Obrazy na stronie

samne sort.

mixed sort

of character, composed of good and bad qualities, in which, according to the established character of heroes, the bad predominate. Thus, in the character of Achilles, it would e dislicult to find a single good quality : he is " impiger, iracundus, inesorabilis, acer,” and a great deal more of the

Æneas is indeed pious; but then he is a perfidious deserter of an injured lady; he invades a conntry where he has no right, and kills the man who has the audacity to oppose the usurper of his own throne, and the ravish. er of his own wife. And as tó Alexander, he was a mere brute : he overthrew cities, as children overthrow houses made of cards, for bis mere amusement; and, like the same children, wept when he had no more to knock down : he killed some millions of men, for the same reason that country ’squires shoot swallows, for exercise, and because they have nothing else to do: and, in the time of peace and conviviality, he slew two of his best friends, merely to keep his hand in practice. Compared to these heroes, Billy is a perfect saint: and indeed I have often thought that he is too good for a hero; and that a few rapes, and thefts, and murders, would have made a very proper and interesting addition to his character. As to the incidents, I shail merely observe that they are numerous, well-chosen, interesting, and natural. Let me next speak of the moral to be drawn from the poem. Whether the poet, according to Bossu's rule, und Homer's and Æsop's practice, chose the moral first, I cannot pretend to say, though some, who resolve the whole poem into an allegory, favour that opinion. Certain it is, the moral is excellent, the ill effects of inconstancy; and I am sure the fair ses will be obliged to the poet's gallantry. There are also some of what I may call collateral truths to be derived from the poem ; such as not to trust too much to prosperity, exemplified in the mirtli and downfall of Taylor ; and the reward of virtue, in the lady's being made a first lieutenant. I shall conclude with a few remarks on the diction, or, to speak metaphorically, the dress in which the story is clothed. It has all the requisites of a good style ; it is concise, perspicuous, simple, and occasionally sublime. The poetry is not of that tumid nature which Pindar uses, but of the graceful simplicity of Homer's verse. The poet has diversified the language by the intermixture of the Doric dialect, in imitation of the Greek tragedians ; of this kind are the expressions, vat vind, diskivered, I be kim, and for to know. But what strikes me most is, the solemn, mournful, and pathe. tic beauty of the chorus, Tol lol de rol de riddle iddle ido. The Al, de, and of Euripides and Sophocles, the OTO TO TOI TOTO6 of Eschylus, are comparatively frigid and tasteless. Yes; this Tol lol de rol de riddle iddic ido is so exquisitely tender, and so musically melancholy, that I dare affirm, that the mind and ear that are not sensibly affecied with it, are barbarous, tasteless, aad incapable of relishing beauty or harınony.

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One of the most admirable of Dryden's prose performances, is a dedication to the duke of Dorset, in which runs a very elegant parallel between the sister arts of Painting and Poesy. We earnestiy advise the polite scholar, after he shall have finished the perusal and meditation of the ensuing essay, to refer to Dryden's celebrated tract, where may be found specimens of beautiful language and brilliant imagery, and of wit, always sparkling, if not of argument, always convincing. But although this far famed parallel is a splendid monument of the genius and acuteness of its author, we think its glory is not a little eclipsed by the talents of a more modern writer, who has maintained the supreriority of the Painter to the Poet, we think, with a force of logic which cannot be defeated. The old, and as it was imagined, the settled opinion among the amateurs, was the very reverse of the present thesis. The reflecting reader will please to remark, that the author of the subsequent article is one of the most eminent of the royal academicians,* that his reputation as a painter is singularly excellent, and that in a late literary publication, the legitimate offspring of taste and genius, his poetry emulates that of POPE, and his prose is not less eloquent than that of BURKE. He paints and speaks and writes with consummate ability. We think him a very impartial judge, and he is indubitably a most eloquent advocate. He who is not convinced by our author's reasonmg, will certainly be dazzled and delighted by the splendor of his fancy, the beauty of his illustrations, and the elegance of his style. For our own part, we do not hesitate to declare that it would puzzle all the poets, in verses eitheir logical or epigrammatic, to successfully demolish, cr deride the hypothesis of our accomplished painter. EDITOR.

What has been said of madness may also be said of painting, there is a pleasure in it which none but painters know. The painter enjoys moments of delight in the practice of his art, if he truly loves it, which more than compensate for its anxieties, and cheer with a ray of consolation even the gloom of neglect and obscurity.

Accustomed to direct his attention to all that is picturesque and beauti. ful in nature or in art; in form, character and sentiment, his ideas are exalted, his feelings are refined beyond the comprehension of common minds, or the attainment of ordinary occupations; he is, as it were, led into a new world, and looks around him with an eye conscious of the wonders he beholds; he is an enlightened spectator in the vast theatre of the universe, un.

* Martin Archer Slee, Esq.

der whose critical eye the great drama of human life is performed; he observes, with discriminating accuracy, the actions, passions and characters, the manners, scenery and situations; and though the wants of nature, and the duties of society oblige him to mingle occasionally in the busy group before him, yet the world is not his element; he is not at home on the stage of active life; his mind is ever struggling to escape the chains of common inci. dent, and soaring to those heights of abstracted contemplation, from which he may view the actors and the scene with the calmness of a looker-on.

The painter derives pleasure from a thousand sources which are not only unknown to

“ The plodding herd, of coarser clay coinpos’d:”

but even generally unappreciated by the most enlightened minds devoted to other occupations; his art may be said to furnish him with a new sense, throngh which new qualities appear to exist in things; objects are invested with new splendors, and the whole face of nature secms to wear an appropriate charm, whether dressed

In smiles or frowns, in terrors or in tears.

Beyond the poet in the strength of his conceptions as well as in the force and fidelity with which they are espressed, he is more alive to what passes around him; external objects take a stronger hold of his imagination; the impressions of beauty, of grandeur, of sublimity, sink deeper into his soul. His art, estimated according to its noblest examples, considered in every view of mental or manual ability, appears to be the most arduous enterprize of taste, and, without injustice to other pursuits, may be termed the most extraordinary operation of human genius; in its theory and principles unfold. ing the most subtle refinements of the intellectual power, in its practice displaying the most dextrous achievement of mechanical skill.

The only character, indeed, that can pretend to rank with the painter in the great scale of human ingenuity, is the poet: but he has not been satisfied with equality, he has commonly contended for a higher station; and having been usually judge and jury in the cause, he has always taken care to decide it in his own favour. Yet an impartial inrestigation, by abilities competent to the task, of the powers displayed in both arts; of the qualities from nature and education which they respectively require, would, perhaps, amend the record, if not reverse the decree. What is there of intellectual in the opera. tions of the poet, which the painter does not equal? What is there of me. chanical which he does not surpass? He is also one “ cui sit ingenium, cui mens divinior.” The “os magna sonaturun” indeed, is not his; but he has a language more general, more eloquent, more animated; as much more ardua ous is its attainment as it is more extraordinary in its effect. Where their arts resemble, the painter keeps his level with the poet; where they differ, he takes a more elevated ground.

The advantages wbich poeiry possesses over painting, in continued narration and successive impression, cannot be advanced as a peculiar merit of the poet, since it results from the nature of language, and is common to prose.

The eye of the painter is required to be as much more sensible and acute than the eye of the poet, as the accuracy of him who imitates should exceed that of him who only describes. What is the verbal expression of a passion compared to its visible presence; the narration of an action to the action itself brouglit before your view. What are the “ verba ardentia" of the poet to the breathing beauties, the living lustre of the pencil, rivalling the noblest productions of nature, expressing the characteristics of matter and mind, the powers of soul, the perfection of forni, the brightest bloom of cclour, the golden glow of light? Can the airy shadows of poetical imagery be compared to the embodied realities of art?

Whiere the poet cursorily observes, the painter intensely studies. What the one carries loosely in his memory, the other stamps upon his soul. The forms and combinations of things, the accidents of light and colour, the relations of distance and degree, the passions, proporcions and properties of men and animals; all the phenomena of “the visible diurnal sphere,” the painter must treasure up in his mind in clear, distinct, indelible impressions, and with the powers of a magician call them up at a moment's warning like spirits from “ the vasty deep” of his imagination,

« To do his bidding, and abide his will."

From the nature of the medium through which the poet operates, he has an advantage over the painter, which considerably facilitates his progress. As verse is constructed of language, modified by number and measure, the poet may be said to pursuie, in some degree, a preparatory course of study from bis cradle; he never talks but he may be considered as sharpening his tools and collecting his materials; his instrument is never out of his hands, and whether he reads, writes, or converses, be exercises bis faculties in a way that appears to have a direct reference to his art, and to be a prelude to his performance.

The painter, on the other hand, makes use of a medium that has no ana. logy to speech, no connexion with any of his ordinary habits or acquirements; his art speaks a language of the most uncommon construction, and most comprehensive influence; demanding the unremitting application of a life to produce that facility of expression, that fluency of graphic utterance, by which only he can hope to address himself effectually to the passions and understandings of men.

If to become familiar with the writings of the ancients, to comprehend their beauties and compose in their language be the proudlest attainments of the scholar and the poet; how much more worthy of admiration is the skill of him who pours forth his, ideas in the glowing language of nature! wlio


becomes familiar with all her beauties, who learns by heart all her charac. ters, though numerous and varied to an extent that reduces the amplitude of the Chinese tongue to a contracted alphabet; and who can trace them through all their combinations, from the simplest blade of grass in the field, to the most complex esample of her power, in that Alpha and Omega of her hand, the hieroglyphic miracle, man.

Such instances of premature excellence as we often see with surprise in the other pursuits of genius are entirely unknown in the annals of painting; the difficulties of his art, while they condemn the painter to unremitting exertion, at least spare bim the mortification of finding himself outdone by rivals from the school-room or the nursery: no spring from inspired infancy, no sallies of premature vigor can snatch from his astonished hopes those wreaths, which are never yielded but to the patient energies of time and toil.

The citadel of an art is not to be taken by a coup de main; no forced march of the faculties can surprise it; we must besiege it in form, proceed by regular approaches, and depend more on persevering, vigilant investment than sudden or violent assault.

The head and the hand are required to act with such equal influence, the intellectual and mechanical to combine in such cordial cooperation, that the most exalted genius must submit in the arts to be indebted to long and labo. rious application for those powers, which no precocious ability can attain.

If we remark the different periods at which poetry and painting have respectively adorned the progress of society it may still further illustrate the characters of the two arts. Poetry appears to be the first powerful product of human genius,* painting the last and most delicate of its offspring. The one is a plant that shoots up, often to its greatest luxuriance, in the open field of society; the other a flower never produced till the soil has been long laboured and purified, till the field has been converted into a garden.

Poetry attained to its greatest perfection in times comparatively simple and rude, when man was little more than emerging from the shepherd to the agricultural state. Hesiod poured forth his strains while tending his flocks on Mount Helicon, and Homer eshausted all the treasures of the Muse some ages before the combined operations of Nature and Cultivation had produced an Apelles, a Parrhasius, or a Zeuxis.

The works of taste seem to be performed by the last and highest process of the human intellect, when in the full maturity and expansion of its powers, sifted and refined through a long succession of ages: they are enjoy. ments only to be obtained, when a full supply of all our coarser necessities

• Voltaire, Age of Louis XIV. remarks “such has been the fate of the human mind, in all countries, that verse has every where been the first child of Genius, and the parent of Eloquence."

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