There is a saying of Diderot’s which is full of consolation for the critic. Though it is often quoted I venture to repeat it for the encouragement of such of my critical brethren as are inclined to suffer from too introspective doubts as to their own wisdom or infallibility. He says, “I would rather have foolish things said on matters of importance than have them passed over in silence. At least thus they become subjects of discussion and dispute, and truth is elicited.”
(a) Sir William Richmond must not be allowed to put up mosaics in St. Paul’s;
The instinct of these writers guides them aright. An actor knows that he cannot “take the corner” without a point to make. And “points” are not made with illuminating ideas, nor ideas that will bear examination or reflection. They are meant to bring the house down, or their more modest ambition may but be to “get a hand,” after which their purpose is served. I cannot remember who it was said “Peut-être les émotions douces sont elles peu littéraires.” I think it was Balzac. Certainly nothing is less literary than the language of the plastic arts. There are persons born with a natural gift for reading this language, persons to whom it speaks clearly, intelligently, and profoundly. I am not now speaking of artists.
© Estate of Walter R. Sickert