Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

of Comus ; or more abounding in all, that renders imagery delightful, than his lyric of “ L'Allegro ?” And beyond all this, what shall we compare with his “Garden of Eden?” Nothing in the “Odyssey;" nothing in the descriptions, we have received, of the “ Groves of Antioch," or the “ Valley of Tempé;” neither the “Gardens of Armida b," or the “ Hesperides ; " the "Paradise of Ariosto"; Claudian's “Garden of Venusd;" the “ Elysium” of Virgil and Ovid; or the “ Cyprus” of Marino; neither the “Enchanted Garden” of Boyardo; the “ Island” of Camöense; or Spenser's “Garden of Adonis f," have any thing to compare with it. Rousseau's “ Verger de Clarens” is alone superior! · The poet's province is to copy Nature; such, also, is the province of the historian; and it is a subject of regret, that ancient historical writers had not been more observant of the rule. How far more interesting had their pages been, for instance, had they enlivened the progress of their armies, with descriptions of the countries, through which they marched, rather than have encumbered them with so much military detail! Something of this kind may be observed in Xenophon, Quintus Curtius, and Cæsar's Commentaries ; yet they are but sketches : strongly lined, in some instances, it is true ; yet still sketches, and most of them imperfect.

But, however well a scene may be described, every landscape, so exhibited, does not necessarily become a subject for the pallet of the painter. Some descriptions embrace objects

· Alluded to in P. L. b. iv. 272, and in Julian ; and described by Strabo, lib. xvi.

b Tasso, cant. xvi. 9. The best principles of a garden are comprised in the following line :

Arte che tutto fa, nulla se scopre.
. c Orl. Fur. xxxiv. Garden of Alcina, b. vi.
d Nupt. Hon. et Mariæ, v. 49.

e Cant. ix. Faerie Queene, b. iii. c. 6. Sylvester has some curious and not inelegant descriptions in his translation of Du Bartas.-W. ii. D. i.

of a Dyer terestina Phly as

too minute; some are too humble and familiar ; others too general; and some there are too faithful to be engaging. This poet delights in the familiar; that in the beautiful; some in the picturesque; and others in the sublime.

These may be styled the four orders of landscape. In the first we may class Cowper ; in the second Pope; in the third Thomson; in the fourth Ossian. The descriptions of Cowper are principally from humble and domestic life ; including objects seen every day and in every country. The gipsey group is almost the only picturesque sketch, he affords. Highly as this has been extolled, how much more interesting had the subject become, in the hands of a Dyer, a Thomson, or a Beattie !—Pope excels in the beautiful; yet ḥe is so general, that his vales and plains flit before the imagination, leaving on the memory few traces of existence. Thomson's pictures are principally adapted to the latitude of Richmond. Some, however, are sublime to the last degree. They present themselves to the eye in strong and well-defined characters; the keeping is well preserved, and the outlines boldly marked.

Dyer tinted like Ruysdael ; and Ossian with the force and majesty of Salvator Rosa. In describing wild tracts, pathless solitudes, dreary and craggy wildernesses, with all the horrors of savage deserts, partially peopled with a hardy, but not inelegant race of men, Ossian is unequalled. In night-scenery he is above all imitation, for truth, solemnity, and pathos; since no one more contrasts the varied aspects of Nature with the mingled emotions of the heart. What can be more admirable, than his address to the evening star, in the Songs of Selma ; to the moon, in Darthula ; or that fine address to the sun in his poem of Carthon?—passages almost worthy the sacred pen of the prophet Isaiah.

The uniformity, that has been observed in the imagery of Ossian, is not the uniformity of dulness. Local description only' aids the memory: for a scene must be actually observed

VOL. II.

by the eye, before the mind can form a just and adequate idea of it. No epicure can judge a ragout by the palate of another ;-—a musician must hear the concert, he presumes to criticise ;—and the reader will gain but a very imperfect idea of the finest landscape in the universe, by reading or hearing it described. For we can neither taste, hear, smell, feel, nor see by proxy.

Thus, when Ossian describes vales, rocks, mountains, and glens, the words he uses are the same; and the images, they respectively suggest, would appear to be the same; but the scenes themselves are dressed in an infinite variety of drapery. It is not that the poet is poor, but that language is indigent. A superficial reader, possessing no play of fancy, when the sun is represented as going down, and the moon as rising ; when a cataract is said to roar, and the ocean to roll; can only figure to himself the actual representations of those objects, without any combinations. A man of an enlarged and elegant mind, however, immediately paints to himself the lovely tints, that captivate his fancy in the rising and setting of those glorious luminaries; he already sees the tremendous rock, whence the cataract thunders down ; and thrills with agreeable horror, at the distant heavings of an angry ocean. Possessing a mind, that fancy never taught to soar, the one perceives no graces in a tint; a broad and unfinished outline only spreads upon his canvas; while, by the creating impulses of genius, the outline is marked by many a matchless shade, and the foreground occupied by many a bold, or interesting group.

NATURAL AND MORAL ANALOGIES.

GIFTED with an accomplished mind, the POET walks at large, amid the creations of the material world; and, imbibing images, at every step, to form his subjects and illustrate his positions, he turns all objects into intelligible hieroglyphics. For there is an analogy between external appearances and interior affections, strikingly exemplificative of that general harmóny, which subsists in all the universe. For infinite are the relations and analogies, which objects bear to each other: -Harmonies, which would give ample scope for the satisfaction and rapidity of the liveliest imagination! It is from these analogies, that the heavenly bodies have been considered symbols of majesty; the oak of strength; the olive of peace; and the willow of sorrow. One of the Psalms of David, pursuing this analogy, represents the Jews, hanging their harps upon the willows of Babylon, bewailing their exile from their native country.

The yellow-green, which is the colour Nature assumes at the falling of the leaf, was worn in chivalry, as an emblem of despair. Red is considered as indicative of anger, sometimes of guilt a ; green of tranquillity b; and brown of melancholy. The lotos C was regarded in Egypt as an emblem of the creating power : and the cypress has long been acknowledged an emblem of mourning; the swan of graceful dignity; the violet of modesty; the myrtle of love ; and the tulip of vanity': the aloe of constancy ; the mulberry of prudence; the lily of the valley of innocence; the rose of beauty; the fuschia of magnificence; and the palm and laurel of honour and victory a

" Come, now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet; they shall be as wool.”—Isaiah, i. v. 18. When Moorcroft was about to take leave of the Lama of Narayan, on bis journey to Mánasanawara, the Lama took his friend's white garment in his hand, and said, “ I pray you, let me live in your recollection, as white as this cloth."

b Green, in heraldry, is used to express liberty, love, youth, and beauty: and all acts and letters of grace were, at one time, signed with green wax.

c Because it vegetates from its own matrice. The lotus is esteemed sacred in Thibet, Nepaul, and Hindostan *. On its bosom Bramah was supposed to have been born ; and on its petals Osiris delighted to float t. This flower is very common along the countries bordering the Senegal, the Gambia, and the Niger 1.

* Asiat. Research, vol. i. 243.

f Indian Antiq. iii. 232. I Park's Trav. 100.

Branches of palms were, in ancient times, esteemed emblems of mental and bodily vigour b; and the white violet of love C; as a blush was the emblem of modesty and virtue. The amaranth was an emblem of immortality. St. Peter promises an amaranthine crown ; and Milton says, the amaranth bloomed in Paradise ; but for man's offence was removed to Heaven ; where it still grows, shading the fountain of life, near which the river of bliss rolls in streams of amber : while every angel is supposed to be bound with crowns and wreaths of amaranth.

The yew! Many reasons have been assigned for the custom of planting yew-trees in the yards of churches ; and because they were, in ancient times, used for bows d, some of the scholiasts have sanctioned the belief, that they were planted, in order to be used for those weapons. The fact, however, is, the yew-tree has been considered an emblem of mourning from the earliest times. The more ancient Greeks planted round their tombs such trees only, as bore no fruit; as the elm, the cypress, and the yew. This practice they imported from the Egyptians; the Romans adopted it from the Greeks ; and the Britons from the Romans. From long habits of association, the yew acquired a sacred character ; and therefore was considered as the best and most appropriate ornament for consecrated ground. The custom of

a Cui geminæ florent vatumque ducumque
Certatim laurus. -

Statius. Achill. i. 15.
Arbor vittoriosa triomphale,
Honor d'imperadori et di poeta, &c.

Petrarca.. The ancient rhapsodists always recited the verses of the poets, with laurel rods in their hands. And when Castro entered in triumph into Goa, he walked upon silk, holding a laurel bough; while the ladies showered flowers upon him, as he passed.

b Plut. Symp. lib. viii. Quest. 4. • Hor. iii. od. 10. 14.

d Georg. lib. ii. 1. 439.

[graphic]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »