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THE fortress having disappeared—the fortress which is always beautiful, because it is built with a positive end in view—England has no longer an architecture. England has no sculpture: there is too much rain and too much fog, the profiles of the earth are soaked in water, clogged by fields, and clothed with woods and with heather. England has only one century of painting, and the Puritan spirit and the practical spirit are repelled by it and, when it comes, turn it away from its goal.

Here are mighty trees, cascades, granite cliffs, eternal mist, a wild sea everywhere, summer nights like an hallucination when the light of the moon, appearing for a moment among the clouds, bathes ruins and lakes, where the sob of the nightingales rises above the murmur of the leaves, where the ponds reflect the trembling phantom of the branches. . . The Celt is sensual and mystical, the Saxon dreams out loud. Here were born, from Shakespeare to Byron, from Milton to Shelley, the greatest poets of the world. When aerial space is not sufficiently subtle, and the planet is not sufficiently pronounced in aspect to impose beyond all else the love of colors and of forms, when the world of colors and forms is rich and mysterious, and lacking in that ungrateful and monotonous quality which drives the spirit back to the inner domains of sonorous symbols, and when, added to all this, the crowd possesses a force of accent, and such energy for life and for conquest as it has nowhere else, man's faculty of words is unchained and seizes kingly command. Here is Shakespeare, all the voices of the tempest and of the dawn, the treasures rolled by the sea, the palaces built in the heavens with the tissue of stars offering themselves to the soul to interpret a confession of love, or the anguish of an irresolute man, the terror of a murderer, or the wrath of a king. Here is Milton taking, for the first time since the biblical poems and Michael Angelo, the wild gardens, the flesh of fruits, the flesh of women, and the dust of flowers to express to consciousness the tyranny of God. Here is Byron, raising the damned from their abyss to fire the stars with their fever, and to cradle it upon the ocean. Here is Shelley, each beat of whose heart sends harmonies streaming, like a river whose waters trail the reflections of the Milky Way, and the tremor of plumes and leaves which it has swept along in its course through the woods.

The English soul consoles itself for the too practical activity of Englishmen by constantly widening the spread of its wings. Even English science cannot resign itself to building its monuments impartially. It has to rise higher than the eagle, or else it applies itself to satisfying the material needs of man, and often the man of England. The supreme idea of Newton is a mystic intuition. Beyond the solar system, whose frontiers are not crossed by Copernicus, Kepler, or Galileo, it extends to infinitude the power of reason, and, passing over contradictions of detail which might cause it to stumble, it realizes its harmony with the immutable order of the world. . . But Bacon assigns to consciousness an immediate and practical purpose; Hobbes builds up his social determinism like a geometer. The merchants organized their material Republic without pity. The Roundheads impose laws of iron upon their moral Republic. There must be expiation for the lyric orgy by which the great sixteenth century, in the Occident, burst the theocratic armor from within, and caused the passion for freedom to rise in the hearts of men. There is only one book—the Bible—as later, for the Jacobins of France, there will be only one example—that of Rome. The theater of Marlowe, of Shakespeare, and of Ben Jonson will be closed. The image will be driven from the cult and swept from the mind. An easy matter. No one understood Holbein when he came here to earn his bread. No one looked at Rubens's dazzling ceilings at Whitehall. Here, anyone who is great must take refuge within his inner life or else outside the country. The imaginary world of Shakespeare permits him to satisfy his whole soul and re-create it each day. Milton is blind, Byron and Shelley, later on, will flee the virtue, the fog, and the cities. When van Dyck arrives, he will work for a king whose head is to be cut off, and for an aristocracy which is to be deposed from power. The crowd does not understand him, the theologian curses him. Charles II must bring back from France easy morals, ordered literature, and improvident politics before painting can appear without effort, as one of the wheels of the new system, and as one of the profound and irrepressible needs of the English people.

And yet the Puritan imprint has sunk in so sharply and the English people is so strong, that the first in date of its painters, the one from whom all the others will come, is the most English of all, and, though he himself is unaware of it, the most Puritan of all. The morals of William Hogarth are not irreproachable, perhaps, but his satire is virtuous. He is a contemporary of the first novelists of the manners and customs of England, and regulates his pace by theirs. Swift encourages him. Fielding congratulates him on following "the cause of righteousness," and considers that his engravings "have their appointed place in every well-kept household." He undertakes sprightly crusades against debauchery, gambling, drunkenness, and the politics of elections, and for the protection of animals. He desires the "happiness of mankind." And his work shows the effects of it. It is encumbered and confused, orchestrated in almost a haphazard manner. One thinks first of the subject, and if there is on the canvas a passage of savory painting, one perceives it only after having had a good laugh. But he has the raciness of the people. He knows London to its depths. He comes out of them, and he goes back to them. He is an Englishman, and despises everyone who is not an Englishman. The fencing-master, and the grotesque swaggerer, and the ceremonious freak must, of course, be Frenchmen. He has the atrocious raillery and the sad clearness of vision which are the backbone and the atmosphere of the comic genius of his nation. He laughs with violence, in the same way that men get angry. His healthiness will not suffer anyone around him to be in ill health.

Can one say of a painter that he missed his career as a painter when he has, for once in that career, looked on the world as a great painter does? If all English caricature, from Rowlandson to the humorous illustrators of the magazines and of popular prints, comes from him, he painted—doubtless in a few hours—a thing that contains the whole spirit and the whole flower of all English painting. In the splendor of the laugh and of the teeth and of the clear eyes and of the dimples of a girl of the people, her flesh tingling with the health that comes of milk, the juice of meats, of air, and of water—he seized, one day, all the wandering harmonies of this country of moist landscape, and of its cool ocean. The picture is a sudden flash which lights up, which will grow pale, from one painter to another, and then burn out, after the poets of landscape have picked up its silvery trace in the fog and in the heavens.

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