That, could we but change our habits and climatewere we willing to wander in grovescould we be roasted out of broadclothwere we to do without haste, and journey without speed, we should again require the spoon of Queen Anne, and pick at our peas with the fork of two prongs. And so, for the flock, little hamlets grow near Hammersmith, and the steam horse is scorned.
In the beginning, man went forth each daysome to do battle, some to the chase; others, again, to dig and to delve in the fieldall that they might gain and live, or lose and die. Until there was found among them one, differing from the rest, whose pursuits attracted him not, and so he stayed by the tents with the women, and traced strange devices with a burnt stick upon a gourd.
This man, who took no joy in the ways of his brethrenwho cared not for conquest, and fretted in the fieldthis designer of quaint patternsthis deviser of the beautifulwho perceived in Nature about him curious curvings, as faces are seen in the firethis dreamer apart, was the first artist.
And presently there came to this man anotherand in time, othersof like nature, chosen by the Godsand so they worked together; and soon they fashioned, from the moistened earth, forms resembling the gourd. And with the power of creation, the heirloom of the artist, presently they went beyond the slovenly suggestion of Nature, and the first vase was born, in beautiful proportion.
And the toilers tilled and were athirst; and the heroes returned from fresh victories, to rejoice and to feast; and all drank alike from the artists goblets, fashioned cunningly, taking no note the while of the craftsmans pride, and understanding not his glory in his work; drinking at the cup, not from choice, not from a consciousness that it was beautiful, but because, forsooth, there was none other!
And time, with more state, brought more capacity for luxury, and it became well that men should dwell in large houses, and rest upon couches, and eat at tables; whereupon the artist, with his artificers, built palaces, and filled them with furniture, beautiful in proportion and lovely to look upon.
And the people lived in marvels of artand ate and drank out of masterpiecesfor there was nothing else to eat and drink out of, and no bad building to live in; no article of daily life, of luxury, or of necessity, that had not been handed down from the design of the master, and made by his workmen.
So Greece was in its splendor, and Art reigned supremeby force of fact, not by electionand there was no meddling from the outsider. The mighty warrior would no more have ventured to offer a design for the temple of Pallas Athene than would the sacred poet have proffered a plan for constructing the catapult.
And history wrote on, and conquest accompanied civilization, and Art spread, or rather its products were carried by the victors among the vanquished from one country to another. And the customs of cultivation covered the face of the earth, so that all peoples continued to use what the artist alone produced.
The taste of the tradesman supplanted the science of the artist, and what was born of the million went back to them, and charmed them, for it was after their own heart; and the great and the small, the statesman and the slave, took to themselves the abomination that was tendered, and preferred itand have lived with it ever since!