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resource is borrowed from invariable physical nature; * and that, in the case of a people so circumstanced, there is no longer any thing to describe, than nature which never grows old,” that is, in the sense of the author, than invariable physical nature.

The proper scope of the romantic style of composition is then, according to the avowal of one of its observers, descriptive talent applied more at large to physical nature, and here this digression again falls in with the subject I am discussing and the object of the present chapter.

I have already explained, but it is here necessary to repeat it, in what manner true poetry deals with the description of material objects. As the arts of design, or those which speak to the eye, have most frequent need to transmute moral ideas into physical forms, so poetry, which paints to the mind, has to convert corporeal sensations into moral impressions.

It portrays material objects rather by their effect on the mind, than their action on the senses, rather in their relation with the sentiments they give rise to, than in that of their visible configuration. Its secret more especially consists in bringing within the undefined pale of the understanding, which amplifies their image, those subjects which the art of design

* Charles Nodier's Preface to Trilby.

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can present to us only within the confined limits of a determinate place.

Poetry and the so called romantic form of composition, have totally different ends in view. The writer, in his pictorial mania, seems to aspire to an immediate and almost graven copy of the objects of matter. He endeavours to fasten on their reality, as though it were possible for him to stamp them on the visual organ. As though the idea of painting, as applied to poetry, were not a mere fiction of language, he borrows the eye of the painter wherewith to consider nature, and, his imagination filled with forms, tints, accidents of light and shadow, and other physical effects, he believes the canvass to be before him, dreams that he has pencil and brushes in hand, and fancies that words and sentences are to make on his reader or hearer the impression that nature has appointed to the spectator. It is nothing less. than mistaking one of our senses for another Poetry, without doubt, has its pictures, but they are metaphorical ones, and as the eye is interdicted from seeing them, so the poet is forbidden to aspire to the employment of elements which have no other value than that derived from their visibility.

When Virgil portrays night, it is by its effects on living creatures. He makes no futile endeavour to rival the labours of the landscape painter.



Aneron mu-cms comen? 98 OF THE NATURE


to At one time he shows us men, animals, the winds, and the waves of the sea, all hushed to sleep ;* at another he places the traveller in the midst of a gloomy forest, well nigh losing his way by the doubtful glimmering of the torch of night.

Would we see the same subject treated in the spirit of the romantic style? for to see is almost the proper word, so great is the desire evinced to seize on those traits which are within the province of the sight. The night will have wings of sable gauze. She will curtain the heavens with funereal crape, and the stars will be its gilded studs. Elsewhere we shall be told that little clouds, like airy flocks of down, hovered aloft, flitting across the disk of the silver moon ; the mirror of the neighbouring lake will reflect its pale form, and the undulations occasioned by the evening breeze will furrow its tremulous surface. Might one not be led to believe that the writer had undertaken, with a view to a demonstration in optics, ko describe in detail a moonlight scene by Claude Lorraine Is it the

Nox erat, et placidum carpebant fessa soporem
Corpora per terras, sylvæque, et sæva quierant
Æquora : cùm medio volvuntur sidera lapsu :
Cùm tacet omnis ager; pecudes, pictæque volucres, &c.

Æneid, lib. iv. 522.

+ Quale per incertam Lunam sub luce maligna

Est iter in sylvis : ubi cælum condidit umbra
Jupiter, et rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.

Æneid, lib. vi, 270.

Appenst the Pael smilton



painter thinking to translate his own work into writing, or the poet struck with a fancy to become a journeyman painter ?

One may say that, in the spurious form of composition above spoken of, the poets muse has laid aside her ideal lyre, to take up the mechanical instruments of the arts of design. The author no longer draws his inspiration directly from the objects even of physical nature, but from the imitations and imitative processes of the artist. His picturesque is that of the pencil, his descriptions are formal, his metaphors technical. He lengthens bodies into obelisks, rounds them into domes, and hollows them into vases. He affects to model forms, trace contours, draw outlines, project shadows, and group masses.

He colours flowers vermilion, and paints the heavens ultramarine. He drapes the mountains with snow, and puts them on a head dress of frost; while he spreads abroad the corrugated folds of sheets of water. He passes a glaze over the dawn, and demi-tints over twilight. Be assured he will not forget the vapours of the aërial perspective in the distance, nor the prominent objects in the foreground of his pictures, nor the moss or lichen on the trunks of trees, nor the greenish hue or mould on tombstones, nor the parasitical plant on the ruin, nor the embrowned hue of the tower, nor the play of light on its windows, nor the fluctua

tions of the waves of the lake, nor the reflection of the poplar that is admiring itself in its crystal mirror.

It may with truth be alleged that the vocabulary of the art of painting is drained to exhaustion in paraphrasing pictures.

Not indeed that we have any intention of denying to poetry the expression of certain effects of external nature. What we would hold up to reprobation in this novel style is, that it affects images drawn from material objects, instead of those that may be derived from the sentiments, and moral associations, preferring the delineations, and if one may use the term, minute specifications of bodies, to the impressions of the mind, the limited relations of things visible, to the unlimited associations of the world of ideas ; it is the affectation of speaking to the senses in a language not their own, while refusing to the mind that which rightly belongs to it, and of abandoning resources affording the most direct action on the heart and the imagination, in order to wear out unavailingly and falsify the strings of an instrument, unmanageable to the hand that touches them, and unfitted to produce the effect required; it is in short, the pulling down poetry from her high places, whence its genius bears sway over the moral and intellectual world, to struggle, with unequal weapons, on the ground of realities, with

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