Again, good work is born of affection. Love teaches more art than all the schools. What we love, we instinctively beautify. The artist beautifies the material on which he works. He loves his task, and from his love there begins a gradual shaping of the ideal. The product gains a touch of beauty. The needlework of Egypt and Byzantium, the laces of Venice and of Spain, are historic. It is said of Queen Isabella, that she was one of the best needleworkers of her age; that “her motifs were the great events of the time.”
A peasant girl of Venice was once given a beautiful coral-branch and some rare leaves and shells which her lover had gathered for her from the sea-depths. She was untaught in art, and making fish-nets was her wonted work. Day by day as she wrought her nets, she looked upon the lovely sea-treasures, their beauty passed into her heart and mind, and she began to copy, spray by spray, the coral-foliage, the leaves of the sea-grasses, and the curves of the sea-shells, until after a time, in the meshes of her fish-nets, she had imprisoned forms of exquisite beauty, and one saw there reproduced, in dainty and artistic grouping, what her very soul had loved and fed upon. Her fish-nets became works of art.
Work of a high order is always based on high ideals and on great thoughts. It implies a vast amount of toil. The Capellmeister of the Vatican choir to-day is that wonderful young genius, Perosi, who is stirring all Europe by the beauty of his musical work, and by the spirituality and fervor of his musical imagination. He has set himself to compose twelve oratorios, which shall body forth the whole life of the Saviour. He believes that the music-lover and the church-lover may be identical, and has set his hand to the uniting of all true music-lovers with the great offices and services and influences of the Church. Here is Work exalted to its spiritual office: to carry out, not only ideals of beauty and harmony, but to advance spiritual progress. This is the final aim of all true work: it must be not only aesthetic, and honest, but spiritual. The prayer of the true workman is ever to make himself a workman approved unto God. “May the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and the work of our hands, establish Thou it!”
The worker should have change of work. Nature never intended that a man should do one thing all his life. This is in harmony neither with man’s infinite capacity, nor with her inexhaustible variety. Change is cultural, and a man’s work Should, from time to time, engross every working-power he has.
Working-surroundings should not only be sanitary, they should be beautiful. What influences one most at college, and makes most for one’s happiness, is not the fact of the work in recitation-rooms, out of books, laboratories, and under teachers. The glory of college life is, that wherever one goes, the eyes look out on beauty, and wherever one works, there are those whom we love who work beside us.