the feeling of freedom and animal spirits (ausgelassenheit) penetrates the whole.
“The same with the admirable Beggar Boys of Murillo (in the Munich Gallery). Considered externally, the subject is also one of low life; the mother picks vermin from her boy, who sits quietly eating his bread. In a similar picture, two ragged dirty boys are eating melons and grapes ; but amidst this poverty and half-nakedness, their entire indifference, their absence of all care and sorrow, indicates their health and enjoyment. It is this indifference to the external, and this internal freedom, which raises them to the ideal. In Paris there is a portrait of a boy by Raphael ; he leans his head
idly on his arm, and looks forth on the wide world with such holy, quiet contentedness, that it is almost impossible to tear oneself away from this spiritual health and clearness. Murillo's Boys have the same air. One sees that they have no further interests or ambition; and this is not from mere stupidity, but, happy and contented as the Olympian gods, they loll upon the ground with their luscious fruit; they do nothing; they say nothing: but they are without sorrow, without restless discontent, and we see in them a clear picture of mankind in its brightest state ; and in this groundwork of all greatness (spiritual healthiness) we see that everything could be developed from these youngsters. How different is the modern treatment of such subjects !”
From his masterly delineation of the ideal in character, we select the following passages :
“ The ideal demands in a character some peculiar passion which leads him on to determinate aims, resolves and actions. Should, however, this principle be carried too far, the result will be, instead of an individual an abstract form of passion, in which all vitality and subjectivity is lost, and the representation become, as it is often among the French, cold and uninteresting. In the particularity of a character, therefore, one side must appear as the dominant feature, as the centre round which the others play, so that the individual has space given him to develope himself in several situations, and the whole riches of his internal nature are brought into play. Such vitality, gotwithstanding the unity and intensity of the dominant passion, is exhibited in the heroes of Sophocles. One may compare them to sculpture from their plastic comprehensiveness. We see in the genuine statues a quiet depth, which admits the possibility of realizing every power if once put into action; the dominant passion is depicted, but the other phases are also indicated. So Shakspeare's Romeo has love for the dominant passion; we see him, nevertheless, in manifold relations to his parents, kindred and friends, in contest with Tybalt, in reverence and confidence to the monk, and even on the verge of the grave in moral conversation with the apothecary from whom he buys the poison, and always noble and elevated by the depth of his emotions. Hence the peculiarity (Besonderheit) of a character must accord and unite with the subjectivity; man must have a precise form, and in this precision (Bestimmtheit) the firmness and power of some dominant passion. If man is not thus in unity with himself; if this passion do not penetrate and be not supported by the other phases of his character (Ist der Mensch nicht in dieser Weise Eins in sich), then are all the manifold phases superfluous, lifeless, senseless. To be in unity with oneself, is that which constitutes the infinite and godlike in art. Thus it destroys the individual unity, when a character, which the power of some great passion elevates to the heroic, is allowed to be ordered or persuaded by an inferior person, or when the crime is rolled off its shoulders on to those of another ; for instance, when Phèdre, in Racine, allows herself to be persuaded by Ænone. A genuine character acts from its own volition and persuasion, and admits of no foreign influence. But if it has acted from itself, then will it bear the consequences of its deed."
We hold this last to be true as a rule, but question the illustration. Phèdre is not meant to be a great character, but a weak woman; and this weakness we take to be itself the dominant pathos of her character.
From these extracts the reader will see that Hegel is no pedantic professor, shut up in the classicalities and cant of criticism; although he does not recognise the Dutch and the Spanish painting to be the highest ideal, yet he sees how it fulfils its conditions, and that it is ideal. He sides also with the many against the few critics on the subject of anachronisms.
"A work of art,” he says, " and its enjoyment, are not for the antiquary and critic alone, but for the public; and the critics need not carry matters with such a high hand, for they themselves belong to that public; and when honest, they must confess that correctness and severity in historical trifles can even for themselves possess no serious interest. It is from this feeling that the English only give such scenes from Shakspeare as are in themselves admirable and intelligible, because they do not share in the pedantry of our critics, who would fain drag before the public all those antiquated externals in which they cannot possibly interest themselves. Hence, when foreign dramas are put on our stage, the public has a right to demand a certain national revision and alteration to suit their taste. In this respect even the most excellent require revision.”
This reproof points to one of the fundamental laws of æsthetics, viz. the temporalities in art; a subject wrapped up in the confusion of prejudice and ignorance, but which must be dragged out of its darkness and clearly discussed before any step can be taken in the judgment of the past; and it is owing to this law never having been developed and applied to the purposes of criticism, that so much folly has been written about the ancients and earlier poets. A most valuable and interesting essay might be written on the Variation of Æsthetic Feeling in the different Epochs of Poetry,' which would indeed be the application of the above law. For example, the treachery of Ulysses* is to us most revolting; to the Athenian audience it was highly crafty, and commendable as craft;-it was æsthetic. So when Shakspeare makes the charming Celia fall in love with and marry the repentant villain Olivert, to an audience of his day, accustomed to the tone of