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قراءة كتاب Hopes and Fears for Art

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‏اللغة: English
Hopes and Fears for Art

Hopes and Fears for Art

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 10

of the great peninsula have been for long treated as matters of no importance, to be thrust aside for the advantage of any paltry scrap of so-called commerce; and matters are now speedily coming to an end there.  I daresay some of you saw the presents which the native Princes gave to the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his progress through India.  I did myself, I will not say with great disappointment, for I guessed what they would be like, but with great grief, since there was scarce here and there a piece of goods among these costly gifts, things given as great treasures, which faintly upheld the ancient fame of the cradle of the industrial arts.  Nay, in some cases, it would have been laughable, if it had not been so sad, to see the piteous simplicity with which the conquered race had copied the blank vulgarity of their lords.  And this deterioration we are now, as I have said, actively engaged in forwarding.  I have read a little book, [50] a handbook to the Indian Court of last year’s Paris Exhibition, which takes the occasion of noting the state of manufactures in India one by one.  ‘Art manufactures,’ you would call them; but, indeed, all manufactures are, or were, ‘art manufactures’ in India.  Dr. Birdwood, the author of this book, is of great experience in Indian life, a man of science, and a lover of the arts.  His story, by no means a new one to me, or others interested in the East and its labour, is a sad one indeed.  The conquered races in their hopelessness are everywhere giving up the genuine practice of their own arts, which we know ourselves, as we have indeed loudly proclaimed, are founded on the truest and most natural principles.  The often-praised perfection of these arts is the blossom of many ages of labour and change, but the conquered races are casting it aside as a thing of no value, so that they may conform themselves to the inferior art, or rather the lack of art, of their conquerors.  In some parts of the country the genuine arts are quite destroyed; in many others nearly so; in all they have more or less begun to sicken.  So much so is this the case, that now for some time the Government has been furthering this deterioration.  As for example, no doubt with the best intentions, and certainly in full sympathy with the general English public, both at home and in India, the Government is now manufacturing cheap Indian carpets in the Indian gaols.  I do not say that it is a bad thing to turn out real work, or works of art, in gaols; on the contrary, I think it good if it be properly managed.  But in this case, the Government, being, as I said, in full sympathy with the English public, has determined that it will make its wares cheap, whether it make them nasty or not.  Cheap and nasty they are, I assure you; but, though they are the worst of their kind, they would not be made thus, if everything did not tend the same way.  And it is the same everywhere and with all Indian manufactures, till it has come to this—that these poor people have all but lost the one distinction, the one glory that conquest had left them.  Their famous wares, so praised by those who thirty years ago began to attempt the restoration of popular art amongst ourselves, are no longer to be bought at reasonable prices in the common market, but must be sought for and treasured as precious relics for the museums we have founded for our art education.  In short, their art is dead, and the commerce of modern civilisation has slain it.