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It is only when the public life is actuated by the same forces through whose energy Art is elevated, that the latter can derive any advantage from it; for Art cannot, without giving up the nobility of its nature, aim at anything outward.
Art and Science can move only on their own axes; the artist, like every spiritual laborer, can follow only the law that God and Nature have written in his heart. None can help him—he must help himself; nor can he be outwardly rewarded, since anything that he should produce for the sake of aught out of itself, would thereby become a nullity; hence, too, no one can direct him, nor prescribe the path he is to tread. Is he to be pitied if he have to contend against his time, he is deserving of contempt if he truckle to it. But how should it be even possible for him to do this? Without great general enthusiasm there are only sects—no public opinion; not an established taste, not the great ideas of a whole people, but the voices of a few arbitrarily-appointed judges, determine as to merit; and Art, which in its elevation is self-sufficing, courts favor, and serves where it should rule.
To different ages are given different inspirations. Can we expect none for this age, since the new world now forming itself, as it exists in part already outwardly, in part inwardly and in the hearts of men, can no longer be measured by any standard of previous opinion, and since everything, on the contrary, loudly demands higher standards and an entire renovation?
Should not the sense to which Nature and History have more livingly unfolded themselves, restore to Art also its great arguments? The attempt to draw sparks from the ashes of the Past, and fan them again into universal flame, is a vain endeavor. Only a revolution in the ideas themselves is able to raise Art from its exhaustion; only new Knowledge, new Faith, can inspire it for the work by which it can display, in a renewed life, a splendor like the past.
An Art in all respects the same as that of foregoing centuries, will never return; for Nature never repeats herself. Such a Raphael will never be again, but another, who shall have reached in an equally original manner the summit of Art. Only let the fundamental conditions be fulfilled, and renewed Art will show, like that which preceded it, in its first works, its aim and intent. In the production of the distinctly characteristic, if it proceed from a fresh original energy, Grace is already present, even though hidden, and in both the advent of the Soul already determined. Works produced in this manner, even in their rudimentary imperfection, are necessary and eternal. * * *
By George H. Danton, PH.D
Professor of German, Butler College