« AnteriorContinuar »
did not demand it. The gentle beast that Una rode, would not have cut a very piquant figure in the forest scenery of Mr. Gilpin. But if Coleridge means picturesque in the sense of fitness for picture, and very striking fitness, then the recollections of the masks, or the particular comparison of Prince Arthur's crest with the almond tree (which is the proof he adduces) made him forget the innumerable instances in which the pictorial power is exhibited. Nor was Spenser unaware, nay, he was deeply sensible of the other feelings of the picturesque, as may be seen in his sea-gods' beards (when Proteus kisses Amoret), his "rank grassy fens," his "weeds of glorious feature," his oaks "half dead," his satyrs, gloomy lights, beautiful but unlucky grounds, &c., &c., &c. (for in this sense of the word, there are feelings of the invisible corresponding with the stronger forms of the picturesque). He has himself noticed the theory in his Bower of Bliss, and thus anticipated the modern taste in landscape gardening, the idea of which is supposed to have originated with Milton:
One would have thought (so cunningly the rude
Art, and that Art at Nature did repine.
But the reader will judge for himself.
I have attached to each of the pictures in this Spenser Gallery the name of the painter, of whose genius it reminded me; and I think the connoisseur will allow, that the assignment was easy, and that the painter-poet's range of art is equally wide and wonderful.
CHARISSA; OR, CHARITY.
Character, Spiritual Love; Painter for it, Raphael.
She was a woman in her freshest age,
That ay thereof her babes might suck their fill;
A multitude of babes about her hung
Playing their sports, that joyed her to behold,
24" And by her side," &c. This last couplet brings at once before us all the dispassionate graces and unsuperfluous treatmen of Raphael's allegorical females.
* Owches wondrous fair. Owches are carcanets or ranges of jewels. t Uneath. Scarcely, with difficulty.
Character, Sweetness without Devotedness; Painter, Correggio.
With him went Hope in rank, a handsome maid,
And her fair locks were woven up in gold.25
25" And her fair locks," &c. What a lovely line is that! and with a beauty how simple and sweet is the sentiment portrayed in the next three words,-" She alway smil'd!" But almost every line of the stanza is lovely, including the felicitous Catholic image of the
Holy-water sprinkle dipp'd in dew.
Correggio is in every color and expression of the picture.
CUPID USURPING THE THRONE OF JUPITER.
Character, Potency in Weakness; Painter, the same.
In Satyr's shape, Antiope he snatch'd
And scoffing, thus unto his mother said:
And take me for their Jove, whilst Jove to earth is gone."
MARRIAGE PROCESSION OF THE THAMES AND MEDWAY.
Character, Genial Strength, Grace, and Luxury, Painter,
First came great Neptune with his three-fork'd mace,
And by his side his queen, with coronal,
And deck'd with pearls which the Indian seas for her prepare.
These marched far afore the other crew,
That made the rocks to roar as they were rent.
Or take another part of the procession, with dolphins and seanymphs listening as they went, to
26" So went he," &c.
Then was there heard a most celestial sound
So went he playing on the watery plain.26
This sweet, placid, and gently progressing
line is one of Spenser's happy samples of alliteration. And how emphatic is the information
That was Arion, crown'd.
Character, Superhuman Energy, and Rage; Painter, Michael Angelo
In his strong arms he stiffly him embrac'd,
With hundred iron chains he did him bind,
27 "Color'd like copper wire." A felicity suggested perhaps by the rhyme. It has all the look, however, of a copy from some painting; perhaps one of Julio Romano's.
UNA (OR FAITH IN DISTRESS).
Character, Loving and Sorrowful Purity glorified.
(May I say, that I think it would take Raphael and Correggio