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Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock;
H. W. LONGFELLOW.
XXIII.-"WITH BRAINS, SIR."
RAY, Mr. Opie, may I ask what you
colors with ?" said a brisk dilettan'te student to the great painter. “With Brains, sir," was the gruff replyand the right one. It did not give much of what we call information; it did not expound the principles and rules of art; but, if the inquirer had the commodity referred to, it would awaken him; it would set him thinking and painting to good purpose. If he had not the wherewithal, as was likely enough, the less he had to do with colors and their mixture the better.
2. Many other artists, when asked such a question, would have either set about detailing the mechanical composition of such and such colors, in such and such proportions, compounded so and so; or perhaps they would have shown him how they laid them on; but even this would leave him at the critical point. Opie preferred going to the quick and the heart of the matter: "With Brains, sir."
3. Sir Joshua Reynolds was taken by a friend to see a picture. He was anxious to admire it, and he looked it over with a keen and careful but favorable eye. Capital composition; correct drawing; the color and tone excellent; but-but-it wants, hang it, it wants—That!” snapping his fingers; and wanting “ that,” though it had everything else, it was worth nothing.
4. Again, Etty was appointed teacher of the students of the Royal Academy, having been preceded by a clever, talkative, scientific expounder of esthetics, who delighted to tell the young men how every thing was done, how to copy this, and how to express that. A student came up to the new master: "How should I do this, sir ?” “Suppose you try.” Another, “What does this mean, Mr. Etty ?" “Suppose you look.” “But I have looked.” “Suppose you look again."
5. And they did try, and they did look, and looked
again; and they saw and achieved what they never could have done, had the how or the what (supposing this possible, which it is not in its full and highest ineaning) been told them, or done for them. In the one case, sight and action were immediate, exact, intense, and secure; in the other mediate, feeble, and lost as soon as gained.
6. But what are Brains”? what did Opie mean? and what is Sir Joshua's “That"? What is included in it? and what is the use, or the need of trying and trying, of missing often before you hit, when you can be told at once and be done with it; or of looking when you may be shown? Everything depends on the right answers to these questions.
7. What the painter wants, in addition to, and as the complement of, the other elements, is genius and sense; what the doctor needs to crown and give worth and safety to his accomplishments, is sense and genius: in the first case, more of this, than of that; in the second, more of that, than of this. These are the “Brains" and the “That.”
8. And what is genius ? and what is sense? Genius is a peculiar native aptitude, or tendency, to any one calling or pursuit over all others. A man may have a genius for governing, for killing, or for curing the greatest number of men, and in the best possible manner: a man may have a genius for the fiddle, or his mission may be for the tightrope or the jew's-harp; or it may be a natural turn for seeking, and finding, and teaching truth, and for doing the greatest possible good to mankind; or it may be a turn equally natural for seeking, and finding, and teaching a lie, and doing the maximum of mischief. It was as natural, as inevitable, for Wilkie to develop himself into a painter, and into such a painter as we know him to have been, as it is for an acorn when planted to grow up into an oak.
9. But genius, and nothing else, is not enough, even for a painter; he must likewise have sense; and what is sense ? Sense drives, or ought to drive, the coach; sense regulates, combines, restrains, commands, all the rest —even the
genius; and sense implies exactness and soundness, power and promptitude of mind.
10. But it may be asked, how are the brains to be strengthened, the sense quickened, the genius awakened, the affections raised—the whole man turned to the best account? You must invigorate the containing and sustaining mind, you must strengthen him from within, as well as fill him from without; you must discipline, nourish, edify, relieve, and refresh his entire nature; and how ?
11. Encourage not merely the book knowledge, but the personal pursuit of natural history, of field botany, of geology, of zoology; give the young, fresh, unforgetting cye exercise and free scope upon the infinite diversity and combination of natural colors, forms, substances, surfaces, weights, and sizes. Give young students everything, in a word, that will educate their eye or ear, their touch, taste, and smell, their sense of muscular resistance; encourage them to make models, preparations, and collections of any natural objects; and, above all, try and get hold of their affections, and make them put their hearts into their work. Let them be drilled in composition; by this we mean the writing and spelling of correct, plain English-a matter not of every-day occurrence,-let them be encouraged in the use of a wholesome and manly literature.
12. But one main help is to be found in studying, and by this we do not mean the mere reading, but the digging into and through, the energizing upon, and mastering the best books. Taking up a book and reading a chapter of lively, manly sense, is like taking a game at cricket or . run to the top of Arthur Seat. Exertion quickens your pulse, expands your lungs, makes your blood warmer and redder, fills your mouth with the pure waters of relish, strengthens and supples your legs; and though on your way to the top you may encounter rocks and baffling débris, just as you will find in serious and honest books, difficulties and puzzles; still you are rewarded at the top by a wide view. You see as from a tower the end of all. You see the clouds, the bright lights and the everlasting hills on the far horizon. You come down the hill a happier, a better, and a hungrier man, and of a better mind.
13. But, as we said, you must eat the book, you must crush it, and cut it with your teeth and swallow it; just as you must walk up, and not be carried up the hill, much less imagine you are there, or look upon a picture of what you would see were you up, however accurately or artistically done; no-you yourself must do both. He who has obtained any amount of knowledge is not truly wise unless he appropriates and can use it for his need.
John Brown, M. D.
COME from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges;
And half a hundred bridges.
I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
With willow-weed and mallow.