the effect did not come from the cause named,--we always quoted the English
proverb, “Tenterden steeple is the cause of Goodwin Sands
We said, “How ignorant a population!”
But when we went deeper into the history, we found that the proverb was not meant for logic, but was meant for sarcasm.
One of the bishops had fifty thousand pounds given to him, to build a breakwater to save the Goodwin Sands
from the advancing sea; but the good bishop,--being one of the kind of bishops which Mr. Froude
describes in his lecture, that the world would be better if Providence
would remove them from it,--instead of building the breakwater to keep out the sea, simply built a steeple; and this proverb was sarcastic, and not logical, that “Tenterden steeple was the cause of the Goodwin Sands
When you contemplate the motive, there was the closest and best-welded logic in the proverb.
So I think a large share of our criticism of old legends and old statements will be found in the end to be the ignorance that overleaps its own saddle, and falls on the other side.
Well, my first illustration ought to be this material, glass; but, before I proceed to talk of these lost arts, I ought in fairness to make an exception,--and it is the conception and conceit which lies here.
Over a very large section of literature, there is a singular contradiction to this swelling conceit.
There are certain lines in which the moderns are ill-satisfied with themselves, and contented to acknowledge that they ought fairly to sit down at the feet of their predecessors.
Take poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, the drama, and almost everything in works of any form that relates to beauty, --with regard to that whole sweep, the modern world gilds it with its admiration of the beautiful.
Take the very phrases that we use. Th) artist says he wishes to