[Illustration: M. Saint-Saens in his Later Years]
Why is it that geniuses like Victor Hugo, distinguished minds, thinkers, and profound critics, refuse to see that Art is a special entity which responds to a certain sense? If Art accommodates itself marvellously, if it accords itself with the precepts of morality and passion, it is nevertheless sufficient unto itself—and in its self-sufficiency lies its heights of greatness.
The first prelude of Sebastian Bach’s Wohltemperirte Klavier expresses nothing, and yet that is one of the marvels of music. The Venus de Milo expresses nothing, and it is one of the marvels of sculpture.
To tell the truth, it is proper to add that in order not to be immoral Art must appeal to those who have a feeling for it. Where the artist sees only beautiful forms, the gross see only nudity. I have seen a good man scandalized at the sight of Ingres’s La Source.
Just as morality has no function to be artistic, so Art has nothing to do with morality. Both have their own functions, and each is useful in its own way. The final aim of morality is morality; of art, art, and nothing else.
POPULAR SCIENCE AND ART
Rene Bazin has sketched cleverly Pasteur’s brilliant career. France has no clearer claim to glory than in Pasteur, for he is one of the men, who, in spite of everything, keeps her in the first rank of nations.
A rare good fortune attended him. While many scholars who seek the truth without concerning themselves with the practical results have to wait many long years before their discoveries can be used, Pasteur’s discoveries were useful at once. So the mob, which cannot understand science studied for its own sake, appreciated Pasteur’s works. He saved millions to the public treasury, and tens of thousands of human lives.
He had already secured a notable place in science when the public learned his name through the memorable contest between him and Pouchet over “spontaneous generation.” The probabilities of the case were on Pouchet’s side. People refused to believe that these organisms which developed in great numbers in an enclosed jar or that the molds which developed under certain conditions were not produced spontaneously. The youth of the time went wild over the question.
I was constantly being asked, “Are you for Pouchet or Pasteur?” and my invariable response was, “I shall be for the one who proves he is right.” I was unwilling to admit that any such question could be solved a priori in accordance with preconceived ideas, although I must confess that among my friends I found no one of the same opinion.
We know how Pasteur won a striking victory through his patience and his genius. He demonstrated that millions and millions of germs are present in the air about us and that when one of them finds favorable conditions, a living being appears which engenders others. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This law may seem unjust, but it is one of the great laws of Nature.