ON THE NECESSARY LIMITATIONS IN THE USE OF BEAUTY OF FORM
From Schiller’s Aesthetical and Philosophical Essays, 1795.
Published in English translation by Harvard Publishing Company (New York), 1895.
Excerpt, pp. 246-7 (boldface added)
"I believe this to be the test to distinguish the mere dilettante from the artist of real genius. The seductive charm exercised by the sublime and the beautiful, the fire which they kindle in the young imagination, the apparent ease with which they place the senses under an illusion, have often persuaded inexperienced minds to take in hand the palette or the harp, and to transform into figures or to pour out in melody what they felt living in their heart. Misty ideas circulate in their heads, like a world in formation, and make them believe that they are inspired. They take obscurity for depth, savage vehemence for strength, the undetermined for the infinite, what has not senses for the super-sensuous. And how they revel in these creations of their brain!
"But the judgment of the connoisseur does not confirm this testimony of an excited self-love. With his pitiless criticism he dissipates all the prestige of the imagination and of its dreams, and ... leads them into the mysterious depths of science and life .... If nature has endowed him with gifts for plastic art, he will study the structure of man with the scalpel of the anatomist; he will descend into the lowest depths to be true in representing surfaces, and he will question the whole race in order to be just to the individual. If he is born to be a poet, he examines humanity in his own heart to understand the infinite variety of scenes in which it acts on the vast theatre of the world.
"He subjects imagination and its exuberant fruitfulness to the discipline of taste, and charges the understanding to mark out in its cool wisdom the banks that should confine the raging waters of inspiration."