chapter  31
9 Pages

Art, Play, and Civilization

None the less but in subtler ways the educational influence o f the arts is all-pervasive. We must not overlook bad art in esti­ mating it. ‘I should be said to insist absurdly on the power o f my own confraternity’ , wrote a novelist o f the nineteenth cen­ tury,

if I were to declare that the bulk of the young people in the upper and middle classes receive their moral teaching chiefly from the novels that they read. Mothers would no doubt think of their own sweet teaching; fathers of the examples which they [230] set; and schoolmasters of the excellence of their instructions. Happy is the country which has such mothers, fathers and schoolmasters! But the novelist creeps in closer than the father, closer than the schoolmaster, closer almost than the mother. He is the chosen guide, the tutor whom the young pupil chooses for herself. She ‘retires’ and there she with him, suspecting no les­ son... and there she is taught how she shall learn to love; how she shall receive the lover when he comes; how far she should advance to meet the joy; why she should be reticent and not throw herself at once into this new delight.