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fantastic garlands,” and the breaking of the “ envious sliver;" but these are only accessories, thrown in to call attention to and deepen the feeling for the final catastrophe. The same style is pursued in the scene in " As You Like It," where the brother of Orlando is discovered
Under an oak whose boughs were moss'd with age,
Lay sleeping on his back. In this case the whole scene is introduced, not so much on account of its own truthfulness or beauty, but apparently that we may become interested in the man and in the sequence of events. Another example occurs in the same play, where the tree, the water, and the animals, are brought into the picture to heighten the moral and to illustrate human character. The passage is probably as well known as anything of Shakspere's, yet who would not wish to look at it again?
To-day my Lord of Amiens and myself
Duke S. But what said Jaques ?
First Lord.—0, yes, into a thousand similes. ,
In “ King Lear” also, the grand description of Dover Cliff, with all the accessories of the scene, are introduced for the obvious purpose of pourtraying the profound misery of Gloucester.
Such will be found to be invariably the method pursued by Shakspere in his references to nature. Action, life, passion-men and women in every possible position-are nearly all and all throughout his works; external nature being used only as a foil to show off the lights and shades of the great drama of human existence. Even in that passage of supreme loveliness in “ The Merchant of Venice” beginning “ How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank," and which at first sight appears to be a piece of disconnected philosophical reflection on the grandeur of music and a moonlight evening, it will be seen that the sentiments of the poet are necessary fully to bring out the characters of the interlocutors.
But it has to be observed further, that Shakspere does not paint landscape at all, as we now understand that word, not even for his own special dramatic purposes. In observation his faculty is microscopical; a wide or extended view of natural scenery he will not pourtray. With unerring accuracy of eye he seizes on particular objects, investing them with the lively hues of his exuberant imagination; he does not see, or he does not choose to describe, an entire landscape. Nothing seems so insignificant as to escape his glance. He revels in the details of nature. A plant, a tree, or a flower, he will depict either with the minuteness of the pre-Raphaelite painter. In the light of his magical fancy flowers are no common objects; they become lustrous, breathing of life and beauty :
Bright Phæbus in his strength. And these, thus glorified, with other objects in naturemoonlight and sunlight in all their variations—the ocean in calm and storm-all fall readily on his canvass; yet he refuses to combine these and other objects into any single picture of living beauty and power. What is perhaps most noticeable of all is, that in his sketches, incomplete as they are, of natural scenery, he scarcely ever mentions that form of it which is now held as the most enchanting, sublime,
and attractive to cultivated minds the scenery, namely, of mountainous regions. This is a striking peculiarity of Shakspere's genius, which has not received the attention it seems to deserve-if, indeed, it has ever before been noticed. What can be the explanation of an omission so remarkable ? No doubt the peculiarity was partly due to the flat nature of the country in which he lived, and through which he traversed on his journeys between London and Stratford. Something must have been also owing to the fashions and modes of thought prevailing amongst his poetical contemporaries, to whom the rugged, grand, and picturesque, as developed in the scenery of mountain ranges, possessed, in so far as we can discover, little other fascination except that springing from a feeling of the terrible. We know as. matter of fact that in Shakspere's days, and for long afterwards, hills were commonly viewed as mere obstructions to locomotion, and the poet seemingly so far fell in with the prevailing notion as to believe that the Muses would not dwell on their summits, nor attempt to scale their rugged sides. The greatest of all poets would not believe in Parnassus! Amongst the few references made by Shakspere to mountains is this—(Richard II., act 2, scene 3)—
These high, wild hills, and rough, uneven ways,
Draw out our miles, and make them wearisome-
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Unto our gentle senses.
the other idea that the description was an inspiration or intuition of genius. In either case, the puzzle is, how the describer should have overlooked other features of infinitely more prominence and importance in the landscape surrounding Inverness—the magnificent sweep of river and estuary, and the grand domination of the different mountain ranges.
To the reader acquainted with modern poetical literature, it need scarcely be pointed out how opposite to that of Shaksjere is the existing mode of looking at the external world. In this respect we seem to have received a new revelation. The scales have fallen froin our eyes, anil the book of nature lies fully open before us in all its widle and gorgeous magnificence. Since Shakspore's time the change is so great that it amounts to a revolution, such as might occur in a school of painting, which had altered its method of study from the Figure anıl Historical line to that of Landscape. Chaucer and Spenser both painted bits of rural scenery; but it was reserved for Milton to set the first notable example of the change, and his claborate and ornate pictures seem to have been the basis of all subsequent efforts in the same direction, supplying at once the models and the incentives to his successors. In this light it is interesting to glance at the first of the landscapes given in the 6 Paradise Lost:"
Southward through Eden, went a river large,
Others whose fruits, burnish'd with golden rind,
Led on the eternal Spring. Perfect as this is, further perfection of detail was yet to be reached, and in the pages of Thomson, Shenstone, and Cowper, the art of niere description may be said to have exhausted itself. Then the genius of poetry took a higher flight. Nature was not merely to be inventoried and set down, in language however flowing and magnificent; it çame to be part and portion of the poet himself, who looked on all he saw with a rapt and enthusiastic delight, in which he was lost as a man, and became, as it were, absorbed into the Creative Power. This feeling is prominently seen in later poetry-in the writings more particularly of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron, with their numberless imitators in our own day. We might multiply instances, but the following may suffice to show the emotion in its full and perfect development:
Meadow, grove, and stream,
To me did seem
Nature never did betray
This teame, as it light, in whkea
in the .