Arts - Each Are Regulated By The Same Principle
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
With respect to the general leading principles for the regulation of art, whether as regards design, composition, description, expression, or imagination, we shall find that exactly the same rules are more or less adapted for the government of each art, and at each separate stage. All the arts, more-over, appealing to the mind in a similar way, and to the same faculties, the principles of each are based on precisely the same foundation. This one circumstance of itself serves to constitute an invisible chain, of infinite force nevertheless, which binds them altogether, closely and eternally. These laws are, moreover, as uniform as are those of attraction and gravitation, which regulate matter; and they are far more unerring, and more faithfully followed, than any of the laws which regulate civil society.
These various principles are, of course, in each case modified to suit the character of the particular art to which they are applied, although this is effected without in any degree lessening the efficiency of such rules, or limiting them as to the ex-tent to which they may be carried. In each art the observance of them tends in an equal degree to contribute to the vigour of the representation.
As in all languages, grammar of some description is alike applicable and necessary, and the same general principles will be found to regulate the grammar of each country ; and as among all nations certain laws are essential for their control, and the great leading principles of natural law form the basis of the judicial system of every kingdom ; so in each art some governing principle, and among them all the same fundamental rules, are requisite to be observed.
The same principles also which contribute to the development of beauty and excellence in sculpture, direct the proportions of architecture as well, and regulate poetry and music.
Sounds in music closely correspond with forms and colours in material objects, as loudness with greatness, and perhaps with darkness, softness with smallness and with light colour. Slowness in sound corresponds with slowness in motion, and quick sound with rapidity of motion in figures. The varieties in the modulation of sounds correspond also with the varieties in colours and forms discernible in objects that we see. Thus, also, cadences in music correspond with stops in rhetorical and poetical composition, with the divisions or breaks in the portions of a picture, and in an architectural pile, and also with the spaces between figures in a sculptural group.
In dramatic acting as much as in painting and poetry, it is the province and duty of the artist to give visual or oral embodiment, indeed both these, to the ideas which are suggested by the description of the scene that supplies the topic. Nearly all the principles of art to which I have referred are, therefore, applicable to and available in this of acting ; and the delineation of character and passion is especially within its sphere. Acting is, moreover, as strictly subject to rule as are poetry and architecture. In costume also, the principles of art are as fully serviceable as they are in painting and music.
Gardening exhibits further the connection both between art and nature, and between the different arts. By means of this art the varied enchantments of landscape scenery are reduced to a system, and adapted to the principles of artistical composition.
Each art may also more or less assist by elucidating or illustrating the precise mode of applying the principles of one art to the other. Cicero, indeed, remarks that there should be the same proportion between the parts of an oration as the parts of an architectural edifice. Even the laws of music are said to afford a principle for the regulation of what may appear at first sight to be very remote from their sphere,—the proportion in the forms of sculpture and of architectural edifices, and also the colour and light and shade of different objects, and the variation and modification of each of these elements.
The nature and object of the different principles for the regulation of artistical design and composition in each branch, and the mode of applying them, it is my intention to point out and to consider at large in certain of the following chapters, which renders it unnecessary here more fully to dilate upon this topic.
In each art, therefore, there are not only certain specific rules for its government, but the same rules are applicable to each art, and require only the very slight modification arising from the different nature of the particular arts to which they are adapted, to suit them especially to each art separately.