Within the last few years two other adjectives, it may be mentioned, have been added to the very limited vocabulary of art- abuse that is at the disposal of the public. One is the word 'unhealthy,' the other is the word 'exotic.' The latter merely expresses the rage of the momentary mushroom against the immortal, entrancing, and exquisitely lovely orchid.
An unhealthy work of art, on the other hand, is a work whose style is obvious, old- fashioned, and common, and whose subject is deliberately chosen, not because the artist has any pleasure in it, but because he thinks that the public will pay him for it.
I need hardly say that I am not, for a single moment, complaining that the public and the public press misuse these words.
Indeed, there is much more to be said in favour of the physical force of the public than there is in favour of the public's opinion.
The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.
The following are a few specimens of the advertisements in the public papers.
Will they say of any tale of cruelty and horror, however aggravated in degree, that it is improbable, when they can turn to the public prints, and, running, read such signs as these, laid before them by the men who rule the slaves: in their own acts and under their own hands?
are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good.
The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.
The first thing in the morning I sent a polite note to Gentleman Jones, informing him that I had abandoned all idea of exhibiting his likeness to the public
in my series of prints, and giving him full permission to inspect every design I made before it went out of the prison.
Who can doubt, that the happiness of the people in both countries would be promoted by competent authorities in the proper hands, to provide the revenues which the necessities of the public might require?
Ingenious men may declaim with plausibility on any subject; but no human ingenuity can point out any other expedient to rescue us from the inconveniences and embarrassments naturally resulting from defective supplies of the public treasury.