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tion, like a glimpse into fairy-land, - unexplained, they would be mere abstractions, and the picture would be valued solely as a work of art; but let a label be attached with the word Vienna upon it, then, indeed, a new and nobler interest would be felt in the whole, and curiosity to find out every part when we knew that a real city, stream, and landscape were depicted. This, however, would be the extent to which the painter could transport the eye and the mind of his admirer.
Here, then, begins the triumph of poetry, which, while it can adorn, more or less perfectly, all the subjects of painting drawn from visible nature, has the whole invisible world to itself,—thoughts, feelings, imaginations, affections, all that memory can preserve of things past, and all that prescience can conceive or forbode of things to come. These it can express, minutely or comprehensively, in mass or in detail, foreshortened or progressive, line by line, shade by shade, till it completely possesses the reader, and puts him as completely in possession of all that is most nearly or remotely associated with the theme in discussion. In the instance before us, the poet does this with the fewest possible phrases; and yet with such brilliance and force of allusion that the reader has only to follow, in any direction, the retrospective avenues opened on every hand.
After shedding the glory of sunshine on the “waves and islands” of the river, the green luxuriance of the champaign, and the “
gorgeous towers" of the metropolis,-in three words he lets in the daylight of past ages upon the scene. His " rich historic ground” calls up the actions and actors of the mightiest events ever exhibited on that theatre; the mountains of the Hun, the field of Aspern, the hills of Turkish story, are crowded with armies, flouted with banners, and shaken with the tramp of chivalry and the march of phalanxed legions. They all “teem with visions of the past.”. Those who are acquainted with the circumstances of the siege of Vienna by the Turks, about the middle of the seventeenth century, and its deliverance by Sobieski King of Poland, will at once realize the Ottoman battle-array under the beleaguered walls ; the despair within the city, where all hope but in Heaven was cut off, and the churches were thronged with praying multitudes; the sudden appearance of the Poles, and their attack upon the infidels: the rage of conflict, man to man, horse to horse, swords against scimitars, scimitars against swords, one moment "flashing, glittering in the sun," the next crimsoned and reeking with blood; the shouts, the groans, the agonies, the transports of the strife; till the barbarians, borne down by the irresistible impetuosity of their Christian assailants, fell heaps upon heaps on " the field of glory,” or fled “ to the mountains of the Hun," while Danube, from “the Fountain of the Thorn,” rolled purple to the deep, bearing along with his overcharged current the turbaned corpses of the invaders back into the bowels of their own land. That disastrous siege and triumphant rescue were celebrated by a contemporary poet (Filicaja) in three of the sublimest odes which Italy can boast; and which (with the exception of the Hohenlinden and the Battle of the Baltic, by oui accomplished countryman whose stanzas I have been discussing) stand unrivalled by any war-songs with which I am acquainted, whether among the few fragments of antiquity, or in the whole armory of later ages.
Poetry and Sculpture, Sculpture is the noblest, but the most limited, of the manual fine arts; it produces the fewest, but the greatest, effects; it approaches nearest to nature, and yet can present little besides models of her living forms, and those principally in repose. Plausible
reasons are assigned for the latter spontaneous restriction of their art, with which practitioners in general are satisfied, from the extreme difficulty, and with most of them the absolute impossibility of expressing lively action or vehement passion otherwise than in their beginnings and their results. This is not the place to discuss the question; yet I know not how it can be doubted that sculpture might legitimately essay, and victoriously achieve, the most daring innovations in this almost forbidden field, into which few besides Michael Angelo and Roubillíac, among the moderns, have set a foot without trembling hesitation or ignorant presumption, either of which must have ensured miscarriage. The Laocoon and the friezes of the Parthenon are tro. phies of ancient prowess in this perilous department, which, instead of being the despair, ought to be the assurance of hope to adventurers in a later age and colder clime, among a people more phlegmatic than the gay Greeks or the spirited Italians. When a new Pygmalion shall arise, he will not be content to say to his statue, with the last stroke of the chisel, * Speak,” but he will add, “ Move."
Be this as it may,-beauty, intelligence, strength, grace of attitude, symmetry of limb, harmonious grouping, simple, severe, sublime expression, the soul informing the marble, the personal character stamped upon the features,-these are the highest attempts of the highest minds, in the highest of the imitative arts. It follows that mediocrity is less tolerable in sculpture than in painting, music, and even poetry itself. Nothing in it is truly excellent but that which is pre-eminently so; because nothing less than the most successful strokes of the happiest chisel can powerfully affect the spectator, fix him in dumb astonishment, zouch his heart-strings with tender emotion, or stir thought from its depths into ardent and earnest exercise. I appeal to all who hear me, whether among a hundred of the monu
ments in our cathedrals, and the statues in our public places, they ever met with more than one or two that laid hold of their imagination so as to haunt it both in retirement and in society,-or most unexpectedly to
“flash upon that inward eye, Which is the bliss of solitude;">
for even in crowds, in business, in dissipation, what has intensely appealed to our sympathy on first acquaintance will often recur in the image-chamber of the mind. Thus, after the first hearing, will certain strains of music; thus, after the first sight, some masterpiece of painting; and frequently, far more frequently than either of these, after the first reading, will lines, and phrases, and sentiments of poetry ring in the memory, and play with the affeetions : but rarely indeed in sculpture does the image presented to the eye become a statue of thought in the mind. This may be principally owing to the paucity of subjects (I mean as the art is now practised), and, to an uninitiated eye at least, the similarity of treatment by ordinary adepts, whether single figures or monumental groups. When, however (to use a strong metaphor), at the touch of some Promethean hand, a statue steps out of this enchanted circle, and looks as thcugh it had grown out of the marble in the course of nature, without the aid of hands; then indeed does the artist enrich the be. holder with one of the rarest treasures that genius can bequeath to contemporaries or posterity; and for which the willing yet exacted homage of applause will never cease to be paid while his work endures. Such are the Apollo Belvidere, the Venus de' Medici, and other inestimable relics of antiquity ; such the Moses and David of Michael Angelo; and such (to give an English example worthy to be named with These ; judging solely by the power which it exer.
cises over the purest and most universal of human sympathies,--sympathies which can no more be bribed by artifice than they can help yielding to the impulse of nature)-such, I say, is the simple memorial, by our own Chantrey, in Litchfield Cathedral, of two children, that were “ lovely in their lives, and in death are undivided." Of these specimens, it may be affirmed that they have shown how the narrow bounds of vulgar precedent may be left as far behind as a star in the heavens leaves a meteor in the air. of the antiques alone, how innumerable has been the progeny generated from creative minds, follows ing them less by imitation than by rivalry, and borrowing nothing from them but elemental principles; with this grand advantage, which can less strictly be said to belong to models in any other polite art, namely, that what could be done, but not surpassed, had been shown ; leaving not a mere ideal excellence to be attained, but the perfect example of all that the eye could desire, the imagination conceive, or the hand execute.
Now, poetry is a school of scwpture, in which the art flourishes, not in marble or brass, but in that which outlasts both,-in letters, which the fingers of a child may write or blot, but which, once written, Time hinself may not be able to obliterate; and in sounds which are but passing breath, yet, being once uttered, by possibility may never cease to be repeated. Sculpture to the eye, in palpable materials, is of necessity confined to a few forms, aspects, and attitudes. The poet's images are living, breathing, moving creatures; they stand, walk, run, fly, speak, love, fight, fall, labour, suffer, die,-in a word, they are men of like passions with ourselves, undergoing all the changes of actual existence, and presenting to the mind of the reader, solitary figures, or complicated groups, more easily retained (for words are better recollected than shapen substances), and