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infinitely more diversified than the chisel could hew out of all the rocks under the sun. Nor is this a fanciful or metaphorical illustration of the pre-eminence which I claim for the art I am advocating. In proof of it, I appeal at once to the works of the eldest and greatest poets of every country. In Homer, Dante, and Chaucer, for example, it is exceedingly curious to remark with what scrupulous care and minuteness, personal appearance, stature, bulk, complexion, age, and other incidents, are exhibited, for the purpose of giving life and reality to the scenes and actions in which their characters are engaged. All these are bodied forth to the eye through the mind, as sculpture addresses the mind through the eye.
In sculpture, nothing is less impressive than the allegorical personages that haunt cenotaphs, and crowd cathedral walls ; or, however admirably wrought, they awaken not the slightest emotion, whether they weep, or rage, or frown, or smile. In poetry, likewise, as may be shown hereafter, expanded allegories are the least effective of all the means by which terror, wonder, pity, delight, or anger are attempted to be excited; yet with single figures frequently, and with small groups occasionally, under the guise of metaphors and similes, poetry, of every kind is peopled more splendidly, beautifully, and awfully than was the Grecian Olympus with gods and heroes, the ocean with nymphs and nereids, and Tartarus with furies, spectres, and inexorable judges. Two or three brief specimens may decide the superiority of verse in this field of competition. How could the image of Fear, which “ to and fro did fly," be realized in marble as it has been by Spenser in rhyme ? Collins's odes are galleries of poetical statuary, which no art could give to the sight, though perfectly made out in the sensorium of the brain.
“ Danger, whose limbs of giant mould,
What sculptor's hand could arrest this monster, and place him in one attitude, which should suggest all the ideas expressed in these wonderful lines ?-his " limbs of giant mould,”—his stalking, howling, casting himself prone, and falling asleep ;-with the accompaniments of the “midnight storm,” “the ridgy steep,” "the loose hanging rock;" and above all (perhaps), the mortal “ eye” vainly attempting to fix itself upon his “hideous form ?"* In the sequel of the same ode we meet with
"the ravening brood of Fate, That lap the blood of Sorrow."
The artist might fearfully represent wolves or wild dogs lapping the blood of a slain victim ; but it would require the commentary of the passage itself to make the spectator understand, that by the former were meant “the ravening brood of Fate,” that fol. low in the rear of “Vengeance,"_"the fiends," that, near allied to “Danger" afore-mentioned, "o'er Nature's wounds and wrecks preside ;" and that their prey was the personification of “Sorrow.” Yet the poet, in the context, does all this as triumphantly as though he could give bodily sight to the mental eye, by which they are discerned through the magic medium of his verse.
* Chaucer's description of " Danger” in the Romaunt of the Rose is exceedingly spirited, and equally characteristic with that of Collins, though very different, because the fiend is differently exercising himself; Collins presents natural dangers from lightning, tempest, and earthquake, -Chaucer, the perils of war, battle, human violence, or ambush; the last of which is finely conceived in the first couplet ;
"With that anon upstart Dangere
He come criande as he were woode." (c) (a) Was seen in his look.
(6) Crooked and upturned stood. (c) Mad.
Let us bring not into gladiatorial conflict, but into honourable competition, where neither can suffer disparagement-one of the masterpieces of ancient sculpture, and two stanzas from “ Childe Harold," in which that very statue is turned into verse, which seems almost to make it visible :
THE DYING GLADIATOR.
"I see before me the Gladiator lie;
The arena swims around him,--he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout that hail'd the wretch who won." Now, all this sculpture has imbodied in perpetual marble, and every association touched upon in the description might spring up in a well instructed mind, while contemplating the insulated figure which per, sonifies the expiring champion. Painting might take up the same subject, and represent the amphitheatre thronged to the height with ferocious faces, all bent upon the exulting conqueror and his prostrate antagonist-a thousand for one of them sympathizing rather with the transport of the former than the agony of the latter. Here, then, sculpture and painting have reached their climax ; neither of them can give the actual thoughts of the personages whom they exhibit so palpably to the outward sense, that the character of those thoughts cannot be mistaken.
Poetry goes further than both; and when one of the
All this gush'd with his blood." Myriads of eyes had gazed upon that statue ; through myriads of minds all the images and ideas connected with the combat and the fall, the spectators and the scene, had passed in the presence of that unconscious marble which has given immortality to the pangs of death; but not a soul among all the beholders through eighteen centuries,-not one had ever before thought of “the rude hut,” the “ Dacian mother," the" young barbarians.” At length came the poet of passion; and looking down upon “ The Dying Gladiator" (less as what it was than what it represented), turned the marble into man, and endowed it with human affections; then, away over the Apennines and over the Alps, away, on the wings of irrepressible sympathy, flew his spirit to the banks of the Danube, where, “ with his heart,” were the “eyes” of the victim, under the night-fall of death; for “there were his young barbarians all at play, and there their Dacian mother.” This is nature; this is truth. While tho conflict continued, the combatant thought of himself only; he aimed at nothing but victory: when life
and this were lost, his last thoughts, his sole thoughts, would turn to his wife and his little children.
In none of the foregoing remarks has the smallest slight been aimed at music, painting, or sculpture, by giving the palm to poetry; in fact it has been intended to exalt them, that, by showing the elder of the four sisters to be the intellectual superior of the younger three (illustrious and unsurpassed as each is in her own department), she herself might be crowned with the greater glory. On the subject of their generous rivalry let it be observed, that it is intellectual pre-eminence alone which is here claimed for poetry. The measure of original genius required for excelling in the one or the other, I leave undetermined.
The Comparative Rewards of Professors of the
Fine Arts. Having thus endeavoured to prove, by no invidious comparisons, that poetry is the eldest, the rarest, and the most excellent of the fine arts, I may here touch upon another peculiarity not yet alluded to, being an extrinsic one-in which each of the others bears away from her a prize “ for which they all coatend," though only of secondary, not to say sordid, value, Though the gift of poetry be the most beneficial to the world, it is the least profitable to the possessor.
There has scarcely been a period, or a country, in which a poet could live by the fruits of his labours, This circumstance (in no respect dishonourable to the art) has been a snare by which multitudes of its professors have been tempted to dishonour. both it and themselves, by courtly servility to royal and noble patrons; by yet viler degradation in ministering to vulgar prejudices, and pandering to gross passions; or, with the garbage of low satire, feasting envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness,-monsters of malignity, whose daily food, like that of the king