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“ form” in the higher æsthetic sense of the word. Some of the results have been remarkable for power and intensity of expression. Ideas were never before conveyed in paint so forcibly. If graciousness, dignity and reserve are lacking, there is every reason to admit the vigour and energy of the work.
Futurism, the special cult of Signor Marinetti and his circle, has produced some eccentric and some noteworthy things, but on the whole there seems no reason to suppose that it contains the germ of any really great development. It is apt to be more piquant and amusing than ästhetically stimulating. Cubism, however, appears to be a serious contribution to modern art, wild though some of its products are. It is an attempt to render on canyas the significance of pure form without more than a limited reference to external shapes. Some of its disciples have gone so far as to paint pictures in which the design bears no perceptible relation whatever to the visual appearance of the subject. For a few advanced minds there may be ästhetic exaltation in this kind of thing, but it is as yet a long way ahead of the apprehension of the average picture lover. Cubism of this extreme kind is analogous to a poetry in which ästhetic effect is produced by the ingenious juxtaposition of syllables which have no meaning. There is, however, a real and vital principle at the root of the movement-the search for a more subtle and piercing æsthetic.
Among all this crowd of art movements which are jostling each other for recognition and pushing back the older style, in what direction may we expect art to develop ? Probably, in the main, along the line of the steadier kind of Post-Impressionism. A definition is difficult, but the work of Cezanne may be taken as representative of the highest possibilities of this school. Cezanne does not ignore external form or tone and colour, but he uses these elements in a new and infinitely more telling way. Mr. Clive Bell has defined the essence of this new school as
' significant form," a principle which he discovers in all the very great work of past times. Plunging deep down into the mysteries of form, Cezanne has apparently discovered-or re-discovered-a method of expression by which the aesthetic qualities of the subject are rendered in a strangely penetrating and moving way. Simple subjects are endowed with an altogether new meaning. A picture of a cottage or a tree, though photographically quite inaccurate, is given a vitality and realness far beyond the possibilities of pure representation. It is as though the artist had traced the soul of the cottage or the tree. Something of the quality of Cezanne has penetrated to the art of other distinguished workers who are turning out things of remarkable vigour. Mr. Bell asks whether, after centuries of painting prettiness (“ upholstery" he calls it)
' the European art-world is going back to the colossal days of the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Byzantines, when the curse of “photographic” art was unknown and men fused their burning thoughts into the lines and masses of mighty works such as the world has never since produced. It might be hoped so, for there is a sure incentive in the undoubted emptiness of merely representational painting, but there is also a fatal bar to such a development in its highest degree in modern times, and that is the lack of a racial art-consciousness. In ancient days artists were content, century after century, to brood over the same tremendous problems. The Greeks fixed their artistic effort on the perfect expression of a few root conceptions, such as that of Aphrodite. Other ideas were attacked, but none the less a never-ending succession of artists took up the problem of expressing a few elemental notions, and ultimately the art-consciousness of the whole race, devoted mainly to this limited field, achieved perfection. So in Byzantine times, or in the best days of Egyptian or Hindu art, the artistic, expressional power of the race was continually applied to a few leading problems, with what result every one knows. The leading motive in this racial productivity was religion. But religion in the ancient sense, as a power which dominates and animates millions of people as though they possessed but one single soul, is not now existent in Europe. As each individual thinks what he likes and believes what he likes, since there is no more heaven and hell, no more rack and dungeon, no more human sacrifice, so every artist is a freethinker and paints in the narrow circle of ideas which are his alone. There is no accumulation, no gradual heaping up and garnering of artistic thought. The age-long process which wrought the Sphinx or the Venus of Milo is an impossibility.
In this very sense the art of to-day is especially typical of its time. People hurry hither and thither, making believe to enjoy life-seeking to forget themselves in the rush and jostle of modern existence, achieving no rest, and at the end finding only the eternal paradox. One inquirer demands the meaning of life. A million voices reply discordantly. It is an age without conviction, of doubt and unrepose, but also of the intensest searching. Such are the conditions which are giving birth to the art movements of the twentieth century. We may be sure the product of such nervous and spiritual turmoil will be new, powerful, vivid and passing strange.
passing strange. But is there any heaven in it such as there was in the older art ? It is scarcely yet perceptible.
H. E. BATES.
SUETONIUS AND THE CÆSARS.
BY R. M. STEPHEN.
HISTORY fulfils at least two functions: it records
: men's deeds and sufferings, and passes some sort of judgment upon their characters. The main events of a period soon become a settled datum ; it is otherwise with our estimate of those who took a prominent part in them. A triumph or disaster cannot be long concealed or substantially falsified. What has once fairly happened leaves a trail of consequences : the noise of it has echoes: the shock causes displacements : damage done must be repaired if possible, and lost ground recovered, or definitely surrendered with a
worse grace or a better ; and all responsible people acknowledge the vanity of trying to hide what only a world gone blind can fail to see. The fiercest partisan could not long deny that Augustus defeated Antony at Actium, or that Napoleon was overthrown at Waterloo ; but for many a day after the world has agreed about the material course of a great conflict, it will go on debating hows and whys, and distributing praise and blame differently between the protagonists.
The sequence of events in Mary Stuart's short reign in Scotland is clear enough, and universally accepted ; doubts and questions come thick when we ask what was Mary's own share in all that happened, and what the character and purpose of her friends and foes. The turbulence and confusion no one can deny ; but when it comes to deciding what they meant, and who, if anybody, was to blame, we are not yet agreed after three centuries and a half. The head of Charles I. fell at Whitehall two hundred and sixty-six years ago, and Oliver Cromwell died there nine years later ; and we have not yet done with controversy
character and aims. We are still Cavaliers or Roundheads as we read and judge of the Great Rebellion. Hot diversity of view over great figures in our own history is after all not so surprising ; but it goes far beyond that. Montaigne in his defence of Seneca knocks up against Dion Cassius, and thinks he need say no more to discredit his unfavourable judgment than that “his understanding of Roman affairs is so weak and ill-advised as he dareth to defend and maintain Julius Cæsar's cause against Pompey, and blusheth not to justify Antonius against Cicero.” The case is typical. Whether “the proper study of mankind is man,” or something else, there is certainly nothing that interests us like our fellow-creatures ; so that we not only take sides with or against men of our own time who are in any way prominent, and claim to influence, lead, or rule others, but we even take sides for or against men that have been dead for centuries. Thus Montaigne in the sixteenth century was still so ardent a Pompeian that he thought a writer who preferred Cæsar's side ipso facto disqualified to pronounce on Seneca's character; and Mitford and Grote coming to Greek History with different political prepossessions are Athenian or Spartan in their sympathies, and differ about Pericles and even about Cleon.
With the exception of the great Dictator, none of the Twelve Cæsars of Suetonius is quite the sort of man to keep a party following through the ages. Though some unknown hand laid flowers on Nero's grave, and simple. minded men kept looking for his return long after he was dead, no one, even in an age addicted to whitewashing, is ever likely to make him a hero. Yet one would gladly do justice even to Nero and Caligula ; and some plea for Tiberius, Claudius and Domitian, would hurt nobody, and might help us to think more truly of the first Christian Century in Rome than we often do. The view of the Cæsars prevailing among those who have been at some pains to arrive at a judgment is based in the main on the Annals and Histories of Tacitus ; but the Twelve Cæsars has