the world has been reading lately, tells us that “the human heart is, as it were, haunted by confused reminiscences of an age of gold; or, rather, by aspirations towards a harmony of things which every day reality denies to us.”
He says that the splendor and refinement of high life is an attempt by the rich and cultivated classes to realize this ideal, and is “a form of poetry.”
And the interest which this attempt awakens in the classes which are not rich or cultivated, their indestructible interest in the pageant and fairy tale, as to them it appears, of the life in castles and palaces, the life of the great, bears witness to a like imaginative strain in them also, a strain tending after the elevated and the beautiful.
In short, what Goethe
describes as “was uns alle bandigt, das Gemeine
--that which holds us all in bondage, the common and ignoble,” is, notwithstanding its admitted prevalence, contrary to a deepseated instinct of human nature, and repelled by it. Of civilization, which is to humanize us in society, we demand, before we will consent to be satisfied with it — we demand, however much else it may give us, that it shall give us, too, the interesting
Now, the great sources of the interesting
are distinction and beauty: that which is elevated,