There is a prevailing theory, which seems to me largely flavored with cant, that we must accept with the utmost humility all foreign criticism, because it represents a remoter tribunal than our own. But the fact still remains, that while some things in art and literature are best judged from a distance, other things—including the whole department of local coloring—can be only judged near home.
The better the work is done, in this aspect, the more essential it is that it should be viewed with knowledge.
Looking at some marine sketches by a teacher of a good deal of note, the other day, I was led to point out the fact that she had given her schooner a jib, but had attached it to no bowsprit, and had anchored a whole fleet of dories by the stern instead of the bow. When I called the artist's attention to these peculiarities, the simple answer was: ‘I know nothing whatever about boats.
I painted only what I saw, or thought I saw.’
In the same way one can scarcely open a foreign criticism on an American book, without seeing that, however good may be the abstract canons of criticism adopted, the detailed comment is as