People are fools in religion, and
worship as divine the most stupid monstrosities ever
conceived of! Only tell the masses that St. Luke,
St. John, or Mary Magdalen was the author of some
absurdity, which, if you or I had originated, they
would scoff at, and they will clasp their hands in
mute admiration over that miracle of art!
So it seems to me to be with Spiritualists.
Drawings devoid of taste, hard, and out of proportion,
are received by them with acclamations of joy,
and credited, if they are figures, to Raphael, and
if landscapes, to Claude Lorraine or some other great
master of art.
Now I, for one, wish people would
use their brains, and not be so easily gulled.
It is truly wonderful that a spirit
can make a person draw a straight line who never could
draw any but a crooked one. It partakes something
of the miraculous, I admit; and that spirits should
produce likenesses, and representations of flowers,
scrolls, and ornamental designs, and unearthly landscapes,
through mediums whose powers of representation and
artistic talents have never been developed, is indeed
marvellous! but that these drawings should be called
works of art, and looked upon as the genuine offspring
of those immortal painters, is ridiculous, and a thing
to be deprecated by every intelligent spirit and Spiritualist,
either here or in any other world!
Why, God Almighty himself could not
take a raw, unschooled, undisciplined hand, and produce
a work of art!
If a medium is content with what he
has done, if he does not comprehend the faults of
his work, if his eye and brain are not educated artistically, then
he must stand like a machine working in a groove.
Neither Phidias nor any of his descendants
could inspire a high production through such means!
Now I do wish that educated artists
would seek to be controlled by us spirits; or that
those mediums whom we do influence would go to school,
and submit to the drudgery that is necessary to give
them skill in design and execution.
Then could we hope to represent something
of the progress of art in the spirit world; and would
be enabled to depict marvels of landscapes, and the
seraphic beauty of the human face with its grace and
perfection of form, as it meets us in this artistic
Yon ask if we have galleries of art
here. I should think so: art-love is immortal!
You do not suppose that Benjamin West, Washington Allston,
Henry Inman, Copely, Stuart, and we Americans who loved
our art, would be satisfied with laying down the brush,
and would have contented ourselves with singing and
playing on cymbals constantly for the hundred years
or so that we’ve been here? Now, where
there is a will there is a way, and having the will,
we have found the way to exercise the genius which
God gave us.
Speaking of music, the gift is cultivated
here to an extent that would set the dilettanti
of earth wild with ecstasy!
Music, Poetry, Art, Oratory,
and Scientific Research, form the principal
occupations of the beings in this immortal world of
ours, and language is incapable of conveying an idea
of the perfection which our noble and glorious faculties
Art is about to undergo a revolution.
At present too much attention is given to the literal
rendering of a fact, and imagination, which is merely
a faculty for reaching the immaterial, is checked;
but ere long painters will turn their attention to
representing scenes in spirit life, and the inspiration
which attended the old masters when they gave wings
to their fancy and cut loose from identical imitation,
Let the camera and the photograph
reproduce the exact outline and minutiae, but let
the artist paint with the pencil of imagination and
inspiration! Only permit imagination to have root
in the material world. As no man can become a
good angel who has not developed his physical nature
in harmony with his spiritual, so neither painter nor
medium can represent the artistic beauties of the
natural world, nor of the spirit world, unless he
has had a good physical training. It is only through
the physical that the imagination can express
itself with beauty and correctness. Truth is
beauty, and is always proportionate; the light equalizing
the dark, precisely as in the perfection of art a mass
of shadow is balanced by a proportion of light.
One of the most agreeable places of
rest or there-abouts is the artists’ rendezvous a
building larger than St. Peter’s at Home, magnificent
in structure, and filled with wonderful paintings.
Here artists and authors of all nations
are to be found. You can step in any morning
and have a chat with Lawrence, Reynolds, Lessing, Delaroche
Hazlitt, Coleridge, Charles Lamb, Beethoven, Mendelssohn,
Rossini, Willis, Irving, Anthon, Sigourney, Osgood,
Booth, Kemble, Kean, Cooper, Vandenhoff, Palmerston,
Pitt, O’Connel, Lamartine, Napoleon, Margaret
Fuller, Charlotte Bronte, Lady Blessington, and others
of note, who have made themselves illustrious during
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. People
of congenial tastes and aspirations can readily obtain
admittance, and all freely engage in conversation on
topics connected with art and literature.
A large garden is attached to the
building, filled with every manner of fruit-tree,
and is accessible to all; any poor devil of an artist
can go there and some bewitching Houri will present
him with all the delicious condiments which his taste
or fancy can demand.
In these matters the inhabitants of
earth need to take a lesson from us.
I prophesy that America will be a
pioneer in these reformations, and will, in some Central
Park, erect a building similar to this, where aspiring
artists may receive food for the soul and the body,
and where artistic minds can meet and interchange