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Not undelightful now to pace
The forest's ample rounds.
As o'er the grey stone spreads.
That clasps its foliage close.
With more than melody.
When faint the sunbeams smile.
Or bids the flowret bloom ;
And bid the flower rebloom.-SOUTHEY. The contrasts of summer and winter were never more harmoniously put than by the great master of metrical harmony :
It was a bright and cheerful afternoon,
When the north wind congregates in crowds
It was a winter such as when birds die
Even the homely song of the Ayrshire ploughman, engrafted upon an old melody, is beautiful and true:
Up in the morning 's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
I'm sure it 's winter fairly.
Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A' day they fare but sparely ;
I'm sure it 's winter fairly.
Up in the morning, &c.-BURNS.
CHARLES LAMB. It is the fashion with those who cry up the great Historical School in this country, at the head of which Sir Joshua Reynolds is placed, to exclude Hogarth from that school, as an artist of an inferior and vulgar class. Those persons seem to me to confound the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with the being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture would alone unvulgarize every subject which he might choose. Let us take the lowest of his subjects, the print called Gin Lane. Here is plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view, and accordingly a cold spectator feels himself immediately disgusted and repelled. I have seen many turn away from it not being able to bear it. The same persons would, perhaps, have looked with great complacency upon Poussin's celebrated picture of the Plague at Athens. Disease and death and bewildering terror, in Athenian garments, are endurable, and come, as the delicate critic expresses it, within the “ limits of pleasurable sensation.” But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their own countrymen, are too shocking to think of. Yet if we could abstract our minds from the fasci. nating colors of the picture, and forget the coarse execution (in some respects) of the print, intended as it was to be a cheap plate, accessible to the poorer sort of people, for whose instruction it was done, I think we could have no hesitation in conferring the palm of superior genius upon Hogarth, comparing this work of his with Poussin's picture. There is more of imagination in it that power which draws all things to one-which makes things animate and inanimate, beings with their attributes, subjects and their accessories, take one color, and serve to one effect. Every thing in the print, to use a vulgar expression, tells. Every part is full of "strange images of death." It is perfectly amazing and astounding to look at. Not only the two prominent figures, the woman and the half-dead man, which are as terrible as anything which Michael Angelo ever drew, but everything else in the print contributes to bewilder and stupefy,—the very houses, as I heard a friend of mine express it, tumbling all about in various directions, seem drunk-seem absolutely reeling from he effect of that diabolical spirit of frenzy, which goes forth ove the whole composi. tion. To show the poetical and almost prophetical conception in the artist, one little circumstance may serve. Not content with the dying and dead figures which he has strewed in profusion over the proper scene of the action, he shows you what (of a kin. dred nature) is passing beyond it. Close by the shell, in which, by the direction of the parish beadle, a man is depositing his wife, is an old wall, which, partaking of the universal decay around it, is tumbling to pieces. Through a gap in this wall are seen three figures, which appear to make a part in some funeral procession which is passing by on the other side of the wall, out of the sphere of the composition. This extending of the interest beyond the bounds of the subject could only have been conceived by a great genius. Shakspere, in his description of the Painting of the Trojan War, in his Torquin and Lucrece, has introduced a similar device, where the painter made a part stand for the whole :
“For much imaginary work was there,
This he well calls imaginary work, where the spectator must meet the artist in his conceptions half-way; and it is peculiar to the confidence of high genius alone to trust so much to spectators or readers. Lesser artists show everything distinct and full, they require an object to be made out to themselves before they can comprehend it.
When I think of the power displayed in this (I will not hesitate to say) sublime print, it seems to me the extreme narrowness of system alone, and of that rage for classification, by which, in matters of taste, at least, we are perpetually perplexing instead of arranging our ideas, that would make us concede to the work of Poussin above mentioned, and deny to this of Hogarth, the name of a grand serious composition.
We are forever deceiving ourselves with names and theories. We call one man a great historical painter, because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the painter of common life, and set him down in our minds for an artist of an inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought shown by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history.
I entertain the highest respect for the talents and virtues of Reynolds, but I do not like that his reputation should overshadow and stifle the merits of such a man as Hogarth, nor that to mere names and classifications we should be content to sacri. fice one of the greatest ornaments of England.
I would ask the most enthusiastic admirer of Reynolds, whether in the countenances of his Staring and Grinning Despair, which he has given us for the faces of Ugolino and dying Beaufort, there be anything comparable to the expression which Hogarth has put into the face of his broken-down Rake, in the last plate but one of the “Rake's Progress," where a letter from the manager is brought to him to say that his play “will not do!" Here all is easy, natural, undistorted; but withal what a mass of woe is here accumulated !--the long history of a misspent life is compressed into the countenance as plainly as the series of plates before had told it; here is no attempt at Gorgonian looks, which are to freeze the beholder, no grinning at the antique bed-posts, no face-making, or consciousness of the presence of spectators in or out of the picture, but grief kept to a man's self, a face retiring from notice with the shame which great anguish sometimes brings with it -a final leave taken of hopethe coming on of vacancy and stupefaction-a beginning alienation of mind looking like tranquillity. Here is matter for the mind of the beholder to feed on for the hour together-matter Lo feed and fertilize the mind. It is too real to admit one thought