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No trophies of her Pencil's power remain,
To prove in picture her coequal reign
Else might the Muse her graphic triumphs own,
And vanquish'd Raphael abdicate the throne;
But now no more Compaspe's graces prove
Apelles' skill, and justify his love;
No more display'd in Helen's form divine,
By Zeuxis hand assembled beauties shine ;
Nor longer his protective genius glows,
Who turn'd the fury of his country's foes,
When Rhodes, rejoicing in her rescued towers,
Beheld her best palladium in his powers.
Old Time, still partial to Ausonia's claim,
Suppress'd those ancient rivals of her Fame,
Fame on her brows the wreath of painting placed,
And what she lost in empire gave in Taste.
“ Behold, sublimed to those high spheres of Art,
Where Fancy sways, and Passion strikes the heart;
Where Taste and Truth according functions fill,
And moral dignifies mimetic skill,
Rome's graphic sons superior palms demand,
And climes consenting crown the immortal band. .
“ Swift as the comet cleaves th' etherial way,
As bright his lustre, and as brief his day,
Urbino rising to the raptured eye,
Appear'd, and blaz'd, and vanish'd from the sky.
Monarch of Art! in whose august domains,
Colleagued with Genius, soundest Judgment reigus;
Simplicity prevails without pretence,
And Fancy sports within the bounds of Sense.
By Nature's hand with liberal bounty graced,
And proudly fashion'd for the throne of Taste,
Before his age he sprang to painting's prime,
And forced his tardy fruits from ripening Time.
'Twas his to choose the nobler end of Art,
And charm the eye subservient to the heart ;
To strike the chords of sentiment-to trace
The form of dignity-the flow of grace;
The Passions protean empire to control,
And wield expression's sceptre o'er the soul.
Whate'er of life he touch'd, of youth or age,
The pious Saint, or philosophic Sage,
Whether, impressive in the bold design,
The rapt Apostle pour the word divine;
Or bright, on Tabor's summit, to the skies,
The God, in full transfigured glory, rise ;
Whate'er the cast of character, his hand
Has all the moulds of Genius at command,
To Nature true, can each strong trait impart,
And stamp with Taste the sterling ore of Art.
" Next Buonaroti, rich in rival fame,
To crown whose brows, three Arts contending claim;
Majestic Genius! from whose daring hand
Springs all that's great in thought, or action grand,
Whate'er can awe the soul on sacred plan,
Or strike stupendous in the powers of man:
In forms emaciate cramp'd, before his day,
The meagre muscle scarce appear’d to play,
The story's strength, the enervate action marr'd,
Man seem'd a sapless statue, stiff, and hard,
But torpid while the plastic tumber day,
Prometheus like, he fired the lifeless clay,
Bade every limb enlarge-each breast expand,
And pour'd a race of giants from his hand.
Behold him, stiti as Genius prompts, impart
A bolder grace to each'subservient Art,
While now the powers of Phidias he displays,
Now leaves Palladio but the second praise,
Whether he rears the Prophet's form on bigh,
Or hangs the dome enormous in the sky,
On painting's prondest pinion soars sablime,
Scales heav'n itself, and scorns the bounds of Time ;
Through all his toils, triumphant vigour swells,
And grandeur in impressive glory dwells.
His fiery soul beyond this sphere of things,
To man's more awful scene hereafter springs;
With fearless hand unfolds the final state,
That closes the catastrophe of Fate;
Displays the pangs of guilt to vengeance horld,
While heav'n's just sentence shakes the shadd'ring world.
But lo ! from climes less genial, where the Mase,
With pride her Belgic trophies still reviews ;
Rubens with spoils enrich'd-with honours graced,
Completes the great triumvirate of Taste;
High waves the proud Competition's flag unfarl'd,
And claims to share the homage of the world.
The powers of painting in his praise combine,
And wreaths unfading round his temples twine ;
For him, Invention opens all her springs,
And Fancy wafts bim on her wildest wings;
Her magic hand light Execution lends,
And Colouring her rich, tissued robe extends."
Whether, to heav'n devote, his skill divine,
Adorns, with sacred themes, the ballow'd shrine;
Or learn'd in Allegory's mystic maze,
The acts of Kings and Heroes he displays;
Whether, with nymphs and satyrs lured to'rove,
He frolics, wild, in Pan's laugh-echoing grove;
The landscape spreads with light, luxuriant grace,
Or hunts in sylvan scenes, the savage race;
Whatever shape the graphic Proteus wears,
The full magnificence of Art appears;
All that the head can plan, or hand perforin,
Delight in theory, or in practice charm.
Yet Genius, oft unequal found, by turns,
Now blazes fierce, and now as feebly burns ;
In Rubens' course we trace each wide extreme,
Its dazzling lustre, and its doubtful gleam:
But though, like Avon's bard, his orb displays
Some darker parts amid the general blaze,
Struck by his splendours, each rapt eye admires,
For while we see his spots, we feel his fires.
“ As petty chiefs fall prostrate, and obey,
While monarchs move their strength in proud array;
But when the pomp is past, the peril o'er,
Rebel against the rod they kiss'd before :
So, cavilling tribes who roam the graphic waste,
Scarce rescued from the savage state of Taste.
Assail the rights of Rubens, grudge his praise,
And talk high treason 'gainst the state he'sways; ? '
But, when triumphant crown'd in every part,
He moves in some vast enterprize of Art;
His lawful claims, licentious critics own;
And wondering painters bend before his throne."
It is said that all extremes meet, both, he seems to be a zealous wor.
and if we mistake not, there is no shipper, wherever he meets them;
writer who evinces the truth of the and sacrifices to his devotion all his
assertion more clearly than Mr.Shee. natural and acquired prejudices.
He is continually warning the artist He may be attached to a party, bat
against extremes, continually calls the moment they depart from nature,
ing his attention to that happy me- he departs from them. He loves
dium in which excellence consists, liberty and independence, but he
and yet he is continually carried despises the man who, under the
away by an enthusiasm, over which mask of freedom, dares whatever
he seems to have no controul. The virtue dares not do; or, in other
critic will naturally ask, what is to words, who dares do more than may
excite this enthusiasm ? What is become a man. Hence it is, that
there in the profession of an artist though he has communicated a
to raise those energies, and awaken "warmth and vigour to his diction.
that fire without which we can never which nothing but the glow of en-
thusiasm can alone inspire, his
attachunent to truth and nature, not « Ce feu, cette devine 'Aamme, “ L'esprit de notre esprit, et lame de only prevents him from running notre ame,"
into any vicious extreme, but
prompts him to hold up to deserved which is the soul of genius, and the infamy even those who belong to genius of enthusiasm. We reply his favourite party, when they adthat, so far as we can form an opi- vance one step beyond the bounds nion of Mr. Shee's mind from his within which , virtue and rational poetical works, his enthasiasm seems liberty circumscribe their career. to arise principally from an ardent of this we have a beautiful instance attachment to truth and nature. Of in the following passage
“ Poured from your hand, let ancient story dow,
And Brutus breathing on your canvass glow;
Not he who stained, with Cæsar's blood his fame,
And in the assassin sunk the patriot's name ;
But chaste Lucretia's hold avenger he,
Who fired by friendship-burning to be free,
High rais'd the reeking point-to heav'n address'd,
Warm from the wound iu outrag'd beauty's breast ;
In bursting rage his smoother'd soul betray'd,
And damu 'd proud Tarqain to the infernal shade."
Had we something of this ster. · tempting to act it, when he could ap-
ling stamp from the pen of Lord ply his genius to bigher purposes,
Byron, with how much greater in- by addressing the nobler faculties of
terest should we peruse it, than the our nature, and present us with
sickly and effeminate witticisms that - scenes titted to call forth those emo-
characterize his Don Juan, and vain- . tions and passions which exalt our
ly seek to excite our risible faculties. "nature which we glory to avow,
Perbaps we cannot be always suffi- and which instead of degrading and
ciently grave to avoid smiling, but ranking us with the monkey race,
then we smile not at the poignanoy awaken all the dormant principles
of the wit, for the wit of Don Juan of greatness and of virtue which
compared to Hudibras or Gil Blas, turk within us, which in some men
is like grin, or grimace compared to are more dormant than in others,
heart rending laughter; but we but which in the generality of man-
smile at the low condition to which kind require only the proper im-
the noble bard: has reduced himself pulse to awaken them into flame.
in acting the clown, or at least at. We cannot read a page of Mr. Shee's
" Elements of Art," without feeling obscenity and immorality, those this ennobling impulse: we cannot lurking principles which he dare read a line in Lord Byron, without not avow, but which he cannot ex. feeling ourselves degraded. Mr. tinguish, are every where visible to Shee addresses himself to minds the discriminating eye of taste and who feel they have worth and vir- virtuous sensibility. As to poetic tue, who feel there is something enthusiasm, it is idle to suppose great and noble in human nature, that Lord Byron feels it for a moand who will not suffer themselves ment: such an enthusiasm can reto be identified with the monkey side only in the virtuous breast. If, tribe : Lord Byron addresses him therefore, he be actuated by any self to the upper gallery-to that strong or powerful impulse, it is noisy, bustling mob, who are as that of a savage, who must yield much acquainted with exalted feel. whether he will or not, to the uping, as a cow is with a holiday. governable impetuosity of his own But let him enjoy the low triumph nature. The pugilist frequently of which alone he seems ambitious: feels impulses of a similar character, let him believe that unsophisticated but such impulses are of too gross nature and unsophisticated taste are and animal a character to possess a to be found among butchers and the single particle of enthusiasm. They rabble alone; we envy him not the arise from some immediate influeace highest height, or, perhaps we should and last for a moment, while enthorather say, the lowest depths which siasm is a fixed and permanent hahe can reach in his reptile ambition; bit of mind, arising from nature, we have introduced "bim merely to virtue, sensibility, generosity, and shew the strong contrast,' or greatness of mind. Lord Byron is rather the direct opposition that ex. always jealous of his contempora. ists between exalted feeling (which ries -always seeking to degrade necessarily implies not only the love them in order to exalt himself on of truth and nature, but the love of the rains of their fame: Mr. Shee, virtue), and that wreck of genius and on the contrary, forgets himself of principle which, descending from altogether, and seems only to be the throne on which nature had inspired when he dwells on the placed it, feels no higher am; praises, or points out the merits of bition than that of scraping and those who have distinguished themstrutting before the lowest and selves in his own art." Lord Byron basest of the base and low.
is jealous of poets alone, because Perhaps it may be thought that they alone stand in competition with Lord Byron is carried away by an him: all authors may write stark impetuous impulse over which be nonsense without fearing the lash can exercise no controul, while Mr. of his satire, or the poignancy of Shee is guided by the dictates of his ridicule; but Mr. Shee, so far reason; but whoever thinks so at from feeling this low envy, seems tributes qualities to human nature to acquire new vigour whenever the of which it is incapable. No inan artist, not the art, the painter, not ever was swayed by mental or sen- painting, becomes the subject of his timental passion, or precipitately muse. Petrarch is said to have been urged forward by the impulse of re- inaccessible to envy; instead of fined feeling who was not virtuous being jealous of his contemporaries, to the core, and whoever is govern- he sought to remove their animosied by mere physical or animal im- ties, and conciliate them in the pulses, appears to us to be neither bonds of mutual amity; but Foseovirtuous nor vicious : he approaches lo attributes this happy disposition too near the brute to be held ac- of mind to his acknowledged and countable for his actions. Through undisputed superiority to all the the entire of Mr. Shee's poetical writers of his age; and asserts that works, we cannot discover' a line if he had a rival or superior, he that is capable of creating or exci- would descend into the ranks of the ting an uneasy sensation in the envious tribe. With this opinion, purest and chastest mind: in Lord we certainly cannot agree ; and if Byron, whenever he is not palpably we had no other proof that Foseolo obscene or immoral, the seeds of himself was not a writer of the first
order, this assertion alone would be imply either the absence of any other sufficient to convince us of it. He virtue, or the existence of any vice. wrote as he felt, but he mistook the
Jealousy cannot, therefore, be atfeelings of superior minds. Dr. tributed to him who seeks to imJohnson is accused of being jealous prove the public taste by guarding of the reputation of many of the it against the adoption of errors and British poets, but surely no opi- mistaking them for real beauties, nion can be more erroneous than to unless his manner of doing so proves suppose, that he who detects the its existence. Mr. Shee, however, faults and inaccuracies of another must be allowed by all men to be must be jealous of his fame. No free from this low and debasing two virtues can stand opposed to passion. All men of merit are each other, and the exercise of every equally dear to him, whether they duty is a virtue: if, then, it be the be of his own profession or not. It duty of the critic to discover blem- were good for authors, in general, ishes as well as beauties, it is a vir- if they adopted the advice which he tue to do so, and the existence of gives them in the following lines : this virtue cannot consequently
“ Scorn the low passions which the Muse disgrace,
And stamp her sons an irritable race;
Nor e'er to self-stung jealousy submit,
That mental fiend, that pest of love and wit!
Which still with rancour of a rival hears,
Marks him a foe, and slanders while she fears.
honest emulation claim
The palm of excellence, the prize of fame ;
Unblamed the glorious contest, though you try,
A friend, or e'en a father to outvie;
But banish envy as a baleful guest,
The meanest, basest passion of the breast;
Which like the serpent brood in Sin's foul womb,
Still knaws the wretch's heart, who gives it room;
To its own shame each tortured sense employs,
Corrodes his peace, and poisons all his joys."
“Where envy sways, no virtue long survives,
Beneath that deadly night-shade nothing thrives :
No generous feeling can put forth a flower,
For Taste withstand its sterilizing power.
“ The sons of Genius, like the Jews, we trace,
In every clime a kind of outcast race;
That prudence fears and flies, and fortune spurns,
And pride and foHy, persecute by turns:
For Mammon's sordid ministry unfit,
And hated for the heresy of wit;
Their pious zeal, the sects of dulness shew,
And all combine against the common foe.
Thus by an host assail'd, the tribes of mind,
Apollo's chosen people of mankind !
Should stand united in their own defence,
The steady guards of Virtue, Taste, and Sense;
One common cause, their heads, their hearts should own,
Nor madly point the shafts by malice thrown;
To pride and dulness, worth's strong hold betray,
And 'gainst themselves their frantic passions play;
Like ships in gales, that running foul, perform
The winds worst rage, and aggravate the storm.”
It is a singular feature in Mr. he tells the young artist medio tu-
Shee's poetical character, that while tissimus ibis, and warns him against