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they are engaged is obscure; while often the country, the age, and even the class of life, to which they belonged, can be only imperfectly guessed. Of consequence, little comparative interest will be excited. The child's question, “ Is it true?” immediately occurs; and just in proportion as we ascertain the facts, the person, the whole story, we are charmed, affected, or surprised by the power of the master. Without the book the wand of the enchanter cannot work the spell.
Landscape painting is that which is most easily understood at first sight; because the objects of which it is composed are as familiar to our eyes, as the words in which they could be explained are to our ears, so that we recognise them at once, and can judge without commentary of the grouping and perspective. But the pleasure in contemplating the most exquisite productions of Claude Lorraine, Gaspar Poussin, and other great masters, is exceedingly enhanced by consideration of the skill of the artists in creating, what never, indeed, for one moment becomes an illusion, but that which enables the mind within itself to form an ideal prototype, worthy of the pictured representation. Even when we know that the scenes are from nature, admiration of the pencil that drew them is the highest ingredient of our delight in beholding them, -- unless, by local, historical, or personal associations, the trees, the streams, the hills, or the buildings, remind us of things greater and dearer than themselves. This, of course, is the most exalted gratification which landscape painting can confer; yet poetry, which, in
distinct delineations of natural objects, is otherwise inferior, has decided pre-eminence here.
The following stanzas from, probably a hasty, but certainly a happy effusion of Thomas Campbell's, in the dew and blossom of his youthful poetry, will exemplify this fact. They refer to a morning walk, in company with a Russian lady, to a place called " the Fountain of the Thorn," on an eminence near Vienna, commanding a view of the city, the Danube, and the neighbouring country to a vast extent:
« Ah ! how long shall I delight
In the memory of that morn,
To the Fountain of the Thorn!
“ And beheld his waves and islands,
Flashing, glittering in the sun,
To the mountains of the Hun.
“ There was gladness in the sky,
There was verdure all around;
Look'd on rich historic ground.
• Over Aspern’s field of glory,
Noontide's distant haze was cast,
Teem'd with visions of the past.”
* The introductory and concluding verses, being merely complimentary, are omitted. The poem itself first appeared in this country in the “ Family Magazine of November, 1830,” edited by Mr. Shoberl, who acknowledges that he copied them from a German periodical published at Vienna. They were probably written about the year 1802.
What could a painter do with this ? Assuredly he might produce a landscape as superb as ever emanated, in colours of this world, from the pencils of Titian or Rubens. All the elements are at hand. A bird's-eye prospect from a height overlooking a majestic river, studded with islands, “ flashing, glittering in the sun ;” the “ gorgeous towers” of an imperial city; the verdure of woods on every side; over all, a brilliant sky; and far away beneath the haze of summer-noon, long lines of undulated hills, lessening, lightening, vanishing from the view. The canvass might be covered with all these, yet, though they might dazzle the eye, and enchant the imagination, like a glimpse into fairy-land, — unexplained, they would be mere abstractions, and the picture would be valued solely as a work of art; but let a label be attached with the word Vienna upon it, then, indeed, a new and nobler interest would be felt in the whole, and curiosity to find out every part, when we knew that a real city, stream, and landscape were depicted. This, however, would be the extent to which the painter could transport the
eye and the mind of his admirer.
Here, then, begins the triumph of poetry, which, while it can adorn, more or less perfectly, all the subjects of painting drawn from visible nature, has the whole invisible world to itself, – thoughts, feelings, imaginations, affections, all that memory can preserve of things past, and all that prescience can conceive or forebode of things to come. These it can express, minutely or comprehensively, in mass or in detail, foreshortened or progressive, line by line, shade by shade, till it completely possesses the reader,
and puts him as completely in possession of all that is most nearly or remotely associated with the theme in discussion. In the instance before us, the poet does this with the fewest possible phrases; and yet with such brilliance and force of allusion, that the reader has only to follow, in any direction, the retrospective avenues opened on every hand.
After shedding the glory of sunshine on the " waves and islands” of the river, the green luxuriance of the champaign, and the “gorgeous towers" of the metropolis, — in three words, he lets in the daylight of past ages upon the scene.
His 6 rich, historic ground,” calls up the actions and actors of the mightiest events ever exhibited on that theatre ; - the mountains of the Hun, the field of Aspern, the hills of Turkish story, are crowded with armies, flouted with banners, and shaken with the tramp of chivalry, and the march of phalanxed legions. They all “ teem with visions of the past." Those who are acquainted with the circumstances of the siege of Vienna by the Turks, about the middle of the seventeenth century, and its deliverance by Sobiesky, king of Poland, will at once realise the Ottoman battlearray under the beleaguered walls; the despair within the city, where all hope but in heaven was cut off, and the churches were thronged with praying multitudes; the sudden appearance of the Poles, and their attack upon the infidels: the rage of conflict, man to man, horse to horse, swords against cimeters, cimeters against swords, one moment
flashing, glittering in the sun,” the next crimsoned and reeking with blood; the shouts, the groans, the agonies, the transports of the strife; till the bar
barians, borne down by the irresistible impetuosity of their Christian assailants, fell heaps upon heaps, on “the field of glory," or fled “ to the mountains of the Hun," while Danube, from “the Fountain of the Thorn," rolled purple to the deep, bearing along with his overcharged current the turbaned corpses of the invaders back into the bowels of their own land. That disastrous siege and triumphant rescue were celebrated by a contemporary poet (Filicaja) in three of the sublimest odes which Italy can boast; and which (with the exceptionof the Hohenlinden and the Battle of the Baltic, by our accomplished countryman whose stanzas I have been discussing), stand unrivalled by any war-songs with which I am acquainted, whether among the few fragments of antiquity, or in the whole armoury of later ages.
Poetry and Sculpture. Sculpture is the noblest, but the most limited of the manual fine arts; it produces the fewest, but the greatest effects; it approaches nearest to nature, and yet can present little beside models of her living forms, and those principally in repose. Plausible reasons are assigned for the latter spontaneous restriction of their art, with which practitioners in general are satisfied, from the extreme difficulty, and with most of them the absolute impossibility, of expressing lively action or vehement passion, otherwise than in their beginnings and their results. This is not the place to discuss the question ; yet I know not how it can be doubted, that sculpture might