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frigate, a violent squall coming on at sunset, so violent as to make us imagine that the ship would part cable, or drive from her anchorage. Mr. Hobhouse and myself, and some officers, had been up the Dardanelles to Abydos, and were just returned in time. The aspect of a storm in the Archipelago is as poetical as need be, the sea being particularly short, dashing, and dangerous, and the navigation intricate and broken by the isles and currents. Cape Sigeum, the tumuli of the Troad, Lemnos, Tenedos, all added to the associations of the time. But what seemed the most "poetical" of all at the moment, were the numbers (about two hundred) of Greek and Turkish craft, which were obliged to "cut and run" before the wind, from their unsafe anchorage, some for Tenedos, some for other isles, some for the main, and some it might be for eternity. The sight of these little scudding vessels, darting over the foam in the twilight, now appearing and now disappearing between the waves in the cloud of night, with their peculiarly white sails, (the Levant sails not being of coarse canvas," but of white cotton,) skimming along as quickly, but less safely than the seamews which hovered over them; their evident distress, their reduction to fluttering specks in the distance, their crowded succession, their littleness, as contending with the giant element, which made our stout, forty-four's teak timbers (she was built in India) creak again; their aspect and their motion, all struck me as something far more "poetical " than the mere broad, brawling, shipless sea, and the sullen winds, could possibly have been without them.
The Euxine is a noble sea to look upon, and the port of Constantinople the most beautiful of harbours; and yet I cannot but think that the twenty sail of the line, some of one hundred and forty guns, rendered it more "poetical" by day in the sun, and by night perhaps still more; for the Turks illuminate their vessels of war in a manner the most picturesque, and yet all this is artificial. As for the Euxine, I stood upon the Symplegades-I stood by the broken altar still exposed to the winds upon one of them-I felt all the "poetry" of the situation as I repeated the first lines of Medea; but would not that " poetry" have been heightened by the Argo? It was so even by the appearance of any merchant vessel arriving from Odessa. But Mr. Bowles says, "Why bring your ship off the stocks?" for no reason that I know, except that ships are built to be launched. The water, &c., undoubtedly HEIGHTENS the poetical associations, but it does not make them;
and the ship amply repays the obligation they aid each other; the water is more poetical with the ship-the ship less so without the water. But even a ship laid up in dock is a grand and a poetical sight. Even an old boat, keel upwards, wrecked upon the barren sand, is a "poetical" object, (and Wordsworth, who made a poem about a washingtub and a blind boy, may tell you so as well as I,) whilst a long extent of sand and unbroken water, without the boat, would be as like dull prose as any pamphlet lately published.
What makes the poetry in the image of the "marble waste of Tadmor," or Grainger's 'Ode to Solitude,' so much admired by Johnson? Is it the "marble" or the "waste," the artificial or the natural object? The " waste" is like all other wastes; but the "marble" of Palmyra makes the poetry of the passage as of the place.
The beautiful but barren Hymettus,-the whole coast of Attica, her hills and mountains, Pentelicus, Anchesmus, Philopappus, &c., &c.are in themselves poetical, and would be so if the name of Athens, of Athenians, and her very ruins, were swept from the earth. But am I to be told that the "nature" of Attica would be more poetical without the "art" of the Acropolis? of the Temple of Theseus? and of the still all Greek and glorious monuments of her exquisitely artificial genius? Ask the traveller what strikes him as most poetical,-the Parthenon, or the rock on which it stands? The COLUMNS of Cape Colonna, or the Cape itself? The rocks at the foot of it, or the recollection that Falconer's ship was bulged upon them? There are a thousand rocks and capes far more picturesque than those of the Acropolis and Cape Sunium in themselves; what are they to a thousand scenes in the wilder parts of Greece, of Asia Minor, Switzerland, or even of Cintra in Portugal, or to many scenes of Italy, and the Sierras of Spain? But it is the "art," the columns, the temples, the wrecked vessels, which give them their antique and their modern poetry, and not the spots themselves. Without them, the spots of earth would be unnoticed and unknown; buried, like Babylon and Nineveh, in indistinct confusion, without poetry, as without existence; but to whatever spot of earth these ruins were transported, if they were capable of transportation, like the obelisk, and the sphinx, and Memnon's head, there they would still exist in the perfection of their beauty, and in the pride of their poetry. I opposed, and will ever oppose, the robbery of ruins from Athens to instruct the English in sculpture; but why did I do
The ruins are as poetical in Piccadilly as they were in the Parthenon; but the Parthenon and its rock are less so without them. Such is the poetry of art.
Mr. Bowles contends again that the pyramids of Egypt are poetical, because of "the association with boundless deserts," and that a “pyramid of the same dimensions" would not be sublime in “Lincoln's Inn Fields:" not so poetical certainly; but take away the "pyramids," and what is the desert?" Take away Stonehenge from Salisbury Plain, and it is nothing more than Hounslow Heath, or any other uninclosed down. It appears to me that St. Peter's, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Palatine, the Apollo, the Laocoon, the Venus di Medicis, the Hercules, the Dying Gladiator, the Moses of Michael Angelo, and all the higher works of Canova, (I have already spoken of those of ancient Greece, still extant in that country, or transported to England,) are as poetical as Mont Blanc or Mont Ætna, perhaps still more so, as they are direct manifestations of mind, and presuppose poetry in their very conception; and have, moreover, as being such, a something of actual life, which cannot belong to any part of inanimate nature, unless we adopt the system of Spinosa, that the world is the Deity. There can be nothing more poetical in its aspect than the city of Venice; does this depend upon the sea, or the canals?—
“The dirt and sea-weed whence proud Venice rose?”
Is it the canal which runs between the palace and the prison, or the Bridge of Sighs, which connects them, that renders it poetical? Is it the Canal Grande, or the Rialto which arches it, the churches which tower over it, the palaces which line, and the gondolas which glide over, the waters, that render this city more poetical than Rome itself? Mr. Bowles will say, perhaps, that the Rialto is but marble, the palaces and churches only stone, and the gondolas a "coarse" black cloth, thrown over some planks of carved wood, with a shining bit of fantastically formed iron at the prow, without" the water. And I tell him that, without these, the water would be nothing but a clay-coloured ditch; and whoever says the contrary, deserves to be at the bottom of that where Pope's heroes are embraced by the mud nymphs. There would be nothing to make the canal of Venice more poetical than that of Paddington, were it not for the artificial adjuncts above mentioned, although it is a perfectly natural canal, formed by the sea, and the
innumerable islands which constitute the site of this extraordinary city.
The very Cloaca of Tarquin at Rome are as poetical as Richmond Hill; many will think more so take away Rome, and leave the Tibur and the seven hills, in the nature of Evander's time. Let Mr. Bowles, or Mr. Wordsworth, or Mr. Southey, or any of the other "naturals," make a poem upon them, and then see which is most poetical,—their production, or the commonest guide book which tells you the road from St. Peter's to the Coliseum, and informs you what you will see by the The ground interests in Virgil, because it will be Rome, and not because it is Evander's rural domain.
Mr. Bowles then proceeds to press Homer into his service, in answer to a remark of Mr. Campbell's, that "Homer was a great describer of works of art." Mr. Bowles contends, that all his great power, even in this, depends upon their connection with nature. The "shield of Achilles derives its poetical interest from the subjects described on it." And from what does the spear of Achilles derive its interest? and the helmet and the mail worn by Patroclus, and the celestial armour, and the very brazen greaves of the well-booted Greeks? Is it solely from the legs, and the back, and the breast, and the human body, which they inclose? In that case, it would have been more poetical to have made them fight naked; and Gulley and Gregson, as being nearer to a state of nature, are more poetical boxing in a pair of drawers, than Hector and Achilles in radiant armour, and with heroic weapons.
Instead of the clash of helmets, and the rushing of chariots, and the whizzing of spears, and the glancing of swords, and the cleaving of shields, and the piercing of breast-plates, why not represent the Greeks and Trojans like two savage tribes, tugging and tearing, and kicking and biting, and gnashing, foaming, grinning, and gouging, in all the poetry of martial nature, unencumbered with gross, prosaic, artificial arms; an equal superfluity to the natural warrior and his natural poet? Is there any thing unpoetical in Ulysses striking the horses of Rhesus with his bow (having forgotten his thong), or would Mr. Bowles have had him kick them with his foot, or smack them with his hand, as being more unsophisticated?
In Gray's Elegy, is there an image more striking than his "shapeless sculpture?" Of sculpture in general, it may be observed, that it is more poetical than nature itself, inasmuch as it represents and bodies
forth that ideal beauty and sublimity which is never to be found in actual nature. This at least is the general opinion. But, always excepting the Venus di Medicis, I differ from that opinion, at least as far as regards female beauty; for the head of Lady Charlemont (when I first saw her nine years ago) seemed to possess all that sculpture could require for its ideal. I recollect seeing something of the same kind in the head of an Albanian girl, who was actually employed in mending a road in the mountains, and in some Greek, and one or two Italian, faces. But of sublimity, I have never seen any thing in human nature at all to approach the expression of sculpture, either in the Apollo, the Moses, or other of the sterner works of ancient or modern art.
Let us examine a little further this "babble of green fields" and of bare nature in general as superior to artificial imagery, for the poetical purposes of the fine arts. In landscape painting, the great artist does not give you a literal copy of a country, but he invents and composes one. Nature, in her natural aspect, does not furnish him with such existing scenes as he requires. Even where he presents you with some famous city, or celebrated scene from mountain or other nature, it must be taken from some particular point of view, and with such light, and shade, and distance, &c., as serve not only to heighten its beauties, but to shadow its deformities. The poetry of nature alone, exactly as she appears, is not sufficient to bear him out. The very sky of his painting is not the portrait of the sky of nature; it is a composition of different skies, observed at different times, and not the whole copied from any particular day. And why? Because nature is not lavish of her beauties; they are widely scattered, and occasionally displayed, to be selected with care, and gathered with difficulty.
Of sculpture I have just spoken. It is the great scope of the sculptor to heighten nature into heroic beauty, i. e. in plain English, to surpass his model. When Canova forms a statue, he takes a limb from one, a hand from another, a feature from a third, and a shape, it may be, from a fourth, probably at the same time improving upon all, as the Greek of old did in embodying his Venus.
Ask a portrait painter to describe his agonies in accommodating the faces with which nature and his sitters have crowded his painting-room to the principles of his art: with the exception of perhaps ten faces in as many millions, there is not one which he can venture to give without shading much and adding more. Nature, exactly, simply, barely