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
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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,
Edition: 10
Language: English
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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
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
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