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in fact, the imitation was more perfect without this attempt at Truth, for, had he essayed it, he would certainly have failed. He was only capable of reproducing or suggesting the falsehood of which his originals were guilty, and with which they cannot but liberally interlard the truth they also give. When the comedian, however, sought an imitation of Mr. Booth, he met with signal failure, for the simple reason that Mr. Booth's acting is clean, almost entirely devoid of mannerisms, and marvelously strong and true to nature. There is not to be found in that artist's acting enough of falsehood for imitation to fasten upon. To “imitate” such an artist,--that is to say, one whose work is all truth, would be to reproduce his effects, which would require the imitator to be as great as his original, which, in the case of this eminent tragedian, would necessitate marvelous conceptive, imaginative, and poetic faculties, as well as a technique of which the world to-day does not furnish an equal.
A simple illustration will make this matter of imitation clear to the most obtuse intellect. Suppose you were in the habit of listening to a great orator who had formerly been a blacksmith, and certain of whose gestures had a good deal of the sledge-hammer in them : in addition to this, suppose this artist, with all his strength, with all his brilliant thought, and with all his magnificent purpose, mispronounced half a dozen frequently occurring words. Now if some mimic, utterly devoid of grandeur of thought or purpose, appears before you, and, during the display of vocal force, makes a " sledge-hammer” gesture or two, at the same time mispronouncing these same half a dozen words, the orator will, by virtue of that mental faculty called “association,” be vividly suggested to your mind, which will be filled with those ideas called “Ideas of Imitation," and which will thenceforth proceed to do what the mind invariably does in such cases, namely, reflect that this rendition is like something else; that it is not what it appears to be; that it seeks to pass for what it is not, and is, therefore, false and tricky, — the mind thus being occupied throughout its entire excitation with some variation of the idea of falsehood.
When Miss Helen Potter used to give an imitation of John B. Gough, the audience was wont to applaud her to the echo crying, “Excellent, excellent; Gough to perfection!”- The significant difference, however, between the original and the imitation was, that although both spoke similar words, the audience laughed at Miss Potter, where they wept at Gough. Imitation is not only not truth, but there are few things so far removed from it.
The student has already learned that the definition of art is as follows; “ Art is nature (all that is) passed through mind and fixed in form.” Imitation then, is not art, because, as we shall shortly see, even though it be mistaken for nature fixed in form, it has not been passed through mind. Fuseli, S. T. Coleridge, Burke, and several other able men to the contrary notwithstanding, there can be no warrantable distinction made between Imitation and Copying. They are practically indentical. Now let us cunsider for a moment how it is that in imitation the nature is not passed through mind. By this expression“ passsed through,” is meant, as has been stated in former papers of this series, idealized, or, to express the same idea more at length, that the mind has formed a conception of the object, or objects, and that it will make this the subject of executive technique. Now it will be seen from perusal of the following hypothesis, that it is even possible to imitate, or perfectly copy a picture without even knowing
what the picture represents. If over an oil painting a foot square, you place a movable piece of cardboard a yard square with a hole one inch Jess in diameter in its centre, you will find yourself able, by calling in a skilled artisan, or copyist, to get a perfect copy of your picture,-(obtained by the artisan copying the inch observable through the aperture in the cardboard, and then moving it over a new portion of his subject) —without the copyist having even a single accurate concept of the subject he has imitated, and, of course, without his having passed the subject through his mind for the purpose of idealization. Art, remember, paints conception, imitation attempts to paint nature.
Ideas of imitation, as will be seen from the following quotation from an eminent art authority, are capable of giving a certain kind and degree of pleasurable excitation to the lower faculties.
“Whenever anything looks like what it is not, the resemblance being so great as nearly to deceive, we feel a kind of pleasurable surprise, an agreeable excitement of mind. exactly the same in its nature as that which we receive from juggling. Whenever we perceive this in something produced by art, that is to say, whenever the work is seen to resemble something which we know it is not, we receive what I call an idea of imitation. Why such ideas are pleasing, it would be out of our present purpose to inquire; we only know that there is no man who does not feel pleasure in his animal nature from gentle surprise, and that such surprise can be excited in no more distinct manner than by the evidence that a thing is not what it appears to be. Now two things are requisite to our complete and more pleasurable perception of this : first, that the resemblance be so near as to amount to a deception ; secondly, that there be some means of proving at the same moment that it is deception. The most perfect ideas and pleasures of imitation are, therefore, when one sense is contradicted by another, both bearing as positive evidence upon the subject as each is capable of alone; as when the eye says a thing is round, and the finger says it is flat; they are, therefore, never felt in so high a degree as in painting, where appearance of projection, roughness, hair, velvet, etc., are given with a smooth surface, or in wax-work, where the first evidence of the senses is perpetually contradicted by their experience; but the moment we come to marble, our definition checks us, for a marble figure does not look like what it is not: it looks like marble, and like the form of a man, but then it is marble, and it is the form of a man. It does not look like a man, which it is not, but like the form of a man, which it is. Form is form, bona fide and actual, whether in marble or in flesh - not an imitation or resemblance of form, but real form. The chalk outline of the bough of a tree on paper, is not an imitation ; it looks like chalk and paper not like wood, and that which it suggests to the mind is not properly said to be like the form of a bough, it is the form of a bough. Now, then, we see the limits of an idea of imitation ; it extends only to the sensation of trickery and deception occasioned by a thing's intentionally seeming different from what it is; and the degree of the pleasure depends on the degree of difference, and the perfection of the resemblance, not on the nature of the thing resembled. The simple pleasure in the imitation would be precisely of the same degree, (if the accuracy could be equal), whether the subject of it were the hero or his horse. There are other collateral sources of pleasure, which are necessarily associated with this, but that part of the pleasure which depends on the imitation is the same in both.
“ Ideas of imitation, then, act by producing the simple pleasure of surprise, and that not of surprise in its higher sense and function, but of the mean and paltry surprise which is felt in jugglery. These ideas and pleasures are the most contemptible which can be received from art; first, because it is necessary to their enjoyment that the mind should reject the impression and address of the thing represented, and fix itself only upon the reflection that it is not what it seems to be. All high and noble emotion or thought are thus rendered physically impossible, while the mind exults in what is very like a strictly sensual pleasure. We may consider tears as a result of agony or of art, whichever we please, but not of both at the same moment. If we are surprised at them as an attainment of the one, it is impossible we can be moved by them as a sign of the other.
“ Ideas of imitation are contemptible in the second place, because not only do they preclude the spectator from enjoying inherent beauty in the subject, but they can only be received from mean and paltry subjects, because it is impossible to imitate anything really great. We can "paint a cat or a fiddle, so that they look as if we could take them up;' but we cannot imitate the ocean, or the Alps. We can imitate fruit, but not a tree ; flowers, but not a pasture; cut-glass, but not the rainbow. All pictures in which deceptive powers of imitation are displayed are, therefore, either of contemptible subjects, or have the imitation shown in contemptible parts of them, bits of dress, jewels, furniture, etc.”
Another, and perhaps the chief reason why imitation should be stigmatized, is because it attempts to “tell the whole story,” and the resultant lack of suggestiveness fordoes that agreeable excitation of the imaginawhich is the source of artistic pleasure.
In considering the subject of imitation, then, let it be remembered that imitation is not truth, and that an imitation does not require the accurate presentment of any truth whatever ; that imitation can only occur on low planes, and that its pleasure has its rise in the lower and more sensual faculties; that imitation can only be exhibited in paltry subjects, or paltry parts thereof; that imitation calls the observer's attention from the thing to be expressed, to the vehicle of its expression, and, worse yet, to the visible falsity of that vehicle ; and that imitation, wherever the opportunity is offered, finds expression in an approximate repetition of foibles and short-comings, for things really great must be possessed before they can be expressed.
The end of art is to express, with efficient technique, an idealized concept of nature, an ultimate which imitation, if engaged in, will invariably forio. The artist shows what he perceives in the soul of Nature, the imitator only her outer garments.
To be continued.
MIRACLES IMPOSSIBLE. WHETHER or not we accurately sight a material or mental object is dependent upon two things, viz; whether or not we occupy a correct stand-point from which to critically inspect the object in question, and whether or not we have eyes with scope sufficient to comprehend the view. For many centuries large numbers of the human family have quietly settled down to the idea that miracles were simply matters of fact; therefore the thought that a miracle was in itself an absolute impossibility was never indulged in, or even so much as dreamt of. Of late years, however, the thought has impinged upon the minds of many with irresistible force, and these persons are now declaring, with all the insistence and emphasis at their command, that such a thing as a miracle is an absolute impossibility.
Before going deeply into the subject, it may be well to understand what we are talking about. In the first place then, what is a miracle? Webster defines it as “An act or event beyond the ordinary laws of nature : (the italics are my own); theologically, an event contrary to the established order of things.” Admitting this definition to be satisfactory, it is evidently only a limited or restricted one; for it will be seen that the words we have itai. icized provide a way of escape for thought, since the term “ordinary" implies something extraordinary, and the term “established” suggests something not established. This limitation is intelligible on the basis of our remark in the first paragraph of this article. The belief in the possibility of miracles may have its rise in the deficiency of those who entertain it; while from an accurate stand-point miracles may actually be shown as quite sordinary,” “established,” and simple matters of course ; and if so, not miracles, at all, but themselves a declaration of the impossibility of miracles. From the stand-point of perfection — the stand-point of Divinity—there is no more reason to believe a miracle to be possible than to believe that God is able to deny Himself. He cannot do the latter, simply because whatever He is, that He must and will always be, do, and appear, to such as are fully able to see and judge Him as He is. Whatever He is, does, or manifests Himself by, is His nature, and that which of necessity pertains to Him ; consequently, as He cannot deny Himself, He cannot do anything save from His perfect nature; and this is an admission that a miracle is in itself, even to Him, an impossibility.
What may be done by any thirg or creature, is necessarily and entirely a question of the degree of life which it possesses. Life may be, and in some cases is, very low down ; and it may be, and is in other cases, very high up. In proportion to the degree of life possessed will be the power and scope
of that life. All life is Divine; there is no life, nor any possibility of life, save that which is derived from, and maintained by, the source and fourtain of all life. But there are widely-varying degrees in that life, so that it may, in some cases, be held in such an imperceptible quantity as not to be recognized in the ordinary way; and this is the case with reference to all that which is now called inanimate matter. A degree of life is possessed by every atom of matter; but, as things rise in the scale of being, a greater and a still greater degree of life is enjoyed, and consequenlty greater potencies manifest themselves in proportions similarly graduated. The lowest degrees of life are found in the mineral world ; the vegetable holds life in a much higher degree ; the animal still higher, and man yet higher still; for even the most degenerate man possesses life somewhat in excess of the lower animals; but those who follow Christ through the regeneration, come as a certain and necessary consequence—to possess life, as Christ says, "more abundantly." All the fullness of the life pertaining to the Godhead dwelt in the Christ bodily. This life was the natural source of all the powers he displayed, and he displayed none that his followers may not seek to emulate, provided only they rise into that life whence He came, especially to place that life in the possession of man. “I am come,” said the Christ, “that ye may have life, and that ye may have it more abundantly."
All the mistakes which sit so easily and naturally on man's shoulders, arise from the two-fold nature he possesses, but which, hitherto, he has
not shown sufficient discernment to detect and admit, nor to correctly estimate. Man has a self, or purely animal life, giving him individuality, personality, and a very marked limit of power; he has also an inner or spiritual life-latent or asleep it may be, but he has it - and that is necessarily linked with the Divine, and consequently with unlimited and universal life, and power. One or the other of these, however, must be ignored, in order to allow the remaining one to be dominant. As a rule, it is the inner one that is ignored, and, in all such cases, the outer one is felt and shown, and the higher powers that are only possible to the inner and higher life, are necessarily wanting. Just as certainly, however, when the outer life is ignored does the inner life assert itself; and then the powers belonging to it, and which are quite natural on its plane, are matters of course, the more abundant life of the Christ appearing in that individual, and manifesting itself by the working of those wonders, — even the greater works of the Christ, which he declared should be made possible.
The best and sharpest definition of the varying grades or degrees of life within the scope of human possibility, is given by dividing it into material or animal, mental or soulful; and spiritual or celestial. By attaining to the highest, the others are not necessarily dispensed with, but they are thereby elevated and refined, and from them, every element at all depressing or degrading is eliminated. It is not accustomary or popular in these days to discriminate between the soul and spirit, and to show them as being two distinct phases of life ; but, if it is essential to a clear understanding of the subject, and a plain presentation of the truths, such discrimination must be made. The fact that the spiritual man enjoys and employs a high, or very high, order of intelligence, may either prove that the soulpowers have been elevated and refined by the higher action of the spirit upon them, or that they are peculiar to the spirit. But the New Testament speaks of the soulful man as not having the spirit. In Jude 19, also in 1 Cor. II, 14, it speaks of the soulful man receiving not the things of the spirit of God for the same reason. This being the case, we prefer to accept the alternative thought which admits the Scripture's teachings, and which is, that the intelligence or reason is that quality or degree of life belonging to the soul, as distinct from the spirit; and that the spirit has intuitions, illuminations, or inspirations, which have a great deal to do in elevating and refining the intelligence, and bringing it up to its own spiritual level. The doctrinal and dogmatic stage of Christendom's career so far has not been at all satisfying, simply because it has only been soulful or intellectual. It has not been at all inspirational or intuitional ; hence it has exhibited all manner of parties claiming the right to set up their own limitations and boundaries whereby to take to themselves adherents, or to reject them. A literal translation of Jude 19, gives this; "these be those making boundaries for themselves, soulful men, having not the spirit.” Christendom has accurately filled up this prophetic outline written by Jude, even to this very day. She has not entered upon or enjoyed spirit-life, only the intermediately soulful one, causing all her doctrinal stands and fights; and hence she has been compelled, from her very deficient stand-point, to view everything done in past centuries by means of spirit-life and spiritpower, as being miraculous.
Again, we affirm that, from the stand-point of perfection, miracles are an impossibility. From the stand-point of imperfection, however, miracles are not only a possibility, but even a necessity. Take the lowest form of human life, lacking anything like “mentality” or soul-force, and being