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the faces of the savage beasts. His intention is clear; it is that of representing them as endowed with human feeling on the occasion. The conception unquestionably implies genius, but its taste will not be so readily allowed. We meet with a similar error in the battle of Constantine, by Giulio Romano, where the face of one of the horses is, for the same reason, animated with a human character, expressive of doubtful thought and suspicion; while the ears and hair of the forehead, for the sake of greater fierceness, are drawn from the features of the bull. Now, in centaurs, chimeras, and other ideal animals, this intermixture of attributes is readily allowable, for here the imagination may sport without restraint; but it is a law of genuine taste, that natural objects should have their natural characters, their proper features and expression; or, in other words, that the principle of association adhered to by nature should be adhered to by those who copy her.
Our best and most celebrated poets furnish us occasionally with similar instances of genius unaccompanied by taste. Homer himself is not altogether free from this imputation. Let me first set before you one of his most exquisite pictures, in which taste and genius equally combine. The passage I refer to is his delineation, in the eighth book of the Iliad, of a night-scene before Troy. Mr. Pope's is an excellent version, but I take Mr. Cowper's, as equally excellent and more true to the original :
As when, around the clear bright moon, the stars
Could it be supposed, that he who could imagine so finely, and describe so delicately, would in the same poem compare the contest of the Greeks and Trojans for the body of Patroclus, which it seems was tugged for in every direction, to a gang of curriers stretching out a hide? Or that, in his Odyssey, he would liken Ulysses, restless and tossing on his bed, to a hungry man turning a piece of tripe on the coals for his supper ?
Now, in both these cases the similes are true to nature, and strikingly illustrative; they are full of genius, but they are destitute of taste; they want picturesque beauty. To nature, indeed, they must be true; for the merit of Homer as a painter from nature is that in which he stands most distinguished from all other poets. In variety, accuracy, and force his similes greatly surpass those of any of his successors and imitators; and they form a gallery of delineations which the student of poetry and the cultivator of genius cannot survey with too much attention :
Be Homer's works your study and delight,
In looking very lately over the satires of Dr. Young, which, upon the whole, are written with great force and truth of character, I could scarcely avoid smiling at a simile which, like the preceding, is exact enough in itself, but highly ludicrous from its utter deficiency of taste. In describing the man whose whole pursuits are made up of nothing but trifling and empty joys, he compares him to a cat in an air-pump. Now, this might have been well enough in Hudibras, or any other burlesque poem; but is altogether inconsistent with a vein of serious composition. In the following comparison, on the contrary, he is highly ingenious and successful; and we admire the adroitness with which he brings into various points of resemblance ideas that
• Art of Criticisin.
at first sight appear to be perfectly discrepant; for quicksilver and pleasure do not seem to have any natural connexion :
Pleasures are few, and fewer we enjoy:
There is no subject that has been more frequently made choice of by dra matic writers than the story of Edipus Tyrannus. We owe it, in the first instance to Sophocles; and the best copies of it in modern times are those by Corneille and Voltaire. It is unquestionably full of suspense, agitation; and terror; and particularly of that incident in a plot which by the Greeks was termed anagnorisis, or the discovery of a person to be different from what he was taken to be. Yet, as a whole, there has always appeared to me to be far more genius in the conduct of the fable than there is of real taste or beauty. The story is, in few words, as follows:-An innocent person, and, in the main, of a virtuous character, through no crime of himself or of others, but by mere fatality and blind chance, is involved in the severest train of all human miseries. In a casual rencounter he kills his father, without knowing him; he afterward, with equal ignorance, marries his own mother; and at length; discovering that he had committed both parricide and incest, he becomes frantic, and dies in the utmost misery. Such a subject excites horror rather than pity. As conducted by Sophocles, it is, indeed, extremely affecting, but it conveys no instruction; it awakens in the mind no tender sympathy; it leaves no impression favourable to virtue or humanity.* It is without the moral for which tragedy was invented.
Genius, then, may exist without taste; in like manner, taste may exist without genius. Of this we meet with a thousand instances every day of our lives. How countless are the numbers that are perpetually poring over the elegant and picturesque poems of Lord Byron and Mr. (now Sir) Walter Scott; or that are perpetually hurrying to Mr. West's impressive picture of the “ Healing the Sick in the Temple;" or that of “ Christ Rejected ;” entering with the nicest feelings into the various groupings, characters, and scenery which are so exquisitely presented to them; and who, nevertheless, though endowed with a taste that enables them to relish such excellences, have no genius whatever that could either invent or copy them. In like manner, I have occasionally met with men, who for strength of feeling and elegance of taste are almost unrivalled, and whom the world has long regarded, and justly so, as among the finest critics of the present day on subjects of polite literature; yet, notwithstanding such possession of exquisite and acknowledged taste, who have never been successful in the exercise of genius, and have uniformly failed in poetry and original fiction. It is rarely that taste and genius do not coexist in the same mind; but it is also rarely that they coexist_in an equal degree. Ariosto and Shakspeare excel in genius; Tasso and Racine in taste. Mr. Windham had as much genius as Mr. Burke ; his imagination was as vivacious and rapid, his combination of congruous ideas as instantaneous, his wit, perhaps, even more ready and brilliant—but Mr: Burke was vastly his superior on the score of taste.
Taste and genius cannot but be favourable to virtue. They cannot exisť conjointly without sensibility. While it is of the very essence of vice to have its feelings blunted, its conscience seared, their pleasures are notoriously derived from elevated and virtuous sources. There may, perhaps, be a few exceptions to the remark, but I am speaking of the general principle. The lovely, the graceful, the elegant, the novel, the wonderful, the sublime-these are the food on which they banquet; the grandeur and magnificence of the heavens—the terrible majesty of the tempestuous ocean-the romantic wildness of forests, and precipices, and mountains that lose themselves in the
clouds—the sweet tranquillity of a summer evening—the rural gayety of vineyards, hop-grounds, and cornfields—the cheerful hum of busy citiesthe stillness of village solitude—the magic face of human beauty—the tear of distressed innocence—the noble struggle of worth with poverty, of patriotism with usurpation, of piety with persecution ;-these, and innumerable images like these-tender, touching, dignified-are the subjects for which they fondly hunt, the themes on which they daily expatiate. To say nothing of the higher banqueting, “ the food of angels,” that religion sets before them.
It is true, that the mind thus constituted has its pains as well as its pleasures, nor are its pains few or of trifling magnitude. Wherever misery is to be found it seeks for it with restless assiduity, broods over it, and shares it; and where it is not to be found it fancies it. How often, waking to the roar of the midnight tempest, while dull and gluttonous indolence snores on in happy forgetfulness, does the imagination of those who are thus divinely gifted mount the dizzy chariot of the whirlwind, and picture evils that have no real existence; now, figuring to herself some neat and thrifty cottage where virtue delights to reside, she sees it swept away in a moment by the torrent, and despoiled of the little harvest just gathered in; now, following the lone traveller in some narrow and venturous pathway, over the edge of Alpine precipices, where a single slip is instant destruction, she tracks him alone by fitful flashes of lightning; and at length, struck by the flash, she beholds him tumbling headlong from rock to rock, to the bottom of the dread abyss, the victim of a double death. Or, possibly, she takes her stand on the jutting foreland of some bold, terrific coast, and eyes the foundering vessel straight below; she mixes with the spent and despairing crew; she dives into the cabin, and singles out, perhaps, from the rest, some lovely maid, who, in all the bloom of recovered beauty, is voyaging back to her native land from the healing airs of a foreign climate, in thought just bounding over the scenes of her youth, or panting in the warm embraces of a father's arms :
She marks th' erected ear the bloodless cheek,
The rigid eye that never more shall weep;
And sees the vessel plunge beneath the deep.
Such are the painful pictures on which the keen soul of sensibility feeds too frequently in imagination, when the sigh of real misery is hushed, and its generous hand is not needed. But is there nothing to counterbalance the distress? To call forth the tear of joy, as well as of sorrow? And to reward the nice sympathy with which the mind labours ? I pursued this pleasing train of contemplation, many years ago, in an elegy expressly directed to the present subject, from which, indeed, I have taken the lines just quoted; and, as I do not know that I can answer this important question in prose better than in verse, I will beg leave to close the lecture, and with it the general task I have undertaken, with an additional extract. Having pointed out to those who are highly gifted with taste, genius, imagination, and fine feeling, the pains and anxieties which such a constitution of mind must necessarily give rise to, the poem proceeds as follows:
Yet murmur not, nor deem the fates reserve,
No drop of solace mid the bitter stream;
Oft proves an avenue to bliss supreme.
Your nobler spirits soar above the clod:
The clear, unsullied impress of your God.
Nor Fancy's self, portray perpetual gloom.
When worth succeeds ? or culprits meet their doom?
Lo! where yon vale unfolds its pictur'd site,
And meads and cornfields mix their gay attire; Sheep-cots and herds, and sprinkled cottage white,
Stream, busy mill, deep wood, and tufted spire. Can ermin'd guilt, when every scheme succeeds,
Feel half the joy that stirs your generous breast, As, pleas'd, ye ponder o'er these simple meads,
Compute their charms, and share their balmy rest ? And mark, untouch'd by city broils, the reign
of rural comfort, cheerfulness, and ease; of health, embloom'd from every sweet-brier lane,
And faith and morals wholesome as the breeze. Go-climb yon castled cliff that meets the sky,
And tells of times tradition cannot reach; And o'er the ruins, as ye throw your eye,
of rocks and towers, with many a hoary breach, Say–does the wreck of nature and of art,
T'he wild cascade, and echo undefin'd,
No pleasing train of image to the mind ?
Ambition's plume, or lawless Pleasure's prime,
And rouse the soul to ecstasies sublime ?
of purest zest, are yours, and yours alone: Guilt knows them not, nor dull unwieldy Ease,
For Sensibility and Taste are one.
Of social sorrows and ideal wrong;
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