Conjuction And Co-operation Of Science And Art
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
But however valuable in its influence art may be admitted to be, the extent both of its value and of its influence, either on a nation or on an individual, must of course mainly depend on, and be regulated by the manner and the extent to which it is cultivated and understood. And, as regards art of each kind, it should ever be followed, not indeed to the exclusion of other enlightened and intellectual pursuits, in which we are directed rather by reason than by taste, and to which we may be induced more by the pursuit of wealth than by the improvement of the mind, but in aid and in conjunction with them. Science, indeed, should be made to assist instead of retarding art, and should promote each department of it, especially those where mechanical skill is requisite. The two should, moreover, be not only co-operative, but mutually corrective of each other's defects ; and reason and taste, like science and art, should ever be cultivated together, and should be exerted to improve and invigorate each other.
Wealth may prove a nation's power, but wealth directed to right uses only can contribute to its true greatness. Riches, indeed, should ever be regarded, both by nations and by individuals, not as an end, but as a means only of effecting great and good purposes. It is for the people of England yet to evince that our success in commerce has not been purchased by our loss of taste ; that the national avidity has not extirpated the genius of the nation, or its martial achievements deadened the softer influences of art. The conquests of art are not only peaceful triumphs, but are the victories over ignorance and sensuality of intellectuality and virtue. The province of art is not to raise jealousies between nations, but to unite them in harmony, as all alike interested in effecting the same great achievement. Between science and art a union should ever exist, which must tend much to the improvement and the advancement of each.
The invention of engraving, for which art is deeply indebted to science, has made large compensation to art for whatever in-juries it has received from science. By this means science and art render an important aid to each other ; they maybe also of essential service to one another in correcting many influences of a pernicious nature which the excessive pursuit of either conduces to engender.
The connection and mutual dependence between art and science is further forcibly evinced in the case of photographic productions, in which, while science secures mathematical accuracy to the design, taste is required in completing the picture, to rectify those rude and indistinct outlines, and harsh and abrupt shadows which were occasioned by the imperfect adaptation of the instrument used. Both science and art aid here in the imitation of nature, but both in a different mode, and each are in-adequate when singly used to attain the object desired; when united together, they correct the efforts of one another, and by the conjunction and co-operation of the two, we may hope to see effected a perfect representation.
The present era of this country must be ever remarkable for the gigantic and astonishing discoveries which have been made in the wondrous mysteries of science, when its vast powers have been displayed to our view, and its great practical operations fully developed. How glorious would be the consummation if the same fortunate age which saw the grand invention of the steam engine rise out of comparative insignificance to its present meridian splendour, and which beheld, too, the discovery of the electric telegraph, should also witness the development with corresponding success of the arts in Great Britain, which in their influence are not less important to the national welfare than are the most mighty of the achievements of which science can boast ! In their progress the two should be over united, and should advance hand in hand together. While the one is engaged laboriously in adding to the stores of our national wealth ; the other should not only assist in this endeavour by the improvement and extension of our manufactures, but should also at the same time exercise its benign influence to refine and ennoble the minds of its votaries, and to secure them against the domination of those sordid and avaricious feelings which the uninterrupted accumulation of riches is wont to generate. While the one confers upon us the disposal of superhuman physical power, and capacitates us to achieve the most astonishing and stupendous works of skill; the other should direct our taste in the construction of those vast monuments of our genius, and should in a corresponding manner, by the pursuit of it, aid to invigorate and to increase the powers of the understanding. While the one enables us to waft our merchandise to the very extremes of the world itself,—makes our progress to be bounded only by the confines of the globe, and empowers us to hold instant communication with the most distant regions of the earth,—the other should contribute to spread our renown coextensively with our name, and, with the highest civil and commercial prosperity, cause us also to acquire as a nation the noblest rank in intellectual glory.