Sec. 15. It is true that the "Lady Poverty" of St. Francis may share the influence of the hills in the formation of character; and that, since the clergy who have little interest at court or conclave are those who in general will be driven to undertake the hill services, we must often attribute to enforced simplicity of life, or natural bitterness of feeling, some of the tones of thought which we might otherwise have ascribed to the influence of mountain scenery. Such causes, however, affect the lowland as much as the highland religious character in all districts far from cities; but they do not produce the same effects. The curate or hermit of the field and fen, however simple his life, or painful his lodging, does not often attain the spirit of the hill pastor or recluse: we may find in him a decent virtue or a contented ignorance, rarely the prophetic vision or the martyr's passion. Among the fair arable lands of England and Belgium extends an orthodox Protestantism or Catholicism; prosperous, creditable, and drowsy; but it is among the purple moors of the highland border, the ravines of Mont Genevre, and the crags of the Tyrol, that we shall find the simplest Evangelical faith, and the purest Romanist practice.
Sec. 16. Of course the inquiry into this branch of the hill influence is partly complicated with that into its operation on domestic habits and personal character, of which hereafter: but there is one curious witness borne to the general truth of the foregone conclusions, by an apparently slight, yet very significant circumstance in art. We have seen, in the preceding volume, how difficult it was sometimes to distinguish between honest painters, who truly chose to paint sacred subjects because they loved them, and the affected painters, who took sacred subjects for their own pride's sake, or for merely artistical delight. Amongst other means of arriving at a conclusion in this matter, there is one helpful test which may be applied to their various works, almost as easily and certainly as a foot-rule could be used to measure their size; and which remains an available test down to the date of the rise of the Claudesque landscape schools. Nearly all the genuine religious painters use steep mountain distances. All the merely artistical ones, or those of intermediate temper, in proportion as they lose the religious element, use flat or simply architectural distances. Of course the law is liable to many exceptions, chiefly dependent on the place of birth and early associations of painters; but its force is, I think, strongly shown in this;—that, though the Flemish painters never showed any disposition to paint, for its own sake, other scenery than of their own land (compare Vol. III. Chap. XIII. Sec. 20), the sincerely religious ones continually used Alpine distances, bright with snow. In like manner Giotto, Perugino, Angelico, the young Raphael, and John Bellini, always, if, with any fitness to their subject, they can introduce them, use craggy or blue mountain distances, and this with definite expression of love towards them; Leonardo, conventionally, as feeling they were necessary for his sacred subjects, while yet his science and idealism had destroyed his mountain sincerity; Michael Angelo, wholly an artist, and Raphael in later years, show no love of mountains whatever, while the relative depths of feeling in Tintoret, Titian, and Veronese, are precisely measurable by their affection to mountains. Tintoret, though born in Venice, yet, because capable of the greatest reaches of feeling, is the first of the old painters who ever drew mountain detail rightly: Titian, though born in Cadore, and recurring to it constantly, yet being more worldly-minded, uses his hills somewhat more conventionally, though, still in his most deeply felt pictures, such as the St. Jerome, in the Brera, giving to the rocks and forests a consummate nobleness; and Veronese, in his gay grasp of the outside aspects of the world, contentedly includes his philosophy within porticos and pillars, or at the best overshadows it with a few sprays of laurel.
Sec. 17. The test fails, however, utterly, when applied to the later or transitional landscape schools, mountains being there introduced in mere wanton savageness by Salvator, or vague conventionalism by Claude, Berghem, and hundreds more. This need not, however, in the least invalidate our general conclusions: we surely know already that it is possible to misuse the best gifts, and pervert the purest feelings; nor need we doubt the real purpose, or, on honest hearts, the real effect, of mountains, because various institutions have been founded among them by the banditti of Calabria, as well as by St. Bruno.
Sec. 18. I cannot leave this part of my subject without recording a slight incident which happened to myself, singularly illustrative of the religious character of the Alpine peasant when under favorable circumstances of teaching. I was coming down one evening from the Rochers de Naye, above Montreux, having been at work among the limestone rocks, where I could get no water, and both weary and thirsty. Coming to a spring at a turn of the path, conducted, as usual, by the herdsmen into a hollowed pine-trunk I stooped to it and drank deeply: as I raised my head, drawing breath heavily, some one behind me said, "Celui qui boira de cette eau-ci, aura encore soif." I turned, not understanding for the moment what was meant; and saw one of the hill-peasants, probably returning to his chalet from the market-place at Vevay or Villeneuve. As I looked at him with an uncomprehending expression, he went on with the verse:—"Mais celui qui boira de l'eau que je lui donnerai, n'aura jamais soif."
I doubt if this would have been thought of, or said, by even the most intelligent lowland peasant. The thought might have occurred to him, but the frankness of address, and expectation of being at once understood without a word of preparative explanation, as if the language of the Bible were familiar to all men, mark, I think, the mountaineer.
2nd. Influence of mountain on artistical power.
Sec. 19. We were next to examine the influence of hills on the artistical power of the human race. Which power, so far as it depends on the imagination, must evidently be fostered by the same influences which give vitality to religious vision. But, so far as artistical productiveness and skill are concerned, it is evident that the mountaineer is at a radical and insurmountable disadvantage. The strength of his character depends upon the absence of luxury; but it is eminently by luxury that art is supported. We are not, therefore, to deny the mountain influence, because we do not find finished frescoes on the timbers of chalets or delicate bas-reliefs on the bastion which protects the mountain church from the avalanche; but to consider how far the tone of mind shown by the artists laboring in the lowland is dependent for its intensity on the distant influences of the hills, whether during the childhood of those born among them, or under the casual contemplation of men advanced in life.
Sec. 20. Glancing broadly over the strength of the mediaeval—that is to say, of the peculiar and energetic—art of Europe, so as to discern, through the clear flowing of its waves over France, Italy, and England, the places in the pool where the fountain-heads are, and where the sand dances, I should first point to Normandy and Tuscany. From the cathedral of Pisa, and the sculpture of the Pisans, the course is straight to Giotto, Angelico, and Raphael,—to Orcagna and Michael Angelo;—the Venetian school, in many respects mightier, being, nevertheless, subsequent and derivative. From the cathedrals of Caen and Coutances the course is straight to the Gothic of Chartres and Notre Dame of Paris, and thence forward to all French and English noble art, whether ecclesiastical or domestic. Now the mountain scenery about Pisa is precisely the most beautiful that surrounds any great Italian city, owing to the wonderful outlines of the peaks of Carrara. Milan and Verona have indeed fine ranges in sight, but rising farther in the distance, and therefore not so directly affecting the popular mind. The Norman imagination, as already noticed, is Scandinavian in origin, and fostered by the lovely granite scenery of Normandy itself. But there is, nevertheless, this great difference between French art and Italian, that the French paused strangely at a certain point, as the Norman hills are truncated at the summits, while the Italian rose steadily to a vertex, as the Carrara hills to their crests. Let us observe this a little more in detail.
Sec. 21. The sculpture of the Pisans was taken up and carried into various perfection by the Lucchese, Pistojans, Sienese, and Florentines. All these are inhabitants of truly mountain cities, Florence being as completely among the hills as Inspruck is, only the hills have softer outlines. Those around Pistoja and Lucca are in a high degree majestic. Giotto was born and bred among these hills. Angelico lived upon their slope. The mountain towns of Perugia and Urbino furnish the only important branches of correlative art; for Leonardo, however individually great, originated no new school; he only carried the executive delicacy of landscape detail so far beyond other painters as to necessitate my naming the fifteenth-century manner of landscape after him, though he did not invent it; and although the school of Milan is distinguished by several peculiarities, and definitely enough separable from the other schools of Italy, all its peculiarities are mannerisms, not inventions.
Correggio, indeed, created a new school, though he himself is almost its only master. I have given in the preceding volume the mountain outline seen from Parma. But the only entirely great group of painters after the Tuscans are the Venetians, and they are headed by Titian and Tintoret, on whom we have noticed the influence of hills already; and although we cannot trace it in Paul Veronese, I will not quit the mountain claim upon him; for I believe all that gay and gladdening strength of his was fed by the breezes of the hills of Garda, and brightened by the swift glancing of the waves of the Adige.
Sec. 22. Observe, however, before going farther, of all the painters we have named, the one who obtains most executive perfection is Leonardo, who on the whole lived at the greatest distance from the hills. The two who have most feeling are Giotto and Angelico, both hill-bred. And generally, I believe, we shall find that the hill country gives its inventive depths of feeling to art, as in the work of Orcagna, Perugino, and Angelico, and the plain country executive neatness. The executive precision is joined with feeling in Leonardo, who saw the Alps in the distance; it is totally unaccompanied by feeling in the pure Dutch schools, or schools of the dead flats.
Sec. 23. I do not know if any writer on art, or on the development of national mind, has given his attention to what seems to me one of the most singular phenomena in the history of Europe,—the pause of the English and French in pictorial art after the fourteenth century. From the days of Henry III. to those of Elizabeth, and of Louis IX. to those of Louis XIV., the general intellect of the two nations was steadily on the increase. But their art intellect was as steadily retrograde. The only art work that France and England have done nobly is that which is centralized by the Cathedral of Lincoln, and the Sainte Chapelle. We had at that time (we—French and English—but the French first) the incontestable lead among European nations; no thirteenth-century work in Italy is comparable for majesty of conception, or wealth of imaginative detail, to the cathedrals of Chartres, Rheims, Rouen, Amiens, Lincoln, Peterborough, Wells, or Lichfield. But every hour of the fourteenth century saw French and English art in precipitate decline, Italian in steady ascent; and by the time that painting and sculpture had developed themselves in an approximated perfection, in the work of Ghirlandajo and Mino of Fesole, we had in France and England no workman, in any art, deserving a workman's name; nothing but skilful masons, with more or less love of the picturesque, and redundance of undisciplined imagination, flaming itself away in wild and rich traceries, and crowded bosses of grotesque figure sculpture, and expiring at last in barbarous imitation of the perfected skill and erring choice of Renaissance Italy. Painting could not decline, for it had not reached any eminence; the exquisite arts of illumination and glass design had led to no effective results in other materials; they themselves, incapable of any higher perfection than they had reached in the thirteenth century, perished in the vain endeavor to emulate pictorial excellence, bad drawing being substituted, in books, for lovely writing, and opaque precision, in glass, for transparent power; nor in any single department of exertion did artists arise of such calibre or class as any of the great Italians; and yet all the while, in literature, we were gradually and steadily advancing in power up to the time of Shakespere; the Italians, on the contrary, not advancing after the time of Dante.
Sec. 24. Of course I have no space here to pursue a question such as this; but I may state my belief that one of the conditions involved in it was the mountain influence of Italian scenery, inducing a disposition to such indolent or enthusiastic reverie, as could only express itself in the visions of art; while the comparatively flat scenery and severer climate of England and France, fostering less enthusiasm, and urging to more exertion, brought about a practical and rational temperament, progressive in policy, science, and literature, but wholly retrograde in art; that is to say (for great art may be properly so defined), in the Art of Dreaming.
3rd. Influence of mountains on literary power.
Sec. 25. III. In admitting this, we seem to involve the supposition that mountain influence is either unfavorable or inessential to literary power; but for this also the mountain influence is still necessary, only in a subordinate degree. It is true, indeed, that the Avon is no mountain torrent, and that the hills round the vale of Stratford are not sublime; true, moreover, that the cantons Berne or Uri have never yet, so far as I know, produced a great poet; but neither, on the other hand, has Antwerp or Amsterdam. And, I believe, the natural scenery which will be found, on the whole, productive of most literary intellect is that mingled of hill and plain, as all available light is of flame and darkness; the flame being the active element, and the darkness the tempering one.
Sec. 26. In noting such evidence as bears upon this subject, the reader must always remember that the mountains are at an unfair disadvantage, in being much out of the way of the masses of men employed in intellectual pursuits. The position of a city is dictated by military necessity or commercial convenience; it rises, flourishes, and absorbs into its activity whatever leading intellect is in the surrounding population. The persons who are able and desirous to give their children education naturally resort to it; the best schools, the best society, and the strongest motives assist and excite those born within its walls; and youth after youth rises to distinction out of its streets, while among the blue mountains, twenty miles away, the goatherds live and die in unregarded lowliness. And yet this is no proof that the mountains have little effect upon the mind, or that the streets have a helpful one. The men who are formed by the schools, and polished by the society of the capital, may yet in many ways have their powers shortened by the absence of natural scenery; and the mountaineer, neglected, ignorant, and unambitious, may have been taught things by the clouds and streams which he could not have learned in a college, or a coterie.
Sec. 27. And in reasoning about the effect of mountains we are therefore under a difficulty like that which would occur to us if we had to determine the good or bad effect of light on the human constitution, in some place where all corporal exercise was necessarily in partial darkness, and only idle people lived in the light. The exercise might give an advantage to the occupants of the gloom, but we should neither be justified in therefore denying the preciousness of light in general, nor the necessity to the workers of the few rays they possessed; and thus I suppose the hills around Stratford, and such glimpses as Shakespere had of sandstone and pines in Warwickshire, or of chalk cliffs in Kent, to have been essential to the development of his genius. This supposition can only be proved false by the rising of a Shakespere at Rotterdam or Bergen-op-Zoom, which I think not probable; whereas, on the other hand, it is confirmed by myriads of collateral evidences. The matter could only be tested by placing for half a century the British universities at Keswick, and Beddgelert, and making Grenoble the capital of France; but if, throughout the history of Britain and France, we contrast the general invention and pathetic power, in ballads or legends, of the inhabitants of the Scottish Border with those manifested in Suffolk or Essex; and similarly the inventive power of Normandy, Provence, and the Bearnois with that of Champagne or Picardy, we shall obtain some convincing evidence respecting the operation of hills on the masses of mankind, and be disposed to admit, with less hesitation, that the apparent inconsistencies in the effect of scenery on greater minds proceed in each case from specialities of education, accident, and original temper, which it would be impossible to follow out in detail. Sometimes only, when the original resemblance in character of intellect is very marked in two individuals, and they are submitted to definitely contrary circumstances of education, an approximation to evidence may be obtained. Thus Bacon and Pascal appear to be men naturally very similar in their temper and powers of mind. One, born in York House, Strand, of courtly parents, educated in court atmosphere, and replying, almost as soon as he could speak, to the queen asking how old he was—"Two years younger than Your Majesty's happy reign!"—has the world's meanness and cunning engrafted into his intellect, and remains smooth, serene, unenthusiastic, and in some degree base, even with all his sincere devotion and universal wisdom; bearing, to the end of life, the likeness of a marble palace in the street of a great city, fairly furnished within, and bright in wall and battlement, yet noisome in places about the foundations. The other, born at Clermont, in Auvergne, under the shadow of the Puy de Dome, though taken to Paris at eight years old, retains for ever the impress of his birthplace; pursuing natural philosophy with the same zeal as Bacon, he returns to his own mountains to put himself under their tutelage, and by their help first discovers the great relations of the earth and the air: struck at last with mortal disease; gloomy, enthusiastic, and superstitious, with a conscience burning like lava, and inflexible like iron, the clouds gather about the majesty of him, fold after fold; and, with his spirit buried in ashes, and rent by earthquake, yet fruitful of true thought and faithful affection, he stands like that mound of desolate scoria that crowns the hill ranges of his native land, with its sable summit far in heaven, and its foundations green with the ordered garden and the trellised vine.
Sec. 28. When, however, our inquiry thus branches into the successive analysis of individual characters, it is time for us to leave it; noting only one or two points respecting Shakespere, whom, I doubt not, the reader was surprised to find left out of all our comparisons in the preceding volume. He seems to have been sent essentially to take universal and equal grasp of the human nature; and to have been removed, therefore, from all influences which could in the least warp or bias his thoughts. It was necessary that he should lean no way; that he should contemplate, with absolute equality of judgment, the life of the court, cloister, and tavern, and be able to sympathize so completely with all creatures as to deprive himself, together with his personal identity, even of his conscience, as he casts himself into their hearts. He must be able to enter into the soul of Falstaff or Shylock with no more sense of contempt or horror than Falstaff or Shylock themselves feel for or in themselves; otherwise his own conscience and indignation would make him unjust to them; he would turn aside from something, miss some good, or overlook some essential palliation. He must be utterly without anger, utterly without purpose; for if a man has any serious purpose in life, that which runs counter to it, or is foreign to it, will be looked at frowningly or carelessly by him. Shakespere was forbidden of Heaven to have any plans. To do any good or get any good, in the common sense of good, was not to be within his permitted range of work. Not, for him, the founding of institutions, the preaching of doctrines, or the repression of abuses. Neither he, nor the sun, did on any morning that they rose together, receive charge from their Maker concerning such things. They were both of them to shine on the evil and good; both to behold unoffendedly all that was upon the earth, to burn unappalled upon the spears of kings, and undisdaining, upon the reeds of the river.
Sec. 29. Therefore, so far as nature had influence over the early training of this man, it was essential to his perfectness that the nature should be quiet. No mountain passions were to be allowed in him. Inflict upon him but one pang of the monastic conscience; cast upon him but one cloud of the mountain gloom; and his serenity had been gone for ever—his equity—his infinity. You would have made another Dante of him; and all that he would have ever uttered about poor, soiled, and frail humanity would have been the quarrel between Sinon and Adam of Brescia,—speedily retired from, as not worthy a man's hearing, nay, not to be heard without heavy fault. All your Falstaffs, Slenders, Quicklys, Sir Tobys, Lances, Touchstones, and Quinces would have been lost in that. Shakespere could be allowed no mountains; nay, not even any supreme natural beauty. He had to be left with his kingcups and clover;—pansies—the passing clouds—the Avon's flow—and the undulating hills and woods of Warwick; nay, he was not to love even these in any exceeding measure, lest it might make him in the least overrate their power upon the strong, full-fledged minds of men. He makes the quarrelling fairies concerned about them; poor lost Ophelia find some comfort in them; fearful, fair, wise-hearted Perdita trust the speaking of her good will and good hostess-ship to them; and one of the brothers of Imogen confide his sorrow to them,—rebuked instantly by his brother for "wench-like words;" but any thought of them in his mighty men I do not find: it is not usually in the nature of such men; and if he had loved the flowers the least better himself, he would assuredly have been offended at this, and given a botanical turn of mind to Caesar, or Othello.
Sec. 30. And it is even among the most curious proofs of the necessity to all high imagination that it should paint straight from the life, that he has not given such a turn of mind to some of his great men;—Henry the Fifth, for instance. Doubtless some of my readers, having been accustomed to hear it repeated thoughtlessly from mouth to mouth that Shakespere conceived the spirit of all ages, were as much offended as surprised at my saying that he only painted human nature as he saw it in his own time. They will find, if they look into his work closely, as much antiquarianism as they do geography, and no more. The commonly received notions about the things that had been, Shakespere took as he found them, animating them with pure human nature, of any time and all time; but inquiries into the minor detail of temporary feeling, he despised as utterly as he did maps; and wheresoever the temporary feeling was in anywise contrary to that of his own day, he errs frankly, and paints from his own time. For instance in this matter of love of flowers; we have traced already, far enough for our general purposes, the mediaeval interest in them, whether to be enjoyed in the fields, or to be used for types of ornamentation in dress. If Shakespere had cared to enter into the spirit even of the early fifteenth century, he would assuredly have marked this affection in some of his knights, and indicated, even then, in heroic tempers, the peculiar respect for loveliness of dress which we find constantly in Dante. But he could not do this; he had not seen it in real life. In his time dress had become an affectation and absurdity. Only fools, or wise men in their weak moments, showed much concern about it; and the facts of human nature which appeared to him general in the matter were the soldier's disdain, and the coxcomb's care of it. Hence Shakespere's good soldier is almost always in plain or battered armor; even the speech of Vernon in Henry the Fourth, which, as far as I remember, is the only one that bears fully upon the beauty of armor, leans more upon the spirit and hearts of men—"bated, like eagles having lately bathed;" and has an under-current of slight contempt running through the following line, "Glittering in golden coats, like images;" while the beauty of the young Harry is essentially the beauty of fiery and perfect youth, answering as much to the Greek, or Roman, or Elizabethan knight as to the mediaeval one; whereas the definite interest in armor and dress is opposed by Shakespere in the French (meaning to depreciate them), to the English rude soldierliness:
"Con. Tut, I have the best armor in the world. Would it were day! Orl. You have an excellent armor, but let my horse have his due."
"My lord constable, the armor that I saw in your tent to-night, are those stars, or suns, upon it?"
while Henry, half proud of his poorness of array, speaks of armorial splendor scornfully; the main idea being still of its being a gilded show and vanity—
"Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirched."
This is essentially Elizabethan. The quarterings on a knight's shield, or the inlaying of his armor, would never have been thought of by him as mere "gayness or gilt" in earlier days. In like manner, throughout every scale of rank or feeling, from that of the French knights down to Falstaff's "I looked he should have sent me two-and-twenty yards of satin, as I am true knight, and he sends me security!" care for dress is always considered by Shakespere as contemptible; and Mrs. Quickly distinguishes herself from a true fairy by her solicitude to scour the chairs of order—and "each fair instalment, coat, and several crest;" and the association in her mind of the flowers in the fairy rings with the
"Sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery, Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee;"
while the true fairies, in field simplicity, are only anxious to "sweep the dust behind the door;" and
"With this field dew consecrate, Every several chamber bless Through this palace with sweet peace."
Note the expression "Field dew consecrate." Shakespere loved courts and camps; but he felt that sacredness and peace were in the dew of the Fields only.
Sec. 31. There is another respect in which he was wholly incapable of entering into the spirit of the middle ages. He had no great art of any kind around him in his own country, and was, consequently, just as powerless to conceive the general influence of former art, as a man of the most inferior calibre. Therefore it was, that I did not care to quote his authority respecting the power of imitation, in the second chapter of the preceding volume. If it had been needful to add his testimony to that of Dante (given in Sec. 5), I might have quoted multitudes of passages wholly concurring with that, of which the "fair Portia's counterfeit," with the following lines, and the implied ideal of sculpture in the Winter's Tale, are wholly unanswerable instances. But Shakespere's evidence in matters of art is as narrow as the range of Elizabethan art in England, and resolves itself wholly into admiration of two things,—mockery of life (as in this instance of Hermione as a statue), or absolute splendor, as in the close of Romeo and Juliet, where the notion of gold as the chief source of dignity of aspect, coming down to Shakespere from the times of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and, as I said before, strictly Elizabethan, would interfere seriously with the pathos of the whole passage, but for the sense of sacrifice implied in it:
"As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie Poor sacrifices of our enmity."
Sec. 32. And observe, I am not giving these examples as proof of any smallness in Shakespere, but of his greatness; that is to say, of his contentment, like every other great man who ever breathed, to paint nothing but what he saw; and therefore giving perpetual evidence that his sight was of the sixteenth, and not of the thirteenth century, beneath all the broad and eternal humanity of his imagination. How far in these modern days, emptied of splendor, it may be necessary for great men having certain sympathies for those earlier ages, to act in this differently from all their predecessors; and how far they may succeed in the resuscitation of the past by habitually dwelling in all their thoughts among vanished generations, are questions, of all practical and present ones concerning art, the most difficult to decide; for already in poetry several of our truest men have set themselves to this task, and have indeed put more vitality into the shadows of the dead than most others can give the presences of the living. Thus Longfellow, in the Golden Legend, has entered more closely into the temper of the Monk, for good and for evil, than ever yet theological writer or historian, though they may have given their life's labor to the analysis: and, again, Robert Browning is unerring in every sentence he writes of the Middle Ages; always vital, right, and profound; so that in the matter of art, with which we have been specially concerned, there is hardly a principle connected with the mediaeval temper, that he has not struck upon in those seemingly careless and too rugged rhymes of his. There is a curious instance, by the way, in a short poem referring to this very subject of tomb and image sculpture; and illustrating just one of those phases of local human character which, though belonging to Shakespere's own age, he never noticed, because it was specially Italian and un-English; connected also closely with the influence of mountains on the heart, and therefore with our immediate inquiries. I mean the kind of admiration with which a southern artist regarded the stone he worked in; and the pride which populace or priest took in the possession of precious mountain substance, worked into the pavements of their cathedrals, and the shafts of their tombs.
Sec. 33. Observe, Shakespere, in the midst of architecture and tombs of wood, or freestone, or brass, naturally thinks of gold as the best enriching and ennobling substance for them;—in the midst also of the fever of the Renaissance he writes, as every one else did, in praise of precisely the most vicious master of that school—Giulio Romano; but the modern poet, living much in Italy, and quit of the Renaissance influence, is able fully to enter into the Italian feeling, and to see the evil of the Renaissance tendency, not because he is greater than Shakespere, but because he is in another element, and has seen other things. I miss fragments here and there not needed for my purpose in the passage quoted, without putting asterisks, for I weaken the poem enough by the omissions, without spoiling it also by breaks.
"The Bishop orders his tomb in St. Praxed's Church.
"As here I lie In this state chamber, dying by degrees, Hours, and long hours, in the dead night, I ask, Do I live—am I dead? Peace, peace, seems all; St. Praxed's ever was the church for peace. And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know; Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care. Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner south He graced his carrion with. Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats; And up into the aery dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk. And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet, where Anselm stands; Peach-blossom marble all. Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: Man goeth to the grave, and where is he? Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black— 'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, St. Praxed in a glory, and one Pan, And Moses with the tables ... but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp, Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine, Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at! Nay, boys, ye love me—all of jasper, then! There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world— And have I not St. Praxed's ear to pray Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts. That's if ye carve my epitaph aright, Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word, No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line— Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need."
Sec. 34. I know no other piece of modern English, prose or poetry, in which there is so much told, as in these lines, of the Renaissance spirit,—its worldliness, inconsistency, pride, hypocrisy, ignorance of itself, love of art, of luxury, and of good Latin. It is nearly all that I said of the central Renaissance in thirty pages of the "Stones of Venice" put into as many lines, Browning's being also the antecedent work. The worst of it is that this kind of concentrated writing needs so much solution before the reader can fairly get the good of it, that people's patience fails them, and they give the thing up as insoluble; though, truly, it ought to be to the current of common thought like Saladin's talisman, dipped in clear water, not soluble altogether, but making the element medicinal.
Sec. 35. It is interesting, by the way, with respect to this love of stones in the Italian mind, to consider the difference necessitated in the English temper merely by the general domestic use of wood instead of marble. In that old Shakesperian England, men must have rendered a grateful homage to their oak forests, in the sense of all that they owed to their goodly timbers in the wainscot and furniture of the rooms they loved best, when the blue of the frosty midnight was contrasted, in the dark diamonds of the lattice, with the glowing brown of the warm, fire-lighted, crimson-tapestried walls. Not less would an Italian look with a grateful regard on the hill summits, to which he owed, in the scorching of his summer noonday, escape into the marble corridor or crypt palpitating only with cold and smooth variegation of the unfevered mountain veins. In some sort, as, both in our stubbornness and our comfort, we not unfitly describe ourselves typically as Hearts of Oak, the Italians might in their strange and variegated mingling of passion, like purple color, with a cruel sternness, like white rock, truly describe themselves as Hearts of Stone.
Sec. 36. Into this feeling about marble in domestic use, Shakespere, having seen it even in northern luxury, could partly enter, and marks it in several passages of his Italian plays. But if the reader still doubts his limitation to his own experience in all subjects of imagination, let him consider how the removal from mountain influence in his youth, so necessary for the perfection of his lower human sympathy, prevented him from ever rendering with any force the feelings of the mountain anchorite, or indicating in any of his monks the deep spirit of monasticism. Worldly cardinals or nuncios he can fathom to the uttermost; but where, in all his thoughts, do we find St. Francis, or Abbot Samson? The "Friar" of Shakespere's plays is almost the only stage conventionalism which he admitted; generally nothing more than a weak old man who lives in a cell, and has a rope about his waist.
Sec. 37. While, finally, in such slight allusions as he makes to mountain scenery itself, it is very curious to observe the accurate limitation of his sympathies to such things as he had known in his youth; and his entire preference of human interest, and of courtly and kingly dignities to the nobleness of the hills. This is most marked in Cymbeline, where the term "mountaineer" is, as with Dante, always one of reproach; and the noble birth of Arviragus and Guiderius is shown by their holding their mountain cave as
"A cell of ignorance; travelling abed. A prison for a debtor;"
and themselves, educated among hills, as in all things contemptible:
"We are beastly; subtle as the fox, for prey; Like warlike as the wolf, for what we eat: Our valor is to chase what flies; our cage We make our choir, as doth the prisoned bird."
A few phrases occur here and there which might justify the supposition that he had seen high mountains, but never implying awe or admiration. Thus Demetrius:
"These things seem small and indistinguishable, Like far-off mountains, turned into clouds."
"Taurus snow," and the "frosty Caucasus," are used merely as types of purity or cold; and though the avalanche is once spoken of as an image of power, it is with instantly following depreciation:
"Rush on his host, as doth the melted snow Upon the valleys, whose low vassal seat The Alps doth spit and void his rheum upon."
Sec. 38. There was only one thing belonging to hills that Shakespere seemed to feel as noble—the pine tree, and that was because he had seen it in Warwickshire, clumps of pine occasionally rising on little sandstone mounds, as at the place of execution of Piers Gaveston, above the lowland woods. He touches on this tree fondly again and again.
"As rough, Their royal blood enchafed, as the rud'st wind, That by his top doth take the mountain pine, And make him stoop to the vale."
"The strong-based promontory Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up The pine and cedar."
Where note his observance of the peculiar horizontal roots of the pine, spurred as it is by them like the claw of a bird, and partly propped, as the aiguilles by those rock promontories at their bases which I have always called their spurs, this observance of the pine's strength and animal-like grasp being the chief reason for his choosing it, above all other trees, for Ariel's prison. Again:
"You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops, and to make no noise When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven."
And yet again:
"But when, from under this terrestrial ball, He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines."
We may judge, by the impression which this single feature of hill scenery seems to have made on Shakespere's mind, because he had seen it in his youth, how his whole temper would have been changed if he had lived in a more sublime country, and how essential it was to his power of contemplation of mankind that he should be removed from the sterner influences of nature. For the rest, so far as Shakespere's work has imperfections of any kind,—the trivialness of many of his adopted plots, for instance, and the comparative rarity with which he admits the ideal of an enthusiastic virtue arising out of principle; virtue being with him for the most part founded simply on the affections joined with inherent purity in his women or on mere manly pride and honor in his men;—in a word, whatever difference, involving inferiority, there exists between him and Dante, in his conceptions of the relation between this world and the next, we may partly trace as we did the difference between Bacon and Pascal, to the less noble character of the scenes around him in his youth; and admit that, though it was necessary for his special work that he should be put, as it were, on a level with his race, on those plains of Stratford, we should see in this a proof, instead of a negation, of the mountain power over human intellect. For breadth and perfectness of condescending sight, the Shakesperian mind stands alone; but in ascending sight it is limited. The breadth of grasp is innate; the stoop and slightness of it was given by the circumstances of scene; and the difference between those careless masques of heathen gods, or unbelieved though mightily conceived visions of fairy, witch, or risen spirit, and the earnest faith of Dante's vision of Paradise, is the true measure of the difference in influence between the willowy banks of Avon, and the purple hills of Arno.
Sec. 39. Our third inquiry, into the influence of mountains on domestic and military character, was, we said, to be deferred; for this reason, that it is too much involved with the consideration of the influence of simple rural life in unmountainous districts, to be entered upon with advantage until we have examined the general beauty of vegetation, whether lowland or mountainous. I hope to pursue this inquiry, therefore, at the close of the next volume; only desiring, in the meantime, to bring one or two points connected with it under the consideration of our English travellers.
Sec. 40. For, it will be remembered, we first entered on this subject in order to obtain some data as to the possibility of a Practical Ideal in Swiss life, correspondent, in some measure, to the poetical ideal of the same, which so largely entertains the European public. Of which possibility, I do not think, after what we have even already seen of the true effect of mountains on the human mind, there is any reason to doubt, even if that ideal had not been presented to us already in some measure, in the older life of the Swiss republics. But of its possibility, under present circumstances, there is, I grieve to say, the deepest reason to doubt; and that the more, because the question is not whether the mountaineer can be raised into a happier life by the help of the active nations of the plains; but whether he can yet be protected from the infection of the folly and vanity of those nations. I urged, in the preceding chapter, some consideration of what might be accomplished, if we chose to devote to the help what we now devote to the mockery of the Swiss. But I would that the enlightened population of Paris and London were content with doing nothing;—that they were satisfied with expenditure upon their idle pleasures, in their idle way; and would leave the Swiss to their own mountain gloom of unadvancing independence. I believe that every franc now spent by travellers among the Alps tends more or less to the undermining of whatever special greatness there is in the Swiss character; and the persons I met in Switzerland, whose position and modes of life rendered them best able to give me true information respecting the present state of their country, among many causes of national deterioration, spoke with chief fear of the influx of English wealth, gradually connecting all industry with the wants and ways of strangers, and inviting all idleness to depend upon their casual help; thus gradually resolving the ancient consistency and pastoral simplicity of the mountain life into the two irregular trades of innkeeper and mendicant.
Sec. 41. I could say much on this subject if I had any hope of doing good by saying anything. But I have none. The influx of foreigners into Switzerland must necessarily be greater every year, and the greater it is, the larger, in the crowd, will be the majority of persons whose objects in travelling will be, first, to get as fast as possible from place to place, and, secondly, at every place where they arrive, to obtain the kind of accommodation and amusement to which they are accustomed in Paris, London, Brighton, or Baden. Railroads are already projected round the head of the Lake of Geneva, and through the town of Fribourg; the head of the Lake of Geneva being precisely and accurately the one spot of Europe whose character, and influence on human mind, are special; and unreplaceable if destroyed, no other spot resembling, or being in any wise comparable to it, in its peculiar way: while the town of Fribourg is in like manner the only mediaeval mountain town of importance left to us; Inspruck and such others being wholly modern, while Fribourg yet retains much of the aspect it had in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The valley of Chamouni, another spot also unique in its way, is rapidly being turned into a kind of Cremorne Gardens; and I can see, within the perspective of but few years, the town of Lucerne consisting of a row of symmetrical hotels round the foot of the lake, its old bridges destroyed, an iron one built over the Reuss, and an acacia promenade carried along the lake-shore, with a German band playing under a Chinese temple at the end of it, and the enlightened travellers, representatives of European civilization, performing before the Alps, in each afternoon summer sunlight, in their modern manner, the Dance of Death.
Sec. 42. All this is inevitable; and it has its good as well as its evil side. I can imagine the zealous modernist replying to me that when all this is happily accomplished, my melancholy peasants of the valley of Trient will be turned into thriving shopkeepers, the desolate streets of Sion into glittering thoroughfares, and the marshes of the Valais into prosperous market-gardens. I hope so; and indeed am striving every day to conceive more accurately, and regulate all my efforts by the expectation of, the state of society, not now, I suppose, much more than twenty years in advance of us, when Europe, having satisfactorily effaced all memorials of the past, and reduced itself to the likeness of America, or of any other new country (only with less room for exertion), shall begin to consider what is next to be done, and to what newness of arts and interests may best be devoted the wealth of its marts, and the strength of its multitudes. Which anticipations and estimates, however, I have never been able, as yet, to carry out with any clearness, being always arrested by the confused notion of a necessity for solitude, disdain of buying and selling, and other elements of that old mediaeval and mountain gloom, as in some way connected with the efforts of nearly all men who have either seen far into the destiny, or been much helpful to the souls, of their race. And the grounds of this feeling, whether right or wrong, I hope to analyze more fully in the next volume; only noting, finally, in this, one or two points for the consideration of those among us with whom it may sometimes become a question, whether they will help forward, or not, the turning of a sweet mountain valley into an abyss of factory-stench and toil, or the carrying of a line of traffic through some green place of shepherd solitude.
Sec. 43. For, if there be any truth in the impression which I have always felt, and just now endeavored to enforce, that the mountains of the earth are its natural cathedrals, or natural altars, overlaid with gold, and bright with broidered work of flowers, and with their clouds resting on them as the smoke of a continual sacrifice, it may surely be a question with some of us, whether the tables of the moneychanger, however fit and commendable they may be as furniture in other places, are precisely the thing which it is the whole duty of man to get well set up in the mountain temple.
Sec. 44. And perhaps it may help to the better determination of this question, if we endeavor, for a few patient moments, to bear with that weakness of our forefathers in feeling an awe for the hills; and, divesting ourselves, as far as may be, of our modern experimental or exploring activity, and habit of regarding mountains chiefly as places for gymnastic exercise, try to understand the temper, not indeed altogether exemplary, but yet having certain truths and dignities in it, to which we owe the founding of the Benedictine and Carthusian cloisters in the thin Alpine air. And this monkish temper we may, I suppose, best understand by considering the aspect under which mountains are represented in the Monk's book. I found that in my late lectures, at Edinburgh, I gave great offence by supposing, or implying, that scriptural expressions could have any force as bearing upon modern practical questions; so that I do not now, nor shall I any more, allude to such expressions as in any wise necessarily bearing on the worldly business of the practical Protestant, but only as necessary to be glanced at in order to understand the temper of those old monks, who had the awkward habit of understanding the Bible literally; and to get any little good which momentary sympathy with the hearts of a large and earnest class of men may surely bring to us.
Sec. 45. The monkish view of mountains, then, already alluded to, was derived wholly from that Latin Vulgate of theirs; and, speaking as a monk, it may perhaps be permitted me to mark the significance of the earliest mention of mountains in the Mosaic books; at least, of those in which some Divine appointment or command is stated respecting them. They are first brought before us as refuges for God's people from the two judgments of water and fire. The ark rests upon the "mountains of Ararat;" and man, having passed through that great baptism unto death, kneels upon the earth first where it is nearest heaven, and mingles with the mountain clouds the smoke of his sacrifice of thanksgiving. Again: from the midst of the first judgment by fire, the command of the Deity to His servant is, "Escape to the mountain;" and the morbid fear of the hills, which fills any human mind after long stay in places of luxury and sin, is strangely marked in Lot's complaining reply: "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me." The third mention, in way of ordinance, is a far more solemn one: "Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." "The Place," the Mountain of Myrrh, or of bitterness, chosen to fulfil to all the seed of Abraham, far off and near, the inner meaning of promise regarded in that vow: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh mine help."
And the fourth is the delivery of the law on Sinai.
Sec. 46. It seemed, then, to the monks, that the mountains were appointed by their Maker to be to man, refuges from Judgment, signs of Redemption, and altars of Sanctification and obedience; and they saw them afterwards connected, in the manner the most touching and gracious, with the death, after his task had been accomplished, of the first anointed Priest; the death, in like manner, of the first inspired Lawgiver; and, lastly, with the assumption of his office by the Eternal Priest, Lawgiver, and Saviour.
Observe the connection of these three events. Although the time of the deaths of Aaron and Moses was hastened by God's displeasure, we have not, it seems to me, the slightest warrant for concluding that the manner of their deaths was intended to be grievous or dishonorable to them. Far from this: it cannot, I think, be doubted that in the denial of the permission to enter the Promised Land, the whole punishment of their sin was included; and that as far as regarded the manner of their deaths, it must have been appointed for them by their Master in all tenderness and love; and with full purpose of ennobling the close of their service upon the earth. It might have seemed to us more honorable that both should have been permitted to die beneath the shadow of the Tabernacle, the congregation of Israel watching by their side; and all whom they loved gathered together to receive the last message from the lips of the meek lawgiver, and the last blessing from the prayer of the anointed priest. But it was not thus they were permitted to die. Try to realize that going forth of Aaron from the midst of the congregation. He who had so often done sacrifice for their sin, going forth now to offer up his own spirit. He who had stood, among them, between the dead and the living, and had seen the eyes of all that great multitude turned to him, that by his intercession their breath might yet be drawn a moment more, going forth now to meet the Angel of Death face to face, and deliver himself into his hand. Try if you cannot walk, in thought, with those two brothers, and the son, as they passed the outmost tents of Israel, and turned, while yet the dew lay round about the camp, towards the slopes of Mount Hor; talking together for the last time, as step by step, they felt the steeper rising of the rocks, and hour after hour, beneath the ascending sun, the horizon grew broader as they climbed, and all the folded hills of Idumea, one by one subdued, showed amidst their hollows in the haze of noon, the windings of that long desert journey, now at last to close. But who shall enter into the thoughts of the High Priest, as his eye followed those paths of ancient pilgrimage; and, through the silence of the arid and endless hills, stretching even to the dim peak of Sinai, the whole history of those forty years was unfolded before him, and the mystery of his own ministries revealed to him; and that other Holy of Holies, of which the mountain peaks were the altars, and the mountain clouds the veil, the firmament of his Father's dwelling, opened to him still more brightly and infinitely as he drew nearer his death; until at last, on the shadeless summit,—from him on whom sin was to be laid no more—from him, on whose heart the names of sinful nations were to press their graven fire no longer,—the brother and the son took breastplate and ephod, and left him to his rest.
Sec. 47. There is indeed a secretness in this calm faith and deep restraint of sorrow, into which it is difficult for us to enter; but the death of Moses himself is more easily to be conceived, and had in it circumstances still more touching, as far as regards the influence of the external scene. For forty years Moses had not been alone. The care and burden of all the people, the weight of their woe, and guilt, and death, had been upon him continually. The multitude had been laid upon him as if he had conceived them; their tears had been his meat, night and day, until he had felt as if God had withdrawn His favor from him, and he had prayed that he might be slain, and not see his wretchedness. And now, at last, the command came, "Get thee up into this mountain." The weary hands that had been so long stayed up against the enemies of Israel, might lean again upon the shepherd's staff, and fold themselves for the shepherd's prayer—for the shepherd's slumber. Not strange to his feet, though forty years unknown, the roughness of the bare mountain-path, as he climbed from ledge to ledge of Abarim; not strange to his aged eyes the scattered clusters of the mountain herbage, and the broken shadows of the cliffs, indented far across the silence of uninhabited ravines; scenes such as those among which, with none, as now, beside him but God, he had led his flocks so often; and which he had left, how painfully! taking upon him the appointed power, to make of the fenced city a wilderness, and to fill the desert with songs of deliverance. It was not to embitter the last hours of his life that God restored to him, for a day, the beloved solitudes he had lost; and breathed the peace of the perpetual hills around him, and cast the world in which he had labored and sinned far beneath his feet, in that mist of dying blue;—all sin, all wandering, soon to be forgotten for ever; the Dead Sea—a type of God's anger understood by him, of all men, most clearly, who had seen the earth open her mouth, and the sea his depth, to overwhelm the companies of those who contended with his Master—laid waveless beneath him; and beyond it, the fair hills of Judah, and the soft plains and banks of Jordan, purple in the evening light as with the blood of redemption, and fading in their distant fulness into mysteries of promise and of love. There, with his unabated strength, his undimmed glance, lying down upon the utmost rocks, with angels waiting near to contend for the spoils of his spirit, he put off his earthly armor. We do deep reverence to his companion prophet, for whom the chariot of fire came down from heaven; but was his death less noble, whom his Lord Himself buried in the vales of Moab, keeping, in the secrets of the eternal counsels, the knowledge of a sepulchre, from which he was to be called, in the fulness of time, to talk with that Lord, upon Hermon, of the death that He should accomplish at Jerusalem?
And lastly, let us turn our thoughts for a few moments to the cause of the resurrection of these two prophets. We are all of us too much in the habit of passing it by, as a thing mystical and inconceivable, taking place in the life of Christ for some purpose not by us to be understood, or, at the best, merely as a manifestation of His divinity by brightness of heavenly light, and the ministering of the spirits of the dead, intended to strengthen the faith of His three chosen apostles. And in this, as in many other events recorded by the Evangelists, we lose half the meaning and evade the practical power upon ourselves, by never accepting in its fulness the idea that our Lord was "perfect man," "tempted in all things like as we are." Our preachers are continually trying, in all manner of subtle ways, to explain the union of the Divinity with the Manhood, an explanation which certainly involves first their being able to describe the nature of Deity itself, or, in plain words, to comprehend God. They never can explain, in any one particular, the union of the natures; they only succeed in weakening the faith of their hearers as to the entireness of either. The thing they have to do is precisely the contrary of this—to insist upon the entireness of both. We never think of Christ enough as God, never enough as Man; the instinctive habit of our minds being always to miss of the Divinity, and the reasoning and enforced habit to miss of the Humanity. We are afraid to harbor in our own hearts, or to utter in the hearing of others, any thought of our Lord, as hungering, tired, sorrowful, having a human soul, a human will, and affected by events of human life as a finite creature is; and yet one half of the efficiency of His atonement, and the whole of the efficiency of His example, depend on His having been this to the full.
Sec. 48. Consider, therefore, the Transfiguration as it relates to the human feelings of our Lord. It was the first definite preparation for His death. He had foretold it to His disciples six days before; then takes with Him the three chosen ones into "an high mountain apart." From an exceeding high mountain, at the first taking on Him the ministry of life, He had beheld, and rejected the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory: now, on a high mountain, He takes upon Him the ministry of death. Peter and they that were with him, as in Gethsemane, were heavy with sleep. Christ's work had to be done alone.
The tradition is, that the Mount of Transfiguration was the summit of Tabor; but Tabor is neither a high mountain, nor was it in any sense a mountain "apart;" being in those years both inhabited and fortified. All the immediately preceding ministries of Christ had been at Cesarea Philippi. There is no mention of travel southward in the six days that intervened between the warning given to His disciples, and the going up into the hill. What other hill could it be than the southward slope of that goodly mountain, Hermon, which is indeed the centre of all the Promised Land, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt; the mount of fruitfulness, from which the springs of Jordan descended to the valleys of Israel. Along its mighty forest avenues, until the grass grew fair with the mountain lilies, His feet dashed in the dew of Hermon, He must have gone to pray His first recorded prayer about death; and from the steep of it, before He knelt, could see to the south all the dwelling-place of the people that had sat in darkness, and seen the great light, the land of Zabulon and of Naphtali, Galilee of the nations;—could see, even with His human sight, the gleam of that lake by Capernaum and Chorazin, and many a place loved by Him, and vainly ministered to, whose house was now left unto them desolate; and, chief of all, far in the utmost blue, the hills above Nazareth, sloping down to His old home: hills on which yet the stones lay loose, that had been taken up to cast at Him, when He left them for ever.
Sec. 49. "And as he prayed, two men stood by him." Among the many ways in which we miss the help and hold of Scripture, none is more subtle than our habit of supposing that, even as man, Christ was free from the Fear of Death. How could He then have been tempted as we are? since among all the trials of the earth, none spring from the dust more terrible than that Fear. It had to be borne by Him, indeed, in a unity, which we can never comprehend, with the foreknowledge of victory,—as His sorrow for Lazarus, with the consciousness of the power to restore him; but it had to be borne, and that in its full earthly terror; and the presence of it is surely marked for us enough by the rising of those two at His side. When, in the desert, He was girding Himself for the work of life, angels of life came and ministered unto Him; now, in the fair world, when He is girding Himself for the work of death, the ministrants come to Him from the grave.
But from the grave conquered. One, from that tomb under Abarim, which His own hand had sealed so long ago; the other from the rest into which he had entered, without seeing corruption. There stood by Him Moses and Elias, and spake of His decease.
Then, when the prayer is ended, the task accepted, first, since the star paused over Him at Bethlehem, the full glory falls upon Him from heaven, and the testimony is borne to his everlasting Sonship and power. "Hear ye him."
If, in their remembrance of these things, and in their endeavor to follow in the footsteps of their Master, religious men of by-gone days, closing themselves in the hill solitudes, forgot sometimes, and sometimes feared, the duties they owed to the active world, we may perhaps pardon them more easily than we ought to pardon ourselves, if we neither seek any influence for good nor submit to it unsought, in scenes to which thus all the men whose writings we receive as inspired, together with their Lord, retired whenever they had any task or trial laid upon them needing more than their usual strength of spirit. Nor, perhaps, should we have unprofitably entered into the mind of the earlier ages, if among our other thoughts, as we watch the chains of the snowy mountains rise on the horizon, we should sometimes admit the memory of the hour in which their Creator, among their solitudes, entered on His travail for the salvation of our race; and indulge the dream, that as the flaming and trembling mountains of the earth seem to be the monuments of the manifesting of His terror on Sinai,—these pure and white hills, near to the heaven, and sources of all good to the earth, are the appointed memorials of that Light of His Mercy, that fell, snow-like, on the Mount of Transfiguration.
 In tracing the whole of the deep enjoyment to mountain association, I of course except whatever feelings are connected with the observance of rural life, or with that of architecture. None of these feelings arise out of the landscape, properly so-called: the pleasure with which we see a peasant's garden fairly kept, or a ploughman doing his work well, or a group of children playing at a cottage door, being wholly separate from that which we find in the fields or commons around them; and the beauty of architecture, or the associations connected with it, in like manner often ennobling the most tame scenery;—yet not so but that we may always distinguish between the abstract character of the unassisted landscape, and the charm which it derives from the architecture. Much of the majesty of French landscape consists in its grand and grey village churches and turreted farmhouses, not to speak of its cathedrals, castles, and beautifully placed cities.
 One of the principal reasons for the false supposition that Switzerland is not picturesque, is the error of most sketchers and painters in representing pine forest in middle distance as dark green, or grey green, whereas its true color is always purple, at distances of even two or three miles. Let any traveller coming down the Montanvert look for an aperture, three or four inches wide, between the near pine branches, through which, standing eight or ten feet from it, he can see the opposite forests on the Breven or Flegere. Those forests are not above two or two and a half miles from him; but he will find the aperture is filled by a tint of nearly pure azure or purple, not by green.
 The Savoyard's name for its flower, "Pain du Bon Dieu," is very beautiful; from, I believe, the supposed resemblance of its white and scattered blossom to the fallen manna.
 See reference to his painting of stones in the last note to Sec. 28 of the chapter on Imagination Penetrative, Vol. II.
 In saying this I do not, of course, forget the influence of the sea on the Pisans and Venetians; but that is a separate subject, and must be examined in the next volume.
 "With fairest flowers While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele, I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack The flower that's like thy face—pale primrose, nor The azured harebell—like thy veins; no, nor The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander, Outsweetened not thy breath. The ruddock would With charitable bill bring thee all this; Yea, and furred moss besides, when flowers are none, To winter-ground thy corse. Gui. Prithee, have done, And do not play in wench-like words with that Which is so serious."
Imogen herself, afterwards in deeper passion, will give weeds—not flowers—and something more:
"And when With wildwood leaves, and weeds, I have strewed his grave, And on it said a century of prayers, Such as I can, twice o'er, I'll weep, and sigh, And, leaving so his service, follow you."
 If the reader thinks that in Henry the Fifth's time the Elizabethan temper might already have been manifesting itself, let him compare the English herald's speech, act 2, scene 2, of King John; and by way of specimen of Shakespere's historical care, or regard of mediaeval character, the large use of artillery in the previous scene.
 The last bishop.
 His favorite son; nominally his nephew.
 "Nero Antico" is more familiar to our ears; but Browning does right in translating it; as afterwards "cipollino" into "onion-stone." Our stupid habit of using foreign words without translation is continually losing us half the force of the foreign language. How many travellers hearing the term "cipollino" recognize the intended sense of a stone splitting into concentric coats, like an onion?
 I mean that Shakespere almost always implies a total difference in nature between one human being and another; one being from the birth, pure and affectionate, another base and cruel; and he displays each, in its sphere, as having the nature of dove, wolf, or lion, never much implying the government or change of nature by any external principle. There can be no question that in the main he is right in this view of human nature; still, the other form of virtue does exist occasionally, and was never, as far as I recollect, taken much note of by him. And with this stern view of humanity, Shakespere joined a sorrowful view of Fate, closely resembling that of the ancients. He is distinguished from Dante eminently by his always dwelling on last causes instead of first causes. Dante invariably points to the moment of the soul's choice which fixed its fate, to the instant of the day when it read no farther, or determined to give bad advice about Penestrino. But Shakespere always leans on the force of Fate, as it urges the final evil; and dwells with infinite bitterness on the power of the wicked, and the infinitude of result dependent seemingly on little things. A fool brings the last piece of news from Verona, and the dearest lives of its noble houses are lost; they might have been saved if the sacristan had not stumbled as he walked. Othello mislays his handkerchief, and there remains nothing for him but death. Hamlet gets hold of the wrong foil, and the rest is silence. Edmund's runner is a moment too late at the prison, and the feather will not move at Cordelia's lips. Salisbury a moment too late at the tower, and Arthur lies on the stones dead. Goneril and Iago have on the whole, in this world, Shakespere sees, much of their own way, though they come to a bad end. It is a pin that Death pierces the king's fortress wall with; and Carelessness and Folly sit sceptred and dreadful, side by side with the pin-armed skeleton.
 Not the old hospitable innkeeper, who honored his guests and was honored by them, than whom I do not know a more useful or worthy character; but the modern innkeeper, proprietor of a building in the shape of a factory, making up three hundred beds; who necessarily regards his guests in the light of Numbers 1, 2, 3-300, and is too often felt or apprehended by them only as a presiding influence of extortion.
 Vol III. Chap. XIV. Sec. 10.
 Numbers, xi. 12, 15.
I. MODERN GROTESQUE.
The reader may perhaps be somewhat confused by the different tone with which, in various passages of these volumes, I have spoken of the dignity of Expression. He must remember that there are three distinct schools of expression, and that it is impossible, on every occasion when the term is used, to repeat the definition of the three, and distinguish the school spoken of.
There is, first, the Great Expressional School, consisting of the sincerely thoughtful and affectionate painters of early times, masters of their art, as far as it was known in their days. Orcagna, John Bellini, Perugino, and Angelico, are its leading masters. All the men who compose it are, without exception, colorists. The modern Pre-Raphaelites belong to it.
Secondly, the Pseudo-Expressional School, wholly of modern development, consisting of men who have never mastered their art, and are probably incapable of mastering it, but who hope to substitute sentiment for good painting. It is eminently characterized by its contempt of color, and may be most definitely distinguished as the School of Clay.
Thirdly, the Grotesque Expressional School, consisting of men who, having peculiar powers of observation for the stronger signs of character in anything, and sincerely delighting in them, lose sight of the associated refinements or beauties. This school is apt, more or less, to catch at faults or strangenesses; and, associating its powers of observation with wit or malice, produces the wild, gay, or satirical grotesque in early sculpture, and in modern times, our rich and various popular caricature.
I took no note of this branch of art in the chapter on the Grotesque Ideal; partly because I did not wish to disturb the reader's mind in our examination of the great imaginative grotesque, and also because I did not feel able to give a distinct account of this branch, having never thoroughly considered the powers of eye and hand involved in its finer examples. But assuredly men of strong intellect and fine sense are found among the caricaturists, and it is to them that I allude in saying that the most subtle expression is often attained by "slight studies;" while it is of the pseudo-expressionalist, or "high art" school that I am speaking, when I say that expression may "sometimes be elaborated by the toil of the dull;" in neither case meaning to depreciate the work, wholly different in every way, of the great expressional schools.
I regret that I have not been able, as yet, to examine with care the powers of mind involved in modern caricature. They are, however, always partial and imperfect; for the very habit of looking for the leading lines by the smallest possible number of which the expression may be attained, warps the power of general attention, and blunts the perception of the delicacies of the entire form and color. Not that caricature, or exaggeration of points of character, may not be occasionally indulged in by the greatest men—as constantly by Leonardo; but then it will be found that the caricature consists, not in imperfect or violent drawing, but in delicate and perfect drawing of strange and exaggerated forms quaintly combined: and even thus, I believe, the habit of looking for such conditions will be found injurious; I strongly suspect its operation on Leonardo to have been the increase of his non-natural tendencies in his higher works. A certain acknowledgment of the ludicrous element is admitted in corners of the pictures of Veronese—in dwarfs or monkeys; but it is never caricatured or exaggerated. Tintoret and Titian hardly admit the element at all. They admit the noble grotesque to the full, in all its quaintness, brilliancy, and awe; but never any form of it depending on exaggeration, partiality, or fallacy.
I believe, therefore, whatever wit, delicate appreciation of ordinary character, or other intellectual power may belong to the modern masters of caricature, their method of study for ever incapacitates them from passing beyond a certain point, and either reaching any of the perfect forms of art themselves, or understanding them in others. Generally speaking, their power is limited to the use of the pen or pencil—they cannot touch color without discomfiture; and even those whose work is of higher aim, and wrought habitually in color, are prevented by their pursuit of piquant expression from understanding noble expression. Leslie furnishes several curious examples of this defect of perception in his late work on Art;—talking, for instance, of the "insipid faces of Francia."
On the other hand, all the real masters of caricature deserve honor in this respect, that their gift is peculiarly their own—innate and incommunicable. No teaching, no hard study, will ever enable other people to equal, in their several ways, the works of Leech or Cruikshank; whereas, the power of pure drawing is communicable, within certain limits, to every one who has good sight and industry. I do not, indeed, know how far, by devoting the attention to points of character, caricaturist skill may be laboriously attained; but certainly the power is, in the masters of the school, innate from their childhood.
Farther. It is evident that many subjects of thought may be dealt with by this kind of art which are inapproachable by any other, and that its influence over the popular mind must always be great; hence it may often happen that men of strong purpose may rather express themselves in this way (and continue to make such expression a matter of earnest study), than turn to any less influential, though more dignified, or even more intrinsically meritorious, branch of art. And when the powers of quaint fancy are associated (as is frequently the case) with stern understanding of the nature of evil, and tender human sympathy, there results a bitter, or pathetic spirit of grotesque, to which mankind at the present day owe more thorough moral teaching than to any branch of art whatsoever.
In poetry, the temper is seen, in perfect manifestation, in the works of Thomas Hood; in art, it is found both in various works of the Germans,—their finest, and their least thought of; and more or less in the works of George Cruikshank, and in many of the illustrations of our popular journals. On the whole, the most impressive examples of it, in poetry and in art, which I remember, are the Song of the Shirt, and the woodcuts of Alfred Rethel, before spoken of. A correspondent, though coarser work appeared some little time back in Punch, namely, the "General Fevrier turned Traitor."
The reception of the woodcut last named was in several respects a curious test of modern feeling. For the sake of the general reader, it may be well to state the occasion and character of it. It will be remembered by all that early in the winter of 1854-5, so fatal by its inclemency, and by our own improvidence, to our army in the Crimea, the late Emperor of Russia said, or was reported to have said, that "his best commanders, General January and General February, were not yet come." The word, if ever spoken, was at once base, cruel, and blasphemous; base, in precisely reversing the temper of all true soldiers, so nobly instanced by the son of Saladin, when he sent, at the very instant of the discomfiture of his own army, two horses to Coeur de Lion, whose horse had been killed under him in the melee; cruel, inasmuch as he ought not to have exulted in the thought of the death, by slow suffering, of brave men; blasphemous, inasmuch as it contained an appeal to Heaven of which he knew the hypocrisy. He himself died in February; and the woodcut of which I speak represented a skeleton in soldier's armor, entering his chamber, the driven sleet white on its cloak and crest; laying its hand on his heart as he lay dead.
There were some points to be regretted in the execution of the design, but the thought was a grand one; the memory of the word spoken, and of its answer, could hardly in any more impressive way have been recorded for the people; and I believe that to all persons accustomed to the earnest forms of art, it contained a profound and touching lesson. The notable thing was, however, that it offended all persons not in earnest, and was loudly cried out against by the polite formalism of society. This fate is, I believe, the almost inevitable one of thoroughly genuine work, in these days, whether poetry or painting; but what added to the singularity in this ease was that coarse heartlessness was even more offended than polite heartlessness. Thus, Blackwood's Magazine,—which from the time that, with grace, judgment, and tenderness peculiarly its own, it bid the dying Keats "back to his gallipots," to that in which it partly arrested the last efforts, and shortened the life of Turner, had with an infallible instinct for the wrong, given what pain it could, and withered what strength it could, in every great mind that was in anywise within its reach; and had made itself, to the utmost of its power, frost and disease of the heart to the most noble spirits of England,—took upon itself to be generously offended at this triumphing over the death of England's enemy, because, "by proving that he is obliged to undergo the common lot of all, his brotherhood is at once reasserted." He was not, then, a brother while he was alive? or is our brother's blood in general not to be acknowledged by us till it rushes up against us from the ground? I know that this is a common creed, whether a peculiarly wise or Christian one may be doubted. It may not, indeed, be well to triumph over the dead, but perhaps it is less well that the world so often tries to triumph over the living. And as for exultation over a fallen foe (though there was none in the mind of the man who drew that monarch dead), it may be remembered that there have been worthy persons, before now, guilty of this great wickedness,—nay, who have even fitted the words of their exultation to timbrels, and gone forth to sing them in dances. There have even been those—women, too,—who could make a mock at the agony of a mother weeping over her lost son, when that son had been the enemy of their country; and their mock has been preserved, as worthy to be read by human eyes. "The mother of Sisera looked out at a window. 'Hath he not sped?'" I do not say this was right, still less that it was wrong; but only that it would be well for us if we could quit our habit of thinking that what we say of the dead is of more weight than what we say of the living. The dead either know nothing, or know enough to despise both us and our insults, or adulation.
"Well, but," it is answered, "there will always be this weakness in our human nature; we shall for ever, in spite of reason, take pleasure in doing funereal honor to the corpse, and writing sacredness to memory upon marble." Then, if you are to do this,—if you are to put off your kindness until death,—why not, in God's name, put off also your enmity? and if you choose to write your lingering affections upon stones, wreak also your delayed anger upon clay. This would be just, and, in the last case, little as you think it, generous. The true baseness is in the bitter reverse—the strange iniquity of our folly. Is a man to be praised, honored, pleaded for? It might do harm to praise or plead for him while he lived. Wait till he is dead. Is he to be maligned, dishonored, and discomforted? See that you do it while he is alive. It would be too ungenerous to slander him when he could feel malice no more; too contemptible to try to hurt him when he was past anguish. Make yourselves busy, ye unjust, ye lying, ye hungry for pain! Death is near. This is your hour, and the power of darkness. Wait, ye just, ye merciful, ye faithful in love! Wait but for a little while, for this is not your rest.
"Well, but," it is still answered, "is it not, indeed, ungenerous to speak ill of the dead, since they cannot defend themselves?"
Why should they? If you speak ill of them falsely, it concerns you, not them. Those lies of thine will "hurt a man as thou art," assuredly they will hurt thyself; but that clay, or the delivered soul of it, in no wise. Ajacean shield, seven-folded, never stayed lance-thrust as that turf will, with daisies pied. What you say of those quiet ones is wholly and utterly the world's affair and yours. The lie will, indeed, cost its proper price and work its appointed work; you may ruin living myriads by it,—you may stop the progress of centuries by it,—you may have to pay your own soul for it,—but as for ruffling one corner of the folded shroud by it, think it not. The dead have none to defend them! Nay, they have two defenders, strong enough for the need—God, and the worm.
II. ROCK CLEAVAGE.
I am well aware how insufficient, and, in some measure, how disputable, the account given in the preceding chapters of the cleavages of the slaty crystallines must appear to geologists. But I had several reasons, good or bad as they may be, for treating the subject in such a manner. The first was, that considering the science of the artist as eminently the science of aspects (see Vol. III. Chap. XVII. Sec. 43), I kept myself in all my investigations of natural objects as much as possible in the state of an uninformed spectator of the outside of things, receiving simply what impressions the external phenomena first induce. For the natural tendency of accurate science is to make the possessor of it look for, and eminently see, the things connected with his special pieces of knowledge; and as all accurate science must be sternly limited, his sight of nature gets limited accordingly. I observed that all our young figure-painters were rendered, to all intents and purposes, blind by their knowledge of anatomy. They saw only certain muscles and bones, of which they had learned the positions by rote, but could not, on account of the very prominence in their minds of these bits of fragmentary knowledge, see the real movement, color, rounding, or any other subtle quality of the human form. And I was quite sure that if I examined the mountain anatomy scientifically, I should go wrong, in like manner, touching the external aspects. Therefore in beginning the inquiries of which the results are given in the preceding pages, I closed all geological books, and set myself, as far as I could, to see the Alps in a simple, thoughtless, and untheorizing manner; but to see them, if it might be, thoroughly. If I am wrong in any of the statements made after this kind of examination, the very fact of this error is an interesting one, as showing the kind of deception which the external aspects of hills are calculated to induce in an unprejudiced observer; but, whether wrong or right, I believe the results I have given are those which naturally would strike an artist, and ought to strike him, just as the apparently domical form of the sky, and radiation of the sun's light, ought to be marked by him as pictorial phenomena, though the sky is not domical, and though the radiation of sunbeams is a perspective deception. There are, however, one or two points on which my opinions might seem more adverse to the usual positions of geologists than they really are, owing to my having left out many qualifying statements for fear of confusing the reader. These I must here briefly touch upon. And, first, I know that I shall be questioned for not having sufficiently dwelt upon slaty cleavages running transversely across series of beds, and for generally speaking as if the slaty crystalline rocks were merely dried beds of micaceous sand, in which the flakes of mica naturally lay parallel with the beds, or only at such an angle to them as is constantly assumed by particles of drift. Now the reason of this is simply that my own mountain experience has led me always among rocks which induced such an impression; that, in general, artists seeking for the noblest hill scenery, will also get among such rocks, and that therefore I judged it best to explain their structure completely, merely alluding (in Chap. X. Sec. 7) to the curious results of cross cleavage among the softer slates, and leaving the reader to pursue the inquiry, if he cared to do so; although, in reality, it matters very little to the artist whether the slaty cleavage be across the beds or not, for to him the cleavage itself is always the important matter, and the stratification, if contrary to it, is usually so obscure as to be naturally, and therefore properly, lost sight of. And touching the disputed question whether the micaceous arrangements of metamorphic rocks are the results of subsequent crystallization, or of aqueous deposition, I had no special call to speak: the whole subject appeared to me only more mysterious the more I examined it; but my own impressions were always strongly for the aqueous deposition; nor in such cases as that of the beds of the Matterhorn (drawn in Plate 39), respecting which, somewhat exceptionally, I have allowed myself to theorize a little, does the matter appear to me disputable.
And I was confirmed in this feeling by De Saussure; the only writer whose help I did not refuse in the course of these inquiries. His I received for this reason,—all other geological writers whose works I had examined were engaged in the maintenance of some theory or other, and always gathering materials to support it. But I found Saussure had gone to the Alps as I desired to go myself, only to look at them, and describe them as they were, loving them heartily—loving them, the positive Alps, more than himself, or than science, or than any theories of science; and I found his descriptions, therefore, clear, and trustworthy; and that when I had not visited any place myself, Saussure's report upon it might always be received without question.
Not but that Saussure himself has a pet theory, like other human beings; only it is quite subordinate to his love of the Alps: He is a steady advocate of the aqueous crystallization of rocks, and never loses a fair opportunity of a blow at the Huttonians; but his opportunities are always fair, his description of what he sees is wholly impartial; it is only when he gets home and arranges his papers that he puts in the little aqueously inclined paragraphs, and never a paragraph without just cause. He may, perhaps, overlook the evidence on the opposite side; but in the Alps the igneous alteration of the rocks, and the modes of their upheaval, seem to me subjects of intense difficulty and mystery, and as such Saussure always treats them; the evidence for the original deposition by water of the slaty crystallines appears to him, as it does to me, often perfectly distinct.