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number of boys that preceded him—the first to arrive being the privileged administrator of them all.”
Dr. Duff on the Moral Influence of Patshala Life on the Pupil. Reflecting upon these punishments, Dr. Alexander Duff observes as follows in the Calcutta Review of 1844 :“No wonder that the patshala should be viewed, as it uniformly is, as an object of terror by the young When a child misbehaves the most severe and awe-inspiring threat of the mother is 'Call the Gurumahashaya to take him to school !' Apart from its general influence in paralysing the intellectual and moral powers, this system of terror leads to many specific practices of a baneful tendency. It superinduces the habit of crouching servility towards the master in his presence, and the rendering of many menial and even dishonest services. To propitiate the dreaded tyrant* the boys are glad to prepare his hukka, to bring fire for smoking, to gather flowers for his pujah, to sweep his lodgings, to wash his brazen pots, to cleave thick pieces of wood for fuel, etc. They are induced to go to the bazar with their written plantain leaves, and to give them to the shopkeepers as packing material, in exchange for cowries, fish, tobacco, fruit, betel-nut, pawn, etc., which they present as offerings to their master. Or they are positively encouraged, for his sake, to bring, that is in reality, to purloin or steal, wood, rice, salt, oil, dhal, etc., from home, or from anywhere else ; seeing that those who succeed, by fair means or foul, in presenting such gifts most frequently have the best chance of escaping the rod-the best chance of being praised for cleverness though the greatest dunces ; for diligence though the greatest sluggards ; and for knowledge though the greatest ignoramuses."
HERBERT A, STARK.
(To be continued.)
* This to the pupil ; the parents evidently held the guru in esteem. Vide page 21.
POST-IMPRESSIONISM-A SIGN OF
BY H. E. BATES.
IF any art has in the course of its history been fair
game for the attacks of critics, professional and amateur, and has constantly been compelled to struggle against the hostility of the ignorant and the dullness of the unperceptive, it is especially the art of painting. An attitude of liberal-minded reserve towards it is the rarest thing in nature. Particularly at the present day do we see a revival of all the old bitter enmity of the Conservative schools of artistic thought to the introduction of new ideals and methods. Post-Impressionism, Futurism, Cubism and the rest of the modern cults are being thoughtlessly subjected to the most virulent abuse, though it is also fair to say they have their own undiscriminating thick-and-thin champions who will hear no word against the new prophets. But whatever the merits of the youngest art-groups, there is this fundamental truth to be observed in any discussion of general questions of art, that no movement of widespread extent was ever meaningless. The wise observer examines the omens and portents and tries to find out their significance. Art in its smallest and its largest evidences is a sign of its own time; a crystallization of the outlook on life here and hereafter of the people of a particular age. Post-Impressionism and the allied movements may be a symptom of madness, but they are a symptom of something, and not a thing to be passed over in negligent contempt. For what reason then, we may inquire, has so profound a change come over the art thought of Europe in the last fifteen or twenty years
? It is clear that artists have been growing in the conviction that the older methods of expression through the
medium of paint on canvas are inadequate to modern requirements. Technical achievement in representation could scarcely be carried further than it has been carried by many an artist of renown. The discoveries of the French impressionists of the later school in colour and light were the last word in this direction. Their canvases glowed with a dazzling effulgence. The possibilities of drawing and tone as elements of representational painting have also been fully exploited, until modern painting came to be as much a science as an art. But it was patent to sensitive minds that something was lacking in all this. Further progress along the line of technical accomplishment was impossible : all the best things had been said in this manner as well as it was possible to say them. Moreover, it was seen that strict drawing, colour and tone, so far from helping the artist, actually cramped his expression. One simple case in point will illustrate this. The darkest dark the artist can use is black, and the whitest white is flake white. But the range of tone between these two extremes is very much smaller than the range of tone actually to be found in nature. Consequently strict representation of the facts of nature is impossible. All that can be achieved is an approximation. The problem then arose, how could the æsthetic significance of nature be paraphrased in paint so as to convey the effect not by imitation but by a new and forcible art-language ?
Beyond these considerations, which chiefly concerned the artist, there is in these days a new social spirit at work, born of the conditions of modern European life. The old, slow easy-going days have gone for ever, and existence is something rapid, eager, nervous, thrilling. None could live in the days of express trains, motor-cars, aeroplanes and daily newspapers without having his spiritual outlook affected. Least of all could the sensitive soul of the artist escape the contagion. The new state of affairs found an early expression in art in France and Italy, where artistic sensibility is keen, and the new movements began to be
born. As might be expected, there was great diversity in the expression. Something new, however, had to be said in paint and it had to be said in a new and pungent way in order to express adequately the strange novelty of existence in the twentieth century; and it had to be expressed in the terms of a flash of lightning. No longueurs, no quiet contemplation, but an instant penetration to the root of the matter. That is the ruling factor in the advanced art of the day : escape from the old and the ardent pursuit of the new. The twentieth century with its thousand inconceivable potentialities had been born, and men felt and feel constrained to herald the fact in paint, in marble, in verse and in music, in a way which shall befit the new times. This artistic movement, so far as painting and sculpture are concerned, is conveniently classed under the term Post-Impressionism, invented, for want of a better name, by Mr. Roger Fry. It includes, as most striking art departures have included, the wildest exaggerations and incongruities. Charlatans and impostors exploit it ; failures at respectable painting take it up as a last hope ; incompetents are led away by it, and madmen find it a convenient medium for the expression of insanity. But in spite of all this, the vitality of the new movement is indubitable. Many thought it was merely a bid for popularity by artists who were at their last gasp ; but after some years it is stronger than ever. It has not languished under the cloud of war. If anything, it has gone forward to fiercer and intenser expression, finding in war that transfiguring passion and tumultuous ardour which is at the very soul of the new art.
Whatever aspect of this remarkable phonomenon we take, the old æsthetic standards clearly apply no longer. However true it may have been formerly that art was concerned with the presentation of the Beautiful, it is true no more, or rather conceptions of beauty are changing and the new art movement is a further proof of the impermanence of human ideals. By no chance could the term “beautiful” be applied in the sense of Titian's “ Bacchus and Ariadne" or Botticelli's "Magnificat” to the products of Cubism or Post-Impressionism. According to such standards they are simply ugly. Yet there is a novel kind of beauty present, the beauty of the leviathan ship, of the mile-long bridge of steel, of the steam-hammer, of hurrying city crowds, of the nervous cramful existence of to-day. We may dislike it, as reflecting too intimately those conditions which sometimes distract and weary us beyond endurance, but that the artists are with unfailing fidelity pictorializing the spirit of their own times, there is no gainsaying.
The modern art movement falls into different schools of thought and method, so diverse that apparently their only common quality is a desire for escape from the domination of tradition. Thus we have on the one hand that singular Italian product known as Futurism, on the other the aesthetic excesses of Cubism, and somewhere midway the saner and milder Post-Impressionism proper, and there are other little cliques and coteries with novel. ties of their own. It is difficult, however, to classify or co-ordinate the products of these groups or to define accurately the objects aimed at by each. They are working more or less blindly and instinctively, though none the less rightly for that. Post-Impressionism of the midway position includes products so diverse that the extremes scarcely resemble each other in method. At one end we find the school whose animating principle is a violent reaction from the excess of sophistication of which it considered nineteenth century art to be guilty, finding salvation in imitating the elementary methods of the artist who has not yet reached his teens. At the other end are those who (conceding the excessive and unworthy “ cleverness" of recent art) simplify by paying a merely nominal attention to accuracy of drawing, tone and colour, but try to endow the element of their work with a new and deeper significance, especially in the direction of