The Interpretation of Idealism.
Idealism has so often been associated in recent years with vagueness of thought, slovenly construction, and a weak sentimentalism, that it has been discredited, even among those who have recognised the reality behind it and the great place it must hold in all rich and noble living. It is the misfortune of what is called Idealism, that, like other spiritual principles, it attracts those who mistake the longings of unintelligent discontent for aspiration, or the changing outlines of vapory fancies for the firm and consistent form and shape of real conceptions deeply realised in the imagination. Idealism has suffered much at the hands of feeble practitioners who have substituted irrational dreams for those far-reaching visions and those penetrating insights which are characteristic of its true use and illustration in the arts. The height of the reaction so vigorously and impressively illustrated in a great group of modern realistic works is due largely to the weakness and extravagance of the idealistic movement. When sentiment is exchanged for its corrupting counterfeit, sentimentalism, and clear and definite thinking gives place to vague and elusive emotions and fancies, reaction is not only inevitable but wholesome; the instinct for sanity in men will always prevent them from becoming mere dreamers and star-gazers.