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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (April 5, 1883)
THE HESPERIAN STUDENT.
length, been brought.
In Europo the grout diversity of the dtll'orent languages
forms an olVectual bur against any such coalition. In the
caso of Canada and the United States no such bariicr ex
lata. A confederation bclwicn the two would thus be
among the possibilities, and wo think among tho proba
bilities of tho near fuiuio. .
A VIEW OF REALISM.
The characteristic tendency of the present generation is
realism. Human thought in every direction is straining
nfter tho truth. Men whose actions mark the footsteps of
progression euro more tlinu over before to learn mid tench
what actually is, and less than over before to mourn for
the illusions, however beautiful, which are dully becom
ing but memories of tho past. Mountains of superstition
that have proudly stood for ages, walls of fulso theory,
built long ago by careful hands and faithfully repaired
and strengthened by following generations, resist for a
timo by massive strength tho wave of investigation which
so mercilessly forces its way into their mighty hearts, but
finally crumble and go down forever in the ruin of obliv.
ion. Iconoclastic as wo aro, we often tromble to look up
on the vastness of the destruction we have wrought; but
unceasingly, unerringly, tho work goes on.
The very air is filled with realism. Wo can no more
nvold coining under its almost instinctive inllucuce than
wo can slop drawing breath. It hhere, and in spito of our
selves wo aro infected with its spirit and carried along by
tho tide of tho inevitable. Tito causes of this universal
movement aro explained very divorsely and quite unsatis.
iactorily. They arc, however, beyond tho limits of this
discussion; wo aro chlelly concerned with its effects.
Former eras of tho world's history are respectively desig.
natcd the age j)f chivalry, the age of intolerance, tho age
of romance and Idealism and tho age of great deeds.
Ours has been styled tho ago of mediocrity; but a more
exact, a truer name would bo tho realistic age. To de
monstrate its propriety, let us glance for a moment Into the
principal departments of current human thought.
Science, being Intrinsically a search for the actual, rev
els in its native clement, and advances to unprecedented
and un-dreamed-of triumphs. Endless aro Its discover
ies of tho truth in nature, and incalculable aro tho benefits
derived from tho utility that ismado o( them by invention.
The literature of tho timo is permeated with realism.
Tho Theologian no longer affirms with serious exactness
the number of angels that can comfortably danco on tho
point of'a m.-cdlc; ho has ceased to argue concerning the
authenticity of tho Apocrypha, and wo rarely even hear
him insist on tho Inspiration of the Scriptures. In this
day of practicality, mankind calls out to him for tho ker
nel, not the chaff, of religion; and hojuirns his attention
to tho demands and necessities of humanity, to tho more
vital questions which concern tho ultimate welfare and
happiness of his rcllow-mcn, to tho ugliness of sin, tho
beauty of righteousness, and tho eternal mercy and lovo
of God. Tho Poet, stirred by tho gcncralfcllirlll, turns
with fond reluctance from tho luxurious fields of his Im
agination, and takes instead his Inspiration from tho exis
tent domain of llfo about him. The Novelist runs his pen
through a network of improbablojplots and startling sits
uations, and blots out unfcollngly his impossibly good
heroes and impossibly wicked villains. Pausing and
looking out upon the busy world heforu him, ho sees ho.
roes of sufficient heroism, vlllalns'of sufficient villainy and
excitement of sufficient intensity to justify him inbecom
ing an exact delineator of life as it Is, iu short, nn histpN
rian in detail.
In tho provlnco of art, tho development of man's finest
sensibilities and tho satisfaction of his highest nature,
tho influence of pure realism Is scarcely less discernible.
Tho Pnlntor forsakes tho weird and beautiful lmagos of
his ideality, and pictures on his canvas the simplest and
most common of natural scenes, a bit of ordinary wood
land, an humble cottage, a view In everyday llfo. No
object, If truly depicted, Is too lowly or familiar to claim
tho attention of the school which acknowledges as its
motto: "True art is fidelity to nature." Tho Sculptor
turns his back upon tho indefinable outlines of an angelic
or mythological group, and leaves unfinished tho work
of bringing into life tho ideal beauty of some heaven-born
Venus or Apollo. Imbued with tho surrounding atmos.
phero of exactness, ho carves Into enduring marblo tho
physical faults as well as graces of living models, or by
his magic touch shapes some homely, simple group in
rural or domestic life. Even tho Musician, tho most ethe
real of all artists, appreciates and follows tho prevailing
tendency. Tho operas of Wagner and tho symphonies of
Berlioz undertako to deal with factmoro than with fancy.
Tho underlying idea of the wholo is to represent real ac
tion, rcal.llfc, and real emotion.
And so wo might goon Indefinitely, finding as wo pro
ceeded that the entire range of present thought is marked
by a devotion to that which it. Tho actual is discovered
to bo of far higher importanco to mankind thon tho ideal
and hence mankind is bending its energies to tho explor
ation and comprehension of what lies before it. And in
all this is Implied a practical lesson to humanity. When
complaint is mado by lovers of the beautiful that beauty
suffers loss by tho Indiscriminate sacrlflco of tho Imagi
nation to fact, they display at once tho Import of the warn
ing given by tills realistic ago. Thero are but three possible
classes of things within our knowlcdgc,-those owing their
oxislence to Qod, to man, and to both. In the first class,
tho beauty of tho truth admits of no improvement; hi
tho second and third, tho responsibility for the lack of
beauty rests upon ourselves. Shall wc sit by, In idle grhjf,
to mouin the ashes of those false idols which wo our
selves liavo reared; or shall wo profit by tho lesson, and,
taking life just as it is, make it worthy of our admiration ?
The destruction of that which only pleased and flattered
will not bo in vain, if man will place tho truth before his
eyes and strive to make it beautiful. Then will th? world
have taken a mighty bound towards all that is higher,-grandor.-uoblcr.
C, A. vP.
"What It that, mother"
"A masher, dear;
You will always and It standing here
Posed on tho cornor of tho street,
Proudly displaying Its tiny foot,
Twirling Its llttlo ten-cent cane,
And stupefying Us tondor brain,
With tho smoko of a paper cigaretto.
Dont touch it, dcar-lt was raised a pot."
"Will It btto, mother?"
'Welt, I should shout:
It wltlblto for all that's out."
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