Imágenes de páginas

not in that moment when she actually murders her children, but at some minutes previous to the murder—at a time when motherly love still struggles with jealousy. The artist makes us but anticipate the catastrophe that ensues, and our imagination outstretches every thing which the painter could have exhibited to us relating to that horrible moment. But so far from blaming the painter for representing Medea to us in a moment when the struggle is undecided, we rather wish it would have remained so in the real occurrence, that the combat of the passions had either remained undetermined, or at least had lasted sufficiently long for time to subdue her rage, and at length insure a victory to maternal feelings. As to his Ajax, Timomachus does not represent him when he is raging, but sitting down, exhausted after having performed his mad deeds, and forming the design to kill himself; and this is really the raging Ajax, not because we see him in a rage, but because we perceive that he has raged, because we are forcibly struck with the magnitude of his previous rage, which we conjecture from his being now driven to despair by shame, of which he himself appears to be sensible ; in like manner as we perceive the violence of a storm by the wrecks and corpses which are thrown on the shore.

As to Poetry and the extent of its efforts, without at present entering into an examination how far the poet can succeed in describing corporal beauty, this must be considered as indisputable, that the whole of the immense region of perfection is open to his imitation; that the imperceptible covering ạnder which he makes an accomplished object to appear beautiful, is but one of his feeblest cfforts to render his subjects interesting to us.

Beauty, so far from being a principal object with the poet, is often entirely neglected by him, assured that his hero, to gain our affections, must so much occupy our attention by his more noble qualities, that we shall not even think of his bodily form, or that they will so far prepossess us in his favour, as to lcad him to suppose we shall imagine him handsome. Much less will the poet have regard to the perception of our senses in the delineation of those features which do not immediately belong to the face. When Virgil describes his Laocoon as crying out with pain, who when reading it will imagine, that, in order to a person's crying out, an enlargement of the mouth is necessary, and that such a mouth disfigures the face ?—it is sufficient that the poet powerfully strikes the ear with

clamores horrendos ad sidera tollit,” however faint the effect may be on the eye.

The next advantage the poet has over the artist is, that he is not obliged to concentrate his effects at one single moment; he assumes, at his pleasure, every action of the catastrophe, commencing at the origin, and following them through all their modifications tothe end, and thus unites them in one description; whereas the artist is obliged to divide them into so many different representations. Owing to this succession of moments in the event he describes, the poet is able to soften some of the less agreeable tones, either by some subsequent or antecedent effects, so that the whole will produce the best impression.' When, for instance, we read in Virgil that Laocoon cries out when bitten by the scre pents, although it may be considered unbecoming for a man to cry out in the agony of pain; yet as this Laocoon is the very person whom the poet has previously called us to admire as a prudent patriot, and a tender father, we do not attribute bis crying out to his mental weakness, but solely to his insupportable sufferings. If it has been proved to be just in the painter not to represent his Laocoon as crying out, still it should be con. sidered justifiable in the poet so to describe him.

Another distinction between the poet and the artist is, that the artist ought not to represent his images as covered with garments; and to this rule we find that the ancients adhered. For instance, the poet describes his Laocoon as clothed with a pontifical dress, but the artist represents him as naked. The reason for this deviation in the latter is obvious : for though it may be considered as contrary to the rules of costume to represent the son of a king, who was also a priest, as undressed, yet no garment wrought by slavish hands can possess so much beauty as the work of eternal wisdom, expressed in an organized body. Necessity has given rise to dress, but what has the artist to do with that? Beauty is the highest object for the imitation of art; and although it be agreed that there is some beauty in dress, yet what is it when compared with the beauty of the human form? Should he who can accomplish the greater object satisfy himself with the less? It is not so with the poet; a garment with him is no garment, for it covers nothing : our imagination penetrates every thing. If the forehead of Laocoon, de. scribed by Virgil, is encircled with a priestly turban, so far from injuring, it strengthens the conception we have formed of the sufferer. But should the sculptor, in placing before us the group, represent the forehead of Laocoon as bound with a turban, he would considerably weaken the effect : for the forehead would be partially covered, and the forehead is the seat of expression.


Souls of the just! whose truth and love,

Like light and warmth, once lived below,
Where have ye ta’en your flight above,

Leaving life's vale in wintry woe?
God hath withdrawn you near his throne,

Centre and source of brightness all,
As o'er yon hills the evening sun

Recalls his beams when shadows fall.

But there are wistful eyes that find

A loss in every parting ray ;
And there are exiled souls behind

That long with you to fly away.
Oh! happy hour, when ev'ry germ

Of captive spirit shall be free,
And shine with you, all bright and warm,
Around one glorious Deity!

T. D.
New Monthly Magazine.


“ An amorous thing is want.”-HUDIBRAS.

In my early youth I made a voyage of enquiry to the Sister Isle: the songs of Ossian inspired me with a wish to examine this warlike people on their own territory, and the fame of green Erin gave me an idea that I should find a rich superiority in her soil and produce, when contrasted with the Highlands of Scotland. Moreover, I had met with so many students in Edinburgh, and subalterns in the regiments occasionally quartered there, each of whom had five hundred a year and a park, that I counted on a hospitable reception, choice society, and much amusement in my tour. In the growth and numerical strength of the Hibernians I was not disappointed, nor as to their warlike appearance and disposition. I found the lower orders intrepid and irascible to a high degree; nor were they over nice about the cause or nature of the quarrel, nor the degree of provocation. I have very often seen Pat knock down his friend after spending his half-crown, and then sympathize with him for the wound which he had inflicted.-Nor was club-law confined to these classes alone; the higher ones possessed very gladiatorical habits, and were prone to indulge in liquor, love, and war. The fine Hibernian soil equally satisfied me that I was right in my expectations; but where the generous earth was most larish, I obscrved poverty still fix her dire abode. The culture was out of

« AnteriorContinuar »