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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/439

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435
THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE ARTS

soil. Breeders and fanciers are showing what can be done to mold animal life into preconceived forms. They "habitually speak of an animal's organization," says Darwin, "as something plastic, which they can model almost as they please." "It would seem," said Lord Somerville, "as if they had chalked out upon a wall a form perfect in itself, and then had given it existence."[1] Is it less difficult to fashion the ideal in flesh than in clay? The fine arts have been called the 'creative arts.' But the botanical and zoological arts, which are capable of bringing into existence new forms of life, ideal forms, differing in size, shape, color and character from anything that nature has produced, are also creative arts. They continue and supplement the work of the Creator. There seems no absurdity, then, in ranking above the art that paints a flower the art that can produce one; above the art that beguiled the birds, the art that can change the leopard's spots.

At the head of the vital arts is the art which seeks to realize the ideal in the life and character of individual men. Man is an animal, a paragon, if you please, and the 'beauty of the world,' but still an animal. The arts devoted to his physical, mental and moral improvement are, strictly speaking, zoological. They are the highest of the vital arts because they deal with the highest form of life, and outrank all below them in possibilities. The ideal man realized in the flesh, which is the object of these arts, would exceed in beauty and beneficent influence anything that is possible to the painter's brush or the sculptor's chisel. The totality of these arts may be embraced by the word education.

Education employs all lower arts as means. It rests upon them and requires a knowledge of their principles. To educate demands the highest type of mind. It is an art which the world has never properly estimated or appreciated. When ranked as an art at all it has been placed below the fine arts, whereas, when made a fine art itself, it is immeasurably above them. To be sure, there are few who have made it such. The great educational artists may be counted on one's fingers. Each of these men has been as one born out of time. But when the art of education is duly appreciated the world will find a place in its Temple of Fame for such artists as Pestalozzi and Froebel, Herbart and Horace Mann, and the other great teachers who have striven to make the word flesh that it might dwell among men. Education should always be, and should always have been, a fine art.

We now come to the third and last division of the arts, the social arts. The ultimate end of all the arts is a perfected humanity. Hence, in one sense, all the arts are social arts. Here, however, we include only the arts which have for their immediate end the improvement of society, which deal with society as the next lower arts deal with the individ-


  1. See Darwin, 'Origin of Species,' Chap. I.