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English LAMT༤༤ 12.17-42 46163



THE general purpose of my former book, The Grammar of Philosophy,' was to show that in the Human Mind we possess a sound basis of Know• ledge; that our faculties, faithfully used, are trustworthy and adequate to execute their legitimate work; that the special task of the Philosopher is to collate and interpret the reports of his faculties to the best of his ability; and that a consistent and satisfactory theory of Knowledge and of Life can only be found in, established on, and illuminated by, the dictates and the sanctions of the Common Sense.


My other book, 'Religion and Intellect,' was a Theological development of The Grammar of Philosophy'; whilst the present work, 'Commonsense and the Muses,' is an application of the same scientific method to the problems of esthetics and literary criticism.



. 1-33





(1) Frequent vagueness of criticism. (2) The doctrine of

Plato on poets: he associates poetry with madness. (3) The

doctrine of Sidney and Shakespeare. (4) Of Fielding. (5) Of

"The Spectator.' (6) Of Dr Johnson. His mistake as to

" contemplative piety" in relation to poetry. His verdict

on Chevy Chase.' (7) Vagueness of Aristotle's doctrine of

art. (8) Sir Joshua Reynolds' view that the artist must

show Nature "elevated and improved " erroneous; it

must be difficult to elevate and improve the Ocean or

the Setting Sun. But in the Novel and the Drama it is

frequently necessary to "elevate and improve" the utter-

ance of the dramatis persona. (9) The curious theory of

Queechy, Sir Joshua's biographer, that Nature should be

presented by poet and painter "in the abstract." (10) The

contrary doctrine of Addington Symonds, much more

reasonable. (11) Winckelmann seems to have held that in

order to be beautiful, a thing must be nothing in particular;

whilst (12) Goethe apparently thought that an artist might

excel Nature! and (13) Coleridge held that Shakespeare's

characters were "all genera intensely individualised."

(14) Macaulay's theory-" that the imagination is of an

overpowering character," that "the critical and poetical

faculties are not only distinct but almost incompatible,"

and that "great works of imagination are mostly the

works of uneducated men "-refuted, and the contrary

shown to be the case, especially when self-education is

taken into account. In this sense it may be said that

great works are produced by educated men only. Ruskin

speaks of "Scott having had the benefit of a totally neglected

education" in the academic sense. (15) A man's want of

education in the conventional sense may be the very

occasion and cause of his education in the great sense.

The cases of Turner and Burns. (16) Further Babingtonian

heresies. (17) Wordsworth's perplexed dissertation. (18-21)

D. M. Moir, Carlyle, Ruskin, and Emerson's theories. (22)

Contrarious views of Swinburne and Lamb regarding' Kubla

Khan.' (23) Swinburne's Hugonic raptures. (24) His

panegyrics on Rossetti, (25) Shelley, and Keats. Much

wind-blown rhetoric in his essays. (26) His art criticisms.

(27) His strange doctrine that art takes no care of fact.

(28) His doctrine of Poetry, in conflict with Common-sense.

He has failed to notice that Common-sense must govern

imagination as well as pure thought. Burns on the subject.

The Human Head is as a house made for Reason to dwell

in and govern. The Sun in its glory is but an adaptation

of magnificent means to magnificent ends. (29) What is

implied in the Psychology of Common-sense. (30) Swin-

burne's droll theory concerning Poets and Common-sense.

(30a) In absolute opposition to him, I hold that the sanest

of Common-sense is necessary for the equipment of the

great poet, and that vital Common-sense is the outstanding

characteristic of the greatest poetry. (31) But he is partly

right as to its elusiveness. (32) His regrettable partialities

and hostilities; his virulent attacks on Byron. (33) Mr

Churton Collins on Mr Swinburne. (34) Vernon Lee's

oracular note. (35) Eugène Véron on artists: (36) his

views on poets and poetry, not lucid at all. (37) Whitman

-had some hazy notion, apparently, that Poesy is de-

pendent upon political considerations! (38) Press critics

of Browning-some of them stunned into admiration by

his obscurity. (39) Criticism as tested by the record of

opinions. Andrew Lang on reviewers. (40) Greene and

Nashe on Shakespeare; Carlyle's early encounters with

critics. E. A. Poe frankly denounces the author of 'Sartor

Resartus' as an ass. Sir W. Scott on the prestige of a name

with the critics. (41) The critic as Caliban. (42) Ruskin

on the critic's perplexities. (43) The true object of criticism,

not only to eulogise the great authors but to mark their

defects; and to give articulate expression and rational

warranty to the excellencies of merit without a name.

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