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I CANNOT launch this little tractate upon the waters without a word of explanation.
It fell to my lot, some short time since, to read two popular Lectures on the Use and Abuse of Art; of which the first was imme. diately put into circulation.
Treating of “ Art, its Nature and Capacities," I found myself under obligation to make emphatic allusion to Pre-Raffaellitism. I was, perhaps needlessly, startled to observe, in every notice, public or private, of my performance, that what I had advanced on that topic had assumed a prominence I had not intended. In a few weeks I found myself immortalised by a notice I must venture to call infelicitous, in
the Addenda to the Edinburgh Lectures of Mr. Ruskin.*
Confirmed hereby in my sense of the general interest of the subject, and made sensible of the inadequate exposition - in a few pages of a preliminary pamphlet — of my own sentiments regarding it, I resolved to prepare a more suitable statement, as a sort of preface extraordinary to the Second Lecture; not for explanation merely, but because the question, however at first sight but artistic, is in reality full of the seeds of other things.
The sequel might have been anticipated.
It is before the Reader.
So much for my entry on the Pre-Raffaellite controversy. As regards my prosecution of it, I may be permitted to say that, writing from convictions deep, earnest, and not hastily formed, I have written everywhere fearlessly; never, whether in the graver or lighter portions, for a single moment, unfeelingly. As
* See a passage at the end of Chapter XIX.
to the points at issue, I have expressed myself in accordance with my sense, both of their import, and their contagiousness : as to all that regards the personal endowments of the gifted author from whom I differ, I am only capable of expressing myself with the most cordial admiration. Those who already think his views unwholesome may find, perhaps, in these pages additional reasons for so regarding them : those who love “the mar. tyrdom of fame ” shall have, at least, no sympathy from me. I have fought: but it is “to conquer a peace.” I have laughed: but for something better than a heartless joke.
It will be seen that the present Volume, though in itself distinct and independent, has a certain respect to what went before, and to what is yet to follow.
On one point I am anxious not to be misunderstood. As regards the positive merits of Turner, the Reader is at liberty to take certain expressions as a per contra, rather than a formal judgment. Something may be fairly set down to a defensive object; something to a sense of that very peculiar assertion of his supremacy, of which it may be said, as of oppression, that it “maketh wise men mad ; ” and something to an ever growing jealousy of the materializing tendencies of the day we live in, and that disposition to sink the subjective in the objective — the moral in the physical the feeling in the knowing, from which I cannot disconnect many things in the Turner Controversy. As to Turner's “revealing God's universe" for the special promotion of God's glory, it were more easy to ask personal questions than to answer them. This, however, is not our concern: I only regret that any individual name should be identified — here, or elsewhere - with what I am earnestly desirous of looking on as a simple contest of principles.