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IHEoE volumes aim at completeness in 
themselves, but I must ask the reader 
to bear in mind that they are to be 
followed by two more. They are an attempt to 
settle the first principles of Criticism, and to 
show how alone it can be raised to the dignity 
of a science. But any one who cares for the 
discussion is sure to ask at every stage of it — 
How do your principles bear on the practical 
questions of criticism ? how are they to be 
applied ? I hope to show this ere long ; but 
I venture also to hope that the principles 
here evolved — even while their application is 
withheld — may be worthy of attention, may 

vi Prefdoe. 

entertain the reader, and may prove to be 

A few of the following pages have already 
seen the light in various publications, although 
they now stand in their places without any ac- 
knowledgment of a previous appearance. They 
are so few in number, and, having been re- 
written, are so altered in form, that it would 
have been difficult, and it seemed to be need- 
less, to introduce them with the usual marks of 

E. 8. D. 



Significance of the Title. — Originally applied to Poetry. — Here to 
Criticism. — The Oaj Science the Science of PleaauTe. — Objeo- 
tiona to Pleasure aa the aim of Art. — Cursory view of Pleaaure 
which may soften those objections .. .. Page 3 



Criticism in its wildest sense does not contain within itself the notion 
of a Special Science. — Criticism, strictly so called, is not yet a 
Science. — What the world thinks of Critics and Criticism. — 
What Critics think of each other. — Summary of the forms of 
Criticism. — (1) Editorial Criticism, how unsatisfactory. — An 
example of it in Shakespearian Criticism. — Its worth estimated 
by Steevens. — Another eiamplo of it in Classical Criticism, — 
Person's preface to the Htotiba. — Elmsley. — (2) Biographical 
Criticism — the advantages of it, — But how far from Science — 
And how apt to becofte parasitical.— (3) Historical Criticism — 
How far from Science, and how limited in its view. — The intel- 
lectual Flora not studied as a whole. — Comparative Criticism. — 
The problem of Criticism too rarely attempted. — (4) Systematic 
or Scientific Criticism in ancient times, aa represented by 
Aristotle ; in modem times devoted to questions of language. — 
Example of what the modems chiefiy understand by a system of 
CriUcism. — Mr,liu3kiu'sBiimmary of modem Criticism asgmro- 

viii Contents. 

mar. — The systematic Criticism of Germany — The defect, as in 
Hegel and Schelling. — Suggestion of a middle course between the 
Criticism of Germany and that of the Renaissance. — Method and 
value of the most recent Criticism. — The despair of system 
and want of concert. — Ulrici. — French Criticism. — Glaring 
example of the impotence of Criticism. — Prize designs a failure. 
, — Why is the Prize System a failure in England, when we know 
that in Greece it was successful ? — The explanation to be found 
in the weakness of Criticism. — The standard of Judgment. — 
Influence of School in Greece. — Influence of School in France. 
— A hopeful sign of our Criticism that it has become ashamed 
of itself. — Summary of the Chapter. — Why Criticism is not a 
Science.^Failure of method. — ^What is involved in the new 
method of Comparative Criticism — The comparison threefold. 
— In what groove of Comparative Criticism the present work 
will for the first part run. — Nothing so much wanted as a 
correct Psychology. — On the dulness of Psychology — But that 
dulness is not necessary. — The subject really as interesting as 
Romance.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Page 9 



The despair of Critical Science not surprising. — What we set before 
us as the object of Science. — Antithesis between the works of 
God and those of Man. — Popular Science in its religious 
aspect. — The proper study of Mankind. — Misanthropy of the 
antithesis between the works of God and those of Man. — 
Wordsworth to some extent answerable for it. — How it shows 
itself in Ruskin. — Something to be said for the one-sided 
devotion to Physical Science which now prevails. — The feats 
of Science — And the great public works which it has pro- 
duced. — The recent origin of the Sciences, and their present 
development. — Diflerent late of the Mental Sciences. — Various 
points of view from which is produced the despair of any 
Science of Human Nature. — (1) Philosophical despair of Mental 
Science. — What Mr. I>ewes says of Philosophical Criticism. — 
A Philosophical Critic — Wagner. — The jargon of Philosophy. . 
— Distinction between Philosophy and Science. — The great 
want of Criticism — Psychology. — Science as applied to Mind 

Contents, ix 

too recent to be accused of fniitlessness. — (2) The despair 
of System — Expressed by Lord Lytton. — Systems soon for- 
gotten. —Take Plato for an example. — The forms of current 
Literature very adverse to System. — Value of System. — (3) 
Despair of Mental Science that springs from Moral Views.— 
Expressed by Mr. Froude. — ITie gist of his reasoning. — ^All 
the Sciences are not exact. — The exactitude of Art — Illus- 
trated in Shelley's conception of Poetry. — (4^ Despair produced 
by the modesty of Science. — The impotence of Science. — The 
more Science the greater sense of Ignorance. — The impotence 
of Criticism no more than the impotence of other Sciences. — 
How Mr. Matthew Arnold vaunts Criticism — But his meaning 
is not quite clear— As for example in what he says of M. 
Sainte Beuve. — His statement that the modem spirit is essen- 
tially critical. — ^The wrong conclusions which may be drawn 
from Mr. Arnold's generalization. — General view of the ad- 
vantage of a science of Criticism. — On the interpretation of 
History through Philosophy. — The interpretation of History 
through Criticism. — Summary of the argument. — Aim of the 
present work, not a Science, but a plea for one and a map of its 
leading lines . . . . . . . . . . Page 47 



Object of this chapter to prove a truism. — Truisms sometimes 
require demonstration. — A science of Criticism implies that 
there is something common to the Arts. — On the admitted re- 
lationship of the Arts. — The Arts so like that they have been 
treated as identical. — Wherein consists the unity of Art ; 
two answers to this question usually given, and both false. 
— The Aristotelian dootrinc that Art has a common method, 
that of imitation. — This the corner stone of ancient Criti- 
cism — And how implicitly accepted. — How it held its ground, 
and how hard it died. — Falsehood of the theory — As shown 
in Music. — Limits of the theory. — Scaliger's objection to it 
unanswerable. — Coleridge's defence of it unavailing. — The 
other theory which displaced the Aristotelian arose in Ger- 
many that Art has a common theme. — Remarks on this 
conception of Art. — That Art is the manifestation of the 


Beautiful, two facts fatal to it. — ^That Art is the mani- 
festation of the True, open to Uie same objection. — Also that 
Art is the manifestation of Power. — The subject of Art is all 
that can interest Man. — Wherein then does the unity of the 
Arts reside? — Their common purpose. — This common pur- 
pose an admitted flEUSt — Some explanation of this doctrine of 
Pleasure— drawn from the antithesis between Art and Science. 
— ^The neoessaiy inference as to the nature of Criticism. — But 
how the Critics have turned aside from that inference, one 
and alL — Why they thus turned aside from the straight road. 
— The fact remains that the doctrine of Pleasure is not allowed 
its rightful place in Criticism, and we proceed to the proof of 
what that place should be .. .. .. Page 75 



Survey of the schools of Criticism — their divisions. — All the schools 
teach one doctrine as to the end of Art — I. The Greek school of 
Criticism, as represented by Plato and Aristotle^ accepted the 
one doctrine. — Plato's reasoning about Pleasure. — The promi- 
nent consideration in Greek Criticism. — Is the pleasure of Art 
true? — ^IVeatment of the question. — Story of Solon. — The 
saying of Gorgias. — How the artists tried to deceive. — So far 
there is nothing peculiar in the working of the Greek mind. — 

rHow the love of illusion showed itself for example in Italian 
Art — Wilkie's story of the Goronimite. — Further illuatotion 
of the love of illusion in Greek and other forms of Art — What 
is i^eculiar to the Greeks. — Plato's manner of stating critically 
the doubt as to the truth of Pleasure. — The doubt survives 
apart from the reasoning on which it rests. — Aristotle's state- 
ment of the counter doctrine — to be foimd in the ninth chapter 
of his Poetics, — The lesson of Greek Criticism — how it has been 
perverted by Coleridge. — The true doctrine. — II. The Italian 
school of Criticism — as represented by Scaliger, Castelvetro, 
Tasso, and others. — ^What is peculiar in their view of Art. — 
That the pleasure of Art must be profitable. — How Tasso 
puzzled over the doctrine worthy of particular attention. — How 
the Italian doctrine is to bo understood — wherein it goes too 
far — ^how far it is true — some of the absurdities to which it 

Contents. xi 

lod.-^leasure an indefinite term very apt to be misunderstood. 
— Ruskin's protest against Pleasure as the end of Art may be 
considered here, Pleasure being regarded as immoral, and there- 
fore unprofitable — answered by reference to Lord Chesterfield's 
saying about Wit — III. Thd Spanish school of Criticism not 
very original, but still authoritative — ^it held to the one doctrine 
— but it had its own special view — ^that Art is for the people. 
— How this doctrine showed itself in Beroeo, in Cervantes, and 
in Lope d© V^a. — ^How Cervantes discussed it in Dan Quixote, 
— Lope de Vega. — The same view expressed by Terence — ^by 
Moliferc^by Johnson. — A difficult question here involved. — An 
opposite doctrine supposed to have been held by Milton — and 
certainly held by Wordsworth. — On the fit and few as judges 
of Art — Does a printed, as distinguished from a written. Litera- 
ture make any difference? — The democratic doctrine of Art will 
be displeasing to some — expressed by saying that all great Art 
is gregarious. — IV. The French school of Criticism— accepts the 
universal doctrine. — The peculiarity of French Criticism — ^began 
to show itself in the early days of the Bourbons. — Picture of 
France on the death of Henry IV. — The utter want of refine- 
ment — illustrated by reference to the preceding century. — At 
Henry's death the worst behaved nation in Europe — but sound 
at heart, and ripe for reform. — Beform came from Italy. — 
Catherine de Vivonne — ^her education — and how she became 
mistress of the Hdtel Rambouillet — Origin of the Pr^ieuses. — 
On mistakes committed about them. — Moli^re, and his real 
object ¥rith regard to them. — The false Pr^ieuses whom Moli^re 
ridiculed. — The real Pr^ieuses made the French taste — and 
live to this day. — ^The clue to French Art and Criticism.-:— 
French purism, its origin and singidarity — Hugo's revolt 
against it — La Mesnardi^re — a great man wfth the Pr^euses 
— his criticism — absurd, but not to be despised. — On varieties of 
taste — and critical questions thence arising. — How La Mesnar- 
di^re urged these questions — and in the present day M. Cousin. 
— These objections legitimate. — Statement of the question — ^but 
an objection to be urged to M. Cousin's form of it. — Answer to 
M. Cousin — drawn from his own opinion regarding Science. — 
ITie objection, however, deserves a more direct reply. — Our 
sense of delight is distinct from our estimate of it. — An example 
drawn from the sense of taste — another from the pleasure of 
sadness. — Application of these examples to the argument — The 

xii Contents. 

ideal of Pleasure as distinct from the reality. — V. Tlie German 
school of Criticism — what is peculiar to its view of Art — ^That 
Art comes of Pleasure as well as goes to it — but German 
thinkers confine the pleasure of Art to the beautiful. — How 
this bias was given to German philosophy by Wolf — and by his 
disciple Baumgarten ; and how their conclusion remained in 
force long after the premiss from which they started was 
rejected. — How the Germans are bewitched with the notion of 
beauty — ^their raptures. — They are called back to reason by 
Richter. — Richter's own deficiency. — On the German notion of 
beauty — what it is. — Here again they owe their bias to Wolf. 
— How succeeding thinkers rung the changes upon Wolf. — 
What view came gradually into sight — Goethe's final view of 
the beautiful in Art, and summary of the German doctrine of 
Pleasure. — ^The German doctrine needs to be balanced by a 
counter-statement of the sorrows of Art. — The modem sense of 
enjoyment as compared with the ancient — is it less enjoyment ? 
— The existence of delicious sorrow a great fact — But the 
sufiering of the artist is not inconsistent i^nth the fact that his 
Art emerges from Pleasure. — The power of expression implies 
recovery. — VI. The English school of Criticism beginning with 
Bacon, and the Elizabethans — ^but our best Criticism dates from 
Dryden. — A new spirit breathed into Criticism at the end of 
last century — ^but ever the same doctrine as to the end of Art 
is taught — and Lord Kames even draws in a faint way the 
inference that Criticism must be tlie Science of Pleasure. — 

(What is peculiar in the English view of Art? — It dwells chiefly 
on the power of the imagination in Art — Bacon it was that 
first taught us to treat of Art as the creature of imagination. — 
A word of Shakespeare's assisted — and since then it has been 
the favourite dogma of English Criticism. — Criticism cannot 
advance a step without first understanding what Imagination is. 
— The relation of Imagination to Pleasure. — Imagination to be 
largely identified with the source of Pleasure — limits, however, 
to that view of it. — Re-statement of the English contribution to 
Criticism, and its deficiency. — Although Imagination is magni- 
fied and everywhere asserted, it is nowhere explained. — Imagi- 
nation an unknown quantity — but the continual recognition of 
that unknown something of immense importance. — Summary 
of this chapter . . .. .. .. .. .. Page 97 

Contents. xiii 



A general description of Imagination and its manifestations. — Has 
Imagination a character of its own ? — What most strikes one 
when we approach the inquiry into the nature of this power — 
the acknowledged potency of Imagination. — But notwithstanding 
its potency, the philosophers do not tell us what it is, and indeed 
assure us that it is nought. — The current opinions may be sum- 
marised in the Parable of Proteus. — These current opinions may 
be examined under four heads. — (1) Imagination is sometimes 
identified with Memory. — Generally in this way it is regarded 
as a loose Memory — yet from their manner of treating it, many 
of those who identify Imagination with Memory show that they 
really regard it as more than Memory. — (2) Imagination is some- 
times identified with Passion. — (3) Imagination identified with 
Reason from the days of the Schoolmen downwards to Dugald 
Stewart and others. — Even those who treat of Imagination as a 
power by itself are struck by its rationality ; and at last work 
up to the conclusion that there is an Imagination for every 
faculty of the Mind. — All these views of Imagination are com- 
patible — and we arrive at the view of Imagination as the Proteus 
of the Mind with which we started — ^but the question still recurs, 
(4) Has Imagination no character of its own ? — Those who'declare 
that Imagination has a character of its own, either fail to explain 
what it is, or, like Mr. Ruskin, they say frankly that it is in- 
scrutable. — Imagination therefore demands a new analysis, and 
we must define it for ourselves. — It is not a special faculty, but 
a special function. — ^The Hidden Soul. — Importance of the facts 
which we have now to study. — Statement of the problem to be 
solved.. .. .. .. .. Page 179 



The object of this chapter is to show that there is a Hidden Soul, and 
what it means. — The character of the facts to be studied. — The 
interest of the subject — The romance of the Mind. — ^The exist- 
ence of Hidden Thought only recently acknowledged. — The 

xiv Contents. 

Cartesian Doctrine opposed to it — Leibnitz first suggested the 
Modem Doctrine, which is also allowed in our time by Hamil- 
ton, Mill, and Spencer. — But in one form or another the 
view has been of old standing. — It is the foundation of 
Mysticism, and it is often suggested by the Poets. — General 
description of the facts with which we have now to deal — ^These 
fieicts are to be divided into three groups, and statement of the 
argument to be followed. — I. On Memory and its Hidden Work, 
a constant marvel. — Contradictions of Memory. — ^The clue to it 
in the Hidden Life. — Story of the Countess of Laval and others. 
— Captain Marryat. — De Quincey. — ^Two things to be chiefly 
noticed in Memory. — ^The first, that Understanding is not essen- 
tial to it. — Story of the Maid of Saxony. — Memory absolute as 
jA photograph. — Other illustrations given by Abercrombie. — 
Conclusion, that the Memory lets nothing go by. — The second 
point to be noticed, that the 1d.emory of things not understood 
may be vital within us. — Knowledge active within us of which 
we know nothing. — Examples in illustration. — Showing how 
what we attribute to Imagination is but a surrender of Hid- 
den Memory. — Plato maintained in view of these facts the 
theory of Pre-existence. — The same view suggested by Words- 
worth. — Summary of the facts relating to Memory. — ^U. 
On the Hidden Life of Reason. — ^The complexity of Thought 
— ^We do a great number of things at once, but are not con- 
sdoua of alL — Further examples, showing how the mind 
pursues several distinct actions at once. — Several of these 
distinct actions become quite unconscious. — ^The Mind in secret 
broods over its work. — That the mind calculates, invents, judges, 
digests for us without our knowing it — The story of Avicenna. 
—There are many things which we cannot do if we are con- 
scious, but can do easily if we become unconscious. — ^Action of 
the Mind in sleep. — ^There is no act of waking life which we 
cannot carry on in our sleep. — Similar facts perceived in 
drunkenness. — Though many of these fieicts have a ludicrous 
side, they are deserving of serious attention. — ^Account of some 
of the actions performed in sleep. — Somnambulism and its won- 
ders. — The double life of the Somnambulist seen in a fainter 
degree in our waking states. — ^UI. The Hidden Life of Passion 
and Instinct — Passion notoriously a blind force. — The mystery 
of Love. — And Passion because blind is not therefore untrust- 
worthy. — Sympathy and its unconscious action ; and how Bacon 

Contents. xv 

accounted for it — Instinct^ and Guvier^s definition of it as akin 
to Somnambulism. — The immense variety of instinctive actions. 
— The instinctive action of our Muscles. — ^Madame Mara and 
her singing. — What Mr. Rnskin says of the subtle Instinct of 
the hand. — The secret power which the Brain exerts over the 
whole Body. — On the effect of Im^ination in Pregnancy. — But 
why call this particular class of Ejdden Mental Actions Imagi- 
nations ? — On those Hidden Movements which we call Intui- 
tion. — What is true in Mysticism. — ^And how powerfully the 
creed of the Mystic bears on the existence of Hidden Soul. 
— On the Hidden Life of the Believer. — Especially recognised 
by Platonist and Puritan Divines. — It must be remembered that 
we are speaking in metaphors chiefly when we have to describe 
the Hidden Life. — Summary of the evidence of a Hidden Life or 
Soul within us— stated in the words of Prospero. — Position of 
the argument.. .. .. .. .. Page 199 



That the action of Hidden Thought accounts for all the £Eu;ts of 
Imagination. — ^The spontaneousness of Imagination an acknow- 
ledged fact — A compulsory Imagination a contradiction. — ^The 
errors of Imagination due to its involuntary and unconscious 
' character. — ^If Imagination is nothing but the free play of 
Thought, why is it called Imagination ? — The clue to the name 
contained in the definition of the faculty. — In the free play of 
Thought we dwell most on images of Sight — ^The definition of 
Imagination as free play explains many opinions with regard to 
it which are otherwise inexplicable — as the opinion of D*Alem- 
bert and Hamilton. — On Imagery. — Imagery not to be treated 
as a mere question of Language. — ^The absurdities of Criticism 
in regard to Imagery. — The most obvious fact about Imagery is 
that it always contains a comparison. — But all Thought implies 
comparison. — What is the peculiarity of the comparisons attri- 
buted to Imagination? — Locke's answer. — But does Locke's 
answer give any sanction to the notion that in the comparisons 
of Imagination there is anything special ? — The peculiarity of 
imaginative comparisons, as thus far stated, to be explained by 
the fact of Imagination being free play. — But Locke's state- 

xvi Contents. 

ment is only half the truth — statement of the other half. — 
Imaginative comparison asserts the resemblance of wholes to 
wholes; but these comparisons are not incompetent to Rea- 
son, and are called Imaginative because they belong chiefly to 
the spontaneous exercise of Thought — The whole truth about 
Imagery ; and how it js proposed to treat of it. — We shall 
treat of the two halves of the doctrine separately. — Nature of 
the discussion. — I. On likenesses, and how we are to examine 
them. — ^The tendency of the Mind to similitude takes three 
leading forms — and first of the likenesses produced by Sym- 
pathy. — How prevalent this testimony is in life, and manifested 
in how many ways. — The tendency is essentially the same, 
whether it shows itself in Speech or in Action. — On Sympathy, 
and what importance was at one time given ta the study of 
it. — How important it is in the systems of thought of Bacon, 
of Malebranche, and of Adam Smith. — What is the point of 
the argument about Sympathy. — It is an ultimate insoluble 
fact, which is not explained in the least by the hypothesis of a 
special faculty called Imagination. — The hypothesis of Imagina- 
tion is no more tenable than Bacon's hypothesis as to the trans- 
mission of Spirits. — People are deceived by words — ^and the 
word Imagination throws no new light on the facts that have 
to be explained. — Secondly, of the likenesses produced by 
Egotism — examples of it — On the pathetic fallacy — further 
examples. — What is meant by attributing this ^otism to Ima- 
gination ? — Thirdly, of the likenesses which are purely objec- 
tive: that is, in which we do not bring ourselves into the 
comparison. — They are sometimes very complicated and difficult 
of explanation. — Examples of very complicated Imagery — The 
amalgam of metaphors does not defy analysis. — Symmetry 
a form of similitude, and no one attributes the love of it to 
Inaagination. — Our delight in reflections another form of the 
tendency to similitude. — ^Theee reflections are the painter's form 
of metaphor. — The system of reflected colour in pictures ; but 
no one attributes the reflections of a picture to Imagination. — 
Why should we attribute them to Imagination when they appear 
in Poetry ? — II. How the Imagination sees wholes — invents or 
discovers three sorts of wholes ; but it can be shown that the 
work of Imagination in creating these wholes is not peculiar 
to itself — The case of Peter Bell, for an example of the first 
whole. — Peter does not see that the primrose is a type. — The 

Contents. xvii 

typical ¥7holc takes many fonns, and involves in it the asser- 
tion of a peculiar kinship between Man and Nature ; but why 
should we suppose a special faculty to create types ? — What is 
the nature of the whole which the Mind creates in a type. — ^It 
is the same sort of whole as Reason creates in generalization, 
and the generalizations of Reason are quite as wonderful as 
those of Imagination, and not less inexplicable. — Summary of 
the argument. — We never get beyond the conception of Imagi- 
nation as free play. — The element of necessity which Imagina- 
tion supplies. — The second kind of whole which the Mind 
creates. — We raise the temporary into the eternal, and cannot 
compass the idea of Death. — ^The assertion of the continuity of 
Existence makes Epical Art. — The transformations of Poetry ; 
but do these transformations need, for their production, a sepa- 
rate faculty ? — The third kind of whole which the Mind creates, 
that of extension. — On Dramatic Construction. — ^The Creation 
of Character. — On the truth of Imagination — The wholeness 
of imaginative work explained on a veiy simple principle. — 
Sunmiary of the argument .. .. .. .. Page 257 



Review of the previous argument, and its bearing on the definition 
of Art. — Art is the opposite of Science ; its field, therefore, is 
the Unknown and the Unknowable. — That statement, how- 
ever, sounds too much like a paradox for ordinary use. — ^People 
do not understand how a secret exists which cannot be told ; 
yet there are current phrases which may help us to understand 
the paradoxical definition of Art, — Je ne sais quoi. — If the 
object of Art were to make known, it would not be Art but 
Science. — It is to the Hidden Soul, the unknown part of us, 
that the artist appeals. — This view of Art supported by autho- 
rity. — ^It is implied in Macaulay's criticism on Milton ; only 
the same criticism applies to all poetry as well as to Milton's. — 
It is implied in Moore's verses ; Byron also refers to it. — It is 
implied in Wordsworth's poetry. — ^The meaning of some passages 
unintelligible without reference to the Hidden Soul ; many 
such passages in Wordsworth; example in the Ode on Im- 
mortality. — What a Saturday Reviewer says of it — ^how far 

VOL. I. h 



ho is correct in his view. — ^Lord Lytton gives exj)ression to 
similar thoughts — his description of Helen, — Senior's criticism 
on this description. — So far the definition of Art as the 
Empire of tlie Unknown has been explained solely by refer- 
ence to Poetry. — See the same definition as it applies to Music. 
— Music is the art which has more direct connection than any 
other with the Unknown of Thought. — Beethoven and Shake- 
speare compared — ^the comparison impossible. — ^The definition 
applied to the Arts of Painting and Sculpture. — ^Thc Arts of 
Painter and Sculptor exhibit the precision of Science ; and the 
Painter's Art especially is very strictly tied to fact. — But 
Science is not enough. — The Pictorial artist reaches to some- 
- thing beyond Science, — The artists who adhere to Tare facts — 
what are they ? — ^Their Art wants the essential quality of Art. 
— But if the domain of Art is the Unknown, how can it ever 
be the subject of Science? — The question answered by re- 
ference to Biology, which is the Science of something the 

essence of which is unknown 

Page 311 


VOL. I. B 





HAVE called the present work the chapter 
Glay Science, because that is the Jl. 
shortest description I can find of its Meuiiiig of 
aim and contents. But I have ventured to **' ""'■ 
wrest the tenn a little from ita old Provencal 
meaning. The Gay Science was the name 
given by the troubadours to their art of poetry. 
We could scarcely now, however, call poetry, The term 
or the art of poetry, a science. It is true that ^*™^' 
the distinction between science and art has 
always been very hazy. In our day it has been 
as hotly- disputed as among the schoolmen 
whether logic be !v science or an art, or both. 
Even so late a writer as Hobbes classes poetry 
among the .sciences, for it is in his view the 
B 2 

The Gay Science, 

CHAPTER science of magnifying and vilifying. I hope 
-J_ before I have finished this work to trace 

See Chapter more accurately than has yet been done the 
dividing line between science and art. ; but, in 
the meantime, there is no doubt that poetry 
must take rank among the arts, and that the 
name of science in connection* with it must be 
reserved for the critical theory of its processes 
and of its influence in the world. Such is the 
sense in which the word is used upon the title 
pages of the present volumes. 

The Gaj Why the Gay Science, however ? The liffht- 

Science he- ' "^ ^ 

cause the hcartcd miustrcls of Provence insisted on the 
pleasure, joyfulncss of their art. In the dawn of modem 
literature, they declared, with a straightforward- 
ness which has never been surpassed either by 
poets or by critics, that tlie immediate aim of 
art is the cultivation of pleasure. But it so 
happens that no critical doctrine is in our day 
more unfashionable than this — ^that the object 
This the of art is plcasurc. Any of us who cleave to 
3000 ytare. the old crccd, which has the prescription of 
about tliirty centuries in its favour, are sup- 
posed to be shallow and commonplace. Nearly 
all thinkers now, who pretend to any height 
or depth of thought, abjure the notion of plea- 
sure as the object of pursuit in the noble moods 
of art But what if these high-fliers are wrong 
and the thirty centuries are right? What, if 
not one of those who reject the axiom of the 
thirty centuries can agree with another as to 

Introduction. 5 

the terms of a better doctrine ? What if theirs chaptek 
be the true commonplace which cannot see the —1. 
grandeur of a doctrine, because it comes to us 
clothed in unclean and threadbare garments? 
There is no more commonplace thinker than 
he who fails to see the virtue of the common- 

Pleasure, no doubt, is an ugly word, and, as re- Doubts 
presenting the end of art, a feeble one ; but there sure. ^^ 
is no better to be found. It suggests a great 
deal for which as yet we have no adequate 
language. One day it may be that we shall find 
a different word to express more fully our mean- 
ing ; but that day will never come until we have 
first learned thoroughly to understand what is 
involved in pleasure ; and to see what a hundred 
generations of mankind have groped after when 
they set before them pleasure as the goal of art. 
It can be shown that this doctrine of pleasure 
has a greatness of meaning which the high-fliers 
little suspect : that it is anything but shallow ; 
and that if it be commonplace, it is so only in the 
sense in which sun, air, earth, water, and all the 
elements of life are commonplace. We hegin ^*^^»^?*«^J^y 
to feel this the moment we attempt to define muon of xu 
pleasure. Take any allowable definition. Kant 
says that it is a feeling of the furtherance of 
life, as pain is a sense of its hindrance. Such 
a defiinition at once leads us into a larger circle 
of ideas than is usually supposed to be covered 
by the name of pleasure. Perhaps it is not 

lite Gay Sdenee, 

CHAPTEB quite satisfactory, but we oeed not now be too 
_L particular about its terms. What Eaut says is 
near enough to the truth to show that on the first 
blush of it we need not be repelled by the asser- 
tion of pleasure being the end of art. Neither 
need any one be repelled if this doctrine of 
pleasure strike the key-note, and surest the 
title of the present work, in which an attempt 
will be made to show that a scieDce of criticism 
is possible, and that it must of necessity be the 
science of the laws of pleasure, the joy science, 
the Gay Science. 





|UT IB a science of criticism possible ? chapter 
That is a great question — often — '- 
asked, and usually answered in the 
negative. It cannot well be answered in the 
alErmative, indeed, so long as criticism is un- 
defined. Criticism is a wide word that, accord- Cntidsm id 
ing to late usage, may comprehend almost any loue. 
stir of thought. It is literally the exercise of 
judgment, and logicians reduce every act of the 
mind into an act of judgment. So it comes to 
pass that there is a criticism of history, of philo- 
sophy, of science, of politics and life, as well as of 
literature and art, which is criticism proper. Sir 
William Hamilton, who never touched criticism 
proper, was known throughout Europe as the 
first critic of his day ; and Mr. Matthew Arnold 
has lately been using the word as a synonym not Emj on 

10 The Gay Seienoe. 

cHAmu Dante and Shakespeare, are in his view critics. 
— Their work is at bottom a criticism of life, and 
** the aim of all literature, if one considers it 
attentively, is in truth nothing but that.** It 
may be convenient sometimes to employ the 
word thus largely; but there is a danger of 
our forgetting its more strict application to 
um not art. Certainly, in the larger, looser sense of 
'^thin itMif the term, a science of criticism, if at all possible, 
if^'i^dia must resolve itself into something like a science 
•cienot. ^f reason — a logic — a science of science. It 
is needful, therefore, to explain at the outset 
that there is a narrower sense of the word 
criticism, and that there is a good reason why 
it should be specially applied to the criticism 
of literature and art. 
criucitm The reason is, that whereas the criticism of 
Sjiedf "* philosophy, truly speaking, is itself philosophy, 
and that of science science, and that of history 
history, the criticism of poetry and art is not 
poetry and art, but is and to the end of time 
will remain criticism. Kant called his leading 
work a critique, and he chose that title because 
his object was not to propound a philosophical 
system, but to ascertain the competence of reason 
to sound the depths of philosophy. This, how- 
ever, as much belongs to philosophy as sounding 
the ocean belongs to ocean telegraphy, Locke 
had already done the same thing. He said, that 
before attempting to dive into philosophy, it 
would be wise to inquire whether the human mind 

The Science of Criticisin. 11 

is able to dive into it, and he would therefore chapter 

examine into the nature and resources of the L 

thinking faculty. The criticism of the under- 
standing which he thus undertook is Locke's 
philosophy, just as Kant's critique of reason is 
the most important part of Kant's philosophy. 
So in other lines of thought, criticism of philo- 
logy is a piece of philology, and criticism of 
history is a contribution to the lore of history. 
One of the most classical of all histories indeed, 
that of Julius Caesar, goes by the name of com- 
mentary. But criticism of poetry, it must be is criticism 

.!• . . JjI • XX *^<i DOthiDg 

repeated, is not poetry, and art lore is not art. more. 
The attempt has, no doubt, again and again 
been made, to elevate criticism into poetry. 
Witness the well-known poems of Hora<5e, Vida, 
Boileau, Pope, and others. But criticism that 
would be poetry is like the cat that set up for 
a lady and could not forget the mice. Whatever 
it may be as criticism, it falls short of art. And 
therefore it is that the name more especially 
belongs to all that lore which cannot well get 
beyond itself—rthe lore of art and literary form. 

Now, it must be owned that criticism does not Criticism 
yet rank as a science, and that, following the^^iLiw.* 
wonted methods, it seems to have small chance 
of becoming one. To judge by the names be- 
stowed upon critics, indeed, one might infer that 
it has no chance at all. Sir Henry Wotton used ^* ^ 
to say, and Bacon deemed the sayinff valuable thinks of 

•^ , , .^ G» critics and 

enough to be entered in his book of Apophthegms, criticism. 

12 l^lie Gay Science. 

CHAITER that they are but brushers of noblemen's clothes ; 
-— L Ben Jonson spoke of them as tinkers who 
make more faults than they mend; Samuel 
Butler, as the fierce inquisitors of wit, and as 
butchers who have no right to sit on a jury ; Sir 
Richard Steele, as of sdl mortals the silliest; 
Swift, as dogs, rats, wasps, or, at best, the 
drones of the learned world ; Shenstone, as asses 
which, by gnawing vines, first taught the ad- 
vantage of pruning them ; Matthew Green, as 
upholsterers and appraisers ; Bums, as cut-throat 
bandits in the path of fame ; Washington Irving, 
as freebooters in the republic of letters ; and Sir 
Walter Scott, humorously reflecting the gene- 
ral sentiment, as caterpillars. If poets and 
artists may be described as pillars of the house 
of fame, critics, wrote Scott, are the caterpillars. 
Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved 
hanging, said Ben Jonson ; and criticism, 
says Dryden, is mere hangman's work. It is 
a malignant deity, says Swift, cradled among the 
snows of Nova Zembla. Ten censure wrong, says 
Pope, for one who writes amiss. The critic's 
livelihood is to find fault, says Thackeray, Non 
es vitiosuSj ZoUe^ sed vUiunij is the summing up 
of the wittiest of Latin poets : You are not 
at fault. Gaffer critic, but fault. Thomas 
The pith Moore has a fable of which the point is that 
Moore'i from the moment when young Genius became 
subject to criticism his glory faded. Wordsworth 
describes criticism as an inglorious employ- 

Tke Science of Criticmn. 13 

ment. *'I warn thee," says Edward Irving, cfl after 
" against criticism, which is the region of pride — 1 
and malice." 

Nor is this merely the judgment of poets and what 
artists upon their tormentors. The critics have of Ldi^^*"*" 
passed sentence upon each other with equal *^^^^^' 
severity. One of the mildest statements which 
I can call to mind is that of Payne Knight, 
who opens an essay on the Greek alphabet 
with the assertion that what is usually consi- 
dered the higher sort of criticism has not the 
slightest value. It was but the other day that a 
distinguished living critic, Mr. Gr. H. Lewes, 
found occasion to write — " The good effected 
by criticism is small, the evil incalculable." 
Critics have always had a strong cannibal in- 
stinct. They have not only snapped at the 
poets : they have devoured one another. It 
' seems as if, like Diana's priest at Aricia, a critic 
could not attain his high office except by slaugh- 
ter of the priest already installed ; or as if he 
had been framed in the image of that serpent 
which, the old legends tell us, cannot become 
a dragon unless it swallow another serpent. It 
is not easy to connect the pursuits of such men 
with the notion of science. The truth, how- 
ever, is that criticism, if it merit half the 
reproaches which have been cast upon it, is The doom of 
not fit to live. It is not merely unscientific:^"*'*^'""* 
it is inhuman. Hissing is the only sound 
in nature that wakes no echo; and if criti- 


14 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER cism is nought but hissing, can do nought but 
L hiss, it is altogether a mistake. 

Summary It may bo hard for the critics to be measured 

of critid™ by the meanest of their tribe and by the worst 
of their deeds ; but if we put the meanest and 
the worst out of sight altogether, and look only 
to the good, we shall still find that criticism, at 
its best, is a luxuriant wilderness, and yields 
nowhere the sure tokens of a science. Take 
it in any of its forms, editorial, biographical, 
historical, or systematic, and see if this be not 
the case. 

Kditoriai Editorial criticism, whether it takes the course 
of revising, or of reviewing, or of expoimding 
the texts of individual authors, has, even in the 
hands of the ablest critics engaged upon the 
works of the greatest poets, yielded no large 
results. It is very much to this kind of criti- 
cism, at least when it points out a beauty here 
and a blemish there, that Payne Knight refer- 
red, when he declared that it is of no use what- 
ever. A good editor of poetry is, indeed, one of 
the rarest of birds, as those who have paid any 
attention to certain recent issues must pain- 
fully know. Sometimes the editor is an enthu- 
siastic admirer of his author : in this case he 
generally praises everything he sees, and edits 
in the style of a showman. Sometimes he is 
wonderfully erudite : in this case he rarely gets 
beyond verbal criticism, and edits on the prin- 
ciple of the miser, that if you take care of the 

The Science of Criticism. 15 

halfpence the pounds will take care of them- chapter 
selves. The appearance of one edition after — 1 
another of the same poets and the same drama- gaSTfeitory. 
tists proves how unsatisfactory was each previous 
one, and how exceedingly rare is that assem- 
blage of qualities required in a poetical editor 
— ample knowledge combined with depth of 
thought, imagination restrained by common 
sense, and the power of being far more than the 
editor of other men's work, united with the will 
to forget oneself and to remain entirely in the 
background. Perhaps this last is the rarest 
of combinations. Why should a man, who is 
himself capable of producing a book, be con- 
tent with the more humble labour of fur- 
bishing up other men's productions? The 
result is nearly worthless, unless there is some 
sort of equality, some appearance of companion- 
ship and brotherhood between the poet and his 
editor ; but the chances are that only those will 
undertake the responsibility of editing poetry 
who are fit for nothing else, who could not 
by accident write two passable couplets, who 
could not assimie to be the poet's friend, but 
who, perchance, might lay claim to the dignity 
of being the poet's lacquey — which Sir Henry 
Wotton had in his mind when he said that 
critics are but the brushers of noblemen's 

The modem author who has been most read An examjio 
and criticised is Shakespeare. There is a well- shake- 

16 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER known edition of his works in which nearly 
—1 every line has a bushel of notes gathered from 

SSSl the four winds-fxom the two and thirty 
winds. All the wisdom of all the annotators is 
winnowed, and garnered, and set in an^y. 
After all, what is it ? That which one critic 
says, the next gainsays, and the next con- 
founds. On reading a dozen sach pages, we 
close the volume in despair, and carry away 
but one poor idea, that Shakespearian criticism 
is like the occupation of the prisoner in the 
Bastile, who, to keep away madness, used daily 
to scatter a handfril of pins about his room, that 
he might find employment in picking them up 
again. Strangely enough, it is not the men of 
highest intellect that in this way have done the 
most for Shakespeare. Pope was one of his 
editors ; so was Warburton ; Johnson another ; 
Malone too, a very able man. Mr. Charles 
Knight is correct in saying that the best of the 
old editors of Shakespeare is Theobald — " poor 
piddling Tibbald.'* Whatever be the abstiact 
worth of such editorial researches, their scientific 
tin worth worth is fairly estimated by Steevens, one of the 
hy KiMrMii. niost eager of his race, when he claims the merit 
of being the first commentator on Shakespeare 
who strove with becoming seriousness to account 
for the stains of gravy, pie-crust, and coffee, that 
defile nearly all the copies of the First Folio. 

Another ti. Nor Can it be said that there is any more cer- 
•mpinofit ^\^ appearance of science when the ancient 

The Science of Criticism. 17 

authors are subjected to the same strain of criti- chapter 
cism. Witness the famous critics of the Bentley — 1 
and Person mould. Giant as he was, Person ^iucto. 
had but small hands, that played with words as 
with marbles, and delighted in nothing so much 
as in good penmanship. One is astonished in 
reading through his edition of Euripides, to see 
how he wrote note upon note, all about words, 
and less than words — syllables, letters, accents, 
pimctuation. He ransacked Codex A and Co- 
dex B, Codex 'iCantabrigiensis and Codex Cot- 
tonianus, to show how this noun should be in 
the dative, not in the accusative ; how that verb 
should have the accent paroxytone, not peris- 
pomenon ; and how by all the rules of prosody 
there should be an iambus, not a spondee, in Pomon's 
this place or in that. Nothing can be more £^.^jii6a. 
masterly of its kind than the preface to the 
Hecubaj and the supplement to it. The lad 
who hears enough of this wonderful dissertation 
from his tutors at last turns wistful eyes towards 
it, expecting to find some magical criticism on 
Greek tragedy. Behold it is a treatise on cer- 
tain Greek metres. Its talk is of caesural pauses, 
penthemimeral and hephthemimeral, of isochro- 
nous feet, of enclitics and cretic terminations ; and 
the grand doctrine it promulgates is expressed 
in the canon regarding the pause which, from 
the discoverer, has been named the Porsonian, 
that when the iambic trimeter, after a word of 
more than one syllable, has the cretic termina- 
VOL. I. c 


18 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER tion, included either in one word or in two, then 
II • 

_L the fifth foot must be an iambus ! The young 

student throws down the book thus prefaced, 
and wonders if this be all that giants of Por- 
sonian height can see or care to speak about 
in Greek literature. Nor was Porson alone ; he 
had disciples even worse. Many a youth of 
wild temperament wishes for something to break 
his mind on, like the study of Armenian, which 
Byron found useful in that way. Let him read 
Eimaiey. Elmslcy ou the Medea. If Porson was a kind of 
Baal, a lord of flies, Elmsley was a literary 
dustman. The criticism of detail which both 
of them studied has an invariable tendency to 
stray further and further from science, and to 
become Rabbinical It ends in teaching Rabbis 
to count the letters of a sacred book backwards 
and forwards until they can find the middle 
one. It ends, as in the last century, in teach- 
ing critics to reject false rhymes, and to allow 
false gods. The motes that people a sunbeam, 
and are beautiful there, come to eclipse the stars. 
In the words of Keble : 

A finger-breadth at hand will mar 
A world of light in heaven afar, 
A mot« eclipse yon glorious star, 
An eyelid hide the sky. 

Biogiaphi- Balked in the search for science amid the cri- 
ticism 01 detail, we next try cntics oi a higher 
order, who, not content to examine literary 
works in and by themselves, examine them in 
connection with the lives of the authors. The 

The Science of Criticism. 19 

biographical critics are as yet few in number, chaptkr 
and their method is of late origin. Johnson (if — 1 
I must not say Bayle) may be taken as the father 
of the tribe, though he took to the method rather 
by chance than from choice, and was never fully 
alive to its value. It was a great thing, how- 
ever, to introduce into criticism the personality 
of an author, and to study his works in the 
light of his life. It immediately ensured the The advan- 
sympathy of the critics, for Johnson, with all 
his drawbacks, must be accepted as essentially 
kind, hearty, and just. Since his time, other 
writers, in our own and other countries, have 
made the most of the new method. Their works 
are of great interest and of lasting value ; for 
whereas editorial criticism is mere analysis, an'd 
so far as it is trustworthy contains nothing 
which was not previously contained in the work 
revised, in biographical criticism there is some- 
what of synthesis; there is a new element 
added; there is the image of the author's life 
projected on his work. But, however enter- 
taining or however valuable this may be, it is 
not science. 

In so far as a science of human nature isButhowfiu- 
possible, it lies not in the actions of the indi- s^J^e^ce. 
vidual, but in those of the race; not in the 
developments of a lifetime, but in those of ages 
and cycles. The biographical critics tell us that 
Dryden, before he courted the Muse, took a dose 
of salts ; that Anacreon choked on a grape- 

c 2 


Apt 10 

20 TJte Gcu/ Science. 

GHAf-TEB Stone ; tLal ^hcIivIuf had lii^ bald head brokeii 
II .' . . . 
. l»y au eag'lt' wLicL liigli iu air, took it far m 

Htone, and drojijn^d a tortoise on it ; thai Horace 
i^aii; blear-t'ved : that Cumoem^ was on^e-eved : tiiat 
two otlier t^jiic jioete were blind of both eves; 
that the author of Thv CaMlt of IndiiknoB 
UHed to Bauuter aliont bis garden, and with loB 
bands in his jKicketfi^ bite the Bnnnj sides of bis 
jieacbes; tliat «Iobn Dennis, the critic was 
exjielled bis ccJlege for stabbing a man in the 
dark (a fact, by the war, unknown to Pope); 
that Spinoza's darling amnsement was to en- 
tangle flies in spiders* welis, and to set spiders 
fighting with each other ; that Newton was 
small enongh, wben he was bom, to be put 
into a qnart-mng, and that if he had any 
animal taste, it was for apples of the red* 
streak sort ; tliat Milton married thrice, and 
each of lii^ wiveis was a i-irgin ; that Sheffield, 
duke of Buckingliam, married thrice, and eadi 
of his wives wajs a widow. All these de- 
tails have their significauce ; but they must be 
And hMT charily dealt with. Too great attention to such 
matters makes the viiry worst wjil for science^ 
and is apt to reduce a critic i/) the condition of 
a parasite. Not tliat parasitical criticism of this 
kind is altogether worthless. The latest doctrine 
of the naturalists is that jjearls are the product 
of a parasite. Still mankind liave a wholesome 
terror of paiasites, and usually regard a purely 
biographical criticism as tending too much to 

The Science of Criticism. 21 

encourage these animals. The system of bio- chapter 
graphy on biography which now prevails, a bio- — 1 
grapher getting his life written because he has 
himself written lives,* reminds one too vividly of 
that world described by one of our humourists 
in which 

Great fleas have little fleas 

Upon their backs to bite 'em, 
And little fleas have lesser fleas, 

And so ad infinitum. 

The historical critics take a wider field, and Historical 
dash at higher game, but usually they have been ^ *"™' 
the least critical of their kind. They have too 
often been chroniclers rather than historians, 
bibliographers rather than critics, more bent on 
recording facts than on determining their value. 
Even when they reach a higher excellence, and 
give us histories worthy of the name, their work, 
if we are to look for science in it, shows at once 
the fatal weakness of being much too narrow in 
design. At best, the historian can give us only How far 
patches of history ; but the historians of litera- ^™ce. 
tmre give us very small patches. The stream 
of political history has been traced from age 
to age, and from empire to empire. We can 
voyage back to Babylon; we can find on 
the walls of Luxor and Karnac the Hebrew 

* On the principle laid down • serves the record he bestows. It 
by Sir James Prior, to justify ' forms a debt of honour, if not of 
his life oi Malone : ** He who gratitude, which literary men 
has expended learning and in- ! are bound to bestow upon each 
liustry in making known the | other. The neglect of it is in- 
lives and labours of others, de- justice to their class." 

22 The Gay Science. 

rHAiTKH ftices which we meet in the crowd to-day. But 

L the stream of Hterary history, though it is 

equally continuous, has never been thus fol- 
lowed. We take it in small reaches, and the 
first shallow we come to stops our course. Not 
aimI Iiow only is it thus limited in length of view : it is 
lu'l^^w." ecjually so in breadth. It is needless to dwell 
on the fact that the history of a nation s poetry 
liJiH seldom been written with much reference 
to the national life from which it springs. It 
is the study of botany apart from geography. 
What is more remarkable than this, however, 
is that poetry has been studied and its history 
written in utter forgetfulness of the kindred 
arts — music, architecture, painting, sculpture. 
Moore on one occasion speaks with great con- 
tempt of an essay on lyrical poetry written by the 
author of the Nujlu Thoxufhts^ in which not 
one word is said about music. This is but an 
exaggerated instance of the separation of tlie 
arts, one from another, in the view of criticism. 
It is precisely as if in relation to the flora of a 
country, one set of men confined their attention 
to the monocotyledons, making that a special 
science, another to the dicotyledons, making that 
a special science, and a tliird to the flowerless 
plants, making that also a science by itself, 
while none of them gave any thought to any 
. but their own branch of the subiect. It seems 
iMiimi Hoi a not yct to have been fully understood that the, 
.(.. mviMiir. intellectual flora of a country must be studied 

The Science of Criticism. 23 

as a whole; that the arts are one family; that chapter 

the Muses are sisters; that in their rise and 

progress there is a concert ; that to make out 
the movements of any one we must watch the 
movements of all the others in the intricate dance 
which they lead ; and, in a word, that it is only 
out of comparative criticism, as out of compara- 
tive anatomy, and comparative philology, and 
comparative mythology, that a true science can 

At present, so far from there being in exist- compara- 
ence anything which can bear the name ofdBm. 
comparative criticism, there is no attempt to pro- 
duce it, and the very need of it is scarcely ac- 
knowledged. The science of language is quite 
a modern revelation : it was an impossibility 
imtil we were able to compare languages to- 
gether on the grand scale. In like manner 
the historical criticism of works of art, with a 
glimmer of science in its method, is out of the 
question, until we can compare art with art, can 
see how the lise of one coincides with the setting 
of another, and can take note of the circum- 
stances under which two or more flourish to- 
gether. Whether the arts have gained or lost 
by separation, so that the same man is no longer 
poet, architect, painter, and sculptor, all in one, 
is an open question ; but for the purposes of 
science, at least, it would seem that the division 
of labour and separation of interest have had an 
evil eflFect. It was a theory of Leibnitz that the 

24 The Gay Science. 

CHAi'TKR world is made of monads, each of which has a 

L defined relation to every other, and that the 

problem eternally before the mind of the Deity 
is, when the state of any monad is given, 
to determine what must be the state — past, 
present, and to come — of every other in the 
Tbepm- universe. That is, after a sort, the problem 
ud«n! *^"" which in the universe of art the scientific 
critic may fairly be called upon to solve. We 
know from Gibbon that in the darkness of the 
thirteenth century the orders of a Mogul Khan 
who reigned on the borders of China told on 
the price of herrings in the English market. 
And is it only of such remote influences as 
rule the price of a herring that we can take 
account ? Surely there is in modem civilization 
a reason for the fact that our poets of the elder 
race, as Tasso, delight in no event of natiu^ so 
much as sunrise, and are continually making 
proclamation of the effulgence of its coming, 
while the lat^.-r ones, as those of the nineteenth 
century, delight in simsets, and are never weary 
of brofxiing on the glories of an existence that 
is loveliest at the last. Surely there are some 
general laws which determine why in ancient 
times the Doric branch of the great Hellenic 
family should have been the chief patrons of the 
lyrical art, while they produced few lyrical artists 
of renown ; and that, as a parallel fact in modem 
times, England should be the best patron in 
Europe of musical art, while notwithstanding a 

The Science of Criticism. 25 

few brilliant exceptions, it is eclipsed by other chapter 
countries as a begetter of great musicians. _L 
Surely, again, there is some general law which 
necessitated, at one and the same period, in the • 
literatures of two such different countries as 
England, the head quarters of Protestantism, 
and Spain, the stronghold of Papacy, of Inqui- 
sition and of Loyola, an explosion of supera- 
bounding dramatic energy such as in modem 
times no other literatures can boast of. Surely, 
once more, there is something in history to 
account for and to connect together that lust 
of fame which is rampant in the literature of 
the Elizabethan era — in the strains of the 
greatest poets, Shakespeare and Spenser, as well 
as in those of the least, Digges and Barnfield 
— which makes itself felt with such fervour at 
no other period of our literary progress, and 
which, indeed, in the whole history of letters, 
meets with its match but once, namely, among Too »reiy 
the Roman poets of the Augustan age. These are *'**"p*^- 
the things which historical criticism, to be worthy 
of itself, ought to set forth, which lie within its 
grasp, and which it hardly ever touches. 

Not only, however, do the critics — editorial, Systematic 

I* 1*1 11*1*1/* *i 1 or Maratific 

biographical, and historical — tail us when wecritidsm. 
go to them for science; but even those who 
undertake to write of poetry and art systemati- 
cally give us little or no help. There is in all 
antiquity only one systematic work of criticism 
which is of much worth or of any authority, to 

2() The Gay Science. 

ciiAiTKu wit — Aristotlo*H, and that is but a fragment. It 
— 1 nii^lit 1)0 in-ged apainst the scientific character of 
tilirrrr»"r«. thlH ramonH work that it was built on a too small 
l!yAl*uu»iu, induction of facts, seeing that the philosopher 
had only the literature of Greece in his mind. 
Kvon, however, with that literature alone before 
him, lie ought not to have committed the mistake 
wliirli t4iintH his whole work, and has turned what 
miglit havo l>oen a pilace into a cairn, a science 
into a nuTo aggregate of focts. His leading prin- 
ciple, which makes all poetry, all art, an imi- 
tation, is demonstrably false, has rendered his 
Politic one-sidinl (a treatise not so much on poe- 
try, as on dnunatio |K>etrv), and has transmitted 
to all artor criticism a sort of hereditary squint. 
Thei\> is, however, in later criticism a worse fault 
than the hereditary S(|uint — ii fault which be- 
longs to itself, anil is not to l>e found in Aristotle. 
In moaeni Auioug tlio Systematic writers of modem times, 
vou^ito irom J>ealiger downwams, criticism is almost 
ul^ljl^. wholly devoted to questions of language. It is 
true that verlnil questions involve much higher 
ones, for language is the incarnation of thought^ 
and every art has its own si)eech, every work of 
art its own voice, which l>elongs to it as the 
voice of Esj\u to the hands of Es;iu. Epic imagery 
and verse l>elong to epic art, the dramatic appa- 
ratus of language belongs to dramatic art, and 
lyrical technicalities belong to the essence of 
lyrical art with such an indefeasible right of 
possession as the systematic critics confining 

The Science of Criticism. 27 

tbeir attention to the language almost wholly, chapter 

that is, to the body without the soul, little '- 

suspect. They have studied figures of speech 
and varieties of metre, with little care for the 
weightier points of action, passion, manner, cha- 
racter, moral and intellectual aim. In simile 
and metaphor, in rhyme and rhythm, they 
have seen rules and measures, and they have 
reduced all the art of expression to a system as 
easy as grammar; but they have not sought 
to methodise the poet's dream, they have not 
cared in their analysis to grasp his higher 
thought. The scope of such criticism will best Example of 

\ "iij'i? L J.' 1 A. what the 

be seen m the design ot a systematic work enter- moderns 
tained by one of the chief critics of tlie last cen- ^J^^a'^by 
tury. Johnson projected a work " to show how *^fj^™ **^ 
small a quantity of real fiction there is in the 
world, and that the same images, with very 
[few] variations, have served all the authors who 
have ever written." It is the similarity of 
imagery that he thought worthy of chief remark. 
Situation, incidents, characters, and aims, these 
are of small accoimt beside similes and metar 
phors. Johnson's project was conceived entirely 
in the spirit of systematic criticism, as it has been 
most approved in modern times. Its analysis of 
images and phrases is, if not perfect, yet very 
elaborate. Its analysis of the substance which 
these images and phrases clothe, is, although 
not wholly neglected, yet very trivial. And the 
result is, that as a mere theory of language, as a 


The Gay Science. 

Mr. Hut. 
kiti'i tum- 
nwnr of 
inwrn cii 
ticisiii M 

ciiAiTKR mere pigeon-holing of words and other technical 

L detailH, such criticism is unsatisfactory and does 

not reach the truth, because it has no root, 
because it forgets the substance and is all for 
form as form. 

No one has more pungently and truthfully 
described the critical science of what may be 
termed the Renaissance than Mr. Buskin. 
Nearly the whole body of criticism comes firom the 
leaders of the Renaissance, who " discovered sud- 
denly," says Mr. Rusldn, " that the world for ten 
centuries had been living in an ungrammatical 
manner, and they made it forthwith the end of 
human existence to be grammatical. And it 
mattered thenceforth nothing what was said or 
what was done, so only that it was said with 
scholarship, and done with system. Falsehood 
in a Ciceronian dialect had no opposers; truth 
in patois no listeners. A Roman phrase was 
thought worth any number of Gothic facts. The 
sciences ceased at once to be anything more than 
different kinds of grammar — ^grammar of lan- 
guage, grammar of logic, grammar of ethics, 
grammar of art; and the tongue, wit and inven- 
tion of the human race were supposed to have 
foimd their utmost and most divine mission 
in syntax and syllogism, perspective, and five 
orders." * 

• Sir Ji«hua Keynolds's re- 
iniirkM on ono of tho greatest 
Iiicturos of Kubcns are a fair speci- 

men of the best criticism of his 
time. We are anxious to learn 
what so fine a judge as Reynolds 

The Science of Criticism. 


Almost the only systematic criticism of modem chapter 

times which is not of the Renaissance, and not 
entitled to this appraisement is that of Germany, ^a^'cri- 
which is, if possible, infected with not a worse, but q^u^ 
a less manageable, disease. If the criticism of the 
Renaissance is afflicted with a deficiency of 
thought, the new epoch of criticism, which the 
Germans attempted to inaugurate, is charged The defect 
with a superfecundity of thought tending to 
overlay the facts that engage it. Mr. Arnold 
complains of the want of idea in Enghsh criti- 
cism. " There is no speculation in those eyes." 
The same complaint certainly cannot be brought 

has to say of the Taking Down 
from the Gross. Observe how 
instinctiyely he goes to the 
grammar of Rubens's treatment. 
His first thought is for the white 

''The greatest peculiarity of 
this composition is the contri- 
vance of the white sheet, on 
which the body of Jesus lies. 
This circumstance was probably 
what induced Rubens to adopt 
the composition. He well knew 
what e£fect white lincD, opposed 
to flesh, must have with his 
powers of colouring ; a circum- 
stance which was not likely to 
enter into the mind of an Italian 
painter, who probably would have 
been afraid of the linen's hurting 
the colouring of the flesh, and 
have kept it down of a low tint . . 
His Christ I consider as one of 
the finest figures ever invented ; 

it is most correctly drawn, and, 
I apprehend, in an attitude of 
the utmost difficulty to execute. 
The hanging of the head on his 
shoulder, and the falling of the 
body on one side, give such an ap- 
pearance of the heaviness of death 
that nothing can exceed it. . . 
The principal light is formed by 
the body of Christ and the white 
sheet: there is no second light 
which bears any proportion to 
the principal ; . . . however, there 
are many little detached lights 
distributed at some distance from 
the great mass, such as the head 
and shoulders of the Magdalen, 
the heads of the two Maries, the 
head of Joseph, and the back and 
arm of the figure leaning over 
the cross ; the whole surrounded 
with a dark sky, except a little 
light in the horizon and above 
the cross." 

30 The Cray Science. 

CHAPTER against German criticism. It is all idea. It 

1 begins with hypothesis and works by deduction 

downward to the facts. The most elaborate, the 
most favoured, and the most successful system in 

As in Hegel. Germany is that of Hegel. To follow it, how- 
ever, with understanding, you have first to accept 
the Hegelian philosophy, of which it is a part. 
It begins by declaring art to be the manifesta- 
tion of the absolute idea, and when we ask what 
is the absolute idea, we are told that it is the 
abstraction of thought in which the identical is 
identical with the non-identical, and in which 
absolute being is resolved into absolute nothing. 

Ami schei- Schclliug may not be so wild as this ; but he, too, 

"*^' sets out from an absolute idea, and works not 
from facts to generahsation but from generalisa- 
tion to facts. The German constructs art as he 
constructs the camel out of the depths of his moral 
consciousness. Out of Germany it is impossible 
and useless to argue with these systems. We can 
only dismiss them with the assurance that if this 
be science, then 

Tliinking is but an idle waste of thought, 

And nought is everything and everything is nought ; 

and that between the Renaissance, or gramma- 
tical method of criticism, which busied itself too 
of fiddle iiiuch with forms — the mere etiquette or ceremo- 
JJJJJJ^^ nial of literature — and the German, or philoso- 
criticism of pineal method of criticism, which wilders and 

(Jermany * 

and that of flouuders in the chaos of aboriginal ideas, there 
Miice. must be a middle path — a method of criticism 

The Science of Criticism. 31 

that may fairly be called scientific, and that will chapter 
weigh with even balance both the idea out of -11 
which art springs and the forms in which it 

Recent criticism, even when it eschews philo- Method and 
sophy, cuts deeper than of yore, both in Germany mo^ ^t 
and out of it, and cannot be content to play with ^"''*^"°- 
questions of mere images and verses; but it 
avoids system. It has never been so noble in 
aim, so conscientious in labour, so large in 
view, and withal so modest in tone, as now. In 
point of fact, philosophy, baffled in its aims, has 
passed into criticism, and minds that a century 
back might have been lost in searching into the 
mystery of knowledge and the roots of being, 
turn their whole gaze on the products of human 
thought, and the history of human endeavour. 
But the philosophers turning critics are apt to 
carry into the new study somewhat of the despair The despair 
learned from the old, and, I repeat it, carefully ^ ^^''*^'"' 
avoid system. The deeper, therefore, their 
criticism delves, the more it becomes a laby- 
rinth of confusion. Fertile in suggestions, and 
rioting in results, it is a chaos in which the sug- 
gestions, though original, do not always connect 
themselves clearly with first principles, and in 
which the results, though valuable, are reft of 
half their importance by the lack of scientific 
arrangement. Nor is this all ; for we too often 
see critics toiling in ignorance of each other s 

32 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER work, lauding in one country what is slighted in 
another, and void of any general understanding 

of*l^. 8U3 to the division of labour, and the correlation 
of isolated studies. A fair example oflfers itself 
in the criticism of Shakespeare. In England we 
are most struck with Shakespeare's knowledge 
of human nature, and power of embodying it 
in the characters of the drama. We rank this 
above all his gifts, even ubove his wondrous 
gift of speech. Pass over to Germany and note 

uirid. how one of the latest critics there, Ulrici, like a 
true German, admires Shakespeare chiefly for his 
ideas. When he is pretty siu^ that the country- 
men of the dramatist will object to some of his 
criticism — to his fathering spurious plays on 
Shakespeare, and to his finding in genuine ones 
the most far-fetched ideas; he says that the 
English critics are not to be trusted, because they 
look to the truth of the characters as the chief 
Shakespearian test. Instead of the truth of the 
characters, what has he to show ? He shows the 
doctrine of the Atonement preached in one play, 
the difference between equity and law set forth in 
another, and in all the plays a shower of pims that 
continually remind us of the Original Sin of our 
nature, the radical antithesis between thought 
and action, idea and reality, produced by the FaU. 

French G^ thcu to Francc, and see there the well-known 

*" ^""^ writer, M. Philarete Ch&sles. Frenchmanlike, he 
regards the plot as all-important in the drama, 
and says that Lear, Hamlet, and Othello are not 

The Science of Criticism. 33 

the creations of Shakespeare, because the story chapter 
was borrowed. ** The admirers of Shakespeare," _L, 
he says, ** praise in him certain qualities which 
are not his. He is, they declare, the creator of 
Lear,the creator of Hamlet, the creator of Othello. 
He has created none of these." Surely the 
critics of the three nations would gain not a little 
if they imderstood each other better, and worked 
more in concert. Why this conflict of opinion 
where there ought to be no room for doubt ? 
Why this Babel of voices where all are animated 
by a common aim? And where the good of 
criticism if it cannot prevent such misunder- 
standings ? 

The backwardness and impotence of criticism cunng ex< 

■I 1 1 1*1' xi ample of the 

show, perhaps, nowhere so glaringly as in the impotence 
failure of the most splendid offer of prizes to draw *»^^"^^^°'- 
together for competition very high intellectual 
•work. We can get prize oxen and prize pigs 
that come up to our expectations; but prize 
essays, prize poems, prize monuments, prize de- Prize de- 
signs of any kind, are notoriously poor in this fenT 
country, however high we bid. For the Duke 
of Wellington's monument the offer was about 
£20,000 ; and we all know of the disappoint- 
ment which the exhibition of the designs created. 
On the other hand, when prizes were offered for 
the designs of a Foreign Office and an India 
Office, some admirable drawings were exhibited, 
but there followed this odd jarring of opinions, 
that the design to which the judges allotted the 

VOL. I. D 


34 The Gay Sdenee. 

CHAPTER first prize was not adopted bj the (rovemmeiit 

L for the building ; that the design which took the 

second prize got really the place of honour in 
being selected for execution ; and that finally 
Lord Palmerston threw aside aU the prise 
designs, and commissioned the second priae- 
man to make a wholly new design. Now, 
what is the meaning of this ? Why are prize 
essays glittering on the surface, and worthlesB 
below it? Why are prize poems a mass of 
inanity, decked out in &r-fetched metaphors^ 
and wild personifications? Why is a prize 
picture quite uninteresting — a conventional 
display of balanced lights and slanting lines^ 
dull tints and stage simpering ? Why is a prize 
statue about the most unreal thing under the 
whT ii a« sun ? Why has a prize monument never yet 
tcBftn;^iuK K>?n pnxlucod that we can think of with perfect 
" " pleasure? Why is a prize play so notoriously 
Kul that mauacers have lontr ceased to offer 
ivwarxls tor the inevitable damnation ? 
w^« «« The Jiflioultv of answerinir sucli questions is 
la i'.nwwi the irreater lw*:uiso ajrainst these disheartening 
exjx^rieuvvs we have lo set the foot that imder a 
Jiffervnt system of oivilir^^tion the offer of prizes 
prvxiu^wl the uK>st brilliant results^ When a 
Grvek linuua wns aotevl at Athens it was a prize 
dmir.a : a:ul we aT\^ toU tt;at .Kschvlus won the 
lu^tiv^'.r A^ iua!^v tauesv th:tt S\n^hocles in the end 
Iv.^t .Vl5<*h\ lus^av.vl i:\:\: Kurij^uies tr^ like manner 
V.Avl :::s tri\::upV.>. r^*«' v\*::;:o vir^:i;atisi Men- 


The Seience of Criticism. 35 

ander, was drowned in the Piraeus, and the story chapter 
goes (but it is only a story), that he drowned — 1 
himself in misery at seeing his rival, Philemon, 
snatch from him the dramatic ivy-crown. Cor- 
inna, it will be remembered, won the prize for 
lyric verse from Pindar himself. Whether it be 
a fact or not about the poetical contest between 
Homer and Hesiod, and the prize of a tripod 
won by the latter, the tradition of such a contest 
is a voucher for the custom and for the honour 
in which it was held. At the Pythian games 
prizes for music and every sort of artistic work 
were as common and as ^^tmous as the prizes for 
horse-races and foot-races. To realize such a state 
of things in our time, we must imagine poete, 
painters, and musicians assembled on Epsom 
Downs to contend for the honours of the games 
with colts, the sons of Touchstone and Stockwell, 
and fillies, the descendants of Pocahontas and 
Beeswing. Why should that be possible in Greece 
which is impossible now ? Why do we draw the 
line between jockeys who ride racehorses, and 
poets who ride their Pegasus— offer prizes for 
the grosser animals and produce results that have 
made English horses the first in the world, while 
the most magnificent offers cannot get a fit 
monument for the greatest Englishman of the 
present century ? 

The explanation is not far to seek : it lies in '^^'^ *^^- 

^ nataon to be 

the uncertainty of ludemaent, in the waywardness •'ound in the 

.•^•'^ '. ii» weakness of 

of taste, m the want of recognised standaros, in criticism. 

D 2 

36 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER the contempt of criticism. Gtxxi work is not 
—1 usually forthcoming to the oflFer of a prize^ 
because when — as in the case of the Foreign and 
India offices — it does come forth, there ensues a 
chance medley of opinions, in which there is no 
certainty that the best work will obtain the 
reward. The difference in England between a 
contest of racers and a contest of poets, 
painters, or eaBayiste, is to be found in this, 
Tiie ftui- that the pace of two horses admits of measure- 
iX^ ^i. Th«« i, a Bt«.<tari to which dl gi„ 
assent; the race is won by a nose, or a head, 
or a necky or a length. There need be no 
mistake in the comparison ; and if the rewards 
are tempting, we may be pretty sure that 
the best horses wiU run, and that the result 
may be taken as a feir test of merit. If there 
were any doubtfulness about the test the owners 
of the best Horses would never allow their 
favourites to run. But in any contest between 
painters or sculptors, poets or essayists, there is 
just that dubiety as to the standard of measure- 
ment which would prevent the best men from 
Influence of Not SO in Greccc, and not so in France. It 
fireeoe. has bccu wcll Said, that whoever has seen but 
one work of Greek art has seen none, and who- 
ever has seen all has seen but one. In Greek 
art, in Greek poems, in Greek prose, there is 
this uniformity, a uniformity that bespeaks, if 
not clear science, yet, at any rate, a system of 

The Science of Criticism. 37 

recognised rules. In architecture, in statuaiy, chapter 
in p^ttexy, the uniformity of aim is so palpable, J!l 
that students have long suspected the existence 
of strictly harmonious proportions in the various 
lengths, curves, and angles, which give life and 
beauty to the pure Pentelic marble, and at length 
the law which guides these proportions, the rule 
for example which produces the peculiar curve 
called the entasis of a Doric shaft, the rule 
which provides for the height of the Venus of 
Medici, or of the Apollo Belvedere, the rule 
which actuates the contour of the Portland Vase,, 
has been detected. Not that these laws will 
ever enable an inferior artist to produce another 
Parthenon or another Venus to enchant the 
world, but that like the laws of harmony in 
music, they ought to keep the artist within the 
lines of beauty. Whatever be the practical 
value of the rules, we see that to every work of 
Greek art they give the character of a school, 
iand the imity of aim and of habit produced by a 
school gives us a standard of measurement about iniiaeoce of 
which there need be little ambiguity. On a France!" 
lesser scale, something of the same sort may be 
seen in France. Frenchmen are surprised at 
the individuality of English art Every artist 
among us seems to be standing on his own dais, 
and working out of his own head. In France 
we can see more distinctly schools of art; a 
genuine approximation of methods, a theoretic 
sameness of ideals^ and we can understand, that 

38 The Gay Sdenee. 

CHAPTER in a country where the influence of school is so 
—1 apparent, the prize system should be more suo- 
cessful than among us who assert the right of 
private judgment and our contempt of authority, 
in no mincing terms. The nation that has three 
dozen religions and only one sauce, is not likely 
to have common standards in philosophy, in 
literature, or in art. Wanting these standards, 
what faith can we have in our judges ? And 
what wonder that criticism, no matter how deep 
it goes, should be a byword ? 

Ahoprfui It is a good thine: when criticism knows 

rign of our , . ^ ^ 

criticinn that it is a byword, and learns to be ashamed 

that it ii*« 

beooiM of itself. It is not to be cured until it feels itself 
itself sick ; and there is no more healthy sifrn of our 
• fae, ttea the popolTi^ which LbL .0. 
corded to the writings of Mr. Matthew Arnold, 
who has come forward to denounce our criticism 
-as folly, and to call upon the critics to mend 
their ways. In many most important points 
it is impossible to agree with this delightful 
writer. Especially when he attempts to reason 
and to generalize, he rouses in his readers the 
instincts of war, and makes them wish to break 
a lance with him. He is a suggestive writer, 
but not a convincing one. He starts many 
ideas, but does not carry out his conclusions. 
He has power of thought enough to win our 
attention, charm of style enough to enchant us 
with his strain ; but we are won without con- 
viction, and we are enchanted without being 

The Science of Criticism. 39 

satisfied. The most marked peculiarity of his chapter 
style, when he has to deal not with facts but _1 
with ideas, is its intense juvenility — a boy-power 
to the nth. It would be unjust so to charac- 
terize his robust scholarship, and his keen bio- 
graphical insight. But when he comes to what 
is more especially called an idea, then his merits 
and his defects alike are those of youthfulness. 
There is in his thinking the greenness, the 
unfitness, the impracticability of youth; there 
is also in it the freshness^ the buoyancy, the 
indescribable gracefulness, the raging activity 
of youth. We learn as we read him to have 
so much sympathy with the fine purpose, the 
fine taste, the fine temper of his writing, that 
we forget, or we are loth to express, how much 
we diflfer with him whenever he attempts 
to generalize. In the next chapter I shall 
have occasion to mention some of his errors. 
Here the great point to be noticed is, that his 
outcry against English criticism for its want of 
science (though that is not the phrase by which 
Tie would describe its deficiency) has been 
received with the greatest favour. At the 
same time, he does less than justice to EngUsh 
criticism L comparing it with foreign ; for if 
we have faults, so also have the Germans and 
the French. All alike fall short of science. 
If we fall short of it in our treatment of idea, 
they fall short of it in their treatment of fact ; 
and Mr. Arnold would have been much nearer 

40 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER the truth, if he had with even-handed justice 
-_1 exposed tlie shortcomings of all criticism, instead 
of confining his censure to criticism of the 
English schooL Be he right or wrong how- 
ever in this matter, the &ct of his having 
raised his voice against our criticism is in itself 
important. We may take it for a sure proof 
that the tide is on the turn, and that a change 
is working. Mr. Arnold is too sympathetic for 
a solitary thinker. We may agree with him 
or difier with him ; we may deem his views 
novel or stale ; clear, or the reverse ; hut of one 
tiling we can have no doubt — ^that what he 
thinks, others think also. When such a man 
complains of the lack of idea in English criti- 
cism, we may be satisfied that he is giving form 
to an opinion which, if it has not before been 
expressed with equal force, has been widely felt, 
and has often been at the point of utterance. 
We may be satisfied also that things are mend- 
ing. In this case the discovery of the disease 
is half the cure ; the confession of sin is a long 
step to reform. 

Kiimmjiir In thc Very act of showing that criticism is 

tei. not yet a science, something has also been done 

vvhymti- to show why it has failed of that standard, 

ftJieiice. and why it may be supposed that following 

anotlier course the dignity of science may not be 

l>eyond its reach. Hereafter it will be necessary 

to point out another great cause of failure in the 

The Science of Criticism. 41 

fact that criticism has hitherto rejected, or at chapter 
least kept clear of its comer stone; has never — - 
attempted to build itself systematically on what 
nevertheless it has alvsrays accepted as the one 
universal and necessary law of art, the law of 
pleasure* Meantime, in so far as this discussion 
has proceeded it will be seen that, if criticism 
has failed of science, it has been a failure of FaUure of 
method. It is only from comparative criticism 
that we can expect science, but hitherto criticism 
has been very much lost in details, and has 
never attempted comparison on the large scale, what » in- 
It is true that all criticism is comparative in a \t^^ "* 


certain sense, for without comparison there is no ^^^t, 
thought; but it is comparative only within ^**^'"- 
narrow limits, and we have to extend the area of 
comparison before the possibility of science begins 
to dawn. The comparison required is threefold ; The com- 
the first, which most persons would regard as in a S^m. 
peculiar sense critical, a comparison of all the arts 
one with another, as they appear together and in 
succession ; the next, psychological, a compari- 
son of these in their diflferent phases with the 
nature of the mind, its intellectual bias and its 
ethical needs as revealed in the latest analysis ; 
the third, historical, a comparison of the results 
thus obtained with the facts of history, the in- 
fluence of race, of religion, of climate, in one 
word, with the story of human development. 
There is not one of these lines of comparison 
which criticism can afford to neglect. It must 

42 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER compare art with art ; it must compare art 
Al with mind ; it must compare art with history ; 
and it must bring together again, and place 
side by side, the result of these three com- 
In what But though there is not one of these lines of 
^^^lirt comparison which it will do to neglect, and there 
mticifm ^ jg jjQ^ Q^^ wliich can be regarded as absolutely 
work will Qf more importance than another, nevertheless it 

for the first * . . , . 

pvt mil. may be that at tliis or that particular time, or 
for this or that particular purpose, one line of 
comparison may relatively be of more value 
Nothing to than another; and it would seem that at the 
wmnt«ii as a ^g^ which criticism has now reached there 
!^^ is nothing so much wanting to it as a correct 
psychology. Accordingly that is the main 
course of inquiry which, in the present instal- 
ment of this work, an attempt will be made to 
follow. We want, first of all, to know what a 
watchmaker would call the movement in art — 
the movement of the mind, the movement of 
ideas. Why does the mind move in that way ? 
whither does it move? when does it move? 
what does it move? Some of these questions 
are among the most abstruse in philosophy, 
and so well known to be abstruse, that the mere 
suggestion of them may be a terror to many 
readers. I may seem to be calmly inviting 
them to cross with me the arid sands of a 
On thfi dui- Sahara, and to meet the hot blasts of a simoom. 

n«« of pBj- .... 

choUigy. But, indeed, it is a mistake to suppose that a 

The Science of Critici»tn. 43 

subject which is abstruse must be dull and chapter 

killing to discuss ; and it is quite certain that if 

this subject of the movement of the mind in art 
is not made interesting the fault lies with the 
writer, and not in the subject. 

There is a curious picture in the Arabian 
Nights of a little turbaned fellow sitting cross- 
legged on the ground, with pistachio nuts and 
dates in his lap. He cracks the nuts, munches 
the kernels and throws the shells to the left, 
while by a judicious alternation he sucks the 
delicate pulp of the dates and throws the stones 
to his right. The philosopher looks on with a 
mild interest and speculates on the moral that 
sometimes the insides of things are best and 
sometimes the outsides. Now, most of the dis- 
cussions on mind with which we are familiar are 
like the pistachio nuts of the gentleman of Bag- 
dad: the shell is uninviting, and the kernel, 
which is hard to get at, and most frequently is 
rotten, is the only part that is palatable. But 
there is no reason why these discussions should But that 
not on the outside be as palatable as the date; not nec»- 
and if we cannot swallow the stones, still they '^^' 
are not useless, but may be turned to account 
as seed. The simile is rather elaborate, yet 
perhaps it is clear; and I shall be glad if in 
any way it should suggest to my readers that 
in here inviting them to a psychological discus- 
sion I am luring them not to a study which will The subject 
break their jaws with hard words and their' ^""^ 

44 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER patience with the husks of logic, but to one 
— which, if not unfairly treated, ought to be as 
'^:^'' fascinating as romance : 

Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, 
But musical as is Apollo*s lute. 




I ^WO T CAN Bcarcely be a matter of Bur- chapter 
ESI Em prise, that amid the littlenesses of ~-^ 
M^^Sk ^^^ lower criticism, the confusion 
and conflicts of the higher, any attempt in 
our day to work towards a science of criticism The d»pair 
is sure to be met with a profound despair. Kieoaoot 
I do not merely mean that the world will*"^"*'°^ 
have its doubts as to this or that man's ability 
to approach the science. That is quite fair 
and natural. The doubt is, whether the science 
be approachable by any son of man. It is a 
doubt that cleaves just now to any science 
which baa the mind and will of man for its 
theme. Methods of criticism are nothing, it may 
be said, for all methods, including the method of 
comparative criticism, must &i], when the object 
is to resolve human work to scientific law. I 
therefore desire, in this chapter, to make a few 
. on that despair with which nearly all 

48 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Englishmen just now contemplate not merely 

1 the science of criticism, but any science of human 

What we Despair of metaphysics has at length bred in 
Mthlo^^us that state of heart which Mr. John Greorge 
*^**' Phillimore exaggerates, but can scarcely be said 
to misrepresent, when pointing out that what he 
calls the Queen of Sciences, that is, metaphysics, 
is utterly ignored among us, he asks what is the 
substitute for it, and discovers that we give our- 
selves up to the most intense study of entomology. 
We believe in insects as fit objects of science ; 
but the mind of man is beyond our science, and 
we give it up in despair. Mr. Kingsley, who 
has written one book to show that a science of 
history is impossible, has written another to 
show the great and religious advantage at water- 
ing-places of studying science in the works of 
God — that is, in sea-jellies and cockle-shells. Tlie 
AftUthefcfa popular science of the day makes an antithesis 
worknof between God and man. History, politics, lan- 
tiicweTf giiag^j 8irt> literature — these are the works of 
""*"• man. Animals, vegetables, and minerals — these 
are the works of God. When the student of 
natural history discovers a new 8|>ecies, he seems 
to be rescuing, says Mr. Kingsley, " one more 
thought of the divine mind from Hela and the 
realms of the unknown." When a man goes to 
the sea-side, and, taking the advice of the same 
author, begins to study natural history, can tell 
the number of legs on a crab, the number of 

The Defqmr of a Science. 49 


joints on a lobster's tail, names one kind of shell chapter 

a helix, another kind of shell a peeten — that is 1 

called studying the works of God. Or if he 
goes to some quiet inland village, plucks flowers, 
dries them in blotting-paper, and writes a name 
of twenty syllables under each — that is studying 
the works of God. Or if he analyzes a quantity 
of earthy can tell what are its ingredients, whether 
it is better for turnips or for wheat, and whether 
it should be manured with lime or with guano — 
that is studying the works of God. And espe- Popular 
cially is it so if these students set upon the Deity, relip^Js i*" 
like a tribe of Mohawks, to hunt out his trail, to p***- 
pounce upon his footprints, to fathom his designs, 
to see everywhere the hand, and to acknowledge 
the finger of God. As though He, whose glory 
it is to conceal a thing, left finger-marks on his 
work, the exponents of popular science are always 
finding the fcager of God' and by so doing extol 
their favourite pursuit, while they tacitly rebut 
the maxim of Pope, that the proper study of The proper 
mankind is man. We who have been in the m^'Jil 
habit of regarding man as the noblest work of 
God, language as his gift, history as his provi- 
dence, and genius as heaven-born, are startled to 
hear the inanimate and irrational creation de- 
scribed as peculiarly the work and the care of 
the Deity, and seem to listen to an echo of the 
old heathen dogma — Deus est anima hrutorum. 
Amid all this cant of finding God in the mate- 
rial and not in the moral world, and of thence 

VOL. I. E 

50 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER lauding the sciences of matter to the neglect of 

L the science of mind, who but must remember a 

sermon in which the speaker, it is true, invited 
his audience to consider the lilies of the field and 
to behold the fowls of the air, but only that he 
might drive home the question — Are ye not 
much better than they ? 
Mimn- This antithesis between the works of Gk)d and 

tbTuthhe- the works of man, which we find in the science 
ihe wwla of our time, seems to have begun in a misanthro- 
tiK«l!f "^ pical vein of thought belonging to a considerable 
"»"• portion of the poetry of the nineteenth century. 
Byron, of all our recent poets,would be most easily 
accused of this misanthropy; but it is not of 
wonb- BjTon that we have to complain : it is of Words- 
•ome extent worth aud Iiis iuccssaut harping on the opposition 
IbrTt. * between nature and humanity. It was from 
Wordsworth's region of thought that the petty 
controversy arose, many years ago, as to the 
materials of poetry. Bowles contended that 
poetry is more immediately indebted for its in- 
terest to the works of nature than to those of art ; 
that a ship of the line derives its poetry not from 
anything contributed by man — the sails, masts, 
and so forth ; but from the wind that fills the sails, 
from the sunshine that touches them with light, 
from the waves on whicli the vessel rides — ^in a 
word, from nature. The essence of this criticism 
is misanthropy ; it is such misanthropy as abounds 
in Wordsworth ; it is misanthropy which Byron 
fought against manfully, and with which he was 

The Despair of a Science. 51 

incapable of sympathising. We can trace this chapter 
misanthropy downwards to Mr. Ruskin, at least Hl 
so long as he was under the influence of Words- So^'^jtaeif 
worth. In his earlier criticism he was always '° K"*^'"- 
quoting that poet ; his whole mind seemed to be 
given to landscape painting, and he conceived 
of art as the expression of man's delight in the 
works of Gk)d. He has long outgrown the 
Wordsworthian misanthropy, and has learned to 
widen his definition of the theme of art ; but 
still in his eloquent pages, as in the strains of 
Wordsworth, and as in the tendency to landscape 
of much of our poetry and painting, the men of 
science wiU find some sanction for the hollow 
antithesis which sets the works of God against 
those of man. 

It would be unjust not to remember in behalf something 

/•.!• •Ill x" X 1 •! • to be said 

of this one-sided devotion to physical science — for the one- 
a devotion to it that confines the very name of JJo^to^JhJ- 
science almost entirely to the knowledge of^^J^^^n^"** 
matter and material laws, and denies it to the prevails. 
knowledge of man and mental laws — that among 
all the intellectual pursuits of the present cen- 
tury, the science of things material can point to 
by far the most splendid results. What more 
dazzling in speculation than the discovery of The f«t« of 
Neptune ? What more stimulating to curiosity 
than the researches of Goethe, Cuvier, and 
Owen ? What more enticing to the adventurer 
than the geological prediction of the gold fields 
of Australia ? In chemistry we have well-nigh 

E 2 


52 7%<' Gay Sciei\ce. 

CHAPTER realised the dream of alcliemv, and pierced the 
III • * 
L mystery of transmutation. Photography is a 

craft in wliich Phoebus Apollo again appears 
upon the earth in the mortal guise of an artifit, 
and to the powers of which no limit can be set. 
In meteorology, the wind has been tracked, 
storms and tornados have been reduced to law. 
In electricity we seem to be hovering on the 
verge of some grand discovery, and already the 
electric spark has been trained to feats more 
marvellous than any recorded of Ariel or Puck. 
Optics now enables us to discover the composition 
of the sun, and to detect the presence of minerals 
to the millionth part of a grain. Seven-league 
boots are clumsy beside a railway ; steam-ships 
And the make a jest of the flying carpet. Think, too, of 
MTwoSks*" tl^6 immense public works which modem science 
^^^ has enabled England to complete. The Crystal 
Palace rose like tlie arch of a rainbow over the 
trees in ITyde Park ; the tubular bridge spans 
the Menai Straits, high enough for " the mast of 
some great ammiral " to pass beneath : innumer- 
able bridges, tunnels, canals, docks, dazzle the 
imagination. A thousand years hereafter poets 
and historians may write of our 'great en- 
gineers and scientific discoverers, as we now 
speak of Arthur and liis Paladins, Faust and 
the Devil, Cortes and Pizarro. Why should not 
those who figure in " the fairy tales of science " 
obtain the renown which is rightfully theirs ? 
The results they have achieved are all the more 

The Despair of a Scieiice. 53 

wonderful, if we take into account the compara- chapter 
tively recent origin of our sciences. It is little — l 
more than two hundred years since there was The recent 
only one man of scientific note in England — ^d^, 
William Harvey ; when Sydenham was but be- 
ginning to practise ; when Barrow was studying 
the Greek fethers at Constantinople ; when Ray 
was yet imknown ; when Halley was yet unborn ; 
when Flamsteed was still teething ; when New- 
ton was a farmer-boy, munching apples bb he 
drove to market on Saturdays ; when Hooke was 
a poor student at Oxford, assisting Boyle in his 
manipulations ; when Boyle lived in seclusion at 
the apothecary's, and was chiefly remarkable for 
associating with men whose names begin with W — 
Wallis, Willis, Wilkins, Ward, and Wren. None 
of the foimders of the Royal Society had then 
emerged from obscurity, and the Royal Society 
was a small club that met in secret and called 
itself the Invisible College. Two centuries have 
brought a marvellous change. Science came into And their 
England v«dth tea, with tea-drinking it spread, ?ci^ent 
and it is now imbibed as universally. It has so 
commended itself by great achievements that at 
length eveiy one of the sciences has a society for 
itself, all the great cities of the United Kingdom 
have scientific societies, and there is such a rage 
for science throughout the country and in every 
class, that, not unlike the tailors of Laputa, who, 
abjuring tape, took altitudes and longitudes with 
a quadrant, the London tailors profess to cut 

TiJ 7/«f tiav Science. 

L'iiA!"Li. iu*yr. bilir^^ t4L*it»uiifiwuiv. and in the ardour of 

— 1 scifiKt i»ii;>ti:'.r Thei: masterpiece Eureka. 
iiflfmi: AitJiiLwiiii*;. imiid ihis- nisL of the intellectaal 

I«l4 ll' Ulf 



ciL'-!-t^u": uli 11. Mif dirtfcticni, it fares ill with men- 
uti scu'Utv : ii iuTvi^ ill wiiii all the waenoes that 
niiiv m.'rt sTriiiir u called human, indnding 
ibu: v»f t-riTjcirsm. A> a scientific ohject, the 
>iiiird-:»onjr i^vJe i> of more acconnt than man: 
iLt c\^Ii^ of lilt liet- uud the CMOons of die silk- 
worm, ihaii iLu "iijr rffons C'f human genius, all 
tLr Troudtrs- '.'f Li:iii:iii Landiwiiirt. Philosophy, 
v.iri,.u> I Lavr saii La> fllfd nf- with despair, and de»- 
xwmmm, pair of ]»:.ij'-»s«]'ijL:al mtthods has spread to 
pitiliuL'^ desjiair -.'f :tll ihiiT }»Li]<.»sophy t^mched, and le- 
IfJr*^ jrarJt-d as }ieci;li:ir]y ii^: own. Xor is this the 
jririKrof ^,j^]y {^.yu;^ {j^ x^lik'li di'Miair of a human scienoe 

nuiunu u^ • -« 

iii ir<.'iivraL aiid a critical science in particular, 
fciLc»w> iist If. The:^ are davs in which the forms 
of liu-niinre art- '.'[■]K»fik-d xo the elaboration of 
system ; and as the esst-iit^ of i?cience is system, 
here is another foundation for despair to build 
ujK>n. Then, again, there are moralists who are 
eager to keep clear the great doctrine of the 
freedom of the will ; who are afraid to regard 
human actionas in such ^^'ise governed by law, 
that it is cajKible of scientific calculation ; and 
here is another ground of despair. Lastly, there 
are persons who, unable to see the practical use 
to which a science of criticism (but I ought to 
8|>eak more generally, and say a science of human 
ture) may be turned, are apt to pass upon it a 

The Despair of a Science. 55 

sentence of condemnation, which on the other chapter 

hand they do not pronounce on the merely L 

physical sciences, when they are imable to per- 
ceive immediately the practical value of any 
material discoveries ; and thus again is engen- 
dered another form of despair. Let me say 
a few words upon each of these passages of 

And first, of the philosophical despair that PbUowphi- 
no w attaches to the scientific treatment of all of mw^'^ 


those subjects which philosophy used to handle. 
Mr. G. H. Lewes has written a very clever and 
learned book on the history of philosophy, in 
which he always insists that the chief problems 
of metaphysics are insoluble. This work is so 
brilliant that it has been much read and pilfered 
from; and for practical purposes it is the best 
history of philosophy that the English reader can 
consult ; but it is burdened with the fallacy that 
because what is called metaphysics is impossible, 
therefore any attempt at a science of the mind 
must be vain. Does it follow that because meta- 
physical methods have failed, therefore scientific 
methods must 'fail also? Now the despair of a 
mental science which Mr. Lewes entertains he 
also entertains, as it would seem, for all the what Mr. 
branches of that science, criticism included. He of phfi^*. 
says that " philosophy has distorted poetry, and ^^J^ ^"*'" 
been the curse of criticism." Most of us will 
agree with him, if by philosophy he means 
metaphysics. We all find the greatest diflSculty 

56 TV 0*2f4 Sci^rkos, 

CHAFTE?; in uii'irrstAndiEe wliat are called the philoeo- 
III ~ • • 
L phi'.-al critics, and when we jret at their meaning 

it look.s verv small. Thev are afraid to be clear, 
lest thev be Jeemeil shallow; or thev love to 
think themselves protV-und, because they are 
unable to plimib their own ideas. 
A phiioKP- A fair specimen of the philosophical critic is 
— w*g»r Kichard Wagner, who has invented the music of 
the future. What*rver may be thought of his 
music, lie has a considerable reputation as a 
musical critic. Discoursing on art, in the most 
approved phiIos<>}>liical method, he defines poetry 
in terms which it is licvond me to translate, and 
HO I make use of ^Ir. Bridgemau's translation. 
" If we now consider/' he says, " the activity of 
the poet more closely, we j)ercei ve that the realisa- 
tion of his intention consists solely in rendering 
possible the representation of the strengthened 
The jargon Hctious of liis poctiscd forms through an exposi- 
L|.hy.°' tion of their motives to the feelings, as well as 
the motives themselves, also by an expression 
that in so far engrosses his activity as the inven- 
tion and production of this expression in truth 
first render the introduction of such motives and 
actions possible." This is the jargon of philo- 
sophy, and it is the curse of criticism. If this is 
what Mr. Lewes condemns, who in this country 
will contradict him? But sometimes it is not 
Dbtinctioii clear whether, when this author speaks of philo- 
phiioKiphy sophy, he means simply philosophy as it used to 
'*'''*"" be understood, or also includes under that name 

The Despair of a Science. 57 

genuine science, because it is the science of mind chapter 
as distinct from body. The name of philosophy — 1 
has been especially allotted in this country to 
mental science — to psychology ; and it seems a 
hard thing to say that in this sense philosophy 
has been the curse of criticism. In point of 
fact, the great fault of criticism is its ignorance The great 
— at least its disregard of psychology. It isudsm— ^" 
. true that mental science has not yet done much w***^^^^- 
for us in any department of study ; but it must 
not be forgotten that the application of scien- 
tific methods to the mind and action of man 
has been even more recent and more tardy 
than their application to the processes of nature, sdence as 
and that the time has not yet come to look for Snd too^ 
ripe fruit, and to curse the tree on which it is "^^Jt 
not found. Any science of a true sort, mathe- ^^'^^"^ 
matics apart — any science that is more than 
guessing, or more than a confused pudding-stone 
of facts — is now but two centuries old. The most 
advanced of the sciences that relate specially to 
human conduct is the science of wealth, and 
political economy is but a century old. The 
other sciences that take account of human action 
are still in their infancy ; and to despair of them 
is but to despair of childhood. 

Sir Edward Lytton expresses despair of a The despair 
diflFerent kind. He sees the futility of system ; ^ "^'*®™- 
he knows that from time to time the most perfect 
systems have to be remodelled, and give way to 
new schemes. Hence, in one of his most lively 

58 The Gay Science. 

CHAPT£K essays, he bepraises the essay, and seems to oon- 

i!!l demn system as pedantic. Sir Edward Lytton 

bjSTEd- ^^ always shown such a faculty for construc- 

J^^y*" tion, that in his heart of hearts he can scarcely 

despise system ; but as some of his remarks may 

lead a hurried reader to take an opposite view, 

a woixi or two of explanation may be necessary. 

Systems It is truc, that systems are soon forgotten and 

MOD orgo . ^^^^ ^^^ ^^ sight. What survives of Plato, for 

example, in modem thought ? A few fragments 
that have not always even a relation to his sys- 
Takei>iRto tem. Take one of Plato's favourite ideas — ^that 
ample. " pocts should bc cxcluded from the model republic 
because they dispense falsehood, and because they 
are seekers of pleasure. Here is a view of poetry 
that survives, and that derives importance from 
the great name of Plato. The world remembers 
the conclusion at wliich he arrived ; it has for- 
gotten the process by which he arrived at it. 
He condemns art as false, because when a painter 
paints a flower he takes a copy not of the thing 
itself. The flower is not the thing itself, but the 
earthly copy of the thing which, according to 
his system, exists as an idea in the Divine mind. 
The picture of the flower, therefore, is the copy 
of a copy, and must be imtrue. Nobody would 
now accept this reasoning, but people accept the 
conclusion. So, again, art is bad because pleasure 
is its cliief end, and, as the gods feel neither 
pleasure nor pain, the end of art is not godlike. 
Here, again, nobody would accept the reasoning, 

The Despair of a Science. 59 

but the conclusion would be accepted by a chapter 

Puritan, who would rely on Plato's authority. 1 

And thus it is — the system falls to pieces, while 
fragments of it stand &st for ever quite inde- 
pendent of the system. Contemplating such a 
result, the essayist is inclined to ask what is the 
good of system, and suggests that it may be 
enough to put forth oracles in disjointed utter- 
ance. It is good not to overrate system; it is 
good to see that its use is but temporary. Still 
in our time, in which, through the extension of The forms 


periodical literature, detached essays • have as- literature 
sumed imwonted importance, there is a tendency to'^stmr 
to fly system altogether and so to imderrate it. 
System is science. Science is impossible without 
the order and method of system. It is not merely vaiae of 
knowledge : it is knowledge methodised. It may *^^ 
be true that over the vast ocean of time which 
separates us from Plato nothing has come to us 
from that mighty mind to be incorporated in 
modem thought but a few fragments of wreck. 
Yet these fragments would never have reached 
us if they had not at one time been built into a 
ship. When the voyager goes across the Atlan- 
tic he may be wrecked; he may get on shore 
only with a plank. But he will never cross the 
Atlantic at all if he starts on a plank, or on a 
few planks tied together as a raft. " Our little 
systems have their day," says the poet, and it is 
most true, but in their day they have their uses. 
There is a momentum in a system which does 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER not belong to its individual timbers, and if we 

L admire the essay, it is not necessary to undei> 

value more elaborate structures.* 
Despair of Dcspair of yet another kind is expressed by 
tdcnce that those who, from a moral point of view, do not 
fS^ mond like to think of hirnian conduct as obedient to 
^"*''*' scientific rule. Such men as Mr. Froude have 
so strong a sense of the freedom of the will, and 
of the incalculable waywardness with which it 
crosses and mars the best laid plans and the most 
symmetrical theories, that they will not hear of 
such a thing as a science of history. Mr. Fronde's 
lecture on that subject is not pubUshed, and ap- 
EiproKd pears only in the records of the Royal Institution ; 
but it is perhaps the most eloquent of all his com- 
positions, and it is full of wise suggestions. Its 
general conclusion, however, must be firmly re- 
sisted by those who, admitting the freedom of the 

by Mr. 

* Mr. Grotc h«i8 lately bti-u 
quoting a jiassagc from IVofessor 
FerriiT on thiH jwiiit, as to the 
value of system, which is ex- 
ceedingly well put. I quote the 
same passage, but with some 
slight differeuci's of omission and 
admission : " A system of ])hilo- 
sophy '* — or what is, in Ferrier s 
meaning, the same thing, a sys- 
tem of science — " is bound by 
two main requisitions — it ought 
to be true and it ought to be 
reasoned. If a system is not 
true, it will scarci'ly be con- 
vincing; and if it is not rea- 
soned, a man will bo little 

satisfied with it. Philosophy, 
in its ideal {icrfection, is a body 
of reasoned trutli. A system is 
of the Iiighest value only when 
it embraces both these rcquisi> 
tions, that is, when it is botli 
true and reasoned. But a 8y»» 
tem wliich is reasoned without 
being true, is always of higher 
value than a system which is 
true without being reasoned* 
The latter kind of system has 
no scientific worth. An unresr 
soned philosophy, even though 
true, curries no guarantee of its 
truth. It may be true, but it 
cannot be certain.** 

The Despair of a Science. 61 

will, still hold to the possibility of reducing human chapter 
conduct on the large scale to fixed law. Mr. — 1 
Froude argues that because we are not able to 
predict the changes of history, therefore history 
cannot fairly be regarded as a science ; and his 
argument, though levelled against a science of 
history, goes to deny the possibility of any 
science of human nature. In point of fact, 
however, we can predict a good deal in human 
history, as, for example, by the aid of political 
economy, a science which is barely a century 
old; and Mr. Froude's reasoning, if it were The gist of 
sound, would oust geology from the list of the inV"^°' 
sciences, because it does not enable us to predict 
what changes in the earth's surface are certain 
to take place in the next thousand years. 

It is only in the exact sciences that knowledge ah the 
reaches the prophetic strain, and all the sciences JiSIt «^.* 
are not exact. Mr. John Stuart Mill points out 
that though the science of human nature falls far 
short of the exactness of astronomy as now 
imderstood, yet there is no reason why it should 
not be as much a science as astronomy was, 
when its methods had mastered only the main 
phenomena, but not the perturbations. This is 
precisely the view to be taken of that part of 
the science of human nature which, for the 
purposes of the present inquiry, may be called 
the Gay Science — ^the science of the Fine Arts, The exactn 

• IT* A 1 'j. • "Lx 1 1 tode of ail. 

mcluding poetry — only it might be expressed 
more strongly. The most certain thing in 

62 The Gay Scienee. 

CHAPTER human life is its uncertainty. We are most 

1 struck with its endless changes, and cannot be 

over-confident that we shall ever reduce these 
to the unity of science. But art is crystalline in 
its forms, and the first, the deepest, the most 
constant impression which we derive from it is 
that of its oneness. I have already quoted the 
saying, that he who sees only one work of Greek 
art has seen none, and that he who sees all has 
seen but one. This is most true ; and the Greek 
gave expression to the same thought in the 
legend of the brothers Telecles and Theodonis 
of Samos. Far apart from each other, the one 
at Delos, the other at Ephesus, carved half of a 
wooden statue of tlie Pythian Apollo, and when 
the two were brought together, they tallied as if 
they had been wrought in one piece by one 

iiiMtrat«d hand. Shelley has even gone further, and has 

inShellcv's 1 p • 1 n* 7 r- 

conceptio'n spokcu 01 Single poems, an Jliaa or a Letzr^ as 

« ?^^^7* parts of one vast poem — episodes " in that great 

poem wliich all poets, like the co-operating 

thoughts of one great mind, have built up since 

the beginning of the world." If this be the 

cliaracter and position of art, it cannot be 

unreasonable to suppose that a science of it is 

within our reach, and that of all the sciences 

wliich have to do with human nature, it ought 

to be the most exact. 

r^espair Lastly, there is a despair engendered by the 

the modesty vcry modcsty of science. A science of criticism, if 

^* it be worthy of the name, cannot pretend either to 


The Despair of a Science. 63 

make art an easy acquisition, or to do away with chapter 

all diversity of taste and opinion. The Miltons 1 

will evermore think that Dryden is but a rhymer ; 
Dryden will still foretell that cousin Swift will 
never be a poet ; Handel will always jeer at the 
counterpoint of young Gliick, and Schiunann 
make light of the music of Meyerbeer.* What 
then is the use of criticism ? The fact, however, 
is, that no science in the world can insure its fol- The impo- 
lowers from error, or make its students perfect **** 
artists. Chemistry, with all its exactitude, does 
not save its professors from making a wrong 
analysis. The votaries of geology are still wrang- 
ling about some of its main principles ; and were 
they agreed, it does not follow that they would 
be able to apply those principles rightly to the 
various regions of the earth. Political economy, 
the most advanced of the sciences that have 
man for their subject, is not all clear and stead- 
&8t, and daily the nations bid defiance to its 
clearest and most abiding truths. Why then 
should a critical science, if there is ever to be 
one, do more than all other sciences in leading its 

* Mr. Paley, in his late edition 
of Euripides, the best that has 
yet been produced, calls atten- 
tion to a delicious remark of 
Professor Scholefield's : " Quod 
ad ipsum attinet Euripidem, non 
sum ego ex illorum numero, qui 
nihil in eo pulchrum, nihil 
grande, nihil cothumo dignum 

inveniant." I am not, he says, 
of those who see in Euripides no- 
thing fine, nothing great, nothing 
that belongs to high art. If it be 
remembered that Euripides was 
Milton's favourite poet, the in- 
nocence of Scholefield's remark 
will appear all the more inimit- 

64 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER disciples into a land free from doubt ? It is the 

1 law of all human knowledge, that the more the 

rays of the light within us multiply and spread, 
the increasing circle of light implies an increas- 

The more ing circiunference of darkness to hem it round. 

gmlto * Increase the bounds of knowledge, and you 

?^JJ^ inevitably increase the sense of ignorance; at 
all the more points in a belt of surrounding 
darkness do you encounter doubt and difficulty. 
It is absurd, therefore, to suppose that any 
science can abolish all doubts and prevent all 

Theimpo- mistakes. Moreover, as a science of criticism 

teoce 01 


criticism no cauuot make perfect judges, so neither can it 
STii^ make faultless poets. The theory of music has 
J^°^ never made men musical, and all the discoveries 
■cienoes. of the critic caunot make men poetical. Few 
sayings about art are more memorable than that 
of Mozart, who declared that he composed as he 
did because he could not help it, and who added, 
" You will never do anything if you have to 
think how you are to do it." Art comes of in- 
spiration — comes by second nature. Neverthe- 
less, it comes according to laws which it is 
possible to note and which imperatively demand 
our study. It is not long since people regarded 
the weather as beyond the province of science, 
and treated the labours of Fitzroy either as 
useless, because they did not enable him to 
foretell but only to forecast, or as impious, 
because it was argued that if we can forecast 
the weather, it must be idle to pray for rain. 

The Despair of a Science. 65 

It is curious to see how exacting we are in chapter 

our demands for knowledge, and how we leam 1 

to underrate it altogether if in any respect it 
disappoints our expectations. Criticism is 
nought, people think, because it does not make 
poets perfect, and judges infallible. So it has 
happened that chemistry was despised when it 
failed to turn lead into gold, that astronomy 
was neglected when it failed to prognosticate, 
that the Bible is said to be in danger because 
we do not find in it the last new theory of 

Haug up philosophy : 
Unless philosophy can make a Juliet, 
Displant a town, reverse a prince's doom, 
It helps not, it prevails not : talk no more. 

On this point as to the modesty of science, it How 

• .1 i**ii 11 Mr. Milt- 

18 necessary to be very explicit, because he wnothewAmoid 
is in our day the most hearty in denouncing the ^?^|^ 
weakness of our criticism, Mr. Matthew Arnold, 
is also the most imperious in vaunting the 
office of the critic; and there is a danger lest 
from his unguarded expressions it should be 
supposed that criticism promises more than it 
can perform. Mr. Arnold, for example, tells 
us that the main intellectual effort of Europe 
has for many years past been a critical one ; and 
that what Europe now desires most is criticism. 
What he means by this it is not easy to make 
out. For on the one hand, he assures us that But his 
Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare, are to be^T^Si" 
regarded as critics, and that everything done^**'* 

VOL. I. F 

- t-t 


y .T. TTr iziiT JL Skii.r«r Becvc as an inde&- 
tf^*:.jr. & cl-rTrr. ^iL-i ^Tlr-iri.cTQed writer — a 
TTA^ c: 2-:«>i ;"i^Ti.«ei:'L az.-i ir. FrazMe of great 
Likt^tt iii--rLor. Bn w:.-ei. wt are told in 
g^c*:^^:-::! :'ra: lie grsai intc-Ikctcal nx)Tenient 
of oir age is crlnc^ ai. 1 :La: :Le first of living 
critics? — iLertrore. TL-e I^ea^ler of ihis intellectnal 
movemiEri:!. is iL Sainte Beuve, wlio is not greatly 
puzzle-j to know what so daintr a writer as Mr. 
Arnold can pebbly mean ? Is it a proof of our 
Englii-h want of insight that with all the vivacity 
of his Mondav chats, we on this side of the water 
fail to see in M. rfainte Beuve the prophet of 
the age — a great leader of thinking — the en- 
lightener of Europe ? He is a brilliant essayist^ 
a rnan of great knowledge ; his taste is imim- 
j>eachable ; and he dashes off historic sketches 
with wonderful neatness. But for criticism in 
the highest sense of the word — for criticism in 
the w*nse in which Mr. Arnold seems to tmder- 
Hfcirid it — for criticism as the mastery of domi- 
nant ideas and the key to modem thought — as 
tlijit one thing which Europe most desires — ^we 
should w;arcely go to the feuilletons of M. Sainte 

The Despair of a Science. 67 

Once more we return to another form of the chapter 
statement that the intellectual movement of our — 1 

j» • •,• 1 If A 1 J • J j»/» •*• • His state- 

time IS critical. Mr. Arnold identifies criticism ment that 
with the modem spirit; and then he tells ns^f^Til**'^ 
that the modem spirit arises in a sense of con-®^?*^*y 

^ critical. 

trast between the dictates of reason and of custom, 
the world of idea and the world of fact. We 
Kve amid prescriptions and customs that have 
been crusted upon us from ages. When we 
become alive to the fact that the forms and 
institutions of our daily life — the life individual 
and the life national, are prescribed to us not 
by reason but only by custom, that, says Mr. 
Arnold, is the awakening of the modem spirit. 
The truth is, however, that what he describes as 
the peculiar spirit of modem thought— that is, 
nineteenth-century thought — is the spirit of 
every reforming age. It was, for example, the 
spirit of Christianity as it showed itself at first 
in the midst of surrounding Judaism. It was 
the spirit that actuated the protest against 
the mummeries of Eomanism in the sixteenth 

Prom these and other illustrations of what he The wrong 
understands by criticism, it would seem that whicTmay 
Mr. Arnold has allowed himself, in the graceful fro^M?. 
eagerness of a poetical nature, to be carried ^™^^. 
headlong into generalizations that are illusive. ****"'• 
But the general effect of his expressions is to 
spread abroad an inflated idea of criticism — 
what it is, what it can do, what is its position 

F 2 

6^ The G*V4 Science. 

CHAPTER in the world. Pejple will not stay to examine 
'"• patiently whether Mr. Arnold makes out his 
case or not. They will but carry away the 
general impression, that here is a man of genius 
and of strong conviction, who speaks of criti- 
cism as just now the greatest power upon 
earth. They will, therefore, expect from it the 
mightiest eflFects; and grievous will be their 
disappointment at the modesty of its actual 

Gcmni Though a scicucc of criticism may not acoom- 

Id^uge* plish all that people expect of it, is it necessary 
rfaJTiSS. *^ show that it is to be coveted for its own sake? 
If men will criticise, it is desirable that their 
judgments should be based on scientific groimds. 
This is so obvious, that instead of dwelling on 
the worth of critical science in and for itself, I 
would here rather insist on its value from another 
On the in- point of vicw — as a historical instrument. Some 
ofTiitory*" late philosophers, Cousin in particular, have 
Jhn^phy. sought for a clue to the world's history in the 
progress of metaphysical ideas. They believe 
that the history of philosophy yields the phi- 
losophy of history. They may be right, though 
it is awkward for the facts, or at least for our 
power of dealing with them, that the philosopher 
is ever represented as before his age. While he 
lives his thought is peculiar to himself, and his 
. kingdom is not of this world : it is not till long 
years after his decease that his thought moves 

The Despair of a Science. 69 

mankind and his worldly reign begins. It chapter 

would seem, however, that if it were possible to 1 

establish a critical science, the method which the The int4!r- 
French and Germans have adopted, of inter- Efetory 
preting history through the history of philosophy, critidL. 
might with advantage be varied by the inter- 
pretation of history through the history of art. 
There is this wide difference between philosophy 
and art, that whereas the former is the result of 
conscious effort, the latter comes unconsciously, 
and is the spontaneous growth of the time, 
ifow, supposing we had a critical science, and 
knew somewhat of the orbits and order of the 
arts, their times and seasons, we should have a 
guide to history so much safer than that fur- 
nished by the course of philosophy, as a spon- 
taneous growth is less likely to deviate from 
nature than any conscious effort. It is said that 
philosophers have in their hands the making of 
the next age ; but at least poets and other 
artiste belong to the age they live in. In their 
shady retreate they reflect upon the world the 
light from on high, as I have seen an eclipse of 
the sun exquisitely pictured on the ground, 
while the crowds in Hyde Park were painfully 
looking for it in the heavens with darkened 
glasses. Through the leaves of the trees the 
sun shot down his image in myriads of balls of 
light that danced on the path below ; and as his 
form was altered in the sky, the globes of light 
underfoot changed also their aspect, waning 

70 The Gay Science. 

cHAPTEK into crescents, and the crescents into sickles, and 


— 1 the sickles into nothingness, until once again as 
he recovered his beams the sickles reappeared, 
and grew on the gravel walk into crescents, and 
the crescents into perfect orbs. There were 
myriads of eclipses on the ground for the one 
that was passing in the sky. 
r>n the right Every man lauds his own pursuit. He who 
th« moral is dccp iu hclminthology, or the science of 
worms, will tell us that it is the most interesb- 
ing and useful of studies. But I can scarcely 
imagine that when putting in a word for a 
science of human nature, and for criticism as 
part of it, and when claiming for that science the 
place of honour, I am fairly open to the charge 
of jrielding to private partiality. At all events, in 
mitigation of such a charge, let it be remem- 
bered that man too has the credit of being a 
worm, and that he may be entitled to some of 
the regard of science, were it only as belonging 
to the subject of helminthology. We may give 
up any claims which the science of hiunan nature 
has to precedence over all the other knowledges, 
if we can get it recognised in popular opinion 
as a science at all, were it but as a science of 
worms. And for criticism, as a part of the 
science of human nature, it may be remembered 
that Sir Walter Scott was pleased to describe the 
critics as caterpillars, and that, therefore, they 
suinnwiy may have a special claim to be regarded in this 
mont. marvellously popular science of worms. Or if 

The Despair of a Science. 71 

this way of putting the case may seem to be chapter 

wanting in seriousness, then in all seriousness, 1 

let me insist that the despair of the moral 
sciences which now prevails, is founded on mis- 
take ; that the neglect of them gives a hollowness 
to our literature ; and that all criticism which . 
does not either achieve science, or definitely 
reach towards it, is mere mirage. As the apostle 
declared of himself, that though he could speak 
with the tongues of men and of angels, and 
had not charity, he was become as sounding 
brass, or a tinkling cymbal ; so we may say of 
the critic, that though he have all faith, so that 
he can remove mountains, and have not science, 
he is nothing. There are men like lago, who 
think that they are nothing if not critical, but 
the critic is nothing if not scientific. 

Of the following attempt I am not able toAimofUie 
think so bravely as to challenge for it the 5!^ 
honours of a science. Any one, indeed, who will 
read this volume through, will see that it is a 
fight for the first principles and grounds of the Not a 

T X ^ J} J X science, but 

science. I put my work lorward, not as aapieafor 

. 1 . 1 /* 1 1 one, and a 

science, but as a plea for one, and as a rude map mapof iu 
of what its leading lines should be. Even if it }?J^°^ 
should fail here, however, it may be at least as 
useful as the unlucky ship that grounded at the 
battle of Aboukir, and did for a waymark to 
them that followed. I have the greater confi- 
dence, however, in laying the present theory 
before the reader, inasmuch as gUmpses and 

72 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER tokens of it are found in the pages of many of 
the best writers ; and I believe that it will thus 
stand the test given by Leibnitz to ascertain the 
soundness of any body of thought that it should 
gather into one united household, not by heaping 
and jumbling together, but by reconciling, 
proving to be kindred, and causing to embrace 
opinions the most widely sundered and appa- 
rently the most hostile. 




|HOUGH foundation stonee are laidc: 
with silver trowels and gilded plum- 
mets, amid miuic and banner, feast- 01 
ing and holiday, in the present chapter, which to 
has to do with the basis of the Gay Science, there 
wiU be found nothing of a gala. It embodies 
the dull hard labour of laying down truisms — 
heavy blocks which are not to he handled in 
sport, but which it is essential that we should 
in the outset fix in their places. If I seem to 
labour at trifles, I must ask for some indulgence ; 
because, although, when fairly stated, the main 
doctrine of this chapter will forthwith pass for a 
truism, in the meantime it is not acknowledged 
even as a truth. What is here maintained to be 
the only safe foundation of the science of criti- 
cism, however obvious it may appear to be, has 
never yet been fully accepted as such, and has 
never yet been built npon. There are some 

76 Ths Gay Science. 

CHAPTER truisms which it may be necessary to hammer 

1 out. Euclid felt the necessity of demonstrating 

Il^^HhLs point by point, that two sides of a triangle are 
d^Mtr»- gi'^^ter than the third, whereupon Zeno laughed 
*wn. and said that every donkey knows it without 
proof. The donkey will not go round two sides 
of a field to get to his fodder if, peradventure, 
he can go in a straight line. The object of this 
chapter is to uphold the wisdom of the ass. 
There is a straight line for criticism to take^ and 
criticism never has taken it, but always goes 
round about 

A Bcience of A scieucc of criticism, embracing poetry and 
i^piiei that the fine arts, is possible only on the supposition 
li^t, that .he»e .Jlx sta,d L co^.on'^und; 
STmu ^ ^^^ i^dXj however varied may be the methods 
employed in them, their inner meaning and pur- 
pose is the same. No critical canon has a wider 
and more undoubting acceptance than that which 
jissumes the sisterhood of the arts. We may 
ignore it in practice, or we may be at a loss to 
explain the precise meaning of it ; but the close 
relationship of the muses is one of the oldest 
traditions of literature, and one of the most 
Oil the «i- familiar lessons of our school-days. The family 

mittttlrela- . i i i i 

tionhhip of likeness of tlie arts is so marked, that language 
cannot choose but describe one in terms of 
another. Terence, iu one of his prologues (Phor- 
)iiid)j refers to the j)()cts as musicians. " Music,*' 
says Dryden, " is inarticulate })oetry." Thomas 

The Comer Stone. 77 

Fuller has at least twice in his works, once (on chapter 

. IV 

the Holt/ and Profane State) when speaking of — 1- 
artists generally, and again (in his Wbrthies)^ 
when writing of Dr. Christopher Tye, defined 
poetry as music in words, and music as poetry in 
sounds. Other writers dwell on the similarity of 
the poet and the Umner. Simonides, among the 
Greeks, is the author of the famous saying which 
comes down to us through Plutarch, that poetry 
is a speaking picture, and painting a mute poetry. 
Horace, among the Latins^ puts the same idea 
into three words — ut pictura poesis. Whether The aru so 
as expressed by the Greek or by the Latin poet, they have 
the sense of the connection between poetry and „ idl^f^ 
painting came to be so strong and over-mastering 
in modern criticism, that at length men like 
Darwin in England, and Marmontel in Prance, 
learned to see in the similarity of the two arts, the 
elements of a perfect definition of either; and 
Qotthold Lessing, the fiirst great 'critic of Ger- 
many, had to write a work in which, taking the 
representations of Laocoon in poetry and in 
sculpture for an example, he proved elaborately 
that after all there is a difierence between the 
arts, and that each has its proper limits. The 
underlying unity of the arts is one of the com- 
mon-places of criticism, which D'Alembert con- 
centrated in one drop of ink, when, in the 
pre&ce to the French Encyclopaedia, he com- 
prised under the name of poesy all the fine arts, 
adding, at the same time, that they might also 

78 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER be included under the general name of painting. 

L Goethe has strikingly conveyed a like thought 

in one of his verses wliich has been translated 
by Carlyle — 

As all nature's thousand chants 
But one chani^cless God proclaim, 
So in art*8 wide kin$|;dom ranges 
One sole meaning still the same. 

Wherein What is this one meaninff, still the same, of 

coDuttRthe . 1 - 

anity of art. which wc licar SO much and know so little? 
What is the bond of unity which knits poetry 
and the fine arts together ? What is the com- 
mon ground upon which they rest ? What are 
we to understand by the sisterhood of the muses ? 
Whenever the philosopher has encountered these 
questions, as the first step to a science of criti- 

Two cism, he has come forward with one of two 

aoRwen to . , 

thiuquw- answers. All attempts to rear such a science 
^ron uiun y ^^^ j^^s^^^j on thc suppositiou cithcr that poetry 

and the fine arts have a common method, or 
that they have a common theme. Either with 
Aristotle it is supposed that they follow the one 
method of imitation ; or with men whose minds 
are more Platonic, though Plato is not one of 
them, it is supposed that they are the manifestar 
tions of one great idea, which is usually said to 
be the idea of the beautiful. . All the accredited 
systems of criticism therefore take their rise 
either in theories of imitation or theories of the 
And both beautiful. It is not difficult, however, to show 
that both of the suppositions on which these 

The Comer Stone. 79 

systems rest are delusive, and that neither is chapter 

calculated to sustain the weight of a science. L 

Before we can arrive at the true foundation of 
the science, it is necessary to clear the groimd 
from the silt and ruins of &lse systems which 
encumber it. 

We begin with the Aristotelian system, which TheAnsto- 
has obtained the widest acceptance, and which is trine that 
the only one of great repute that now exists, ^mon 
though it exists only in name. Aristotle attempted JJ^^^,'.^. 
to build a science of criticism on the doctrine that **^<»°- 
poetry and the fine arts have a common method. 
Poetry is an imitation, said the philosopher. Not 
only are the drama, painting, and sculpture 
imitative, but so is a poetical narration ; so, too, 
is music, and so is the dance. Imitation is the 
grand achievement which gives to the arts their 
form and prescribes their law. It is the mani- 
fold ways and means of imitation that we are 
to study, if we are to elevate criticism into a 

Although this theory is so narrow that the This the 
science established on it took the form very Sf ^d^t"* 
much of an inverted pyramid, it ruled the world ^^^**°- 
of letters till within a late period. It is the 
comer stone of ancient criticism : it is the comer 
stone of aU modem criticism that takes its in- 
spiration from the Renaissance. It was accepted 
in the last century with undoubting faith as an 
axiom, and the most astonishing conclusions 
were built upon it, as some divines draw the 

80 The Gay Science. 

oiAriKK inoHt dreadful inferences from dogmas to which 

L they liave learned to attach a disproportionate 

aimI jh.w value. Thus a troop of French critics worked 
iini*jiu.i. their way to the principle of la difficult e surmantee. 
The chief excellence of imitation was said to 
connist in it^ difticulty, and the more difficult it 
h(»came the greater was its merit. Hence the 
plcsiKure of verse, because it throws difficulties in 
the way of imitating speech. The English 
crilicH, not to be behindhand, started off on like 
va^firi(?s. One of them showed conclusively 
that since the pleasure of poetry is derived from 
imitation, the pleasure is double when one poet 
imitates another ; that if that other has borrowed 
from a third, then the pleasure becomes three- 
fold; and that if it be the imitation of a simile, 
which in itself includes a double imitation, then 
a^^^iin the pleasure is multiplied. Milton is, in 
this rcsj)oct, p:reater than Yirgil, says the sapient 
(Titic, for whereas the Roman poet imitated 
llomiT directly, the English one has the gloiy 
not only of imitating him directly, but also of 
imitjiting him at second or even at third hand, 
through Virgil and othera 

I do not give these illustrations of the theory 
of imitation as proofs of its fallacy. It would 
fare ill with most doctrines if they were to be 
j'udged by the manner in which the imwary 
have applied them. The illustrations I have 
given are proofs only of the simphcity of &ith 
with which the theory of imitation came to be 

The Comer Stone. 81 

accepted in the last century as if it were one of the chapter 
prime truths of religion, or one of the axioms of — 1 
reason, worthy of universal empire at all times, 
in all places, under all circumstances. It was a 
good thing of which the critics could not have How it 

J \ •, • 1 1 • ^ • A • held its 

too much ; it was wisdom on which it was im- groand, and 
possible to lay too great a stress. Gradually the ^ diJd?^ 
theory wore itself out, and has fallen out of ac- 
coimt. But it died hard, and held its ground so 
lustily, that, even in our own time, critics whom 
we should not reckon as belonging to the school 
of the Renaissance, but to the more original 
schools of Germany, have given their adhesion 
to it. Jean Paul Richter adopted it vaguely as 
the first principle of his introduction to ^Esthetic, 
while Coleridge says distinctly that imitation is 
the universal principle of the fine arte, and that 
it would be easy to apply it not merely to paint- 
ing, but even to music. 

The theory is as false as any can be which Falsehood of 
pute the part for the whole, and a small part ""' ''"'^• 
for a very large whole. Music, for example, 
is not imitative. When Haydn stole the melody 
to which he set the eighth commandment, the 
force of musical imitation could no further go. If as shown 
the same composer, in his finest oratorio, attempts 
to reflect in sound the creation of light, and to 
indicate by cadence the movements of the flexible 
tiger ; if Handel in descanting on the plagues of 
Egypt gives us the buzz of insect life, and indi- 
cates by the depths of his notes the depths of 

VOL. I. G 

in music. 

82 Till* (Injf Srknce. 

cnAiTKK tlie sea in which the hosts of Pharaoh were 


— '- drowned ; or if Beethoven, in the most popular 
of his 8ynii)honies, tries to ^ve us the song of the 
cuckoo, the lowing of herds, and the roar of the 
storm, these imitations arc over and above the 
art, and are confessedly foreign to it. As music 
is not imitative, so neither is narration. Words 
represent or stand for, but cannot be said to 
hiniiti of imitate ideas. Plays, pictures, and statues — ^in 
"*" * one word, the dramatic arts, are imitative ; but to 
say tliat imitation is the universal {principle of 
the fine arts, is simply to reduce all art to the 
canon of tlie drama. 
scaiiper'i It IS impossible to get over the objection to the 
itunan-' tlicory of tlic Stagy ritc, urged centuries ago by 
Hwern o. ^j^^ elder Scaliger. If poetry, he said, be imita- 
tive in any sense which applies to every species 
of it^ then in the same sense also is ])rose imita- 
tive ; if the fine arts are imitative in any senae 
which applies to all alike, in the very same sense 
also are the useful ixris imitative.* In point of 
fact, Plato declared in so many words, by the 

♦ I rcinfinU'r in my collc^jr 
lil>niri('s fnr a iiiiHlia^viil lKM>k, 
till* titlo (»f wliicli — Ars Shnia 

formation that t)iu book I wu 
hunting for could liave nothing 
to do with the tine arts, though 
it might havo much to do with 

yiUurcu i!\c\U\\ my curioiiity. tiiu black. 1 mention this as one 

1 ox{)ecUd to liud in it a middlr , more illustration of the fact that 

aire anticiiKitio)) nf Scliellin/s if the fine arts aR' imitative^ 

rhilo»»|»iiy. My friend, Pn»- ' tlicy are not ]N>culiarly so. The 

fesHijr Ikiynes, hml Un-n already . .simc thing has been said of the 

iin this tnick, and with some useful arts : tlie sjunc also of the 

laui^hter expliNled mi nie the in- black. 

The Comer Stone. 83 

mouth of the prophetess Diotima (in the Banquet), chaptek 
that the exercise of every inventive art is poetry, — - 
and that any inventor is a poet or maker ; from 
which it might appear that Bechamel and Farina, 
as the creators of sauces and perfumes, or Bramah 
and Amott, as the inventors of locks and smoke- 
less grates, take rank beside the bard who sang 
the wrath of Achilles, and the sculptor who 
chiselled that grandest statue of a woman, the 
Venus of Milo. Thus the foundation of critical 
science is laid in a definition which is not the 
peculiar property of art. Coleridge himself, coiendge's 
without foreseeing the consequences of his ad- ^navSing!' 
mission, and without drawing Scaliger's con- 
clusion, went much further than ScaJiger in the 
view which he took of the nature of imitation as 
applied to the fine arts. He declared that the 
principle of imitation lies at the root not 
merely of the fine arts, but also of thought 
itself. The power of comparison is essential to 
consciousness — the very condition of its exist- 
ence ; we know nothing except through the 
perception of contrariety and identity; we 
cannot think without comparing; and so the 
imitations of art, he said, are but the sublime 
developments of an act which is essential to 
the dimmest dawn of mind. It would be a 
pity to ruffle the feathers of this wonderful sug- 
gestion, which took Coleridge's fancy because 
it looked big ; but it may be enough to point out 
that it yields with a charming simplicity all we 


84 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER need contend for. It allows that in the sense in 

L which imitation may be described as the universal 

law of art, it may also be described as the uni- 
versal law of thought itself, and therefore of 
science, which is, in Coleridge's own language, 
the opposite of art. In a word, it is not peculiar 
to art, and is incapable of supplying the defini- 
tion of it. ('Crtainly it has never yet, in the 
scienceof criticifim,yie]dcd a result of the slightest 
value. For in truth, although imitation bulks so 
large in Aristotle's definition of poetry, it sinks 
into insignificance, and even passes out of sight, 
in the body of his work. He makes nothing of 
it ; his followers less than nothing. Notvrith- 
Btanding Richter's, notwithstanding Coleridge's 
adliesion to it, the theory of imitation is now 
utterly exploded. 

The Aristotelian theory ruled absolute in 
literature for two millenniums. No other 
theory was put forward to take its place, as 
TheoUicr thc fouiidatiou of critical science, till within 
wStii.H. the last hundred years or so. It satisfied the 
AriHto-'*'^ critics of the Renaissance — ^that is, the old 
(eiian. order of critics who based their thinking on 
the settled ideas and methods of classical 
literature, and revelled in systems that were 
little beyond grammar. There came a time, how- 
ever, when the need of a deeper criticism began 
to be felt. The old criticism that through the 
Renaissance traced a descent from Aristotle, dealt 
chiefly with the forms of art. A new criticism 

IJi 11. f ll_l HJJ 

The Comer Stone. 85 

was demanded that should search into its sub- chapter 

stance. It arose in Germany. Not satisfied with L 

the old grammatical doctrine that the arts have q^^^j, 
a common form or method, the philosophical 
critics of Germany tried to make out that they That art 
have a common theme — a common substance, ^/tS^me. 
and chiefly that this theme, this essence, is the 
idea of the beautiful. It is always an idea. They 
are not agreed as to what the idea is ; but they 
are nearly all agreed that it is the manifestation 
of some one idea. I repeat from Goethe : 

As all nature's thousand changes 
But one changeless God proclaim. 
So in art's wide kingdom ranges 
One sole meaning still the same. 

Much of what might be said on this subject Kemai ks ou 
must be reserved for the next chapter, in that part tion ^Trt! 
of it which has to do with the German school of 
critics and their chief contribution to criticism. 
In the meantimfe it may be enough to point out 
that whereas innumerable attempts have been 
made to analyze the grand idea of art which 
is generally supposed to be the idea of the 
beautiful, and out of this analysis to trace the 
laws and the development of arty it cannot be 
said that in following such a Kne. of research 
any real progress has been made. , We cannot 
point to a single work of authority on the subject. 
In countless works that represent the thought t***^ ^ » 

*" ^ the mani- 

of the last hundred years, we shall find refer- festauon 
ences to the one grand idea of art,.the beautiful ; beautiful. 

86 The Gay Science. 

v'HAiTKR but when we come to inquire what is the nature of 

L the beautiful, we can get no satisfactory answer, 

and can hear only a clatter of tongues. It is for 
this very reason that the theory of the beautiful, 
as the common theme of art, subsists. If it 
were less vague, it would be more oppoeed. 
With all its vagueness, however, two facts may 
be discovered which are fatal to it as a founda- 

Two faitH tion for the science of criticism. The first is the 
more fatal, namely, that it does not cover the 
whole ground of art. The worship and manifes- 
tation of the beautiful is not, for example, the 
province of comedy, and comedy is as much a 
part of art as tragedy. The beautiful, most 
distinctly, is one of the ideas on which art loves 
to dwell ; but it is not an idea which inspires 
every work of art. Moreover, on the other hand 
(the second fact I have referred to), is it to be 
supposed that to display beauty is to produce 
II work of art ? La belle chme qile la philosophie 1 
sjivs M. Jourdain, not untruly ; but are fine 
systems of philoso})hy to be reckoned among 
the fine arts? Horace, long ago, in a verse 
wliich lias become proverbial, expressed the 
truth about the position of beauty in art. Non 
satis est pulchra esse poemata^ he said : dvlcia sunto. 
It is not enough that a work of art be beautiful ; 
it must have more powerful charms. 
TiiataiiiM Convinced that the idea of the beautiful is 

tlje muni' ,. _ iir»iin •• 

festation cf inadequate to cover the whole field of art, critics 
have suggested other ideas as more ample in 


The Comer Stone. 87 

their scope. It is said, for example, by some, chaptkr 

that art is the reflex of b'fe — of life, not in its L 

fleeting forms, but in its hidden soul ; of facts, 
therefore, which are eternal symbols, and of 
truths which are fixed as the stars. It will be 
found, however, that if we thus take the idea of 
the true as the theme of art, and attempt to build 
upon it a science of criticism, it is open to pre- Op«° *<> 
ciselj the same objections as there are to the idea objection. 
of the beautiful when placed in a similar light. 
Music is an art, but in what sense are we to say 
that its theme is eternal truth, or that Mendels- 
sohn's concerto in D minor is a reflex of the ab- 
solute idea ? In what sense are the arabesques of 
the Alhambra eternal truths or reflections of the 
eternal essence ? The idea of the true is not 
the theme of all art, and it is not peculiar to 
works of art to take the true for a theme. Still 
the same objections apply to yet another defini- 
tion of the artistic theme. " Art," says Sir aiso that 
EJdward Lytton finely, " is the effort of man to manT- 
express the ideas which nature suggests to him ^wei^° ^ 
of a power above nature, whether that power be 
within the recesses of his own being, or in the 
Great First Cause, of which nature, like himself, 
is but the effect." This is a happy generalisa- 
tion which goes a great way ; but it is surely 
not enough to say that it is the object of art to 
exhibit ideas of power. Ideas of power, ideas 
of truth, ideas of beauty — it will not do to bind 
art as a whole, or poetry as a part of it, to the 


The Gay Science. 

ciiAiTER service of any one of these groups. Thei:e is no 

1 one word relating to things known that in its 

wide embrace can take in the theme of all art, 

and if it could comprise the theme of all art^ it 

Th.! Mii.jtNi would not be the property of art alone. The 

tiiaroli* "^ subject of art is all that can interest man ; but 

Ii'mir*' all that can interest man is not the monopoly 

of art. 


tllt'D (loiQi 

the unity 
<>( the arts 

I heir 



Tiiis coin- 
indii pur* 
|Misc an 

If the unity of the arts does not lie in the 
possession either of a common method which 
they pursue, or of a common theme which they 
set forth, wherein does it consist ? Manifestly 
the character of an art is determined by its 
object ; and though the critics have made no use 
of the fact, yet it is a fact which they admit 
with very few exceptions, that poetry and the 
fine arts are endowed with a common purpose. 
Even if poetry and the arts could boast of a 
common method and a common theme, still 
every question of method and the choice of 
tlieme must be subordinate to the end in view. 
The end determines the means, and must there- 
fore be the principal point of inquiry. If, then, 
we inquire what is the end of poetry and the 
poeticiil arts, we shall find among critics of all 
countries and all ages a singular unanimity of 
opinion — a unanimity which is all the more 
remarkable, when we discover that, admitting 
tlie fact with scarcely a dissentient voice, they 
have never turned it to account — they have 


The Comer Stone. 89 

practically ignored it. It is admitted that the im- chapter 
mediate end of art is to give pleasure. Whatever ill 
we do has happiness for its last end ; but with art 
it is the first as well as the last. We need not 
now halt to investigate the nature of this hap- 
piness which poetry aims at, whether it is refined 
or the reverse, whether it is of a particular kind 
or of all kinds ; it is enough to insist on the 
broad fact that for more than two thousand years 
pleasure of some sort has been almost ui^ver- 
sally admitted to be the goal of art. The 
dreamer and the thinker, the singer and the 
sayer, at war on many another point, are here 
at one. It is the pleasure of a lie, says Plato ; 
it is that of a truth, says Aristotle ; but neither 
has any doubt that whatever other aims art may 
have in view, pleasure is the main — the imme- 
diate object. 

Here, however, care must be taken that the some expia- 
reader is not misled by a word. Word andJhwTo^ 
thing, pleasure is in very bad odour ; moralists ^^ufe. 
always take care to hold it cheap ; critics are 
ashamed of it ; and we are all apt to misunder- 
stand it, resting too easily on the surface view 
of it as mere amusement. There is in pleasure 
so little of conscious thought, and in pain so 
much, that it is natural for all who pride them- 
selves on the possession of thought to make 
light of pleasure. It is possible, however, in 
magnifying the worth of conscious thought, to 
underrate the worth of unconscious life. Now 

90 The Gay Science. 

cHAiTER art is a force that operates unconsciously on 

L life. It is not a doctrine; it is not science. 

There is knowledge in it, but it readies to 

something beyond knowledge. That something 

beyond science, beyond knowledge, to whidi 

art reaches, it is diCBcult to express in one word. 

Tlie nearest word is that which the world for 

thirty centuries past has been using, and which 

sky-high thinkers now-a-days are afraid to 

touch — namely, pleasure. There is no doubt 

about its inadequacy, but where is there another 

word that expresses half as much ? If art be 

i)rawii the opposite of science, the end of art must 

antithft^ia \\Q autitlictical to the end of science. But the 

artaiMi cnd of scicncc is knowledge. What then is 

its antithesis — the end of art? Shall we say 

ignorance ? We cannot say that it is ignorance, 
because tliat is a pure negation. But there is no 
objection to our saying — life ignorant of itself, 
unconscious life, pleasure. I do not give this 
explanation as sufficient — it is very insufficient — 
but as indicating a point of view from which it 
will be seen that the establisliment of pleasure 
as the end of art may involve larger issues, and 
convey a larger meaning than is commonly sup- 
see Chapter poscd. What that larger meaning is may in due 
course lie shown. In the ninth chapter of this 
work I attempt to state it, and stating it to give 
a remodelled definition of art. In the mean- 
time, one fiiils to see how, bv anv of the new- 
fangled expressions of German philosophy, we 

The Comer Stone. 91 

can improve upon the plain-spoken wisdom of chapter 

the ancient maxims — that science is for know- L 

ledge, and that art is for pleasure. 

But if this be granted, and it is all but univer- 
sally granted, it entails the inevitable inference 
that criticism is the science of the laws andTheneoes- 
conditions under which pleasure is produced. ^ JlJt" 
If poetry, if art, exists in and for pleasure, then o" to. 
upon this rock, and upon this alone, is it pos- 
sible to build a science of criticism. Criticism, 
however, is built anywhere but upon the rock. 
While the arts have almost invariably been 
regarded as arts of pleasure, criticism has never 
yet been treated as the science of pleasure, 
like the Israelites in the desert, who after con- But how 
fessing the true faith went forthwith and fell ^teTil^^ed 
down to a molten image, the critics no sooner ^j^^^® ^"^^ 
admitted that the end of art is pleasure, than inference. 
they began to treat it as nought. Instead of 
taking a straight line, like the venerable ass 
which was praised by the Eleatic philosopher, 
they went off zigzag, to right, to left, in every One and aii. 
imaginable direction but that which lay before 
them. Art is for pleasure said the Greeks ; but Greeks, 
it is the pleasure of imitation, and therefore all 
that criticism has to do is to study the ways of 
imitation. So they bounced off to the left. 
Art is for pleasure said the Germans ; but it is And Ger- 
the pleasure of the beautiful, and therefore all 
that criticism has to do is to comprehend the 
beautiful. So they bounced off to the right. In 


92 The Gay Science. 

ciiAiTER the name of common sense, let me ask, why are 

1 we not to take the straight line ? Why is it 

that, having set up pleasure as the first principle 
of art, we are inmiediately to knock it down and 
go in search of other and lesser principles? 
Why does not the critic take the one plain path 
before him, proceeding instantly to inquire into 
the nature of pleasure, its laws, its conditions, 
its requirements, its causes, its effects, its whole 
history ? 
Why they This tumiug aside of criticism from the 
»id«from straight road that lay before it into by-paths 
roJ?™^ t j^^ 1^^^ owing partly to the moral con- 
tempt of pleasure, but chiefly to the intellec- 
tual difficulty of any inquest into the nature 
of enjoyment, a difficulty so great, that since 
the time of Plato and Aristotle it has never 
been seriously faced until in our own day 
Sir William Hamilton undertook to grapple 
with it. Whenever I have insisted with my 
friends on this point, as to the necessity of recog- 
nising criticism as the science of pleasure, the 
invariable rejoinder has been that there is no use 
in attempting such a science, because the nature 
of pleasure eludes our scrutiny, and there is no 
accounting for tastes. But the rejoinder is irre- 
levant. All science is difficult at first, and well- 
nigh hopeless ; and if tastes differ, that is no 
reason why we should refuse to regard them as 
beyond the pale of law, but a very strong reason 
why we should seek to ascertain the limits of 


The Comer Stone. 93 

difiFerence, and how far pleasure which is general chapter 

may be discounted by individual caprice. It is L 

not for us to parley about the diCBculties of 
search, or the usefulness of its results. Chemistry 
was at one time a diCBcult study, and seemed to 
be a useless one. Hard or easy, useful or use- 
less — ^that is not the question. The question is 
simply this : If there is such a thing as criticism 
at all, what is its object ? what is its definition ?• 
and how do you escape from the truism that if 
art be the minister, criticism must be the science 
of pleasure ? 

Whatever be the cause of the reluctance to The fact 


accept this truism, the fact remains that the that the 
doctrine of pleasure has not hitherto been putJi^Lt^u 
in ite right place as the comer stone of scientific IJ^V^S 
criticism, entitling it to be named the science of p'*^.'° 

' o cnticism. 

pleasure, the Joy Science, the Gay Science ; and I 
set apart the next chapter to explain and to en- 
force a principle which is of the last importance, 
and which, but for the backwardness of criticism, 
would now pass for an axiom, the most obvious 
of old saws. If art be the minister, criticism 
must be the science of pleasure, is so obvious a 
truth, that since in the history of literature and 
art the inference has never been drawn (except 
once in a faint way, to be mentioned by and by), 
a doubt may arise in some minds as to the extent 
to which the production of pleasure has been 
admitted in criticism as the first principle of art. 
It is worth while, therefore, to begin this dis-pi^^to 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER cuflsion by setting the authorities in array, and 
showing what in every school of criticism is 

the proof 
of what 
that plaoe 
fthould be. 

regarded as the relation of art to pleasure. I 
proceed, accordingly, to take a rapid survey of 
the chief schools of criticism that have ruled in 
the repuUic of letters, with express reference to 
their opinion of pleasure and the end of art. 





PROPOSE in this chapter to show ci 
that the end of art has in all the great 
schools of criticism been regarded as ^ 
the same. Speaking ronndly, there are but two "f 
great systems of criticism. The one may be 
styled indifferently the classical system, or the 
eyet&m of the Benaissance. It belongs to ancient 
thought, and to the modem revival of classicism ; 
and it chiefly concerns itself with the gram- 
matical forms of art. The other is more dis- 
tinctly modem ; it first made way in Germany, ti 
and, philosophical in tone, chiefly concerns itself 
with the substantial ideas of art. But these 
divided systems may be subdivided, and perhaps 
the plainest method of arranging the critical 
opinions of paist ages is to take them by countries. 
It will be convenient to glance in succession at 
the critical schools of Greece,ltaly, Spain, France, 
Germany, and England. And from this survey, 


The Gay Science. 

riiAPTEK it will be seen that if criticism has never yet been 
—1 recognised as the science of pleasure, poetry and 
art have always been accepted as arts of pleasure. 
In our old Anglo-Saxon poetry, the harp is de- 
scribed as " the wood of pleasure," and that is 
the universal conception of art. There may in 
the different schools be differences in the manner 
of describing the end of art ; but there is none 
as to the essence of the thing described. 

All the 
teach one 
iloctrine as 
to the end 
of art. 

The Creek 
Kchnol of 

As n»pr«*- 
senteil bv 
I'lato, Riiil 
the one 

I. Homer, Plato, and Aristotle are the leaders 
of Greek thought, and their word may be taken 
for what constitutes the Greek idea of the end of 
poetry. The uppermost thought in Homer's 
mind, when he speaks of Phemius and Demo- 
docus, is that their duty is to delight, to charm, to 
soothe. When the strain of the bard makes 
Ulysses weep, it is hushed, because its object is 
defeak'd, and it is desired that all should rejoice 
togotlier. Wherever the minstrel is referred to, 
his chief business is described in the Greek verb 
to delight. What the great poet of Greece thus 
indicated, the great philosophers expressed in 
logical fonn. That pleasure is the end of poetry, 
is the pervading idea of Aristotle's treatise on 
the subject. To Plato's view I have already more 
than once referred. He excluded the poets from 
his republic for tin's, as a cliief reason, that poetry 
has pleasure for its leading aim. In another 
of his works he defines the pleasure, which 
poetry aims at, to be that which a man of virtue 

The Agreement of the Critics. 99 


may feel ; and he may therefore seem to be in- chapter 
consistent in his excluding the artist, who would — ^ 
create such enjoyment, from his model fold. Plato piato's 
is not always consistent, and from his manner oi^^^ 
dialogue it is often diflficult to find out whether p^®^* 
any given opinion is really his own or is only 
put forward to make play ; but in this case the 
inconsistency may be explained by reference to 
another dialogue {Philehus), in which he has an 
argument to show that the gods feel neither 
pleasure nor pain, and that both are unseemly. 
The argument is, that because pleasure is a be- 
coming — that is, a state not of being, but of 
going to be — it is unbecoming. He starts with 
the Cyrenaic definition of pleasure as a state not 
of being, but of change, and he argues that the 
gods are unchangeable, therefore not capable of 
pleasure. Pleasure which is a becoming, is 
imbecoming to their nature; and man seeking 
pleasure seeks that which is unseemly and un- 
godlike. Think of this argument what we will, 
the very fact of its being urged against poetry 
in this way, brings into a very strong light the 
conviction of Plato as to the meaning of classical 
art. And what was Plato's, what was Aristotle's 
view of the object of art, we find consistently 
maintained in Greek literature while it pre- 
served any vitality. We find it in Dionysius of 
Halicamassus ; still later we find it in Plutarch. 

Although every school of criticism has main- 
tained substantially the same doctrine, each has 

H 2 

100 Th^ G*vj S^rienK. 

CHAPTEP. it* own way of Ix^king: at it, and it is interesting 

L TO not^- how from tim^- to time the expression of 

j'V."*'.' the d'iOtnne varies. In the Greek mind the 
';':^*'' -* que-tion that most frequently arouse in connection 

erir^^m. ^-it}| x\ii: jileasiire of art was this. Is it a tme or 
a faJ.-H:: |.lea.sTiri^ ? It is the q^le^^tion which every 
child when first the productions of art — a 
tale or a picture — Ci:»me under his notice. But is 
it tnie ? And so of the childlike man ; the first 
movement of criticism within him concerns the 
reality of the source whence his pleasure is 
1. 1!.* derived. The Greeks especially raised this 
in^'iIT? question as to the truth of art. Is the pleasure 
which it affords, the pleasure of a truth or that 
of a lie ? The question naturally arose from 
their critical jx)int of view, which led them to 
look for tlie definition of art in its form. They 
defined art as an imitation, which is hut a nar- 
rower name for fiction. It will he found, indeed, 
tliroughout the history of criticism, that so long 
as it started from the Greek point of view, 
followed tlu? Greek metliod, and accepted the 
Greek definition of art, that this question as to 
the truth of fiction was a constant trouble. And 
when th(? Greek raised liis doubt as to the truth 
of art, let it be rememl)ered that he had in his 
mind something very different from what we 
should now be thinking of were we to question 
the truthfulness of this or that particular work 
of art. A work of art may be perfectly true in 
our sense of the word, that is to say, drawn to 

The Affreement of the Critics. 101 

the life, but it cannot escape from the Greek chapter 
charge that it is fiction. L 

The first suggestion of the Greek doubt, as to Treatment 
the reahty of the foundation of pleasure in art, question. 
emerges in the shape of a story told about Solon, story of 
which does not consort well with dates, but which ^^^°' 
as a story that sprung up among the Greeks, 
has its meaning. It is said that when Thespis 
came to Athens with his strolling stage, and drew 
great crowds to his plays, Solon, then an old man, 
asked him if he was not ashamed to tell so many 
lies before the people, and striking his staff on 
the groimd, growled out that if lies are allowed 
to enter into a nation's pleasures, they will, 
ere long, enter into its business. Plutarch, who 
relates this anecdote, gives us in another of his 
works the saying of the sophist Gorgias iuThesajing 
defence of what seemed to be the deceitfulness ^ **'^*"' 
of the pleasure which art aims at. Gorgias said 
that tragedy is a cheat, in which he who does the 
cheat is more honest than he who does it not, 
and he who accepts the cheat is wiser than he 
who refuses it. Many of the Greeks accepted 
the cheat so simply that, for example, they 
accused Euripides of impiety for putting impiety 
into the mouth of one of his dramatic personages. 
And not a few of their painters undertook to How the 
cheat with the utmost frankness. Apelles had to deceive. 
the glory of painting a horse so that another 
horse neighed to the picture. Zeuxis suffered a 
grievous disappointment when, having painted 

102 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER a boy carrying grapes, the birds came to peck at 
—1 the fruit but were not alarmed at the apparition 
of the boy. There are other stories of the same 
kind, as that of the painted curtain, and yet 
again that of the sculptor Pygmalion, who 
became enamoured of the feminine statue 
chiselled by himself. 
So far there Let it bo observcd that in the working of the 
^'uiiarin Grcck miud so far there is no marked pecu- 
of tiwGi4"k liarity. In all yoimg art there is the tendency 
""°'*' to realism ; in nearly all young criticism there \b 
a difficulty of deciding between the truth of 
imitation and the truth of reality. When Bruce, 
the African traveller, gave the picture of a fish 
to one of the Mooi-s, the latter saw in it not a 
painting but a reality, and, after a moment of 
surprise, asked : " If this fish at the last day 
should rise against you and say: Thou hast 
given me a body, but not a living soul, — 
wliat should you reply ?" In keeping with 
tliis tone of mind, the Saracens who built 
the Alliambra, and in it the foimtain of the 
lions, deemed it advisable to inscribe on the 
basin of the fountain : " Oh thou who beholdest 
these lions, fear not. Life is wanting to enable 
them to show their fury." In Italian art, not 
only in its earlier stages, but even in its period 
of perfect development, we find the same pheno- 
menon. I might quote whole pages from Vasari 
to show how an artist and a critic of the Cinque 
Cento thought of art. He says tliat one of 

The Agreement of the Critics. 103 

Raphael's Madonnas seems in the head, thecHAPTEp. 
hands, and the feet to be of living flesh rather — 1 
than a thing of colour. He says that the instru- 
ments, in a picture of St. Cecilia, lie scattered 
around her, and do not seem to be painted, but 
to be the real objects. He says of Raphael's 
pictures generally that they are scarcely to be 
called pictures, but rather the reality, for the 
flesh trembles, the breathing is visible, the 
pulses beat, and life is in its utmost force 
through all his works. 

In Italian art also it may be .well to note a How the 
tendency to confound fact and fiction, which gtJnrfiolv^ 
may explain something of the same tendency J.^^p^'^/ij. 
as it showed itself among the Greeks. Let '**^'*^ *^-* 
me ask — What is the meaning of the two Domi- 
nicans who are introduced kneeling in the pic- 
ture of the Transfiguration ? Many another 
picture might be mentioned in which a similar 
treatment is adopted, and especially by the 
painters before Raphael, as Dominic Ghirlan- 
dajo, and men of that stamp. But everybody 
knows the crowning work of Raphael, and that, 
therefore, may serve best for an illustration. 
What are we to make of the two Dominicans? 
If, instead of the two bald-pated, black-robed 
monks, the artist had placed on the Mount of 
Transfiguration a couple of wild bulls feeding or 
fighting, they would puzzle one less than his 
two monks.. Why is their monastic garb in- 
truded among the majestic foldings of celestial 

104 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER draperies ? The Saviour went up to the mount 
_ with Peter, James, and John, alone ; he was trans- 
figured before them; he appeared in company 
with Moses and Elias ; he charged the disciples 
that they should tell it unto none till the Soir 
of Man were risen from the dead. And yet 
Raphael introduces on the scene two modem 
monks to share the vision ! Not only is the 
Gospel narrative thus violated; there is a still 
stranger anomaly. The three disciples are lying 
down, blinded with the light and bewildered in 
their minds. The Dominicans are kneeling up- 
right and looking on. Raphael has deliberately 
introduced into his picture — the spectator. He 
has torn aside the veil which separates art from 
nature — the ideal from the real ; and we, even 
Ave, the living men and the real world, are 
absorbed into the picture and become part of 
it, so tliat if that be indeed a picture and a 
dream, then are we also pictures and dreams; 
and if we are indeed certainties and realities, 
then also is that wondrous scene a certainty and 
a reality. The old Geronimite in the Escurial 
said to Wilkie, as he stood in the Refectory 
gazing on Titian's picture of the Last Supper : 
wiikie'i "I have sat daily in sight of that picture 
G^roJmite! for uow nearly threescore years ; during 
tliat time my companions have dropped oflF, 
one after another. More than one generation 
has passed away, and there the figures in the 
picture have remained unchanged. 1 look at 


The Agreement of the Critics. 105 

them till I sometimes think that they are the chapter 
realities, and we but the shadows." And that is — ^ 
the mood of mind which the introduction into a 
picture of the modern spectator in modem cos- 
tume is calculated to awaken. The Italians, 
when, on the canvas of Ghirlandajo, they 
looked on the well-known figures of Ginevra 
di Benci and her maidens, as attendants in an 
interview between Elizabeth and the Virgin 
Mary, found themselves projected into the 
picture and made a part of it. 

Now, this method of confounding fact and fie- Further 

.. . ijij/»i» A»x illustration 

tion, in order that notion may appear to nse to oftheiove 
the assurance of fact, was not peculiarly Italian, qU^^^I^ 
but existed in full force among the Greeks. It ^f^f^"°' 
was an essential feature of their drama. The 
most marked characteristic of the Greek drama 
is the presence of the chorus. The chorus are 
always present, — watching events, talking to 
the actors, talking to the audience, talking to 
themselves, — all through the play, indeed, pour- 
ing forth a continual stream of musical chatter. 
And what are the chorus ? The only intelligible 
explanation which has been given is that 
they represent the spectator. The spectator is 
introduced into the play a^d made to take part 
in it. What the Greeks thus did artistically 
on their stage, we moderns have also sometimes 
done inartistically and unintentionally, but still 
to the same effect. We have had the audience 
seated on the stage, and sometimes, in the most 

106 The Gay Science. 

en A ITER ludicrous manner, taking part in the perform- 

L ance. When Garrick was playing Lear in 

Dublin to the Cordelia of Mrs. Woffington, an 
Irish gentleman who was present actually ad- 
vanced, put his arm round the lady's waist, and 
thus held her while she replied to the reproaches 
of the old king. The stage in the last century 
was sometimes so beset with the audience, that 
Juliet has been seen, says Tate Wilkinson, lying 
all solitary in the tomb of the Capulets with a 
couple of hundred of the audience about her. 
We should now contemplate such a practice 
with horror, as utterly destructive of stage 
illusion; and yet we must remember that it 
had its illusive aspect also, by confounding the 
dream that appeared on the stage with the 
familiar reaUties of life. 

From all this, however, it follows that if the 
Greeks made a confusion between fact and 
fiction, art and nature, they were not peculiar 
What is in so doing. What is peculiar to them is this, 
thVcrieks. that they gave a critical character to their doubt 
as to the limits of truth in art. It was fairly rea- 
soned. If it showed itself sometimes as a childish 
superstition, sometimes as the mere blindness of 
a prosaic temper, and^sometimes as an enjoyment 
of silly illusions, it also at times bore a higher 
character and rose to the level of criticism. The 
Greeks were the first to raise this subject of the 
truth of art into an important critical question 
which they transmitted to after times. 

The Agreement of the Critics. 107 

This is not the place to enter into a dis- chapter 
cussion whether they were right or wrong, — 1 
and whether fiction be or be not falsehood, manner of 
That discussion will be more fitly handled when "riSiy 
we come to examine the ethics of art. Here *^* "^^^^^ 

as to the 

we need only record and confront the fact that truth of 
the objection to the pleasure of art which most '"^^ 
frequently puzzled the Greek* thinkers, was that 
it appeared to be mixed up with lies. Plato, as I 
have already said, exhausted his dialectical skill 
in showing the untruthfulness of art. He con- 
demned it as an imitation at third hand. He 
meant, for example, that a flower in the field is 
but the shadow of an idea in the mind of God ; 
that the idea in God's mind is the real thing; 
that the blossom in the meadow is but a poor 
image of it ; and that when a painter gives us a 
copy of that copy, the picture stands third from 
the divine original, and is, therefore, a wretched 
falsehood. Plato's statement as to the truth of 
art is thus grounded on his theory of ideas, and 
when that theory goes, one would imagine that 
the statement should go also. It is a curious The doubt 
proof of the vitality of strong assertion, that his a^r^m 
opinion (but it would be more correct to say the \ 
opinion to which he gave currency) abides with 
all the force which his name can give to it, while 
the theory of ideas from which it sprung and 
derived plausibility, has long since gone to the 
limbo. It is incredible that mankind should 
find enduring pleasure in a lie. There cannot 

the reasou- 
ing on 
which it 

108 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER be a more monstrous libel against the human 

L race than to say that in the artistic search for 

pleasure, we have reality and all that is most 
gracious in it to choose from ; that we look from 
earth to heaven and try all ways which the in- 
finite beneficence of nature has provided; that 
nevertheless we set our joy on a system of lies ; 
and that so far the masterpieces of art are but 
tokens of a fallen nature, the signs of sickness 
and the harbinger of doom. 
Ari»totie« As Plato took ouc sido of the question, 
oi^^ Aristotle took the other, and in the writings 
rjJtri^e. ^f *^^ latter we have the final conclusion and 
the abiding belief of the Greek mind upon this 
subject of the truth of art. The view which he 
took was concentrated in the saying that poetry 
To be found is moTC philosophical than history, because it 
chapter of * looks morc to general and less to particular 
his Poitics. facts. AVe should now express the same thing 
in the statement that whereas history is fact, 
poetry is truth. Aristotle does not set him- 
self formally to answer Plato, but throughout 
his writings we find him solving Plato's riddles, 
imdoing Plato's arguments, and rebutting Plato's 
objections. Many of his most famous say- 
ings are got by recoil from Plato. Thus his 
masterly definition of tragedy, which has never 
been improved upon, and which generation after 
generation of critics have been content to repeat 
like a text of Scripture, is a rebound from Plato. 
And the same is to be said very nearly of Aris- 

The Agreement of the Critics. 109 

totle's doctrine concerning the truth of art. It chapter 
is 80 clear and so complete that it has become a _- 
common-place of criticism. It asserted for the 
Greeks, in the distinctest terms, the truthfulness 
of art ; it showed wherein that truthfulness con- 
sists; and, as far as criticism was concerned, it 
at once and for ever disposed of the notion that 
art is a Ke. Greeks like Gorgias could see 
vaguely that if art be a cheat, it may, neverthe- 
less, be justifiable, as we should iustify a feint or 
oTer stx^tegem in war. It was reserved for 
Aristotle to put the defence of art on the right 
ground — to deny that it is a cheat at all — and to 
claim for it a truthfulness deeper than that of 

This, then, is one of the earliest lessons which The lesson 
the student of art has to learn. The first lesson criticism. 
of all is that art is for pleasure ; the second is 
that the pleasure of art stands in no sort of 
opposition to truth. We in England have 
especial reason to bear this in mind, for we are 
most familiar with the doctrine that art is for 
pleasure, as it has been put by Coleridge ; and it How it has 
is not unlikely that some of the repugnance verteTby 
which the doctrine meets in minds of a certain ^"'''"''««. 
order may be due to his ragged analysis and 
awkward statement. He rather prided himself 
on his anatomy of thought and expression, but 
he hardly ever made a clean dissection. Mark 
what he says in this case. He says that the 
true opposite of poetry is not prose, but science. 

110 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTEK and that wliereas it is the proper and immediate 

L object of science to discover truth, it is the 

proper and immediate object of poetry to com- 
municate pleasure. This is not right. Coleridge 
has defined science by reference to the external 
object with which it is engaged; but he has 
defined poetry by reference to the mental state 
which it produces. There is no comparison 
between the two. If he is to run the contrast 
fairly, he ought to deal with both alike, and to 
state cither what is the outward object pursued 
by each, or what is tlie inward state produced 
by each. He would then find that, so far 
as the subject-matter is concerned, there is no 
essential difference between poetry and science, 
it being false to say that the one possesses more 
of truth than the other ; and he would define the 
difference between the two by the mental states 
which they severally produce — the immediate 
object of science being science or knowledge, 

The true whilc that of poctry is pleasure. To say that 
tlic object of art is pleasure in contrast to know- 
ledge, is quite different from saying that it 
is pleasure in contrast to tiiith. Science gives 
us truth without reference to pleasure, but 
immediately and chiefly for the sake of know- 
ledge ; poetry gives us truth without reference 
to knowledge, but immediately and mainly for 
tlic sake of pleasure. By thus getting rid of the 
contrast between truth and pleasure, which 
Coleridge has unguardedly allowed, a difficulty 

The Agreement of the Critics. Ill 

is smoothed away from the doctrine that the end chapter 

of art is pleasure, and that of criticism the analysis L 

of pleasure. His statement has an air of extra- 
ordinary precision about it that might wile the 
imwary into a ditch. All his precision goes to 
misrepresent the pure Greek doctrine. 

II. From Greece we pass over into Italy, as The Italian 
the stepping-stone to modern Europe; and itaiudsm. 
matters not whether we speak of old pagan 
Italy, whose critical faith was most brightly 
expressed in the crisp verses of Horace ; or of 
christianised Italy, which at the revival of 
letters stood forward as the earliest school both 
of art and of criticism in modern Europe. 
Everybody wiU remember how Horace describes 
a poem as fashioned for pleasure, and failing 
thereof, as a thing of nought, that belies itself, 
like music that jars on the ear, like a scent 
that is noisome, like Sardinian honey bitter 
with the taste of poppy. Among the great 
critics of the moderns, Caesar Scaliger stands as repre- 
first in point of time, and he takes the same&^ugerf 
view as the old Greek philosophers. After ^^^J^*^''' 
denying the Aristotehan doctrine of imitation as ****^®"- 
the one method of art, he says that poetry is a 
delightful discipline by which the heart is edu- 
cated through right reason to happiness — happi- 
ness being with him another name for perfect 
action. Next to Scaliger stands another Italian 
critic, Castelvetro, who wrote a commentary on 

112 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Aristotle's Poetics^ in which he fearlessly opposed 

L the master, when he thought it right to do so. 

He, too, saw in enjoyment the end of poetry, and 
maintained the doctrine so uncompromisingly, 
that some of the French critics long afterwards 
took him to task for it. But Scaliger and 
Cast^lvetro were a sort of antiquarians, and 
might be said to lean too much towards ancient 
literature. Tasso was more distinctly a modem, 
and has left us, with his poems, a number of 
critical discourses. In these he states unflinch- 
ingly that delight is the immediate end of 
poetry, and the whole of the Italian school of 
criticism goes with him. The doctrine is firmly 
stated in Yida's famous poem, 
whiit is It is less interesting, however, to know that 

thrii'^ew the Italians, as well as the old Romans, main- 
***^*'"^ tained the universal doctrine concerning art 
than to ascertain with what limitations they 
maintained it. Here we come tp another 
great lesson. If the first of all lessons in 
art is that art is for pleasure, and the second 
is that this pleasure has nothing to do 
with falsehood, the third is that art is not 
to be considered as in any sense opposed to 
utility. The ancient Romans and the modem 
Italians were never much troubled with what 
vexed the too speculative Greeks — the seeming 
untruthfulness of art pleasure ; their more prac- 
tical genius brooded over its seeming careless- 
ness of profit. Scaliger describes the Italians of 

The Agreement of the Critics. 113 

his day as bent on gain ; and in most of their chapter 
statements of the end of art they take heed to —1. 
link together the two ideas of pleasure and pro- 
fit; pleasure taking the precedence, no doubt; 
but pleasure always with profit. In the Latin 
language, indeed, the verb to please or delight 
signifies at the same time to help or be of use, 
and the two ideas became inseparable in all 
criticism traced back to Rome. See how stur- 
dily Horace insists upon the twin thoughts : 

Aut prodease volant, aut delectare poetas, 
Aut simul et jucunda et idonea dicere vitas. 

And again^ how in one of his neatest and best- 
known phrases, he steadily keeps in view the 
need of mingling wisdom with pleasure : 

Omne tulit pimctum, qui miscuit utile dulci, 
Lectorem delectando, pariterque monendo. 

Scaliger among the modems faithfully reflects That the 
this Boman view, and never refers to therrtmlwt^be 
pleasure for which and in which art lives, p'^^*'*^^*' 
without limiting the idea of pleasure by asso- 
ciating it with moral discipline and gain. 
Castelvetro leant more to the Greek view, and 
put all thought of profit as connected with art How tmsu 

• T ••• m 1 puzzled 

m a secondary position, lasso, however, per-orerthe 
fectly caught the spirit of the Latin doctrine ; tSrthy^of 
and as he puzzled over the Horatian line in^JJ^*^^^ 
which poets are said to set their hearts either on 
doing good, or on giving pleasure, he asked him- 
self whether it is possible that art should have 
two ends, the one of pleasure, and the other of 

VOL. I. I 

1 14 TTie Gay Science. 

cnATTER profit? lie came to the conclusion that art 
__L can have only one end in view — pleasure ; but 
that this pleasure must be profitable. The 
strain of criticism thus originated flows through 
all modern literature that owns to Italian influr 
ence. In one fonn or another, we come upon it 
in Spanish, in French, in German writers; and 
we find it very rife in England during those 
Elizabethan days when our literature was most 
open to Italian teaching. Philip Sidney, for 
example, says that the end of poesy is to teach 
and dcliglit ; while in another passage he adds 
that to delight " is all the goodfellow poet seems 
to promise." 
How the In these Horatian, in these Italian maxims, 
trinn« to tlic true wheat has to be threshed from a great 
rto^"**" ^^^^ ^>f straw, and winnowed from a good deal 
of chaff. Deep at the root of them lies the 
conviction which takes possession of every 
thoughtful mind, tliat nothing in this world 
exists for itself, can in the long run be an 
end to itself, can have an ultimate end in its 
Wherein it owu good plcasurc. In pursuing this line of 
thought, however, a man soon finds that he is 
apt to argue in a circle — such a circle as one of 
our subtlest poets suggests in saying — 

goc« too far. 

j-y.ij,^^ Ni)t well he deems who deems the rose 

liobeli. I« for the rosetery, nor knows 

The roseberry is for the rose. 

So, therefore, when we hear men like Victor 
Hugo cryiug aloud in our day that the end of 

The Agreement of the Critics. 115 

art is not art, but the cause of humanity, we can chapter 

only answer that there may be a sense in which L 

this is correct enough, as there is also a sense 
in which science may be said to exist not for 
itself, but for human advancement; still that 
we are now talking of immediate ends, and that 
as the end of science is science, even if we are 
wholly ignorant of the practical use to which it 
may hereafter be turned, so the end of art is its 
own good pleasure, even if we fail to see the 
direct profit which this pleasure may jbring. 
And thus the laureate sings — 

So, lady Flora, take my lay, 

And if you find no moral there. 
Go, look in any glass and say, 

What moral is in being fair? 
Oh, to what uses shall we put 

The wild weed flower that simply blows ? 
And is there any moral shut 

Within the bosom of the rose ? 

Again, there is a core of truth in the Horatian How far m 
maxim that art should be profitable as well as 
pleasing, since it always holds that wisdom's ways 
are ways of pleasantness, that enduring pleasure 
comes only out of healthful action, and that amuse- 
ment as mere amusement is in its own place good, 
if it be but innocent. There is profit in art as there 
is gain in godliness, and poKcy in an honest life. 
But we are not to pursue art for profit, nor god- 
liness for gain, nor honesty because it is poHtic, 
There are minds, however, so constituted that 
nothing seems to be profitable to them, except it 
comes in the form either of knowledge or of 

I 2 

is true. 

lie The Gay Science. 

c\\kvivA\ direct utility. Those of a didactic turn are fond 
_L of dwelling on the idea of poet and artist^ to 
which Bacon refers when he points out that 
the Greek minstrels were the chief doctors of 
soiMof the religion ; to which Thomas Occleve bore witness 
to whiciTit when he saluted Chaucer — " universal fadre 
'•**• of science ;" which Sir Thomas Elyot entertained 

when he said that poetry was the first philo- 
sophy ; which Puttenham had in view when he 
devoted one of his chapters to showing that the 
poets were not only the first philosophers of the 
world, but also the first historiographers, orators, 
and mnsifiaiis ; which Sir John Harington con- 
templated when he described poetry as "the 
very first nurse and ancient grandmother of all 
learning ;" which La Mesnardicre stuck to when 
he discovered that Virgil was useful as a teacher 
of farming, Theocritus for his lessons of econo- 
my, and Homer for the knowledge which he 
displays of wellnigh every handicraft. " Sonate, 
que me veux tu ?" cried Fontenelle, as he heard 
a symphony, and thought of those who see a 
deep meaning and a useful purpose in all works 
of art ; but he might have found enthusiasts to 
answer him, and to show him philosophy in a 
jig, theology in a fiigue, like that sage who 
discovered the seven days of creation in the 
seven notes of music. Divines opposed to 
dancing, from Saint Ambrose to the Rev. John 
Northbrooke, have yet had much to say in 
fiivour of what they call spiritual dancing, such 

The Agreement of the Critics, 117 

as that of King David ; Sir Thomas Elyot dis- chaptek 

covered all the cardinal virtues in the various L 

figures of a dance; and the dancing-master 
Noverre treated of his steps as a part of philo- 
sophy. These are, of course, vanities on which 
it is needless to comment. Nor need we waste 
time on those who apply to art the utilitarian 
test. The inhabitants of Yarmouth in 1650 
begged that Parliament would grant them the 
lead and other materials " of that vast and alto- 
gether useless cathedral in Norwich" towards 
the building of a workhouse and the repairing 
of their piers, Thomas Heywood, who has been 
described as a sort of prose Shakespeare, gave a 
rather prosaic proof of the utility of the drama 
from the effect produced by a play acted on the 
coast of Cornwall. The Spaniards were landing 
"at a place called Perin," with intent to take the 
town, when hearing the drums and trumpets of 
a battle on the stage, they took fright and fled 
to their boats. When men condescend to talk 
of the utility and profit of art in this sense, one 
is reminded of those religions which gave their 
followers first the pleasure of worshipping the 
god, and then the advantage of eating him : 

The Egyptian rites the Jebusites embraced, 
When gods were recommended by the taste ; 
Sach savoury deities must needs be good 
As serred at once for worship and for food. 

Once more, pleasure is an indefinite term, piawure an 

i«i" n, ij* * 3 'if indefinite 

which IS so often connected in our mmds with term very 

118 The Gay Science. 

en. \ ITER forbidden gratifications, that it may Ite necessary, 

_L not in logic, but in practice, to fence it from mis- 

a|»t to be apprehension. When we sound the praises of 

htood. love, it IS taken for granted that we mean pure, 

not unhallowed, passion ; when we vaunt the 

excellence of knowledge, it is understood that we 

are referring to knowledge which is neither vile 

nor vain ; but pleasure — people are so frightened 

at pleasure that when we speak of it as the proper 

end of art, it has to be explained that we are 

thinking of pleasure which is not improper, and 

it has to be shown that if art, in the pleasure 

which it yields, fail to satisfy the moral sense 

of a peoi)le, it is doomed. It may amuse for a 

little, but it has within itself a worm that gnaws 

its life out. Be the pleasure however good or 

bad, lofty or mean, tliere are some who object to 

it as such. We have seen how Plato could not 

away with pleasure, because the gods, whoso 

nature is unchangeable, have no experience of it. 

iiuskii/s Mr. lluskin is the modem critic who has the 

S»st strongest objection to pleasure as the end of art. 

i^'Zoi In a lecture delivered at Cambridge he said that 
art may u ^\\ ^j^^ ^^.^ ^f |jfg ^^^^ ^jj|y ^^^ dcath, aud all the 

here, i.i.:i- gifts of uian issuc only in dishonour, " when they,i as are pursued or possessed in the sense oi pleasure 

aii.i tiirrl?- oiily ." Siiicc uo oiic tliiuks of pleasure as the only 

pro*iaabie. ^^^^ ^^ ^^% 1* i^^y bc supposed that his objection 

to the doctrine maintained in this chapter is not 

80 strong as it appears to be. In another passage, 

however, he slates his view more distinctly. 

The Agreement of the Critics. 119 

** This, then, is the great enigma of art history : chapter 
you must not follow art without pleasure, nor .-1 
must you follow it for the sake of pleasure." 
It must be admitted that there is some reason . 
for this objection. Mr. Ruskin has here, in fact, 
touched on one of the most curious laws of 
pleasure. It will be found that when we begin 
to talk of pleasure, at once we fall into seeming 
inconsistencies and contradictions. It is only by 
a concession to the exigencies of language that 
we can speak of pleasure as obtained from any 
conscious seeking. Not to forestall what has 
to be said of pleasure in the proper place, it may 
be enough here to illustrate the present diffi- 
culty about it by quoting what Lord Chester- 
field says of wit. " If you have real wit," he Answered 
says, ** it will flow spontaneously, and you need JuiS^"^* 
not aim at it ; for in that case the rule of the ^i^^^y. 
Gk)spel is reversed, and it shall prove, seek and ye ||jg a^"*^ 
shall not find." So pleasure is spontaneous, and 
comes not of any conscious seeking. But there 
is such a thing as unconscious seeking ; and all 
great art has in it so little of wary purpose that 
it does not even pursue pleasure with a perfect 
and sustained consciousness. If you strive after 
wit, as Lord Chesterfield says, you will never be 
witty ; and if you hunt after pleasure, as Mr. 
Ruskin says, you will fail of joy . And yet, after his 
kind, with what may be called an under-conscious- 
ness, the man of wij intends wit, the man of art 
intends pleasure, and both attain their ends. Mr. 

1 20 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Ruskiii himself has defined art as the expresmon 
Zl of man's deh'ght in the works of God. Why is 
dehght expressed except for delight ? There is 
not only no objection to saying that art is the ex- 
pression of delight, but also the statement of that 
fact is essential to the true conception of art. It 
is, however, an advance upon the Italian doctrine 
of pleasure, which will more properly be handled 
in the sequel, when in the course of travel we 
come to Germany. 

The spwiJi III. Next in order after the Greek and Italian 
uitw*m schools of criticism comes the Spanish, which 
"ri^nj^ took its cue mainly from the Italian, and ori- 
butsuii rrinated little that can be accepted for new. 
^"f^- That it should adopt the universal doctrine of 
criticism, and represent art as made for pleasure, 
is but natural. Montesquieu put forth a wicked 
epigram, that the only good book of the Spaniar^p 
is that which exposes the absurdity of all the 
rest. It is unfair, however, because a book 
like Don Quixote is never quite solitary in its 
excellence ; and though the Spaniards have the 
name of being echoes in art and timid in criti- 
cism ; though they were fettered by the Inquisi- 
tion, and got such men among them as Cervantes 
and Lope dc Vega to hug their chains as if they 
were the jewelled collars and the embroidered 
garters of some splendid order of chivalry — 
bound down and ground down, they showed the 
native force of genius in masterpieces of art 

The Agreement of the Critics. 121 

which, for their kind, have never been surpassed, chapter 
and in touches of criticism that still hold — 1 

Now, the Arragonese and Castilian poets, at a it hdd to 
very early period, adopted the Proven9al concep- do^°ne. 
tion of poetry as the Gay Science. And not only 
was that conception of poetry entertained by the 
Spanish races at a time when they were light of 
heart, and spoke of their own lightheartedness as 
an acknowledged fact ; they kept it when, to all 
the world, and to themselves, they grew sombre, 
grave and grandiose. A Spanish Jew of the 
fifteenth century, even if he were a converted one, 
is not the sort of person whom one would select 
as the type of joyousness, and the expounder of 
the gay art. Juan de Baena, a baptized Jew, 
secretary and accountant to King John II. 
and a poet of some mark, published a famous 
Cancionero, or collection of the poets, in the pre- 
face to which he has never enough to say of the 
deHghtfiilness and charm of poetry. He mingles 
this view, it is true, with some stiff notions, as 
that the poet who can produce so much pleasure 
must be high-bom, and must be inspired of God, 
but his idea throughout is, that the art is for 
pleasure. Other Spanish critics follow in the 
same track, as Luzan, who, however, takes most 
of his ideas on criticism from the Italians. He 
refers at considerable length to the Italian dis- 
cussion as to the end of poetry — ^is it pleasure ? 
is it profit ? is it both ? and if both, how can any 

122 The Gay Science. 

ciiAiTER art licive two ends of co-ordinate value ? Like 

V • 

L the Italians, he came to tlie conclusion that the 

two ends must be identified — that the pleasure 
must profit, and that the profit must please. 
Hut it had But the Spaniards had their own point of view 
\\>M just as the Greeks and the Italians had theirs. 
view. r£.j^^ Greeks raised a question as to the truth of 
the pleasure created by art ; the Italians raised a 
question as to its profitableness ; and these two 
inquiries practically exhausted all discussion as 
to the morality of poetry and art. The Spaniards 
raised another question, which is more purely 
a critical one. Art is for pleasure, but whose 
pleasure? Not that this question had been 
wholly overlooked by the Italians. On the con- 
trary, some of the French critics, that in the days 
of the Fronde and of the Grand Monarch buzzed 
about the Hotel Rambouillet, were wild and 
witliering in the sarcasms which they poured on 
the poor old Italian, Castelvetro, for venturing 
to assert that poetry is to delight and solace the 
That art is multitudc. But tlic Spaniards, having a noble 
i!«M)pie. ballad literature that lived amongst the people, 
and was tliorouglily appreciated by them, were 
prepared to maintain a similar doctrine more 
strenuously — a doctrine the very opposite of that 
which would describe art as caviare to the general, 
and confine the enjoyment of it to the fit and 

Gonzalo de Berceo is the first known of 
Spanish poets. There were ])oets before him, 

The Agreement of the Critics. 123 

but their works are anonymous. He lived in the chapter 
thirteenth century, and he begins one of his tales _!. 
in this characteristic manner : — " In the name of How this 
the Father, who made all things, and of our Lord shSJeS^ 
Jesus Christ, son of the glorious Virgin, and of '^^°i„ 
the Holy Spirit, who is equal with them, I intend ^„7kl'*^' 
to tell a story of a holy confessor. I intend to }^v^ ^« 
teU a story in the plain Romance in which the ^ 
common man is wont to talk with his neighbour ; 
for I am not so learned as to use the other Latin. 
It will be well worth, as I think, a cup of good 
wine." What the unlearned Gonzalo thus 
simply expressed, Cervantes and Lope de Vega, 
some three centuries later, uttered with more 
critical precision. The view of Cervantes will be How (>i> 
found in Don Quixote in those two chapters in cussed it 
which the canon and the priest discourse together ^quMc. 
on the tales of chivalry, and on fiction generally. 
They complain that the tales of chivalry, intended 
to give pleasure, have an evil effect in minis- 
tering to bad taste. But the canon, who has no 
mean opinion of the approbation of the few as 
opposed to the many, tells us distinctly that the 
corruption of Spanish art, which, he laments, is 
not to be attributed to the bad taste of the com- 
mon people, who delight in the meaner pleasures. 
" Do you not remember," he says, " that a few, 
years since, three tragedies were produced which 
were universally admired, which delighted both 
the ignorant and the wise, both the vulgar 
and the refined ; and that by those three pieces 

124 Tlie Gay Science. 

cHAiTER the players gained more than by thirty of the 
—1 best which liave since been represented." His 
hearer admits the fact. ** Pray, then, recollect,** 
returns tlie canon, " that they were thus success- 
ful, though they conformed to the rules of high 
art ; and, therefore, it cannot be said that the 
blame of pursuing low art is to be ascribed to 
tlie lowness of the vulgar taste." 

Lope de Lope de Vega, however, was still bolder than 
Cervantes. It will be observed that, according to 
Cervantes, you must follow the recognised rules of 
high art, and you may be quite sure that they will 
please the people ; but in the chapter from which 
I am quoting (the 48th), while he bestows the 
highest praise on Lope de Vega, he expresses a 
rogret, tliat, in order to please the public, he 
had yielded to the demands of a depraved taste, 
and had swerved from the rules of art. Lope*8 
conception of his duty is the converse of this, 
and is quite logical. ''Tales have the same 
rules with dramas, the purpose of whose authors 
is to content and please the public, though the 

The same rules of art may be strangled thereby." Terence 

prcwedbj propounded a like doctrine in the prologues of 
*^'*' two of his plays. In the prologue to the Andria 
he reminds his audience that when the poet first 
took to writing he believed that his only business 
was to please the people ; and in that to the 
Eunuch^ he says, that if there be any one who 
strives to please as many, and to offend as few 
good men as possible, it is the poet. But 


The Agreement of the Critics. 125 

Terence was merely a comedian, and Lope de chapter 
Vega is, to the best of my knowledge, the first _L 
serious writer who stated ruthlessly the doctrine 
of pleasure with all its logical consequences. He 
has been well backed, however, both by comic and 
serious writers. Moliere, when his School for Wives Bj Moii^re. 
was attacked, and proved to be against the rules, 
wrote a little piece in defence of it in which he en- 
trusts his cause to the logic of a certain Durante. 
One great point in Durante's pleading is ex- 
pressed as follows : — " I should like much to 
know whether the grand rule of all rules be not 
to please, and whether a stage piece that has 
gained this end has not taken the right way. 
Will you have it that the public are astray, and 
are not fit to judge of their own pleasure ?" In 
English we have expressed the same view in 
the well-known couplet of Johnson's — By Johnson. 

The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give. 
And those who live to please, must please to live. 

There is a diflBcult question here involved. It a diflScoit 
is indeed the first difficult question that meets here in- 
the critic. Tasso played with it a little. He^^^ 
saw that the end of poetry is to please ; he saw 
also that to the Italians the romances of Ariosto 
and other poets gave greater pleasure than the 
epics of Homer; and putting these two facts 
together, he saw an inference before him, from 
which he shrank back in dismay. It was left 
for the French critics to sound the abysses of 
such an inference, and to turn it to account as a 

126 7%^ Gay Science. 

cifAPTEK critical warning. In the meantime the Spanish 

L writers scarcely see the difficulty that lies ahead, 

and are content to insist on the wisdom of pleas- 
ing the multitude. Ceri'^antes says, Please the 
multitude, hut you must please them by rule. 
Lope de Vega says, Please the multitude even if 
vou defy the rules. 
An oppoHite Tlic vicw tlius sct fortli invites misapprehen- 
wipiKtted sion, but it has not a little to say for itself. 
htJu\^ Never have words of such innocent meaning 
by Milton, j^j^j gy^}^ baueful cffccts upon literature as those 

in which (if I may be allowed to anticipate) Milton 
expressed his hope that he would fit audience 
find tliough few. It might be all well for Milton 
who had fallen, as he himself expresses it^ on 
evil days and evil tongues, who lived almost as 
an outcast from society, who saw around him 
universal irreligion and unblushing Ucence, to 
liint a fear that he might not command an audi- 
ence attuned to his sacred theme, and ready to 
soar with him to heavenly heights ; but his 
example will not justify those who would wrest 
his words into a defence of narrow art — of art 
that fit audience finds though few, or, as we 
might otherwise phrase it, in an opposite sense, 
that fit welcome finds though small. If the 
effect of Milton's plirase were simply to soothe 
the feelings of the disappointed poets who 
write what nobody will read, it would be a 
pity to deprive them of such comfort; but the 
fact is, that poets of rare ability often in our 


The Agreement of the Criticf^. 127 

bookish times brood over the same idea, content chapter 

themselves with a small audience, adapt them- L 

selves to the requirements of a coterie, and in 
imagination make up for the scantiness of pre- 
sent recognition by the abundance of the future 
fame which they expect. It may be remembered And cer- 
that Wordsworth, in a celebrated preface, enters by "woi4». 
into elaborate antiquarian researches, to show^^^- 
that the neglect which he suffered from his con- 
temporaries was only what a great poet might 
expect, and that the most palpable stamp of a 
great poem is its falling flat upon the world to 
be picked up and recognised only by. the fit 
and few. 

Now, in art, the two seldom go together ; the On the fit 
fit are not few, and the few are not fit. The j^?dg« of** 
true judges of art are the much despised, many — **^* 
the crowd — and no critic is worth his salt who 
does not feel with the many. There are, no 
doubt, questions of criticism which only few can 
answer ; but the enjoyment of art is for all ; and 
just as in eloquence, the great orator is he who 
coiomands the people, so in poetry, so in art, the 
great poet, the great artist will command high 
and low alike. Great poetry was ever meant, 
and to the end of time must be adapted, not to 
the curious student, but for the multitude who 
read while they run — for the crowd in the 
street, for the boards of huge theatres, and for 
the choirs of vast cathedrals, for an army march- 
ing tumultuous to the battle, and for an assembled 

128 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER nation silent over the tomb of its mightiest. It 
— 1 is intended for a great audience, not for indi- 
vidual readers. So Homer sang to well greaved 
listeners from court to court ; so ^schylns, 
Sophocles, and Euripides wrote for the Athenian 
populace ; so Pindar chanted for the mob that 
fluttered around the Olympian racecourse. 
Doet* The discovery of the alphabet and the inven- 

SiSn- " tion of printing have wrought some changes. 
^^t A read is different from a heard literature, 
iTte^w, ^^* *^^ change is not essential. In modem, 
J^J^^y as compared with ancient literature, we find 
Dante compelling the attention of every house 
in Italy, by describing its founders in hell 
fire ; we find Tasso writing verses that are 
still sung by the gondoliers of Venice ; we find 
Chaucer pitching his tale for the travellers who 
bustle through the yard of an inn; we find 
Shakespeare doing all in his power to fill the 
Globe Theatre ; we find our own laureate send- 
ing fortli a volume that sells by the myriad, by 
the myriad to be judged. Few English critics 
have been more fastidious than Johnson, and 
yet wliat was his opinion as to the pleasure 
which Shakespeare created ? " Let him who is yet 
unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare,** 
he says, '*and who desires to feel the highest 
pleasure tliat tlic drama can give, read every 
play from the first scene to the last with utter 
negligence of all his commentators. When his 
fancy is once on the wing, let him not stop at cor- 


The Agreement of tlie Critics. 129 

rection or explanation. Let him read on through chapter 
brightness and obscurity, through integrity and — '- 
corruption ; let him preserve his comprehension 
of the dialogue, and his interest in the fable ; 
and when the pleasures of novelty have ceased, 
let him attempt exactness, and read the com- 
mentators." In a word, the highest pleasure 
which the drama can give is a pleasure within 
reach of the many, and belongs to them with- 
out the help or the wisdom of the learned 

There is an aristocracy of taste to which such The demo- 

1 • ,1 'ii 1 X A 1 cratic doc- 

conclusions as these will be repugnant And trine of art 
at first sight, indeed, it appears odd that anj])pi^jng 
aristocratic people like the Spaniards should *^ 
thus frankly accept a low-levelling democratic 
doctrine of taste — should regard the domain of 
letters as essentially a republic; while on the 
other hand, as we shall presently see, the French 
who are now known to us as the most demo- 
cratic people in Europe, established the theory 
of art as caviare to the general. The truth is, 
that the French theory of art was established by 
the French noblesse and courtiers when the 
people were among the most downtrodden in 
Christendom, and had no rights that were re- 
spected ; while again the Spanish idea of art 
arose among a race whose very peasantry had 
some ancestral pride, were, so to speak, but a 
lower rank of peers, and were divided by no 
impassable gulf from the haughtiest Don. Those 

VOL. I. K 

130 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER who dislike the republican tinge of the Spanish 

L view may sec, at least, this much truth in it — 

Exprcned that all gTcat art is gregarious. The great 
that all artist IS never as one crying solitary in the 

great art is .^ -. ■■ • , * 

gregarioua. wilclerness ; he comes in a troop ; he comes m 
constellations. He is surrounded by Paladins, 
that with him make the age illustrious. He 
belongs to his time, and his time produces many, 
who if not great as he, are yet like him. Nothing 
is more marked in history than the phenomenon 
of seasons of excellence and ages of renown. 
Witness the eras of Pericles, Augustus, the 
Medici, Elizabeth, and others. What means 
this clustering, this companionship of art, un-- 
less that essentially the inspiration which pro- 
duces it is not individual but general, is common 
to the country and to the time, is a national 
possession ? And how again can this be if the 
pleasure of art is not in the people, and the 
standard by which it is to be judged is not in 
their hearts ? In one word, the pleasure of art 
is a popular pleasure. 

TheFnnch lY. It would bc too much, however, to say 
^itTcism. that the Spanish view of art is in itself com- 
plete. There is another side of the question to 
which justice must be done before we can have 
this tlieory of poetic pleasure well balanced. 
What the Spanish critics want in tliis respect, 
the French critics supply. The French, like 
other scliools of criticism, had their own special 

Tke Agreement of the Critics. 131 

views, but for the most part they held firmly to chapter 

pleasure as in one form or another the end of art. 1 

Those who made any doubt about it, as Father 
Rapin, did so chiefly on the score of religion, 
which in their eyes made light of all earthly 
pleasure. Eapin allows delight to be the end of 
poetry, but he will not hear of it as the chief end, 
because by that phrase he xmderstands — the 
public weal which all human arts ought to look 
to as their highest work. It is scarcely needful 
to say that here is but a mistake of terms. 
Father Rapin is thinking of ultimate ends, 
whereas those who dwell on pleasure as the 
chief end of art, have no thought but of its 
immediate object. The strongest statement of 
what that object is, I have already given from 
one of Molifere's plays. If French critics did not 
commonly advance the doctrine of pleasure with 
like fearlessness of logic, still they accepted it Accepu the 
freely. In the tempest of discussion which rose dwtHM. 
on the publication of Comeille's drama of the 
Cidy one of his defenders who professed to be 
but a simple burgess of Paris and churchwarden 
of his parish took his stand on this simple prin- 
ciple : " I have never read Aristotle, and I know 
not the rules of the theatre, but I weigh the 
merit of the pieces according to the pleasure 
which they give me." La Motte said, without 
mincing, that poetry has no other end than 
to please, and La Harpe taking note of this, 
declares, " If he had said that to please is its 


132 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER chief end, I should have been entirely of his 

L mind." There is no limit to the quotations from 

French criticism which might be made in the 
same sense. It may be enough to summon 
Marmontel, who puts the case as follows: 
" L'intention immediate du poete est de plaire et 
d'interesser en imitant." All the critics, have 
tlieir little varieties of statement that go to 
limit the sort of pleasure which art seeks. One 
says that it is a pleasure excited by imitation, 
another tliat it is a pleasure which leads to 
profit; but one and all seize on the idea of 
pleasure as the purpose of art. 
Thepwu- What is most peculiar to French criticism 
Y^^Jh^ received its impulse from the revolution wrought 
criticiun. jj^ French literature at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century. It is a revolution, the 
converse of that which overthrew French 
society towards the close of the eighteenth : and 
for that very reason, indeed, the two revolutions 
are intimately related. That which gave a new 
Began to tum to Frcuch literature in the days of the 
in Uie early earlier Bourbons, was led by the most brilliant 
ik)w-U)M.* bevy of bluestockings that ever lived, whose 
w^ays and works, whose very names are almost 
unknown in this country. How many English- 
men know who was Salmis, or Sarraide or 
Sophie ; who was the brilliant Arthenice ; who 
the gracious Sophronie ; who the charming F^li- 
ciane ; who was Nidalie, or Stratonice, or Celie, 
or the rare Virginie ; who can tell where was the 


The Agreement of the Critics. 


palace of Rozelinde, and the bower of Zyrphee ? chapter 
Arthenice was the poetical name of Madame — 1 
de Rambouillet,* whose residence, known as the 
palace of Rozelinde, with a certain famous hall 
in it, known as the blue room, and another as 
the bower of Zyrphee, was the chief haunt of 
those bright ladies, whom we should call blue- 
stockings, and who under an ItaUan princess, 
Marie de Medici, and a Spanish one, Anne of 
Austria, introduced refinement into France. 

When, in 1610, Henry IV. died, and the Picture of 
child Louis XIII. began to reign, there was the death 
no want of greatness in the coimtry. There was ^*°^ ^ ' 
a superabundance of force in the French nation 
that showed itself in great soldiers, great states- 
men, great thinkers. But taste was wholly 
wanting. Manners needed refinement and lite- 
rature the regulation of taste. Of the grossness The utter 
of French manners in those days it is diflScult to Jl^ement. 
give in few words an adequate idea. The most 
simple method of conveying an impression of it 
to English readers is to refer them to the earlier 
portion of the preceding century, of which they 
have some inkling through the not unknown 

• The names of the others run 
as follows: Salmis was Made- 
moiselle de Sully ; Sarraide and 
Sophie were Madame and Made- 
moiselle Scudery ; Sophronie was 
Madame de Sevign^; F^liciane 
was Madame de la Fayette ; 
Nidalie was Ninon de Lcnclos; 

Stratonico was Madame Scarron ; 
C^ie was Madame de Choisy; 
and Virginie was Madame de 
Vilaine. Generally the names 
were so chosen that the initial of 
the fictitious should correspond 
with that of the real name. 

134 The Gay Science. 

cuAi^-iKu writings of Rabelais and of Margaret of Angon- 

L Icme ; the one rector of Meudon, the other 

Queen of Navarre, and sister of Francis I. 
iii»»trate.i Priest and Queen wallowed in filth, and strange 
by,^e.^nce^^ say, they did not seem to know it. The 
l^uxnn^ more indecent writers of the English school are 
thoroughly conscious of their trespasses, and take 
good care to show that they regard superfluity 
of naughtiness as a sign of spirit. But the Queen 
of Navarre and the priest of Meudon indulged 
in their coarseness with such an air of simple- 
ncss, that the most outrageous disclosures, and 
the most hideous obscenity, seemed to come as 
a matter of course, and to be all perfectly right. 
Priest as he was, llabelais had no self-reproach, 
and gets tlie credit of being a great moral 
thinker, at heart, earnest and eager for reforms. 
As for the Queen of Navarre, she passed for a 
Lutheran, she delighted in the Bible, she loved 
to compose spiritual songs. Brantome says that 
her heart was very much turned to God ; and 
in token thereof she chose for her device a 
marigold, that ever turns to tlie sun. If those 
who, like Kabelais, were great moral thinkers, 
and those who, like tlie Queen of NavaiTC, may- 
hap, tiu'ncd their hearts to heavenly things, and 
cei-tainly represented the highest society, were 
unutterably gross, and indeed bestial, in their 
plainspeaking, wliat are we to imagine of the 
lightheaded and the bad ? It is enough to say, 
that when Henry IV. died, the French were. 

The Agreement of the Critics. 135 

while abounding in all brilliance and force, the chapter 

most vicious and worst behaved nation ' in L 

Europe. Their language showed none of that ^* henry's 
rare taste for which it has since become re- worst 

1 .. 1 . If* behaved 

nowned ; it was loose m every sense — loose tor nation in 
the lack of grammar, loose for the lack of ^^^' 

But the nation, sound at heart, and rejoicing But sound 
in its strength, was ripe for a reform, and reform t^%; ^^ 
came from Italy. To the ItaKans belong the ^^"""°: 
credit of inspiring the French with taste in Reform 

"I •• !• • 1* • TTTi came from 

cookery, m manners, and m criticism. When itaiy. 
Henry died, his widow, of the Florentine house 
of Medici, was left regent of the kingdom. It 
was under, though not through her, that the 
reform began. Strictly speaking, it can never 
be right to describe a social revolution as the 
work of one mind, but it may be safe to say 
that the reform of which we speak made its first 
appearance and had its head-quarters in the 
Hotel, or as it was then written, the Hostel of 
Catherine de Vivonne, Marchioness of Ram- 

This lady, whose baptismal name was trans- Catherine 
formed by her admirers into Arthenice, by 
which she is best known in French literature, 
was the daughter of Jean de Vivonne, Marquis of 
Pisani, who held great place at the court of 
the Tuileries, and who, at the age of three-score 
and three, had married a Roman lady of illus- 
trious birth, Giulia Savelli. Three years after 


Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTEU tlieir marriage, a daughter, Arthenice, that is, 
_L Catlierine, was bom at Rome, and there, for 

Heredudi- some time, brouglit up. When in her eighth 
year she came with her Italian mother to France, 
the Marquis of Pisani was tutor to a httle boy of 
her own age, the son of the Prince of Conde- 
Catherine de Yivonne, carefully trained by her 
mother, took part in the games of this little 
prince, who was carefully trained by her father. 
So much strictness was observed in the education 
of these young people, that when the Prince, at 
the age of eight, ventured to kiss Mademoiselle 
de Vivonne, of the same age, the Marquis 
thrashed him for it soundly. When in her 
twelfth year the little lady espoused the Marquis 
of Rambouillet, she soon found that the manners 
and customs of tlie French court were too gross 
to be endured, and she chose to withdraw from 
it as mucli as possible. But she knew how to 

And how entertain brilliantly, and by degrees she drew 

nii«trps« of licr fricnds about her to the Hotel Rambouillet. 
In a celel)rateJ blue chamber there she held 
assemblies, into which princes and princesses of 
the blood were glad to be admitted, and which 
outshone in brilliancy of wit and refinement of 
manner, if not in wealth and in numbers, the 
gi'cat gatherings of the court.* To the blue 

thu Hutel 

• Le« ])reinier8 visiteurelettrcfs 
lU' riiotel lie Ilainlx)uillct furoiit: 
Malhorlx', Cioinlmid, llacan, <lfes 
rorij;inc ; |vu apres IJalzac, 

Chapelain, et Voiture, qui avoit 
asscz (Ic ft>rtnno [K)ur figiirer 
f>amii la ii«>ble8st\ et trop d^csprit, 
diM)it M. do Chaudcbonnc, pour 

The Agreement of the Critics. 137 

chamber of the Marchioness flocked a dainty chapter 
troop of bluestockings, aiming at refinement — «J_ 
refinement of manner, refinement of taste, refine- 
ment of speech. The gold of society had to be 
cleared of its dross, and their society was to 
present in its pureness all that was precious in 
the metal. These purists accordingly came to be Ongin of 
called Precious, and the refinements which they deuses. 
favoured Preciosity. 

Very few Englishmen, and not many French- On miBtakM 

.<i»i p aa • ii* « committed 

men, ever thmk oi the sayings and doings of about them, 
those who haimted the blue chamber and the 
lodge of Zyrphee, in the Hotel Rambouillet, 
as worthy of admiration. To talk of a Pre- 
cieuse is to kindle their mirth. It is because 
they have in their minds the witty play in which 
Mbliere made his first great hit, and in which he 
exposed the follies, not of the Pr^cieuses, but of 

reeter dana la* bourgeoisie. Prd- 
sent^ k la Marquise, " r^ngendr^ 
par elle et M. de GhaudebouDe,** 
Voiture devint T&tm du rond, 
n y trouva Vaugelas, puis le 
jeane ^vfique de Lu9on, qui se 
plaisoit, dans les loisirs de son 
^pisoopat, k 7 soutenir des theses 
d'amour. Lk encore brilloient 
la princesse de Gond^, Mile, de 
Scnd^ry, la marquise de Sabl^ ; 
plus tard, la duchesse de Longue- 
▼ille, Mme. d' Adington, depuis 
comtesse de la Suze ; la femme 
de Scud^; Gostar, si d^vou^ 
k Voiture, qui se moquoit de lui ; 

Sarasin, Gonrart, Mairet, Patru, 
Godeau, Pierre Comeille, Rotrou, 
Benserade, Saint - Evremont, 
Gharleval, Manage, La Roche- 
foucauld, Bossuet, Fl^ier, et 
enfin, le galant marquis de la 
Salle, chansonnier accompli, im- 
provisateur f(fcond, dont on a 
tant assombri Timage pour en 
faire Taust^re due de Montausicr, 
et dont nous ne voyons plus les 
traits, k tout ftge, que sous le 
masque du Misanthrope. — From 
M. Livet's Preface to the Dic- 
tionnaire des Pr^cinues of So- 


The Gay Science. 

cHAiTEu the Preciemes Ridicules^ who at the third, fourth, 
— 1 fifth hand, attempted an imitation, and achieved 
Moii6it? aiid a burlesque of the true blues. The true Pred- 
object with euses were of the best blood, the highestb reeding 
iJJ^. *° in France ; the ridiculous ones whom Moli^re 
shot at were the city dames and the coimtry 
hoydens, who aped the manners of the great, and 
who made themselves ridiculous, both by pre- 
tending to habits which were above their reach, 
and by a caricature of the habits which really 
existed in the upper ranks. It must be remem- 
bered that Moliere came forth with his banter 
when Madame de Rambouillet was over seventy 
years of age, and when amid the sorrows and 
infirmities of her aj)proaching end she was no 
longer able to hold her court in the blue 
chamber. She had done her work ; noble ladies 
of the lesser houses followed in her wake, tried 
to imitate her, and passed on the desire of imita- 
tion io lower and lower ranks in the social scale, 
till burgesses and upstarts caught the infection, 
and limped in the footsteps of the great original. 
When Moliere laughed at this limping .gait, 
none more heartily applauded him than the 
fine old lady whose heart was with the dead ; 
and all that bright society which used to gather 
to her call joined in singing his praises. His 
satire, however, was so pungent, so amusing, so 
directly levelled against a weakness of French 
taste, that wliereas it ])rofessed only to strike at 
the absurdities of the upstarts, in the end it 

Tho false 






The Agreement of the Critics. 139 

glanced off, and hit the true blues, so that what- chapter 

ever they failed in lives a jest, and all the silli- 1 

ness of low-bred imitation and mock-purity 
cleaves to their memory. What they actually 
achieved is little known, because it has passed 
into French literature, and become part and 
parcel of it. They made the French taste — that The real 
taste which still inherits the weakness derided by n»dT^T 
Moli^re. It is because that weakness is an essen- ^^!^ 
tial part of the French taste that the satire which 
the comedian brought to bear on it is to this 
day relished as much as ever, and as special And live to 
criticism never is relished two hundred years ^ *** *^' 
after the occasion which called it forth has passed 
away. The bluestockings of the Hotel Ram- 
bouillet made the French taste, 1 repeat, so that 
thenceforward, until the Deluge of '89 intro- 
duced a new order of things, the leading cha- 
racteristic of French art and literature, and 
all things French, was Preciosity. The two 
greatest thinkers whom France has produced, 
Descartes and Pascal, were formed before the 
Precious had reached the height of their power ; 
but one can trace in the refinement of their style 
some of the Precious influences that were, so to 
speak, in the air ; and as for later writers, even 
when like Boileau, they made a show of resist- 
ance to the over-delicacies of the new school ; or 
when, hke Moli^re, they get the credit of entirely 
exploding it ; or when, like Bossuet, they soar 
above mere tastefulness into grandeur ; in one 

140 The Gay Science. 

cHAiTER and all we can detect a certain purism, a touch 
^' as of the precisian which marks them as essen- 
tially Precious. 
The clue to Tlic momcnt we feel at home in the blue room 
UnT^^itT of the Hotel Rambouillet we get the clue to 
cUm. French art and criticism. It was here that the 
tlieory of the fit and few — the caviare theory of 
art — first grew into importance, and became a 
power in criticism. Anyone who has but a 
smattering of French history will know of how 
small account up to the time of the great revo- 
lution were the people and all popular belongings. 
The people were nought ; the aristocracy all in 
all ; and it was but a matter of course that the 
new movement should go to estabb'sh an aristo- 
cracy of taste as distinct from, and infinitely 
French supcrior to, popularity of taste. The more 
!ls"rillin extreme of the French purists were aghast to 
find Boileau, notwithstanding his purism, speak 
of the belly of a pitcher ; and they were amazed 
that, without loss of dignity, Racine, himself a 
visitant of the blue room, could, in referring to 
Jezebel, make mention of tlie dogs that licked 
her blood. Wliat would they say to Homer 
with his lowly similes about peas and beans, and 
his homely picture of Achilles roasting a steak 
upon the fire ? La Harpe and other critics of 
his school made it their chief accusation against 
Shakespeare that he sacrificed to the rabble. 
Certainly the French poets could not be charged 
with this fault. They showed so little regard 

The Agreement of the Critics. 141 

for popular taste, that Madame de Stael passed chapter 

this just judgment on them : " La poesie Fran- L 

^aise etant la plus classique de toutes les poesies 
modernes, elle est la seule qui ne soit pas re-andsingu- 
pandue parmi le peuple/' It stands alone in *" ^* 
this respect. It has nothing that can stand a 
comparison with the ballads of Spain, with 
those of England and Scotland, with the pol- 
ished strains that are familiar to every Italian 
beggar, with the folksongs of Germany. It 
would be amusing to hear what a French critic, 
with all the blue and gold of Versailles in the 
chambers of his heart, would say to the master 
singers of Nuremberg and other chief towns of 
Almayne in the middle ages; to the honest 
cobblers that, like Hans Sachs, were powerful in 
honied words as well as in waxed threads ; to 
the masons that built the lofty rhyme ; to tailors 
that sang like swans while they plied the goose ; 
to smiths that filed verses not less than iron tools ; 
to barbers that carolled cheerily while as yet the 
music of Figaro slept far from its rise in the un- 
born brain of Mozart, and while as yet, indeed, 
music, in the modern sense of the word, had not 
even glimmered in the firmament of human 
thought. It is in a state of savage revolt against Hugo's re- 
the ancient priggishness of French criticism that u!''*^"' 
Victor Hugo now proclaims himself the admirer 
of genius, even when it stoops to folly and 
meanness. For me, he says, I admire all, be it 
beauty or blur, like a very brute, and it seems to 


The Gay Science. 


I^ Meft- 


A preat 
man with 
tlic Pre- 

R me that our age — he ought to have added our 
nation — needed sueli an example of barbaric 
enthusiasm and utter childishness. 

Jules de la Mesnardi^re, physician, poet^ and 
critic, was one of the most remarkable of the 
men of letters wlio danced attendance in the 
saloons of the Marchioness of Bambouillet. He 
published the earliest work of systematic criti- 
cism of the new school, a book called La 
Poetique, which is very scarce, and which, from 
a phrase of Bayle's, it would seem that even in 
his time it was difficult to get.* But La Mesnar- 
diere was a great man with the Precieuses, and 
what he has to say of the dominion of pleasure 
in art has the perfect tint of azure. I might 
quote others of that brilliant coterie who are 
better known ; as Georges de Scudery, whose 
sister's name has become proverbial for romances 
of the bluest blue, an.d who himself had among 
the assemblies of the elect no mean name as a 
poet and a critical authority. Scudery's state- 
ment of the precious doctrine of pleasure will 
be found in the preface to that grand epic bug 
— his poem of Alaric. But La Mesnardiere was 
l)cfore him, and stated the case in the more formal 
manner of a systematic treatise. It has been 
already intimated that La Mesnardiere is one of 
those who insist very much on the uses of art, and 

• It is not to 1)0 found in tlie 
liritisli Mnsenni, it is not men- 
tioned in tlie first edition of 

Brunet, and I believe that only 
one copy exists in England be- 
sides my own. 

The Agreement of the Critics. 143 

never like to speak of its pleasure apart from chapter 
profit. But beyond this, he maintains, what now __L 
more nearly touches our argument, that the his criti- 
pleasure which art aims at is never that of the ^^^' 
many. He runs foul of Castelvetro for suggest- 
ing the contrary, and heaps terms of contempt 
on the rude, the low, the ignorant, the stupid 
mob — a many-headed monster, whom it is a 
farce to think of pleasing with the delicacies of 
art. No, he says, it is kings, and lords, and fine 
ladies, and philosophers, and men of learning 
that the artist is to please. Who but princes 
can get a lesson from the story of kings ? who 
but ministers of state from the fall of rulers? 
What is Clytemnestra to the vulgar herd? 
Tragedy is of no good but to great souls — 
great by birth, by office, or by education. Art 
in a word is only for the Precious few, — 
for fine ladies and gentlemen, for those who, 
whether literally or metaphorically, may be said 
to wear the blue riband. 

If the views of the Precious school as repre- Absurd, but 
sented by La Mesnardi^re seem to be expressed d^pi^. 
with rare absurdity, they nevertheless open 
some questions which are worth attending to, 
and which are not easily answered. After we 
have reached the point of critical analysis 
which the Spanish dramatists came to when they 
propounded a doctrine in art, the equivalent of 
that in politics which Bentham made so much of 
— the necessity of studying the greatest pleasure 

144 The Gay Science. 

('HAi»TEu of the greatest numl)er, we are quickly thrown 
— 1 back upon an inevitable tendency of human 
nature to define and square the standard of 
pleasure. If pleasure is an enviable thing, it is 
also very envious — envious even of itself, and 
lives by comparison. Pleasure varies — it differs 
in different men, and in the same men at different 
On varieties timcs. Notwithstanding this diversity, which 
is well known, men are ever bent on finding 
something that will act as a sort of thermometer 
or joy-measure; and so the Spartan ruler de- 
creed that no harp should have more than seven 
strings, the French critics cried aloud for a 
proper observance of the three unities, and 
purists in architecture stood out for the five 
orders. What is to be said in presence of 
such a fact as Tasso encountered in his critical 
analysis — that the romances of Ariosto gave 
more pleasure to his countrymen than the epics 
of Homer and Virgil ? Is Ariosto, there- 
Aiui crituai forc, tlio greater artist ? Tasso very quickly 
tCr'** settled that question for himself: it did not 
*nMng. trouble him. liut this was precisely the sort of 
([uestion that troubled the French critics most, 
and which lay at the root of La Mesnardi^re's 
objection to consulting the pleasure of the 
commonalty. Your highly educated persons — 
your true blues — might be able to appreciate the 
classics, to get the full quantity of pleasure 
from them — a pleasure which need not shun 
comparison or competition with the pleasure 

The Agreement of the Critics. 145 

afforded by the lower art of the modems. But chapter 

put the same comparison before the uneducated, L 

and inevitably antique art will be sent to the 
right-about. They do not understand the 
ancients ; they do understand the moderns. The 
former kindle no pleasure at all, or but a few 
faint sparks; the latter give a great blaze of 
pleasure. And it therefore appears that if art 
is to be measured by the amount of enjoyment 
thus evolved in rude minds, all our most approved 
critical judgments would be upset. So La Mes- How La 
nardi^re held lustily to his point, that if pleasiwe JJ^eTtht^ 
be the aim of poetry and art, it must be the ^"«^°°»- 
pleasiure of those who wear the blue riband and 
are free of the blue chamber. He was easily 
able to satisfy himself, but had he pushed his 
inquiries further he would have found the same 
diflSculty confronting him in another shape. In 
that shape the diflficulty has so staggered another 
Frenchman, M. Victor Cousin, that he refuses to And in the 
acknowledge in pleasure the immediate end of SJ^^olsIn^ 
art. He argues that if pleasure be the end of 
art, then the more or less of pleasure which an 
art affords should be the standard of its value, 
and that in such a case music with its ravishing 
strains should, in spite of its vagueness, stand at 
the head of the arts. But this, according to 
Cousin, lands us in an absurdity that reflects 
upon the soundness of the principle from which 
we set out. 

Although we may not be able to adopt the 

VOL. I. L 

146 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER conclusions either of La Mesnardi^re or of 
-J- CouKin, still their objections are taken from a 
Thwe objw- legitimate point of view, and ought to throw 
ll^ti/*^'"' some additional light upon the quality of art 
pleasure. Now the chief thing to be noted here 
is that the standard of pleasure is within us, and' 
that therefore it varies, to some extent, with the 
circumstances of each individual. We can never 
measure it exactly as we can heat with a ther- 
mometer. Sometimes a man feels cold when 
the thermometer tells him it is a warm day, and 
sometimes a man derives little pleasure from a 
work of art which throws all his friends into 
rapture. There is no escaping from these vari- 
ations of critical judgment, whatever standard of 
comparison we apply to art. It is impossible to 
measure art by the foot-rule, to weigh it in a 
balance with the pound troy, or to deal it forth 
in gallons. But though the results of art are 
not reducible to number, and there is no known 
method of judgment by which we can arrive at 
perfect accuracy and unanimity, still there is a 
sort of rough judgment formed, which is as trust- 
worthy as our common judgments on the tem- 
perature of the air. Nor is there any need of 
gieater accuracy. We should gain nothing by 
being able to say that this artist is so many 
inches taller than that, or that one art gives so 
many more gallons of pleasure than another. 
sutement But granting that perfect accuracy is out of 
question, tlic qucstiou. La Mcsnardierc comes in here with 

The Agreement of the Critics. 147 

his suggestion : Is your standard accurate enough chapter 
to show that Homer, who gives less pleasure — L 
than Ariosto, is a greater artist? and M. 
Cousin chimes in with the question : Is your 
standard capable of showing that music, which 
gives the most exquisite thrills of enjoyment, is 
yet on account of its vagueness a lower form of 
art than the drama, which is more articulate ? 
These two questions are identical in substance, 
though there may be some difficulty in granting But an ob- 
to M. Cousin the facts upon which his form of u^°to m. 
query proceeds. Those who are best able to ^^^^^^^f* ^ 
judge of such compositions as the ninth sym- 
phony of Beethoven, or the C minor, will not 
grant that as works of art they are to be placed 
below any human performance. Mr. J. W. Davi- 
son, than whom no one is better able to make the 
comparison, assures me that, judge he never so 
calmly, he cannot accord to Beethoven a rank 
in art below that of Shakespeare ; and one of 
our ablest thinkers, Mr. Herbert Spencer, de- 
clares, at the end of an elaborate essay devoted 
to prove it, that music must take rank as the 
highest of the fine arts — as the one which, more 
than any other, ministers to human welfare. 
After these testimonies, there may be some 
difficulty, I say, in granting to M. Cousin his 
facts. For the sake of argument, however, let 
it be granted that music, as the least expressive, 
is the lowest form of art. How are we to recon- 
cile this supposition with the fact that it gives 


148 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER a keener pleasure than any art? or, to return to 

L La Mesnaidiere, how are we to reconcile the 

greatness of the ancients with the superiority of 
the pleasure which our more familiar modem 
poets yield ? 
AMwer to Ouc might Tcply to the argument of M. Cousin 
hy a parallel argument^ which would be good as 
Drawn from agaiust him, at least. Tlius, if the end of art is 
opinion pleasure, the end of science is knowledge. That, 
ISrnce!.'* then, is the king of the sciences, it may be 
argued, which gives us the most knowledge and 
the clearest. But metaphysics has always hitherto 
held the place of honour among the sciences ; it 
certainly holds that place in M. Cousin's regard, 
and considering the grandeur of its ambition, 
many thoughtful men will be inclined to concede 
its claim to the honour. Undoubtedly, therefore, 
it must be the clearest, the best, and the most 
certain of the sciences. Is it so ? Is it not well- 
nigh the direct opposite of this ? In that sense, 
is there no absurdity in speaking of knowledge 
as the end of science, when the grandest of all 
tlie sciences gives us the least certain knowledge ? 
Pursuing the line of argument of which M. 
('Ousin has set the example, I might urge that 
science must have some other more dominant 
end than knowledge, such, perhaps, as that 
which Lessing indicated when, in reply to Goeze, 
he said that it is not truth, but the striving afler 
truth, which is the glory of man ; that if God in 
his right hand held everv truth, and in his left 

The Agreement of the Cntics. 149 

but this one thing, the thirst for truth, albeit chapter 

mixed up with the chances of continual error ; L 

and that if he bade the child of earth take his 
choice, he, Lessing, would humbly reach to the 
left hand, saying, "0 Father, give me that, 
pure truth is for thee alone." If metaphysics be 
entitled to the crown of the sciences, it is not 
because of the amplitude of the knowledge which 
it conveys, but because of its dignity. And so 
if we are to make comparisons between art and 
art (a thing in itself as useless as it would be to 
run comparisons between science and science), 
we have it in our power to say that the intensity 
of the pleasure produced by an art is not always 
the standard of its value. The prolongation of 
intense enjoyment is sometimes a positive pain, 
and to procure a lasting pleasure, we must de- 
scend to a lower level. To use the language of 
geometry, pleasure has two dimensions, length 
as well as height. Increase the height, you cut 
short the length ; increase the length, you lessen 
the height. The sum of enjoyment is not to be 
measured by the height alone of its transports. 
It is impossible to adjust exactly the comparison 
which M. Cousin suggests between pleasure and 
pleasure ; but there is no reason to suppose that, 
fairly balanced, the pleasure produced by the 
most expressive art, which is the drama, is one 
whit inferior, is not rather superior to the plea- 
sure awakened by the least expressive, which is 
music. Sir Joshua Reynolds, for one, was quite 

150 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER willing to accept the standard of merit which 

Zl M. Cousin objects to. He commences his fourth 

discourse with these very words : — " The value 

and rank of every art is in proportion to the 

mental labour employed on it^ or the mental 

pleasure produced by it." 

The objec That is a sufficient answer to M. Cousin per- 

f w, ^^^' sonally, but further consideration of his argument 

?*!!!Tr must be included in what I have now to say of 

ft more •' 

^^ La Mesnardiere and other critics. Hitherto I 
have made the case turn on the comparison sug- 
gested by Tasso, between the pleasure which 
Homer or Virgil awakens, and that which 
Ariosto stirs in the breast of an Italian. But as 
that comparison is complicated by the fact of 
Homer writing in a language foreign to the 
Italian, let us change the illustration. Let us 
take Milton, who has been said to equal both 
Homer and Virgil combined. There is a cele- 
brated sentence of Johnson's, that much as we 
admire the Paradise Losty when we lay it down 
we forget to take it up again. We prefer the 
pleasure of a novel. Is the novel, therefore, a 
more successful work of art ? Or take the ques- 
tion as put by La Mesnardiere. The great mass 
of the people like nothing so well as bufiEboneries. 
What can they know of the true pleasure of art 
who stoop to the lower pleasures of farce and 
frivolity ? 

Here it must be observed that our feeling 
and choice of delight is perfectly distinct from 

The Agreement of the Critics. 151 

our opinion of it. In the pleasure of the palate chabteb 
there is a good example. A friend tells me — 1 
that he never enjoyed any food so much as a S^LiTght 
barley bannock and some milk, which once, when %^^ 
he lost himself in childhood among the Boss- f****™*^ **^ 
shire hills, and became faint with hunger, he got 
from some quarrymen who were eating their 
simple dinner, and kindly offered him a share. 
Does he therefore say that a barley bannock and 
milk is the most enjoyable food ? It gave him. An example 
£Bimished as he was, the utmost enjoyment, and the^^^^M ^ 
he remembers that meal with the poor quarry-^*®* 
men, and their great sandy fingers, as it were a 
banquet of the gods; but to enjoy it equally 
again, he must be again in the same plight, with 
the simple tastes of childhood. We learn thus 
instinctively to separate our estimate of what is 
pleasurable from the choice which the accidents 
of time, place, or health impose upon us. The 
man who, stretched upon a knoll with his gun 
by his side, calls for a drauerht of bitter beer 
W tiie pannier tiiat carries the luncheon, 
knows right well that though this be the beve- 
rage which for the moment he prefers, there 
are Hquids beyond it in taste. There is no- 
thing to puile one in this, and neither is 
there any real puzzle in the case of a man who 
takes up a novel in preference to a great epic. 
The deliberate selection of the lower form of 
pleasure does not interfere with our estimate 
of the higher. 

152 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Or take another example from the state of 
— L mind which is clearly described in the following 

Another . 

from the qnatram : — 

of ndnos ^^ ^^^ "^^ ^^ *** ™**^<^ ^oWj, 

You shall not chase my gloom away ; 

Thcrc*8 such a charm in melancholy, 

I would not if I could be gay. 

The man is happy in his way, and clings to his 
melancholy mood — 

Tliat sweet mood when pleasant thoughts 
Bring sad thoughts to the mind, 

while he recognises the existence of a livelier 
joy which is not for him. 
Application The bearing of these facts must be obvious. 
eL^^ The critic is apt to denoimce a partiality for 
inrnment *^^^ lowcr forms of art, either as on the one 
hand betokening depravity of taste, or on the 
other hand rendering null the standard of plea- 
sure. The case is precisely parallel to that 
of tlie man who, in tlie midst of his shooting, 
asks for bitter beer when he might be drink- 
ing, if he cliose, the finest Chateau Margaux. 
It cannot be said that his taste is depraved, 
neither can it be said that the superiority of 
rare claret over beer is not meted, even in his 
mind who quaffs the beer, by a standard of 
The ideal plcasure. The fact is that we all cherish an ideal 
wfenrt ^f pleasure which is not always the real joy of 
mhty^* tlic moment. It is a commonplace of moralists 
that man never is, but always to be blest. He 
has an ideal bliss before him, of which sometimes 
even his highest actual joys seem to fall shoi-t. 


The Agreement of the Critics. 153 

The mind thus forms an estimate of pleasures of chapter 

which it does not partake. And we now, there- 1 

fore, arrive at this further conclusion, that the 
standard of pleasure in art is not always actual, 
it is ideal. The Greeks teach us that the plea- 
sure is based on truth ; the Italians that it must 
tend to good ; the Spaniards that it belongs to 
the masses, and is not peculiar to a few ; and the 
French that it is an ideal joy which may not 
always be present as a reality. 

V. And what say the Germans? If any The German 
school of criticism is likely to disown the doctrine ciitidsm. 
of pleasure as the end of art, it is the German ; 
but they have all along allowed it. 

The earliest luminaries of German criticism, 
Lessing and Winckelmann, most distinctly accept 
the doctrine. The confession of Lessing's faith 
will be found in his treatise on the Laocoon. 
There he describes pleasure as the aim of art, 
though he adds that beauty is its highest aim. 
Winckelmann, in like manner, in the forefront 
of his work, places on record the statement 
that art, like poetry, may be regarded as a 
daughter of pleasure. Kant, at a later period, 
promulgated the self-same doctrine, and Schiller 
developed it into his theory of the Spieltrieb 
or play-impulse. Art compared with labour, 
said K^ant, may be considered as a play. In 
every condition of man, said Schiller, it is 
play, and only play, that makes him complete. 

154 T%e Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Man is only serious with the agreeable, the good, 
— L the perfect ; but with beauty he only plays, and 
he plays only with beauty. In case this may ap- 
pear somewhat shadowy, I refer for a more 
distinct view to Schiller*B essay on tragic art^ 
where he says, that an object which, in the 
system of life, may be subordinate, art may 
separate from its connection and pursue as a main 
design. *^ Enjoyment may be only a subordinate 
object for life ; for art it is the highest." 

What iM It is not easy to compress into a single phrase 

ii^Ti^ of what is peculiar to the German definition of art. 

"*" The schools of thought in Germany are widely 

sundered ; each views art from its own stand 
point, and has its own term for the work of art. 
Putting aside minor differences, however, one 
can detect something like a common thought 
running through all German speculation on this 
subject. Hitherto, we have seen that in the 
various schools of criticism, art came to be de- 
fined as something done (perhaps imitated, per- 
haps created) for pleasure. The German schools 
advanced upon this notion so far as to make out 
that art not only goes to pleasure, but also comes 

That art of it. Accordiug to them, it is the free play or 
^ZTun pleasure of the mind embodied for the sake of 
'^t S! pleasure. How embodied, whether in imitation, 
or in a creation, or in a mimic creation, is a 
different question, that no doubt, as in the 
system of Schelling, from which our own Cole- 
ridge borrowed largely, occupies a most impor- 


The Agreement of the Critics. 155 

tant place. But whatever is of essential value chapter 
in that speculation really works into the defini- _L 
tion of art which I have attempted, a sentence or 
two back, to draw for the Germans as a whole. 
Thus it is a great point with Schelling that art 
is a human imitation of the creative energy of 
nature— of the world soul — of God. But this is 
only another mode of saying that it is the ex- 
ercise of a godlike power, therefore of a free 
power, which cannot be conceived as under com- 
pulsion, and subsists only as play or pleasure. 
Art, I repeat, is, in the German view, the free 
play or pleasure of the mind, embodied for 

Most of the German thinkers, however, when But the 
speaking of the pleasure of art, are disposed to thl^*« 
confine it to the pleasure of the beautiful. They ^f °^*^of 
derived this tendency from one of the fathers of f*^*^.!^? 

■^ . . . beautiful, 

their philosophy, Wolf, and from his disciple 
Baumgarten, who first attempted to establish a 
science of -Esthetic. Wolf went to work in a 
right summary fashion. Philosophy, high and 
dry, had not then thought much of the human 
heart, and rather despised the fine arts. Baum- 
garten wrote an apology for deeming them 
worthy of his notice. So when Wolf came to How this 
look into the mystery of pleasure and pain, he ^^7" 
made short work of it. He said that pleasure is phu^hy 
simply the perception of the beautiful, and pain ^^ ^**^^» 
the sense of ugUness. On the other hand, beauty 
is the power which anything possesses of yield- 

156 The Gay Science. 

CHAi»TER ing US pleasure, ugliness its power of giving pain. 

L lie indeed went much further, and, if I understand 

him rightly, spoke of the beautiful, the good, 
and the perfect as synonyms, and of each as cor- 
relative to pleasure. Thus it came to pass that 
And by his when his disciple Baumgarten, overcoming the 
Biium* coyness of philosophy, ventured to think that 
^*^**° ' the pleasure of art might be worthy of examina- 
tion, and saw in his mind's eye the outlines of a 
science to which he gave the hitherto unknown, 
and still incomprehensible name of j^sthetic, 
instead of drawing the obvious inference that since 
art aims at pleasure, a science of criticism must 
be the science of pleasure — he argued that since 
art aims at pleasure, and since pleasure comes 
only from the beautiful, the science of criticism 
must be the science of the beautiful. The nws- 
take which was thus committed at the outset by 
tlio man who first came forward to rear a science 
of the fine arts, was never afterwards corrected 
And how in Germany, and gave to all subsequent specula- 
dusion tion a fixed bias in favour of beauty as the one 
liS7or^ theme of art. Even when further analysis 
the^V^^iM showed that beauty was but one of the sources 
the™8tart^^i ^^ pleasure, the critics continued to speak of it as 
was le- the one idea of art. There was a reason and a 
defence of the mistake so long as with Wolf and 
Baumgarten the pleasurable and the beautiful 
were co-ordinate terms — that is to say, when 
everything pleasing was to be defined as beauti- 
ful, and everything beautiful as pleasing. It was 

The Agreement of the Critics. 157 

unreasonable and indefensible when the origin chapter 

of the theory was forgotten, and it was recognised L 

that beauty is but a part of pleasure. 

When, however, the doctrine of beauty as How the 
the essence of art came to be placed distinctly ^e*^^ 
before the minds of Germans, it exerted over JJlJj^^^e 
them such a fascination that whenever their ?<>^»^° *»^ 


critics approached the idea of the beautiftd they 
seemed incapable of containing themselves, burst 
into raptures, and, instead of their usually 
patient analysis, went off in swoons of ecstacy, 
shrieks, interjections, vocatives, and notes of ad- 
miration. Nothing is more curious than to see 
how, in Schiller especially, the rapturous, inter- Their 

.,• 1 jx»'j** • •■! 'ji J raptures, 

jectional sort oi criticism is mixed up with good 
sense, hard facts, and stiff logic. After every 
sober bit of argument, he breaks into inarticulate 
rhapsody, which we can only interpret as the 
fol-de-diddle-dido, fol-de-diddle-dol at the end of 
a song. But other Germans also are more or 
less so bewitched, and some of them so besotted 
with beauty, that with scarcely an exception they 
fall down and worship it as the be-all and end- 
all of art. Baumgarten, Lessing, Winckelmann, 
Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, and the Schle- 
gels, all treat of art as the empire of the beauti- 
ful, and of the beautiful as the one article of 
-Esthetic. It was reserved for Richter to rebuke They are 
them, and call them back to reason. That man t'^ 
of true genius was a loose, vague thinker, and ^^ '^^***'- 
an extravagant writer, but he could poise pretty 


The Gay Science. 


own de- 

On the 
notion of 
beauty — 
what it is. 

Here again 
they own 
their biaa 
to Wolf. 

well as a critic, and lie saw clearly the weakness 
of those who insisted upon beauty as the one 
thought of art. Long ago Horace laid dowD 
the principle that it is not enough for a work of 
art to be beautiful ; it must have other sources 
of interest. And now in his fashion Richter 
pointed out that art has to manifest ideas of the 
sublime, of the pathetic, of the comical, as well 
as of the beautiful* His criticism was quite suc- 
cessful, as against his countr3nnen who magnified 
the province of beauty and made it a king 
where it is only a peer ; but if those whom he 
criticised had turned upon him and asked him to 
state precisely what is the definition of art which 
he proposed to substitute for theirs, he could 
have given them only the impotent answer that 
the thing to be defined is indefinable. 

Though Wolf, at tlie fountain-head, led the 
German school of criticism into error by identi- 
fying all pleasure, and therefore the pleasure 
whicli art seeks with the sense of beauty, the 
consideration which was thus given to the 
nature of the beautiful led directly to what I 
have described as tlie German contribution to the 
doctrine that pleasure is the end of art. What 
is beauty? Now, here again, the German 
answer to that question trails back to Wolf. 
Beauty, said the philosopher, arguing out the 
case after the manner of mathematicians in a 
regular sequence of propositions and demonstra- 
tions, with attendant corollaries and scholia, — 

The Agreement of the Critics. 159 

beauty is perfection, and perfection is beauty, chapter 
Everything is beautiful which is perfect of its Zl 
kind. A perfect toad is beautiful; a perfect 
monster. You cannot define beauty fiirther, 
because you cannot define perfection; but you 
can vary the terms of your definition. Accord- How soc- 
ingly upon the terms of the definition all manner thinkera 
of changes were rung. The essence of beauty, Z'g^' 
said Schelling and a whole set of thinkers, is in "^^ ^'*^^' 
character — ^in being — in life — in individuality. 
Where you have a man or thing of perfect being 
or character — ^there is beauty. No, said Goethe, 
it is not in the character itself, but in the ex- 
pression or form of it that the beauty lies — ^the 
perfect expression even of imperfect character. 
Ah, said Hegel, we must unite the two views of 
perfect expression and perfect character, and 
then we shall arrive at the conclusion that the 
beautiful is the perfect expression of the perfect 
idea— my grand idea of the absolute, in which 
contraries are at one, and the all is nothing. So, 
in turn, other philosophers saw in art the mani- 
festation of the beautiful, and in the beautifiil the 
perfect expression of their pet ideas. 

Gradually it crept into sight that art may or wi»t riew 
may not be the expression of an idea about which Shinto " 
the philosophers could wrangle as much as they "^**** 
pleased, but that it certainly is the expression of 
the artist's character. In this connection one 
might take up the view of Novalis, that the poet 
is a miniature of the world, a view which would 

160 The Gay Science. 

CHAiTER satisfy the philosophers who look to find in art 
— 1 the expression of their highest generalisations. 
If poetry expresses the poet, and the poet is a 
miniature of the world, why then art is the 
expression of their world-ideas. Happily, how- 
ever, we need not trouble ourselves to throw 
Goethe's gops to the philosopliers. It is enough to state 
of the what is Goctlie's final view of the beautiful in 
in itft," art Art, in his view, is an embodiment of 
beauty, and the beautiful is a perfect expression 
of nature, but chiefly the poet's or artist's nature 
— either of his whole mind, or of a passing mood. 
But Initween the lines of this definition we are 
to see the liandwritiug of Schiller interposing 
his remark on the grandeur of the play-impulse 
in man — that man is only perfect when his mind 
is in free play, moving of itself, and its move- 
ment is a play or pleasure. All that has been 
put forth by nie, said Goethe, consists of frag- 
ments of a great confession. But art, said 
Winckelmann, is the daughter of pleasure. 
Art, said Kant, is play. Art, re-echoed Schiller, 
is the expression or product of the impulse to 
Ana mm- play. I put both views together, and arrive at 
thiTioman tlie conclusion that, according to the Germans, 
p^l"^""^ art is the play or pleasure of the mind, embodied 
for the sake of pleasure. With which doctrine 
C()mi)are and see how little they vary the words 
of Shelley, that poetry is the record of the best 
and happiest moments of the best and happiest 
minds ; and those of Mr. Ruskin, that art is the 

Tlie Agreement of the Critics. 161 

expression of man's delight in the works of chapter 
God. J[l 

The statement so far, however, is incomplete, TheGerman 
and needs for its proper balance a counterstate- needs to be 
ment of the sorrows of art. In the heaven by*°*^ 

% coun- 

which is promised to the saints there is no^^^ul^the 
sorrow, and the tears are wiped from every J^^» of 
eye ; but the paradise of art is peculiar in this 
respect, that sorrow and pain enter into it. 
Through the sense of pain art has reached 
some of its highest triumphs, and Christian art 
has in it so deep a moaning as to make Augustus 
Schlegel say, that whereas the poetry of the 
ancients was the poetry of enjoyment, that of 
the moderns is the expression of desire. It is 
quite clear that there is more of pain in modern 
than in ancient poetry, just as there is more of 
a penitential spirit in the Christian than in the 
Olympian faith. But will the Christian, with 
all his sadness, admit that he has no enjoyment ? 
Does he not luxuriate in his melancholy ? Will 
he not smile through his tears, and say that he 
has attained a higher happiness than the Greek, 
with all his lightheartedness, could even con- 
ceive ? In these things we are apt to play with 
words. We say that our religion is the religion 
of sorrow; but what do we mean? Do we 
mean that the Greeks had pleasure in their 
religion, and that we have none in ours ? Not 
so; the Christian maintains that his is the 
higher joy, and that it is not the less joy because 

VOL. I. M 

162 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER it has been consecrated by suffering. So in art ; 

-^ the modem sense of enjoyment as there displayed 

The maiem is no doubt different from that of the Greeks, 

ISij^ment with stmngcr contrasts of light and shade ; but 

wCTe"^ it would be quite false to say that theirs was the 

■^*"^ poetry of enjoyment, and that ours is the poetry 

not of enjoyment but of desire. Some have 

gone so far as to say that the pleasure coming 

from sorrow is the greatest of all ; as Shelley, 

u it icH that it is *' sweeter far than the pleasure of 

enjoyment p|gj^gyj.^ itsclf;'* or as SchiUor, that "the 

pleasure caused by the communication of mourn- 
ful emotion must surpass the pleasure in joyful 
emotion, according as our moral is elevated 
above our sensuous nature." In the same sense, 
Bishop Butler, in his sermon on compassion, 
says that we sympathize oftener and more 
readily with sorrow than with joy ; and Adam 
Smith maintains that our sympathy with grief 
is generally a more lively sensation than our 
sympathy with joy. It is possible that these 
statements are not altogether accurate ; for it is 
characteristic of pleasure that we do not think 
of it, while on the other side we do think of our 
pains ; we count every minute of woe, while 
years of happiness are unaware gliding over our 
heads ; and we are thus prone to make a false 
reckoning of the intensity and relative values of 
our pleasurable and painful feelings and fellow- 

But the existence of delicious pain is a great 

The Agreement of the Critics. 163 

fact, and in modem art a prominent one, which chapter 
hasty thinkers of the Schlegel type are sure _L 
to misinterpret. There is a crowd of facts The exist- 
which go to justify the statement of Shelley, delicious 
that poets ^^t^fe^t. 

Are cradled into poetry by wrong, 

And learn in suffering what they teach in song. 

And people do not all at once see how to recon- 
cile such a statement with that other of Shelley's, 
already quoted, that poetry is the record of the 
best and happiest moments of the best and hap- 
piest minds. So when the Chancellor von 
Muller, the close finiend of Goethe, says that 
most of Goethe's writings sprang from a ne- 
cessity which he felt to get rid of some inward 
discordance, some impression with which he 
was laden to distress ; and when, on the other 
hand, Mr. Lewes, in one of the finest biogra- But the 
phies in our language — in his life of Goethe of the" rtist 
—say that "he sang whatever at the moment r»:^"„; 
filled him with delight," we are struck with^^^J 
what seems to be a contradiction. In reality, ^'^ *** 


there is none. The artist, like other men, must from piea- 
get his experience of hfe through suffering, and 
sometimes he suffers much and long; but the 
power of expressing himself in art implies, 
if not perfect relief, a certain recovery — im- The power 
plies that he has so far got the better of his sion implies 
trouble as to be curious about it, and able to '***^*^' 
dandle it. Those who cherish the luxury of woe, 
of course will not admit this. It is a pleasure 

M 2 

164 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER to them to think that they are utterly miserable ; 
^' the idea of solace is distasteful to them; and 
when, to convict them of their error, we ask, 
" Why, then, are ye so tuneful ?" the question 
seems as heartless as that of the rustic in the 
fable, who said to the roasting shell-fish : " Oh, 
ye Cockles 1 near to death, wherefore do ye 
sing ?" Notwithstanding our self-deception, the 
fact remains, as Euripides has expressed it in 
verses which appear in every modern edition of 
the Suppliants^ but are probably an interpola- 
tion from some other play — that if the poet is 
to give pleasure, he must compose in pleasure ; 
and this is as true of Cluistian as of classical 
art. If the art of the Greeks be more distinctly 
joyous than that of any other people, it is to 
the Germans we owe the more distinct elucida- 
tion of the fact that the sense of joy underlies 
all art. 

The English VI. At last wc comc to English writers, and 

criticism among them is no name greater than that of 

JriSTSn, Bacon. Everyone has by heart the definition of 

poetry which is contained in the most eloquent 

work of criticism ever penned. " To the king " 

— it is addressed, and as we read it we are kings 

In tliis definition, and in the context, as well as 

in many other passages scattered throughout his 

works, Bacon plainly presents poetry as an art 

which studies above all things the desires and 

zabethans. pleasures of the mind. The criticism of the 

The Agreement of the Critics. 1 65 

Elizabethan period is not of much importance, chapter 
and perhaps it is enough if I further quote from — 1 
Webbe's treatise on English poetry. There the 
author tells us that " the very sum or chiefest 
essence of poetry did always for the most part 
consist in deh'ghting the readers or hearers with 
pleasure ;" and when, in another passage, he 
asserts, after the Italians, that the right use of 
poetry " is to mingle profit with pleasure, and 
so to delight the reader with pleasantness of art 
as in the meantime his mind may be well in- 
structed with knowledge and wisdom," it will 
be observed that he still regards pleasure as 
the immediate end. All our best criticism, how- 
ever, dates from the time of Dryden, and in his But our 

1 I 1 1 • II •111 best criti- 

school nothing was more clearly recognised than cism dates 
the subservience of art to pleasure. Dryden ^^^^ 
himself says that delight is the chief, if not the 
only end of poetry, and that instruction can be 
admitted only in the second place. In the same 
strain wrote Johnson : " What is good only be- 
cause it pleases, cannot be pronounced good until 
it has been found to please." Dugald Stewart 
follows in the beaten path : " In all the other 
departments of literature," he says, "to please 
is only a secondary object. It is the primary 
one in poetry." 

Towards the end of last century English a new spirit 
criticism began to breathe a new spirit. Butin'tocnti- 
did the critics then newly inspired discover ^^^S^on^* 
that the end of poetry is different from what it «n'"^- 

166 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER was supposed to be? On the contrary, they 
Zl saw more clearly, and declared more stoutly than 
ever, that the end of art is pleasure. *' The end 
of poetry," says Wordsworth, "is to produce ex- 
citement in coexistence with an overbalance of 
pleasure." In the same mood, Coleridge main- 
tains that "the proper and immediate object 
of j)oetry is the communication of immediate 
pleasure ;" and again, though, as I have tried to 
But erer show, Icss accuratclv, that ** a poem is that species 
doctriDefti of composition which is opposed to works of 
!!f wt jT** science by professing for its first immediate object 
uught. pleasure, not truth/* I have already quoted 
Shelley in the same sense, and I reserve to the 
last a writer who belongs not to the present, 
but to the past century. I thus refer to him 
out of his proper place, because he is the only 
critic known to me who draws the inference 
upon which I have insisted, that if poetry be the 
art, criticism must be the science of pleasure, 
though he cannot be said to have fully under- 
stood, or to have carried out his own doctrine. 
And Lord " Tlic fiiic arts," said Lord Kames, " are intended 

Kameseven iii* i i» i .• • 

draws in a to eutertaiii US by making pleasant impressions, 
the'infer- ^^^ ^Y ^^^^ circuiiistancc are distinguished 
race that fpQjj^ |]^Q useful arts I but in order to make 

cntu'iMii ' 

must be the pleasant impressions, we ought to know what 
pleasure, objccts are naturally agreeable, and what natu- 
ally disagreeable." Ue draws the inference 
rather faintly, but still he draws it, and there- 
fore he is worthy to be singled out from his 

The Agreement of the Critics. 167 

fellows. It is not with his inference, however, chapter 
that we are now concerned, but with the grand — L 
fact which stands out to view, that in all the 
critical systems poetry is regarded as meant for 
pleasure, as founded on it, and as in a manner 
the embodiment of all our happiness — past, 
present, and to come. 

But now it will be asked, is there anything what is pe- 
peculiar in the English mode of rendering the e^^sh" 
definition of art? The point about art which ^'^'^^"^^ 
the English school of thinkers has most con- 
sistently and strenuously put forward is, that it 
it is the oflFspring of imagination. Not that 
other schools have ignored this doctrine. All 
along, while speaking of the peculiarities of the 
diflFerent schools of thought, I have been anxious 
to show that the lesson taught most prominently 
in each has not been wholly overlooked by the 
others ; and of a surety the French and German 
schools of criticism have not been backward to 
acknowledge the influence of imagination in the it dwells 
work of art. In English criticism, however, theVwel-of 
imagination is the Open Sesame— the name to tll^: 
conjure with. It is the chief weapon, the ever- 
lasting watchword, the universal solvent, the all 
in all. When we come to ask what it really 
means, we are amazed at the woful deficiency 
of the infoimation which we can obtain about 
this all-sufticient power ; but be the information 
much or little, the importance of the power — 
its necessity, is so thoroughly established in 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER England, tl^^t (though after all it comes to the 
— same thing) it is more fully recognised among 

us that art is the creature of imagination than 

that it is created for pleasure. 
Bncon it Bacou it was who forced English criticism 
firtt ^lught ill to this furrow, assisted by a word of Shake- 
ofilrtM*^* speare's. Our great philosopher arranged all 


the cieaiure literature in three main divisions, correspond- 
ing to three chief faculties of the human 
mind. History, science, and poetry were 
severally the products of memory, reason, 
and imagination. There was something very 
neat in this arrangement, which D'Alem- 
bert afterwards adopted, when, in the preface 
to the celebrated French Encyclopaidia, he 
attempted to make a complete map of liberal 
study. Plato, who thought of the Muses as 
daugliters, not of imagination, but of memory, 
would have been not a little startled by the 
division ; and D'Aleml)ert, in following Bacon, 
had yet to show that imagination was as essen- 
tial to, and as dominant in Archimedes, the 
man of science, as in Homer, the man of art. 
Bacon himself, too, had some little doubt as to 
the perfect wisdom of his arrangement.* Still 

• Tliis doubtrulness apix'ars 
in a passaijc in tlie AdvnriCfmf.ut 
of Lmruiug, where lie speaks of 
imagination, and sconis to find a 
difficulty in fixing; ui»on its sjx- 
cialty. "The knowledge/' he 
says, " which respecteth the facul- 

ties of the mind of man is of two 
kinds ; the one re8j>ecting his 
understand ini: and reason, and 
the other Ids will, appetite, and 
aflection; whereof the former 
produceth position or decree, the 
latter action or execution. It i£ 

Tlie Agreement of the Critics. 169 

for general purposes he deemed it sufficient, and chapter 
he defined poesy, " the pleasure or play of — L 
imagination." We had Shakespeare's word for a word of 

- _ . ^ . 7 . II Shake- 

it, too, that the poet is of imagination all com- spares 

pact ; and both authorities combined to form in ^^^ 

the English mind the conception of art as the 

product mainly of imagination. After that we 

know how imagination came to be the grand 

engine of our criticism. Addison wrote essays And since 

on the pleasures of it ; Akenside wrote a long been the 

poem on it ; Johnson described poetry as the art d*o^rof 


true that the imagination is an 
agent or nuncius, in both pro- 
vinces, both the judicial and the 
ministerial. For sense sendeth 
over to imagination before reason 
have judged : and reason sendeth 
over to imagination before the 
decree can be acted : for imagin- 
ation ever precedeth voluntary 
motion. Saving that this Janus 
of imagination hath differing 
faces: for the face towards rea- 
son hath the print of truth, but 
the face towards action hath the 
print of good; which neverthe- 
less are faces, 

*Qaale8 decet eaw sororom/ 

Neither is the imagination simply 
and only a messenger ; but is 
invested with or at leastwise 
usurpeth no small authority in 
itself, besides the duty of the 
message. For it was well said 
by Aristotle, *That the mind 
bath over the body that com- 
mandment, which the lord hath 

over a bondman ; but that rea- 
son hath over the imagination 
that commandment which a ma- 
gistrate hath over a free citizen ;* 
who may come also to rule in 
his turn. For we see that, in 
matters of faith and religion, we 
raise our imagination above our 
reason ; which is the cause why 
religion sought ever access to the 
mind by similitudes, types, pa- 
rables, visions, dreams. And 
again, in all persuasions that are 
wrought by eloquence, and other 
impressions of like nature, which 
do paint and disguise the true 
appearance of things, the chief 
recommendation unto reason is 
from the imagination. Never- 
theless, because I find not any 
science that doth properly or 
fitly pertain to the imagination, 
I see no cause to alter the former 
division. For as for poesy, it is 
rather a pleasure or play of ima- 
gination, than a work or duty 


170 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagi- 
_L nation to the help of reason. Then, at a later 
date, Shelley, not altering his meaning, which 
I have already given, but altering his phrases, 
said that " poetry may, in a general sense, be 
defined to be the expression of the imagination ;" 
and Mr. Ruskin came to the conclusion that 
" poetry is the suggestion by the imagination of 
noble grounds for the noble emotions." It thus 
became the first commandment of English criti- 
cism that in poetry there are no gods but one — 
imagination. To imagination belongs the crea- 
tive fiat of art. It furnishes the key to all criti- 
cal difficulties — it possesses the wondrous stone 
that works all the marvels of poetical transmuta- 
tion. It was one of Coleridge's dreams to write 
a great work on poetry and poetical alchymy, 
the basis of which should be a complete exposi- 
tion of what he called the Productive Logos^ — in 
plain English, the imagination. 
Criticism This powcr of imagination is so vast and 
^^ aVep thaumaturgic that it is impossible to lift a hand 
firat u"nder- ^^ Hiovc a stcp iu criticism without coming to 
stonding terms with it, and understandine: distinctly what 

what ima- ^ ^ ' ^ *^ •' 

ginaUon is. it is and wliat it does. On the threshold of every 
inquiry, it starts up, a strange and unaccount- 
able presence, that frights thought from its pro- 
priety, and upsets all reason. I propose, there- 
fore, to devote the next few chapters to a fresh 
and thorough-going analysis of it, which ought 
to yield some good results. In the meantime, it 

The Agreement of the Critics. 171 

will be enough for the purposes of this chapter chapter 
to point out, as far as it can be done at the _-L 
present stage of our inquiry, what imagination 
has to do with pleasure. 

All English criticism admits, and indeed in- The relation 
sists, that art is the work, or, as Bacon moretionto^^" 
strictly puts it, " the pleasure of imagination." p^^"***- 
Even if, however, we reject the word pleasure, 
and speak of art simply as the product of ima- 
gination, this, it will be found, is but an implicit 
statement of what is stated more explicitly in 
German criticism, that art is the mind's play. 
In accepting imagination as the fountain of art, 
we accept art also as essentially a joy, for ima- 
gination is the great faculty of human joyance. 
It is the food of our desires even more than the imagination 
things themselves which we desire. Of course largely 
we cannot live upon dreams. Bolingbroke was wfthfht 
quite right when he cried : S^ure!^ 

Oh ! who can hold a fire in his hand. 
By thinking of the frosty Caucasus ? 
Or clog the hungry edge of appetite 
By bare imagination of a feast ? 
Or wallow naked in December's snow, 
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat ? 

But when he adds that, "the apprehension of 
the good gives but the greater feeKng to the 
worse," his experience is not that of a man gifted 
with strong imagination. The power of dream- 
ing is proverbial as a magic that brings far things 
near — that transports us whither we will, and 
that turns all things to pleasure. Call it 

172 ^ The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER glamour — call it lunes — call it leasing ; we need 

L not now dispute about the name, if we can only 

agree as to the fact that imagination is often as 
good to us as the reality, and sometimes better. 
Is any feast so good as that which we imagine ? Is 
any landscape so glorious as that whicli we see in 
the mind's eye ? Is any music so lovely as that 
which floats in dreams ? Is the pleasure which 
Alnaschar could derive from the possession of 
unbounded wealth to be compared with that 
which he feels when in the fancied possession of 
wealth he kicks over his basket of wares ? Not 
only is the bare imagination of pleasure thus 
often beyond the pleasure itself — that of real 
pain is in many cases a source of enjoyment. It 
is not seldom a pleasure to remember past suf- 

Limits, There is, no doubt, another side to the 

however, . . - 

to that view picture, iu the known facts that the terror of ill 
is worse to bear than the ill itself, and that the 
sympathetic pain which the good Samaritan 
feels in seeing a wound is frequently more acute 
than the pain felt by the wounded man himself. 
That there are nightmares, however, and aches 
of imagination, does not obliterate the general fact 
that imagination is the house of pleasure, and 
that dreamland is essentially a land of bliss. 
Wordsworth speaks of imagination as that in- 
ward eye which is the bliss of solitude ; Shakes- 
peare gives to it a name which bespeaks at once 
its elevation and its delightfulness — the heaven 

The Agreement of the Critics. 173 

of invention ; and my argument is, that if in chapter 
this heaven is the birthplace of art, and if from _L 
this heaven it comes, its home is heavenly, its 
ways are heavenly, to a heaven it returns, for a 
heaven it lives. 

This, then, may be described as the English Re^stau- 
gift to the definition of art — that it comes of ima- Engiuh 
gination, and that it creates a pleasure coloured to°criUd!5Si" 
by the same faculty. All pleasure, obviously, is ^^^^n^y 
not poetical : it becomes poetical when the ima- 
gination touches it with fire. It must be re- 
peated, however, that when we ask for distinct 
information as to what this means, it is not easy, 
it is indeed impossible, to get it ; and I make 
bold to claim for the next few chapters this 
praise at least, that they are the first and only 
attempt which has been made to give an exhaus- 
tive analysis of imagination — to give an account 
of it that shall at once comprise and explain all 
the known facts. Those writers who give us 
a rounded theory of imagination ignore half 
the facts ; those who recognise nearly all the 
facts are driven, either like Mr. Ruskin, to 
confess that they are a mystery inscrutable, 
or like Coleridge, to throw down their pens 
with a sigh, not because the mystery is inscrut- 
able, but because their explanations would 
be unintelligible to a stiflF-necked and thick- 
headed generation of beef-eating, shop-keeping 
Britons. , ^ ^ 

^r\^ ^ f ^ • 1 ^ i /»... Although 

The result of this backward state of criticism imagination 

174 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER is, that when we come to ask the first of all 
Zl. questions, what is art? we discover to our 
Md"^i^-** chagrin that we are answered by statements that 
'^^^^^. keep on nmning in a vicious circle. Thus, if 
however, poctry is defined by reference to imagination ; on 


expUuned. the Other hand, imagination is defined by reference 
to poetry. If we are told that poetry must be 
imaginative, we are also told that imagination 
must be poetical — for there is an imagination 
which is not poetical. Thus, when we inquire 
into the nature of poetry, we are first pushed for- 
ward to search for it in imagination, and then 
when we examine into the imagination, we are 
thrown back on the original question — ^what 
is poetical ? Few things, however, are more re- 
markable in the world than the faculty which the 
human mind has of seizing, enforcing, and 
brooding over ideas which it but dimly compre- 

imagination hcuds ; and although in English criticism, indeed 

an unknown . 11 •<•■ ii ± 1 1 <**i* 

quantity, lu all cnticism that makes much ot it, imagina- 
tion is, as it were Xj an unknown incalculable 
quantity, still the constant recognition of that 
something unknown is a preserving salt which 
But the con- gives a flavour to writings that would often 
w^ition of taste flat from the want of precision and clear 
knoVn" outcome. Rightly understood, also, there is no 
soniething critical doctriuc to be compared for importance 

ot immense r l 

importance, with that of the Sovereignty of imagination in 
art, and in art pleasure, which the English school 
of critics has ever maintained. Let me add, 
though at the present stage of the discussion I 

The Agreement of the Critics. 175 

cannot make it clear that the leading doctrine chapter 

of English criticism is in effect but an anticipa- L 

tion of the prime doctrine of the Germans. 
The English and the Germans, nearly allied in 
race, are so far also allied in their thinking, that 
the views of art upon which they mainly insist 
are virtually the same. The German expression 
of these views is the more precise. On the 
other hand, the English expression of them 
is, in point of time, the earlier, and in point 
of meaning will be to most minds the more * 

If the foregoing statement be rather lengthy, summary 
and have inevitably been loaded with the repeti- cLlpt^. 
tions of a multitude of authorities, the upshot of 
all may be stated very shortly. All the schools 
of criticism, without exception, describe art as 
the minister of pleasure, while the more ad- 
vanced schools go further, and describe it also as 
the offspring of pleasure. Each may have a 
different way of regarding this pleasure. The 
Greek dwells on the truth of it ; the Italian on 
its profit. The Spaniard says it is pleasure of 
the many ; the Frenchman says it is of the few. 
The German says that it comes of play; the 
Englishman that i^ comes of imagination. But 
all with one voice declare for pleasure as the 
end of art. The inference is obvious — the in- 
ference is the truism which is not yet even 
recognised as a truth ; that criticism, if it is 

176 TTte Gay Science. 

CHAPTER ever to be a science, must be tbe science of 

L pleasure. Wbat wonder that it ebowe no sign 

of science, when the object of the science is not 
yet acknowledged ? 


VOL. I. If 



I^^MAGINATION is the Proteus of thea 
Ea ^M mind, and the despair of metaphyeicB. 
||^^3 ^hen the philosopher seizes it, he a 
finds something quit© unexpected in his grasp, oJ 
a faculty that takes many shapes and eludes Jj| 
him in all. First it appears as mere memory, *" 
and perhaps the inquirer lets it escape in 
that disguise as an old iriend that need not 
be interrogated. If, however, he retain his 
hold of it, ere long it becomes other than me- 
mory ; suddenly it is the mind's eye ; sudden 
again, a second sight; anon it is known as 
intuition ; then it is apprehension ; quickly it 
passes into a dream ; as quickly it resolves itself 
into sympathy and imitation; in one: moment it 
turns to invention and begins to create ; in the 
next moment it adopts reason and begins to 
generalize ; at length it flies in a passion, and is 

180 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER lost in love. It takes the likeness, or apes the 

— '" style by turns of every faculty, every mood, 

every motion of thought. What is this Proteus 

of the mind that so defies our search ? and has it 

like him of the sea, a form and character of its 

own, which after all the changes of running 

water and volant flame, rock, flower, and strange 

beast have been outdone, we may be able to fix 

Has iiiiagiii- and to define ? Is there such a thing as ima- 

character of ginatiou different from the other faculties of the 

^^ ^^ mind ? and if so, what is it ? 

whatmoit Any one attempting to grapple with this 

when we qucstiou, wiU at once be struck with a remark- 

r^iry able fact. Everybody knows that imagination 

MUiI^f s^^ys aiid overshadows us, enters into all our 

thk power gtudics and elaborates all our schemes. If we 

—the ao ... 

knowiedged swcrvo from the right path, it is fancy, we are 

Dotencv of ^"^ 

hnagina- told, that has led us astray; if we pant after 
splendid achievement, forsootli, it is the spirit of 
romance that leads us on. Imagination, say the 
philosophers and divines, the Humes and Bishop 
Butlers, is the author of all error, and the most 
dangerous foe to reason ; it is the delight of 
life, say the poets, the spur of noble ambition, 
the vision and the faculty divine. For good or ill, 
it gives breath and colour to all our actions ; 
even the hardest and driest of men are housed 
in dreams ; it may be dreams of tallow or treacle 
or turnips, or tare and tret ; but in dreams they 
move. By all accounts, the imagination is thus 
prevalent in human life, and the language of all 

On Imagination. 181 

men, learned and simple, bears witness to its chapter 



Nevertheless, imagination, thus rife, thus But not- 
potent, whose dominion, even if it be that of 1^ its 
a tyrant against whom it is wisdom to rebel, ^J^^j^ 
we all acknowledge, whose yoke, will or nill, ^ ^^J«J| 
we all wear — is as the unknown god. First- »• 
born of the intellectual gifts, it is the last studied 
and the least understood. Of all the strange 
things that belong to it, the strangest is that 
much as the philosophers make of it, much as 
they bow to it, they tell us nothing about it or 
next to nothing:. This is no hyperbole, but a 
plain fi^t. Any one, who, fi«d by Ae magni- 
tude and variety of the effects attributed to 
imagination, inquires into the nature of their 
causes, will be amazed at the poverty of all that 
has been written on the subject, and the utter 
inadequacy of the causes assigned. Most phi- 
losophers, though they defer to popular usage 
in speaking of imagination, yet when they 
examine it closely, allow it no place whatever 
among the powers of the human mind. In the And iodeed 
account of our faculties given by Locke, andSltTti* 
almost every other English psychologist, down ^'^^ 
to Herbert Spencer, the imagination is put out 
of doors and treated as nought. The chief source 
of illusion, it is itself an illusion ; it is an impos- 
tor ; it is nothing ; it is some . other faculty. I 
repeat that here I am using no figure of speech, 
but speaking literally. Whereas in common 

182 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER parlance and in popular opinion imagination is 
1 always referred to as a great power, the autho- 
rities in philosophy resolve it away. It is some 
other faculty, or a compoimd of other faculties. 
It is reason out for a holiday ; it is perception 
in a hurry ; it is memory gone wild ; it is the 
dalliance of desire ; it is any or all of these 
The current The sum of the information about it which I 
Slr^^'J^- bave been able to glean I have endeavoured to 
JJI^'^J^^g convey in the parable of Proteus. One man says 
ofProteua. \\^^ ^y^^j auothcr man says that. Each one 

gives a little of the truth, but none the whole 
truth. Nor indeed is the whole truth conveyed 
in the parable of Proteus. All that is attempted 
in that simiUtude is to bring together the 
scattered fragments of opinion and to mould them 
into something like a consistent whole. The 
current opinions of imagination are all fragmen- 
These cur- tary : there is no wholeness about them. They 
rentopmioni ^^y bc summcd up uudcT fouT hcads — those 

n^r"four which identify imagination with memory ; those 
hcacb. which melt it into passion ; those which make 
it out to be reason ; and lastly those which 
represent it as a faculty by itself, diflferent 
from the other powers of the mind. Let us 
take a hasty glance at each of these sets of 

Most commonly imagination is described as a 
department of memory. So it appeared to the 
Greeks, in whose idea the muses were daugh- 


On Imagination. 183 

ters, not as we should say of God and imagina- chapter 
tion, but of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Even those — 
who, like Aristotle, distinguished between fan- ,?g"JJmetima 


tasy and reminiscence, failed to establish any 
clear difference between them, save such as may memoiy. 
exist between whole and part. Aristotle, indeed, 
says distinctly that memory pertains to the same 
region of the mind as fantasy ; that it is 
busied with the self same objects ; and that such 
objects of memory as are without fantasy are 
objects accidentally. So in modem times, we 
find Wolf, who is the father, even more directly 
than Leibnitz, of German philosophy, giving 
in his national Psychology a long chapter to 
the imagination. It is the same chapter in 
which he treats of memory. In his Empirical 
Psychjology, he gives a separate chapter to each 
of the two faculties ; in his Rational Psycliology, 
he is fain to treat of both together as but phases 
of the same power. 

From Aristotle to Hume we may say roundly, 
that those who— whether in form or in sub- 
stance — identified imagination with memory, 
defined imagination as a loose memory of the 
objects of sense. I say loose memory rather Generally in 
than bad, because among the philosophers lisre^Jded 
refer to there is some difference of opinion as mem^ 
to the relative force of the two names — imagin- 
ation and memory. Thus Hobbes, while he tells 
us that these are two names for one and the same 
thing, seems to indicate that the imagination is a 

184 The Gay Science. 

a ■ I I - I ■ 1^ M -M -M- w-m -^ ^^^M 

CHAPTEii lively memory. It is in the same sense that 
— 1 Locke defines fancy as a quick memory. Hume, 
on the other hand, who often refers to the work- 
ings of imagination, who tells us that it is the 
greatest enemy of reason, and who has a famous 
passage in which he compares it to the wings of 
cherubim hiding their faces and preventing 
them from seeing, sets out with the assertion 
that it is nothing but a dim memory. Which- 
ever of these views be correct, it is a pity that 
the philosophers do not stick to one or other, 
and instead of pouring their anathemas on such a 
nonentity as imagination, attack the real sinner 
— a loose memory. It is because they never 
know whether to describe imagination as a de- 
partment of memory or memory as a depart- 
ment of imagination. Some, like Locke, make 
imagination a part of memory ; some, like Male- 
branche, make memory a part of imagination ; 
some, like Hobbes, regard the one as identical 

Yet from witli the othcr. The philosophers have a vague 

their man- "iii.* *i* i * 

ner of treat- iQca that imagmatiou and memory are in a man- 
o7tho^'"*^ ner involved one with the other ; but when 
tify imari- ^^^7 ^^®* blamc on one of the confederates and 
nation with acQuit the other, when they vilify imainnation 

memory •*■ ' ^ w €d 

show that and glorify memory, they betray a suspicion that 
regjird it as in thc forincr there are elements which are not to 
memory, bc fouud in the latter. What are these elements ? 
Descartes is among those who virtually de- 
fined imagination in terms of memory. This he 
did in his Meditatioihs on the more abstract 


On Iinagination, 185 

questions of philosophy ; but when he came to chaptek 

write on the passions of the soul, he saw that he L 

had to account for certain arbitrary compounds, £3^m« 
such as fforffons and hydras and chimeras dire, ><i«j^«* 

o o •/ 7 with pas- 

which are created by imagination and are notsi^o- 
furnished by memory. He then defined imagi- 
nation as a passion partly of the soul and partly 
of the body — a passion directed in its combina- 
tions partly by the will, partly by the chance 
movements of the bodily spirits. But before 
Descartes, we were, in this country, accustomed 
to insist in even a stronger sense than he 
would allow, on the passionate element of ima- 
gination. There was a strong tendency in our 
language to identify imagination with desire. 
Shakespeare constantly uses fancy as a synonym 
for love, and this sense of the word still 
survives. To love a thing is to have a fancy 
for it. In the same spirit Bacon writes. After 
ascribing poetry to the imagination (as history 
to memory, and philosophy to reason), he in- 
dicates what imagination is, by saying that 
poetry is a submission or adaptation of the shows 
of things to the desires of the mind. I believe 
that Dr. Thomas Brown is the latest of our 
philosophers who has seen in desire the pre- 
siding element of imagination. In his view 
imagination is only desire operating upon the 
suggestions of memory. In the same vein, 
Shelley among the later poets sees in imagina- 
tion the attitudes of love and of sympathy. It 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER is the faculty by which we forget ourselves and 

1 love our neighbours, putting ourselves in their 

imaginauon A uot Icss important band of thinkers make 
wSfi^n. out reason to be the characteristic feature of 
imagination. It is Wordsworth's view that ima- 
gination is but reason in her most exalted mood. 
One can trace the germ of this opinion back to 
the early days of logic, when the Stoics divided 
that science into invention and judgment. In 
course of time the heap of irrelevancies which 
were elaborated imder the name of invention 
and which were supposed to help out the dis- 
covery of middle terms was rejected from the 
science. But although formally rejected from 
logic as a thing which could be taught, it was 
always understood that invention is a part of 
reasoning. It was very much, tliough not entirely 
in this sense, that dragons and hippogriflfs, which 

* Shelley's words are worth 
quoting. "Poetry," he says, 
"lifts the veil from the hidden 
beauty of the world, and makes 
familiar objects be as if they were 
not fam i 1 iar . It reproduces all that 
it represents ; and the imperson- 
ations clothed in its Elysian li^^ht 
stand thencefon^v'ard in the minds 
of those who have once contem- 
plated them as memorials of that 
gentle and exalted content which 
extends itself over all thoughts 
and actions with which it co- 
exists. The great secret of 
morals is love, or a going out of 

our own nature, and an identifi- 
cation of ourselves with the beau- 
tiful which exists in thought, 
action, or person, not our own. 
A man, to be greatly good, must 
imagine intensely and compre- 
hensively ; he must put himself 
in the place of another, and of 
many others: the pains and 
j)leasures of his species must be- 
come his own. The great in- 
strument of moral good is imagi- 
nation; and poetry administers 
to the effect by acting upon the 
cause." — Essays and Letters^ 
vol. L p. 16. 

On Imagination. 187 

we should now deem the oflFspring of sheer ima- chapter 

gination, were, in the language of the Schoolmen, 1 

described as beings of reason — entia rationis. It S^y^o^the 
was natural that those who took invention for schoolmen 


the prime element in imagination should in one 
form or another identify that faculty with reason. 
Gassendi, the great opponent of Descartes, would 
have it that there is no real diflFerence between 
imagination and what he calls intellection. In 
Sir John Davies' pithy account of fantasy it is 
described as forming comparisons, holding the 
balance and exercising all the faculties of 
judgment. Henry More, the Platonist, regarded 
reason and imagination as so involved together 
that when, after having said his say about ima- 
gination, he came to speak of reason, he merely 
observed — ^^ we need say nothing of it apart by 

itself." Dugald Stewart is perhaps the firmest To Dugaid 
recent upholder of this view ; for he treats the othere. 
imagination as a composite faculty, made out of 
the elements of reason— such as apprehension, 
abstraction, judgment and taste. Dr. Carpenter, 
another good authority, has probably Stewart's 
analysis in his mind, when he says that the 
imagination '* involves an exercise of the same 
powers as those concerned in acts of reasoning." 
He is at fault in his further assertion that the 
chief difference between imagination and reason 
is that the one has to do with fictitious, the 
other with real objects ; and I summon him here 
only to bear witness that apart from the objects 

188 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTEK with which they are engaged, the two faculties 

J[!l are almost indentical. 
Even those Evcii some of thosc who do not go 80 far, but 
imagination allot to unaginatiou a walk oi its own, are 
Ty^itSrie piizzled with a certain rationality which it dis- 
Iteratio'^a^- P^^y^' ^^^ which the separation of it from 
«J'^y- reason seems to render imaccountable. Thus 
D'Alembert maintained, contrary to the general 
opinion, that imagination is as essential to the 
mathematician as to the poet, and boldly declared 
that he who in all antiquity deserved to be 
placed next to Homer for strength of imagina- 
tion is Archimedes. Herein however he is but 
following up a hint of Descartes' to which 
Dugald Stewart gives a flat contradiction, that 
the study of mathematics tends to develop the 
imagination, and that this is the reason why 
mathematicians seldom succeed in metaphysics. 
No, said Stewart — *' of all the departments of 
human knowledge, mathematics is that in which 
imagination is least concerned ;" and he left it 
to be inferred (I fancy he said it explicitly, but I 
cannot recall the passage) that in the metaphy- 
sician imagination exists in full force. Sir 
William Hamilton at least adopted this view, 
and said that it may reasonably be doubted 
whether Aristotle or Homer were possessed 
of the more powerful imagination ; only Sir 
William is more consistent in maintaining this of 
Aristotle than D'Alembert was in maintaining 
it of Archimedes, for his analysis of the fantasy 


On Imagination. 


or creative imagination had given him the result, 
that it is a compound of reason and memory or 
at least of what is commonly so called. But as 
if even this were an account of imagination not 
quite satisfactory to him, Sir William Hamilton 
adopts in modified terms the statement of 
Ancillon, that there are as many different kinds 
of imagination as there are different kinds of in- 
tellectual activity.* There is the imagination of 
abstraction, that of wit, that of judgment, that 
of reason, that of feeling, that of volition, that of 
the passions — and an addition to all, imagina- 
tion proper. In point of fact, however, it is not 


And at last 
work up to 
the conclu- 
sion that 
there is an 
for every 
faculty of 
the mind. 

* The statement of Ancillon 
is very remarkable, and as we 
may have to refer to it in the 
sequel, it may be well to quote 
it here. The curious thing is 
that it occurs in his chapter on 
Memory. Both memory and 
imagination are treated in the 
same chapter (^Esaais Phtloao- 
phitptesy tome ii. page 139), and 
yet into this chapter on memory 
he introduces the following : 

"On pent m6me dire qu'il y 
a autant de genres diffdrcns d'ima- 
gination, qu'il y a de facult^s de 
I'ame, ^ qui I'imagination foumit 
les ^l^mens n^ccssaires a leur 
travail. R y a I'imagination de 
I'abstraction, qui nous pr^sente 
certains faces de I'objet sans nous 
presenter les autres, et en mSme 
temps le signe qui rfeunit les 
premieres ; I'imagination de 
re8])rit, qui reproduit les dispa- 

rates, les antith^s, les con- 
trastes, cntre lesquels on saisit 
ensuite des rapports ou des res- 
semblances ; I'imagination du 
jugement, que ^ I'occasion d'un 
objet reproduit toutes les qualit6j 
de cet objet, et les lie principale- 
ment sous le rapport de substance, 
d'attributs, et de modes ; I'ima- 
gination de la raison, qui a 
I'occasion d'un principe reproduit 
les consequences, ^ I'occasion des 
consequences le principe ; I'ima- 
gination du sentiment, qui repro- 
duit toutes les id^es et toutes les 
images accessoires, qui out de 
I'affinite avec un certain senti- 
ment, et qui lui donnent i)ar-lk 
mdme plus d'^tendue, de profon- 
deur et de force; I'imagination 
de la volonte, qui dans un 
moment donn^ reproduit toutes 
les id^es, qui peuvent imprimer 
a la volonte une direction fixe. 


The Gay Science. 

are CODS- 

CHAPTER possible to separate between a mental act or 

L state and the imagination of it. To imagine 

feeling is to feel ; to imagine judgment is to 
judge ; and to say that there is an imagination of 
every faculty in the mind is simply to say that 
imagination takes the form of every faculty. 
All these Any one who will gather together these 
TilSI^Ution different views of imagination may Bee that 
though on the surface they conflict one with 
another (as when one set of philosophers make 
imagination an exalted mood of reason^ while 
another set denounce it for the worst enemy of 
reason) yet essentially they are compatible and 
their variances are but the variances of partial 
statement. The North says, '* I am the North 
and there is no South." The East wind whistles, 
" I am of the East and I have never found the 
And we ar- So then at length we return to our starting- 
vilw^of imV point, and out of many theories which are all 
fhe^CtJ^s ^^^^ or l^ss true, form the idea of a Protean 
with* wh^h P^^^^' Iniagination remembers, feels, desires, 
we started, wills, drcams, invents, judges, reasons. It is a 
name which we give for a change to every 

ou bien T^branler et la rendre 
vacillante ; riraagination des 
passions, qui selon la nature et 
lobjet dc la i>assion, reproduit 
toutes los representations qui lui 
sont homogenes ou analoo;ues; 
enfin I'imagination proprement 
dite, rimatjination pure, si jc 

puis mexprimer ainsi, qui ne 
travail le que pour elle-mfime, et 
qui produit les images de la 
nature sensible, celles des senti- 
mcns, et celles des id^s, unique- 
men t pour enfanter des combi- 
naisons nouvellcs; c'est Timagi- 
nation du p>ete.*' 


On LnagincUion. 191 

faculty in the mind, and to almost any com- chapter 

Bat the 

bination of these faculties. But is imagination 
which bulks so large in popular theories, and in ^^IZ 
common language, nothing of itself? Is the^^^" 
power of which we hear so much, and which p°**i<»" "<>^ 

* , "^ character of 

now looks Hke reason, now like memory, andit«own? 
now like passion, blessed with no character, no 
standing of i^ o4> ? Is i. noflring but . nLne - 
to conjure with — an empty sound, a philosophical 
expletive, a popular delusion ? Here we come 
upon the fourth set of partial opinions to 
which I proposed to call attention. According 
to every intelligible analysis of imagination that 
I have seen, it is a name, and nothing more. 
On the other hand, there are a few writers who 
regard it as a king in its own right, with a 
territory of its own; but they give us no 
intelligible account of it Thus Jean Paul 
Richter, after saying that fantasy can do duty Those who 
for the other faculties, and is their elemental imagination 
spirit, but that the other faculties cannot take mctw-Vits 
the form and do the work of fantasy, proceeds '^^"^ 


to tell us what this fantasy or creative imagina- ^^^^ ^^ 
tion is. What is it? Die Phantasie ist die 
Weltseele der Seele, imd der Elementargeist 
der ubrigen Krafte. Wenn der Witz das 
spielende anagramm der Natur ist; so ist die 
Phantasie das Hieroglyphen- Alphabet derselben, 
wovon sie mit wenigen Bildem ausgesprochen 
wird. I fear that I cannot make this clearer in 
English. Fantasy is the world-soul of the soul — 

192 Ths Gay Science. 

CHAPTER and the elemental spirit of the other faculties. As 
— 1 wit is the playful anagram of nature, fantasy is 
its hieroglyphic alphabet. What all this comes to, 
it is not easy to say ; only it looks big. Nothing, 
however, looks half so big as Coleridge's defini- 
tion. "The imagination I consider either as 
primary or secondary. The primary imagination 
I hold to be the living power and prime agent 
of all human perception, and as a repetition in 
the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in 
the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider 
as an echo of the former." Oh gentle shep- 
herds ! what does this mean ? Is it something 
very great or very little ? It reminds me of a 
splendid definition of art which I once heard. 
When the infinite I AM beheld his work of 
creation, he said Thou ART, and ART was. The 
philosopher of Highgate never explained himself. 
He was a great believer in the independence of 
imagination, but when he had written a few 
sentences of his chapter on what he called with 
a fine flourish the esemplastic power — the 
Productive Logos, he suddenly stopped short 
and got a friend to write him a letter, or 
perhaps he himself wrote the letter which he 
published, begging him not to put forth his 
theory, for it would be unintelligible to the 
addle-pated public, and he should reserve it for 
Or, like Mr. auotlier and a better world. Mr. Ruskin follows 
wiy frankly in tlic samc track, but more honestly, with all 

that it is in- .i/»i r ± .ii 

flcruubie. tlic Irankiiess oi a transparent and clear-seeing 

On Imagination. 


mind. He has written several magnificent chapter 


chapters on the work of imagination. The — 1 
words come from his mouth like emperors from 
the purple, and describe with commanding 
power the effects of imagination. But for the 
faculty itself all that Mr. Ruskin has to say of 
it is that it is utterly inexplicable. It is not to 
be dissected or analysed by any acuteness of 

Thus nobody tells us what imagination really imaginatioii 
is, and how it happens that being, as some say, denwiSi 
nothing at all, it plays an all-powerful part in ^al^sii, 
human life. Driven to our own resources, we ^g^defin* 
must see if we cannot ffive a clearer account of »\^***" o"''- 

, ^^ selves. 

this wonder-working energy, and above all, 
cannot reconcile the philosophical analysis 
which reduces imagination to a shadow with 
the popular belief which gives it the empire of 
the mind. I propose this theory, that the 

* Iq this history of opinions, 
James Mill's theory of imagin- 
ation ought not to be forgotten. 
" Imagination," he says, " is not 
a name of any one idea, I am 
not said to imagine unless I 
combine ideas successively in a 
less or greater number. An ima- 
gination, therefore, is the name 
of a train. I am said to have 
an imagination when I have a 
train of ideas; and when 1 am 
said to imagine I have the same 
thing ; nor is there any train of 
ideas to which the term imagin- 

VOL. I. 

ation may not be applied. In 
this comprehensive meaning of 
the word Imagination there is 
no man who has not imagination, 
and no man who has it not in 
an equal degree with any other. 
Every man imagines; nay, is 
constantly and unavoidably ima- 
gining. He cannot help ima- 
gining. He can no more stop 
the current of his ideas than 
he can stop the current of his 
blood." — James Mill's Analysis 
of the Human Mind, chap. vii. 

I'* A TV '^J> .N»9h». 

CBA^ imagmation or fi^tasv b nc* a ^«id hcuky 
— box that it id a sp&dal fnncooii. It is a name 
tJ^* given to the ant«:*manc acdcoi of the mind 
^"^^ *** or anv of its faculties — to what mav not unfitly 
be called the Hidden SooL This is a short 
TVt HiMs sentence. Perhaps to some it may appear a 

trifling one^ with which to docket and explain 
the grand mystery of imagination* At least 
those who have not well considered the sabject 
will scarcely see its pr^nancy of meaning. It 
involves an immense deal, however ; and to the 
next three chapters is assigned the tssk of show- 
ing what it involves. It seems possible to get 
out of it a more suggestive definition of the 
nature of art than any which has yet been pro- 
pounded. That definition will be furnished in 
the ninth chapter of the present volume to which 
the whole argument leads up. But I must ask 
the reader, if he should be curious about the 
definition, and should glance forward to see what 
it looks like, not to decide upon it off-hand, but 
to come back and read the argument which is 
now to be opened out. The result to which the 
argument tends may have the air of paradox to 
those who have not formed previously an ac- 
quaintance with the vast array of facts upon 
which it proceeds, and their peculiar signifi- 
cance. The facts which have to be unfolded 
are among the most curious in human nature ; 
but they are also among the most neglected, 
and I must beg for them a careful attention. 

On Imagination. 195 

They are, in very truth, by far the most im- chapter 

portant with which any science of human nature 1 

can have to deal; and they provide us with a^™{!J|^^ 
key to more than one problem that hitherto has T^^** ^*. 

•^ A have now to 

been deemed insoluble. Whether the conclusion study. 
as to art which may here be drawn from them 
be correct or not, they are otherwise valuable, 
and deserve some systematic arrangement. And 
as the facts are important, so also I think I may 
count upon the reader's interest in the strange 
history which I now undertake to relate. 

Only before buckling to that task let me 
point out distinctly what it is that I am going 
to show the working of. I have said that statement 
imagination is but another name for the problem t© 
automatic action of the mind or any of its**"***^^* 
faculties. Now for the most part this automatic 
action takes place imawares ; and when we come 
to analyse the movements of thought we find 
that to be quite sure of our steps we are obliged 
very much to identify what is involuntary with 
what is unconscious. We are seldom quite sure 
that our wills have had nought to do in pro- 
ducing certain actions, unless these actions have 
come about without our knowledge. Therefore 
although involuntary does not in strictness 
coincide with unconscious action, yet for prac- 
tical purposes, and, above all, for the sake of 
clearness, it may be well to put out of sight 
altogether such involuntary action as may 
consist with full consciousness, and to treat of 


196 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER the automatic exercise of the mind as either 
— 1 quite unconscious or but half conscious. And if 
on this understanding we may substitute the one 
phrase for the other as very nearly coinciding, 
then the task before me is to show that imagina- 
tion is but a name for the unknown, unconscious 
action of the mind — the whole mind or any of its 
faculties — for the Hidden Soul. If this can be 
made good — evidently it will meet the first con- 
dition of the problem to be solved. It will 
reconcile philosophical analysis with popular 
belief. It will grant to the satisfaction of philo- 
sophers that imagination is nothing of itself; 
and it will prove to the satisfaction of the 
multitude that it is the entire mind in its secret 




IHE object of this chapter is not so chapter 
much to identify imagination with — 1 

what may be called the hidden eoul,^^**'"' 

as to show that there ia a mental existence [^'Ji^'' 
within us which may be bo called — a secret''"''^ 
flow of thought which is not less energetic "ui."™i 
than the conscious flow, an absent mind which monu. 
haunts us hke a ghost or a dream and is 
an essential part of our Hves. Incidentally, 
there will be no escaping the observation that 
this unconscious life of the mind — this bid- 
den soul bears a wonderful resemblance to the 
supposed features of imagination. That, how- 
ever, is but the ultimate conclusion to which we 
are driving. My more immediate aim is to 
show that we have within us a bidden life, how 
vast is its extent, how potent and bow constant 
is its influence, how strange are its effects. 

200 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER This uucoDscious part of the mind is so dark, 

VII • • 

1 and yet so full of activity ; so like the conscious 

intelligence and yet so divided from it by the 
veil of mystery, that it is not much of a hyper- 
bole to speak of the human soul as double ; or 
at least as leading a double life. One of these 
lives — the veiled life, now awaits the rudeness 
of our scrutiny. 
The t ha- Many of the facts which in this exposition it 
th^^TOU to '^ill l>^ requisite to mention must be known to 
bettudied. gQixje rcadcrs, and nearly all of them indeed 

should be recognized as more or less belonging to 
common experience. But notwithstanding their 
familiarity we must needs go the whole round of 
the facts that bear witness to the reality of a 
hidden life within us, for it is only from a pretty 
full muster of the evidence — the familiar with 
the unfamiliar — that we can see the magnitude 
of our hidden life, the intimacy of its relations 
with our conscious every-day thinking, the con- 
stancy and variety of its working in all the nooks 
and crannies of the mind. Though some of 
these facts are familiar, they are also inter- 
esting enough to be worth repeating. To lay 
The interest bare the automatic or unconscious action of 
ject. the mind is indeed to unfold a tale which out- 

vies the romances of giants and ginns, wizards 
in their palaces and captives in the Domdaniel 
roots of the sea. As I am about to show 
how the mind and all its powers work for us 
in secret and lead us unawares to results so 

The Hidden Smd. 201 

much above our wont and so strange that we chapter 

• • • VII 

attribute them to the inspiration of heaven or to 1 

the whispers of an inborn genius, I seem to 
tread enchanted ground. The hidden efficacy 
of our thoughts, their prodigious power of work- 
ing in the dark and helping us underhand, can Then,mance 
be compared only to the stories of our folk-lore, ^ *°^ ' 
and chiefly to that of the lubber-fiend who toils 
for us when we are asleep or when we are not 
looking. There is a stack of corn to be thrashed, 
or a house to be built, or a canal to be dug, or a 
mountain to be levelled, and we are affrighted at • 
the task before us. Our backs are turned and it 
is done in a trice, or we awake in the morning 
and find that it has been wrought in the night. 
The lubber-fiend or some other shy creature 
comes to our aid. He will not lift a finger that 
we can see ; but let us shut our eyes, or turn 
our heads, or put out the light, and there is 
nothing which the good fairy will not do for us. 
We have such a fairy in our thoughts, a willing 
but unknown and tricksy worker which com- 
monly bears the name of Imagination, and 
which may be named — as I think more clearly 
—The Hidden Soul. 

It is but recently that the existence of hidden The exist- 
or unconscious thought has been accepted as a hidden 
fact in any system of philosophy which is not f^j^^ 
mystical. It used to be a commonplace of phi-^J^'^^. 
losophy, that we are only in so far as we know *«*^g^- 
that we are. In the Cartesian system, the 


The Gay Science. 


The Car- 
to it. 

first sug- 
gested the 

essence of mind is thought ; the mind is nothing 
miless it thinks, and to think is to be conscious. 
To Descartes and his vast school of followers, 
a thought which transcends consciousness is a 
nullity. The Cartesian system is perfectly ruth- 
less in its assertion of the rights of consciousness, 
and the tendency of the Cartesians has been to 
maintain not only that without consciousness 
there can be no mind, but also that without 
consciousness there can be no matter. Nothing 
exists, they inclined to say, except it exists as 
thought (in technical phrase, esse ispercipi), and 
nothing is thought except we are conscious of 
it. In our own times, the most thorough-going 
statement of the Cartesian doctrine has come 
from Professor Ferrier, in one of the most grace- 
fully written works on metaphysics that has 
ever appeared. " We are," ss^ys Ferrier, " only 
in so far as we know ; and we know only in so 
far as we know that we know." Being and 
knowledge are thus not only relative, but also 

To Leibnitz is due the first suggestion of 
thought possibly existing out of consciousness. 
He stated the doctrine clumsily and vaguely, 
but yet with decision enough to make it take 
root in the German system of thought. There 
it has grown and fructified and run to seed; 
there, also, it has expanded into all the ab- 
surdities and extravagancies of the transcen- 
dental philosophy. But though much of that 

The Hidden Soul. 203 

philosophy is mere folly, and though to most chapter 

of us it is nearly all unintelligible, we must 1 

take heed not to scout it as a baseless fabric. It 
has a foundation of fact, and that foundation of 
fact is recognised now by our most sober thinkers, 
who — be they right or wrong — at least never quit 
the ground of common sense. It is recognised 
by Sir William Hamilton ; it is recognised by which is 

1 • , ■»•■ "mr*!! "x • • J 1 also allowed 

his opponent, Mr. Mill ; it is recognised by in our 
another great authority, Mr. Herbert Spencer. H^uton, 
How they recognise it, whether or not they are f'^^'^^ 
consistent in what they say of it, and what use ^"'' 
they make of the fact they have learned to 
acknowledge, are questions which we need only 
glance at. For me, the great point is that they 
admit the principle. 

Sir William Hamilton is not consistent in his sir wiiuam 

. - - . _. Hamilton's 

assertions with regard to consciousness, rivery- view. 
body who is acquainted with his writings must 
know how forcibly he has described the existence 
within us of what he calls a latent activity. 
He shows as clearly as possible how the mind 
works in secret without l^owing it. His proof 
of the existence of hidden thought is one of the 
most striking points in his philosophy. Yet it 
shows the effect of his training that again and 
again he lapses into the old Cartesian way of 
speaking, and in many little passages which I 
might quote says that mind is co-extensive with 
consciousness — that thought exists only in so far 
as we know it exists. 

204 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Then again for Mr. Mill, I do not know that 
— 1 he is inconsistent in his views with regard to the 

MUi'i Tiew. reality of hidden thought ; but some of us may 
object to the conclusions which he draws from 
that reality. He has attacked in the person of 
Sir William Hamilton the established philosophy 
of Europe. He challenges the whole of that 
system of philosophy which now reigns, and has 
reigned for the last century, having begun in a 
recoil from Hume. He has a rival system to 
propound — a reassertion of Hume ; and the 
grand weapons by which he proposes to beat 
down the current philosophy and to establish 
his own are what he calls the law of inseparable 
association and its attendant law of obliviscence. 
I must not vex my readers with the object of 
the discussion, which is rather dry, and indeed 
of little interest save to professed metaphysi- 
cians; and it is enough to state the bare fact 
that the argument — whatever it be and whither- 
soever it tend — turns entirely on the fact of 
hidden thought — the mind acting in a certain 
way and without knowing it. 

Statement As for Mr. Herbert Spencer, he has stated the 

Spencer/ casc vcry pithily in his defence of the current 
philosophy against Mr. Mill's attack. He comes 
upon a strange contradiction, which no one who 
will fully and fairly relate the facts of his con- 
sciousness can escape. Mr. Spencer puts the 
contradiction in its most suicidal attitude, and 
assures us that we cannot avoid it. " Mysterious 

The Hidden Soul. 205 

as seems the consciousness of somethins: which is chapter 

. VII 

yet out of consciousness," we are " obliged to 1 

think it." Here then is admitted the funda- 
mental fact out of which all the fogs of the 
transcendental philosophy have arisen — the fact 
that the mind may be engaged in a sphere that 
transcends consciousness. I do not at present 
ask the reader to accept any of these views or 
any of these statements. The views may be 
faulty, and the statements may be obscure. 
But I ask him to understand that I am not 
about to preach to him an utterly new doctrine, 
or a doctrine which none but transcendental 
philosophers have allowed. 

In point of fact it is an old doctrine. Although But m 
Leibnitz was the first to indicate plainly and or MotJwr 
soundly the existence of thought working for us ^ ^ 
in our minds occult and unknown, it is not to^^^ 
be supposed that this phenomenon had wholly 
escaped previous observers. On the contrary, 
the fact of vast tracts of unconscious, but still it u the 
active, mmd existmg within us, lies at the base ot of mys- 
all the theories of the mystics. And I know not ***^™' 
that in Shakespeare there is a more profound 
saying than one which is uttered by a nameless 
lord. ParoUes, soliloquizing, as he thinks in 
secret, expresses a fear that the hoUowness of And u 
his character has been discovered, and that all megested 
his bombast and drumming and trumpeting are ^\et8.* 
understood at length to be but sound and fury, 
signifying nothing : " They begin to smoke me, 

206 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER and disgraces have of late knocked too often at 


— 1 my door. I find my tongue is too fool-hardy ; 
but my heart hath the fear of Mars before it, 
and of his creatures, not daring the reports of 
my tongue. Tongue, I must put you into Zr 
butter-woman's mouth, and buy myself another 
of Bajazet's mule." The anonymous lord who 
overhears this extraordinary soliloquy, then asks, 
" Is it possible he should know that he is, and he 
that he is ?" It is a question which goes down 
to the very centre of life — how far knowledge is 
compatible with being, existence with the con- 
sciousness of existence. Here it is the crucial 
test of an irrecoverable ass. Look at Dogberry 
anxious to be written down an ass, and proving 
his donkeyhood by utter unconsciousness of it. 
Look at Falstafi^, on the other hand, laughing at 
himself and stopping the laughter of others 
when he says, "I do begin to perceive that I 
am made an ass." And it is not only the final 
test of donkeyhood, but goes down to the deeps 
of life. Shakespeare is very fond of such 
phrases as these : " The fool doth think he is 
wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a 
fool." "The worst is not as long as we can 
say. This is the worst." " I am not very sick, 
since I can reason of it." Shakespeare — could 
Shakespeare himself have knoum what he was, 
and yet have been that he was ? 

Genei-ai Not SO ; wc are far more than we know ; 

of the and, paradoxical though it may appear, yet 

The Hidden Soul. 207 

our life is full of paradoxes, and it is true chapter 

that the mere circumstance of our knowing that 1 

we are, is often a valid proof to the contrary, facts with 
T hope to avoid the nonsense and the jargon of have now 
those who have discoursed most on the sphere ^ ^^^* 
of the transcendental — that is, the sphere of our 
mental existence which transcends or spreads 
beyond our consciousness; but that conscious- 
ness is not our entire world, that the mind 
stretches in full play far beyond the bourne 
of consciousness, there will be little difficulty 
in proving. Outside consciousness there rolls 
a vast tide of life, which is, perhaps, even 
more important to us than the little isle of our 
thoughts which lies within our ken. Com- 
parisons, however, between the two are vain, 
because each is necessary to the other. The 
thing to be firmly seized is, that we live in two 
concentric worlds of thought, — an inner ring, of 
which we are conscious, and which may be 
described as illuminated ; an outer one, of which 
we are unconscious, and which may be described 
as in the dark. Between the outer and the 
inner ring, between our imconscious and our 
conscious existence, there is a free and a con- 
stant but unobserved traffic for ever carried on. 
Trains of thought are continually passing to and 
fro, from the light into the dark, and back from 
the dark into the light. When the current of 
thought flows from within our ken to beyond 
our ken, it is gone, we forget it, we know not 

208 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER what has become of it. After a time it comes 


1 back to us changed and grown, as if it were a 

new thought, and we know not whence it comes. 
So the fish, that leaves our rivers a smolt, goes 
forth into the sea to recruit its energy, and in 
due season returns a salmon, so unlike its 
former self that anglers and naturalists long 
refused to believe in its identity. What passes 
in the outside world of thought, without will 
and for the most part beyond ken, is just that 
which we commonly understand as the inscru- 
table work of imagination ; is just that which 
we should understand as the action of the hidden 
soul, and which, after these generalities, it is 
necessary now to follow in some detail. 
Thwefiicu The facts with which we have to deal fall 
dirided naturally into three groups, corresponding to the 
gl^uji.*^** first three groups of opinion, as to the nature 
of imagination enumerated in the last chapter. 
There it was stated that imagination has been 
identified by philosophers with memory, with 
reason, or else with passion ; and that there is a 
fourth group of thinkers who, not satisfied with 
any of these views, declare that in imagination 
there is something special, though they cannot 
And state- tcU what it is. Thc argument here is that each 
argument to of thc first thrcc scts of thinkers are quite right. 

be fol lowed. T *j** * ' A ' * 

Imagination is memory ; imagination is reason ; 
imagination is passion. But the argument goes 
further, and will have it that the fourth set of 
thinkers are also right, and that imagination has 

The Hidden Soul. 209 

a specialty. It is memory — but it is memory chapter 

automatic and unconscious. It is reason — but it 1 

is reason of the bidden soul. It is passion and 
all that we connect witb passion, of instinct, feel- 
ing, and sympathy — but it is passion that works 
out of sigbt. It is, in a word, the whole power 
or any power of the mind— but it is that power 
energising in secret and of its own free will. 
Now, for the present, let us put by the question 
whether it be right or wrong to say that this is 
a sufficient account of what we understand by 
the imagination. Hold that question in abey- 
ance until we have completed a survey of the 
hidden soul. At present, what we are to keep 
in view is this, that as the conscious soul may be 
roughly divided into faculties of memory, of 
reason, and of feeling, so the unconscious or 
hidden soul may be divided in the same manner, 
and may be considered as memory, as reason, 
and as feeling. Let us examine it in these three 

I. In memory we encounter the oftest-noted On memory 
marvel of hidden thought. It is a power that den work." 
belongs even more to the unconscious than to 
the conscious mind. How and where we hide our 
knowledge so that it seems dead and buried ; 
and how in a moment we can bring it to life 
again, finding it in the dark where it lies 
unheeded amid our innumerable hoards, is a 
mystery over which every one capable of think- 

VOL. I. p 

210 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER ing has puzzled. The miracle here is most 

1 evident and most interesting when memory halts 

Acowunt a little. Then we become aware that we are 
"**^ ' seeking for something which we know not ; and 
there arises the strange contradiction of a faculty 
knowing what it searches for, and yet making 
the search because it does not know. Moreover, 
nothing is commoner than, when a man tries to 
recollect somewhat and fails, to hear him say, 
CoDtrtdic " Never mind, let us talk of something else, I 
1^0^. shall remember it presently,** and then in the 
midst of his foreign talk, he remembers. So 
that the condition of his remembrance depends 
on this odd contradiction that he shall not only 
forget what he wants, but even forget that he 
wanted to remember it. When Daniel surpassed 
all the magicians, the astrologers, and the sooth- 
sayers of Babylon, by discovering to Nebucliad- 
nezzar the dream which lie had forgotten, he did 
not perform a more wonderful feat than the king 
himself would have accomplished had he been 
able by an eflFort of his own memory to recover 
the lost vision. In the plenitude of his powers, 
Newton could not remember how he arrived at 
the binomial theorem, and had to fall back upon 
his old papers to enable him to discover the 
The clue to Tlic cluc, but ouly a clue, to this perpetual 
iiidaen Hfe. magic of reminiscence lies in the theory of our 
hidden life. I do not attempt to follow out the 
explanation, since at best it only throws the 


The Hidden Saul 211 

riddle but a step or two backwards, and for the chaptek 

• • • • VII 

present inquiry it is enough that I should 1 

barely state the facts which indicate the reality 
and the intensity of our covert life. Strictly 
speaking the mind never forgets : what it once 
seizes, it holds to the death, and cannot let go. 
We may not know it, but we are greater than we 
know, and the mind, faithful to its trust, keeps a 
secret watch on whatever we give to it. Thus 
beams upon us the strange phenomenon of 
knowledge, possessed, enjoyed, and used by us, 
of which nevertheless we are ignorant — ignorant 
not only at times, but also in some cases during 
our whole lives. 

First of all, for an illustration, take the well- story of the 
known story of the Countess of Laval, who Lavai^a 
always in her sleep spoke a language which those ^*^*"" 
about her could not understand and took for gib- 
berish. On the occasion of her lying-in, how- 
ever, she had a nurse from Brittany who at once 
understood her. The lady spoke Breton when 
asleep, although when awake she did not know 
a word of it, and could attach no meaning to her 
own phrases which were reported to her. The 
fact is that she had been born in Brittany, and 
had been nursed in a family where only the old 
Celtic dialect of that province was spoken. This 
she must have learned to prattle in her infancy. 
Returning to her father s home, where French 
only was spoken, and Breton not at all, she soon 
forgot her early speech — lost all traces of it in 

p 2 

212 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER her conscious memory. Beyond the pale of 

1 consciousness memory held the language firm as 

ever, and the Countess prattled in her dreams 

Captain the syllablcs of her babyhood. Captain Marryat 
"^^^ gives an account of what happened to himself, 
not so striking perhaps, but equally pertinent. 
A man belonging to his ship fell overboard, and 
he jumped into the sea to save him. As he rose 
to the surface he discovered that he was in the 
midst of blood. In an instant the horror of his 
situation flashed on him. He knew that the 
sharks were around him, and that his life was to 
be measured by seconds. Swifter than pen can 
write it, his whole life went into the twinkling 
of an eye. Burst upon his view all that he had 
ever done, or said, or thought. Scenes "and 
events in the far past which had been long 
blotted from his remembrance came back upon 
him as lightning. The end of the story is that 
he escaped, the sharks having followed the ship, 
while he, left beliind, was picked up by a boat ; 
but the point of it for us lies in the fealty of 
memory to its trust, and in the perfectness of the 
art by which it held all the past of the man's 
life to the veriest trifle of gossip in safe keeping. 
DeQuincey. Dc Quiuccy, in the dreams of his opium-eating 
days, felt the same power in himself. Things 
which, if he had been told of them when waking 
he could not have acknowledged as parts of his 
former experience, were in his dreams so placed 
before him with all the chance colour and 

The Hidden Soul 213 

feelings of the original moment, that at once he ohaptek 

knew them and owned their memorial identity. 1 

As he thus noted the indelibility of his memory, 
he leaped to the conjecture which divines before 
him had reached, that in the dread day of reckon- 
ing the book which shall be opened before the 
Judge is but the everlasting roll of remem- 

In this unfailing record two things particu- Two things 
larly call for attention ; the first, that imderstand- noticed in ^ 
ing is not essential to memory ; the second, that ™^™®'^' 
the memory of things not understood may be 
vital within us. A word or two on each of these 
great facts. 

That understanding is not essential to memory The first, 
we see in children who learn by heart what haSst^^^glT 
no meaning to them. The meaning comes long ^ a?*"^ 
years afterwards. But it would seem as if the 
process which we have all observed on such a 
small scale goes on continually on a much larger 
scale. Absolute as a photograph, the mind 
refuses nought. An impression once made upon 
the sense, even unwittingly, abides for evermore. 
There has long been current in Germany a story 
about a maid in Saxony who spoke Greek. 
Henry More refers to the fact as a sort of 
miracle and an antidote against atheism. Cole- 
ridge tells a similar story of later date and with 
explanatory details. In a Roman Catholic town story of the 
in Germany, a young woman, who could neither &^ony. 
read nor write, was seized with a fever, and was 

214 Tlie Gay Science. 

cHAPTEK said by the priests to be possessed of a devil, 

1 because she was heard talking Latin, Greek and 

Hebrew. Whole sheets of her ravings were 
written out, and were found to consist of 
sentences intelligible in themselves but having 
slight connection with each other. Of her 
Hebrew sayings, only a few could be traced to 
the Bible, and most seemed to be in the Rab- 
binical dialect. All trick was out of the ques- 
tion ; the woman was a simple creature ; there 
was no doubt as to the fever. It was long 
before any explanation save that of demoniacal 
possession could be obtained. At last the mystery 
was unveiled by a physician who determined 
to trace back the girl's history, and who, after 
much trouble, discovered that at the age of nine 
she had been charitably taken by an old Protes- 
tant pastor, a great Hebrew scholar, in whose 
house she lived until his death. On further 
inquiry it appeared to have been the old man's 
custom for years to walk up and down a passage 
of his house into wliich the kitchen door opened, 
and to read to himself with a loud voice out of his 
books. The books were ransacked, and among 
thuiQ were found several of the Greek and Latin 
Fathors, together with a collection of Rabbinical 
writings. In these works so many of the 
passages taken down at the young woman's bed- 
side were identified, that there could be no 
reasonable doubt as to their source. A succes- 
sion of unintelligible sounds had been so caught 

Tlie Hidden Soul. 215 

by the ear that years afterwards the girl could chapter 

in her delirium repeat them. And so we may 1 

say generally, that, whether we know it or not. Memory 
the senses register with a photographic accuracy S^" 
whatever passes before them, and that the regis- ^ ^ 
wer, though it may be lost, is always imperish- 

As it is only by a variety of illustrations that other iiius- 
this great fact can be thoroughly impressed upon given by 
the mind, I may be allowed to detain the reader we. "^"™ 
with yet another anecdote pointing to the same 
conclusion. It is told by Abercrombie ; indeed, 
lie has several like it. Thus, he makes mention 
of one of his patients who had in health no kind 
of turn for music, but sang Graelic songs in his 
delirium. The most remarkable case, however, 
which he describes is that of a dull awkward 
country girl — who was considered uncommonly 
weak of intellect, who in particular showed not 
the faintest sense of music, and who was fit only 
to tend the cattle. It happened that while thus 
engaged with cattle, she had to sleep next a 
room in which a tramping fiddler of great skill 
sometimes lodged. Often he would play there 
at night, and the girl took notice of his finest 
strains only as a disagreeable noise. By and by, 
however, she fell ill, and had fits of sleep-waking 
in which she would imitate the sweetest tones of 
a small violin. She would suddenly stop in her 
performance to make the sound of tuning her 
instrument, and then after a light prelude would 

216 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER dash ofiF into elaborate pieces of music, most 

VII • 

1 delicately modulated. I have forgotten to men- 
tion that in the meantime a benevolent lady had 
taken a liking to her, and received her into her 
&mily as an xmder-servant. This accounts for 
the fact of her afterwards imitating the notes of 
an old piano which she was accustomed to hear in 
the house. Also, she spoke French, conjugated 
Latin verbs, and astonished everybody who 
approached her in her sleep-waking state, with 
much curious mimicry, and much fluent and some- 
times clever talk on every kind of subject — 
including politics and religion. Here the High- 
land lass is but exhibiting in another form the 
same sort of phenomenon as Coleridge described 
Conclusion, in the German girl. In both of these anecdotes 
memory the fact stauds out clcar, that the memory grips 
^et« not ling ^^^^ appropriates what it does not understand — 

appropriates it mechanically, hke a magpie 
stealing a silver spoon, without knowing what 
it is, or what to do w^ith it. The memory can- 
not help itself It is a kleptomaniac and lets 
nothing go by. 
III. se»oiHi Nor must we have mean ideas as to the 
n.!tiaii, nature of the existence in the mind of things 
memory of prescrvcd bcyoud our knowledge and without 
IindSiit'!i!^i ^^^' understanding. This is the second point 
maybeviiaiafoiesjiid which calls for attention. When we 

within u>. ^ ^ ^ 

think of something preserved in the mind, but 
lost and wellnigh irrecoverable, we are apt to 
imagine it iis dormant; when we know that it 

The Hidden Soul. 217 

was unintelligible we are apt to imagine it as chapter 
dead. On the contrary, the mind is an organic — 
whole and Hves in ever^ part, even though we 
know it not. Aldebaran was once the grandest 
star in the firmament, and Sirius had a companion 
star once the brightest in heaven, and now one 
of the feeblest. Because they are now dim to 
us, are we to conclude that they are going out 
and becoming nought ? The stars are overhead, 
though in the blaze of day they are unseen ; 
they are not only overhead, but also all their 
influences are unchanged. So there is knowledge Knowledge 
active within us of which we see nothing, know ^ „, 
nothing, think nothing. Thus, in the sequence ^^^'j^'I^Jj 
of thought, the mind, busied with the first link ^o^m- 
in a chain of ideas, may dart to the third or 
fourth, the intermediate link or links being utterly 
unknown to it. They may be irrecoverable, they 
may even be unintelligible, but they are there, 
and they are there in force. 

As it is sometimes difficult to follow a general Examples 
statement like this without the help of example, ^on. " '^^^ 
I will suppose a case in point, suggested by the 
story of the girl who in her waking state had 
no ear for music, but yet in her sleep-waking 
could imitate the music of the violin with won- 
drous accuracy and sweetness. Take the case 
of a man who has no ear for music, who cannot 
keep time in a simple dance, who can neither 
remember nor recognise a tune, and to whom 
melody is but an unmeaning succession of sweet 

218 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER noises. That man may, nevertheless, through 
— 1 associations the most fine and indefinable of 
any, but also the most sure and irresistible- 

through an association of unknown musical 
ideas — connect two objects of thought which are 
otherwise far apart. The hearing a Methodist 
hymn sung, for example, may put him in mind 
of a snow storm. Say that the hymn is sxmg to 
the air of Scots wha hoe wi Wallace bled. He 
may not know this ; neither may he know that 
The Land o* the Leal which he once heard has 
the same air transposed to the minor key ; but 
forthwith on hearing the hymn, his mind re- 
verts to the idea of the snow-drift which is 
mentioned in the first verse of the Scotch song. 
The knowledge of the strain, once heard, is in 
the mind, quick and quickening, although he 
knows it not nor understands it. So, in the 
how what days of our feebleness we have witnessed scenes 
buteto and events for which we seemed to have no 
lITbutT**" eyes and no ears, and a long time thereafter we 
of Sfen describe as from imagination what is really a 
memory, gurrcnder of the memory. Looks and tones come 
back upon us with strange vividness from the 
far past ; and we can picture to the life transac- 
tions of which it is supposed that we have never 
had any experience. Shelley was filled with 
terror when he thought of these things. In a 
walk near Oxford, he once came upon a part of 
the landscape for the first time (as he deemed) 
which nevertheless his memory told him that he 

The Hidden Soul. 


had seen before. When long afterwards, in chaffer 
Italy, he attempted to describe upon paper the — 1 
state of his mind in half feeling that he had seen 
this landscape before in a dream, he became so 
terror-stricken in contemplation of his thought 
that he had to throw down his pen and fly to 
his wife to quell in her society the agitation of 
his nerves. 

No wonder that Plato when he saw the vast piato 


resources of the mind — when there came to him viJw of" 
a dim feeling that much of what he seemed to thrth^iy 
create he was only drawing from remembrance, ?f p*^^- 
and when he could trace back to no period in 
the present Kfe the origin of impressions which 
had been self-registered, and ideas which had 
been self-grown in the dark of his mind, 
straightway started the hypothesis of a previous 
life passed in a previous world, before we found 
our way hither to be clogged by clay. Many a 
time since then men have caught at the same 
idea.* One of our least known poets, but a true 
one, Matthew Green, has it in the following 
terms : — 

As prisoners into life we've come ; 
Dying may be but going home ; 
Transported here by bitter fate, 
The convicts of a prior state. 

♦ A query has been raised as 
to the meaning of the question 
which we find in the Gospel of 
St. John : ** Master, who did sin, 
this man or his {larents, that he 

was bom blind?" How could 
the man have sinned before he 
was bom, except on the supposi- 
tion of prc-existence ? 

220 The Gay Science. 

CHAiTER But he who has in modem times most emphati- 

VIL ^ 

The same 
view sug- 
gested b J 

cally expressed it is Wordsworth. In the finest 
of his poems he says : 

^*"^ Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting ; 

The soul that rises with us, our life s star, 
Hath had elsewhere its setting. 
And oometh from afar ; 
Not in entire forgetfulness, 
And not in utter nakedness, 
But trailing clouds of gloiy, do we come 
From God, who is our home. 

Summary So much then for memory, in so far as it 
relating to represents the immense involuntary life which 
n»emory. ^^ ^Q^^ ^^^ q£ consciousness. If the facts I 

have brought together do not account for all, 
certainly they account for much of what we 
understand by the word imagination. They 
account for much even of what is most mys- 
terious in the processes called imaginative. In 
the mechanical accuracy with which memory all 
unknown to us registers the flitting impressions 
of our daily life, and in the faithfulness with 
which at times and in ways of its own choosing, 
it surrenders to consciousness these impressions, 
we have a glimpse of what is meant by the 
creativeness of imagination. It is true, that the 
theory of unconscious memory does not explain 
all tlie creative work of fantasy. There is in 
the mind, as I shall afterwards have to show, a 
genuine creative process, over and above the 
seeming creativeness of unconscious memory. 
Still, it is difficult to exaggerate the importance 

The Hidden Saul. 221 

of mere memory — involuntary and secret — as a chapter 

worker of miracles, as a discoverer of things 1 

unknown, and as contributing to invest all 
objects of thought with a halo of mystery, 
which is but the faint reflection of forgotten 
knowledge. The Platonic theory of pre-ex- 
istence is but the exaggeration of a truth. Our 
powers of memory are prodigious ; our powers 
of invention are very limited. The same fables, -^ 
the same comparisons, the same jests are pro- 
duced and reproduced like the tunes of a barrel- 
organ in successive ages and in different 

When Sir Walter Scott was engaged on the Anecdote of 
composition of Rokehy, he was observed to take swtt.* 
notes of the little wild flowers that grew not far 
from the cave which he was going to allot to 
Guy Denzil. He describes how Bertram laid 
him down : 

Where purple heath, profusely strewn. 
And throat-wort, with its azure bell, 
And moss and thyme his cushion swell 

To one who expressed surprise that for such 
details he did not trust to imagination, meaning 
the faculty of invention, he replied that this 
faculty is circumscribed in its range, is soon ex- 
hausted and goes on repeating itself, whereas 
nature is boundless in its variety, and not to be 
surpassed by any efforts of art. Thus it is^ not 
so much to a trained invention as to a trained 
memory, that the poet who seeks for variety must 

222 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER chiefly trust ; and it will be found that all 

1 great poets, all great artists, all great inventors 

are men of great memory — their imconscious 
memory being even greater than that of which 
they are conscious. These unconscious memories 
stirring we know not what within us, fill some 
men with a sense of the mystery of hfe, and shed 
on all things visible the hues of poetry, — that 
light, which, according to Wordsworth, never 
was on sea or land. Other men they enrich with 
visions of what they fancy they have never seen. 
In a moment at a single jet the picture is in 
the mind's eye complete to a pin's head with all 
the perfectness of imaginative work. One blow, 
one flash, is all we are conscious of; no fum- 
bling, no patching, no touching up. We are 
unconscious of the automatic energy within us 
until its work is achieved and the effbct of it is 
not to be resisted. We see the finished re- 
sult; of the process we know nothing. We 
enjoy the one and we stand in awe of the other. 
We endow these extraordinary memories with 
divine honours. Ye are as gods, we say to 
the poets. And thus far at least one can see 
a deeper wisdom in the doctrine of the Greeks 
that the muses were all daughters of Mnemo- 

On the hid- IJ. Let us now look for the exercise of reason 

I^e*L)u. *" in the hidden soul, by reason understanding not 

merely what the logicians mean, but all that is 

The Hidden Soul. 223 

included in the popular sense of the term — as chapter 
judgment, invention, comparison, calculation, — 1 
selection, and the like movements of thought, 
forethought and afterthought. 

When we come to look into the complex The com- 
movement of our thoughts, we discover that in Siought! 
almost every mental operation there are several 
distinct wheels going, though we may be con- 
scious of only one. No better illustrations need 
we seek for, than the favourite ones of play- 
ing on the piano-forte and of reading a book. 
The beginner on the piano-forte strikes the 
notes far between like minute guns. For 
every key that he touches a distinct enterprise 
of thought is required. After a time he fingers 
the scale more deftly, and can grasp whole 
handful s of notes in quick succession with 
greater ease than at first he could hit upon a 
single key. See how many things he can do at we do a 
once. With both hands he strikes fourfold tiroftwn^ 
chords — eight separate notes ; he does this in ^^ not* im- 
perfect time; he lifts his foot from the pedal so sciousofau. 
as to give the sound with greater fiilness; 
meanwhile his eye, fixed on the music-book, 
is reading one or two bars in advance of his 
hand ; and to crown all, he is talking to a com- 
panion at his side. This enumeration of the 
various coiurses which the mind pursues at one 
and the same moment, is far from complete ; 
but it is enough to show that many lines of 
action which when first attempted require to be 

224 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER carried on by distinct efforts of volition become 

VII • 

1 through practice mechanical, involuntary move- 
ments of which we are wholly unaware. In the 
act of reading we find the mind similarly at 
work for us, with a mechanical ease that is 
independent of our care. There are indeed well 
attested cases of readers overtaken with sleep 
and continuing to read aloud, although thus 
overpowered. Children at the factories have 
fallen asleep over the machines which their 
fingers kept plying. Postmen have gone upon 
their daily rounds dead asleep, without oversight 
of consciousness or intervention of will. In these 
cases the mind spontaneously went forward in 
certain accustomed grooves. 

Further Morc particular examples are at hand. 

SJUIhi^ Houdin could not only keep four balls tossing 

^IId*Sur- ^^ *^^ ^^^> ^^* ^^^ while these were flying 
8ueH neverai about could read a book placed before him. 

distinct ao- ^ ^ •*■ 

tioiw at Canning dictated despatches to three secretaries 
at once, and we may rest assured that in the 
complicated operations of thought required for 
such a performance, he very much depended on 
certain self-acting processes which he had taught 
his mind to follow. Sir Walter Scott sometimes 
dictated his narratives, and the penman whom 
he employed on one occasion very soon dis- 
covered that he was carrying on two distinct 
trains of thought, one of which was already 
arranged and in the act of being spoken, while 
the other was further advanced, putting together 



The Hidden Scml. 225 

what was afterwards to be said. It was a proof chapter 

of this double movement, that sometimes Scott 1 

would let slip a word which was wholly out of 
place, and was even superfluous (as entertained 
for denied or in addition to it), but which 
clearly belonged to the following sentence, and 
there fell into its proper place. It became thus 
evident that he was composing the one sentence 
while he was dictating the other, and that a 
word occasionally dropped from the sentence 
which was in his mind into that which was on 
his tongue. The act of composition had in 
his mind become so automatic that when he 
was released from the irksomeness of pen- 
manship, and could rely upon another hand to 
drive the quill, he would forget what he had 
done — every incident, character, and con- 
versation of his book. It was thus that during 
an illness, the Bride of Lammermoor was 
composed amid groans of suffering which 
seemed far more than the story to engross his 
mind. The sentences of this, one of his finest 
tales, flowed on freely in spite of the cries with 
which they were mingled ; but when the work 
was finished, Scott had no memory of it ; to no 
one did the tale appear a greater novelty than 
to himself; and he read the proofs in a fever 
of fright lest he should come upon some huge 

The self-working of his mind was however Several of 
still more evident in another habit. When tinct actions 

VOL. I. Q 

226 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER in the conduct of his plot he became entangled 

1 in a knot which he could not quickly unravel, 

k«w» or when he was stopped by any consider- 
ooMdoiM. able difficulty, it was his custom to put 
aside his papers for the day, and to forget 
his embarrassment in other occupations. When 
he awoke on the morrow the problem was 
solved, and he got rid of the difficulty with ease. 
Some may account for the clearance of the 
stumbling-block, by the increased vigour of the 
mind after it had been freshened with sleep. 
The mind The true explanation is that the mind, though it 
broods over sccmcd to be othcrwisc engaged, was really 
** ''^*^' brooding in secret over its work, and mechani- 
cally revolving the problem, so that it was all 
ready for solution at peep of dawn. There are 
few thinking minds that have not had expe- 
riences wliich bear out this view. They too 
have had to face perplexity, have been baffled 
in the first encounter, and have withdrawn for a 
time from the fray. Perhaps they resolve, as 
the saying is, to sleep upon it. What then? 
Not always does light come in the morning ; it 
comes at other times when the mind has had no 
chance of rest. It may flash upon us imex- 
pectedly when we are lost in other cares, in the 
deeps of sorrow, or in the roar of business, or in 
the whirl of pleasure. Many of us can remem- 
ber that in our college days when some hard 
mathematical problem had fairly mastered us, 
and we were driven in despair to throw it aside, 

The Hidden Soul. 227 

suddenly the solution shot into the mind when chapter 

we were bent on different thoughts in the 1 

hunting-field, or at a wine party, or in the house 
of prayer. Archimedes was in the bath when 
he jumped to the shout of Eureka ; and the angel 
of the Lord appeared unto Gideon as he threshed 
wheat by the wine-press in Ophrah, to hide it 
from the Midianites. I believe it was Goethe 
who pointed out that Saul the son of Eash found 
a kingdom while his only thought was to find 
his father's asses. 

The gist of these anecdotes is, I hope, clear. That the 
By a flood of examples I am trying to make utL, in-*^** 
manifest the reality of certain mental ongoings ]^^ 
of which, from their very nature, scarcely ^«*'f.^®*; 

' •' ' •' us without 

anything is known. Out of them all emerges ?«>■ know- 
the fact that the mind keeps watch and ward 
for us when we slumber; that it spins long 
threads, weaves whole webs of thought for us 
when we reck not. In its inner chamber, 
whither no eye can pierce, it will remember, 
brood, search, poise, calculate, invent, digest, do 
any kind of stiff work for us unbidden, and 
always do the very thing we want. Although 
we cannot lift the veil and see the mind working, 
yet the facts crowd upon us which show that it 
does work underhand. They are of all sorts, 
from the most simple to the most complex. 
For a very simple illustration of the law, we 
may note what is called absence of mind. We 
are all more or less absent, and having thoughts 

Q 2 

228 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER here and far away, in sight and out of sight, 

1 may be described as double minded. But some 

men attend more habitually than others to the 
under-cuirents of thought, and are thus remark- 
able for their absence. From such simple illus- 
trations of undersong and involuntary concealed 
action in the mind, we rise to higher examples. 
The story Thcrc is the case of A vicenna. Avicenna was 
vicenM ^ ^^^^ hard student who went regularly to the 

mosque to pray that Allah would help him in 
his studies, and get him middle terms for the 
syllogisms he required. The story goes that 
Allah heard his prayers and found him the 
middle terms while he slept ; at least they came 
to him in dreams. Without supposing that 
Allah was so deeply interested in his syllogisms 
as to work a miracle in his behalf, we can still be- 
lieve in the efficacy of the philosopher's prayer. 
There are Kneeling was the highest expression of his 

many things . ij1* *i 11* •-! 

which we auxiety, and this anxiety so urged his mmd 
cannot 01 ^j^^^ what it could not reach under the dis- 

we are con- 

^d^*e^iy tnrbing gaze of consciousness, it seized in sleep 
jfwe easily when its movements were allowed to 

become un- *' 

conscious, becomc spontaneous. So it happens often. 
There are things which we fail to do if we are 
watched, and which we do easily if no one is by ; 
which we cannot do at all if we think about it, 
and which we do readily if we do not tliink. " His 
memory was great," says Sir Philip Warwick of 
Lord Strafford, ^'and he made it greater by 
confiding in it." I have already referred to the 


Tlie Hidden Soul. 229 

saying of Mozart : *' If you think how you are chapter 

to write, you will never write anything worth 1 

hearing. I write because I cannot help it." 
What we try to do, we cannot do ; when we 
cease trying, we do it. Is this because trying is 
useless, and when we are sore pressed for middle 
terms, we must ring down the Almighty with a 
church bell ? On the contrary, it is trying that 
succeeds, and Heaven helps with inspiration 
only those who help themselves. In one of the 
English versions of the Psalms there is a fine 
expression : " Oh tarry thou the Lord's leisure ;' 
but the most luminous gloss upon this text is to 
be foimd in the saying of Father Malebranche, 
that attention is the prayer of the intellect ; 
only here we must limit ourselves to attention 
that is passive. Think you, says Wordsworth, 

Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum 

Of things for ever speaking, 

That nothing of itself will come, 

But we must still be seeking ? 
* • • 

Nor less, I deem that there are powers 

Which of themselves our minds impress. 
And we can feed this mind of ours 

In a wise passiveness. 

That story of Avicenna reminds us that in Action of 
sleep we have the boldest evidence of the mind's in delp. 
latent activity. Like those heavenly bodies 
which are seen only in the darkness of night, the 
realities of our hidden life are best seen in the 
darkness of slumber. We have observed that in 
the gloaming of the mind, memory displays a rich- 

230 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER ness which it is fain to conceal in the ftill glare 

1 of consciousness. It has languages, it has music 

at command of which when wide awake it has 
no knowledge. Time would fail us to recount 
the instances in which through dreams it helps us 
to &cts — as where a stray will is to he found, or 
how the payment of a certain sum of money can 
he proved — which in broad day we have given up 
There is no for lost. Nor is there any end to the cases which 
t^giife might be cited of actions begun in consciousness 
^^4''* and continued in sleep-naoldiers thus marching, 
owryooiD ooachmeu driving, pianists playing, weavers 
throwing the shuttle, saddlers making harness, 
seamstresses plying the needle, swimmers floating, 
sailors mounting the shrouds ^r heaving the \ol 
Probably our first impulse when we hear of these 
things is to make merry with the sleeping palace 
where for a hundred years a somnolent king sits 
on the throne, surrounded by drooping coun- 
sellors, while not far oflF the butler dozes with a 
flask between his knees, the steward reposes 
amid his wrinkles, the page in a dream is intent 
on a slumbering maid of honour, the sentinel 
hybemates in his box, the winds are all snoring, 
the trees are all nodding, the fowls are all 
roosting, the fires are all dormant, the dogs are 
all heavy with the selfsame spell that sent the 
beautiful Prinoess to drowse for an age upon a 
golden bed. Especially may we be inclined to 
smile at such a picture of life, since in the 
philosopher's rendering of it the sleepers would 



The Hidden Soul. 231 

not as in the poefs fable be arrested in their chapter 

• • VII 

actions, but would go on acting without let or 1 


One is not more inclined to treat the matter similar 
gravely, when one remembers how closely and^X 
how ludicrously these experiences of actions f^"^"*" 
continued in sleep are connected with the phe- 
nomena of narcotics. We laugh to hear of the 
drunken Irish porter who forgot when sober what 
he had done when drunk, and who had to get 
drunk again in order to remember any circum- 
stances which it was necessary for him to recall, 
so that having once in a state of intoxication lost 
a valuable parcel, he could give no account of it, 
but readily found it again in his next drinking 
bout. We laugh as we remember the story of the 
ancient Persians who would undertake no im- 
portant business unless they had first considered 
it drunk as well as sober. We laugh to think that 
in this England of ours, and in a time of terrible 
storm, the helm of the state was held by a prime 
minister, the Duke of Portland, who almost 
lived on opiates, was always in a state of stupor, 
and would fall dead asleep over his work. We 
harve our jokes about the sleep-bound cabinet 
that from the brow of Richmond Hill sent an 
order to Lord Raglan to go and take Sebastopol. 
We have our memories of Laputa, in which the 
philosophers were so wise, so absent-minded and 
so given to sleep that they had to hire flappers 
who with bladders at the end of strings would 

232 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER flap them on the head and rouse them to their 


Though Laugh as we may, we return to the mystery 

thS^fiicto of sleep with ever-increasing wonderment. 

u^nM What is most wonderful in it is the ease with 

tide, thej which thc miud works and overtakes results that 


ing of the waking it would either fail to approach, or would 
iierioa. ftt^ approach with faltering painful steps. Heaps of 

examples are at hand. None is better known 
AooouDtof than that of Coleridge, who in a sleep composed 
actions per- the bcautiful fragment of Kublah Khan. Not- 
,2^. "* withstanding their sibilation, nothing can be 

more musical than such lines as these. 

A damsel with a dulcimer. 
In a vision once I saw : 
It was an Abyssinian maid. 
And on a dulcimer she played. 
Singing of Mount Abora. 

Coleridge's sleep was produced by opium; 
but the Queen of Navarre, Augustus la Fontaine, 
Voltaire and others, in their natural sleep made 
verses which they remembered on waking. 
Thomas Campbell woke up in the night with the 
line, " Coming events cast their shadows before," 
which he had been beating his brains for during 
a whole week. In like manner, Tartini com- 
posed the Devil's Sonata, in a dream in which 
the enemy of mankind seemed to challenge him 
to a match on the fiddle. In sleep Benjamin 
Franklin forecast events with a precision which 
in the daytime he could never attain, and which 
by contrast seemed the result rather of a second- 


The Hidden Soul. 


sight than of his ordinary work-a-day faculties, chapter 

In sleep, Father Maignan used to pursue his 1 

mathemetical studies, and when he worked out a 
theorem in his dreams, he would awake in the 
flush and pleasure of his discovery. In sleep, 
Condillac would mentally finish chapters of his 
work which, going to bed, he had left un- 
finished. Abercrombie tells of an advocate who 
had to pronounce a legal opinion in a very com* 
plicated case which gave him much concern. 
His wife saw him rise in the night, write at his 
desk, and return to bed. In the morning he 
informal her that he had a most interesting 
dream, in which he had unravelled the difficulties 
of the case and had been able to pronounce a 
most luminous judgment, but unfortunately it 
had escaped his memory and he would give any- 
thing to recover it. She had but to refer him 
to his desk and there the judgment was found 
clear as light.* 

* I place in a foot-note a re- 
markable story which appeared 
in Notes and QuerieSy 14th 
January, 1860. The story is 
told on the authority of the Rev. 
J. de Liefde. A brother clergy- 
man, whom he perfectly trusted, 
told him as follows : — " I was a 
student at the Mennonite Semi- 
nary at Amsterdam, and fre- 
quented the mathematical lec- 
tures of Professor Van Swinden. 
Now, it happened that once a 
banking-house had given the 

professor a question to resolve 
which required a difficult anc 
prolix calculation ; and often 
already had the mathematician 
tried to find out the problem, 
but as to effect this some sheets 
of paper had to be covered with 
ciphers, the learned man at each 
trial had made a mistake. Thus, 
not to overfatigue himself, he 
oonmiunicated tiie puzzle to ten 
of his students — me amongst the 
number — and begged us to at- 
tempt its unravelling at home. 


Thg ^jdy Science. 

CHAPTER Thia last example, however, is not ordiiuury 

— - dreaming, but comes onder the head of sleep* 

.smniMm- walkioj^ OF Waking, a peculiar class of phenomena, 

iti wtmdtru so well and so long recognised that when, in the 

year 1686, a brother of Lord Culpepper was 

indicted at the Old Bailey for shooting one of the 

gnards and his horse, he was acquitted on the plea 

of somnambulism. In this state as in that of 

My ambitioa did not ftllow me 
anj delaj. I let to work the 
flune erenhigy bat withoat soc- 
otmL Another erening was ncri- 
ficed to mj andertaking, bat 
frnitlefliilj. At last I bent my- 
self OTer my ciphers, a third 
erening. It was winter, and I 
calculated to half-past one in the 
morning — all to no porpose! 
The prodoct was errooeoaa. Low 
at heart, I threw down my pen- 
cil, which already that time had 
bficiphereri three slates. I hesi- 
tat4xl whrthf.T I would toil the 
nif^ht throujrh, and be^n my 
calculation anew, as I knew that 
the professor wanted an answer 
the very same morning. But lo ! 
my aindle was already burning in 
the HTx^ket, and, alas ! the persons 
with whom I lived had long ago 
gone to rest Then I also went 
to 1)0(1, my h(Mul fillwl with 
ci}>h('rH, and tire<l of mind I fell 
asl(!C'p. In the morning I awoke 
just early enouj^h to dress and 
profianj myself to go to the lec- 
ture. I was vexed at heart not 
to liiivc been able to 8f;lve the 
question, and at having to dis- 

appoint my teacher. Bat, O 
wockier! as I ^proach my 
writing table, I find oq it a 
paper, with ciphers of my own 
hand, and think of my astonish- 
ment, the whole problem en it 
solved qoite ari<:ht, and withoat 
a single blonder. I wanted to 
ask my hotpita whetbo^ any one 
had been in my room, bot was 
stopped by my own writing. 
Aftowards I told her what had 
occurred, and she herself won- 
dered at the event, for she as- 
sured me no one had entered my 
afiftrtment. Thus I must have 
calculated the problem in my 
sleep and in the dark to boot, 
and what is most remarkable, 
the computation was so succinct, 
that what I saw now before me 
on a single folio sheet, had re- 
quired three slatefuls closely be- 
ciphered at both sides, during 
my waking state. Professor 
Von Swinden was quite amazed 
at the event, and declared to me 
that whilst calculating the pro- 
blem himself^ he never once bad 
thought of a solution so simple 
and concise." 


Ths Hidden Soul. 235 

ordinary dreaming the precision and the faciUty chapter 
of the work we can do are very remarkable. The — 1 
sleep-walker seldom makes a false step, or sings 
a wrong note. She rivals the tones of the 
Swedish nightingale, warbling in her presence ; 
and high on some giddy edge she foots it with 
the skill of a rope-dancer. Especially is it 
curious to see how the waking and the sleep- 
waking states are severed from each other as by 
a wall. Just as the Irish porter, already men- 
tioned, had no remembrance in his sober state of 
what he had done in his fits of intoxication^ and 
had to get drunk in order to discover it, the 
sleep-waker leads in vision a Ufe which has no 
discernible point of contact with his daily life. 
His day life is a connected whole in keeping 
with itself; his night life is the same ; but the 
two are as distinct as parallel lines that have no 
chance of meeting. By day the man has not 
the faintest recoDection of what goes on at 
night ; and by night he has in his memory no 
IxL of what pJses in the day. The p^sio-T^e^ou^^^ 
logists attempt to account for this by regarding somLm-* 
the brain as a double organ, one-half of which j^^ ^^^^^^r 
may be active while the other is in repose. ***8we m 

•/ ^ ^ ^ ^ our waJuDg 

But these physical explanations are not satis- «*»*«• 
factory. Even in fall consciousness, when it 
may be supposed that both sides of the brain 
are active, we sometimes know of a double life 
being prosecuted something like that which 
sleep-waking shows. Sir James Mackintosh 

236 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER was a man who mixed much in the world and 


— 1 took a forward part in public affairs ; but from 
his youth upwards, he led another life of curious 
reverie. He was the Emperor of Constantinople, 
his friends were his ministers and generals. In 
endless day-dreams he saw transacted the history 
of his empire ; he watched the intrigues of his 
palace; he gave rewards to his faithful ser- 
vants; and formed alliances with neighbour- 
ing powers. To the last the habit clung to 
him. Among his friends he was the gentle 
clansman of the north country, bom to belie the 

Of all the Highland clans, 
The Macnab is the most ferocious, 

Except the Macintyres, 
The MacrawB and the Mackintoshes. 

In long-drawn dreams he soared far above the 
Clan Chattan, he stood imperial upon the Golden 
Horn, he made war upon his enemies, and with- 
out remorse he chopped off the heads of rebellious 
subjects. He thus led two Uves which were 
quite distinct from each other, and which resem- 
bled the double life of sleep-wakers in all but 
this, that in the one state he did not lose his 
consciousness of the other. 

The hidden IH. If memory has its hiding places in the 

•ion and**" miud, aud if there too is to be found a hidden 

inrtinct. reason ; so also, nearly all that we understand 

by passion, feeling, sympathy, instinct, intuition 

The Hidden Soul. 237 

is an energy of the hidden soul. It is so en- chapter 

tirely a hidden work that in popular regard it is 1 

readily accepted as of kin to imagination. 
Instinct, intuition, passion, sympathy — ^these are 
forces which we at once recognise as of them- 
selves poetical, as for the most part indistin- 
guishable from imagination, and as involved in 
the recesses of the mind. They are processes 
which never fairly enter into consciousness, 
which we know at best only in a semi-conscious- 
ness, and less in themselves than in their results. 
The instinctive action of the mind so clearly 
belongs to the hidden soul — to that part of the 
human intelligence which is automatic and out 
of sight, that we need not dwell upon it so 
minutely as on those actions of the mind of 
which secrecy is not the rule. The operations 
of reason, for example, are chiefly known to us 
in their conscious exercise ; and it was necessary 
at some length, to show that there is a prodi- 
gious empery of reason which is not conscious. 
Secrecy, on the other hand, is the normal con- 
dition of passionate and instinctive movements. 
The mere existence of such forces as instinct and 
passion is a vulgar fact which to those who read 
it aright will at once tell a tale of the hidden 

Passion, whether we view it as feeling orptanonno- 
as fellow-feeling, is notoriously a blind uncon- buid°foroe. 
scious force. Love is a blind god, and Shake- 
speare says that it has no conscience — a word 

238 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER which in his time had the sense of consciousness 
— 1 besides that which it now bears : 

Love is too young to know what conscience is ; 
Tet who knows not, ounscience is born of love. 

It is thus the type of all passion. It matters 
not which of the passions we select for cross- 
examination : they are all, in this respect, alike. 
But love is the emotion which, in literature, has 
received the most thorough scrutiny. It is the 
central fire of modem poetry and romance. 
And if all poetry and all romance, bear witness 
to the greatness of its power, they are also full 
to overflowing of the proofs of its mystery, its 
The waywardness, its unreason. It is a mighty 
SJ^ potentate that springs from a chance look, that 
feeds on itself, and that is not to be outdone. 
The preference of the lover is accorded to one 
knows not what, for often it flies in the face of 
all reason— even the reason of the lover himself. 
It catches him like a fever, and rides him like 
destiny. It is a spell that works within him, he 
knows not how, and drives him he cares not 
whither. Under its sway he is no longer him- 
self ; perhaps he is greater than himself; at 
least, he is another being. He is caught in a 
dream, and his known self becomes the sport 
and creature of a hidden self which neither he 
nor his friends can always recognise as verily 
his. He rejoices in the accession of a new life, 
because then, for the first time, he becomes 
aware of his hidden soul — of dim Elysian fields 

The Hidden Soul. 239 

of thought, far stretching beyond the bounds of chapter 

his daylight consciousness ; and he blesses the 1 

angel, or the fairy, or the goddess — call her any- 
thing but a woman— through whom this witch- 
ing sense of endowment comes to him. Nor is a And passion 
passion, because it is blind, to be branded as un- windu not 
trustworthy. It is quite capable of error ; it ^worthy 
makes huge mistakes; but I know not that it 
makes more mistakes than the more conscious 
forces of the mind, and I do know that very 
often, far more often than we think, the greatest 
of all mistakes is not to be in a passion — ^not to 
feel. There is a well-known remark of a 
French actor (Baron, I think), who, however, 
had only his own hueiness in his eye, that pas- 
sion knows more than art^ — blind feeling more 
than all science. It is a saying which applies 
to passion generally, and to that hidden soul ot 
which it is a part. 

Passion reminds us of sympathy, and we may sympathj 
take sympathy as next door neighbour to instinct, comiioili"" 
It is a strange power which the mind possesses **^^* 
of taking a colour from whatever besets it, like 
the chameleon that takes the colour of the 
place it passes. We imitate without knowing 
that we imitate ; and this is sympathy. One 
man smiles, and another without knowing it 
repeats the action. So we have a fellow-feeling 
with the joy and sorrow and every motion of 
each other's minds. Remember Gretry's trick. 
He had a clever method of slackening or quick- 

240 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER ening the pace of any companion in his walks. 

1 When he did not like to tell his friend that the 

pace was too fast or too slow, he sung softly an 
air to the time of their march, and then by 
degrees either quickened or slackened it accord- 
ing to his wishes. It is strange too to note 
how little will suflSce to set a strong sympathy 
in action. St. Bernard preached the crusade in 
Latin to the German peasants, and we know 
how they were roused by sermons of which they 
And how did not understand a word. As he pondered 
oouoted for ovcr this marvcl of unconscious imitation. Bacon 
' could not see a way to the imderstanding of it, 

but by supposing a transmission of spirits from 
one to another. ** It would make a man think 
(though this which we shall say may seem ex- 
ceeding strange) that there is some transmission 
of spirits," and he promises to treat of this 
transmission more at large when he comes to 
speak of imagination. His suggestion is but 
one more form of a conjecture that continually 
recurs to all who have much noted the hidden 
action of the mind. It is inspiration, we say ; 
it is genius ; it is magic ; it is the transmission of 
spirits ; it is anything but the natural mind — the 
mind of which we are conscious. Here again, 
therefore, in sympathy, and in Bacon's account 
of it, we have additional evidence of the hidden 
ol^^r's'^^ Then for instinct, Cuvier pitching about for a 
definition of definition of instinct as it appears in the lower 


The Hiddm Soul. 241 

r- " ' • 

animals, felt that he could compare it to nothing chapter 
so fitly as to the action of the human mind in .^ 
somnambdism. It i» the clearest and mostiT^." 
pregnant definition of this mysterious power ^"^'®'"- 
which has yet been suggested. The mind of 
beasts, void of self-knowledge and the reason 
which looks before and after, may well be 
compared to the belated mind of the sleep- 
walker; and on the other hand, the processes 
which we can trace in sleep-walking remind us 
for their easy precision of nothing so much as 
instinct. The bee never fails in his honeycomb ; 
the swallow is unerring in her calendar ; and the 
sleep-walker is equally precise. And as when 
you wake the somnambulist to reason you render 
him incapable; so when you teach the savage 
that lives by instinct to think, you make him 
stupid. For men as well as beasts have their 
instincts, and in each of them, the power is to be 
defined in the same terms. It is said of the wolf 
that when he was in his hornbook, he spelt every 
word, 1, a, m, b. This is a perfect description of 
the instinctive process, however various its 

The more we examine into these instinctive The 
mental actions, the more are we surprised at variety of 
their variety and their number. You do not J^IIJ^^'^* 
know, for example, how many steps there are in 
the staircase of your house, but your foot knows. 
You can ascend and descend in the dark, and 
when you reach the landing, your foot makes of 

VOL. I. R 

242 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER its own accord the appropriate action. This is 

1 bat one of a great class of mental actions going 

on ever unknown to us. It resembles reason, as 
all instinct does ; and without any breach of 
propriety, it might be called an effort of the 
hidden reason, because this hidden knowledge 
and calculation comes of experience. But it is 
scarcely possible to resolve into any exercise of 
reason or into the lesson of experience, certain 
The inttino- othcr actious of the unconscious muscles. The 
of!!ur **° artist can trust to his hand, to his throat, to his 
mofciai. ^y^^ ^ render with unfailing accuracy subtle 
distinctions of tone and shades of meaning with 
which reason seems to have nothing to do — with 
which no effort of reason can keep pace. It is 
ifadaoMi told of Madame Mara that she was able to sound 
h^ringing. 100 different intervals between each note of 
music. The compass of her voice was at least 
three octaves, so that the total number of 
intervals at her command was 1500. This 
immense variety of sound is produced by the less 
or greater tension of certain muscles of the 
throat. The difference between the least and the 
greatest tension of these muscles in a woman's 
throat is the eighth of an inch. Therefore, all 
the 1500 varieties of musical soimds which 
Madame Mara could produce came from degrees 
in the tension of her muscles which are to be 
represented by dividing the eighth part of an inch 
into 1500 subdivisions. Which of us by taking 
thought can follow such arithmetic ? No singer 

The Hidden Soul. 243 

can consciously divide the tension of her vocal chaptek 

chords into 12,000 parts of an inch, and select one 1 

of these ; nevertheless she may hit with infallible 
accuracy the precise note which depends upon this 
minute subdivision of muscular energy. It would 
be easy to multiply examples of the same sort, what Mr. 
Mr. Ruskin has shown with great felicity how ff°^rsubu^ 
infinitely the hand of a painter goes beyond the [Jjf £^/ 
power 6f seeing in the delicacy and subtlety of 
its work — the gradations of light and form which 
it can detail being expressible only in fabulous 
arithmetical formulas with no end of ciphers in 
them.* The eye itself too is an arithmetician that 
beats us hollow in its calculations. Mr. Nunneley 
tells us that when we behold red colour the 
retina pulsates at the rate of 480 billions of 
times between every two ticks of a clock. This 
is what the most advanced science of our time 
teaches us, and as in practice we are quite 
unconscious of it, we can only stand in awe of 
that instinctive power wherewith we are endowed 
— a power that with the greatest ease reaches 
spontaneously to results beyond reckoning, 
beyond understanding. 

It seems to be the same sort of power as The secret 
that which the brain exerts in secret over thcwhl^the 
whole body. The brain keeps guard ot^er the ol^^the"^ 
various processes of the body — as the beating ^****^® **°^y- 
of the heart and the breathing of the lungs ; 

♦ Mr. Raskin's statement is I will be found at the end of tliis 
too long for a foot-note, but it I chapter. 

R 2 

244 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER ^ets them a rhythm and keeps them to it. 

1 Grief in one night will silver the hair, fear fills 

the bladder, rage dries the mouth, shame reddens 
the cheek, the mere thought of her child fills 
the mother's breast with milk. In numerous 
facts like these there is evidence of a hidden life 
of thought working with a constant energy in 
our behalf in the economy of the bodily frame. 
Curiously enough too for my argument one great 
division of this mental energy goes expressly 
by the name of imagination. It is an old 
notion, though whether it be true or false has 
yet to be determined, that the mind of the 
On the effect mother has a marked influence on the outward 
ti<m^°*" appearance of her child. It is not merely that 
pregMncy. ^^ imparts her own character to her child — bu t 
that some chance event, some passing thought, 
some momentary vision, may so impress itself in 
her mind during the period of her pregnancy, 
as to leave upon her babe an indelible and 
recognisable sign. This is said to be the effect 
of imagination, and many books have been 
written on it. I shall not soon forget the 
surprise with which — when some years ago I 
wanted to master this subject of imagination, 
and read everything about it I could lay my 
hands on — I chanced on a number of books in 
Latin, in Italian, and in French, as, for example, 
Pienus De Viribus Imaginatioilis, or Muratori 
Delia Forza della Fantasia^ and found that they 
were all about the freaks of the mind in preg- 

The Hidden Soul. 245 

nancy. But why should this particular class of chapter 
hijjden mental influences be called Imagination ? — 1 
If such mental action exists, there can be nOc^^J 
objection to our calling it imagination ; for JjJ^' o"/**^ 
the theory of this chapter is that imaerination is ^»^«J«n ««»- 

•^ J^ ^ o tal actions 

but a popular name given to the unconscious Jma«»°a- 
automatic action of the hidden soul. But I fail 
to see why in popular phraseology this class of 
the hidden actions of the mind upon the body 
should be selected and set apart and honoured 
with the name of imagination. There is a hidden 
energy of the brain working day and night in 
every province of the body — controlling every 
motion of every limb, and directing like any 
musical conductor the movement of the vital 
forces. It is but a part of a vast and manifold 
energy which the mind exerts in secret, and 
which because of its separation from our 
conscious life, I have ventured to name the 
Hidden Soul. 

Parallel to these movements of hidden thought 
in the bodily functions — ^movements which may On thoee 
be roughly classed under the general name of in- mor^ts 
stincts — there is another class of the same order, ^/^JntoT. 
though belonging to the more spiritual part of '**^°- 
our nature, which are known by the name of 
intuitions, and which give the mystics a foun- 
dation to build upon. Mysticism is the oldest 
and widest spread system of philosophy, andwhatw 
gives a tinge to many schemes of thought which, ^^'Ssm. 
like that of Plato, cannot strictly be called mys- 

246 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER tical. Whether we find it in the bud, as in 

1 Plato, in Malebranche, in Berkeley and in so|[ie 

of the Grermans, or in full bloom as among the 
Brahmins, among the schools of Alexandria, in 
the religious system of Bernard and many another 
saint, in fantastic dreams of Rosicrucians, in the 
illuminations of Behmen, and in the inspirations 
of George Pox, the mystical theory has a deep 
root in human nature, and could not be so rife 
but that it springs from fact. The great fact 
out of which it springs is the felt existence with- 
in us of an abounding inner life that transcends 
consciousness. We feel certain powers moving 
within us, we know not what, we know not why 
— instincts of our lower nature, intuitions of the 
higher, dreams and suggestions, dim guesses, 
and faint, far cries of the whole mind. There 
is a vast and manifold energy, spontaneously 
working in a manner which at once reminds us of 
Cuvier's definition of instinct as akin to somnam- 
bulism. The mystic is keenly alive to the reality 
and the magnitude of this hidden life which is 
known to us mainly in its effects, and not being 
able to analyse it or to trace its footsteps, he starts 
the theory now of a special faculty of spiritual 
insight bestowed on man, and now of special 
enlightenment and inspiration from on high. 
Socrates had his demon ; Numa his Egeria ; Para- 
celsus had a little devil in the pummel of his 
sword ; and Henry More was befriended by a 
spirit with the look of a Roman-nosed matron. 


' The Hidden Soul. 247 

The theory of mysticism is a great subject — chapter 
none more suggestive. It is impossible to do — - 
justice to it here, and my business with it now is And how 
merely this, to show that the theory of an in- ^7lr^ of 
stinctive, automatic action of the mind, the^j^Jn^JJe 
theory of a hidden mental life which is only^j^^^^^J 
now beginning to be understood, has, although 
misunderstood, been always fiilly recognised in 
philosophy as one of the great facts of our moral 
nature, and as such has been the fertile seed of 
many a strange, many a potent system of 
thought. Nor only in philosophy is this great 
fact recognised. It is understood in practical 
life that there are many things which we must 
believe before we can know them to be true. 
So sings the poet in reference to love : 

You must love her ere to you 
She will seem worthy of your love. 

It is on precisely the same principle that we are 
sometimes told to accept the Christian doctrine 
before we see it to be true, and as the first step 
to a recognition of its truth; and it is in this 
vein of thought that Prior gave utterance to the 
fine couplet : 

Your music's power your music must disclose. 
For what light is, *tis only light that shows. 

I will only add in this connection that theonthehid- 
reality of a hidden life is a cardinal doctrine of t^biiievcr. 
our faith. The believer is said to have a life 
hid with Christ in God. When the Apostle 

248 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTKR describes the existence within him of a spiritual 

1 life, he says, " I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth 

in me." This is one of the favourite texts of 
Platonic and Puritanic divines, who are keenly 
alive to the existence of a life within them other 
than that which comes within the scope of ordi- 
nary consciousness. '* The wind bloweth where 
it listeth, and thou hearest the soimd thereof, 
but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither 
it goeth : so is every on6 that is bom of the 
Spirit." That is another of their favourite texts. 
^>,«l.lly It is a great charm in the writings of these 
by^tooirt divines — Platonists and Puritans — that they are 
d?Tii J!"**° haunted with the sense of another life within 
them which is not the known and surface life of 
thought. They mistake however in supposing 
that it is only the saint who has a hidden life, as 
no doubt many persons also err who, discovering 
that they possess a hidden life, leap to the con- 
clusion that it can be nothing else than the in- 
dwelling of the Holy Ghost. It is to this inner 
life that Wordsworth refers when in one of his 
prettiest little poems he addresses a child as 
follows : 

Dear child ! dear girl, that walkcst with me here, 
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought, 
Thy nature is not therefore less divine. 
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year. 
And worship*8t at the Temple's inner shrine, 
God being with thee when we know it not. 

It mu»t be « Inner shrine." I find that I have reversed 


tijat we are tliis image aud have been speaking of the un- 

The Hidden Soul. 249 

conscious tracts of the mind as an outer ring, a chapter 

great chase as it were spreading far beyond the 1 

cultivated park of our thoughts. It matters not S^horT 
which metaphor we take so long as we recognise ^^^^ 
that it is but a metaphor, and that from meta- ^^^*^^*' 
phor we cannot escape. Whether we speak of bidden iif& 
our unconscious activities and our stores of 
memory, as belonging to an inner place, as it 
were an ark within the veil, or to an outlying 
territory beyond the stretch of observation, the 
meaning is still the same. The meaning is that 
a part of the mind and sometimes the best part of 
it, is covered with darkness and hidden from 
sight. When one is most struck with the gran- 
deur of the tides and currents of thought that 
belong to each of us, and yet roll beyond our 
consciousness, only on occasions breaking into 
view, one is apt to conceive of it as a vast outer 
sea or space that belts our conscious existence 
something like the Oceanos of Homer. When 
like Wordsworth one is most struck with the 
preciousness of what passes in our mind uncon- 
sciously, when one feels that we are most conscious 
of the mere surface of the mind, and that we are 
little conscious of what passes in its depths, then 
one turns to other metaphors and speaks of the 
inner shrine and secrets of the deep. 

Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year, 
And worship's! at the Temple's inner shrine, 
God being with thee when we know it not 

I have now at some length, though after all we 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER have but skimmed along the ground, gone over 

1 nearly all the heads of evidence that betoken 

sumimuy the existcncc of a large mental activity — a vast 

d«oe*^a world of thought, out of consciousness. I have 

^^^^ tried to show with all clearness the fact of its 

withmo.. existence, the magnitude of its area and the 

potency of its effects. In the dark recesses 

of memory, in unbidden suggestions, in trains 

of thought unwittingly pursued, in multiplied 

waves and currents all at once flashing and 

rushing, in dreams that cannot be laid, in the 

nightly rising of the somnambulist, in the clair- 

voyance of passion, in the force of instinct, in the 

obscure, but certStin, intuitions of the spiritual 

life, we have glimpses of a great tide of life 

ebbing and flowing, rippling and rolling and 

beating about where we cannot see it ; and we 

come to a view of humanity not very different 

suted in from that which Prospero, though in melancholy 

the words ■• t •% ^ ^ • i 

ofPro«pero. moou, propouuded when he said: 

Wc arc such stuff 
As dreams are made of; and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep. 

We are all more or less familiar with this 
doctrine as it is put forward by divines. " The 
truth is," says Henry More, " man's soul in this 
drunken, drowsy condition she is in, has fallen 
asleep in the body, and, like one in a dream, 
talks to the bed-posts, embraces her pillow 
instead of her friend, falls down before statues 
instead of adoring the eternal and invisible God, 

The Hidden Soul. 251 

prays to stocks and stones instead of speaking to chapter 

Him that by his word created all things/' Such 1 

expressions as these however have about them 
the looseness of parable; and one can accept 
Prosperous lines almost literally. For what is 
it? Our little life is rounded with a sleep; 
our conscious existence is a little spot of light, 
rounded or begirt with a haze of slumber— not a 
dead but a living slumber, dimly-lighted and 
like a visible darkness, but full of dreams and 
irrepressible activity, an imknown and inde- 
finable, but real and enjoyable mode of life — ^a 
Hidden Soul. 

See, then, the point at which we have now Pootion of 
arrived, and let us look about us before we go mratTM 
further. It has been shown that our minds lead ^' 
a double life — one life in consciousness, another 
and a vaster life beyond it. Never mind for 
the present how much I have failed in the 
attempt to map with accuracy the geography of 
that region of the mind which stretches out of 
consciousness, if the existence of such a tract be 
recognised. We have a conscious and voluntary 
life; we have at the same time, of not less 
potency, an unconscious and involuntary life; 
and my argmnent is that the imknown, auto- 
matic power which in common parlance we 
call imagination is but another name for one of 
these lives — the unknown and automatic life of 
the mind with all its powers. Our conscious 


The Gay Sciefice. 

CHAiTER life we know so well that we have been able to 


— 1 divide it into parts, calling this part memory, 
that reason, and that other, feeling; but of the 
unconscious life we know so little that we lump 
it under the one name of imagination, and sup- 
pose imagination to be a division of the mind 
co-ordinate with memory, reason, or feeling. I 
should hope that by the mere description of the 
hidden life I may have, to some extent, suc- 
ceeded in making this thesis good — or may at 
least have established a presumption in its 
favour. The completion of the proof however 
will rest upon the next chapter, in which it 
ought to be shown that the free play of thought, 
the spontaneous action of the mind, generates 
whatever we understand as the creation of 
fantasy. This chapter has been all analysis; 
the next should be synthetic. Hitherto we have 
regarded the existence of the hidden soul only 
as a fact : now it has to be shown that imagina- 
tion is nothing else. I could not help giving, 
in the course of this chapter, a few indications 
of the proof. Now the proof may be demanded 
in all due form. 


Mr. Ruskin makes the follow- 
inj^ statement, to which reference 
has Ixjen made at jagc 243, with 
rej^anl to the subtlety of Turner's 
handiwork. " I have assert I'd," 
he says, " that, in a ^i ven drawin}]; 
(named as one of the chief in the 

series), J'urncr's jxincil did not 
move over the thousandth of an 
incli without meaning ; and you 
char«:e this expression with ex- 
tnivaj^ant hyperbole. On the 
contrary, it is much within the 
truth, being merely a mathe- 


The Hidden Soul. 


matically accurate description of 
fairly good execution in either 
drawing or engraving. It is only 
necessary to measure a piece of 
any ordinarily good work to 
ascertain this. Take, for in- 
stance, Finden*s engraving at 
the 180th page of Rogers' poems; 
in which the face of the figure, 
from the chin to the top of the 
brow, occupies just a quarter of 
inch, and the space between the 
upper lip and chin as nearly as 
possible one-seventeenth of an 
inch. The whole mouth occupies 
one-third of this space, say one- 
fiftieth of an inch, and within 
that space both the lips and the 
much more difficult inner comer 
of the mouth are perfectly drawn 
and rounded, with quite success- 
ful and sufficiently subtle expres- 
sion. Any artist will assure you 
that in order to draw a mouth 
as well as this, there must be 
more than twenty gradations of 
shade in the touches; that is 
to say, in this case, gradations 
changing, with meaning, within 
less than the thousandth of an 

"^ But this is mere child's play 
compared to the refinement of 
any first-rate mechanical work 
— much more of brush or pencil 
drawing by a master's hand. In 
order at once to furnish you with 
authoritative evidence on this 
point, I wrote to Mr. Kingsley, 
tutor of Sidney-Sussex College, a 
friend to whom I always have 
recourse when I want to be pre- 
cisely right in any matter ; for 
his great knowledge both of 

mathematics and of natural 
science is joined, not only with 
singular powers of delicate ex- 
perimental manipulation, but 
with a keen sensitiveness to 
beauty in art. His answer, in 
its final statement respecting 
Turner's work, is amazing even 
to me, and will, I should think, 
be more so to your readers. 
Observe the successions of mea- 
sured and tested refinement: 
here is No. 1 : 

" * The finest mechanical work 
that I know, which is not opti- 
cal, is that done by Nobert in 
the way of ruling lines. I have 
a series ruled by him on glass, 
giving actual scales from •000024 
and • 000016 of an inch, per- 
fectly correct to these places of 
decimals, and he has executed 
others as fine as • 000012, though 
I do not know how far he could 
repeat these last with accuracy.' 
" This is No. 1, of precision. 
Mr. Bangsley proceeds to No. 2 : 
" * But this is rude work com- 
pared to the accuracy necessary 
for the construction of the object- 
glass of a microscope such as 
Rosse turns out.' 

** I am sorry to omit the ex- 
planation which follows of the 
ten lenses composing such a 
glass, 'each of which must be 
exact in radius and in surface, 
and all have their axes coinci- 
dent;' but it would not be in- 
telligible without the figure by 
which it is illustrated ; so I pass 
to Mr. Kingsley's No. 3 : 

" * I am tolerably familiar,' he 
proceeds, * with the actual grind- 


The Gay Science. 

m% and polishing of lenses and 
specula, and have produced by 
my own hand some by no means 
bad optical work, and I have 
copied no small amount of 
Turner's work, and / ntUl look 
with awe at the combined deli' 
oacy and precision of his hand ; 


SIGHT. In optical work, as in 
refined drawing, the hand goes 
beyond the eye, and one has to 
depend upon the feel ; and when 
one has once learned what a 
delicate affair touch is, one gets 
a horror of all coarse work, and 
is ready to forgive any amount 
of feebleness, sooner than that 
boldness which is akin to im- 
pudence. In optics the distinc- 
tion is easily seen when the 
work is put to trial ; but here 
too, as in drawing, it requires 
an educated eye to tell the dif- 
ference when the work is only 
motlorately bad ; but witli 
"lx)ld" work, nothing can be 
seen but distortion and fog ; and 
I heartily wish the same result 
would follow the same kind of 
handling in drawing ; but here, 
the boldness cheats the un- 
leame<l by looking like the pre- 
cision of the true man. It is 
very strange how much better 

our ears are than our eyes in 
this country : if an ignorant man 
were to be " bold " with a violin 
he would not get many admirers, 
though his boldness was far 
below that of ninety-nine out of 
a hundred drawings one sees.* 

" The words which I have put 
in italics in the above extract are 
those which were surprising to 
me. I knew that Turner's was 
as refined as any optical work, 
but had no idea of ita going be- 
yond it. Mr. Kingsley's word 
'awe' occurring just before, is, 
however, as I have often felt, 
precisely the right one. When 
once we begin at all to under- 
stand the handling of any truly 
great executor, such as that of 
any of the three great Venetians, 
of Correggio, or Turner, the awe 
of it is something greater than 
can be felt from the moat stu- 
jxnidous natural scenery. For 
tlic creation of such a system as 
a high human intelligence, en- 
dowetl with its ineffably perfect 
instruments of eye and hand, is 
a far more appalling manifesta- 
tion of Infinite Power, than the 
making either of seas or moun- 
tains. — 7%« T^vo Paths. — pp. 





IF IMAGINATION is to be identified c 
with the automatic action of the mind, 

with the free play of thought, all its ti 

characters ought to be there involved. As in u 
imagination we find a play of thought, so in the .^ 
play of thought we should find the whole business ^, 
of imagination. What magic resides in the one, '*' 
ought also to reside in the other — and more. 
Like Aaron's wand that became a serpent, and 
swallowed the serpent-wands of the magicians 
of Egypt, the automatic action of the mind, the 
free play of thought, should not only simulate, 
but grasp and contain within itself all the sor- 
ceries of imagination. 

But is not this an acknowledged fact ? Has n 
there ever been any doubt that imagination, ^ 
whatever be its nature, is at least spontaneous ? ^J 
It is nothing if it does not belong to the auto- ^ 


258 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER matic actions of the mind. If any doubt upon 

VIII. ... . 

— \ this point is ever ex}>resscd, it comes from those 
who, like Malebranche, discover in imagination 
some other faculty — say memory — and then call 
to mind that memory is voluntary as well as in- 
Acompui- voluntary. But a compulsory imagination, a 
M«onT^" forced fancy, is a contradiction. The attempt to 
beget such a state of mind is unnatural, and 
ends ever in falsehood. The type of imagina- 
tive activity is dreaming, with which fantasy 
has always been identified. * Indeed, Charles 
Lamb lays it down that the strength of imagin- 
ation may be measured by the dream power in 
any man. He says, that the mind's activity in 
sleep might furnish no whimsical criterion of 
the quantum of poetical faculty resident in the 
same mind waking. But dream by night and 
reverie by day are not to bo niised, nor yet are 
they to l)e laid, by efibrts of the will. We may 
coax and cozen imagination ; we cannot com- 
mand it. We must bide its time. The poet is 
born — not made ; he lies in wait for the dawn, 
and cannot poetise at will. Bacon says truly 
of poetry, '' that it is rather a pleasure or play 
of imagination, than a work or duty thereof;" 
but he might have said the like of all imagina- 
tive activity : it is sj^ontaneous — it is play. In the 
same passage (in the Advance meyii of Leaiming\ 
from which I have drawn the foregoing remark, 
he says that " imagination ever precedeth volun- 
tary motion ;" and Hobbes repeats the statement, 

The Play of Thought. 259 

observing that imagination is " the first internal chapter 

beginner of voluntary motion." It produces voli- 1 

tion, and by volition is not to be produced. What 
control of imagination lies in our power is rightly 
compared by Henry More with the sort of control 
which we can bring to bear upon the essentially 
involuntary act of breathing. In his Discourse 
on Enthusiasm he speaks of the delusions of 
mankind, and says that they are due "to the 
enormous strength and vigour of the imagination ; 
which faculty (though it be in some sort in our 
power as respiration is), yet it will also work 
without our leave." 

This sentence of More's is particularly happy The errors 
in tracing to their proper source the errors of uoH^^to 
imagination. The imaginations of man's heart J^^^d"**" 
are only evil continually, says the Scripture ; im- "^^^'**"* 
agination is the source of all error, says Bishop 
Butler ; it is the most dangerous foe to reason, 
says Hume. But Hume resolves imagination 
into mere memory, and other philosophers 
into mere reason; and is it fair to say that 
memory is the most dangerous foe to reason, 
or that reason is the source of all error ? It is 
difficult to find out from the more common 
theories wherein the vice of imagination con- 
sists ; and we are all the more at a loss to find it 
out when we know that sundry thinkers go quite 
in the opposite direction, and describe imagina- 
tion as the faculty of clearest insight — reason in 
her highest mood. If imagination be identified 


2n*> Th^ •s'xn S-*?-*?nrt. 

TtrPTia TF->ii SiizniTtrs. t^xiirc ;l§ !iieni«?ry. and sober as 

In. r^tartC-c — TFht*r»r i^ ie ?«:rir»:tr ot iIlTJ5ioa? It is 

t«* te f'-iii'l. as M-::^ ro-ir.3 orit. in ihe absence 

of ct:'nrr:-L in the v:i;7TTm«:y »:-f apr-ntansetjos move- 

m-ent, in tie tnr^ir-in rDjxn sTiperriskKi. Its 

weakn^rsg Li*=s bi I's i^zr-'.'Cj^^'Ai. Because it is 

anrcmaric and unor-nicir'Cis. it reach^es to the 

gr^n-irrtst rrSTiIc-i: tr:^ aL?*? b«rcan5e this is its 

clAraotrr, wLen it fiiils inti> err?r, the error is 

not eaffV of oiTTCcti'in. It has b^ren adopted in 

a blind, mechanical act of th<xL^t« and it is not 

to be diapelltii by Jetermine^i efforts of conscious 

reason. Bv its verv natnn?, ima^rination is a 

wanderer: to it fc-elong the thoughts •'that 

wander through etemitr.*' But the habit of 

wandering implies that it mav sometimes loce 


Uv[^J^zzA' We are not to prish the argument however 

ryv.i*'..; further than it will p:». Imacrination clearlv is 

[rr/ T autr»inatic, and so far I was justifiel in comparing 

i/./ ^}^,. automatic action of the mind with Aaron's 

«..*.] ;mi- YfA that, becominof a seri»ent with a serpent's 

gift of fascination, swallowed and contained 

within itself the serpent-rods of the magicians. 

Still, tliis leaves unsettled the grand point at 

issne. Granting tliat imagination is automatic, 

and only automatic, mav it not in kind be 

f^ifferent from other faculties which are onlv at 

times spontaneous and unconscious? May it not 

Ikj different from the hidden memory, or the 

hidden reason, or the hidden instincts and 

The Play of Thought. 261 

passions — the three orders of hidden power chapter 

described in the last chapter? If imagination 1 

be not different from the other faculties of the 
mind — if imagination be but a name for these 
other faculties in their automatic, and for the 
most part unconscious, exercise — in a word, for 
the free play of thought, why is it called ima- 
gination ? 

The clue to the name is contained in the The due to 
definition of the faculty. It is to be expected, contained in 
that in the free play of thought certain habits tion of Se 
should be of more frequent recurrence than^"*'^- 
others. There is a saying, as old at least as 
Horace, that the mind is most vividly impressed 
through the eye, and it is but natural that when 
left to itself it should dwell most on the shows in the free 
of vision — images — whence arises the name of thought we 
imagination. According to any and every theory oHli^* 
of imagination which has been propounded, the o^«"g*»^ 
name is of less extent than the faculty, and takes 
a part for the whole. *' Our sight," says Addi- 
son, "is the most perfect, and most delight- 
ful of all our senses It is this sense 

which furnishes the imagination with its ideas, 
so that by the pleasures of imagination — I mean 
such as arise from visible objects, either when 
we have them actually in view, or when we call 
up their ideas to our mind, by paintings, statues, 
descriptions, or any the like occasions. We 
cannot, indeed, have a single image in the 
fancy that did not make its first entrance 




262 The Gay Scietice. 

CHAPTEK through the sight." Addison, and the writers 
; who follow in his wake, «are so far true to etymo- 
logy ; but no one now-a-days can suppose that 
they are true to the nature of imagination. We 
imagine soimds as well as sights ; we imagine 
any sensation. And if it be granted that imagi- 
nation contains more than its etymology conveys 
— is the name of a part extended to the whole, 
then I may turn round and say, that here is 
granted the principle on which my definition 
proceeds. Imagination is but a liiame for the 
free play of thought, one of the most important 
features of which, but still only one, is its 
attachment and sensibility to the memories of 
Thedefini- It is ouly by supposing that imagination, 
piMtioiI™" although so called, must embrace the action (that 
r^ilfnJ ^^» ^f course, tlie spontaneous action) of the 
many wliolc uiind, tliat wc can account for many of 

opinions ... 

with n-ptni the opinions which liave been held in retnird 

to it wliich • r 1 11 . 1 1 • 

are other- to it. 1 havo already pointed out the mcon- 
piiiabre!^ sistency of those who tell us of the enormous 
influence of imagination, and yet, when they 
come to analyse it, reduce it to a shadow — the 
mere dcmble of some other faculty ; and, 1 trust, 
that the view whicli I have been able to pre- 
sent, while it will satisfy the philosophers in 
granting that imagination is not a faculty by 
itself, diflereiit in structure from the other 
faculties of the mind, will also satisfy those who 
see in it the most imperious power in the mind 


The Play of Thought. 263 

of man. Then there is the curious opinion of chapter 

-rrr* • VIII 

two such men as D'Alembert and Sir William .* 

Hamilton to be accoimted for. Who in allf^^.^® . 

opinion 01 

antiquity, after Homer, had the greatest force of ][||^^^°*^p 
imagination ? Most of us would be inclined to ^^ 
name, perhaps, -^schylus, or Phidias, or at any- 
rate, some artist. D'Alembert names Archi- 
medes — a mathematician ; Sir William Hamilton 
selects Aristotle — a philosopher. Those who 
treat of imagination as but a special form of 
reason, will have no diflSculty in understanding 
that the greatest reasoners should have the 
greatest force of imagination. But on the other 
hand, the poetical mind of Homer, seems to be 
quite unlike the philosophical mind of Aristotle, 
or the mathematical mind of Archimedes ; and it 
is not easy to see that they are in any respect 
comparable, according to any known theory of 
imaginative activity. Once admit, however, 
that the specialty of imagination lies not in any 
specialty of structure, but only in specialty of 
function — a specialty which belongs to any and 
every faculty of the mind — the specialty of 
hidden automatic working, and there need be 
no difficulty in saying, that Aristotle possessed 
as much imagination as Homer. There must 
have been a prodigious automatic action in his 
mind to enable him to accomplish what he did. 
The difference between the mind of Homer 
and the mind of Aristotle — the mind of art, 
and the mind of science — is not the difference 

264 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER between less and more in the amount of hidden 
I!!i' action (though that, no doubt, may make some 
part of the distinction), but it is the difiference 
between possessing, and being possessed by it — 
the difiference in proportion of energy between 
the known and the unknown halves of the mind. 
On imii. The name of imagination, however, suggests 

^' not only the power of imaging or figuring to 
ourselves the shows of sense, but also that of 
imagery, the power of bringing these shows into 
comparison, and using them as iypes. Indeed, 
when we speak of a poetical image, we mean a 
comparison, a symbol. It falls, therefore, to be 
considered whether this apparatus of imagery, in 
all its varying forms of comparison, similitude, 
metaphor, personification, symbol, and what not, 
need for its production some special faculty, 
which we call imagination, or may not rather be 
due to the free play of thought in general. Here, 
as before, it can be shown that imagination is 
but another name for the automatic action of the 
mind. Here, moreover, it will be found that we 
get to tlie heart of what people commonly im- 
imagery dcrstaud by imagination ; for, although we are 
treated as a spoaking ouly of imagery, and although imagery 
"^of""" is rarely treated but as a point of language, it 
language, {nvolves much larger issues, and cannot pro- 
perly be handled unless we understand it in the 
broadest sense, as including the whole work of 
imagination. It is in this broad sense of the word 
that we have now to face the question, " Son of 

The Play of Thought. 265 

man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house chapter 

of Israel do in the dark (of unconsciousness) ; 1 

every man in the chamber of his imagery ?" 

A book might be written on the absurdities The absur- 
01 criticism which this one subject of imagery criticism in 
has engendered, only it would be a waste of J^^^ 
labour on barren sand. One of the most piteous 
things in human life is to see an idiot vacantly 
teasing a handful of straw, and babbling over the 
blossoms which he picks to pieces. It is not more 
piteous than the elaborate trifling of criticism over 
figures of speech and the varieties of imagery, 
showing how metaphor diflFers from simile, how 
this kind of image is due only to an exercise of 
fancy, how that comes of true imagination, and 
how fancy is one thing, imagination another. 
The worst of it is that, as I have said, these 
questions are nearly always handled as questions 
of language, questions of detail, without any 
clear perception of the relation between different 
forms of imagery and dififerent forms of art. The 
full discussion of the subject does not fall within 
the range of the present inquiry. All I have 
now to do with it is to show in the rough that 
the production of imagery, whether we use the 
word in a narrow sense, as referring merely to 
figures of speech, or, in a wider sense, as referring 
also to conceptions of life, and thus including the 
whole work of imagination, needs no special 
faculty, but belongs to the general action of the 
mind, in the dusk of unconsciousness. Perhaps, 

266 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER however, the easiest path of entrance into the 
— .' subject is the beaten one which lies over the 
assumption, that an image is but a figxire of 
The met Now, in imagery, in this narrower sense of 
fact about the word, the most obvious tiling to be noted is, 
SSftr ** t^at from the simplest form of similitude to the 
dways coo- jjjQgj; complcx form of metaplior and symbol, it 
comparison, always involvcs a comparison of some kind. And 
this raises the question — is the act of comparison 
a peculiar property of imagination ? The truth 
is, that every effort of thought, from the least to 
the greatest, any the faintest twitch of conscious- 
ness, is an act of comparison. There is no 
thought in the mind but has two factors, one 
to be compared with the other. In the com- 
mon act of recognising a face as a face we have 
seen, we are but comparing one impression with 
anotlier. And so on to the most intricate forms 
But all of the syllogism, it can be shown that we never 

thoucht im- i /» • n^ • xi 

piiwcompa-g^t away irum com})arison. lo compare is the 
first glimmer of intelligence in the mind of an 
infant : to compare is the utmost splendour of 
reason in the mind of a sage. No comparison, no 
thought. Yet by no means does it therefore fol- 
low that the comparisons of poetry may not be the 
outcome of a sj^ecial faculty. For if memory be 
but one fonn of comparison, if reason be another, 
and if, nevertheless, the comparisons involved 
in memory and in reason be so diverse that we 
attribute them to separate faculties, why may 


The Play of Thought. 267 

not the comparisons of poetry be the work of a chapter 

faculty which is diflferent from every other ? [ 

What then is the peculiarity of those com- what is the 

1 . 1 p xT- J • • x* rv peculiarity 

parisons which are latnered on imagination ? S the com- 
How, for example, are they distinguished from J^tnib^ed 
those of ordinary judgment? The best account J?^™*si°*' 
of the diflFerence between the two is given by 
Locke; although, after all, he gives but half 
the truth. Both Bacon and Father Malebranche 
had, in a vague way, anticipated Locke, and 
to appreciate the full force of his statement, it 
must be remembered that in his time the word 
wit was used as identical with poetry, and as 
ruling the whole territory of imagination. And Locke's 
what does Locke say? He describes wit as""''*^* 
" lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and put- 
ting those together with quickness and variety, 
wherein can be found any resemblance or con- 
gruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures and 
agreeable visions in the fancy. Judgment, on 
the contrary, lies quite on the other side, in 
separating carefully one from another ideas 
wherein can be formed the least difference, 
thereby to avoid being misled by similitude and 
by affinity to take one thing for another." 

This, I say, is not a full account of the dis- But does 
tinction, but so far as it goes it is good. It is a^wer give 
quite true that in imagination we think more of ^°^*|^"2he 
resemblances, and that in the exercise of con- P^'jj" ***** 

' m the com- 

scious judgment we make more of differences, parisons of 

-t n t 1 T • • 1 imaginatioD 

But do we find here a distmction great enough to there is 

268 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER prove the existence of two separate faculties ? 

; Is it beyond imagination to see a difference ? Is 

•nything it beyond judgment to see resemblance ? In all 

*'*°*^ comparison there is implied difference as well as 

resemblance, and the perception of the one brings 

with it that of the other. From this point of 

view, therefore, it is not to be supposed that 

the production of imagery needs a faculty of 

imagination different from that of judgment. 

Thepecub- The difference between the comparisons of im- 

fmagimttive agiuatiou and those of reason is explained by the 

JJ'^ShM&I" oil© proposition for which I am contending, that 

^kin^d ^ t'lose of the former are automatic, and that those 

the fact of ^f ^he latter are the result of conscious effort, 


being free Jt is hardly possible to make this quite clear, 
while as yet we have reached but a half-truth as 
to the nature of imagery ; yet at least there 
should be a presumption in favour of the idea 
that, in its automatic or dreamy state, the mind 
looks more to resemblances, and that in its 
waking efforts it inclines more to detect variety, 
I must be content in the meantime with a bare 
statement of the fact, which I hope to make good 
in the sequel. 
But Locke's Half the truth, however, is less easy of com- 
fs oniy^haif prcheusion than the whole, and to understand 
the truth, aright the full meaning of what Locke has 
advanced, we ought to be able to eke it out 
with that other view of the subject which he has 
not advanced. The most royal prerogative of 
imagination is its entireness, its love of wholes, 

The Play of Thought. 269 

its wonderfiil power of seeing the whole, of claim- chapter 

ing the whole, of making whole, and — shall I .* 

add ? — of swallowing whole. Now, to any one ^i*^^ 
who is strongly impressed with the wholeness of U' '' 
imaginative working, the utter absence of nib- 
bling in it, the most striking thing about poetical 
comparisons is not that they assert resemblance, imaginative 
but that they assert the resemblance of wholes to ^rtT^tT 
wholes. And here we get to the root of the Jf^okTto 
matter. For the grand distinction between ^^***''- 
logical and poetical comparisons is this, that in 
the former we compare nearly always wholes 
with parts, or parts with parts; but in the 
latter, almost always wholes with wholes. Take 
the two assertions that man is an animal, and 
that man is a flower. In the form of language 
these phrases are alike ; but we all recognize 
that they are unlike in the form of thought; 
that the one belongs to the order of logical, the 
other to that of poetical judgments. In point 
of fact language is but a clumsy expedient, 
and our thoughts are ever more precise than 
our words. Now, if after the manner of logi- 
cians, we attempt to express in words the pre- 
cision of our thoughts, then the two phrases 
which I have put side by side will, in all their 
awkward exactitude, stand thus — that the class 
man is a part of the class animal, and that the 
whole class man is like or interchangeable with 
the whole class flower. In other words, the 
logical comparison here asserts the identity of a 

270 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER certain whole with a certain part ; the imagina- 

11!!^ tive comparison asserts the identity or inter- 

^m * ril^ns changeableness of a certain whole with a certain 

are not in- wholc. But bctween thcsc modes of comparison 

competent , tit • 

to reason. 18 thcrc any radical difference ? Is it beyond 

reason to compare as imagination does? Is 

there anything to prevent the every-day faculty 

of conscious judgment from comparing wholes 

And are with wholcs ? The truth lies in a nutshell. 

^^nativlTb^ There is no reason why in conscious judgment 

wSn^*^^ we should not compare wholes with wholes; but 

chiefly to this sort of comparisou belongs rather to the 

the sponta- ... 

neousexcr- automatic and unconscious action of the mind, 
thought. Left to itself, in the freedom of unconsciousness, 
the mind acts more as a whole, and takes more 
to wholes. It is not much given to the sphtting 
of hairs and the partition of qualities. To 
make the partitive assertions and comparisons of 
every-day judgment, there is needed a certain 
amount of abstraction ; to abstract needs atten- 
tion ; and attention is but another name for the 
rays of consciousness gathered into a sheaf or 
The whole Here then are the two halves of one doctrine. 
Imapery;" Imagination looks out for resemblances rather 
ilj"pio".^i *^^^ differences : there is the one half It looks 
to treat of Qut for tlic resembkiice of wholes rather than of 
parts : there is the other. And these two views 
are almost inseparable. It is because imagination 
looks out for resemblance rather than difference 
that it leaps to wholes. It is because imagina- 


The Play of Thought. 271 

tion keeps to wholes and avoids analysis that it chapter 

1 . . VIII. 

overlooks difference and seizes on resemblance. — i 
In nearly all the attempts which have been made 
to establish a distinction between fancy and 
imagination, it will be found that the division of 
labour between the two supposed faculties corre- 
sponds very much to the division of doctrine as 
above explained. To fancy is assigned chiefly 
the habit of catching at likenesses ; to imagina- 
tion is allotted chiefly the habit of discerning 
unity and grasping wholes. The distinction is 
of little importance to any one who has noted 
with what constancy the perception of resem- 
blance or identical forms goes hand-in-glove 
with the perception of total form and unity ; and 
I, who maintain that there is no special faculty 
of fantasy, must, of course, much more contend 
that there are not two faculties, one going by 
the name of fancy, the other known by that of 

Nevertheless, it is convenient in practice to We shaii 

• 1 iii ji i*j» /»• treat of the 

consider the two great characteristics oi imagery two halves 
apart, and there is no harm in doing so if S^„, 
we remember that in reality they are seldom *®p*™^®^^' 
found apart. I now therefore ask the reader to 
bear with me for a few pages more while I dwell 
in succession on the likenesses and on the whole- 
nesses of imagery. And I promise him that we 
shall no longer be tied to the consideration of 
figures of speech. By a rude analysis of these 
figures we have arrived at a general conclusion 

272 The Gay Science. 


CHAPTER as to the characteristics of imagery and the ele- 

1 ments of imagination; and what imagery and 

imagination are in the forms of language that 
they also are in all their ways. They take and 
make like : they take and make whole. 
Nature of Only as the ensuing remarks must be very 
sion. brief, the aim of the present discussion must 
be clearly kept in view. It is no business of 
ours just now to trace in detail all the footsteps 
of imagination. We are solely concerned with 
the inquiry — what is imagination? That it is 
an automatic action no one doubts. It remains 
to be shown that it is the automatic action or 
play not of any special faculty, but of any and 
every faculty : the play of reason, the play of 
memory, the play of the whole mind with all its 
powers at once ; in one word, the play of 
tliouglit. To prove this, it is unnecessary that 
we should go very mucli into detail. It will be 
enough if we rake up only so much of detail 
as may indicate the general characteristics of 

On like- I. First of all, let us think for a little of the 
h^^e*are lovc of likcncss and the tendency of the mind 
to^e^amme j^^^j^ ^^ discover and to invent it. Does this 

imply a special faculty, or is it not rather a 
function of all the faculties ? The point is not 
difficult of proof, if I may be allowed to start 
with an assumption, namely, that all these like- 
nesses which the mind either finds or makes are 

The Play of Thought. 273 

to be measured by the same line and rule. They chapter 


are all in the same case, and spring from the same — .* 
law of the mind. It may be more diflScult to 
analyze some forms of similitude than others, 
and to trace their lineage ; but if it can be shown 
that the leading modes of resemblance have 
nothing to do with imagination in the ordinary 
acceptance of the word, that the attempt to 
ascribe them to a special faculty of imagination 
is a hoax like that which gave the paternity of 
Romulus and Remus and many another won- 
drous child to some god, then in those cases 
wherein the parentage is not very clear we shall 
be at liberty utterly to reject the supposition 
that this or that image must be the oflFspring of 
a god — imagination. Call it the offspring of 
imagination if you will, but it must be under- 
stood that imagination means no more than the 
automatic action of any and every faculty. 

Now, the tendency of the mind to similitude The ten- 

. 1 r T -n dency of the 

runs mto three forms, and no more. Jbivery pos- mind to 
sible variety of likeness which the mind either JXJ Uiree 
finds or generates takes one or other of these f^J^ 
forms. They are : 

1. I am that or like that. 

2. That is I or like me, 

3. That is that or like that. 

The first of these forms contains the ruling 
principle of dramatic art, and is best known 
as sympathy. The second contains the ruling 

VOL. I. T 

274 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER principle of the Ijoical art, and is best known as 
^^ egotism. The third contains the ruling prin- 
ciple of epic or historical art, and is best known 
as imagination. A word or two upon each of 
these in succession. 
And fin»t of There is no form of imaginative activity 
nwses^ more wonderfiil than sympathy, that strange 
■yi^Sy. involuntary force which impels me to identify 
myself with you, and you to identify yourself 
with me. If I yawn, you yawn ; if you yawn, 
I yawn. We cannot help it. I have described 
the attitude of the mind in the formula — I am 
that or like that I am no longer myself, but 
you, or the person, or the thing I am interested 
in. We are transformed by a subtle sympathy 
into the image of what we look on. We per- 
sonate each other; nay, more, we personate 
things. At bowls a man sways his body to 
this side or to that, following the bias of the 
ball. He fancies for the moment that he is 
the rolling sphere. And so Goethe came to say 
of an artist painting a tree or a sheep, that for 
the time he enters into and becomes that which 
he delineates, he becomes in some sort a tree, in 
some sort a sheep. Remember that fine passage 
in which Wordsworth speaks of the girl that 
grew three years in sun and shower : 

She shall lean her ear 

In many a secret place, 

Where rivulets dance their wayward round, 

And beauty, born of murmuring sound, 

Shall jioss into her face. 

The Play of Thought. 275 

The essence of the thought is always the chapter 

same ; its manifestations are infinite. It shows 1 

itself in thousands of ways both in life and in art. How pieva- 
The most potent oi the social forces, it is sympathy tendency is 

i«-i* • i/*i* 1 liu life, and 

wnicn gives meaning to fashion, and makes manifested 
education possible. We are constantly copying mMy^ways. 
each other, echoing each other, aping each other, 
personating each other, weeping with them that 
weep, laughing with them that laugh, catching 
the trick of a manner, the tone of a voice, the 
bent of an opinion, and growing into the likeness 
of the company to which we belong. And when 
this tendency shows itself in art, it is no other 
and no more than that with which we are familiar 
in life. In art, too, there is no proper diflFer- The ten- 
ence in the nature of the tendency or manner of e^ntiSiy 
thinking, whether it shows itself in words and "^l^^ 
be called an imaere, a figure of speech, or show !***** '*f^* 

o ' o r 7 111 speech or 

itself in action and be called an imitation, a per- »" «^on- 
sonation. When Romeo goes to the supper of 
the Capulets, he disguises himself as a holy 
palmer, and means to play the pilgrim. He 
assumes that attitude of the mind which we 
know as the act of personation. When he 
takes Juliet's hand for the first time he speaks 
of his lips as two blushing pilgrims : 

If I profane with my unworthiest hand 

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this — 
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand 

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss. 

But the strain of mind which produces that 

T 2 

276 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER image is not different from the strain of mind 


; which produces tlie personation. In the act 

of personation, Romeo says : I am not myself, 
but a holy palmer. In the figure of speech, he 
says : my lips are not themselves, but blushing 
pilgrims. And so throughout all art and life 
the formula of sympathy is this : I am you, or 
like you ; I am, or am like, or at least I wish to 
be, or to be like, something which is not myself: 

See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. 
! that I were a glove upon that hand, 
That I might touch that cheek* 

On sym- It is a pity that this grand subject of sympathy 

what^ii^ is not more systematically studied among us. It 

w^^^^Jne ^^^s^^ to be of no small account in philosophy, but 

tTthe^tS ^* ^^^ ^ many wildgoosechases, that at length 

of it our thinkers seem to have become afraid of it, 

and to imderrate its importance. In the old 

systems of physiognomy the likeness of men to 

animals was the chief guiding principle. This 

man must be of a swinish disposition, because 

he has a long narrow face; that other must 

be like a bull for some equally cogent reason. 

And so as we trudge through the writings of 

Baptista Porta, Cardan, Bacon, Kenelm Digby, 

and Henry More ; we hear of sympathetic cures 

and influences. If you eat bear's brains it 

will make you bearlike ; if you put a wolfskin 

(" for the wolf is a beast of great audacity and 

digestion ") on the stomach it will cure the colic. 

'^ The heart of an ape worn near the heart com- 

The Play of Thought. 277 

forteth the heart and increaseth audacity," says, chapter 

Bacon, quoting from the writers on magic. " It 1 

is true that the ape is a merry and a bold beast. 
The same heart likewise of an ape applied to the 
neck or head, helpeth the wit. The ape also is 
a witty beast, and hath a dry brain." This track 
of thought led to the wildest absurdities and the 
most comical situations that reflected no small 
amount of discredit on any attempts to analyze 
and turn to account the force of sympathy in 
human nature ; and I cheat the reader of some 
amusement in refusing to arrest the course of 
this argument in order to laugh over many 
queer stories. 

The most important writer after Bacon, who How im- 

1 ^ n A^ • i portant it is 

made much oi sympathy as a power m human id the sys- 
nature, was Malebranche. Malebranche regarded th^ght of 
it as a form of imagination, and saw in it the §2^' ^^ 
source of many errors, leading men to follow ^^^^ 
authority when they ought to be independent ^dam 
and think for themselves. Long after him came 
Adam Smith, who based his system of moral 
philosophy on this one principle of sympathy. 
The standard of moraUty, he said, is determined 
entirely by the measure of sympathy which any 
action can command. But he never identified 
sympathy with imagination ; nor after him did 
the Scotch metaphysicians ever speak of ima- 
gination unless by itself, or of sympathetic 
imitations except as a separate power of the 
mind. Since then the subject of sympathy 

278 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER has chiefly been handled by the writers on 

1 physiology, who treat of it for the most part as a 

purely physical characteristic. 
What w the But sce DOW wherc this rapid survey of 
S^m*int sympathy has led us, and what is the point of the 
'^H^^ argument. The argument is, that you may call 
this assimilating tendency of the mind imagina- 
tion ; but that imagination can signify no more 
than automatic action — the free play of any 
faculty of thought. We gain nothing by the 
supposition of a special faculty having a special 
dominion over such resemblances as come within 
the meaning of sympathy ; we only create con- 
fusion. There are animals that change colour 
with the places over which they pass. Spiders 
have been known to turn white on a white wall ; 
salmon in certain situations change their colour 
to that of the bed they swim over ; the story of 
It ih Jin the chameleon is familiar to all. But to what 
mIuSH fact*.' purpose should we say that these changes are 
«pl^n^"r *he result of imagination, if by imagination we 
the least hj meant anything more than that they are spon- 
thesjHofa tancous ? Evcry faculty we possess reflects 
faculty, and simulates as a mirror does. If you laugh, 
^nation. I wiU laugh too ; if you pull a long face, I 
turn grave ; if I see you sucking a peach on 
a hot summer day, I have the sense in my 
mouth that I am sucking one also : as I am 
arguing this very point, it may be that your 
reason is following mechanically, and reflect- 
ing the movements of mine. Here is a constant 


The Play of Thcmght. 279 

automatic action leading: to numerous resem- chapter 

. . VIII 

blances. What do you gain by refusing to \ 

accept this automatic process of imitation as 
an ultimate insoluble fact, and by starting the 
hypothesis of a special faculty called imagina- 
tion, the express business of which is to produce 
it? The mind reflecting like a min'or, how 
are the reflections of the one rendered more 
intelligible by the supposition of a faculty of 
imagination than are the reflections of the 
other without any such explanatory supposition ? 
The sympathy of onr minds is a wonder of the 
world; but no one who can see that the fine 
English word, fellow-feeling, contains the most 
perfect expression of all that is meant by sym- 
pathy will ever dream of a special faculty of 
fellow-feeling differing from the feeKngs which 
are in fellowship. Bacon, it was shown in the 
last chapter, started the hypothesis of a trans- 
mission of spirits, to account for the sympathy 
we have with each other. When one man 
mecham'cally repeats the action of another — a 
yawn, a laugh, a start — it would seem, says The hypo- 
Bacon, that there must be a transmission of imagination 
spirits from one to the other to produce the teMbiSXn 
assimilation. Nobody now dreams of such a^"j|*^j^ 
hypothesis. We are all so enhghtened and^^^** 
scientific that, with a fine consciousness of our«onof 
superiority, we smile at Bacon's suggestion. 
But the prevalent supposition of an imagina- 
tive faculty, if by that is to be understood any- 

280 The Gay Science. 

cHAiTEK thing beyond the power of spontaneous move- 
— '. ment, is not a whit more tenable than the 
hypothesis of Bacon. 
People are It is curfous to see how people are deceived 
^rZ. ^ by words, and fancy they get a new idea when 
they get a new phrase. Mr. Buckle announced 
that the leading object of his two great volumes 
was to show that the spirit of scepticism pro- 
motes free inquiry. He seemed to think that 
scepticism, because, coming from the Greek, it is a 
difiFerent expression, must also be a difiFerent thing 
And the from free inquiry. So it is supposed that by 
^natii^ this additional word imagination we obtain some 
newTight ^®^ ^^S^^ 5 ^^^ y^^ ^^ *^® other hand, there is 
thaf h vte** ^^ difficulty in showing that in ordinary speech 
to be ex- we may get rid of the name of imagination 
altogether, and still be none the worse. There 
is a story tokl of Samuel Rogers, showing the 
"force of imagination." About the time when 
plate-glass windows first came into fasliion, he 
sat at dinner with his back to one of these single 
panes of glass, and lie laboured under the im- 
pression that the window was wide open. It is 
related on his own authority that he caught a 
cold in consequence. The story is no doubt a 
Yankee jest, and I give it here not as a fact, 
but as an illustration. Some people say it 
shows the force of imagination ; but are they one 
whit nearer, nay, are they not further from the 
truth, than those who drop the word imagina- 
tion altogether, and say the story shows the force 


The Play of Thought. 281 

of faith ? Here it was distinctly his belief that is chapter 

supposed to have operated on Rogers, and yet \ 

there are writers — I do not mean to say cor- 
rect, but at least entitled to consideration. Dr. 
Thomas Reid being one, and Mr. Ruskin another 
— who maintain that in imagination there never 
is belief. When faith leads a man to do that 
which without faith he could never achieve, what 
do we gain by calling his faith imagination? 
Call it imagination if you will, but let us dis- 
tinctly understand that by this term you mean 
nothing more and nothing else than the auto- 
matic action of the faith, whatever it be. And 
so of fellow-feeling, call it imagination if you 
please, but let us understand that it is no more 
than one of the many modes of automatic action. 
This view will be not weakened but strength- secondly, 

•■•/» /» ,•• ..-i. of the like- 

ened it now we pass from the assmulatmg ten- nesses pro- 
dency of sympathy to consider the a^imilating ^^^^^^ 
tendency of egotism, which is the germ of lyrical 
art. Here we come to the second formula of 
resemblance — That is I, or like me. The sort of 
imagery which this begets is known as anthro- 
pomorphism and personification. " Let the sea Examples 
roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they 
that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their 
hands : let the hills be joyful together." There 
is one example. " For ye shall go out with 
joy, and be led forth with peace : the mountains 
and the hills shall break forth before you into 
singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap 

282 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER their hands." There is another. Mr. Ruskin calls 
— '- this form of imagery the pathetic fallacy, and 

i«theUc says that it is only the second order of poets who 
^^' much delight in it — seldom the first order. But 
this is surely a mistake. It by no means denotes 
the height of art — first-rate, second-rate, or 
tenth-rate ; it denotes the kind of art — ^it belongs 
to the lyrical mood. When Prometheus, as he 
enters on the scene, makes his magnificent appeal 
to the various powers of nature, and amongst 
others to the multitudinous laughter of the waves, 
the whole speech is lyrical at heart, it breaks 
again and again into lyrical metres, and the 
play in which it occurs belongs to the most 

Further lyxical of the Greek dramatists. And so when 

•xarop M. ^^ lover of Maud says in the garden : 

The slender acacia could not shake 

One long milk-bloom on the tree ; 
The white lakc-blosstmi fell into the lake, 

As the pimiKjrnel dozed on tlie lea ; 
But the rose was awake all night for your sake. 

Knowing your promise to me ; 
The lilies and roses were all awjike, 

They sighed for the dawn and thee : — 

and again — 

There has fallen a splendid tear 

From the iiassion-flower at the gate. 
She is coming, my dove, my dear ; 

She is coming, my life, my fate ! 
The reil rose cries, " She is near, she is near '^ 

And the white rose weeps, " She is late ; 
The larkspur listens, " I hear, I hear ; 

And the lily whispers, ** I wait :*' — 

the egotism which leads the lover to suppose 

The Play of Thought. 283 

the flowers like himself with his own feelings chapter 


is in that kind of art perfectly natural ; and to — '• 
attribute egotistic imagery to second-rate poets 
is but another way of saying that it is chiefly 
the second-rate poets who have the lyrical in- 
spiration. With that question we have nothing 
to do. We have but to examine into the nature 
of that assimilating tendency in our minds, which 
has been described as follows : 

Man doth usurp all space, 

Stares thee in rock, bush, river in the face. 

Never yet thine eye beheld a tree, 

It is no sea thou seest in the sea : 

*Tis but a disguised humanity. 

Now if this egotism is to be called in any what is 

!• • "a* ' 1^ ii ii meant by 

peculiar sense imagination, it must be on the attributing 
principle of liums a non hicendo. Imagination is ^ '.^^^ 
here conspicuous for its absence. The egotism *^®° ^ 
which would make me see in a tree the double of 
myself is but the inability to imagine an exist- 
ence different from my own. Call this assimi- 
lating tendency of egotism by the name of 
imagination if you will, but let us not be misled 
by words, let us fully understand that imagina- 
tion means no more than egotism, the natural 
play of thought and the automatic action of the 

There is a third class of comparisons which it Thirdly, 
may be more difficult to resolve to the satisfac- likenesses 
tion of certain minds without the intervention purely*"* 
of a special faculty ; and I will here, there- **^J^^*^®- 

284 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER fore, remind the reader of the assumption which 

.* I asked him to allow me at starting, namely : 

that similitudes are to be judged as a whole, 
and that if we find large classes of- them owing 
their origin to no special faculty, then it may 
be presumed that those others of which it is 
not so easy to trace the parentage, are of ana- 
logous origin, and do not need the figment of 
a god for progenitor. It is not necessary, how- 
ever, to lean much upon this presumption. In 
dealing with the third class of resemblances, 
we can adduce quite enough to show that they 
are produced in the play of ordinary thought. 
That is, The formula of the class of similitudes which 
we^o we are now to look into, is purely objective : 
ouJ^^ir^^ That is that, or like that. We do not bring 
into the ourselves into the comparison at all. In both 

comparison. ^ *- 

the dramatic and the lyrical systems of com- 
parison — in the systems of comparison which 
take their rise from sympathy on the one hand, 
or from egotism on the other, one of the factors 
in the comparison is always I or mine. But in 
this third kind of imagery, that is — in the class 
of comparisons which belong to epic or historical 
art, tliere is no appearance of me and mine ; the 
things compared are quite independent of me 
and mine. They are, if I may repeat the formula. 
They are that and that. Now, sometimes comparisons 
very com- of that and that come to be very complicated, 
diStof' a^^d are so curious that if we look at them 
explanation. ^Iq^^q^ j^^jjJ think of them merely as figures of 

The Play of Thought. 285 

speech, we shall find it difficult to explain them chapter 
fully. Everybody will, for example, remember — ! 
how Wordsworth speaks of an eye both deaf 
and silent ; how Milton speaks of both sun and 
moon as silent : 

The sun to me is dark, 
And silent as the moon 
When she deserts the night, 
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. 

There is no end of fine poetical passages in 
which a man is said to see a noise : Sir Toby 
Belch speaks of hearing by the nose ; Ariel 
speaks of smelling music. Samuel Butler makes 
a jest of these images in mentioning the 

(Communities of senses 

To chop and change intelligences. 

As Rosicrucian virtuosis 

Can see with ears and hear with noses. 

Sometimes the imagery is even more complicated, 
and confounds the facts of three or four different 
senses. There is a famous passage in the Example* 
beginning of Twelfth Night, the description of ^mplcated 
music : im^&^. 

That strain again : it had a dying fall ; 
! it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound 
That breathes upon a bank of violets 
Stealing and giving odour. 

Here we have such an involution and redupli- 
cation of idea, that in order to improve the 
passage Pope altered the word sound to souths 
which is the common reading. Mr. Charles 
Knight, however, has wisely insisted on the pro- 

286 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER priety of recurring to the original reading of the 
— .' first foHo, which is quite Shakespearian. May I 
add, that not only is the original reading Shake- 
spearian in the reduplication of the idea conveyed 
(a sound, coming o'er the ear, breathing, stealing, 
and giving odour, and so in the dehght and 
delicacy of its magic, ministering not to one 
sense only but to three), there is also to my mind 
clear evidence that whether the word sound 
were actually penned by Shakespeare, or were 
only a printer's error, still upon that word 
Milton once alighted, that it caught his fancy, 
that it became vital within him, and that as a 
consequence he produced in Comus a similar 
involution and reduplication of ideas, though 
in a somewhat different arrangement ? 

At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound. 
Rose like a steam of rich distilled ])erriimc«, 
And stole ujwn the air, that even silence 
Was took, ere she was ware. 

Notwithstanding the freshness and originality 

of this passage, who does not feel that nearly all 

the ideas which are thus connected with dulcet 

sound — sound breathing on the ear, stealing on 

the air, and giving odour — owe their suggestion 

to Shakespeare ? 

The amai- But this amalgam of metaphors, though fused 

mrtliphors by the passion of the poet into an apparent unity 

d^y Tni- ^f thought, unlikc any other mode of thinking, 

iy«is. g^jjj therefore seemingly the product of some 

peculiar faculty, does not defy analysis. We 

The Play of Thought. 287 

can reduce it to its elements, and when so chapter 

. . VIII. 

reduced we find that the sort of likeness it — . 
involves has its analogy in other modes of 
thought which are not commonly supposed to 
be the product of imagination. Remember the 
form of thought we are considering : — That is 
that, is like that, or may stand for that. There 
ai^ poete who boast, or whose critics boast for 
them, that they seldom or never, in certain 
works, condescend to the weakness of metaphor ; 
that they are sparing of what is especially 
called imagery — namely, images in figures of 
speech. But it will be found that these very symmetij 
writers fly to similitude of another kind — to gimiiuude, 
similitude on a large scale — in one word, to^^^uS* 
symmetry. The classicism which eschews the^^®^'^^* 
symmetry of details produced by figures of»^*g^n»- 
speech, eschews them only to ensure a whole- 
sale symmetry, as in that sort of architecture 
where the two sides of the edifice are alike, 
and as in horticulture where 

Every alley has a brother, 

And half the garden but reflects the other. 

This is only the craving for similitude in an- 
other form, and the argument I build upon it 
is — that since we do not think it necessary to 
refer the love of symmetry to a special faculty 
of imagination, neither need we refer to such 
a faculty the tendency of simihtude in other 

Take, again, our natural delight in reflections. 

288 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER " Why are all reflections lovelier than what i^e 

; call the reality ?" asks Mr. Greorge Macdonald, 

?"jJ^^**Mn a fairy romance of rare subtlety, entitled 
^r fom Phantasies. " Fair as is the gliding ship on the 
jf^Se'™ shining sea, the wavering, trembling, unresting 
•imiiitude. sail bclow is fairer still. Yea, the reflecting 
ocean itself reflected in the mirror has a won- 
drousness about its waters that somewhat 
vanishes when I turn towards itself. All mir- 
rors are magic mirrors. The commonest room 
is a room in a poem when I turn to the glass.'* 
This is a form of imagery or simile which the 
poets dehght in, and constantly use. 

We paused beside the pools that lie 

Under the forest bough ; 
Each seemed as 'twere a little sky 

Gulfed in a world below ; 
A firmament of purple light, 

Which in the dark earth lay, 
More l)Oundless than the depth of night. 

And purer than the day. 

In which the lovely forests grew, 

As in the upper air, 
More perfect both in shape and hue 

Than any spreading there. 
There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn, 

And through the dark green wood 
The white sun twinkling like the dawn 

Out of a speckled cloud. 

Sweet views, which in our wprld above 

Can never well be seen, 
Were imaged by the water's love 

Of that fair forest green ; 
And all was interfused beneath 

With an Elysian glow, 
An atuKJsphere without a breath, 

A softer day below. 

The Play of Thought. 289 

This is one of Shelley's finest passages, and it chapter 

would be easy to quote many parallel ones from 

other poets, showing how they love to dwell on 
mirror-like reflections. Take a single instance : 

The Bwan on still St. Mary's lake 
Floats double, swan and shadow. 

But such reflections more strictly belong to These re- 

• J 1 ji • /• "j 1 /* • •! flection* 

painters, and are their tavourite mode ot simile are the 
and metaphor. Truly to represent reflections]^**^' 
and shadows, and to give all that is contained in ">«^p»">^- 
the system of reflected colour, is one of the most 
refined exercises of the artist's power, and won- 
derfully enhances the beauty of a picture. The The gystem 

. priiii *' •of reflected 

system oi reflected colour occupies a very promi- colour in 
nent place in modem art, and, I repeat, is to "^""^ 
picture what metaphor is to poetry. Metaphor is 
the transfer to one object of the qualities belong- 
ing to another. This is precisely what we 
understand by reflected colour. A lady in 
white leans on the arm of a soldier in scarlet. 
The scarlet of his uniform is transferred by 
reflection to the white of her dress, and makes 
it appear no longer what it really is. It becomes 
transfigured. And so throughout the whole of 
a picture there is scarcely an object which does 
not suffer some sort of metamorphosis by the 
shadows and reflections that are cast upon it 
from other objects. My argument is that all But no one 
this metamorphosis, which is but the painter's Sie nSec- 
mode of metaphor, is not to be explained by a JJct^^e to 
transfiguring faculty of imagination, and that, »"««i°**»«n- 
VOL. I. u 

290 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER by parity of reasoning, we need no feculty of 
— ' imagination to account for the transfigurations 
of poetry produced by simile and metaphor. 
Here is a story which is told in many dilBferent 
ways : it is told of Queen Elizabeth when her 
portrait was painted by Zucchero ; it is told by 
Catlin of some Red Indians, whose likenesses he 
w^as taking. In each case the limner represented 
the nose as throwing a shadow on the face. In 
each case the sitter for the portrait objected to 
the shadow as a blur that altered and misrepre- 
sented the facts of the face. Let me ask two 
questions: Is it the force of imagination that 
enables the painter to perceive a shadow on the 
face, and leads him to imitate it ? Is it through 
lack of imagination that Queen Elizabeth failed 
to see a shadow on her face, and objected to 
its being placed there in a picture? I follow 

Why should up these questions with a third : Why should it 

wo attribute i liii 1ji • -i 

them to be supposed that, whether in picture or in 
The^rihey" po^t^y, the transfer of the qualities of one object 
api«irin ^^ auotlicr must require a special faculty of 
imagination ? " All things are double one against 
another," says the son of Sirach ; " and God 
hath made nothing imperfect." Why should the 
perception of this fact and the constant assertion 
of it in art be set down to imagination ? The 
only explanation is, that this faculty of seeing 
double is supposed to be a sort of drunkenness, 
and imagination is sometimes used as a synonym 
for illusion. 

The Play of T/iought, 291 

II. The imafirination not only takes and makes chapter 


like ; it also takes and makes whole. The one — '• 
process is clearly a step towards the other. The ^^"^.^t 

*^ ^ . imagination 

discovery of resemblance is an advance to the ««• wholes, 
perception of unity. And as we have spent 
some time over that state of the mind in which 
it contemplates resemblance, we must now give 
our attention to that more complete grasp of 
thought in which we attain to the sense of unity 
and wholeness. The mind is never content with 
a part ; it rushes to wholes. Where it cannot 
find them it makes them. Given any fragment 
of fact, we shape it instantly into a whole of 
some sort. In scholastic language which I shall 
presently explain, the mind discovers or invents inTent. or 
for itself three sorts of wholes — the whole of ttee7ort» 
intension, the whole of protension .and the **^ ^**®^*** 
whole of extension. The intensive whole is the 
favourite of the lyrical mood; the protensive 
whole dominates in the epic ; and the extensive 
whole is the very life and essence of dramatic art. 
But these phrases are enigmas, and the reader if 
he pleases may forget them at once and for 
ever. Throughout this treatise I have taken 
care not to trouble him with the jargon of tech- 
nical language, and he shall not be troubled 
with it now. Technical language is too often 
the refuge of obscurity, and a make-believe of 
depth. The technicahties of philosophy are 
like the tattooing and war-paint of savages to 
affright the enemy. Stripped of its war-paint, 

u 2 

292 The Gay Science. 

CHArrER the greater part of philosophy is tame enough, 
— '. and fit for the understanding of M. Jourdain 
himself. What I have now to state about the 
way in which imagination seizes upon wholes is 
in reality very simple. Never mind about the 
names of the wholes. Only understand that in 
number they are three ; and the point of the 
argument which I have to establish is, that when 
the mind leaps to wholes — leaps from the par- 
ticular to the universal, from the accidental to 
But it <«n the necessary, from the temporary to the eternal, 
thaitiir from the individual to the general — we gain 
h^MtioD nothing by the supposition of a faculty called 
iJ^**°^ imagination which has the credit of making the 
whoin w leap. It can be shown that the very same sort 

not peculiar * . , *' 

to itieif. of leap IS made every hour in reason. 

The ca«e of Wc are told of Peter Bell, that " a primrose 

Peter Bell > . . . 

for an * by tlic river's brim a yellow primrose was to him, 

the'firet** and it was nothing more/' This is character- 

whole. jg^j^ Q^ j^ Ta^n without the power of imagination, 

as people say generally — without the power of 

thought, as they might say more correctly. Now 

let us ask what is it that the man of imagination, 

the man of thought, sees more than Peter Bell 

Peter does in a primrosc ? He sees in it a type. It is 

the prim- uot mcrcly a fact; it is a representative fact. 

[^]* * The primrose by the river's brim stands for all 

primroses — and more, for all flowers — and yet 

more, for all life. It comes to signify more than 

itself. By itself it is but a single atom of 

existence. Our thought sees in it the entirety 


Tlie Play of Thought. 293 

of existence and raises it into a mighty whole, chapter 
This is what I mean by the whole of intension, — i 
which predominates in lyrical art, and in arts 
not lyrical when they rise in the early or 
lyrical period of a nation's Ufe, The units of 
existence are intensified and exalted into things 
of universal existence, 

All things seem only one 
In the universal sun. 

The tendency of the mind to see or to make The typical 
these wholes shows itself in many ways ; but in many 
art it chiefly shows itself in the love of symbols ^^*™*' 
and types, emblems and heraldic devices. Judah 
is a hon's whelp ; Issachar a strong ass ; Dan 
shall be a serpent by the way ; Naphtali a hind 
let loose. According to this view, which most 
frankly expresses itself in the earlier stages of 
thought, everything in nature becomes a type of 
human nature. So we find in all young art that 
man and the world amid which he lived were And in- 
placed on an equality. The beasts of the field, theassertioa 
and the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, kin*iihijlV 
became the friends and confederates of man. ^^JJJJ^ 
He was as they were ; and they were all alike. 
Not only so; trees and flowers could think 
and feel, and vegetable Kfe was to human Ufe 
but as the grub to the butterfly. The very 
stones had life ; they were not dead but sleep- 
ing. All nature was sentient, and had its voices 
for man, who was, indeed, a superior being, but 
still a being on the same platform of existence 

2^4 Th*! &r/ .SnVwse. 

CHAPTER with all else. The man micrht one dar become 
— a bea^. an«l the beast might one daj become a 

man« The beast epic of the middle ages, the 
natural expression of this belief* was receired 
less as an all^oric representation of human 
life than as a genuine description of a pos- 
sible history. We can trace the faith, in all 
its stages of childish simplicitr, boorish doubt, 
and final relinquishment, in the various legends 
of almost every literature belonging to the 
Indo-European tribes^ where, in the first stage 
of the tendency, the beast-world is represented 
as equal — ^in many respects superior — to the 
man-world ; in a lower stage the beasts are 
treated with less veneration and as inferior 
beings; in a still lower stage the sense of 
human superiority creates a feeling of dislike ; 
we are taught to think, not simply of the 
stupidity, but also of the hatefulness of the 
animal kinfrtlom ; and, finally, we reach the 
position of ^Esop, who, when he makes his lions, 
Vjears, and foxes talk and act, uses them pal- 
pably as the representatives of men. The forms, 
however, in which this love of type, this ten- 
dencv to symbol manifests itself are innumerable, 
and their history is not what we have now to 
lint why study. What concerns us now is to see clearly 
«i|.jK*«« that the symboHsm of art, however and when- 
Cty to over it aj)i)ears — whether in the frank seizure of 
7yjtn. ^yp^'^1 ^^ 1^ the earlier periods of art, or in 
tli(* subtle suggestion of them, as in the more 


The Play of Thought. 295 

advanced periods, does not need the figment of a chapter 

special faculty to produce it. \ 

It is evident that in the determination of what is the 

• 1 lii'i* • "x A a1 nature of 

thought which raises a primrose into a type, the the whole 
mind has added something which is not found in ^^^^J^^. 
the fact. A yellow primrose after all is but a *** * *yp«- 
yellow primrose ; and if the mind sees more in 
it, that more is an addition, a creation. Now, it 
is too often and too hastily assumed that this 
creation of the mind is a special property of 
fantasy ; and people are the more ready so 
to think because the process by which we arrive 
at that creation is perfectly inexplicable. How 
do we come to know that this primrose is a 
type ? What right have we to say that it may 
stand for all flowers ? What reason is there in 
the endowment of it with the power of repre- 
senting all life — and not least, human life? 
Critics are much too prone to go off in fits of 
wonder when they consider the working of 
imagination. This is the easiest mode of es- 
caping from the difficulties of analysis, and the 
perils of explanation. In the present case there 
is a real and wellnigh insoluble difficulty 
before us ; but a very little consideration will 
serve to show that it is nothing peculiar to a 
so-called faculty of imagination. It is the grand i* » the 
problem of logic ; it is the crux of reason. A whole 9a 
type is but a name for the result of generaliza- c^X in 
tion ; and generalization is a process of reasoning. ^!^^' 
Now, we never generalize without adding some- 

296 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER thing which is not in the facts, and which is 

\ a creation of the mind. Here is a well-known 

specimen of generalization : All men are mortaL 
Nobody doubts this : but when logicians proceed 
to analyze it they find themselves unable to ex- 
plain satisfactorily how we reach from particular 
examples to the general conclusion. All we 
And the kuow of a suTcty is, that a certain limited 
Swi» o?*" number of men have died — ^what has become of 
qTe^J" the rest we know not. But suppose we know 
M**^^rf for certain that all men hitherto have died ; how 
imaginauoo (Jq wc arrfvc at thc conclusion that in future all 

and not less 

inexplicable, mcn must die ? Old Asgill, in the last century, 
seriously disputed the necessity of death passing 
upon all men. The leap to a generalization is a 
creature of the mind. From the earliest dawn 
of reason the mind is in the habit of taking these 
leaps. It may generalize well, or it may gene- 
ralize ill, but generalize it must. The child 
burns its finger with the flame of a candle : 
straightway it flies to the conclusion that all 
fire burns. There is a correct generalization. 
Once is enough : it flies from the one to the 
all. But it also makes mistakes of generali- 
zation. It calls every man it sees, papa ; 
it calls every bird, Polly ; it calls the dog, 
puss ; it runs to eat the snow for sugar. Right 
or wrong, it generalizes so continually that 
philosophers have raised a question whether 
knowledge in man begins in generals or in 

The Play of Thought. 297 

The argument then stands as follows: Youchaptkr 

« . • VIII. 

wonder at the work of imagination when you see — 1 
how it magnifies isolated facts into continental ^"JJ^™*'^ 
truths ; you are amazed at its creativeness, and ai^ument. 
think that there must be something singular in 
the faculty, which, in a manner quite inexpli- 
cable, can effect such transformations. But, 
strange to say, this is the very work, and this 
the very marvel of reason. No man has yet 
been able to explain how, because this, that, 
or some other thing, has happened so many 
times, we are driven to the conclusion that it 
shall happen always. In both cases, the process 
of generalization is precisely the same. When 
imagination makes a seven-leagued stride from 
the one to the all, and from the part to the 
whole, it is no other than the usual stride of 
reason from the particular to the general. 
What is peculiar to imagination is not that it 
differs in this respect from the usual process 
of reasoning, but that it exhibits that process 
working automatically. Just as in the free 
play of thought, the mind tends to dwell on 
images of sight, whence one of the leading 
characteristics of imagination from which its 
very name is derived; so, in the same free 
play, the mind tends to generalize and totalize 
every individual fact that engages its attention : 
and hence another leading characteristic of that 
automatic energy which is conunonly known as 

298 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Here as before, then, we never get beyond the 
— 1 conception of imagination as the free play and 
gefuy^ unconscious movement of thought. There is 
^^^of nothing peculiar in it except that it reveals the 
rfSTiT instinctive tendency of the mind. That instinc- 
tive tendency to generalize on every possible 
occasion, which shows itself in the first dawn of 
childish reason, we learn to check as we grow 
older, and thought becomes more conscious. 
Then we become hard and prosaic, sticking to 
facts, in and for themselves, as mere facts. A 
child accepts every event as a matter of neces- 
sity, and it is often exceedingly difficult to con- 
vince the little soul — following the natural 
tendency of mind — that what has happened once 
may not or will not happen again. Experience 
comes with years and corrects the imperious 
tendency of the mind to believe in the uni- 
formity of nature and the necessity of all things. 
The idea of accident enters, and, while a general 
belief in the certainty of nature remains, it no 
longer usurps the throne of absolute law. Per- 
haps the process goes even further, until at 
length in the mind's dotage certainty is banished 
from our expectations, the muse of history 
becomes the most incredible of Cassandras, and 
the whole world lies dead before us and around 
us, with men and women rattling over it hke 
dice from a dice-box. And here we can see pre- 
cisely the difference between the realism of child- 
liood and poetry and the realism of dotage and 

The Play of Thought. 299 

prose. The child in everything perceives the chapter 
element of necessity; the old man perceives — '- 

Vixii */• i» T i^»"i The element 

but the element ot contingency. In particulars of necessity 
the child sees the universal, the old man sees jS^jJoi"* 
in particulars only the particular. Herein •"pp^'**- 
lies the diflFerence between poetry and prose. 
It is the diflFerence not between imagination 
on the one hand and reason on the other — 
but between reason on the one hand playing 
free and fast, and reason on the other going 
warily in fetters. 

Much of what has been said about symbols The second 
in art, their meaning and their origin, will apply whofe 
to that other form of generalization, described m?n? *^* 
above as the whole of protension or duration. "*****• 
We have a natural tendency when we see a 
thing, to think of it not only as now existing 
but as havinff always existed, and as destined to 
exist for evef. The mind is unable to conceive 
either the beginning or the end of existence. 
When left to itself in free play it conceives 
an idea of life in which there is no death. One We raise 
living thing may be transformed into another "^^C 
living thing, but there is no annihilation. It is *^* *^™^ 
just as in our dreams, where life appears to us as 
a series of dissolving views, a transmigration of 
souls, an incessant Protean change, without an 
end. We pass through innumerable avatars; 
we run the cycle of existence ; but cycle is 
followed by cycle, and existence is indestruc- 
tible. To die, in the old legends, is to be 

300 Tlie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER changed for a certain length of time into tree 

1 or stone, beast or bird, but never to be quite 

extinct. The primrose of oiu: dreams is trans- 
muted as we look on it, into a damsel or some 
other fair creature : it never dies. Words- 
worth has a little poem — We are Seven — in 
which he takes note of this, our natural in- 
And cannot ability to compass the idea of death. The little 
w^'dT child has lost one of her brothers, but still 
****^ she says, " We are seven." Still to her mind 
the lost Pleiad remains one of the seven. 
And under the eye of heaven there is not 
a more touching sight than that presented by 
Oriental artists when they enter the tombs to 
protest against dissolution. Some of the elder 
races of the world arranged the homes of the 
dead as if they were homes of the living, with 
panelled walls and fretted ceilings, elbow chairs, 
footiitools, benches, wnne flagons, drinking-cups, 
ointment phials, basins, mirrors, and other fur- 
niture. By painting, by sculpture, by writing, 
they had the habit, as it were, of chalking in 
large letters upon their sepulchres, no death. 
Theaiiser- The asscrtion of the continuity of existence 
cmltinuity* which the mind thus makes is the generating 
mak«lpiSi P^^^c^P'^ of epic or historical art, of all art, 
^^ indeed, which has to do with the evolution of 

events; and is there any reason why, when 
the narrative poet pleases us with his pictures 
of the transmutations of life, we must call up a 
special faculty — fantasy — to account for those 

The Play of Thxmght 301 

transmutations ? It is no more than the ordinary ^^^^^^ 
process of reasoning by which, involuntarily, we — 
connect every fact or thing that comes before formations 
us with causes and with eflFects. We may, with ^ ^ *^^' 
the greater poets, trace our facts to the gods; 
with Homer, show how the will of Zeus is 
accomplished in the slaughter of the Achaians ; 
with Milton, how man's first disobedience leads 
to his fall. Or again, with the lesser poets 
and storytellers, we may show how the Beast, 
when Beauty gives him her hand, becomes 
a prince; how Daphne, pursued by the god, 
is transformed into a laurel. But what is 
there in all this metamorphosis of persons, of 
things, or of actions, which needs for its pro- 
duction a special faculty ? When we come to 
analyze it, is there any real difference in 
thought between the transmutation of one per- But do these 
sonality into another, and the transmutation of ^*^*n^" 
one action into another? In either case thep^^^JT^^^ 
mind is actuated by one law, the law with*^?*^** 
which we are most familiar in thinking about 
causes and effects. We know we are com- 
pelled to think of a cause for every event, 
and that likewise every event suggests to us 
an effect. Why we are thus compelled to 
rush back to causes and to rush after effects 
we cannot tell. We only know the fact, and 
we are able to resolve it into this more general 
fact, that to think of a breach in the continuity 
of existence is beyond our power. We cannot 

302 TJie Gay Science. 

CHAPTER think of existence beginning : we cannot think 

VIII. . . . 

— '• of existence ending ; we only think of it as 

passing from one form to another. This is the 

law of all thought, and nothing peculiar to a 

faculty of imagination. 

The third And uow a fcw words in conclusion about the 

whole third kind of whole which the mind creates, and 

mi'nd* *. which is best known as it appears in dramatic 

thTt^Tf" ^^' ^^* *^^* *^^ *^^ other tendencies I have 
extension. \yQQxi describing are to be held as excluded from 
dramatic art. On the contrary, it appropriates 
them and turns them to account. But it has 
also a way of its own which may be described 
as constructive. The drama is, in a far higher 
sense of the word than can be applied to any 
mere narrative — it is in the highest sense of the 
word, constructive. There is the construction 
of character and all its traits ; there is the con- 
On drama- structiou of the persoiiages in relation to each 
sii'uc'tLn. other ; there is the construction of events into 
a consistent plot. The constructive skill re- 
quired in a drama will appear all the more 
remarkable if we remember that the dramatist 
cannot plaister and conceal defects of construc- 
tion by comment or description. 
The creation Now wheii, a siuglc trait of character given, 
ter! *^^^ an artist builds upon it with endless details, 
many of them conflicting, an entire character, 
this, which in popular criticism is most fre- 
quently cited as evidence of the creative power 
and wholeness of work belonging to imagi- 

The Play of Thought. 303 

nation, is the result of a mental process not^^^^^ 
different in kind from that by which the com- — 
parative anatomist sees the perfect form of an 
unknown animal in one of its bones. When 
Professor Owen pictures for us some great 
saurian of the ancient world, we do not accuse 
him of drawing upon his imagination, because 
he reasons consciously at every step, and we . 
can follow his processes. But when a dra- 
matist or noveUst raises before us a great 
complex character, finely moulded and welded 
into a consistent whole, we attribute his work 
to imagination, because it has been devised 
in unconsciousness, and neither he nor we can 
follow the process. It is not imagination in the 
sense of a special faculty that does the work, but 
imagination in the sense of the hidden soul, the 
ordinary faculties engaged in free, unconscious 
In the free play of thought the mind may On the 
commit many errors ; but there is one error of i^nation. 
which we always absolve it, that of inconsistency, 
or a disregard of wholeness. We who know 
what ill names have been heaped on imagination, 
how it is represented often as the great source of 
illusion, may be perplexed sometimes to find that 
many an error, many a lapse from truth, is ex- 
plained by the absence of imagination. How 
constantly do we hear it said, when a poet or an where 
artist fails of truth, that he has no imagination, aii^w^^. 
or a feeble one. In these cases it will be foimd 


■. .- . > • . k ' 



• I 

'. :.- : Kv-. ::. riit- iran.len a 
■ :'-. v.-j.... ..?! A'laiii first offcriiii*" 



The Play of Thought. 305 

her love, expressed a doubt as to his fidelity, chapter 

whether he would always be true to her, and 1 

whether he would not be running after others ; 
there once more was a lack of truth, and with it 
a lack of imagination. These falsehoods are 
offences against imagination, because they are 
offences against consistency, derelictions from 
the sense of wholeness. But in thus attributing 
to imagination the sense of wholeness, of fitness, 
of consistency — in attributing the lack of con- 
sistency to the lack of imagination — what do we 
really mean ? Do we mean that imagination is a 
special faculty, which looks after consistency as 
no other faculty looks after it ? and that only ima- 
ginative persons can be consistent ? Surely not. 

The wholeness that marks all the work of The whole- 
imagination is a very simple matter, to be ex- imaginative 

1*1 1 . ••IT* work to be 

plained on a very obvious principle. Imagma- eipUined 
tion, I repeat, is only a name for the free, un- ^mpil*^ 
conscious play of thought. But the mind in free P'»"«^pi«- 
play works more as a whole than in conscious 
and voluntary effort. It is the very nature of 
voluntary effort to be partial and concentrated 
in points. Left to itself the mind is like the 
cloud that moveth altogether if it move at all ; 
and this wholeness of movement has its issue in 
that wholeness of thinking which we find in 
true works of imagination. 

But this lengthy argument must now draw summary 
to a close. I have, one 'by one, touched upon ai^ument. 

VOL. I. X 


The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER every feature of imagination which is supposed 
lilll to be pecuharly its own, and I have shown that 
each, without exception, belongs to the general 
action of the mind. In the first place, the name 
of imagination is derived from one of the most 
evident facts connected with the free play of the 
mind — sensibility to images or memories of sight. 
Sight is the most lively of the senses, and we 
recur most readily in idea to the impressions 
derived through that sense. Next in free play, 
and according to the very notion of it, the mind 
wanders; it is, therefore natural to speak of 
imagination in this sense as a source of illusion. 
And so we go over the other tendencies of free 
play. The mind has a tendency to see likeness 
and to become like what it sees. The mind 
has a tendency to see and to create wholes. 
Moreover, all these tendencies herd together. 
Tliey are separable and quite distinct ; but in 
the free play of the mind, they generally appear 
in combination. The result is, that by the law 
of inseparable or pretty constant association, we 
come to regard all these iniiting tendencies as a 
composite whole, one special faculty.* It is true 

• For the fullest and clearest 
account of the law of inseparable 
ass(X)iation, see Mill's Examina- 
tion of Hir WiUiam JI(imiItcni''8 
Philosoj)hy^ chapter xiv. It is 
really an imp<»rtant law, and it 
is the corner-str>ne of Mr. l^Iill's 
system of philosoj)hy, which 
aims at overthruwing and dis- 

placing the established philo- 
sophy of Europe. Mr. Mill, 
however, complains that thia, 
his leading principle, is not so 
much rejected as ignored by 
the great European schools of 
thought. " The best informed 
CJerman and French philoso- 
phers,*' he says, "are barely 

TTie Play of Thought 


that, in the processes which we attribute to ima- chapter 

gination, there is a specialty. It is a specialty, ! 

however, not of power, but of function ; not of 
tendency, but of the circumstances under which 
the tendency is exerted. The nature of the 
work performed by imagination is not peculiar 
to itself. What is peculiar to itself is, that the 
work is done automatically and secretly. That 

aware, if even aware, of its exist- 
ence. And in this country and 
age, in which it has been em- 
ployed by thinkers of the highest 
order as the most potent of all 
instruments of psychological ana- 
lysis, the opposite school usually 
dismiss it with a few sentences, 
so smoothly gliding over the sur- 
face of the subject as to prove 
that they have never, even for 
an instant, brought the powers 
of their minds into real and effec- 
tive contact with it." Of the 
thinkers "of the highest order," 
who have made much of the law, 
I know only one — Mr. John Mill 
himself ; and if it be a fact that 
it has hitherto been ignored, that 
would be the clearest of all 
proofs that until Mr. John Mill 
took it up, it cannot have been 
applied by any thinker "of the 
highest order." The truth, how- 
ever, is that the law is nowhere 
ignored. It is a very simple and 
a very obvious law which cannot 
have escaped the notice of the 
blindest bat in philosophy. All 
that Mr. Mill has a right to com- 
plain of is that the chief Eui\> 

pean thinkers do not attach so 
much importance to it as he be- 
lieves it deserves, and as it really 
does deserve. We all know the 
force of association in our ideas 
of things. We see things to- 
gether; wo learn to think of 
them as inseparably associated, 
and of their union as incapable 
of dissolution. Mr. James Mill 
uses the following illustration: 
"When a wheel, on the seven 
parts of which the seven pris- 
matic colours are respectively 
painted, is made to revolve 
rapidly, it appears not of seven 
colours, but of one uniform 
colour — white. By the rapidity 
of the succession, the several 
sensations cease to be distin- 
guishable ; they run, as it were, 
together; and a new sensation, 
compounded of all the seven, but 
apparently a single one, is the 
result." That is precisely the 
case of imagination. In the free 
play of the mind, there are a 
number of tendencies which har- 
monize and unite; we come to 
regard them as a unity ; and we 
dub that unity Imagination. 

X 2 

•SOS The Gay Science. 

cHAfTER the work is automatic, or that the work is secret, 

; does not alter its character, and make it different 

from reason, memory or feeling. Imagination 
therefore, can only be defined by reference 
to its spontaneity, or by reference to its uncon- 
sciousness. Regarding it as automatic, we define 
it the Play of Thought. Regarding it as uncon- 
,scious, we define it the Hidden SouL 







IE OUGHT now to proceed at once to c 
the consideration of pleasure, I began 
by showing that pleasure is the end of b 
art. 1 brought forward a cloud of witnesses to ^ 
prove that this has always been acknowledged. " 
And after showing that all these witnesses, in 
their several ways, define and limit the pleasure 
which art seeks, we discovered that the English 
school of critics has, more than any other, the 
habit of insisting on a limitation to it, which 
is more full of meaning as a principle in art 
than all else that has been advanced by the 
various Bchools of criticism. That the pleasure 
of art is the pleasure of imagination is the one 
grand doctrine of EngUsh criticism, and the 
most pregnant doctrine of all criticism. But 
it was difficult to find out what imagination 
really is ; and tlierefore the last three chapters 

312 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER were allotted to an inquiry into tlie nature of it. 

IV ___ 

1 The result at which we have arrived is that 

imagination is but another name for that un- 
conscious action of the mind which may be 
called the Hidden Soul. And with this under- 
standing, we ought now to proceed to the scru- 
tiny of pleasure. I will, however, ask the reader 
And iu to halt for a few minutes, that I may point out 
the'defiili- how this understanding as to the nature of 
tionofaii. imagination bears on the definition with which 
we started — that pleasure is the end of art. Few 
are willing to acknowledge pleasure as the end 
of art. I took some pains to defend pleasure in 
this connection as a fit object of pursuit, and if I 
have not satisfied every mind, I hope now to do 
so by the increased light which the analysis of 
imagination will have thrown upon the subject. 
Art w the We Started Avith the common doctrine, that 
2i€^. *^ art is the opposite of science, and that, as the 
object of science is knowledge, so that of art is 
pleasure. But if the reader has apprehended 
what I have tried to convey to him as to the exist- 
ence within us of two great worlds of thought^ — 
a double life, the one known or knowable, the 
other unknown and for the most part iniknow- 
able, he will be prepared, if not to accept, yet 
to understand this further conception of the 
difierence between science and art that the 
Its field field of science is the known and the knowable, 
theiin- while the field of art is the imknown and the 
unknowable. It is a strange paradox that the 

a pani- 
for 01 

Hie Secrecy of Art. 313 

mind should be described as possessing and com- chapter 
passing the unknown. But my whole argument -ll 
has been working up to this point, and, I trust, ^^r" 
rendering it credible — that the mind may pos- ^<>^*We. 
sess and be possessed by thoughts of which 
nevertheless it is ignorant. 

Now, because such a statement as this will That sute- 
appear to be a paradox to those who have not con- "er sound* 
sidered it ; also, because to say that the field of art ^J^^^^ 
is the unknown, is like saying that the object of ^***^^''^"**" 
art is a negation, it is fit that in ordinary speech 
we should avoid such phraaes, and be content 
with the less paradoxical expression— that the 
object of art is pleasure. The object of science, 
we say, is knowledge —a perfect grasp of all the 
facts which Ue within the sphere of conscious- 
ness. The object of art is pleasure-a sensible 
possession or enjoyment of the world beyond 
consciousness. We do not know that world, 
yet we feel it — feel it chiefly in pleasure, but 
sometimes in pain, which is the shadow of 
pleasure. It is a vast world we have seen ; of 
not less importance to us than the world of 
knowledge. It is in the hidden sphere of 
thought,* even more than in the open one, that 
we live, and move, and have our being ; and it 
is in this sense that the idea of art is always a 
secret. We hear much of the existence of such Peopie do 

• J 1 J . -rt* J not under- 

a secret, and people are apt to say — it a secret stand how a 
exist, and if the artist convey it in his art, why ^]^h"^"^ 


does he not plainly tell us what it is ? But here ^""^ ** ******* 


Tke Gay Science. 

Yet thei-e 
are current 

CHAiTER at once we fall into contradictions, for as all 
— '- language refers to the known, the moment we 
begin to apply it to the unknown, it fails. 
Until the existence of an unknown hidden life 
within us be thoroughly well accepted, not only 
felt, but also to some extent imderstood, there 
will always be an esoteric mode of stating the 
doctrine, which is not for the multitude. 

Although at first sight it may appear absurd 
to speak of the unknown as the domain of art, 

which may iji "i*ji i»« •!• > 

help us to and to descnbe the artist as communicating to 
rhe'^^m*"'* the world, through his works, a secret that he 
doxicai defi- g^j^ J jij ^jj nevcr unravel, yet there is a common 

nition of ' •' 

«rt. phrase which, if we consider it well, may help 

to render this paradox less diflSicult of belief. 
Montesquieu has a profound sentence at which 
I have often wondered : " Si notre ame n'avait 
point ete unie au coips, elle aurait connu ; mais 
il y a apparence qu'elle aurait aime ce quelle 
aurait connu : a present nous n'aimons presque 
que ce que nous ne connaissons pas." I have 
wondered by what process of thought a man 
of the last century arrived at such a conclu- 
sion. It scarcely fits into the thinking of his 
time; and I imagine he must have worked it 

Jenesais Qut of thc plirase — Je ne sais quoi.* It was 


• Montesquieu's remark will 
be found in his Essai sur le Ooiit, 
where, indeed, he dwells so much 
upon the je ne sais quoi, us to 
make one nearly certain that by 

some subtle process of hidden 
thought, unknown to himself, 
it suggested the remark. The 
curious thing is, that he attempts 
to explain in measured language 

The Secrecy of Art. 


in the last century a commonplace of French chafier 
criticism and conversation, that what is most — 1 
lovely, most attractive, in man, in nature, in 
art, is a certain je ne sais quoi. And adopting 
this phrase, it will not be much of a paradox 
to assert that, while the object of science is to 
know and to make known, the object of art 
is to appropriate and to communicate the name- 
less grace, the ineffable secret of the know- 
not-what. If the object of art were to make if the ob- 

the je ne sais quoi; and his 
explanation robs it of its richness 
of meaning. Nothing can be 
more fiat; and one is puzzled 
to understand how the thinker 
who could make the remark 
which I have quoted above, 
should give us the following 
definition of the je ne sais quoi : 
" II y a quelquefois dans les 
personncs ou dans les choses im 
charme invisible, une grace na- 
turelle, qu*on n'a pu d^finir, et 
qu'on a ^te' forc^ d'appeler le 
je ne sais quoi. II me semble 
que c^est un efiet principalement 
fond^ sur la surprise. Nous 
sommes touchy de ce qu*une 
personne nous plait plus qu'elle 
ne nous a paru d'abord devoir 
nous plaire, et nous sommes 
agr^blement surpris de oe qu*elle 
a su vaincre des d^fauts que nos 
yeux nous montrent, et que le 
cceur ne croit plus. Voilk pour- 
quoi les femmes laides ont trds- 
souvent des grftces, et qu'il est 
rare que les belles en aient. Car 

une belle personne fait ordinaire- 
ment le contraire de ce que nous 
avions attendu; elle parvient a 
nous paroitre moins aimable; 
apr^s nous avoir surpris en bion, 
elle nous surprend en mal ; mais 
rimpression du bien est ancienne, 
celle du mal nouvelle : aussi les 
belles personnes font-elles rare- 
ment les grandes passions, pres- 
que toujours rdserv^ h celles 
qui ont des grdces, c'est-a-dire 
des agrdmens que nous n'atten- 
dions point, et que nous n'avions 
pas sujet d'attendre. Les grandes 
panares ont rarement de la gr&ce, 
et souvent rhabillement des ber- 
gkes en a. Nous admirons la 
majesty des draperies de Paul 
V^ron^; mais nous sommes 
touchy de la simplicity de Ra- 
phael et de la puret^ du Gorr^ge. 
Paul V^ron^ promet beaucoup, 
et paye ce qu*il promet. Raphael 
et le Corr^e promettent peu, et 
payent beaucoup; et cela nous 
plait davantage.'* 

316 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER known and to explain its ideas, it would no 

L longer be art, but science. Its object is very 

jectofmrt diflFereut. The true artist recognises, however 
mikB dimly, the existence within us of a double world 
would 'nit of thought, and his object is, by subtle forms, 
bt art but ^Qjj^^ words, allusious, associations, to establish 

a connection with the unconscious hemisphere 
of the mind, and to make us feel a mysterious 
energy there in the hidden soul. For this 
purpose he doubtless makes use of the known. 
He paints what we have seen, he describes what 
we have heard ; but his use of knowledge is ever 
to suggest something beyond knowledge. If he 
be merely dealing with the known and making 
it better known, then it becomes necessary to 
ask wherein does his work differ from science ? 
Through knowledge, tlirough consciousness, the 
artist appeals to the unconscious part of us. 
It is to the The poet's words, the artist's touches, are elec- 
the un-*** * trie ; and we feel those words, and the shock of 
of uT^th^* ^'^^^ touches, going through us in a way we 
^*^'*^ cannot define, but always giving us a thrill of 
pleasure, awakening distant associations, and fill- 
ing us with the sense of a mental possession 
beyond that of which we are daily and hourly 
conscious. Art is poetical in proportion as it 
has this power of appealing to what I may call 
the absent mind, as distinct from the present 
mind, on which falls the great glare of conscious- 
ness, and to which alone science appeals. On 
the temple of art, as on the temple of Isis, 

llie Secrecy of Art. 317 

— - - - — *" - . ■ ■ 

might be inscribed — " I am whatsoever is, what- chapter 

«oever has been, whatsoever shall be ; and the 1 

veU which is over my face no mortal hand has 
ever raised." 

There are persons so little aware of a hidden Thia view of 
life within them, of an absent mind which isport^'by 
theirs just as truly as the present mind of*" **"*'^' 
which they are conscious, that the view of art I 
have just been setting forth will to them be 
well nigh unintelligible. Others, again, ^yho 
have a faint consciousness of it, may see the 
truth more clearly if I present it not in my own 
words, but in words with which others have 
made them familiar. 

Here, for example, is what Lord Macaulay it is implied 
says of Milton and his art : "We often hear ofia/scritl- 
the magical influence of poetry. The expres- SJhod! 
sion in general means nothing ; but applied to 
the writings of Milton it is most appropriate. 
His poetry acts like an incantation. Its merit 
lies less in its obvious meaning than in its occult 
power. There would seem at first to be no 
more in his words than in other words. But 
they are words of enchantment. No sooner are 
they pronounced th^n the past is present and the 
distant near. New forms of beauty start at 
once into existence, and all the burial places of 
the memory give up their dead. Change the 
structure of the sentence, substitute one syno- 
nyme for another, and the whole eflFect is de- 
stroyed. The spell loses it power ; and he who 
should then hope to conjure with it, would find 

318 The Gay Science. 

CHAiTER himself as much mistaken as Cassim in the 


— 1 Arabian tale when he stood crying, * Open wheat. 
Open barley,' to the door which obeyed no sound 
Only the but * Open sesame.'" This is admirably ex- 
OTMtidffln pressed, with the fault, however, of attributing 
"St^^tm inagic to Milton's poetry alone, while denying 
to^MUton's. *^^* magic belongs to poetry in general. The 
fact is, that all poetry, all art, has more or less 
of the same magic in it. We are touched less by 
th^ obvious meaning of the poet than by an 
occult power which lurks in his words. This 
is what I have been all along enforcing, that 
art affects us not as a mode of knowledge or 
science, but as suggesting something which is 
beyond and behind knowledge, a hidden trea- 
sure, a mental possession whereof we are 
ignorant. Given the magic words, given the 
magic touch, and not only Milton's poetry, 
but all good poetry and art will force the 
burial places of memory to render up their 
dead, will set innumerable trains of thought 
astir in the mind, fill us with their suggestive- 
ness, and charm us with an indefinable sense of 
It is im- Precisely in this vein of thought sings Thomas 

plietl in -^^^ 

Mo.,re*8 Moore : 

Oh, there arc looks and tones that dart 
An instant sunshine throu<rh the heart : 
As if the soul that minute caujrht 
Some treasure it through life had sought; 
As if the very lij>s and eyes 
IVedestined to have all our si;:hs. 
And never bo for<]jot again, 
Sparkled and spoke before us then. 


The Secrecy of Art 319 

He is here referrins: to the action of love in chapter 


that sense of it which suggested the well known — 1 
sentence that the poet, the lunatic, and the 
lover, are of imagination all compact. Love, 
says Shakespeare, is too young to know itself. 
It belongs to the secret forces of the mind, and 
is connected with them by a freemasonry which 
mere consciousness may recognise but cannot 
penetrate. There is a passing glance, a sign, a 
tone, a word. In the lover as in the poet, it 
appeals not to the conscious intelligence, but to 
the secret places of the soul ; it illumines them 
with an instant gleam, which allows us no time 
to see what passes there ; it gives light with- 
out information ; and the light as it vanishes 
leaves us with a vague sense of possessing, we 
know not where, some hidden treasure of the 
mind for which all our lives we have been 

Now let us turn to Byron for a change. He Byron also 
takes a gloomy view of the strange power of 
the mind which we are considering, but he 
dwells on its existence as a great fact. He 
refers to it again and again, but the best known 
passage in which he makes mention of it will 
be found in the fourth canto of Childe Harold^ 
where he describes with much force the insidious 
return of grief: 

Bat ever and anon of griefs subdued 
There comes a token like a scorpion's sting, 
Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued ; 
And slight withal may be the things which bring 

320 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER Back on the heart the weight which it would fling 

IX. Aside for ever : it may be a sound — 

A tone of music — summer's eve— or spring — 
A flower — the wind — the ocean — which shall wound. 
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound ; 

And how and why we know not, nor can trace 
Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind. 
But feel the shock renewed, nor can efiace 
The blight and blackening which it leaves behind. 
Which out of things familiar, undesigned. 
When least we deem of such, calls up to view 
The spectres whom no exorcism can bind, — 
The cold, the changed, perchance the dead — anew 
The mourned, the loved, the lost, — too many ! — yet too few ! 

It IB implied Let me ring another change upon the same 
worth's idea by next quoting Wordsworth. One of the 
^^^' most admired passages in his works, and fre- 
quently cited as a perfect embodiment of the 
poetical spirit, is the following from the poem 
on Tintem Abbey : 

I have learned 
To look on nature, not as in tlic hour 
Of thoughtless youth ; but hearing ortontimea 
The still sad music of humanity. 
Not harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevat(Hl thoughts ; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply int<.'rfused. 
Whose dwelling is the Hght of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man : 
A motion and a spirit that impels 
All thinking things, all objectii of all thought, 
And rolls through all things. Tlierefore am I still 
A lover of the meadows, and the woods. 
And mountains; and of all that we behold 
From this green earth ; of all the mighty world, 
< )f eye and ear — both what they half create. 
And what pcnjeive. 

The Secrecy of Art. 321 

What is the meaning of it ? Does he simply chapter 
mean that sunsets and other sights of nature — '- 
are so beautiful as to afford him great pleasure ? ing^i?^e 
He says much more, which it is not easy toj^^J^^r 
put into clean-cut scientific language. -^^y^t^^wtT 
man of poetical temperament knows what ittJ»«^>*^«n 
means, though he might be puzzled to express it 
logically. What is the presence which surprises 
the poet with the joy of high thought ? What 
is that something in the light of setting suns 
which is far more deeply interfiised than the 
five wits can reach, and is to be apprehended 
only by a sense sublime ? Is it fact or fiction ? 
It is but Wordsworth's favourite manner of 
indicating the great fact upon which all art, all 
poetry, proceeds. Nature acts upon him as 
Milton's words upon Macaulay, like magic. It 
appeals to his hidden soul, and awakens the 
sense of a presence which is not to be caught 
and made a show of. The light of setting suns, 
the round ocean, and the living air, arouse 
in him a demi-semi-consciousness of a treasure 
trove which is not in the consciousness proper. 
What that treasure, what that presence is, it 
would pose Wordsworth or any one else to say. 
All he knows is that nature finely touches a 
secret chord within him, and gives him a vague 
hint of a world of life beyond consciousness, the 
world which art and poetry are ever pointing 
and working towards. 

The poetry of Wordsworth aboimds with Bat there 

VOL. I. Y 

322 Tlie Gay Scierwe. 

CHAPTER passages that vividly refer to the concealed life 
— of the mind and the secret of poetry. Some 
ISchpwH of these were quoted in the last chapter, and I 
^5?5^ will now, even at the risk of becoming tedious, 
worth. quote another, which is one of the finest de- 
scriptions of that which we are to imderstand 
by the know-not-what of art. I should like to 
cite every line of the Ode on Immortality, but 
restrict myself to the following verses, in which 
the poet raises the song of praise. It is not 
Another in simplv bocause of the deli&rhts of childhood and 
tp- ite rimple creed that he gives thanks for the 
'*^' remembrance of his youth : 

Not for these I raiae 
The song of thanks and praise ; 
But for those obstinate questionings 
Of sense and outward things, 
Fallings from us, vanishings, 
HIank misj^ivings of a creatun* 

Movinf]^ about in worlds not realized, 
Hij^h instincts, before which our mortal nature 

I)i<l tn»mblc like a jxuilty thing surprised ; 
And for thos<^' first afi'ectiouH, 
Those shailowy recollections. 
Which, be they what they may. 
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day ; 

Are yet a raasterlight of all our seeing ; 
Uphold us, cherish us, and have jwwer to make 

Our noisy years seem moments in the being 
Of the eternal silence ; truths that wake 
To i«rish never, 

Which neither listlessness nor nuid endeavour, 
Nor man, nor boy, 
Nor all that is at enmity with joy 
Can utterly abolish or destroy. 

What a Now, it may be interesting to read the com- 

menf which a very intelligent critic makes 

7%^ Secrecy of Art. 323 

upon this in one of the weekly journals. He chapter 
is obliged to confess that the passage reads like — 
nonsense ; it has no special meaning ; but his Myg*^%. 
heart responds to it, and he pronounces it per- 
fectly beautiful. " There is no reason," he says, 
" why a confused state of mind should not be 
poetical Indeed we may go further and say, 
that some of what is universally acknowledged 
to be the finest poetry, has scarcely any definite 
meaning whatever. In Wordsworth's great ode 
there are many lines comprising a kind of essence 
of poetry, but to which it is scarcely possible to 
attribute any distinct signification. The often- 
quoted passage about the 'faUings from us, va- 
nishings, blank misgivings of a creature moving 
about in worlds not realized,' &c., are exquisitely 
beautiful, but are altogether without any special 
meaning. If we try to interpret them, to fix the 
idea embodied in them, it evaporates at once. 
The words are the right ones to awaken, for 
some reason, a set of pleasant associations, and to 
stimulate our imaginations ; but as soon as we 
try to dissect and analyze them, to distinguish 
between the form of expression and the sense 
which it is intended to convey, we fail alto- 
gether. The words themselves are the poetry. 
It is like a mosaic work, which puts together a 
number of beautiful colours, without attempting 
to form any definite picture." 

The view which the critic here indicates, How fkr he 
although not altogether correct, is well ex- his view. 


324 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER pressed ; and, making allowance for some incau- 
— tious phrases, the reader will find no difficulty 
in squaring it with the view of art contained 
in these pages. It is hard to say that Words- 
worth's phrases have no special meaning which 
it is possible to fix in the terms of cold reason. 
The poet is describing, with all the clearness he 
can command, the know-not-what — the vanish- 
ing effects produced in his consciousness by the 
veiled energy of his hidden life; and by the 
bare mention of these vanishing effects (not as 
the critic says, by unmeaning words that are 
as the colours of a kaleidoscope) he appeals 
to an experience which all who can enjoy poetry 
must recognize, he brings back upon us strange 
memories, and through memory surprises us with 
a momentary sense of the hidden life, a sudden 
gleam as of a falling star that comes we know 
not whence, and is gone ere we are conscious of 
having seen it : 

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream, 
Brief as the lightning in the col lied night, 
That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth, 
And ere a man hath power to say — behold ! 
The jaws of darkness do devour it up. 

Sir Edward Siuce Wordsworth, the man who has shown 
given ex- the most abiding sense of a mystery surround- 
si^Z^ ing human life and thought, of an energy which 
thoughts, jg ours, and yet is separate from conscious pos- 
session, is Sir Edward Lytton. It may be 
doubted whether he fully understands the nature 
of this mysterious energy — whether, at any rate. 

The Secrecy of Art 325 

he understands it as fully as Wordsworth. Still, chapter 
he is so impressed with its reality, that it has sug- — 
gested to him more than one marvellous tale of 
a secret magic belonging to humanity ; and even 
when he is not thinking at all of Rosicrucian 
mysteries, but merely describing ordinary flesh 
and blood, he refers to the mental gifts of his 
more poetic personages in terms which, without 
the key supplied by the theory of the Hidden 
Soul, are to most readers a perfect riddle. Take 
the description of Helen, in Lucretia. " There is 
a certain virtue within us," says Sir Edward Lyt- His de«:rip. 
ton, " comprehending our subtlest and noblest Hden. 
emotions, which is poetry while untold, and grows 
pale and poor in proportion as we strain it into 
poems." In other words— if I may interpolate 
my own explanation— which is poetry so long 
as it remains the know-not-what, and ceases to 
be poetry when it is defined into knowledge and 
becomes an item of science. " This more spiritual 
sensibility/' Sir Edward proceeds, " dwelt in 
Helen, as the latent mesmerism in water, as the 
invisible fairy in an enchanted ring. It was 
an essence, or divinity, shrined or shrouded in 
herself, which gave her more intimate and vital 
imion with all the influences of the universe — a 
companion to her loneliness, an angel hymning 
low to her own Ustening soul. This made her 
enjoyment of nature, in its merest trifles, ex- 
quisite and profound ; this gave to her tendencies 
of heart all the delicious and sportive variety 

326 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER love borrows from imagination ; this lifted her 
L piety above the mere forms of conventional re- 
ligion, and breathed into her prayers the ecstacy 
of the saints." 
Seniox^s I havo not seen this passage as it stands in 
this descrip- the original, and quote it from a critical essay oi 
^' Mr. Nassau Senior. The comment which that 
hard thinker makes upon it, struck me as a capital 
example of one-eyed criticism. He introduces 
the passage by saying that Sir E. Lytton is apt 
to ascribe to his characters " qualities of which 
we doubt the real existence ;" and he dismisses 
it with the declaration, " we must say that these 
He does not appear to us to be mere words/' The anony- 
St mous cntic whom 1 quoted just now saw m the 
extract from Wordsworth meaningless phrases; 
but he allowed that the phrases had an influence 
on him, and suggested something very delightful 
to his mind. In Bulwer Lytton's description, 
Mr. Nassau Senior sees words without influence 
Nor would and without any hold on reaHty. What would 
i.u^d ^' such a man say to Shelley's account of poetry 
Shelley, with which lie closes his Defence of Poetry ? " It 
is impossible to read the compositions of the most 
celebrated writers of the present day without 
being startled with the electric hfe which burns 
within their words. They measure the circumfer- 
ence and sound the depths of human nature with 
a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit, and 
they are themselves perhaps the most sincerely 
astonished at its manifestations ; for it is less their 

The Secrecy of Art. 327 

spirit than the spirit of the age. Poets are the chapter 
hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration ; — 
the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futu- 
rity casts upon the present ; the words which ex- 
press what they understand not; the trumpets 
which ring to battle, and feel not what they 
inspire ; the influence which is moved not, but 

In these various quotations I have been endea- so far the 

t* • 1 p • T definition of 

vourmg, trom as many points ot view as 1 can com- art as the 
mand, to justify and make clear the paradox thattt."^ 
whereas the theme of science is the known and I^^° ^^ 

been ex- 

knowable, that of art is the unknown and xmknow- pif «»«^ 

solely by re- 
able. But the quotations which I have been ference to 

able to bring forward relate chiefly to poetry, ^ ^^* 

and they ought to have the supplement of a few 

words on the other forms of art, showing that 

they too, music, painting, sculpture, not less 

than poetry, are what they are, and gain their 

peculiar ends, not as exhibitions of knowledge 

in one form or another, but as suggesting some- 

thing beyond knowledge. This, however, is seethe 

1 •.! t* * a1 • l^ a same defini- 

even more clear in the case ot music than m that tion as it 
of poetry. There is no pretension in music to Xl" '" 
increase the store of knowledge, and so far it is 
to be regarded as the purest type of art. The 
glory of music is to be more intimately con- 
nected than any other art with the hidden soul ; 
with the incognisable part of our minds, which it 
stirs into an activity that at once fills us with 
delight and passes understanding. We feel a 

328 The Gay Science. 

OHAPTER certain mental energy quickened within us ; faint 

far-away suggestions, glimpses of another world, 

crowd upon the uttermost rim of consciousness ; 

and we entertain through the long movements 

of a symphony the indefinable joy of those who 

wake from dreams in the fancied possession of a 

Music is treasure— they wot not what. Music being thus 

which has the most spiritual of the arts — having less con- 

JJ^I^jcUoa nection than any other with knowledge and 

J^r*Jlr^4jj matter of fact ; more connection than any other 

Uieun- ^fn^}[^ the unknown of thouerht; we are for a 

kuown of o ' 

thought, moment reminded of the opinion of those who 
would make it the queen of the arts, as there are 
those on the other hand who would make meta- 
physics queen of the sciences. Into a discussion 
of that point which, after all, is of little import- 
ance, I shall not now be tempted to stray ; but 
1 wish to say, in passing, that when critics seek 
to measure a great musician like Beethoven with 
a great dramatist like Shakespeare, they are apt 
to run the comparison upon quaUties which are 
Beethoven Tlic art of Shakespcarc, be it observed, is 
speai^ com- complex. It is built on a vast expenditure of 
^''^* facts, on a wonderful exposition of knowledge. 
Through the splendid colh'sion of facts, we learn 
to catch at something which is not in the facts ; 
from the conquered world of knowledge we sidle 
into the unconquered world of hidden thought — 
** the worlds unrealized " of Wordsworth. But 
in any attempt to show the greatness of Shake- 

The Secrecy of Art. 329 

speare, the proofs are nearly all based on the chapter 
^tness of his knowledge. It is only tins kind iL 
of proof that we can logically construe. Who 
can take the measure of his influence in the 
hidden world of thought ? We can measure his 
knowledge, we cannot measure all that is com- 
prised in the know-not-what of his influence. 
Now if we try to put into comparison the menta' 
grasp of Beethoven with that of Shakespeare — 
what do we find ? We find in Beethoven the 
great master of an art, which is not complex but 
simple — which acts powerfully and vitally on 
the imknown realm of thought, but not through 
the means, or at least very little through the 
means, of definite knowledge. The definite know- The com- 
ledge which Beethoven or any great musician ^l^iUe. 
puts before our minds as a means of gaining 
access to the hidden soul is very small; compared 
with that which Shakespeare sets in the glare of 
consciousness it is as nothing. The standard, 
therefore, of conscious comparison between the 
great musician and the great dramatist entirely 

When we turn from music and poetry tOThedefini- 
painting and sculpture, there may be more diffi- ^ thJ*?^ 
culty in accepting art as in the strictest sense ^„|^^"^ 
the opposite of science — the k^ner of a secret**^' 
which may be imparted but never known. 
Music is nothing if not suggestive, and all good 
poetry has a latency of meaning beyond the 
simple statement ot acts. But in the arts of The arts of 

330 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER painting and sculpture there is the precision, the 
— clearsightedness, the accuracy of science; and 
^?^rex- we admire so much the knowledge of the 


******* ^'^ of tl^g represented, which the artist exhibits, 

*^**™*- that we are less struck by the something beyond 
knowledge — the know-not-what which he 
suggests to the imagination. When the poet 
makes Perdita babble of the daffodils that come 
before the swallow dares, and take the winds of 
March with beauty, he displays a suggestiveness 
which outruns the whole art of painting. Qui 
pingit Jhrenij non pingit Jloris odorem. How 
can a painter in the tinting of a daffodil convey 
fine suggestions of the confidence and power of 
beauty in a tender flower ? The painter may 
give us ** pale primroses,'* but how can he convey 
what Perdita means when she tells us that they 
die unmarried ere they can behold bright 

Ami the Phoebus in his strength ? The painter's art is 

painter's ^^t, ^ -ii i n 

esiKciaiiy evidently tied to fact more strictly than that of 

ih y6rv 

strictly tied tlic poct. We arc all familiar with the manner 
"* ^ * in which truth of drawing, truth of colour, truth 
of perspective, truth of light and shadow, truth 
to the minutest hair and filament of fact — in one 
word, complete science is demanded of the artist 
who appeals to us through the visual sense ; and 
his scientific mastery of the human forms, or dog- 
forms, or forms of whatever else is to be pictured, 
bulks so large in our esteem that we forget often 
the somewhat more than science which ought to 
be on his canvas or in his marble, and without 

The Secrecy of Art. 331 

which his art is naught. If mere accuracy, if chapter 
mere matter of fact, were all in all, then the — 1 
artist would stand a poor chance in competition But sdenoe 
with the photograph and other mechanical modes raough. 
of copying nature. It is the artist's business, by The pic- 
. the capture of evanescent and almost impalpable reaches to 
expression, by the unfathomable blending of^yond"*^ 
light in shadow, by delicacies of purest colour, ^^^^' 
by subtleties of lineament, by touches of a 
grace that is beyond calculation, b/ all the 
mysteries that are involved in the one word — 
tone — to convey to the imagination a something 
beyond nature, and beyond science — 

The light which never was on sea or shore, 
The consecration and the poet's dream. 

If there be artists who content themselves with The artists 

who adherB 

adhesion to bare fact, who are never able to tran- to bare fact 
scend fact and to move the imagination, then^ey?* ^ 
we must think of them as of Defoe. We take 
an interest in what Defoe tells us, but it is not 
the interest excited by art. He sees things' 
clearly and describes them sharply ; but the com- 
plaint against him is that he has no imagination 
— ^that he never touches the hidden sense, which 
we have been trying to analyze. And as a man 
may tell a story well (it is done every day in the 
newspapers), and yet his clear story-telling is 
not poetry ; so a man may paint a picture well, 
and yet his picture for all the clearness and 
fulness of knowledge it exhibits may not be art, 
because it wants that something which a great Their art 

332 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER artist once described by snapping his fingers. 
— '- " It wants, said Sir Joshua Rejmolds, ** it wants 

CMeutial tn/OU. 

it. *^ There is a famous saying of Shakespeare's 

Ulysses, " that one touch of nature makes the 
whole world kin ;" and in a sense very different 
from that which our dramatist had in his mind, 
it is frequently cited as the clearest expression 
of what art most gloriously achieves, and what 
the artist ought most steadily to pursue. Who- 
ever will refer to the passage in the original, 
will see that Shakespeare meant nothing like 
what his readers divorcing the line from the 
context now see in it. The supposition is, that 
when we discover any one touch of nature our 
hearts are stirred into sympathy with all nature, 
and we rejoice in the felt grandeur of the bond 
which links us to the universe. It is a mistake, 
however, to suppose that any touch of nature 
will produce this effect, and that the artist has 
nothing to do but to render nature. It is only 
by touches of nature that he can move us, but 
he has to select his touches. Truth of touch is 
not enough, because every true touch is not in 
magnetic relation with the hidden life of the 
mind. The artist may fill his canvas with true 
touches ; and Sir Joshua, snapping his fingers, 
may have to say — " It wants that.'' 

But if the If the essential quality of art may be expressed 

The Secrecy of Art. 333 

by the pantomime of snapping one's fingers, and ghafte 
by saying, " 'tis that" then there is good reason —1 

I* • ijtiiii domain of 

why in a previous chapter 1 should have art is the 
refiised to limit the scope of art to the true, to ^^^ 
the beautiful, or to any one idea within tlle{^^'^^^^ 
sphere of knowledge ; but there may also seem «^^^ be th* 
to be fair grounds for challenging the possibility «dence? 
of a critical science. If the field of art be the 
unknown and unknowable, where is the room 
for science ? Is it not likely that all our inquiries 
into the nature of art may end in no better 
result than the page-boy in one of Lilly's plays 
got out of Sir Tophaz ? " Tush, boy !" cries the 
bragging soldier. Sir Tophaz, " I think it but 
some device of the poet to get money/' " A. 
poet !" says Epiton ; " what's that ?" " Dost 
thou not know what a poet is ?" " No," says 
the page. " Why, fool," rejoins Sir Tophaz, 
" a poet is as much as one should say, a poet," 
If, however, there be aught of which a science 
is impossible there may still be room for scientific 
ignorance. Nay, more. Sir William Hamilton, 
who, notwithstanding Mr. Mill, will hold his 
place as the greatest thinker of the nineteenth 
century, maintained, though he did not originate 
the paradox, " that what we are conscious of is 
constructed out of what we are not conscious of,- — 
that our whole knowledge, in fact, is made up of 
the unknown and incognisable," I do not insist 
upon this, although it is capable of distinct proof, 
because to render such a mystery in knowledge 

334 The Gay Science. 

CHAPTER plain to the popular mind would be too much of 

L a digression. But it may be enough to say that 

■^ rr if we cannot tear the secret from art, we can, at 

JJ^^ any rate, lay bare the conditions imder which it 

***hfch^' passes current. There is a science of biology, and 

the idence yet uo ouo cau define what is life. The science 

thing the of life is but a science of the laws and conditions 

which is under whicn it is mamiested. bo, again, is it 

"°^**'^' essential to the science of electricity that we 

should know for certain what is electricity? 

We know not what it is : we only see its effects ; 

and yet relating to these effects of an unknown 

power there has been built up a great science. 

Again, we can trace the orbits of comets and 

reckon upon their visits, though of themselves, 

their what, their why, their wherefore, we know 

almost nothing. And so there may be a science 

of poetry and the fine arts, although the tlieme 

of art is the Unknown, and its motive power is 

the Hidden Soul.