God would never have created a man, let alone an angel, in the foreknowledge of his future evil state, if he had not known at the same time how he would put such creatures to good use, and thus enrich the course of the world history by the kind of antithesis which gives beauty to a poem. — City of God, 11.18.Read that again: for it is one of the most sublime sentiments ever expressed. Beauty in all its forms comes from antithesis, from chiaroscuro—or as I might have had it (following Hogarth), from Variety. That which seems dark and noxious—'destructive', or even 'petty'—must have its place in the whole; perhaps its function will be to cast the light into greater relief. Then again, perhaps the reverse is true. In Arizona, the brightness of day is blinding; on the bare concrete it is merely hot, not warm. We have, on the other hand, the most golden and bracing sunfalls.
In 1894, Berenson concluded his essay on Venetian painting, 'We, too, are possessed of boundless curiosity. We, too, have an almost intoxicating sense of human capacity. We, too, believe in a great future for humanity, and nothing has yet happened to check our delight in discovery or our faith in life. . .' In a 1930 edition of this essay, the author added a footnote: '(N. B. Written in 1894!)'. How different Europe seemed now. . . In hindsight we can be so foolish.