The Largest and Widest Life

From The Splendid Wayfaring (1913), by Haldane Macfall.

When all’s said, and the worship done, a very vulgar dullard, if he give all his powers to it, can, and often does, hoard great wealth–indeed, he is at times a criminal against society. But even the significance of his wayfaring for himself does not lie in his wealth nor in his lack of wealth–greatness is not wealth nor lack of wealth, whatever else it may be. The significance of a man for himself rests in the largeness of the range of his adventure in living; the significance of his wayfaring for others rests in the amount whereby he has increased the realm of life for his fellows.

We live a little mean day, so petty indeed that most men–honest fellows–deem themselves as having lived who go to their graves the narrow life-long slaves of a paltry wage, content to have earned just that wage, as though earning a wage were life! nay, proud to be able to say as they lie a-dying that they have walked without tripping in a little parish. They are even acclaimed “good citizens”! But the largest and widest life is for him who dares the fullest adventure–who has become partaker in all that life can give. And by the Arts alone shall he know the fullest life; and by lack of the Arts shall he know the meanest.

The artist, in the full meaning of the word, is the supreme man.

It is well, therefore, to try and realise what is Art, and what is an artist.