« PředchozíPokračovat »
By Allan Cunningham.
O, NATURE ! holy, meek, and mild,
of the artist in either department. The means which imitative art employs are twofold ; peculiar to individual modes of imitation, and dependent on the precepts of universal taste. In the first, the colouring, the drawing. the management of light and shaile, the grandeur of the masses, the breadth of parts—all the essentials, in short, of the grand in practical art, a portrait, admi. rable as a work of genius, exhibits the same excellences, and these procluced by observance of ihe same principles, as a piece of history. An opinion opposite to this fact, and which confounis greatness of extent with grandeur of effzci, appears to be ai ilie boitom of much of the ir. relevant remark on the subject now considered. True grandeur in a work of art, lowever, is a principle pure and in lependent, which mustezist, and will be found, in every work of excellence, of whatever magnitude.
In those beauties, again, common to all the modes of imitation, which in all constitute the “ to rade nat ayador" of universal art, portrait, in its true excellence, must partaké equally with historical works. If intellectuality and expression-the animating, the inforining principles of painting—be regarded, where are these more finely developed, than in the countenance of genius or feeling, when touched by the hand of a master ? Such a picture is the portraiture of the soul the nearest approach which the material can make to the intellectual world. Here the pencil must be guided by the most exquisite science, and the loftiest enthusiasm. Perhaps even more acute discernment, more refined knowledge, of the human heart, is required, thus to embody the calm havi. tudes of the mind in screnity and reposc, than to express the more turbulent effects of passion, the frequent theme of history.
But, after all, what is historical painting? Is it not portraiture ? and are not its merits in proportion to the lidelity of the delineation in the manners, the characters, the general spirit of the times to which it belongs ? Does fancy claim the subject ? still the constituents are portraits of nature, and the whole is combined by the laws of this very imitation. Here, intleed, in the composition and arrangement of his materials, the historical painter exerts a greater laiitude of creative power. This, however, arises from the greater variety, not the superior excellence, of materials or of his principles. Grace more frequently bounds the simple composition of the porirait. Both, however, are essentially the same art--the art of representing nature, and each attains this, its scope and aim, as this incitation is accomplished. And it is more immediate intercourse with this, the sole and primitive source of all beauty and truth, which renders the science of portrait painting the most valuable corrective of all conventional art—ihe best preparative for the loftiest exercises of imagination. This the whole history of art evinces. The only approaches to nature, in the arts of Egypt, are to be found in the colossal heads-as that of Memnon-which there is every reason to believe were portraits. In Greece, their theory of the ideal, and their canons of proportion, were deduced from the study of individual nature, as in portraits. Sculpture, in fact, began to advance with ease and certainty only after the introduction of Iconic statues, or portraits. The Roman school attained originality, and came in contact with truth and beauty, only in portraits. In modern times, with the exception of Michael Angelo, the best portrait have been the best historical painters. Raphael's Transfiguration belongs not more to the grand style of art, than his portrait of Julius. In the schools, now, of France and Italy, we find every thing which theory and the antique can give-fine drawing, correct proportion --but that which portrait could give, feeling and the graces of natural expression are wanting. In the Eng. lish school there is feeling—there is truth-characterall the inexpressible charms of nature. Let patrons do the rest, and we shall have historical paintings, like our portraits, superior to every thing in living art.
Or lead me forth o'er dales and meads,
Or, when the sun sinks, and the bright
I feel thy presence and thy power,
THE HOUR OF SLEEP.
By John Malcolm, Esq.
Far over mount and sea,
Her lonely walks with thee;-
By whispering woods and silvery streams, Upon the calm and shadowy shore
That rises on my dreams.
With thee my spirit strays,
Of long-lost yesterdays
And left a desert gap around-
And mourn'd as lost-are found.
And there, thy sad sweet smile still glows,
And doth thy cheek illume, That wears the image of the rose,
Now blench'd within the tomb ; And thy soft voice, to silence long
Gone down from earth, my spirit hearsLike the sweet memory of a song,
Echoed from other years.
To charm the hours of sleep
Then leave to wake and weep?
If it but haunts the heart in vainIf friends by death are sever'd here,
Never to meet again?
THE VALE OF PEACE! and it was Sabbath-morn! And at my side, pausing whene'er I paused, And moving on whene'er I moved, a Spirit Lovelier than Nymph or Goddess of the Dawn, Created in his sleep by some young Greek, Beside that famous fount of Castaly Stretched in day-dreams beneath the olive shade 0! lovelier far that Spirit! For her face, Composed of mortal beauty, seemed immortal! So felt her father, as the holy light Of that still Sabbath-morn, so sad and sweet, Visited her eyes, her cheeks, her brow, her hair, And, to my heart, seemed all reflected back On the green earth, and on the blue profound Of God's own gracious skies !
« THE VALE OF PEACE!" Breathed she, with that low voice so musical, That voice of hers, so like an echo brought From far,—yet as familiarly distinct As words ot' fancy-fraught soliloquy By wandering poet murmured in the woods To his own ear, -none other by to hear The fragments of his song, but forest-birds, The rustling robin redbreast near his nest, In spring and summer shy of human life By the sweet ingrate through the snows beloved ! Or cushat moaning, is it joy or grief?) Ilid in some yew-tree many centuries old ! “ THE Vale of Peace!" my rose-lipped Margaret
breathed Once more, so close unto my heart I felt The fine faint fragrant sigh from Paradise ; Nor ever floated up and down the air, In sunshine shivering to the zephyr's wing, Rose-leaves more lightly, in their balminess, Than did the tones of her repeated voice, Rising and falling,-wavering and away, Each time more eloquent of innocent bliss ! On a soft sofa of the unhewn rock We sat us down, within a natural niche, O'ergrown with emerald velvet,-such a depth Of moss had gathered there from year to year,While overhead, and but few yards aside, Kept dinning ceaseless in the solitude, The tiny cataract of a lucid rill Breathed from a clear loch, up among the braes,Whose spray, like pearls in mist, empurpled bright The flowers, on which the mountain-bees hung mute Amid that watery murmur,-or at once Capriciously forsaking their sweet prisons In the many-celled foxglove, boomed away, Through sunshine, like to fairy humming-birds, To their ground hives, or other balmier wilds.
THE VALE OF PEACE.
A SABBATH SCENE.
By Professor Wilson. DIVINELY silent as a picture steep'd In dewy morning-prime, by heavenly art Of some great poet-painter, while he wooed, As if she were a spirit who felt his love, Hush'd Nature, as she slumber'd beautiful Dreaming, or waking beautiful from dreams! Even so divinely silent in the sun, Who had dropt his cloud-retinue in the sea, And up the blue vault journey'd lingeringly, Mild as the moon to homeward reapers dear, And all undazzling, though the dawn grew day, As unto lover's eyes the evening-star ! Even so divinely silent, while my soul Lived in mine eyes, all other senses shut In short oblivion, with its Sabbath-calin Of lights and shadows lay the VALE OF PEACE!
THE VALE OF PEACE! A tranquillizing sound ! Haply so named in the old forgotten time, By pensive minstrel, harping his glad way Through the thin solitudesnow at the door Of hut or shieling on the mountain-side, With verse to some romantic roundelay Accordant, voice and hand in unison, Charming the solitary mother, left With her mute infant, while her husband plied His work in far-off woods ;-now in the inidst Of numerous merriment on the village green, Throned, a magician, on the topmost step Of all the flight, beneath the old Stone-Cross That grandly cleaved in twain the golden mass Of sunset, with a deeper mystery Than hangs round all the luminous orbs of Heaven !
With her, the loved, the good, the beautiful,
She gazed and gazed
Not many tears, and they were tears of joy,
With the descending lark her soul return'd
“ Yes, my dear child!
heartb or in the air,
Long, long ago, still held with dance and song,
I ceased, and a low sobbing by my side
I laid my arm around my daughter's neck,
“ Look, Margaret, towards the sun- -the joyous east !
Growing for generations, now a tree
“ Beside her sits
Gently she laid the lustre of her head
But soon the happy creature found her voice,
“ Lo, up the Vale the light-blue heron floats!
“ You see the hut!
At least you see its smoke! How narrow there The vale, and how profound! Yon streak like snow Is a precipitous waterfall! Yon gloom A wood! Yon seeming sunlight is a lake! A lake too little even for one small boat. So thinks the skilful angler, who, with line Like gossamer, can, with the breeze, command The curling waters, even from shore to shore, From that lake issuing, joined as it flows on By many a feeder-rill, the Avon grows, Soon to a stately stream, till lo! the kirk That standeth midway up the Vale or PEACE Is seen reflected with its downward tower In the clear pool, a stationary sight Among the veering clouds !
“ But to yon hut Let all our thoughts return. Though far remote In its seclusion from the noisy world, The spirit of the noisy world found out Its simple inmates, and the shepherd-life Seem'd'dull to one who, in strange books, had read Of great ships voyaging through unknown seas All round the globe, and touching at fair isles By fairest forms inhabited, and blest With umbrage beauteous in perpetual spring, So he became a sailor, never more, Except in dreams, to see his father's roof; And many a thousand homebound ships returned, Year after year, and many a rumour wild Oft reach'd this inland solitary vale, Of whole crews saved from wrecks, and in fierce lands At last escaping from captivity; Sometimes of one poor sailor from a rock Taken by wandering bark—perhaps their son ! But finally the heart of hope lay cold; And his old parents, when the tempests roared, No longer wept upon their midniglit beds, Nor wearied heaven with unavailing prayers. Smit with the same wild passion, in the prime Of life, another son went to the wars, A doomed man, so every tongue declared, And fell when leading on a " Hope forlorn," Flung headlong from the battlement! Stranger still ! The meek-eyed maiden, who, with quiet steps, Had walked in this retirement all her days, Nor pass'd beyond the circle of these hills, The stay and solace of her parents' age, Was woo'd and won by one who came from far With plumes that waved in military glee, And with her husband in a foreign land Perish’d, 'twas said, in earthquake that heaved up A city shrieking with its thousand towers. Wild fate! for one who had been born and bred In a shepherd's hut on Scotia's flowery braes ! One child remain'd-of rarest beauty she,And all the love belonging to the dead Came back from their far graves, and in her breast Was pour'd, and lodged like sunshine in a cloud, On some calm spot of heaven. One night at prayers Her eyes look'd troubled, and she read the Book Asif its holy meanings threaten'd her, Her who was guiltless in thought, word, and deed, Even as the little children whom our Lord Took in his arms and bless'd. The morning rose, Silent, serene, and sweet,—but never cell Where on the cold stones the chained maniac raves, Heard shriekings sadder or more terrible Than those that from yon solitary hut Disturbåd the Sabbath dawn. Dim years went by, And her old parents watched their only child, Oftenest together, but sometimes by turns, For they were poor, and had to toil for bread, Hour after hour, nor was she left alone One single moment either day or night, For all those years ; till God, at last was pleased, In his exceeding mercy, to dispel The horrid mystery that besieged her brain, And earth, and heaven, and human faces wore The same sweet aspect to her quiet eyes, That they had worn in youth-ere she had wept O’er uncommitted sing. It was in spring
Her senses were restored; and o'er the braes,
verse compressed within the compass of a human bosom. One Sabbath-day she walked into the kirk,
It is the very soul of man rendered susceptible to feel. Between her parents, to their little pew,
ing,-made all but visible. To write poetry, the eye And with them prayed to God in perfect peace,
must dart through infinity,-grasp at a mountain,-and As happy as a child. Returning home,
gaze upon a molehill. It may be spoken,-it may be She laid her down, and never rose again!
read in the eye,-it may be acted, --it may be felt. In But, on her death-bed, to her face returned Her former beauty, so her parents thought,
a word, Poetry is a glowing, an unrestrainable, and resto And something more than beauty, so profound
less emanation from the very essence of man's divinity. The bliss that shone within her closing eyes,
Numbers, elegance, and harmony no more constitute it, While like a very angel's was her voice
than a man's garments constitute the man himself. The That breathed the last farewell !".
one is of the earth, the other is from heaven; they are
necessary habiliments,-- graceful adornments; they have A clear-toned bell
this extent,—no more. Was now heard tinkling through the silent sky,
Servility and sycophantic adulation are degradations And groups of people in their best attire
to which the poet cannot bend. He may be bowed down, Came trooping out into the open light,
he may be broken ; blasted in prospects, ruined, and From hidden pathways in the coppice-woods, :
without hope; he may be made the foot-ball of misfor. Or wending soberly adown the braes,
tune and disappointment,-hurled into a vortex of mi. Startling the linnet froin the broom--or hare That glinted through the whins, in vain pursued
sery, into which, by every cffort to extricate himself, he By barking colley ;-now one figure crossd
is engulfed decper, till he is barked at by the veriest The light-rail'd bridge—and now another ;-Lo!
dogs which fawn upon others. Yet he is not defeated. The dingy coach of some old family,
He may be poor, but he cannot be mean. Despised, but Haply the patron's of the parish, dared
he will despise in return. Proud he will be, but not preThe gravelly ford, and, having pass'd the flood
sumptuous. Encircled with the consciousness of his own In safety lumber'd 'long the rutted road,
superiority, he stands invulnerable to the contempt of Jolting most waggon-like; while stately stood
wealth, and the insinuations of envy ; extracting a me. A liveried lacquey, six feet tall, behind,
lancholy pleasure from the cup of his sufferings, and cull. With long staff in his hand—a sight of pomp
ing flowers of varied fragrance and colouring from the Still view'd with admiration by the child,
wilderness of his own miseries. Superior, however, as Peeping from road-side cottage-door, too young To sit grave in the kirk, so left at home
he is, to complaint, and the noisy grief of little minds To rock the cradle, or the crowing babe
and of weak hearts, he is not the less susceptible of feel. To toss up in the sunshine. All her tears,
ing the evils of the world in their gall and in their viru. Like dew-drops shook from dancing flowers, were shook lence. His very soul is surrounded with a susceptibility From my dear Margaret's eyes; from our rock-seat delicate and sensitive as the organs of vision ; and while Of mossy velvet, in the natural niche
prudence and experience temper him to conceal it, there Within the precipice we rose, and bidding
are a thousand every day occurrences, which, on the maA farewell to the fairy waterfall,
jority of mankind, pass unheeded and unfelt, but which Down the green slope we glided, and ere long
rend the inmost strings of his heart, and rage in his bo. With the church-goers mingling, kindly talked
som like a smothered volcano. And to this men owe With many a new acquaintance and some old;
the knowledge of the minutest operations of their nature, Before the second bell ceased chiming, saw
which are common to all, but felt by few. The minister approaching from the manse ; And ere we entered that low house of God,
Genius is a wild, an unsettled, and a wayward thing; Unto my sweet companion bending down,
and perhaps there never was an instance where it has not I breathed into her ear—“ My Margaret,
cost the father of its possessor a groan, or his mother a With all its woes_this is THE VALE OF Peace!” tear. And, while they on whom it is bestowed, experi.
ence the bitterness of life more keenly than others, on the one hand; they plunge into every pleasure attainable, on
the other, with a strong, an almost destructive zest. Un. POETRY AND POETS.
til the knowledge acquired has tempered excitement,
chilled desire, and placed the reins of a heated imagina. Poets are a raw material, not a manufacture. The tion into the hands of a matured judgment. Though it art of rhyming, smoothness of versification, and har. were presumptuous to affirm that genius is chartered in
mony of numbers, may be acquired : but the strength its levities and irregularities, it is not the less certain that a d the energy, the soul and the fire,—the boundless there are associated with, and diffused throughout its grandeur, and the faculty of discerning the siinple fact follies and its imperfections, a nobleness and strength of which is obvious to all, but unperceived till we wonder mind, and, with its reriest vices, a misdirected virtue.at our ignorance, when, for the first time, it flashes upon But while its wit may illumine, and its information our senses, through the page of the poet, are natural,- lighten, the flattering circle of its would-be associates, let inherent. "Rhyme, it is true, has rushed in like a flood, them not approach too near, lest their garments be conand smooth, beardless ver-ification has choked up the sumed; for while the eagle glances proudly on the midentrance to, and inundated the very market-place of li- day sun, the setting rays of evening may blind the darkterature. Yet, notwithstanding this influx of petty son. ling owl. nets, and the countless volumes of insipid doggrel which Poets, like paintings, to be seen to advantage, must annually stream from the press, true, genuine, nervouis, be viewed froni a distance. Not that they are more wickand thrilling poetry is equally rare in the nineteenth cen ed or vicious than the grosser part of mankind ; but the tury as in the days of Mæonides or Shakspeare. In frequent variance between habit and principle, brings these days, the name of a poet sounds contemptible in the them down to the level of the merest mechanical sinner. ears of the merest blockhead, and is offensive to the nos. The charm of genius is lost, when we find it incorporated trils of genius. We have so long been familiar and tor with mere flesh and blood.' Enveloped in a shroud of mented with the trashy lucubrations of pretenders, tha humanity,—subject to all the ills and the follies which it requires a stretch of fortitude to venture upon the pro- afflict and degrade our nature, we do not find them worse ductions of a new author; and from this cause, many a than others; but we expect to find them better. Victims gem lies buried amidst this mountain-heap of rubbish. to the snares of soliciting society, and thereby dev a ing
Poetry is the dissection of the human heart. It is the from the dray-horse track of sober rectitude, we find them impress, the power, and extension of nature and the uni, living in the love and admiration of the immediate circle