From a College Window

Arthur Christopher Benson

From a College Window

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by Arthur Christopher Benson (#5 in our series by Arthur Christopher Benson)
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Title: From a College Window
Author: Arthur Christopher Benson
Release Date: November, 2003 [Etext #4614] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on February 19, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII
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Mens cujusque is est quisque


Twelve of the essays included in this volume appeared in the Cornhill Magazine. My best thanks are due to the proprietor and editor of the Cornhill Magazine for kind permission and encouragement to reprint these. I have added six further papers, dealing with kindred subjects.
A. C. B.


1. The Point of View 2. On Growing Older 3. Books 4. Sociabilities 5. Conversation 6. Beauty 7. Art 8. Egotism 9. Education 10. Authorship 11. The Criticism of Others 12. Priest 13. Ambition 14. The Simple Life 15. Games 16. Spiritualism 17. Habits 18. Religion


I have lately come to perceive that the one thing which gives value to any piece of art, whether it be book, or picture, or music, is that subtle and evasive thing which is called personality. No amount of labour, of zest, even of accomplishment, can make up for the absence of this quality. It must be an almost wholly instinctive thing, I believe. Of course, the mere presence of personality in a work of art is not sufficient, because the personality revealed may be lacking in charm; and charm, again, is an instinctive thing. No artist can set out to capture charm; he will toil all the night and take nothing; but what every artist can and must aim at, is to have a perfectly sincere point of view. He must take his chance as to whether his point of view is an attractive one; but sincerity is the one indispensable thing. It is useless to take opinions on trust, to retail them, to adopt them; they must be formed, created, truly felt. The work of a sincere artist is almost certain to have some value; the work of an insincere artist is of its very nature worthless.
I mean to try, in the pages that follow, to be as sincere as I can. It is not an easy task, though it may seem so; for it means a certain disentangling of the things that one has perceived and felt for oneself from the prejudices and preferences that have been inherited, or stuck like burrs upon the soul by education and circumstance.
It may be asked why I should thus obtrude my point of view in print; why I should not keep my precious experience to myself; what the value of it is to other people. Well, the answer to that is that it helps our sense of balance and proportion to know how other people are looking at life, what they expect from it, what they find in it, and what they
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