Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/760

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directed toward less indispensable issues. 2. The useful arts derive their laws and limitations predominantly from the objective world. The fine arts derive theirs more largely from the subjective world. 3. The useful arts, therefore, partake of the uniformity of physical law, with its consequent monotony, so much felt in work. The fine arts, on the other hand, permit of more novelty and variety, as experienced in play.

Although the play-impulse is at the foundation of the æsthetic arts, it does not follow that art is merely the product of this impulse. Play stimulates free imaginative activity, which creates a world of its own. And we must not forget that man is not simply an imaginative, but also a rational being. The reaction of reason impresses upon the spontaneous activities the characteristics of reason as a regulative faculty—unity, order, and proportion. Thus poetry, which was at first merely the spontaneous rhythmic expression of excited feeling, with little restraint of law and almost unlimited license, is modulated at last to the stringent requirements of exact meter, a prescribed sequence of feet, and the artifice of terminal rhyme. The interval between the first wild lyric of prehistoric man and the chastened symmetry of the modern sonnet is measured by the whole diameter of human culture.

In order to approach intelligently the development of the fine arts, it is important for us to form a clear idea of what should be included under this designation, and to classify this material according to some principle. We may for this purpose start with the classification of a recent and highly competent French writer upon the subject, M. Eugène Véron. He says: "By their origin and the nature of their processes, the arts naturally divide themselves into two well-defined groups. The one springs from the sensation of sight, and is more or less immediately connected with the practices of primitive scribes. The three arts of which it is composed are sculpture, painting, and architecture. Their common feature is development in space; their manifestations have to do with a single point of time; consequently they exclude movement, which is succession and duration, replacing it by simultaneity and order, whose law is proportion. The other three arts—poetry, music, and the dance—are subject to the laws of rhythm. They have sound for their vehicle of expression, they appeal to the sense of hearing, and take their immediate origin from spoken language, which seems for long to have consisted of a species of cadenced singing. Their principle of action is by succession, through which they are referred to general ideas of lapse of time and movement. They are therefore the more direct expression of the inner essence of life, while the other three deal with it rather in its exterior forms, which, being expressed at one given moment of their action, become as it were disguised by the