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a miracle, and continued immovable until I had time to transfer the whole gorgeous prospect upon the canvas of my brain. There it remains; it is mine in perpe`tual possession, and no new Napoleon can take it down and carry it off to the Louvre. It is deeply and ineffaceably engraved upon my sensorium; lithographed upon the tablet of my memory, there to remain while Reason holds her seat. To me it is a portion of eternity enclosed within a frame; a landscape withdrawn from the grand gallery of Heaven, and hung up for ever in one of the chambers of my brain. Neither age nor mildew, nor heat nor cold, can crack its varnish, or dim the lustre of its tints.
Fear no more the heat of the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages.
The "exegi monumentum," and other valedictory vain-glories of the classic poets, were very safe auguries, for they were either altogether unknown, or known to be true:
Both bound together, live or die,
But I run still less risk in predicting the durability of my imaginary painting, for I can neither injure nor destroy it, even if I had the inclination. In all ethical, moral and didactic writings, how unceasingly are we reminded of the frailness and evanescence of human possessions—a truth which is inculcated upon us as we walk the streets, by those silent monitors,
sun-dials and tombstones. Who ever read Shirley's beautiful poem beginning
"The glories of our earthly state
Are shadows, not substantial things,"
without a deep and solemn conviction of the utter vanity and fugaciousness of all mortal grandeur; without feeling that it was perishable as the reflection of the world upon a bubble, insubstantial as the shadow of smoke upon the water? Such is the slippery nature of realities; but whoever urged this objection against the imperishable visions of the brain? You may as well talk of cutting a ghost's throat, as of cutting down any of the trees which I now see nodding in my ideal landscape, and which will continue to wave their green heads, spite of all the mortgagees and woodmen in existence. Show me the terra-firma in Yorkshire that can with impunity make such a boast as this. Mine is an estate upon which I can reside all the year round, and laugh at the Radicals and Spenceans, while the bona fide landholders are only redeeming their acres from the grasp of those hungry philanthropists, that they may be devoured piecemeal by the more insatiable maw of the poor's-rates. Fortresses and bulwarks are not half so secure as my little mental domain, with no other protection than its ring-fence of evergreens. Is there a castle upon earth that has not, at some period, been taken; and did you ever know a castle in the air that was? As the traveller, when he beheld the Coliseum in ruins, remarked that there was nothing stable and immutable at Rome except the river, which
had been continually running away; so I maintain that no human possession is positive and steadfast, except that which is in its nature aërial and unembodied. With these impressions, I should think rather the better of my theory, if it were proved to be inconsistent with facts; and should assert more strenuously than ever, that the moral is more solid than the physical, and that abstractions are the only true realities.
But methinks I hear some captious reader exclaim-"What is the value, after all, of your ideal landscape? it is a picture of nothing; and the more it is like, the less you must like it." Pardon me, courteous reader. Some sapient critic, in noticing Hunt's story of Rimini, (which with all the faults of its last canto is a beautiful and interesting poem,) remarks tauntingly that we may guess at the fidelity of the Italian descriptions of scenery, when the author had never wandered beyond the confines of Highgate and Hampstead Heath. So much the better. He never undertook to give us a fac-simile of Nature's Italian hand-writing, or a portrait of any particular spot; but to present the general features of the country, embellished with such graces as his fancy enabled him to bestow: and unless it be argued that every local prospect is incapable of improvement, it must be admitted that combination and invention are preferable to mere accuracy of copying. As well might it be objected to the statuaries who chiseled the Apollo Belvedere and Venus de Medici out of blocks of marble, that they had never seen a god or a goddess.
We may reasonably doubt whether the author of the Laocoon group ever saw a man and his three sons enwreathed by serpents; and we may be sure that if he had, and attempted to give a faithful and close delineation of the spectacle, he would not have succeeded half so well as he has. Such matter-of-fact critics might quarrel with Dante for never having been in Hell, and with Milton for not having visited Paradise before he presumed to describe it. Away with these plodders with scissars and shears, who would clip the wings of imagination! If we may snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, so may we snatch one beyond the reach of nature; and if I could be transported in propriâ personâ to the scene of my Italian landscape, I have little doubt that I should gaze around me with disappointment, and finally prefer the imaginary to the real scene.
From the operation of this benevolent system of equivalents springs the variety of national character, which depends in a great degree upon climate. Luxuriating in the deliciousness of warm suns, cloudless skies, beautiful scenery, and a soil spontaneously fertile, the Italian finds happiness enough in his external impressions, and, considering the dolce far niente as the summum bonum of existence, suffers his spirit to evaporate through his senses, and dreams away life in a kind of animal listlessness. An Englishman is obliged to draw upon his mind for the gratifications denied to his body, and apply to his fire-side for the warmth withheld from him by the sun: hence the two distinguishing traits of his character-mental
activity and domestic virtue. It is astonishing that nobody has thought of constructing an Intellectual Reaumur, graduated according to the degrees of cold, and shewing at one glance how much literary talent may be calculated upon in the different capitals of Europe. Up to a certain point acuteness would increase with the rigour of the climate; and in all of the knotty and abstruse problems of metaphysics, Edinburgh would be found at a higher pitch than London. There appears to be something in a Scotchman's brain equivalent to the gastric juice in his stomach, which enables him to digest, decompound, and resolve into their primitive elements, the most stubborn and intractable propositions. I should be disposed to assign to Edinburgh the post of honour upon this scale, and to consider this distinction as conferring upon it a much better claim to the title of the Northern Athens, than the fancied resemblance between the Calton Hill and the Acropolis. Farther north, both mind and body must be expected to degenerate; and I should no more dream of ideas flowing from the benumbed scull of a Laplander or a Kamschatkan, than of water gushing from a frozen plug. If my conjecture as to the influence of climate in forming the Italian character be correct, it may perhaps be asked, since the temperature has been in all ages equally luxurious, how I account for their ancestors having built Rome and conquered the world. He is no genuine theorist who cannot annihilate both time and space to reconcile contradictions. But I am not driven to this necessity, as I have only to adopt