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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (April 5, 1883)
THE HESPERIAN STUDENT.
length, been brought.
In Europe the grout diversity of the different languages
forms an ollcclunl bur against any such coalition. In the
case of Canada and the United States no such barrier ex
ists. A confederation between the two would thus be
among the possibilities, and we think among the proba
bilities of the near futuic.
A VIEW OF REALISM.
The characteristic tendency of the present generation is
realism. Human thought in every direction is straining
after tho truth. Men whose actions mark the footsteps of
progression care more than ever before to learn and tench
what actually is, and less than ever before to mourn for
the illusions, however beautiful, which are daily becom
ingbut memories of the past. Mountains of superstition
that have proudly stood for ages, walls of false theory,
built long ago by careful hands and faithfully repaired
and strengthened by following generations, resist for a
time by massive strength the wave of investigation which
so morcilessly forces its "way into their mighty hearts, but
fiually crumble and go down forever in the ruin of obliv
ion. Iconoclastic as we are, we often troinble to look up.
on the vastness of the destruction we have wrought; but
unceasingly, unerringly, the work goes on.
The very air is filled with realism. We ciui no more
avoid coming under its almost instinctive influence than
we can slop drawing breath. It is here, and in spite of our
selves we ore infected with its spirit and carried along by
the tide of the inevitable. The causes of this universal
movement are explained very diversely and quite unsatis
Jactorily. They are, however, beyond the limits of this
discussion; we arc chielly. concerned with its effects.
Former eras of the world's history are respectively desig.
nated the age of chivalry, the age of intolerance, the age
of romance and idealism and the age of great deeds.
Ours has been styled the age of mediocrity; but a more
exact, a truer name would bo the 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
elo in its native clement, and advances to unprecedented
and uu.dreamcd-of triumphs. Endless arc its discover
ies of the liuth in nature, and incalculable are the benefits
derived from the utility that is made of them by invention.
The literature of the time is permeated with realism.
The Theologian no longer affirms with serious exactness
the number of angels tiiat can comfortably dance on tho
pointcf a needle; he has ceased to argue concerning the
authenticity of tho Apocrypha, and we rarely even hear
him insist on the inspiration of the Scriptures. In this
day of practicality, mankind calls out to himfor the ker
nel, not the chaff, of religion; aud heturns his attention
to the demands and necessities of humanity, to the more
vital questions which concern the ultimate welfare and
happiiiehs of his fellow-men, to the ugliness of sin, the
beauty of righteousness, and the eternal hnercy and love
of God. The Poet, stirred by the generalAthrill, turns
with fond reluctance from the luxurious fields of his im
agination, and takes instead his Inspiration from the exis
tent domain of life about him. The Novelist runs his pen
through a network of improbab'.c'plots and Marlliiig sits
uatione, and blots out unfeelingly his impossibly good
heroes and impossibly wieiu'd villains. Pausing and
looking out upon the busy world before him, he sees he.
roes of sufficient heroism, villains of sufficient villainy and
excitement of sufficient intensity to justify him in becom
ing an exact delineator of life as it is, in short, an histos
riau in detail.
In tho province of art, tho development of man's finest
sensibilities and the satisfaction of his highest nature,
the influence of pure realism is scarcely less discernible.
The Painter forsakes the weird and beautiful images of
his ideality, and pictures on his canvas the simplest aud
most common of natural scenes, a bit of ordinary wood
land, an humble cottage, a view in every day life. No
object, if truly depicted, is too lowly or familiar to claim
the attention of the school which acknowledges as its
motto: "True art is fidelity to nature." The Sculptor
turns his back upon the indefinable outlines of an angelic
or mythological group, aud leaves unfinished the work
of bringing into life the ideal beauty of some hcaven.born
Venus or Apollo. Imbued witli the surrounding atmos
phere of exactness, he carves into enduring marble 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 the Musician, the im)3t ethe
real of all artists, appreciates and follows the prevailing
tendency. The operas of Wagner and the symphonies of
Berlioz undertake to deal witli fact more than with fancy.
The underlying idea of the whole is to represent real ac
tiou, rcal.life, and real emotion.
And so we might goon indefinitely, finding as wepro.
cceded that the entire range of present thought is marked
byadovol'on to that whicJt is. The actual is discovered
to be of far higher importance to mankind then the ideal
aud hence mankind is bending its energies to the explor
ation and comprehension of what lies before it. And in
all this is implied a practical lesson to humanity. When
complaint is made by lovers of the beautiful that beaut'
suffers loss by the indiscriminate sacrifice of the imagi
nation to fact, they display at once the import of the warn
ing given by this realistic age. There are but three possible
classes of tilings wilhiu our knowlcdgc.-those owing their
existence to God, toman, and to both. In the first class,
the beauty of the truth admits of no improvement; in
the second and third, the responsibility for the lack of
beauty rests upon ourselves. Shall we sit by, in idle grief,
to mouin the ashes of those false idols which we our
selves have reared ; or shall we profit by the lesson, and,
taking life just as it is, make it worthy of our admiration ?
The destruction ot that which only pleased and flattered
wiil not be in vain, if man will place the truth before his
eyes and strive to make it beautiful. Then will the world
have Uiken a mighty bound towards all that is higher,-grander,-uobler.
C. A. P.
'A mneher, dear;
You will always find it standing hero
Posed on tho corner of the street,
Proudly displaying its tiny feet,
Twlrltug Its Httie ten-cent cane,
And stupefying its tender hraln,
With the smoke of a paper cigarette.
Dont touch it, dear- Jt was rained a pet,"
"Will It bite, motheri"
Well, I should shout:
It will bite for ull that's out."
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