There are three main points the economist has to attend to in this.
First, To set his men to various work.
Secondly, To easy work.
Thirdly, To lasting work.
I shall briefly touch on the first two, for I want to arrest your attention on the last.
I say first, to various work. Supposing you have two men of equal power as landscape painters — and both of them have an hour at your disposal. You would not set them both to paint the same piece of landscape. You would, of course, rather have two subjects than a repetition of one.
Well, supposing them sculptors, will not the same rule hold? You naturally conclude at once that it will; but you will have hard work to convince your modern architects of that. They will put twenty men to work, to carve twenty capitals; and all shall be the same. If I could show you the architects' yards in England just now, all open at once, perhaps you might see a thousand clever men, all employed in carving the same design. Of the degradation and deathfulness to the art-intellect of the country involved in such a habit, I have more or less been led to speak before now; but I have not hitherto marked its definite tendency to increase the price of work, as such. When men are employed continually in carving the same ornaments, they get into a monotonous and methodical habit of labour-precisely correspondent to that in which they would break stones, or paint house-walls. Of course, what they do so constantly, they do easily; and if you excite them temporarily by an increase of wages, you may get much work done by them in a little time. But, unless so stimulated, men condemned to a monotonous exertion, work and always, by the laws of human nature, must work — only at a tranquil rate, not producing by any means a maximum result in a given time. But if you allow them to vary their designs, and thus interest their heads and hearts in what they are doing, you will find them become eager, first, to get their ideas expressed, and then to finish the expression of them; and the moral energy thus brought to bear on the matter quickens, and therefore cheapens, the production in a most important degree. Sir Thomas Deane, the architect of the new Museum at Oxford, told me, as I passed through Oxford on my way here, that he found that, owing to this cause alone, capitals of various design could be executed cheaper than capitals of similar design (the amount of hand labour in each being the same) by about 30 per cent.
Well, that is the first way, then, in which you will employ your intellect well; and the simple observance of this plain rule of political economy will effect a noble revolution in your architecture, such as you cannot at present so much as conceive. Then the second way in which we are to guard against waste is by setting our men to the easiest, and therefore the quickest, work which will answer the purpose. Marble, for instance, lasts quite as long as granite, and is much softer to work; therefore, when you get hold of a good sculptor, give him marble to carve — not granite. That, you say, is obvious enough. Yes; but it is not so obvious how much of your workmen's time you waste annually in making them cut glass, after it has got hard, when you ought to make them mould it while it is soft. It is not so obvious how much expense you waste in cutting diamonds and rubies, which are the hardest things you can find, into shapes that mean nothing, when the same men might be cutting sandstone and freestone into shapes that meant something. It is not so obvious how much of the artists' time in Italy you waste, by forcing them to make wretched little pictures for you out of crumbs of stone glued together at enormous cost, when the tenth of the time would make good and noble pictures for you out of water colour. I could go on giving you almost numberless instances of this great commercial mistake; but I should only weary and confuse you. I therefore commend also this head of our subject to your own meditation, and proceed to the last I named — the last I shall task your patience with to-night. You know we are now considering how to apply our genius; and we were to do it as economists, in three ways:
To various work;
To easy work;
To lasting work.
This lasting of the work, then, is our final question.
Many of you may, perhaps, remember that Michael Angelo was once commanded by Pieto Pietro di Medici to mould a statue out of snow, and that he obeyed the command.(2) I am glad, and we have all reason to be glad, that such a fancy ever came into the mind of the unworthy prince, and for this cause: that Pietro di Medici then gave, at the period of one great epoch of consummate power in the arts, the perfect, accurate; and intensest possible type of the greatest error which nations and princes can commit, respecting the power of genius entrusted to their guidance. You had there; observe, the strongest genius in the most perfect obedience; capable of iron independence, yet wholly submissive to the patron's will; at once the most highly accomplished and the most original, capable of doing as much as man could do; in any direction that man could ask. And its governor, and guide, and patron sets it to build a statue in snow — to put itself into the service of annihilation — to make a cloud of itself, and pass away from the earth.
The Products Of Genius Should Last
Now this, so precisely and completely done by Pietro di Medici, is what we are all doing, exactly in the degree in which we direct the genius under our patronage to work in more or less perishable materials. So far as we induce painters to work in fading colours, or architects to build with imperfect structure, or in any other way consult only immediate ease and cheapness in the production of what we want, to the exclusion of provident thought as to its permanence and serviceableness in after ages; so far we are forcing our Michael Angelos to carve in snow. The first duty of the economist in art is, to see that no intellect shall thus glitter merely in the manner of hoar-frost; but that it shall be well vitrified, like a painted window, and shall be set so between shafts of stone and bands of iron, that it shall bear the sunshine upon it, and send the sunshine through it, from generation to generation.
I can conceive, however, some political economist to interrupt me here, and say,
"If you make your art wear too well, you will soon have too much of it; you will throw your artists quite out of work. Better allow for a little wholesome evanescence beneficent destruction: let each age provide art for itself, or we shall soon have so many good pictures that we shall not know what to do with them."
Remember, my dear hearers, who are thus thinking, that political economy, like every other subject, cannot be dealt with effectively if we try to solve two questions at a time instead of one. It is one question, how to get plenty of a thing; and another, whether plenty of it will be good far us. Consider these two matters separately; never confuse yourself by interweaving one with the other. It is one question, how to treat your fields so as to get a good harvest; another, whether you wish to have a good harvest, or would rather like to keep up the price of corn. It is one question, how to graft your trees so as to grow most apples; and quite another, whether having such a heap of apples in the store-room will not make them all rot.
Now, therefore, that we are talking only about grafting and growing, pray do not vex yourselves with thinking what you are to do with the pippins. It may be desirable for us to have much art, or little — we will examine that by and by; but just now, let us keep to the simple consideration how to get plenty of good art if we want it. Perhaps it might be just as well that a man of moderate income should be able to possess a good picture, as that any work. of real merit should cost £500 or £1,000; at all events, it is certainly one of the branches of political economy to ascertain how, if we like, we can get things in quantities — plenty of corn, plenty of wine, plenty of gold, or plenty of pictures.
It has just been said, that the first great secret is to produce work that will last. Now, the conditions of work lasting are twofold: it must not only be in materials that will last, but it must be itself of a quality that will last — it must be good enough to bear the test of time. If it is not good, we shall tire of it quickly, and throw it aside — we shall have no pleasure in the accumulation of it. So that the first question of a good art-economist respecting any work is, Will it lose its flavour by keeping? It may be very amusing now, and look much like a work of genius. But what will be its value a hundred years hence?
You cannot always ascertain this. You may get what you fancy to be work of the best quality, and yet find to your astonishment that it won't keep. But of one thing you may be sure, that art which is produced hastily will also perish hastily; and that what is cheapest to you now, is likely to be dearest in the end.
Cheap Art Is Bad Art
I am sorry to say, the great tendency of this age is to expend its genius in perishable art of this kind, as if it were a triumph to burn its thoughts away in bonfires. There is a vast quantity of intellect and of labour consumed annually in our cheap illustrated publications; you triumph in them; and you think it is so grand a thing to get so many woodcuts for a penny. Why, woodcuts, penny and all, are as much lost to you as if you had invested your money in gossamer. More lost, for the gossamer could only tickle your face, and glitter in your eyes; it could not catch your feet and trip you up: but the bad art can, and does; for you can't like good woodcuts as long as you look at the bad ones. If we were at this moment to come across a Titian woodcut, or a Durer woodcut, we should not like it — those of us at least who are accustomed to the cheap work of the day. We don't like, and can't like, that long; but when we are tired of one bad cheap thing, we throw it aside and buy another bad cheap thing; and, so keep looking at bad things all our lives. Now, the very men who do all that quick bad work for us are capable of doing perfect work. Only, perfect work can't be hurried, and therefore it can't be cheap beyond a certain point. But suppose you pay twelve times as much as you do now, and you have one woodcut for a shilling instead of twelve; and the one woodcut for a shilling is as good as art can be, so that you will never tire of looking at it; and is struck on good paper with good ink, so that you will never wear it out by handling it; while you are sick of your penny-each cuts by the end of the week, and have torn them mostly in half too. Isn't your shilling's worth the best bargain?
The Best Is Likely To Be The Cheapest In The End
It is not, however, only in getting prints or woodcuts of the best kind that you will practise economy. There is a certain quality about an original drawing which you cannot get in a woodcut, and the best part of the genius of many men is only expressible in original work, whether with pen and ink pencil or colours. This is not always the case; but in general, the best men are those who can only express themselves on paper or canvass; and you will, therefore, in the long run, get most for your money by buying original work; proceeding on the principle already laid down, that the best is likely to be the cheapest in the end. Of course, original work cannot be produced under a certain cost. If you want a man to make you a drawing which takes him six days, you must, at all events, keep him for six days in bread and water, fire and lodging; that is the lowest price at which he can do it for you, but that is not very dear: and the best bargain which can possibly be made honestly in art — the very ideal of a cheap purchase to the purchaser — is the original work of a great man fed for as many days as are necessary on bread and water, or perhaps we may say with as many onions as will keep him in good humour. That is the way by which you will always get most for your money; no mechanical multiplication or ingenuity of commercial arrangements will ever get you a better penny's worth of art than that.
Without, however, pushing our calculations quite to this Prison-discipline extreme, we may lay it down as a rule in art-economy, that original work is, on the whole, cheapest and best worth having. But precisely in proportion to the value of it as a production, becomes the importance of having it executed in permanent materials. And here we come to note the second main error of the day, that we not only ask our workmen for bad art, but we make them put it into bad substance. We have, for example, put a great quantity of genius, within the last twenty years, into water-colour drawing, and we have done this with the most reckless disregard whether either the colours or the paper will stand. In most instances, neither will. By accident, it may happen that the colours in a given drawing have been of good quality, and its paper uninjured by chemical processes. But you take not the least care to ensure these being so; I have myself seen the most destructive changes take place in water-colour drawings within twenty years after they were painted; and from all I can gather respecting the recklessness of modern paper manufacture, my belief is, that though you may still handle an Albert Durer engraving, two hundred years old, fearlessly, not one-half of that time will have passed over your modern water-colours, before most of them will be reduced to mere white or brown rags; and your descendants, twitching them contemptuously into fragments between finger and thumb, will mutter against you, half in scorn and half in anger,
"Those wretched nineteenth-century people! they kept vapouring and fuming about the world, doing what they called business, and they couldn't make a sheet of paper that wasn't rotten."
And note that this is no unimportant portion of your art economy at this time. Your water-colour painters are becoming every day capable of expressing greater and better things; and their material is especially adapted to the turn of your best artists' minds. The value which you could accumulate in work of this kind would soon become a most important item in the national art-wealth, if only you would take the little pains necessary to secure its permanence. I am inclined to think, myself, that water-colour ought not to be used on paper at all, but only on vellum, and then, if properly taken care of, the drawing would be almost imperishable. Still, paper is a much more convenient material for rapid work; and it is an infinite absurdity not to secure the goodness of its quality, when we could do so without the slightest trouble. Among the many favours which I am going to ask from our paternal government, when we get it, will be that it will supply its little boys with good paper. You have nothing to do but to let the government establish a paper manufactory, under the superintendence of any of our leading chemists, who should be answerable for the safety and completeness of all the processes of the manufacture. The government stamp on the corner of your sheet of drawing-paper, made in the perfect way, should cost you a shilling, which would add something to the revenue; and when you bought a water-colour drawing for fifty or a hundred guineas, you would have merely to look in the corner for your stamp, and pay your extra shilling for the security that your hundred guineas were given really for a drawing, and not for a coloured rag. There need be no monopoly or restriction in the matter; let the paper manufacturers compete with the government, and if people liked to save their shilling, and take their chance, let them; only, the artist and purchaser might then be sure of good material, if they liked, and now they cannot be.
I should like also to have a government colour manufactory; though that is not so necessary, as the quality of colour is more within the artist's power of testing, and I have no doubt that any painter may get permanent colour from the respectable manufacturers, if he chooses. I will not attempt to follow the subject out at all as it respects architecture, and our methods of modern building; respecting which I have had occasion to speak before now.
But I cannot pass without some brief notice our habit — continually, as it seems to me, gaining strength — of putting a large quantity of thought and work, annually, into things which are either in their nature necessarily perishable, as dress; or else into compliances with the fashion of the day, in things not necessarily perishable, as plate. I am afraid almost the first idea of a young rich couple setting up house in London, is, that they must have new plate. Their father's plate may be very handsome, but the fashion is changed. They will have a new service from the leading manufacturer, and the old plate, except a few apostle spoons, and a cup which Charles the Second drank a health in to their pretty ancestress, is sent to be melted down, and made up with new flourishes and fresh lustre. Now, so long as this is the case — so long, observe, as fashion has influence on the manufacture of plate — so long you cannot have a goldsmith's art in this country. Do you suppose any workman worthy the name will put his brains into a cup or an urn, which he knows is to go to the melting pot in half a score years? He will not; you don't ask or expect it of him. You ask of him nothing but a little quick handicraft — a clever twist of a handle here, and a foot there, a convolvulus from the newest school of design, a pheasant from Landseer's game cards; a couple of sentimental figures for supporters, in the style of the signs of insurance offices, then a clever touch with the burnisher, and there's your epergne, the admiration of all the footmen at the wedding-breakfast, and the torment of some unfortunate youth who cannot see the pretty girl opposite to him, through its tyrannous branches.
But you don't suppose that that's goldsmith's work? Goldsmith's work is made to last, and made with the man's whole heart and soul in it; true goldsmith's work, when it exists, is generally the means of education of the greatest painters and sculptors of the day. Francia was a goldsmith; Francia was not his own name, but that of his master the jeweller; and he signed his pictures almost always, "Francia, the goldsmith", for love of his master; Ghirlandajo was a goldsmith, and was the master of Michael Angelo; Verrocchio was a goldsmith, and was the master of Leonardo da Vinci. Ghiberti was a goldsmith, and beat out the bronze gates which Michael Angelo said might serve for gates of Paradise. (3) But if ever you want work like theirs again, you must keep it, though it should have the misfortune to become old fashioned. You must not break it up, nor melt it any more. There is no economy in that; you could not easily waste intellect more grievously. Nature may melt her goldsmith's work at every sunset if she chooses; and beat it out into chased bars again at every sunrise; but you must not. The way to have a truly noble service of plate, is to keep adding to it, not melting it. At every marriage, and at every birth, get a new piece of gold or silver if you will, but with noble workmanship on it, done for all time, and put it among your treasures; that is one of the chief things which gold was made for, and made incorruptible for. When we know a little more of political economy, we shall find that none but partially savage nations need, imperatively, gold for their currency; but gold has been given us, among other things, that we might put beautiful work into its imperishable splendour, and that the artists who have the most wilful fancies may have a material which will drag out, and beat out, as their dreams require, and will hold itself together with fantastic tenacity, whatever rare and delicate service they set it upon.
So here is one branch of decorative art in which rich people may indulge themselves unselfishly; if they ask for good art in it, they may be sure in buying gold and silver plate that they are enforcing useful education on young artists. But there is another branch of decorative art in which I am sorry to say we cannot, at least under existing circumstances, indulge ourselves, with the hope of doing good to anybody, I mean the great and subtle art of dress.
And here I must interrupt the pursuit of our subject for a moment or two, in order to state one of the principles of political economy, which; though it is, I believe; now sufficiently understood and asserted by the leading masters of the science, is not yet, I grieve to say, acted upon by the plurality of those who have the management of riches. Whenever we spend money, we of course set people to work: that is the meaning of spending money; we may, indeed, lose it without employing anybody; but, whenever we spend it, we set a number of people to work, greater or less, of course, according to the rate of wages, but, in the long run, proportioned to the sum we spend. Well, your shallow people, because they see that however they spend money they are always employing somebody, and, therefore, doing some good, think and say to themselves, that it is all one how they spend it — that all their apparently selfish luxury is, in reality, unselfish, and is doing just as much good as if they gave all their money away, or perhaps more good; and I have heard foolish people even declare it as a principle of political economy, that whoever invented a new want conferred a good on the community. I have not words strong enough — at least I could not, without shocking you, use the words which would be strong enough — to express my estimate of the absurdity and the mischievousness of this popular fallacy. So, putting a great restraint upon myself, and using no hard words, I will simply try to state the nature of it, and the extent of its influence.
Granted, that whenever we spend money for whatever purpose, we set people to work; and, passing by, for the moment, the question whether the work we set them to is all equally healthy and good for them, we will assume that whenever we spend a guinea we provide an equal number of people with healthy maintenance for a given time. But, by the way in which we spend it, we entirely direct the labour of those people during that given time. We become their masters or mistresses, and we compel them to produce, within a certain period, a certain article. Now, that article may he a useful and lasting one, or it may be a useless and perishable one — it may be one useful to the whole community, or useful only to ourselves. And our selfishness and folly, or our virtue and prudence, are shown, not by our spending money, but by our spending it for the wrong or the right thing; and we are wise and kind, not in maintaining a certain number of people for a given period, but only in requiring them to produce, during that period, the kind of things which shall be useful to society, instead of those which are only useful to ourselves.
Thus, for instance: if you are a young lady, and employ a certain number of sempstresses for a given time, in making a given number of simple and serviceable dresses, suppose, seven; of which you can wear one yourself for half the winter, and give six away to poor girls who have none, you are spending your money unselfishly. But if you employ the same number of sempstresses for the same number of days, in making four, or five, or six beautiful flounces for your own ball-dress — flounces which will clothe no one but yourself, and which you will yourself be unable to wear at more than one ball — you are employing your money selfishly. You have maintained, indeed, in each case, the same number of people; but in the one case you have directed their labour to the service of the community; in the other case you have consumed it wholly upon yourself. I don't say you are never to do so; I don't say you ought not sometimes to think of yourselves only, and to make yourselves as pretty as you can; only do not confuse coquettishness with benevolence, nor cheat yourselves into thinking that all the finery you can wear is so much put into the hungry mouths of those beneath you: it is not so; it is what you yourselves, whether you will or no, must sometimes instinctively feel it to be — it is what those who stand shivering in the streets, forming a line to watch you as you step out of your carriages, know it to be; those fine dresses do not mean that so much has been put into their mouths, but that so much has been taken out of their mouths. The real politico-economical signification of every one of those beautiful toilettes, is just this; that you have had a certain number of people put for a certain number of days wholly under your authority, by the sternest of slavemasters — hunger and cold; and you have said to them,
"I will feed you, indeed, and clothe you, and give you fuel for so many days; but during those days you shall work for me only: your little brothers need clothes, but you shall make none for them: your sick friend needs clothes, but you shall make none for her: you yourself will soon need another, and a warmer dress; but you shall make none for yourself. You shall make nothing but lace and roses for me; for this fortnight to come, you shall work at the patterns and petals, and then I will crush and consume them away in an hour".
You will perhaps answer —
"It may not be particularly benevolent to do this, and we won't call it so; but at any rate we do no wrong in taking their labour when we pay them their wages: if we pay for their work we have a right to it".
No; — a thousand times no. The labour which you have paid for, does indeed become, by the act of purchase, your own labour: you have bought the hands and the time of those workers; they are, by right and justice, your own hands, your own time. But, have you a right to spend your own time, to work with your own hands, only for your own advantage? — much more, when, by purchase, you have invested your own person with the strength of others; and added to your own life, a part of the life of others? You may, indeed, to a certain extent, use their labour for your delight: remember, I am making no general assertions against splendour of dress, or pomp of accessories of life; on the contrary, there are many reasons for thinking that we do not at present attach enough importance to beautiful dress, as one of the means of influencing general taste and character. But I do say, that you must weigh the value of what you ask these workers to produce for you in its own distinct balance; that on its own worthiness or desirableness rests the question of your kindness, and not merely on the fact of your having employed people in producing it: and I say farther, that as long as there are cold and nakedness in the land around you, so long there can be no question at all but that splendour of dress is a crime. In due time, when we have nothing better to set people to work at, it may be right to let them make lace and cut jewels; but, as long as there are any who have no blankets for their beds, and no rags for their bodies, so long it is blanket-making and tailoring we must set people to work at — not lace.
And it would be strange, if at any great assembly which, while it dazzled the young and the thoughtless, beguiled the gentler hearts that beat beneath the embroidery, with a placid sensation of luxurious benevolence — as if by all that they wore in waywardness of beauty, comfort had been first given to the distressed, and aid to the indigent; it would be strange, I say, if, for a moment, the spirits of Truth and of Terror, which walk invisibly among the masques of the earth, would lift the dimness from our erring thoughts, and show us how — inasmuch as the sums exhausted for that magnificence would have given back the failing breath to many an unsheltered outcast on moor and street — they who wear it have literally entered into partnership with Death; and dressed themselves in his spoils. Yes, if the veil could be lifted not only from your thoughts, but from your human sight, you would see — the angels do see — on those gay white dresses of yours, strange dark spots, and crimson patterns that you knew not of — spots of the inextinguishable red that all the seas cannot wash away; yes, and among the pleasant flowers that crown your fair heads, and glow on your wreathed hair, you would see that one weed was always twisted which no one thought of — the grass that grows on graves.
Nobleness Of Dress To Be Important Means Of Education
It was not, however, this last, this clearest and most appalling view of our subject, that I intended to ask you to take this evening; only it is impossible to set any part of the matter in its true light, until we go to the root of it. But the point which it is our special business to consider is, not whether costliness of dress is contrary to charity; but whether it is not contrary to mere worldly wisdom: whether, even supposing we knew that splendour of dress did not cost suffering or hunger, we might not put the splendour better in other things than dress. And, supposing our mode of dress were really graceful or beautiful, this might be a very doubtful question; for I believe true nobleness of dress to be important means of education, as it certainly is a necessity to any nation which wishes to possess living art, concerned with portraiture of human nature. No good historical painting ever yet existed, or ever can exist, where the dresses of the people of the time are not beautiful: and had it not been for the lovely and fantastic dressing of the 13th to the 16th centuries, neither French, nor Florentine, nor Venetian art could have risen to anything like the rank it reached. Still, even then, the best dressing was never the costliest; and its effect depended much more on its beautiful and, in early times, modest, arrangement, and on the simple and lovely masses of its colour, than on gorgeousness of clasp or embroidery. Whether we can ever return to any of those more perfect types of form, is questionable; but there can be no question, that all the money we spend on the forms of dress at present worn, is, so far as any good purpose is concerned, wholly last. Mind, in saying this, I reckon among good purposes, the purpose which young ladies are said sometimes to entertain — of being married; but they would be married quite as soon (and probably to wiser and better husbands) by dressing quietly, as by dressing brilliantly: and I believe it would only be needed to lay fairly and largely before them the real good which might be effected by the sums they spend in toilettes, to make them trust at once only to their bright eyes and braided hair for all the mischief they have a mind to. I wish we could, for once, get the statistics of a London season. There was much complaining talk in Parliament last week, of the vast sum the nation has given for the best Paul Veronese in Venice — £14,000: I wonder what the nation meanwhile has given for its ball-dresses! Suppose we could see the London milliners' bills, simply for unnecessary breadths of slip and flounce, from April to July; I wonder whether £14,000 would cover them. Put the breadths of slip and flounce are by this time as much lost and vanished as last year's snow; only they have done less good: but the Paul Veronese will last for centuries, if we take care of it; and yet we grumble at the price given for the painting, while no one grumbles at the price of pride.
Time does not permit me to go into any farther illustration of the various modes in which we build our statue out of snow, and waste our labour on things that vanish. I must leave you to follow out the subject for yourselves, as I said I should, and proceed, in our next lecture, to examine the two other branches of our subject, namely, how to accumulate our art, and how to distribute it. But, in closing, as we have been much on the topic of good government, both of ourselves and others, let me just give you one more illustration of what it means, from that old art of which, next evening, I shall try to convince you that the value, both moral and mercantile, is greater than we usually suppose.
Faith, Hope, Charity and Government
One of the frescoes by Ambrozio Lorenzetti, in the town-hall of Siena, represents, by means of symbolical figures, the principles of Good Civic Government and of Good Government in general. The figure representing this noble Civic Government is enthroned, and surrounded by figures representing the Virtues, variously supporting or administering its authority. Now, observe what work is given to each of these virtues. Three winged ones — Faith, Hope, and Charity — surround the head of the figure, not in mere compliance with the common and heraldic laws of precedence among Virtues, such as we moderns observe habitually, but with peculiar purpose on the part of the painter. Faith, as thus represented, ruling the thoughts of the Good Governor, does not mean merely religious faith, understood in those times to be necessary to all persons — governed no less than governors — but it means the faith which enables work to be carried out steadily, in spite of adverse appearances and expediencies; the faith in great principles, by which a civic ruler looks past all the immediate checks and shadows that would daunt a common man, knowing that what is rightly done will have a right issue, and holding his way in spite of pullings at his cloak and whisperings in his ear, enduring, as having in him a faith which is evidence of things unseen. And Hope, in like manner, is here not the heavenward hope which ought to animate the hearts of all men; but she attends upon Good Government, to show that all such government is expectant as well as conservative; that if it ceases to be hopeful of better things, it ceases to be a wise guardian of present things: that it ought never, as long as the world lasts, to be wholly content with any existing state of institution or possession, but to be hopeful still of more wisdom and power; not clutching at it restlessly or hastily, but feeling that its real life consists in steady ascent from high to higher: conservative, indeed, and jealously conservative of old things, but conservative of them as pillars, not as pinnacles — as aids, but not as idols; and hopeful chiefly, and active, in times of national trial or distress, according to those first and notable words describing the queenly nation. "She riseth, while it is yet night". And again, the winged Charity which is attendant on Good Government has, in this fresco, a peculiar office. Can you guess what? If you consider the character of contest which so often takes place among kings for their crowns, and the selfish and tyrannous means they commonly take to aggrandize or secure their power, you will, perhaps, be surprised to hear that the office of Charity is to crown the King. And yet, if you think of it a little, you will see the beauty of the thought which sets her in this function: since in the first place, all the authority of a good governor should be desired by him only for the good of his people, so that it is only Love that makes him accept or guard his crown: in the second place, his chief greatness consists in the exercise of this love, and he is truly to be revered only so far as his acts and thoughts are those of kindness; so that Love is the light of his crown, as well as the giver of it: lastly, because his strength depends on the affections of his people, and it is only their love which can securely crown him, and for ever. So that Love is the strength of his crown as well as the light of it.
Then, surrounding the King, or in various obedience to him, appear the dependent virtues, as Fortitude, Temperance, Truth, and other attendant spirits, of all which I cannot now give account, wishing you only to notice the one to whom are entrusted the guidance and administration of the public revenues. Can you guess which it is likely to be? Charity, you would have thought, should have something to do with the business; but not so, for she is too hot to attend carefully to it. Prudence, perhaps, you think of in the next place. No, she is too timid, and loses opportunities in making up her mind. Can it be Liberality then? No: Liberality is entrusted with some small sums; but she is a bad accountant, and is allowed no important place in the exchequer. But the treasures are given in charge to a virtue of which we hear too little in modern times, as distinct from others; Magnanimity: largeness of heart: not softness or weakness of heart, mind you — but capacity of heart — the great measuring virtue, which weighs in heavenly balances all that may be given, and all that may be gained; and sees how to do noblest things in noblest ways: which of two goods comprehends and therefore chooses the greatest: which of two personal sacrifices dares and accepts the largest: which, out of the avenues of beneficence, treads always that which opens farthest into the blue fields of futurity: that character, in fine, which, in those words taken by us at first for the description of a Queen among the nations, looks less to the present power than to the distant promise;
"Strength and honour are in her clothing — and she shall rejoice In Time To Come."
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