« ForrigeFortsæt »
The weather, says Gilpin, is a fruitful source of incidental beauty to forest scenery, and there are few states of the weather which do not impress some peculiar and picturesque character on landscape, to which it gives the leading tint. A country is chiefly affected by the weather when it is hazy or misty, or when the sky is invested with some cold tints, or when the sun rises, or when it shines full at noon, or when it sets, or lastly, when the day is stormy. Each of these different states of the weather admits much variation.
The calm, overcast, soft day, such as these climates often produce in the beginning of autumn, hazy, mild and undisturbed, affords a beautiful medium, spreading over the woods a sweet, grey tint, which is especially favourable to their distant appearance. The internal parts of the forest receive little advantages from this hazy medium; but the various tuftings of distant woods are wonderfully softened by it; and many a form, and many a hue, which in the full
glare of sunshine would be harsh and discordant, are melted together in harmony. We often see the effects of this mode of atmosphere in various species of landscape ; but it has nowhere a better effect than on the woods of the forest. Nothing appears through mist more beautiful than trees a little removed from the eye, when they are opposed to trees at hand; for, as the foliage of a tree consists of a great number of parts, the contrast is very pleasing between the varied surface of the tree at hand, and the dead, unvaried appearance of the removed one. Very often a picture in part unfinished, pleases the eye more from contrast, than when any part is fully made out. Such often is the effect of a bazy medium.
The light mist is only a greater degree of haziness. Its object is a nearer distance; as a remote one is totally obscured by it. In this situation of the atmosphere, not only all the strong tints of nature are obscured, but all the smaller variations of form are lost. We look only for a general mass of softened harmony, and sober colouring, unmarked by any strength of effect. The vivid hues of autumn particularly appear to great advantage through this medium. Sometimes these mists are partial, and it may happen to coincide with the composition of the landscape; this partiality is attended with peculiar beauty; as when some huge promontory emerges from a spreading mist, which hangs over one part of it, it not only receives the advantage of contrast, but it also becomes an object of double grandeur. We often see the woods of the forest also with peculiar advantage emerging through a mist in the same style of greatness. I have known likewise a nearer distance, strongly illuminated, produce a good effect through a light drizzling shower.
Nearly allied to mists is another incidental appearance, that of smoke, which is often attended with peculiar beauty in woody scenes. When we see it spreading in the forest glade, and forming a soft bluish back-ground to the trees which intercept it, their foliage and ramifications appear to great advantage.
Sometimes also a good effect arises, when the sky, under the influence of a bleak north wind, cold and overcast, is hung with blue or purple clouds lowering over the horizon.
If under that part of the atmosphere the distant forest happens to range, it is overspread with a deep blue, or a purple tint from the reflection of the clouds, and makes a very picturesque appearance.
T'he first dawn of day exhibits a beautiful obscurity. When the east begins just to brighten with the reflections only of effulgence, a pleasing progressive light, dubious and amusing, is thrown over the face of things. A single ray is able to assist the picturesque eye, which by such slender aid, creates a thousand imaginary forms, if the scene be unknown; and as the light steals gradually on, is amused by correcting its vague ideas by the real objects. What in the confusion of twilight perhaps seemed a stretch of rising ground, broken in various parts, becomes now vast masses of wood, and an extent of forest.
As the sun begins to appear above the horizon, another change appears to take place. What was before only form, being now enlightened, begins to receive effect. This effect depends on two circumstances, the catching lights, which touch the summits of every object; and the mistiness in which the rising orb is commonly enveloped.
The effect is often pleasing, when the sun rises in unsullied brightness, diffusing its ruddy light over the upper parts of objects, which is contrasted by the deeper shadows below; yet the effect is then only transcendent, when he rises, accompanied by a train of vapours in a misty atmosphere. Among lakes and mountains, this happy accompaniment often forms the most astonishing visions, and yet in the forest it is nearly as great. With what delightful effect do we sometimes see the sun's disc appear above a woody hill; or in Shakespeare's language
Stand tip-toe on the misty mountain's top,
and dart his diverging rays through the rising vapour. The radiance catching the tops of the trees, as they hang midway upon the shaggy steep; and touching, now and then, a few other permanent objects, imperceptibly mixes its ruddy tint with the surrounding mists, setting on fire, as it were, their upper parts, while their lower skirts are lost in the dark mass of varied confusion in which trees
and ground, and radiance and obscurity, are all blended together. When the eye is fortunate enough to catch the glowing instant, for it is always a vanishing scene, it furnishes an idea worth treasuring among the choicest appearances of nature. Mistiness alone, we have observed, occasions a confusion in objects which is often picturesque, but the glory of vision depends on the glowing lights which are mingled with it.
As the sun descends, the effect of its illumination becomes stronger. It is a doubt, whether the rising or the setting sun is more picturesque. The great beauty of both depends on the contrast between splendour and obscurity. But this contrast is produced by these different incidents in different ways. The grandest effects of the rising sun are produced by the vapours which envelope it. The setting sun rests its glory on the gloom which often accompanies its partirg rays. A depth of shadow, hanging over the eastern hemisphere, gives the beams of the setting sun such powerful effect, that although in fact they are by no means equal to the splendour of a meridian sun, yet through force of contrast, they appear superior.
A distant forest-scene, under this brightened gloom is particularly rich. The verdure of the summer leaf, and the varied tints of the autumnal one, are all lighted up with glowing colours.
We sometimes also see in a woody scene, coruscations, like a bright star, occasioned by a sunbeam darting through an eylet hole among the leaves. Many painters, and specially Rubens, have been fond of introducing this radiant spot in their landscapes. But in painting it is one of those trifles, which produces no effect, nor can this radiance be given. In poetry indeed it may produce a pleasing image. Shakespeare has introduced it beautifully ; where speaking of the force of truth entering a guilty conscience, he compares it to the sun, which
Fires the proud tops of the eastern pines,
It is one of those circumstances, which poetry may offer to the imagination, but the pencil cannot well produce to the eye ; and if it could, it were better omitted; as it attracts the eye from what is more interesting:
Under the sameness of Italian skies the beauties of a setting-sun are hardly known. There the radiant orb courses his way with equal splendour from one end of the hemisphere to the other. Nothing refracts his beam. To the vapours of grosser climates, we owe those beautiful tints, which accompany his whole journey through the skies; but especially his parting ray.